I like to think the league that I cover is the leader, probably worldwide, in a lot of societal aspects.
It’s got a great track record for minority hirings in positions of authority, its charitable endeavours and global initiatives get to the heart of some significant issues, it is truly an inclusive organization that should be proud of what it does and should be held up as a beacon to the other North American professional leagues.
Now, I understand a lot of its worldwide efforts come because of basketball’s popularity around the world, it dwarfs hockey and football and baseball so it’s logical that the NBA would reach out to Asia and Africa and Europe a bit more.
But there was a story that caught my eye yesterday that shows the pucks are doing the same kind of thing and should be lauded.
The NHL and its players association have struck an agreement with the You Can Play Project, the advocacy group that fights homophobia in sports.
The news is here and it should be welcomed by all; it formalizes what’s already been in practice and that’s a good step.
The NBA is already aligned with Athlete Ally and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, those groups provide educational sessions as part of the league’s rookie orientation program last year and this and it’s another huge step in the right direction.
Professional sports is a powerful vehicle in our society, they reach people across all economic and social strata and we’re not talking just about players, coaches and team officials who can and will benefit from formalized programs to fight discrimination simply because of sexual preference.
Fans – the most important group because their lives are far more normal and likely to include contact with gay and lesbian groups. They need to know that the people they look up to, the athletes they admire, are more than willing to be open and accepting of others, regardless of their lifestyles.
Sports has come a long way in this regard – the Neanderthals are being weeded out and enlightened by educational programs and peer pressure – and the NHL’s move yesterday and the NBA’s continued educational programs are moving the needle in the right direction quickly.
It may not be quickly enough – this is an awareness process that is going to take time – but each step is important in creating a more open and accepting society.
Good on them.
I’m sure someone out there will like this, not sure you all will, but for some reason I can’t quite pick out from the deep, dark recesses of my mind, this came into my head yesterday.
Yeah, it’s The Cure.
Vote early, vote often?
Nah, probably can’t get away with that since everything’s done electronically and pretty well tracked but it’s almost time to cast the post-season ballots for the NBA awards.
For some reason known only to the administrators at the league office I have votes in all seven categories – MPV, rookie, coach, defensive player, most improved, sixth man and the three all-NBA teams – and if I had to vote yesterday, here’s how I would have done it, as the Nothin’ But Net main suggests.
But I will tell you this, in all but MVP and rookie, there were probably five or six potential winners in each category; I’ve been involved in this in some way for about the last 10 or 12 years and I can’t think of a year where so many players or coaches could legitimately win so many awards.
I think I got them right but who knows.
Please. It’s email@example.com and while there was some yesterday, there’s always room for more.
And I have to congratulate you; it’s been at least two weeks since I’ve been inundated with Andrea Bargnani questions. Well done.
Okay, if you’ve been here often enough you’ll know that I think Vin Scully is the gold standard for every broadcaster in the world.
A wonderfully under-stated manner, the ability to weave stories in and out of games without distracting from the action at hand; a calm, soothing presence in a business populated by far, far, far too many screamers who think they’re a larger part of the event than they actually are.
And this is long and I apologize for that but if you’ve got 10 minutes listen to Scully do a one-man play-by-play of a Dodger-Padres brawl and tell me who else in the world could have pulled it off with such class and understated perfection.
Others would be yelling and chatting over each other in multi-broadcaster booths; Scully would have none of that.
It’s a classic.
Well, they’re banged up as this little item from yesterday’s practice mentions but I did see Valanciunas headed to a signing session well after practice was done and he was neck brace-free and his usual jovial self so that was a good sign.
And since he’s become much more a force on the court, you have to hope he plays the last four games so the folks can see him three more times at home.
He’s become something to watch, as Dwane pointed out.
“He shrinks the floor, we’re playing inside-out a little bit more and the defence has to compact a little bit and that opens up Rudy and DeMar on the perimeter a little bit more, and Kyle.
“He’s doing a good job of finding people once the defence does collapse so it’s an umbrella effect but it all starts with JV having the confidence and the respect of the defence.
“To this point, his growth in the last month and half has been tremendous.”
I’d say it was a pretty inspired draft pick, wouldn’t you?
Go back at look at who was behind him two seasons ago and ask, right now and I know it’s early, that you’d rather have on the team you cheer for.
Yes, IGBT thing tonight, Not Grace is scribbling the gory game details but we’ll be around just before 7 p.m. for all the fun and frivolity as this season continues to wind down to the time when the real work begins.