Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Fab Five Discussion We Should Really Be Having

Just before this year's NCAA tournament tipped off, ESPN aired The Fab Five as part of their 30 for 30 series. I couldn't wait to watch. I was a high school senior in 1992. I remembered this team fondly and the documentary didn't disappoint. It captured the excitement and controversy surrounding these guys and I loved hearing the players' memories of their two years together at Michigan. For me the highlight was hearing the Fab Five talk smack about Duke. I hated those Duke teams (particularly Christian Laettner) and I loved that the Michigan guys shared my sentiments. I was also disappointed that Chris Webber didn't participate, that we didn't have the opportunity to hear his version of events. 

Much of the media response to the film has focused around Jalen Rose's use of the term Uncle Tom and Grant Hill's response. While this discussion about race is important, I wish we could talk about another major problem in collegiate athletics: the huge profits being made on the backs of amateur athletes. With so many young student-athletes coming from humble beginnings, how can we keep programs, players and families clean? What responsibility does the NCAA have to enforce its rules? What about the professional leagues and agents? Should players share in some of these profits?

I wish I knew how to fix it, but I am just a fan tired of the violations and allegations. It's sad to see players and teams stripped of accomplishments and punished for transgressions. But there is no end is in sight unless we change the way our most talented athletes navigate their way into college programs and onto professional leagues.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

ESPN's 30 for 30 Series: STILL Required Watching

I wrote about this documentary series this past October, but since then I've had the chance to see a few more and so here are five more worth watching:

Little Big Men: The story of a little league team from Washington State and where they are now.

Into the Wind: A kid gets cancer and decides to run across Canada on a prosthetic leg.

The Fab Five: Relive the magic of CWebb, Jalen, Juwan, Ray and Jimmy.

Fernando Nation: The man who brought Latinos back to Chavez Ravine. "If you've got a sombrero, throw it to the sky." Vin Scully

Winning Time: Trash talking at it's best. Reggie Miller v. the Knicks.

Oh, and even though it's not part of this series and instead is part of The Year of the QB, The Color Orange about Condredge Holloway breaking the QB color barrier at Tennessee is awesome.  

---original post from October 2010---

I know there's a whole lot of sports to watch right now with the MLB LCS, along with college and NFL football, but if you are a sports fan and you haven't started recording ESPN's documentary series 30 for 30, you should.  I arrived a little late to the show and still have a few to catch up on, but here are my favorites so far.

Run Ricky Run A thoughtful look at the complexities of Ricky Williams.

June 17, 1994  I'm sure this date rings a bell.  The Knicks were playing the Rockets in the NBA Finals, the US was hosting the FIFA World Cup, and Arnold Palmer was ending his career, but none of us could turn away from OJ Simpson's white Bronco. This film has the footage to prove it. 

The Two Escobars  This is the film I imagine Entourage's fictional Medellin could have been.  It illuminates the lives and deaths of Columbian soccer player Andres Escobar, and the drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Guru of Go  LMU, Paul Westhead, Hank Gathers, Bo Kimble, and a left-handed free-throw that still brings tears to my eyes. 

Four Days in October  Remember when the Red Sox were a team of playful, lovable idiots, cursed for 80-some years?  Remember when you felt for Red Sox and sympathized with their bad luck before they became almost as annoying as Yankees fans? Here are the four unbelievable days that changed Red Sox Nation forever.