UAB, please give up sports

When I was in the 5th grade I went camping with a group of friends and our dads. The dads stayed in one tent while the kids were in another.

Everyone got along with each other just great, except for Shane. No, not the Shane from the Finebaum Show (who incidentally hasn’t been associated with this site in well over a year).

Shane was a kid who just looked for attention, even if it was negative attention. Shane would intentionally irritate the crap out of you just so you’d react to him and give him the attention he so desperately wanted. If you’re a classic wrestling fan, think Jimmy Hart. Or Andy Kaufman.

One night Shane had finally pushed the wrong button, and after the dads had gone to sleep our big tent transformed into an octagon (long before cage fighting existed). Seemingly, to his delight, there was a boy named Lee who had had enough.

What followed was painful to watch. For what seemed like hours (though it was likely only minutes), I sat and watched Shane get slapped around. Shane never touched Lee with his pathetic strikes. Lee just calmly dodged whatever Shane did and counter punched. And to add insult to injury, Lee’s weapon of choice was the open hand slap. We were all confident this was to prove a point. After all, Shane didn’t deserve a fist. Lee wasn’t angry, he just went about the business of finally putting Shane in his place until Shane’s cheeks were as blood red as a ketchup bottle.

And yet Shane kept getting up and coming back at him. Time and again after getting open hand slapped to his knees, he kept coming back at Lee. I’m telling you, it was painful to watch. The rest of us finally began pleading with Shane to just stop. Pleading turned to begging, until Lee actually started feeling bad for Shane and gave up. I don’t think any of us really enjoyed seeing it.

But in the end, there was Shane, defiantly claiming he was the victor because Lee had stopped the fight. Had the fight been scored, the score card would have read: Lee – 154, Shane – 0. And yet, Shane vigorously campaigned for himself that he had won.

UAB, you are Shane.

You are pathetic on so many levels it’s hard to find the words to break it to you in a way you can accept. Though reality continually slaps you in the face year after year, you keep coming back.

I am begging you…we all are begging you…please give up sports.

Your work in research is second to none. Pick any area of medicine and on any given day on Birmingham’s Southside there are half a dozen specialists who anyone could trust with their life. As a medical school, you are well-respected around the nation.

But as a sports enthusiast, seeing you take the field or court of play year-after-year has become more than any of us can handle. I bet even your 300 avid basketball fans feel the same way.

Thursday the Blazers completed their season in the way they always do: choking in the Conference USA tournament. Just a few days earlier UAB found themselves cutting down the nets in Bartow Arena, the victors of their first regular season championship in 20 years.

So what do they do as an encore? Stumble against the very team they had throttled by 18 just five days earlier.

I admit I join the masses in not paying that much attention to UAB basketball…in fact, I’m joyful in the fact that I probably know more about Irish Folk Dancing or masonry. But I’m told this is a common theme with the Blazers.

I recently had a UAB fan actually tell me that Alabama almost tying with Florida for the regular season SEC crown was nothing compared to UAB winning the C-USA title. He may be right. Because when you think college basketball, you think Rice. Or UTEP. Or ECU. And don’t forget UCF or SMU.

No, maybe the SEC isn’t strong this year, but even our cellar dweller (LSU) has seen the inside of the Final Four before. And check the dance card Sunday night to see how many teams from the SEC make it in. C-USA won’t get more than one team in, and with your choke job yesterday, UAB, that team ain’t you.

And then there’s football. Gosh almighty, there’s football. Where you have to tarp entire sections of the stadium you play in because it’s a conceded fact that butts will never find their way to those seats. Tape $20’s underneath the bleachers, and what’s left under unoccupied seats would be a hefty down payment toward the dome stadium so many in Birmingham want you to have.

And then there’s baseball. While you field a decent team on occasion, your stadium has a seating capacity rivaling a pair of city transit buses, and the only way you’ll ever see Omaha is through the window of an Amtrak passenger car.

You cry, you plead and you whine that Alabama won’t play you in basketball or football. You point to the lone competition coming in the early 90’s when Alabama’s roundball version of Doug Barfield (David Hobbs) led the most uninspired team in history onto the then Memorial Coliseum court. While that NIT win was a benchmark for your program, and many of your fans’ justification for existence, many Alabama fans don’t remember the game even happening.

Why? Not completely sure, but I think I know. It’s because beyond that one NCAA game when Squeaky McGleaky or whoever he was made that cool behind the head pass to that guy for the dunk or lay in or something or other, UAB anything is just downright forgettable.

So please, UAB. Give up sports. In an economy that is hurting so badly, donate your resources to local charities who could use the money. We are pleading, no, begging you. Accept the slaps of reality and just stop. Just stop.

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