Thursday, March 8, 2018

Slant Pattern Odds and Ends

By Kevin Beane

* A couple hours ago, Georgia Tech (a team I predicted would make the Big Dance) lost to Boston College in the first round of the ACC tournament. Since they are 13-19, they aren't going to make any postseason tournament at all. It's the end of an era...

... that era being, major conference football and basketball being outfitted by a company other than Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. Georgia Tech was outfitted by Russell Athletic, but they are switching to Adidas next year.

The lack of competitiveness in this area is damaging to college athletics. I don't need to outline the criminal venality of Adidas, the FBI has done that for me and brought down Rick Pitino. That's likely just the tip of the iceberg.

I won't speculate on whether Adidas is the only cheater. But Nike, who I have personally long boycotted, is a stain on sports due to their rampant pervasiveness. I'm telling you, it's not going to be long before the logo on the side of a helmet is the actual swoosh.

In tennis, Nike used to give their signed players options. No more, unless you're a big name like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, or Grigor Dimitrov. If it's a match between, say, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe, I can guarantee they will be wearing the exact same outfit, including socks and shoes. Nike is trying to push their spring tennis line, after all.

That brings me to the fact that these multinational outfitters don't just provide the apparel, but design them. We can presume that even colleges with only a couple thousand students and many more alumni can design uniforms that not only look amazing, but have a personal connection to the school.

But no dice with the money train that Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas pushes down the tracks that are covered with the slobber of university ADs and administrators. And of course, the only people that aren't making out like bandits, the only real pawns, are the student athletes themselves. The whole deal makes me absolutely sick.

* On to happier news: there's less and less of a stigma associated with depression, anxiety disorders, and mental illness with each passing day, and that's great for us as a society. Kevin Love has opened up about his panic attacks and DeMar DeRozan about his depression, and has been met with a lot of support among peers, including LeBron James.

The best firsthand account of crippling anxiety, as it relates to sports, is this 2015 piece by Mardy Fish.

Whatever your demon, lyin', betrayin' brain is throwing at you, understand that you're not alone and help is out there. I have OCD, for example. There are many forms of OCD, it's not just obsessively counting things or extreme cleanliness. I don't have a kind that's "visible" like that. But it's been bad enough to make life a living hell for weeks on end, with almost no one the wiser. I got help, and I can't really say how much better life is for me that I did. You can, too. If you're poor or uninsured, there are resources out there that can mitigate the cost of counseling or therapy. Google your state and city, as well.

* Last time out, I wrote about curling, and how it's worth sticking with. Easy for me to say. I fall in and out of love with sports on a weekly basis. I mean, sure, I will always love football, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, and golf. But so many other sports I treat like a fickle lover. I have an on-again, off-again relationship with boxing that would make Luke and Laura blush. I have similar unsteady dalliances with everything from rugby league to candlepin bowling.

But curling might be here to stay in my heart! I find myself getting drawn towards it even here in the teeth of March Madness.

If you're feeling similarly reminiscent about curling post-Olympics, two tournaments are going on right now that are being broadcast with the high production values you saw in Pyeongchang. One is the World Junior Curling Championships on YouTube, and the other is the Tim Horton's Brier, an important Canadian tournament, on ESPN3/WatchESPN.

In the latter, how do you decide who to root for? You can either listen to your heart, or listen to me.

I love upsets, and the most dominant Canadian province in curling is, surprisingly, Manitoba. I also root against Ontario because they're the New York Yankees of Canadian provinces. So are, to a lesser extent, British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta. Newfoundland and Labrador are, like Manitoba, better at curling than their population numbers might suggest.

That leaves the minnows, which includes the rest of the Canadian provinces, Canadian territories (Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon), and Northern Ontario, which is separate from the rest of Ontario for curling purposes for some reason. Go all of them!

Contents copyright © Sports Central 1998-2017