November 28, 2011

Something to Be Thankful for

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In between the copious amounts of turkey, football and sleep over Thanksgiving weekend, I actually had some time to think about what I am thankful for, and a lot of these things involved sports. I am not sure what this says about me as a person, but this is not the time to worry about that, therapy is. Anyways, here are the things in sports I am thankful for.

The Return of the NBA

Finally, I am able to read about the NBA and not feel like I’m in an ILR class. People can finally concentrate on basketball again and not the logistics that sports fans simply do not care about. This upcoming season will be just as exciting, if not more, than last year. The Miami Heat soap opera promises to involve even more drama, as they try again to win a title with the exact same strengths (LeBron, Wade and sometimes Bosh) and holes (a lack of a point guard, a center and depth) as last season.

Except this time around, LeBron has even more pressure on him after his epic collapse in the finals, while none of the venomous hatred towards him has dissipated.

Additionally, the role of the shortened 66-game season will be interesting. With a season that is two months shorter, there will be many more back-to-back games, which will take its toll on older contenders, like the Celtics, Lakers, Mavs and Spurs. This leaves younger teams, like the Thunder and Bulls, a better shot of earning the No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs, which may drastically alter the playoff picture. With no clear favorites, this season promises to be entertaining and full of surprises, no matter who comes out on top in June.

Blake Griffin

Whenever I’m bored, I go on YouTube and type in “Blake Griffin” and watch any highlight reel of his incredible dunks. Griffin epitomizes the reason why I love watching sports. Every time he steps foot on a court, I expect to see something amazing that has never been done by the human body. Even if he doesn’t create something magical, this anticipation makes staying up until 1 a.m. watching Clippers games on grainy computer feeds worthwhile.

We Are [Not] Penn State

Too soon?

Tim Tebow

Just because I feel like God would strike me down with lightning if I didn’t give him thanks. However, I do enjoy how he is winning despite how every single statistic and piece of evidence suggests he is a terrible quarterback. Tebow is proof that there are intangibles in sports and that not everything can be measured by numbers. There is no possible stat to measure how much harder Denver’s defense plays when Tebow is behind center instead of Kyle Orton, but it is clear that they play with a different intensity when Tebow is leading the offense.

Philadelphia Eagles’ Struggles

I’m thankful we have a legitimate villain — a team we love to hate — in the NFL. When the Heat lost to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals, anyone living outside Miami celebrated, not because they loved the Mavericks, but because they hated the Heat so much. In Cleveland, I’m fairly sure they popped champagne just to spite LeBron and the Heat.

The Eagles are the NFL’s version of the Heat. Anyone who lives outside of Philadelphia is overjoyed and snickering wickedly at the Eagles fumbling away their playoff dreams through careless turnovers and mental lapses. Personally, the most fun I’ve had all season watching the NFL was cheering against the Eagles when they played the Bills and Cardinals.

The BCS System

Just kidding. Out of all the complaints I have about sports, this one is the worst; the method to select the two championship contenders seems completely arbitrary and is simply hidden behind some phantom, unpredictable “computer rankings.”

Those who like the current system consistently tell us that it makes every game a playoff game … of course with a few exceptions. Like how this rule doesn’t apply to non-BCS teams like No. 6 Houston (who will not reach the BCS title game even if it goes undefeated). How can teams lose early and then still make the championship game like No. 2 Alabama or No. 3 Oklahoma State? And now, if No. 1 LSU loses to No. 14 Georgia in the SEC championship, they will still make the title game. Are we really still supposed to believe this “every game is a playoff game” rationale? When Division I-AA, II and III all have playoff systems, why is it so inconceivable to hold a playoff system for the highest level of college football?

March Madness

Now this is a playoff system that has it right. The NCAA tournament continues to be the best event in all of sports because of a combination of things: the single-elimination format, the energy and effort of the players, and the chance to cheer on awkward 6-8, 250-pound white guys playing against future NBA stars. March Madness should never change.

Winnipeg Jets

I am a native of Winnipeg, Canada and we recently reacquired the Winnipeg Jets. For the first time in my life, I’ve had the experience of cheering for my hometown team, and not a team from some other city I am not emotionally invested in. I finally understand why Cubs fans continually cheer for their team, even though they have not won a championship in over 100 years. Currently, the Jets sit 13th in the Eastern Conference, but it doesn’t even matter. The pride of cheering on your hometown team is truly a magic feeling and I am thankful that I now have that opportunity.

Original Author: Albert Liao