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.
I'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!
Meet LeBron AKA God
Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald sees no flaws in LeBron now: Because now Miami knows how to do it. Because now LeBron James, the only player in the sport without a single hole in his game, owns the keys that unlock everything.
He holds the key to eternal happiness, the end to starvation and world peace! LeBron has come to save us all! But seriously, no holes in his game? He shot 26-percent from 3-point range and his jump shot is still shaky. He certainly figured out how to limit his weaknesses but he's far from flawless.
Because now doubt has been knocked aside by proof. Because now Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh know their roles.
We have no idea what Dwyane Wade has left in him now. Maybe he will come back healthy but maybe he won't. As for Bosh, hasn't he always known his role? He's been a pretty steady force since joining the Heat.
Because now veterans have seen what Shane Battier did at the end, and are going to want to go out like that, too.
Are these veterans also going to catch absolute fire the way Battier did? The Heat will get interest from veterans looking for a ring but they got that in Mike Bibby, Erick Dampier, Eddie House, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire and Jerry Stackhouse last year and how did that turn out?
T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times believes Kobe's chances at another NBA title are done: Like the fading MVP chants in Staples, try as he will, there's just not enough left to muster another championship run. ... Kobe hit 43% of his shots this season on bolstered confidence, his worst shooting performance since starting one game his second season in the league.
Sure, Kobe should take some blame for taking a few too many shots but the reason he shot 43% this season is because the Lakers had no outside shooting. LA was tied for 25th in 3-point shooting percentage this season. Without anyone able to hit those shots, Kobe was left taking awful looks at the end of the shot clock. I don't know if Kobe will get another crack at a title because his salary makes it tough for the Lakers to make many moves but it's not because his skills are fading. He's not nearly as athletic as he used to be but his shot is just about as pure as it ever has been.
Worst Line Following Sandusky Verdict
Mike Lopresti of USA Today wasn't intentionally trying to be funny but I couldn't help but chuckle at this line: The trial is over, but where did their childhoods go? The tickle monster took them.
Can we never use tickle monster ever again? Can that moniker be retired forever now? It went from being a playful nickname an Uncle would give himself to just about the creepiest insult you could ever bestow upon someone.
Rob Dauster of Sports Illustrated argues that the NCAA's increased academic standards could be a bad thing: Rare is the occasion that valuing education is bad. The problem is that, while well-intentioned, these rule changes are not perfect. We'll start with the obvious: the incentive for academic fraud, as far down as the high school level, increases exponentially. Asking a kid to get a 2.5 GPA and a 1,000 on the SATs is not the same as asking that kid to get accepted into MIT, but it's also not exactly a cakewalk. Finding ways to get a player eligible have become a cottage industry at the high school level, and that is unlikely to change as more players are going to need the last minute help to get pushed through the NCAA's clearinghouse.
By Dauster's logic we shouldn't be so stringent on building codes because it just increases the likelihood that an owner of a building will pay off the inspector. Yes, upping the academic standards will probably increase academic fraud but is the solution to just not do it then? How about we up the standards AND try to stop the fraud when it happens?