When It All Goes Wrong Again

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

No one likes to lose especially in sports. Those in sports love to compete plain and simple. Whether it’s on the field, on the ice or in the Octagon. Being a competitor means two things, you like to win and you hate to lose.

The July 4th weekend saw a lot of streaks come to an end and some bad ones continue. Competitors who have been so use to winning finally lost. UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva lost his belt to the undefeated Chris Weidman. It’s the first loss for Silva in his 17 fight UFC career and his first since January 2006.

A streak of a lesser note came to end in MLS where the Portland Timbers lost to the Columbus Crew 1-0. This ended a 15 game unbeaten streak for the Timbers who have been the surprise team of MLS so far this year.

On a bad continuing note, the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants continued their losing ways. They have not won a series since mid May and since June 1st they are 11-25.

Winning is contagious but so is losing. When things are going well, they go really well and vice versa. Baseballs find the gaps, punches find their mark, and passes are crisper. But all streaks eventually come to an end and bad streaks can begin if you’re not careful.

The Timbers and Giants have immediate opportunities to turn it around while Silva will have to wait a while for another chance at the first man to defeat him in over 7 years.

The Retirement Pt. 2 of 2

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

At the end of the May there was a flurry of retirements. From football legends to a man who helped launch the sport of mixed martial arts into the modern day psyche. Sir Alex Ferguson, David Beckham and Forrest Griffin all at some point had to ask themselves this question, ‘what else is there left for me to accomplish?’

Sir Alex & Becks Retire

For the first time in 26 years Sir Alex Ferguson will not be the manager of Manchester United when they take the pitch next season. In those 26 years he has led the Red Devils to 38 trophies and 2 Champions League titles among other things. Along the way one of his most famous players was David Beckham. Beckham won 6 premier league titles and a Champions League title with United. He also won league titles with 3 other clubs ( Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and Paris St-Germain) and is one of the most famous people in the world.

Forrest Griffin Retirement

Forrest Griffin was on season 1 of the The Ultimate Fighter. He defeated Stephan Bonnar in the finale in what is consider the greatest fight in UFC history and pointed to as the fight that helped launch the UFC to where it is today. He later won the Light Heavyweight title by defeating Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. He’s also a 2 time New York Times bestselling author.

Each of these individuals accomplished a lot in the world of sports. Now each has to find a new endeavor to fill the void. Those outside of the athletic world know this feeling having encountered it on occasion. Maybe after losing a job, graduating from school, getting a divorce, etc. It’s the ‘now what?’ question that has to be answered.

Sir Alex will remain with United as a director. Beckham worked out a deal when he initially came to MLS that after he retired he could get a deal on an MLS club ($25 million to be exact) and now there is talk of an expansion team in Miami. Griffin will stay on with the UFC in a yet undetermined capacity.

Yet for these 3 there are hundreds more who don’t have a retirement plan per say or at least a very quiet one. Athletes, as the saying goes, retire twice but the first one may be the hardest to do if they are not prepared. The acknowledgement that at some point you’ll put your hands on your hips and say, ‘what else is there for me to do here?’ is a great first step. In other words, knowing that there is an end will allow you to begin.

CNN – The End Game

The Home Field Disadvantage

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

As we’ve covered before, travel can take it’s toll on a people. From airports to traffic to weather to timezone changes. It’s rough. Playing at home has it’s disadvantages too.

Some teams have a tremendous home field (or ice) advantage. The University of Miami football team once won 58 straight home games between 1985-1994. Cameron Indoor Arena on the campus of Duke University is an amazing atmosphere, Fenway Park in Boston is historic, JELD-WEN Field in Portland is unreal, the Bell Centre in Montreal can just make your jaw drop. But what happens when a road team comes to these great atmospheres? They’re excited too!

Face off on home ice.
Montreal vs Ottawa

It’s one thing for a road team to get up to play a game in Columbus, OH at Crew Stadium and another to get ready to play in front of the Timbers Army in Portland. Grant Wahl did a player survey before the start of the 2013 MLS season. Which were places had the best atmospheres in MLS? Seattle and Portland of course. Who had the worse? Dallas with Columbus coming in 3rd. With these atmospheres you can get a better than expected performance out of people because they are so energized by the atmosphere.

Playing at home also brings in the distractions. You’re home and people know where to find you vs being locked in and focused on the road where the bills and family are not out of sight and usually out of mind. Talk to fighters in the UFC. Usually when they fight in their hometown people come out of the woodwork looking for tickets and deals on hotel rooms. The road can allow people to focus in more on the game.

Home games overall are better than road games but make no mistake, they can have their drawbacks.

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Do It For The Fans

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Recently NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson offered LeBron James $1 million to be in next years Slam Dunk Contest during All Star Weekend. Fellow analyst and former NBA star Jalen Rose added that he’d like to see Blake Griffin in this contest as well.

LeBron has never been in the Slam Dunk Contest. Will a million dollars get him to do it? Maybe but then again maybe not. While people around the internet debate the reasons why LeBron should or shouldn’t do the Slam Dunk Contest it begs the question, don’t fans want to see him in the Slam Dunk Contest?

Compare LeBron’s situation to another sport, MMA. There have been countless times when a fighter has lost a fight and yet was content with the show they put on for the fans. The Wanderlei Silva vs Brian Stann fight this past weekend is a classic example. Both fighters are true warriors and have absolutely no intention of letting the judges decide who would win the fight. They had some amazing exchanges in the 1st round before Wanderlei found the right combination to knockout Stann in the 2nd.

Silva v Stann Highlights

There are several fighters out there like Silva and Stann. So many that it’s hard to keep track. Fighters who put it all on the line and would rather put on an amazing fight for the fans then to play it safe and and take their chances with the judges decision.

So why is LeBron playing it safe? Yeah, he may lose the Slam Dunk Contest if he enters but he also might lose his next game so what’s the difference? It’s part of being a competitor. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose but the beauty of sports isn’t just winning, it’s putting on a memorable performance that lives on through the years. Much like Michael Jordan’s winning dunk at the 1987 Slam Dunk Contest where he took off -literally- from the free throw line. It wasn’t Jordan’s first Slam Dunk Contest. He lost his first one to Dominique Wilkins but the competitor he is made hime comeback to show that he was the best.

Should LeBron enter the 2014 Slam Dunk Contest? Yes and if for no other reason then to do it for the fans.

Why We Watch Sports

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

The past week has been filled with everything but actual sports. From Lance Armstrong’s doping admission to Oprah, the MLS SuperDraft, NFL Coaching hires, and the Manti Te’o ‘catfishing’ story, all of the sports news has been about everything outside the field of play.

Maybe that’s what makes Saturday and Sunday so great.

Saturday was one of the best days of regular season college basketball match ups in recent memory. #1 vs #6, #10 vs #17, and it was to be topped off with #8 Gonzaga at #13 Butler. You know it’s a going to be a good day when ESPN College Gameday is at Butler and someone makes the half court shot for $18k…on the first attempt.

BUTLER GAME WINNING SHOT

The end of the day was even better. 10 plus hours later Roosevelt Jones makes a runner as time expires to win the game for Butler in an ending you have to see to believe. 

About 30 minutes before Jones’ game winner, Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Vitor Belfort TKO’d Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7 in Sao Paulo, Brazil with a head kick. It’s a close call as to which crowd reaction was better. The one in Brazil or the one in Indianapolis.

Then Sunday morning saw American Clint Dempsey get the tying goal for Tottenham in stoppage time against Manchester United in a snow storm. Dempsey was yellow carded for celebrating with supporters after the goal but he’ll take it and the point for Spurs.

This is why we watch sports. For the unbelievable moments that can occur. The comebacks when all hope was lost. That rush of adrenaline into your system as you scream and jump up out of the chair. The rest, is to fill air time. Armstrong’s admission doesn’t make you forget the moments you watched over the years. The fake girlfriend of Te’o doesn’t make you forget the big plays he made during the year (or the tackels he didn’t make against Alabama).

This is why we watch sports and why we will continue to watch regardless of the flaws these athletes have.

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