In a week filled with raw emotion, sports give us the ability to peel back and examine what is in front of us. Being a fan of anything athletic can be simultaneously exhilarating and utterly heartbreaking. Yet, season after season, we return. As a result, sports maintain their grasp upon us. Over the last seven days, we have seen highs and lows.
Growing up as a diehard Mets, seeing the Red Sox win a championship does not bother me. However, seeing people whine about it makes me smile. First, can we stop all the small-market blubbering about the unfair financial nature? The Milwaukee Brewers enjoyed a deep playoff run. Secondly, the Royals hoisted the crown three years ago. If you read tweets or columns, you would swear large market teams engage in some sort of nefarious plot. No, they play the game with the construct of the rules. Teams in bigger cities fail all of the time, For instance, look at my beloved Mets. They could not buy wins and suffered through a brutal season. Yet, no one wants to discuss their awful management. Give the Red Sox their props for building a winner. Criticize those who do not. Boston earned the championship.
In every sport, the art of purposeful losing exists. Let us not pretend many of these franchises are noble institutions, guided by an ethos of fairness. Last night, the Oakland Raiders laid down versus the San Francisco 49ers on national television. With a squad of undermanned and aging talent, the Raiders allowed Nick Mullens to step in and shred their defense. If you are a Raiders fan and possess the ability to rationally observe, the tank is on. However, the tank started long before the first coin toss of the 2018 season. When you trade a generational pass rusher, after straight up lying to the fanbase, you do not intend to compete. At least, be honest. The culture of deception only tarnishes the Silver and makes the Black that much darker.
While only consumers, fans that pay ticket prices deserve to know early, if the team is punting on the season. In Oakland’s case, the Raiders are punting on their legacy. Fans that sat through Andrew Walter and JaMarcus Russell receive one final middle finger from the franchise they have supported. Last night served as another reminder that the Oakland fan, the rational ones, got the shaft. Granted, football remains a business and that is fine. Yet, throwing away two seasons and expecting loyalty is the biggest of favors.
After releasing the flimsiest, most shameful report regarding a football culture, the University of Maryland decided initially retained DJ Durkin. Following the decision, the school promptly fired Durkin. Now, let us not cry for Durkin. He ran a mediocre program. Most importantly, his negligence and oversight failure killed one of his players. A timeline.
OL Jordan McNair died of heatstroke following wind sprints. On June 13, after collapsing two weeks early, the 19-year-old passed away. Yes, a 19-year old man died. If you are a parent, as I am, you cannot bear the horror of that statement. In life, nothing is worse than a parent burying their child. Jordan’s parents endure that hellish ordeal with little reason as to why. Despite this heartbreaking and awful circumstance, one question remains.
How Does Jim Delany Have A Job?
For those who do not know, Delany serves as the commissioner of the Big 10 Conference. Through expansion, their own network, and various network deals, the Big 10 is a major player in athletics. With Delany at the helm, the conference grew its ciffers exponentially. Yet, when scandals mount, he’s nowhere to be found.
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Why is Jim Delany still employed? Simple. College athletes are disposable, in the eyes of administration. Perhaps the worst thing about all of this is the stunning lack of heat faced by Delany. In the 1980, the NCAA smacked SMU with the death penalty for paying players. Under those circumstances, players seeing money remains a bigger transgression than sexual, physical or mental abuse. SMU never regained their national status as football power. Yet, Penn State enjoys bowl games after the lightest slap on the wrist. Michigan State employed a doctor that sexually molested 300 athletes. Yet, where’s the penalty? Where’s Jim Delany? In reality, the lack of anything punitive cements the fact that athletes have zero rights. Jim Delany earns three million dollars per year, all on the backs of Big Ten athletes. No one demanded his resignation.
With the calendar turning into November, sports continue to chug on. However, as if every first kiss arrives a first heartbreak, sports stays unpredictable. Grab on and ride it out.