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Posts tagged ‘Sports’

Why you should love college football

Above is the ending of the Auburn-Georgia game in 2013 that helped keep Auburn undefeated. At the time, it seemed like it might be the craziest thing that happened in the SEC last year.


If you’re a dude, you invariably get into a lot of bar conversations across your 20s and 30s (and logically beyond) about whether you’re an NCAA guy, an NFL guy, or something else. When the fall comes around, this is a much bigger topic; I’ve been in two of these discussions just today. There are arguments on all sides and ultimately it’s a personal decision, but I’m an NCAA guy. Read more

So, the Seattle Seahawks could become a dynasty, right?

The Super Bowl was terrible last year — phrased another way, the Seahawks are really good. The last time any NFL team won back-to-back Super Bowls was 2003-2004 (the Patriots). Begs the question, obviously: can the Seahawks do that, and can they become a legitimate dynasty in the mold of the 1990s Cowboys and all that? Here’s a few arguments on either side.

Yes, They Can Become A Dynasty

1. They were the second-youngest Super Bowl winning team ever, with an average age of just over 24 years.

2. They basically don’t lose at home — aside from one regular-season loss to the Cardinals last year, the last time they had dropped one in Seattle was Christmas Eve 2011. The last time the team lost a playoff game at home was 2004 — and Russell Wilson was probably about 13 then.

3. If Jim Harbaugh punts on the 49ers after this year, that takes away the biggest challenge to Seattle. (Yes, Arizona was good last year and might be for the next few years, but the biggest challenge to Seattle in the division and probably the conference right now is SF.)

4. They seem to have the right attitude:

“When we came back in, there was no talk about repeating,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “It was (about) going back to the basics.”

No, They Won’t Become A Dynasty

1. Injuries can always be a thing.

2. Once you get a Super Bowl, there’s this notion of “target on your back” and “distractions.” Many teams fall prey to it. The Seahawks have a stable leadership pipeline, but they too could fall into it.

3. Long-term contracts and prioritization of the stars — if Wilson gets paid, and Harvin gets paid, can the O/D-Line get paid? And if they start to walk, what happens then?

4. Flip-side of the Harbaugh argument: let’s say he stays in the Bay Area for a long time. He’s just been to three consecutive NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. He’s clearly knocking on the door. At some point, one of his teams will knock it in. They’re always right there with Seattle in big games, for the most part. Who’s to say they won’t be again?

5. The rise of the Cardinals (although their QB is older), the Rams (very young team), or a team like the Eagles or Saints (or Panthers?) could be a threat to them in the broader NFC.

6. Remember how, a few years ago, we all thought the Packers were going to become a dynasty? That hasn’t happened yet. So we should all pump the brakes here a bit.

What’s your take?


No one seems to want to attend Tampa Bay Buccaneers games

The last time the Bucs won a playoff game, it was their Super Bowl win — back in 2002. That might be correlated with this: in 2013, they were 29th in the NFL in home attendance; in 2012, they were 31st; in 2011, they were 30th; in 2010, they were 31st; and in 2009, they were 27th. Phrased another way, they’ve been in the bottom seven of NFL attendance for the past half-decade. Part of this is on-field performance, of course — and part of it could be the location of the stadium, which is essentially near Tampa Airport:

This post goes into a little more detail on the supposed erosion of the Buccaneer fan base, blaming it on these reasons:

  • The economy
  • Bridges burned by the Glazer family (owners) after the Super Bowl was in Tampa
  • Fair-weather fans
  • The big-screen TV generation

You could broadly probably add “Florida” to that list; the area typically has good fall seasons, and Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa Bay — admittedly, none of those three teams has been very competitive in the last couple of years — tend to all be in the bottom third for attendance. The “economy” argument makes sense in this context too; Florida was one of the worst areas in terms of the 2008 economic downturn, specifically as relates to property. I buy the “big-screen TV generation” thing to an extent, and that is something the NFL will continue to struggle with down the road. The fair-weather fandom is interesting — get this:

Yet, ironically, the Fairweathers aren’t coming either. In 2010, when Bucs posted a 10-6 record, Tampa Bay had its worst drop in attendance – only filling up Raymond James Stadium 75% of capacity per game on the year. Tampa Bay’s attendance actually improved to 86% of capacity in 2011 when the team followed up its winning season by getting off to a 4-2 start, but this season – after the collapse at the end of 2011, many of these fairweathers are taking a wait-and-see approach. Tampa Bay fans have filled the stadium 82% of capacity this season.

You could also argue that part of the problem was the team starting 0-7 in 2013.

Here’s another broader argument the NFL will struggle with going forward:

“The NFL ticket has priced itself out of the middle class,” said Lighthall, “the average ticket is 75 bucks, and you take a family of four for a three- hour event. If I’m going to pay that much I’m going to take them to Disney World, and we’re going to walk till we can’t walk anymore.”

This happens to a lot of sports, but the NFL is a bigger deal than most — and there’s a lot of stuff to do within about a three-hour drive of Tampa in any direction, so it’s a little bit different than maybe Green Bay (also, the culture of the Midwest and Florida are obviously very different as regards generations, passions, etc.)

All this said, the Bucs are about middle-of-the-pack when it comes to NFL team valuations; they’re roughly No. 17 according to Forbes.

No one has repeated as NFC South champion ever. Odd, right?

Get this: since the NFL went to eight divisions in 2002, the NFC South has never had a repeat champion. Don’t believe me? Lookie here:

NFC South Division Winners

If you go through the other seven conferences, they’ve all had some sort of mini-dynasty — or at least repeat winners. Consider:

AFC East: Patriots win it fairly often

AFC North: Steelers and Ravens have both repeated as division champions since 2007

AFC South: The Colts won it from ’03 to ’07

AFC West: Chargers won it four years in a row in the mid-to-late 2000s

NFC East: Eagles won it the first three or so years after the eight divisions were founded

NFC North: Vikings won it in ’08 and ’09; Packers have won the last three

NFC West: Seahawks won ’04 to ’07; Niners won ’11 and ’12

Kinda crazy that in 12 years, considering the Saints have won a Super Bowl in that span and the Falcons have had a couple of 12/13-win seasons, no team has ever repeated as NFC South champion. If it’s going to happen this year, that would mean Carolina would need to win the division again. Hell, they could.



The Alabama-Auburn trolling has really hit a fever pitch

There are 37 days until college football is back, which is exciting. Although far more people get excited by the eventual return of the NFL, I personally think college football is the greatest thing on the American sporting landscape. I’m definitely not alone in that.

As you probably know if you follow college football, last season it seemed like potentially Alabama was headed for another national championship game — and Alabama vs. FSU would have been interesting — but then this happened:

As a result of that situation (which literally seemed to crash my Facebook at the time), the long-standing Alabama vs. Auburn rivalry (detailed well in the 30 for 30 embedded at the top) has reached some epic trolling places, such as this:

Then there’s this whole thing, whereby Alabama and Auburn are fighting about HTML code.

And while this isn’t about Alabama or Auburn, the SEC trolling has reached another new low with this story:

Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger was the victim of a sucker punch during an incident over the weekend at a popular Nashville nightspot, according to its owner.

Steve Ford, owner of Losers Most Wanted Bar & Grill, said Mettenberger did nothing to provoke another bar patron, but the 6-5, 224-pound quarterback ended up getting punched in the face. He did not require medical attention.

“Here’s the truth: The guy said something about ‘Roll Tide!’ to Zach, and Zach turned around and said ‘Good luck with that,’ ” Ford said on Monday. “And the guy’s buddy then sucker-punched Zach.

If you’ve never been to Nashville (I haven’t), here’s a quick review of Losers:

It’s a bar. It’s in Midtown. It’s lots of college kids. It’s perfectly fine if you just want to sit and drink. Nice patio. Can’t really see anything that differentiates it from Winner’s or Rebar. The 1 toilet bathroom is a little ridiculous. The “security” guy was kind of a dick when it was time to close. He just came over and told us we have to get out. Not nicely at all. Just “get out.” Umm, whatever dude.

Makes sense.

Trolling in the SEC is a time-honored tradition — you can say it’s a cliche, but football is a damn sacred passion down there — and there’s a post here that attempts to explain why:

But why is hating on Alabama such good business? There’s a good reason why Clay Travis and Tim Brando love to pick on the Tide, other than Tennessee and LSU love respectively.  Alabama is the Yankees, Alabama is the Patriots, Alabama is the Heat, Alabama is the (insert dominate dynasty hockey team here.)  Nick Saban has turned Alabama into a dominate program.  Even on Alabama’s down years they are playing for BCS bowls.  Even when they lose their BCS bowl and have a brand new quarterback they get ranked in the top 5.  Fans of other teams hate dynasties.

The trolls of college football know that if you want to get the highest number of people fired up you knock the big guy down a few pegs.  It’s human nature to want to see Goliath toppled from his pedestal.  To confirm this all you have to do is look at how social media lights up when Alabama loses a game.

Yep. Concur. College football fandom is about as base a study in human psychology as you can find. It’s all about in-group/out-group (often defined by the region you live in or where you went to school, or something to do with your family) and David/Goliath, which is in turn about knocking down the big, bad man at the end of the block.

I can’t wait for this to get started again. I’m actually living near Texas A&M — vaguely — for this season, so I may try to check out a game.

Oh, and by the by … Auburn and Alabama are both looking like top-five preseason teams again, so … be ready.



True test for soccer in the United States? Perhaps the International Champions Cup.

That was a really good World Cup, right? (Not to mention I was right about Messi and Neuer.) But now the WC is over, and Americans — who aren’t, by and by, “real” soccer fans — may revert back to not really caring about soccer anymore. Here’s the litmus test: The International Champions Cup.

It runs from July 24 to August 4 and features a number of impressive cities as venues — Minneapolis, Charlotte, Ann Arbor, Berkeley, Dallas, etc. with the final being in Miami (good choice) — as well as a host of top European clubs including Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, AS Roma, and AC Milan. They’ve got a pretty good TV package with Fox Sports, Fox Sports 1-2, and NBC Sports Network covering it.

Now the question is: coming off a dramatic, mostly-compelling World Cup where the U.S. themselves got to the Round of 16, will people actually show up for / watch these games? Most of the stars of these teams do participate — it tends to be a warm-up for their league seasons — so that’s not necessarily the issue if the attendance or TV figures are low.

About 306K fans attended games in 2013 — and obviously, that wasn’t a World Cup year — but the TV ratings weren’t amazing: about 137K per game on FOX Soccer. In television, 137K would get derided by executives as “a blog audience.” (I wish.) The Real Madrid-Chelsea final last year had about 317K viewers, and that featured a world-wide superstar in Ronaldo.

You’ve got 76 players from the World Cup participating:

And you’ve got NFL teams behind it on social (granted, NFL teams don’t have as much to tweet about in mid-July):

This might be the last year for the ICC to resonate on U.S. soil; it looks as if it may be headed to Asia after that.

My personal belief is that the numbers will be good, not great for this tournament — even the two games on FOX itself (major network) probably won’t pop major numbers, even though they involve Manchester United (them vs. AS Roma and vs. Real Madrid; that latter game is at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor and should look pretty cool on TV if they pop 100K in there). I don’t think it’s enough to say soccer has “arrived” in the United States, but … I think the numbers will be decent, and definitely get a bump from the World Cup being just a few weeks before.

Axelle Despiegelaere of Belgium just did “the honey shot” right

Sorry, Montell Jordan (dated reference, eh?), but this is how you do it: get put on camera at the World Cup and parlay that into a modeling contract with L’Oreal. It happened for Axelle Despiegelaere of Belgium, even though Belgium lost in the final eight to Argentina. Here’s one of the first times she appeared on camera:

Belgian Honey Shot 620

Clearly cute. This is all tied back to “the honey shot.” That’s where TV directors/producers look for attractive women in between the action, or in/out of commercials. The most famous examples of this in the United States typically involve a lecherous Brent Musburger:

Interestingly, the “honey shot” is thought to be popularized by Andy Sidaris, who is perhaps most famous to generations of teenage boys as creating a ton of softcore movies later in life, generally featuring buxom Playboy models being put in exotic locales with ridiculous storylines. Here’s his IMDB. Before he got into that, though, he was considered one of the better sports TV directors of all-time. He helmed Wide World of SportsMonday Night Football, and tons of college broadcasts; there are rumors he helped choreograph the football scene in MASH (the movie). He once told a website, four years before his eventual death, that he was “the best television director that ever lived.” Nice. Then there’s this:

He was also obsessed with pointing his cameras at beautiful women. In 1983, theNew York Times’ Neil Amdur wrote the following in a piece critiquing college football telecasts: “Andy Sidaris is one of ABC’s better football directors. But at the Sugar Bowl, he seemed preoccupied with cheerleaders, in a game that contained dimensions of much more importance. Sideline shots of cheerleaders and majorettes are only worthwhile if they are spontaneous and fit into a larger picture; Sidaris made them boring and finally offensive.”

There’s an interesting clip of him telling his cameramen to “get some front shots of those broads” (cheerleaders). It’s on that Sidaris link above.

And here are some standard clips for a Sidaris film:

Broader lesson here? Sometimes you may contextually view someone as akin to a smut peddler (I viewed Sidaris that way as a teenager, although I wasn’t complaining) when in reality they’re a revolutionary in a different field. People navigate to what they want to be doing and are generally good at, I guess (or hope).


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