Calling It Like I See It: Player Polarization

Players will play, but haters will hate


Addelyn Wachter

Senior point guard Casey Constant drives to the lane in a home game against Caledonia. Constant has led been a leader for the Bucs offensively and defensively.

As I sat and watched the world’s most lifeless affair – Super Bowl LIII – I couldn’t help but think: Tom Brady is about to get his sixth ring. It seemed unlikely that mediocre quarterback could possibly have a stranglehold on the NFL and its history, and probably its future.

So I thought a little deeper. How much of his success can be attributed to his play alone?

The answer? Maybe only half – at most.

Yes, Brady has six rings, but look at the games he’s played in. One was due to a game-winning kick by Adam Vinatieri, another a miracle interception at the goal-line and most recently, an all-star performance by Julian Edelman and the Pats defense.

Take away that and he’s only slightly better than Eli Manning, in theory. Yikes.

When I looked at the broader spectrum of pro sports, I found this to be true on all levels. Praise Nick Saban all you want for his job at Alabama, but don’t deny the fact that he flopped with LSU and the Miami Dolphins.

In the NBA, the Pistons have Blake Griffin, who has to drop close to 50 points for Detroit to get a win these days. When he’s off, the Pistons lose. However, back in LA, Griffin could have an off night and it wouldn’t matter because the Clippers had Chris Paul.

And of course, Tom Brady. The man has Bill Belichick, a severely underrated offensive line and finally a run game, the latter being the most impactful to a deep run in the playoffs. Tom Brady on, say the Buffalo Bills? I don’t think they make the playoffs.

I know we all love to hate these teams and claim the league is rigged, but I am here to advise you against that.

Don’t hate the game, hate the player.

It’s uncanny the way players polarize sports. At times, they make fans feel an extreme high, only to be let down in an extreme low. Then, the very same fans turn to a different aspect, saying “the refs were bad” or “that’s how (fill in the sport) is sometimes”.

No, that’s completely untrue. Everything happens because of something.

Given how much we as humans love to assign blame, I’m surprised us sports-lovers haven’t been able to discover this sooner. It’s rather startling to think that certain people, especially the ones listed above, are exempt from scrutiny.

If you need a closer look, I’d suggest watching our boys basketball team. It’s no secret that much of the offense runs through Casey Constant, Grand Haven’s senior point guard. Therefore, the margin between winning and losing lies on the back of number eleven each game.

Yes, it’s completely unfair to the team and it shouldn’t be that way, but it is the truth, even if nobody wants to admit it.

Conversely, the girls basketball team is a complete unit. Alli Keyser can score from just about anywhere on the court with her talent and speed, but Esther Byington’s presence around the basket is equally as dangerous. Add in Jolee Houle’s sharp perimeter shooting and Dahlia Jerosvek’s stalwarting defense and it’s easy to see why they’re top ten in the state.

The best part about it is that you can’t hate the player, you can only hate the game.

Nevertheless, the success of sports have and will continue to predicate upon the faces of their franchises. They sell tickets and jerseys and in large part keep interest levels high.

And it pays too. Sports is an industry where young stars become millionaires because they can throw, dunk or hit a ball better than anyone else. When six zeroes are on the table, it’s natural for everyone to lose sight of the concept.

Yet, history has shown that these same athletes are only as good as the people surrounding them.

There’s no “I” in team, but there is one in ignorance.