Take 5: Super Bowl, Boston, Brawling

Kansas' David McCormack (33) is held back by teammate Isaiah Moss during a brawl following a game against rival Kansas State at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, on Tuesday. Kansas won, 81-60.

Who’s to blame for the brawl in Kansas? Why are both Super Bowl participants cursed? And just how many Celtics should make the NBA All-Star game? The Pitt News sports staff tackles these topics and more in this week’s Take 5.

Catastrophe in Kansas

The brawl that happened during Tuesday’s game between Kansas and Kansas State was truly disgusting — but it didn’t have to be. While the actions of everyone involved were despicable, most of the blame falls on the shoulders of first-year Kansas State guard DaJuan Gordon and the rest of the Wildcats.

You don’t steal the ball down 21 with less than 10 seconds left on the clock. Just ask Monmouth University’s George Papas.

Some have called the move “gritty” or tried to argue that Gordon was trying to light a fire under his team for the next game, but the move can only be described as bush league. The Wildcats got whooped, and if they wanted to take that anger out in some fashion, they should have looked inward. The team shot less than 40% and decided that trying to show up the No. 3 team in the nation was the proper outlet for that frustration.

This brawl was completely preventable — Kansas State had a poor performance and should have handled it by going to its locker room and figuring out how to improve on an otherwise forgettable night.

It should be noted that the worst part of the night was the actions of Kansas junior Silvio De Sousa, who picked up a chair and attempted to use it as a weapon. He has since been rightfully suspended indefinitely by both Bill Self and the Big 12 Conference. I’m not condoning the violence that occurred after Gordon’s steal, which was inexcusable. 

But instead of performing an action that everyone knows is offensive and will surely incite a reaction, just steal the ball when it matters next time. 

— Joe Melillo, For The Pitt News

Don’t snub the Celtics

The Boston Celtics are the only team in the NBA with three players averaging 20 or more points, and all three of those players deserve a spot in the All-Star game. Kemba Walker earned a starting spot Thursday night, while Jayson Tatum is positioned comfortably for a reserve spot and Jaylen Brown is unfortunately staring down the barrel of the snub gun.

Walker is averaging 22.1 points, five assists and four rebounds. In addition to statistical success, he serves as the leader on a talented Celtics team, managing to balance personal success with team success — something that former Celtic Kyrie Irving struggled with.

Tatum is averaging 21.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals. Offensively, he has taken the leap from prospect to star. He has also been more than effective on defense, as evidenced by his real plus-minus of 4.82 — fifth-best in the NBA.

Brown averages 20 points and 6.8 rebounds, but most impressive is his efficiency — he shoots 49.1% from the field and 39.1% from 3-point range. The only player in the East averaging more than 20 points with a higher field-goal percentage is reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and no player in the East has a higher 3-point percentage while averaging 20 points.

Despite proving he is an All-Star-caliber player, Brown is in danger of getting robbed simply because people will refuse to put three Celtics players in the game. This outcome would be incredibly disrespectful to Brown’s talent. Just because his team is ripe with talent does not mean he should be robbed of All-Star honors, especially given the lack of depth at the shooting guard position in the Eastern Conference.

— Sean Tierney, Staff Writer

Nakken is right where she belongs

The San Francisco Giants made history last Thursday by announcing the hire of Alyssa Nakken as an assistant manager. In doing so, they made Nakken the first full-time female coach in Major League Baseball’s 117-year history. Let that sink in.  

Former Giants player Aubrey Huff was quick to criticize the hiring, pointing out that Nakken never played in the MLB. He tweeted that the move “has #metoo … written all over it” and he “couldn’t imagine taking baseball instruction” from a female coach.

Nakken didn’t play in the MLB — but neither did Buck Showalter, who managed the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Orioles for 20 years and won the Manager of the Year award three times.

What if we looked at this the other way around? This is where a double standard becomes clear. As it happens, only 40.8% of women’s collegiate sports teams are led by female coaches. Additionally, more than half of the head coaches in National Pro Fastpitch, the world’s most prominent professional softball league, are men. That doesn’t even account for assistants. No one seems to have an issue with men coaching women — so why is there a problem when there’s a woman coaching men?

As a player at Sacramento State, Nakken earned All-Conference honors three times, playing to the tune of a career .304 batting average and .992 fielding percentage. The bottom line is that Nakken reached the top of her field as a softball player, making her as credible as any other coach.

— Marshall Worth, For The Pitt News

Battle of the curses

For the first time ever, this year’s Super Bowl may prove to be an unwinnable game for both teams, thanks to supernatural powers working behind the scenes. The matchup will see the Kansas City Chiefs, dogged by the infamous Madden Curse, facing the equally doomed San Francisco 49ers, who will be haunted by the horrifying Drake Curse.

The Madden Curse has been a fixture in the NFL since 1998, when San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst broke his ankle shortly after appearing on the cover of Madden NFL 99. Those featured on Madden’s cover have been cursed ever since.

This year’s game, Madden 20, saw Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes featured on its cover, and the consequences will undoubtedly be severe for his team. Since the Chiefs rely so heavily on Mahomes to run the offense, the team cannot afford to have a cursed performance from their quarterback, and the very existence of the Chiefs’ logo on the cover of the game cannot possibly bode well for their upcoming matchup.

But the 49ers face a situation that became dire when old photos surfaced of Canadian rapper Drake sporting a 49ers windbreaker. The Drake curse holds that any time the rapper is seen wearing a team’s apparel, that team will lose its next game. It prevented Alabama from winning the 2019 College Football Title, cost Conor McGregor a UFC fight and, in an interesting case last year, delivered the 76ers a loss when Drake supported the team in order to secure a win for his Toronto Raptors.

Though no major experts have weighed in on the issue yet, the dueling curses are certain to make Super Bowl LIV strange. It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs’ offense operates without Mahomes, and as for the 49ers — knock on wood.

— Henry Jackson, Staff Writer

Gritty needs to punch more children (kidding, of course)

Beloved Philadelphia icon and Flyers mascot Gritty came under fire this week for allegedly punching a 13-year-old fan in the back during a meet and greet. The mascot is accused of smacking the boy in the back, causing bruising and mild pain, after the boy patted the mascot on the head, according to a chiropractor who treated the fan.

After an email from the boy’s father, which originally only complained about the poor quality of the photo taken at the meet and greet, Philadelphia police are investigating the incident. There is no video of the punch and no eyewitnesses recall watching Gritty hit the boy.

What I want to know is where does PC culture end? Gritty should be permitted, and encouraged, to punch more children. No one wants to be condescendingly patted on the head, least of all a beloved mascot-turned-nightmare. Gritty ought to be allowed to punch as many children as he deems is acceptable. Children are frequently terrible, and why should we allow them to continue their reign of terror? Because they’re young and short? A poor excuse for bad behavior.

— Delilah Bourque, Contributing Editor

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