With the month of June in the background, the last thirty days produced many storylines in the world of professional and collegiate sports, as well as news from UNCG. Here are just five of hundreds of storylines that dominated the world sports media and my interpretation of these them.
5. The NBA is Still LeBron’s League
Since entering the NBA back in 2003, LeBron James has been the most recognizable face of basketball and one of the most recognizable people in the United States. Coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals against the Stephen Curry led Golden State Warriors marks the end of a journey he made to return a championship to the city of Cleveland. But even more, the comeback against Stephen Curry, who had spent the last two years garnering up the spotlight that used to be dominated by the Akron native was a reminder to the rest of the NBA that the game still revolves are him and no one else.
4. Spartan Baseball Wins the Best Team on Campus Award
The remarkable season of UNCG Baseball ended in the final days of May with a loss 15-10 loss against Furman in the SoCon tournament. By the end of the year, 2016 SoCon Coach of the Year Link Jarrett’s squad had won 38 games, most in more than a decade, and had nine of his players receive All-SoCon honors. Then in mid June, the Spartan team matched the Spartans 2007 and 1994 mark by having three different players drafted in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. L.J. Kalawaia, Hunter Smith, and Collin Woody were drafted by the Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Soxs, and Baltimore Orioles. No doubt, the standout university team this year was the Baseball team.
3. Lucy Mason Wasted Her Talents at UNCG
Lucy Mason’s final collegiate game was a twenty-three point blowout against the No.1 ranked Mercer Bears in the SoCon tournament on March 3, marking the end of one of the Spartans’ greatness women’s basketball players in their school’s history. Mason ended her career with a record 1,907 career points and 22 point per game average. This month, she was named to the NC Collegiate Sports Information Association First Team as the only representative from the SoCon and was nominated as NCAA Women of the Year. All that while playing for the worst team in the SoCon year after year. There have been many examples of great talents wasting their abilities for a team that can’t match up to his/herself. Unfortunately, it looks like Mason’s four year collegiate basketball career falls in that category.
2. Get the Damn Olympics out of Rio
You’ll think that reports of abject poverty around the country, pollution, police not getting paid, a country struggling economically, and a dangerous virus would call for the most watched event of the year to be moved almost anywhere else. Well, no. For some reason, the 2016 Olympic Games are been played out in Rio because insert reason here. Athletes are now forced to make a decision to risk their health and lives going or not.
1. Colleges and their Athletes Have Little Shame over Sex Crime Scandals
Brock Turner, Joe Paterno, and Baylor football/university. The “men” (used in the loosest sense of the word), all in headlines this month due to sexual crimes, continue to show the world the negative effects that sports can have on an entire university and the students alike. Brock Turner is now in jail for the rape of an unconscious female student. But by the time the fall semester starts in August, he will probably be released, because a rape conviction for athletes has come to mean six months in prison, three with good behavior. Next on this list is Baylor University, specifically head football coach Art Briles, President Ken Starr, and AD Ian McCaw. These three men are now in the unemployment line after an investigation found that they fostered an environment where sexually harassment and assault was tolerated because of the success of the football team. To make matter worse, boasters of this harmful policy supported and contributed to the re-hiring of Briles, because football wins are more important than the safety and security of women. And finally we have the late granddaddy of sex scandal: Joe Paterno. The late football coach went from one of the beloved figures in American sports to a pariah after it was discovered he helped hide the actions of serial child rapist of former Penn State assistant, Jerry Sandusky for decades. Recently, 200 former players wrote a petition asking for the university to reerect the statue of Paterno that was taken down during the scandal’s fallout. All three stories show the dark side of sports: that when the game becomes more important than lives, all reason and humanity goes out the window.