It’s NFL time! My favorite sport has returned and everybody is fired up since last season’s team holdout, upright-doinking (my poor Bears), high-scoring, penalty-missing, miracle walk-off executing, record-breaking, drama. If you’ve been watching, you truly saw it all last year.
While we’re talking about sports, I can’t think of a single fan or casual sports viewer that will watch a contest between two teams without finding something that gets their “goat” (no Brady or Jordan pun intended). Whether you’re in stadium stands, arena seats, high school bleachers or sitting with friends at a bar or at home, there’s always something that’s going to rub you the wrong way: a play decision, a ref’s call, a blowout, noisy fan, etc. You name it. Always something…
In fact, some people let anything get to them and they’re quick to voice it to anyone within earshot (who will listen). Some will take to social media while others just keep it to themselves and sigh while shaking their head. Everybody’s different. But there’s allllllways something…
God, if only we could… …just… Never mind.
Let’s get it poppin’ because I know you can relate to some of the following…
Please note that I said, “PEOPLE IN sports” because this is about the nutjobs in and out of the sports world and not the competitive activities, themselves. And of course, these are my own opinions.
1. “GOAT” arguments. How many people do you know on Facebook or Twitter that have dedicated hours and essays to support their argument on Jordan vs James? I even know someone who got into a physical altercation as a result of discussion on this topic.
Why is this so important to you? There is no one who is truly qualified to make a proper assessment because outside of stats and rings, you really have no way of truly knowing.
Whether it’s an NBA player, baseball player, an NFL quarterback, running back, wide receiver or whatever, most of the athletes in question played during entirely different eras, with different teammates, against different opponents, under different circumstances and quite possibly with slightly different rules. Apples to “Orange Crush” (See? Many of you younger readers have no idea who that NFL squad is. Like I said, no effective method of comparison).
Me personally? I LOVE Michael Jordan. He led my Chicago Bulls to 6 titles in 8 years! Who does that? In my opinion, he did things under scenarios that will ALWAYS make him the GOAT. Are you old enough to remember the “Flu Game” during the 1997 NBA Finals? Dehydrated, exhausted and struggling with flu-like symptoms, MJ dropped 38 points to lead his team to victory during the pivotal Game 5 against the Utah Jazz. Watching him lean on teammate Scottie Pippen as he struggled to the sidelines during a time-out was epic and almost tear evoking.
I don’t think LeBron is better, but for what it’s worth, he’s definitely among the best in the game today. However, there are many who will argue that point until they’re Cleveland Cavalier-blue in the face. One of the more interesting arguments from LeBron-haters is that he entered the league sooner, by-passing the NCAA, on his quest to some of his Jordan-edging statistics. So the age at which he reached some of his milestones is not a far comparison.
On a final side note, no matter what you all decide, it won’t change what I saw and the joy I experienced with each championship. So honestly, I don’t care. We got ours.
2. Kids (and uninterested significant others) at NBA Games. Every time I see a close-up of children, sleeping in the front rows of NBA games I want to throw my wings (won’t happen though – I cooked or paid for them with non-NBA salary) at the screen. I’m a broke-ass fan who can’t get front row seats to save my life. I can’t and probably never will afford them.
I’m not hating, but why are you throwing it in our faces by bringing kids who don’t even know what a basketball IS? Same goes for these strings of 3 or 4 ladies sitting together who obviously have zero interest in the game (not singling out or stereotyping women at all, but it’s what you see quite ofetn. I have female friends that would LOVE to be there and would be heavily into it, every tock on the clock.). They’re so often seen behind the team, spending the entire time talking, taking selfies and making social media updates, flaunting their designer jewelry. They clearly don’t want to be there. Some just want to be seen on camera. But hey, do what you want, the tickets were paid for. No rules apply. *sigh*
Anyway, since I can’t even afford to pay attention, who am I to say who you should and shouldn’t buy tickets for? (But if you want a cheer-buddy, buy ME a ticket and I’LL be your escort for the game! At least we’ll cheer together! And I don’t look TOO bad in make-up.)
3. Parent Managers. Parents! OMG!!! The odds of your child making it to the pros are astronomical! How many of the 20-30 kids on your Pee-Wee league team go on to play in high school? How many high school athletes get scholarships? And consider this: Fewer than 2% of NCAA student-athletes go on to become professional athletes. So why are you losing your mind if the coach plays your child less than 100% of the time?
Nobody desires to pay for league membership, uniform costs and post-game snacks just to see their child on the sidelines, but EVERYBODY needs some playing time. Some do play better than others and will be utilized in key situations, but that’s how the game is managed. Don’t forget, the goal is to win.
And as far as participation in general, we know you love your kids, as you should, but let them enjoy the game and stop putting so much pressure on them. Give them the tools and support they need, but let them decide what THEY want to do.
As a former coach, sadly, I’ve had to ask abusive parents to leave games and sometimes, the team. Watching kids being screamed at excessively is incredibly demoralizing, disruptive and heartbreaking. Makes you wonder what goes on at home, especially when I see an embarrassed and crying wife trying to calm an out-of-control man down. And the drama I’ve seen between divorcées and co-parents, wow. Look dads, LAY OFF. You want to know the root cause in why they burn out and don’t want to return next year? YOU!
4. Fighting in the stands. Drunk, obscene fans who yell in your ear or spill beer on your shoulders. A parent, talking negatively about a player on the field, not knowing that they’re sitting next to his/her parents. Rivals, seated next to one-another. The person in front of you refusing to sit down. Someone spotting their ex with that new person. A student, confronting a classmate about something they said in school. Someone eyeing someone else’s significant other obnoxiously. A racist comment blurted out by an ignorant enthusiast. Trash-talking getting out of hand. I don’t care what the reason, I think it’s ridiculous. If you can’t govern your own mouth and activity or know when to ignore someone or leave people alone, you need to be somewhere else. I came to watch the fight on the field, not the brawl three rows beneath me. And don’t let me get started on the gang activity and possession of weapons.
5. Fans/Parents assaulting officials and coaches. While we’re on the subject of violence, I’ve seen some of the craziest attacks on officials and coaches imaginable, in person. Back before people had the ability to record events with their phones and upload them to Youtube, it was all about the video camera. I was recording a game that soon became a jaw-dropping melee after a young basketball player’s father walked out onto the court and began arguing with the ref. Before we knew it, he caught the ref with a right cross annnnd off into the stands they tumbled. The fight soon expanded, involving moms, staff, players… It was awful. I never posted it, but I still have it.
Anyone remember the case where the little league player’s father confronted the coach after the game, which resulted in him killing the coach in anger, in front of horrified children?
And I will NEVER forget the 2013 tragedy in Brazil when the referee stabbed and killed a player, only to be mobbed by spectators, stoned to death and Dear God, QUARTERED??? You cut his HEAD off and put it on a stake in the middle of the field?!?!? What is this? Soccer or Mortal Kombat 11?
Lord, it ain’t that serious, people.
6. Disloyal professional athletes – I can understand how you want to be traded when you’re on a dead-end team that doesn’t even seem to WANT to improve or refuses to pay you our worth. I have a strong admiration for those that choose to stay and BE the change they want to experience. But with franchise tags, free agency and God knows what else, who has real incentive to stay with a team for very long anymore? Dallas’ “Doomsday Defense”, Miami’s “No-Name Defense”, Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain”, Denver’s “Orange Crush”, Minnesota’s “Purple People Eaters”? Not any time soon. You just can’t keep players together. (Now do you understan what I meant when I mentioned “orange crush” earlier?)
And what’s bit about joining teams full of superstars? What fun is winning a video game if all of your players have a rating of 100 in all categories? Where’s the challenge? Michael Jordan (yup, I said it again) said he wanted to BEAT the best. Not be WITH them.
7. Disloyal fans – Plain and simple: If you won’t stick with your team when they’re struggling, don’t come waving the team flag when they’re playoff bound. I swear some of you change teams more than you do your underwear!
One of my funniest memories was back in 2001, when Bears fans left a game early, having given up on their team. Sure, you want to beat traffic when all hope is lost, but I’m with my team until the end. Guess what? The team came back to force overtime and won when Bears safety Mike Brown intercepted a pass and ran it into the endzone. Anyone notice that fan in the stands holding a sign that read, “I will NEVER leave a Bears game again”? And kudos to Mike for having accomplished the very same feat, one game prior. Historic.
8. “Participation” trophies – Look, I realize that it’s all about having fun, but you still need to teach children some sense of a competitive spirit. I know kids that honestly don’t care about winning because their parents told them they’d be getting their “Very Own TROPHY!!!” after the season.
When I was coming up, the champions got the best trophies, along with those that made the playoffs. Team MVPs as well. But everyone else? Ribbons and certificates, if that. I don’t have a problem with that. “Fun” is fine, but “complacency” is just flat-out enabling. Then again, these are my opinions.
9. Celebrities who can’t stay in their lane – Point 1: Yeah, it’s fun, watching celebrities give personal opinions alongside the actual commentators, but hiring Dennis Miller to host Monday Night Football simply because he’s the “in” comedian? Sacrilege! Let’s leave the analysis to the specialists, shall we? One of the most shameful moments in sports was when I had to endure former Laker, Magic Johnson during one of his first attempts in the booth. Listening to him say, “He thowed the ball” (no, there is no typo there – sound it out) was a clear indication of a lack of proper education, or at least the usage of it. In fact, his vocabulary was so dreadful that he quickly became the butt of stand-up and sketch comedies for years. Thankfully, he had the good sense to get some tutoring because after a recognizable break, you noticed significant improvement.
Point 2: I love when the cameras give you the “Who’s Who” during those Lakers pre-game and time-out breaks (Tom Cruise, Charlize Theron, Salma Hayek, Eliza Dushku, Dustin Hoffman, etc.), it’s a roll call of the rich and famous. But when Kobe Bryant lost his cool during a game and Jack Nicholson WALKED ONTO the court with calming, outstretched hands, clearly mouthing, “Kobe, Calm DOWN”, I decided that celebrity privilege had just gone too damn far. Sit down, Jack. The “Shining” from the arena lights is reflecting off of your bald spot for all to see.
…and what about Kevin Hart trying to crash the stage during the Lombardi trophy presentation during Superbowl LII? Why are you even on the field? BAH!
10. Team Fans, in general – “How Bout Dem Cowboys?”, “Who Dey”, “Go Pack Go”, “O-H”, “Da Bears” (yeah, even some of my fellow Bears fans) can be quite over-the-top sometimes). Whether it’s the FSU Tomahawk Chop or the Steeler’s Terrible Towels, sometimes we forget how obnoxious we can be. Yes, your team may be doing well this season. They might be recent champions or even better, in the making of a Dynasty. But not everyone thinks that you’re “America’s Team”. Have you checked around the league lately? It’s hilarious how many teams are hated simply because of the brass personalities of their fans.
And look people, just because someone moves to your town it does NOT mean they’re obligated to convert to your colors. Don’t expect them to join you in your war chant and for God’s sake, don’t lose your mind when they install a mailbox with the colors and logo of your rival. It’s healthy competition, it’s sports, not politics!
Just remember, after all is said and done, unless you wagered your house in a game bet, nothing changes. You still have to report to work on Monday with your hoarse voice and hangover.
Life goes on…
Well, that’s it. What do you think? Do you agree? Can you think of something I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to know your thoughts!
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