Published On: Sat, Apr 10th, 2021

COMMENTARY: Sports pages 

Observations and random thoughts

 

By WILLIAM LEDFORD 

 

The NCAA Championship game is over. In my opinion that game was actually the Final Four game between UCLA and Gonzaga which went to OT and was won by the ‘Zags on a 30-foot bank shot three pointer. The game between Baylor and Gonzaga was anti-climactic unless you’re a Baylor fan. Gonzaga on Monday night was clearly not the same team that played on Saturday night and it showed. They seemed worn out. To me, the game sucked, I stopped watching early on but, I’m sure Baylor was OK with it. Congrats Baylor.

More important news. There’s a new head coach of my beloved Tarheels of UNC. Coach Williams, after 18 years at Chapel Hill, hung up the Carolina Blue suit jacket for the last time after the loss to Wisconsin in the first game of the NCAA Tournament this season. And so, we welcome Hubert Davis, ex-Carolina and NBA player and more recently an assistant coach of the ‘Heels. He is also the school’s first ever Black men’s basketball coach so, history is made. Welcome Coach Davis!

  Another of my opinions. Coach Davis will begin his coaching career in an environment devoid of team loyalty. We now have a thing known as “the transfer portal”. Players enter their names in the portal, and they are seen by any and all coaches and they go where they want, almost no penalties. NBA eligibility rules have changed and the “one and done” is now very, very prevalent, and detrimental to any kind of team loyalty. Individual athletes are trying to bank on their images, me, me, me. Oh well, it was a good long run. And because of the trend I think I’m done with watching a lot of sports. I never saw the need for sports during the height of COVID, I don’t see it now. Except for the Packers. 

In other sporting news, Georgia, that bastion of free and democratic elections, are still feeling the effects of a self-centered 45 and his rabid supporters and so, the GOP led Georgia state-Congress voted to restrict access to voting. This means clamping down on mail-in and absentee voting, ballot drop boxes, longer voting center hours, even banning the providing of water and other refreshments to people on-line for hours  to vote. It means that Black and Brown people will have a harder time casting a vote. Major League Baseball recognized Georgia’s efforts and stripped the All-Star Game from the City of Atlanta and awarded it to the City of Denver, not much better but, a little. Naturally the Atlanta MLB organization voted to play their home games elsewhere…wait…they didn’t? OK, the team that so recently tried to make some amends with the EBCI over their racially stereotypical mascot will continue to be the Atlanta (insert racial stereotype here). But hey, Speakers Council? Cool shirts guys.

Naturally the Georgia GOP was joined by national GOP types mumbling stuff about “cancel culture” while attempting to organize a boycott of corporations that opposed the voting restrictions which is a definition of “cancel culture. Doesn’t anyone see the irony here? Oh well. But it does make me realize that, people who preach against the “evils” of cancel culture are forgetting one small thing, something called “freedom of speech”. It is absolutely the right of people to speak out against hatred, bullying, racism, genocide, just as it is the right of others, albeit in poor taste, to support all those things plus white supremacy and Nazism. Social media has given everyone a voice just not the sense to not use that voice. I suppose we need trolls and they are abundant on both sides of any issue. But and I repeat, the freedom is there.

I hope everyone has received their last stimulus check and used that money well. You know, on stuff like food, toilet paper, water…not beer, cigarettes, energy drinks and lottery tickets. The Covid vaccine program out here has ramped up, my wife and I are scheduled to get our first shots on the 7th, mine is just in time for my 65th birthday. I look forward to a drive-thru blast in the arm. But, and this is important, beware, the mutants are out there and they’re surging. Continue to wear your mask, distance, this is not an outbreak, it’s an ongoing pandemic that has killed at last count 560,000 Americans. It ain’t over yet. Be safe folks.

Ledford is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians currently residing in Albuquerque, N.M. 

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