March Madness!

Bracket

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS March 20, 2017, # 632 Up Next… “March Madness!”

After further review…Indeed it is…“madness!” But before we get to some of the month’s downsides, let’s talk about some fun parts of basketball. First-off. I have played basketball since I was about eight. Many times, as a kid, my shot never hit the rim (I was about five feet tall with the rim at ten). ‘Course there were times at Occidental College when I shot an “air-ball.” As I watched Ivy League champion Princeton Tigers defeat Yale 71 – 59 to move on to the NCAA tournament bracket of 68, I related to that T*E*A*M.

No, the Oxy Tigers, being in the smaller of the NCAA’s divisions in those years, were never eligible for that tournament. However, we related to Princeton in other ways, or as we called them “the Occidental of the East.” I always admired Ivy League players, because they were truly “student–athletes.” At Oxy there were no athletic scholarships (as it was the case and still is in the Ivy League, though large endowment has led to financial aid that blurs the distinction). Further, there was no “one-and-done” (the more talented players leaving college early to play in the NBA). We went to school to prepare ourselves for our future life’s work. Professional basketball was available for those who qualified; but not for the air-ball guys!

Watching the Patriots League Women’s basketball championship game, in which the Bucknell Bison defeated Navy 74-71 in overtime, I was impressed how far women’s basketball has progressed. (I’m not sure how the “Bison” nickname came about, but with the university founded in 1846 in Lewisburg, Pa., perhaps a few of them wandered east, there being too many highways to cross). What caught my eye in that game was that there was no knocking an opponent to the floor. Oh, there were the usual charging–blocking fouls, but there was more finesse than in the raw physicality of the men’s game, which leads me to the NBA.

The NBA game, at least to the TunneySide, has begun to allow NFL levels of contact. No, I don’t have a solution as to how you stop 6’11”, 250-lb. players from avoiding contact with each other. But seeing them get away with it cheapens the finesse that once characterized the game.! The court is still 50’ x 94’ and the basket still at 10’ – the same dimensions the Bucknell women use. Does that make sense to you?

Some suggestions: raise the basket to 12’, widen the court, call fouls for “holding” opponents (yes, defenders actually grab offensive players), eliminate “palming” the ball, traveling, or the two-step jump shot; but those ideas fall on deaf ears. Sad!

Will you log-in with your thoughts on improvements needed in today’s basketball game?

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To contact Jim, go to JimTunney.com or email Jim@JimTunney.com.

Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports

Be sure to get Jim’s book ‘Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports’ by clicking this link or using the email above to contact Jim directly.

These TunneySides take issues from real-life situations and relate them as inspiration for the betterment of others.

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How do you measure…

nfl-players-pass-the-wonderlic-test

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS March 13, 2017, # 631 Up Next… “How do you measure…”

After further review…The National Football League invited 330 college football players to the “combine” last week at Lucas Stadium (Indianapolis). These players have declared themselves eligible for the NFL draft to be held in April in Philadelphia. Some players were not invited due to unacceptable behavior in off-field incidents. Many fans decry the egregious behavior of talented players.

Those invited are required to do their best in events such as: the 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical leap, agility drills, throwing ability (quarterbacks), catching the ball (receivers and defensive backs) strength tests, reactionary moves on command, etc. These exercises are followed by interviews with T*E*A*M personnel, and then the Wonderlic Personnel Test.

Developed by E.F. Wonderlic in the 1930s, this is a written test designed to “assess cognitive abilities and predict job competences.” While originally created for hiring managers in the business world, NFL teams have found it to be a reliable test to measure a player’s ability to absorb their team’s system. For the NFL’s purposes the Wonderlic is more reliable than traditional I.Q. tests. However, though the original test has been updated, some feel that it is not as reliable and comprehensive as it needs to be. Further, it does not measure a certain “it” factor that some players have.

Some players over the years have not done well on these tests, yet performed at a high level during games. Some of these “it” factors may include: “heart” (a player’s passion); mental toughness; and a player’s never-give-up attitude. The only test for these characteristics may be in the history of a player.

In the book, “It’s the Will, Not the Skill,” (the philosophies and principles of success used by former NFL head coach Herm Edwards), we discuss the idea that while all players selected to play in the NFL have skills, it is the will that takes them to Super Bowl level. That’s where the player with heart rises to meet or exceed expectations. It may be difficult to separate heart from mental toughness, but suffice it to say: “When the game is on-the-line, which players do you want in the game?

The determination of a player is dependent upon his ability to never give up. As we write: “Confidence is when you are two scores behind in the fourth quarter and still feel you will win.”

Will you log-in with your thoughts about predicting success?

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To contact Jim, go to JimTunney.com or email Jim@JimTunney.com.

Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports

Be sure to get Jim’s book ‘Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports’ by clicking this link or using the email above to contact Jim directly.

These TunneySides take issues from real-life situations and relate them as inspiration for the betterment of others.

Posted in NFL, Sports, Tunney Side of Sports Columns | Leave a comment

Traditions

MLB 2016: Athletics vs Astros JUL 10

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS March 6, 2017, # 630 Up Next… “Tradition!”

“Fiddler on the Roof” takes place in a small, fictional Russian town about the year 1905. With the Russian autocracy trying to purge the Jewish population, Tevye, the village milkman, confronted with change and his meager household, is asked “How do we maintain our balance?” Tevye replies, “Tradition!’ Tevye then launches into that classic song! While change is predictably inevitable, many cultures have maintained not only their balance but their basis for why their culture was established and continues to be. Yet, there are many who grow tired of the same o’ same o’.

Tradition in Major League baseball is being challenged for the upcoming 2017 season. MLB has reported that it will change the intentional walk by allowing the manager to motion to the plate umpire that he intends to “walk” the batter, which sends him directly to first base and eliminates the four pitches historically thrown to the catcher standing several steps away from home plate. The shouts of protest from baseball purists can be heard clear to the hallowed ground of Cooperstown, N.Y., home of MLB’s Hall of Fame.

Proponents of the change of the IBB assert that the IBB (intentional base on balls) is simply a waste of time, with MLB games averaging more than three-plus hours in length. And besides, they say, everybody knows what the pitcher wants to do anyway. But Intentional walks happen rarely anyway – once or twice a game, and sometimes never! Further, what if the pitcher’s casually misdirected throw is wild and allows a runner from third to score, with maybe even the tying or winning run? The argument continues.

Moving to the National Football League, of which I have been a part since 1960, many times we have had a proposal to eliminate “bringing in the chains” to measure for a first down. That proposal has always been turned down. The reason? “Tradition.” The purists argue that there is a certain drama involved in the age-old measurement procedure. Okay, but technology is available to clearly mark the first down. With replay and very accurate on-screen optics, many fans would rather see the play continue rather than suffer the delay caused by the deliberate stretching of the chain. The argument continues.

Will you log-in with your position on traditional vs state-of-the-art procedures?

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To contact Jim, go to JimTunney.com or email Jim@JimTunney.com.

Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports

Be sure to get Jim’s book ‘Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports’ by clicking this link or using the email above to contact Jim directly.

These TunneySides take issues from real-life situations and relate them as inspiration for the betterment of others.

Posted in Tunney Side of Sports Columns | Tagged , | Leave a comment