Friday, August 24, 2012

Is There a Racial Element Involved in Sports?

     Race has been an issue since the beginning of history. In America, it began with the Triangular Trade & enslavement of Africans & Native Americans. Although there has been an infinite amount of progress over the past 400 years, it is still a topic that is debated upon day in and day out. Whether we are talking about politics: with our Commander in Chief, music: with the dynamic between artists singing Country, Pop, R&B, and Rap, or sports: with the growing amount of diversity in competitive athletics worldwide, race is always a topic that is brought up. Earlier this week on ESPN First Take with Steven A. Smith and Skip Bayless, the panelists implied that Redskins' coach Mike Shanahan drafted Kirk Cousins in the Fourth Round of the 2012 NFL Draft to sabotage the career of RGIII, because he does not believe an African-American can be successful playing the Quarterback position. Is it possible that, in the world we live in today, this is still a serious problem?

Italian Soccer Star Mario Balotelli
     In my opinion, American sports have much less problems with racism than those of other countries. In actuality, that state of mind is racist, or at least egocentric. Balotelli, a black Italian, was the top soccer player in a predominately Hispanic and Latino soccer world this summer. A basketball player from Tunisia asked Kobe Bryant for an autograph, the ultimate symbol of respect from a competitor. Players of nearly every sport from all over the world worked well in the Olympics, but not without some controversy. Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was kicked off the Olympic team for mocking African immigrants. Swiss soccer player Morganella Michel described Koreans as retards after losing to them in a group-stage match. The world still has a long way to go before everyone sees each other as equals, but what can be done to prevent racism and stereotypes from showing themselves in athletics?

Argentina, led by Manu Ginobili, won the Gold Medal for Men's Olympic Basketball in 2004

     International competition is growing. At one point, the USA completely dominated the rest of the world in almost every sport, and it showed in the Olympics. According to numerous compilations made by websites, including Stat Silk, the US has more than double the amount of Gold Medals of any other country in the world. In recent years, however, China, Russia, and Great Brittain have been competing much better, and the sports are becoming much more even. In fact, although America did win this summer, China had the most gold medals in 2008, and Canada had the most gold medals in the 2010 Winter Games. I believe that the way to eliminate racism in athletics is for parity to occur at the national level. There have been some anomalies throughout history, but for the most part the US dominates in basketball, China dominates in diving, Kenya & Ethiopia dominate long-distance running, and Jamaica has recently taken over short-distance running. In the near future, athletes to need to start breaking the mold, going against the odds, and doing things in a different way.

     The world of today is about creation, innovation, and opportunity. People are born to create opportunities for themselves through innovation. A game changer is a person who is a visionary. Magic Johnson was known as the first of his kind, a point forward. LeBron James is changing the way the game of basketball is played, and he has allegedly invented the power guard position. Michael Vick's dynamic play at the Quarterback position paved the way for an age of athletic, running QB's. On a more negative note, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, & Mark Mcguire changed the game of baseball by starting the Steroid Era. Now, it is time for athletics on a larger scale to see a change. European basketball teams need to find a to start competing. USA Men's Soccer needs to find there way back into the mix of things. The NBA is already talking about starting a World Cup of Basketball in order to make way for a younger wave of Olympians, and Roger Goodell has stated on numerous occasions that he wants to have an NFL team in Canada, and an NFL game in China. The world continues to become a better place, and it is time for our role models in the athletics to join the push to make a difference. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Reviewing & Previewing The Summer Olympiad

     Alot of memories were made at the XXX Summer Olympiad. As for the United States, many things went right and a few things went wrong out in London.  The Women's Gymnastics team did amazingly well, we won 3 Gold Medals in Tennis, and our Decathletes won Gold and Silver. However, our flag bearer, Mariel Zagunis, failed to medal, Ryan Lochte proved to be a bust as the best swimmer in the world, and neither men's volleyball team was able to earn a medal. Overall, the 2012 Olympics were a success, but the question we are left with now is: Who will be America's #1 Star heading into Rio de Janeiro?

     In this year's olympics, Lochte vs. Phelps was the #1 American storyline, along with the 1992 Dream Team vs. 2012 Olympic Basketball Team debate. By 2016, Phelps will have been retired from swimming, Lochte will be washed up, and the Basketball Team will have a new coach and a host of new players. Advertising and Marketing companies will need to find some new stars to promote the games in Brazil, and America's continued success has provided a number of promising candidates.

     Based on the results of this year's games, there are a few leading options to be future superstars: Missy Franklin, the 17 year old swimmer that ended up with 4 gold medals and 2 world records, Ashton Eaton, the 24 year old decathlete who has claimed the title of "Best Athlete in the World" for the next 4 years, and Alex Morgan, the 23 year old striker for the gold medal-winning US soccer team. Each player has their own advantage: Missy will undoubtedly get the most medals, Morgan will be playing the world's #1 sport, and Ashton Eaton will participate in the most events.

     My best guess is that there will be no clear-cut #1 draw. Either way, Usain Bolt will find a way to steal the show from all of them anyway. The technology of today and tomorrow will allow us to watch each athlete as they compete, especially since Brazil is only one hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone, compared to being 5 hours ahead in London. I expect nothing but the best from the United States, and if I am lucky I will be blogging from Rio when August 2016 rolls around.