Tag Archives: professional sports

The First Two Weeks Of The NFL Season Has Had Crazy Endings To Primetime NFL Games (And I Love It)!

It’s been two weeks since the 2021 NFL season kicked off. Usually, I try not to talk about it too much after I’ve given my picks for the season. I know this site isn’t a sports talk site and, as much as I love football, I’m not nearly as qualified to talk about it as much as your typical sports radio guy. I just get too overly excited about certain games and I can’t stop myself from wildly speculating.

As such, I try to keep my football love quiet, at least until the Super Bowl. By then, I’ve calmed down just enough to talk about it in a balanced way.

However, I’ve decided to break that practice briefly because these first two weeks of the season have been insane and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s not just that it’s so refreshing to see full stadiums and cheering fans again. Many of the games have been very close and very exciting to watch. It has made watching NFL Redzone even more riveting than usual.

Then, there have been the primetime games on Sunday night, Thursday night, and Monday night. Usually, the NFL reserves these games for major contenders and top rivalries. In most seasons, they tend to be hit or miss. You can usually expect a handful of games to be memorable, but you can also expect plenty of duds.

That has not been the case this season. So far, almost every primetime game has been an absolute thrill. They’ve been so close that you’re reluctant to go to the bathroom for the final 20 minutes of the game, just to be sure you don’t miss anything. Even if you’re not a fan of the teams, you have to admit we’ve had some amazing rides thus far.

First, there was the season opener with the Cowboys and Buccaneers.

Then, there was the insane ending on Monday Night Football with the Ravens and the Raiders.

Then, on a Thursday night no less, we got a crazy finish with Washington and the New York Giants.

Then, just when you think the primetime bar couldn’t go any higher, we get a true gem of a finish between the Chiefs and Ravens on Sunday night football.

As a lifelong football fan, I honestly can’t remember he last time we had so many primetime games end with such excitement. I can safely say I’ve loved every minute of it. Yes, it has been stressful, but it has also been so worth it.

Now, I don’t doubt that we’ll eventually get some duds later on in the season. The law of averages and the chaotic nature of sports basically guarantees that. For these first few weeks, at least, I couldn’t be more pleased with how the season has started. After all the weirdness surrounding last season, this is just what the NFL needed.

To the football gods, I thank you for these amazing games. Hope we get plenty more over the course of this season.

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Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, NFL, sports

On The Eve Of The Week One In The NFL Season: My Ode To NFL Redzone

nfl redzone online - Cheap Online Shopping -

Tomorrow is going to be an awesome day.

I know this because I love football and tomorrow is the first Sunday of the NFL season. I make a bit deal of it every year. I tend to speak in excessive hyperbole every time football season rolls around and I make no apologies for that. I don’t care if I sound like some crazed sports fan. I just love football that much.

For the next several months, I plan on building my entire Sunday afternoons around watching NFL football. That’s only going to make every weekend more awesome by default. The only thing that could make it better is if I found a beautiful woman who loves watching football on Sundays as much as I do.

However, on the eve of the first Sunday of the first week of the NFL season, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge something that has played a huge part in my love of football. That something is a wonderful little innovation the NFL created in 2009 called NFL RedZone.

To the uninitiated or uninformed, NFL RedZone is a cable TV channel that plays from 1:00 p.m. EST to 8:00 p.m. EST every Sunday during every week of the NFL regular season. It basically cycles through every game, covering every touchdown and focusing on games in which a team is close to scoring. It skips all commercials and makes it a point to capture every big moment from every game that Sunday.

I cannot overstate how much this channel has enhanced my football watching experience. Basically, I just tune into the channel at 1:00 p.m. as soon as I have my pizza and beer ready. Then, I don’t need to change the channel or touch anything on my TV for the next seven hours. That seven hours is basically the fan equivalent of football Heaven.

Yes, it does cost extra to get and it’s not cheap, either.

I still pay it gladly every year because it’s worth every penny.

Before NFL RedZone, I still loved watching football. It was just difficult to keep up with all the action. I could only ever watch two games on a Sunday afternoon, plus the Sunday night game. I still enjoyed it, but it was somewhat limited. If even just one of those games was a blowout or not a very intriguing match-up, I might just turn my TV off and do something else.

It was often hit-or-miss, but with more hits than misses. Then, once I discovered NFL RedZone, every Sunday became a hit. I got to see everything the NFL had to offer every Sunday. I could follow teams and players I couldn’t usually follow. It was like going from a tricycle to a Lamborghini. After that fateful first experience, I’ve built my NFL Sundays around it and I haven’t looked back.

I plan to do the same tomorrow. I plan to teach my future children how to experience it, as well. I hope to share the joys of NFL RedZone on Sunday afternoons with whoever enters my life. It’s a hell of a feeling and one I look forward to every year.

Now, the wait is almost over.

Tomorrow, the season begins and NFL RedZone will be my guide.

I can’t wait.

I am so ready for some football.

To all my fellow football fans out there, I hope you experience the same joy tomorrow afternoon that I hope to experience.

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Filed under football, Jack Fisher's Insights, NFL, sports, Uncategorized

Why I Love Sports, But Don’t Watch The Olympics

Abolish the Olympics

I love sports. I think I’ve made that abundantly clear on this site. During certain times of the year I build a good chunk of my weekend around a six pack of beer and whatever sports happen to be on. Since I was a kid watching ball games with my dad, it’s one of my favorite things to do.

However, as much as I love sports, I don’t watch the Olympics.

Even when the Olympics were held in America cities and during primetime TV, I didn’t care to watch. I usually stuck to baseball games and preseason football.

That’s not to say I don’t respect the Olympics or the athletes who dedicate years of their lives to training for them. Those athletes are remarkable individuals. I don’t doubt that for a second. Their stories are certainly worth telling. I’ll gladly cheer for those stories.

I just don’t care to watch. That’s just my personal preference.

As for why I feel this way, I promise it has nothing to do with the politics that often get caught up in the Olympics. I understand that has always been an issue. This year has been no exception, especially with the pandemic.

Politics in sports has never bothered me. I honestly think people make way too big a deal out of it, so much so that it basically becomes a virtue signaling contest for both sides. However, I won’t get into that.

The underlying reason why I just don’t care for the Olympics is that it’s just so hard to follow. That’s somewhat unavoidable. Unlike football, baseball, or basketball season, the Olympics only happen every four years. Each time, the athletes change and unless they do something incredible, you never know their names.

It’s hard to have a favorite athlete.

It’s also hard to have a favorite team.

Since the Olympics are divided by country, you’re pretty much set into who you’re rooting for, unless you want to make things awkward to your fellow countrymen. There’s no regional drama like there is in other sports. With the end of the Cold War, there aren’t many rivalries either.

It’s just the best athletes from one country competing for another. The only competitive force driving them has to do with their nationality. It’s rarely something they chose. It’s just a matter of circumstance. Honestly, where’s the drama in that?

The reason why other professional sports are so compelling is because there’s a story behind a franchise. There’s a legacy and a history behind a team or an identity. Whether it’s a football team, a soccer team, or a baseball team, there’s a underlying narrative behind the game.

With the Olympics, that story is restricted to each individual athlete. While those stories can be compelling, those athletes usually only compete once and never again. That means their story is over quickly and there’s nothing worth following after that.

For me, sports without a larger story is like cake without frosting. You can still eat it, but it’s going to be bland. Again, this isn’t me knocking the Olympics or what they stand for. This is just my reason for not watching or following it, despite my love of sports. Then, there are many scandals and controversy, but that’s another story altogether.

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Why The Chances Of The XFL Returning Aren’t Great (For Now)

About The XFL

I love sports.

I love football.

For a good four months out of the year, I build my entire Sundays around watching football. Those are often some of the happiest days of the year for me. I’m also not alone. Here in America, football is the most popular sport by a stunningly wide margin. Despite recent political whining, the public’s appetite for football is as strong as ever.

However, in the time between the Super Bowl and the NFL draft, there’s a gaping hole in the sports world that neither hocky nor basketball can adequately fill. For decades, some have tried to fill that hole with spring football, but with limited success. As a lifelong football fan, I really wanted at least one to succeed, if only to make the wait for the next NFL season more bearable.

That was why I was so heartbroken in 2020 when the second iteration of the XFL went under, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This league had everything going for it. I even cheered it on. It had all the makings of a successful league that could finally succeed long term.

Then, COVID-19 happened it all went to hell. I cannot overstate how disappointing that was to me and fellow football fans.

For once, this wasn’t a matter of a league not doing things the right way. It was just a matter of the worst possible timing. Seriously, who could’ve predicted that a once-in-a-century pandemic would come in and upend the world, as we knew it?

Even though the XFL was eventually brought back from the brink of oblivion by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, my hopes are still very fragile. Earlier this year, the XFL tried to make waves by reaching out to the Canadian Football League for a potential collaboration. That went nowhere and understandably so. Neither league is in a position to take bold risks like that.

As disappointing as that was, the XFL did make an official announcement of sorts, courtesy of the Rock. In a YouTube video from the XFL’s main channel, the league announced its return in 2023. It’s keeping the same logo and the same motto. It wasn’t flashy, but this is probably the most we’ll get for now.

While I like that something official came out, a part of me remains skeptical. Don’t get me wrong. I really want the XFL to get another shot. If ever a league deserved a mulligan for circumstances beyond its control, it’s this one. No other failed football league had to deal with a global pandemic. This it not like the AAF or the USFL. This was bad timing and worst circumstances.

That said, this video leaves me unconvinced and worried. I know that 2023 is a long way off. As of now, this league has no coaches and no players. It has nothing both the Rock’s backing. While I’m never one to doubt the Rock, I just don’t know if the third time will be the charm for this league. It has had too much bad luck to this point.

If I had to put odds as to whether we’ll see another XFL game at some point, I would put it at 15 percent. Those are not good odds. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that, but after the heartbreak of last year, I just can’t bring myself to get excited.

Maybe something will change. I really hope it does. I had fun watching those XFL games. They felt like real football with real players who were following their dream. The XFL felt like the best possible chance for spring football to succeed, more so than the upcoming reboot of the USFL. I want it to get that chance. However, the odds of that chance becoming something more aren’t great at the moment.

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Dear Professional Sports Leagues: Marijuana Is NOT A Performance Enhancing Drug

Senate marijuana draft bill: Chuck Schumer, Democrats unveil proposal to  end federal prohibition on pot - ABC7 Chicago

I love sports. I love watching people push their bodies, minds, and skills to the limits of what they can achieve. It’s a testament to what hard work and dedication can achieve. I find that inspiring and worth cheering for.

I also understand that sports, like any major endeavor, has cheating in it. There are no shortage of cases in which athletes cheated to gain an edge. When money and glory are at stake, some will be tempted to cheat. That’s just human nature.

While I wholly support efforts to clamp down on cheaters, there is one area that I think is completely counterproductive and utterly absurd. It has to do with drugs in sports, one of the most time-tested forms of cheating in history.

Now, I know there are certain drugs in sports that really do confer a major edge. If you use steroids, stimulants, or pain killers, you’re going to have a distinct edge over those who don’t. That’s just science and chemistry. That also constitutes cheating and should be treated as such.

However, when it to marijuana, the science is just as clear. It is NOT a performance enhancing drug.

This is one area of sports and science that isn’t just outdated. It’s flat out absurd. I get that, until very recently, marijuana was illegal in most parts of the United States and the world. A lot has changed in the past 10 years. However, even before that change, we knew what the effects of marijuana were. Most of us know people who have used it before.

Even if you’re not a doctor or an athlete, you’ve probably noticed that one thing is clear. When it comes to strenuous activities, it does not enhance performance. People who are stoned are not usually inclined to compete at the highest level. Unless that activity involves eating chips and laughing, it’s not going to enhance much of anything.

Despite this very common knowledge, athletes are still being disciplined from sports because of marijuana use. For once, there is no bigger picture or broader perspective. This rule is just plain dumb.

Even if you don’t believe in the anecdotal reports about marijuana, at least believe the science. In this case, the data is pretty damn clear. Marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug. If anything, marijuana makes it more difficult to compete professionally because it’s likely to make you eat cookies and lounge on your couch rather than train.

As for why athletes smoke it in the first place, that’s also quite clear. In addition to all those other side-effects that come with smoking weed, it does a great job of relieving pain. For athletes who subject their bodies to immense strain and conditioning, pain is unavoidable. Dealing with it comes with the territory. How they manage it varies, but marijuana become increasingly popular, especially compared to dangerous opioids.

More and more, the stupidity of this policy on marijuana is becoming clear. Calling it a performance enhancing drug is akin to calling sleeping pills study aids. It’s not just absurd. It’s completely ass backwards. You can call marijuana a lot of things, but a performance enhancing drug in the realm of professional sports isn’t one of them.

I know I have little credibility on the subject. I’m just an aspiring erotica romance writer. Ifyou don’t trust my expertise, then please consider the argument by the late great Robin Williams on the subject. If he doesn’t convince you on this issue and make you laugh, then I don’t know what will.

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Filed under health, human nature, psychology, sports

Being Blessed Vs. Being Lucky: The (Major) Difference And Why It Matters

Picture, for a moment, the following scenario.

You’re at a prestigious awards ceremony. The nature of the ceremony and the award aren’t important. The only factor that matters is the awards are granted to only a few individuals who have achieved feats that few human beings have achieved. It’s an honor just to be nominated, but an even bigger honor to win.

With that in mind, imagine two different winners for two different feats. The first winner comes up onto the stage, accepts their award, and gives a heartfelt speech that’s something along the lines of this.

“Thank you so much for this incredible honor. It was a long, hard road to get to this point, but I’ve been so blessed with wondrous gifts and amazing support. To them and to the higher power that blessed me, I am eternally grateful!”

Chances are you’ve heard a speech like that before. We hear it all the time with athletes, celebrities, and major public figures. They achieve something spectacular and their first inclination is to say they are blessed. They don’t always thank a god for it, but it’s such a common refrain that most come to expect it. Some even joke about it.

That being said, try to imagine your reaction for the second winner. They come out on stage with the same immense joy as the previous winner. They also give a heartfelt speech of their own, but it goes like this.

“Thank you so much for this incredible honor. It was a long, hard road to get to this point, but I was just really lucky to be born with talent and amazing support. I like to think I’ve made the most of it. This award is just part of it. For that, I am so proud of myself and those who helped me!”

I doubt a celebrity has given an acceptance speech like this before. If they did, chances are it would either be a joke or an elaborate act of trolling, which some celebrities are known to do. For the sake of this little thought experiment, imagine the person was sincere. How would you feel about them? Would be different than the first?

I crafted this scenario as a way of illustrating the difference between being blessed and being lucky. These terms tend to get used interchangeably. In common language, they’re somewhat synonymous. Even though dictionary definitions have some key distinctions, the standard usage of these words carries a particular meaning.

Part of that meaning stems from the general discomfort we feel about the universe being so chaotic and meaningless. We’re wired to seek patterns and surmise order. It doesn’t even matter if the patterns or order is real or an outright trick. When people can make sense of the world, we’re better able to function. It’s a big reason why humans have been able to adapt and survive with such success.

The ideas being lucky and being blessed reflect opposite sentiments of a similar principle. We see luck as a fluke. There’s no meaning behind it. It just happens randomly and without any defined goal.

A kid is randomly born with talent that makes them a great athlete.

A person randomly picks the winning numbers to win a big lottery prize.

A person just happens to be in the right place at the right time to meet the love of their life.

None of these situations are inherently right or wrong. That’s part of what makes it so distressing on some levels. The people who benefit from luck do nothing to deserve or warrant their good fortune. It goes against that innate sense of fairness that most sensible human beings have wired into their brains.

Being blessed, on the other hand, carries a very different connotation. To be blessed implies that some person, deity, or sentient force chose to grant someone such benefits. It’s not random. It’s part of a larger plan. It may not seem like one on the surface. It may even be an outright illusion. That ultimately doesn’t matter. The semblance of a plan is enough.

To be blessed also carried with it a sense of humility. Someone who just says they’re lucky doesn’t come off as moral or gracious. Even if they’re entirely ambivalent about it, they won’t inspire respect or admiration for acknowledging their luck. If they say they’re blessed, though, it changes the context.

A person who is blessed with talent means their achievements have a greater meaning.

A person who is blessed with picking winning lotto numbers means their good fortune is part of some larger plan.

A person who is blessed with meeting the love of their live means their love is somehow pre-ordained by fate.

The difference lies within the meaning. Being blessed conveys influence from a source greater than the person receiving the blessing. To show gratitude to that force is to accept that it’s not just about you. There’s a larger plan and you’re just part of it. That sounds humble, but at the same time, it detracts from the true extent of an achievement.

Luck or no luck, it takes effort and dedication to achieve something of value. Whether it’s an award for world’s largest nose ring or setting a record for most pop tarts consumed in a day, an accomplishment still requires work. Even lottery winners have to go out of their way to pick the numbers, get the ticket, and claim their prize.

To call that process a blessing is to dehumanize the actions involved. It undercuts the countless other factors in play. Some are entirely controllable. A champion of any sport usually has talent, determination, and a willingness to refine their skill. Others are simply beyond their control, from the conditions of an event to just the general randomness of a particular moment.

To assume these factors as part of some over-arching plan is to assume there’s a governing force that consciously cares about these random happenings. Whether that force is a deity or some idea of conscious fate, people will consciously devalue their own worth to believe they’re part of something greater. It might not be real, but that’s beside the point.

It helps us wrap our brains around incredible achievements and improbable events. It shows in how people can resent those who are just deemed lucky. Again, just look at lottery winners. Those who have enjoyed that rare level of luck can attest that they are generally looked down upon by those who gained their fortune in other ways.

This isn’t to imply that the whole concept of being blessed is inherently wrong. There may actually be a higher governing power behind certain peoples’ fortunes, be it an all-powerful deity or the shape-shifting lizard men of the Illuminati. There’s no evidence of it now, but as believers and conspiracy theorists will often point out, absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.

That said, I believe the dehumanizing aspect of blessings over luck does more harm than good in the long run. Humility is an admirable trait, but there are better ways to encourage it that don’t involve assigning some arbitrary meaning to random events. In addition, saying someone or something is blessed has some indirect implications that are even less desirable than a random universe.

If one person is blessed, then that implies other people were deemed undeserving.

If one moment is blessed, then those that came before it are nothing more than prelude, no matter how much they meant to those involved.

If a people or society are blessed, then that basically declares that everyone else is somehow beneath them and that mentality rarely brings out the best in people.

Human beings are capable of remarkable feats. Many of those feats don’t require a higher power or some conscious force. They simply require an opportunity and a willingness to strive for something greater. Granted, opportunities can be random and there’s only so much anyone can do to control the luck they get. However, I submit that gives it even more meaning in the grand scheme of things.

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Filed under human nature, outrage culture, philosophy, politics

The 2020 MLB Baseball Playoffs: Why We Should Keep This Format

I know I don’t talk about baseball that much. Please don’t misconstrue that as me saying I don’t care for it. I love baseball as much as any guy who grew up playing catch with his dad in the back yard. Some of my fondest memories are of watching ball games with my dad and eating peanuts.

While I tend to get more excited about football, I still enjoy a beer and a ball game. However, there are some other reasons why I don’t get as excited about baseball as I do with football.

Some of that has to do with the duration of the season and how often it seems certain teams clinch their playoff spots weeks ahead of time. Most of it has to do with the playoff format, itself. That’s the one part of Major League Baseball that I’ve always had a problem with.

Compared to other sports, baseball has always been much more limited in terms of which teams make the playoffs and how those games are structured. For me, the playoffs never got exciting until the ALCS and the NLCS. That’s usually when the drama happens. The divisional rounds before it are just too forgettable.

Then, two things happened. First, the pandemic struck and truncated the baseball season considerably and the MLB expanded the playoffs. Now, instead of just a handful of teams having a shot at the World Series, the playoffs is more a tournament with 16 teams.

This is what it looked like, just after the wild card rounds wrapped up.

Now, I know baseball is famous for having staunch traditionalists, but after following the wild card rounds, I have to say this.

The MLB should totally keep this format or, at the very least, keep most of it.

I love this new format. It really made the MLB playoffs feel exciting again. For once, I didn’t have to wait until the championship rounds to see some drama. As bad as 2020 has been for sports, this new tournament format might be the best thing that came out of it.

This new setup gives struggling teams a reason to keep playing in the regular season, even when they get into a skid. With this expanded format, there are more spots to fight for. The dominant teams will still get their spot, but now there are new opportunities for teams to sneak in and make an impact.

In baseball, that’s a big deal. I’ve been watching baseball long enough to know that any team can get hot at just the right time. Last year was a perfect example of it. The 2019 Washington Nationals are a perfect example of this. They had to get into the playoffs as a wild card team and go through heavyweights like the Dodgers en route to their first World Series title.

It can happen in baseball. Great teams can just have a bad day at the park or several. A wild card team can get hot and take that momentum to a championship. The Nationals sent a message to every team in the wild card round this year that it can happen to them, too.

Beyond the opportunity, it’s just more exciting. I know last year had a single-game elimination wild card, but I found that to be somewhat underwhelming. Like I said, any team can have a bad day at the ball park. Sometimes, quality teams just falter on a particular day. That sometimes means the lucky team wins instead of the better team.

I think a three-game playoff series fits perfectly. It helps ensure a team can win or lose on a single fluke. It also gives a team that falters in one game to make up for it the next. It’s a better way of determining who’s the better team in the long run.

Like the NCAA basketball tournament, more teams means more opportunities for a team to go on a historic run or land a historic upset. In a league that is legendary for having top-heavy teams who try to buy their way into a World Series, this can only help the sport.

Now, I know 2020 is a crazy year that has done lasting damage to the sports world. I don’t doubt that professional leagues are eager to go back to the way things were before the pandemic ruined so much.

However, I sincerely hope that Major League Baseball retains this new format for the postseason. I think it’ll do a lot of good for baseball and the sports world, in general. I know there are some logistical issues and I’m sure the players union will want to get their say. I believe there’s a way to do it and ensure everyone benefits.

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Jack’s World: My Picks And Predictions For The 2020 NFL Season

Every year, just before the NFL season kicks off, I write out my predictions and picks for the season. Being a lifelong football fan, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. This year, being what it is, has added some new complications. Be that as it may, I’m still going to try. This time, though, I’m going to offer my picks through my YouTube channel, Jack’s World.

If you like this new format and would like me to make more videos like it, please let me know in the comments. Enjoy!

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Filed under football, Jack's World, NFL, sports, YouTube

My (Fragile) Hopes For The XFL With The Rock

Earlier this year, I was very excited about the inaugural season of the second iteration of the XFL. Being a lifelong football fan, as well as a proponent of anything that could shake up the NFL/NCAA duopoly, I was genuinely hopeful for the future of this league.

It was doing everything right. It learned from the mistakes of the first version of the XFL. The league took its time. It got the right people. It dared to innovate how the game was played. It also had the beer snake. Who could forget the legendary beer snake?

Then, the pandemic hit and destroyed everything.

That’s not an exaggeration. I know the COVID-19 pandemic has ruined a lot of things this year, but it utterly destroyed the XFL. This was a brand new league trying to forge a new identity. It had a plan, but that plan did not account for the impact of the worst global pandemic in a century. How could it?

Sadly, the league declared bankruptcy in April. I was deeply saddened. I didn’t post anything about it. The thought of trying to put my disappointment into words was just too much. I was content to just swallow my anguish and find another way to endure the ongoing horror that is 2020.

Then, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stepped in and bought the league for $15 million. Suddenly, the slightest glimmer of hope for the XFL and the future in general has emerged.

As part of the bankruptcy procedures, the XFL went up for sale. There aren’t many people who could’ve bought its assets and inspired any hope that it would live again. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is definitely one of them. He’s one of the most successful and beloved entertainers of the past 20 years. Say what you will about his movies, but the man is just one of the most likable guys you’ll find in entertainment these days.

Compare that with Vince McMahon. There just is no comparison worth making.

He’s also former football player, himself. He loves sports. He has a genuine love for the game. Both he and his business partner/ex-wife, Dany Carcia, plan to play games again. How they’ll go about it and how they’ll make it work remains to be seen. We still have to survive 2020 in one piece.

However, this news gives me a genuine, yet fragile hope for the XFL. It’s fragile because after the events of this past year, everything feels more fragile. The XFL did everything right the second time and still got screwed over by forces beyond anyone’s control. Naturally, I’m very reluctant to put my hopes on something that just seems to attract bad luck and bad circumstances at every turn.

Make no mistake. I want the XFL to come back. I want it to succeed. I think it was on the right path to do so before the pandemic hit. Now, with the leadership and brand appeal of The Rock, I think it’s in a good position to emerge from this dystopian stretch with a viable future.

However, I don’t think it can succeed if it just tries to go back to the way things were. It’s way too late for that. Right now, the XFL has a bad reputation of either being trashy, unlucky, or prone to bankruptcy. That’s not a good brand identity, to say the least.

At the same time, the XFL has an opportunity to re-align the entire football world in a good way. The XFL wasn’t the only sports entity to get screwed over by the pandemic. The NCAA is in a state of enormous upheaval right now. It lost nearly a billion dollars when it had to cancel the big basketball tournament this past spring. It’ll lose even more if it has to cancel fall sports, which is already happening.

Now, say what you will about the brand of the XFL. It’s still more admirable than the NCAA. The current system the NCAA uses to exploit college athletes while enriching itself just cannot be justified. The fact they’re fighting so hard get college sports going shows how little they care for the student part in “student athlete.”

That system is utterly untenable. The pandemic is just exposing how flawed and fragile that system always was. This is where the XFL can step in. If the Rock and his business partners are a smart as I hope, they’ll jump at the opportunity to recruit displaced college athletes. If only a handful of big time college schools can still operate, then that means hundreds of skilled players will be left out.

The XFL can help them and help itself. It can offer these aspiring athletes actual money to play a sport they love. That shouldn’t be such a radical concept, but the NCAA has kept it radical for far too long. At some point, it can’t keep justifying the practice of not paying athletes who make millions for their league and their school. If they keep trying, then the XFL is in position to step in.

At some point, this pandemic will end. Sports will return and people will flood football stadiums as they once did. The NFL will always reign supreme in the world of football, but the XFL will greatly improve the sport by supplanting the NCAA. Other sports leagues have developmental leagues for young, aspiring athletes beyond college. The XFL can be that league.

To get to that point, it’ll take hard work and someone with the vision and grit to see it through. There aren’t a lot of people who are up to that challenge. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is definitely one of them.

I hope he succeeds.

I hope the XFL prospers.

The football world needs it.

The XFL already has two strikes against it. This time, hitting a home run won’t be enough. It needs to hit a grand slam. I’m still very hesitant, but I’m also hopeful.

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Filed under football, sports, XFL

My (Early) Thoughts On Pandemic-Era Live Sports

This past weekend felt like a turning point for the world of sports. For sports lovers like me, it was a weekend we thought might never come. This past year and the global pandemic that has consumed it has ruined so many things, canceling so much of what we love. It got to a point where some of us seriously wondered if sports would go the way of concerns, indoor restaurants, and strip clubs.

As a lifelong lover sports who builds spring and summer afternoons around watching baseball games, this was a terrifying thought. I was already bracing myself for the worst, thinking that 2020 might become a year without sports. For once, the worst didn’t entirely come to pass. Baseball, hockey, and basketball all made a comeback and sports fans everywhere could breathe a bittersweet sigh of relief.

Having spent the past few days watching a little of everything, from late night ball games to the new NBA playoffs, I certainly share that relief. I am very happy to see sports return. It feels like a real sign that we’re navigating this pandemic. We’re making a genuine effort to get our lives back. That said, the experience of watching sports is very different during a pandemic.

The most jarring thing, at least for me, was watching a Red Sox vs. Yankees game with no fans. Even though the broadcast tried to pump in crowd noise, it just felt so off. This is one of the most heated rivalry in the history of sports. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the playoffs or the regular season. When these two teams play, it has real dramatic stakes.

You can hear it in the crowd.

You can feel it with every home run, lead change, and scoring opportunity.

It’s part of the experience, even if you’re watching from home. Without real fans and real visceral crowd noise, it just felt incomplete.

Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoyed watching the game. After several months with no sports outside of Korean Baseball, it was incredibly cathartic. You could just tell that this is an incomplete product, but for very good reasons. The subsequent outbreaks that followed opening day were proof of that. I have a feeling that won’t be the last outbreak before the season is done.

That season might even get cancelled. That’s a real possibility and one that doesn’t bode well for football season, which is just a month away.

It seems basketball and hockey are faring somewhat better. They still had the benefit of nearly being done with their season by the time the pandemic hit. I managed to watch a few basketball and hockey games. It wasn’t quite as jarring as baseball, but it still felt very incomplete.

If you’ve ever seen how the Las Vegas Golden Knights put together an opening show, you know why. It also changes the stakes, somewhat. When the both the NBA and NHL seasons were put on hold, teams were still fighting for playoff positions. Those positions matter because higher ranking means a chance at home field advantage.

Well, since both leagues are playing in a bubble in limited locations with no fans, there’s no such thing as home field advantage. There’s no crowd energy. There’s no real sense that any team has an advantage, besides the record they earned before all this happened. For some, that’s disappointing. At the same time, this might be the most level playing field these teams have ever had.

In those circumstances, how do we treat the team that ultimately wins it all? How can you judge any team that wins a championship when an entire season got disrupted by a global pandemic? Does that championship deserve an asterisk? Will people and players alike see it as legitimate? Will the fans even be able to celebrate it? It’s not like parades are conducive to social distancing.

These are sentiments I still find myself contemplating as I celebrate a return of sports. I’m sure those sentiments will change as the rest of the year unfolds. If baseball gets cancelled or football season gets delayed, that’ll be another sign of just how bad this pandemic is and how terrible we’ve been at dealing with it.

Again, I’m still bracing for the worst. For me, the worst-case scenario is the NFL season getting canceled or cut short, due to an outbreak. I suspect, with billions of dollars on the line, everyone involves will try to avoid that. However, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the unthinkable is more possible than we care to admit.

I don’t know how it’s going to play out. I’m just glad sports are back, in some capacity. I just worry about what the end results will be when all is said and done.

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