They’re pretty good, I guess

Hawks’ll skate tonight against my new home town’s team. Two more easy points!

Puck drops at 7:30 CT (the ungodly early 5:30 out here, this time zone is weird).

Champions?

It’s hard to be happy with this year’s NCAA tournament. It’s true that we had two fantastic underdog stories in Butler and VCU, but they were well and truly overshadowed.

Under normal circumstances, an 8 or even 11 seed making the Final Four would be reason to celebrate the tournament as wildly watchable and intriguing. George Mason’s run in 2006 is  a perfect example. This year however, the first year with 68 teams, the tournament seemed overcrowded and the result was underwhelming. Upsets were so prevalent that they were more disappointing that “good” teams couldn’t live to expectations than unexpectedly exciting. We had a perfect contradiction on the opposite sides of the Final Four: two young, dynamic, exciting, clean coaches faced each other as two depressing, corrupt standards squared off in the other game. That the crustiest, NCAA-violation-est of them all got the hardware just makes it worse.

What’s more, all my complaints have nothing to do with the great play that won 67 games. The UConn players’ determination, winning 11 tough games in a row, is both remarkable and laudable – though overshadowed by the cheating coach. VCU had an amazing tournament, it’s really too bad that it allows the NCAA to justify the First Four, which is a travesty. VCU played spectacularly to win 5 games, then was beaten by Butler who laid an egg for the championship, a disappointing lasting memory. The Big East made a huge statement with 11 teams into the tournament, then proved a paper tiger by only getting two into the second weekend.

All in all, this tournament proved that  unpredictable did not mean exciting.

Ouch

Concussions in the NHL and NFL

Without question, hockey and football are the most aggressive and violent of American sports. Ridiculously hard hits are not just a side-effect, they are a primary feature of these sports. Muscles and ligaments are torn, bones are broken, and a player is regarded for how quickly he is able to return to play.

The last couple years have seen a huge increase in awareness of the effects of concussions. Players are “protected” by hard foam cushions, but brain trauma is caused by acceleration and jerk (rate of change of acceleration), so as long as hits are sudden, players will suffer concussions. In fact, the clattering of linemen bashing their heads together, even over the tiny distance they’ve been moving, does more cumulative damage than any other activity in sport. Hitting is a more marginal part of hockey, but are no less destructive. They tend to happen extremely fast and plexiglass and ice are not forgiving surfaces.

In both sports, the body count is starting to pile up. Cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – George Carlin would have had something to say about such a euphemistic moniker – are increasingly common. CTE causes drastically shorter life expectancy (NFL linemen die 18 years sooner than the average man, Bob Probert was only 45) as well as serious depression (Dave Duerson, Marc Savard) .

The question cannot be ignored any longer. How do we protect athletes from the dangers inherent in their sport?

KU 68 – KSU 84

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

suckit, Self.

NCAA rankings make so little sense

This week’s polls are really bizarre, especially if you like the transitive property. Let’s just take a look at some of the fun situations:

~#2 Kansas’s loss came at the hands of #3 Texas, who themselves lost to #4 Pitt and #6 UConn. Pitt only has 2 losses, UConn and Texas have 3.
~Last week, #8 BYU beat #7 SDSU.
~St. John’s has beaten #12 Georgetown, #9 Notre Dame, and #5 Duke, but isn’t ranked.  There are 3 ranked teams that haven’t beaten a single ranked team.
~#10 Kentucky has lost to 4 unranked teams.

The best part of it all is that this poll is actually pretty good. This season has been fraught with inconsistent play, close calls, and a standout lack of standout teams.

WAR EAGLE!

Auburn are national champions!