One weekend of the Olympics is in the book and The Stack has been watching a lot of it. Some thoughts from the weekend coming up, but there are other stories grabbing some national attention as well so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, February 10:
Marcus Smart suspended 3 games
An ugly incident took place in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday night involving Oklahoma State men's basketball point guard Marcus Smart. Late in the game with only seconds to go, Texas Tech got a loose ball and went in for a layup. Smart tried to block it and picked up a foul, his momentum taking him into the stands. No big deal. It was a hard foul. However, as Smart was getting back onto the court, he had an altercation with a fan, turned around and shoved him. Clearly something was said to Smart, otherwise he would have not gone back. The OK State radio team said they heard Smart tell the coaching staff that the fan hurled a racial comment towards him. Smart was given a technical, but was not ejected.
Oklahoma State and the Big 12 didn't wait long to act. Smart has been suspended three games for the incident. His first game back will be against none other than Texas Tech. For his part, the fan, Jeff Orr, says he didn't say anything racial. He released a statement reading in part, "I regret calling Mr. Smart a 'piece of crap' but I want to make it known that I did not use a racial slur of any kind." Regardless if he did or he didn't, Orr's actions were inappropriate. He acknowledged that. Smart also released a statement apologizing to a number of people. Smart said "This is not how I (conduct) myself, this is not how this program is ran. This is not how I was raised. I let my emotions get the best of me...." Smart has made headlines a few times, taking blame for fouling out and losing his composure. Isn't the first time it's happened, but hopefully this last incident will be the last. If he learns from this and can be a better person both on and off the court, then this was a good thing. If not, we'll all be left with some questions. If Metta World Peace says Smart can learn from this and be better, then Smart should listen. Who better than to talk about this sort of thing than the guy who was at the heart of the Malice at the Palace.
NFL Draft prospect says he's gay
After last year when questions were posed to players at the NFL Combine about their sexuality, the NFL has been embracing for that first active openly gay player to make an announcement. The moment has arrived. Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman at Missouri has announced that he is gay. Sam is entering the NFL Draft, and if drafted would be the first openly gay player in the NFL. He told his Mizzou teammates last year and they have embraced him. They've supported him. That's what any NFL locker room should do.
Of course we know that this is not how it most likely will work in the NFL. This should bear no weight at all on an NFL team's decision to draft him. Being gay has no relevance on rushing the quarterback or stuffing the run. If team's have an issue or are worried, they should work on getting a better locker room, because the guys in that locker room will only make things worse on a guy like Sam. The Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation could be but a ripple compared to what Sam may experience if teams try to make a big deal of it. Good job Michael Sam. Hope this decision to come out now doesn't hurt your dream of playing in the NFL.
Winter Olympic thoughts
As the third day of the Olympics starts, it has been a pretty interesting start so far. We've seen great moments so far. The opening ceremonies were a tremendous display of Russian culture and was very well done apart from the snoflake that was supposed to turn into the fifth Olympic ring that didn't work. As for the competition itself, team USA swept gold in slopestyle snowboarding (Sage Kotsenburg, Jamie Anderson). The slopestyle event is making its inaugural Olympic debut and is the event that Shawn White pulled out of after he injured his wrist in a practice run. In the women's competition, Czech Republic's Sarka Pancochova took a nasty spill and hit her head on the ground so hard that it cracked her helmet. She is doing ok though from all indications. All in all, not a bad debut.
Another sport making its Olympic debut is team figure skating. All individual events with a point system. Team with the most points at the end wins gold. The host country picked up their first gold medal of the 2014 Winter Olympic games in this event thanks to stellar skating all across the board. The future of women's skating appears to be in the hands of 15-year old Yulia Lipnitskaya. She was outstanding. USA picked up a bronze medal in the event.
Men's alpine skier Bode Miller was great in practice runs this week, but when it came down to the gold medal run, Miller didn't have his best ride down the mountain which runs two miles. These guys are going 70-85 MPH! That is incredibly fast. Anyway, Miller finished sixth, incredibly disappointing for him and for team USA as Miller seemed like a shoe-in to pick up a medal.
And it was the quite the finish in the men's skiathlon Sunday. After an hour of grueling skiing, Switzerland's Dario Cologna made a move to break through a pack of about a half-dozen racers and held off everyone else to win gold. Sweden won silver, but the real race was for bronze where Russia barely just got edged out by Norway. Russia has protested the results, but to no avail. What a race though.
It stinks that most of these events aren't live or if they are, they're in the wee hours of the morning up until noon. NBC does a phenomenal job covering the Olympics and I hope it never leaves their station, but some decisions confuse me like having two announcing teams cover the same event (figure skating), but showing it live on NBCSN and then during primetime on NBC. I understand that figure skating is likely to be the event that drives the ratings ticker, but it still doesn't make a lot of sense. Events like the luge, bobsled and more are really interesting and deserve more airtime. Ratings is the only reason I can think of for NBC doing this.
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics ar ejust getting started. Can't wait for many more days and hours of competition.
I'm tweeting throughout the Olympics on events (some live and some in primetime). Won't give any results ahead of when I see them. Follow me on Twitter @ndstacken.
Coming up Tuesday: Olympics update plus another top story or two