Sports are filled with narratives. This is a simple fact, and whether you like the concept or not, narratives in sports will never die. They’re one of the reasons why we stay so locked in to specific sports and events; they add drama to what’s happening on the field. However, some narratives have long overstayed their welcome, or are just plain bad. Here’s the NCB staff’s picks on narratives that need to stop.
The Next Michael Jordan
We need to put an end to analyst & commentators anointing young basketball talent the next Michael Jordan and let just be themselves. There are plenty of other ways to discuss a great talent besides comparing them to Jordan. Being relentlessly bombarded by guys like Skip Bayless comparing the hottest college player to Jordan & now Lebron has become an instant channel change.
From memory along I’ve witness ESPN compare Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Tracey McGrady, LeBron James & even Victor Oladipo all to Jordan. With guys like Andrew Wiggins & Ben Simmons getting compared to James.
While Kobe made a solid run at being the next Jordan, none of those listed above have been the same player that Jordan was. I’d also like to put this out there that I think James has the ability to be a better player overall when it’s said and done, but he never played the style Jordan did.
While plenty of other sports communities are guilty of the same comparison game…Who is the next Sidney Crosby? Who is the next Steve Young/Peyton Manning? Etc there seems to be no community that is more gun ho on comparing a great to the next round of all-stars like the NBA.
The wrongest narrative in sports isn’t that “wrongest” isn’t a word, it’s that college basketball is good.
That narrative is wrong, because college basketball is bad.
When I say this to other, wrong people, it doesn’t go well. The first thing they bring up is usually something regarding atmosphere. Sure, college crowds are wilder than NBA ones. That’s cute. You could get 15,000 people to scream at two senior citizens playing backgammon, too. It wouldn’t make it interesting. Crowd noise doesn’t affect the slow, boring, unimpressive gameplay of college ball.
These kids get 30 seconds to put up a shot, and by golly they are going to use every last second of that window. The NCAA just had to knock five seconds off that clock so teams would manage to crack 70 points per game. What are the rules on blocks and charges? No one seems to know. But they make sure to call a foul on someone at least every other possession, because god forbid basketball players make contact with each other.
College hoops fanatics usually spin all these problems into something like “at least they actually play defense.” Here, they are wrong again. Most collegiate games don’t have “defense” so much as “a bunch of dudes vaguely getting into each other’s way.” And nearly every team has at least five players that flat-out do not know how to score. So your opponent not scoring does not mean it’s the result of good defense.
Enjoy college basketball all you want, I don’t care. I can’t tell you what to enjoy. Just please, never in my presence refer to it as good basketball. Thank you.
P.S. That first weekend of March Madness is pretty fun, though. I’m not an idiot.
There is a “right” way to play the game
This just in: each and every one of us is different. And because of that we each have our own ways of staying motivated throughout life.
What motivates your co-worker to come in and put in work is vastly different than what gets you out of bed in the morning.
No matter what the unwritten rules tell you and the old heads preach, there are different ways to skin a cat…or in this case, more than one way to become Olympic GAWD:
So what if Peyton Manning is the poster child for the Aw, Shucks! crowd? My man Cam Newton wants to add a little flavor to his craft and isn’t wired the same way as Mr. Nationwide. I think his way of doing things has worked out pretty well for him considering what he’s accomplished at every level.
Who cares if Phelps doesn’t showboat during or after his races. Did you ever think that dorky guys like him would totally bust out Usain Bolt-like celebrations if they actually had rhythm? Like bust out a running man challenge dance out of nowhere rhythm, not that swimming cadence like rhythm.
We need to embrace personalties and throw away this notion that there is a template players and teams need to follow to succeed. Seriously, don’t be a curmudgeon.
“Our school does it the right way.”
College football folks really like to throw this quip around often, either when bragging or defending their school. It gets most of its usage when arguing against those from a school that was recently hit with an NCAA sanction or investigation of some sort, or when arguing against a superior team/conference in general. Recently, this has gotten a lot of mileage when discussing why a school that isn’t from the SEC is superior to the SEC.
It’s also a big heaping pile of shit. No school does things the right way. For starters, every school has its stories from the past and quiet rumors of benefits being given to players under the table. There’ve been extensive stories and interviews regarding men whose job is to coordinate such under-the-table dealings. Some have gone so far as to say that basically every major university gives such benefits to its athletes. Also, do you know how hard it is to not violate an NCAA rule anyway? It’s practically impossible. There’s a reason you hear about some school or player accidentally breaking a rule and getting a small punishment handed down. You’re probably violating at least three NCAA rules right now and don’t even know it, but hey, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
The sooner college football people, and basketball and volleyball and basically everything else, stop the act like your school is so high and mighty because you don’t have good enough resources to cheat as well as other, better schools, the sooner we can all stop pretending like it really matters anyway.
Okay, all the, “Who is on your *insert sports-related thing here* Mount Rushmore” talk has to stop.
It’s exclusionary, lazy, self-serving list-making that adds nothing of substance to the sports universe. Also, have you ever been to Mount Rushmore? It’s not that great!
Let me put it in these terms. Recently, my friends and I were light-heartedly discussing who would be on the Jewish Mount Rushmore. It was fun at first; we wondered whether it was acceptable to snub Jesus Christ, and joked how Bill Simmons’ Jewish Mount Rushmore would be Kevin Youkilis four times.
Soon, however, I realized how flawed a conversation this was. By limiting myself to only four, was I not marginalizing the accomplishments and societal contributions made by thousands of other great Jews? Did I not want to put in the effort to come up with more than four great Jewish people? In the end, was I not just trying to show how much of a cool guy film buff I was by including Mel Brooks and Steven Spielberg on mine?
The same can be said about pundits and fans alike applying the Mount Rushmore analogy to sports. In constructing these hypothetical national monuments through our own distorted, subjective lenses, we are putting in the least amount of effort to diminish the accomplishments of all-time great athletes, all in the name of, “Pay attention to me, I don’t consider Bill Russell to be one of the four greatest basketball players of all-time” attention grabbing. We accomplish nothing.
And let me reiterate, it’s not like Mount Rushmore is this amazing monument. You’ll drive all night to look at the faces of four dead guys carved into a rock, and will be greatly disappointed when you arrive to see that you drove all night to look at the faces of four dead guys carved into a rock, and had to pay for parking.
From now on, if I hear the words “rushmore” and “sports” uttered in the same sentence, it better be to recast Wes Anderson’s Rushmore only using notable sports figures. For the record, I think Vince Lombardi would make a great Dr. Guggenheim.
If I could only eradicate one sports narrative, it would be the “Is team XYZ’s dominance bad for the sport?” narrative that has been plaguing professional and college sports for the past decade.
When a team becomes so good that they roll through the competition, opposing fans start to cry foul. No one likes to watch their team get run out of the gym, but when beat writers start talking about it being bad for the sport is where I draw the line. Over the past decade there has been one instance that sticks out from the rest where people have insinuated that dominance is bad for the sport of basketball.
When the UConn women’s basketball team broke or set every major wins record in not only basketball, but all sports period. Writer after writer started saying how their dominance would permanently change the landscape of women’s college basketball, that other teams would start saying “why bother” and their win streak (that ended at 90 consecutive wins) would never end. They did end up changing the sport, but for the better. Women’s college basketball has never been more popular, the play has never been better, and teams are getting better.
To be honest, Im not sure why the columns are even written (besides the obvious click-bait nature of this kind of take). All it does is distract from the hard work and dedication of these winners. No team rips off a 90 game win streak without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. These teams earn their time in the sun, and anyone that tries to lessen that by saying it is “bad for the sport” need to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves if they would be saying it if their team was the one dominating. Id be willing to bet they would change their tune in a hurry.