Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Best

Coming off that motivational video below and watching the Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets on Election Day, it got me into this whole philosophical mindset. I do not know if I represent the majority, but I believe the brilliance of sports is watching the best athletes equipped with the best equipment, coaches, and resources playing at their best. That is, I want to see the BEST.

The NBA is at its best when we have the best players on the best teams playing against each other. The NFL is at its best because it is based on such massive amounts of preparation ensuring that everyone puts their best out on the field on Sundays. Baseball is at its best when the best pitchers go up against the best hitters. Soccer struggles to put its best out on the field at the most opportune times.

Which brings us to college sports. Sitting through a number of college sporting events recently, I have realized that it will never hold a candle to professional sports. I understand the examples I am about to use are not quite Ohio State football or North Carolina basketball. But the reason why college athletics is not up to par with professional sports is simply because we do not see the best athletes performing at their best.

After years of giving them the benefit of the doubt, the vast majority of college coaches stink. The decisions they make, the horrid substitutions, the terrible ways they evaluate and misuse their players, and perhaps most importantly, the lack of adjustments during the game contribute to a frustrating atmosphere. Then there's the players. Besides the fact that most are misplaced delinquents who cannot fit in their campuses and respective student bodies, the players are either so limited or just plain stink. College football basically consists of a game in which the team with the bad quarterback that messes up the least wins. College basketball is basically consists of a game in which the team that turns the ball over the least wins, and so on and so forth.

Yes, I understand the passion and intensity in college MAY be superior than the pros at certain schools with specific sports. But UCLA basketball is only popular because they have such a strong winning tradition, not because they actually play a brilliant brand of basketball. Most of the students in the crowd at Pauly Pavilion do not even understand what a pick and roll is. At a California football game in Berkeley, the student section, consisting mostly of academics who clearly do not understand football, often boos or cheers at the wrong times to the point where they need a ring leader on a microphone to explain to them when to do so, and even then they still get it wrong. Closer to home, UC Irvine has fielded a national championship in Volleyball, saw their baseball team earn a Cinderella trip to the College World Series, and currently has the No.1 ranked soccer team. Yet I am fully confident that 95% of our apathetic student body and alumni, consisting of mostly Asians and wealthy whites, cannot even name a player on any of those teams. When the basketball team was one win away from earning the school's first ever bid to the NCAA tournament and essentially putting our school's name on the map, we could not even fill up the small student section even though the Big West Championship game was basically on our turf, a few miles away in Anaheim.

But go to a professional game. At Staples Center, there are die hard basketball fanatics who understand the game beyond belief. Clipper Darrell may seem like a freak in a suit, but his basketball knowledge and realistic approach of his players stunned me. Even the Laker fans, best known for being bandwagoners who cannot hold an intelligent discussion about basketball that does not involve profanities and "Kobe rules!" actually are smart and interesting to talk to. Well, at least some of them.

You all know I have made a habit of hanging out at sports bars on Sundays and talking to football fans, who are generally not the brightest people in the world. In fact, I have come to learn how to spot who are the educated ones I would actually like to talk to and who are not worth my time due to plain stupidity. And the ones at professional football games are generally far calmer, smarter, and educated than those who attend college football games. You can actually converse with fans from the opposing team and learn from each other, as opposed to the divided atmosphere of insensible hatred that exists at a college sports event.

So I tried college sports. But I came right back to pro sports. I want to see the best performing at their best...while watching, talking, and enjoying it all with the best.