Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now


Conor McGregor Career Overview: Can He Beat Floyd Mayweather?

Posted on July 24, 2017 by Roland Fuller
Conor McGregor will have to keep his feet on the ground during his battle with Floyd Mayweather.

Conor McGregor will have to keep his feet on the ground during his battle with Floyd Mayweather.

Conor Anthony McGregor was born on the 14th of July in 1998, and is an Irish pro MMA fighter who is currently signed to the UFC. He is the reigning champion for the Lightweight division of the UFC, and a former champion of the Featherweight division as well. Over the course of his fighting career, McGregor has taken part in fights for three divisions:

  1. Featherweight
  2. Lightweight
  3. Welterweight

McGregor’s Early Life in Dublin

McGregor was born to Tony and Margaret McGregor in Crumlin, Dublin, and was raised in that town, attending Gaelscoil and Gaelcholáiste in primary school and Coláiste de hÍde in Tallaght in secondary. He developed his passion for athletics at this time, playing association football for the Lourdes Celtic Football Club. He took up boxing at the town’s boxing club at 12-years of age as well.

The McGregors moved to Lucan in Dublin in 2006, and Conor started attending Gaelcholáiste Coláiste Cois Life at this point. After this he began a plumbing apprenticeship, but, luckily for fighting fans the world around, he met up with future fighter for the UFC Tom Egan at this point, and together they started training for the MMA.

A Two-Division Champion in 2016

On the 27th of September 2016, there was an official announcement that McGregor would be facing Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight UFC Championship, UFC 205, set to take place on the 12th of November. McGregor triumphed with a second-round TKO and won the fight. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting for the Weekend: O.J. Simpson – Trapped Between Two Worlds

Posted on July 21, 2017 by Dean Hybl
During the 1970s, O.J. Simpson was the best player in football, despite being relegated to Buffalo.

During the 1970s, O.J. Simpson was the best player in football, despite being relegated to Buffalo.

Typically, one of the great results of sports is in its ability to unite. Whether it be a team of players from different backgrounds coming together to create one cohesive unit or a group of fans with little more in common than their fondness for a team or player who come together to cheer, celebrate and agonize over the successes and failures of that chosen favorite.

As I join the rest of society in viewing the latest chapter in the nearly 50 year saga of former athlete O.J. Simpson, it seems clear that whether intended or not, instead of being someone that people unite around, O.J. has more often served as a divider.

Born and raised in the housing projects of the Potrero Hills section of San Francisco, Orenthal James Simpson joined a gang as a teenager and was incarcerated at least three times. His life could have very easily been one led quietly in jails and the neighborhoods of his hometown had he not possessed a number of characteristics that ultimately helped him rise above his potential path.

Regardless of whether it was a meeting with superstar Willie Mays or the encouragement he received around his own athletic ability, or a combination of factors, eventually Simpson moved off the path to destruction and became a standout high school athlete.

However, as this story from the 1973 book Power Football illustrates, even once Simpson moved onto a path with success as a potential end, he seemed to teeter on the edge.

A star athlete at Galileo High School, Simpson told writer Murray Chase about an incident that very nearly could have gotten him thrown off the junior varsity team.

Nor was it a bad beginning for a fellow who almost had his football career cut off before it started by coming within a lie of being thrown off the high school junior varsity football team.

On the day of a big game, Simpson and two teammates were spending some time shooting dice in the bathroom at school. They all crapped out, though, when Jack McBride, their coach, walked in and found them playing their little game. Many coaches in that situation would simply warn the players never to do that again and let them go. But McBride, in a move for which Simpson could later be thankful (even though he escaped punishment) took the boys to the dean’s office.

“When we went to the dean’s office,” Simpson recalled, “the other two guys, Joe Bell and Al Cowlings, walked in front of me. Coach McBride told the dean he caught us shooting dice in the rest room. He gave the dean the dice and left. When he did, the dean told me to close the door. So I started out and began to close the door from the outside, but the dean called, ‘Where are you going, O.J?’ So I said, “I wasn’t shooting craps. Coach just asked me to help him bring these guys down.’ Then the dean told me I could go and the other guys got suspended.”

The other two boys, one of whom (Cowlings) later became Simpson’s teammate at USC and Buffalo, couldn’t resent O.J.’s little ploy. “They thought it was pretty smart for me to think that quick,” Simpson said. “Al said there was nothing he could say about it. He said if I could get away with it, I deserved it.”

As we now very well know, Simpson has continued to live on that edge for his entire life.

After winning the Heisman Trophy at the University of Southern California in 1968, Simpson was relegated to the NFL’s equivalent of Siberia in Upstate, New York as a member of the Buffalo Bills. However, even though he struggled over the first three years of his career and some thought he might end up being an NFL bust, he still managed to catch the eye of television and advertising executives. Read the rest of this entry →

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Safe Student Sports: 4 Ways School Administrators Can Better Protect Their Athletes

Posted on July 20, 2017 by Kara Masterson

Safe Student Sports, 4 Ways School Administrators Can Better Protect Their AthletesSports can be an effective way for a child to learn how to function as part of a team while having fun and staying in shape. However, sports can pose several dangers to children that school administrators should be aware of. While it is impossible to ensure that no child will ever get hurt playing for a school team, there are many steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of that happening.

Teach Proper Form

An athlete should be taught to never use his or her head as a means of making contact with a ball or to make contact with an opponent. Furthermore, players should be banned from striking another player in the head for any reason. Before games, players should be required to stretch and otherwise get their muscles ready for several minutes or hours of physical activity. Doing so may reduce strains or sprains.

Protect Players from Threats Made by Adults

While there is little on the line except pride in a middle or high school sporting event, parents or other fans may take the games quite seriously. This could lead to threats of physical violence being made at players. School officials should eject any parent or fan who makes a verbal or physical threat to a player. Officials should also be on the lookout for any threats after a game takes place. Read the rest of this entry →

Biggest Changes in Basketball History

Posted on July 20, 2017 by Scott Huntington

Basketball is an American invention, with a Canadian inventor. What began as a rather straightforward game in 1891 has grown into a global obsession. More than a century ago, James Naismith, a Canadian educator working in Massachusetts, came up with the game in an effort to develop a sport less physically punishing than football.

In the hundred-plus years since the first basketball game was played, the sport has undergone considerable changes. Read on for a look at some of the critical turning points in basketball’s development — from the introduction of the nylon basket to ball technology and the ever-diminishing shot clock.

Ending the Peach Basket Era

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When basketball started, scoring meant putting the ball in a peach basket or an 18-inch square box. The baskets hung from balconies installed on most indoor running facilities of the time. They were suspended at the 10-foot height still in use today.

Peach baskets have closed bottoms, which meant the ball needed to be retrieved each time a team scored. Basketball lovers decided to speed the game up by introducing a woven wire “basket” in 1892, just a year after the game’s invention. The following year, cast iron was used, and by 1912, the first nylon nets were installed.

Read the rest of this entry →

What It Truly Means to be a “Team Player”

Posted on July 19, 2017 by Dixie Somers

What It Truly Means to be a ''Team Player''Many coaches and sports enthusiasts talk about being a good “team player” but aren’t always clear about what exactly that means. Having the right skills and attitudes when working with others on a team can mean the difference between just being another member of that team and being a true team player. When your entire team is composed of true team players, then the abilities of your group are transformed and expanded. You have the opportunity to develop these skills and attitudes and help foster them across your entire team.

The Right Attitude

One of the cornerstones of being a team player is having the right attitude. This usually means being positive at all times. Most people can be positive when times are good, but those who are really team players remain positive when things are tough, after failure and when things go wrong. They are able to share this positive attitude with others and keep them motivated through the hard times. Whether your team wins or loses, your stabilizing attitude helps them see the positives or lessons that can come out of the experience.

The attitude of being a true team player is also displayed in how you relate to the accomplishments of others. When you are as excited about another player’s accomplishment as you would be for your own accomplishment, then you are starting to act like a team player. A true team player draws no distinction between themselves and their team. Every player’s accomplishment or skill is shared and celebrated.

Trust and Responsibility

A true team player is someone who has learned to balance the concepts of trust and responsibility with those around them. People come to trust a team player because they knew that person is going to be responsible and carry through. Real team players don’t try to do everything. They don’t try to play every position perfectly or promise, or expect, to carry the whole team. Instead, they balance what they do and understand their own limitations so they don’t take on what they won’t be able to finish or do well. This makes them more reliable and trustworthy. Other team members feel comfortable relying on them and depending on them.

On the flip side, a true team player is also capable of placing their trust in others and having confidence in their decisions and abilities. The true team player may act as a sort of mini-coach, recognizing the strengths and weaknesses in others on the team and helping them maximize those strengths while minimizing those weaknesses. This ability is critical to team strategy and cohesion. A team player is always practicing strategic thinking skills. They consider not just about what they themselves should do, but what everyone on the team should be doing.

Once another player’s role is set and their skills established, the true team player builds on that. Instead of trying to be the all-star, the true team player helps the entire team shine. In this way, the true team player exemplifies responsibility on both sides of the table. They are both responsible themselves and foster responsibility in those they play with. Read the rest of this entry →

3 of the Top Lesbian Sports Stars

Posted on July 19, 2017 by Sudhir Singh
Brittney Griner is one of the biggest stars of the WNBA.

Brittney Griner is one of the biggest stars of the WNBA.

It takes a strong female to rise to the top of a male-dominated sport. In many traditionally male-centric sports, the glass ceiling is being shattered by talented women who are proud of their athleticism and who they are as individuals.

Here are three stars that happen to be lesbians who bring pride to their sport and the LGBQT community.

Megan Rapinoe

The U.S. women’s soccer team star, Megan Rapinoe, has been in the national spotlight for over a decade. She helped her team secure Olympic Gold Medals in 2008 and 2012 and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. One of Rapinoe’s most memorable career highs is when she became the first and only player, male or female, to score a Goal Olimpico at the 2012 Olympic Games. After opening up about her sexuality in 2012, she has continued to advocate for LGBQT rights. Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem like NFL player Colin Kaepernick in protest of racial injustices across the nation.

Brittney Griner

American professional basketball player Brittney Griner has some impressive stats. While playing at Baylor University, she became the only NCAA player to score a whopping 2,000 points and block 500 shots.  The 6’8 ball player who boasts a wing-span of 86 inches has also made the U.S. Olympic team twice and helped bring the gold medal home in 2016.  Griner was named The Associated Press’ 2012 Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. In her 2014 memoir, “In My Skin: My Life On And Off The Basketball Court,” the reserved Griner talks about being bullied during her adolescent years and how it affected her confidence. She also reveals how she was unaware of Baylor University’s policy on homosexuality when she joined their team (Griner came out in high school but during her years at Baylor, was asked by officials to keep her sexual orientation concealed). Griner held true to herself and lives her life with integrity today. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Sudden Sam McDowell
      July 4, 2017 | 8:48 pm
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      Sudden Sam McDowell

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a hard-throwing lefthander who often led Major League Baseball in both strikeouts and walks. His off-the-field story also made him the prototype for a famed television character.

      Sudden Sam McDowell made his Major League debut for the Cleveland Indians a week before his 19th birthday and pitched in the majors for 15 seasons.

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