What are people talking about in sports these days?
The answer is open for discussion.
But I’m going to say it’s about Simone Biles, Aaron Rodgers and the move from the Big 12 to the SEC for Oklahoma and Texas in the world of college athletics.
Maybe Aaron Rodgers is old news.
Granted, that story has been run into the ground.
But since NFL training camps have begun, and Rodgers has reported to the Packers, it’s time to wrap up that soap opera.
Maybe those who are not into the big picture of college football have little interest in schools jumping from one conference to another.
Those folks, too, may have a point.
But it’s a telling development that could actually have an impact on schools everywhere.
But there’s no disputing the Simone Biles story, which has dominated the Tokyo Olympics.
Simone Biles came into the Olympics as America’s number one gymnast.
Not only the best this year, but considered the greatest of all time.
I will not use the capitalized version of a farm animal to express that term.
In her one appearance in competition, Biles lost herself in the air during a vault, then disappeared deep into the Gymnastics Arena, and revealed she would be withdrawing from the remainder of the Olympic competition.
To cut to the chase, Simone Biles said she was in no mental condition to perform.
She couldn’t explain why, but her mental health struggles were too much to overcome.
This is something new in athletics.
We saw it recently at Wimbledon when top-seeded Naomi Osaka of Japan withdrew citing similar factors.
You can say it’s something new, but that may not be the case.
These kinds of mental issues may have always existed.
It’s possible that those athletes who shared that kind of burden with Simone were reluctant to come out, go public, and even withdraw from their own competition.
Perhaps they kept it all inside. And suffered.
But we live in a different time.
There are many who not only have criticized the young gymnast for pulling out, but have excoriated her as well.
They have called her a quitter, not being a team player, failing to represent her country with millions of people watching from back home, and walking out on sponsors who have a paid millions for her to compete.
But I sense the majority of those following this story applaud her actions, and I am proud to be one of those in support of what she has done.
Simone Biles is a human being who, in her heart, has been affected by events ranging from the COVID-19 atmosphere in Japan to her own nightmare of sexual abuse by a team physician that cast a pall over the entire USA gymnastics program, and many things in between.
How can anyone question the actions of someone who, again, in her heart, makes a decision that has to be incredibly difficult to make.
Simone Biles has proven herself as a champion of her sport on the highest level.
To find fault with her is a sign of selfishness and a disregard of human emotions.
But her story didn’t end there.
Biles suddenly announced in the 11th hour that she would compete in the balance beam.
It came as a surprise to many.
She finished in third place, grabbing the bronze medal.
Afterwards she said she intended to compete one more time at these Olympic Games, not expecting to medal, just trying to do a good beam set.
Biles was clearly pleased with getting back into the action.
Also, after the event, she spoke of putting mental health as a priority, and to be talked about more.
This comment, just about, said it all ;
“At the end of the day, we’re not just entertainment. We’re human and there are things going on behind the scenes that we’re also trying to juggle with, as well, on top of sports”.
Well said, and worth appreciating whenever the issue arises for any athlete moving forward.
The burning question throughout the NFL’s off-season centered around Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
It was clear he was disenchanted with the way he was treated by the club.
Virtually every day the media took the temperature of the Aaron Rodgers situation.
Would he be traded ?
Would he retire and come back the following year with another team?
Would Green Bay’s General Manager be fired?
Would the Packers add more millions to his already hefty contract?
Would he be given a say in every personnel move the team would make?
So camp started, and Aaron Rodgers showed up.
Thus the answers to all the questions went like this:
No. No. No. No. And no.
Aaron Rodgers at camp
He told the media after showing up that he was unhappy with the organization. He went into detail why.
It was mostly about the Green Bay Packers disrespecting him. You hear a great deal of athletes claiming they are being disrespected.
That word is wearing thing, believe me.
Basically he wanted to be involved in free-agent recruiting, the selection of a head coach, and a say in player movement on the roster.
For example, he criticized the Packers decision to cut wide receiver Jake Kumerow last season, after Rodgers said he was the second best wide-receiver during training camp.
I am not sure, but I will take a wild guess that Tom Brady was not involved with the decisions made by Bill Belichick enroute to six Super Bowl titles.
There’s an old saying in sports.
Players play, coaches coach, GM’s manage, and owners own.
In the final analysis, the Green Bay Packers are bigger than Aaron Rodgers.
They once had Brett Favre. They now have Rodgers. Sometime in the future, maybe as early as next year, they’ll have someone else play quarterback.
That’s how it goes.
Aaron Rodgers should concentrate on one thing.
Playing the best he can, and win games.
End of story.
Oklahoma and Texas are switching from the Big 12 conference to the most-powerful SEC.
The best college football teams in the country play in the SEC, the Big Ten, and Clemson, a member of the ACC.
There are different faces once in awhile, but it seems every year, Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Clemson are competing for the national championship. Last year, Norte Dame snuck in.
It’s a four-team affair that is likely to expand, and should.
It’s all about money, of course. Isn’t everything in sports?
College and pro?
But the so-called Power Five conferences are quickly becoming a Power Two. The SEC and the Big Ten.
I realize Texas A&M is a member of the SEC, eliminating the rivalries with the other Texas schools.
Now, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State won’t be facing each other every year.
There are other matchups based on tradition that will be gone. Tradition, which is really what that great sport has been all about for over 100 years.
The musical chairs of college football are just beginning.
There will be more, And they will affect the others conferences, who have to try to keep pace, and satisfy their members.
I wonder whether the Oklahoma’s and Texas’ will only find misery coming up short against four or five schools in the SEC.
And what about the rest?
The ones who can’t or won’t switch.
The ones who won’t have much of a chance of playing for a national title.
The college football landscape is about The Green. Period.
And I don’t mean Dartmouth.