Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tom Sorensen, you idiot

Wow. I just got really distracted. I’m sorry that I’m posting twice in one afternoon but this one may be too good to pass up.

I just finished reading the back-and-forth banter of the Charlotte Observer’s Tom Sorensen and his loyal fanbase. For the uninformed, Sorensen wrote an article on the day after the Hurricanes’ Cup victory that ranked the game as the 299th sporting event in NC history, behind every Panthers’ game, the ACC tournament, the Hornets, the Sting and Ric Flair. Meant to show that he wasn’t about to “jump on the bandwagon,” Sorensen elicited tons of emails from disgusted readers. As a result, Sorensen published a counter-article this morning that essentially said that he isn’t sorry for bashing a sport that is aired on OLN. While I disagree wholeheartedly (I didn’t appreciate the dig on the Tour de France), I am more interested in the interplay surrounding NC regional rivalries.

With the Panthers and Hurricanes having the all-inclusive modifier of Carolina, these organizations are obviously meant to be regional teams in an area without super-city hubs. Professional teams in the south cannot be supported by single cities alone and their relative ability to be regionally followed is a good determiner of success. However, in this new fan enviroment of team ownership (see Fans), fans have become more and more jealous over who actually gets to celebrate. Does this championship belong to Raleigh or NC? What about SC? Does NC even deserve a hockey championship (many Canes players were singing the Canadian national anthem before Game 7)?

Looking over many comments that have been posted online, there is a lot of anger between the cities of Raleigh and Charlotte. When a man like Tom Sorensen becomes the face on a large community, it is difficult to sort out the heated emotions. "Well they can have their Panthers and stupid Bobcats, we have real champions up here." Unfortunately, for the emotions, it doesn't work that way. My sister in Prague will be celebrating when the Heels win the College World Series. Fandom can never be taken away from someone, although Tom Sorensen might try to quantify it. In the end, all it takes is a good team and good people to high five after the W. Raleigh will never be able to withold it, and neither will Charlotte. Maybe that's what makes it special.

U.S. falls in World Cup

I don't know anything about soccer. I really don't. I only played once in first grade and that was because the jerseys were red and we got to keep them. But since I watched the game and have a computer in front of me, I might as well join in the fray.

Americans think they are the s***. Plain and simple. And when it comes to sports, we like to add World Champions to all of our National Championship bestowments. We really do think we are the best in the world.

So what do we do when we know that we're not. We can't blame the refs for only scoring 1 goal in three games. We can't blame our fans for not traveling to support us. And we need to stop blaming our country for not caring about soccer. The problem is that there are more kids playing soccer in the midwest than there are in the whole country of Ghana. We have some excellent soccer programs at universities around the country, and our national soccer league has good attendance and very quality players that partake.

What we don't have is a star. That lacking seems quite vexing when one thinks about it. We are the land of the ballhogs aren't we? Aren't we the people who go around celebrating too much after TD's and taking on three defenders in the paint by ourselves?

Well not in soccer. In soccer, we are the team without the international wonderkid. We'll put Landon Donovan on our posters, but anyone who watched his play these past two weeks knows that he doesn't rank near the Essiens, Nedveds, Gerrards, Beckhams or Ronaldinhos. Heck, I don't watch soccer and I know these guys.

Maybe it is in a better spirit of teamwork that we watched Donovan give up goal-scoring opportunities to cross the ball to his teammate. Even if he did kick it 10 miles over his head. Maybe we shouldn't have an international superstar who demands god-like status on his own soil. Perhaps that is the last thing that the U.S. needs for its soccer program. Maybe there just isn't room for a Nedved when we've already got Shaq, T.O., Pujols, whoever.

What I do know is that to be successful in the World Cup, you have to have someone to turn to. Teams need leaders to make each player on the team better. The U.S. doesn't have that person and their team wasn't competitive. It will be four more years before we deal with this again. Let's hope that we learn a little bit.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Liberal Episcopalians

Today I figured I will deviate a little bit from the sports and post some controversial content that will make you want to post a comment about me (please! I haven't had a comment in years! Hehe).

Over this weekend, the national Episcopal church elected a woman as their next presiding bishop of the American denomination of Anglicanism.

For those unfamiliar with the Episcopal situation, the American denomination elected a gay priest to become a bishop in 2003. That move splintered the church, leaving individual American dioceses isolated as they felt that such a decision flew in the face of biblical doctrine. Allied with a larger conservative majority from around the world (especially in Africa), those few dioceses formed a network of Anglican churches that recognized their own commitment to a biblical faith that would not recognize a gay bishop.

Now after several years of heated discussion and division, the American Episcopal denomination has taken the debate a step further by electing a woman as the next presiding bishop.

While I am certainly one of the first to espouse the leadership of women within the church, I am cautious to adamantly proclaim this to be a great step forward. While I don't know much about Schori apart from the fact that many conservative groups label her as the "liberal of the liberal," I do know a little bit about Eugene Robinson (the gay bishop) and his self-proclaimed agenda.

I believe that the church is about providing a community to individual believers that establishes the proving ground and foundation for the essentials of the Christian life: love, forgiveness, integrity, faith and hope. While there are times when that community has to make decisions about its physical organization, it should never lose sight of its commitment to human beings. In the end, God isn't really God until we all get to heaven and know for sure. For now, God is merely a product of faith, and all of us humans are subject to the same contexts here on earth. Thus, the Christian community needs to remain steadfast in its goal of providing a place of love and support for all persons and beings.

While those persons most certainly should include various forms of sinners and saints in all shapes, colors and sizes, the community must decide how best to elect its leadership. I believe that Eugene Robinson was not fitted to be a bishop, not because he was made as a man with certain sexual desires and inclinations, but rather because he wanted it to be about him. He wanted to be the point-maker and he wanted the conservatives to leave the building. He didn't want acceptance, he wanted isolation. All of these things were inherent in the way that he talked about God's special calling for him to do these things and about how God told him and no one else what to do. In that light, he sounds like Pat Robertson and we all know how big of a crack he is.

Right now, this church's liberals are so obsessed with the final product, that they do not care about the repercussions of their methods of getting there. Personal faiths all over the world can be shattered forever all because certain groups of leadership decided that conservatives and dissidents aren't worth being meticulous around. In the same way that Martin Luther King criticized black leaders who didn't care what any white person thought about civil rights, the liberal Episcopalians in America should be criticized for their lack of love and dedication to solidarity. There is a silent majority of Christians around the world who are disgusted by the anger and the passion with which these groups intend to destroy each other.

Yes, women should be given leadership roles in the church. Yes, gay individuals should be afforded the same rights of marriage and church membership that every individual can achieve. However, those truths do not give liberal church leaders the authority to be a bull in a china shop and seek to destroy dissidents whom they deem as backwards.

In his time, Martin Luther King Jr. was judged by many as being too soft. He was criticized for taking steps to make himself speak whiter and present a more agreeable image to white citizens that watched the Civil Rights movement unfold on television. However, the care that King took to establish the foundation of the Civil Rights has made equality in America a reality that will be attainable in a sooner time. It provided for a leader and a movement that was radically attainable and radically mainstream.

Maybe the liberals should take some notes.

Friday, June 16, 2006


I have been tinkering lately with a few ideas for blog entries, but none of them came out well. I decided to go ahead and post so that people wouldn't think that I'm not paying attention to things.

-MJ has decided to take a partial ownership role with the Charlotte Bobcats. With some good rookie moves and a short-term push for good press, this team might be able to get into the playoffs in a few years. Look what Cleveland did with Lebron; one player can make a remarkable difference in this league. I would love to see the Bobcats and Hurricanes join with the Panthers in terms of state-wide popularity. That would be incredible.

-JJ Redick and Ben Roethlisberger get screwed over. I won't say anything else. I actually liked them as players and don't feel like joining the media throng telling them how stupid they are.

-The U.S.A. sucks. Big time. OK so maybe soccer isn't our biggest contribution to the world in any way. And maybe the Hurricanes are now in jeopardy of not bringing home the Cup. Am I fairweather fan? Hey, you mind your own business. (In the spirit of karma, the US really stinks at soccer. Cmon Italy).

-College of Charleston's Tom Herrion is fired. In June? With 5 years left on his contract? Wow, Lunardi better take them off his '07 bracketology. This returning group of starters/punks will have no one to tell them not to kill each other (not that Herrion was all that good at discipline anyway). Will this open the door for a Wildcat repeat? Watch out for Chattanooga, even though Shulman says that his team is not one that likes to shoot (I love that, so much!).

-This weekend is Father's Day. Go share a beer with the old man and watch the College World Series. Nothing like those metal bats. Go Clemson!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Small Sports Big Time

America thinks it knows everything about sports. OK, we all know where there this is going. The US is playing the Czech Republic in soccer today and it's time for me to get on my high horse and tell everyone that all work should cease at 11:55 this morning.

Actually, this morning I am interested in American college sports. I am amazed how there are only two: football and basketball. At least only two that have their own pages on Only two whose full seasons are covered by cable television. Only two with any real clout in our Wide World of Sports. Outside of soccer, two incredible sporting events are transpiring within my close web of sports allegiances. The Carolina Hurricanes are up 2-1 in the Stanley Cup playoffs over the Edmonton Oilers (I watched game 3 this weekend and hockey is really sweet! But I will save that for later). And three (possibly 5) regional baseball teams have made it to the College World Series with my Clemson Tigers ranked #1 in the country. North Carolina and Georgia Tech also made it, while Miami and South Carolina have to win today.

While baseball certainly isn't an obscure sport (I can understand why college field hockey doesn't get much coverage), college baseball cannot begin to compare to college basketball and football. There is a large fanbase, the quality of play is excellent, and baseball is America's pastime. But the baseball draft comes and goes without even the blink of an eyelash, and there is never a nationally televised college baseball game until the super-regionals. In basketball, Duke playing Davidson in November is apparently important enough to have to show in California.

I was recently at a Davidson Copperheads game when this enigma of college baseball was unveiled before my eyes. First off, the Davidson Copperheads are a semi-pro baseball team made up of college players from around the region. There are dozens of summer leagues around the country where college kids can keep working on their game while playing with good competition and wooden bats. Suddenly, that's when it hit me. Actually, it was when the Copperhead's shortstop sawed off his bat on a fastball inside and the catcher stood at home plate and stared at the handle shard. It was like he was studying the Ten Commandments. Bats. Metal bats.

College baseball is unlike the other big two because it is so different from its professional equivalent. Watching Reggie Bush run over Stanford cornerbacks will never compare to the NFL, but he's running on grass with a football for 100 yards. The dimensions are the same. The technique is the same. Using metal bats in college baseball is nearly the equivalent of rubbing flubber to the bottom of ballers' shoes. The game is totally different and a college slugger may never be able to get the ball out of the infield in the major leagues with a wooden bat.

The question then becomes, "why are we cheating college players?" Why not give them the major league experience and make this sport a little more legitimate. know what comes next. The punchline that every good liberal is always forcing down someone else's throat. Money. It's all about money, and colleges don't have it. Well at least that is what we're told. Unfortunately, it is rarely the case that any entity with supposed financial strains (government, your company, the parents) actually doesn't have enough money. It is just that they don't want to spend it on you.

Every year, Davidson spends tons of money bringing in influential speakers and performers to half-filled auditoriums (Bill Kristol, Black Eyed Peas). While sometimes that money wouldn't necessarily be able to go to our athletic department, it is still being spent on unsuccessful ventures. Before you close your browser, I will admit that shelling out thousands of dollars for wooden bats would not necessarily change lives or our school or even our horrendous baseball attendance, but that money is more about priorities and less about quantity.

Anyway, I just thought you should know that I do care about more than football and basketball. I also care about college baseball, professional hockey and international soccer. We'll work on African AIDS and the environment next week.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Biggest Problem in Sports: Fans?

I was recently watching a show on CNBC called “The Life and Times of Donny Deutsch.” The topic of the night was the 10 things wrong in Sports. While these ranged from ridiculousness of NCAA rules to the disappearance of boxing and racial hypocrisies, I was surprised to see that the number 1 problem in sports was fans.

That’s right, fans are the biggest problem in sports, according to this roundtable discussion which included Mike Greenberg, Tiki Barber and Robert Klein.

The panel made the case that alcohol and media coverage have destroyed fan etiquette as they only want to make shows of themselves. However, Barber’s point on the subject seemed the most intriguing. He claimed that as a result of media saturation, ridiculous contracts and extravagant lifestyles, athletes are more detached from fans than ever before.

As a result, there is a subconscious envy by which every fan wants to be that person scoring the TD down on the field. Every fan feels the ultimate significance of the game because the players are so important and the outcome is critical. Through the power of the internet, fans across the country can keep constant track of scores and stats and fantasy leagues have put fans in the driver’s seat. Barber claimed that fans have to know that they are crucial to a community that is growing more and more surreal and ridiculous. As a result, they feel privileged and even obligated to insult refs, pick fights, and be drunk for the good of the team.

And as an interesting finishing touch, Klein pointed out that despite our stadium raucousness (three fights broke out in my section at the Panthers v. Bucs game last year), European fans are dangerous to the nth degree. Fights, deaths and destruction are norms at most soccer arenas. I wonder why the hatred? Why the lack of reason?

I think our culture, which is so often both reflected and generated by the sports sub-culture, has adopted a newly different sense of carpe diem. While past generations have taken stands and marched on DC, this generation needs to seize the day because they are scared. We are a generation of fear and I think that sports reflect that. We fear to lose. Sometimes we fear to win. We fear missing out on the opportunity. Our new motto has been stolen from Eminem: “You gotta lose yourself in the moment.” The operative terms being “lose yourself.” Being out of control is praised and desired because that is apparently the only way to live.

Our culture takes it cues from our sports culture (you watch any other channel, especially news, on TV and I can tell you how SportsCenter set the precedent for each program is presented). Our sports culture takes cues from our players. Our players take cues from the media, which takes cues from our culture. Somehow, somewhere, someone decided that everything matters now. Losing oneself is highly desired and all the rules were meant to go out the window.

Basketball News

Finally, after many edits and changes, the Wildcat Report has been sent to the printer. An online version should be up by the end of the day (click on the link on the right).

Here is what you will find inside:

-An exclusive interview with George Mason's Jim Larranaga on the state of the mid-majors and the role that Davidson will play in the future of NCAA basketball.

-The Season in Review

-Player Profile on fifth year senior Eric Blancett

-News and Notes (preview of next year's schedule, coaching moves, international update)

-Season Stats and Accomplishments