Sports 101 Blog

Sports 101 is hosted by Eric Pedigo and Mark Gram Sunday mornings 9am - 11am on Sports Radio 1450.  It's a discussion-based sports talk show that spans any and all sports.  Eric and Mark offer up their opinions, ideas, and observations on all of sports' most intriquing topics.  Whether you love it or hate it, agree or disagree, Eric and Mark love to get your take. 

So call the show at 217-529-1450 and weigh in on whatever the guys are tossing around.  

Mark Gram
Birthplace:
Springfield, Illinois
High School: Quincy High School
Loves: Illinois sports, St. Louis Cardinals baseball, reading, and politics










Eric Pedigo
Birthplace: Chatham, Illinois
High School: Glenwood High School
Eric is a Chatham native and Glenwood graduate.  He and his wife Amanda live in Glenarm with their three children.  Eric started hosting a sports talk radio show on the internet in 2005. In 2008, he began co-hosting Fantasy Football 101 with Adam Stark, Mark Gram, and Nicorelli. Eric can be heard every Sunday morning from 9-11am on Sports Radio 1450.
 
Posts from February 2013


LeBron vs Jordan: The World's First Objective Comparison
                I love basketball.  As a child, I grew up idolizing Michael Jordan.  I had every MJ poster on my wall I could get my hands on.  When I ran out of room on my wall, I proceeded to cover the ceiling in my bedroom with even more posters.  I was born in 1980, and I’m one of those weird people that can remember being 2 years old.  I actually remember watching basketball BEFORE Jordan was in the NBA.  So I can remember very well watching his whole career.  I’ve never stopped loving or watching basketball, and I can honestly say he is the best player to ever play the game.  No one has really even come close, until now that is.
                What would your opinion be of a highly touted lottery pick, drafted specifically to lead his team to greatness, who spent over half a decade in the league dazzling fans with highlight dunks and obtaining a few individual awards along the way, even leading his team deep into the postseason, but couldn’t get over that hump and win a title until he joined forces with a few supremely talented players?  Would you think that player was a bust, or a failure?  Do you realize those questions apply to both LeBron AND Jordan?  The similarities between the two are almost endless, right down to their age when winning their first titles- Michael was 28, LeBron was 27.  Granted, their playing styles are quite different, aside from their unbelievable jumping ability of course.  But the course of their careers, to this point, is almost identical.
                The common misconception is that Michael was able to win titles by himself, while LeBron had to “abandon” his hometown team to join forces with other superstars before he could win.  The truth, of course, is that no one has ever been great enough to win a title on their own.  Not Bird, not Magic, not Kobe, not Russell, not Wilt, not Kareem, not Duncan, not Shaq, not LeBron, and not MJ.  No team wins titles without more than one Hall-of-Famer on the roster.  Not just good players, Hall-of-Famers.  Sure LeBron needed Wade and Bosh, but Michael needed Pippen, then Pippen and Rodman for the last three.  Speaking of Pippen, a little known fact is that he was actually drafted by Seattle 5th overall in 1987.  The Bulls traded away Olden Polynice and future picks to acquire Scottie.  Can you guess who the 5th overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft was?  Yep, Dwyane Wade.  The only real difference is that the Bulls went out of their way to get Jordan a running mate, while LeBron had to leave to get his.  But there really isn’t any difference in the surrounding talent they both needed to win.
                A big part of the reason so many people refuse to embrace LeBron is undoubtedly “The Decision”.  In a sports world filled with athletes who are legitimate criminals, fans have unexplainable disdain for a guy who announced his team choice on live television.  What most people don’t know is that ESPN approached LeBron’s “people” with the idea for a TV special where LeBron would announce to the world which team he would be playing for.  Realizing that this was likely the biggest free agent signing of all time, ESPN saw an opportunity to capitalize.  When the idea got to LeBron, he agreed to do it only if all of the proceeds went to charity.  That part of the story is typically omitted when “LeBron bashing” is taking place, including when it’s done by ESPN personalities.  The event was seen by more than 10 million people (Take that World Series), and raised over 5 million dollars for The Boys and Girls Club.  Most people saw it as LeBron trying to draw even more attention to himself, due strictly to his enormous ego.  But ask yourself, has LeBron ever needed a way to draw more attention to himself than he already does?  He was already one of the most talked about athletes on the planet, why would he devise a scheme to attract even more exposure?  ESPN wanted the ratings and profit that his announcement would bring, LeBron found a way to give that profit to charity.  What a self-centered jerk, am I right? 
The problem with hating LeBron for “The Decision” is that our hatred spills over into how we view him as a player.  We often let our emotions get in the way of our objectivity.  We loved Jordan on and off the court.  There were no attached feelings of negativity to skew how we viewed him as a player.  We knew a little of his gambling habits, but it was never enough to vilify him in the public eye.  Would we have viewed him differently if we were aware of all of the infidelity that eventually ended his marriage?  Still though, why does any of this matter when evaluating how great a player is?  Why can’t we just appreciate when we’re watching a once-in-a-generation player at the top of his game?
               So the pressing issue at hand still remains: Who’s better?  Jordan has 6 rings, LeBron has just 1.  But forget the rings.  The honest eyeball test will tell you that a matchup between the two, while both in their prime, would be incredibly close.  Each has certain things they do better than the other.  LeBron is bigger, stronger, faster, a better passer, and a better rebounder.  Both are amazing defenders, and Jordan was a more creative and determined scorer.  If they went head-to-head 10 times, it’s unlikely one would end up with the upper hand.  So the ultimate winner is us as fans.  We’ve been lucky enough to witness 2 men who will likely go down as the 2 greatest players of all time, all within a 30 year span.  Maybe quit trying to elevate one over the other and just enjoy the show.
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The Sissification of Sports
This one is for the real men out there.  This is for men who have dirty hands and sore backs, men who shoot guns and don’t drink lattes, men who clean fish and talk about truck parts.  Tell your old ladies to clean something up and fix you a snack while we stroke our beards and talk about these sissies who are ruining our sports.  In the old days getting clotheslined going across the middle was just part of the game.  We weren't worried about head or neck injuries; we just let men be men.  Nowadays a flag gets thrown every time a guy gets his makeup smeared.  No contact after five yards, no hand-checking, no hits to the head, no hitting a defenseless receiver, so what’s next?  In five years guys probably won’t even be allowed to burp or scratch.  This girly garbage these days doesn't even look like sports.  We might as well put skirts on these guys and have them compete in beauty pageants every week.
Writer’s note: The preceding was heavily coated in sarcasm.  Unfortunately they don’t have a font for that.
                The truth is sports are evolving in both how they’re played and how they’re run.  As fans, we need to evolve in how we view them.  We spend so much time talking about how great things used to be that we overlook how great things are right now.  We complain nonstop about how these rule changes are ruining our sports without even noticing the positive impacts they’re having.  Aren't sports better to watch when the best players are playing?  Of course they are.  So why would we want franchise QBs taking potentially threatening shots to the head?  As fans, we should want the best players to stay healthy and provide us with the best product available.  And as decent humans, we should want player safety to continue after they retire.  Of course they know it’s a dangerous profession going in, but so is firefighting.  Should they not try to improve the safety of their job either? 
                The perception is that players today aren't as tough as they used to be.  The truth is that players are competing against stronger players than ever before, so they have to be tougher.   We think that it’s easier for receivers to get open now because defenders can’t touch them after five yards.  We’re convinced that players can get to the rim much easier now because defenders aren't allowed to hand-check anymore.  What’s really happened is defenders have been forced to play actual defense.  Defense in most any sport is about moving your feet and getting your body in place to make a play, not about using your hands to grab and hold in an effort to slow guys down.  By not allowing guys to take defensive shortcuts anymore, they've been forced to step their game up and play actual defense.  End result: defenders are much better now than they've ever been, because they have to be.  The thought that LeBron would struggle getting to the basket if Gerald Wilkins was hand-checking him is laughable.  And the notion that Calvin Johnson would have a tough time getting open because Darrell Green held him up 8 yards into his route is equally absurd. 
Today’s athletes are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever before.  They hit harder, take harder hits, and are harder to defend than previous generations.  Athletically, sports as a whole are on a level we've never experienced before as fans.  So if you want to keep thinking that sports and athletes are getting soft compared to the old days, you go right ahead and think it.  I’ll keep enjoying the amazing displays of athleticism whenever I can.  But now, I've got to get baking.  There’s this cake recipe I found on Pinterest that I've been dying to try out.  Stay manly.
 
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