Archive for the ‘ Op-Ed Pieces ’ Category

Open Letter to John Saunders


While watching ‘The Sports Reporters’, John Saunders, during his segment entitled ‘parting shots’, had a lot to say about the NHL and its handling of Sidney Crosby, as well as the game of hockey as a whole. The minute editorial piece can be seen here, http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=7286389. He urged his audience to respond to his segment, which I felt compelled to do. Here is my response.

John,

Your ‘parting shot’ segment on the November 27th show demonstrated two major problems that ESPN and it’s litany of analysts have. One, no one in Bristol has any real insight to the game of hockey, and two, whenever hockey is talked about there is way too much emphasis placed on changing the game, instead of trying to understand the way it is played. Sidney Crosby came back to the Penguins starting roster this week, and in related news there were 29 other teams that had players who battled for their team. Crosby is one in a number of all-star caliber players to lace them up night in and night out for a league that has a marketing problem. Should the game of hockey have a rules change so that the game gets less physical? No, every player knows that the game of hockey is physical, and has been since they first started to love the sport.

Why bring up Super Mario? He had non-hodgkin’s lymphoma and missed three years. How is that related to a head injury in the slightest? On that note, how is Tom Brady’s knee injury related to any type of head injury? You can protect the QB in football because the QB is not expected to be able to take hits. Hockey players don’t have the luxury to be protected in a bubble. You claim that there was once a double standard to save stars from the onslaught of hits. When was this? For decades the NHL has had one way to deter players from going after stars, enforcers. Gretzky had a slew of them, as did Messier, and every other big name star. They are on the team to protect the star and go after any opposing player who threatens him. And this type of thought process was used in the old NHL, before the rules changed to allow finesse players more room on the ice. This rules change was thought to cut down on big hits, but unfortunately it has caused many players to keep their head down and get rattled more frequently. Big hits are an NHL mainstay, and unless the players get smarter about keeping their heads up during a play they will continue. It’s not something where a rules change needs to occur. It’s a physical game, and if the players aren’t interested in it they can go try their hand at football.

Have you ever actually watched a hockey game that did not feature a player named Crosby or Ovechkin? With names like Stamkos, Toews, Giroux, Iginla, Tavares, the Sedin twins, etc. the NHL talent pool is deep, and none of them are complaining about being hit while playing. The NHL front office can be blamed for the fact that many of the countries half-hearted hockey fans do not know these players, but your job is to know more than the typical fan. Your job is to try and understand how hockey is played, instead of just pandering to your executives who insist that you say something about Crosby, despite the fact that you truly have no idea what to say.

My services are always available. Trust me, you need them.

Thank you for your time,

Adam

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Role Model? Seriously?


The shirt says it all


I have never pretended to be a fan of Ben Roethlisberger, but he recently brought up a very good point. No, not the idea that he wants to be a role model and the fact that he likes it when kids wear his jersey, but instead he brings up a more dubious question, should athletes be considering role models at all? What happened to the athletes like Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley? You know, the ones who had absolutely no desire to be a role model and ultimately did everything in their power to back up that notion. When AI did something outlandish, in bad taste, or all in all considered out of the realm of social norms fans didn’t care. When Charles Barkley said that he didn’t want to be a role model the fans laughed. Do you know why? It was expected. From the day they were introduced to us they never pretended to be something they weren’t, and never made any apologies for that. Sports fans didn’t care because they were never going to mistakenly cast these types of players in that light, and that was okay.

Times have changed, or maybe the idea of the athlete has changed, but either way the sportsperson who probably left college early to play a professional sport that we happen to like now wants the youth of America to view him in the same light that they should be viewing their teachers, their parents, etc. Sports personalities aren’t the main culprits of ruining children’s minds. Let’s keep in mind the fact that we live in a society that catapults the Jersey Shore cast to millionaire status, makes Miley Cyrus a world icon, and falls in love with a song that is basically a guy singing about two colors for four minutes. Not exactly rocket science Wiz Khalifa. Maybe society is getting dumber or maybe the crop of good role models is getting smaller and smaller, or most likely both, but no matter what, the sports stars should not be next on the list of people to look up to.

I’m not an idiot, people are going to continue to want to make these guys their role models, and so for them I simply offer some guidelines in an effort to help them choose wisely. When propelling the athletes that you watch on TV to role model status there are a few things you have to consider. How will I be perceived by being a fan of this player? If it doesn’t matter to you what other people feel or say when the topic of your newfound heroes past comes up during a lull in the action than feel free to explore the fan-path that you see fit. How important is my new role models personal/private life? If you are in the group that feels that a man’s private life has no bearing on whether you can root for him than more power to you. The line is supposed to be black and white. When he gets onto the field of play the thought of what he did personally should make no difference. C’mon, we live in America, when is the line ever as simple as that? It’s not like people are going to forget that a guy bankrupted a baseball team while simultaneously supposedly recommending performance-enhancing drugs to players to increase revenue and then go ahead and elect that man President. What’s that? That happened? Whoops!

There was a time when it was safe to believe in a sports star. Before Tiger hit a tree, before Brett Favre took pictures of himself in the buff, before Mike Vick decided to run a dog fighting ring, before big Ben ran around with underage, unwilling girls (allegedly), before O.J. was acquitted of killing his ex-wife and her new husband and then subsequently wrote a book entitled “If I Did It”, before Michael Phelps decided to smoke a bong, before Ray Carruth shot into an occupied vehicle, before Mike Tyson existed, before Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Canseco, Bret Boone, Jason Giambi, Mike Piazza, David Ortiz, Rick Ankiel, Garry Sheffield, Kevin Brown, Eric Gagne, Sammy Sosa, Troy Glaus, Manny Ramirez, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, Lenny Dykstra, Dave Hollins, Roger Clemens, and so on and so forth were implicated or admitted to taking steroids. The only problem is that the time before is so far back that many people don’t remember it even existing, and unfortunately I am fresh out of DeLoreans.

Love the column? Hate the column? Feel free to let me know, or send me a comment on twitter, @adamholman225

Does ‘Sense of Entitlement’ Equal A Lack of Morals? (October 20, 2010)


Lets call a spade a spade. As much as the stories are spun in the best interest of the athlete’s public persona, a majority of the stars these days cheat in at least one sense of the word. Tiger Woods, in his ridiculous excuse for a press conference after Elin caught him, said it best. “I felt I was entitled.” A very simple sentence that carries with it a myriad of questions that are not exactly the easiest to answer. He easily summed up the question of ‘why’ whenever we hear about another sports star “losing his way” either on the field, ie PEDs, or off. The list is long and distinguished with the biggest names in sports making an appearance in some capacity. Thanks to the media being so in tune with the players habits, a story in this day and age is more likely to be a headline, but don’t forget that running around at all hours of the night with a litany of women, drinking until your liver starts yelling at you, or gambling the night away was commonplace in the time of Mantle, Berra, and the like. Times were different, rules were different, and relationships were undoubtedly different.

Since then the public has decided to project sports stars onto an even bigger pedestal than anyone could have imagined, crowning them ‘the great one’, ‘the next one’, or ‘the king’, even before they’ve done a single thing to prove that moniker true. Everyone loves the stars, and if they don’t they act like they do. Entourages surround these players with only one goal, to keep them happy, but what does that entail? It is hard to believe that many big name players have heard the word ‘no’ since they were ten. With all the accolades come bigger paychecks, today’s players make more money than we can fathom. We go as far as to tell them that they are unstoppable, unbeatable, and simply on a different level. But what we forget to inform them is we only mean that superlative in terms of their specific sports skill. It doesn’t mean they are better at life, does it?

They might live a better life, drive a nicer car, and have more expensive things than the common man, but they certainly haven’t aspired so high as to supersede the basic ideologies of society because they can jump from the foul line and dunk a ball, hit 500 foot home runs, skate past the competition, or throw touchdowns at a high percentage. Perhaps the message isn’t being delivered to the players the way it should, or maybe they just simply don’t care anymore, but being a multi-millionaire for playing a sport comes with some stipulations. Through excelling at their craft they have risen to role model status, whether they like it or not. As a child we all had idols, but now it seems that those famous athletes, who were once revered, ushered out a red carpet of privilege that is being trounced on by today’s stars.

Who is it okay to look up to these days, should sports stars be blacklisted? Being lied to and getting the run around from sports celebrities has become the norm, and the topic isn’t specific to one thing anymore. From infidelity to disorderly conduct to the merry-go-round of steroids to countless D.U.I. and assault charges in every sport, it is unfathomable the way players can screw up a good thing. However, are we really able to blame them? They didn’t build the pedestal upon which they stand, we did. They didn’t write the huge paychecks to themselves, or ask for their own autograph any time they see each other. The idea that they are great and that everyone loves them is a belief that they will never accept as anything but fact, and we beat that into their heads.

There are still good men in the sports world for children to look up to, but the numbers are dwindling. But with more and more stars falling by the moral compass wayside it is hard to believe that there is a good role model left. After a scandal of any sort there needs to be a new litmus test for determining if the actions of a player should be forgiven by the masses in order to be reconsidered for role model status in the future, but taking into consideration societies perplexity on deciding what constitutes a forgivable act and what does not, the test will most likely never come.

My advice is this, look up to whomever you want and try to emulate their success on the diamond, court, rink, field, race, etc. However, do not try to mimic them as human beings, and don’t be surprised when they let you down when it comes to life’s basic lessons. Cheaters never prosper…well except in sports.