National

From entertainment to danger

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Eric LeGrand was honored by fans by being voted on to the cover of Sports Illustrated

If you’re anything like me, you love the Madden hit stick. The satisfaction of landing a big hit on a wide receiver jarring the ball loose for an incompletion, or nailing a running back and forcing a fumble all with the flick of a thumb is such an honor (thank you creators of Madden). The first time I used it, I was like a little kid who was just given a new Star Wars toy. Just like I abused my Star Wars Millennium Falcon, I also abused the Madden hit stick. I used it constantly; I’m talking every play.

And, if you’re anything like me, you rarely made contact with the hit stick. Was it just me or did it seem like every time you used it, your player completely whiffed the ball carrier, and he proceeded to gain an extra five yards? Maybe I was just bad with it, but that didn’t stop me from using it. A few broken controllers and hundreds of cuss words later, I still adore the Madden hit stick-no matter how frustrating it can be.

The reason is simple: when you do make contact, when everything comes together– your mind, body, sweat , thumb, controller, Xbox 360, Madden—when all those things come together, and you land the perfect hit, it’s probably one of the most rewarding experiences the Madden game has to offer. You feel like a man; you then proceed to shout like a man—you are a man.

Now let’s step back from the video game of Madden and look at the NFL. In the midst of the passing craze that has dazzled the league, my inner-Madden- hit stick craving self wants to yell at Mr. Roger Goodell himself.

“Mr. Goodell, you not allowing a safety to make a hit on a wide receiver over the middle of the field, or allowing a defensive end to hit a quarterback leading with his helmet  is like taking out the hit stick in Madden.”

After he recovered from passing out in shock (taking out the hit stick in Madden is considered blasphemous), he would quickly change the bogus rule that has been implemented to protect offensive players.

But things aren’t that way, and there’s a reason for that.

You see, my brother and I are like any average guys. We fight (For the record, I win), we eat, and we watch football. When we do watch football, it’s similar to your average watch party—a little back and forth banter, nothing special. But there’s one thing we almost always manage to say once every football game.

“Wow, that’s a bogus call.” Of course, we say that almost ten times, but we always say it at least once when a lineman or a safety is called for leading with the helmet.

And if my dad is with us, after the call is made, we usually come to a general consensus, “football is becoming a wimp’s sport.” (This is the G version)

We don’t take into the consideration the danger a player that leads with his helmet is in; we don’t think about all the injuries that have occurred because a player led with his helmet; we don’t think.

We want to see the big hit. The violence. The potential to rattle the ball loose. We are savages. We want to see the player yell after making the hit. We want to yell with them.

We forget everything about the safety of the players, the importance of a person, and instead we think of ourselves and our entertainment. It’s pathetic. I’m pathetic. My brother and dad are pathetic. We think that a player might be injured and soon be able to get back up. And that’s a sad belief.

When you look at the cover of Sports Illustrated, you will see a picture of Eric LeGrand, a Rutgers player who was paralyzed from the neck down because he tried to tackle leading with his helmet. The picture is of him returning to the Rutgers football field before the game starts (the actual injury is in the video below.)

Looking at the picture and watching the play makes me realize something that I will always try to remember when I think there is a bogus leading with the helmet call: the players out on the field are more than just a video game player, they are a human being.

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Once upon a time

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After two rough losses, this is a little artifact we found from the Tim Tebow glory days…

When owning gets expensive

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Sorry to all the Scrooges, I’m not done with Christmas. Not yet.

Unfortunately, this year Santa Claus didn’t follow the instructions on my Christmas list (I thought I made it pretty clear). I managed to mail it to the North Pole; maybe he didn’t receive it, or maybe his elves couldn’t make it.  I don’t know.  All I know is that Mr. Santa didn’t buy me my stock in the Packers.

Before I indulge you with the details (I cried for two hours and later taught my little cousins some new words to describe Santa), I want to explain why I wanted a stock in the Packers in the first place.

I’m the kid who believes the Packers are my team. If I were living in Green Bay this may be true, since the Packers are community owned, but I don’t. This is my terminology when talking about the Packers…

We- “We need to get our running game going.”

Us- “Don’t be hating on us because we have the first seed in the NFC.”

Aaron (Rodgers)- “Aaron and I are really good friends. He’s coming over today to play some Madden.”

You guys- “You guys just blew that game against the Raiders.”

To put it simply, my friends don’t really appreciate it. They seem to think that because I’m not on the Packers, I can’t use that terminology. And so, that’s why I wanted a stock in the Packers: no longer would one of my friends be able to say that I’m not a part of the Packers organization, because, heck, I would have owned them.

After getting over Santa’s minor blunder, I realized that I don’t need a paper certificate (That’s really all it is considering it is non-tax deductible) for me to proclaim that the Packers are my team, and I urge all fans of all sports and of all teams to take a similar stance.

Let’s face it; we aren’t a part of our respective teams. I’ll be honest, if I went out on Sunday and played with the Packers, I think Ndamukong Suh wouldn’t even have to stomp on me, he could just fall on top of me, and I would be done. It would save him the headache of trying to explain why he tried to stomp a guy’s head off, and it would save us the headache from hearing every ESPN guy talking about how they like Suh’s toughness but think he took it too far (No? Really? I couldn’t tell).

Suh ANGRY!

But without the fans, these athletes are nothing. Without us cheering our asses off in sub -freezing temperatures, without us purchasing tickets, without us buying their merchandise, these NFL players are playing just another backyard football game. What’s to separate my CYO basketball game, or my uncle’s softball league from the NBA and MLB besides the rampant fan interest in the latter examples (OK, I guess the talent level is a little different too).

The game and the league, for that matter, would have no implications without its fans. When playing in front of an audience, the game feels more important, because it’s more than a game: it’s about winning for the team’s community, for their fan base.

Speaking from a strictly business perspective, it’s obvious that without fans the NFL, or any other sports league, would be nothing. Consider the new reported nine year television contract expansion the NFL agreed to with Fox, NBC, and CBS. Although the financial terms have not been released, the three networks are expected to pay roughly $3 billion a year (Forbes). Yes, you read that correctly, $3 billion. The only way the NFL receives this incredible amount of money is through the support of its passionate fans.

So the next time a friend asks you what you think of the Chiefs or the Royals, you can proudly say the re-occurring chant for both organizations, “We are building for the future.”

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“The Christmas Story”

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 I hope everyone had a good Christmas. This is our first actual blog post, and to be honest we didn’t know where to start. We could start with the youngest MVP ever, Derrick Rose and his clutch shot (weird, it actually looked like he was an MVP), the Heat’s claim to the best team in the NBA, the Packers clinching home field advantage (thank God), or the Chiefs choking an incredible chance at reaching the playoffs: all were viable and interesting topics.

But today we aren’t talking about sports, okay who am I kidding, we are, but not in the sense of current sport happenings. After spending a delightful Christmas with my family up in Wisconsin, I couldn’t help but realize the pain everyone must have been through. I seemed to be having the same conversation with every uncle, aunt, cousin, you name it.

“No, Uncle Larry, I don’t know where I’m going to college.”

“YES, I am going to college, Uncle Larry, don’t worry.”

“No, I’m not going into medicine.”

“Yes, it’s a shame. Yes I will reconsider, thanks for your loving support.”

As painful as the family parties were (we had one Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) I made it, and there’s one thing I’ve noticed. No matter how loud my Uncle can get, how drunk my older cousin can get, or how boring the whole night can get, I still have sports. This was a grand weekend for sports, and I’m telling you, even Jesus must have been smiling down at the spectacles taking place.

And God said, "Let man fly."

After a beautiful mass in which everyone was messing up the new missal words,(note to all Catholics: it’s “and with your spirit” now. If you’re not Catholic, disregard this. It will have no meaning to you.) When I came home I saw Carmelo Anthony lead a shaky Knicks team at the Garden against a Pierce-less Celtics. I don’t see the Knicks making it to the Eastern Finals, not as long as Stoudemire doesn’t play defense. Kevin Garnett was hitting the 18 footer in his face throughout the game.

Continuing with the NBA debut, I still think Kobe Bryant has it. Sure, he should have pulled up for a shot instead of driving for a layup for the last second shot. And sure, he’s not as young as he was five years ago, but if anyone knows NBA basketball, they know that Bryant will show up for the playoffs. The only problem with the Lackers is the play of their ancient point guards and small forwards.

On to football. I’m simply going to give some running commentary courtesy of the Capelli family

“Only in the NFL. These guys are super-athletes jumping over a player. Are you kidding me?”

*an attempt at a choking sound* “The Chiefs blew that one.”

“My Raiders! My Raiders!”

“I’m telling you the Saints are dangerous. I’m telling you they will beat the Packers.”

“Tim Tebow go home. There ain’t no Tebow time anymore.”

“No one wants to see a re-run of the most boring game in the College football season. BORING!”

“I hate the Jets.”

“I hate Rex Ryan.”

“I hate Mark Sanchez.” (If you can’t tell we hate the Jets)

That’s not even mentioning the Packers game.

“Jordy can’t catch the ball!”

“Why is Aaron Rodgers yawning?”

“There he goes! He’s doing it again!”

“Our defense sucks. Unbelievable. We aren’t going to win a Super Bowl with that defense.”

“Why aren’t we running the ball…Oh, that’s why. Starks needs to hit that hole like ten seconds earlier.”

And that’s how I made it through my Christmas experience. I want to personally thank all the athletes playing sports. It was one of the best presents I could have asked for.

Blase/Spencer

The Versatile Forwards

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 The forwards will dominate this year. They will dominate in statistics, highlights, and hardware. What makes these forwards so dangerous is their ability to shoot from anywhere on the court. Also they are able to dominate down low. Although the small fowards and power forwards are different players, they will be using there unique versatility to dominate the smaller, weaker, and slower defenders.

 The top three small forwards are Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony. All three players can take over the game better then anyone else in the league. These select forwards can be a major threat from the three and also driving to the basket. The place where James is most dangerous is in transition. He runs the floor better then anyone I have ever seen. Kevin Durant makes his opponents take away one aspect of his game and kills him with the other. Melo is most dangerous posting his opponent up. With his post-up he can drive or shoot over the defender. All three players have a chance to win the MVP but I give the early edge to LeBron James. Durant closely follows, and he will lead the league is scoring. These super stars are always a high light real waiting to explode.

The power forward position is a much longer list without the complete stand outs. For the highlight real player Blake Griffin is on top of everyone lists. With the addition of Chris Paul the top 10 plays will be half of the Clippers for the first time. It may be the only air time the Clippers get. Furthermore, Griffin will be along players such as Kevin Love, Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, and Al Jefferson. The power forward position is extremely different from the small forward because these players like to dominate in the post. Players like Kevin Love and Al Jefferson love to grab every shot that is put up. I expect Stoudemire and Love to dominate the statistics.

The hardware for the year will be dominated by the forwards. I believe Derrick Williams will win Rookie of the Year. James will snag the MVP barely. Lastly, I predict that the Champions will be James and the Heat over Durant and the Thunder.

For the record, I predict that the addition of Rip Hamilton to the Chicago Bulls will end up being huge because it makes defenders respect the the outside shot which allows Derrick Rose to attack the paint. In addition, the Mavericks will be a major disappointment. The loss of Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler will destroy the team. They do not have enough pieces to be able to compete. Also, the age factor of Nowitzki and Jason Kidd will be huge with less rest between games because of the shortened season.

The rankings come from ESPN

Spencer/Blase

A fan’s shame

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Oh, my Ryan Braun, what did you do to me? My favorite team. My favorite player. Oh, what art thou done?

Everything that could be good in a baseball player, you ruined-and for what-a couple more homers?

Your swing was so smooth, smoother than Keith Stone, smoother than a baby’s bottom, smoother than my pinewood derby car after hours of sandpapering (Did anyone else do that or was that just me? It’s like I had a disorder: the car had to be perfectly smooth)

And don’t think for a moment I forgot about your hair. It’s as if the flow gods took a chunk of hair from Zeus and said, “This mortal is going to have some sick flow.”

We had such a good year. We won our first division title since 1982. You had a healthy .332 batting average complimented by 33 homers. You won an NL MVP. For once, I was proud of my team, proud of the players on my team.

But you shamed me. When I first heard the allegations, I felt embarrassed. Embarrassed that one of my favorite players actually broke such an important rule. I felt naked. I wanted to go home and wrap myself in a blanket and cry. I’ve always wondered how it felt to be a fan of a player accused of using PEDs, but I never liked Manny’s antics or Roger Clemens’s I’m-the-better than you attitude. I laughed at others when I heard such allegations. I shouted, “Cheater!” at my TV. I yelled. I yelled because of players like you. Because, I thought you were clean.

You seemed so sure of yourself. I never thought for a second, you, out of all players would even think of taking such drugs, much less actually using them. I was in denial. I cheered you on when you said you would appeal. Hey even a drug test can go wrong, right?

But as time passed, I moved on to acceptance. Oh, it hurts too much to say, but I must. Ryan Braun, you should be banned from baseball. It’s in the best interest of all of us for this to happen. You broke my heart, and for that I cannot forgive you. The game needs to remove the steroid culture that has permeated it since the days of Jose Canseco. It needs to remove any desire or even the remotest thought of using PEDs by players. What better way to stop such thoughts by banning a player who used it at the height of his career? What better way to prevent steroid use, with a strong, absolute ruling? If the game wants to be serious about moving on from the steroid era, it must set an example, and here’s a perfect opportunity.

I realize Ramirez was only given 50 games, and A-Rod was only given 15 games, but Commissioner Bud Selig has a chance to crack down on the use of steroids and you, Ryan, must be the sacrificial lamb. I’m all for second chances, but Ryan, a second chance you don’t deserve.

I wanted to tell my sons about the “Great Ryan Braun” leading the Brewers to prominence, but now I cannot even think of such ideas, for you left a void in my heart- a void that cannot be filled by a mere suspension.

Blase

“Uncle Sam” NBA Style

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I don’t want to say I told you so, but I told you so. Commissioner David Stern’s decision to decline the three team trade, which included Chris Paul heading to the Lakers, only proves that the NBA might not seem as fair as almost everyone believes.

This has to be one of the most embarrassing moments for the NBA. This has to rank up there with the “Malice at the Palace” or the Tim Donahue referee scandal. For David Stern to decline the trade because “it wasn’t in the best interest of the league” has to be some kind of sick joke. I’m just waiting for the “Gotcha!” that has been about 20 hours late.

When I first thought the NBA was fixed and told my friends what I thought, at first, they laughed in my face, which was then proceeded by “you are crazy”, which was then followed by “you are stupid.”

Back then I took it. But not now, now I have some undeniable proof that the NBA might be one of the most corrupt leagues in the United States. How can Stern justify declining the trade when the Hornets arguably had the best part of the three team trade. Luis Scola is a solid offensive big man, Kevin Martin is a scoring machine, and Lamar Odom is a proven six man.

I’m curious as to why Stern even did this. The NBA has thrived when there are power teams. Think Lakers-Celtics in the 80s and Bulls- in the 90s. Picture this. Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum versus Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Chris Bosh in the NBA Finals. Minus well throw away the All-Star game, it’s not like it has a point anymore, because this is about as good as it gets. Throw in the Knicks with Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler and things just got a whole lot more interesting in the Eastern Conference.

I’m all for equality for all teams. But let’s face it; these players don’t want to play in Indianapolis or Minneapolis. That’s what these NBA players have started doing. They have options as free agents, and they aren’t always necessarily following the money.

This move by David Stern will be remembered as one of the most immature, stubborn move of his career. As long as he the Commissioner of the league, I won’t be able to take the NBA seriously. There will always be that lingering doubt, that “maybe there is someone controlling the league.” And that someone might not be the players.

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