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I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

This is Sports...There are No Excuses

It seems like fans, media, and even players or coaches or owners need an "excuse" when their team loses in sports.  The human mind just can't rationalize that maybe, just maybe, the other team, player, coach (or even horse) just outperformed you.  It's becoming something you can set your watch by after the game...if your team loses, be prepared for excuses. And the media feeds it, asking leading questions like "how did the conditions of the field affect your performance..." or "do you think you should have left that pitcher in to face that key hitter?"  Here's a short list of easy scapegoats that needs to be dismissed.  This is sports...there are no excuses:

Excuse: We lost the game because we were outcoached
NBA coach Mike Brown seems to be blamed frequently when his star players don't perform
(Credit: Damian Strohmeyer/SI)

Said by: Every fan who ever saw his team lose a game
Rationale: We love our players, our players play great, we had better players, the only rational reason we lost is because the coach called the wrong plays, played the wrong players, didn't get the team "up" enough for the game, etc.
Barking up the wrong tree: Okay, it is true that coaches aren't perfect.  But unless you're a player-coach, it's ultimately the players that run the plays, perform or not, and should be responsible for being mentally prepared for the game.  It seems like every sport has gone from a six-year period of performance to see if a coach is good to about two years (maybe three).  You can win a championship one year (division, league, conference) then, if you fall short of expectation, be fired the next.  It's not like you forgot how to coach!

Excuse: The playing conditions weren't fair
You hate to see poor field conditions cause injuries, but both sides have to play on it
(Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Said by: Right now, every Miami Heat fan, also said by anybody who saw their team lose in bad weather or because they just didn't like the stadium/arena
Rationale: We had a good chance coming into the game, we thought we would win, but then it rained, or there was a delay, or the air conditioning broke down, they made us open the roof, or the lights went out, or a streaker ran on the field
Barking up the wrong tree: As has been said about Game 1 of the NBA finals, both teams had to play in the same conditions.  It goes for any facility issue.  A football field measures the same no matter where.  Basketball and hockey the same.  Baseball has different dimensions, but both teams have to play in the same conditions.  It's not like one team got 5 downs to get a first down and the other got 4 (except Colorado vs. Missouri).  Even if weather kicks up at the wrong time, it's not unfair.

Excuse: The referee/umpire screwed us
Replacement refs blew this call, but the Packers should have avoided it being so close
(Credit: FoxSports.com)

Said by: Pretty much every fan who has lost a game
Rationale: Did you SEE that call!?  IT was horrible! If we hadn't have had that call, the next five plays would have gone perfectly and we would have won.  Instead, we lost because of the refs!!
Barking up the wrong tree: You'd be hardpressed to find any referee actually have a bias against a team.  They are professionals and wouldn't be working for long.  Close calls go against both teams.  My daddy always told me, if you lose the game because of a referee call, you probably had other chances to win it.  And every fan of their team sees calls they want to see them.  That's why they are fans.  I've left many a game frustrated at a particular play call by a referee or ump.  Replay can correct some of these.  But otherwise, it's just part of the game, like a dropped pass, error in the field, or own goal in hockey.

Excuse: The rules or set up favors the other team
The Yankees have more money than other teams, because they have fans who pay a lot to see them play
(Credit: Amazon.com)
Said by: Most recently, Steve Coburn of Dumb Ass Partners, but also small market teams, teams that have to play back-to-back days while the other team has a bye, college football programs with lower revenue, etc.
Rationale: It's not fair that other horses/teams got to rest before this race.  It's not fair that the New York Yankees have a $300M payroll while my market can only spend $60M, it's not fair that LSU had a bye week before playing Alabama...
Barking up the wrong tree: The rules are set up and we play by them.  In the case of the 2014 Belmont Stakes, it's horse owners jobs to win races, not compete in races they don't want to.  If a horse thinks it can win the Belmont with extra rest, then it should rest the horse.  If the NBA team has to play back-to-back days, then maybe it should limit minutes.  Other teams will be in the same boat sometime.  It's not the Yankees fault they have a bigger budget than most if not all teams.  It's the way the finances of baseball are set up.  Thems the rules.  And we must play by them.

Excuse: Player X blew the game
As goes Peyton, so went the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII
(Credit: Indianapolis Star/Kevin C. Cox)

Said by: Any fan whose quarterback threw a key interception, or pitcher gave up the big hit, or player missed the big shot, or goalie gave up too many goals, etc.
Rationale: We didn't win based upon that one play.  He had one job to do and he didn't do it.  It's his fault that we lost
Barking up the wrong tree: This one is close to being right (players decide games, not fans or coaches or refs or playing conditions) BUT to think it's just one player and he must be blamed is a farce.  Thinking of team sports, of course, multiple players had chances to overcome but didn't.  And if it's an individual failure (let's just say, Bode Miller in Olympics past or a golfer who missed a key shot) then indeed, he or she blew the chance.  But that's sports,  They are not robots.  You can certainly say that the performance affected the game.  But give some credit to the other team or player who didn't blow it.  He or she won.

Excuse: Our star player was hurt
2009 Texas Longhorns National Title hopes took a bad turn with the McCoy injury
(Credit: Birmingham News/Butch Dill)

Said by: Recently said by Miami Heat fans (see above), Montreal Canadiens fans, 2009 Texas Longhorns football fans, all teams who suffer an injury (which is all teams)
Rationale: If we would have had our star player, it wouldn't have been close
Barking up the wrong tree:  This is sports.  Sports is physical.  Players get hurt.  Good teams have to overcome.  The rules of the game are the same, you go with who you have.  And if an injury befalls your star "next man up"

So next time you see your team lose and you grab for one of these excuses.  Take the higher road.  It's a game.  One team wins, one team loses.  There's always next game, next year, next sport.



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