Category: General

ESPN’s layoff extravaganza just makes sense

ESPN’s layoff extravaganza just makes sense

By: Ashley Conley

ESPN’s self-proclaimed motto as “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” just doesn’t seem to fit anymore. The television network yesterday laid off more than 100 employees including a host of easily recognizable on-air and in-print personalities like beloved football analyst Ed Werder, NCAA football analyst and podcast host Danny Kanell, longtime baseball writer Jayson Stark, and former SportsCenter host Jay Crawford, to name a few.

Here’s my take on the situation.

ESPN has become the LeBron James and Stephen Curry show, covering the two NBA star’s every move even if it’s something irrelevant like James’ whining over a stupid call; it’s become the 24-hour NFL pre-Draft coverage show, detailing the draft months in advance and broadcasting “mock” draft situations that don’t even end up happening; it’s become the “we don’t care about hockey and neither should you” show, as was proved yesterday when it cut basically the entire hockey staff right in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs; it’s become a laughing stock during the NCAA Tournament when people like LaVar Ball, a top collegiate player’s FATHER got more face time than any of the actual players because of his dramatic demands and on-screen fanatics; and it’s become a fake debate circus that’s lost all its journalistic integrity as TV hosts like Stephen A. Smith (who DID NOT get laid off yesterday) are shown on air arguing over the oddest of topics.

These are just a few of my examples. If you go on Twitter and type “ESPN” into the search bar, you’ll find thousands of tweets from people all around the world describing in 140 characters or less why they agree that the ESPN layoffs make total sense. A lot of viewers tab the network’s “politically correct” descent as the reason why they stopped watching. Others feel as though the reporting has turned into scripted entertainment, and some are baffled at the channel’s lack of interest to cover more than just the NBA and NFL.

The situation has simply spiraled out of control. Viewership has been decreasing for months and even years, according to the numbers. If sports fanatics like me no longer wish to tune in to “The Worldwide Leader” anymore, you know something is wrong. If ESPN wants to survive, the network needs to bring back the coverage that made them popular to begin with — highlights and recaps from a variety of sports and stories pertaining to an assortment of athletes — all brought to you by reporters (like some of the great ones they just let go) that actually cover things in an enjoyable manner.

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Championship rings: the ultimate trophy

Championship rings: the ultimate trophy

By: Ashley Conley

Why are championship rings such a big deal? There’s one basic answer to this question: because they’re freaking awesome.

One of the many rewards that come with winning a title is the ginormous, usually customized ring full of diamonds and other gems to commemorate the success. The latest example of an incredible championship ring comes from the 2016 MLB World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.

*Warning: the following picture may cause temporary blindness from the amount of bling. Please proceed with caution.* – Just kidding. But seriously, these rings are a thing of beauty.

C9QKrUSXoAEXIiu.jpgThis particular ring is valued at $30,000-$40,000, according to the Chicago Tribune. Each one consists of 108 diamonds, one for each year since the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series, plus an extra 106 diamonds, and multiple karats of red rubies and blue sapphires. This ring is no joke, and basically tops every other ring in recent sports history.

Perhaps the coolest part about championship rings is that the culture doesn’t just exist in the professional leagues. It’s a tradition that’s alive for both high school and collegiate championships and even some youth leagues, like minor league baseball and AAU basketball. Also, rings aren’t only given out for state or national titles, but conference and tournament titles, too.

A lot of folks in the sports world measure the overall success of an athlete or team by prompting this simple question: how many rings do you have? While it’s not entirely common for professional players to win multiple rings throughout their playing careers, some of the greatest of all time have a ridiculous collection to their name. Here’s how the numbers add up:

  •  26 NBA players have at least five rings. Bill Russell holds the record with 11.
  • Two NFL players have a record five Super Bowl rings, including Tom Brady who recently clinched the 2017 title with the New England Patriots.
  • Yogi Berra, a New York Yankees legend, takes the top spot for Major League Baseball with a whopping 10 World Series rings.
  • Henri Richard leads all NHL players with 11 rings, all of which were won with the Montreal Canadiens.

When it comes to NCAA teams, here’s how the numbers add up:

While championship rings are hard to come by, they’re a prized momento that represents a perfect and unforgettable moment in history. Below, check out some of the sports world’s most recent jewelry shown off on social media.

And you can’t forget the look on an athlete’s face when they first see that bling . . . priceless.

Props to those who are lucky enough to have earned one of these one-of-a-kind treasures.

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Ashley Conley is a senior journalism student at WVU. She aspires to become a writer or reporter in the sports industry upon graduation. You can follow her on Twitter @ashleyconleyyy

Reactions from around the sports world – what’s trending and why

Reactions from around the sports world – what’s trending and why

By: Ashley Conley

In a world dominated by cellphone use, being present on social media is just part of being a sports fan. Almost everyone is on social media, so it’s become one big melting pot of people from all over the world watching the same game but sharing different perspectives.

The best thing about sports fans (like you and me) is that we’ll always be around. We’ll never stop watching our favorite players and favorite teams and we’ll probably never stop tweeting/Facebooking/etc. about them either.

Since Fans Unfiltered is dedicated to discovering, discussing and sharing the good, the bad and the ugly posted to social media by sports fans, professional reporters and even the athletes themselves, this is the perfect place for you to keep up with what’s trending and why.

What’s trending right now? 

1. NFL Pro Bowl uniforms – After scrolling through Twitter, it’s safe to say that the majority of fans watching the Pro Bowl on January 29 were appalled by the uniforms for both teams. The NFC sported an odd shade of blue with neon yellow/green accents while the AFC wore an off-tone red with the same colored accents.

Who designed these things? And why are the uniforms such a big deal in the Pro Bowl?

2. The SEC-Big 12 Challenge should happen in football, too, not just hoops – Another SEC-Big 12 Challenge has come and gone and boy, was it entertaining. The Challenge shakes things up a bit, allowing teams to play non-conference opponents midway through the season. A lot of these contests can be game changers (for instance, No. 2 Kansas versus No. 4 Kentucky) when March rolls around.

Why can’t this happen with football, also? Can you imagine how great it would be to have some non-conference action midway through the college football season, especially if it could help determine who makes the College Football Playoff?

3. Is the ACC the best conference in college basketball this season? – This has been a pretty heated debate on social media over the last month or so. Of course ACC fans agree, rightfully so, with six teams ranked in the Top 25 being the most of any conference. However, the Big 12 has three teams in the Top 10 alone.

This argument could go either way, for now.

4. Should Gonzaga really be ranked No. 1 overall? – Yes, Gonzaga is undefeated (22-0) but does that automatically grant them the No. 1 overall ranking? A lot of folks on social media would disagree. The Bulldogs play in the West Coast Conference, a conference with seemingly little competition. It’s the end of January, and while teams like Kansas are playing teams like Kentucky, Gonzaga’s competition is Portland and Pepperdine.

5. An Oklahoma Big 12 trophy got shattered and the Internet can’t stop laughingA photo began to trend on social media a few days ago of a man pushing a raggedy cart over a sidewalk with a handful of Oklahoma’s Big 12 championship trophies on board. One of them fell off (which isn’t surprising if you look at the photo) and shattered to pieces. Meanwhile, the Internet has been trying to figure out why OU doesn’t take better care of its hardware.

Stay tuned to Fans Unfiltered for these stories and more!

Cover Image: Michael Reeves/Kentucky Kernel

Ashley Conley is a senior journalism student at WVU. She aspires to become a writer or reporter in the sports industry upon graduation. You can follow her on Twitter @ashleyconleyyy

Social media backlash most likely prompts Musberger’s sudden retirement

Social media backlash most likely prompts Musberger’s sudden retirement

By: Ashley Conley

Longtime sports announcer Brent Musburger is calling it quits after more than 40 years in the industry. Some sports fans, coaches and colleagues on social media aren’t ready to see him go but for others, the 77-year old who’s found himself trending on more than one occasion for off-the-wall comments made on live television should’ve packed his bags a long time ago.

Musburger’s most recent social media downfall came during the 2017 Sugar Bowl broadcast when he praised Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon and wished him a lengthy and successful NFL career despite the fact that he punched a female breaking multiple bones in her face back in 2014. Gruesome video of the altercation was released to the public just days before the game.

“We’ve all talked to the coaches and they all swear that the young man (Mixon) is doing fine,” Musburger said. “Folks, he’s just one of the best. Given a second chance by Bob Stoops and Oklahoma, let’s hope that this young man makes the best of his chance and goes on to have a great career in the National Football League.”

Musburger was almost automatically a top trend on Twitter. Someone in the press box must’ve told him about it because he re-addressed the topic moments later in an attempt to dig himself out of the hole he just stepped into.

The announcer went on to say that he believes what Mixon did was “uncalled for” but since Mixon made a tearful apology, he deserves a second chance.

*Insert eye roll here.*

I believe in second chances, but someone who demonstrates violent behavior and poor decision-making skills like Mixon shouldn’t get another shot at a million-dollar career as a professional athlete. Those people are supposed to be role models.

Musburger’s decision to retire midway through the NCAA basketball season is pretty strange and you can’t help but wonder if he actually chose to retire or if the social media backlash finally got him down.

People first began to question Musburger’s moral values during the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship when he made inappropriate remarks about then-Miss Alabama Katherine Webb, who was A.J. McCarron’s (the Crimson Tide starting quarterback) girlfriend at the time.

“You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women, I’m telling ya,” Musburger raved as the camera focused on Webb for an extended period of time. “What a beautiful woman. Wow. If you’re a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throwing it around the yard with pops.”

Way to fail in the professionalism department, Brent.

I can’t say I speak for everyone, but I won’t necessarily miss Musburger’s occasionally distasteful commentating. His final call will come on January 31 as the Kentucky Wildcats face the Georgia Bulldogs at Rupp Arena.

Cover Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Ashley Conley is a senior journalism student at WVU. She aspires to become a writer or reporter in the sports industry upon graduation. You can follow her on Twitter @ashleyconleyyy