I love sports, but they can also annoy me to no end. Here are 10 things I’ve found to be annoying in watching, reading, and writing about sports.
Maybe some of you share my frustration and will sympathize, or after reading this you’ll think my standards are too high.
1. The term “Big Dance”
Other than “March Madness,” this is probably the most common phrase used to describe the NCAA Tournament. While it’s an admirable term for such a big event, come March we’re subjected to countless articles about teams going “dancing,” which is incredibly annoying.
March Madness sounds cool, Big Dance sounds very un-sportlike. Come up with another name that sounds edgier, or just please always refer to it as March Madness.
2. Tirades that aren’t tirades
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s “I’m a man” rant might be a tirade. Dennis Green yelling “The Bears are who we thought they were” might be a tirade.
But, a manager or coach who raises his voice for emphasis or to make a point isn’t necessarily going on a tirade. However, every time you see a coach yelling on TV for whatever reason, they’ve apparently lost it completely.
In 2006, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland was angry after a loss and showed some emotion, but didn’t raise his voice—yet this was labeled as Leyland just being completely steamed.
After a tough loss, coaches and players aren’t always in the brightest of moods, especially when they talk to the media. So it’s understandable that they might be a bit short with people.
The most recent example is that of John McLaren, the Seattle Mariners manager who made a profanity-filled statement after a loss a few weeks ago. Now this might be called a tirade by some, but it seemed more like a message to the organization that everyone needed to pick things up a little. Check it out on YouTube for yourself.
3. Draft picks who demand not to be picked by certain teams
It’s amazing that even before they’re drafted, NFL prospects can demand top dollar and say they won’t play for certain teams.
In 2004, Eli Manning said prior to draft day that he would not play for the San Diego Chargers if they took him No. 1 overall. This little problem led to the Chargers picking Manning anyway and then trading him to the New York Giants for Phillip Rivers.
What gives draft picks the right to say they won’t play for certain teams? They haven’t even been drafted yet and they’re already calling the shots. Sure, they’re talented guys who any team would love to have, but there are just as many guys who’d love to play pro football and wouldn’t have a word of complaint.
It’s understandable that top picks want to go to good teams, but that’s the way the draft works—the bad teams get the shots at the best players to help rebuild their franchises.
4. No instant replay in baseball
Every other major sport uses it, including many college sports—yet baseball has refused to use it for years, often times leading to controversial calls in big games, especially during the playoffs.
There might still be hope for America’s Pastime, though. Major League Baseball is considering a plan to use instant replay for things like fair and foul balls, home runs, and balls interfered with by fans. Sounds like a good plan—let’s hope they use it.
5. The BCS conference tie-ins
We all know the BCS system has problems year after year with who should play in the title game. But, the BCS conference tie-ins often create lopsided match-ups, and it’s unfair to other teams with better records.
In the current system, six of the eight slots in the four major bowl games (not including the championship) are taken by BCS conference teams, which often leaves out at least one good team and allows that one undefeated non-BCS school to get in.
Granted, the system doesn’t always follow tradition with tie-ins, and sometimes the non-BCS at-large bids don’t live up to their bidding (looking at you, Hawaii).
But, in the current system, teams sometimes get in when they shouldn’t, solely because they have a conference tie-in. The Big Ten-Pac 10 Rose Bowl match-up is a classic, but come on!
Case in point: The 2004 Fiesta Bowl pitted undefeated Utah against Big East champion Pittsburgh, which was 8-4. A record like that is good for a pre-New Year's Day bowl, not a BCS game. How about giving that spot to Louisville or Boise State, which both had 11-1 records, and played each other in the Liberty Bowl?
6. Soft non-conference college football schedules
Before the conference games begin, a lot of teams get a chance to essentially pad their records by winning three or four games against cupcake teams. It’s good publicity for the underdog, but honestly, is it any fun if the underdog gets blown out by 45 points?
It can work the other way if the underdog wins (like Appalachian State over Michigan), but it’s a way for most good teams to be two wins away from bowl eligibility without playing any real competition until the conference season.
Texas, for example, opens the next season with Florida Atlantic. Ohio State opens with Youngstown State.
It seems like a good reward in preparation for a tough conference schedule, but teams like LSU, Ohio State, and Oklahoma shouldn’t be given much leeway if they’re considered some of the best in the nation. Make all the teams play tougher and more interesting match-ups.
If anything, it keeps the good teams honest and gives the smaller schools a chance to prove their worth against the big boys.
7. Cinderella teams upping the standard for other teams
Every year in the NCAA Tournament, there’s at least one mid-major team that has a good tournament run, leading analysts to advocate for more automatic bids for those teams and more accountability from coaches and players for mid-major teams, because “if they can do it, any team can do it.”
All this talk was especially popular in 2005, when George Mason made headlines by going all the way to the Final Four.
It’s great when teams like George Mason bust bracket pools, but it doesn’t happen all the time. Every other time George Mason has made the tournament, they were out by the first round.
No doubt some mid-major schools like Gonzaga are very good come tournament time, but the major conference schools have proven themselves to be more consistent. This year, for the first time in tournament history, all four No. 1 seeds made the Final Four.
Some complained it made for a boring tournament, but it speaks to the consistency of schools like Kansas and North Carolina. Only 64 teams can make the tournament anyway, and not all teams are always consistent.
Look at a team like Syracuse, which won the 2003 championship with Carmelo Anthony, and hasn’t done very well in the postseason since.
Mid-major teams should perhaps use George Mason’s run as an inspiration, but shouldn’t judge the success of their program based on other schools’ successes or failures.
8. Fouling excessively
Plain and simple—if you’re down by two with a few seconds on the clock, then go ahead and foul, hope the shooter misses one free throw, and get the ball back for a last-second shot.
But, if you’re down by eight in the same spot, just try and steal the ball. Fouling makes the last minute of a basketball game last five minutes, and unless you’ve got a shooter with the three-point ability of Reggie Miller, you’re probably not mounting a comeback.
It seems the slightest thing touches off athletes’ nerves nowadays. A hard check into the boards demands an equally hard check or hit in return. A hit batter from one team automatically means that someone’s gonna get beaned from the other side.
Retaliation is respectable in a way. After all, if someone gets hit by an opponent, his teammates should stick up for him, right?
But, it’s this kind of logic that leads to injuries. Todd Bertuzzi ended the career of Steve Moore because he was trying to get revenge for a hit Moore gave Marcus Naslund. Pitchers trying to get revenge for a hit batter will throw behind the batter or nail them in an unintended spot (like the head).
Getting a revenge shot in might be the norm, but at some point athletes either have to accept a hit, whether it’s accidental or not, as part of the game. Get your revenge in another way, like say, on the scoreboard.
10. The intentional walk
I know the point is to skip the batter so you don’t to pitch to him or get to a weaker hitter, but why do the pitcher and catcher need to turn it into an elongated five-minute thing?
Make the sign, throw the ball, catch it, and throw it back. There’s no need to constantly step off the mound after each throw, lob the ball to the catcher, and repeat the process so that the whole thing takes forever. Four signs, four quick pitches—that’s it.