Fan(atical) Behavior

Fan(atical) Behavior

Fans, for the most part, are who they are: fanatics about their sporting teams, entertainers, and whatever they are in support of.

It also produces an unsavory group of “habitual line steppers” to quote the late comedian Charlie Murphy.

Monday night was no different. After a baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox, Orioles’ outfielder Adam Jones mentioned that he heard racial epithets and one fan hurled a bag of peanuts towards him.

The easy narrative, and the usual one, is to throw a blanket on the city of Boston, given the ugly past the city has dealt with in regards to racial issues.

It’s very easy for fans outside of cities like Boston and Philadelphia to wag a scornful finger at the behavior of those fans.

The problem is…there are fans in every city that are boorish, misogynistic, racist, and rotten. To point a finger at one group and talk about how bad they are shouldn’t dismiss the fact that your fan base, or yourself, is guilty of doing the same.

That last sentence was hammered home by ESPN’s Bomani Jones during his drive-time national radio show today. This isn’t a “Boston” problem. This is an “American” problem: fans who feel they can say and do whatever at games, simply because they paid to watch it.

What a stupid concept. Illogical, ignorant, and baseless.

And, don’t give me the “I pay their (players’) salaries, I can do what I want.”

You don’t pay their salaries. The owner pay their salaries. You (fans) pay for the ticket handlers at the gate, the hot dog vendor, and the maintenance crew who picks up behind us after games. When fans misbehaves, we are embarrassing those individuals, not just players and the teams.

No popcorn vendor wants to lose business or (their jobs) behind a fan acting like a drunken sloth who has no filter.

This may sound hollow and clichéd, but it bears repeating: fans, stop being assholes. If you want to boo, just boo. If your team stinks out loud, no one’s making you stay and watch it. Next time, someone will pull out their iPhones and the world will see just how bad you are.

For the love of decency, act like humans, not cavemen at events.

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Marshawn Lynch Doesn’t Have To Speak, But It’s Up To Him To Conquer His Anxiety

Marshawn Lynch Doesn’t Have To Speak, But It’s Up To Him To Conquer His Anxiety

I’m not a good talker. I like conversations, but I am not a serial “conversationalist”. If given a choice, I would prefer to listen, read, and observe things and write what I see everyday.

But, that’s not how the world operates. You have to talk if you need help, to explain things that people do not understand, and to blend in with the human race.

I am a stutterer. Many people who know me understand that I will fumble over words and phrases awkwardly. I prefer not to talk, unless I need to say something.

"Beast Mode" (aka Marshawn Lynch) doesn't have to talk to the press, but that should not excuse him for not seeking help to resolve his anxiety and fear of public speaking. (ESPN)
“Beast Mode” (aka Marshawn Lynch) doesn’t have to talk to the press, but that should not excuse him for not seeking help for resolve his anxiety and fear of public speaking. (ESPN)

Which brings up the topic of Marshawn Lynch. Lynch, a star running back for the Seattle Seahawks, have become a storm of controversy, as if there isn’t enough controversy around pro football these days, for his “combative” nature in refusing to answer questions from the media during press conferences.

Various reports have said that Lynch battles anxiety attacks when pressed to speak to people. Lynch’s approach to all of this is to sound combative, to the level of being dismissive when he is peppered with questions by the press.

The story of Duane Thomas and his awkward exchange with Tom Brookshier brings back uneasy memories.

I don’t have an opinion of Lynch, but I do know what it is like to fear public speaking and anxiety.

Public speaking feels like walking down death row for many people, such as myself. Growing up, I hated to talk, because I was ashamed of my stuttering. As much as I wanted to voice my opinion, say something informative, or approach a girl, it was a virtual hell for me.

Years of speech therapy did help in some areas, but sooner or later, I would have to figure the rest of it out on my own: learning how to start a conversation, using the phone to order pizza, ask a receptionist for directions, to name a few.

I found public speaking to be tolerable: typing what I am going to say, rehearsing it, and reading it in front of a large crowd. I use a few tricks to help me get through it.

Bill Belichick does not have a fear of public speaking. He chooses to be difficult towards people, with a level of contempt.
Bill Belichick does not have a fear of public speaking. He chooses to be difficult towards people, with a level of contempt.

My advice to Lynch, the Seahawks, and the NFL is this: if he does have an anxiety disorder, then get help for it now, and address it to the public. The better the public knows about it from Marshawn Lynch, the more they are willing to give him a break.

If he does not have anxiety problems and this is mere insubordination on his part, he need to stop playing games with people. If Lynch is using anxiety as an excuse to blow off doing interviews (so far, it has not been confirmed by a doctor if he indeed has an anxiety disorder), then he is insulting and embarrassing the people who actually do battle with social anxiety disorder.

There’s no way getting around that.

If he allegedly did not have a problem with speaking during his time at Buffalo, what changed now with him in Seattle?

No wonder why the media is bashing him, fair or not. I don’t hate Lynch the person. I am disappointed in how he is handling this, and I blame the people around him, including the Seahawks, for not helping him learn how to deal with public speaking in spite of his anxiety.

By not addressing his anxiety, Lynch and the Seahawks open themselves up to criticism about him, his behavior, and who he is as a person.

All of this can be resolved…if everyone would stop pointing fingers at each other.

Here’s one simple resolution: if Lynch is consistently uncomfortable speaking due to his anxiety disorder, the NFL and the Seahawks have to make concessions and not force Lynch not to do mandatory press conferences. The same needs to be applied to players and coaches, not named Bill Belichick, who do have legitimate documented cases of social anxiety disorder.

In return, Lynch has to willingly seek help to treat his anxiety and work on adapting ways to deal with his fear of public speaking. If the NFL and Seattle have to accommodate Lynch in some form, then he has to get help on working to conquer his anxiety problems.

I had to learn how to speak and have conversations with people, in spite of my anxiety. I can choose not to talk, but no one is going to change their environment to accommodate me when I demand it for my self-interest.

This is a controversy should have never developed into a what it is, along with the New England Patriots being accused of deflating footballs to gain an advantage.

In the end, it’s on Marshawn Lynch to help himself conquer his fear of public speaking.

No one is going to fix it for him, unless he’s willing to do so himself.

“Pros And Cons” Warned Us About Crime and Sports

“Pros And Cons” Warned Us About Crime and Sports

Over the past few months, I have listened and watched how people react to news stories, and then over-react to levels that becomes irrational.

Time and again, society treats sports and entertainment like a domestic ecstasy. It’s a perfect world outside of the real world we live in, which is broken, insane, and imperfect. And once again, society point their scornful finger at sports and entertainment for being exactly what society is: broken, insane, and imperfect.

Sports mirrors society, but most of us choose to ignore that aspect. We demand perfection from those we look up to and yet we fail to see those flaws in ourselves.

I sit back with amusement. Why? Because I’m not shocked by the level of domestic violence, drug use, and criminal activity and other things that have beset the sports world, and in Hollywood.

A book I read in 1998 and I still have on my bookshelf pulled back the curtain on crime and sports back then, and we turned a blind eye and ignored it.

(Courtesy: Goodreads.com)
(Courtesy: Goodreads.com)

Jeff Benedict and Don Yeager wrote an eye-opening book titled “Pros and Cons” about the disturbing trend of violence in the NFL, on and off the field. What Benedict and Yeager exposed could easily be applied to baseball, hockey, and soccer. Back then, the internet was a new thing and “Inside Edition” was where we went to get the skinny on “everything”.

It is recommended reading for those who hasn’t followed the history of how crime intertwines with sports. After reading it, you won’t be so “shocked” by what we are seeing now.

Society feeds off of sensational stories that gets us talking and reacting, which is our modus operandi on social media, rather than making a concerted, genuine effort to understand issues.  Most of us are too lazy to delve into topics that are complex and hard to sort out.

Unpopular opinion: TMZ is not a news source, regardless how many stories they have broken or videos they have leaked. TMZ’s main purpose is to out celebrities and record their behavior, even if it means paying paparazzi and unscrupulous people to get pictures and videos of famous people in compromising positions.

Individuals like Benedict, Yeager, and others, have researched, discussed, and talked about these topics involving violence in sports long before everyone else. It’s unfortunate that it took so long. No, Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, and Colin Cowherd doesn’t get credit for “bringing light” to these subjects. They’re just like the rest of us:  whatever is the big story, they’ll pontificate about it to the public.

Sports mirrors life: there are a lot of ugly stuff going on that we think we know, but don’t know. We need to stop treating sports like a fairy-tale nirvana, because the choices and decisions that are made, as in the case of the NFL, are the same things that people make in the real world.

Some good and some bad, some really bad and some pretty good.

We just hate to admit that. It’s always someone else’s fault.

“There’s No Use Complaining…It’s Here”: A Guide to District Football Part 1

“There’s No Use Complaining…It’s Here”:  A Guide to District Football Part 1
Starting tonight, all of the classes, from 8-man to Class 4A will be playing district football. All other sports will remain in conferences.
Starting tonight, all of the classes, from 8-man to Class 4A will be playing district football. All other sports will remain in conferences.

It was going to happen. The question was “when”, “how”, and “who”?

No matter how much kicking-and-screaming there was from the eastern side of the state, they were going to be corralled with the west and finally be under one system, with the rest of everyone else.

Now, it’s here. It’s time to get acquainted.

Iowa Class 4A football…meet district football. 

There’s no use continuing to complain about it…from the eastern side of the state to the scribes in Sioux City who’s still think that it’s a CIML conspiracy. It’s time for a new era…and some things to understand about district football as we open the curtain to the 2014 Iowa prep football season.

If you want a short history of how we’ve gotten here, you can go here from a 2011 blog post. The same problems back then are the same problems now: travel, costs, and enrollment numbers, which many fans tend to dismiss the latter, but at this point, it’s become a big factor.

The constant chatter since the formation of the 4A districts in February have been over two pressing questions: how can a team with a losing record qualify for the playoffs, and how does the IAHSAA determine who gets into the post-season.

Well…let’s answer them the best we way we can. Nothing’s perfect, you know.

Q: How did Mason City get into the playoffs with an 1-8 and 2-7 records? That makes no sense.

A: That’s simple. Your district record > overall record. Yep, your district record trumps your overall record.

It’s crazy, but follow me here. In states that have district football (Missouri for one), how you finish in your district usually determines if you get in the playoffs. In the case for 4A, the top four teams in each of the 8 districts advances to the playoffs. If you win even one district game, and those below you don’t, you have a chance to play beyond Week 9…as long as you are in the top 4 in your district.

In the case of Mason City, this is how they got in with sub .500 records. In 2012, they finished 4th in their division with a 1-3 record (1-8 overall). Des Moines Hoover finished last with an 0-4 division record (1-8 overall. A win over a non-division team). Remember, the top 4 in each division (nowdistricts) advances. Ft. Dodge and Council Bluffs Lincoln advanced with 2-3 division records, 3-6 overall.

Ft. Dodge and Sioux City have done division football for the past two seasons. The test run is over for them. District football is waiting for them. (Sioux City Journal)

Everyone in eastern Iowa were irate about it, but when you look at the 2012 playoff field, Waterloo West (3-6), Cedar Rapids Kennedy (4-5), Burlington (3-6), and Iowa City High (4-5) got in with sub-.500 records from the east side. Ottumwa (2-3, 4-5 overall) also got in. Eight sub-.500 teams (4 from each side of the state) got in.

Not good enough?

2013: Mason City finished 2-7 overall, 2-3 in division. Hoover finished 4-5 overall, and 2-3 in division. Mason City defeated Hoover head-to-head, thus the Mohawks had the tie-breaker and ended up 3rd in their division, Hoover in 4th.

Both teams, along with Des Moines East (1-4 division, 2-7 overall), Ankeny and Sioux City North (both 4-5) qualified. Over on the east, Waterloo West, Dubuque Hempstead, Clinton, and Davenport Assumption had 4-5 records…and made the playoffs.

It’s not that district football “helped” bad teams get in…it was expanding the post-season field from 16 to 32 that was the real culprit in allowing teams with losing records get in. So, if you’re going to whine about Mason City, the same could be said for Burlington for a 3-6 record in conference play.

It’s all a wash.

In the next post, we’ll answer the question about the uneven split of Class 4A and why there’s 46 schools and not 48.

The Night Belongs to the “Sandman”

First ballot Hall of Famer. No debate is needed. Play his entrance music by clicking the pic above. (USATSI)

Everyone hates the Yankees. That’s not a secret. What’s not a secret is that, even for Yankees haters, Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball, in my generation, and is universally respected. He carries himself without bombastic flair. Simply grace and class. He comes out of the bullpen, takes the mound, unleashes that feared cutter pitch, and batters go down in flames.

He is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Lock, stock, two smoking barrels. No questions asked. No debate is needed.

 

March Mad-links: March 12, 2011

 

         

        

      

Coach Jim Miller and his Wartburg Knights won their 8th Division III national title Saturday night. It's their 6th title in 9 years. (Mark Atkins/Wartburg Sports Information Dept.)

 

When you start hearing yourself scream or jump out of your seats over the past couple of days, you know that the most exciting time of the year for sports fans has arrived:  March Madness in college basketball. 

I hope everyone was able to get adjusted to Daylight Savings Time (in case you forgot, move your clock ahead one hour), because it’s time to get linked in for some Sunday reading before the NCAA Division I-A basketball tournament field is announced tonight at 5pm CDT. 

  • Tom Buchheim, fellow Wartburg alum, follows the evolution of sports and social media on his blog titled Fourth and 140.  His latest post is about how social media has helped NCAA Division III athletics in sending out updates and engaging fans during its 2011 Division III wrestling championships in LaCrosse, Wisconsin this past Friday and Saturday.  Tom highlights how Wartburg’s sports information director Mark Adkins keeps fans posted on the scores of each match and the team race.  (Side note:  Wartburg won their 8th national title on Saturday.  The last time a school not named Augsburg or Wartburg won the title was Ithaca in 1994). 
  •  Mike Vorkunov of New Jersey Newsroom’s “Pressbox” sits down with ESPN college hoops analyst Jay Bilas and ask him how does Bilas balances his work with ESPN with his “real” day job as an attorney.  Bilas graduated with a law degree from Duke after his playing career. 

 

 

Jay Bilas, in his playing days, at Duke.

 

  • Mark Kreidler of ESPN files this column about Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl and his battle against neck and throat cancer.  Often irascible and known for being a pest as a player and as a coach, Karl is accepting a new role of offering hope to survivors of various forms of cancer.  The Nuggets signed Karl to a three-year extention earlier this week. 
  •  The popular sports business reporter Darren Rovell of CNBC suggests that additional salary penalities should be invoked when coaches are suspended.  He makes his case after Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel (aka “Sweater Vest”) is suspended for two games and is fined $250,000 for lying to the school and the NCAA for withholding information on several of his players selling football jerseys, helmets, etc. in exchange for tattoos. 
If there is anything the NCAA hates, and it's people who lie to them. Jim Tressel has now joined Tennessee's Bruce Pearl in the doghouse.
  • John Infante of the insightful and well respected Bylaw Blog says that the media’s involvement in investigating cases like Tressel and Ohio State, and Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl, is helping compliance officers in getting to the bottom of wrongdoing and rule breaking within athletic departments.   

That’s it for now, but before I go, I know you want to hear Gus Johnson‘s call at the end of the Washington vs. Arizona Pac-10 championship game again from CBS.  The Power of Gus continues to grow, my friends. 

 

One Team Conquers a Conference…Again

All 10 of Wartburg College's wrestlers (forefront, in orange) lined up against their opponents Friday night at the IIAC Wrestling Tournament

Jim Nelson of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier is a straight shooter and one of the best in covering high school and college wrestling.  He led his recap of the Iowa Conference Wrestling Championships with the “quote of the day” in my opinion:

“If it had been a dual, Wartburg College would’ve won it, too.”

Last Friday, Wartburg sent all 10 wrestlers to the championship round, won 7 out of 10 matches, and coasted to their 19th straight IIAC conference title at the Cowles Center on the campus of Simpson College.

Here are some images and pics from last week’s tournament.

 

A decidedly pro-Wartburg crowd.

 

Awards ceremony at the conclusion of the conference meet.