Sports: Countering The “Today’s Game Is Harder” Argument.

One of the biggest comments I often hear from younger sports fans of some of the old-school greats is “Well, the game is different today than it was back then. It’s harder.”

I don’t buy that logic.

Sure, today’s athletes are in many ways bigger, stronger, and faster than they were as recently as the 1990’s and the 1980’s, and of course the gap gets bigger the further you go back in time.

That argument, however, fails to account for the fact that today’s sports are in many ways easier than they have ever been as well.

The argument that today’s sports are harder than they have ever been is used seemingly without fail to support the theory that today’s athletes are the greatest of all time. Most often, this argument is used by people in my generation, the Millennials.

Everyone wants to think they’re watching the best athletes ever and sure, that’s probably technically true in some ways.

Regardless of sport, many of the records in professional baseball, hockey, football, and basketball have all been either set or challenged recently by players or teams who played after the turn of the millennium.

Last year, the Golden State Warriors broke the record held by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls for the most wins in an NBA regular season, and the 2007 New England Patriots challenged the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only team to win every game, including playoffs, in a season, falling one game short of perfection with a loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl that year.

But the argument that today’s players are better than ever simply because the game is “harder” is inherently fickle.

We are a society of “what have you done for me lately” thinking. We as a culture, like the minds of us as individuals, have a far greater appreciation for recent memories than for more distant ones. We feel the bitter windchill outside and think “today is the coldest it’s ever felt” even if two years ago the weather was actually colder.

Such thinking is inherently self-centered, however, and that’s where the argument for today’s greatness over yesterday’s runs into its greatest problem; it doesn’t account for the mental toughness of the players who already are considered the best ever.

Saying today’s game is more difficult than it used to be, whether it’s basketball, football, baseball, hockey or any other sport Americans compete in at the professional or intercollegiate levels might be factually true. Baseball pitchers may throw faster pitches than ever and they may have more pitch variations than ever existed. Football players may run faster or jump higher than they ever have. Rules in football or basketball may make the game less physical than each sport has ever been, meaning players of old might not have been able to get away with some of the physicality they played with in their times.

Yet however true these facts may be, and however harder today’s sports may be for all the reasons listed above, this particular argument inherently fails to take into account how today’s sports are easier than they’ve ever been as well.

Today’s technology is just one example. Technology is better than it has ever been. We can analyze and study film in ways players like Micheal Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain and Joe Montana and Dan Marino never could. Pads are more durable, lighter, and smaller than they have ever been because of technology only recently developed or mastered, allowing athletes to move more easily, efficiently, and safely than has ever been possible.

That isn’t all either.

Instead of practicing every day with pads, NFL teams are able to supplement on-field practice with tools like virtual reality headsets, like the Arizona Cardinals have.

Computers track information in ways coaches like Mike Ditka never had available to them as recently as the 80’s. Sure, today’s athletes are faster, but that’s at least partially because of science. They’re able to achieve such feats more easily because the understanding of human nutrition has never been better. A torn ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow used to be a death-blow to a baseball pitcher’s career. Then, in 1974, Tommy John surgery was developed. Now, players not only recover, but actually often have better careers because of the surgery and the recover affiliated with it.

Modern science continues to help athletes both lengthen and improve their careers.

That isn’t to say today’s greatest players couldn’t compete with the greats that came before them either, don’t get me wrong. I just think we as fans often overlook one key piece of information when we compare today’s athletes to yesterday’s:

A person’s success is a manifestation of the mind within.

Regardless of the field in which we exist, whether that be as professional athletes or as professional anythings, it is the mind that creates success, not the body. The body is a manifestation of the mind within, not the other way way around. The same is true with success.

Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player to ever play not because of his physical ability but because of his mental ability. He played on Father’s Day in an NBA Championship series despite his father’s death just three years earlier. He played the famous “Flu Game” in the 1997 NBA Finals, in which Jordan earned 38 points despite playing through what was either the flu or severe food-poisoning.

Mental toughness, and the desire needed to accomplish such things, transcends the rules of the game as they are now or as they were then.

Such feats show the mental toughness and the desire Jordan had. And Jordan isn’t unique among professional athletes who demonstrated such mental toughness.

There’s the late Gordie Howe, who played professional hockey until he was 51. There was Nolan Ryan who played 27 years and still holds the record for most career strikeouts as an MLB pitcher with 5,714. He’s a whole 839 better than Randy Johnson, No.2 on the list, and 2,988 better than C.C. Sabathia, who has the most of career strikeouts among active pitchers with 2,726, according to baseball-almanac.com.

Jordan, Ryan and Howe were all great athletes because they possessed incredible mental toughness, and that toughness manifested itself in their athletic endeavors.

Such toughness adapts, regardless of the challenges it faces, and prevents those who have it from ever being forgotten.

It also prevents me from ever believing these players wouldn’t have been just as good in today’s sports as they were when they played.

 

 

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Poetry: “Memoir Of A Sea Captain.”

Memoir Of A Sea Captain
 
 
He sails alone.
In a ship with a hull full of holes
The Sea captain engages the journey’s onslaught.
 
He has spent weeks on this ship,
Bailing water out of a wooden bowl
With but a single sail.
 
Death’s body odor has been his lone, constant companion.
It could have come, could still come
At any moment.
 
He has slept.
But when he has slept
It has been with the restlessness of an infant.
 
He has eaten.
But when he has eaten,
He has conserved food like the soldier in the trench converses toilet paper.
 
All the while, he has spent every minute aware.
 
Aware that the little hull he sails across the sea,
Aware that this vessel, the single, small sinew which binds him to life,
Could fail at any moment.
 
Until he sees the shore, that is,
And he finally starts to believe that he might actually make it.
 
Thus is my autobiography as I approach
My final semester in college.

Refining Toward Elegance.

On Saturdays we wear purple, watch college football, and drink wonderful things.

“Elegant and refined with layers of unfolding flavor…” – the description on the bag of Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Blend.

That’s about how I feel as I start my last Thanksgiving break as a college student. It was cloudy and cold yesterday here in Manhattan, but today is clear and sunny, with a high about 10 degrees higher than yesterday’s.

There’s something poetic about that. Today is a day where students, faculty, and staff alike can collectively breathe a sigh of relief after an emotionally draining semester that has featured a controversial presidential election, enough celebrity deaths to lose count of, and a bout with illness for seemingly everyone.

All of us are ready for this vacation. Even those who still have to work have a slightly easier week with very rare exceptions.

But you already know this.

What I’m really writing to tell you is that today I feel elegant and refined, but I need a little more refining to become more elegant.

Traditionally, I have always written out my goals for the next year in the week leading up to my birthday in August. I haven’t done that this year though. This year, I’ve simply been too caught up in all the wonderful and chaotic changes that have happened in life.

This, however, is not the year to forget to create those.

As I hung out with a friend at her work yesterday, I started to reflect on where I’d been this year. Yet even as I tried to reflect, I realized so many changes were ahead that I simply wasn’t able to feel reflective.

By this time next year, I’ll have graduated college. I’ll be starting the next phase of my career. Maybe I’ll be in Austin, Texas, or in Shelton County, Washington, or in Casa Grande, Arizona, or in so many other places.

For all the wonderful changes that have come as I’ve transitioned to primarily sports-journalism and been honored and blessed to have begun covering women’s sports, the next year will bring even more changes. The next year will bring even crazier ones. Life, by this point next year, will have begun to evolve, and it’ll never be the same.

So today, I’ll start writing out my goals for that time. Spiritual, Personal, Professional, and Athletic.

They won’t mean much to the stars or the coming sunrise that is the future. But they’ll mean a lot to me, and that’s kind of the point.

 

Dancing For Spring :)

This semester, one of my goals is to write about dance more.

I have no idea where I’ll get the time, but if something’s important to you, you make the time. Isn’t that how the old adage goes?

Last semester was a blast. I was in my second show, Winterdance 2015, and I got the chance to perform in my first two tap pieces.

I love ballet, for all its difficulty, but tap is my favorite style, and it’s not even a debate.

Still, this semester I’ll get plenty of practice as a dancer in general. I’m retaking Jazz 1, because I want to get more of that traditional style dance practice. That was the first dance class I ever took, way back in 2014, so it’ll be neat to see if/how I’ve grown in my abilities to pick up choreography and just to look decent when I dance. We’ll see.

In the meantime, Tap Ensemble work will continue, and I’ll be in Tap 3 this semester as well, the highest level they offer here at K-State. This will be my first time taking that class.

I can’t quite illustrate how excited I am about it. There will be new choreography, more advanced steps, and just a new dance class, which will be fun for a variety of reasons.

New dance classes offer new challenges. You’re almost always in there with primarily people you’ve never danced with before, and the structure is different even from other classes in the same style that you’ve taken with the same teacher so there is an element of the unexpected. Most importantly though, you never know when or how the teacher is going to throw you out of your comfort zone the first time you take a specific class.

That excites me more than anything, and knowing I’m in Tap 3 makes me confident I can physically handle whatever I have to, meaning this semester will be all about the mental game, and I love that. 🙂

Classes start next Tuesday, right after a Monday that is full of intensives. This’ll be my first time going through those as well, since our coach and tap teacher was on sabbatical last year. Again, I’m excited for the new experiences.

To quote Rob Gronkowski, the hilarious tight end of the New England Patriots:

“…so get ready, cuz I’ma be ready.”

God is Good! 😀

ESPN College Pick’em selections, week 10; Buying In to Oklahoma State

Dear Stanford; thank you for pulling out the win in the last game of the night last week. With that win, I went 7-3 last week. What does that mean?

I’ve got 50 right picks this year!!! Ooooowwwww!!!! 😛

I’m officially 50-40 this season!

Is that really that good? Is making 55 percent of my picks really that impressive? Probably not, but maybe, I don’t know because I’ve never done this before lol. Come on now, I’m new at this, I’m entitled to celebrate irrelevant things, and the number 50 pertaining to anything good is always impressive.

Anyways, last week Texas laid an egg and was shutout. So much for my hope in them this year. I still think they’ll do well though and win the next couple of games. I still think they’ll upset Baylor in December, but I don’t think that’ll be as big of a deal then as it might seem to be now. After watching Baylor against K-State, I’m not impressed. Add that to the fact that Baylor plays Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU between now and then, and I think Baylor could have three losses by that point. We’ll see.

Speaking of Oklahoma State, they’re my pick this week to cause some mayhem. I’ll save you the overrated analysis, you aren’t reading this blog for that and as I mentioned earlier, I’m new to this. But I have watched Oklahoma State a little, and I just really think they look good. Both them and their opponents this week survived scares by K-State, but theirs seemed less scary. Then again it was at home and was wide receiver Kody Cook’s first playing time at quarterback this season and Oklahoma State as at home. TCU had neither circumstance going for them. So which was closer? Who’s to really know.

That said let’s get right to it today as my picks go.

Week 10 picks 🙂

Arizona State on the road over Washington State: Most ESPN users are picking Washington State in this one, maybe because they have one more win to the their record. They don’t seem divided by that much to me though, so I’ll take ASU.

North Carolina at home over Duke: This is another toss up, and it’s a rivalry so it’s hard to pick for sure. Still, I’ll take North Carolina.

#4 Alabama at home over #2 LSU: Aside from Bill Snyder, I still think Nick Saban is the best coach in the country. If anyone can stop Leonard Fournette, my money would be on Saban. This is also this week’s tiebreaker pick, so I’m predicting a score 28-21 Alabama. Role Tide… 😛

#13 Memphis at home over Navy: Come on now, is this even going to be a contest?

#12 Utah on the road over Washington: Utah has been hit and miss but they do only have one loss, so I’ll take them at home.

#5 Notre Dame on the road over Pittsburg: Notre Dame might be for real this year. I’ve read at least one column that says Notre Dame is on “upset alert” today, but I think they’ll still pull this out 🙂

#1 Clemson on the road over #16 Florida State: This game is one I could see being a major upset, in no small part because Clemson tends to loose big games a the worst possible times, and this would count. Still, they have a lot of momentum as a team right now. I’ll take them.

#9 Iowa on the road over Indiana: There’s been a lot of talk about how wronged Iowa feels after being 8-0 but well out of the college football playoff picture since the initial rankings came out this week. Let’s see how play today. I bet they drop 50 points on the Hoosiers.

Marshall on the road over Middle Tennessee State: Marshall, for what they are, is 8-1 this year. MTSU is 3-5. I don’t know anything about either team, but I know a blowout coming when I see it… I think ;).

#14 Oklahoma State on the road over #8 TCU: I think Oklahoma State stand a much better chance of knocking off than anyone else remaining on TCU’s schedule, which includes OU, Baylor and Kansas. K-State almost upset TCU at home back in October, and I think Oklahoma State is significantly better than K-State. So this is my major upset pick today.

We’re Officially Considering Graduate School

We met with our academic adviser yesterday, and threw some ideas at her. My GPA isn’t great, but if trends from summer and spring semesters hold, I’ll have as good a case as almost anyone could, having slowed themselves down the way I did in my first couple of college years. And, while that puts a lot of pressure on me to do better in tougher classes than I ever have, if I can make it happen, a childhood dream might yet become a reality. Just not the exact way I thought it might.

As of Sunday, we’re officially considering graduate school.

Thoughts, tips, and advice from anyone who has insight into how that works or the challenges of it are not only welcome but encouraged.

This whole “we graduate in December 2016” thing is friggin insane!

Imaginary Poets Project, Introduction To Poetry Writing Class, Spring 2015

This project was created for my Introduction to Poetry Writing class. We had to create a poet who was different personally from us in at least two ways (age, gender, time period they lived, etc.) and was different from us stylistically in at least two ways. They could not be a real person such as a celebrity, but they had to have been theoretically possible, and part of our bio included the requirement that we justify how their poems were found and why they were a writer. In other words, it wasn’t enough to just create a poem and say “they wrote just because.” We had to justify them a little bit more than that. We were judged specifically on “originality, creativity, and effort.”

We also were required to write at least four poems in “their voice.” The idea of the project was to force us to vary our own style by creating a whole alternate persona, thus encouraging us to take risks we normally wouldn’t take in our own work. We then had to go back and write a self-reflection about the project. This is the totality of my work as I turned it in. Further explanation exists in that self-reflection.

Lastly, for clarity, the Works Cited page includes references to historical events of the time, many of which are true. Julius of Alexandria did not, to my knowledge actually exist, nor did his “family.” Also fictitious is the idea that my mom is consulted by local historians for translation of ancient texts, though she is in-fact a fluent reader of hieroglyphics (part of the project was the requirement that we explain how we personally came upon our Imaginary Poet’s poems).  Historical details in that portion of the project, however, are deliberately as accurate as possible. That’s why I had to come up with a Work’s Cited page, I felt I did enough research that it was necessary, such as the dates and how the location of the actual historic ancient library remains undetermined. The same is true relating to the information about Theophilus. Enjoy 🙂

IP Poet Bio,

Imaginary Poets Poem 1,

Imaginary Poets Poem #2,

IP Poem 3 for Printing,

Imaginary Poets Poem 4,

IP Self Reflection,

Word.IP Works Cited