In the category of “I love gratitude” . . .

He could grandstand, if he wanted to, but he doesn’t. He simply says thanks.

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In the category of “commit to the bit” . . .

Richard Jefferson wore a shirt that said ‘flat world champions’ on it because the Cavs are beautiful trolls

The shirt, folks, says FLAT WORLD CHAMPIONS on it. Now, if you missed the hullabaloo about the shape of the earth during All-Star Weekend, this shirt might not make much sense to you. To recap, briefly: Kyrie Irving said he believes the earth is flat. He later indicated that he doesn’t actually believe the earth is flat (which — I must say — I totally, 100 percent called), but his comments kicked off the best news cycle in at least three years.

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In the category of “maybe @KingJames just doesn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘rivalry’” . . .

LeBron James says he has no rivalry with Stephen Curry

”I don’t have a rivalry with Steph Curry,” the Cavaliers forward told reporters following Saturday’s All-Star practice session in New Orleans. , “There’s no way you can say, ‘Let’s talk about rivalries,’ and you say, ‘(Larry) Bird and Magic (Johnson). Carolina, Duke. Ohio State, Michigan,’ and then say ‘LeBron and Steph.’”

Um, yeah . . .

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In the category of “Chris Long (@joel9one) gives a clinic in dealing with online critics” . . .

Chris Long ripped into people criticizing him for not going to the White House

I already linked to Chris Long’s brilliant takedown of someone telling him he must stand in solidarity with his dark-skinned teammates who are boycotting the visit to the U.S. White House, because of its current resident.

He is back at it, dealing this time with some folks now upset with him for his decision to not visit the White House with his teammates who are making the visit. And his responses to critics on Twitter are just as brilliant as his previous response. It’s best if you read it for yourself.

In the categories of “good for you, @DougAdlerTennis” and “I hope you beat @ESPN (because you should)” . . .

Doug Adler, a former professional tennis player and (now former) ESPN tennis announcer, was fired by ESPN because of an utterly innocuous, entirely appropriate, and commonly used term for describing delightfully aggressive tennis play.

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In the categories of “well, isn’t that nice” and “apparently, the GSW–OKC game last night was climate-related” . . .

Even Russell Westbrook is ready to move past Kevin Durant's departure

“I mean, I’m fine. Honestly,” Westbrook said. “Things happen in life, man. As a man, you’ve got to move forward. I have a great group of guys here that I love like my brothers. There’s been many a teammate that I had here before that left me, and they’re my brothers — that I still talk to do and that I don’t talk to. It’s not just Kevin. There’s many guys that come in and out of Oklahoma City that I (have) a relationship that maybe you guys don’t know about. Obviously with me and Kevin, it’s a bigger stage. It happens.”

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In the category of “@TheRock’s response is better than @StephenCurry30’s, but it still misses the point” . . .

Now, Dwayne Johnson, unlike Stephen Curry, doesn’t call Trump an ass. So his response is better than Curry’s in that respect. But isn’t the CEO inherently a spokesperson for the company itself at a deeper level than one of the celebrities that company sponsors? (You notice that’s a rhetorical question again, right?) Yet Dwayne Johnson speaks as if he has authority to speak on behalf of the entire company. He says he doesn’t, but then he does it anyway.

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Also in the category of “even if @StephenCurry30 is right, he made one of himself by saying so” . . .

t is ironic, don't you think, that the group continually pointing the finger of accusation has demonstrated more animosity than the other side? I have friends who voted for Obama twice. Some of them regret it; some would do it again if given the chance. I have friends who voted for Hillary Clinton, and I have friends who voted for Donald Trump. (I voted for neither.) As a relatively impartial observer, I can tell you that it is not the ones in my experience who voted for Trump who show the most animosity, disdain, and outright rudeness. That award goes to his opponents. I love to criticize Trump, in part because he is sometimes an ass. But frankly, so is Hillary and so is the most beloved Obama.

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In the category of “best article I’ve seen so far addressing this threat to free speech” . . .

Pats’ Chris Long responds to call for him to stand up against Donald Trump

Chuck Modiano, a writer for the New York Daily News, wrote an open letter to Chris Long, a player for the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. It’s an offensive letter in all the worst ways. It’s whiny. It’s insulting. It’s coercive. It’s manipulative. It’s logically fallacious. It’s inconsistent. It’s hypocritical. It’s smug. It’s anti–free-speech. It’s classic guilt-trip bullying. Chris Long’s response, on the other hand, is simply classic.

 
Oh Chuck. Planned on skipping, hadn’t been asked. Don’t need an open letter explaining my own words to me. Not *joining* anyone. My call. https://t.co/XWo9x2XT40
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) February 9, 2017

And Vincent Frank, writing for Sportsnaut.com, has a refreshing take on the entire question of sports stars standing up for what they believe, including—at times—avoiding a celebratory trip to the White House because of the current occupant of said house.

 
Yes, Long ‘announced’ that he will likely be the fourth member of the Patriots to avoid meeting President Trump. That’s not the big story here. . . .

“Instead, it’s that a columnist would go as far to pretty much tell someone else what to do. Is that a signal those in opposition of this administration want to send? We’re surely okay with freedom of speech and the right to self-determination as long as it fits into what we believe to be right.

“Long did a tremendous job pushing back against that while maintaining his own individuality here. Let’s hope other players follow suit at a time when those in the professional sports world are being asked to talk about stuff outside of their own profession.
— Vincent Frank

Whether someone chooses to go to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl victory—or chooses to not go—is a matter of personal conviction (or at least it should be). Let’s not make out to be more than it is, whether we agree or disagree with someone’s choice.

Also in the category of “if your friend is a racist, so are you” . . .

In the category of “oh, that’s what it feels like to admire and dislike someone at the same time” . . .

In the category of “just because I like you doesn’t mean I care what you think about politics” . . .

 
Kellyanne Conway the other day said that he wasn’t really making fun of that handicapped person. It’s beyond, it’s incredible. It just really makes you wonder how far would someone go to actually cover for somebody that much. The comment was, ‘Well you have to look in his heart, you don’t know what’s in his heart. He wouldn’t do that.’ Well, no, he did it. And all the things that he said during that time, if our children would’ve said it we’d (have) grounded him for six months. Without a doubt. But we ignore all that because, because why? That says something about all of us and that’s what’s dangerous, or that’s what scares the hell out of me to this day. It makes me uneasy.
— Gregg Popovich

If you read this paragraph and say, “Popovich is absolutely right,” then chances are you won’t ever be convinced otherwise. Likewise, if you read this paragraph and say, “Popovich is missing the facts and overreacting,” his speaking out won’t do a bit of good in convincing you. I wish people like him would stop using up entertainment time to speak their minds about politics and issues. I don’t tune in to hear their opinions about Donald Trump. I tune in to watch basketball (or whatever other sport or entertainment event I may be watching at the time) and to hear Pop talk about basketball. He’s great at basketball, and he should stick to basketball. Regardless of whether I agree with him, I’m not paying him for his opinion on anything but basketball. Chance are, until the current inauguration is long past, I won’t be tuning in to watch my preferred San Antonio Spurs playing—because I don’t want to hear Pop popping off about whatever is on Twitter or the front page about Trump and the people who disagree with Pop himself.

In the category of “as he should be” . . .

 
Two years after the fallout of Deflategate, Patriots owner Robert Kraft is still upset at the NFL for their handling of the situation and the various punishments that came out of it.

In the category of “here’s a click-bait, non-story headline if I’ve ever heard one” . . .

 
Ahead of his inauguration, President Donald Trump singled out the New England Patriot’s Bill Belichick as a ‘great coach’—but the six-time Super Bowl champion was less than enthusiastic to discuss the shout-out.

In the category of “he apologized for something that wasn’t wrong and they fired him” . . .

Life is beautiful, Venus says, brushing off commentator row

Doug Adler, commentating on the African-American 13th seed’s second-round match against Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele on Wednesday, provoked outrage on social media when he was taken to have described Williams charging ‘like a gorilla.’ Adler, a former tennis professional, said he had said ‘guerrilla.’

UPDATE (2017-02-15 12:11 p.m.): Doug Adler has sued ESPN for wrongful termination of employment. Reported here at WitGlass in the categories of “good for you, @DougAdlerTennis” and “I hope you beat @ESPN (because you should)”.

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In the category of “another reason people love #StephCurry” . . .

 
One thing my pops always told me is you never count another man’s money. It’s what you’ve got and how you take care of it. And if I’m complaining about $44 million over four years, then I’ve got other issues in my life.
— Steph Curry
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In the category of “this is why people love #StephCurry” . . .

 
In an effort to avoid the embarrassment getting left hanging, Curry simply and hilariously high-fived himself.
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Brady Probably won’t be 2016 MVP

The Short Case for Tom Brady 

Tom Brady probably won’t be the MVP of the NFL in 2016. Maybe he shouldn’t be. But with the overwhelming majority of sports commentators and columnists arguing against his MVP credentials, he deserves for his case to be heard. The primary argument I’ve heard is “Tom Brady didn’t play a full season.” Case closed; end of story. Oh, they go on about stats, comparing Brady’s with Matt Ryan’s, Ezekiel Elliott’s, Dak Prescott’s, Aaron Rodgers’, and Derek Carr’s. Some mention Russell Wilson or Matthew Stafford or (fill in the blank).

But they don’t seem to really care about the stats, because no one has ever won the MVP award after playing only three-quarters of a season. Only Joe Montana came close, winning MVP after playing only thirteen games (one more than Brady). They go on about how this stat of Brady’s is great or that stat is great, but this other player’s one stat is a little better and, oh, Brady played only twelve games, so it really doesn’t matter what his stats are. It may sound like I’m repeating myself, and that’s because I am—because the anti-Brady intelligentsia repeat themselves. The criticisms of Brady’s stats seldom go beyond his lack of games played.

To be fair, the lack of full schedule for Brady is significant. It must be one of the variables included in the MVP equation. At what point does the lack of games played become disqualifying? Can we safely say if a player hasn’t played more than half the season? I certainly think so. How about ten games? That still seems pretty low. That’s not even two-thirds of the games. Can we agree that that’s too low? I think if a player missed six games of the season and his team lost all six games miserably, and won all the games he played easily and made the playoffs as a result, then maybe he would actually be a shoo-in for MVP—but the circumstances would have to be something blatantly obvious like that. Missing one or two games is certainly not enough to disqualify a player, so Derek Carr remains in the hunt.

One of the common objections to Brady receiving the MVP is that the Patriots did just fine without him for the first three games. So if Belichick can do that without Brady, it diminishes Brady’s importance to the team. What would those same people say about Jimmy Garoppolo if Tom Brady had been out the whole season and Garoppolo came back from injury in game five after missing two games—and then performed at a level similar to the first two games for the rest of the season? “Oh, well, he couldn’t possibly be MVP because he’s not nearly as great a quarterback as Brady and look how well they did with him anyway.” Would Garoppolo be snubbed for MVP because of the greatness of his coach? (The cynic in me says, “Probably.”) Great coaches help great players become great and great players help great coaches become great. Could Belichick really have accomplished what he’s accomplished the last fifteen years without Brady? If Brady retires and Belichick goes on to coach for another fifteen years and wins four more Super Bowls, then maybe we can say that the Belichick part of the Belichick-Brady equation is the primary variable. Until then, we must look at their body of work together and simply admire the output of that combination.

One stat speaks volumes to me regarding Tom Brady’s performance—beyond the relative, percentile sort of stats. Tom Brady played only twelve games. Matt Ryan played sixteen games. How many games did Matt Ryan win? Eleven. How many games did Tom Brady win? Eleven. Were Matt Ryan’s total numbers higher than Brady’s? Yes. How many games did it help his team win? Only the same amount as the other guy in this discussion. The sheer output of yards doesn’t make you the most valuable. Valuable, yes. Most valuable? Not necessarily.

In addition to that, let's not forget the off-season and pre-season work Tom Brady did in helping his team prepare. So Brady couldn’t participate in anything directly related to the team for four weeks. He worked with the team throughout training camp and pre-season. He worked with Garoppolo to get him ready. And Brady has set the gold standard for off-season work with his receivers. Brady didn’t personally perform for the first four games, and the MVP is built on personal performance on the field, but we can’t look at the missed four weeks and simply dismiss them.

Is Matt Ryan a good quarterback? Yes. Has he had an outstanding year? Yes. Is his performance worthy of the MVP? Probably. Aaron Rodgers? Awfully good the last six weeks, but probably not MVP-worthy. If Matt Ryan wins the MVP, I’ll be happy for him and I’ll say he deserves it, because I think he does. I’m not prepared to say he deserves it more than Tom Brady, so if Brady gets the MVP, I won’t think that’s unjustified.

 

© 2017 Courtney A Huntington

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