Despite the pain and humiliation of watching my Pittsburgh Penguins lose their third consecutive post-season series, this time to the despicable Philadelphia Flyers, I am as convinced as ever that Ice Hockey is the best team sport out there.
I don’t necessarily mean most enjoyable, surely a subjective measure. Nor is the NHL the best sports league across all sports. I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that Ice Hockey calls for the greatest total abundance of every sports characteristic and skill. List out all the skills you want and Ice Hockey will score higher in aggregate.
Speed, physical toughness, endurance, coordination/reflexes, mental toughness, etc. etc. etc. The game even calls for moving backwards in a fundamental way that no other sport duplicates.
Here’s a rough chart ranking the major team sports:
|Baseball||Basketball||Am. FB||Rugby||Futbol||Cricket||Ice Hky|
Before you get in a huff about these rankings, it should be noted that I have no animus against any particular sport. If I were to rate my enjoyment of each of these sports, it would be different from the rankings above. Just some food for thought.
As a sports fan, I don’t really care that Tiger Woods stepped out on his wife, however, I think he has all the over-attention and ridicule coming to him.
Athletes like Woods put themselves in position for huge endorsements not simply by excelling in their sport but also by creating a veneer of wholesomeness around them. Buick and Accenture wouldn’t have signed up with Woods if he was as outspoken as Charles Barkley or as colorful as Dennis Rodman. To paraphrase Michael Jordan, “Republicans buy Buicks too.”
So when the fall comes, as it inevitably will for many athletes, when we learn that Woods isn’t the paragon of virtue that he consciously modeled himself to be, it follows then that he does deserve public ridicule. It didn’t necessarily have to affect his performance on the greens. After all, Jordan’s gambling didn’t affect his performance on the court, though that admittedly was less public. Woods is taking time out of the game and so be it. Maybe he really is sorry for his actions. Or maybe he needs time away so that the faux-rage can pass.
This scandal won’t torpedo his career and it likely won’t prevent him from surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time Majors wins record. It will probably just delay the inevitable a little. Eventually this will all blow over (as past scandals have for the likes of Ray Ray Lewis and Kobe Bean Bryant). People will make jokes from time-to-time and those pre-disposed to disliking Woods will continue to dislike him and those predisposed to liking him will like him again. And some of us will yawn throughout.
Feel sorry for Elin and his kids. They deserve sympathy. But while the storm persists, let’s not get on our high horses about the attention paid to Woods’ affairs. He made our opinions of his image part of his business.
Since I’m never good at explaining it in person, let me take a quick stab at explaining the logic behind superstition.
Superstitious behavior is a convoluted but well-meaning attempt to use the Scientific Method to affect the outcome of a contest. Quite simply, if a particular action coincides with the favored outcome, then I will attempt to replicate the same conditions going forward. I am attempting to “control” for a particular set of variables.
The complexity of truly superstitious behavior is something with which we constantly struggle. I sit in a particular seat for a football game but what did I have to eat. Was my dog wearing his jersey. How and when did I cross my legs. Who was I texting during the game. And on and on and on.
The skeptic will surely point out that where I choose to sit for a football game in my living room cannot logically have an impact on the outcome of the contest. This is where the convolution comes to the fore. It’s the butterfly effect run amok and in an increasingly flat world, who’s to say which dots connect to each other.
Perhaps if I get up to get something to eat at a particular time, my dog will get up to follow me as well. He’ll trip on the speaker wire, which shorts out my TV. The electrical surge will travel from my house downstream to the power company, which supplies the power for the lights at the stadium of my team. The stadium lights flicker during a critical play in the game, causing a wide receiver to momentarily lose his concentration. Finally, he drops a pass that would have ensured victory for my team!
And don’t think I can’t connect my actions to an away game, to an international game, to any game. Is your mind boggled yet? Welcome to my (sports) life.
Photo Credit: Bettman/CORBIS