Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Theoharides On...

Today, I'm happy to welcome another guest columnist (who will hopefully become a weekly contributor) to Puddles of Myself.  This writer's name is Alex Theoharides. Alex was an English major with me at Skidmore College and is also an aspiring writer of serious fiction. He currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Eventually we may get to showing off some of his fiction, but until then you can look for his takes on what is Overrated, Underrated and Properly Rated in sports, music, fiction, etc. And he may just rant about the Replacements one week.

So, now I introduce Alex Theoharides to the Puddles of Myself public.

Theoharides On Sports

Alex Theoharides

(The current NCAA Tournament and its analysis, are Overrated.)


Sports Fans.

The academic community holds a certain amount of malignancy for the avid sport fan.

“How can you waste you’re time with all that?” I’m often asked by, my supposedly more serious friends, with the insinuation being, of course, that there are so many more important things going on. Revolutions in the Middle East. Earthquakes rearranging the physical world. Indie rock bands. Stocks to follow.  Novels to read. Films to critique. How indeed?

Before digressing further, here’s the long and the short of it: Sports give us an opportunity to participate in life without consequences. Yes, their outcomes are unimportant. I agree, there are few things sillier than a commentator screaming, “History was made today,” after a 12-seed knocks of a 5-seed in the NCAA tournament or a teenager on a snowboard contorts his body in a previously unimagined manner. 20 years from now, hell, 10 years from now, very few people will remember what happened, who played, or what was accomplished in these allegedly historic moments. However, it is this very transitory nature of sports that allows them to be so absorbing, so important. We need a break from the heaviness of life. We need to be so consumed by the bouncing of an leather ball that we pull out our hair and scream at our television screens and pray to gods we usually pretend not to believe in.

Not Convinced? Neither am I.

I like sports because they’re fun to watch. Enough said.


The NCAA Tournament.

When I was in junior high, the NCAA tournament was like sex, drugs, and rock & roll, neatly packaged into a three week long CBS marathon. Now I fear, it’s grown out of control. The geniuses, who run the NCAA, decided to add an additional round to the tournament because apparently having 64 teams wasn’t enough. They needed more. And this year no one was quite when they needed to have their bracket filled out. By Thursday like every other year? Or by Tuesday to accommodate these, so called, first round games? Who knows? Who cares. Blah.

Even worse, the talking heads at ESPN and CBS have sapped much of the unpredictability out of the tournament by diagramming each team, each player, each potential outcome, ad nauseum. One of my favorite parts about the tournament was watching unheralded players from small conference teams outshining the big boys from Duke, North Carolina, or Michigan. Now all the unheralded players are over-heralded and the big boys aren’t as big as they used to be. The most talented college players leave school for the NBA after just one season, which doesn’t leave them nearly enough time to cement their hero status in NCAA pop culture. This years biggest names? Kemba Walker, a 6 foot tall, lighting bug of a point guard, who will undoubtedly have a short, unremarkable NBA career. And Jimmer Fredette, who is a gifted shooter/scorer, but couldn’t guard some of the old guys I play with at the YMCA.

Of course, come Thursday afternoon, I’ll wander over to the nearest bar of ill repute (meaning: a bar that shows sports on over-sized TVs) to watch the tournament. Not only that, I’ll have fun. But it won’t be as good as it used to be. It just won’t.

Properly Rated:

The Big East Tournament.

Often forgotten beneath the ensuing madness of the NCAA tournament, the Big East tournament annually provides some of the college basketball season’s most thrilling moments. This year was no different. My favorite team, St. John’s, was fun to watch for the first time since the days of Ron Artest and Erick Barkley ran the court for the Red Storm. Kemba Walker and the UConn Huskies proved that Jim Calhoun, despite his inability to speak without mumbling, is still one of the best coaches in college basketball. His teams are always ready to play. They rebound. Play defense. And Calhoun lets his stars shine. Rick Pitino’s Louisville squad was also impressive. I’m sick of everyone talking about how under-talented they are. Despite his recent admittance of impropriety, Pitino is one of the best recruiters in the country. The Cardinals play high-intensity, fast break basketball, and will give teams fit in the tournament.

The Big East is the best basketball conference in the NCAA. Top to bottom, its stacked with high quality players, coaches and teams. Not only that, but they play their tournament in Madison Square Garden, which as everyone who grew up listening to Mike Breen and Walt “Clyde” Frazier announce New York Knicks games, is the “World Most Famous Arena.”

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