Well, summer is officially here and athletic competition at UNCG has ended until August. Let’s use this time to look back on the events, games and news that taught me this past month and I will hold onto in the upcoming months and in some circumstances, years.
- LaVar Ball is not Bad for Basketball or Sports
Not since Richard Williams and Earl Woods back in the mid 1990s has a parent taken the spotlight like LaVar Ball over the past eight months. From comparing his son, the second overall draft pick Lonzo Ball, to two time MVP Stephen Curry to saying he can defeat Michael Jordan in one-on-one basketball back in the late 1980s to his many interesting hot takes and answers when interviewed, LaVar Ball has become a polarizing character. But you know what, Lonzo Ball is now the point guard for the Lakers, his other two sons are going to attend UCLA on scholarship, and it was LaVar who, in his own words, “Spoke that into existence.” On a few days after the draft, LaVar appeared on WWE Raw, which is the most appropriate platform for this man. And you know what, Richard Williams gave us the Williams sisters, Earl Woods gave us Tiger Woods, so who knows how good Lonzo will be in L.A.
- New Era in Baseball
This past June, the MLB set a record for most home runs in a month by a league with 1,101 dingers. And despite rumours of “juicing the baseball,” the fact is this: Players are swing for the fences more than ever before. Players are working out more and getting stronger. There is no longer a fear or stigma for striking out a lot. Pitchers are throwing the ball faster than in the past. This equation has led to the Aaron Judges and Cody Bellingers of the game smacking 400 ft shots as rookies. Baseball has entered a new era in its game. Let’s hope this one won’t be ruled by scandals and drug use.
- Basketball’s Popularity
Despite the NBA Finals being a one sided affair in favor of the overpowered Golden State Warriors, the ratings were the highest since Michael Jordan’s last NBA Finals’ in 1998. Basketball in general has relied on two important factors when it came to ratings and attention: Nostalgia and stars. The past (and let’s be serious, the 2018 NBA Finals) will definitely be a star studded affair, with the two most marketable players, Stephen Curry and LeBron James, being on teams favored to make the Finals again. Then with nostalgia, we have the introduction of Ice Cube’s BIG3 League on FS1. Despite delay and losing one of the league’s biggest stars, Jason “White Chocolate” Williams to an injury, the league of retired players still drew in big ratings with young adults, signalling basketball’s popularity could become year long.
- Do People Really Care About Boxing?
Maybe it is a little cheating (or maybe it goes against the title of the story) but the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn fight this past Saturday night and the upcoming Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight showed problems with boxing that the UFC fighting league does not as it grows in popularity as boxing decreases. For the second time in his career, Pacquiao seemed to have lost on judges’ decisions despite having a better overall fight. In the first circumstance, against Timothy Bradley, this decision led to a rematch between the two. Here, the decision might be chalked up to home field advantage, with the fight taking place in Horn’s country of Australia. In the other popular fight of the summer, Floyd Mayweather has returned from retirement to fight, a UFC fighter who doesn’t box. When the two biggest stars in boxing are either losing the benefit of the doubt or putting on silly exhibitions for a payday, how can fans take the sport seriously?
- UNCG Baseball Wins Team of the Year
The competitive Spartans sports year of 2016-17 officially came to an end when the Baseball team fell to Clemson University at Clemson in the first round of the College World Series, marking an end to the most successful season in the baseball’s history and the best season on campus. The last days of May saw the team destroy the Furman Paladins 13-1 to win their first SoCon tournament title before heading off the South Carolina for their first appearance in the College World Series since 1997. So by a landslide, the Baseball team wins to award for UNCG’s Team of the Year for their best season in the program’s history.