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Friday, November 1,2019

The Ten Undeniable Truths Of Sports

By Mark Tudino  
Every once in a while we start to think the sporting public doesn’t understand the basic concepts of watching and understanding sports in the modern age – especially in the television age. So, at the risk of sounding arrogant (but not condescending), we bring you our version of the basic rules of the sporting universe. The subjects cover all manner of sport, though this is not a comprehensive list.

1. Ownership matters. Ever wonder why some organizations stink while others consistently compete for championships? The answer, in part, lies with who’s calling the shots. Winning programs, or franchises, have a sense of continuity; losing teams do not. As a wise man once noted, “The fish rots from the head down.” The reverse is also true: excellence breeds success.

2. All fans are impatient idiots. Ok, this a bit of a stereotype, but when a talk show host or a columnist rants about how the local populace is unreasonable, unfair or bandwagon jumpers, I remember hearing the same argument in Michigan, Wisconsin or even California. Fact: when local teams win, fans are happy. When the local team loses, everybody needs to be fired. Bottom line: this is a success issue, not a fan issue.

3. Quality of QB = football wins.

I’m always amazed how followers of teams are surprised when a change in quarterback is followed by on-field wins. Fact: if you’re hoping for a “game manager” to lead your team to glory, forget it. As an exercise, try recalling the last Super Bowl champion with an average signal caller. Ain’t happening.

4. Pitching rules in baseball.

Disclosure: I grew up watching pitching lead the Orioles to multiple division titles, pennants and championships. Now, this was in the pre-juiced baseball era, so the rules are a little different now, but check out this year. The Astros are favored to win it all. Why? Because they have three guys pitching who can bring it every night. Now, by the time you read this that theory may be toast, but for now it holds.

5. Hot hockey goalies can change everything. This is a corollary to the pitching theory because a goalie can control the flow and outcome of a game. One reason the Panthers are now a sexy choice to make noise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is their acquisition of Sergei Bobrovsky. St. Louis won its first cup in over 50 years, in large part because of the play of goalie Jordan Binnington.

6. Hoops has home court advantage. Everyone talks about the home court advantage, but nowhere is it greater than in basketball, where the crowd is literally on top of the action. A greater percentage of upsets happens in college basketball´s regular season, where rushing the court after a big win is almost passé.

7. USA golf and tennis are personality-driven. Probably more of an American phenomenon, but we’ve seen in tennis and golf the lack of sustained interest if Serena Williams or Tiger Woods are not involved. Of course, this is incredibly unfair to those who labor in anonymity but are very good. Don’t believe it? Check out the difference in ratings when the above are in contention – and when they’re not.

8. “Middle America” sports almost irrelevant. The sports calendar – and the public’s attention – was once set in stone: it went from spring training, to Masters Golf, to the Kentucky Derby, then to the Indianapolis 500. No more. The NBA’s popularity has all but swallowed up the spring. A shame really, but also a reflection of our reality.

9. MMA has overtaken boxing.

Another generational shift. As a test, try naming the current heavyweight boxing champ.

10. Olympic Sports only matter every four years. This is not to denigrate the efforts of those world-class athletes, but the public’s imagination is only captured during the Olympic showcase – and even then their fame is fleeting. No more Wheaties box covers for the foreseeable future.

Again, the above opinions are strictly those of the author, and feel free to add to the list, but one thing has not changed: we still care about our sports, especially if our team is in it. Now, where’s my Sugar Ray Leonard poster?


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