Feel like you have no clue what the big stories in sports are? Don’t know how to have conversation at the water cooler at work? We’ll fill you in ….
Here are our top stories and quick takes from the world of sports, week of May 25 – May 31:
Story #1: Brown University, a school with a 4.2 billion dollar endowment, has announced it will cut mens track and field and cross country
Brown became the fifth DI school in the past month or so to make this call. I was personally a member of a school (Bemidji State University) which made an identical decision, and it was incredibly emotional for the men AND women involved. It felt unfair even more than unfortunate. The situation with Brown, however, is far worse than my own was back in 2011. Let me tell you why:
Quotes from athletes impacted can be found in this excellent read. I’ll try to summarize what I believe are the key atrocities.
First, athletes were blindside by the decision. Read these quotes from athletes:
“I can’t emphasize enough how blindsided every single person involved with our program was about this news. There was no conversation at all. Once again, the higher ups (straight, white, wealthy males) have made an executive decision on Brown’s behalf with no discourse whatever.”
“No, they were not. We were made aware with an internal email at the same time that the public announcement was launched. There was absolutely no communication.”
This is mainly important because of my second point: this happened after the transfer portal had been closed and high schoolers had made their commitments. Thus, athletes are completely bound to Brown and will lose a year of competitive eligibility, no matter what they decide to do moving forward. At a minimum, Brown should have warned these athletes of the possibility of this happening. No one, not coaches or athletes, was aware of this coming.
Thirdly, the university stated the move is to “improve competitiveness” for the current varsity teams still in place as well as promote “gender equity, diversity, and community.” The track and field teams not only are one of the most competitive teams at the school, but they are far and away more diverse than many of the programs which were saved. Here are some more student-athlete thoughts on this point:
“The whole premise surrounding this “Excellence” initiative is absurd. Cutting one of your most successful programs in efforts to bolster teams with losing records simply does not make sense. Over the last 10 years, Brown’s Men’s Track and Field program has produced multiple Ivy League champions, All-Americans, and Olympians. We regularly compete at the highest level of the NCAA and are competitive against schools throughout the “Power Five” conferences. No other team at Brown can say this. The diversity and inclusion aspect of this initiative is perhaps the most troubling for me as it goes against everything Brown alleges to value. Brown’s Track and Field Team is consistently one of the most racially and socioeconomically diverse teams on campus. Further puzzling is that Sailing was promoted to Varsity status through this initiative. Admittedly, I do not know much about Sailing, however to make the argument that promoting Sailing and demoting Track and Field was done in the vein of “diversity and inclusion” is simply insulting.“
“Funny enough, Brown is cutting the one sport that is the most diverse; both in terms of socioeconomic status, and race. Universities all around the country are cutting numerous sports programs due to COVID-19 complications. It is laughable that Brown chose to hide behind ‘competitiveness’ as the reason for this cut rather than being upfront with their students who consistently fill their pockets with $70k in tuition every year. If Brown cared about competitiveness, they wouldn’t cut the only program to regularly produce All-Americans. Nothing about this is equitable, from a gender, diversity, or community perspective.“
When asked if they were surprised by the language used by the athletic department in announcing these changes (“Brown University announced that these changes were part of the ‘Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative,’ and AD Jack Hayes stated that he was ‘excited’ for how the initiative will serve student athletes), here is what on athlete had to say:
“Honestly, absolutely not. As a minority low-income student, I am used to the way Brown hides their true intentions with fancy language and colorful initiatives. In my three years here Brown’s administrators have repeatedly shown me that student interest comes second to their own financial gain. The COVID-19 situation has only exposed pre-existing deep flaws that plague the university I’ve shed blood, sweat, and tears for. If I had to guess, Brown is afraid to look weak. They don’t want the world to know that COVID-19 is affecting them this deeply. Rather, track was the scapegoat for a much bigger issue.”
Overall, this is just a really troubling story. College is about learning. College is about preparation for the rest of life. Academics accomplishes an aspect of this, and the extra-curriculars do as well. No question. End of story. Our young people need this opportunity if we want them to be as well prepared to define and pursue success in the ‘real world’ as they can be. That’s my take. Cutting any program is always a shame, but sometimes, programs really have no choice. Here, it appears there was no good reason given, which I imagine is even more frustrating for athletes and coaches.
There have been some who suggested this was due to Title IX reasons. It appears however, that much in the same way that BSU was in compliance with Title IX, Brown was not in violation either. This is especially sad to see in a sport like TF and XC, where the women’s program is uniquely enhanced in many ways (not just camaraderie, but often in training, performance, and numbers) by the cooperation and existence alongside a men’s team. Most of the women, when asked in situations similar to these comment on how the men’s and women’s team are simply one team, and they operate and relate as such. Really sad all around, because decisions like this actually negatively impact the heart and soul of legislation like Title IX, which is to increase opportunities for women.
Story #2 Lance Documentary out
We talked about this a bit last week when the “Last Dance” Jordan documentary wrapped up. I read an op-ed out of the USA Today written by Christine Brennan which gave a scathing review of the Armstrong flick. Essentially, the thesis was: “We don’t need another documentary about a proven cheater who hasn’t changed.” I sort of agree that Armstrong does not need more time in the spotlight. I sort of wonder how he got in the spotlight in the first place! We know everything he did at this point. It doesn’t appear the documentary gives more revelation, and unlike the Jordan years, which at least have some positive athletic nostalgia (even though Jordan had some skeletons in his closet, too), reliving the Armstrong saga does little except incite more despair and disbelief in athletes and depression towards their ’causes.’ Remember, Lance was once an icon for overcoming cancer. I’m a cyclist – I’d watch this if I had access, but I have to agree that it is overkill for this athlete in particular.
Story #3 Mike Tyson comeback –
So, here is the progression: Tyson posts a video of him working out on instagram > people see it and think his hands are moving fast > therefore, Tyson is capable of a return to pro boxing.
I think this story is a great example of what happens when there is literally no sports happening in the world. Tyson has been on the front page of various sports websites 3-4 times in the last week. It’s insane. I’d rather read another “Top 97 best moments from the 1971 MLB season” article.
On that vane, here are the top 8 athletes we’d like to see make a comeback … right now … no matter where they are.
- Troy Hudson – he’s 44, he’s been rapping lately, and the Wolves need a PG. I’ll he needs to do is post a video of him shooting free throws and I bet we can be convinced he’s ready for a return.
- Brett Favre – he is STILL in my dad’s top 10 for QB’s in the league. He might be better than Cousins…
- Oksana Chusovitina – doesn’t even need to make a comeback. This Uzbek mom recently qualified for her 8th olympics, breaking her own record. What sport? Oh, just maybe the most difficult sport to hold a longevity record: gymnastics. She’s been at every games since 1992, and the 45 year old hopes to compete in 2021. Ian Miller competed in equestrian in 10 olympic games between the ages of 25 and 65, in case you were wondering.
- Randy Moss – We need a new Diggs. Get yo 84 jerseys out!
- Ron Masanz – in an age where TF teams are being cut and the USA 4×100 just can NOT get their act together, we think it is time for the man, the myth, and the legend to get back out and contribute with a good motivational speech at a minimum.
- Lamar Gordon – If he can still run, I’ll bet the Packers would take a flyer on the former NDSU running back, right?
- Dick Beardsley – If Tyson can make a comeback to boxing, than the least Beardsley can do is get his mileage back up to 110-130 and at least try to run another 26.2. Let’s throw Alberto back in, too, while we’re at it. Do you think if he doped he could run 2:30?
- Lance Armstrong – maybe he should try a TdF comeback to promote his documentary?
Story #4 – Boston Marathon is cancelled
This isn’t a huge surprise, other than when one considers that not even the two World Wars could hault the event. When I first heard it was cancelled, I wasn’t particularly surprised or bothered. When I read that the two world wars didn’t cancel it but CoVid did….I was….well, I had mixed emotions. They are going to do an online format, which of course is going to do justice in giving the athletes, some of whom have dreamed their whole lives of climbing heartbrake hill and worked for years just to qualify for the right to attend the event, an equivalent experience. No, obviously I understand there is not much organizers could do – I feel for them and the athletes. But, it did make me think of another list….Here are my Top 3 things that just ‘aren’t the same’ when done virtually:
- Virtual Backrubs – this will work out excellently. Just a little higher actually, yep, right there. That’s where the knot is.
- Virtual Weddings – this is so saddening, since it is actually happening. I think couples are smart to postpone this so it can be live. This is one of the coolest experiences of your life! Don’t turn it into a zoom call.
- Virtual ping pong – Some sorts can be done via exercise apps and video, but not “FRIDAY NIGHT PING PONG BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE GOOD FOLKS AT THE MOORHEAD DAIRY QUEEN AND MATT WATNEMO’S AUTO SERVICE SUPER CENTER!” I’m trying to imagine the frustrating yells from my brother and dad as they wail forehand spikes back and forth into the screen of a propped up ipad…..maybe it would work.
Well, we are sorry this is late! We were delayed in posting due to driving from Leadville to northern Minnesota, to the great village known as Wrenshall. Not a ton happening in the world right now, right? So, I guess it isn’t super important to be on time with a story about sports these days!