The Bouncing Ball, Thoughts on Sports By Paul West: Nemo Edition

The Bouncing Ball, Thoughts on Sports by Paul West

Hi, sports fans! It’s time for another edition of The Bouncing Ball. With “Snowicane” Nemo coming, I hope you’re all safe, warm and well. On to the show.

  • First of all, I’m not even a big Dwight Howard fan. I think his handling of the situation in Orlando was akin to LeBron’s handling of “The Decsion”…only he, unlike LeBron, was a league veteran at that point! Nevertheless, I’m with him when he says: “I mean, why wouldn’t I want to play? But, at the same time, this is my career, this is my future, this is my life. I can’t leave that up to anybody else because nobody else is going to take care of me…If I go down, then what? Everybody’s life is going to go on.” He’s exactly right. I have no problem with playing through pain, but hassling a big man whose game is predicated on power and banging, to play through a back that reportedly had him barely able to walk last off season–and a torn shoulder labrum, when his job is to slam-bang around and rebound with the league’s biggest–is silly. Just because Kobe’s competitiveness borders on insanity doesn’t mean everyone’s has to. And I do share the general opinion that Howard needs to get mentally tougher…but this is not the time. If anything, I think he’s exhibiting mental toughness in his response to the current unfair criticism.
  • The whole idea that officials ignore blatant fouls at the end of games “so they aren’t the story” or “so they don’t affect the outcome” strikes me as painfully illogical. Games are officiated for a reason, and as such, the officials are PART of the game. And one might disagree about the definition or parameters of some fouls more than others, but to argue that allowing players to blatantly and clearly foul each other in the last moments of a game–that IS affecting the outcome. “Letting the players decide the game” has to be done within the confines of the rules…otherwise why are we paying officials? Why not have players call their own fouls? Or why not just let them do as they please for the entire game? “Letting them play” doesn’t have to be synonymous with “letting them flout the rules,” and when a a player goes for a game-winning shot, and is hacked, and that hack is not called by a referee who clearly saw it, that referee IS affecting the outcome of the game by obliterating the consistency of officiating that it’s only fair to expect as a competitor or a fan. Otherwise, why not just pull the refs off the court or field altogether, when the game’s inside its final minutes? The game should be called with some situational discretion, of course, but this doesn’t have to mean that hacking or grabbing people on the last play of the game should be allowed. It wrecks the competitive integrity of the game, and guess what–the refs ARE the story when they do that kind of thing, because that becomes the immediate question after the whistle blows. If there’s any question, maybe refrain from a quick whistle–that is what “let em play” should mean. But if you’re scared to call an obvious, play-changing foul, because it’s in the final moments, you just shouldn’t be officiating in the first place because you need greater fortitude than that.
  • Watch out for the Mets and Blue Jays this year.
  • I am really glad that Anquan Boldin did his thing in the Super Bowl; he’s a role model for competitors, on and off the field, as far as I can tell.
  • Chris Carter is in the Hall of Fame. Finally.
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