Every-Thing Sports

Can we finally put to bed some stereotypes in sports?

You're here on this site reading this because you're a sports fan. You have more than likely have invested countless hours watching and cheering for your favorite, or against your least favorite, teams. Whether it be the high school you went to (or your kids' school), your college or pro team of choice (or a birthright), you've dedicated a certain portion of your life to sports and your teams. You've also, by sheer exposure, have developed certain opinions. For example: I've talked to some fans in Houston who will support the Texans no matter what because they remember the years without pro football.

There are also other opinions that you've undoubtedly formed as a sports fan. Some of them are based off observation, some are based off history, while others are based on certain biases. We call the ones based off biases stereotypes. You know what stereotypes are because you have done it to others or have experienced them yourself. I know a lot of you have been profiled by employers, the police, landlords, bankers, etc. But have you ever thought about some of the stereotypes in sports? Or better yet, have you ever thought about how many of them are outdated and irrelevant? Here's a few that I've been thinking about:

"Athletic" quarterbacks can't make it in the NFL

First things first: "athletic" quarterbacks is most often code for black quarterbacks (minus a few exceptions, this is pretty true). The leading MVP candidates this year are Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson. Deshaun Watson was in the race until his showing against the Ravens a couple weeks ago. They all fit the mold of athletic quarterbacks. More and more the NFL is catering to these guys instead of trying to get them to fit a mold. Coaches like Kliff Kingsbury are getting a shot because of their knowledge of the types of wide open offenses being run at the college level that play to the strengths of spread style athletic quarterbacks. Sooner or later, these guys will take over the league.

White guys aren't good athletes

Sneaky fast/quick. Good hands and good route runner. More cerebral and that helps his lack of athleticism. This is mainly a football thing. However, Christian Mc Caffrey is blowing this out the water. He's one of the leading yards from scrimmage guys in the NFL this year. Pro golfer Dustin Johnson is considered the best athlete on the PGA tour. He once did a photoshoot where he showcased his ability to dunk a basketball. Mike Trout and Christian Yelich are two of the best baseball players on the planet. This narrative has to go.

Kids need to pick a sport and stick with it

Growing up, most kids play different sports. They may excel at all or none of them. The ones who excel at one or more are now being forced to pick one and stick to only that sport. Why? Would we have seen Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders if it were for a foolish idea like this? The idea that kids can't play multiple sports is dumb. The year-long playing and practicing of some sports gets in the way, but so does limiting kids. Narrowing their focus makes them narrow their thoughts, and we all see how far that's gotten this country.

Over my nearly four decades on this planet, I've watched a ton of sports. Ever since I could talk, my family would say sports was the thing I showed the most interest in. My aunt Charlene will tell everybody about me only knowing George Rogers for the Saints and yelling "Go Big George!" every time anyone in a Saints uniform did anything. I vividly remember the Lakers vs Celtics NBA Finals matchups of the 80s. I moved to Atlanta the summer the Braves were going from worst to first and suffered through only winning one World Series in the 90s. USMNT's run in '94 and USWNT's win in '99 got me into soccer. I was old enough to know Steffi Graf winning the Grand Slam in '88 was a huge deal. I also remember when Tiger Woods burst on the scene and vaguely remember Jack Nicholas' miracle win at The Masters in '86. Seeing the aforementioned Jackson and Sanders play pro football and baseball at the highest levels were among my favorite memories. None of this would be believable had any of these teams/athletes limited themselves to the narrow-minded thoughts of stereotypes. What are some of the stereotypes you've seen? Sound off on Twitter and let me know. Let's discuss this further. I'm sure there are some you guys can think of that I've left off here.

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The Beard could be on his way back to Houston. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

I've been hearing the rumors. Been watching the chatter online. Been perusing the conversations. Gauging the interest, or lack thereof. Things have been quite polarizing when it comes to the subject: Do fans want James Harden back with the Houston Rockets? It's sort of split between the section of fans who are impatient and want to win again as soon as possible, and the fans who are patient and want the team to continue to rebuild around the young stars. When I heard this, it got me to thinking:

The fans who want Harden back are almost consistently tired of losing. They feel bringing Harden back will propel this roster into playoff contention immediately. One of the things they bring to the table is this team's need for a true point guard. Harden has transformed his game to be one of the best playmakers in the league. He's averaged seven or more assists per game every year since the 2014-15 season. Of those nine seasons, he's averaged 10 or more four times. This group thinks Harden can be the missing link between this team making the playoffs.

The people who don't want him back speak about his attitude and professionalism. They don't want someone like Harden having a bad influence on the young roster. If his poor habits rub off on them, they're afraid choking in the playoffs, partying, and being too nonchalant will negatively impact the kids. Harden also isn't the player he used to be. He's never been a top-notch athlete, but he's also going to be 34 when next season starts. Mother Nature and Father Time are undefeated (LeBron James is still fighting that theory).

With the talent they have now, cap space to sign a top free agent outright, and another top draft pick coming, this team is set up to do good things. But what if they don't get a top two pick? What if they miss out on Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson? Now what? Will Harden still be a viable option? I think he would. He loves it here. Still has a house and investments here in Houston. Missing out on those prized rookies would set them back some, but there's other talent in this draft. Those top two guys are potential franchise altering players, especially Wemby. Not getting one or the other would hurt, but not as bad as we tend to think. I think it'll put them a season or two behind schedule, meaning they'll make the playoffs after next season instead of making it next season.

As far as attracting other free agents, not getting Harden would be better in my opinion. He's not the type of guy other players are clamoring to play with. He is more of a playmaker now, but has a reputation that's made him more pariah than messiah. Things may change when those players look at Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun. The biggest attraction would actually be adding Wemby or Scoot without Harden. Any vet would kill to play with that many young kids eager and ready. It's why Harden is looking to come back himself.

Bottom line, I don't like the prospect of a Harden reunion. Another vet or two that has a better work ethic and rep would be ideal. Truly, one who's not going to come in and think it's his team. Harden will undoubtedly think it's his team. The type of free agents to bring in will need to be able to allow the future of this franchise to grow and aid in that process. I don't see Harden as being that type of guy. If Kelly Iko's inkling and what ESPN Houston's Joel Blank has heard are both correct, there's a strong chance of this happening. If it does or doesn't, I only hope better times are ahead for this team. The fans deserve better.

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