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August 14, 2012 3:30 PM

Column Awards of the Week (8/7-8/13)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgI've got a real sports dilemma right now. I was prepared to rip Dwight Howard (yet again) this week but now that he's headed to my beloved Lakers I don't know what to do. I can't wait to see him run the pick and roll with Steve Nash. I'm salivating over Russell Westbrook slashing through the lane and then getting the ball spiked back in his face from 'Superman'. I'm looking forward to watching Kobe and Metta World Peace gamble even more on defense knowing they have the best defender in the World behind them. But am I ready to forgive Howard for about a year of horrible decisions?

His latest mistake came when he decided to skip his own youth basketball camp in Orlando to stay in Los Angeles and continue his rehab. In hindsight, maybe Howard knew a deal was about to go down with the Lakers and that's why he made the decision. The reason though doesn't really matter. What does matter was it was another big PR hit that could've easily been avoided.

There were so many ways Howard could've turned this into an image-building event. Showing up despite his problems with the Magic could have showed he is above that drama and that he truly cares about the kids that shelled out big bucks to attend his camp. A full refund was offered when it was announced he would not be in attendance but that's of little consolation to the kids that have looked forward to meeting him for months and the parents that planned their lives around their kids being in camp for those days.

Howard could've also refunded everyone's money and maybe recruited some of his Magic teammates to attend. He could have given signed jerseys to each camper and done a Skype call. He could've offered tickets to any game for the following season. There were so many options that would have made him look better than deciding just to not show up and just offer a meaningless refund.

He likes to be the center of attention and clamors to be loved. How else do you explain him playing it up with the media with his impression of Kobe in his introduction as a Laker? Los Angeles is ready to embrace their newest big man. Many of them complained about Andrew Bynum's immaturity but is Howard really that much better in that regard? I will quickly fall in line and fall in love with the Dwight if he buys in to working hard and putting up the monster stats he is used to, but I'm not quite ready to give him the benefit of the doubt yet. On to the awards!

Continue to Column Awards of the Week (8/7-8/13)

August 7, 2012 3:30 PM

Column Awards of the Week (7/31-8/6)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgEarlier this week some badminton teams were kicked out for trying to throw a game. It was a pretty stupid controversy, largely because this type of stuff happens all the time. It's already happened a few times this year in basketball in which heavily favored teams have lost to try and avoid facing the United States. It's also happened in women's soccer where Japan played a defensive game that resulted in a tie vs. South Africa so they wouldn't have to travel as far for their next game. This type of strategic losing (or tying) happens all the time and that's the fault of the format, not of the teams. 

But that's not what got my really upset over this story. What angered me was how American journalists treated badminton. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports: If badminton took itself any more seriously, it might invade table tennis. Thomas Lund is that secretary general. He hails from Denmark and seems like a thoughtful guy. He was there to announce the final verdict on one of the scandals of these Olympics.
No, not that badminton is an Olympic sport in the first place - although Lund was later asked to defend that, too. And, no, the scandal isn't that the United States never won a medal in this sport even though most Americans have smacked a birdie ("shuttlecock" in official parlance) over a backyard net a few times in their life - at least against their niece, sometimes even when they were sober.

And here's Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: This raised many important questions about the sanctity of athletic competition and the future of all picnic-based Olympic sports, among them:
•They play badminton in the Olympics?
•Tanking a badminton game -- does that mean you played with a beer in both hands? ... The Badminton World Federation, which must office out of the same fake-wood-paneled basement rec room as the Dungeons & Dragons Hall of Justice, accused the players of "not using one's best efforts to win a match.''

I'm using these two writers as examples even though there were plenty more I could've chosen from. Just because badminton isn't big in the U.S. doesn't mean we should denigrate the sport. These athletes have worked their entire lives to get to the Olympics and just like that they were kicked out. Their dreams shattered. And yet we make fun of the sport they play. Have a little respect. On to the awards!

Continue to Column Awards of the Week (7/31-8/6)

August 1, 2012 8:30 AM

Column Awards of the Week (7/24-7/30)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgDon't argue with NBC. They know what you want. They've clearly proven that since dropping from the number one network when they had "Must See TV" over a decade ago to now fourth in total viewers.

"I think what we've proven is that the American viewing public likes the way we tell the story and wants to gather in front of the television with their friends and family -- even if they have the ability to watch it live either on television or digitally. I inherently trust that decision is the right one and that people want to see these events."

That's coming from NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus. You've got to love this guy. He ignores the massive amount of angry tweets and vitriol across the web over the NBC's antiquated ways of covering the Games and says that he and NBC know best. They know what we want even if that's not what we say.

Unfortunately, the numbers seem to back him up. As of the opening weekend viewership was at an all-time high. It seems like NBC does know what it's doing. They know most people will still watch the races even if they know the results. They hear your complaints and they just don't care. You'll watch the Games in prime time and you'll like it!

Since I'm not a big fan of the Olympics in general I don't have a dog in this fight. But as a sports fan I can sympathize with those that are angry over the lack of showing events live. It's much more difficult than it used to be to not have the results spoiled for you and the drama ruined. But to be fair to NBC, these events are available live online.

Who I have no sympathy for are the people that were upset that the Opening Ceremonies weren't live nor were they available live online. To those people that were so upset over this decision I say, who cares? To paraphrase Iverson, 'We talkin 'bout the Opening Ceremonies? Opening Ceremonies? Not a game. The Opening Ceremonies.' Do you really need to see that live? Was it really ruined when you heard about Marry Poppins fighting Voldemort on Twitter? Were they spoiled when you heard about the fake Queen jumping from the airplane? If anything, not having them live could've saved you a few hours of your life. If you had followed the tweets maybe you would've avoided watching the whole program. On to the awards!

Continue to Column Awards of the Week (7/24-7/30)

July 24, 2012 5:30 AM

Column Awards of the Week (7/17-7/23)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgThe Olympics are just days away and for some that is fantastic news. Although, for the life of me I don't know who these people are. What type of people follow the Olympics? It's something that happens for 2 weeks every four years and the majority of the events are completely ignored the rest of the time. Does anyone follow swimming, track or gymnastics outside of the Olympics? OK. So some people pay attention to the World Championships for those events but that's a very slim minority of the people that tune in for the Olympics.

People often assume I should love the Olympics because I ran track in high school. But that's precisely why I don't love them. I know just how boring these events are. There's not much strategy involved to running 100 meters or jumping as high or far as you can. Sure, it's impressive but that doesn't make it entertaining. I'll stick with true sports. Team sports. On that note, just about the only Olympic event I'll be paying attention to is basketball, but that's just because I love the NBA and there's only so much Summer League I can watch.

The whole event is manufactured drama. People complain about how slow the NFL is and how little actual playing there is compared to commercials and commentary but it's got nothing on the Olympics. We're talking about races that last seconds and yet, the build-up will last for days. The only reason the Olympics gets such good ratings is because it only has baseball to compete with and there's only so much Bachelor Pad people can watch before they feel horrible about themselves. On to the awards!

Continue to Column Awards of the Week (7/17-7/23)

July 17, 2012 12:30 PM

Column Awards of the Week (7/10-7/16)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgThe big news of the week was obviously the Freeh Report. It gave columnists one more chance to bash Penn State, rewrite JoePa's legacy and blame big-time college football for everything. Can we stay focused and not extrapolate and blame the entire culture of college athletics? You want to know who is to blame this travesty? Jerry Sandusky and the people in charge at Penn State. Sure, the culture of football had something to do with those people covering up these horrific acts but let's not blame the entire institution for what went down.

Shortly after the Penn State scandal went down another one popped up in Syracuse. Syracuse basketball coach Bernie Fine was accused of molesting children. It looked like an epidemic. College sports are too powerful! These coaches are given too much power and feel they can do anything! And then the evidence didn't start adding up in the Fine case but columnists and public opinion had already spoken. Now that voice is back and calling for a serious examination of the power structure on campuses throughout the country.

I'm not going to argue there is not corruption in college sports. I understand recruiting violations are happening all the time and I'm sure money is exchanging hands but let's not lump this situation in with those. What Penn State did is the worst college athletic scandal of all time. Had they acted appropriately who knows how many kids they could have protected. I hope those that are involved are punished to the full extent of the law. But I refuse to believe that this is a mark against college football and instead I believe it's a mark solely on Penn State. Maybe now I'm being naïve but while I can see many coaches turning the other direction in the face of players getting paid and illegal drugs, I don't believe they would ignore claims of child molestation and I will believe that until proven otherwise. On to the awards!

Continue to Column Awards of the Week (7/10-7/16)

July 10, 2012 8:30 AM

Column Awards of the Week (7/3-7/9)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgI never thought I'd start any column with this but this hackneyed device makes sense in this case.

Webster's Dictionary defines 'quitter' as "one that quits; especially : one that gives up too easily." Pretty straight forward to me. But U.S. sprinter Jeneba Tarmoh must have some sort of more complicated definition for the word.

Tarmoh and Allyson Felix tied for 3rd in the Olympic Trials in the 100 meters. Tied. How does that even happen in this day and age? But after officials looked at the video frame by frame they determined the two finished at the exact same time. We're talking hundredths of a second-same time. Tarmoh had been declared the winner on the spot and even took a victory lap before learning they were reviewing the results and ultimately learned of the tie.

With no protocol in place, the two were offered the option of flipping a coin, racing again or one of the two would cede the 3rd spot to the other. After initially agreeing to a race-off, Tarmoh backed out.

"If standing up for what I believe in and not running because I believe I earned that spot, because I believe the emotional roller coaster they put me through was too much to go through at the moment -- if that's what makes you a quitter then I guess the definition of a quitter is misconstrued nowadays. ... How can I be a quitter? To define me as a quitter, it doesn't make any sense."

The definition seems pretty clear to me and it's pretty clear that Tarmoh is a quitter. Similar things happen in other sports all the time. NBA players make shots at the buzzer and instantly celebrate only to have the shot overturned and the game is sent to overtime. Do those players just walk off the court feeling cheated? On a 3-1 count in baseball, the batter looks at what he believes his the fourth ball and he makes a move to first only to be called back by the umpire. Does he drop the bat and go sulk in the dugout?

USA Track and Field did screw up by not having a protocol for a tie and for prematurely calling Tarmoh the 3rd place finisher. But at least they didn't screw up and reward Felix 3rd place. Tarmoh was still in control of her destiny and she decided to throw in the towel.

"I worked really, really hard to earn that spot in the 100," Tarmoh said. "It was more than me winning, it was me practicing since November and training every day. It was me cramping up in the middle of practice, me throwing up at practices. It was me getting mentally prepared, physically prepared, then going to the trials, and making it through each round and staying focused." So why give up after all that work? She says she was mentally prepared but it certainly doesn't seem like she's mentally strong.

If she made the decision and that was that I'd disagree with her call but, hey it's her life. What really gets to me is that she basically said this wouldn't have happened had Felix been declared the winner initially. She thinks she got screwed because Felix is a higher profile athlete. Did Tarmoh look at the pictures? How were they supposed to determine the winner with that evidence? If you're going to complain, you should've done something about it and earned that spot. Aren't athletes supposed to be able to persevere no matter the obstacles? Instead, Tarmoh chose the easy way out and earned the label of quitter. On to the awards!

Continue to Column Awards of the Week (7/3-7/9)

July 3, 2012 2:30 PM

Column Awards of the Week (6/26-7/2)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgRamses Barden. Jim Cordle. Bear Pascoe. Tyler Sash. Don't know who those players are? They are all members of the 2011 New York Giants and they can all call themselves Super Bowl champions. A player that cannot call himself a Super Bowl champion that you have heard of is LaDainian Tomlinson.

Tomlinson was recently asked, when given the choice between the Hall of Fame and a Super Bowl ring, what would he choose and he responded, "Hall of Fame player without a ring, because you've got to sacrifice so much individually just to be good. They draft you individually and you've got to back them up and make them right. I think at the end of the day, even though I didn't win a Super Bowl ring, I felt like I backed them up for drafting me. I backed up the San Diego Chargers for picking me with the fifth pick."

Tomlinson caught some flak for his answer but anyone who disagrees is an idiot. Winning a Super Bowl is a tremendous accomplishment but it's not something an individual can control. As the names at the start of this rant show, there are a lot of players that win rings that hardly contribute.

It is all about circumstances and relying on teammates. Tomlinson did what he could do to try and get a title in San Diego but it didn't work out. Is he to blame for that? I guess you could put some blame on him but what GM wouldn't have wanted LT on their team any time between 2001 and 2010? He had over 1,500 yards from scrimmage for 8 straight seasons while scoring double-digit touchdowns each year. Would you rather be known as one of the best running backs ever or have been a bench player that never even played in the Super Bowl but still got a ring?

I'm sure Tomlinson wishes he had been in a better situation and I'm sure he'd give up plenty to have accomplished a lifelong goal of winning a Super Bowl but would he want to be a lesser player in order to achieve that? No. He worked his hardest and gave the Chargers his all but it wasn't enough. He can rest easy knowing he tried as hard as he could and will be rewarded with a bust in Canton in 2017.

Continue to Column Awards of the Week (6/26-7/2)

June 26, 2012 9:17 PM

NBA Mock Draft Compilation 3

Updated June 27th

The NBA Draft is fast approaching and prospects stocks are going up and down each day. With that in mind we take another look at mock drafts from around the web. We examine nine mock drafts, placed side-by-side to determine which players are expected to land where.

The average projected draft order is tabulated and listed in the column RCS Average Selection; this does not take into account who a specific team is projected to pick, it is just a list of players in the order of their average draft position across the mock drafts used. The Common Pick column looks at the mode selection at each spot among all eight mock drafts. If no Common Pick is selected it means that at least three players were selected by an equal number of mock drafts at that spot. (click to enlarge)

Final Mock 1-15.pngFinal Mock 16-30.png

There is a good chance the Bobcats will deal the second pick, which could turn all of these mock drafts on their head. If not, it is expected that they will select Thomas Robinson and the Wizards will follow with Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes will finish out the top five in one order or another.

Falling down the draft boards is Jared Sullinger, who dropped from ninth in the our last compilation to nineteenth due to concerns about his potential back problems. Meanwhile Austin Rivers is moving up the boards, climbing from 16th to 9th in this edition.

Mock Drafts from:
June 26, 2012 8:30 AM

Column Awards of the Week (6/19-6/25)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgI'm not going to write the typical American column about how soccer is boring and needs more scoring. I'm not a huge soccer fan but my appreciation for the sport has grown over the years. As coverage of the sport in the United States has increased along with availability of in-depth analysis on the web the sport has become easier to follow. It's close to surpassing baseball on my hierarchy of favorite sports to watch. But there is one thing that has always bothered me about the sport. How, in a game of 11-on-11 for 90 minutes (and potentially 120) do you only get 3 substitutions?

The best part about sports are those explosive movements that leave us in awe. When an outfielder robs someone of a home run. When Blake Griffin creates yet another poster picture. When Lionel Messi races down field and jukes out multiple defenders. These are the moments that make us watch sports. Why wouldn't we want more of these? Why is soccer alone among the major sports in staging a battle of attrition?

I don't know exactly how more substitutions would affect the game but I'd sure like to find out. Would Cristiano Ronaldo be even more dangerous if he were given a few chances to rest? Would scoring actually decrease because there wouldn't be as many defensive lapses to create scoring opportunities? They have somewhat relaxed the subbing rules in friendlies in recent years but no coach is going to fully embrace those opportunities knowing that it won't be the case in any game that actually matters. Until the rules are changed when something is actually on the line we'll never know how it might change the game and that seems like a shame to me.

Oh, and the fact that the players don't really know when stoppage time is going to end is also just insane. On to the awards!

Continue to Column Awards of the Week (6/19-6/25)

June 19, 2012 8:30 AM

Column Awards of the Week (6/12-6/18)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgOver the past weekend, tennis player David Nalbandian lost his temper and when kicking an advertising sign accidentally kicked line judge Andrew McDougall. It was a stupid act. It was childish. And in a sport like tennis that seems to frown at players with personalities it was a much bigger deal than it would have been in any other sport.

The incident happened during the finals of the Aegon Championships with Nalbandian leading 7-6, 3-4 against Marin Cilic. Not only was Nalbandian disqualified but he also could not collect his prize money of over $50,000 and lost the 150 ranking points he would have received. It's a stiff punishment for a stupid but non-vicious act. I'm sure Nalbandian will never do something like that again...oh, that's not all? He also was fined a maximum $12,500 (approximate translation from pounds) by the ATP for "unsportsmanlike conduct." Wow. Now that seems a little excessive. Losing the prize money and rankings wasn't enough? And, as if this was a Price Is Right showcase showdown or TV info-mercial...But wait, there's more!

The incident is now being investigated by the police after a complaint was filed. The police wouldn't reveal who made the complaint. Was this really necessary? McDougall suffered a cut on his shin. The bleeding made it seem much worse than it was and he didn't have to go to the hospital for treatment. Nalbandian apologized to McDougall and the ATP for his actions. Can't this be laid to rest? Now Nalbandian could be fined even more money, could receive a ban from the ATP and might face criminal charges. This is getting to be just absurd. Don't the police have something better to do? Who made the complaint and can they be charged the amount this fruitless investigation is going to cost taxpayers? Can't some accidents just be accidents and not result in criminal charges and/or lawsuits? On to the awards!

Continue to Column Awards of the Week (6/12-6/18)

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