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Outrage Over Kyrie Irving Starting in All-Star Game Highlights Flaw in Sports Media

kyrie irvingSports provide great metaphors for life, and, because of this, we love them dearly.

Unlike real life, sports give us tangible answers. There is, almost always, a winner and a loser. Victory feels great, and at least when we lose, we know the reasons as to why it happened.

However, just as we tend to do with life, we over-analyze sports. We get outraged when people cheat the system. We hate the refs because they hold the ultimate power over the end result and there’s nothing we can do about it.

We are called “fans” because it is short for “fanatics.” defines “fanatic” as “a person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm, as for a cause.” That’s not exactly a positive description, but it is often what we are.

We shouldn’t feel the need to decide Peyton Manning’s “legacy.” I would even venture to say that fans and media probably care more about that than Manning himself does.

We shouldn’t have to determine the meaning behind Richard Sherman’s postgame comments to Erin Andrews. His words shouldn’t have to carry meaning. He was extremely excited immediately after one of the greatest moments of his life. We should be able to appreciate it.

But, we can’t. We’ve lost the ability to simply enjoy a game.

An article from The Akron Beacon Journal about Kyrie Irving spurred this thought process for me.

The title of the article is “Kyrie Irving’s accolades outnumber his successes.” I have many problems with the column, starting with its very headline, but I want to make something clear first.

This isn’t a personal attack on the writer, I have written similar pieces before. But I’ve changed my mind. I realize that writing a sports column means taking a firm stance, but I don’t think it means we should be able to freely take deep, personal shots at people.

The article happens to encapsulate everything that I have grown to dislike about sports writing. It has become a very profitable and effective method for making a living, so looking at it that way, the article is written very well. Its logic is valid, but it isn’t sound.

I once learned in a class that an argument is sound if and only if it is valid and all its premises are true. It just so happens that the piece is valid, but barely any of the premises expressed by The Akron Beacon Journal are true.

This is just me expressing my displeasure with the current attitude of fans and sports media.

So, back to the article. To start off, no one but Irving himself should be able to make a statement of that nature. How can someone’s accolades even outnumber his successes? In this sense of the term, “success” is purely subjective.

The article begins by showering Irving with compliments, but then asks, “Who will Kyrie Irving be when he returns from New Orleans (the site of the NBA All-Star game)?” The question is meant to insinuate that he will let the fame get to his head, and that it will somehow worsen him.

But the answer to that question is very simple. He will be Kyrie Irving. In fact, he will never not be Kyrie Irving — it’s literally impossible for that to happen. People have their own ideas about who Irving should be, but those ideas are irrelevant. Just because we think he should become one of the next legendary point guards, doesn’t mean he actually has to do that.

The writer then asserts, “at some point, winning has to matter more than All-Star games, 3-point shootouts and even USA Basketball.”

That’s false.

Winning does not have to matter more than anything for Irving. He’s his own man. And, if I had to bet, I would guess that it probably does matter very much anyway.

Irving is then criticized for not taking the “leap in Year 3” that other stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul took. Once again, Irving is his own man. He’s not any of those other people, he doesn’t have to follow in their footsteps. I know that’s obvious, but I write it to make a point. I mean, for Pete’s sake, he’s only 21 years old.

My biggest problems with the column still loom.

The writer goes on to proclaim, “All-Stars don’t allow the D.J. Augustins of the NBA to beat them so soundly, nor do they allow their teams to lose by 44 to the Sacramento Kings.”

Well, is that written in the secret NBA All-Star handbook? No, what it is though, is an unnecessarily cruel shot to both Irving and Augustin. It’s also pretty common knowledge that Augustin has been having a very good season filling in for Derrick Rose, anyway.

He then states, “Irving has to take ownership of all this. When he does, inferior guards will stop having big nights against him.”

Those two sentences are flat out untrue.

Again, Irving does not have to take ownership of anything. And even if he did, it definitely wouldn’t magically prevent an “inferior guard,” whatever that means, from having a big night against him.

Finally, to top things off, the writer takes offense at Irving’s interest in his own well-being. The writer is offended that Irving once cited his “family and his brand” as reasons for bypassing a chance to play for the Australian national team in hopes of playing for Team USA.

In all honesty, the only two things Irving should really care about are his family and his brand. He uses the money he earns to make a difference. And even if he didn’t, we shouldn’t be able to tell him what to care about.

The piece then ends like this: “You know what will really help Irving’s brand? Winning.”

I can’t argue the very essence of that statement, it could definitely help Irving out, but winning isn’t actually everything.

Crazy, right?

Irving has become very popular thanks to both his skills and his personality. He’s a funny, likable basketball star. He’s also very smart. In just a short period of time, Irving has already made a huge name for himself.

He was tasked with resurrecting the Cleveland Cavaliers after LeBron James left. He was 19-years old when that happened. I think he’s doing a pretty good job.

We forget that sports are just a job for these athletes; sure they get paid a lot more than most of us do at our jobs, but that doesn’t mean it has to completely consume them.

It’s time to start appreciating sports again.

The biggest stable in the world couldn’t hold all of the high-horses that run rampant in the sports media industry. We don’t have to take a stance on everything that happens.

Kyrie Irving is very good at his job. The fans voted him in as an All-Star starter because they like him.

Irving doesn’t have to own up to anything, he’s a basketball player.

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