Friday, August 5, 2011

Armchair Analysis: What Do We Know?

This is all the amount of introduction I will need for this:

Tuesday night on the late night show Conan, Shaq (yet again) called out ESPN's Skip Bayless saying he should not have the right to be analyzing guys behind a desk since he [Bayless] had never played a single year of professional sports.
(Watch it here.)

Time the flip out.
Really, Shaq? REALLY?

That's harsh, dude. Okay, you're probably a book-smart guy because you're currently studying to earn your doctorate, but are you that dumb that you're going to berate somebody that studies sports for a living?

Alright. That's enough of an outburst for right now.
Waking up as early as I did and hearing that made me want to throw my bowl of corn flakes (banana and all) at the television screen. It's almost like Shaq said that people like me have no right to go into the field and study/critique sports and athletes unless if I've had a professional career. So wait, does this mean my three years (so far) of college education means nothing on my resume unless if I go out and play for a professional team? It's not gonna work like that at all. Some women like me don't exactly have that opportunity. Some men might not have that either.

Sometimes it doesn't actually take a couple of championship rings and hall-of-fame stats to know what's going on. You may usually see some of those players not have a clue about some of the technical/business issues. A clear example they used on First Take was Michael Jordan. He was probably the best basketball player that ever lived, but did he know how to run a basketball team as a General Manager? No. Sometimes you may actually find the lesser players actually know the mechanics of a team much more efficiently. The first person that comes to mind with that is Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. He wasn't exactly a humongous "star" and what have you, but he had the lineage and the smarts that some major stars didn't really have. In the form of business, sure he was under hall-of-fame GM Pat Gillick's wing for much of his training days, but look at where the Phillies are now: he's made four (five if you count Cliff Lee twice) blockbuster trades in the past three years and has been a great businessman.

Also, you may end up finding the lesser players landing in color commentary in the broadcast booth. The one exception to that rule off the top of my head at this time is Troy Aikman, but that's besides the point. Heck, even former coaches do that stuff because they've been on the field--maybe not experiencing what the players were going through--and looked from a closer viewpoint than most people. Let's be honest here: most people are lucky that they have crazy camera angles from an HDTV to see certain plays; coaches have just one angle, and that's all they really need to analyze. Plus, the arguing provides good life lessons and stories to hear.

There is one main thing I agree with: don't ever judge someone's toughness. Never, ever, ever do that. Unless if you were on the field feeling those emotions, you don't have any room to talk about someone's toughness because well... "you weren't there." You might be able to venture a guess, but sometimes physically being in that position at one time gives the athlete the upper-hand. There are certain things that only you can critique on the field instead of on tape or on television. Emotions, words, and "the good old days" can be vivid memories for former players who become analysts. They took the time to see the big picture and take everything in while doing their job.

This is liable to staining. I do not recommend white.
In the days of the sacred "man caves" and the armchair imprinted with your whole body after spending countless hours in it, hearing something like that either makes us irate or makes us scratch our heads. You may start thinking, "Well what do we know? Why are we not entitled to scream at our televisions every so often?" People might attribute their irate feelings toward the fact that they might have played the sport when they were younger or that they've watched enough as a youth with their parents that they may know what's going on. As for the whole "scratching of the head" part, you might think something along the lines of: "well, aren't the rules and penalties explained to us out loud by commentary? And don't we have the advantage of hearing post-game interviews of the players which can give us clues on what kind of players they are?"'re in the church, but you just didn't sit in the right pew, so to speak. You might not get a full-fledged taste of who the player may be unless if you see them doing something outside of their field or if you're catching them after a game in which they didn't get absolutely slaughtered. As far as the rules go, things aren't going to be broken down into basics for you unless if you look up the basics of the game yourself. People like us have the ultimate cliff note in this day and age in the Internet. Don't some people watch their games online anyway? You can multitask. Geez.

Anyway, what Shaq said a few nights ago was about 35% valid because there are definitely some people out there that don't exactly have room to point fingers because they've never played a game of ball in their lives. On the other hand, I do give him a 65% invalid because not only does he cut out the people that study sports day in and day out and sees an individual's numerous attributes, but he also ignored that fact that every person is entitled to their own respective opinion. Of course you'll more than likely get the people with the "educated guesses," but then again those people just wear the suit and look pretty.

As armchair analysts, we the people may be dumb sometimes, but we certainly aren't idiots. We do watch and therefore are entitled to an opinion. Just don't assume that we need to be in the hall-of-fame first.