Bubba Watson: The Common Man’s Man in an Elite’s Sport

All semester we have talked about the differences in sports for people in different social classes. How many people play the sports that fits their social class structure. Whether that be football, soccer, or baseball for the working class Joe or sports like golf and tennis for the high society class,but many people do not stray out of the sports that are outside of their class. Reasons being that many obstacles stand in the way for many people considered lower class like money, coaching, etc. However, there are people who have taken a chance to make a name of for themselves where they did not have all the advantages that others in their sport had. The prime example of this adventure is PGA golfer Bubba Watson.

Bubba Watson is a two Masters champion along with winning multiple other majors. He is one of the few lefties that is in the PGA and has one of the longest drives the PGA has ever seen. But what sets Bubba apart from his counterparts? Bubba has never had a golf lesson in his life. He is a true self-taught golfer. Many pros have had some type of coach through out their lives, whether it be one they have had for years or they change constantly to improve their game. The hiring of a coach can cost tons and tons of money and is a prime reason why one does not see many lower class people making their way up in the ranks in golf. His swing and his style are all home-made. He likes to have fun and let loose with his bright pink driver. For decades, the game of golf has been seen as conservative. You do not stray outside the lines if you want to have success. But then there is Bubba who is seen in pictures wearing only overalls and nothing else like the country folk he is. Throw all those conceptions of golfers aside for Bubba because the only similarity that he has is the love for the game and a white ball that goes far, very far. He embraces the life he has grown up and never forgets where he came from. After winning the Masters a couple of weeks ago Bubba posted a picture of his celebration dinner. One would think that after winning one of the most prestigious events that golf has and the paycheck he just got from it, Bubba and his family would be celebrating in style. But that’s not Bubba, he went to the Wafflehouse with his family and friends. A common people restaurant for a common man.

Bubba embraces the idea that one has to have fun in the sport they play. In golf especially, sometimes it can be hard to find that sense in fun through all the rules and expectations one must follow if they want to gain success in golf. Bubba thinks outside of the box which is helps with the success he has seen on the course. He sees things other golfers do not see because they were trained a certain way to play. The only way Bubba knows is to hit the ball and get the ball in the hole, no ifs, ands, or buts. However, the change that Bubba has been making in golf, even how unpredictable and obscure he is, it has earned him a spot at the table with some of the greatest golfers the world has ever seen. A boy who came from a quiet, humble lifestyle has become one of the funniest and amazing golfers to watch because he always leaving you guessing what will happen next. You never know what he will do next because he is something the golf world has never seen before. Next time you’re watching golf or catch a glimpse of a tournament, look for that bright pink driver, in a maybe not mechanical sound swing but one that works because you will be watching a piece of golf history. The beginning of change is here for a sport that has been considered very high-class and strict in its players and structure, and his name is Bubba Watson aka the self-made common man.

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The Hypocrisy of Owners Now-A-Days

“Suspensions here, suspensions there, fines on fines on fines” this is what I see almost everyday when I am looking at recent sports news. Everyday some player is getting in trouble for fighting or breaking team rules or another action that the professional league does not tolerate. Players are held to high standards by their teammates, coaches, organizations, and most importantly their fans. But recently, I have been reading a lot about the trouble owners of professional sports teams are getting into and how the leagues are just giving them a slap on the wrist with a warning. How can the people who are enforcing rules on their players, themselves not get into trouble for actions they do. Everyone in professional sports has the responsibility to act in a manner that does not bring shame and trouble to the game itself. There needs to be a change in sports where commissioners need to start enforcing consequences on owners that truly resemble the act they committed. The penalty of not being able to attend a game or two needs to be thrown away and true consequences need to be administered.

Donald Sterling is a prime example of how changes need to be made against people in the public sphere of sports rather than just the players and coaches. Sterling made headlines this week when a recording came out with Sterling making racist remarks about African-Americans. He was recorded saying he does not want African-Americans at his games and other remarks stating that his African-American players are there on display like slaves were. Sterling is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and this is not his first time in the public eye for comments he has said and actions he has done. The effect of Sterling’s comments have hit the NBA like a storm with stars such as Lebron James saying Sterling should be kicked out of ownership, Magic Johnson saying there is no room for people like Sterling in the NBA and Michael Jordan explaining his disgust for those remarks. However, Sterling is sitting on his throne thinking there is nothing that will  happen because he is one of the bosses of the commissioner in a way. Nothing has been done in the past to this cocky owners who think they can not be touched. Things need to change. Sterling should be removed as owner or he will run a great organization into the ground. The Clippers who are in the midst of the NBA playoffs protested the remarks of Sterling by throwing down there warm up jerseys before the game a couple of days ago and wearing an inside out red shirt. They had no clipper logos on during warm ups to protest they remarks of their owner. Their coach Doc Rivers even stated that he is not sure if he wants to return to the team next year if this is who will be in control of the team. Oh, and by the way the Clippers only have one white player on their team in JJ Redick and reports have shown he is one of the more outraged players on the team.

Sterling is just the most recent owner to make headlines. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay of the NFL was arrested a couple of weeks ago on preliminary charges of impaired driving and possession of controlled substances. These accusations would get a player a hefty fine with most likely a suspension on top of that. But once again the owner is above all the rules. They are who controls the league, its players and its commissioner, nothing can hurt them. There have been tons and tons of cases where owners have a sense of a god-like personality and feel as if they can never get in trouble no matter what they do. This is a call for action by me and more the fans of the sports. Changes need to be made by the commissioners on the actions of the owners. It does not matter that these guys pay your checks Roger Goodell, assert that authority you use on the players on the football field or Adam Silver make a stand that you are not running the same show that David Stern ran. Make your first big decision one to remember and get Donald Sterling out of here. Owners need to be held to the same standard their players are held to. Even if they write some more checks does not mean they are any higher on the totem pole then any one else. Time to stop the hypocrisy of the owners and hold them accountable for what they do like everyone else.

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Goodbye to the NCAA?

It is seen every year in all sports. The top prospects sit at a table and choose a collegiate hat to put on to show which program they will be attending the next fall to further their athletic career. Football does it, baseball does it, basketball does, and so on. But the difference is when they choose that school are they choosing a school that they will be at for the next couple of years to pursue an education and an athletic career or just for a year and then be done. For football and baseball, once one decides to go to college they cannot be drafted into professional sports until after their junior year. However, in basketball one can go for one year and then declare for the NBA draft. That is the concept of the “one and done” idea that been thrown around for such players as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and Carmelo Anthony and many more elite players in the NBA. This strategy of going to one year of college and then going to the NBA to bring in the cash money is seen mostly in the elite of the elite colleges. Coach John Calipari of the University of Kentucky is a professional at running a program off this idea. With the likes of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd Gilchrist, and Nerlens Noel all coming for one year and then all getting drafted in the top ten picks in the NBA draft, Calipari recruits these top profile players to play one year and then help them get drafted. But the question at hand is do these kids actually get the education they want or would an alternative to the NCAA be better where kids can go straight from high school to play basketball and get paid?

Mark Cuban is the very outspoken owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. He recently came out saying that he thinks it would be more beneficial route for elite high school basketball players to go straight to the NBA development league or D-League for short to help their dream of going to the NBA. The D-League is similar to that the minor leagues in the MLB, where young players can enhance their abilities and prepare themselves for the next level with the help of teams connected to the NBA. Cuban talks about how the players are in college they are not even going to class or taking vigorous classes but focusing only on basketball the day they step foot on campus in the fall because they only have a couple of months before they have a chance to leave the campus once again and move up in the world. Cuban talks about the idea of having kids go start to the NBA D-League, which is already acceptable for anyone above the age of 18, where first off they can get paid for what they do unlike where that is illegal in the NCAA and the D-League can provide more resources to help these kids than the NCAA can. He talks about getting the kids tutors to help continue their education while also pursing their professional dreams without the two interfering whereas they would in the college because if you are failing school you are not allowed to participate in sports during that time in college or can get in trouble for having outside help. So why not take a chance at making money and pursing your dreams instead of wasting a year going to classes you do not care about and trying to avoid all these rules that a simple car ride or dinner could ruin your dreams at bigger and better things.

These cases are very similar to that in the book Sugarball and the documentary Pelotero. Just as Michael Sano, Jean Carlo Batista, and other Dominican baseball players, high school basketball players are looking for that paycheck and that chance of playing on the biggest stage in the world. Many of these elite players are coming from hard up bringing and the slightest amount of money could make a difference. So why not take that check get your mom and dad a house and get to business making your dreams come true. One can already see this infractions college players get from meeting with agents or someone associated to NBA whether it is themselves or someone in their family. These actions can affect they way one gets drafted which is tens of thousands of dollars.

So why not just avoid and skip all the hypocrisy of the NCAA like Cuban was said and go live out your dreams. College is supposed to be the time of one’s life but if you are only focusing on getting out as soon as possible why even go? I believe that Cuban has a very good point here and believe that sooner rather than laters players will start realizing this option they have. The only reason it is not seen very much is because the NBA does not market this idea to the kids but I believe that they would be able to take the one from the one and done idea as Cuban states. Its just like baseball in the idea once money is involved more and the chance to change one’s life completely things start to change in the parties involved. Look at college baseball for an example. A high schooler can get drafted after their senior year of high school and go start to the minor leagues while cashing that check on the way to rookie ball. Every year kids get drafted and forgo college to get paid and get started on their dreams of becoming a pro, a dream they have had way longer than the dream of going to freshman English class at 8 am three days a week. Soon these paths around college will be wide spread and very popular because they provide a path of wealth, which no one can deny they do want one that check with the zeroes is in front of you, and a chance to reel in those dreams from youth ball. The NCAA may have reached its peak and be on the way out now.

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