Feeling better today, although it was a busy Tuesday and Wednesday morning has me at St. P’s for my library duty. Thus, I’m going to try to breeze through some stuff before I get too far behind.
A buddy of mine has said all year that he found Smart scary. Not in a threatening way, but rather, well, I’ll paraphrase, “That guy is just such a competitor, I’m afraid he’s going to snap at some point.” I guess that happened Saturday.
I’m of the camp that athletes should never interact with the fans, unless it’s good-natured trash talk. Challenging fans, no matter what they say, is just asking for trouble. You simply can’t win as a player if you step to a fan, whether they’ve said something offensive to you, thrown something at you, or just been in your ear all night.
I’m interested to see how the time off affects Smart. There’s no way to say that this season hasn’t been a disappointment for him. Will he use the time away from the court to get his mind right, reset, and play the way he’s capable? Or with Oklahoma State’s other issues on the court (under-sized, under-manned), are they a lost cause and he will continue to be frustrated for the final month of the season? Or will he just muddle through the rest of the schedule, eager to get out of college and get to his training for the NBA draft?
ESPN will be in Stillwater on March 1 for the KU game. I know they’re hoping for a big redemption story.
I’m loathe to give any University of Missouri athlete any credit, but I’m offering up my biggest props to Sam. I believe I’ve consistently written here, in the ten years I’ve published online, that eventually we will look back at all the controversies about whether gay people deserve the same rights and treatment as other tax-paying Americans as a silly episode in our history. I still believe that.
That said, when Sam came out publicly on Sunday, it became a day that will always be remembered. He will get drafted, he’s too good not to. But even if he never does anything notable on the field in the NFL, he’s taken an important step for everyone, not just football players or gay men. We have a long way to go, but people like Sam will help us get there.
My favorite Twitter line about Sam came from a woman. NPR’s Lina Holmes wrote:
I really feel like I need to explain to some of the locker room worries how women manage to deal with straight male doctors.
Bravo! Just because a gay man is in the locker room with you does not mean he’s going to force himself on you.
Longer post on this later this week, or early next. Quick summary: they’re in a better spot that I hoped they would be when the Big 12 season began. Amazingly, next week’s game at Texas Tech might be the biggest game of the year for them. Win that, they can still lose their remaining two road games at Oklahoma State and West Virginia and, should they hold serve at home, likely win the conference. Lose in Lubbock, and the door is ajar.
The good thing is Texas has a brutal schedule left and the rest of the contenders seem content on beating each other up. That 7-0 start for KU will likely loom large when the season ends.