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True athletics

February 22nd, 2007

There was a time, which even I can remember, that sports weren’t over analyzed and they still held the integrity that they were once meant to have.

All year long the sports media, particularly the king corrupter, ESPN, pump sports fans full of mostly useless information about sports that we, as fans, love.

I warn any baseball fan because in the next few weeks the talking skeleton, Peter Gammons, will be providing useless prognostication for a season that won’t end until there is snow on the ground, again.

Professional sports are becoming less sport and more entertainment. Before long I feel that the WWE will be following NASCAR into the ESPN programming.

Why not? Acting like you are wrestling involves more athletic skill that making left hand turns in a rolling billboard.

Aside from college football and basketball you can only find in-depth coverage of most college sports on the internet or when their respective championships roll around.

Although the lack of coverage is regrettable at times, I do enjoy not having to hear former coaches or players giving analysis that could be made by any casual bystander when I just want to watch the game.

Also, I love that a group of drunken students can make such a difference in a game. I understand that on any given night at The Q there are 20,000 fans rooting for the Cavs. But compare these 20,000 to the 9,000 fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the home court advantage is incomparable. Regardless of the 11,000 extra bodies in the arena the Cameron Crazies make all the difference in every Duke home game.

Every game matters in college but in a pro game between the Knicks and the Sonics in November it mattered little to the players and the fans. This is what pro sports need to come back to. I want to see pro athletes playing with the desperation that every college athlete pours out every night they play.

Any given student section at a college sporting event is more spirit filled than 15,000 season ticket holders.

Even JCU’s own Moran’s Clan gives an edge to JCU basketball games that every college sport has.

Ultimately it is the students that paint their chests and buy ten dollar T-shirts with catch phrases like “shake and bake” on them that motivates college athletes to represent their school at home or on the road.

There are no Chad Johnsons in the NCAA. There aren’t any holdouts in college football. Most importantly nobody holds press conferences regarding their problems with practice, yeah I’m talking about practice.

Often people forget the reason teenagers go to college is to get an education, not get drafted. There are no shoe deals or commercials, simply school spirit and team pride.

The month of March provides two exhilarating college tournaments, the Final Four and the Frozen Four. For those of you who are unfamiliar with college ice hockey (yes there is still hockey played in North America), the Frozen Four is a 16 team tournament that mimics the NCAA basketball tournament in format.

These tournaments feature a group of players striving for a national championship while their fans clamor for tickets, applying a year in advance hoping their school will make the finals and they will be granted a chance to witness a game.

In 2003, I was lucky enough to score a ticket to see the University of Minnesota play the University of New Hampshire for the NCAA men’s hockey championship. The atmosphere in the HSBC Arena trumped nearly every other pro sporting event I had ever been to.

I sat one section away from the Minnesota fans and was amazed by the emotion poured out by those fans. Aside from my only NHL playoff experience, I have never seen so much emotion poured out by a group of fans.

It wasn’t just the fans that were impressive. Neither teams players were worried about getting an extra bonus for winning, or what sports networks were going to interview them after the game, they cared about representing their school.

So what, you may ask, is my point?

Pro sports have become too commercialized, and their coverage isn’t close behind.

I dare anyone to tune into a college basketball and a pro basketball game this weekend. After seeing those two games judge for yourself which was more entertaining.

I’m pretty sure the lack of primadonnas in the college game will open your eyes to the joke that has become professional sports.