Put up the Halloween declarations, sip the seasonal spiced drinks and put on a nice sweater for the cool Autumn breeze…Oh wait, it’s still hot. Never mind. The month of September has ended, and I woke up, so let’s look back on what was learned from the past thirty days.
5. Jon Milligan has been UNCG’s Soccer MVP
The men’s soccer team are really feeling the affects from the absence of Damieon Thomas. The departed senior led the Southern Conference in scoring at 24 points, with eight goals and assists, giving the Spartans an explosive offense. This season, the team has only scored multiple goals in a game once. Still, the outstanding play from junior goalkeeper, Jon Milligan, has kept the team afloat as they look for their offensive game. Already named Player of the Week for the last week of September, Milligan has gone from freshman standout, to backup goalie last year, to one of the top goalies in the SoCon. And speaking of not allowing points on the board.
4. Club Football Defense
In their second year of existence, the Spartans football squad is matching their stout defense from last year with one that could be even better. In their two games this month, the team has held George Mason University and Longwood University to only 13 points in total! The season began with an entirely new offensive line, so there was bound to be an adjustment period in that regard. Yet, the defense has established a path to victory by prevent their opponents from scoring more than a touchdown, as well as set up their offense with great field position for easier drives. This team will go as far as their defense takes them.
3. Old vs. Gold
How do you beat the Golden State Warriors? With the 2010 All-NBA team! At least that’s the approach the Cleveland Cavaliers are taking, seeing that they just added Dwyane Wade to their roster of veterans. Honestly, five years ago, the Cavs would go 74-8 and be the favorites to win the championship. But it’s 2017, and the team should be more concerned about getting to June healthy more than anything, seeing that their backcourt includes two veterans with bad knees in Wade and Derrick Rose and a point guard with an injured hip in Isiah Thomas.
2. MLB’s Superstar Issue
Another postseason without Mike Trout. Another postseason without Giancarlo Stanton. Another postseason without Manny Machado. Superstars are important for every professional sport, and no time is more important to show them off than the postseason. Though the MLB postseason will feature stars like Aaron Judge, Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper, baseball’s issue of not having their best players play in their most viewed games continues to be a major issue.
1. The Silent Athlete Era is Over
The fact that Colin Kaepernick is not on a NFL team’s roster this season should be a surprise to no one. When Kaepernick first gained notoriety last season when he sat, then knelt for the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and institutional racism in the United States; he knew his career would definitely be in jeopardy. (And yes, his protest was about police brutality and institutional racism. Enough with this “Mandela Effect” by saying it’s about the anthem, military, flag, or the United States as a whole.) He’s a solid quarterback, but certainly no superstar, on a rebuilding team in the final year of his contract. This story has been played out before. Craig Hodges, one of the top outside shooters of the 1980s and early 1990s, found himself out of the NBA in less than a year after criticizing the George H. W. Bush administration for minority treatment, as well as questioned teammate Michael Jordan’s lack of involvement in social activism. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf bowed his head and prayed for the anthem in 1996 and was out of the league by 1998 before making a brief appearance for a year at the turn of the century. AFL running back, Cookie Gilchrist, who was actually a star player, was traded to the last place Denver Broncos after leading a boycott for the 1965 Pro Bowl over the racism black players endured in New Orleans. The game was eventually moved to Dallas.
Like Kaepernick, Hodges and Rauf were average to above average players who were good enough to play, but teams did not want to carry their “baggage.” For a star player, teams would look the other way. Superstar players with a lot of potential like Ray Lewis, Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger have been accused of actual crimes, and have gotten the support of their organization that values their talent. And despite Kaepernick’s continued unemployment, the fact that more and more players in his former league have mirrored his protest, illustrates a changing mindset in athletes. Athletes are not going to be silent anymore in terms of social issues. Though the push had more to do with derogatory statements made by President Donald Trump towards football players than Kaepernick or his cause, the message was clear: the era of “shut up and play the game” is over in professional sports.