Recently there has been a lot of controversy swirling around the San Francisco 49ers and the quarterback controversy between Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. While Smith has been a productive player who has put up impressive stats thus far this season, he was lost to the 49ers with a concussion against the Bears. There remains an assumption that while Smith has cleared the concussion test, he has been and will continue to be held out of games to allow for Kaepernick to get a chance to show what he can do as the starter.
Kaepernick is in just his second year with the 49ers after being seleted in the 2nd round of the NFL draft to challenge Smith for the starting position after he had struggled mightily since being drafted with the 1st overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft. While some have been arguing that the coaching staff is purposely holding him out and claiming it is for his own good in his recovery from a concussion, the team should not have to worry. They are going with the hot hand at quarterback while also seeing what they have waiting in the wings for quarterback.
I am all for rivalries and there is no shortage of that between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints. Upon arriving in Atlanta, the Saints were apparently treated to a barrage of eggs hitting their team bus from Atlanta fans and possibly airport employees.
I feel that there must be the understood fact that there was no true malice in this act and that it was in short, a light-hearted show of support from some ardent fans. Yes, some fans can and will go beyond this boundary, but in this instance it is a humorous show that these fans sought to show their support. This action is a simplistic taunt at the Saints, though some may come and be upset with this action, there really no way I can comprehend their distaste. The action can be seen as crossing the line, but this brings an old-school feel to the highest level of athletics.
The NFL needs a fresh start to energize an audience and this humorous gesture gives the audience this old-school feel to a game that has been dominated by flashy millionaires who are more preoccupied with who can be the most entertaining person on the field instead of competing a win.
Yet another mistake has marred this Thanksgiving game between the Texans and the Lions. Jim Schwartz, the head coach of the Lions, threw a challenge flag on a play that was obviously blown by the officials. But under the new rules and regulations of the NFL, if a coach throws the challenge flag on a play that will automatically reviewed, then that team that threw the challenge flag will be assessed a unsportsmanlike foul penalty and the play will stand as it was called on the field. This rule is a foolish mistake in the idea that it was a simple mistake that the penalty even exists.
The NFL may have sought a clear and concise game that would be removed from the idiosyncrasies that regularly occur, but this rule, like so many other new rules set up by the NFL is an irrational attempt to clean up a game that was already fine without them. The league has become a full of irrational policies such as this and will forever be marred by these policies.
The NFL must remove this policy at least. This would be a start, and a good one at that, but there is so much more to be surveyed.
The Houston Texans and Detroit Lions game came down to the Texans having to kick their way to a win in overtime, however it was another kick that has taken a higher precedence. Each week there is seemingly a new controversy that stretches the imagination of NFL fans. The latest of which is bringing Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh back into the headlines for a sure to infamous kick to Texans quarterback Matt Schaub’s groin. There is really no telling if there was really any intention for the kick or if it was just an accident. This isn’t Suh’s first run-in with these types of plays as he has been penalized and fined repeatedly for questionable hits.
I only bring this matter up because I’ve been questioned about the intensity of the NFL game and a peculiar wondering if it has begun to wane. Suh is seen by some as a true warrior of old who seeks to play as violently and with as much passion as any player. But it is my opinion that he has crossed a boundary of which there is no real return. He can come out and apologize, be fined or suspended, but he has truly just become a thug who plays with a reckless abandon regardless of the rules.
If Suh could just stay within the regulations that have been set down by the NFL, he could become one of the most dominant players and would avoid all the negative stigma that has surrounded him.
Maryville’s 42-24 win against rival Alcoa was a game of epic proportions for local sports fans in East Tennessee. But the game that is meant to be played for the pure enjoyment of playing football has transcended the normal atmosphere that would surround it due to the broadcasting of the game by ESPN2.
This high school game was meant to showcase football before the regulations, legal ramifications or overall disruption from a ruling committee can taint the purity of the sport of football. Instead, it was rather an event in which the audience was treated to an obscure commercialization of an innocent game.
There can be no overlooking the commercialization of football at any level. Professional and collegiate programs are signing and have been signing deals with sports apparel companies from Adidas, Nike, Under Armour or any other available brand. But there is now an intrusion into the high school game by these same companies or others like them. The question must be asked, to what point or degree are these companies involved and why?
No mistake can be made in noticing that today’s top high school programs well represent the top brands of athletic apparel, as may be seen with Alcoa’s representation of Under Armour or Maryville’s Nike uniforms. These companies are regularly represented by today’s high school athletes with no real benefits going towards these student athletes. ESPN2 showcased two top teams in Tennessee football, and while there was a great game played by both teams, to an outside observer it appeared more as a battle between Nike and Under Armour on the field rather than two high school teams battling for dominance in a high school rivalry that has existed for years.
The high school game is meant to be an enjoyable time in which students are simply playing to have fun. There are no concentrations by what these players on who they represent beyond themselves, their team and their school.
ESPN2 may initially appear to have good intentions, but what may be seen under the surface is a game marred by companies seeking to expand their exposure and increase their popularity by pushing their brands on high school programs. Though that is not to say that ESPN2 is innocent as well, there would have not been any broadcast if there was not money to be made in the venture. The trade off for these programs and players is the hope that they gain some notoriety or the players can gain some attention from college scouts.
The question that must really must answered is if this trade off is fair or equal for these students, because they are the true stars of these events.