We’ve all seen it, whether it’s on the so-called “World Wide Leader” programs like First Take, on our Twitter feeds or coming across Facebook timelines. Whenever player a has a great game or is mentioned in any capacity, there is always some fan/personality/so-called expert that will throw the subsequent “so-and-so would have made that play!”, or say something along the lines of “but he’s not as good as (insert your favorite player here)!”
It’s one of the most unnecessary occurrences in sports, and it’s about time we put an end to this approach of evaluating players and enjoying the games we love.
This typically happens the most in basketball and football, because those are the most publicized and heavily covered of all professional sports (no offense to MLB or NHL fans, but numbers don’t lie. Check the ratings.) For example, if LeBron James misses a last-second jumper to win a game, the lead of ESPN’s morning programming features Skip Bayless tearing into James saying that he doesn’t have the clutch gene of such players as Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, or even Kevin Durant, ignoring that James is clearly the best player on the planet right now. Just look at his resume, it’s speaks for itself.
But this type of coverage tends to brainwash fans into believing that this is how we differentiate players from one another, and it simply isn’t true. We don’t always need to see side-by-side stats of Kobe, LeBron and Jordan to know that each is great in their own right. Hell; Jordan, James and Bryant aren’t even the same types of players. So why constantly compare them?
The same happens in football. There’s an age-old debate about which quarterback is better, young and old. There are the Brady/Mannings debates, Young vs. Montana arguments and most recently Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck discussions. But for what, exactly?
Why not just appreciate what each has done/is capable of doing without being so quick to throw another player’s stats and abilities out there to discredit the first one’s accomplishments?
My theory is this: it all boils down to people’s need to validate their own opinions by making the opinions of others seem inferior. To some people there is no way that two differing opinions can co-exist. Everyone wants to be right, simply for the sake of bolstering their ego. But in reality, it’s near impossible to accurately argue opinions, only facts.
Too often fans will refrain from simply saying “I can agree to disagree”, instead throwing out a plethora of statistics and variables that they hardly understand, just because mainstream media convinced them that this is the way to approach a sports debate. But it isn’t.
Here is how it should be; when it comes to great players sometimes one isn’t better than the other, they’re just different. If you appreciate James’ all-around spectacular style of play in favor of Bryant’s relentless scoring mentality, that’s fine. It’s allowed.
But that doesn’t mean the person that prefers Bryant’s uber-competitive nature over James is wrong or an idiot. It just means they have their own opinion, and that’s okay. We as fans should be able to respect that without bickering like adolescents.
But when your favorite teams are facing off against each other, that’s a whole different story. Throwing shots at a rival team is 100% fair game, and that’s the way it should be.