Fandom is a funny thing. People are willing to paint their faces, their bodies, adorn their homes with flags, signs, and a huge variety of other items with logos, and spend an awful lot of time discussing the teams that they follow. Some are exclusively interested in professional sports, while some have a stronger allegiance to the college variety. You’ll find the nuts in both places, of course, and I don’t know if either could claim a more rabid fanbase. The teams and the schools do plenty to stoke the fires of their followers, whether they be the stoic, occasional watchers or the foaming-at-the-mouth types. They do go too far sometimes, though, especially when the people doing the exhorting are new to their teams or schools. The target of my annoyance this week is Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer.
I will say upfront that Meyer rubs me the wrong way, and has done so well before this latest incident. He is a used car salesman, although he is exceedingly good at it. Despite his record of quickly jumping ship, oversigning players (which causes underperforming players to be jettisoned), and of having no concern about recruiting very questionable characters, high school kids continue to flock to his programs. He is said to be very charismatic, and he has certainly had success at his various stops, so I guess it’s not a big surprise. I am just put off by him and his above-it-all demeanor. The fact that he coaches at Ohio State was not likely to endear him to me, of course. He was an oft-mentioned possible replacement for Joe Paterno at Penn State, which I find astonishing, and I am quite glad that it did not come to pass. My current complaint about him involves an incident that happened at a Buckeyes practice recently where several scouts from NFL teams were forced to change shirts in order to watch the team. The offenders in question had dared to have the temerity to wear blue shirts, which happens to be the main color of Ohio State’s most hated rival, the Michigan Wolverines. These guys weren’t actually wearing Michigan gear, mind you, or even blue and yellow (okay, maize…calm down, Michigan fans) together. Just blue. That’s a pretty common color, don’t you think? His holiness (one of his nicknames is “the Pontiff,” which I guess is a reference to Pope Urban) had decided that this color was no longer welcome at his practice facility. He didn’t tell them before this, of course…instead, he just made an issue out of it during the practice.
How idiotic is this? I mean, come on, really? First off, Urban Meyer is in his second season at Ohio State. He has no long history at the school that would almost give him a pass for this. He is merely trying to play an exceedingly easy “I’m one of you” card to appeal to his team’s fans, a group that understandably needs little urging. The fact that he did this to professional scouts makes it that much more insulting. He knows that those guys can’t just blow off his practice and ignore the Buckeye players, as their teams expect to be fully updated on every player who may someday need to be evaluated for draftability. Why embarrass and anger these guys just to score a few points with people that already think you walk on water? This kind of behavior should be beneath the head coach of one of the biggest college football programs in the country, but this is Urban Meyer, after all. There is little that I would put past him, and he continues to prove my initial impression of him to be correct.
I have a whole lot of Penn State clothing. I have signs, a magnet on my car, and my two-year-old son says “We are Penn State!” on a nearly daily basis. I would never wear Buckeye red to a Penn State game, and I would certainly not wear a Michigan shirt to anything. That said, guys who are at a practice to do a job and who are not openly fans of the team’s rival, or even of the team itself, should be left alone and allowed to wear what they want, as long as it is not festooned with another team’s logo.
Bad sports, continued:
2) The disgrace that is the NCAA decided this week to make sure that no one is on its side. Kerwin Okoro, a basketball player from New York who played last season at Iowa State, recently lost both his father and his brother to illnesses. He wanted to transfer to Rutgers, which is quite close to his home, so he could be around to help his mother. He applied for a hardship waiver that would allow him to avoid having to sit out for a year, which is a rule that usually applies to transfers. The NCAA naturally declined. I am not sure what would qualify for a waiver if this does not.
3) J.R. Smith, a guard for the New York Knicks, got a 4-year, 24 million dollar contract in the offseason. He spent $500,000 of it to buy an armored vehicle that is supposed to be able to survive a grenade attack. Something tells me this guy is not going to last long in the NBA.
4) A college baseball player in Oklahoma was killed last week by three teenagers who did it because they were bored. Christopher Lane, originally from Australia, was 22 years old. The teenagers have been arrested, and I sure hope that we don’t hear of any of that stuff about them being tried as juveniles due to them being underage. This was a horrifying crime and needs to be prosecuted as one.
5) Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward was hit in the face by a pitch thrown by New York Mets pitcher Jonathan Niese on Wednesday night. His jaw was broken in two places by the pitch.
6) Former Tennesse Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck was arrested on Saturday night for allegedly stealing money from a cab driver who refused to pick him up due to the fact that he already had someone in his cab. Bulluck, who had just been on the broadcast team for the Titans pre-season game against the Atlanta Falcons, was reportedly drunk at the time.
7) It’s always hilarious when a baseball player forgets the game situation during a play. Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a fielder’s choice with one out in the ninth inning of his team’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. He must have thought there were already two outs, because he headed back to the dugout after the out was made at second base. Hanley Ramirez ran over and tagged Ellsbury out.
8) Hoover High School in Alabama clearly loves its football team. It might want to hire new English teachers, though. Check out the banner they held up at a recent game for the players to run through.
1) New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki recorded the 4000th hit of his professional career on Wednesday. 1278 of those hits came while he played in Japan to start his career.
2) There have been plenty of stories over the years about baseball players hitting homeruns for sick kids, and they are always touching. On Saturday, a young boy with cerebral palsy visited his beloved Cleveland Indians before the team’s game against the Minnesota Twins. He asked his two favorite players, Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis, to hit homeruns for him. They both obliged. As an added bonus, they are both on my fantasy team.
Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday
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