Sports

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Morning Placekicker: Zags on fire, EWU stumbles, Kyle Wiltjer's insane shot, and the NBA All-Star Game

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 12:11 PM


Happy President's Day, sports fans. Since you guys are all probably out enjoying the fruits of this May-in-February day, we'll keep this short and semi-sweet.

ZAGS MEN AND WOMEN STEAMROLLING THE WCC
The Gonzaga basketball teams have embarked on an impressive streak, having won a combined 34 consecutive games. The men are on a 19-game burner while the women have tightened up their game for a streak of 15 victories of their own.

We are spoiled with wins here in Spokane. That said, it looked a little shaky for the men on Saturday night when they clawed back to tie things up 30-30 at halftime against Pepperdine at home to eventually win 56-48. That 56 point total was the lowest offensive output on the season for the Zags, who average almost 80 a game. And if you watched the game, you know that 56 points is not terribly exciting to watch. It was, however, interesting to watch Mark Few put in a full-court press in the second half, a move which shut down Pepperdine's flow and held the Waves to just 18 points in the second half. Also interesting was the decision by Kevin Pangos to put the team on his back. The gorgeously coiffed senior finished with 19 points.

Kyle Wiltjer had 10 points on Saturday night, coming off 21 on Thursday against LMU, but forget about that for a second. Check out what he does in his free time.
EWU STUMBLES
Because they've yet to lose at their home Reese Court this season, it seemed almost a foregone conclusion that the Eastern Washington Eagles would knock off Portland State on Saturday. After all, they were coming off a win over Sacramento State on Thursday to take sole possession of the Big Sky lead and they were also getting Tyler "The Nation's Leading Scorer" Harvey back from injury.

Yeah, well, things went awry out in Cheney, even with Harvey tossing in 22 points. The Eagles shot a dismal 38 percent and let Portland State get out of there with a 68-66 win. Having Harvey back in the lineup after three games away was nice to see, but, as luck would have it, EWU's main big man, Venky Jois went out again with an ankle injury. With six games left in the Big Sky schedule, Eagle fans are itching to see those two guys out on the floor at the same time.

Thankfully, Sac State lost to Idaho on Saturday and EWU remains at the top of the conference, meaning they'd host the Big Sky tournament in mid-March if things stay this way. EWU will look for their 20th victory of the season on Thursday night at Southern Utah.

THE NBA ALL-STAR GAME
The West beat the East by the ridiculous score of 163-158. Russell Westbrook scored 41 points, the west took 133 shots, the East threw up 68 three-pointers and things like this happened:   
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Friday, February 13, 2015

Sabonis isn't leaving early; and a look at the NBA prospects of other Zags

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 11:41 AM

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The third-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs raced to a 20-0 lead in their latest blowout win last night, but the Zags saved the best for last for their adoring fans.

Domantas Sabonis, the freshman sensation who is projected to be a 2015 first-round draft pick by NBA draft guru Chad Ford of ESPN, flatly declared that he will not turn pro after the season.

“Not this year,” Sabonis said after the 80-51 rout of Loyola Marymount. “I think I’m not ready. I still need to develop my game in many ways.

“I haven’t even thought about that. I’m just trying to take advantage of this experience out here.”

Sabonis, the son of Hall of Fame center Arvydas Sabonis, leads the 25-1 Bulldogs with 7.2 rebounds per game despite the fact that he doesn’t start. Sabonis averages 21.8 minutes and 9.9 points and shoots 70.2 percent from the field and at the free-throw line. His offensive game is limited largely to a dazzling array of drop-step moves.

The 6-foot-10, 231-pound Sabonis was the first name Loyola Marymount head coach Mike Dunlap mentioned when asked about Gonzaga’s NBA prospects. Dunlap, a former NBA head and assistant coach, said senior guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. and junior center Przemek Karnowski also would be “evaluated” for this year’s draft.

Dunlap did not include Gonzaga scoring leader Kyle Wiltjer (16.5). A 6-10, 240-pound junior forward with a nice outside shot, Wiltjer led all players with 21 points and 10 rebounds Thursday. Wiltjer and Pangos are on the current 20-man Watch List for the John Wooden Award as college player of the year.

“Wiltjer’s not ready for the NBA at this point,” Dunlap said.

Sabonis, Pangos and Karnowski are the only Bulldogs that ESPN lists as prospects for the 2015 draft. Sabonis is ranked 29th; Pangos and Karnowski did not make ESPN’s top 100 list.

“Pangos is deceptive,” Dunlap said. “He looks like a choirboy and hits like an assassin. That’s what he is. He’s much better than advertised, in my opinion. He’s ‘advertised,’ but he’s far and away the best all-around player in the league.”

Bell, long recognized as one of the premier defensive players in the West Coast Conference, went through a shooting slump earlier this season. The former Kentridge High School star averages a career-low 8.2 points, but Bell and Pangos (12.0 points, 4.9 assists) routinely pass up shots for the good of the team.

“Bell does a lot of things that go unstated,” Dunlap said.

The same can be said for many of the Bulldogs. Gonzaga, riding an 18-game winning streak, leads the nation with 52 percent shooting from the field and has outrebounded 24 of 26 opponents. On Thursday, 19 of Gonzaga’s 26 field goals came with assists.

“We’re an unselfish group,” said junior guard Eric McClellan, a reserve at Gonzaga after playing more prominent roles at Tulsa and Vanderbilt. “We like playing with one another, and we play well with one another. That’s hard to find in college basketball with a group as talented as this.”
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Monday, February 9, 2015

MONDAY MORNING PLACEKICKER: EWU's Adams goes to Oregon, and Ernie's nasty homecoming

Posted By on Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 11:02 AM


Our first post-NFL edition of Monday Morning Placekicker comes complete with a little breaking news. Just as I started to write this post, Twitter blew up with the news that EWU star quarterback Vernon Adams, Jr., has decided to take his talents to Eugene for one season playing with the Oregon Ducks:
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Adams has one year of eligibility left after graduating from EWU this spring, and he'll be playing in a perennial Top 5 program that consistently competes for national championships. He did the same at Eastern, but playing against Pac-12 competition will give him a shot at the NFL he might not have gotten had he stayed in Cheney. The Eagles did fine while Adams was hurt for a few games this past season, but losing a dynamic QB like him is definitely a hit for the Eagles. It should be fun to see Adams try to prove the naysayers wrong

IN BETTER EAGLES NEWS
The men's hoops team continues to chase the Big Sky regular season title. The Eags swept a Montana road trip — no easy task, and one made more difficult when an injury kept leading scorer Tyler Harvey at home in Cheney. No worries, as the cast of supporting players scored enough points — and actually played "D"! — to beat the Griz in Missoula Thursday, then the Bobcats in Bozeman Saturday. Next up is a home showdown against league-leading Sacramento St. 

COUGS PUMMELED
The pregame hoopla was all about WSU coach Ernie Kent returning to the campus where he made his name, taking the Oregon Ducks to two Elite Eights during his tenure. Once tipoff came, the hoopla melted away into an ass-kicking, as the Cougs couldn't hang with the Ducks, losing 95-72. It wasn't even that close. 

ZAGS DO WHAT THE ZAGS DO
Perhaps you've seen a Zags game this year? Then you know how Gonzaga's game against San Francisco went on Saturday. It was close until halftime, and actually stayed close in the second half longer than most of these games do, and then the Zags pulled away for relatively easy win. Kyle Wiltjer dropped 29 and the team won by 11. This week, the No. 2 Zags play Loyola Marymount on Thursday and pesky Pepperdine on Saturday. 
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

CDA's mayor (and many others) send a letter opposing Greyhound Park machines

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 11:54 AM

Today, a crowd of former and current elected officials in Kootenai County sent a letter to the governor and numerous legislators opposing the "instant-racing machines" currently in use at Greyhound Park and Event Center in Kootenai County. 

The machines appear in almost every sense to be slot machines, but because the result of each spin is pegged to historical horse races, they're allowed in Idaho. But lately they've come under fire. 

The letter has been signed by a bevy of well-known North Idahoans, including Mayor Steve Widmyer, Coeur d’Alene City Council President Woody McEvers, former Mayor Sandi Bloem, Coeur d'Alene Public Schools Superintendent Matt Handelman, former Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson, and North Idaho College President Joe Dunlap. 
We are writing to you to voice our collective concern regarding Vegas-style casino gaming recently introduced at off-reservation locations such as Post Falls, Boise and Idaho Falls under the pretense of wagering on historical horse races. This new form of casino gaming, called Instant Racing, has been determined in several states to be nothing more than illegal video slot machines attempting to pass as horse racing. If Instant Racing is  not stopped, we could see these installed in one location in every county in the state.
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We believe it is your duty to uphold the Idaho State Constitution and take immediate action to stop illegal activity occurring in the State. We encourage you to take a thorough look at these new machines and stop these Instant Racing Machines before they spread to every county.
In particular, the signatories of the letter worry the machines could "directly harm" the Couer d'Alene Tribe, who are allowed to use slot machines, and Idaho's other Indian tribes.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Monday Morning Placekicker: What the hell happened last night?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 11:53 AM


Second down. One-yard line. Twenty-six seconds left. Down by four.

It's not going to be easy to forget what happened. It will haunt me for a long, long while. There will be a day in June when I'm mowing the lawn and the play will pop up in my mind and I'll utter a few obscenities and continue on with my life until it creeps back the next time. I am one of those people who lets silly games ruin their lives.

It will take a few years for history to determine the severity of the boondoggle that cost the Seahawks a Super Bowl, but right now, the decision to throw the goddamn ball when you have a timeout and the league's best running back feels like something just short of Bill Buckner and the Ground Ball.

If you somehow haven't heard or are wondering why people are sleeping at their desks today in your office, the Seahawks lost to the Patriots in last night's Super Bowl in perhaps the most dream-crushing fashion possible. The sadness permeating through the Northwest is so strong as to cast a fog across the entire region. It was supposed to be sunny today, actually.

Sportswriters and civilians alike are trying to make sense of Pete Carroll's decision (or, more likely, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's decision) to throw a slant pass to Ricardo Lockette instead of letting Marshawn Lynch bulldoze his way to victory. Some have contended that Lockette was actually somewhat open and the Patriots' Malcolm Butler actually made an incredible play. Still the decision to throw in this situation was confounding to the point of feeling somehow diabolical. And, of course, there are some conspiracy theories floating around that the Seahawks needed Russell Wilson to throw the winning pass and be the hero, rather than Lynch. It's mostly nonsense, but can you imagine Roger Goodell (who was roundly booed when he took the stage) presenting the MVP trophy to Beast Mode?

Sadly, that play call and the ultimate ending to the game just about erased from the collective memory of Jermaine Kearse's otherworldly catch, which may have been the greatest grab in Super Bowl history.

OK, that's just about all I can type about this game without becoming physically ill.

THE ZAGS MOVE UP TO NUMBER 2
Allow the Inland Northwest to now sew its sporting hopes squarely on the shoulders of Gonzaga basketball now that the Super Bowl is over. The Zags are getting into position for a number one seed in the NCAA tournament and are now the No. 2-ranked team in the nation, jumping up a notch after Virginia lost to Duke on Saturday night.

Gonzaga looked like a top-tier team on Saturday when they easily dispatched a visiting Memphis squad. Sure, Memphis is not having its best year and is a shadow of the program it was under John Calipari, but the Zags 82-64 win over the Tigers was a clinic in efficiency. The Zags spread the scoring around and shot better than 55 percent as a team and 50 percent from 3-point land.

A COMEBACK FOR THE AGES AT EASTERN
I was out at Eastern on Saturday afternoon to witness the most unbelievable comeback I'd ever encountered when EWU took down Idaho in overtime.

Eastern was down by 11 with 90 seconds left in the game and somehow managed to tie the contest and take it to overtime, where they scored 12 points and snuck away with a 98-95 win over a hot-shooting Vandals team. And EWU did it without Tyler Harvey, the nation's leading scorer, who went out of the game midway through the second half with a bruised thigh.

Thankfully, Drew Brandon was around to come just a rebound away from a triple-double, capped by a length-of-the-floor drive to tie things up at the end of regulation.

As we've said in this column just about every week, you should jump on the Eagles' bandwagon. The tickets are cheap and the basketball is as exciting as anything you'll find in the nation

COUGARS WIN, TOO
You never know what you're going to get from this year's WSU squad, but they got what might have been their most impressive win of the season by edging Stanford 89-88 on Saturday. 
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Local UFC athletes celebrate a weekend victory, prep for upcoming bouts

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 3:03 PM

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She's back! 

Spokane's own Julianna Pena — the fiery mixed martial artist who's become a fan favorite since landing a contract in 2013 with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as champion of its 18th consecutive The Ultimate Fighter competition series — is getting back into the cage this spring.

The classically beautiful and deeply motivated athlete hasn't been able to compete since that November 2013 victory. Pena sustained a devastating knee injury one year ago while training at her Spokane gym, Sikjitsu, and initial predictions were that she might never return to the sport. Those sentiments, however, only made the relentlessly determined Pena — one of a small percentage of women in a sport dominated by male athletes and fans — push herself even harder to make a full recovery and return.

And just yesterday, the UFC announced Pena is indeed scheduled to return to the ring on April 4, against a recent UFC newcomer, Russian fighter Milana Dudieva. What's remarkable about that matchup, however, is that Dudieva most recently fought Pena's teammate and training partner, Elizabeth Phillips, at a hotly contested matchup in Macau, China, last summer. (Read our feature on Phillips and Pena written just before that event.)

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Calling all 12s! Fresh Brewed Tees rolls through Spokane tonight

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 12:40 PM

This Fresh Brewed Tees apparel truck rolls through Spokane as part of its #TwelveTour to the Super Bowl.
  • This Fresh Brewed Tees apparel truck rolls through Spokane as part of its #TwelveTour to the Super Bowl.

You could head over to the Grocery Outlet parking lot on West Third for some knockoff Seahawks Super Bowl swag, OR you could meet up with the Fresh Brewed Tees Seattle truck this evening. The producer of super soft and sassy (licensed) sports-themed T-shirts is stopping in Spokane from 5 to 7 pm at the Swinging Doors in its blue and green apparel truck — the whole idea being to rally the 12th Mans together before heading to Super Bowl XLIX.

“Anytime the 12s are gathered, it’s going to be a party,” says Fresh Brewed Tees partner Jamie Munson, who runs the Seattle branch.

Boutique trucks aren’t a new thing, as reported on earlier this year, but one 
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that’s road-tripping through the country en route to the Super Bowl is certainly different. The six-city tour kicked off in Seattle this morning and continues through Spokane, Boise, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas before arriving in Phoenix on Friday just in time to gear up for the big game — where the Seahawks are set to deflate the Patriots’ huge-ass egos and repeat sweet victory.

Originally from Cleveland, a city that’s had its unfair share of sports heartbreak (although Mariners fans may beg to differ), Fresh Brewed Tees started a Seattle branch after owner Tony Madalone experienced last year’s NFC Championships, when the Hawks beat the 49ers.

“Tony was blown away by the city of Seattle and its fans,” explains Munson, while stopped at a Jack in the Box to eat before taking on Snoqualmie Pass in the company van. “He decided he wanted to expand the company to the Seattle market too.”

A recent (slightly trippy) Fresh Brewed Tee design.
  • A recent (slightly trippy) Fresh Brewed Tee design.
Finding Munson, a Seattle native, on Twitter, the Madalone's company has successfully expanded. This week, the Fresh Brewed Tees caravan includes Munson and Madalone as well as five other people and one other vehicle. They don’t have Super Bowl tickets yet, but are still open to going if anyone is offering.

Tonight, expect various drawings, $100 worth of giveaways and no Patriots gear. While there won’t be any tees not already offered online, there will be shirts autographed by Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane. 

And if the Cleveland Browns ever met the Seahawks in the Super Bowl? 

"We'd root for our respective teams," Munson says with a laugh. "Our company would be able to handle it." 
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MONDAY MORNING PLACEKICKER: Eagles go crazy, Zags dominate and DEFLATEGATE!

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 11:27 AM


Let's face it, the week between the end of the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl is always brutally dull, as the withdrawal for football fans gets its start before we even get to enjoy that last game. Sure, there was that utterly meaningless and impossible-to watch-Pro Bowl Sunday night, but for the most part, it's better to focus on hoops. That's what we did here at Monday Morning Placekicker, our weekly crash course to get you up to speed on the weekend's sports happening. 

ALL HAIL THE EAGLES!
The MMPK team dropped by Cheney on Saturday to witness the Eastern Washington Eagles take on North Dakota. It was my first trip to Reese Court, and I can't lie — I was mostly there just to see the nation's leading scorer, Tyler Harvey, do his thing. Read all about Harvey's journey to ass-kicking point machine in our current issue. 
EWU's Drew Brandon. - EWU ATHLETICS
  • EWU Athletics
  • EWU's Drew Brandon.


Harvey got his, dropping 26 points, but they were a pretty quiet 26. The team, though, was loud as hell in overcoming a 41-35 halftime deficit by dropping bombs from all over the damn gym in the second half, to the tune of 67 points. 67 points! In a half! NBA teams don't even do that anymore, and their halves are 20 percent longer than college ball! The final score was 102-80, and fans should really get a free chalupa at Taco Bell or something when a college team goes over 100. 

The team shot 74 percent in the second half, which is utterly insane, and were led by a freshman named Bogdan Bliznyuk, who had a career-high 25 points on 8-for-16 shooting—and he missed about five lay-ups and short shots in the first half. He was 6-for-7 from the line, had 7 boards, and basically made us all forget that Eastern was missing Venky Jois, arguably their second-best player. 

Three Big Sky teams are packed at the top of the standings with one loss: EWU, Sacramento St. and Montana. Eastern's next game is Saturday against Idaho. 

ZAGS STILL CRUISING
Gonzaga ripped through its two home games last week, first pummeling St. Mary's in a matchup of the conference's two top teams on Thursday. Then on Saturday, they took down Pacific in short order, rolling out to an 18-point halftime lead before ultimately winning by 31, 91-60. It was a thoroughly dominating, and pretty boring to watch other than the fact Kevin Pangos tied the GU record for lifetime three-pointers, and had a couple of shots to break it before getting pulled from the game. He'll get to break the record at home when the Zags play Portland on Thursday night. 

The Gonzaga women's team also kept their roll going strong, seeing their own win streak reach 10 with a win at Pacific on Saturday. 

COUGS' TOUGH ROADIE
Earlier this month, we were pleasantly surprised by the unexpected success of the WSU men's team, ripping off three wins in a row against Cal, Washington and Oregon. Um, never mind. After Saturday's loss at Colorado, the Cougars have now lost three straight — none of them by less than 15 points. Hoo boy. The team is now in 9th place in the Pac 12. 

OKAY, OKAY, DEFLATEGATE!
This stupid "scandal" involving the Patriots footballs is nothing more than proof that we need to get rid of the bye week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. But at least it inspired this: 

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cut me, Mick!: A champion boxer answers our Rocky-inspired questions

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 12:21 PM

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For someone who could easily kick my ass despite my being roughly twice her size, Tiara Brown doesn’t look all that intimidating. It might be the smile, or the easy laugh when she talks.

She’s an engaging personality, to be sure, and probably uses that to her advantage when she’s pummeling foes in the boxing ring. Brown is a featherweight who won a world championship in 2012 and followed up with a USA national championship in 2014 right here in Spokane. Brown ended the year with a bronze finish at the 2014 world championships, her strength sapped by an illness that hit in Korea just as the tournament started. Bronze is great for some, but not for someone defending the title and aiming for the Olympics. “I was so disappointed,” Brown said during a visit to the Inlander office, “because when I’m not, I’m on it.”

She’ll look to be on it this week at the USA Boxing National Championships, fighting in preliminary rounds at The Hub in Liberty Lake before most likely reaching the semi-finals and finals at Northern Quest Resort and Casino Friday and Saturday.

During her visit to Inlander central, Brown agreed to answer some questions — all of them inspired by a Rocky marathon I watched days before we met:

Inlander: Have you ever eaten raw eggs for training?
Brown: Ewwww! No! I’ve thought of doing that to see what it’s like, but I can’t stomach it. The first thing I think is , I might get salmonella. If there’s a chance I met get it, uh-uh. 
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Have you ever chased a chicken around to get your speed up?

Check this out! When I went home (Ft. Myers, Florida) for Christmas, I actually did chase a chicken! But it wasn’t for training or anything like that. The chicken got loose from its den and it found its way down the block from this lady’s house. Me and my cousin were walking and heard “cockle-doodle-doo!” And this lady asked us to get him. I didn’t catch it! He ran away and I was like, “I can’t catch this chicken!”

To train for fighting Ivan Drago (in Rocky IV), Rocky runs up a mountain and throws logs around. What’s the most extreme thing you’ve done for endurance?
We have this drill in our gym called the playstation. We take a treadmill and put it on the highest incline. Then we take this water weight and put in on our back, and we have to climb up that treadmill for three minutes straight. And there are different stations we do for an hour straight with no break. Then we go to the next treadmill and it will be cranked to like 13 mph with no incline. Then there’s the dip machine. All of them for three minutes, with no break. My favorite thing is the tire. We flip that thing every day.

Own any pets like Rocky’s turtles or his dog Butkus?
I have a greyhound. She’s down at home with my mom. That’s my baby. She’s 10 and still thinks she’s a little puppy. She’s so lazy. When the doorbell rings, I’m looking for a bark. Nope. Freedom Brown is her name

If you could have any musician perform in the ring before you fight, ala James Brown in Rocky IV, who would it be?
Right now I’m on this new band The Script, I’m really digging them. My favorite band is the Kings of Leon. I love watching them on YouTube. They give it all.

When you’ve been out training, have you ever had a bunch of kids start following you or running with you?
Yeah. In the summer I’m actually in charge of a summer camp for boxing. Our boxing gym is attached to a rec center, and when I start running with our kids, the kids next door come out and want to run a lap with us. I’ll be doing like four miles, and to have the little babies come out and run with me, that’s fun.

Have you ever become friends with someone you’ve beaten in the ring, an old foe?
Sofya (Ochigava), she’s No. 2 in entire world, won silver in the Olympics back when I went up to 132 in 2010 to go to the Olympics. I fought her. She’s from Russia. When she fought everyone else, she wanted to destroy them. But when me and her fought, she wasn’t like that. We ‘ve been friends ever since 2010. We Skype every other weekend. Facebook. Instagram. The friends I’ve made. I never imagined.

The USA Boxing National Championships host the semi-finals on Friday and finals on Saturday at Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Airway Heights.  
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Monday, January 19, 2015

Fair-weather fans are worth cheering for

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 1:36 PM

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Right now, life is pretty sunny for fair-weather fans of the Seahawks.

But life is always pretty good for the fair-weather fan. That’s the entire point. If it’s sunny, they bask in it. And when it starts raining, they do the sensible thing and go inside and curl up with some hot chocolate. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Yes, if you leave a game before it’s over to beat traffic, you deserve to be mocked when your team improbably turns it around in the final quarter. Yes, it’s fine to make fun of my grandpa, who turned off the Apple Cup in disgust in 2012, only to miss one of the Cougars’ greatest comebacks.Yes, there’s a Quixotic sort of heroism to those shivering in the rain in empty stadiums, keeping vigil over a string of heart-breaking defeats. There is a nobility to the doomed sports fan, loyally manning the Helms Deep parapets as he sees his team slaughtered year after a year.

So yes, the diehards earn the right to brag when their team turns it around, to hold their head a little higher, to brag about how they were there man before their team was cool.

But it’s not immoral or shameful to be a fair-weather fan. It’s rational.

Sports, it sometimes helps to be reminded, are make-believe.

Nothing inherently changes in the world if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, or the Mariners win the pennant, or the North Central High School distance runners win Nike Cross Nationals. But that surge of jump-up-and-down excitement you get when you win, that swagger and strut that follows, that’s real. So is the feeling of devastation when you lose, the sickness in your stomach that leaves you scowling, snapping at your wife, yelling at your kids.

Rooting for the team most likely to leave you smiling instead of brooding is just a wise mental health choice. 

Jump on the bandwagon. The bandwagon is a magical place, where we feel a genuine camaraderie that can supersede race, class, nationality, religion, politics, and all that destructive stuff of division. The bandwagon is packed and warm, and people are drinking, singing, and waving their foam fingers. 

And when it gets colder, when the singing stops, and the foam fingers start wilting, feel free to jump off, stick your thumb out on the roadside, and hitch on the ride on the next packed bandwagon to drive by.

Remember: The stuff of sports — the tackles and fouls and half-court shots and volleys and baton passes — are all put there for your entertainment.

If a sitcom jumps the shark, you stop watching. If Michael Bay’s last three movies have been painful to sit through, you stop shelling out for tickets. And if the Seahawks start sucking next year, it makes sense to pack up your 12th Man banner and find something else to root for. There’s so much to do in life, so many TV shows to binge through on Netflix, so many good albums to discover, so many books to read, articles to skim, video games to play through that won’t leave you depressed.

Even die-hard fans complain about the way that, in some sports, swaps, trades, and coaching turnover makes it feel more like you’re rooting for a stadium or a mascot more than any truly contiguous team. So why bother with loyalty?

There’s no karmic punishment, no angry sports God, no execution for treason, no dishonor upon your family if you abandon your team for a better one. There’s no sense in being more loyal to a team than that team’s athletes are to their wives.

It’s fun to watch sports.

It’s much more fun to watch sports when you’re winning.


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