Sports in Paradise By Dale Jones
Back when Michael Jordan was in his hey-day, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was indeed the greatest basketball player alive.
There were commercials airing aimed at kids who wanted to “be like Mike.”
Men were buying cologne at $45 a bottle so they could smell like Mike.
No matter where you went across these great United States, and really, no matter the time of year, you were likely to find a sports fan donning a Michael Jordan jersey.
Everywhere we went, there he was. Whether you were buying Nike shoes or a box of Wheaties, there was Michael with that million-dollar smile looking back at you.
As time went on, however, something strange happened. No – not to Michael, but to many sports fans across our land.
Although his game never wavered (even after he had hung up his high-tops for cleats to try his hand at baseball) his appeal to some fans did.
Let me stop right here and say that I have always been and will forever be a Michael Jordan fan. I doubt seriously that we will ever see the likes of him again on a basketball court.
Nevertheless, some sports fans decided they just didn’t like him anymore.
Not because of his athletic ability, not because of his attitude, not even because of any off-the-court indiscretion, but simply because he was winning too much.
Huh? He was winning TOO MUCH?
I thought that was the purpose of professional sports. Sure, at the community league and even high school level, there is much more to the game than winning. But in college, and especially in the pros, it is all about winning. And winning he did, much to the chagrin of some sports fans.
As I consider what happened to Michael, I wonder what the future holds for the SEC. Earlier this week, we watched the South Carolina Gamecocks won their second straight NCAA baseball championship. It made three in a row for the Southeastern Conference.
Now, we are about to enter into another exciting college football season, and I am curious what fans outside of the SEC are thinking?
Sure, there are some football fans, especially along the west coast, that have never liked the SEC. There are some prominent football broadcasters that feel the same way.
So add to that, the fact that you would have to go back to 2005 since a team outside of the Southeastern Conference has won the title.
Think about it. In 2005, “W” was just settling in for his second term in office, “Hitch” was on at the box office, you could still hear Shania Twain music on the radio, the Xbox 360 was released in North America, and ironically, the southeast was slammed by hurricane Katrina. That seems like ages ago.
Also, unlike Michael Jordan’s consistent success, the SEC has been represented by four different schools holding up that crystal football.
If I had to predict a winner today, I would likely go with the winner of the LSU – Alabama game, which would give the SEC their sixth straight national title.
Obviously, it is too early to tell, and there are lots of games to be played, but what happens if the SEC does it again? What if it IS the Tide or the Tigers who are left standing in early January? Will more and more football fans hate us just because we are winning?
Oh, and unlike MJ, we seem to be pretty good in baseball, too.
-Hit ‘em straight
—Dale Jones is a reporter / sports columnist for Gulf Coast Newspapers and a Member of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. You can reach Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org.