Pro Sports Postponement: Empathy, Not Divisiveness, Is Key With Fans and Players

Giannis Pro Sports postponement protests

This week, the NBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS all postponed games in wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year old black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shooting occurred on Sunday, August 23.

Unfortunately, the issue of police brutality has become so divisive in United States society. Many players have come to the forefront for causes they believe in, such as police reform and voting rights mainly.

Athletes Need Fan Support When Deciding to Boycott Pro Sports

Professional athletes are taking a stand. These athletes will not stand for police brutality and voter suppression, but are being met with push back by some fans. There are people that believe that players should shut up and play. Fans may feel this way because they could not decide to not go to work, for example, and be able to take a stand in a way similar to what professional athletes have done.

However, it is close-minded to think that players do not have a distinct purpose and reason for their actions. Yes, they are in a position where they can afford to protest by not “working” in a sense. But for change to occur in society, there needs to be prominent figures at the forefront. The players made the right decision to postpone games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday because now there is more attention on issues that US citizens should care about. Whether or not one agrees with some of the positions that players have on these issues, players need fan support in the same way they need fan support on game night.

Decision to Postpone or Play Games Should Be Players’ Decision

There have been many people who have called for pro sports teams for the postponement of their games, while some have decided to play their games. If fans want to truly support their players, they will realize that each player views the situation differently. Some players believe that they can show solidarity by not playing. Others feel like playing gives them a platform to be vocal about these issues. Players have been both praised and criticized for the position they have taken.

In the end, the decision to play or not play should be up to the players. Fans can choose whether to support the players’ decision or not. There are charity events and initiatives that players give their time to for the fans. It is time that fans support players in whatever decision they make about playing, whether or not they agree with it.

Anchor // iTunes // Spotify // Breaker // PocketCasts // Google Play // Stitcher // RadioPublic // Castbox 

Leagues Had Different Ways of Handling Postponement of Pro Sports

The NHL players played on Wednesday. On Thursday, they made a united decision to postpone games Thursday and Friday. There was backlash from certain people over the decision to play Wednesday. Some, including Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault, were so focused on playoff hockey. There simply was not enough time for some people within the NHL’s two hub cities to fully grasp the situation.

NBA players were already thinking about their actions days earlier. That is the main reason they were able to come to their decision quicker. They thought about the potential ramifications of their decision and decided to resume play on Saturday. NBA players have been the most vocal about the issue of police brutality. They are the reason that August 26, 2020, will always be remembered.

However, the way both leagues handled the situation was acceptable. Even though the NHL was late to the party, they are playing their games in another country. It was better for the NHL to fully digest the situation from an outsider’s view and make an informed decision.

Divisiveness a Main Narrative Being Written About the USA Right Now

Some fans do not want to watch sports anymore because they feel that through protesting that politics are being brought into sports. Fans may not agree with the avenue in which players are protesting or the causes they are protesting for. This is okay. But right now, the players need to know they have fan support.

There are numerous narratives being written about what is going on in the United States of America right now. However, when some say blanket statements that single other people out in a negative light, they should not expect a positive reaction from their opponents.

A frustrating aspect of these protests is the partisanship that could be associated with them. For example, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma tweeted Wednesday night about how momentum would need to continue “even if we get a Democrat in the office.” Someone who supports the decision by the NBA players to protest, but does not necessarily identify as a Democrat, could be put off by this statement. However, the divisive political rhetoric of 2020 is the reason that Kuzma feels this way.

There is rhetoric from people that identify as both Republican and Democrat that is extremely frustrating to see. Kuzma tweeted about his belief that there was fear-mongering from Kimberly Guilfoyle, who was speaking at the Republican National Convention. When the term “lawlessness” is being thrown around by people like Kimberly Guilfoyle when describing protests in communities where people like Jacob Blake lived, of course there is going to be outrage.

Issues are Divisive, and People Not Acknowledging Different Viewpoints Could Be Damaging

Kimberly Guilfoyle fails to acknowledge that the majority of people in the streets are peacefully protesting. The protesters want to see a positive change in society. They also realize how real the problem of systemic racism is in the United States of America. People like Guilfoyle come under fire from so many people is because they have not made a simple acknowledgment to Black people that their lives matter. Guilfoyle and many others spoke at the Republican National Convention. They failed to show any solidarity towards the Jacob Blake shooting or the issues that players care about.

Everyone’s vote matters. Every US citizen should have the right to vote. If people want to go to the voting booth, it should be an easy process. Governments have to aid in this effort, and it seems like this is where part of the player’s protest is coming from.

However, Kuzma’s comment might make one question what the push to get people to vote is really about. Someone could interpret it as certain players having an agenda to help a single party out. People can truly educate themselves about all of the candidates, and realize there are more candidates to choose from than the ones with the D and R next to their name. However, it still has to be the person’s option on who they want to vote for, or even if they want to vote. They are given the right to vote, but voting is not required by law.

Postponement of Pro Sports Being Used to Encourage People to Vote and Empathize With the Black Community

We cannot afford to live in a society that preaches fear. When people go to vote, they need to feel assured that their vote is fair. At this point, it has been assured that citizens do not feel confident in their ability to vote. There are flaws in the voting system, and certain groups are marginalized.

The postponement of pro sports games was sparked by a police officer deciding to shoot a black man seven times in the back. This type of behavior by police officers simply cannot be tolerated, and athletes from all sports have spoken. Try to put yourself in this situation. Should someone have to be shot seven times in the back because they may be holding a knife? Jacob Blake did admit to holding a knife, but does he deserve to be handcuffed to a hospital bed? The answer is no.

The reason these protests are happening is that people are not getting equal treatment. Justice is not happening for all right now. It is important that we listen and validate everyone’s concerns with police relations with all communities, especially the African American community. It is important that all of us – athletes, fans, government officials – show the African American community that their lives matter.

Madness Inc Report: Don’t Criticize Players Who Sit Out Bowl Games

College Players sitting out Bowl Games

As the college football post-season begins, the list of players opting out of post-season play continues to grow. This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it appears to be a growing trend. Several players have already announced their intentions to sit out of bowl games. A couple of those players include Brandon Wimbush from Notre Dame and Kamal Martin from Minnesota. More and more players are unwilling to risk injury to participate in bowl games. Many fans heavily criticize players who opt-out. 

For instance, West Virginia University starting quarterback, Will Grier, faced heavy criticism last year when he opted out of the Camping World Bowl. What many fans refuse to acknowledge is that football players are not obligated to play in bowl games. Players opt-out to avoid the risk of injury and to focus on preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft. Fans argue that players who opt out are quitting on their teams and leaving an obligation unfulfilled.

Will Grier Bowl Games Sitting West Virginia

However, nothing could be further from the truth. Players opt-out of the bowl games to protect themselves and their professional earning potential. The findings in the United States Senator Chris Murphy’s report highlights this very point. It demonstrates how susceptible football players are to career injuries. The report also shows the lack of support many athletes receive after suffering an injury. After reading Senator Murphy’s latest report on college athletics, fans will see why many players decide bowls games are not worth the risk. Fans will hopefully think twice before judging a player’s decision to sit out of a bowl game. 

Senator Chris Murphy’s Madness, Inc. Reports

Senator Chris Murphy recently published his last installment of the Madness, Inc. Report. The report is a three-part series where Senator Murphy highlights the unjust and exploitative nature of college athletics. The first report came after fans witnessed Zion Williamson suffer an injury when his Nike shoe malfunctioned. The report is entitled Madness, Inc. How Everyone is Getting Rich off College Sports – Except the Players. It exposes just that, the fact that everyone gets rich in college athletics except the athletes. Coaches, conferences, and schools make millions. The NCAA is a billion-dollar non-profit organization. Meanwhile, the athletes are restricted to a cost-of-attendance scholarship.

The second report is entitled Madness, Inc. How Colleges Keep Athletes on the Field and Out of the Classroom. It revealed the excessive time demands that an athlete’s sport places on him. It highlights how difficult it is for an athlete to give adequate time to the sport and to their coursework. Due to the time constraints, many athletes select a less demanding major even if it is not their truly desired subject. The final report lays out all of the reasons many football players decide to not compete in bowl games. It is entitled Madness, Inc. How College Sports Can Leave Athletes Broken and Abandoned. The report explains how many athletes are left with broken bodies and no viable recourse.

College Players: Career-Ending Injuries and No Degree

Per the report, every year there are over 20,000 injuries in college football alone. Of those injuries, approximately 1,000 of them are spinal injuries. These injuries often lead to a lifetime of grief for the athlete. Some injuries are career-ending. Unfortunately, that was the case for Stanley Doughty. Per the report, Doughty played football for the University of South Carolina. After giving his talent and his body away for essentially free, he landed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. However Doughty was never able to play a single down for the Chiefs due to a cervical spine injury he sustained as a college football player. 

Doughty was forced to play through his pain. The school never ordered an MRI to make sure Doughty was ok. Due to a neglected injury, Doughty was never able to earn his worth for his talents as a professional football player. To make matters worse, the University would not pay for him to re-enroll in school to finish his degree. Doughty was left with no NFL future, no degree, jobless, and injured. It is these types of situations that lead players to sit out of bowl games. Due to stories like Doughty’s and the risk of injury, players are unwilling to have their potential NFL futures taken away in what amounts to an exhibition game. 

Loyalty is a Two Way Street

Some fans argue that a player who opts out of a bowl game lacks loyalty. Why should a player be loyal to a system that is not loyal to him? Neither the schools nor the NCAA is loyal to the players, especially when it comes to matters of athlete safety. Each entity tries to pass the responsibility of player safety on to the other. Per the report, only 1 page out of the NCAA’s Division I 400-page manual is devoted health care for athletes. The NCAA requires athletes to have insurance in order to compete. However, the NCAA does not require schools to cover health care costs to field a team. The NCAA leaves those decisions regarding health care to the schools. 

The NCAA has a history of doing all it can to limit its liability to injured athletes. The term “student-athlete” was coined to do just that. In the1950s, the NCAA created the term to avoid workmen’s compensation liability for the death of a football player who died from a head injury. The NCAA establishes guidelines for schools to follow regarding athlete safety. However, the organization does very little to enforce those guidelines. For example, in 2016, the NCAA along with sports medicine leaders established rules to limit the influence coaches have in the employment of sports medicine personnel. However, the NCAA asserts little authority to ensure these rules are being enforced. Per the report, the NCAA has yet to create an enforcement and penalty process for such rule violations.

The NCAA’s Handling of Concussions

Furthermore, the NCAA dropped the ball in regards to the long-term effects that concussions have on college athletes. While the NCAA has made recommendations to its members regarding concussion management, the NCAA has done little to enforce it. For example, as early 1933 the NCAA made recommendations to its members regarding concussion protocol. Specifically, the NCAA recommended that athletes who suffered a concussion be removed for a significant amount of time. Over the years has made similar recommendations including in 2009. However, the NCAA has done nothing to ensure that its recommendations are followed by its members. 

The NCAA and its members’ hands-off approach regarding athlete safety led to the death of Derek Sheely. Sheely was a football player at Frostburg State University. He died from a brain injury he suffered during practice. Coaches told his parents he died from a freak accident. His parents only learned the truth when one of his teammates told them. From this story and other findings highlighted from the report, it is clear that the NCAA and some of its members are not loyal to its athletes. Why do fans expect football players to be “loyal” and risk injury in a bowl game?

After Reading Senator Murphy’s Madness, Inc. Report Fans Should be More Understanding Regarding Football Players Opting Out of Bowl Games

After reading this report, no fan should have an issue with a player opting out of a bowl game. The findings in this report clearly highlight the players’ cause for concern. It is true that a player runs as the risk of injury in any game as the risk of injury is inherent in sports. However, to risk injury in a game that only results in bragging rights and an essentially worthless gift is not in the best interest of the athlete. Especially for a player with high draft potential.  This is especially true in a system that appears to leave its injured athletes out to dry as gleaned from the report. Fans should think twice before unfairly criticizing football players who chose to put their best interest first and not risk injury in a bowl game.

The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 13’s Performers from Each School

Defensive and Special Teams Touchdowns Highlight Pac-12 NFL Upside

In this week’s edition, we were graced with incredible play. Vita Vea impressed last week, but week 13 was a treat for football fans! Trick plays, blocked kicks, and unbelievable defensive plays highlight the Pac-12 NFL Players Week 13.

The Big List of Pac-12 NFL Performers, College by College


Dane Cruikshank – Tennessee Titans

With 5 minutes remaining in a tied game, the Indianapolis Colts lined up to take the lead. That field goal would give them a 20-17 lead over the Titans. However, Dane Cruikshank thwarted their plans.

Although Cruikshank is primarily a special teams player, he’s made his mark. Players dream of blocking a single kick, let alone two in one season. For his special teams efforts, he climbs to the top of Arizona’s Pac-12 NFL bests.

Arizona State

Matt Haack – Miami Dolphins

Obviously, this wasn’t the best play in NFL history. But, it made for an insane highlight and contributed to a huge upset. How are these Miami Dolphins 3-and-9 and beating teams like the Philadelphia Eagles?

With this touchdown pass, Matt Haack and Jason Sanders etched their names in the record books. This was the first time in NFL history that a pure punter completed a touchdown pass to a kicker. Unbelievable!


Cameron Jordan – New Orleans Saints

Cameron Jordan is a wrecking ball. His four sacks against the Atlanta Falcons tied a Saints record for sacks in a game. Wayne Martin, in 1997, was the last Saints player to accomplish this feat.

After this monster performance, Jordan set his career-best in sacks (13.5). His 87.3 PFF grade is creeping up to elite once again. If he continues his dominance, he’ll decisively be Cal’s 2019 best Pac-12 NFL player.


Jimmy Smith – Baltimore Ravens

Against the San Francisco 49ers, Jimmy Smith allowed just 3 receptions for 38 scoreless yards on 6 targets. It was another shut-down game for him.

Since returning from injury, Smith is playing at an exceptional level. His plus-33.7 Coverage Rating and 52-percent Catch Rate Allowed are exactly what the Ravens needed. Combined with the current form of Marcus Peters and you’ve got a Super Bowl secondary.


DeForest Buckner – San Francisco 49ers

In a potential Super Bowl preview, DeForest Buckner and the 49ers held Lamar Jackson’s Ravens to just 20 points. In the game, Buckner played 83-percent of snaps and totaled six tackles. 

Also, Buckner got the credit for one sack against Lamar Jackson. As everyone is aware, Jackson is the most elusive quarterback in the league. Getting him down is always worth recognition. Great performance by this Pac-12 NFL player.

Oregon State

Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills

On Thanksgiving Day, the Buffalo Bills feasted on the Dallas Cowboys. Their defense held the Cowboys to just 15 points. Although he ended up compiling 355 yards and two touchdowns, he did so on 49 attempts. In addition, the Bills sacked Prescott four times and intercepted him once.

At AT&T Stadium, Jordan Poyer did his regular thing. He totaled five tackles, including stuffing one run. His 73.0 PFF grade displays his contribution to pass and run defense.


Richard Sherman – San Francisco 49ers

Right now, Richard Sherman is playing incredible football. At age 31, his form is perfect as he and the San Francisco 49ers vie for the NFC West.

Against Baltimore Ravens, Sherman not only locked down coverage but tallied seven tackles. His tackling will always be an underrated aspect of his game. Even though Richard Sherman is credited with 20 receptions allowed, he only let receivers gain 105 yards. Unreal. His close-down ability and tackling is most impressive.

Also, of note is Richard Sherman’s off-the-field work.


Fabian Moreau – Washington Redskins

Since Josh Norman’s injury, Fabian Moreau has played exceptionally. Moving him from the slot corner to outside corner was a great move. 

In his last two games, Moreau has three interceptions. He’s exactly the type of developmental player Washington needs for their future.


Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams

After starting off the season slow, Robert Woods is heating up during the Rams playoff push. His last three games include:

  • 7 receptions for 95 yards
  • 6 receptions for 97 yards
  • 13 receptions for 172 yards

Against Arizona, Woods torched the coverage. He now has 835 yards and looks to surpass 1,000 yards for the second time in his career.


Marcus Williams – New Orleans Saints

Although Star Lotolelei got his first career interception, Marcus Williams still remains the best Pac-12 NFL player out of Utah. On the season, he’s allowed just 9 receptions on 17 targets, while also intercepting four passes. 

Additionally, Williams is a sure-tackler. He managed seven tackles against the Atlanta Falcons. His 91.0 PFF grade displays an elite safety and the Saints are lucky to have him.


Taylor Rapp – Los Angeles Rams

He could. Go. All. The. Way!

Welcome to the big leagues Taylor Rapp! In a dominant win against Arizona, Rapp earned his first career interception and touchdown. He now totals 47 tackles, 7 pass break-ups, 4 stuffed runs, and one pick-six. Rapp has a bright future ahead of him.

Washington State

Gardner Minshew – Jacksonville Jaguars

The mustache is back! In everyone’s best interest, Gardner Minshew is once again the starting quarterback of the Jaguars. After Nick Foles committed his third turnover in three drives, the crowd chanted “We want Minshew.”

While Minshew couldn’t lift the Jaguars to a victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he’ll look to beat the Los Angeles Chargers this weekend.

Miss Week 12’s Top Pac-12 NFL Performances?

Chase Young, James Wiseman NCAA Inconsistent Rule Enforcement

Chase Young James Wiseman

If anyone is still wondering why lawmakers are so interested in college athletes’ rights, they got their answer last weekend. The NCAA once again demonstrated how unfair their rules are and how they are inconsistently enforced when they declared college football’s and men’s basketball top players ineligible. Ohio State University’s (OSU) defensive end and Heisman Trophy contender, Chase Young, was declared ineligible just ahead of OSU’s game against Maryland. Similarly, the University of Memphis (Memphis) men’s basketball center, James Wiseman, was declared ineligible prior to their game against Illinois-Chicago.  

A reasonable fan may wonder why the NCAA would declare their top performers in their major revenue-producing sports ineligible? Did they get caught cheating on a test? Did they engage in illegal activity? Most would agree that if the answer to those questions is yes, the players deserve their punishment. However, that is not the case for Young nor Wiseman. Neither of them did anything clearly wrong. They were both declared ineligible for receiving financial assistance. Why would the NCAA  declare a “student-athlete” ineligible for receiving needed financial assistance?

The answer is simple. The NCAA’s primary motive is to protect the farce of amateurism. For the NCAA, that means making sure athletes are not given any benefit that is not NCAA approved. No matter how dire an athletes’ need is. Chase Young’s and James Wiseman’s cases are textbook examples of the NCAA’s commitment to their rules; even when it defies all logic.

Chase Young’s Case 

Young was suspended for accepting a loan from a family friend. He reportedly accepted the loan to pay for his girlfriend’s trip to watch him play in the Rose Bowl last season.  That is right, Young was declared ineligible for getting a loan from a family friend so that someone he cares for could be there to support him. Here is the real kicker: Young repaid the loan in April. The person who gave Young the loan is not a booster nor an agent.

Subscribe to the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast

Anchor // Apple Podcasts // Spotify // PocketCasts // Google Play // Stitcher // RadioPublic 

Despite those facts, the NCAA still suspended him. The NCAA felt it right to disrupted Young’s potentially Heisman Trophy-winning and record-breaking season to reaffirm their position on unapproved financial assistance. All Chase Young wanted was for his girlfriend to be there to support him while he gave his body to make millions of dollars for others. Young will serve a two-game suspension for taking a loan from a family friend and paying it back. Somehow, the NCAA believes that this is fair and is the right thing to do. It is precisely these type of decisions by the NCAA that makes lawmakers feel the need to get involved.

james wiseman

James Wiseman’s Case

James Wiseman’s eligibility issue stems from a rather complicated story. Here is the crux of his eligibility issue. Wiseman’s eligibility is in jeopardy due to an $11,500 payment that the current Memphis coach, Penny Hardaway, gave to Wiseman’s mother in 2017. At the time, Wiseman did not know about money. The money was intended to cover moving expenses when Wiseman’s family moved to Memphis.

However, this is not why the NCAA declared Wiseman ineligible. The NCAA declared him ineligible because they determined that Penny Hardaway was a booster due to a 1 million dollar donation he made to Memphis in 2008. The donation was made to fund the school’s Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame. Since the NCAA determined that Hardaway was a booster, the $11,500 that he gave to Wiseman’s mom is impermissible under NCAA rules.

According to NCAA rules, this would make Wiseman ineligible. However, the problem here is that the NCAA knew about the $11,500 payment. With that knowledge, the NCAA declared Wiseman eligible. For some reason, the NCAA has gone back on that decision and declared him ineligible. How is this fair? The answer is that it is not fair. James Wiseman’s case reaffirms how inconsistent the NCAA is in its rule enforcement. It is for this reason, that lawmakers have begun advocating for college athlete rights.

Wiseman’s Case is not Over Yet as he has Sued the NCAA

Wiseman has sued the NCAA and Memphis. He also obtained a temporary injunction on his suspension that has allowed him to continue to play. On Monday, the case will resume where Wiseman will as for an injunction to continue playing. If Wiseman is successful in this suit it could dire ramifications for the NCAA and their ability to enforce their eligibility rules.

The NCAA Continues to Prove that Legislative Action is Necessary

What point does the NCAA really think it is making by declaring Young and Wiseman ineligible? All the NCAA has done is further make themselves bad an unable to consistently enforce their rules. They have inadvertently strengthened the case for college athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL) compensation legislation. After all if Young had able to profit from his NIL he may not have needed the loan. As coaches’ salaries and television revenue continues to soar,  the NCAA cannot continue to justify its actions in cases like Young’s and Wiseman’s. The NCAA’s unfairness and inconsistency in its rule enforcement are precisely why lawmakers have gotten involved. Their involvement appears to be necessary.

Forever Evergreen: UW Football Falls and WSU Football Stays Hot

California vs. Washington football 2019 lightning
Washington Huskies logo

UW Football Loses its Footing in the Pac-12

At 1:22am, the Cal Bears upset the Huskies 20 to 19. No one expected that to happen. Washington was a double-digit favorite coming into the game. Ranked 14th in the nation. Jacob Eason coming off of a four touchdown win. Home field advantage. The game had all the markings of a win for UW football. And yet, with all the advantages, Washington came up short. Unlike Week 1 of the Evergreen State’s football, UW fell hard and saw WSU football rise.

Jacob Eason Looked Rattled

In a game where the opposing quarterback only throws for 111 yards, one would think that Jacob Eason could take over. Not the case. Eason was less efficient and downright sloppy. Hurried and panicked, he consistently made poor judgements and throws. After four quarters, he completed 18 of 30 passes for just 162 yards and 1 interception, while losing a fumble.

In addition to losing a fumble and throwing an interception, Eason missed a big-time throw to Andre Baccellia in the end zone. Moreover, Eason couldn’t lead the Huskies to a single touchdown in the second half. Three field goals was all the team could muster to challenge Cal. Field goals aren’t going to cut it.

“Certainly kicking too many field goals isn’t going to get it done for us. That was frustrating. Really frustrating,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said.

Washington’s Rush Attack is Still Effective

Oddly enough, this was one of those games where both quarterbacks were beat in yards by their running backs. For UW football, Salvon Ahmed rushed for 119 yards and the Huskies lone touchdown. Additionally, Richard Newton showed efficiency and explosiveness again. As a two-headed attack, they should be good for the Huskies. Provided the Huskies can pass the ball, Ahmed and Newton should compliment Eason well. But remember, rushing is comparatively inefficient to passing. There’s only so much a team can do without a pass game. 

The Turnover Drought Continues for UW Football

Yes, Washington held Cal to 20 points. They also allowed just 111 passing yards from Cal’s Chase Garbers. But, UW gave up 192 rushing yards and didn’t create one interception or defensive fumble recovery. This continues the fumble drought to four games and the interception drought to three games. Tackles for loss and sacks are excellent. UW continues to make plays. But, somehow the turnover ratio stays skewed. The football needs to bounce the Huskies way the rest of the season. 

Listen on any Podcast Platform: Anchor // Spotify // Apple Podcasts // PocketCasts // Google Play // Stitcher // RadioPublic

WSU Football Stays Hot

Unlike their evergreen counterpart, Washington State University had a much easier game. Against Big Sky Northern Colorado, WSU football rolled through, winning 59-17. They were no match for the Northern Colorado Bears.

Anthony Gordon Keeps Counting Numbers

Continuing a strong season’s start, Anthony Gordon completed 31 of 39 attempts for 464 yards and 4 touchdowns. That now puts his season totals are 884 yards passing, 9 touchdowns and 1 interception. Granted, his schedule so far is cake. Gordon’s hasn’t played a strong defense yet. He’s untested against true adversity. Yet, even with the Big Sky opponent, he threw his first interception and only led the Cougars to a 24-10 halftime lead. Yes, Gordon is putting up video game numbers in Mike Leach’s system. But he still has room to grow and improve. It remains to be season if he’ll crumble under the pressure like Jacob Eason.

WSU Football Wins Turnover Battle, But Still Looks Shaky

As noted above, WSU entered the half with a 24-10 lead. Against a team far inferior, WSU looked far from dominant. Overall, the Cougars allowed 355 yards from Northern Colorado. But, thankfully for stressed-out fans, WSU gave up just 3 points in the second half. They won the second half 35-3. Much better. 

They also created havoc with four forced fumbles. As with any AP ranked team, it would be nice to see a game like this play out the way the second half did, but through the game’s entirety. Yet, WSU’s defense still looks like an average defense complimenting an above-average offense. As with Gordon, WSU’s defense is untested against a difficult opponent. Next week they face Houston, a team that gave No.5 Oklahoma a run for its money in week 1. If the defense and Gordon can hold up against Houston, they’ll earn the respect Coug fans crave.

Washington is Out and WSU is in the Race for Playoffs

Washington lost it. They did. Yes, there’s still a chance they could comeback and win the Pac-12. There’s also the smallest of percentages that the UW football program could make the college football playoffs. But, losses like this reflect the current state of the football program. The Huskies lack leadership and a true difference-maker at quarterback. When faced with a tough defense, Eason crumbled. And with that, so did hopes of Purple Reign. Adding Washington’s upset loss to Cal is the success of the rest of the Pac-12:

  • Colorado Upsets No.25 Nebraska 34-31
  • Utah Rises from No.13 to No.11 with Win against Northern Illinois
  • Oregon Rebounds 77-6 vs Nevada and Rises to No.15
  • USC Leaps into AP ranking with Win Against Stanford
  • WSU Football Rises from No.22 to No.20

With Washington State University rolling through non-conference opponents, UW football looks like the lesser program in 2019. Although the WSU football program has yet to face a challenge, they haven’t failed like Washington did. An AP ranked team is dominant until they aren’t. Right now, WSU is performing well. Against Houston, WSU gets the chance to prove their merit in the Pac-12. WSU, Utah and USC each ranked and 2-0. Oregon and Washington, while still ranked, both have heartbreaking losses. With all that being said, WSU fans can look forward to a season-defining game against Houston next week.

Your Brain on Football: Physical and Psychological Effects of Sports Fandom

physical and psychological effects of sports college football

A year ago, I wrote a post about how and why absurdly addicted I, and most of the world, am to sports. Here are the physical and psychological effects of sports fandom, with a few updates…

Football Fandom Runs Deep and Affects the Brain

My Texas A&M football fandom began at a young age, and it’s progressively worsened into a serious condition. Symptoms include irrational beliefs that “this season will be different” (every season); uncontrollable emotion anytime my team scores, recovers a fumble, or intercepts a pass; low-key stalking high school players to learn where they’ll commit; and owning enough maroon clothing to outfit a small village.

Though my addiction might seem absurd to some, I know I’m in good company. Across the globe, sports enthusiasts do seemingly crazy things in the name of fandom every day. It’s as if our critical thinking skills are hindered by an addiction to our team.

And, that’s it. We’re addicts- looking for our next high. We sacrifice reason and logic for a chance to feel that flood of dopamine when A&M beats Clemson (hey, it could happen; we’re only 11 point underdogs).*

*Update: remember how I said it could happen? Well it basically did, but it’s part of the tragic hero nature of Aggie football to get screwed by refs:

Your Sports Addiction is Scientific: Physical and Psychological Effects are Real

There’s science to support the potentially addictive nature of fandom. We have very measurable physical effects when watching, or even discussing, our team. Elevated blood pressure, increased adrenaline, and changes in posture or speech are just a few of physical characteristics that accompany game time behavior.

If you listen to a die-hard sports fan, you’ll notice the abundance of the word “we.” In this, the fan is grouping himself with the players, coaches, and fellow fans. It’s our mirror neurons that give us the ability to place ourselves in the shoes of the actual players. Though we’re not in the game, we still feel like we have a part in the outcome. Our addiction is both physical and psychological.

Personally, I think this addiction to sports is both wonderful and terrible.

Humans crave connection. We’re built for community. For many, sports offer the chance to be a part of something. For me, being an Aggie is belonging to a cult community of individuals who share a passion for something bigger than any one of us. But, it’s not just an Aggie thing.

For a large portion of the world, soccer is an integral part of culture. The passion and community of soccer fans is an incredible sight to behold. For millions of children and adults, soccer isn’t just a sport, but it’s the escape from an often challenging life. Watching a game offers a momentary reprieve from the stresses of life.*

*Update: this year’s Women’s World Cup was massively controversial for Americans. Political speech from players dominated and divided the country. As a result, some Americans rooted for England to win the title…before the game began. But, fandom and patriotism took effect shortly after the first kick, and by the end, most Americans were proud to once again beat the British.

Athletes and Coaches Can Do No Wrong

The dark side of fandom is our ability to rationalize away sins for the players, coaches, and schools we love. I’m going to call out Ohio State University here because it’s the most recent, most egregious example of ignoring blatant misconduct for the sake of winning. When we let our addiction to the game supersede our morality, we set a dangerous precedent. Sure, Urban Meyer is a phenomenal coach, but he’s also a jerk. And, what are we saying to the up and coming generation about accountability when we let Coach Meyer off the hook because he wins games? I don’t think these are the values we should be teaching. Our addiction has clouded our judgement.

OSU isn’t the only administration to permit poor conduct. Every fan base has moments in its history we’d like to hide. We’ve all justified bad behavior from our favorite players and swore, “he’s really not a bad guy… he just made a mistake.”

From the outsider’s perspective, the amount of energy and emotion we dedicate to teams and players almost seems like lunacy. It’s just a game, right? They may just be games, but for many, they’re also community. They’re part of our identity. We feel successful when our team wins- a sense of failure when they lose. When our coach receives criticism for misconduct, we feel personally attacked.

For me, the addiction is well worth it. I’ve made some of my best friends at those games. I’ve cried tears of joy and frustration at those games (if you’re an Aggie and didn’t cry when we beat Alabama in 2012 and when we lost to UCLA in 2017, you’re a monster). The community and connection I find as a fan is unbeatable… even though my team is usually very beatable.

I have no doubt I will continue to do ridiculous things in the name of fandom; and I know I’m surrounded by good people who’ll be doing the same.*

*Update: this is a personal note, but the last few dates I had were with guys who didn’t know or enjoy football. As a football addict, I wondered if this meant my life would be spent pining for an Aggie natty alone. But this article’s posting last year convinced another Ag that there are women who might be as obsessed about recruiting as he is. And I hear wedding bells set to the tune of the Aggie War Hymn.

2019 College Football is Almost Here

Here’s to another season of turbulence- high highs and low lows. God bless Jimbo Fisher, Aggie football, and the community we sports fans need to survive the physical and psychological effects of sports.

4 Reasons Fans Should Read Senator Murphy’s Reports on the College Sports Industry

Senator Chris Murphy College Athletics Report

The start of the college football season is rapidly approaching. College sports fans are eager to cheer for their favorite teams in hopes that their team will qualify for a bowl game or make it to the College Football Playoffs. In the midst of the excitement of the upcoming football season, is the debate of whether college athletes should be further compensated. United States Senator Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, has authored two reports highlighting the injustices of the college athletics system. In the reports, Senator Murphy acknowledges the injustices of the college sports system as the rights issue that it is.

The current college sports system no doubt needs restructuring. The numerous academic fraud scandals and the NCAA rule violation scandals have made it immensely clear that the current system is flawed. Perhaps the most telling example of the need for change is the college basketball scandal that resulted in an FBI investigation and a criminal trial.

Change is Coming to College Athletics

Several state and federal legislators have introduced bills aiming to compensate college athletes in some way. One bill that is making serious headway is a bill in California entitled the Fair Pay to Play Act. The bill seeks to give college athletes in California the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness by enabling them to garner endorsements. One may wonder why the issue of compensating college athletes is getting the attention of so many lawmakers. The issue is getting that attention because the issue of fairly compensating college athletes is a civil rights issue.

College athletes are being exploited. Everyone involved in big-time college athletics is getting rich except the athletes. Yes, college athletes receive an invaluable scholarship in return for their academic services. However, not all college athletes are able to get the most out of their academic opportunity. Many leave school without a degree and without an opportunity to complete their degree in the future. Many who do graduate, do not receive a degree in a worthwhile major.

Senator Chris Murphy Report

Senator Murphy released his first report entitled Madness Inc., How Everyone is Getting Rich off College Sports – Except the Players in March of 2019. He was prompted to write the report after he witnessed the unfortunate knee sprain injury Zion Williamson suffered when his Nike shoe fell apart during the Duke v. UNC game in February. Senator Murphy stated that Williamon’s injury for him “was the starkest example of a kid making lots of adults super-rich, who almost had his career ended without making a single dime.”

Late July, Senator Murphy released his second report. The report is entitled, Madness Inc. How Colleges Keep Athletes on the Field and out of the Classroom. The second report highlighted the reality of the “world-class education” that college athletes are supposed to receive in return for their athletic services. Both of Senator Murphy’s reports show that college athletes are not getting as good of a bargain as many may think. For that reason, every college sports fan should read Senator Murphy’s reports. Here are four takeaways from the reports that all college sports fans should know.

1. Proportionally Coaches Receive More of the Revenue than the Athletes

The first report highlights the stark imbalance between the revenue that college athletes generate and the amount of money that is actually filtered back down to them. The annual amount spent on student aid is $936 million, while $1.2 billion is spent on coaches salaries. There are 45,000 college athletes in schools that make up the Power 5 conferences and only 4,400 coaches. There are 65 Power 5 conference programs. Only 12 percent of all revenue goes to student-athlete scholarships, while 16 percent goes towards coaches salaries. In effect, the coaches receive more of the revenue than the athletes. This is not to say that coaches do not deserve to be compensated for their work, because they do. However, should they be compensated in greater proportion to the college athletes?

2. Spending on Lavish Facilities is out of Control and Provides no Long Term Benefit to the Athletes

Many schools have invested in overly extravagant and lavish facilities for their athletic programs. The report highlights the facilities at Clemson University (Clemson) and the University of South Carolina (South Carolina). Clemson built a $55 million facility that boasts a miniature golf course, movie theater, and bowling lanes. South Carolina’s facility has a video arcade and a sound studio for athletes to record their music. The most recent example of an overly lavish facility can be seen at Louisiana State University (LSU). LSU recently unveiled the $28 million renovations they made to their football operations building.

From the above picture and the aforementioned amenities, it is clear that spending on facilities has gotten out of control. How does a $55 million dollar building make an athlete better at their sport or in the classroom? Perhaps the athletes enjoy the facility a little while they are in college (if their strict schedules allow). However, there is no discernible long term benefit access to such facilities provides to the athletes once they leave college and begin their careers.

3. College Athletes are not Getting the Valuable Education that Everyone Thinks They are Getting

While many college athletes do receive a quality education, some do not. Many college athletes are not receiving the academic advantages that the general public is led to believe they are. Senator Murphy’s second report highlighted the story of Stephen Cline a former defensive lineman for Kansas State University. Cline wished to become a veterinarian but was forced into a less demanding major so that he could focus on football. The NCAA sells education as the bargain that college athletes get in exchange for their athletics services. However, many do not get it.

So many athletes are like Cline and are not encouraged to major in the subject of their true interest so that they may focus on their sport. Not everyone truly cares about the value of the education athletes receive. This was made abundantly clear when the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC) sham course scandal was exposed. The NCAA chose not to sanction UNC, thereby showing their true commitment to ensuring each college athlete receives a world-class education.

4. When Examined Closely, it is Clear that College Athletes act as Full-Time Employees

The daily life of a college athlete is more akin to that of a full-time employee than a full-time student. Many college athletes are up at 5:00 am to report to 6:00 am practice, then to breakfast, then to class, then to another class. Before the athlete realizes it, it is time for a team meeting – another athletic-related activity. Hopefully, the athlete has some time to squeeze a shower and get some lunch in between. College athletes no doubt keep a rigorous schedule. 

Senator Murphy’s report highlighted a study conducted by the PAC 12 conference in 2015. The study found that college athletes averaged more than 50 hours per week on athletic-related activities. The report also highlighted the Northwestern University football team’s hearing with the National Labor Relations Board. During the hearing, the athletes revealed that they spent upwards of 60 hours a week on football-related activities. College athletes fulfill all of these obligations before they have had any time to think about their coursework. 

In order to be a full-time student, college athletes must be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours per semester. For each credit hour, students are expected to spend two to three hours outside of class studying. This means that students are expected to spend between 36-48 hours per week studying. How is a college athlete supposed to spend 48 hours per week studying and roughly 40 hours per week on athletics and be successful at both? 

Senator Chris Murphy’s Report Emphasizes that Fairly Compensating College Athletes is a Civil Rights Issue

As the college football season begins, college sports fans should take some time to read Senator Chris Murphy’s reports. Upon reading the reports,  they will better understand why there has been a surge in state and federal legislative involvement in ensuring equitable compensation for college athletes. Fans will realize that the debate is not just about money. It is about the restoration of civil rights to college athletes. Everyone should be able to profit from their own name, image, and likeness. College athletes generate billions of dollars each year for the NCAA, their school, and their conferences. College athletes should have a more equitable piece of that pie.

Should Athletes Like Serena Williams Stop Fighting for Equality Off The Court

Serena Williams, athletes, equality

Serena Williams may have been defeated in the Wimbledon finals, however, that did not minimize her victory during the post-match press conference. A reporter asked Williams a very insensitive and narrow-minded question. In a nutshell, the reporter asked Williams how does she respond to comments made by others suggesting that she stop being a celebrity and fighting for equality and focus on tennis? Williams tackled the question head-on with the perfect answer. She eloquently responded by stating: “The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me will be the day I’m in my grave.”  With that response, Williams reaffirmed her unrelenting commitment to fighting for equality.

The reporter’s question is filled with undertones of a narrow-minded belief that his held by many sports fans.

The Shut-Up and Dribble Mentality

Many sports fans have the “shut up and dribble mentality”. They believe that athletes should simply stick to sports and essentially shut up and dribble. Such fans are against athletes using their athletic platforms to shed light on societal ills or political debates. They contend that athletes should simply focus on providing entertainment for fan viewing pleasure. These contentions may sound familiar as they were repeated over and over by dissenters of Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the national anthem.

Some go as far as to contend that an athlete’s celebrity status shields them from the stereotypes and systemic prejudices of being a part of the demographic group(s) of which they belong. They spout out ignorance like what can a multi-million dollar athlete have to complain about. Serena Williams is a multi-million dollar athlete with 23 Grand Slam Finals wins. According to this logic, what could she possibly have to complain about? What issues could she possibly feel the need to be so vocal about? There is no way that she could possibly be a victim of discrimination or inequality. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Serena Williams has plenty to be vocal about.

Serena Williams has Every Reason to Champion for Women’s Rights

Throughout her career, Serena Williams has dealt with negative commentary about her body. She has been shamed because of her muscles with comments from people saying that she was “born a guy“. Serena and her sister Venus have been referred to at the “Williams brothers“. Serena Williams’ body has even been compared to a monster truck. In 2018, Williams was arguably singled out when the French Tennis Federation announced their ban on catsuits shortly after Williams wore one to the FrenchOpen. Serena Williams wore the catsuit for health reasons from complications she suffered during childbirth. However, the Federation stated that players “must respect the game and the place.”

With all of the criticism that Williams has endured during her career, it should come as no surprise that she is a champion for women’s rights. Her celebrity status and her seven-figure salary was no shield for the incendiary comments from critics and tennis fans throughout her career. Her celebrity status was certainly not a shield to protect her from the blood clot issue she suffered during childbirth. All of the criticism Williams has endured coupled with the general struggles she as endured as a woman makes the reporter’s question all the more insensitive and her answer all the appropriate.

However, this assumption could not be further from the truth. This assumption is certainly not true for Serena Williams who has endured much criticism for being a superior black female athlete. 

After all, professional athletes make millions of dollars. What could they possibly have to complain about?

In 2017’ just as LeBron James was embarking on his seventh straight trip to the NBA Finals, a racial slur was spray-painted on his home in California. King James is regarded by many as the greatest basketball player ever and by some as one of the greatest athletes in the world. He has three NBA titles and has represented the United States on Team USA three times. However, all of his accomplishments was not enough to shield him the prejudices that are often directed to black men in this country. How is an athlete supposed to stick to sports when racial epithets are spray-painted on their home?

The MLB Home Run Derby Could Be a Stand-Alone Sporting Event

MLB Home run derby MLB All star game

If you missed this year’s rendition of the Home Run Derby, the premier pre- MLB All-Star game event, then you missed one hell of a ride. Two rookies, Pete Alonso (Mets) and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (Blue Jays), put on an absolute show, blasting home runs left and right and shattering previous derby records.

Of course, for the first time, the derby actually had a massive prize: a cool $1,000,000. Even to professional athletes, that’s a lot of cash.

However, because of baseball’s archaic rules that prevent rookies from getting paid big money until six years into the league, this year’s winner, Pete Alonso, only has a salary of $555,000 this year. His performance in the derby ended up earning him double what he will get paid for the rest of the season with the Mets – even though he is an All-Star and potential MVP candidate.

This begs an interesting question, that was originally discussed on the Effectively Wild Podcast: Could the home run derby survive as its own ‘sport’? After all, watching players blast home runs off pitches right down the middle during a timed event is completely unlike real baseball. The only similarity is the equipment and the field – both things that could be altered in a theoretical new league.

Who Would Participate?

Would people pay to see players participate in a home run derby on a regular basis? Hard to say. Clearly, a startup league would struggle to pull professional players from the major leagues into a new derby league. So the talent level probably wouldn’t be there right away. There are certainly plenty of recently retired players or players who didn’t make the major leagues – but who had serious home run power – who could probably excel in a sport dedicated exclusively to hitting dingers.

If the league could get guys like Jose Canseco, Adam Dunn, Chris Carter, David Wright, and the Barry Bonds types to come out of retirement to blast some home runs, perhaps fans would tune it on a semi-regular basis. And with a cash prize, it’s not impossible to think some of these guys would do it.

Other Home Run Derby Innovations

However, eventually, people would get bored watching the same event over and over, even if they were attached to the performers. But what about having a derby on a football field? Over a lake? In the Grand Canyon? These are pretty ridiculous ideas, but if enough fans showed up and cared about watching, maybe they could pull this off.

Fans have proven that the best part about sports is watching people hit or throw a ball as far as possible. The home run in baseball, the three-pointer in basketball, hail mary’s in football, long goals in soccer, whatever it is, humans tend to love their feats of strength.

A sport dedicated to the home run derby probably wouldn’t survive, but the concept is there if they found the right people and the right gimmicks to make it last without the MLB All-Star game.