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Tag:Philosophy
Posted on: February 8, 2009 6:24 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2009 6:28 pm
 

Legalize Steroids

Yes, it's true - that is no misprint. Major League Baseball should legalize steroids and end this madness once and for all.

When it comes down to it, what are steroids as used in professional sports? Anabolic steroids, the ones Alex Rodriguez and a host of other athletes have allegedly tested for, have been deemed illegal by USFDA and have been banned from major sports as a result.

But why are they banned in the first place?

The thinking behind banning steroids most likely goes something like this:

1. Steroids can alter an athlete's performance and create an imbalance in the competitive nature of the game.
2. Steroids have a negative impact on the health of these athletes.
3. Therefore, steroids should be banned from athletic competition.

There are several problems with this line of thinking. If the true aim of the baseball powers that be was to create a perfectly competitive environment, they have already failed in part. There are millions of different variables that go into whether one baseball player can outperform another, and no one is on the same level to begin with.

Without listing steroids as a factor, two players with similar talent level can be completely different based on the choices they  make. If one player takes legal supplements every day, diets and exercises properly, and generally takes good care of his body, he will have an significant competitive advantage over a player who neglects to do any of these things.

The second part of this theory speaks to the health risks imposed by steroids. While it is true that anabolic steroids have been linked to harmful changes in cholesterol levels, liver damage, high blood pressure, and structural damage to the heart, almost all of these health risks can be found in something so common as a cigarette. These athletes are fully grown men who play at the highest level in sports. Grown men and women should be allowed to weigh the risks and rewards of a given decision and determine whether they subjugate themselves to its consequences.

Anabolic steroids are simply a means to an end. Like cigarettes relieving stress or Viagra enhancing performance, steroids produce a benefit with several potential consequences attached to it. If the sporting world doesn't ban substances with a negative affect on performance, what sense does it make to ban those with a positive effect? Professional athletes should either be fully regulated in terms of substances or not.

 


 

If an appeal to logic and common sense is found unsound, a more humanistic view of the game will suffice.

Baseball is a game of tradition and heroes. Part of what makes the game so special is the players that captivate us with their triumphs and failures. If the heroes which make the game so exciting are constantly vilified and made out to be worse than they are, the game itself will suffer and interest will fade. Without athletes to celebrate, baseball becomes a mechanical sport void of passion and excitement.

If anything, legalizing steroids will give the sports world a more clear view of athletes and the values they stand for. Getting this issue out in the open where it can be discussed as well as researched thoroughly would clear up misconceptions as well as provide a potentially safer way for people who decide to partake in this activity.

 


 

People make positive and negative decisions that affect their lives every day. We as a society must decide whether or not to embrace the ideas of freedom and personal liberty.

And maybe this madness will finally come to an end.

Posted on: November 30, 2008 7:31 pm
 

Part 1: Fixing the Cleveland Browns' Offense

Out of sheer frustration, I've decided to break down the Cleveland Browns in a two part series. The first part will take a look at the Browns' offense and what they need to focus on heading into 2009.



On offense, the problem starts with personnel. The Browns would be an infinitely better team if they only took advantage of their players' strengths. I've said it before and I maintain my original position - there is tons of talent and potential hidden throughout this team. What's been killing the Browns this season is failing to maximize that talent and turn it into production.

Rob Chudzinski and the Browns' coaching staff are stubborn. Chudzinski's greatest weakness as a coordinator is his inability to adapt. Like trying fitting a square peg into a round hole, Chud continuously takes the offensive personnel on this team and applies them to his system - regardless if they properly fit. There are two great examples in Jamal Lewis and Kellen Winslow. Jamal's running style and and lack of ellusiveness make him best suited for two-back sets. Jamal cannot create on his own - so a fullback is absolutely necessary for him to have any success in this system. Seeing the Browns have one of the best run-blocking fullbacks in the NFL, it's common sense to use the two together - but no. Lewis constantly runs out of singleback sets and stretch plays.

Kellen Winslow is a receiver blessed with the size and strength to play tight end. Winslow has the speed to go with arguably the best set of hand in the NFL. Such a dynamic game-changing player should be the focal point of the Browns' offense. Winslow needs between 10-15 targets per game to best utilize the talent he brings to the roster. Kellen Winslow is a Terrell Owens or Larry Fitzgerald type who can constantly win regardless of coverage. For Kellen average 4.3 receptions per game to this point is a joke.

What the Browns need to do offensively is establish an identity, and that starts with the running game.

Based on the personnel available on this roster, the Cleveland Browns are best suited running an aerial-based possession style of offense. Since the Browns have finally committed to Brady Quinn as the future quarterback, it is essential to build the offense around his strengths and weaknessess. Quinn has shown the ability to make good decisions and accurate throws in the short to mid-range passing game. It is critical for Phil Savage, the head coach, and Rob Chudzinski to build the offense around Brady Quinn. This means, the running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers all need the necessary skillsets to support that offensive philosphy.

In a west-coast type passing attack, running backs H-backs, and fullbacks must be able to catch the ball out of the backfield and possess the ability to create yards after the catch. Such a system obviously favors a feature back like Jerome Harrison, who has continuously proven he posesses big play ability and the speed necessary to thrive in such a scheme.

Since Harrison is a relatively smaller back (5'9, 205lbs), the Browns would need a short yardage back to compliment Harrison's speed and agility. Enter Lawrence Vickers. I've said it before, but Vickers is a sensational talent. He has the hands to become part of the passing attack, the size (6'0, 250lbs) to gain the tough yards, and the vision to remain an excellent lead blocker. The Browns would be best served to use Lawrence Vickers in conjunction with Jerome Harrison to form a running back tandem. Together, the two runners give the Browns unlimited options for creativity in the running game alone. The split back formation, the strong-I formation, and the weak-I formations would become base sets for the Browns. The conversion of the offense would be a tremendous aide in pass protection - an area the Browns have struggled with from the running back position.

Staying with the offense, the wide receiver play is paramount to a successful offense - regardless of the change in philosophy. Speed and consistency are a huge part of the short-range passing game, so players like Braylon Edwards and Syndric Steptoe should be counted on to get open and use their ability to create after the catch.

Offense Review
  • Kellen Winslow 10-15 targets per game
  • Build around Brady Quinn's strengths
  • Harrison/Vickers running back tandem
  • Continuous solid wide receiver play



Thank you to everyone for reading. Keep an eye out for the second of this two part series entitled, "Fixing the Cleveland Browns' Defense."
Posted on: September 24, 2008 10:34 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2008 8:16 am
 

Football Statistics

It's surprising how something so simple to me is misinterpreted by individuals that claim to understand football.

I frequently run into discussions with people who only see the world through statistics. To some, a quarterback is only as good as his passer rating - yet at least 95% of football fans have no idea what the passer rating is.

I have to believe that the reason for this has to do with the society we live in. People are so quick to make rash decisions based off hard facts and numbers. It's how we're socialized from birth. The way most people interpret the world is through quick pieces of data - which almost always never tell the entire story.

The Bengals defeated the Jets by 17 points?
It must have been a blowout.

The Titans allowed 4 sacks to Vince Young?
That offensive line is terrible.

Derek Anderson threw 3 interceptions against the Ravens?
He obviously cost us the game.

People are generally incapable of going beyond the numbers. For whatever reason, we always need to quantify things with tangible statistics. Grade point averages...quarterback passer ratings...sales figures... These things do not provide an accurate picture of reality, yet because of their convenience they are used as benchmark figures for performance.

Quarterbacks in the NFL are the only players burdened with the unfortunate responsibility of answering to statistics. Incompletions, interceptions, and of course the famed passer rating are there to judge quarterback efficiency and effectiveness. These stats are a way for uninformed fans to relate to the game, and I have no problem whatsoever with that.

My only problem comes in evaluating the other 91% of the team.

What statistics are there for offensive linemen?
How about wide receivers?
Or tight ends?
...Halfbacks?

The wide receivers, tight ends, and half backs are all quantified with receptions, yards gained, and fumbles lost. These measurable statistics neglect the most fundamental part of football - blocking. What makes Hines Ward, T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Brian Westbrook, and a host of others skill position players so good is their ability to block. Thanks to a lack of attention to detail, skill position players who were known for their blocking are lost within the pages of history.

Was Andre Reed a great blocker?
How much effort did Webster Slaughter give on every play?
What kind of football player was Thurman Thomas?

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding "I don't know." As records are kept now, it will be impossible for me and those who come after me to truly understand the amount of grit and determination a given player exerts over the course of his career.

This lack of depth and knowledge is twice as important for offensive linemen whose entire game is based upon blocking. Sure there is the "pancake" statistic, but that statistic in addition to being wildly inaccurate is not used by the mainstream media and therefore useless. Football is more than the quarterback. It takes 11 men working in unison to score points, and it is irresponsible to place so much of what happens on the field on one person.

My rant has gone on for too long now, so I'll conclude with the following:

What I'd like to see from the NFL is for it to introduce some way of accounting for blocking.

If a guy gets beaten, I want it recorded.
If a football player makes a key block for a touchdown, let's hear about it.
If a man holds his assignment, give him credit for it.
If a nose tackle takes on a double team, why not make note of it?

I know that it would be quite difficult to create working definitions for the scenarios I outlined, but the NFL needs to start somewhere. When one blocker's poor play only shows up as an interception for the quarterback, there is a serious problem with how things are measured. Offensive linemen, backs, and receivers hold little credibility in the world of statistics - and that is a serious problem.

Our faulty system of measurement and more importantly assessment may end up running a good football coach and quarterback out of Cleveland. While it may be too late for those two, the NFL should put a system of quantification in place to prevent any future occurances like this one from ever happening again.
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 22, 2008 4:28 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2008 11:06 pm
 

Understanding the Game of Football

I am completely frustrated my the ignorance and stupidity of casual sports fans.

How is it possible that so many seemingly intelligent people can be so wrong on so many different topics? Everyone - and I mean every Browns fan I've encountered has already began calling for Brady Quinn to start for the team in place of Derek Anderson. This is ridiculous. The Browns have played 3 games so far this season with essentially two experienced wideouts (who also happens to be struggling), an offensive line without 2 of last years starters (Ryan Tucker and Eric Steinbach), and against three really tough defenses. The strength of our team has been ravaged by injuries and people want to use that as an excuse to bench Derek Anderson.

Derek hasn't done much of anything to help himself out either. Poor decision making has lead to bad throws which resulted in turnovers and in turn have decreased  his passing statistics. From where I stand, all of DA's problems are entirely correctable. Anderson has proven that he has the physical and mental ability to play quarterback at this level - and people familiar with the Browns believed that heading into the season. After 3 tough games, we're all of a sudden ready to chase Anderson out of town?

Please.

DA is the same guy he was when this team held lofty expectations at the beginning of the year. Defensive coordinators in the National Football League can successfully neutralize only two options in the passing game at a time. What separates the 2008 Browns from last year's team is we're missing that third or even fourth option in the passing attack that is essential for team success. Joe Jurevicius was the reason our offense was as dynamic as it was. If a defensive coordinator tried to take Braylon and Kellen away, Anderson exploited Joe's matchup. If you took away the receivers, we had Winslow. Rob Chudzinski's scheme is predicated on finding advantageous matchups and exploiting them. Without a third guy we're just not balanced, and unfortunately that's how the Browns are right now.

We just can't run this offensive scheme without the proper personnel. That is exactly the reason Savage brought Donte' Stallworth in via free agency. Savage and Chudzinski both know that you need more than 2 weapons to run an effective offense, and the team will sputter without them. Even if Brady Quinn goes in, the only way we'll have success is if his backs, offensive line, and receivers step it up. The key to our offense is a balanced pass-orientated attack - and it won't get better until our receivers do.

More so than baseball and even basketball, professional football is a true team sport. The play of one member of the team directly impacts the entire team with a great deal of certainty. If a left offensive guard for example doesn't do his job correctly, then the tackle on his side will suffer, the quarterback will be pressured, the wide receivers' timing will be off, and the whole play is ruined. All 11 men have to be on the same page and play at the same level in order to achieve success.

It's so easy for the casual fan to look at statistics - especially those of the quarterback and blame the entire game result on him. I don't ever want to hear about Anderson's completion percentage, number of interceptions, passing yards, quarterback rating, or record as a starter. There are so many variables that go into every play, completion, and interception that these things simply do not tell the full story.

The game of football is so much bigger than that. 

Using statistics as the primary (or in some cases only) way to evaluate a quarterback's performance is like reading only the first half of a novel and evaluating the entire book based upon that. In that case, you only get half of the information and run the risk of missing out on some critical facts that may change the entire complexion of the story.

Many of the national sportswriters who cover football say that quarterbacks receive too much praise when things go right and too much blame when things go wrong. This statement could not be more accurate. The quarterback is just as important to a team as the wide receiver, fullback, right guard, and center. All 11 football players are equally responsible for the game's result, yet they are not treated as such. In the NFL, the sum of the parts ARE and ALWAYS WILL be greater than the individual.  Taking this to the extreme, I really do believe that every NFL player should be paid the same amount of money. No one job is more important than another, so why should they be paid as such?

Unfortunately, few people understand the second to last principle and write or say things contradictory to the fact.

I guess the bottom line in all of this is football is a team game and one member of the team should not be held more responsible than another. In the case of the Browns, it is completely unfair to blame the entire offensive struggles on Derek Anderson or think that one person is soley responsible for the team's struggles. As I've mentioned before, professional football is bigger than the individual - so a change in quarterback will do nothing but create controversy.
Category: NFL
Posted on: August 24, 2008 10:59 pm
 

Why Do We Enjoy Football?

Why do guys enjoy football?

I can't speak for everyone, but my reasons should attempt to shine some light on why the NFL is as popular as it is.

It all goes back to that stereotype that all men have the tendency to fix things. If there is a problem, the average guy will spend 3 seconds thinking about the solution and another 3 telling whoever how to fix it.

Call it egotistical, condescending, judgmental or arrogant - but the fact remains that the stereotype is true.

We're guys...and we fix things.

I must say - after thinking about it, this axiom is the main reason why myself and many others like me are such huge football fans.

The very nature of sport provides a goal, rules, and then options to solve said objective. The layout of football, for example, is very simple.

- 11 men on the field
- A simple point scoring system
- Financial Restrictions on obtaining players
- Move the ball from point A to point B

The rest of the game is based on precedent - certain strategies have worked in the past to achieve the goal. As the game evolves, eventually efficiency or natural selection occur and the most effective method of achieving that goal is found. At that point, theoretically all teams will adopt that method and run the exact same offense with the exact same personnel groupings.

Of course that will never happen - as the game is constantly changing which leaves room for continuous adaptation.

Anyway, back to football fans. Although many are averse to the actual philosophy behind the sport, I find that the transformation of the game is simply fascinating. Every year in the NFL we as football fans get to see 32 teams representing 32 geographical regions take their shot at finding the best way to achieve that age old objective of moving the peculiar-shaped ball from one end of the field to another. At the end of the year we hold one final game to determine who's strategy was best for that given year.

I guess part of the allure of sports like football comes in watching the different philosophies interact with one another. For example - these are a few of the most entertaining confrontations in football:

- A strong offense versus an strong offense.
- A strong defense versus a strong defense.
- A strong defense versus a strong offense.
- A weak offense versus a strong defense.
- A weak defense versus a strong offense.

The last two are by far the most interesting - as the match-up never goes as anticipated. Upsets happen every single week in the season and predicting these upsets leads to conversation, enjoyment, and thus entertainment.

This is precisely the reason why I can tune in to any football game regardless of who is playing and maintain interest. There are so many variables that go into determining the winner of a particular contest that it becomes very difficult to predict the winner. Furthermore, with the fast pace scoring and the rules set how they are, a team can rally from virtually any deficit late in the game and stage a miraculous comeback.

In addition, football is a sport that requires a tremendous amount of passion and character. The personalities on any given team at times seem larger than life. From outspoken wide receivers like Owens and Johnson to cerebral geniuses like Mike Martz and Bill Belichick, there are so many different types of people working together to achieve a common goal. The teamwork and unity involved really is something magnificent to behold.

The nationalism, teamwork, physicality, and social interaction embeded deep within the sport are all additional incentives or draws toward the game.

The social interaction is where the axiom I mentioned earlier really comes into play. Since there can only be one winner in a given season - 31 teams are by definition losers: and thus need to be fixed. Every sports fan has a different idea on where a particular team needs to improve or how their team can change things to become successful. Talking about different concepts and players with other people who understand the game probably accounts for close to 25% of the fun of being a fan.

So to answer the question I first proposed - why do guys like football?

To me, it's a little bit of everything. The physicality, the scoring system, the nationalism, the excitement, the social interaction, the teamwork, the personalities and the celebrity nature of the sport are only a few reasons why the game is so popular.

With the way things are set up now, I hope that the sport continues to thrive for years to come.
Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com