ESPN: Did They Start a Trend? Or Simply Hop on Board?

Oklahoma State Sophomore Point Guard Marcus Smart kicks a chair at the OSU bench in a conference game against West Virginia on Jan. 25, 2014. (via Phog.net)

Oklahoma State Sophomore Point Guard Marcus Smart kicks a chair at the OSU bench in a conference game against West Virginia on Jan. 25, 2014. (via Phog.net)

On April 2nd the annual McDonald’s High School All-American Game was on ESPN, showcasing next year’s prospective “One-and-done’s” in College Basketball.  These are kids who haven’t even graduated from High School yet, and one still has not decided where he is going to go to college.

None of these kids that played last night are going to pay a dime for college.  And in most cases, they will only be in college for one year before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is calling their names out in June 2015 when they are drafted.

On National Signing Day every February, ESPN does a massive Signing Day special on their flagship program SportsCenter as well as live coverage all day long on ESPNU.

Once they get into college, you can safely guess that they treat all of these star athletes just as they did Marcus Smart through this past College Basketball season.  When they play well, they continue to overhype how good they really are.  If they don’t play well, then ESPN traditional treats it as if it’s the end of that player’s career and they no longer will get drafted.

Seriously? (Click here for ESPN’s coverage of Smart’s chair incident)

Nevermind the fact that these are 18-22 year-old kids that are still growing up.  ESPN blows collegiate athletics way out of proportion.

I believe that ESPN started this whole trend, and we all hopped on board with them because they are “the Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

The Draft and its “Prestige”

South Carolina DE, Jadeveon Clowney during the 2014 Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla.  The Gamecocks beat Wisconsin 34-24. (Photo via CBS Sports)

South Carolina DE, Jadeveon Clowney during the 2014 Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The Gamecocks beat Wisconsin 34-24. (Photo via CBS Sports)

“Jadeveon Clowney could potentially be the top overall draft pick in 2014,” said everyone in America.

“Andrew Wiggins could potentially be the top overall draft pick in 2014,” they all continued before the season even started.

Too often now, may people start drooling over “draft prospects” when they are just coming into the major college ranks or even when they are still in high school.

Look at Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina’s “star” Defensive End who became popular after his brutal hit on Michigan Running Back Vincent Smith during the 2013 Outback Bowl.  At the beginning of the 2013 season, ESPN’s draft “experts” both had Jadeveon Clowney at the top of their draft boards and said many teams were drooling over Clowney. (Watch Clowney’s brutal hit here)

I can honestly say that Clowney, to me, was overhyped.  In their season opener against North Carolina, UNC just ran plays the other way.  Lo and behold, no Clowney affect.

“It’s not his fault other teams run plays to the other side”

Correct, it isn’t.  However, if Clowney was truly top pick material, wouldn’t he be versatile enough to, I don’t know, switch sides?  There’s not a truly significant difference.  Plus his own coach, Steve Spurrier, said his work ethic is “okay.” (For that story from CBS Sports, click here)

Enough about Clowney, what about others?

Kansas Guard Andrew Wiggins, a freshman, said prior to the season that this would likely be his only season playing college basketball.  In 2013, Nerlens Noel left Kentucky after his freshman year, even though he tore his ACL early in SEC play in a game at Florida.

Is the draft really as prestigious as we all want it to be?  Or are we simply ruining the young, promising careers of what we assume to be world-class athletes, like Jadeveon Clowney?

Fans and Ejections

A shot of Jeff Orr (man on the left) and Oklahoma State Guard Marcus Smart during Saturday's altercation in Lubbock.  Texas Tech won the game 65-61. (photo via KJRH-TV)

A shot of Jeff Orr (man on the left) and Oklahoma State Guard Marcus Smart during Saturday’s altercation in Lubbock. Texas Tech won the game 65-61. (photo via KJRH-TV)

Lately, a trend in sports seems to be to criticize referees for anything and everything.  Sometimes while watching a game either on television or in person, or even when playing I will hear someone say, “That ref doesn’t like us.”

I’m sorry, what?

The odds are that the officials do not have any sort of personal relation or affiliation with any school or person in their respective conference at any level of play, be it high school or college.  For instance, the son of legendary coach formerly at the University of North Carolina, Dean Smith, is a Division 1 referee.  However, he is not allowed to officiate in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The fact of the matter is that these officials go through countless hours of rules and mechanics training.  They know what can and cannot be done, and have their primary assignments while on the field or court.  As an example, the lead in 3-person mechanics for basketball has primary on contact below the shoulders, the trail has above the shoulders and the center has first dibs on the back side of the play.

To demonstrate another way fans can be ejected, we just need to rewind to last night, February 8th.  I was in Lubbock, Texas for the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech Men’s Basketball game in which OSU Guard Marcus Smart shoved TTU fan Jeff Orr in an altercation with only a few seconds remaining.  The long-term effects of this incident are yet to be seen, but Orr will not be attending any of the remaining Red Raider Basketball games and Smart has been suspended for the next 3 games at Texas, home against Oklahoma and at Baylor.  Smart will return against Texas Tech at home on Feb. 22. (Click here for Texas Tech University’s statement regarding the altercation)

If this trend of overly-rowdy fans doesn’t stop, it could get out of control.