by Ryan Meehan
It’s been a very messy year in sports to say the least. That’s pretty much guaranteed anymore when you consider that we have more access to media than ever. Jus the other day I read somewhere that Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Clowney recently tweeted the results of a recent blood test he had, and that’s probably more than we needed to ever know. I guess what I’m saying is, if Joe DiMaggio was alive today we’d all be well aware that he was a dark personality who was terrified of basic conversation as opposed to the extroverted legend that could be seen out on the streets of New York partying with Megan Fox and checking in on FourSquare.
But that same access has provided us with a lot of information regarding how we view the sports we love, and in a lot of cases it’s told us a lot about ourselves and the entertainment that we enjoy. So this is my stock report of how each individual sport is doing at the moment. It’s my “Squawk Box” if you will, in the sense that I am (at least figuratively) nothing more than a parrot pecking on a computer keyboard about which multimillion-dollar activities that involve a ball I enjoy the most. BAWK!!!
Mixed Martial Arts: Way down
Sure George St. Pierre could snap my neck with his armpit hair, but are you really going to go somewhere that has a 2 drink minimum to watch it happen? (On second thought, don’t answer that) Mixed Martial Arts has suffered through the recent retirements of several larger than life personalities – Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and Brock Lesnar just to name just a few. To be honest, I really believed that mixed martial arts was going to be around for a very long time to come. There was a very dedicated fanbase, and the technicalities of the sport were very descriptive and required immense skill even to explain. Part of this confusion regarding the terminology might be where MMA lost its biggest potential market – the casual sports fan. Whereas three or four years ago everybody could be heard discussing the weekend’s pay per view event, now unless Frank Mir or GSP is fighting in that sixty dollar crackjacking if you’re busy you might not even hear about it at all. Somewhere along the line MMA lost all hope of dominating the pro sports world, and at the casual fan’s interest is where they lost it. And of course there’s also the fact that the second someone dies in the ring, it’s all over in the blink of an eye. That’s an important thing to remember.
Boxing: Slowly disappearing off of the face of the sporting landscape
Boxing has become so embarassing. Remember how I just mentioned that MMA’s stock was way down? Boxing hasn’t capitalized on that one bit. They still can’t put the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight together to save their sport, and we’re fast approaching the era where we don’t have a real prizefighter. Boxers don’t stay in the game as long as they did during the Foreman/Ali era, and if Oscar De La Hoya’s singing career has taught me anything, it’s that 1) boxing stars can disappear from the public eye quicker than athletes in any other sport, and 2) I’m full of shit because we all know that Oscar De La Hoya’s singing career didn’t teach anybody anything. Speaking of former boxers whose careers have been destroyed by Bolivian marching powder, let’s talk about Mike Tyson for a second. Have you listened to an interview with Mike Tyson recently? You notice the one thing he almost never discusses? Boxing. That’s crazy. The commissioner and all of the promoters should be all over this. Tyson’s shit broke, but everyone of use between the ages of 30 and 50 who are sports fans remember when he owned the sport. We’re the ones who are the key demographic known for being so reckless with our entertainment dollar, and this guy’s not even out there trying to help promote the sport that allowed him to get that role in “The Hangover”? Can’t the people who are behind this travesty put two and two together, help the guy get his life back in order, all the while garnering interest in their sport which is otherwise drowning in the court of public opinion? Good God, man…make this happen.
The moral of the story? There’s too many guys in boxing trying to have crossover careers doing something else for the sport to have the focus and/or confidence to regain our attention.
The NBA: Holding Steady but lower than it was two months ago
The positive? The strike shortened season led to a less of a buildup to the playoffs, which was great. The negatives? David Stern is still the commissioner, several major injuries to key players have led to the demise of otherwise great franchises, and last but definitely not least-the Spurs are likely to end up in the NBA Finals. You know things are headed south when everyone is actually rooting for the “Post-Decision” LeBron to win the whole thing – That should be a huge red flag right there. The Thunder have this incredible story about building a fanbase from virtually nothing but a city destroyed by prostitution and empty syringes – Unfortunately I don’t think that’s enough to beat the Spurs – a team from a city destroyed by being bored to death by Tim Duncan and the constant rejection of knowing they will never get an NFL franchise.
The World Series of Poker: Down, out cold, and soon to be off your TV
The NFL: Falling, but just barely
Obviously the big story in the offseason was the Saints scandal, and the recent news for New Orleans is even worse as their golden boy (QB Drew Brees) is still a hold out. But then you have to figure in all of Tim Tebow’s Chick-Fil-A related public speaking engagements, as well the fact that the Super Bowl once again came down to the last few minutes. (This year, the very last play) Everybody is dying for the NFL to start again, and it’s going to be a long summer for those of us who miss football dearly. But like we’ve always said – The NFL is king and will continue to be for a very, very long time. In contrast to the mention of what would happen in the event of an MMA related death, if that happened in the NFL it’s likely that they league would roll on without even flinching. The second the football season starts, this forecast bumps up to Rising, but just barely. You know the drill. And if you don’t know the drill, somebody in the next sport we’re going to discuss will certainly help you locate and buy one.
NASCAR: Who Cares?
It’s very hard for me to sit here and analyze a sport I know virtually nothing about, but not nearly as hard as it is to erase the speaking voice of Boomhauer from “King of the Hill” everytime someone says the word “NASCAR” out loud. If NASCAR was traded publicly, nobody would buy it because then they wouldn’t have any money left over for beef jerky. Even though Wikipedia’s users define it as is “a family-owned and – operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events”, NASCAR has continued to whore itself out more than any other professional sport. I am willing to say that NASCAR is a sport because it requires a lot of skill and the drivers don’t get nearly as much credit as the owners and crew chiefs, which is insane. Former Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs gets the soundbite when some other guy just risked his life for some trophy that he’s contractually obligated to drink Coca-Cola out of but probably isn’t even sanitary enough to shit in? These guys behind the wheel are getting worked over.
And for those of you who think that the “Family-owned” sanctioning body of NASCAR respects you as a fan, consider this: Before every large race that is held on Sundays, they have something called “The Nationwide” series. It used to be called the “Busch Series”, sponsored by Busch Beer. Can you believe that? There was actually a race that they had that was full of a bunch of guys who were basically second rate drivers, and they called it the “Busch League”? I don’t care how much Anheuser-Busch paid to sponsor that, it’s just wrong on principle alone. It’s like saying: “Here you go…saddle your front porch sofa up and grab some trashy suds you dumb motherfucker, because we know you can’t wait until Sunday afternoon!” What assbags. This segment was brought to you by Doritos, Mountain Dew, Coors Light, and some pill that will never make your dick as hard as they say it will.
Major League Baseball: Holding Steady
It’s a very standard argument to say that the baseball season is too long. It’s a very relaxing game, and that’s how it’s supposed to be enjoyed. I’ve been a fan of baseball my whole life and I always will be. If you don’t understand the pace, you’ll probably never understand the sport. As a Cubs fan you can probably figure out that I don’t have a lot to smile about, but what I like about baseball is if my team isn’t doing well, there are plenty of other fun teams to watch. The Josh Hamilton story continues to impress, although you have to wonder how long that’s going to last before something awful/tragic happens.
The Roger Clemens story is irrelevant, all sorts of celebrities lie in court and for once in my life I’m sort of proud that ESPN has been downplaying a story that is (let’s face it) boring as all hell. Baseball relies heavily on its personalities as characters, very rarely do they let the fans down and this year is no exception.
The NHL: Way up
If you’re not a fan of on-ice action you’d better get used to it, because hockey is killing it this year. Viewership is much higher than in previous seasons, and the action is even more exciting than it’s ever been. For the first time in a very long time, those same casual sports fans that have abandoned MMA are watching hockey but it’s not for the fights. You have an awesome matchup for the Stanley Cup Finals in the New Jersey Devils against the LA Kings, and the franchsie who the Kings had to beat to get there (The Phoenix Coyotes) has been able to sustain a hockey team in the desert. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty impressive. And the personalities are a hit too…John Tortarella (coach of the New York Rangers) proved that hockey coaches can be a great interview, and call out franchises who have star players that the league clearly goes out of their way to protect.
What did we learn here?
Well, look at it this way: Baseball used to be America’s pastime, and pro hockey only used to have six teams. There’s your answer. In other words, anything can happen. Sports will always be a part of American culture, but choose your entertainment wisely.
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