I love sports. Even though I have no talent to speak of, I have loved playing pick-up games of all kinds. I love watching sports. Watching excellent athletes do things that normal people cannot is the same thrilling experience as listening to a great musician, watching a great actor, or reading a genius author. The experience of sports on the field generally makes my life better. But the experience of dealing with the owners, leaders, and sports commentators makes the games exhausting. This week was an excellent example of that unfortunate tendency.
First, Kirk Herbstreit thinks that players not playing on one of the 42 (!) bowl games do not sufficiently love the college football game.
and, as befits a show that shouldn’t even need to be on, the hosts are wilding out with “today’s youth are entitled, and it’s the fault of video games” nonsense pic.twitter.com/4EdBFuTivH
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 1, 2022
This is insane. When I was in college the first time, an internship led to a job offer that I quite happily took. It did not mean that I did not love the college experience, or my classmates, or the engineering discipline. It meant that I was tired of working three jobs to pay for school and wanted to get on with what I really wanted to do with my life. I never regretted it. It led to meeting my wife, greater opportunities, and, eventually, two degrees. The football players who are valued enough by the NFL to not risk throwing that career away on a meaningless exhibition game played for free.
And yes, the game is essentially played for free. Yes, they technically get an education, but the education comes after their responsibilities on the football field. When Northwestern players were trying to form a union, their quarterback at the time revealed that he could not study medicine because the classes conflicted with his football responsibilities and, well, football had to come first. So, they get an education – not one they want, but one their coaches allow them to have. That is not a fair payment for the damage they do to their bodies. The NFL is what they have trained for – protecting that future is the least college football owes them. Adults like Herbstreit, who run the sport, who influence the sport, should be looking out for them, not the coaches and boosters who get their noses bent out of shape.
And then we had USA hockey. After the NHL players and the NHL decided that the league would not let the players go to the Olympics, NHL-associated front office people could no longer be associated with the national teams going to Beijing. So, USA hockey needed to find another GM (the second GM for the national team, by the way, after they had to dump former Blackhawk GM Bowman because of his inaction in the sexual assault case of Kyle Beach. But that is another equally depressing story) And they chose a known racist.
John Vanbiesbrouck called a player the n-word. He did not do this when he was a teenager and playing himself. He did not do this when he was in the minors. He did this when he was the player’s general manager. That’s right – -USA hockey hired a person who, when in a position of power over a minor league player, called that player the n-word, to decide who gets to represent my country at the Olympics. Vanbiesbrouk has apparently never directly contacted or apologized to the player – Trevor Daley – he called the n-word multiple times when Daley was nineteen. Vanbiesbrouk said that Daley knew how to contact him when asked about this. Well, sounds like John has learned his lesson and grown, doesn’t it?
I am so tired of this. Hockey is the best sport in the world. No other sport has the combination of speed, skill, and power. But it is run by the absolute worst people. How can USA Hockey look anyone minority in the eye and tell them they are wanted? How can we look at the team assembled for the Olympics and know that they are the best available, the best team possible? We can’t because they put an apparently unrepentant racist in charge of that team. No one in good conscience could ever look at that team and do anything but wonder if all those players deserved to be there or if Vanbiesbrouk merely couldn’t bring himself to see the talent in people who did not look like him. And that is a disservice to those players, the country, and the fans.
And all they had to do was not hire Vanbiesbrouk, to hire one of the other innumerable people qualified to be the national GM. How hard could that have been? Too hard, apparently, for the horrible people that run our national team.