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The 10 Biggest Problems in Sports

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2012

The 10 Biggest Problems in Sports

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    It's why people skip church on Sundays. 

    It's why cities pay extra taxes for bigger stadiums. 

    It's why we spend $8 on a beer and $44.99 for 30 second fights.

    It's why we wear shirts, caps, jerseys and other pricey articles of memorabilia marked by our favorite teams.

    It's why cursing at the TV is acceptable. 

    It's what makes eating a whole bowl of pretzels in 10 minutes justifiable.

    It's why we need Congress to settle disputes but hate them at the same time for intervening. 

    It's why we fight with our friends and cheer alongside strangers.

    It's sports.  The motion of entertainment.  The epitome of America.

    But just as it is for anything that possesses unfathomable greatness, problems tend to manifest themselves.

    Here are the most prominent issues in the sports world today.

Dishonorable Mention: ESPN Programming

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    As far as I'm concerned, ESPN has lost its mind.

    If there was any other network close in comparison in showing relevant highlights, I'd completely wash my hands of the Disney-owned monopoly.

    The network has become a shame, often chastising specific sports (MMA) in order to cradle their own interests (boxing).

    How often can we watch Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith debate about whether or not Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin are friends while Lil' Wayne and Wale discuss the NFL?

    Why do we find ourselves watching Sportscenter, a program that often focuses on one sport three times more than another, every single night?

    There's rarely any love for hockey, and on the rarest of occasions, Sportscenter will surprise us all and not put a generic LeBron James dunk in the Top 10 Plays.

    Sure, they offer some great programming, but three hours out of 24 don't really cut it.

    Let the madness ensue.

10. Too Much Blood in MMA

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    Personally I'm a huge mixed martial arts fan, evident by my work on this wonderful website.

    But even past my love for the sport, more specifically the UFC, common sense grabs hold of my expectations.

    I realize that MMA may never be as big as the NFL or MLB in America, even though it possesses more relevance on the international scale, but that doesn't mean it's not gaining spotlighted momentum.

    The UFC has done a terrific job over the past five or so years in making fights readily available to the public masses; showcasing important bouts on PPV, FOX, FX, FUEL TV, Facebook, and in the past, Spike TV.

    With that said, there's one distinct problem that Americans have with one of the purest sports in the world.

    It's the blood.

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm one of the first people to scream "finish him" whenever a fighter starts to bleed, but I still understand the reservations that potential MMA fans have when they see a 15 minute bloodbath on national television.

    It may be part of the sport, but blood often fends of viewers.

9. No National League DH

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    Why in the world do pitchers still hit?

    I would absolutely love to meet the guy who one day decided that only American League teams can slot a DH into their lineup.

    Truthfully, I'd slap him.

    This type of nonsense is why I despise picking any NL team for a season in MLB:The Show (great game by the way). 

    Why would I want to waste my time trying to sneak a base hit through to right field with AJ Burnett?

    Forget that noise. 

    Give me Adam Dunn and watch me crank a 440 foot skyscraper.  It's better for everyone, except opposing pitchers.

    Regardless, virtual world or real life, keeping this rule is as dumb as the rule itself.

    And for unsuspecting NL pitchers like Burnett, the effects are literally eye-popping.

8. Comissioner David Stern and the NBA Draft Lottery

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    NBA Commissioner David Stern is one sneaky fella.

    Throughout his 28 year career as the NBA's ring leader, Stern has been ridiculed for fixing Draftsunwarrantedly suspending players, denying trades involving league-owned teams, employing crooked referees, implementing stereotypical regulations like dress codes and secretly retiring Michael Jordan.

    And his recent on-air argument with the always persistent Jim Rome, regarding the controversy surrounding this year's Draft Lottery, has once again shown the basketball world that Stern is a man of many disguises.

    But even though Stern's actions over the past few decades do seem responsible for the NBA's occasional slip ups, it's important to realize that the Draft Lottery is outdated in the first place.

    Why put forth a system that can reward high market teams when the occasional top-level player comes along; Patrick Ewing (New York) in 1985 and Anthony Davis (New Orleans) in 2012?

    It seems fishy right off the bat, Stern or no Stern.

    The NBA needs to distance itself from these problems in the future or people are going to stop watching their favorite players.

    As far as I'm concerned, an NFL Draft-like setup should provide the NBA with a quick fix to their problems; albeit Stern still at the helm.

7. The Decline of Boxing

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    I'm not a big boxing fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I do respect the sport.

    Boxing has been part of the American culture for over 100 years, creating revenue in the biggest of cities and making Las Vegas betting worthwhile.

    Now, during a time in which mixed martial arts is becoming more relevant by the day, boxing is starting its long-delayed decline.

    With only three prominent fighters left to promote—Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Paquiao and Wladimir Klitschko—the future does not look promising.

    How can a sport continue to thrive when there's no fighters to feed off of?

    How will the sport prolong its prestige?

    Even as a MMA fan, which are combat fans who usually support the decline of boxing, I feel somewhat disappointed that such a rich and historic sport is on its way out (presumably).

    At this point, assuming there are no new cash cows on the horizon, boxing needs to put all their eggs into a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight and ride this thing until the wheels fall off.

6. Lockouts

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    Lockouts can be very emotional.

    From players to owners, workers to fans, a stoppage of play in any sport is a lose-lose situation.

    It just doesn't make sense.

    How can already-millionaires argue over a few million dollars?

    Why do we as fans allow it?

    The foundation of sports is not based around money, which is something people need to realize.

    And when I say people, I mean the big wigs in charge of the whole operation.

    Sports is built off of, and for, its fans.

    For that, lockouts are more or less a slap to the face.  Fans spend their hard-earned money to watch these sports, invested in specific teams and players since they were children, so to see a stoppage in play is downright disgusting.

    Frankly, it's inexcusable.

5. Athletes Get Paid Way Too Much

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    Ladies and gentlemen, NBA star Rashard Lewis is set to bank a whopping $23.7 million next year for the Washington Wizards.

    Huh?

    In what sane world does that make sense?

    Last time I checked, we don't live in Gotham, Metropolis or the Land of Make Believe.

    The scarier aspect of this is that Lewis is not alone, NBA or not.  Athletes make way to much money.

    Whether it's Vernon Wells making $24 million per season in the MLB or No. 1 overall picks in the NFL instantly pocketing a guaranteed $14 million, players in every sport are pampered beyond comprehension.

    And while this tendency doesn't seem to be changing over time, we can only hope that the value of the dollar continues to decrease.

    Well maybe not to that extent, but you catch my drift. 

4. No BCS Playoff System

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    The BCS without a playoff system is like having a cupcake with no icing.

    It just doesn't bode well for greatness.

    But for alumni that pocket blankets of cash whenever their respective universities make a bowl run, distancing College Football from a NFL-like playoff structure is the No. 1 priority.

    At this point, convincing flagships schools like Ohio State, USC, LSU, Alabama and Florida to abandon what makes them perennial contenders is the biggest issue.

    Are we really satisfied with letting computers and polls decide which team will hoist the crown jewel of college football?

    Doesn't it make sense to hash these differences out on the field, instead of bumping an equally productive team in favor of a more prestigious one?

    Truthfully, I don't pay that much attention to college football (and I go to the University of Tennessee.)

    I guess not having a truthful playoff system that accurately decides who plays for what is the reason why.

3. No MLB Salary Cap

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    With no salary cap in baseball, once prestigious franchises like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics continue to struggle to rebuild their fortune.

    The bigger markets like New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles reap all the benefits of being able to throw some money around, evident by payroll, free agent signings and ticket sales.

    The fact of the matter is that if you don't have the ability to satisfy at least a $100 million payroll per year, your team isn't going to last long.

    In most cases, the inability to offer lucrative deals to some of baseball's best players often leads to teams spiraling into despair.

    If you can't pay players, you can't win games.  And if you can't win games, you can't sell tickets.  And if you can't sell tickets, you can't make money to pay players.  And if you can't make money to pay players...well, you understand the system.

    For the MLB to organize a salary cap in the near future, they'll have to compensate already monetarily prominent franchises like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

    However, in order to preserve the 30 markets that make up the entire MLB, Bud Selig seriously needs to construct some sort of yearly payroll limitation because it's killing baseball.

2. The Concussion Epidemic

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    Concussions have become nearly as bad as steroids in sports, but players aren't cheating when they get knocked out of competition for health reasons.

    The bottom line is that these debilitating head injuries are starting to ruin the futures of the teams and players we love.

    Truthfully, there's really no way to stop it.

    Most leagues like the NFL and NHL have instated specific rules to try and limit concussions in their sport, but for the most part, athletes are willing to pay fines in order to instill a devastating hit.

    That may be the biggest problem.

    Athletes need to understand that by playing smart and not going that extra mile to lay out an opponent could mean the difference in prolonging the current rules and regulations of their individual sport.

    By no means should they not play 100 percent, but intelligently picking their shots and respectively competing could help control the current concussion epidemic we're experiencing.

1. The NCAA's Under the Table Rule

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    "To pay, or not to pay, that is the question:
    Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to cheat
    The Athletes and Students of outrageous oblivion,
    Or to take Action against the Sea of University Elite" - William Shakespeare (kind of)

    Just because you pass the cash under a nicely polished oak table doesn't make it justifiable.

    The NCAA has been brushed over by a fine toothed comb over the past few years and the results have been astonishing.

    Student athletes are being treated like Drew Rosenhaus clients, seeing money make its way into their bank accounts quicker than a Jerry Sandusky firing.

    But through all the illegal payment plans and gorgeous sports cars passed around like appetizers, college sports fans tend to fall in line as long as their teams are winning.

    It's beyond disgusting.

    I'm not a college sports fan by any means, but I surely know right from wrong.

    And paying students to enroll in a university so alumni can shine their rings and puff their chests seems like the wrong move to me.

    In my eyes, if you're going to pay these kids to play and not do anything about it when somebody gets caught, you might as well pay everybody and make it official.

Above and Beyond the Rest

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    Steroids is an incurable cancer to sports, harnessing evil tendencies that leave the strongest of athletes depleted and shameful.

    Its usage has not only been documented on the collegiate and professional levels, but also on the Olympic scale.

    It has effected game-winning home runs, goal line tackles, Octagon takedowns and gold-medal sprints.

    It has swiftly sucked all honesty and prestige out of nearly every sport, leaving our favorite teams and players gasping for a second chance.

    Even Congress itself has failed to put a stop to this debilitating plague.

    For now, steroids will continue to eat through the walls of our very own values.

    Because once a cancer spreads, there's rarely room for recovery.  The body will die.

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