Why Can’t Pakistani Cricket Players Play In India?

1_article_photoThe Indian Premier League (IPL) is the most exciting and fast-paced cricket league on the planet. Making its debut in 2008, the IPL’s Twenty20 format of cricket took the traditionally long and drawn out sport from 7-hour one-day matches and even longer 5-day matches to a 3.5-hour showcase of constant hitting and unparalleled excitement. It includes cricket players from all around the world for this two month long spectacle. However, despite this amazing breakthrough and prospect for cricket to become popular outside of the British Commonwealth, political conditions in India have prevented the sport from reaching its potential.

After the 2008 Mumbai attacks which killed 164 people and was perpetrated by Pakistani-based militant organization Laskar-e-Taiba, the IPL banned Pakistani players from participating. During its inaugural 2008 season, there were 11 Pakistani players playing in the IPL including Sohail Tanvir, who was the leading wicket taker in the tournament (which can be equated to the pitcher who got the most strikeouts during a baseball season). In 2009, the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) prevented Pakistani cricketers from playing due to diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan after the attacks. Simultaneously, the Pakistani government also prevented its players from traveling to India due to security concerns.

In 2010, despite being included in the IPL auction, no Pakistani players were selected to play in the league. Tanvir, who was an integral part of the Rajastan Royals championship win in 2008 and the best bowler in the tournament, stated,

“They mean to say none of our players are good enough to be in the IPL. I am sorry to say the franchises have taken a decision not based on cricketing sense but on political grounds which is a shame and has hurt the image of the sport.”

Shilpa Shetty, co-owner of the Royals, explained,

“We were not convinced about their availability and that’s why we did not want to take any risk.”

This continued into the 2011 season where Pakistani players were once again ignored. Interestingly, former Pakistani bowler and captain Wasim Akram was named the coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), which is owned by famed Indian Muslim actor and Shah Rukh Khan. Although Shah Rukh Khan lobbied for the inclusion of Pakistani players in the IPL for his KKR squad, he was not able to select them because of immense pressure from the BCCI. The ban of Pakistani players was in place in 2012 and continues through the current 2013 season.

Furthermore, the political pressures exerted on the sport also affect Sri Lankan players. Sri Lankan cricketers are forbidden from playing in matches that take place in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, home of Chennai Super Kings. The state has a large ethnic Tamil population. After a United Nations Human Rights Council report that was highly critical of Sri Lanka’s human rights record against ethnic Tamils during its civil war, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa decided to bar Sri Lankan players from playing in the state. In response to what Jaylalithaa said was anger by for “barbaric acts” committed against Sri Lankan Tamils, her government believed, “IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu.”

This impacts a number of preeminent IPL players and teams such as Kumar Sangakkara, captain of the Hyderabad Sunrisers, Mahela Jayawardene, captain of the Delhi Daredevils, and Angelo Mattews, captain of the Pune Warriors. Clearly, saying that these team’s best players are not allowed to play is a ridiculous assertion and disgrace to the sport of cricket.

Ultimately, the political tensions in India are ruining the image of the sport and causing the fans to suffer. With players from all over the world gathering for the tournament such as Sachin Tendulkar (India), Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh), Ricky Ponting (Australia), Chris Gayle (Jamaica) Dale Steyen (South Africa), Eoin Morgan (England), and Ross Taylor (New Zealand), this is an unprecedented opportunity for cricket to finally become the truly global sport that its fans have long yearned for it to be.

However, Indian politics is squandering the IPL’s potential to break into new markets and show that cricket is one of the most diverse sports in the world. With other regulations such as only allowing 4 non-Indian players to be in the field at once per team, the sport is significantly undermining the fan experience. Although they want to support local talent, they should also welcome international players with open arms.

India is consistently challenging the world stage, but political realities such as those impacting the IPL are hindering India’s progress as a true global power.

Should Brittany Griner play in the NBA?

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Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, went onto to say that he would draft Brittany Griner in the Draft. Upon reading this, I initially thought Cuban was just joking but he kept saying it to where it has reached national news. Brittany Griner, a 6’8’’ 207 pound girl responded to Cuban’s comments saying she is ready and wants to play. Griner is currently destroying the NCAA Women’s Basketball records. She made history when she made 11 blocks in a game. She scored the most points ever in a season and recorded the most blocks in a season. She is often compared to Patrick Ewing of NCAA Women’s Basketball. Ewing’s dominance changed basketball and with Griner’s presence, number one prospect for the WNBA Draft, the WNBA hopes to see the same result.

In the mid 1980s, the Detroit Pistons, also known as Bad Boy Pistons back then, used to hit their opponents very hard, no easy baskets was their policy. They elbow players, trashing talk to get into their heads. Thus, David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA, has worked tremendously hard to protect the players, to make the NBA less violent. However, LeBron James, the forward for the Miami Heat recently complained of the hard fouls he recently gets. Brittany Griner maybe a force and a talent for the Women’s basketball but, I question if she can have the same impact in NCAA Men’s Basketball, never mind NBA.

Griner plays center and sometimes power forward at Baylor University. As previously stated, she is 6’8’’ and weighs 207 pounds. The average size of a small forward in the NBA is 6’8’’ and they weigh at an average of 225 pounds. She is not fit to play her standard position of a center if she is drafted into the NBA. She would match up against the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Metta World Peace, Kevin Durant, all of who use power to get to the bucket. As a fan, the NBA is fun when it turns aggressive and the players go at each other. Will she able to get aggressive on these players or will they be able to get aggressive at a female? If Griner is selected into the NBA, David Stern or Adam Silver, next year’s commissioner, will advertise and will bend the rules to make her succeed. They will turn the game a lot softer and a lot easier. We have NBA players today complaining the fouls are too hard and the players from the 1970s to the late 90s are stating that the NBA has gotten a lot weaker.

Looking at the current trend the NBA is going in, there will be a time when the NBA is fit for women to join and compete with men. Now is not that time. What do you guys think?

Racist team names

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The Cleveland Indians. The Atlanta Braves.The Florida State Seminoles. The Chicago Blackhawks. And last, but not least, the Washington Redskins are some of the racist team names that exist.

These are all athletic team names going from baseball to football to ice hockey,  that represent Native Americans as their team name. Yet, it is only the Washington Redskins, a football team, who has seen the brunt of criticism centric to the recent concerns of cultural appropriation in the media. So why are the Redskins in particular feeling the heat of controversy? The term Redskins is actually a derogatory term which represents racism in the team name. It’s like having a team filled with African Americans called the N word as their team name.

It certainly isn’t the first time the Redskins have received flack from Native Americans–there’s a lengthy history that escalated in 2009 and sees a continuation today. The five plaintiffs involved must now show proof to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Court “the name ‘Washington Redskins’ was disparaging to a significant population of American Indians back when the team was granted the trademarks from 1967 to 1990,” according to the Associated Press.

Bruce Allen, the general manager of the Redskins, was quoted as not finding the name offensive in the least. He said:

We represent an iconic sports franchise that’s 81 years old, that involves millions of fans worldwide, that has thousands of alumni. It’s ludicrous to think in any way that we’re trying to upset anybody … There’s nothing that we feel that is offensive, and we’re proud of our history. To suggest that players and coaches and fans are thinking any other way, it doesn’t make sense.”

While it is understandable the Redskins management are afraid of and probably would lose money with a name and logo change, the fact of the matter is that the word “redskin” in itself holds negative connotations — as racist slang presented onto Natives by the proverbial White Man to the act of scalping Natives by the proverbial White Man. To think otherwise, or claim to not understand the basics as to why 9 % of Native Americans found the name and logo offensive is a show of ignorance. Many have used the minority number of a study released years ago as a counterargument to dismiss backlash, which further promotes ignorance. The cultural appropriation behind it all makes the issue of the Redskins, and other teams in a domino sense, thick waters to navigate. It is a battle between a persistent minority and dominant majority.

Is this justified? Can we have these team names like New York Jews for the state’s high popluation of Jewish people residing in New York or the Utah Mormons? Some people take it personally with my two examples. I believe it is since Jews and Mormons still interact with others in society rather than Native Americans.

Is Mike Rice being on the media so much justified?

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Ever since I came to Rutgers, the university has experienced a number of crises both athletic and non-athletic. The first few weeks of my freshman year was characterized by the suicide of my fellow classmate and neighbor Tyler Clementi. Only one month later, I witnessed Eric LeGrand’s paralyzing injury during a game. I was there when the firings happened during Rutgersfest, when a few students were shot in my freshmen year. This most recent incident with Mike Rice’s abusive tendencies as coach of Rutgers only adds to the negative press that the university has received in recent years.

When Mike Rice was announced as the new Rutgers head basketball coach prior to the beginning of my freshman year I was absolutely ecstatic. The basketball program was struggling considerably and Coach Rice seemed as if he would be the right fit for the job. Fresh off an incredible performance against No. 2 seed Villanova during the 2010 NCAA tournament as head coach of an up-and-coming Robert Morris squad, Rice brought hope for the Rutgers basketball faithful that we would finally see performances that were comparable to our Big East rivals.

Flashes of this renewed energy in Rutgers basketball were incredibly evident in 2011 and 2012. Rutgers stunned the 10th ranked Villanova Wildcats with a 4-point play at the buzzer, showing the Scarlet Knight fan base that Coach Rice was bringing promise to the basketball program. In 2012, Rutgers once again showed its upset prowess when the Scarlet Knights defeated the 10th ranked Florida Gators, providing me my first opportunity to storm the court in celebration. Two short weeks later, Rutgers defeated the 8th ranked UConn Huskies, where I once again witnessed a greater resurgence of Scarlet Knight basketball.

Amid all the tweets, news stories, and commentary on Rice, it is easy to portray him as purely abusive and an overall terrible influence. What is conveniently left out of the media coverage is the chest bumps, the high fives, the Mike Rice that would jump around like a little kid when these upsets would happen. Mike Rice is very animated and enthusiastic. The Mike Rice that actively participated in pregame warm-ups by setting up passes for players in the lay up line, and did not just stand idly as his players worked. Mike Rice the teacher, the mentor, and the coach are left out of this equation.

Is Coach Rice’s conduct or homophobic slurs during practice acceptable? Absolutely not, nor am I trying to justify it. Rather, I believe it is prudent to provide this perspective on what Mike Rice brought to a Rutgers program that had no other place other than the cellar of the Big East conference. Rice made Rutgers basketball fun to watch and his commitment and dedication to the program cannot just be swept away as a result of the media coverage.

I remember looking outside my window from Easton Avenue and seeing 10’s of news channels investigating, asking students and others their opinions.

It is unfortunate that Rice has to be the poster child for the potential reformation of coach behavior towards athletes. Junior Wally Judge on the Rutgers basketball team, who transferred from Kansas State, remarked that Wildcats coach Frank Martin’s practices were harder and worse than Rice’s. It is irresponsible to cast out Mike Rice as the sole employer of such tactics during practices. This is a cultural occurrence in sports that needs to be addressed on a broader level and Mike Rice should not be the only victim of such a crackdown. The media and other news source must research other universities and sports programs and crack down on other coaches rather than giving Rutgers a bad name.

In the end, it will be the Rutgers University athletic program that will be affected the most. With Rutgers shifting to the Big 10 in 2014, the university must get its act together by starting off with a new with a new athletic director. If Rutgers can get past this crisis, the future holds a lot of potential for the Scarlet Knights and hopefully this promise will not be squandered.

Lack of African American NFL Head Coaches

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The National Football League is the highest money making sport in the entire world. During the NFL season, fans constantly discuss how well their team is performing during the week and hold off all activities upon watching their team play on Sunday’s. The NFL has a major problem. The quarterbacks of each team are predominantly white and the front line and other people are generally black. Out of the 32 teams, there is currently one African American head coach and that was a problem that was bought up in 2003.

In 2003, the Rooney Rule was passed which required NFL teams to interview a minority candidate for a head coaching position. Iit was proposed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who hired Mike Tomlin. This allowed African Americans to coach and jumped from 2 NFL coaches to 7 coaches in 2006. However, in 2012/13 season, there have been zero African Americans hired as a head coach. This not only sounds bad but looks terrible to public. Primarily 68 percent of the NFL players are African Americans. This 68 percent understand the game of football and how it is suppose to be played. Upon retirement of their athletic careers, players often look to become coaching positions, similar to the NBA. The National Basketball Association consists of 80 percent African American athletes and have a lot of Black head coaches. Why is this a problem this year?

For this upcoming season, the NFL had 8 empty head coaching positions open. 7 of those 8 positions went to first time head coaches. The other coaching position went to Andy Reid, who was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday and was hired by the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday. People might argue that there were not any top African American candidates for these positions. There have been plenty of stud coordinators and vocal leaders who were on the market, who are African American. Mike Tomlin, an African American coach, is probably one of the greatest NFL coaches to lead a team. The Rooney family took a chance and received that great coach the Steelers franchise has been craving for.

Is the Rooney Rule effective? Will we see more African American NFL head coaches? I believe it will happen sooner. What do you guys think?

Can the NBA be profitable without any African Americans leading the sport?

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LeBron James is once in a lifetime talent. Michael Jordan is the most competitive athlete even known.  Both are African Americans and both play basketball and dominantly take over the National Basketball Association (NBA). In the 2013 All Star game, 20 out of the 24 players are African Americans. In 2011, 78% of the entire league consists of African Americans and in 2012/2013 season, current, it is now at 81%. Looking at these statistics and numbers, can the NBA, today, be equally profitable, if not more, with any African Americans?

I, truly, believe that the NBA can succeed and be equally profitable without African Americans. Yao Ming is perceived as the national hero of China. China currently has over 1.3 billion people. When Yao Ming played for the Houston Rockets, a lot of those Chinese citizens woke up early to watch him play. David Stern, the Commissioner of the NBA wanted to make this sport global. With the rise of Jordan and Yao Ming coming into the league, Stern took advantage and heavily advertised in other countries, using these players as their target audience.  Imagine if the NBA has found talent or invested to find talent in Asia. Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who currently owns the Nets. With his investment and his statements, he has expanded the NBA into Russia. As he assigned Billy King, the General Manager of the Nets, to scout for talent in Russia, more Russians are paying attention to the NBA. Similarly, if a talent could be found in that of countries like India, think about the how much that will benefit the sport.  Their respective country will support the players as they are playing in the most competitive league in the world.

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America has always tried to find ways to downplay the success of African Americans. Americans, excluding blacks, have been settling for less talent and less skill than acknowledging the talent. For example, Bobby Brown and his band, New Edition, is known for their trendy music and musical talent. However, since members of the band are African Americans, their music was downplayed and led to the rise of other bands, such as ‘New Kids on the Block’ and ‘Backstreet Boyz’. The talent and music is not close compared of ‘New Edition’, yet people enjoyed their music more. Bobby Brown saw this and decided to go against it and create a solo career. Another example is the King of Rock n Roll, Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley made his career of stealing ‘black music’.

“The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I’m doin’ now, man, for more years than I know. They played it like that in their shanties and in their juke joints and nobody paid it no mind ’til I goosed it up. I got it from them. Down in Tupelo, Mississippi, I used to hear old Arthur Crudup bang his box the way I do now and I said if I ever got to a place I could feel all old Arthur felt, I’d be a music man like nobody ever saw.”

This just proves that Americans were never willing to give blacks a chance. They assumed that whatever they did or accomplished could be more appreciated if it were done by ‘white’ man even if it less quality or less talented.What I am trying to convince is that National Basketball Association can be equally profitable or more profitable without African Americans leading the sport. African Americans have never been respected well in society, even in 2013 and that is a problem that must be fixed. We must give them more credit than they receive. What do you guys think?

What I am trying to convince is that National Basketball Association can be equally profitable or more profitable without African Americans leading the sport. African Americans have never been respected well in society, even in 2013 and that is a problem that must be fixed. We must give them more credit than they receive. What do you guys think?

Michael Jordan’s return to the NBA?

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I want to start off this article by wishing Michael Jeffrey Jordan a Happy belated 50th Birthday! Many people claim that Jordan is “The greatest basketball player of all time”, aka “The God” of basketball. Upon reading an article on espn.com about Jordan, I was arguing with my friend about Jordan’s legacy. My friend used a particular term that I felt offended by, blasphemous. I was offended because blasphemous means insulting religion or god and Jordan should not be placed at that level.

Let me explain a little about Michael Jordan. Jordan’s competitiveness was more powerful than the entire current NBA player’s motivation added together. You may be asking, as an athlete, shouldn’t every player have that edge in them? The answer is Yes! But Jordan’s competitiveness was a drug to him, he was addicted to winning. Often times, Jordan felt like he could not be disgraced or that he could do no wrong. Jordan would pick fights with his teammates for setting a tough pick, which lead Jordan to fall, Will Perdue, or when the players did not listen to what he wanted to do, Steve Kerr. In other words, he was not a locker room player. Jordan, with all his endorsements and being beloved by the media and fans, admittedly felt like he was god, that anything he did or was trying to do, he would be able to succeed. He acted as if everything he touched just turned into gold as he tried to prove it after winning his first three championships with the Chicago Bulls and retired to become a baseball player. Jordan had his first reality check during that time. He realized his love for basketball and went back to the sport, winning yet another three championships for the Chicago Bulls. In the year 1999, Jordan has called for his second retirement but he missed the sport so much that he bought a small percentage of the Washington Wizards and quickly recalled his retirement in 2001 to play for this organization, at the age of 40. In 2013, Jordan called for his third and final retirement and the world may never see a true competitor like Jordan again or will we?

Jordan, truly, believed that he “always thought I would die young,” The idea of Jordan turning old never ran through his head. He assumed he would be this 33 year old basketball player who had god supporting his every move! In his Hall of Fame speech, when Jordan’s name was called, Jordan started crying, not because he felt honored or privileged but accepting this reward would have to put an end of the only thing he loves, playing basketball. Now Michael Jordan is the minority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Being the owner of Bobcats, along with inability to play the game, had put Jordan on depression. The Charlotte Bobcats are not one of the worst, but they are THE worst team ever in basketball history. Having an owner like Jordan, whose only desire to win championships and watching his team struggle has given Jordan immense problems.

A part of his depression also has to a lot to do with his attitude. Like I mentioned above, Jordan was not a locker room player. As he admitted in the interview, Jordan’s only right hand man is his limo driver who he met on the first day of work, George Koehler. Scottie Pippen and the rest of the Hall of Famers Jordan played alongside with did not associate with Jordan after their basketball careers were complete. Jordan was not loved by many. For example, when Jordan was shooting a commercial, his favorite chef, Linda, would prepare all of Jordan’s meals and Jordan would spit on all his meals to prevent his security guards from eating it. These are the kind of actions that lead people away from Jordan. The sad part of Jordan’s career was that he was a multi-billion dollar talent but yet, deceived into only receiving $500 million. Many of you may say to yourself, give me 500 million dollars any day. Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley are 500 million dollar products today and I just placed Jordan on that list.

I like reminiscing. I do it more now watching basketball than anything. Man, I wish I was playing right now. I would give up everything now to go back and play the game of basketball.

The fact of the matter is that Jordan would give up all that, in a heartbeat, if he had the chance to be 30 again. Michael Jordan today is border line suicidal. Kobe Bryant, as a child, used to wake up at 4am and practice with his coach until 6am, come to school, practice more basketball after school, went home and completed his homework and then came back out to practice more. Bryant is that much of a hard worker and yet, many people argue that he should not be placed in the same sentence as Jordan. All Jordan knows is how to play basketball and him not being able to play is slowly breaking him apart. In 2009, Michael Jordan was inducted into the Hall of Fame where he said

One day you might look up and see me playing the game at 50. Oh don’t laugh, never say never!

As of right now, Jordan is trying to lose 60 pounds, currently at 278, which will place him at 218, which was his average weight for when he played and astonished the world. Is a comeback into the National Basketball League possible? I say no!