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The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College 
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Post The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/simmons/index


The podcast player is on the right side of the page.


This is, what I believe, one of the better debates in sports; college basketball against professional basketball. I think both sides have excellent points, although I'll withhold ultimate judgement for now. What do you think?


Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:21 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
I think it's a fun argument, but I don't think it's a good one.

I like to watch the best basketball played by the best players: therefore I prefer the NBA. Of course, I love college ball too, and March Madness is obviously fantastic. However, the reason its so great is because of the upsets and close games, which are too often the result of bad basketball, not good basketball.

So no knock on college ball of its fans, but the idea that it in any sense is better basketball is insane. If you find it more entertaining, fine. Me personally, I like my product the best it can be.


Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:35 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
For me it's easily college basketball. I agree with Shade: if you want the best play, watch the NBA, but for entertainment's sake nothing beats the NCAA. To me the NBA is de-personalized, full of egos, and quite frankly it bores me a lot. College basketball however has the best playoff system in sports and the crowds are much more into it. The games are shorter so each play means more, and the season's shorter too so that upsets actually mean something. Yes, a lot of times bad basketball is the cause of the excitement in the sport, but I don't think it's bad enough that it's unwatchable for me. (And for the record, I do like the NFL much more than college football, though)

Go Villanova!


Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:59 am
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
I prefer college basketball to the NBA by a mile. I guess it's not better basketball, but it's a hell of a lot more entertaining to watch.

First, the structure of the game itself in college is better. Two halfs--instead of four quarters--lends a better flow to the game. There's a clear arc to the game over two halves where the second half is a slow build to an exciting conclusion (in a close game). In the NBA, the breakup between quarters somehow artificially kills momentum and you don't get the same sense of building to a climax. It's sort of the difference between a well-structured 3 act movie and one that is essentially episodic. The episodic movie can still be great (Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou, Watchmen), but on the whole the 3 act play will make for a better movie. The four media timeouts per half in college are a bit extreme, however, and do break the game up a bit too much. If college switched to three media timeouts--every five minutes--it would help things even more.

Second, the season is structured better. There are a few important games in late November and December, and then a ton of important games in February and March. It's much easier to focus on the games and follow the season when it isn't sprawled evenly over more than half a year. Also the gradual buildup to the tournament--with regular season games becoming increasingly important as February ends, then the conference tournaments to cement seeding and secure automatic NCAA bids, then the tournament itself. It all builds to the ridiculous climax that is the extended weekend of the first round. That Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday run is by far the best four day stretch of any sport.

Third, the play itself is more fun to watch in college. A lot of this I guess is the result of less talent, but the college game tends to be more intense than the NBA game. It helps that each player only has to play around 35 games instead of 82 or more, and only plays twice a week.

Only in the last 3 or 4 years have I even come back around to being able to watch the NBA at all--like Bill Simmons I credit the Phoenix Suns and the tweaking of the rules. For me, the closest the NBA has come to putting out as good an entertainment product as the college game was the Golden State Warriors' run in the playoffs a couple years ago. Not only were they the rare NBA Cinderella, their style of play would have been home in any college gym. Their series against the Jazz, even though it only went 5 games, was some of the most exciting NBA basketball I've ever seen.

As much as I prefer college basketball to the NBA, the margin by which I prefer college football over the NFL is even greater. Of course all of this may have something to do with the fact that I've been a student at the University of Florida for the last seven years, and have had some of the best basketball and football games in the country within 5 miles of my apartment.


Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:23 am
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
I do not get liking college football over pro football. Nonsense.


As for college basketball, yeah, Bones has some very good points. I don't know, I seem to prefer the NBA as it has a sense of magnitude that the college game doesn't have. You can win a bunch of NCAA titles, but if you don't win in the NBA, you're considered anywhere from second tier to a flop. I do think the NBA season is unnecessarily long by say, 20 or more games, but it's also nowhere near as ridiculous as baseball's novel-esque season. As for playoffs, well, I like the sudden death nature of the NCAA's, but it's also symptomatic of why winning a title doesn't comparatively 'mean' anything against hoisting an NBA Finals trophy after a hard, and well-earned, 7 game series (not that the Finals go seven games, anymore - Los Angeles - but I digress).


Mon Mar 16, 2009 12:41 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
Evenflow8112 wrote:
I do not get liking college football over pro football. Nonsense.


And I absolutely cannot fathom how anyone is more entertained by the average pro game than the average college game. Must just be a matter of taste, I guess.

Evenflow8112 wrote:
As for playoffs, well, I like the sudden death nature of the NCAA's, but it's also symptomatic of why winning a title doesn't comparatively 'mean' anything against hoisting an NBA Finals trophy after a hard, and well-earned, 7 game series (not that the Finals go seven games, anymore - Los Angeles - but I digress).


The NBA definitely has a playoffs that results, as accurately as possible in a sports league, in the crowning of the best team as champion. But most years only maybe 2 or 3 series are worth watching, while the rest are uncompetitive and/or boring. The ultimate result of NBA basketball may "mean" more, but the NCAA Tournament isn't meaningless, and is many times more entertaining than the NBA playoffs. I think Klosterman made this point, saying something like: the point of sports isn't really to crown some team or another a "worthy" champion, it is to entertain the fans.


Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:51 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
Don't get me wrong, I don't think the NCAAA championship is meaningless, but if you want to gauge the disparity of the importance between college championships and professional ones, just look at Larry Brown's resume. Desperacy seems a polite word.


My only problem with Klosterman's point is that it can be argued as to whether or not basketball players do what they do for the fans, and what they do for their own career progress, and whether or not placing all of the power at the feet of the fans is really accurate. Then it comes down to who needs who more, or at least a matter of the chicken and the egg. This is where it gets interesting for me.


Mon Mar 16, 2009 3:24 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
Evenflow8112 wrote:
My only problem with Klosterman's point is that it can be argued as to whether or not basketball players do what they do for the fans, and what they do for their own career progress, and whether or not placing all of the power at the feet of the fans is really accurate. Then it comes down to who needs who more, or at least a matter of the chicken and the egg. This is where it gets interesting for me.


Since I am a fan, and not a player, I'll prefer the sport that caters more to the fan. That "puts more power at the feet of the fans." I don't think there is such a thing as one being objectively better than the other. But based on what I look for in a sports league, college is superior. Then again, I like baseball, and it's all the things college basketball is not--sprawling, boring, horribly paced and structured, etc. Maybe Simmons is right when he says he probably prefers the NBA and NFL because he grew up in the northeast. Whereas maybe I prefer college football because I grew up in Florida and prefer college basketball because I go to a university with a good basketball team.


Mon Mar 16, 2009 11:45 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
I don't care about basketball on any level. Unless I paid money and filled out a bracket. This year I didn't so I don't care.


Tue Mar 17, 2009 3:08 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
I'll take the NBA.

March Madness is designed to get the best 64 teams into a highly competitve environment to produce a winner. The downside is that in a single elimination tournament, the best team isn't always going to win. That's a bit of a contradiction to me. They want they competitiveness, but they don't care about the best team winning. Plus, the quality of basketball is vastly inferior. The reason that so many college games are so close is because the kids either make huge mistakes or can't make free throws to close games. Granted, not all NBA players can make free throws, but NBA coaches have the luxury of putting a bench player in at the end of the game just to make free throws and not really worry about him making egregious errors to cost the team a game. College coaches can't really do this. Those same bench players are usually very young or walk-on players who aren't very good.

The only knocks I see against the NBA are the overlong season and the effort of players. The overlong season is something that has been around for a long time and it isn't going anywhere. The flip side is that after 82 games, the teams are seeded correctly for the playoffs. If you shorten it by 20 games, playing well for the first half of the season will assure you a high seed that you may not deserve when the playoffs begin. As for the effort, the same can be said about baseball. It is humanly impossible to go all out, 100%, for 82 (or 162) games. Guys needs rest, and mentally you just can't get up for that many games. You can't fool your mind into thinking that game 38 in an 82 game season is terribly important. When the playoffs come, the NBA is the best basketball in the world, and that's what I enjoy watching.


Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:34 am
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
Personally I prefer college basketball. I don't watch the pros. A lot of the time they seem to just go through the motions of playing in order to get a paycheck. The passion is missing. College basketball, however, is exciting.

PeachyPete wrote:
I'll take the NBA.

March Madness is designed to get the best 64 teams into a highly competitve environment to produce a winner. The downside is that in a single elimination tournament, the best team isn't always going to win. That's a bit of a contradiction to me. They want they competitiveness, but they don't care about the best team winning.


Sorry PeachyPete, and no offense to you, but I can't stand this argument. If the best team should always win, why not just crown Louisville, the #1 overall seed, the national champions now? Why bother having a postseason and wasting everyone's time? Should we take the Lombardi Trophy away from Pittsburgh and give it to Tennessee because they had the best record? Of course not. The whole point of the postseason is to prove who is the best team. Just because the best team going in to the postseason doesn't always win does not mean the system is flawed. It means that maybe they weren't actually the best team. Some one earlier in this discussion mentioned Golden State's run a few years ago. Do you really think that they were in fact better than the Mavericks? I sure don't. But for that series they were. So even in a playoff series as opposed to a single elimination tournament the "best team" can be defeated. Again, it doesn't mean the system is flawed. That's what makes playoffs so exciting. Anyone can have a great run and win the whole thing. It's unpredictable. The best team doesn't always win because they shouldn't. That would make playoffs in any sport pointless and boring.


Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:28 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
... and completely unrewarding to athletes who spend their seasons elevating their teams, only to lose one game and have it all unravel. This works in college, because, hey, they're college kids, but if you tried this in the NBA, you would see a swift kick in the ass from players to the league.


Also, if I may; fuck the Tennessee Titans of 2008. What an overrated, lackluster, strung-togther-by-string-cheese rag-tag one-and-done buncha' phonies. The reason I disagree, Mike, is because the best team in the league doesn't always have the best record - look at Pittsburgh and New York's schedule and look at Tennessee's - but that the regular season sets up the postseason. In the NFL, a one-game approach to playoffs makes sense, because the season itself is only 16 games per team. They are used to the idea of having one game change their regular season destiny. Happens all the time (this is why I love the NFL so much). The NBA has 82 games, the MLB has a million and five. Having a one-game playoff series for each is almost cruel, and utterly inaccurate. Comparing these to a shorter college season with two-quarter games is almost laughable.


Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:21 am
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
Evenflow8112 wrote:
... and completely unrewarding to athletes who spend their seasons elevating their teams, only to lose one game and have it all unravel. This works in college, because, hey, they're college kids, but if you tried this in the NBA, you would see a swift kick in the ass from players to the league.


Also, if I may; fuck the Tennessee Titans of 2008. What an overrated, lackluster, strung-togther-by-string-cheese rag-tag one-and-done buncha' phonies. The reason I disagree, Mike, is because the best team in the league doesn't always have the best record - look at Pittsburgh and New York's schedule and look at Tennessee's - but that the regular season sets up the postseason. In the NFL, a one-game approach to playoffs makes sense, because the season itself is only 16 games per team. They are used to the idea of having one game change their regular season destiny. Happens all the time (this is why I love the NFL so much). The NBA has 82 games, the MLB has a million and five. Having a one-game playoff series for each is almost cruel, and utterly inaccurate. Comparing these to a shorter college season with two-quarter games is almost laughable.


I agree about the Titans. They weren't the best team, but they did have the best record, which is an objective way of saying they were the top team. But fortunately they got exposed fairly quickly. My argument wasn't for either a one-game playoff system such as in the NFL or NCAA, or for a series like the MLB and NBA. My argument was against using the "best team" analogy to argue for either/or. I'm just fine with the playoff systems as they are now (except for the BCS, but that's a whole other discussion).

And you bring up an interesting point: by what measures should the "best team" be picked? Like you said and I agreed with, the Titans had the best record, but were clearly not the best team. Louisville was picked as the number one overall seed for the tournament, yet I don't have them in the Final Four. So using the best team analogy is flawed because there is no objective way to decide which team is in fact the best. I say, let the players decide through the playoffs. Whichever team comes out on top is the best. Therefore, the best team does in fact always win.


Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:16 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
Mkrater, that argument makes perfect sense. The point of the playoffs is to find out who the best team is. Otherwise, why have them? Therefore, the point is the best team should always win. Since the entire point of having playoffs is to crown which team is best, there is no logical way to argue that the best team shouldn't win. That would make the playoffs irrelevant. When it comes to crowning who is best, the NCAA tournament is pretty ineffective because the best team rarely wins.

For the record, I love March Madness, it's probably my favorite sporting event of the year. I love watching Cinderellas in the early rounds, and powerhouses match up in the later rounds. My issue is, the sport of basketball is one where lesser teams can always beat better ones (moreso than something like football). That's why the pro game uses 7 game series. If you beat a team 4 times out of 7, you're better. Plain and simple. On a one game basis though, who knows? Awful teams beat great ones, good ones, and decent ones all the time. This waters down the competition in the later rounds, because Cinderella has struck lightening in a bottle for a round or 2 and then they come back to earth.

Also, Louisville and UNC are the 2 best teams this year. Should they lose, that won't change my mind. If Louisville or UNC is upset in the second round, that doesn't prove anything. They're still the 2 best teams. That's why March Madness is ineffective in crowning the "best" team. It's just a ridiculously enjoyable tournament to watch.


Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:39 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
Hmmm, well I'm a fan of basketball. I recognize the differences and I enjoy both the college and pro hoops games for what they are. And I love both Chuck Klosterman and Bill Simmons for what they are, even if they're each a bit full of themselves. I guess this post is starting to seem pretty pointless because I'm basically just saying I have no opinion on this subject whatsoever.

Off topic a little, but I do wanna say that I don't get all the fucking of the 2008 Titans. They clearly outplayed and were superior to the Ravens, they just got sloppy and had a few too many bad breaks with Johnson's injury and whatnot. There really weren't any great teams in the NFL last year and I think Tennessee, with that dynamite defense of theirs, could easily have beaten Pittsburgh the following week.


Fri Mar 27, 2009 1:10 pm
Post Re: The Bill Simmons Chuck Klosterman Saga - aka Pro Vs. College
College sports seem to be more of an U.S. phenomenon. AFAIK there aren't any other countries that take none-pro sports as seriously.

It is nice that athletes can make so much money while studying though...

Quote:
"Alright dude, listen to me carefully. Do you think Shaq got rich playing in Orlando?"

"No, he got rich playing in college, everybody knows that."


Fri Mar 27, 2009 3:09 pm
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