Over the years, we’ve heard a fair amount of comparisons between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Who’s the greatest ever, how do Kobe’s titles hold up to MJ’s, who’s more historic. That aside, here’s one striking similarity between the pair of two-guards. At this particular time, neither of them are playing NBA basketball.
It you watched the closing moments of last week’s football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers, you may have felt like you had seen it before, like it was a scene out of Groundhog Day. For those who missed it, the plotline went something like this. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo led his team to the brink of victory, only to gamble it away with a series of ill-conceived, unnecessarily risky passes that resulted in game altering interceptions. Specifically here, all Dallas really had to do in the closing minutes of the game was simply run the ball and run the clock. But Romo, forever the gunslinger, threw wildly into defensive traffic. Green Bay picked it off, scored the go-ahead touchdown, and revived a narrative that’s older than the Cowboys’ stadium itself.
Congratulations New York sports fans. You now know what the rest of the world feels like. Both your basketball teams are awful and retreating towards the NBA lottery. The Jets and the Giants have less offensive production than the Swiss military. And even New York baseball teams, where the Yankees and sometimes the Mets can buy themselves a playoff spot, watched the postseason on their home televisions. In fact, there’s not a single pro team in the New York area with a winning record, even if you include hockey.
Last weekend, the mighty Florida Gators football team lost, at home, to Georgia Southern. This is notable for several reasons. First, and foremost, Georgia Southern plays in the lower tier FCS Division I subdivision, not the FBS top category like the Gators. This is the first time since the creation of these divisions that Florida has lost to an FCS, or I-AA squad. It also sealed Florida’s first losing record since 1979 and the first season since 1990 without a bowl game. It could inevitably cost Florida coach Will Muschamp his job, and it’s led to considerable unrest amongst the legions of Florida fans, including the big donors that help fund the program.
This story should sound familiar. A 17-year old high school senior is a dominant athlete, so good they could play pro right now. Only there’s this college thing that’s looming next fall. And everyone’s talking about which university you’ll compete for to help win a national championship, playing for a scholarship instead of the actual cash a free market might command.
I went to the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta, as well as the track and field Olympic trials in the same venue. I watched Michael Johnson run, which at that point I assumed was the fastest man there ever could be, and I spent the better part of a week surviving the summer heat of Hotlanta. And I remember thinking, as a track and field fan, that wow, that’s one nice track stadium in the middle of a big city.
When I say the word hazing, you probably think about college, maybe a frat house where pledges are forced to dress up or clean the house or things far more onerous and potentially dangerous. In fact, hazing has gone from something of a tradition to a dirty word, something that keeps college presidents up all night. Once a right of passage, now it’s something of a criminal offense.
For the past several years, the military academies, Army, Navy, Air Force, have been at something of a disadvantage in sports, at least in the context of major Division I football. There’s a whole lot of reasons for that. They’ve got that unseemly burden of training both for football and for war. There’s not a lot of gut majors to work with. And as a recruiting pitch, coaches can promise high school stars guaranteed employment upon graduation, most likely in Iraq. That’s not a great sales pitch for any kid dreaming about a different kind of uniform, namely one with an NFL logo on it.