By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particularly 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.
Earlier this week, Seahawks WR Golden Tate tweeted, "Jimmy johnson up for best athlete???? Um nooo .. Driving a car does not show athleticism." He was instantly inundated with tweets from NASCAR fans who vehemently disagreed with his opinion. Tate never really backed down from his opinion but did soften the blow saying on a radio show, "I did read up and educate myself, and I will say this: They are incredible people to do that. After reading up on it, I do have respect, and I do want to apologize to NASCAR nation. I wasn't really too familiar with Jimmie Johnson. I didn't mean it to be any disrespect, although it might have come across that way."
See what Tate did there? He danced around the topic to avoid a PR mess. He apologized without backing down on his original claim. You know why? Because NASCAR drivers aren't athletes. I'm not saying what they do is easy. It's very difficult and takes a ton of practice. They probably practice just as much as NFL players. But I bet Golden Tate could take every single NASCAR driver in any event in a decathlon. There's athleticism and then there's skill. Golden Tate is athletic. NASCAR drivers are skilled at driving. Not that any of this really matters though because Jimmie Johnson was up for an ESPY which is the actor's equivalent to the Teen Choice Awards. It's simply something ESPN concocted to fill the doldrums of summer so they can run one less episode of "Who's Next?" Thankfully, it looks like the lockout will be over any day now and sports reporters can get back to covering things people actually care about. On to the awards!
U.S. Women's Soccer Is Just Like U.S.
Why can't sports just be about sports? Why does the U.S. women's team have to be more than just a collection of great athletes playing at the top of their game? David J. Neal of the Miami Herald believes the women are symbolic of our nation:
Days after our annual swaggering celebration on the Fourth of July, we're back to wondering what "U.S." means anymore. Not so much the ethnic change, bothersome as that is for some. Assimilation happens. So, the Lavi kid plays football, the Fernandez kid plays hockey and they live in a Midwestern suburb on either side of Smith and Jones, who just wish all the kids would turn down the hip-hop.
But we can't seem to stop wobbling. We don't make much anymore, so we're not sure what "Buy American!" means. ... The U.S. women's soccer team found a way. While we as a nation and as individuals search for a way to move forward out of so much muck, the team did so successfully. Enervated by recent events, they didn't give in to the tangible feel that they were no longer surfing the game's waves so much as trying to avoid being drowned. We want to believe we'll do the same. We want to believe it's still what Americans do.There's SO much we can learn from this team. Maybe Ben Bernanke and Obama should spend more time watching women's soccer and the answers to our hurting economy will just present themselves. If the U.S. was doing well then this team would've represented the strength of the country and if the U.S. was engaged in some great war then these women would be the respite from the horrors of war. What I'm saying is it's easy to compare the team to the United States no matter how the country is doing but that doesn't make it right.
She-Woman Man Haters Club
Bill Plaschke is thoroughly impressed by the U.S. women's team and how much better they are as a team than men: If I was asked to assemble a team of American athletes to compete against similarly composed teams from the rest of the world in any sport, the most important decision would be the easiest.
I would take a team of women. I would take a team that would play like a team, unselfish and unaffected, tough and tireless, playing for victory not credit, playing for each other instead of themselves. ... Last season, an NFL coach was suspended for tripping a player on the field. A couple of years ago, a group of Central Washington University softball players were lauded for carrying an injured Western Oregon player around the bases to complete her home run trot after she injured a knee.
There is a reason John Wooden once told me his favorite sport was women's basketball.So how about Britney Griner's punch? How about that New Mexico soccer player that pulled an opponent down by the hair? Women's sports aren't immuned to unsportsmanlike acts. And how'd the U.S. women's team do in that final? They blew that game twice by losing their edge and allowing Japan to come back. And to say all men's teams are selfish is ridiculous. The 2008 U.S. basketball team that took gold in the Olympics had eight players that averaged at least 8 points a game and playing time was pretty equally divided.
Boldest/Most Ridiculous Claim of the Week
John Kass of the Chicago Tribune believes we're at a critical points in sports history in the United States: Sports historians will look back on what happened at ESPN's ESPY awards the other night and pinpoint it as the broadcast that signaled the rise of soccer and the death of football.
And with that remarkable U.S. women's team playing for a World Cup
this weekend in Germany -- and with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park
getting a new midfielder from Argentina -- it couldn't come at a better
... I'm not trying to take anything from American football. It was a great game once, before rule changes and technology turned it into an excuse to destroy amazing athletes for money. ... It seems that the beautiful game is ascendant everywhere in America except perhaps in the minds of some American sports journalists.
And nowhere was the this clearer than on the ESPYs the other night. For you who aren't sports fans, the ESPYs are sort of the Oscars of American professional team sports. Highlights, speeches, trophies.
And when the ESPY was handed out for Play of the Year, they offered up five spectacular sports plays.
Three nominees for Play of the Year involved soccer. Yes, three out of five is an amazing ratio, unheard of in the U.S. just a few years ago, and I'd give you the percent, but then, I played with a helmet. ... Prediction: Our women rest up and get their legs back, and they defeat the technically adept Japanese team by a score of 2-1.
And American football?
Now it's all about labor disputes, lockouts and lawyers. And Americans don't pay to watch lawyers.
Possibly Racist Article?
Chris Erskine of the Los Angeles Times wrote about Artest changing his name and brought up the name of another player in the process: By the way, if this particular name change fails, the Germans have a soccer player named Fatmire. That's my fallback: Fatmire Bajramaj. Gotta love those Hessians.
Fatmire. Who does that to a kid? Why not Muckwaddle? Or Picklehead?
Fatmire plays in GERMANY. She was born in YUGOSLAVIA. It's not like this was some American parent naming their kid "Fatmire." It's nothing like calling an American kid "Muckwaddle" or "Picklehead." But there is one word for Erskine - idiot.
A Push for Babysitting NFL Players
David Steele of Sporting News believes NFL players are better off in mini-camps and OTAs instead of being left to their own devices: This is about a league full of rich, idle, bored young men, and the cops and editors and talk-show hosts and Twitter followers who encounter them far too often these last few months. ... The league and the franchises figured it out before the rest of us did: get 'em in the facility and keep their hands, mouths and brains busy.... Granted, this may not actually be a more crime-and-incident-filled offseason than all the others that were populated by minicamps and OTAs. ... Yet the sheer volume of transgressions can't be ignored..."
So the NFL is supposed to punish the 99-percent of players that DIDN'T get arrested this offseason because of the 1-percent that did? What about all those stories of teammates heading to a high school field and working out together? Were those the idle hands you're talking about? And then to say that there might not be more crime this offseason but the "sheer volume of transgressions can't be ignored"? I don't know if there have been more or less arrests this offseason than in the past but I sure wouldn't be writing this article without looking into that. Should players be punished with more practices that could stunt their careers and their lives just because a few idiots drove drunk or ran their mouths in the press?
Most Recent Argument That All-Star Games Are Pointless
Greg Cote of the Miami Herald is the latest to argue that no All-Star games in any sport should be played. He sites sagging ratings as a sign to axe the games: The effort has failed to increase interest, as reflected in the 7.5 TV rating for last year's "Midsummer Classic" that was an all-time low. When Nielsen first began logging baseball all-star ratings in 1967, the number was 25.6.
This is a stat completely taken out of context. Let's compare those numbers to the highest rated sitcom numbers in 1967 vs. 2011. In 1967, The Andy Griffith Show, the highest rated sitcom, got a 27.4 rating. In 2011, Modern Family was the highest and it got a 5.0 rating. So by comparison, the MLB All-Star Game has held up quite well. These games are still moneymakers for the league and for that reason alone they will continue. The games might not matter but I know I still enjoy watching the MLB and NBA All-Star Games. But I do agree with Cote's final conclusion: Football, basketball and hockey at least don't pretend their all-star games matter. Time for baseball to scrap the World Series tie-in and be honest enough to admit the same.I couldn't agree more.