It's straight out of a Hollywood script. It doesn't matter who you are, it will give you goosebumps. It will make you cry. It is a victory that should be showed to every single aspiring athlete who doesn't know what it's like to work for something.
What is it? It's a one-legged wrestler winning an NCAA Division I Championship. Oh, you mean the handicapped version right? No. I mean the NCAA Division I 125-pound championship.
The wrestlers name is Anthony Robles, and his 7-1 victory over the defending champ Matt McDonough of Iowa completed a perfect undefeated season. I haven't made one typo yet.
After my dad texted me to tell me what had just happened, my first response was: One leg? Do you think that's an advantage?
He responded like most people would: "Huh? Are you crazy?"
Now wait a second. Before you call me an awful person for even suggesting it, just hear me out:
Firstly, what Robles did is absolutely incredible. He is an example of everything that is good about athletics and his story will probably be sold to a movie producer in the next 6 months, and it should be. But, I think I may be onto something...
Okay, so he's got one leg. What does that mean? Disadvantages: His balance must be undoubtedly worse. When he's on the ground, he can't perform a few moves that other wrestlers can involving using both legs to wrap the opposing wrestler up. And, well, that's about all I can think of.
As for the balance: If you watched the kid wrestle, he stays on the ground most of the time anyway. Besides, I'd be glad to have one less limb for some psychopathic wrestler to try and break. I mean, certain athletes have enough problems facing a left-handed/footed player - imagine wrestling people with two legs your whole life and then wrestling this guy? That must throw a few of your grapples out the window and at the very least, gives you one less leg to grab onto.
Additionally, the leg does something that you may not have considered: it cuts his weight. According to some of the information I found online (yeah, I looked it up), the legs make up about 15-22% of the average human's body weight. With both legs, Robles opponent weighed 125 pounds. Losing one leg would shave roughly 12.5 pounds (if the legs made up 20% of his weight). So, where does that weight go? I'll tell you - right to his upper body. Think I'm kidding? Take a peek at the game-tape, Robles is huge in the chest and arms compared to his opponent. He is stronger in his upper body, and not having his right leg is 100% the reason that he has the room to put that weight on. This is obviously an advantage, and once you see Robles get on the ground he just manhandles his opponents.
Finally, the mental game. Robles was born without his right leg. He's been the same man his whole life and obviously he has figured out how to deal with it. But for opposing wrestlers, you can't tell me that he doesn't give them a nice little psych out when he comes out to the mat on one crutch before destroying their National Championship hopes.
With all that being said, I don't think its quite the advantage that bionic leg guy had who was kicked out of the Olympics. There is no unfair prosthetic involved. Robles did it all on his own, within the rules, and as a true champion he did it with an amazing amount of grace.
If you don't buy he had an advantage, just remember one thing: He won. And it wasn't even close.
For footage of the match check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH1m_vM1HcI
In the world of college sports, poor behavior amongst athletes on scholarship is all too prominent. Just recently, our own University was put under the public magnifying glass when CBS and Sports Illustrated did a collaborative report that revealed nearly a quarter of the University of Pittsburgh’s scholarship football players had a criminal record.
Unfortunately, in many instances, the pressures of the lucrative sports industry leave schools giving top athletes a slap on the wrist when they deserve jail time. That’s why when a couple weeks ago I heard that Brigham Young University was suspending its starting center Brandon Davies for the remainder of the season, I was shocked.
BYU, who at the time of the suspension was ranked No. 3 in the country, forced Davies off the court for violating the school’s honor code. His crime? Having sex with his girlfriend.
Davies, who was averaging 11.1 points and 6.2 rebounds, is a key player for the Cougars, who were trounced by New Mexico 82-64 in their first game without him.
His suspension puts some serious threats in the schools future. If the team were to have an early exit in the upcoming NCAA tournament without its star center, all of the players who have worked hard and obeyed the rules miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity to win a National Championship that they may never recapture.
Yet, the school’s alumni have come out strongly in support of the University's decision to suspend Davies.
"Sorry, I'm choking up a bit here," says Philadelphia sportscaster Vai Sikahema, a former NFL return specialist who played for BYU in the mid-1980s. "It's just hard for me to express just how immensely proud I am of my university."
That’s right; proud. Well guess what Mr. Sikahema, I’m proud too. I’m proud of you and all the other BYU alum that have come out in support of your University while the general public has frowned upon it. You have to have a special kind of respect for a school that sticks to its principles.
BYU’s honor code, which requires students to "live a chaste and virtuous life," also says that they must abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse.
Once this honor code was made public, there was a bit of an uproar. Prohibiting college students from sex, alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and tea? It sounds tyrannical and unrealistic. But for a school that is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s a code widely respected and adhered to by both current students and alumni.
So my question is, how can you defend Davies’ actions? Yes, he’s a college student with raging hormones. Yes, people make mistakes. I don’t think he did anything wrong. I feel sympathy for him and his teammates who will pay the price. But hey, this kid is good. He could have played for a hundred other Division I programs, but he chose BYU. Like 98% of the BYU student body, Davies is a Mormon. Like 100% of the BYU student body, Davies knew exactly what content the honor code contained.
"The honor code is an essential part of your recruitment to BYU," says Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young, who played at BYU from 1981 to '83. "It's not like you find out later — 'Oh, you didn't tell me! I didn't know that!' But there's a spirit on campus that is just, 'O.K., fine, now let's now go have a good time.'"
By suspending Davies, BYU sent a message to the entire college sporting world that was very clear: athletes should be held responsible for their actions just like anyone else.
In fact, athletes’ public exposure should increase their roles as positive representations of both the University and themselves. This year, a Robert Morris University player from right here in Pittsburgh got a four-game suspension after a drunken driving incident. In February, two players from Marshall University were charged with battery over a bar fight; they played in a game the next evening.
Even on the field, players’ have broken common moral conduct and been excused. Two years ago, a University of Florida football player intentionally gouged an opponent’s eyes. He was suspended for a half.
The truth is that Brigham Young University made the right decision; they held a student-athlete accountable for his mistakes and took the correct line of action when they needed to. My only hope is that the rest of the college sports world follows their lead.
All quotes taken from a Time magazine article
With selection Sunday over and the conference championships complete, the best sporting month of the year is almost underway.
This NCAA tournament has shaped up to be one of the most interesting in recent memory (I feel like they always say that, but its really really true this year). From No. 1 seeds being upset to buzzer beaters and dominant scorers the likes of Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette, the tournament is actually wide open. In order to give it a closer look, lets examine the top 3 conferences (in order of strongest to weakest) that are putting teams into the tournament, and how brackets are going to shape up.
1. The Big East
Without question, the strongest conference in the country this year. The Big East is sending 11 teams (all automatic qualifiers, no play-in games) to the tournament. That's 11 of 16 teams in the conference going to the Big Dance. Out of those 11 teams, Pitt came out the No. 1 seed in the Southeast conference despite going one and done in their only conference tournament game.
Games to look forward to: Out of the 11 teams, I think 2 have serious threats in the first round. One of them is St. Johns, who despite being the 6 seed and playing the 11 seed Gonzaga can only be considered a slight favorite. As most people know, St. Johns made a killing on their home court this year. In fact, their wins over Georgetown, Notre Dame, Duke, Villanova, Connecticut, and Pitt all came at MSG on the Red Storm's home court. I hate to be the one to say it, because I really do like St. John's, but I think they're a first round exit. Outside of their building they have losses to Seton Hall, Fordham, and UCLA. That's enough to convince me that the Gonzaga Bulldogs, whose only really top of the line win was over Baylor on December 18th, are going to get it done. It might not be the best justification, but I just have a feeling.
The other Big East team that needs to stay on their toes is West Virginia. I can say pretty confidently the Mountaineers will be playing Clemson, who looked really strong in their loss to UNC in the ACC tournament. The Tigers bring a very physical and fast paced style, but this is just another gut feeling. WVU has been inconsistent all year, and I have a feeling they're going to come out flat and lose in a close one.
After the first round, I'm expecting to see Pitt roll over Butler and get into a scrap with Kansas State. The Panthers have a nice break in this years tournament, and outside of Ferdette and BYU, I think the only game I'd really bet against the Panthers in before the final four will be their elite 8 matchup with Florida. Yes, I'm a Pitt fan. Yes, that's premature. But hey, its the tourney and I got a nice gut feeling we'll be seeing Pitt vs Florida in a couple weeks. I also think you can expect to see Villanova take down GMU which will set up one of the best 2nd round matchups this year; Ohio State vs Villanova. Nova has been slumping, bad, I know. BUT, they're guard play, when its on, is basically unstoppable. I wouldn't be surprised to see the guards of Nova outplay Sullinger of Ohio State and see the Buckeyes get sent home early. I have a lot of faith in the strength of the Big East and this is an upset I'm hoping the Wildcats can pull off.
Players to watch: Kemba Walker. Kemba Walker. Kemba Walker.
2. The Big Ten
The Big Ten sent 7 teams this year, still 4 behind the Big East but not too shabby.
Games to watch: Penn State and Michigan State are definitely in the most danger in the first round. In fact, I think they're the only 2 Big Ten teams that won't make it to the second round. Temple is just a flat out better basketball team than Penn State, so I have no reason to think they won't get it done. Michigan State is in a more intriguing matchup with a very unpredictable UCLA team, but MSU has been inconsistent and overrated since the first game of this season and I think this game will end a very disappointing year for them.
I know the Ohio State Buckeyes are the number 1 seed in the whole tourney, but as I said in the Big East bit, I see them going down in the 2nd round to Nova. The Buckeyes have some impressive top 25 wins, and they looked sharp in the Big ten tournament, but their best player is a freshman and Nova has a ton of experience. So, who takes their place as the Big Ten team likely to make the final four? I'd keep an eye on Wisconsin. Something tells me they're going to make a big big run in this years tourney.
Player to watch: Even though I just talked him down, when you talk Big Ten players you talk about Jared Sullinger. He'll be a top 5 NBA draft pick if he goes this year.
3. The ACC
I know they only have four teams. I know that the Big 12 has some strong squads, but Duke and UNC simply make the ACC the third strongest conference in the country. Boston College, who was snubbed, got a little attention when it's coach said "I'll put our top two against anybody. I'll put our middle pack against anybody else's middle pack," coach Steve Donahue said. "But, yet, there's 11 from one league and 3½, basically, from another. I don't see the drastic difference. I'm being honest." I'm not sure if anyone told him that the Big East has 9 teams in the top 25, but maybe he doesn't follow that stuff too much.
Games to watch: Duke could get into an interesting game with Tennessee or Michigan, who they will see the winner of in the 2nd round. I think the Blue Devils are definitely the best team in this conference and they proved it by smashing UNC in the tournament championship. In the 3rd round, I think UNC will end up playing Syracuse which will be another fantastic matchup. I think FSU goes down in round 1 and like I said, Clemson could be shaking things up for WVU in the second round.
Players to watch: Enough about Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller, those are the two most exciting players in the conference.
Surprises from selection Sunday: Colorado and Va Tech really got screwed. They both put together good resumes but something happened in that voting room and they were left out, while a team like Georgia got in AND got the 10 seed. That's a head scratcher. Why? Here is the UGA resume.
Regardless, the tournament is looking interesting. What are your thoughts? I'll leave you with some nice story lines outside of the major ones provided by ESPN.
• Louisville and Morehead State are 130 miles apart in Kentucky, but will travel to Denver for their second-round matchup.
• UNLV coach Lon Kruger leads the eighth-seeded Rebels against his old team, Illinois, in an 8 vs. 9 matchup in the Southwest.
• Mountain West Conference champion San Diego State (32-2) is in the same region as Michigan, meaning Aztecs coach Steve Fisher may have to face the school he left in controversy.
• Last year's national runner-up, Butler, closed out an up-and-down season by winning its conference title and was rewarded with a No. 8 seed. Butler (23-9), the team from the 4,500-student campus that came two points short of winning it all last year, will play Old Dominion in its first game, but could face Pittsburgh in the second.