Archives For sports

The Last March

MH3 —  April 4, 2013

I read that this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament has been the most watched in nearly twenty years. I also read that this year’s tournament will garner nearly one billion dollars in advertising revenue, outpacing any other sporting event. Ever.

It might be April, but this event labelled March Madness is rolling along into the fourth month of the year quite nicely thank-you very much. Its already created the need to switch Cinderella’s mid-gear, dropping Florida Gulf Coast for Wichita State. Seen our Canadian players get dropped faster than an NBA player tricked into a Kardashian marriage. Not to mention the grotesque rekindling of vicious leg injury memories originally created by Lawrence Taylor on Joe Theisman.

And now. Now we are down to the Final Four. Two simple words that have become a lexiconic icon if there ever was to be one.

Recently USA Today ranked every one of the seventy-four Final Four held to determine the Division 1 basketball champ. Number one according to the survey? The 1979 Larry Bird-Magic Johnson head to head that also featured other members of their Indiana State and Michigan State teams.

I have been to two Final Fours. Put it on your bucket list. Hundreds of thousands of hoop lovers being hosted by a city starving for their tourism dollars. At every turn, every corner store, every coffee shop, every garbage can there is some sort of Final Four connection. Everyone is just happy to be there and if you are sporting any sort of logo, will unabashedly become your new best friend.

But the real magic of the Final Four is the one-hit wonder of its stars. Who can tell me who hit the fadeaway winner from the corner from 1987 or had the full court dash in 1995 or the lights out shooting in any year. For every Johnson or Jordan, there are countless Simons, Smarts, Edneys, Haywards that had their brief shining moment where they emerge from campus hero to national megastar and then soon to back down to NBA journeyman, grad student, European professional, or high school gym teacher.

That Last March into the shiniest of limelights must be most exhilarating and exasperating. This weekend marks the culmination of three weeks of undaldutered attention. Soon the fade away that made them famous, actually will fade away.

Oh there will be the annual replays and the obligatory highlight shows, but I wonder how it feels. To be the 20 year old who is sought by everyone, who will soon be a twenty year old memory.

Second Fiddle

MH3 —  January 31, 2013

I feel badly for Alex Smith.

Smith is the recently minted backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

He has fallen from being the overall # 1 pick in the NFL draft, and after several underwhelming seasons, to almost leading his team to the Super Bowl a year ago. Magically this year he was leading the NFL in passer rating before the cruel twist of being injured led to becoming a sideline patrolling clipboard carrier.

If I have to explain this to you, then clearly you are not a football fan and evidently you are not tracking the second biggest story line of Super Bowl XLVII. It’s not that Smith is the first QB in NFL history to lose his role as a starter. But it’s the way he fell on the depth chart and the amazing manner in which he has responded that contributes such an intriguing thread to this story.

There is an unwritten rule in sport that you don’t lose your job to injury. Meaning your replacement’s tenure is over the minute you are medically cleared to play again. In football this rule is close to a constitutional right especially for key skill positions such as quarterback. Amplify that Smith was, statistically at least, the best performer at the QB position in the league, at the time of his injury, and the violation of the injury rule code is even more amazing.

But unfortunately for Smith waiting in the wings was a freak of nature named Colin Kaepernick. I will bet you a souvenir Super Bowl t-shirt that you never witnessed CK7 play in college at Nevada. Well I saw a few games on late late late night ESPN, and I knew what was coming. Partially anyway. Not even his supporter emeritus, Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, could have imagined what was coming.

Kaepernick is part Michael Vick, part Peyton Manning, part Cam Newton, and part Adrian Peterson. Whatever parts I missed are covered in his tattoos. This guy can play.

He has set records with his legs, sliced up defenses with his arm, and energized a franchise with his energy. Plus he seems genuinely nice in his interviews.

So this weekend will feature this newly minted phenom against retiring warrior Ray Lewis.

What about Smith? Has he run away to pout? Is he spending his waking hours inebriated? Has he picked up a weekend’s supply of Mardi Gras beads for his stay in NOLA?

None of the above. Instead he is thrilled to be competing in a Super Bowl. He has turned into a coach, confidant, and cheerleader for his usurper. He has kept his skills sharp, his teammates motivated, and his ego in check for the betterment of his entire team.

Let that be a lesson for us all. I know we all want to be #1, but at times fate or failure stop us short of our goal. Alex Smith will benefit in the long run from how he responded to this dose of adversity. He will rise again.

Bye Week

MH3 —  January 24, 2013

This is the second worst weekend of the year for me. No football.

Grey Cup, Vanier Cup, Metro Bowl, Rose Bowl, Go Tell Your Daddy on Me Bowl are all a distant memory. In the name of Peyton Manning, don’t even try to tell me to watch the Pro Bowl. Peyton may want his fellow stars to play harder, but there is no worse all-star game than the Pro Bowl. Heck how can it even be a true all-star game when two teams can’t send their players?!

I am left floundering as to what to do this weekend. Maybe I will join all of you hopelessly hypocritical hockey fans and jump right back on the noisy bandwagon racing down the ice. You know who you are. I heard you telling me you weren’t going to buy NHL tickets, watch games, or join a fantasy pool. You’re the same cats who are emailing me for my Leaf tickets and screaming in my ear at the local wing joint last night because the Leafs are now 2-1.

I could shovel my driveway for the first time all winter, but despite this deep freeze called Friday we are in, it only has an inch of snow on it and heck it’s going to be +5 next Tuesday, so what’s the point.

Actually, the easiest option would be to join the 24/7, or 7/24 if you prefer, hype on-air and on-line about the Har-Bowl. Hype or not you have to revel in the fact that two brothers are facing each other in the Super Bowl! Less than 80 men have been Super Bowl coaches and the Harbaugh parents have now produced two of them. What’s next? Will Doug Ford run for mayor versus Rob Ford? Should Maya Soetoro-Ng have run against Obama in the last US Presidential election instead of Romney? Will Jazmyn and Jaxon Bieber gang up on JB1 and form their own modern day Donna and Marie revue?

Holy gumbo I know what I will do. Pack. Yes sports fans I am off to NOLA. Oh that’s not very nice of me to just let this slide out… in the most public of domains. But yes I am giggling with delight that MH3 is going to SBIII. No I don’t have the numbers wrong, this is MY SBIII.

As a Steeler man, you know I will be cheering against the Ravens. Somewhat sad the 49’ers will tie us for most rings, but that’s still better than watching Flacco win.

So stay tuned Rajun Cajuns. I will be tweeting with a Creole accent next weekend!

Bye!

Cover Boy

MH3 —  October 18, 2012

I was a bit of a lunatic at last Saturday’s Varsity Blues (University of Toronto) football game.

Lost my cool. Was a hothead. Violated the code. Insulted the fraternity of football coaches. Compared U of T’s coach to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Neither would be flattered. I am sure my outburst will cost me a piece of business some day. Maybe with Canada’s largest campus or with our largest city.

You see, I was supporting my boy. I use that expression to describe a former player of mine. Not in reference to one of my offspring. But if you have coached long enough, you know your players become like a second family to you.

My boy in this case is #9 Simon Nassar, the U of T backup QB. And to paraphrase his coach, “the most popular guy on the team.” Yes, Simon is/was the reason for my lunacy. Continue Reading “Cover Boy”…

Blocking: Simple Strategy & Commitment

MH3 —  September 13, 2012

I just started coaching football teams number two and three of the year, so any hope you had of me not blogging about the gridiron is slim.

But this blog has as much to do with your balance sheet as it does your fantasy team.

Continue Reading “Blocking: Simple Strategy & Commitment”…

Cheer to the End

MH3 —  August 8, 2012

Words escape me.

With powerful memories of the Vancouver Olympics and Whistler Paralympics still fresh in my mind, l booked a trek to the London Games. Yes, I’m incredibly spoiled.

I write to you from Olympic Stadium at this very moment.
The appropriate words to describe how I feel are far beyond my writing skills or even my fictional powers. In part because I was worried that after spending all the time and money to get here that it wouldn’t be as amazing as the 2010 Games.

Silly me. It is unreal here.

Continue Reading “Cheer to the End”…

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX.

I highly doubt when the United States Congress brought the act into legislation in 1972 that it expected to be responsible for helping build the female sport system in Canada. But it has.

The original premise of Title IX was to ensure that women had the same access to competitive sports as men in terms of access to leagues, coaches, facilities, instruction, etc. That would be my technical interpretation of the bill. But the emotional interpretation would be to allow girls to play sports, just like boys.

Continue Reading “Entitled: Levelling the Playing Field for Canada’s Female Athletes”…

Playing To Win

MH3 —  May 24, 2012

I have made this speech before.

Not on a single stage. Not all in one place. Not completely in one writing. But I have given it a go in various blogs. I have hinted at it in conference presentations.

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Give Your Everything

MH3 —  May 10, 2012

On Monday I was privileged to play a very small part in the Toronto launch of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s new brand campaign.

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Three top athlete sponsorship experts – Colin Campbell from NHLPA, Chris Armstrong from Wasserman Media Group and Rick Burton from Syracuse University – came together for an interactive session moderated by TrojanOne’s Michael Weisdorf all about achieving ROI from athlete sponsorships. After a brief introduction and video that highlighted the emotional connection many Canadians have with hockey, the session was driven by audience questions.

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