It seems like the height of irrelevance to discuss sports at a time when international tensions are at the boiling point, even as the destruction of personal liberties in nominally free societies such as Canada and Australia go unchecked. Perhaps it is. Nevertheless, life continues, and regardless of whether one watches or participates sports carry on. As do we.
This past weekend’s three major sports news events were the Daytona 500, the NBA All-Star Game, and Michigan men’s basketball coach Juwan Howard’s five-game suspension due to a physical altercation with Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft following a game between the two schools.
First, the Daytona 500. The official kick-off to the NASCAR season, this year’s event featured a rarity for recent years even without COVID-based attendance restrictions. Namely, fans in the stands not coming dressed as empty seats. The race was sold out more than a month prior to the event. Whether this was because of an uptick in fan interest, or a whole bunch of conservatives already planning to visit Florida for CPAC this coming weekend decided to hit the state early for some quality “Let’s Go Brandon” time, is a matter of conjecture.
Anyway, the race was decent by Daytona standards in that there was only one car flipping onto its roof. In lieu of the Big One, there were several Medium Ones to thin out the field. And, in true Daytona fashion, the winner was utterly unexpected. Austin Cindric isn’t exactly a household name. In fact, unless you’re a hardcore NASCAR junkie, you have no idea who he is. There was a certain amount of karma in Cindric, in his first race replacing Brad Keselowski in the #2 car at Penske, winning while Keselowski, in his first race in the #6 car at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing (try fitting that on a business card), seemed fiercely determined to take home the Chick Hicks Trophy in place of the Harley J. Earl model. To many a devoted NASCAR fan, the season starts in earnest this coming Sunday when the series comes out west to Auto Club Speedway. Wish I was going to be there.
Next, we take a look at the NBA All-Star Game, held this past Sunday in Cleveland. Team LeBron James won the game over Team Kevin Durant due to its tenacious, unyielding defensive effort that locked down TKD to a measly 160 points while TLJ mustered a scant 163. The moral of the story is that when you take the best basketball players in the world, toss them all onto the same court, and say, “Have fun, guys,” defense isn’t exactly the first thing on anyone’s mind.
Finally, a more serious story. Following Wisconsin’s 77-63 win over Michigan this past Sunday in men’s basketball, during the obligatory postgame handshake line, things became heated between Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard and Michigan head coach Juwan Howard regarding Gard’s usage of timeouts near the game’s conclusion when the outcome had been well settled. The unwritten rule is that when it’s late in the game, and it’s obvious who the victor will be, you do whatever you can not to stop the clock and get the thing over. In other words, don’t call a timeout. Wisconsin did, allegedly to get its bench players all going in the same direction up and down the court, and Howard was not amused. Words were had, swiftly followed by Howard punching Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft in the face and a few players from both teams joining in the fun. The result was Howard being fined and suspended for the rest of the regular season, Gard being fined, and two Michigan players plus one from Wisconsin suspended for one game. Way to display leadership for impressionable youth, Messrs. Howard and Gard!
Finally, what happens when a women’s college basketball team gets the wrong training videos and studies WWE instead.
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