The Sports Scoop

My View on the World of Sports

A Breakdown of the Physically Toughest Sports

If you follow any kind of sport, you understand that certain qualities are desirable.  Characteristics such as speed, power, and agility are a few desirable attributes for athletes to possess.  Another trait associated with various sports is toughness.  Being tough can mean different things to different individuals, but the general idea that you need a certain level of fortitude to engage in sports is universal.

 

I decided to attempt to figure out what sport you have to be physically toughest to play.  Since toughness can be interpreted in so many different ways, I elected to create some criteria upon which I will base my selections.  I have come up with five ways to measure the toughness of a sport.

 

The first criterion is the risk for injury.  While you can get injured playing virtually any sport, the threat of being hurt playing ping pong differs greatly from playing football.  In my eyes, a sport that has a high risk for injury takes a tougher person to play.

 

Second is the tolerance for pain.  This factor has to be looked at in the broadness of the sport rather than the narrowness of each individual.  Some athletes can endure more than others, but sports such as marathon running and Olympic lifting innately require a high pain tolerance.

 

The third aspect is the nature of reckless abandon in the sport.  We have all heard the term “sacrificing your body,” and that is exactly what I am referring to.  An example would be going after a puck when you know you will be smashed into the boards, which takes plenty of courage and toughness.

 

Next, the length of one’s career in a sport is a good indicator of how tough it is.  Usually, the shorter the career, the more physically challenging the sport is.  Boxing is notorious for fighters retiring early in their careers because of the physical demands of the sport.

 

The final criterion is the average person’s willingness to participate in the sport.  I am basing this off of my assessment, but I would be willing to bet that most would agree with me when I say that I would rather try swimming than head down to Australia and get assaulted playing rugby.  The exception would be rugby players, of course.

 

I ranked fifteen of the more physically demanding traditional sports, one through five, based on each of these factors.  After totaling up the numbers for each sport, I was able to conclude what the physically toughest sport is.  Keep in mind two things.  I don’t consider mixed martial arts (ultimate fighting), which would be number one if included, to be a traditional sport, and mental toughness is not included in this assessment, that is a whole different story.

 

Wrestling, Olympic lifting, and lacrosse narrowly missed the list, but without further delay, here’s the list of the top five:

 

5.  Marathon running – Tolerance for pain and a lack of desire for the average person to participate were major factors here.  Remember how miserable it was running the mile in middle school gym class?  It’s only that 26.2 times.

4.  Football – Reckless abandon and risk of injury are certainly high in this sport.  Much depends on the position you play and wearing pads helps prevent some injuries, but you still have to be plenty tough out there.

3.  Hockey – I gave hockey similar scores to football, but it edges ahead for two reasons.  First, you can do much more damage with a stick and puck than a football, and second, fighting is very common and surprisingly condoned.

2.  Rugby – It was difficult to put rugby at two.  It is more of a 1b.  Rugby is as physical as any sport and participants don’t wear pads, which definitely earns them some toughness points.  Having completely no regard for your body or well being pretty much sums it up.

1.  Boxing – What really got boxing the top spot was the lack of career length.  It’s common to see boxers leave the sport in their prime because it’s just too much.  Boxing received high marks for all categories, and like these other sports, it can result in some serious long-term injuries.

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May 3, 2007 Posted by | Boxing, Football, Hockey, Rugby, Sports | 30 Comments

The season of meaning is upon us

Around this time of year, there is plenty to be excited about in sports.  March Madness, the start of the baseball season, NBA and NHL playoff races, you know what I am talking about.  There is a distinct connection between all of these events which makes this time so special.  All of these games are played with meaning and purpose.

It could be a single elimination tournament, you might need to win two out of three games to make it to the post season, or you might want to start the season off on the right foot, but the players actually play and the fans actually care during this time of the year.

Compare this to mid-June when (insert your favorite baseball team here) are playing their 50th or so game of the season.  The mentality at that time is completely different.  It is like, “Who cares if we lose this one, we still have over a hundred more games to play.”  Not only for the players, but the fans, too.

This will never happen, but the MLB and NBA ought to make their schedules considerably shorter. 

From a sport standpoint, there is no reason to have such long schedules.  162 MLB games and 82 NBA games?  I say cut those numbers in half.  Players and fans alike start to lose interest.  Individual games start to take on less and less meaning because there are so many more games to get back on track.  There is no sense of urgency.

From a revenue standpoint, I understand why the seasons are drawn out.  Lots of games equals lots of money, I get it.

The NFL is one league that has it right, which is one reason why it’s passing up baseball as America’s favorite sport, if it hasn’t already.  Every game has a large impact on the season as a whole.  Players can’t just take a day off and go at it hard tomorrow.  Fans cannot wait until Sunday rolls around.  The league has the whole package.  It’s exciting and meaningful; I wish other leagues would take note.

I don’t really have a clever way to end this post, I’m drawing a blank.  No big deal though.  After all, the blog season is year round, so who really cares about this meaningless entry.

April 7, 2007 Posted by | Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Sports | 1 Comment

Lance Briggs Makes More Noise

ESPN.com and the Washington Post recently reported that there have been trade talks between the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins over Lance Briggs.  The claim is that Washington is willing to swap first round draft picks with the Bears to get Briggs.  The Bears would move up and take the 6th overall pick, while the Redskins would receive the 31st pick in this year’s draft. 

I really don’t see this actually happening.  The main reason for this is because the Bears’ front office is extremely stubborn.  It took forever for them to give Lovie Smith an briggs.jpgextension after leading the Bears to the playoffs two years ago and the Super Bowl last year.  They gave former Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera the boot because he wanted more money than they were willing to dish out, even though he probably deserved it.  And then they slapped the franchise tag on Briggs instead of giving him a long term deal which has lead to this whole ordeal.  They have options to move him but aren’t going to do it because it might look like the front office is getting pushed around.  Not to mention the fact that Chicago doesn’t appreciate that Drew Rosenhaus doing everything he can to hype this thing up.

That in itself is reason enough for the Bears not to trade Briggs, but I don’t think that the Bears are looking to move up that high in the draft either.  The front office feels like they are capable of finding good talent later in the draft.  It’s kind of their thing, and they are actually pretty good at it.  Chicago only has six first round draft picks on its entire roster.  Picking at 6 would go against the way the Bears like to do things.  They could get the 6th pick and then trade up in the middle of the first round, but it seems more likely that they would just package their current 31st and 37th picks together in a trade to get in that position. 

I like Briggs as a player, but I think he’s replaceable.  I would like to see Chicago trade him.  They can always use some more draft picks and Briggs isn’t going to do much good sitting on the bench or causing distractions.  The front office’s image isn’t going to be any better by them holding their ground and keeping him around.  Everyone can see that they mean business, but apparently so does Briggs.  Or does he? 

Briggs initially said he was willing to sit out the entire season if he had to play for the Bears because he would never wear that jersey again.  Now, two weeks later, he has changed his tune and will just sit out the first ten games.  Give him a month or two and I bet he will play the whole season…under protest, of course. 

That’s probably what Chicago is thinking, too.

March 28, 2007 Posted by | Chicago Bears, Football, Lance Briggs, NFL, Sports | 1 Comment

Do Players of the Past Receive Too Much Credit?

I have a feeling that could potentially catch some heat for this post, but let’s give it a shot anyways.  Please be gentle with your criticism.

It seems to me that retired players sometimes receive too much credit.  When I say that, I mean that I have heard countless times, “If [insert very good retired player’s name here] were playing today, he would hit 80 home runs,”…or average 40 points per game, or whatever it may be.  You get the idea. 

The same thing goes for teams.  Apparently, today’s teams just aren’t that good.  Even if the Dallas Mavericks finish the regular season with 72 wins and take home the title, they won’t be viewed as equivalent to the record setting 95-96 Chicago Bulls team.  Is it just our nature to assume that things in the past were better?

I thought of a couple of reasons why this might be the case.  First of all, maybe it’s true.  Maybe teams and players of the past were simply better.  Maybe Babe Ruth transported into our era would dominate like no other.  I don’t believe it, but I guess it’s possible.

Longevity is a key factor that I think could explain some of the disparity.  Some of the retired greats earned being called that by playing at a high level for 15 years.  With current players, we are always skeptical of whether or not they can keep it up.  Sometimes I think we are too skeptical.  Like with A-Rod right now, I have heard a lot of talk about how he’s slowing down and whatnot.  Slowing down after a .290/35/121 season? 

I can hardly imagine that the competition 30 years ago was as good as it is today.  By that, I mean that the gap has narrowed between the “good” players and the “bad” players.  You are forced to bring your best every game today because there is not one unworthy player in professional sports.  Except for maybe Ron Artest and Pacman Jones, but that’s another story.  Since there are all good players in the league now, it’s going to be harder for today’s players to put up the kind of numbers that were put up back then.  I really have no evidence to back that up, but I just feel that the overall level of play in sports is higher right now.

Another reason might be that when we look back on players, we tend to think of their primes.  We might overlook struggles in player’s careers and make them seem like they are better than they were.

The more I write, the more I feel like there is no logical way to compare players of different generations.  You can only judge a player or a team by what they did against who they played.  However, I still think that those who believe a player from the past could dominate today is crazy.  Could an all-time great be successful today?  Absolutely.  But I know that I wouldn’t pay Mickey Mantle $100 million per season to play for me today (a little play off of joeyballgame’s blog :)).

March 12, 2007 Posted by | Baseball, Basketball, Football, Sports | 4 Comments

McHale is NOT the Best GM in Sports

Forbes.com recently released its list of the top General Managers in all of sports.  The article ESPN.com wrote about this can be found here.

Basically, Forbes looked at the four major sports and tried to pick out the best GM.  Their criteria were two fold.  First, they looked at how each team performed prior to the arrival of their current GM and compared it to how they performed with their previous GM.  Second, they looked at how each team’s payroll compares to the league median.  The first criterion was weighted twice as important since winning is the ultimate measure of success.

After all of the numbers were crunched, Kevin McHale, the GM for the Minnesota mchale1.jpgTimberwolves, emerged as the best there is.  What a joke!  This is why Forbes should never try to report information relating to sports.  Ever.

McHale should not even be in the top 10.  The data is skewed because the Timberwolves were absolutely horrible before he took over.  Now that they are average, it seems like he had something to do with it.  A guy named Kevin did have something to do with it, but that is Kevin Garnett. 

If anything, McHale should be looked at as one of the worst GM’s in sports for not putting the right pieces around KG.  Garnett is an unbelievable talent, and I think it’s McHale’s fault that the Wolves haven’t been able to make a serious title run during the Garnett era.  They had a little something going with Sam Cassell and Latrell Spreewell, but that got broken up.  Now they are sinking back into mediocrity.

Forbes could have randomly selected a GM and been more on target than they were with McHale.  I don’t know who the best GM out there is, although Jerry Angelo, Billy Beane, Joe Dumars, Brian Cashman, and even Jerry Jones come to mind, but I know that it definitely is not Kevin McHale.

March 5, 2007 Posted by | Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Kevin McHale, MLB, NBA, News, NFL, NHL, Sports | 3 Comments

NFL Combine Weighs Too Much

Every year we see players’ draft stock move up or down based on how they perform at the NFL Combine.  Every little thing these kids do is put under a microscope, especially the big names. Last year, for example, we had the big ordeal over Vince Young’s wonderlic score.  This year, they are already talking about how Dwayne Bowe isn’t performing well after he was praised the 2 weeks before for having a great Senior Bowl. 

It seems to me like the studs have more to lose than to gain at the combine.  Let’s take Bowe, for example.  He was moving up the mock draft boards, many times ahead of even Dwayne Jarrett.  If he chose not to participate in the combine, his stock would have stayed high.  But because he ran, he’s all of the sudden a worse player than everyone thought.  You see it every year with somebody.

On the other hand, players who didn’t get as much publicity during the season have got to love the Combine.  You will always see a guy who was supposed to be a late rounder move up because he was feeling good that day at the Combine and busted out a 4.31 40. 

Supposedly you can learn a ton about a player by watching them broad jump or run around cones without pads on, but I’m not sure that I buy it.  As a fan, I love the Combine.  Watching the mind numbing 40 times and seeing lineman throw around 225 pounds is pure entertainment.  However, you hear all the time about the difference between football speed and track speed.  If I were a scout, I would stick to the game film.

Maybe that’s why I’m not a scout.

February 26, 2007 Posted by | Football, NFL, Sports | 1 Comment

I Want Real All Star Games

Does anyone else feel like All Star games have lost their luster?  Watching the NFL All Pro game last Saturday, I couldn’t help but feel that they have.  The concept of an All Star game is a sports fan’s dream, to watch the best players go head to head.  However, it seems to me that both fans and players alike are becoming less enthusiastic about these contests.

One obvious reason is that the players do not take All Star games very seriously.  The NBA All Star game is well known for this.  The first three quarters of the game is basically a plug for the And1 Mix Tape Tour, minus the guy screaming “Oh baby!” in the background. 

The NFL All Pro game flows a little more genuinely, if you can get the real stars to play that is.  Many players choose to sit out of this game because they have “injuries.”  Those that do play, especially on defense, tend to take a little more caution leading to poor tackling and choppy gameplay.  I get a sense that all of the players feel they are winners, regardless of the game’s outcome, if they did not get hurt in the game.

Anyone happen to see the number of open seats at the Pro Bowl?  The seats were only half full!  I’m awed by the extreme lack of support from fans.  They play the game in Hawaii, which could account for some of the lack of attendance, but it was still surprising to me.

The MLB All Star game might be the only one that has it right.  They have the game mean something and do an excellent job of promoting it.  Fans love the mid-season classic and rightfully so.  The players support one another and play the game as hard, if not harder, as they would a regular season game. 

Maybe it’s just me, but I wish that all of the All Star games meant something, to fans and players.  It’s a sad day when we have to listen to Tyrus Thomas say that, “I’m just going to go out there and do whatever…I’m out there to collect my paycheck.”

February 14, 2007 Posted by | All Star Game, Baseball, Basketball, Football, MLB, NBA, NFL, Sports | 1 Comment

Brett Favre is Returning

With the sting of last night’s Super Bowl still fresh, I figured I should write this blog so I can attempt to forget about football and move on with my life (for a little while at least). 

 Let’s talk a little about Brett Favre.  Ask most Packers fans what they think about Favre’s return and you’ll likely get a response, “We’re going to the Super Bowl!”  That further cements my claim that Packers fans are the most delusional group of people in sports today.  Don’t get me wrong, they love their Packers, but it is to the point that they lose touch with reality. 

In reality, Favre is not the same quarterback who won the Super Bowl back in 1997.  He’s not even the same guy he was two years ago.  This is a guy that had a worse quarterback rating than the awful Rex Grossman this past season.  Favre is now pretty average.  The stats don’t lie.

Does he still give you a chance to win every Sunday?  Definitely.  Will he make some plays that “only Brett Favre can make?”  No doubt about it.  But when it comes down to it, Favre coming back does anything but make the Packers instant contenders. 

So wake up Packers nation, you are getting the 38 year old version of #4 next season, not the 28 year old version.  I’m not saying the Packers can’t do good things with Favre at the helm, but he is not going to put them on his shoulders and carry them Super Bowl XLII.

February 5, 2007 Posted by | Favre, Football, NFL | 12 Comments

Super Bowl XLI Prediction

To start off with, I have been a Bears fan since birth.  So I am probably biased when I say that I think the Bears will win the Super Bowl this Sunday.  However, I did think they would lose to the Saints two weekends ago, so that just shows how good my predictions are.  Anyways, here are some of the things I am looking at regarding the upcoming game.

1.  I have heard way too many times that it’s going to come down to Rex Grossman vs. Peyton Manning.  The thing people seem to overlook is that Manning is facing the Bears’ defense, not Grossman.  It’s common knowledge that Manning is a better quarterback, but he has to go up against one of the best defenses in the NFL this Sunday.  That’s just a little something I think people need to realize.

2.  Another point I keep hearing, mostly from Packer fans, is that Grossman is going to blow the game.  Ron Turner, the Bears offensive coordinator, is not going to allow that.  He experimented in the regular season with putting the game on Grossman’s shoulders, and that is when we saw Rex at his worst.  With a field position minded, clock-controlling running game, the Bears with keep both the Colts offense off the field and Grossman from having to try and make big plays.

3.  Special teams is going to play a large roll in the Super Bowl.  It does every year and is only talked about after the game.  It’s hard not to give the huge edge to the Bears in this department.  Devin Hester is the best return man in the game, and the Colts are near the bottom of the league in shutting down returns.  On the other side, the Bears are one of the best in the league in covering kicks.  The kicking game is pretty even with the Bears having a better punter in Brad Maynard and the Colts having a proven clutch kicker in Adam Vinatieri.  Bears kicker Robbie Gould is a Pro Bowler in his second season though, so he is reliable as well.

Enough analysis already!  I just cannot wait for this game to be played.  Any way you look at it, it looks like it is going to be a great game.

Final Score: Bears 24, Colts 17    MVP: Thomas Jones

Next Post:  Brett Favre is Returning

February 2, 2007 Posted by | Chicago Bears, Football, NFL, Super Bowl | Leave a comment