What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

The Ten Biggest Fallacies in Sports

10) Michael Jordan Was the Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century

You can thank ESPN for this exercise in the power of the present. Back at the turn of the century, the World Wide Leader published its list of the greatest athletes of the 20th century and placed Jordan at the top of that list.

One can make a credible argument that the next four athletes on the list had a greater impact on their sports than did Jordan; singularly Babe Ruth is largely responsible for the popularity of professional sports in this country, not just baseball. After all, “the House that Ruth Built” was also the inspiration for the founding of other sports leagues largely because entrepreneurs saw that people will fill a stadium to see a star player in action.

9) A Player Can’t Be Considered Truly Great Until They’ve Won a Championship

This attitude runs most prevalent in the NBA, but fans of the NFL are hopping onto this idiocy as well. First of all, there is the issue that individual greatness can’t really be measured in terms of a team accomplishment. Then there’s the inverse of this argument (brace yourself, you may want to wrap duct tape around your head to keep your skull from exploding when you read this...) By following this logic, Stacy King would be one of the great players in the last 20 years based on his three NBA championships as a member of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. To see really how ludicrous this is, look at the following list of notable players to have never won a title in their respective sports; you tell me which ones weren’t great.

NBA: Elgin Baylor, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Pete Maravich, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins, George Gervin, Bernard King

NFL: Dan Marino, Barry Sanders, Warren Moon, Anthony Munoz, Jim Kelly, Cris Carter, Dick Butkus, Earl Campbell, Fran Tarkenton, Dan Fouts

MLB: Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Napoleon Lajoie, Barry Bonds, Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks, Carl Yastremski, Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, George Sisler

8 ) Athletes Don’t Deserve What They Get Paid

This fallacy actually might the one that gets me the most juiced up when I hear somebody say it. The best example came out of the mouth of the wife of a good friend of mine who said in a sneering manner “that teachers should make the money that athletes make because teachers are so important.” Well, the problem with that theory is the market isn’t really interested in what anyone of us may believe is important; it’s all about supply and demand.

For example, there are about 6500 neurosurgeons in the U.S.  Neurosurgeons make big dough because there are only a handful of people who have the talent and the wherewithal to survive the training process and do the job without routinely killing people. In contrast, there are only 750 people in the world with the talent to be a major league baseball player, and they do a job which people will pay to watch them perform. Until you can set up stadium seating at the local school and get folks to pop $40 to watch one of the 3,000,000 teachers in this country do their thing, stop saying stupid things like this.

7) “The Student Athlete”

This is the line the NCAA trots out whenever it wants to kill anything it doesn’t want to do, like getting a playoff in FBS football. One of the popular counter-arguments to having a playoff is “the student-athlete would miss too much time in class by adding that many more games.”

If you ever wondered what pure, uncut bullshit looked like, that last sentence just showed it to you. The NCAA is one of the only organizations left still pretending that people who can perform at what is essentially the semi-professional level don’t spend professional-level time preparing themselves for competition. The NCAA would have you believe that it wouldn’t dirty its hands with money; and that the athletes competing in the “big” sports aren’t plying their trades in what is essentially a feeder league for professional sports. Of course, this is just massive hypocrisy on the part of the NCAA since they have no problem taking in revenues measuring in the billions for “amateur” athletics.

Even the holier-than-thou “purists” at the International Olympic Committee realized the professional status of athletes years ago.

6) College Football Will Get a Playoff

More wizardry from those who would like to see college football become merely a Saturday clone of the NFL. One of the great things about FBS college football is the regular season actually means something.  College football is now free of those train wrecks where a team rolls through the regular season only to be defeated by a team who got into the post-season thanks to a monstrously bloated playoff system.

College sports contains the classic example of how a playoff system can destroy the meaning of the season. The NCAA Basketball Tournament, while being one of the great events in all of sport also makes the regular season pointless. All a team from a “power conference” has to do is win enough games to qualify for the post-season. Usually, this means all they have to do is win a majority of their non-conference games and maybe play .500 ball in the conference schedule, and it March Madness here we come.

I’m not saying the BCS is an acceptable alternative, in fact it is far from it. Yet, as long as there are “power conferences” that have contractual obligations to certain bowl games, there is too much money at stake in the current system to expect a real change.

5) Revenue Sharing and Salary Caps Promote Competition

The redistributionist theory of economics didn’t work when Marx first espoused it, and it doesn’t work now. The fundamental problem as far as sports are concerned is all leagues need at least one team anybody gives a damn about. In other words, as much as you want to hate them, the New York Yankees are good for baseball. Baseball uses a “luxury tax” to funnel money from financially successful franchise to those that struggle. Where this classic “steal from the rich and give to the poor” philosophy falls apart is that the recipients don’t necessarily put that money as intended into improving the quality of the product they put on the field. Case in point: this past off-season, the Florida Marlins literally had to be forced by the MLB Players Union to spend at least the required league minimum on player salaries.

4) Athletes Have a Duty to be Role Models

Two quotes from Charles Barkley sum this point rather succinctly:

“I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

“I don’t believe professional athletes should be role models. I believe parents should be role models…. It’s not like it was when I was growing up. My mom and my grandmother told me how it was going to be. If I didn’t like it, they said, ‘Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.’ Parents have to take better control.”

Barkley is absolutely right, and for one major reason:  People  aren’t always who they seem to be. In fact, most people who live in the public eye have people who are dedicated to managing their image.  This is exactly how Tiger Woods maintained a public persona that belied the truth. Choosing somebody as a role model based strictly on a managed public persona is a recipe for disaster.

3) Racism Is The Reason Why There Aren’t More Minority Coaches and Managers

You can thank the NFL and it’s exceptionally stupid “Rooney Rule” for this bit of twaddle. The underpinning of why the rule exists can be found in the “quota” mentality present in Affirmative Action. The “Rooney Rule” states that teams must include a minority candidate in the interview process for selecting head coaches. The idea behind the rule comes from the belief that since a majority of NFL players are black, the majority of coaches should be as well. You can find story after story that espouses this sort of quota-ism.

What this mentality ignores is being a player doesn’t necessarily qualify one to be a coach. Comb through the history of the NFL, and you will find very few great players who succeeded in the coaching ranks. This is because the two disciplines have two completely different competencies. The NFL’s approach ignores merit in a coaching candidate; rather it creates two classes of candidates, those who are honestly qualified and those who get considered only because they fill a requirement. It also ignores the fact that until recently, the NFL was doing little or nothing to develop candidates.

2) People Watch Women’s Basketball

ABC and ESPN would have you believe there is as much interest in women’s basketball as there is in the men’s game. The coverage they afford it is far out of proportion to the number of viewers these games garner. Why? Could it be those networks have contracts to broadcast women’s basketball?

Granted, we have a nation full of parents who will gladly watch their daughters engage in high-school sports, but the simply reality is that nobody cares beyond that. If you doubt that, ask yourself this question: When’s the last time you filled out an office pool bracket for the women’s college basketball tournament? While the men’s tournament has become one of the great sporting events in this country, the women’s tournament barely draws attention in markets that contain contending teams.

It doesn’t get any better in the professional ranks. A lot of people want to believe that the WNBA was founded because there was a demand for professional women’s basketball. They couldn’t be more mistaken. The real reason the WNBA was founded was to give arena owners dates to put something in their arenas that normally aren’t used much during the summer months. The WNBA is financially supported by the NBA, which is why its franchises have similar team colors and team names to the NBA franchises with which they share arenas.

1) The Steroid Scandal Tainted the Integrity of Baseball

Tainting the integrity of baseball under Bud Selig is like shooting out all your lightbulbs so the sun will go down. The sanctimonious hand-wringing on the part of baseball writers that is still happening over this is almost too much to bear. Where were all these scribing Dudley Do-Rights when Mark McGwire suddenly gained 50 pounds of muscle and transformed home plate at Busch Stadium into a bigger launching pad than Cape Kennedy? They were conveniently were sitting on their pencils because the offensive explosion that occurred in the national past time in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s was exactly what they wanted.

Flash the clock back to 1995 when baseball was trying to resurrect itself from the fiasco of the previous year’s labor stoppage that killed a World Series. The writers were bemoaning the fact that baseball is boring, there isn’t enough scoring, and the fans won’t come back to the game after the strike. So, when the moon-shots started flying out of ballparks across the league, the writers could barely contain their overt giddyness. This led to fans flocking back to the ballparks, and Bud Selig couldn’t have been happier.

The part nobody wants to admit is that the whole steroid issue began as attempt by writers to disgrace Barry Bonds. Writers have a problem with players who won’t kiss their collective asses, and Bonds was notorious for treating scribes with utter contempt. When it became clear that Bonds would be the holder of the two sexiest records in all of sports (the single-season and the career home run marks), the press began its delving into Bonds’ connection with BALCO. But much like Dr. Frankenstein, they created a monster they couldn’t control. Next thing you know, we have Congressional hearings and the resultant “outrage” at the “cheaters.”

Now for the fun part…baseball has a long and storied history of cheating. Since day one, players have been stealing signs, corking bats, scuffing or greasing balls, and generally doing anything else they could to win. Steroids are no different. It is far too easy to “blame” the aforementioned offensive explosion on the hypodermic needle, but doing so ignores some key facts.

  • In the 90’s, Major League Baseball expanded by four teams, meaning 50 pitchers who otherwise would have been in the minors now were plying their trade in “The Show.”
  • Several new stadia were constructed in the 90’s, and the vast majority of them have outfield fences and small foul territory making them very “hitter-friendly.”
  • Of all the players caught using “performance-enhancing drugs,” half were pitchers.

In other words, the increase in offense has several possible contributing factors. The emptiness of the steroid argument become clear when one stops to consider that from the list of players named in the Mitchell Report, there wasn’t a case of a player who suddenly became a star due to his use of “performance-enhancing drugs.” Players who were stars before the needle were stars after the needle, and “role players” remained just that.

Shakespeare penned the correct thought on this scandal 350 years before baseball even existed: Much ado about nothing.

About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

2 comments on “The Ten Biggest Fallacies in Sports

  1. pilight
    April 28, 2010

    Your #2 makes no sense. What would be the value of putting something in the arena if it won’t sell?

    Nobody claims that women’s basketball is as popular as men’s, but there is a reasonable niche market there. It’s enough to keep the WNBA afloat and keep ESPN paying for women’s college ball.


  2. Pingback: The Dubsism Top Fifteen Sports Stories of 2014 | Dubsism

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