The Which Lockout Hurts More Debate Verdict

January 20, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Optimist Prime and Bleacher Fan.

Bleacher Fan stated it best with the opening statement of his argument. He indicated that 2011 has the potential to be a LOUSY year for sports. Can you really imagine a Fall and Winter without the NBA and NFL? I’d rather have an American Idol with Simon Cowell (wait, that’s happened!) It’s possible, folks. We could be miserable this Fall and forced to watch brand new episodes of Jersey Shore with our significant others and have to hear the word “Snookie” over and over. We might not recover!

But for this debate, I asked my colleagues to debate which league – the NBA or the NFL – would have a harder time coming back from a lockout.

First, let’s take a look at Bleacher Fan’s argument. He writes that the NBA would have a harder time to recover. As I stated in my intro, it’s been a pretty special year for the NBA, minus all the Carmelo Anthony trade speculation. Ratings are up. Interest is up (thanks, Lebron). Attendance is up. But Bleacher Fan took an interesting angle. Instead of focusing on the negatives on the NBA, he chose to focus on the strength of the NFL. Obviously, the numbers back up the fact that the stronger league is the NFL. It took years of momentum to establish that fact, too.

Meanwhile, Optimist Prime believes in the theory of “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” I felt like this was a unique and distinctive way to approach his side. There’s no sense of tackling the T-Rex that is the NFL when it comes to popularity. However, using an analogy that I had not thought of put everything in a different light. CART and NASCAR used to run neck in neck in the auto racing world in terms of recognition many years ago. The billion-dollar industry that NASCAR has become was no such thing. There was no SPEED channel. NASCAR went one way. CART went the other way, like Optimist Prime wrote. Remember the strike of 1994 in Major League Baseball? I know people that still hold a grudge towards baseball because, “That strike was nothing but greedy players wanting more money.”

Yet I’m not convinced though that the NBA can recover more quickly than the NFL. Nothing Optimist Prime wrote convinced me to dispute anything Bleacher Fan wrote, so I am siding with Bleacher Fan.

In my opinion, the NBA has been trying for years to recover from the retirement of Michael Jordan. A Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant three-peat tried to bring those casual fans back to the game, but even that leveled off. Maybe this is the year interest picks back up to those levels. Meanwhile, the NFL’s interest keeps growing to the point that we could break even more records this Sunday (we seemingly say this every playoff weekend now). The NFL has built itself such a cushion that no matter how far it does fall, I think it can recover.

If Lois Lane falls off a 100 foot building, and Superman catches her before she hits the ground, then she can recover. Sure, she’ll be a little panicked, but at least she’ll live to write about the story in the Daily Planet. That’s the same situation here. If there is a lockout, some fans will be bitter. But if the NFLPA and the owners reach an agreement before too much damage is done (and surely they will), then the damage can be repaired, and the fans will slowly come back. It’s football! What else are we going to do in the Fall?

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The Winter v. Summer Olympics Debate – Overpaying or Securing the Future?

February 22, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Bleacher Fan.

The Olympics continues to captivate America (Did you know the Olympics scored more viewers last Wednesday night than American Idol, marking the first time in nearly six years that Idol has been defeated in total viewers?). The Sports Debates has tried to give you different perspectives on the Olympics in what has been a very successful period for TSD. We have given you three debates on the Olympics and we wrap that up with today’s verdict. Today’s debate is centered on the water cooler question of “Which Olympics are better… Summer or Winter?”

Bleacher Fan, who is arguably TSD’s biggest fan of the Olympics, obviously is a strong proponent of the Winter Olympics. While not disrespecting the Summer Games, it is rather easy to see that this debater gets a thrill out of seeing extreme sports. Conceding the fact that the Summer Olympics offer a greater variety of games, Bleacher Fan argues that the events featured in the Winter games are “designed to test the human ability to master the ice and snow.”

Babe Ruthless, on the other hand, argues vehemently (and often sarcastically) in favor of the Summer Olympics. A brief history lesson is presented to us, and I am not sure that makes the argument any better. A good point is brought up in the fact that the Winter Olympics are only able to cater to specific countries from a geographical standpoint. Meanwhile, the Summer Olympics is an event that is open to everyone. Obviously, it is difficult for someone in Florida to practice snow skiing! Babe’s argument also shows the numbers. Yes, the Winter Olympics are having solid numbers across the board, but it does not compare to the popularity of the Summer Olympics. The Summer Olympics had four billion viewers for the Beijing opening ceremonies? Wow, that is a lot, and I did not realize it was anywhere close to that! Then Babe went all ruthless on us, and gave us images we would just assume not visualize, even though they are very funny!

The winner of this debate is Babe Ruthless. I feel like the facts presented by both sides tend to go in the favor of Mr. Ruthless. Also, Bleacher Fan even wrote that the summer games are more mainstream. They appeal to a larger mass audience. Not to mention the fact that generally you would think it is more expensive to train and practice as a young child for Winter events. That is assuming an athlete lives in a place where they are able to train and practice with regularity. The majority of this country would be unable to practice skiing on a regular basis. However, as Babe Ruthless noted, all the athletes need to practice for many of the Summer events is a field.

The ability to appeal to a much wider audience, as both a fan and a participant, make the Summer Olympics far superior to the Winter Olympics. In defeat, Bleacher Fan is being ordered to wear one of those figure skating outfits that Babe Ruthless mentioned in the winning argument.

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The Terrelle Pryor Growth Debate – It Is Not the Coaching, It Is the Player

October 29, 2009

Read the debate intro and Bleacher Fan’s argument that Terrelle Pryor is not being properly used by the Ohio State coaching staff.

Craig Krenzel and Troy Smith. What do these two former Ohio State quarterbacks have in common? Well, the common trait is NOT finesse, grace, smarts, or speed. The common trait is that the coaching staff – led by head coach/chief play caller/chief vest wearer Jim Tressel – squeezed every last droplet of ability out of both players. Are fans and observers really supposed to believe the Tressel simply forgot how to coach, misdiagnosed a player’s ability, or benefited from existing talent in Krenzel and Smith?

Loyal Homer asks Bleacher Fan and I to ponder why supposed phenom quarterback Terrelle Pryor is struggling so visibly as quarterback of the Buckeyes. It is easy to blame the coaches, the schemes, the strategies, the opposing defenses, and any number of excuses. However, excuses do not excuse, as my Dad used to say. The only person to blame for the struggles of Terrelle Pryor in Columbus is Terrelle Pryor.

Terrelle Pryor’s game, for all of the preseason/pre-career accolades the youngster received, is not dynamic. The promised dual threat QB has been decidedly solitary in his game plan execution. Pryor so believes in being a drop back passer – knowing that his greatest potential upside in the NFL comes from being a good pocket quarterback – that he refuses to tuck the ball and run when that is the best outcome for his current team, The Ohio State Buckeyes. The statistics belie Pryor’s focus:

  • Navy: Pryor rushes just six times for 30 yards.
  • Southern Cal: Pryor rushes ten times for 36 yards.
  • Toledo: Pryor rushes 12 times for 110 yards (though the opponent IS Toledo).
  • Illinois: Pryor rushes 11 times for 59 yards.
  • Indiana: Pryor rushes 16 times for 63 yards.
  • Wisconsin: Pryor rushes ten times for 35 yards.
  • Purdue: Pryor rushes 21 times for 34 yards.

See the trend? As the season wears on Tressel has called more quarterback running and option plays because Pryor has chosen to stand in the pocket rather than use his legs to pick up yards and important first downs. The called running plays are also much less effective and more predictable than Pryor simply taking what the defense gives him. See the 3.5 yards per carry against Wisconsin and the 1.6 yards per carry against Purdue.

Pryor should be running the ball whenever he has an easy opportunity to pick up yards. That easy opportunity comes more than six or even 16 times a game when considering the increasing number of called runs from Tressel. Somehow a player with Pryor’s running ability and strength has been sacked 13 times this season with a total loss of yards exceeding 100! Too often Pryor is trying to out maneuver defenders in the backfield in a futile attempt to create time when the better play is to step up in the pocket and take the few yards available.

The irony to Pryor’s talent dichotomy is the more he runs when the defense gives him space, the more open receivers will open up downfield. The current approach has yielded just over seven yards per throw and a whopping nine interceptions. Better recognition of the defense and situations combined with improved decision making is can reverse the trend. The problem is that for Pryor a major disconnect exists between his perception of a situation and reality.

In a recent interview with Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Doug Lesmerises Pryor said,”Some offensive teams, they don’t get to their peak until midseason. Sometimes you get down, but you’ve got to jump back up and get confident again. I feel real comfortable this week. I think we can light up the scoreboard.”

Confidence is good. Misplaced confidence is dangerous. Terrelle Pryor needs a dose of reality – he is underperforming.

Perhaps his personally dismal performance against Purdue – 17-31 for 221 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs and 21 rushes for 34 yards – was the wakeup call Pryor needed. He played much better in the next game against Minnesota, and even delivered an uncharacteristically vulnerable – and therefore inspiring – speech to his team. During a meeting for the offense prior to the Minnesota game Pryor took the floor and said, “I’m sorry for not approaching things the way I should.” A dose of reality?

Now, back to the list of Pryor’s rushing stats, since the team’s most recent game against Minnesota is not yet listed:

  • Minnesota: Pryor rushes 15 times for 104 yards.

The Minnesota game featured fewer called running plays for Pryor and more comfort in taking advantage of the gaps in the defensive coverage to pick up easy yards with his feet.

One of the big lessons from Pryor’s struggles is that confidence is earned… or it is empty. Empty confidence is how American Idol stays in business with those terrible, delusional singers at the beginning of each season. Earned confidence results from studying and making smart decisions. If Pryor simply studies and makes smart decisions he will never have to worry about performing up to expectations and “being” a leader. He will showcase his immense physical gifts and the team will simply follow.

For any quarterback, everything boils down to choices. Does Pryor choose to be Ohio State’s quarterback and use the fullness of his gifts? Or does Pryor choose to be an NFL prospect at the expense of his teammates and the fans? Time will tell if Pryor has actually turned an important attitude corner. One fact is certain – the only thing holding back Terrelle Pryor is Terrelle Pryor.

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The John Daly Fan Debate – John Daly is the Ultimate Underdog

June 15, 2009

Time and time again, America roots for the underdog in athletic competition. For baseball, maybe it was the Tampa Bay Rays last year. For college basketball, maybe it was George Mason making a deep run in the 2006 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Maybe it was rooting for Boise State to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl in college football. Maybe it’s whoever is playing the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys, perhaps the two wealthiest teams in all of sports. In golf, America roots for John Daly.

In some ways, John Daly is just another regular John Doe. Yes, I know! John Doe doesn’t always have a checkered past littered with alcoholism, gambling additions, and ex-wives. But, many of us may have a friend who has tackled the same issues that Daly has, right? And we root for that friend to succeed, right? John Daly is no different.

John Daly burst onto the scene in 1991, going from zero to hero and winning the 1991 PGA Championship – one of golf’s four majors (as we all know). He was the ninth alternate to get into the tournament (as Sports Geek pointed out in his intro). He won that tournament without playing as much as a single round at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana, who played host for the PGA Championship that year. Remember that little mini-mullet he had?

He wasn’t then, and isn’t now, a regular country club golfer. Close your eyes and picture a golfer… it’s tough to bring an image of John Daly to mind – admit it! I’ll admit it. I don’t! But, so what! Isn’t that what makes him likable?

It doesn’t matter that for the better part of his golf career he has been this cursing, overweight, beer-drinking, cigarette smoking, golfer. He comes across as a likable guy. He has that likability factor going for him that Simon Cowell likes to talk about on American Idol. Outside of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, he is still arguably one of the top draws in golf – which is amazing considering he hasn’t won a PGA tournament in almost five and a half years. If Woods, Mickelson, and Daly were battling it out on the back nine on Sunday, Daly would have just as much crowd support as Woods and Mickelson. He’s David and everyone else is Goliath. He’s the ultimate underdog. That’s why America roots for him.

Last weekend, Daly played in his first tournament in over 6 months at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee. He finished tied for 59th place, with a four round score of one over par. Not great, but it’s a start. Hopefully, it’s the start of many more things to come!

To answer the debate question from Sport Geek, yes, America should root for John Daly. Every sport needs someone to take on the underdog role, and John Daly fits it perfectly!

Read the debate intro and Bleacher Fan’s opinion.

The Manny Ramirez All-Star Debate – He Should Play!/Sanjaya’s Back

June 1, 2009

(Site note: to read the judge’s intro to this debate, click here. Read Bleacher Fan’s argument in favor of Manny’s inclusion in the game here. To read Loyal Homer’s argument about Manny being banned from the All-Star game should he be voted in, click here.)

It doesn’t matter what else is going on in baseball, you just know that Manny Ramirez is always going to be good for a little drama. If you thought something as small as a 50-game “break from baseball” could keep Manny from mixing things up, well you are sorely mistaken!

Granted, he didn’t create this drama directly, but nevertheless, it’s just…


The Sports Geek raises an interesting question for this debate. I think that the wording of Sports Geek’s question is just as important as the debate itself, and we must always come back to that wording…

“…does he have a legitimate right to play in the game?”

The question is not ‘SHOULD he play in the game’, but ‘does he have a legitimate right’? My answer is ‘Of course he does.’

SHOULD he play in the game? Probably not. Many people (myself included) will view it as being in poor taste if he is named to, and participates in, the All-Star Game. But, let’s be honest, he wouldn’t be crashing the party uninvited, and he didn’t cheat in the voting (as far as we know) to get the invitation. If the current trends continue, then Manny Ramirez, despite the 50-game suspension, will be invited to participate in the All-Star Game, as he currently sits in 4th place in NL Outfield voting, and is definitely within striking distance of Carlos Beltran.

Let’s consider the situation for exactly what it is. He cheated, he got caught, and he is paying the penalty for the actions he took, a 50-game suspension. That 50-game period does not span across the All-Star Game, though, and nowhere in the details of his suspension does it prohibit his participation in the game. On paper, he will be eligible to play.

Let’s consider how he “earned” his invitation. That is where the real issue lies. Despite the intention behind it, the MLB All-Star Game is not an exhibition game between the best statistical performers of the AL and NL, respectively, over the first half of the season. That concept should be thrown into the garbage, since Bowie Kuhn decided to reinstate fan voting to populate the rosters in 1970. Instead, it became a popularity contest.

Rest assured that we would not be having this conversation if the Owners, Managers, or Players decided who would represent them, but that’s no longer the case. Thanks to the miracle of fan voting, the masses can see who they “want” to see, rather than the best players. That means that a guy like Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez (right now at 6th in OF balloting), who is currently hitting .332 with 17 HRs and 46 RBIs, could be snubbed and not get an invite because Manny Ramirez has his name on the ballot, despite missing more than half of the games leading up to the All-Star Game because he cheated.

But, that’s the risk you run when you let the masses decide. It is a popularity vote, and the fans have seen fit (at least thus far) to keep him in serious consideration to make the team as a reserve player at minimum.

If it was good enough to keep Sanjaya Malakar on American Idol, it’s good enough for Manny. Whether you like it or not, that’s the system in place. If he gets the votes, and is not on suspension at the time the game is played, then he has a legitimate right to play in the game.