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My Top 10 Sporting Events

Spencer Boothe —  Sunday, January 6, 2013 — 6 Comments

As a sports fan, there is always something on TV that I can watch. However, some of those events are more appealing to me than others. Some events I can tolerate, while others I would do anything to be able to watch (I thought about inserting some corny over-exaggeration here, but I’ll just let you use your imagination). So I decided to make a list of my top 10 favorite sporting events. Now I am a Mississippi State, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Team USA fan, so this list is assuming that my favorite teams are NOT involved in that event. Obviously, if my favorite teams are involved, then I would be much more interested. Also, since I am in SEC country here in Mississippi, there is a little SEC bias. So here goes:

10. SEC Baseball tournament- As a former high school baseball player, baseball was always my one true love when it came to playing sports. However, watching baseball has never been as appealing to me as actually playing. I enjoy watching the SEC tournament because I know all the teams and have watched many of them play throughout the season. As for the tournament, it is interesting for me, but it’s not something that I feel like I have to watch.

9. World Series- Along the same lines as the SEC baseball tournament, I just don’t LOVE watching the World Series. I generally do watch the majority of the series, but it is generally for an inning or two at a time.

8. World Cup Qualifying- From my previous article, it is fair to assume that I am a soccer aficionado. Well, that assumption is correct. I really enjoy the sport, but I am much more of a fan of the international game, rather than club seasons. The World Cup is the mecca that every country in the nation longs to play for and win, and every country has an opportunity to get there during qualifying. 207 national teams from around the world have the opportunity to be among the final 32 that make it to the World Cup. The World Cup takes place every four years, so qualifying is taking place in between events. I really enjoy watching the qualifiers because every team is playing to advance, or to have to sit at home during the big event.

7. SEC Basketball Tournament- I am a big college sports fan, in general. Much more so than professional sports because in college players are playing to win rather than for their paychecks (I know that is debatable, especially here in SEC country). The SEC tournament is the end of the basketball season, and it is one last chance for teams to increase their seeding in the Big Dance, push themselves to the right side of the bubble, or steal a bid from someone else by winning the tournament. There is so much emotion during the tournament because for seniors it may be the last game they ever play. Every team wants to go to the NCAA tournament, and the SEC tournament is the last chance to impress the selection committee, or to win an automatic bid.

6. SEC championship game (football) – In recent years, SEC champion=BCS national champion. So, basically, watching this game is like watching the national championship game. It is always fun to watch the best team from the West play the best from the East for their shot to play for the BCS title. Even when it is not a de facto semifinal match, the game still determines the SEC winner and who will go to, at worst, the Sugar Bowl.

5. BCS National Championship- Now for the actual national championship game. As I just said, the winner of the SEC championship game usually wins this one, as well. But that is not always the case, and one of these days it will change (maybe Notre Dame this year. Probably not, though.) The national championship game is usually a hard-hitting affair for all the marbles, and it is a game that I always enjoy watching. Another thing I like about the broadcast is that they always show a “Year in Review” montage of all the big plays from the college season. It is also the last chance we get to watch football for roughly 8 months, so it is something that I cherish.

4. Bowl Season- You’re asking, ‘how can this guy like all the bowl games more than the actual championship game itself?’ Well, I do. I’m one of the people who actually enjoy watching all of the bowl games. As a huge college football fan, I enjoy watching as many games as possible. So you think that an Arizona vs Nevada matchup is boring? Well, I think that it could be awesome, and I’m going to watch it because you never know what’s going to happen. Some of the best plays of the season come in the small bowls that no one is watching. I’m watching, and I always will.

3. Super Bowl- I’ve already said that I like college sports much more than professional sports, and that is true. However, the Super Bowl is the exception. The talent in the NFL is so much better than it is in college football, and the game is so much faster. I am absolutely amazed by the freak athletes that play in the NFL, and the two teams in the Super Bowl are the best of the best. This is the last football action that we have until the preseason for the next year, so it is one last time for the guys to get together, grill out, and watch some football. Oh, and the commercials involved don’t hurt either.

2. World Cup- Yep, soccer again. I told you I love it. The World Cup is the only event in the world that the best players from each country play against each other to see whose country is superior (other than the Olympics, which I don’t care about, and other small sports that the USA doesn’t take part it). I love watching from the group stages to the knockout rounds to the finals while 32 countries battle to find out who is the world’s best. The fact that it is a tournament consisting of nations rather than professional teams is a huge reason why I am such a fan of the World Cup. Also, the fact that it takes place only every 4 years makes it that much more prestigious to me.

1. March Madness (NCAA Basketball Tournament)- And last but not least, as if there was any doubt, March Madness is my favorite sporting event. From flipping the channel between 4 games at one time on the first weekend, to the final buzzer of the championship game, I love every minute of it. The win or go home mentality makes every game as intense as possible, and who doesn’t love an upset? The first weekend of the tournament is as fast paced and unpredictable as anything else in sports (sorry NASCAR, you aren’t a sport). Does the best team in the nation always win the tournament? No, but 68 teams have a chance to win it. And whichever one of those teams actually does hoist the trophy will absolutely deserve it. I love watching every game of the tournament, and I always make sure my schedule is empty come March.

What say ye?

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By: Spencer Boothe

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MLS vs the World

Spencer Boothe —  Wednesday, January 2, 2013 — Leave a comment

The beautiful game.  The World’s sport.  America’s “communist” game.  Fútbol.  Soccer.  All terms given to the game that is played only with your feet (other than goalkeepers and throw-ins that is).  The sport that the majority of countries in the world live and breathe by.  The one where countries gauge their success as a country by the results of their national soccer team.  The game where every 4 years all the countries in the world compete to see who reigns supreme as the best team in the world.  And… the sport that many Americans would love to see just go away.

Soccer is a growing sport in the United States, but it is a sport that many Americans do not understand, support, or even like.  More than any other sport in the US, soccer receives scrutiny from the public and is disregarded by many in the sports media business.  Despite its struggle for acceptance, the sport is growing in this nation.  This is evidenced not only by the recent promotion of soccer by ESPN and the new MLS/NBC TV deal, but it is shown by the increase in Major League Soccer as a league.  The MLS began in 1996 with 10 teams and has now expanded to 19 with 3 in Canada.  Also, while still not near the level of the NFL or MLB, attendance rankings show that the MLS averages more fans per game than both the NBA and NHL.  This makes MLS the 3rd most popular sport in the USA when looking at average attendance per game.

So now that the MLS has improved its stock in the United States, the next step is to improve its stock to the rest of the soccer world.  While I do not believe the MLS will ever overtake the NFL or MLB, the league has plenty of room to grow.  However, as it sits right now, the MLS is nowhere near capable of competing with the top soccer leagues in the world, and with the rules in place, they never will.  Repetitively, I have heard people saying that Major League Soccer can become one of the most dominant leagues in the world, but the United States mentality will not allow that.  This is due to the MLS foundation.  As is the way with every sports league in America, the MLS is built on fairness and equal competition opportunities, such as:

  1. Major League Soccer has an annual draft each year where the worst team in the league gets the first draft pick.  In international soccer, the teams with the most money sign whoever they want, and the worst teams get the leftovers. 
  2. In the USA, kids are pushed to go to college and get an education.  Internationally, clubs sign young players when they are pre-teens, and players play soccer rather than earn an education. 
  3. In MLS soccer, teams have a salary cap limit, as well as a cap limit for each player, except for 3 possible designated players.  In international soccer, teams can spend whatever they deem necessary on their team or on a single player- the teams with the most money spend the most on the top players.  In MLS the most expensive team based on salary per player is the LA Galaxy with an average player salary of $555,799, while the most expensive team in the world is Barcelona of the Spanish Premier League (La Liga) at $8.68m per player. Further, every team in the English Premier League pays more than the highest paying team in the MLS.

So how can one expect the MLS to compete with the top soccer clubs in the world?  Not only are the international teams paying top dollar for the best players in the world, but the MLS is playing with players in a country where most kids grow up dreaming of playing in the NFL, MLB, or NBA.  As it stands right now, the MLS has no shot of ever competing with the soccer leagues around the world.  The MLS would have to change its fundamental rules completely, and being that the USA encourages equality and fairness in sports, I honestly don’t see that happening.

… Now if the top athletes in the USA played soccer instead of football and basketball, things may change, but that’s a topic for another time.

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By: Spencer Boothe