Sports

#sportstalk: Why athletes won’t and can’t just “stick to sports”

When I’m writing this post, the sports world has been shaken up. Most notably the NFL, but other leagues such as the NBA, NHL, and MLB have been also. With the current political climate, systematic racism and blatant white supremacy, there’s no way athletes won’t and can’t just stick to sports.

As a sports fan, I’ve personally never understood why fans only wanted their athletes to “stick to sports.” It always baffled me when people said it and it still does. Basically what they’re saying is they want the athletes to go out and entertain them and that’s it. You don’t want them to have any substance or life outside of their sport.

That’s not only completely ridiculous but also unrealistic and hypocritical. Let’s tackle that first word. It’s ridiculous to assume players are just going to put their heads down and play sports. They weren’t put on their earth to just play sports. They’re humans with feelings, emotions, and families just like everyone else.

It’s unrealistic because no one can just center their life around sports. Not one single person only thinks or plays sports all day long. Then sports would no longer be fun or entertaining. Everything would be boring and there’s already enough of that in the world.

Hypocritical can stretch out to anything but I want to deal with the protests. No one looks at JJ Watt and tells him to “just stick to sports.” No one looks at Gronk and tells him to “Just stick to sports.” It’s white privilege that makes them not say anything. As soon as someone noticed Kap, everyone was quick to shun him, create offensive t-shirts, make him into a meme or bash his character.

Kap created a camp for black children to learn how to deal with the police, donated almost a million dollars to various charities working in oppressed communities and has just announced the addition of another camp. No one wants to talk about what good he does and instead focus on the way he protested.

The protest that originally started as a way to bring attention to police brutality, black lives matter and inequality in the United States. It has since been reduced to “disrespecting the American flag and our military.” Then again, people would have a problem no matter how or what the athletes protested.

Sticking to sports takes the athlete’s identity and throws it out the window. Football is their career, but it’s not their everything. As evidenced by the video of Michael Bennett, being an NFL player doesn’t spare you from police brutality. He was almost killed after an incident he wasn’t involved in. Just let that sink in for a moment. He was almost killed for not being involved with an incident and instead for being black.

If that thought doesn’t sicken you, there’s something wrong with you. If you push the protest off as being unamerican, you’re the problem. Making a change in the world sometimes means making a change in yourself and looking inward.That’s what athletes are doing and trying to get others to do. Systematic racism will only change if the system changes and the system will only change if people make it change.

Athletes will no longer just stick to sports and it’s about time. They’re putting their lives at risk every day, sometimes just by walking outside. The least you can do is respect them.

 

Sports

#sportstalk: Loving a team with problematic players

Oh boy, I’ve been dreading actually making a post about this but I knew I had to and what better way to than a #sportstalk? It’s basically just a post where I throw all my feelings out on the table. Even though I’m writing this really early (hi from the past!), this is something that’s been bothering me for a long time.

I’m a huge sports fan. While I don’t blog about it as much, sports are a huge part of my life. One issue I always struggled with was loving my team despite some of the players being…well human garbage. I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan, I’ve always been and I always will be.

I love my team, but I don’t love everything about them especially their players. While my two favorite players are pretty good guys, the whole team isn’t. Look at Ezekiel Elliott who was accused of domestic violence and is still a member of the team. Whether he’s guilty or not, it’s despicable and something I don’t tolerate. However, it proves more an even bigger point.

NFL front offices don’t care about what you do, who you’re with or how you spend your time as long as you win games. It’s a sad reality and one I have a hard time grasping because it’s so unrealistic. No one accused of what Elliott did would still have a job right now. They would have been unemployed a long time ago and look at Lucky Whitehead.

Whitehead wasn’t even the one in the video, but he was released. He was quick to point the finger at the Cowboys as he rightfully should. He wasn’t necessarily helping the team win so they got rid of him. It’s an easy concept to grasp and something I noticed in 2015, too. Even with such a horrible record, the Cowboys still kept Greg Hardy.

One player I absolutely detested was Greg Hardy. Every time I think about him, my stomach turns and I feel sick. He’s such a horrible person and deserves to be far away from the league and people in general. He not only denied any wrongdoing but also believes the survivor injured herself. It’s sickening but it proves how far a team will go to win.

While there’s a lot of blame at the feet of the NFL front offices, I blame both the NCAA and the players themselves. The recent scandals at Ole Miss and Baylor are all the proof you need to hear. College athletes are given whatever and whoever they want to do whatever they want with. Meanwhile, coaches and other staff will cover it up as long as they win games. Starting it off early only furthers the problem.

The players are to blame as well. When you’re an NFL player, there are entirely different standards. The younger crop of players is really starting to go against this. Rookies are allowed to get away with more and more and no one is questioning it. Statements like ‘Boys will be boys’ or ‘He’s just young, give him a break,” excuse them instead of treating them like the men they’re supposed to be. If they’re man enough to play in the league and cash those checks, they are man enough to be held to certain standards.

Last but not least, I blame the fans, myself included. Football has become such a huge part of the zeitgeist and we want to be entertained. We want to forget about the world and our problems for a while so we ignore it. Yes, you can love a team and cheer for them, but not for everyone. It’s alright to call out players who are problematic and not root for them.

It’s a hard truth people don’t like to hear but we need to shout it out. As much as you support your team, it’s your job to call out those who deserve to be. I don’t think it makes you any less of a fan or loves the team any less. You just want your players to not just stick to sports and there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

Sports

Appreciating sports icons and their legacy

On Friday, I was off work and my uncle and cousins decided to head to Washington D.C. which is roughly a 3-hour drive from where I live. We ended up taking the subway into the city to avoid high parking costs or trying to find a place.

We went to the air and space museum, the Holocaust museum and the African-American museum of history and culture. The last one was easily my favorite even though it was the one we spent the least amount of time in. To be honest, it was packed with people and I can see why you had to have tickets to get in.

However, the one thing I wanted to see was the sports section of the museum. Located on the 2nd floor, it was easily one of the best tributes to athletes I’ve ever seen. The sports section was located in another large section encompassing religion, medicine, and activism.

My favorite attraction was easily the entire Muhammad Ali exhibit. I’ve never really talked about it on here, but I love Muhammad Ali. While I wasn’t around when he was popular, I always harbored a respect and love for him. He’s my favorite athlete and someone I look up to as an inspiration and a pioneer for civil rights, religious rights, and the sports world.

I still remember the day he passed away. My editor at the time texted me and told me and I assumed it was just a health scare. Later that night, the news broke and I was crushed. Someone I had admired for so long was gone off the earth. Someone I’ve never had a chance to meet or tell how much he met to me. It was hard to believe, but he had suffered a majority of his life and I knew he had longed for peace.

It still didn’t ease my pain, but I felt relieved for him. Since then, I have become even more invested in Ali and his life. Going there, I was able to look around at the exhibit dedicated to him and his life. It was such a powerful and breathtaking experience and probably the closest I’ll ever get to see him. The exhibit shared all different parts of his life and I felt like I was right there.

That exhibit only helped me appreciate Ali for who he was, what he did and the legacy he left. I can’t wait to go back when it’s not as crowded and look over everything in detail but Ali wasn’t the only one I stopped and stared at for a while.

There were sections dedicated to a majority of historic black athletes. The other one that really blew me away was Jackie Robinson. While there weren’t much memorabilia for Robinson, he had a statue of him sliding into a base. Looking at it brought a smile to my face and made me think back to writing a paper on him.

Robinson left such an immense legacy in professional baseball and I can’t even imagine what he’d think now. He was also an activist and used his platform to try to make a change in the world. In the same vein, there was a statue of Jesse Owens. Owens raced in the Olympics in 1936 and is one of the most celebrated track-and-field stars ever. Both of their stories have been turned into water-downed movies with only some truth to them but their legacy lives on.

One of the more recent statues featured depicted Tommie Smith and John Carlos, reaching their fists during the medal ceremony. It’s another moment people tend to forget about but such a powerful one. I only got a brief glimpse at it, but it made me happy to see their gesture is appreciated.

Some of the most recent athletes featured were the Williams Sisters, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Gabby Douglas. It was so amazing to see these athletes being appreciated for their achievements in sports and seeing those already have a legacy and still are expanding on it. It was such a moving experience and one I highly recommend everyone to check out.

I have come to appreciate sports stars and their legacies a lot more since Ali’s passing and that’s something I hope others do. Yes, they’re here to entertain us but they’re people, too. I’m so glad I saw the few parts of the museum I did and a lot of great athletes were given the recognition they deserve.

I’ll probably make a longer post about my trip and share the pictures, but I figured why not share the impact it left on me? I’m so glad I was able to visit it for the short time I did and I can’t wait to go back and explore it further.

 

Sports

Being a feminist and a sports fan

If there’s one thing I love almost as much as food, it’s sports. I haven’t always been a sports fan, but now I can’t imagine my life without sports. One issue that has always plagued me is stuff players are allowed to get away with. What morally is considered wrong is right in the NFL and it doesn’t sit right with me.

As a feminist, I believe men and women should have equal rights. Women are held to such a different standard than men over multiple different aspects. One of which is domestic violence. It’s tough to watch the NFL talk so casually about such a horrible epidemic. The more I think about it, the more it makes my blood boil especially when names like Greg Hardy are mentioned.

Even though Ray Rice was the first case, I consider Greg Hardy to be an even bigger problem. Rice walked away from the NFL and has since moved on with his life. I do have some hard feelings about Rice and I believe he should have gotten a harsher punishment, but that’s in the past. I don’t feel bad for Rice or his situation, but he is working to spread awareness and make a change.

Greg Hardy is doing nothing but victim-blaming and being a human trash can. He has continued to claim his innocence because charges were never pressed. The issue I have there is Ms. Holder didn’t show up to the trial. Who knows if he threatened her? What if she was too traumatized? What if she simply didn’t want to have to recount the events of that horrifying night?  Even if it wasn’t any of those things, her not showing up to the trial doesn’t mean anything.

It’s the constant trash spewing from Hardy’s mouth. He’s easily one of the most controversial players ever but he isn’t the only one. Almost every single team in the NFL has a player who has been accused of domestic violence, sexual assault or violence against another person. It’s sickening to think about how staggering that number really is.

The more I think bout it, the sicker to my stomach I get. You might be asking yourself, why do I still support the league and watch the games when I could just quit it all cold turkey? Let me tell you, there isn’t one second I haven’t thought about giving up on football and putting my passion somewhere else. It would be hard letting it go, but there’s a huge reason why I don’t.

I write about the NFL because I want to make things right. If I and other sports ladies aren’t trying to make a change, who will? Certainly not the male fans of the sports world so someone has to do it. As frustrated as I am, I’m going to keep fighting for players to be punished accordingly, victims to be treated fairly and women to be taken seriously in the NFL. If we make up 50% of the fanbase, you can damn sure bet we’re not afraid to call out a league who undervalues us.

The NFL needs women like us out there. Women who aren’t afraid to stand up for what’s right, to scream when no one’s listening and to make the league safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone who watches. I’m going to stand on the sidelines and do nothing, I’m going to get in the game and show everyone not to underestimate ladies.

I tip my head to those who were there before and currently fighting and the future fighters. Most importantly, I especially tip my head to Katie Nolan. Without her Garbage Time videos and outspoken personality, I probably wouldn’t be writing this. She’s easily my favorite sports personality and something I aspire to be. If I can even be half as awesome as her, almost all my goals will be accomplished.

The NFL might not welcome me with open arms, but I’m pushing my way through. Girls run the world after all 🙂

 

Sports

Being hopeful in the despair of sports media

Earlier this summer, the biggest sports media company ESPN laid off a slew of workers, mostly journalists. Jane McManus was the name that made my eyes wide. She was part of the Trifecta and the other two members were safe. It was crazy to not think about her being there or to not read her articles on ESPNW, a platform she was instrumental in creating.

Then more recently, Fox Sports laid off almost all their journalists. Honestly, this is the layoff I didn’t understand. They laid off people so they could push their video content but it’s only hurting them. They’re not on top of the news anymore and don’t have anyone there to write up quick blurbs or news pieces. The more I think about it, the more frustrated I get so I’ll just move on.

All these recent layoffs hurt my heart and my head. My heart hurts for those who had their dream ripped away from them so soon. My heart hurts for them, their families and friends who have to dodge questions. My heart hurts for those feeling guilty that they weren’t the ones to go. My hearts just hurts, because sports media is a tough business to get into and an even tougher place to stay.

My head hurts thinking about these companies and their idea to get rid of such valuable and important writers. My head hurts, thinking about how these companies are going to spiral down without their talent. The mission for sports media wasn’t to become a completely digitalized world. It was about getting a chance to tell a story and get the truth out there. Now it seems like all anyone cares about is views and that’s extremely sad.

I might be at the bottom of the ladder now, but soon I won’t be. I’ll be using my platform to do good, tell a story and inform. I might only have a little bit of hope now, but this blog has made me all the more confident.

With all that being said, I’m going to shift my focus a little. I’ll still be talking about books and my life, but more about sports. I don’t want sports writing to die and I won’t be the one who goes down with it. I’ll keep writing my opinions about sports, teams, and players to anyone who will listen.

It might not mean much, but it’s what I love to do. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let someone else take that away from me. I might not have been affected by the layoffs, but it’s been a wake-up call for me. I’m going to use my voice to talk, rant and scream about sports to anyone and everyone.

 

NFL · Sports

How will Tony Romo be remembered?

Tony Romo was the heart and soul of the Dallas Cowboys for years. During his tenure with the team, Romo became the laughing stock of the NFL but Cowboys fans saw past that. They saw a man with the world on his shoulders, trying to balance his career and his health with heaps of criticism. With a new sports broadcasting job, how will Tony Romo be remembered by Cowboys fans and fans in general?

Obviously, NFL fans will remember him because of his fails. Being a sports fan always means focusing on the worst. Look at the Falcons, all they’ve been hearing for months is the 28-3 jokes. Eventually, it will grow old but it hasn’t for Romo. Many consider 2014 to be the peak of his career and still the jokes never ceased. It’s weird to imagine the world where fans didn’t make jokes about him.

Jokes might not be what Romo intended, but he’s still being talked about. It might not be what he hoped for, but his name will forever live in infamy. A few years from now, people will still be making jokes and he’ll still be rolling in millions of dollars. You see who the real winner is there.

Then there are the Cowboys fans. As a fan myself, it was hard to see Romo walk away from the game. He was the quarterback I grew up with and was my first jersey so watching him hang up his cleats so suddenly was heartbreaking. The thing that makes me the saddest is he was never able to get a Superbowl ring. He was able to get close but never could make him the final leap. Then again, Superbowl rings don’t mean anything at the end of the day. Greatness isn’t always measured by how many rings someone has.

For Cowboys fans, remembering Romo will be in his glory. Leading the team to a fourth-quarter comeback, playing through injury and his final touchdown pass to Terrance Williams, just to name a few moments. Memories of Romo will live on in Cowboys fans hearts forever and it’s hard to think about him not being a captain. He left the team with grace and respect, handing the reins over to Dak Prescott who righted the ship and kept hope alive.

This isn’t the end of Romo, though. He’ll be a part of the CBS Sports broadcast team and hopefully, be on our TV for many years. He’ll be saying goodbye to his professional football career but won’t be saying goodbye forever. Seeing him once a week or even a few times a week will be sure to bring a smile to a Cowboys fans face.

Romo might not be remembered as one of the all-time greats, but to me, he’s so much more. He was a player who sacrificed it all, moved aside when the time was needed and bravely started a new chapter. Whether you believe he was great on the field, he’s a great person and that’s how I’ll always remember him.

 

NFL · Sports

Why Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott work so well together

Last season was amazing for the Dallas Cowboys. They managed to win without Tony Romo, a feat previously plaguing the team. The team was able to hit the jackpot during the draft and most of that was because of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. A 4th-round pick and the 4th overall pick, the two had chemistry and it showed on and off the field.

The main reason I believe they worked well together was that they were both rookies. It’s a little easier with a veteran guiding a rookie because, with two rookies, it can be kind of questionable. However, these two were able to benefit off of that. They learned together, made strides and helped lead the team to an impressive season. They soaked up the information from the veterans and players who were already on the team so they knew what to do.

Another obvious reason is the team’s offensive line. Known as one of the best O-lines in the NFL, each was protected. Dak was able to move around the pocket and confidently make throws while also being able to pick up some yards and necessary first downs when they needed it. In the same vain, the line would part or create holes for Zeke to run through. While being smart had something to do with it, the line deserves a lot of credit for their success as well.

Zeke and Dak truly became best friends, on and off the field. That’s not always necessary for success, but it helps. Having a relationship, off-the-field allowed them to spend time together, learn more about it and in turn, use some of the information on the field. On the field, the two carried that same bond and were able to use their energy to make plays off of each other.

While their main objective was to win, the two actually had fun. It’s rare to see two players out there, doing what they love and having fun at the same time. You can see in the way they act towards each other and how they play, they like to have fun on the field and it only helps the entire team. If a few players are having fun with a lot of energy, it keeps everyone’s spirits up and helps prep the team up.

Dak and Zeke are the heart of the Dallas Cowboys and they will be for years. Their chemistry, focus, and competitiveness make them one of the dynamic duos currently in the NFL. It’s hard to believe the two are only entering their second year of play together but they’re sure to continue to raise the bar. I can’t wait to see what the two do this upcoming season and how their chemistry grows.

 

 

NBA · Sports · Uncategorized

The Golden State Warriors don’t deserve to be vilified

Unlike last season, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in 6 games, winning the NBA Championship. Their 2nd in a matter of three years, the Warriors have become the love-or-hate team of the NBA. They’ve been seen as villains since the beginning of the season, something they don’t need or deserve.

Before we start, I don’t see the Warriors as a super team. Yes, I think they have a talented roster and a lot of stars, but they’re not a superteam. They weren’t built to win championships as evidenced by last year. Durant didn’t sign with them so they could become a superteam. Superteams are built specifically for the purpose of winning and I don’t think the Warriors are like that.

I see the Warriors as a team who knows how to compete but have fun. They are a pretty young team who is having fun, on and off the court. They have a lot of talented guys including Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson. Each of the three set records at some point this season but didn’t make a big deal about it. They continued to grind and make plays to help secure their spot in the playoffs.

The other issue I see with vilifying the Warrior is they deserved to win. After a year of constant taunting and blowing 3-1 lead jokes, they wanted revenge. You can only hear a joke so many times before it gets old and it wasn’t always joking. They were constantly being questioned about it, having to talk about it or constantly making jokes about it themselves. That had to be tiring especially for a team who was so focused on achieving that same goal this year.

You don’t see people vilifying the Cavs. They have one of the most impressive players in basketball, Lebron James. James has essentially built a super team around himself and no one bats an eyelash. Since it’s Lebron, he’s allowed to do it and let’s not forget when he went to Miami and built his own superteam. Why is it okay for Lebron to be part of a “superteam” but not for the Warriors? There isn’t any difference and it’s frustrating to see people blasting the Warriors for it.

What I really love about Golden State is they take it all in stride. If they’re portrayed as villains, they play the part, flawlessly. They leave everything on the court and then throw some shade off the court. Most recently, Draymond Green wore his “Quickie” shirt in reference to the Cavs arena, demonstrating how the Warriors uprooted the Cavs out of their own stadium. It was also a callback to James who wore an “Ultimate Warrior” t-shirt last year during their victory parade.

It’s so funny how when the Cavs did it, everyone laughed. Now the Warriors are doing it and we’re getting think pieces about how Green’s an idiot. Either way, the Warriors deserved to win. They outplayed the Cavs, got their revenge and can celebrate their victory as much or as little as they please. Vilifying them is pointless and only helps them in the end.

 

NFL · Sports

Torrey Smith is NFL’s voice of reason for Colin Kaepernick

Being on an NFL team is always difficult especially because you never have job security. Colin Kaepernick knows this all too well. What originally began as a promising career has fizzled as fast as RGIII’s time with the Cleveland Browns.

When Kaepernick decided to protest the national anthem, a bigger spotlight went on him but not for the right reasons. We weren’t talking about his playing time but what he was doing before the game. Fans of the NFL and non-fans alike have shunned him, sent him death threats, assaulted and harassed him. Many players sided with him, either copying his gesture or making their own statement. Either way, it got the world talking about issues like Kaepernick hoped.

However, the move seemed to blackball him from the rest of the NFL. While some teams spoke about the player’s choice, others vehemently spoke about cutting them. Most recently, New York Giants’ co-owner, John Mara spoke about it. Reported by ESPN, Mara talked about receiving impassioned fanmail, “‘If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game.’ It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, moreso than any other issue I’ve run into.” Interesting considering the Giants recent scandals involving domestic violence and off-the-field behavior.

People weren’t pleased with his statement but most of all, Torrey Smith. Smith who currently plays for the Philadelphia Eagles is a former teammate of Kaepernick’s and he tweeted out his thoughts after.

https://twitter.com/TorreySmithWR/status/869209085207597057

https://twitter.com/TorreySmithWR/status/869220488861679616

Smith’s first tweet is something I’ve always thought about NFL fans. They are completely hypocritical with their morals and values. If they have a love for a player, he should get a second chance or if he didn’t commit a “heinous crime” in their opinion, he needs to be forgiven and everyone is being too harsh on him. Being from Pennsylvania, I see a lot of this when people refer to Ben Roethlisberger who settled with two women out of court but was accused of sexual assault. Even though we have nothing to prove his guilt or innocence, fans quickly defended him. Instead of seeing the women as victims, they saw him as a victim. That’s just an example but something fans have found excusable.

Then his second tweet is even better because it calls out the hypocrisy of fans, coaches, players and teams. People associate kneeling during the national anthem as a sign of disrespect and were quick to vilify Kap but didn’t want to address the idea. They don’t want to be called out on their racism or prejudice, they want to ignore that issue and focus on his “hatred” for America which wasn’t it at all.

Looking at it from the other side, they’re praising teams who have criminals on their roster. Players such as Junior Galette, Joe Mixon, Terrell Suggs and James Harrison have all been accused or committed domestic violence. Then there’s sexual assault which players like Ben Roethlisberger, Ahmad Brooks, Jameis Winston and Richie Incognito have been accused of doing in some capacity. All of the players listed above are currently on active NFL rosters while Kaepernick reminds a free agent.

Do we see the problem here? People care more about their country than a woman. It’s disgusting to say, but men are more worried about a man sitting during a song than a man touching or putting his hands on a woman without her consent. It’s sickening to think that the NFL will cut players for domestic violence or sexual assault only when there’s evidence people can throw in their face. If not, then good for you because you’ll likely be on an NFL roster.

Torrey Smith was right with what he said. If people put half their energy into hating Kap as they did about standing up for women, the NFL would look a lot different. Hopefully, Kap gets another chance and the NFL starts to take sexual assault and domestic violence seriously. I’m crossing my fingers.