Archive for December, 2011

Fan reaction to NBA player movement

December 22, 2011

With the lockout shortened season and offseason, it has been a crazy, shortened lead-up to the first games on Christmas day. These past few weeks have been led by Dwight Howard and Chris Paul wanting trades out of their current location. This has caused uproar against NBA stars “asking out” of their current situations, and not just from fans of the Magic or Hornets, but by NBA fans all over—including some still bitter Cleveland fans.

This fan reaction is based on the idea that they have supported said players, and those guys shouldn’t just turn their back on the team and city. But if we look at it from the players’ viewpoint, it is a little different.

I am a fan, I love sports, and in particular basketball. I have a favorite team that we cheer for, and of course I’d be upset if the team I cheered for lost its best player. But fans shouldn’t look at it as the player stabbing us in the back. It’s a business decision for the athlete.

I think fans believe in loyalty in sports, but it isn’t necessarily true because it’s different for fans and players. Fans have, for the most part, loved the same team their entire lives (And if a fan has switched teams there is a good chance they aren’t truly fans, and have no right to be upset about “their favorite team” losing a player.). Because of this lifetime connection, fans are more attached to a team than the players are.

And for the players it’s a business when it comes down to it: it’s their job. Their employer is the Los Angeles Lakers or the Memphis Grizzlies or whomever. They probably didn’t grow up watching and loving that team the way a fan has.

They’ve been playing for a certain team for six years, not quite the amount of time you need to develop a connection and love for something (unless it’s a love for Chipotle, then that only takes one glorious trip and a few seconds of a delicious burrito). It’s their job, and Vince Carter aside, they mostly try their best night in and night out.

And that’s really all a fan can ask for—while a player is on the team, he does the best he can. And if he stays his entire career, or just finishes his rookie contract, that’s life.

Cavs fans were not happy with "The Decision"

There were so many negative things said about LeBron James when he left Cleveland, but what would fans have done in that situation. Money isn’t a problem to James, with what he’s made on the court and his endorsement deals off it, he doesn’t need the cash. So it was really an opportunity for LeBron: an opportunity to go play with his buddies, in Miami, and still make a lot of money. And his buddies just happen to be some of the best players in the league.

If I had the chance to work with two of my best friends, in a beautiful location and make a lot of money, I would do it in a second (Hell, I’ve had this conversation with a couple of my friends already, and think it would be a dream situation to work with people you have such a good time with.). And most fans probably would as well. We wouldn’t make our decision on a nationally televised special, because that is just stupid and “ego-tastic,” but we’d probably go work, and more importantly have fun, with our friends. And I don’t want Dwight or LeBron giving me career advice, unless it’s in the form of a check with a lot of zeroes.

So now that Paul and Howard are asking for trades, fans shouldn’t be getting upset again. It’s life…it’s their business. This is what happens in business. If people see something better going on in another company, even at a competitor, they make the move. You don’t want to be stuck in a bad job, with coworkers who aren’t able to help you reach your potential, right? When we make business decisions, we probably don’t think about how it will affect every last customer. Why do we hold athletes to higher standards?

Dwight could have gone about this in a better fashion.

If you want out, that’s fine, but either say you want out, or live with the situation. Dwight Howard asked for a trade then later said he wanted to stay in Orlando and he loved it there, or some line of crap he threw into the faces of the fans. Look, Dwight, and any other NBA player, has a right to ask for a trade and get out of his current location. Although from where I am right now, Orlando looks like a pretty sweet place to live. But if he wants to go that’s fine; just don’t go back and forth.

It’s bigger than him, he’s messing with the fans and that isn’t right. If you ask for a trade and the Magic don’t accept an offer, then you’ll have to play there for a year. But don’t try to make it easier for yourself by saying you love it there. If you loved it so much, you wouldn’t have requested a trade in the first place.

In a perfect world, he would quietly ask the GM for a trade, and go about his business as usual. And if a trade didn’t happen, then he would play the year out. Howard and Paul (who has already been traded) are both set to be free agents after this year anyway. After the 2011-2012 season, they are free to go wherever they want. And I mean wherever they want. Whether that is Orlando, New York, Los Angeles, Turkey or China…he earned the right to make his decision.

In a recent article Sam Smith commented on something similar to this. “Many of the NBA’s stars have transcendent talent, but they lack the will and desire to stand up for anything but their own comfort,” Smith wrote. You wish somewhere along the way someone was able to coach and teach them, but they probably never had the desire or inclination. And so they keep searching for the easy way.”

And with this idea in mind, doesn’t this make the guys like Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant that much more special? They want to win where they are. They did luck out with their teams though, don’t get me wrong. Both guys are in better situations than LeBron and Chris Paul were in, but I don’t think it would matter to them either way. They are happy to be in the city they are in, with the teammates they have.

As a Bulls fan, I’d hate to see Rose go somewhere else. It would kill me if he was doing reverse layups or tomahawk dunks in colors other than red and white, but that’s the game. I’d still love him, I’d still cheer for him…I’d be lying if I said it would be the same, but I know that’s part of sports.

That’s why I feel bad for fans when their favorite player leaves, or their team’s best player wants a trade. But that’s how professional sports are.

And if we flip this around, the owners would do the same thing if they had a chance. LeBron wasn’t worth any more to Dan Gilbert than what he could get out of him. There is no loyalty for sport’s owners; it’s what have you done for me lately and what can you do in the future. If LeBron wasn’t selling out Cleveland home and away games, Gilbert wouldn’t have cared if he went to Miami. But since he was the face of the franchise he should have less say in his situation?

That seems backwards to me…he should have more say, because he earned it more. Those Cleveland teams were not good—er they were actually really bad. Yet, LeBron brought them to Eastern Conference Semifinals three times, the Eastern Conference Finals once and the NBA Finals once as well. Without LeBron, that team would have won around 20 games, much like they did last season, when they won 19 in their first post-LeBron season.

Cavs fans should be able to love LeBron for what he gave them those seven years in Cleveland, not what he did on that hour television special. LeBron had the right to choose wherever he wanted to go…he shouldn’t have made his Decision the way he did, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have the right to choose.

And in the end, it comes down to the player’s choice. Because as fans, we may put a lot into the game, but our opinions don’t matter much, only our wallets do.

Miracles at Mile High

December 14, 2011

The three-step drop, a quick release and big yardage through the air all come to mind when thinking of the prototypical NFL quarterback. If you’re a Tim Tebow follower these are misconceptions.

After appearing in less than a season’s worth of games, Tim Tebow has built himself sort of a cult following, no pun intended. In true Tebow fashion, he has attracted these followers in an unconventional way. Tebow is a rare “good guy” in football and simply wins games.

The Tebow legend grew from high school and while playing at the University of Florida, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 2008 and led his team to two BCS National Championships (07’ and 09’). However, all the renown from college couldn’t earn Tebow the respect of pro scouts. Considered to be one of the best college players ever, Tebow didn’t garner the attention of other QB prospects.

…And with the 25th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos were willing to take a chance on Tebow. “NFL defenders will have a field day against Tim Tebow, he’ll be a bust.” Tebow and Denver heard it all and are now proving the naysayers wrong.

Tim Tebow is 7-1 as a starting QB and the Broncos’ 8-5 record is good enough for 1st in the AFC West. The Broncos’ success however cannot be wholly attributed to Tebow. Elvis Dumerville and Von Miller, who is 7th in the NFL with 11.5 sacks, provide a consistent pass rush for the secondary with the timeless Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey, in their 16th and 13th seasons, respectively. On the ground, Willis McGahee is approaching another 1,000 yard season.

Head Coach John Fox is also due credit. He put Tebow in for the struggling Kyle Orton in week 5 against San Diego. Tebow’s 16-point comeback against the Chargers would come up short, but would be a sign of things to come. After a week 6 bye, Tebow was named Denver’s starting QB. With Tebow at the helm, Denver is the only NFL team running a read-option—and it’s working. Since week 7, Tebow is 7-1 as a starter and has 5 fourth quarter comebacks in this current six-game win streak. The team, fans and team execs are buying into Tebow and rallying around him.

Now that Tebow is winning do the Jaguars regret not taking him with the 10th pick in the 2010 draft? Has he played up to being worth that 10th pick? Tebow, a Florida product, would’ve injected much needed life into the dying Jaguars franchise, which is always at the top of the list of teams to move to LA. Would embracing Tebow on offense work the same in Jacksonville? Could they run a read option? The offense would benefit from having the NFL’s leading rusher in Maurice Jones-Drew (1,222 yds, 7 TDs).

That’s all too hypothetical for now but back to reality. At 8-5 Denver leads the AFC West and is on track to win the division for the first time since 2005. With a solid defense, the NFL’s top ranked rushing offense and the unassailable Tim Tebow spearheading the offense, who’s to say Denver isn’t capable of a playoff run?

Either way you look at him, he gives every game his all. Even if you’re not a fan, he is good for the NFL. He’s a rare good character guy who is bringing new fans and stirring up interest for the NFL. The league likes this and so do fans that enjoy seeing the game evolve. He inspires those around him and his team doesn’t care if they’re winning in a non-traditional way. To sum it up, the Broncos keep games close and Tebow wins in crunch time. Along the way, the Broncos and Tebow will continue to silence critics…like Darrelle Revis.

Tebow and the Broncos in the playoffs are only a fantasy for now. In the meantime, many questions will arise: will opposing teams figure out Denver’s read option, is Tebow a long term solution and could the Broncos really bring the Lombardi trophy back to Denver? But with Tebow, as the University of Florida, Denver Broncos and coach John Fox have shown, it doesn’t hurt to have a little faith.

From Penn State to State Pen

December 7, 2011

 From Penn State to State Pen

A colossal story has stunned not only the world of collegiate athletics, but also the world in general. This story goes much deeper than football and “horsing around.” It’s not about players getting tattoos or being paid, it makes all recent, albeit many, college scandals pale in comparison. If you delve deep into the story, you will be amazed at its magnitude.

So you might’ve heard recently about this whole Jerry Sandusky, Penn State scandal thing. The Sandusky story is ubiquitous today. The story re-emerged in 2010 after the Harrisburg Patriot-News broke the story on Sandusky being the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The cover-up that is now being exposed was deemed necessary by the brass of PSU. Now remember, this scandal, these alleged sexual assaults, didn’t occur last week. They were ongoing, possibly over the course of 40+ years. Penn State was well aware of Sandusky’s actions due to prior inquiries and after his retirement in 1999 gave Sandusky free reign of the school’s athletic facilities and even his own office. This scandal is partly due to the cover-up by PSU, but does it have conspiracy element?

This story goes beyond football and retirees run amuck. In 1998, Sandusky was the subject of an investigation led by PA District Attorney Roy Gricar. Gricar opted not to prosecute Sandusky, which today is drawing a lot of criticism. The unfortunate thing is that no one knows where to address these criticisms because Gricar vanished without a trace in April 2005. Police said they’ve determined Gricar’s disappearance and the Sandusky case are not related. One PSU student thinks that the cases could definitely be linked—that makes two of us.

“With the power that Penn State holds and who they knew, I could see them being behind his disappearance. So much that was hidden before is coming out, and it seems they (PSU) would do anything to protect their brand,” said a PSU student who wished to remain anonymous.

A public relations nightmare, the scandal has cut out Penn State’s work for them. The early solution to show PSU was active in solving their problems was to clean house. On November 9, PSU President Graham Spanier lost his job and the once infallible head coach Joe Paterno was fired. Did these drastic measures calm the public outcry for action? Not even close, says one Penn State student.

“I’m disgusted. Where were our leaders during the whole ordeal? I didn’t hear anything from President Spanier until it was about him losing his job, ” said Craig Stone a senior at Penn State.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, sales of clothing with the PSU name have already dropped 40%. Correlations between statistics like this and the scandal will only increase with time. This scandal has permanently tarnished the once respected PSU name, reputation and brand. The long-term effects on the university that will influence admissions, patronage and so much more are starting to emerge and will be seen on into the future. This is only the beginning.