The new era of college sports

A while back, I used to have the attitude that agreed with the notion that college athletes shouldn’t be getting paid to apply their talents under the banners of their respective schools, and that the education that they receive, should they actually choose to accept them, was compensation more than adequate in the tradeoff.

Things change though, and for every Cardale Jones that flaunts his hired gun status that gives no shits about a college education, are still countless other student athletes who are stalwarts at the college level, but the harsh reality is that they have very little to no actual future in professional ranks.  It’s those guys that that have helped change my tune when it comes to compensation for student athletes, because college is most likely going to be the pinnacle of their athletic careers, and it would be great if they could cash in on a modicum of it before their window of opportunity to earn, is shut.

So the news of the NCAA now allowing student athletes to start making money on their likenesses, endorsements and social media accounts is definitely a positive step in the right direction at a knee-jerk reaction, but at the same time, there’s a lot of gray area and things that could potentially go in an unsavory direction, that spurred this train of thought post.

Like I said, my knee-jerk reaction is one of positivity, and general happiness for all student-athletes who will now start to be able to make some money off of their sweat, efforts and contributions.  They won’t be explicitly being paid by their schools, which is still something that I agree should not be allowed, but it’ll be nice to know that an innocuous autograph session or them showing up to a local car dealership or restaurant to make an appearance can get them some punishment-free cash, just because they play some sport for their school.

The one thing I like the most from this is that I think it will help curb the culture of one-and-dones, in mostly basketball and football.  Fringe prospects that aren’t Zion Williamson or Trevor Lawrence-good might actually stick around for another year or two, and now have options to choose from whether or not it’s worth becoming a benchwarmer in the pros versus remaining a god on campus and cleaning up on endorsements and other profitable endeavors.

College-good athletes will be more likely to stick around four years, and not only will their teams benefit from having physically and mentally matured juniors and seniors on their squads, the ones that actually take life seriously might actually get educations and graduate legitimately, instead of a parade of paper African-American studies majors trying to survive illiterately in the world after college.

The benefit to this is that fringe contenders’ windows of contention might remain open a little bit longer, because key members of contending teams might stick around longer if they’re capable of earning while in college, instead of bolting for any Euroleague hoops or XFL or CFL if they can’t make it to the bigs directly. 

And it goes both ways when it comes to the power schools in the nation, because obviously schools with preexisting relationships with major companies will still get the lion’s share of top prospects, but if programs start to get a little crowded with upperclassmen staying in school, it’s going to funnel prospects or force incumbents into the transfer portal to go to other schools, which may or may not raise the amount of parity throughout college athletics.

But like I said, it’s not a perfect solution, and for all the good that’s possible, there’s still a lot of room for negative things to be or remain the case; like the aforementioned obvious aspect that the major schools with preexisting relationships with companies like Nike, UnderArmour and other relationships are still going to get the best prospects, due to their now-available opportunities for endorsements, so it will still probably feel like the rich will remain getting richer, while all the other schools will feel like they’re fighting over scraps.

And foolishly counterpointing one of my positives, programs like Duke will be tailor-made to probably do well under this new era of college sports, because as much as everyone loathes Duke, Duke is great at producing college talent.  Sure, a lot of it has to do with Coach K’s brainwashing, and he is allegedly on his way out, but the fact of the matter is that Duke rosters historically have been loaded with well-built teams that dominate the college level, and keeping these rosters mostly together for 3-4 years at a time might result in some return to prominence by the Dukes and other programs that operate in similar manners.

Finally, let us not overlook one of the more annoying outcomes of this development: the era of self-promotion and rise of obnoxious social media presences of student athletes now who are going to embark on missions to promote themselves, develop personas, brands and identities to try to monetize and make bank while they’re in college now.  If I had as much time to fart around on the internet and sports websites as I once did, I can only imagine how obnoxious things have the potential to be as college athletes across the nation will be getting up in our virtual faces trying to become famous so they can make money.

Either way, it’s ultimately a step in the right direction, with both positives and negatives up in the air, and the fact that it’s so new and unrefined, it’ll take all of two seconds for college athletes and the inevitable wave of agents that will prey on them, to find all sorts of loopholes and gray area for things to get muddy really fast.

But man, how much must it suck to be the graduating seniors of 2020/21’s NCAA athletes?  Sure Najee Harris probably was cleaning up on all sorts of under-the-table non-monetary compensation while winning a national championship for Alabama, but how salty do you think he’s going to be knowing that all the freshmen coming in are going to be able to make money without needing to hide and be as secretive as he once was?

2 Under 2: Self-fulfilling prophecy (#048)

When my older sister had children, she explained to me one day that doing anything with toddlers is basically a game of 15-minute chunks of time.  An ordinary run to the grocery store or a trip to Target which would ordinarily not take a tremendous amount of time has its time multiplied several times over due to the necessity of preparation to accommodate a toddler(s).  Naturally I understand, but it was one of those things that I hoped that when I had my own kid(s), if it was something that I might be able to improve upon or be more efficient with, because I’m always all for trying to find out how to make processes more efficient.

Over the weekend, we decided to take my child to the pool.  In spite of the weather, the skies opened up, the sun was bursting, and it looked like a scene right out of a Disney opening sequence.  So with the pool decided, the clock began ticking for preparing for a seemingly pedestrian trip to the neighborhood pool:

  • Put child in swimsuit
  • Put on our own swimsuits
  • Sunscreen child
  • Sunscreen ourselves
  • Bring snack for child
  • Bring drinks for ourselves
  • Is child’s inflatable inflated?
  • No, need to inflate
  • Pack pool bag
  • Mythical wife wants to take a smoothie to the pool
  • Need to prepare smoothie
  • Blender sounds scare child, need to calm her

25 minutes later, we’re in the car on the way to the pool.  Our window to enjoy the pool limited to the next daily milestone, which would be dinner at 5:20 for child.

But, as we pull into the pool lot, I see the first drips of precipitation on my windshield.  Undeterred, I say it’s just light sprinkles, and we get out of the car and prepare to go poolside, and wait under umbrellas if it gets any worse.  As I lift the hatch to my car to start unloading, the sky just decides to say fuck you, and suddenly it’s raining again, despite there being no clouds in the sky.

Trip to the pool dashed, we crankily went back home, with no pool enjoyment to be had.  My afternoon was effectively dashed and I was agitated the rest of the afternoon.

Frankly, this is hardly the first time that the game of 15-25 minutes just to execute has come into play, but it was definitely a prime example of how it affected things so immediately, and in spite of my desires to be a more efficient and higher executing parent, it’s a steep climb to not fall into the same pitfalls that all other parents probably do.

2 Under 2: Uncharted Territory (#047)

At the time I’m writing this, mythical wife has passed the 36-week mark, and we’re nearly two weeks past the point in which my first was born early.  Needless to say, despite the fact that pregnancies are typically measured in 40-week events, a lot of things can happen in just less than two of them, especially towards the tail end of them.

Sure, no two pregnancies are ever the same as most moms will attest to, but at the same time, there are a lot of commonalities between them as well.  Regardless, since we’re into uncharted territory this time around, there are some stark noticeable differences between the first time and the current.

Mostly insomnia, but also the increasing strain of a growing entity the size of a butternut squash puts on mythical wife’s body, and she’s basically tipping past the point of relief that we’ve made it past 34.5 weeks, to getting eager to serve eviction papers to our little tenant living rent-free.

Despite our general preparation and understanding that baby #2 is on the way, I don’t think it’s really going to sink in entirely, until she’s actually arrived.  When I think about life as it is right now, as a one-child household, and the general routine that’s been carved out, it does make me a little nervous to when we hit the point where #2 arrives and then it’s back to the drawing board of figuring out how each and every day is going to go afterward.  Not that I feel any sort of dread and apprehension at the addition to the famiry, but it’s definitely going to be a challenge when everything is thrown into chaos once again.

But until then, it’s taking everything a day at a time until we’re out of days before the scheduled arrival, with clenched buttholes and constant status checks.  My own dad is convinced that we’ll make it all the way to the scheduled date, but I think mythical wife would rather slit her wrists than wait that much longer, but at the same thing if things show up sooner, then whew, here comes the pandemonium.

Do people watch Amazon Prime Video?

Obviously the answer to the question is yes, otherwise people aren’t seeing things like The Boys, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, or Invincible, but I feel like just in general, you don’t often hear people really talking about the things they watch on Amazon Prime Video.

Sure, people talk about the aforementioned titles, but it’s not often (at least in my little world) where I’m hearing people talking about the random things they’ve caught on APV, nowhere near the clip in which people are randomly perusing Netflix and discovering all sorts of random, obscure and out-of-the-mainstream things.

It’s like Netflix is the Coca-Cola of video streaming platforms, where people associate all streaming content to maybe be associated to Netflix first, and then when corrected, they’re more like “oh, okay,” like when a customer sits down at a restaurant and orders a Coke, but is corrected by the server that they serve Pepsi products.

I recently watched through Solos on APV, and I found it to be a fairly refreshing and short seven-standalone-episode anthology at around 30 minutes per episode, which is kind of perfect for my needs and wants these days.  It was sort of an anti-Black Mirror, in that the stories were more emotionally heartfelt and uplifting as opposed to dreading and pessimistic, but from what I understand, this series was entirely shot during the pandemic, so it was kind of perfect that the format was almost entirely solo actors performing a clinic of monologues.

FYI, if you’re a fan of monologues, then this is the series for you.  It’s also very thought-provoking, doesn’t dumb things down for the viewer, and all pretty well written in my opinion.

The thing is, it was a series that I had never heard of before, and just happened to stumble across it, because I didn’t feel like getting drowned in content paralysis from Netflix or Plex, and decided to drown in APV instead.  It makes me wonder how a series like this can go so unnoticed (at least to me) considering it had some pretty high-tier star power, between featuring performers like Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren and Anthony Mackie among others.

And even after finishing Solos, and perusing through APV’s general library, there are all sorts of interesting sounding titles that I’ll probably explore in the future, which got me wondering why nobody in my little world talks about any of these.  It’s not like everyone these days doesn’t have a Prime account and wouldn’t have access to any of this, but it’s just that APV among other non-Netflix streaming services must clearly face this constant uphill battle that, if you not Netflix, then you not a player, but if people would just become aware and just give them a chance, then it seems like there’s even more oceans of content to drown in choice paralysis alternatively.

But as far as I’m concerned, APV really is a legitimate player, but I’m curious to know if it’s just me, or if other people out there also realize that or not.

About AEW’s replica blet…

I’m not entirely sure how I ended up on ShopAEW’s distribution list, as I have never purchased anything from them, or at any point in my life, but for whatever reason, I still get their periodic emails.  It’s hasn’t really been a nuisance yet, and as much as I clown on them as a promotion, I do think that they still produce some decent merch from time to time, 75% of it being for Britt Baker.  And I figured if the company were ever to eventually release replica title blets, this would probably be the most accurate source to get information about them.

Well, that time finally came, and I saw an email titled “AEW World Championship Replica Title” and my interest was immediately piqued.  Honestly, I’m not that big on their world title; if I had my pick on any of the actual AEW blets available, it would be a Tag Team blet, and since Miro became TNT Champion, it’s slowly softened my opinion on what I originally designated a Popeyes Blet.  But as a collector of replica blets in the first place, I still wanted to see what was going, in case there was an appealing price point that could change my mind.

$699.  Six hundred, ninety-nine dollars

For a replica blet.

My knee-jerk reaction is definitely, yeah fuck no

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shitting on this blet because it’s AEW and I know I’ve been quick to shit on them for all the dumb things they’ve done so far.  I’m not shitting on this blet because of its seemingly high price tag; frankly, this isn’t the most expensive blet out there.

I’m shitting on this blet because it has a high price tag for what they’re not going into any real detail about.  I even watched the video of it in case there was some more clarification on what materials they’re using and the quality of the metal, but it’s instead just more fluff from Pentagon’s valet/AEW’s Spanish language announcer, Alex Abrahantes.

New Japan sold official replicas of IWGP belts, which ranged from $2,080 to $1,800; but they’re clear that they’re using 18-karat gold, and the craftsmanship is very Japanese exquisite.

Even WWE sells more expensive blets, like their deluxe line, which justifies the cost by using real leather, and then they have nearly $2,000 elite replicas which are basically actual, television-ready replicas that are made from 10-karat gold and cubic zirconia stones.

However, WWE also sells all sorts of “more affordable” replica blets, usually not exceeding $399, and are always going on 20-30% off sale, and that’s the bread and butter in which I like to throw my money away at.

The fact that AEW comes out of the gate with a $700 blet doesn’t particularly seem like a great idea, but that’s just me.  Especially if there’s zero information on why it costs that much, other than “simulated jewels.”  I know I’m one to speak seeing as how I have literally 20 replica blets, but not one of them has exceeded $349, and nobody’s ever looked at a blet of mine to try and validate its authenticity.

But as someone who’s literally purchased blets before solely because the price point was appealing, if AEW really wanted to move a lot of blets, having more cost-effective alternatives to their $700 coup de grace would probably result in more profit which ultimately should be the goal of any self-respecting retailer.  It boggles my mind how many examples of people and companies who raked in millions selling a whole lot of cheaper, that there are so many out there that still think selling a lot less of really expensive, is a viable business model.

I know the blet industry is about as niche as they come, but if AEW, WWE and NJPW want to actually compete with Pakistanis making bootlegs in caves out of scraps, they all need to rethink their strategies and start releasing some more cost-effective alternatives and an NXT UK Tag Team replica.

That’s kind of interesting

Because I’m a fan of sports in general, I’m exposed to a lot of sports-related news at any given time, regardless of what sport it is.  And since the NBA playoffs are going on currently, I’ve found myself absorbing more information about who’s still in, who’s not, than I probably thought I’d ever care about.

However, one interesting tidbit showed up recently that did pique my interest, and trigger a prompt in my brain to want to write about.  With the Atlanta Hawks not pulling an Atlanta and choking in a critical game 7 situation, and defeating the Philadelphia 76ers, to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, the final four teams left vying for the NBA championship are the Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks in the east and out west is the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles… Clippers.

Between these four franchises exists two championships, with none since 1971 and even the Hawks’ title in 1958 was when they were in St. Louis, and therefore not an Atlanta team.  So basically, it’s safe to say that this is a rare year in which a team that’s basically never won an NBA championship is going to win an NBA championship.

It didn’t occur to me that this was such a rarity, one because I don’t really care about the NBA, but two, I had to stop and think about the last two decades to recollect that just about every NBA champion has been a repeater, with teams like the Warriors, Spurs, Heat and Lakers having won the vast majority of the championships, with LeBron James collecting four rings for three different franchises in that time, and even if they didn’t win, they were still the runners-up, clogging up the title scene all the same for an eon.

So despite the fact that the Atlanta Hawks are still in, and are a possibility of hilariously cashing in my newborn baby luck on basketball, there’s no way people like me, in age and in enjoyment of the ironic, can’t not be rooting for an NBA Finals where it’s the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.

Because these are the two teams that, growing up in the 90s, were basically the de facto worst teams in basketball.  I mean look at the screen cap above of the 1994 season; even combining the win totals between the Bucks and Clippers was no guaranteed entry into the playoffs, and the only reason why the Bucks weren’t tallied up as dead last in the east was because the Pistons just so happened to allow 1.3 more points per game on average.

And this was just one season; throughout the 90s, both these teams were the teams that everyone forgot about their existence, except when you looked at the schedules of your favorite teams, and saw games against the Bucks and Clippers as basically guaranteed wins.  Nobody ever picked these teams in NBA Jam or NBA Live 199X, including the people who lived in those cities, unless they were trying to troll.

But it’s funny how things change in time, and how it seems to be consistent on how long it takes for the tides to turn, because nearly 25 years later, we’re in a world where the New York Knicks are usually the laughing stock of the NBA, Seattle lost their team outright, and the Golden State Warriors broke the 96’ Bulls win record and have been in five of the last six NBA Finals, winning three championships.

Needless to say, I think sports fans of my general age range should all be salivating at the thought of a Bucks vs. Clippers NBA Finals, because it’ll definitely be a sight to behold, and even more so if both teams bust out throwback unis for one of the game, just to acknowledge the sheer absurdity of the worst teams from the 1990’s to be playing for a championship in the 20’s of the 2000’s.

I don’t want this, I need this

I don’t want to think about what I would’ve done if I had never known about this until it was too late.  Despite my general ambivalence towards MLB these days, my general love for minor league baseball has never waned, and I feel fairly confident I could go to the grave thinking minor league baseball is vastly superior to their stuffy, corporate, money-grubbing major league big brothers.

But the Montgomery Biscuits, the Double-A affiliates of the Tampa Bay Rays, as in Montgomery, Alabama, one of the largest redneck populations in the country, for whatever reason, is doing a Korean heritage night, where they are going 200% balls to the wall all in on it, to where they’re even changing their name to Montgomery Kimchi for the night.

More importantly, they are releasing a variety of branded gear for the occasion, and even more than the NXT UK Tag Team championship belt replica that I covet that seems like it will never be released, I realize that don’t just want a Montgomery Kimchi cap, I absolutely 17,000% NEED a Montgomery Kimchi cap.

Like, I wanted a Florida Marlins cap before their identity transformed.  I kind of wanted a Chief Nokahoma cap or a fucked up Cleveland Indians cap for their ironic notoriety.  I wanted a large variety of minor league caps from my travels, like the Modesto Nuts, and I actually went to some pretty great lengths to get the sliced bacon cap for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs because I wanted that too.  And I actually have a Montgomery Biscuits cap, and despite being one of the prime centers of the Confederacy, I actually liked the city of Montgomery and their ballpark, and the brand and colors were so gaudy and cheesy that I wanted that too.

But when the Montgomery Biscuits transform into Montgomery Kimchi, I won’t just want a cap, I WILL NEED A CAP.  Full stop, period.

I haven’t been this excited about something to throw money at in ages.  I’ve already got the Montgomery Biscuits’ shop site perma-opened in a tab, I’ve got their Twitter account open and ready to refresh daily to see when they’ll drop.  I will be ready to go to war for a Montgomery Kimchi hat, and make it look like Dragon*Con Marriott room day seem like the demand for a Stryper cover band.

I already had a soft spot for the Montgomery Biscuits, because I liked their park and I liked their identity.  This kind of outreach and promotion not only makes me love them forever, but more apt to become a supporter of the Rays, since the Braves are shit and I’ll need someone to root for that I can give a shit about and not just the pursuit of being right and riding on the hopes that the Padres go all the way just to make me look smart.

Either way, I’m going to be lowkey anxious about my need to get Montgomery Kimchi merch, and probably a little bit crazy until I can secure some.  And I’ll go even more ballistic if I manage to get a Kimchi cap and it turns out to be one of those shitty Elmer Fudd quality caps and my life will be over.  But all the same, I will need a Montgomery Kimchi cap.  And probably a shirt, but the kimchi mascot in a men’s large is already fucking sold out, and I can only hope they’ll replenish and realize that there are hundreds to thousands of Koreans out there that will want them and be willing to throw down cash to get them.

Seriously though, fuckin’ Alabama of all places in United States to throw Korea a little bit of love.  Montgomery, no less, where the actual fucking White House of the Confederacy still stands to this very day, is the city that realizes that Koreans are a massive untapped well of cash willing to go gonzo over a little bit of love being shown.  But it’s working all the same, and I’m ready to go to war to get my kimchi cap.