It’s Okay To Not Know Everything

I have a confession.

For the longest time, whenever someone would reference an athlete, regardless from what sport they play or team they are on, I would nod my head and add a little my two cents on the player.

[Insert any random player from anything]

“Oh yeah, he’s definitely got some upside.”

“I love watching him play.”

“I mean, I’m not sure I’d say I’d like watching him play, but he’s definitely got talent.”

In half of those situations, probably even more, I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ve either never once watched that player, or heard their name before.

Lets go back for a second. As a youngster, I think I knew everything there was to know about sports. The Chargers third string quarterback? Got it. The pinch-hitter for the LA Dodgers? I could tell you in an instant. Head football coach at Louisiana Tech? Come on, give me a harder one than that.

charlie.jpg

Every morning I would sit at my kitchen counter and consume as much Sportscenter as I could. During our time on the computers in elementary school, I would spend all my time on ESPN.com researching rosters, scores, stats. Basically, I had a lot of time to kill.

When you are as obsessed with sports as I was, it’s easy to know all about them. It consumed almost my every thought.

However, growing up changes that. You have less and less free time, and every step up you take in school is a sacrifice to you hobbies. The older I got, the less I could keep up with the 24/7 sports world.

Flash forward to current day, when my free time is at an all-time low. At this point in my life, I have to make a very conscious choice I what content I want to consume – and sometimes it isn’t sports. That has led to the reason for this post.

I don’t need to know everything.

It took me until college to realize this, but upon self reflection I feel like it has set me free. And while this could correlate to knowledge in general, I’m specifically talking about sports.

For example, I know people who carry on empty sports conversations just doing their best to try and sound smart on things that they have no idea about.

Player A is really good (even though I’ve never seen them play). This guy will get drafted over this guy (even though I only watched one of their games). Heck, even most sports talk TV is based around this.

When it came down to it, I prided myself on trying to keep up with everything, and it’s impossible. A big fear of mine was answering a question with, ‘I don’t know’. I always assumed that since I want to turn sports into a career, that I needed to know every minute detail.

“Hey Evan, what do you think about South Carolina’s chances against Gonzaga?”

“Honestly, I’m not too sure. I haven’t really watched either of them too much this season.”

To whoever is reading this, stop believing that you have to know everything. You don’t, and you’ll be much happier when you admit it to yourself.

Advertisements

At the Buzzer

I can’t imagine how it feels.

I just can’t.

As I watched the finale of Wisconsin and Florida‘s date in the Sweet 16 on Saturday, I had no idea how to relate.

My basketball playing days sadly ended at the conclusion of my ninth grade year of rec ball, but that final game wasn’t necessarily one of the lowest moments of my life. I hope.

So when Chris Chiozza sprinted down the court with four seconds left and hit a 3-point floater that Tony Parker could only dream of to crush the heart of the entire state of Wisconsin, I couldn’t relate.

The Shot

What do you think about when the ball is in the air?

What does your body feel like watching that ball go through the net?

If you’re on the winning team, it’s probably an electricity that you feel like your palpable body can’t contain.

But if you’re losing, you probably want to shrink smaller than anything in the world… curl up into a ball until the end of time.

If you’re a senior, how do you cope with knowing that was it? Your whole career, done. Four years reaching their completion.

Once again, I’ll never know. Being a fan is one thing. I know from experience (what’s up UNC fans) that there’s an empty feeling after that, but I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be on the court.

When you reach the locker room, how do you react? Do you throw a tantrum, or sit and sulk in what I can only imagine is a feeling of melancholy?

The key is that I don’t know, and none of us do. The wildest of endings provide the wildest or reactions and I refuse to believe I’ll ever experience that in that way.

And that’s why sports are such a wonderful storytelling tool. We watch a perfect, undetermined narrative taking place in front of our eyes, and then spend hours afterwards thinking about it and how we would have done it in those shoes.

I’ll say this: I’ve thought more about what it must have been on that court last night than I have about any film I’ve seen so far this year. I think that says something.

Ryen Russillo “Rant” on Change in Sports is Spot On

Yesterday on my favorite sports radio show, ESPN‘s Russillo & Kanell, co-host Ryen Russillo took some air time to give a type of “rant” that his former co-host Scott Van Pelt was known for.

This may seem like homework, but I encourage all readers to listen to his rant. It’s starts at the 9:06 mark of the link below and only lasts a couple of minutes, but please try and listen to it before reading on. Spoiler: it’s really good.

You finished? Okay.

Right off the top, Russillo hits on a major point that every modern sports fan should be self-aware of: “We are obsessed with change.”

His follow up examples of that charge are also spot on, and provide a real argument to the major problem plaguing sports fans in the modern day.

No sports fan is happy anymore. No matter what is going on the world today, with some of the best talent we’ve every seen across every spectrum of the sports world, we want more. And we all want it (and when I say we I’m referring to individuals) is these sports to cater more to our personal needs, and even when they do we still aren’t happy. At that point we are already thinking about what we change next.

Here’s my favorite two points in this rant:

-If the College Football Playoff Committee expands the playoff to eight teams, it will only be a matter of time before people start clamoring for 16. If you want an example of this, just look at the steps before it. When the NCAA had the BCS in tact, fans begged for a playoff system. After years, they finally got it… and what do they do? Start complaining that four teams isn’t enough.

– If the MLB changed from 182 games to 160 or from nine innings to seven, nothing would change. Exactly. Russillo nails it on the head when he proposed that nobody is going to start watching baseball because it now takes 2 and a half hours instead of three. It’s an argument made to encourage people to make baseball more interesting and “watchable” but at the end of the day it will change nothing.

The gist of the whole rant is that all of this change is lateral if we aren’t willing to be satisfied with the outcome. If you want something in sports changed, and it does, then you need act on that change rather than move onto the next thing that you would like fixed. Russillo calls it a “selfish” culture, and it is. Minor tweaks in sports are great, but lets not lie to ourselves and say that most major sports leagues are doing fine and would continue to do so if they didn’t change anything again.

UNC-Duke Gets a Third Chapter

This isn’t supposed to happen.

Well, in theory it’s absolutely plausible that it’s happening, but let me embellish a little bit. Tomorrow, UNC and Duke will meet for the third time this season in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

We don’t deserve this, and the basketball gods know this. Remember the stress of every UNC-Duke game over the last couple years? Down to the wire games with immense amounts of drama and tension – so much so that both sets of fans are only allowed two meetings a year to keep themselves sane.

For UNC fans, one heartbreaking loss at Cameron Indoor and then a scrappy return win at the Dean Dome wasn’t enough. The universe decided that it needed it one more time.

So tomorrow, in what will be a much tamer setting than the previous two games, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels of Tobacco Road will clash heads for one last time this season (probably).

It only makes sense, to be honest. In a season where both teams got their respective wins on their home court, it feels like there is still something to be decided this year. Neither UNC nor Duke fans felt like they had a real claim to the rivalry as the regular season ended. Sure, North Carolina can rely on recency bias, but it’s also hard to erase the memory of Grayson Allen draining seven threes to upset the Tar Heels a little over a month ago.

So it’s destiny, then, that these teams meet once again. Berry vs. Allen, Kennard vs. Jackson, Hicks vs. Tatum, Roy vs. K. It’s perfect poetry, and the most anticipated semifinal game since 1980 (Do you believe in miracles?)

Tobacco Road is a never ending path, destined to guarantee two stopping points every year. Consider this a small branch off of the path; it’s still as much a part of the whole as anything, but feels a little out of place. Will students rush Franklin for a UNC victory? Probably not. Will Duke students camp out in tents outside of the Barclays Center tomorrow? Most definitely not.

But still, this game has the most significance. An ACC title – that’s history. That’s something that cements a team in history, in the upper echelon of college basketball. So tomorrow’s game may not be one for all the marbles, but it’s absolutely worth a few.

So to the delight of college basketball fans around the world, let’s watch these teams do battle one more time.

In the Presence of Greatness

Before I start, let me hit you with a quick disclaimer: I was not at the UNC-Duke game on Saturday.

Okay. You still here? Good.

I may not have been there in person at the Dean Dome, but I feel I have asked enough people that were there to give this post some validity.

The game itself was wild – 18 lead changes in 40 minutes, and the Tar Heels trying to avenge a loss at Cameron Indoor from earlier in the season. Needless to say, the crowd was amped and fully charged.

But the game itself didn’t ignite the biggest crowd reaction of the night. It wasn’t a set of circumstances, a play, or a dancing child on the big board. It was one man, whose mere presence can give chills to an entire room… even if it’s a room of 21,000 people.

Michael Jordan.

At every UNC game, they play the “I’m a Tar Heel” video package, highlighting various rotations of past players. But it always ends the same way, with Michael Jordan on the screen, declaring in his stoic voice that he is, in fact, a Tar Heel.

It’s the easiest way to pander to a packed house of North Carolina fans and it gets the biggest crowd of the night every time.

Except on Saturday night. On that night, something beat it.

As the UNC football team took to center court at halftime to unveil it’s new partnership with the Jordan brand, faces in the crowd started to realize what was incoming. Within seconds, he appeared in the tunnel.

His Airness, #23.

jordan 2

Michael Jordan came out to what can only be described as a mixture of shock, awe, and hysteria from the 21,750 in attendance. The “Greatest of All Time” was there, back home, at the Dean Dome.

As he took the mic and said a few words, every eye was transfixed on him, and every ear dialed into his every word. It was special.

If you want to know how special of an appearance it was, just ask someone who went to the game. They’ll be hard pressed to tell you the score, or who the leading scorer was in the game, but they’ll gladly tell you that they were in the same building as Michael Jordan.

That is what it means to be in the presence of greatness.

jordan 3

My Favorite UNC-Duke Moment

Tonight, the greatest rivalry in college basketball (and sports in general) renews itself for the 244th time. UNC-Duke, the Battle of Tobacco Road, the fight between the two giants in college basketball… While there has been countless moments to build this rivalry over the past century, I thought I would look back at my favorite moment during my lifetime.

Spoiler: It’s not a surprise.

The Danny Green dunk. It’s the quintessential moment of this rivalry since my birth in 1996. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it originally, and I still can’t believe it when I watch replays of it. It’s perfect.

It’s a play that defines everything about the rivalry – two tops teams going at each other 100 percent, both with a drive to make whatever play is necessary to gain the advantage.

 The Dunk

Lets look at the play as a whole. It all starts with a Greg Paulus. The tenured Duke guard launched up a three pointer and it clanks off of the left side of the rim. Out of the fray to collect the rebound in his outstretched arms is Danny Green – UNC’s “Mr. Do Everything” player from this team. Notice how Green reaches even higher than the rim to get the board.

With the ball in hand, Green rushes up the floor, switching up his dribbling hand to force Gerald Henderson to crash into the hardwood right behind him.

As he crosses half court, a sweet no-look pass to Marcus Ginyard on the edge is returned right back to Green – a crisp give and go.

Then, the slam. Paulus does his best to get into a charge position, but it was to no avail. Green elevates to a level rarely seen in a live game, and busts right through Paulus. The play silenced Cameron Indoor.

green3

Once again, perfect.

In my mind, it’s an unforgettable play. It will always make the rivalry’s highlight reel, and justifiably so.

green2

So as far as tonight’s game goes, we can only hope for a great game and one more play that we can marvel at for the decades to come.

My Number One Fan Rule

After what seemed like 20 straight hours of watching the broadcast of the Oscars on Sunday, I was ready to call it a night. I watched as La La Land was announced for Best Picture, but decided to pick myself up off the couch and turn off the T.V. before the acceptance speech was made.

I was tired and had heard the same acceptance speech about 1,000 times over the years.

As I got to my bedroom, my phone started frantically buzzing.

Several texts from friends summed up as “WHAT IS HAPPENING, OMG.”

I ran downstairs and turned on the T.V. only to see the mistake that everyone has been talking about for the past 48 hours: the wrong name was called, and Moonlight had won Best Picture.

Award shows and sports have several parallels, but I thought this whole debacle exposed a fad in sports that I am very strict about, but failed to apply to the Oscars.

Don’t leave early, ever.

This can also be translated as: Don’t stop watching until the game is over.

Silly me turning off the Oscars after the last award was announced, thinking that it would be the end of the night. Because of that, I missed one of the most memorable television moments of the decade.

In sports, same thing. Fans are NOTORIOUS for leaving sporting events early when their teams are losing, and while 99 percent of the time it is justified by an eventual loss, that one percent chance of a comeback makes it worth sticking it out.

Case in point: This year’s Super Bowl. The Patriots were down 28-3, and no team had ever come back from a deficit worse than 10 points in the past 50 Super Bowls. The game was over. Even I had accepted defeat and lost any glimmer of hope. I can only imagine how many fans at home turned the game off, or even worse, left the game like Boston megafan Mark Wahlberg. But then the impossible happened. The greatest comeback of all time took place and those fans that stuck it out saw their reward.

While comebacks to that extent are rare, it highlights my point: don’t leave the game. Don’t stop watching. If you do, you may miss the greatest comeback of all time, or heck, you may miss the best award show debacle ever. As painful as it is, stick it out. If the players on the field have to, a fan should as well.