I don’t know if I’d even do the documentary justice if I tried to recap it. But I’m here to offer the first five things I’ve changed my mind about today, thanks to the ESPN Fab Five documentary:
- Trash Talking – I used to think it was ignorant, arrogant and unnecessary. Now I see it as the mental side of the game. It still looks trashy if you’re starting to fight, but from purely an “in your head” perspective, I kind of want to see more.
- Paying Athletes – I used to say, “An education is enough” and “This is their platform to make EVEN MORE in a few years.” Now that I think of it from a university and NCAA profit perspective (rather than from an athlete’s greed perspective as I used to), I feel like the athletes do deserve more. But before I commit to that, I’d suggest players are paid for performance or for items specifically in the players’ name (jerseys) or for their success (championship t-shirts, etc.). I DON’T think they need to be paid millions a year. But I also think professional athletes are grossly overpaid, and setup for failure. I also think they should be required to take some basic money-handling skills. Everyone needs those skills, but mostly professional athletes.
- Respect for Steve Fisher – At the time, I saw their team lacking coaching and discipline. Now, mind you, I was like 11 years old, so what the hell did I know? But that perspective of him has stuck with me. I was wrong.
- Empathy for Chris Webber – At the time I found his mental lapse satisfying. Mostly because of my dislike of the team, but also because I was angry the refs missed the traveling call. And I remember giving Chris credit for the loss (just as he took the blame for it). That’s tough for someone only nineteen. And while I figured out college athletes are only kids a long time ago (as soon as I graduated from college and realized the players were all younger than me), at the time I put a lot of weight on that, and dehumanized him. I didn’t give him any credit for the time, effort, commitment and passion he put into the game. And watching those final moments of the game and his trip to the locker room was heart wrenching. I can say for the past 9 years I’ve done a decent job at remembering these athletes are just kids. I haven’t, however, realized even the ones I don’t like are kids, too. And don’t deserve to be laughed at or their misery relished in at probably one of their worst moments. For those feelings, I need to grow as a person. And while my apology means nothing to anyone other than saying it to say it, I’m sorry. Part of me wishes mostly for Chris’ contribution to this story, but the empathetic part knows even after twenty years, it may not be worth reliving. As with all things in life, make peace in your own time. I sincerely hope you have.
- Vacating Wins/Removing Banners – I’m still not sure why the actions of an adult (the one paying the students) affects the accomplishments of the students. How many students do you know who wouldn’t take free money? Is it because they wouldn’t have gone to Michigan otherwise? I know they’re not the only school stripped of wins, but in this case, I assume it’s because the coaching staff likely knew. And because the athletes broke the rules. The funny thing is, every history book and stat sheet might show no wins, no Final Fours. But there will more than likely be a footnote on those stats. So I guess vacated or not, what happened happened. So it doesn’t really matter.
I know I’m not saying much that’s new for a lot of people. But they’re changes in my perspective. Either I’m weak-minded and succumb to any suggestion of a differing opinion. Or this was a well-written documentary that opened the eyes of a 11-year old kid, 20 years later.
See my last post for links to watch (or download) online.