Ben Spar

Spar: Appreciating greatness in sports

On Sunday morning, I awoke to a Twitter timeline filled with goat emojis. Contrary to my first thought, it turns out I didn’t drunkenly follow a bunch of farming accounts, but that Roger Federer, the men’s tennis player that many consider to be the “Greatest of All-Time” (i.e. GOAT), had won his record 20th Grand Slam tournament. The goat emoji hasn’t been limited to tennis this past week, as there have been many discussions about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s greatness with his record eighth Super Bowl appearance, including a slightly ridiculous ESPN article trying to decide who is the “greatest GOAT”, Brady or Michael Jordan. Even LeBron James had a GOAT moment this week, becoming the youngest and seventh-total NBA player to score 30,000 regular season points.

Spar: Trying to understand Bryce Love’s decision

Like many other Cardinal sports fans, I spent the first week of the quarter searching Bryce Love’s name on Twitter every day to see if he had declared for the NFL Draft or decided to stay for another year. The Stanford junior had a breakout year in 2017 after backing up Christian McCaffrey for two years, rushing for a Stanford record 2,118 yards and finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting. Love was the highest profile draft eligible player yet to make a decision, which was slightly surprising given that all of the other famous underclassmen (Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Saquan Barkley, etc.) had already declared for the draft. This past Tuesday, in a short tweet, Love announced he was staying (I am very thankful that he decided against going the “corny Player’s Tribune Article” route).

Spar: We shouldn’t separate the athlete from the person

Over the break, discussions around the family dinner table in houses across the country were often centered around the question: “When is it okay to separate art from the artist?” Even though people have been debating the answer to this question for many years, the frequency of this discussion has increased dramatically following sexual abuse allegations against many prominent members of the entertainment community (Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., etc.) over the past few months. As a sports fan, I think it is important to ask similar questions about the athletes and sports organizations that we support. How do we value a person’s athletic achievements in the context of their personal views and actions? What does it mean to watch a match (i.e. supporting financially) of an athlete or team that has done something we disagree with? Often times there is not a clear answer to these questions, and even when there is a clear answer, it is quite difficult to figure out what to do about it.

Spar: Stanford football clickbait

I spent some of my Thanksgiving break participating in America’s most disgusting sports habit besides protecting athletes that have been accused of sexual assault: watching weekday morning “hot take” shows. ESPN’s “First Take” and Fox Sports 1’s “Undisputed” (a.k.a. “Second Take”) are built around the same premise, which as told by my observant mother is “a black guy and white guy shout at each other for two hours about sports nonsense.” I no doubt am a less intelligent person because I choose to spend my free time watching Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless clickbait (If you ever want a good laugh google “First Take worst arguments”). However, their content is so maddening it is often entertaining and they have large hate followings. It seems like they have fun, especially with their multi-million dollar contracts. They have inspired me to try and turn my feelings as a disillusioned Stanford fan into strong takes that people may get mad at me about.

Spar: Why the ‘Process’ Matters

As a Brooklyn Nets fan, over the past two years I have had to look elsewhere for basketball fulfillment. The Nets have been one of the worst teams in the league and have been unable to get much better because they traded away the rights to their first-round draft picks. To put it in one…

Spar: WNBA isn’t unsuccessful

On Oct. 4, I watched a former number one overall draft pick and an all-star guard hit a winning shot in the last minute of the deciding game of the finals to give their team a championship. It was a thrilling series that captivated my attention, and a rematch of the previous year’s finals, in which the other team won. Although with this description I could have been talking about viewing a rerun of the 2016 NBA Finals, I was in fact watching the 2017 WNBA Finals, where Maya Moore hit the shot to propel the Minnesota Lynx over the Los Angeles Sparks.

Spar: Baseball problems are more than just being boring

I recently became an active baseball fan again, but it only lasted four days. When it looked like the New York Yankees would probably make the World Series, I was quite excited; I even considered embarking on a less than 24-hour trip to Los Angeles for the hypothetical game one.

Spar: NCAA case goes as expected

This Friday, the NCAA announced that the University of North Carolina athletics program would not be punished for the academic fraud scandal that has been unfolding for the past seven years.
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