I was talking to Syracuse University student, radio show host, and good friend of mine Lawrence Jackson and there were a few events going on in sports that he wanted to hear my opinion on. Lets get right to it.
Lawrence Jackson: Why do you think there are so many upsets in the NCAA Tournament?
Tariq Ferguson: There are a lot of factors that go into an upset. Some coaches under prepare while looking ahead to later match-ups, while some coaches over prepare assuming they wont advance unless they play a perfect game against their first opponent. There are also some good teams with good players that play hard and execute their game plan to perfection in these smaller conferences while some teams in bigger conferences get by on talent alone. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
LJ: Does the return of Kyrie Irving hurt Duke’s chemistry or make them more versatile?
TF: I don’t think it hurts their chemistry for three reasons. 1. Kyrie Irving is their Point Guard, their floor general, who not only was top 10 in the conference in scoring but he led the conference in assists when he went down In December. 2. Coach K teams are more synonymous with the term family than team, they all are happy to have him back. 3. They become the most versatile team in the tournament now, assuming he gets back to game shape. He creates offense for everyone, takes Nolan Smith off the ball, and will get Kyle Singler more involved in the offense because it seems that they got away from that when Irving went down.
LJ: Are the Miami Heat overrated?
TF: Not at all. If you ask the Heat players, coaches, and management, they’ll tell you they aren’t ready yet. I think everyone knows they aren’t. They are just over-followed. The Miami Heat is the media’s dream. Everyone wants to know what Miami is doing at all times. Whether you love or hate what they are doing, you watch them. The media is also an industry that thrives on people watching their networks, listening to their stations, and reading their publications. So no, I don’t think they’re overrated.
LJ: Do the Red Sox win it all because of their pitching lineup?
TF: If the Red Sox win it all, it’ll be because of their combination of pitching, fielding, and hitting. The Phillies have the 2 best pitchers in baseball in Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, a World Series MVP in Cole Hamels, and a future Hall of Famer in Roy Oswalt. If we’re crowning a rotation, The Phillies get my vote. Nonetheless, I believe the Red Sox have a better all around team. The acquisitions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez in the primes of their careers were huge. Add that to a team that already yields former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia, slugger David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, and a team of above average role players. They may be the most complete TEAM in baseball, but the pitching nod definitely goes to the Philadelphia Phillies.
LJ: Who wins the NCAA Tournament and why?
TF: It’s a toss up. I agree whole-heartedly with ESPN College Basketball expert Jay Bilas that there are no great teams in college basketball. There are a handful of really good teams, but no great ones. I still think Ohio State is the team to beat. They’re a tough, physical, experienced bunch that can beat you in transition or in the half court game. Jared Sullinger is a matchup problem for everyone in the college game and in my opinion he isn’t even the best player on his team. They are the toughest team left in the tournament and I’d be surprised not to see them winning it all.
LJ: What are your thoughts on the NFL lockout? Do you see it actually happening?
TF: Well they’re officially “Locked out” now so it is happening, but do I see the NFL missing any games? No. What the initial perception of the whole thing was that it was a case of “Billionaires v. Millionaires”, but that is not the case at all. First, not every player in the NFL is a billionaire. Actually, majority of the players in the NFL aren’t millionaires. The marquee players receive wealthy multimillion-dollar salaries, obviously, but that is just a handful of players. The average salary for NFL players is around $770,000, and this figure is driven up by the handful of 20 million dollar a year players. Outside of being underpaid in comparison to team owners, the players also have the media on their side. The league signed a 4 billion dollar mass media deal, in which the players knew nothing about. The secrecy makes it seem as if the owners premeditated this blackout. The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell lost the favor of the players and he is losing the fans. To lock out the NFL after the highest rated Super Bowl in the history of the event would be foolish and he’d be the most hated person in sports. So no, I do not think there will be a lockout for an extended period of time.
LJ: What does the possibility of there being lockouts in 3 of the major professional sports say about the athletes and the people who own them?
TF: Although they’re all humans, I don’t think the owners look at the players as equals. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it slavery, though. These sports teams are businesses. The owners are the bosses and the players, coaches, and everyone else are workers. The workers are expected to come to work everyday, work hard, shut up, and go home. Unfortunately for the owners, it doesn’t work like that. The most important factor in this relationship is difference in passion. These sports that the athletes play are their passion that they dedicate their lives to and generally, these teams that the owners run are their hobbies. See why that would be a problem? Most owners are billionaire’s that need a way to spend their money and not be bored at home everyday so they buy a team. When it comes down to a situation, such as a possible lockout, the players do anything in their power to prevent it while the owners don’t give it a fraction of the time or effort. Majority of them own multiple teams at once so if one is locked out, they can easily turn their attention to another. If these team owners had the same passion and love for the game as the players, there would never be a lockout in any sports. But that would be like asking for a perfect world.