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.
"What If Michael Vick Were White?" It was a short question in a relatively short article that is in the September 5 issue of ESPN the Magazine. But that article has sparked a racial dialogue that has exploded across the sports media landscape. The article itself has been overshadowed by the title and adjoining artwork depicting Michael Vick as white. First, let me just say - wow. Putting race and the issues aside that's some fantastic photoshop or illustrator or something. Whoever did that is very talented. Second, let's be clear as to who to attribute credit/blame for this piece. The author, Toure, wrote the article but had nothing to do with the title or the artwork. In fact, he was opposed to both and thought they detracted from his piece. He tweeted, "ESPN the
mag titled it & added art without me (normal procedure). Judge me on the story not the art."
Some find the artwork offensive and racist, but I don't quite see the problem with the art, rather I have a problem with the article. Toure's basic premise is we can't ask the question "What if Vick were white" because it's an impossible question to answer. If Vick were white his entire identity would be changed and he would most likely be a completely different person. There is some merit behind that thesis. Race clearly plays a factor in a person's development but it's what Toure thinks would be different that bothers me.
Would a white kid have been introduced to dogfighting at a young age and have it become normalized to the extent that he builds it into his life after he joins the NFL? It's possible, but it's far less likely because what made Vick stand out among dogfighters is less race than class.
As far as I know, there are no reliable statistics on racial breakdown of those involved in dogfighting but it certainly isn't just a black thing. A white kid could easily be introduced to dogfighting as a black kid. He also wonders if Vick would've had a better Dad had he been white. And somehow these points that are the most controversial have gotten buried in the conversation.
The biggest problem I have with this article though, is I believe he is changing the way most view the question when we ask what if an athlete were a different race or gender. It's not meant to suggest how their lives would've changed if they were always that race or gender but how we as the public would view them now. If a white quarterback had been involved in dogfighting would he have gotten two years in jail? Would there be less hatred towards him? Would not every single NFL team say they weren't interested in that player after his release from jail? It's these questions that help further the discussion on race and cause the general public to think twice about how they view athletes.
Every NFL and NBA Draft I ponder the question of how analysts and fans would view a certain player if they switched races. It seems like white athletes are often labeled as "cerebral" and "fundamentally sound" whereas black athletes are called "raw" and "athletically-gifted" even when their measurables are the same.
Stupid Stat of the Week
Andy Gardiner of USA Today brings us this stat: In the 13-year history of the BCS, teams have lost nine times after Oct. 1 and still advanced to the final game. Only twice -- Florida State in 1998 and Florida in 2008 -- has a school lost in September and then played for the championship.
It's a quick piece "debunking" the myth that losing early in the season is better than losing late. There are a couple things wrong with this stat. First, it's not necessarily a matter of losing early as it is who these teams play early in the season. The early season is full of cupcakes and obviously losing to one of those teams would be more devastating than losing to an in-conference opponent late in the season. Second, it stands to reason that if a team loses early in the season then maybe they just aren't that good and will subsequently lose more games. Maybe that's why just two teams have made it to the championship in the BCS era with an early season loss.
George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel used Mike Flanagan's suicide to mourn...well, not Mike Flanagan: From a strictly professional level, there is even more reason to say a tearful goodbye to "Flanny." He represented another era in baseball, a day when guys weren't getting jacked up on HGH and fans were celebrating the greatest of all frauds _ the long ball.
Once upon a time, pitchers ruled the landscape. They dominated, pitched well beyond the sixth and seventh innings. They even threw complete games.
If you want to write an article on pitchers being babied and not pitching complete games you can interview Nolan Ryan. You don't need to use the suicide of a player as a springboard to this article. I don't think Flanagan's family is mourning the death of the complete game pitcher right now.
Clearly Not an Athlete
Cathal Kelly believes Sidney Crosby should retire at the ripe-old age of 24: The only question being asked about Sidney Crosby's return from a serious brain injury is "When?" The more pressing question is "Why?" Why would Crosby risk an invalid's life in order to return to a game he has already conquered?
His trophy case is full. He has a championship ring and an Olympic gold
medal. He's been league MVP, leading scorer and the consensus best
player in the game. He's only 24 and his hall-of-fame bonafides are
beyond questioning. His material needs are settled for a dozen
Why would he play? Maybe because he loves the game. It isn't about the trophy case and the Hall of Fame - it's about a passion that's often irrational. Based on this logic once an athlete reaches a certain level of success he/she should just retire. Kobe should've retired a few years ago. Tom Brady too. Why should they keep risking their future health when they are already sure-fire Hall of Famers? And is Crosby really a lock for the Hall of Fame? Can you really be a lock after playing just six seasons with two of those being plagued by injuries?
Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times ponders if it's time for the NFL to offer pay-per-view on blacked out games: Still, I understand blackouts. The NFL is a business. Why should it give its product away? ... After protesting loudly, most people would consider paying a few bucks. But owners aren't going to alter the rule for a few bucks. That would just make the small crowds smaller, and the last thing NFL owners want is to give ticket-buyers a reason to stay home.
Give it away?? GIVE it away? The NFL is getting plenty of money from TV rights. They're not exactly giving it away. I still don't understand the blackout rule. Would lifting it really make the crowds smaller? Who attends games in order to lift the blackout? Perhaps the more pertinent question is who attends games because they won't be able to watch it at home? My guess is very few. It's a rule that makes little sense and I think offering pay-per-view on these games is an interesting idea that could be a new revenue stream that probably wouldn't impact ticket sales one bit.
The Exception That Proves the Rule
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports wonders if Andrew Luck can change Stanford's status in college football: We know the school's academic mission is sustainable. Can Stanford become a college football power? Coming off arguably its best season -- a 12-1 season ended with an Orange Bowl victory against Virginia Tech -- Stanford is at a key moment in its history.
A key moment in history? More like a key aberration in history. Andrew Luck is a single player that will be gone after this season. Why would anyone think he could turn Stanford into a national power? They could get a few better recruits because of the team's success but their high academic standards will always cause them to lose out on some top recruits other schools (*cough* SEC) will jump on.
Ridiculous (But Fun!) Idea
Thayer Evans of Fox Sports has an awesome idea for how to help curtail cheating in college sports: To show how serious the NCAA is about pursuing cheaters, it should display the seized millions in stacks of cash at a news conference, where President Mark Emmert can discuss the specifics of the infractions case and reiterate his organization's aggressive stance, just like the DEA does after making large drug busts.
Yes! The NCAA should take more cues from the DEA and start wire-tapping and carrying guns. Let's get all The Wire up in this. In the case of the Hurricanes would he stand on a yacht with dozens of strippers behind him? Now we're making the NCAA exciting.
Needlessly Stirring Up Controversy
David Whitley of the Sporting News ties Pat Summitt and her announcement that she has early onset dementia and Danica Patrick's announcement she is heading to NASCAR: I don't blame Patrick for preying on the male libido. If I could make $12 million a year posing in bikinis on car hoods, I'd gladly volunteer. I only wish so many female athletes didn't want it both ways.
They long to be respected, not objectified. Then they go topless and gripe when the public calls them out on it. ...
Summitt's legacy will last long after she fades away. She showed that
women athletes can be successful, famous and achieve all their goals.
His argument is that Summitt has done so much more for women's sports than Patrick has. But who is really even debating that? He says he doesn't blame Patrick for using her sexuality to make money but then adds "I only wish so many female athletes didn't want it both ways." But is Danica one of those females? I've never heard her getting that upset over her image. She understands what she is doing and is fine with it. It just seems like he is creating a controversy that isn't there. No one is saying Patrick is some trailblazer for women's rights that should be revered and no one is denouncing Summitt for her work either. If he wanted to praise Summitt he could've done that without dragging Danica into it.