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Niels Thakkar

March 4 and the Impending NFL Lockout

Ever since I can remember, the NFL has reigned supreme over the big four sports in so many aspects: marketing, attendance, TV viewership, revenue, excitement, and entertainment value. It gives me purpose on Sundays from September through February. The Conference Championship weekend might be the most exciting weekend all year, except maybe March Madness’s Final Four, while the Super Bowl (although it’s a bit too commercialized for me) has the power to demand millions of dollars for 30 seconds of air time from the biggest companies in America. But in 2 weeks time, on March 4th, all this could come to a drastic halt.If you’re reading this, I can assume you’ve heard about the impending lockout. If the players and owners can’t come to a decision over the new collective bargaining agreement, there won’t be any NFL games next year. No more Sundays when you can grab a spot on the couch, order a pizza and completely immerse yourself into the TV for the next 12 hours. No more witnessing the unimaginable, like Marshawn Lynch causing an earthquake as he runs for a touchdown, or Michael Vick mounting a second-half comeback against the Giants, and most of all, no more convincing yourself that it’s all more important then any thing else you should be doing. All because both parties are so stubborn that compromise doesn’t seem to exist in either of their vocabularies.The basic gist of it is that the players want a bigger piece of the pie, asking for 50% of the $9 billion in total revenue. The league, however, wants the players to take a pay cut, around $340,000 per player. The owners are insisting they’re losing money and can’t afford to upgrade facilities or buy new stadiums, but they won’t open the books and show the NFLPA… Read More

Sporting slurs

In the past few years incidents involving racist and homophobic slurs have been popping up in sports on a more frequent basis. Most recently, it's Philadelphia Flyers' Wayne Simmonds in the spotlight for yelling an “alleged” homophobic slur at the beloved Sean Avery of the New York Rangers. The reason I say “alleged” is because like anyone, he's innocent until proven guilty. In this case however, there's no question as to what was said. Ironically, Simmonds was on the receiving end of a racist incident (banana throwing) involving a fan just weeks earlier in a preseason game in London, Ontario.Racial, homophobic, and general slurs aren't new phenomena in sports; they've been ingrained in sports culture since the dawn of competition. When things get heated, bad things get said. But there's a fine line between playground trash talk and offensive slurs, and that line has shifted over the course of time. Back in the 50s and 60s, when the “n” word was commonplace in common vocabulary, trash talk would have been full of racial slurs. Today, we regard racial slurs as completely unacceptable. We're at the point where we all understand the magnitude of racially offensive words. If the “n” word gets hurled at a black athlete or the “c” word at an Asian athlete, no matter what your race, you grasp the offensiveness of the slur.Homophobic slurs haven't yet reached that level of perceived offence, though they're no different than racial slurs. When the “f” word is mentioned, a much smaller percentage of people realize its implications. In sports, maybe because of its masculine, don't-ask-don't-tell culture, homophobic slurs are still being thrown around. While Kobe Bryant, Joakim Noah, and Wayne Simmonds have all been caught making this sort of derogatory comment in the past year, only two of the three… Read More