yonihamagid: (sports)

"Aside from his dashing good looks..."

Is this something they'd say about an African American? This feels a little problematic to me. Anyone else bothered?

yonihamagid: (sports)
The important thing to remember while debating the impact/importance/significance/etc. of current events is that in not too many years they're going to be history and evaluated by a whole different group of people by entirely different standards.

There's currently a robust conversation going on about the "first male athlete in North America to come out while (or before) playing professionally." Currently there are three names vying for that recognition: Jason Collins, Robbie Rogers and Andrew Goldstein.

Goldstein came out while playing goalie for the Dartmouth lacrosse team. He was was drafted by the MLL and played two seasons as a Long Island Lizard.

I assume you're plugged in enough to know who Jason Collins and Robbie Rogers are.

There are very good reasons none of these three are the "gay Jackie Robinson."

Goldstein played a sport that is not major in any sense of the word in any market. There are a few schools at which it is a dominant sport, but no markets in which the professional game is in any way relevant. He was one of the preeminent players of his era in college, but still only played two seasons as a professionally, probably because he's making more money as a biology post doctoral fellow at UCLA.

Rogers plays soccer. While it is ascendant in the United States, it is not at the level of hockey, much less baseball, basketball and (American) football.

Collins may never play another game in an NBA uniform. Regardless, he's at the end of a journeyman's career which averaged 20.8 minutes a game, 3.8 rebounds per game and 3.6 points per game (just for reference, that's not starter's stats, or even sixth man stats). His best season was 2004-2005 where he peaked in those statistical categories with 31.8, 6.1 and 6.4 respectively.

All of this to say that the current discussion of who should have the crown as "first male athlete in North America to come out while (or before) playing professionally" is premature. It's entirely possible the person history remembers as the Trailblazer isn't any of them.

Most of the people reading this weren't alive when Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. We didn't take part in the conversations that surrounded those momentous days. But that means we also likely don't remember Larry Doby. Taking the field for the Cleveland Indians was a very big deal at the time. The American and National leagues were very separate at the time. Other than New York and Chicago, a town was either National or American League. Detroit, for instance, couldn't have cared less who was on the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but they were very interested in who was taking the field for the Cleveland Indians.

Doby could be considered more significant than Robinson in that he went directly from the Negro League to a Major League squad without a stop in the minor leagues, thus contributing to the notion of the Negro League as a separate but equal institution and not a lesser cousin of Major League Baseball.

On the other hand, Doby's first full season may legitimately have been overshadowed by the Indians winning the World Season for the last time (sorry [livejournal.com profile] theonetruetiny)

But that's the point, history sees these accomplishments very differently than contemporaneous viewers.

Let's take a look at a similar situation in the NBA. Three players are the "first" African Americans in the league depending on how you count "first." Chuck Cooper was the first black player drafted, chosen by Boston. Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton was the first to sign an NBA contract, signing with New York. And Earl Lloyd was the first to play in an NBA regular-season game because his Washington team opened one day before the others.[1] (heaven forbid I be accused of academic dishonesty)

But no one cares. None of their names are etched in the history of Sport alongside Jackie Robinson's.

Quick, who was the first black player in the NHL? hint

And lest you point out all these players broke color barriers after Robinson, what about the African Americans playing professional football before Robinson was even born? And if you say that the color barrier was reinstated in 1933, Kenny Washington and Woody Strode played in the NFL in 1946, the year prior to Robinson's ascension to the Major Leagues.

Is Jackie Robinson famous and Kenny Washington nearly unknown because baseball was, at the time, the singular expression of American Sport and football a distant follower? Or was it because two football players on the same team shared the distinction of breaking the color barrier while Robinson stood alone? (in a bit of historical recursion, all three were teammates at UCLA and played semipro football in California together)

Again, the point is that history will be written long after the events of the day have concluded. Will the name etched at the pinnacle of gay sports history be one of the three currently on the table or another yet to be known?

I have no idea, but, then, no one else does either.

And don't let anyone tell you any differently.
yonihamagid: (sports)
[livejournal.com profile] cdk reminded me of what I said almost a year ago.

I certainly wouldn't have put any money on, or even suggested, the possibility of my beloved Mavs doing the deed, but I did pretty much see this coming. < buffs fingernails on chest >
yonihamagid: (sports)
The Dallas Mavericks and I came to Dallas at the same time, Summer of 1980. They've been my team since the first game they ever played.

During the 80's, the were the team poised upon the edge of breaking out, peaking in 1989 when they came within a game of the Western Conference Championship and playing for the NBA Championship.

During the 90's they were the loveable losers who could never put a winning team on the floor, but put an entertaining team that played hard but could never quite make it.

And then the 00's, the terrible, terrible 00's. The decade of promise but no delivery. It was a team that should have been having tremendous success, but just couldn't quite pull it out (the less said about '05-'06-'07 the better).

But tonight dawned a new age, the age of Championship. The Dallas Mavericks are NBA Champions. They will be forever more NBA Champions. Dirk joins the NBA elite, and is no longer among the best that never won it all.

Tonight is a good night.
yonihamagid: (sports)
I think a lot of the gay and sports worlds are missing the point on the $100,000 fine levied on Kobe Bryant by the NBA.

While the NBA is trying to use this to enhance their credibility with LGBT advocacy groups, this fine has nothing to do with "faggot" or even "fucking faggot." This fine is about telling the highest profile players in the NBA that they cannot be caught on camera denigrating officials or questioning their credibility.

It is true that if this hadn't been recorded, it wouldn't have been fined. However, it is not a case of you can get away with it as long as you don't get caught. It's more a case of needing to bolster the credibility of the officials after a public display of derision by arguably the highest profile player in the league.

NBA officiating has been under siege since well before the Tim Donaghy scandal hit the news. Odds makers and the numbers boys had found disturbing patterns in game calling and were trumpeting that all over the Internet. It was even beginning to get the attention of the mainstream sports press.

Kobe Bryant, despite being a jackass, is listened to when he speaks. If he does not believe in the validity of the officiating, NBA fans will be that much less likely to take the game seriously. For a brand on the rebound after a devastating officiating scandal, this cannot be acceptable.

I fully endorse the NBA's actions regarding this, and appreciate that they're saying nice things about not being mean to gay people. But let's not get overexcited about this. This is not solidarity with the LGBT communities. This is a business protecting its brand credibility from players questioning officials decisions, not their sexuality.
yonihamagid: (sports)
The problem for LeBron James now is not that he looks like a monumental ass.

It's not that he could lose a lot of money on endorsements skittish advertisers won't pay the most hated man in basketball for.

It's not that there is an air of collusion among the three major stars at the center of this deal.

The problem for LeBron James is that when the Heat do not win the NBA championship in 2011, it will be his fault, and to a lesser degree, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh's fault.

It won't be Heat management's fault. It won't be Pat Riley's fault. It certainly won't be the fault of the various phantoms who share the floor with the big three.

It will be LeBron James' fault.

And if they do win it in 2011, it will be his fault when they don't win it the next two years. If they don't win immediately, it won't matter if they do win eventually. This is a right now deal, and LeBron James has mortgaged his reputation on a championship in 2011.
yonihamagid: (sports)
My bracket is toast.
yonihamagid: (sports)
I have one question for NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Stern unequivocally states that no referee other than Tim Donaghy is crooked.

Tim Donaghy fixed games.

The NBA had to be told by the FBI that Tim Donaghy fixed games.

How can Stern know that no other referee is crooked if they didn't know Donaghy was crooked?
yonihamagid: (sports)
It's almost disturbing what one can find online. I was looking for images of Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy (who the hell names their son "Stanley" when their last name includes "Van?" People who want their kids to go through elementary school as Stan the Van?) in preparation for a post about his eerie similarity to Ron Jeremy.

Evidently there's already a blog out there that's spotted it. Does anyone know what particular Asian language this Milwaukee Bucks dedicated blog is written in?
yonihamagid: (sports)
There's been a lot of bad news in sports lately.

The Tour de France is a joke.

The NBA is faced with a rogue referee and little in the way of ability to prove he's the only one.

Baseball is faced with a cheater eclipsing one of the great gentleman in the sport for what most people consider Baseball's, if not American sport's, most important achievement.

One of the NFL's most celebrated players is in court defending himself with the claim, "It might have been my house, but I had no idea what was going on there."

Of course, the NFL has it's host of other thugs and losers in trouble with the law at the moment.

The NHL had a couple of players arrested at a strip club for disorderly conduct.

analysis cut )
yonihamagid: (sports)
Personally, I think it's a good rule and I think the NBA is applying it fairly and appropriately. Every player in that arena knew that there is literally a line they cannot cross in a tense situation. That Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw lost track of this at a crucial time in the game and series is unfortunate, but not David Stern's fault. As I've said before, if you find it necessary to violate the rules of conduct in sports, do so with the knowledge that you will be punished for that violation. If the infraction is worth the punishment, by all means, go ahead and do it.

Clearly, Stoudemire and Diaw didn't really think the violation was worth the punishment since the sheepishly headed back to the bench rather than entering the fray. Stoudemire, in particular, put a lot of emphasis on calling out the dirty play of the Spurs. Certainly there should have been a team memo or meeting reminding players not to allow themselves to be drawn into the bad behavior of the Spurs.

On the other hand, the Spurs are playing dirty this series. I'm not prepared to call them a dirty team, but they have crossed the line from being a physical team to being thugish. If I were David Stern, I would quietly pull Gregg Popovich aside and tell him, "You're guys are out of control. From here on in, every game I have to suspend one of your players, you're sitting out as well. If I have to suspend two of your guys for a game a piece, you're missing two. If it takes you into next regular season, you'll be out those games too. Keep you hoodlums under control."
yonihamagid: (rainbow warrior)
Members of the Seattle Supersonics and Seattle Storm ownership group bankrolled a major anti gay marriage PAC in the last election. This is an ownership group that is requesting up to $500mil in state funds to keep those two teams in town.

The teams' response?

Team spokesman Jim Kneeland, "People are entitled to have their views, they are not views that I happen to agree with ... but they are not trying to impose them on anyone out here."

I'm sorry, donating money to political organizations is trying to impose you're views on people.

Kneeland continues, "I won't argue that some of the owners may have more conservative political views than the norm out here; one of the things that they agreed to when they bought the team is that they would leave their politics at the state line. They have done that. They were not involved in the election cycle out here last year and have no intention of doing so."

So as long as they're not pushing a conservative agenda in the State of Washington, they're welcome to do whatever they want?

No, they're not.

Among arena opponents, it appears popular to remind people that advocating against the corporate welfare being extorted out of the Legislature has nothing to do with the odious nature of the investors, merely with it being bad policy for the state.

According to columnist Robert L. Jamieson Jr., "The political causes private people champion outside of the office shouldn't be held against their organization."

That's true assuming your political causes to restrict the civil rights of members of the community who don't conform to your religious codes of conduct end at the door of your businesses. I guess it's up to them to prove they've never fired anyone for being gay, never refused to hire anyone for being gay, have never made the work environment less pleasant for those who are gay.

I'm not even going to hold them to the standard of providing benefits to those in homosexual relationships.

All they have to do is prove their politics stop where their businesses begin, and I'm more than happy to encourage people to vote against corporate welfare because it's corporate welfare rather than because it's going to benefit odious human beings.

This is particularly important in this case, since the NBA is working very hard to make sure its image is not that of Tim Hardaway and because the WNBA markets heavily in the lesbian community. No, there shouldn't be a political litmus test for those trying to own sports franchises, but if you're going to get this heavily involved in what is perhaps the most visible and transparent corporate culture in the country, you probably shouldn't have anything in your closet that annoys people. Or if you do, don't get huffy when people bitch about it. Ask the Maloof brothers. Hell, ask Mark Cuban.
yonihamagid: (rainbow warrior)
I don't have to couch my condemnation of Tim Hardaway as a bad person and a bigot by saying he's entitled to his opinion. That smacks of declaring my opinion less than his. No one's addressing the fact that he declared homosexuals worldwide not entitled to the opinion that they are worthy human beings. Why is he entitled to the opinion that I'm not entitled to my life, but if I question that opinion, I'm squelching his freedoms?

Tim Hardaway is entitled to his opinion as long as he and people like him are willing to be called on the harm that their opinions cause this world. John Amaechi called him on it, and called him hard. I think the only way he could have been harsher was to say that Tim Hardaway murders GLBT babies. Good for him.

I can't speak for anyone else, but when I say things like "Tim Hardaway shouldn't have said that," I'm not saying that he doesn't have the right to say it or that I'd have preferred that he kept his ignorant trap shut. What I am saying is that I don't see him getting another on air job ever. I don't see him getting a front office job any time soon. I'm saying that there are repercussions to his comments and perhaps he should have thought about those. Just like he doesn't like being associated with homosexuals, the league and broadcast employers don't want to be associated with his ignorance and bigotry.

Jennifer Engel, ESPN 103.3's Little Ball of Hate, seems to feel that saying Tim Hardaway shouldn't have said what he did stifles dialogue. And saying "You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States" encourages dialogue? If John Amaechi is guilty of anything, Tim Hardaway is equally guilty. So not only is he a bigot, but he's a stifler of dialogue. Which, one could infer from Engel's stated opinions, a worse crime.

But let's look at Amaechi's response before we condemn him as someone who grinds dialogue beneath his, I'm sure, very stylish heel. "His words pollute the atmosphere. It creates an atmosphere that allows young gays and lesbians to be harassed in school, creates an atmosphere where in 33 states you can lose your job, and where anti-gay and lesbian issues are used for political gain. It's an atmosphere that hurts all of us, not just gay people."

Hmmm, I'm having difficulty seeing the lack of dialogue. Perhaps it's because there isn't an answer to that from the Tim Hardaways of the world. This is like complaining that the smart kid in class is making fun of the bully because he told the bully that his behavior exhibits deep seated conflict on the nature of his relationship with his mother and perhaps he should seek counseling on the subject. If you speak truth to ignorance there isn't an answer. That doesn't mean you're stifling dialogue.

It's a free country. That means Tim Hardaway gets to be an idiot. It also means I, and John Amaechi, get to call him an idiot. And if you can get fired in 33 states for being gay, Florida being one of them, certainly there are no protections for the bigots of those states either.

and I don't care what LJ's dictionary says; I'm using "dialogue" in honor of John Amaechi's nationality.
yonihamagid: (Friend of Dorothy)
Considering the fact that the majority of sports fans around here are straight and the majority of homosexuals in the vicinity are not sports fans, it's pretty easy for me to be the first on my friend's list to post that a former NBA player is coming out.

I really do love these guys: David Kopay, Eseara Tuaolo, Billy Beane and, now, John Amaechi, but until the Michael Jordans and Peyton Mannings of the world come out change in professional sports is going to proceed at a sculpting Mt. Rushmore with a toothpick pace.
yonihamagid: (sports)
The American Airlines Center was half empty last night. Why?

Because the Dallas Cowboys were playing last night?

Is that what they were doing, cause it looked a lot like they were screwing up.

I'm not a Vancouver Cannucks fan. However, I can imagine that someone who is had a much more positive experience watching his team lose to the Dallas Stars than a Cowboys fan had watching his team lose to the New York Giants.

Because the Cannucks actually showed up to play their game. They played a full 60 minutes and performed well, just not quite as well as their opponent. It's the nature of the competitive beast.

I'm not saying that a blowout is necessarily not a fun game to watch. I am saying that a sloppy game, and it was a sloppy game all the way around at Texas Stadium Monday night, is never a fun game to watch. There was sloppy play calling, sloppy defending, sloppy passing, sloppy tackling, sloppy receiving, sloppy coaching, and there was a whole hell of a lot of sloppy personnel decisions. OK, there was one, but it was a doozy.

At the American Airlines Center, there was a crisp game anchored by two very good goaltenders featuring forward players who put in the effort and rewarded the faithful with an exciting game.

Not every game is going to be a barnburner in any sport. There will be a game or two the Stars will play this season that won't electrify even the most ardent fan, but out of 82 games, one or two is not significant. The Cowboys are done with a third of the season and have yet to thrill.

The teams the Cowboys have beaten: Washington, Houston and Tennessee are a combined 5-14 so far in the season. The teams the Cowboys have lost to: New York, Jacksonville and Philadelphia are a combined 11-8, two games above .500. While this primarily indicates the Cowboys have a weak schedule and aren't doing much to take advantage, it also demonstrates the general lack luster product the NFL is producing these days.

I understand backing a team through thick and thin. I was a Dallas Mavericks fan in the 80s, but throughout that run, the Mavericks put the best product on the court they could and always, always respected the fans. The Cowboys haven't done the former since Jimmy Johnson or the latter since Tom Landry.

Why spend your time and money on a what promises to be a meaningless game in a meaningless season when you could have been spending it on the game that would tie a franchise record for best start?

I just don't get it.
yonihamagid: (sports)
There's a lot of ink being spilled about the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat going to the first NBA finals in their respective histories. And there's something to be said about the freshness of the experience for the fan bases in both cities and the zeitgeist for the teams themselves.

However, not everyone involved is a finals novice. Certainly Pat Riley isn't. In fact, it was Riley's LA Lakers who prevented the Mavericks from reaching the finals in their closest approach, a seven game Western Conference Final series in 1988. Shaquille O'neal has been to a couple of NBA finals himself.

Contrast that with Dallas. Avery Johnson has played in, and won, NBA finals series. He hasn't coached on before. In fact, this is his first full season as a head coach at all. Dirk Nowitzki hasn't been there at all.

I was going to do a lot more about the playoff careers of everyone involved, but it's more work than it's worth distilling that information from the NBA website.

But I don't think any amount of research is going to change the obvious conclusion - Miami is at a great advantage when it comes to experience on the biggest stage basketball has to offer in North America. Whether that's going to translate into a playoff victory or be a mere footnote of history is why we play the games.
yonihamagid: (sports)
I haven't gotten a chance to actually watch a Mavericks' game in a while, so I'm only working off the box scores. I'm not sure whether to be concerned or reassured by the Mavs' performance in the last two games.

The three games before that, the Mavs scored an average of 103 points, beating their opponents by an average of ten points. In the last two games, those numbers are 90 and 2.5. While two games in an ten game winning streak is hardly a trend, such low scores could be the beginning of something unpleasant for the Mavericks because not scoring is a bad way to win games.

On the other hand, keeping the other guys from scoring is a very good way to win basketball games and the Mavericks have done a fantastic job on that front. During this ten game win streak, no team has scored more than 100 points, and the Mavericks have failed to reach the century mark only three times. It's just that two of those three times were the last two games.

Certainly, the Mavericks haven't looked as bad as they did in their 78-91 loss at Minnesota since January 4. Even the only other game they lost in January, a 115-117 loss in New York, they looked fantastic, but came up slightly short.

It's probably just the jittery nerves of an avid fan, but I'd really like to see the Mavs obliterate the Seattle Supersonics at both ends of the court Saturday night. They beat them by five in Seattle last week; they should certainly be able to do better here at home.
yonihamagid: (sports)
West coast overtime is not good for those of us who have to be somewhere at 8:00am in the morning.
yonihamagid: (sports)
There are several things I'd like to be writing about now, but they'd all take time and thought. So instead, I'll leave y'all with my ideas on the recent controversy regarding an NBA player entering the stands to "defend his wife." (NY TImes article, registration required).

I say take the suspension and shut up. Let's say Antonio Davis was justified in going into the stands because his wife was in danger. Part of the reason we have rules of this nature in our society is so that think about what does and doesn't warrant emphatic action. The next time it appears an NBA player's wife is in danger, he's going to think, "Is she in five games' worth of danger? Maybe she's only in one game's worth of danger. I would be better off alerting stadium security." But if she is in that much danger, it shouldn't matter what the financial consequences are of your actions. Protect her and take the hit. That's what a man does.

Wow

Nov. 2nd, 2005 01:03 am
yonihamagid: (sports)
Ok, basketball is back. That was one of the most exciting games I've ever watched. What a way to start a season.

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