October 17, 2011

That Really Grinds My Gears

Print More

The Lonely Island once proclaimed, “We like sports and we don’t care who knows!”This is a statement I’ve lived my life by, spending much more time than I should following sports. At this point, it has become a bit unhealthy; I could probably name the Top-5 leaders in the Sprint Cup standings for NASCAR, and even the favorites for the women’s college basketball title. Despite how great anything might be, you will always have some small pet peeves, and these are currently mine when it comes to sports:Useless StatsOne of the most effective tools sports stations use is the graphic on the screen showing some sort of important trend or information about specific players. When done well, they add to your viewing experience; however half the time, the stats shown are incredibly useless. I don’t care that Matt Kemp was the first player with a last name that rhymes with “hemp” since 1908 to hit seven home runs off right-handed pitchers in September as a Dodger. Stats like these do not give me any indication of how well a player has been playing or evoke memories of some great hitter I remember. The only time we should compare the accomplishments of current players to old records is when they are important, impressive achievements, like Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak or Ted Williams’ .406 batting average.NFL: A Passing LeagueWhen Roger Goodell began cracking down on malicious hits to help prevent concussions in the NFL, there were some mixed reviews. Some felt it was the right thing to do while others right thing to do while others felt it was an abuse of power and unfairly punishing players. However, almost no one knew these rules would turn a blue-collar, smashmouth sport into a game of catch between the quarterback and his receivers.  The single-season passing yards record has been held by Dan Marino since 1984. However, there are currently five quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Tony Romo — on pace to eclipse this mark. The threat of getting fined or suspended has linebackers and safeties scared of dishing out hard hits to receivers over the middle. Today, crossing patterns are used much more, as receivers are not as scared of being blindsided by a linebacker. This opens up the entire field for the quarterback to make plays. Combined with the increase in shotgun snaps, the NFL has turned into a passing league.Although I enjoy offense as much as the next guy (i.e. those who play fantasy football), one of the biggest reasons football has become the most popular sport in the country is because of its physical nature. By removing this aspect, football doesn’t feel quite the same as it used to.The Influence of Money in College FootballUniversities have always maintained that education is a priority among college athletes, but their actions as of late have indicated the exact opposite. Let’s face it: college football is a business. The 68 teams in the six major conferences made a total profit of $1.1 billion, more than any North American professional sports league except the NFL. The profits available in the major conferences have prompted several teams from smaller conferences — like Utah, Boise State and TCU — to move in order to earn a share of these profits.The idea of earning more money if you can does not bother me, but two things about this do. First, the “employees” of these businesses (i.e. the players) do not get paid, and these are not rich people who do not need the money. They are college students, just like you and me. I understand that the point of college athletics is amateurism, but that is under the assumption that universities focus foremost on education and not profits. Of course I don’t fully understand the laws and rules associated with this topic, but it’s the concept that the players — the reason that there are profits to be made — are stuck in a system where money-hungry universities can abuse them that ticks me off. This leads into my second pet peeve: if universities simply came out and stated that everything they do is to earn profit, I would understand their actions, but they operate under the façade that everything is for the benefit of the students. Please, just be upfront with the public and tell us your true intentions. They are already pretty visible.The NBA LockoutLast, but certainly not least, the NBA lockout. Where do I begin with this mess? Each side — the agents, the owners, the players — has done a terrible job with this situation. Back in February, there were several reports that the upcoming season would be locked out, but what did the sides do? Nothing. They waited until the lockout officially started on July 1 … and then waited another month to meet. Now, suddenly, after last week’s talks did not get a deal done, people are surprised that the first two weeks of the season were cancelled?Last year was one of the greatest NBA seasons in recent memory, including one of the most polarizing teams in history in the Miami Heat and the highest T.V. ratings for the NBA Finals since Michael Jordan retired. Yet somehow, the league has managed to completely destroy all the good will it created. Especially on the backdrop of Occupy Wall Street, the NBA is appearing stubborn, childish and greedy all at once, bickering more than the women on Basketball Wives.  We do not want more posturing; we want basketball.

Original Author: Albert Liao