Worst Ideas in Sports

01/24/2004
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It's real snow and it matters.
Great shorts. Great player.
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After reading the title, you may think that this article deals with things like the XFL, the glow puck, and televised professional golf.

But those are not the types of ideas that this article will discuss. Rather, I will examine the myths, misconceptions, and unreasonable clichés that some in the sports world profess.


I'll start off with one I just heard today.

During the last minutes of a close game, the referees should "swallow their whistles" and let the players decide the outcome of a game.

My question is: Why? Just because we perceive these moments to be more important than those at the beginning of the game, there should be different rules? Suddenly players should be able to get away with something that the rulebook states is a foul? Changing the rules in the middle of a game isn't "letting the players decide the outcome." Instead, it's giving an advantage to the less disciplined team by suddenly overlooking their weakness, namely, committing penalties. Fouls are a part of the game. The fact that it's a referee who calls it doesn't mean the player involved had nothing to do with it. When the rules are followed it is the players who decide the outcome.


Unless an athlete wins a championship, we cannot consider him a great athlete.

You probably won't hear this one stated explicitly as much as you will notice it used as a basis for other statements. And after all it is a fine argument for tennis and boxing, but absurd when it comes to any team sport. Of all the flaws of this argument, the most glaring is that it basically assumes that just one player can be responsible for the success or failure of his entire team. It makes a great story, and sells lots of jerseys when a team wins, and makes an even better scapegoat when a team loses. But let's face the facts, it's the team that wins and the team that loses.

Certainly, teams benefit from great players and often the greatest players are those who make their teammates better, but to discredit great players for their inability to deliver on something that is the responsibility of the entire team is misguided at best.

Of all the major sports, baseball is the clearest example of why this stance is ridiculous and the other sports aren't too far off. Think about it, one baseball player is responsible for roughly one ninth of the at bats and only fields one position at a time. Any one football player is only on the field for about 50 percent of the game these days, meaning that even in a pass-heavy offense, a quarterback will only play a primary role in about one third of the total plays, and even then he is relying on 10 other guys to do the right thing. And even the greatest of basketball players must rely on 4 other players to do their jobs. Add to that the fact that the prominent pro leagues each have about 30 teams with a multinational talent pool and it's hard to see how this championship requirement for greatness makes any sense at all.

Certainly greatness is a subjective title to put on anyone and I would even concede that most great players have won championships. However, one lesson I've learned in math is that to disprove a theory, one needs only to find one example for which it doesn't hold up. Hmm, let me see...

Tarkenton and Cris Carter were great, so was Killebrew (573 HRs). Also, first ballot HOFer Yount was great with his 3000+ hits, but with me living in Wisconsin, you might consider all these arguments regionally biased.

Ted Williams (.344 lifetime BA, 521 HR) was possibly the greatest hitter ever, but no championships, so he couldn't have been that great right?

Dan Marino passed for more yards than anyone (season and career) and more td's than anyone, but his 13 seasons with 3000+ yards (also a record) were probably just a fluke right?

And Karl Malone (currently 2nd in career points scored), John Stockton(1st in career assists), and Charles Barkley (23,000+ points and 12,000+ rebounds) can take their Dream Team status straight to the losers' club. I mean, if they couldn't beat Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in the finals, how great can they be? (Oh but if the Lakers win the championship this year, Karl Malone will instantaneously become a great player.)

And I don't need to tell you that Barry Bonds and Barry Sanders have only appeared to be great, do I?

I didn't think so.



Both teams have to play in the bad weather, so it won't be a factor.

It sounds like a reasonable statement, and it would be if you were arguing that the weather will not make it unfair. After all, the weather conditions are part of the game that each team must prepare for. But don't believe it when people tell you that the weather doesn't matter, that it doesn't have the potential to shift the balance of power from one team to the other. Rosters and style of play differ from team to team. A football team that throws on 80% of the downs will likely not fare as well in high winds as a team who runs on 80% of the downs. Is it unfair to play in those winds? No, it's part of the game. Will it be a factor? Of course.


Anna Kournikova is a no-talent tennis player who is only famous for her good looks.

As someone who has followed tennis for a good portion of my life, I'm a little concerned that people get the wrong impression about Anna Kournikova. Certainly the level of fame that she has reached is largely due to her physical beauty, but if you think that she is simply a model with a racquet then you are mistaken. Before the world at large knew of her as the Hot Anna Kournikova, the "tennis world" knew her as a cute Russian girl with a lot of talent. At the end of 1995, she was the number 1 ranked girl on the juniors' circuit. Shortly after this, she turned pro and made it all the way to the semifinals of a little tournament called Wimbledon. Since then, her career has had ups and downs. Though she has not won a singles tournament, she has made it to the finals multiple times, before losing to the likes of Martina Hingis and Venus Williams. Furthermore, she has won multiple doubles tournaments, including her two Australian Open Championships with partner Martina Hingis. In fact, in 1999 she finished the year as the world's number 1 ranked women's doubles player.

So, think of her what you will, call her underachieving if that's what you believe, but don't make the mistake of labeling a player as a "no-talent" when she has beaten such tennis greats as Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis.


For the record, this is not an exhaustive list. The sports world is full of ridiculous notions. Also, I don't think the glow puck was entirely a bad idea; it just needs some modification.


Jon purposefully left out any pictures of Anna Kournikova.
fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - No one's gay for Moleman
01/25/2004 @ 12:14:37 AM
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As a corollary to the point about athletes not bring considered great until they win a championship I dont understand why teams, or franchises arent considered legitimate until they win a championship.

I was watching an ESPN Classic special about the Bills. You always have to smile when the Bills are on ESPN Classic because no matter what post season game they are playing you know where it goes.

The loveable bumbling Bills. Theyre the butt of many a joke after going to 4 super bowls in a row and losing every one of them. You know what is lost in the running gag that is the early 90s Bills? That they GOT TO 4 Super Bowls in a row. There are still a handful of teams that have never gotten within smelling distance of a Super Bowl and we all laugh at the Bills.

During the special one of the players claimed that going to 4 in a row is a bigger accomplishment than going to and winning just one. I got a kick out of that but than the more I thought about the more I think hes right.

However we never remember the teams that fall just short of the championship.

Despite having by far the best offense in NFL history and a number 6 ranked defense the 98 Vikings will never be considered for even honorable mention in any top ten NFL team list. Two more wins and they would likely be number one.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 1.21 Gigawatts!?!?
01/25/2004 @ 12:44:39 AM
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A clich that gets tossed around all the time that I can't stand is when the announcer says "The other team just wants it more." It often follows a momentum shift in a game where a team was struggling but now that theyve found a groove they all of a sudden want to win more than they did 15 minutes earlier and the opposite team suddenly stopped caring about the game.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
01/25/2004 @ 09:42:54 PM
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Responding the part about whether: Dome teams fit in this category. Is it fair? Sure, it's part of the game right? (I think only teams that play in domes think this is true).
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scott.jpgScott - No, I did not change your screen saver settings
01/25/2004 @ 09:44:58 PM
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The glow puck: I have not met a single person who is actually a true fan of hockey (playing is 90% of a requirement in my book) has had good reviews about it.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
01/25/2004 @ 09:51:04 PM
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The red streak was annoying but how could anyone argue with actually knowing where the puck was at any given time?
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
01/25/2004 @ 09:53:10 PM
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It's a hard argument for a team that doesn't make or win the Super Bowl or championship. The Mariners won more games than anyone ever (or maybe they fell short of the record) a couple years ago, but they failed to make the World Series and therefore are not always looked upon in the same light as those who have won the Series. The championship argument for greatness really only works for individual players. If your team didn't win then they were not the best team in the league that year. They could not come through when it counted the most. The Packers were looked at by a large majority in the football world as maybe the best team in the league at the end of the season, but they didn't make it, so no one will see it that way, as they shouldn't.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
01/25/2004 @ 09:54:55 PM
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a black puck on a white surface, nice contrast guys. Oh yeah, where's the love for golf, I mean come on. Watching the last 4 or 5 holes in a close match can be just as exciting as anything, for me anyway.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - The pig says "My wife is a slut?"
01/25/2004 @ 11:31:57 PM
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Nobody thought the Packers were the best team. They only beat 2 teams with winning records. They didn't look any good until they played 4 DOA teams to wrap up the season. They only made the playoffs because the Vikings didn't. Then they just barely beat a team that couldn't buy a game on the road before embarassing themselves in the 4th quarter of the Philly game. I heard 2 talking heads on ESPN say they thought the Packers were the hottest team heading into the playoffs. I doubt that as far as what ppl considered as the best team they were even in peoples top 3.

Also, especially in football, I have to disagree that the best team in the league wins the championship game. In football as we all know any given week any team can beat any other team. When an underdog wins people call it an upset. They don't say that the underdog must than be better than the other team. Why is that thrown out during the playoffs? It's only 3 wins to go from wildcard to super bowl berth and the best teams do NOT always end up there and the best team does NOT always win the super bowl.
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2887.gificbizzle - 3618 Posts
01/26/2004 @ 08:56:17 AM
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who cares who the "best team" is? the winners are the winners, "best" or not. and if your not a winner, your a loser (although i guess if you were the "best"(or would it be worst) loser you might feel better).
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scott.jpgScott - No, I did not change your screen saver settings
01/26/2004 @ 06:15:26 PM
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ESPN had a poll that had a number of questions for who was going to win each of the Wild Card Games, who would win each Championshipship game, and who would win the Super Bowl. Anyways, I can't find the poll anymore, it's outdated now anyway, but if I'm not mistaken, the Packers were number 2 or 3 in the pre-playoff picture, according to fans at least.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
01/26/2004 @ 08:28:38 PM
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Any online poll with the packers involved will be heavily skewed in the packers direction. We have nothing better to do in Wisconsin I guess.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
01/26/2004 @ 10:30:18 PM
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I've got another unreasonable cliche: the old "if the playoffs started today" phrase.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - I believe virtually everything I read.
01/26/2004 @ 10:48:30 PM
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No kidding, this year it camse down to a few seconds after the last game of the year was over to determine the playoff picture, what difference does it make what things look like in week 8?
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reign_of_fire.jpgMicah - 584 Posts
01/27/2004 @ 01:44:52 PM
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Dick Trickle (Tricklemeister) is a fine example of a great man and a fine citizen being denied wins but truly being a championship quality person.

And it dont matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winnings winning. If you cant take the advice of Vin Diesel, who can you listen to.
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question_mark.gifAndrew (Guest)
02/02/2004 @ 03:22:03 PM
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I liked the part about Anna. Since I played college tennis I've learned even more about tennis. Some players are better at some things. She's the #1 doubles player in the world, that's a huge accomplishment. But people don't watch much of doubles on TV it's the singles that sells the tickets and gets on ESPN on Wed afternoons.

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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
07/16/2012 @ 08:51:17 AM
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http://www.jsonline.com/sports/stupid-is-as-sports-does-4d64ilf-162539086.html

Add this to your list of stupid sports ideas.
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