Thoughts on March Madness

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        When it comes to the calendar of sports, in my opinion march definitely takes the prize. You have the UEFA Champions League starting to pick up, and as well as that, the NBA Playoffs are just around the corner with teams trying to sure up their spots. But without a doubt, the biggest influence in my love for March sports is the one and only March Madness.

        To me, it’s like the purest form of basketball. The NBA playoffs are great with their game series structure, but college basketball has far too many teams to go through that. Instead, every game is win-or-go-home with both teams putting it all on the line every game. This results in amazing individual performances, as well as the beloved underdog team from Nowhere State who defeats the top seed in the nation. The buzzer-beaters, the emerging stars, even the brackets created in anticipation all play a role in this amazing tournament. It’s game 7 every night, and it always ends in a blockbuster finish

        Until recently, my opinion on March Madness hasn’t really faltered. As soon as early March hits, i’m usually on my couch, bracket in hand, ready for showtime, no questions asked. To me these guys were celebrities in the making, and what they were doing benefited not only themselves, but millions of others as well. Things changed when I got older, however, and I started to see things clearly.

        Even though there is the unparalleled fame that comes with March Madness as well as possible wealth down the road, I can’t shake the idea that at the end of the day these kids not only still have classes, but aren’t allowed to take any monetary gains from this billion dollar tournament. It’s almost as if they’re employees who are paid on the hope of possibly being in the NBA. Now I know this idea isn’t anything from new, but from my eyes I’m conflicted.

       As a young athletic basketball-loving teenager who sees college around the corner, I truly am unsure if I want to be in their shoes this month. Sure, I could definitely be having a great experience while representing my school, but I don’t want to go the NBA. So is March Madness/ big-time college basketball to kids who aren’t NBA bound a waste of time? And if so, isn’t it more harm to their grades? On top of that, college players have said that they go to bed starving from not being able to afford food at night. Is it all worth it?

        Honestly, I don’t know. I truly love the tournament and what it shows basketball is capable of, but sometimes thinking about the actual players participating makes me take a step back. If I end up playing basketball in college, I’ll make sure to give you guys an in-depth expose. Until then, I’ll be watching with intent.

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Mexico vs Nigeria in Atlanta: A Nigerian’s Perspective

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Remember when I said I LOVE sports? Well that statement couldn’t be more true when it comes to one of my favorite sports. This is the sport that unites us on a global scale for thirty days, to remind us that we all have something in common.  Something that we can all say is inspiring, exciting, and and simply beautiful to watch and play. I’m talking about soccer, the sport of the world.  Now,  I am a huge fan of soccer, so when I heard that there was an international friendly happening between Mexico and Nigeria, the country ofmy heritage, in my city, I nearly lost control over my motor skills. As an African American with an African Dad, I almost never get an opportunity to show my heritage as a Nigerian while still being in America. This was something that won’t happen again for a while, and I was more than happy to go.  As I put on my Nigeria T-shirt at home, all I could think about was the feeling I was going to have when I could see an arena with Mexican’s and Nigerians enjoying the same event together.  Jesus, was I in for something different.

 

The arena was sold out with around 68,000 attendants.

 

I counted around 30 Nigerians.

 

Everywhere I looked all I saw was the Mexican country colors of green, red, and white, the Jersey’s of the Mexican National Team’s favorite players, and the Mexican National Flag.  If you scanned the stadium for long enough, you could see a couple of darker faces in the crowd with the green and white Nigerian colors on, but you would soon lose them in a matter of seconds. My family would get multiple looks from everyone in the crowd, followed by a generous amount of Spanish in our direction.  I later found out that it wasMexico going on a country tour, and Nigeria @ Atlanta was just a stop.Basically, we were severely outnumbered.

And that’s only the half of it. It was clear from the start that this wasn’t just a Mexico vs Nigeria game. no, this was a MEXICOOOOOOOOOOO VS nigeria  game. The announcements? In Spanish. The half-time show? In Spanish. The commercials on the big screen? Español. Not only were there barely any Nigerians attending, but there were no Nigerians running the program. From the music choice, to the cadence of the announcers voice when talking about both the teams, you could tell which team had home field advantage.

Even though we were definitely the minority in this group, something very interesting happened to me. Because of the singularity of my condition,  I never felt prouder to be Nigerian.  I know this may sound weird, but it felt like  my family and I were representing our country all by ourselves. We couldn’t see anybody else within our section representing Nigeria so we had to make sure we gave as much energy as possible.  And because of this, I loved every minute of it. When Nigeria got boo’ed when they touched the ball, it just made me want to scream louder with more enthusiasm.

 

The game ended in a scoreless tie, but it was still a great game to go to. Not only did I see my first international soccer game, but it was also the first time in a long time that I could forget about everything I personally stand for, and focus on the only important thing at the moment: being a Nigerian. I say this because I feel like a sense of heritage is very important. I ‘m lucky enough to have a father straight from Nigeria, so I know where my blood is from. But to African-Americans, I’m telling you, nothing feels better than representing your home country.  Whether it’s with a website like africanancestry.com, or going through your family tree, knowing your heritage is something I think everybody has the right to have. Because at that game I’ve never felt prouder in my life, and I want other people to have the same feeling.

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My Feelings On The Winter Olympics

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I love sports. Can’t get enough of it. I don’t care if it’s college, professional, or even little league, I love to see and partake in competition. A couple of things go into this. The first reason is because seeing someone sacrifice their bodies and almost defy physics with what they can do is not only mesmerizing, but truly inspirational. And the second reason, is simply because sports give people from around the world a chance to come together and celebrate something that they love.That’s one reason why I love the World Cup.  For those reasons, watching and playing sports is one of my favorite things to do. But when I found out that the Winter Olympics were coming on for like a month, I shrugged, and continued to watch something else. Why? Because when there’s sports like Curling and Figure Skating, the only people you can really root for are people that look like you. And sadly, those people for me, don’t exist.

        Now I understand why this is the case. With no real “snow” or “winter” seasons in some countries, it’s kind of hard to practice, let alone compete at the Olympics as a person of color in some cases. But my question isn’t why black people aren’t involved. My question is : how can you call yourself the best at something when not everyone is competing? With the exception of partially recognized sovereign states and territories, all 194 countries in the world compete in the Summer Olympics in at least 1 event. But the Winter Olympics only holds a little under 90, leaving over 100 countries out of the picture. This is like saying you can… jump rope the best in the entire world, but only a small group of people even get the chance to compete. This seems unfair.

 

        To me, this seems like a matter of class rather than a matter of skill and athletic ability. In sports such as Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding, the equipment itself costs insane amounts of money, which is money that the next prodigy in Ghana or India doesn’t have. And for that reason, only the wealthier nations are competing. Whereas in a sport like Track and Field, all you need is legs and a desire to win (with the exception of Oscar Pistorius, the man with no legs who competed in Track and Field in 2012). This brings me to the answer behind my confusion. I feel like the Winter Olympics were made and to be enjoyed by rich people. Plain and simple. It seems like there is no way for people without snow/money/resources to compete, which only leaves the Germans and the Canadians. And let’s not forget the good old U.S.A.

 

        So I personally try not to watch the Winter Olympics, simply because whenever I see the competitors with their speed skates and their shiny snowboards, I can only wonder what a kid in Ethiopia or a man in Thailand could do with the same resources and facilities. If only someone could make the equipment cheaper or teach kids in different countries how to play these sports! But that wouldn’t happen, because that would make it fair and they don’t want that. To be honest I don’t even try to sweat about it anymore. I’m just getting ready for Brazil. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go school my brother in  game of soccer.

 

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