Friday, February 02, 2007

Sorry I've been gone so long......

Hopefully I will be able to get back to posting on here more frequently.....I had a job change and some other stuff come up that has kept me away, but I'm back and hopefully I'll be around more. As for what brought me back......well it would be my affiliation to NC State (alumni). I couldn't help myself when I saw this article on Time.com. For those who don't know there is much animosity between NC State fans and UNC fans. Long running jokes and pranks have gone on for years between the two. One of which is the "claim" that the majority of the male student body at UNC is "a little light in their loafers." Though this is by no means fact......speculation will only be fueled (or confirmed) thanks to this: Truth?

Coming up this Saturday the two teams will face off in what by all accounts should be a blow out, but, thanks to an upset this past Wednesday, State fans have something to cheer about! I also wouldn't be surprised to see students toting signs on the sideline that look a little something like this:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What sports is all about....

This past weekend I decided to watch the ESPY Awards on ESPN in hopes to relive some of the best moments in sports from the past year and I was reminded of the reason why I love sports so much. Numerous categories came and went displaying the outstanding play of individuals and teams, reminding us of the amazing run of the Chicago White Sox, the Florida Gators, and the Pittsburgh Steelers; along with the amazing individual achievements of Tiger Woods, Lance Amstrong, and Annika Sorenstam. While watching this, I found myself engrossed in the highlights and the flashy graphics and I thought this is great. I remember that touchdown.....I remember that jumpshot.....I remember that homerun.........and then I remember my favorite moment of the year. The moment that reminded me of how great sports can be. ESPN was currently presenting the ESPY for the "Best Moment."

The nominees:

Kobe Bryant - 81 points in a single game, second greatest scoring effort by an individual in the history of the NBA. An amazing night for those who watched.

George Mason University - 11th seed Mid-Major school defies the odds by knocking off UCONN to become the first Mid-Major program to advance to the Final Four. An incredible story of a school that no one saw coming.

Dakoda Dowd - 13 year girl who fulfilled her terminally ill mother's dream of seeing her daughter play on the LPGA tour. Birdied the first hole on a very inspirational day.

Jason McElwain - autistic highschool senior who managed the basketball team at his school was given the opportunity to play the last 4 minutes of the game on senior night and proceeded to knock down 6 three pointers en route to a 20 point game. The crowd in gym saw something truly amazing that night.

Not one of the these performances deserved to lose this award as they were all amazing accomplishments, but when it comes to the "Best Moment" I think the fans got it right when they selected........

Monday, July 10, 2006

How to ruin a legacy.......

Millions upon millions of people around the world, both young and old, were treated to a "How to...." clinic this week in shocking fashion. France "poster boy" Zinedine Zidane taught the world "How to" destroy a legacy, "How to" ruin an image, and "How not to" show good sportsmanship. Zidane came out of retirement for this year's World Cup to help France overcome its youth and slight disarray and showed the world that at age 34 he still had what it takes to be a dominant player on the grandest stage. I heard numerous announcers speak in the highest regards of Zidane throughout the tournament, placing his name alongside some of the greatest of all-time.....Pelé.....Maradona......He and Renaldo (Brazil) are considered two of the best in the modern era. Renaldo overcame criticism for his weight and became the most prolific World Cup scorer of all-time. Zidane overcame the criticism that he was too old by leading his team to the World Cup final and then he ruined the storybook ending with a disgraceful act that he will be remembered for above all of his accomplishments.

In the second half of the overtime, Zidane and Italian defender Marco Materazzi found themselves in an interesting and unsuspecting situation. Materazzi had grabbed a handful of Zidane's jersey just as a French attack on goal passed harmlessly by. The two exchanged words as they walked back up the field, well behind the play. Then, without warning, Zidane spun around, lowered his head and rammed Materazzi, knocking him to the ground. Wild claims are being made in regard to what Materazzi may have said, but what is true or false is only conjecture at this point as Zidane's agent, Alain Migliaccio, was quoted by the BBC as saying the France captain told him the Italian "said something very serious to him, but he wouldn't tell me what."

No matter what may or may not have been said, it goes without saying that a star, leader, or role model (all of the above fit here) all should know to be the "bigger man" and not ever react in the manner in which he did. That was one of the single most disgraceful and disturbing acts I have ever witnessed in any sport. Many were disgusted with Wayne Rooney's (England) stomping of a Porturguese player in their match, but at least his action was potentially an accident. Zidane's was blatant and can not under any circumstances be justified.

The only thing that may have been more of a disgrace then this heinous act is the fact the Zidane was awarded with the Golden Ball for the MVP of the World Cup. Voting for this award takes place after the final match and despite Zidane's stellar play throughout the World Cup, he should not have garnered a single vote once his head slammed into Materazzi's chest. A number of players were as deserving of the award on skill alone (Cannavaro, Buffon, Pirlo, Ribery, Henry), but one thing set them apart from Zidane and it was not a charateristic that should have won the award for him.

Maybe Zidane is the one who needs a "How to"..........in sportsmanship.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

World Cup Final - Italy vs. France

In a battle for bragging rights.....two European teams will meet this Sunday in what should be a match loaded with intrigue and excitement. Italy and France are two perennial forces in the soccer world who have fought through tough matches this week to reach a much anticipated final.

Italy and Germany fought back and forth for over 118 minutes denying the precious goal that would end a grueling match of two of the strongest teams in this year's World Cup, when Andrea Pirlo got his own rebound and place a well timed pass on the foot of Fabio Grosso who struck a beautifully bending ball around Germany's Lehmann. With only a few minutes remaining in overtime Germany pressed on in hopes to score an equalizer to force PKs, but the veteran Alessandro Del Piero wanted nothing to do with that as he bent a shot around Lehmann on a break after receiving a very unselfish pass from Alberto Gilardino. Italy had locked up their spot in the final. Leaving France and Portugal to battle it out for the remaining spot.

France and Portugal arrived in the final after two hard fought wins over Brazil and England, respectively. The two teams were equals throughtout the match, but it was only fitting that Zinedine Zidane, France's Pele, knocked in the game winner in the 33rd minute on a PK after Thierry Henry had been fouled in the box. Zidane returned from retirement to play in this year's World Cup, proclaiming definitively that this would be his last. Apparently he was not ready to go home quite yet, setting up a potential storybook ending to an astounding career.

So now both teams rest and prepare for each other as the World sits on pins and needles waiting for this Sunday's final. What should be a fierce battle between a solid Italian team, that strives on its strong defense and depth of attackers, and veteran French team, that is riding its legends one last time in hopes for a chance to carry home the Cup.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What an amazing three days!!!!!!!

Wow......that's about all I can say. This has been an incredible three days for me. On Saturday afternoon I proposed to my girlfriend of 4 years and she said YES! It's been a long time coming and I'm so happy that we are taking the next step towards spending the rest of our lives together. She is an amazing woman and I love her very much. Then if things couldn't get any more exciting, I managed to get a ticket to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on the blue line, 15 rows from the ice! What an amazing spectacle to be a part of! I'm so very happy for the Canes and so very happy that I had the chance to experience a sporting event of that magnatude. Like I said I just don't know what to say.......Wow......Wow.

Friday, June 09, 2006

My Word is my Bond......maybe......part II

A little more intriguing information regarding the three examples I gave......one of the provisions specifically stated in the NLI:
19. If Coach Leaves. I understand I have signed this NLI with the institution and not for a particular sport or individual. If the coach leaves the institution or the sports program, I remain bound by the provisions of this NLI. I understand it is not uncommon for a coach to leave his or her coaching position.
If you ask me, that's pretty clearly spelled out. So a message to the recruits: You're going to college to become educated and to play basketball, just because a coach leaves doesn't mean you can't learn or play basketball.

My Word is my Bond........maybe.......

What is the deal with college recruits these days? Players are backing out of the National Letters of Intent (NLI) like it's going out of style. Excuses range from reasonable (coaching change) to ridiculous (unavailable playing time - shouldn't you have to work for it?). Understandably making this decision is a very important choice in a young man/woman's life, but shouldn't a life lesson be learned here? If you are going to sign a contract, read it in its entirety and understand all of it, because once you sign your name on the dotted line then you are bound by the contractual agreement........right?

Here are a few things that have been bouncing around in my head lately that have me wondering what is going on with the NCAA and recruiting. I've recently discovered that the NLI that highschool seniors sign is not actually governed by the NCAA. The Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) is the group that administers the NLI as a contractual agreement between the University and the player. This system was put into place in 1964 as a way for players to ensure they would receive one of the available scholarships at the University in question, otherwise the University would have the right to give the scholarship to a higher rated player as late as the day before classes began. I have read the NLI and it is clearly written to protect the player, but there are a few provisions that protect the University as well.

The National Letter of Intent has many advantages to both prospective
student-athletes and participating educational institutions:

  • Once a National Letter of Intent is signed, prospective student-athletes are no longer subject to further recruiting contacts and calls.
  • Student-athletes are assured of an athletics scholarship for one full academic year. (If not for the National Letter of Intent program, a student could find his or her scholarship taken by a more highly recruited student only weeks or days before classes begin.)
  • Institutions can be certain that once the student-athlete has signed a Letter of Intent, there is no need to continue recruiting for that position. (Without the program, last-minute changes by student-athletes could open scholarships and positions on teams.)
  • By emphasizing student-athletes' commitments to educational institutions, not particular coaches or teams, the program focuses university athletics on educational objectives. The program promotes student-athletes' academic objectives and helps to sustain the amateur nature of college sports.

Unlike some contracts that a person may have to sign in the course of their lifetime (starting a job, buying a car/house, getting married, etc.), all of the verbiage utilized in the NLI is highschool level writing and should be easily understood by a player with the academic ability to enter into the University in question. So I'm not really sure why so many players are backing out of their NLIs and getting away with it. Don't get me wrong I know that there is the transfer policy that dictates that a player sit out an entire year prior to playing for the new University, but players (already in college) are appealing these rulings. As for highschool players, they are trying to get out of their NLIs before they even get to school and they don't want to be penalized for it either. Here's a couple examples of players, what they have done, and why (good and bad):

Larry Davis - BAD - NC State basketball recruit who wished to re-open his recruitment because Herb Sendek left (this is covered in the NLI as not a reason to get out of NLI) - NC State granted a conditional release stating the Davis would be allowed out of his NLI if he gave new Coach Sidney Lowe a chance to recruit him prior to making a decision (school = accommodating) - Davis elected to disregard his end of the deal and his since committed to Seton Hall and hopes to receive a full release (player = not accommodating) - In my opinion he should not be given a full release.

Dennis Horner - GOOD - NC State basketball recruit who was granted, without request, a conditional release in the same manor as Davis when Sendek left (school = accommodating) - Horner briefly considered his options and re-affirmed that he would be attending NC State, because he made a commitment to play here and felt it was the right move both athletically and academically (player = accommodating) - Bravo Dennis!

Dan Werner - GOOD - NC State basketball recruit who was granted, per his request, a conditional release in the same manor as Davis and Horner (school = accommodating) - Werner is considering his options at Kentucky and Florida, but, per the agreement with NC State, has stated on multiple occasions that he plans to give Coach Lowe and chance to sit down with him before he makes any decisions (player = accommodating) - In my opinion, if he meets with Coach Lowe and decides NC State is no longer the right fit, then I think NC State should give him the full release, but only if he properly files for release like his contract states he should.

I'm using these three as examples, because I am most familiar with their particular situations. Players all over the country are withdrawing from commitments and changing schools. According to the NLI bylaws a player can only be granted a full release by the University or through the appeal process in which the NLI Steering Committee must determine that there were "extenuating circumstances," which is determined on a case by case basis. The coaching change is most commonly used as the reason for decommitting, but according to Torie Johnson - director of the NLI program - a coaching change -- by itself -- does not constitute "extenuating circumstances." However, in recent years, many players who initially approached the steering committee because of a coaching change ultimately found other grounds to win their appeals.

So after all of this I am led to wonder......who holds more power these days - a 100 year old University with honor, tradition, and strong academics or an 18 year old kid who thinks everything should be handed to him on a silver platter?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Little Background Info......

My name is Joe Borrelli. I'm a 25 year old native of Endicott, NY. I moved to Raleigh, NC in December of 1996 and currently still live in Raleigh. I have a BS in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University, Class of 2004. I have been an avid sports fan since I can remember. I grew up playing and/or following a number of sports ranging from football and baseball to lacrosse and racquetball (and everything in between).

Of all the sports, the NFL is my passion. I grew up a die hard Oakland Raiders fan; attending numerous games with my dad and friends on father/son trips whenever they would come to the east coast. I've seen games at Cleveland, Cincinnati, New York, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, New England, and most recently Carolina. I was too young to remember the last Super Bowl win and old enough to be crushed by the last Super Bowl loss, but I go into each year confident that the team we have might be the one that finally wins it all.

As far as MLB, I'm a huge Chicago White Sox fan and after suffering through 15 years of mediocrity and disappointment; I was finally able to experience the joy of a World Series Championship. I was so happy that my childhood team was finally able to bring home the hardware! Hopefully this season they can do it all over again and prove that it wasn't a fluke.

Admittedly I'm not a huge fan of the NBA or NHL, but I do follow the New Jersey Nets and since moving to Raleigh, I've become a Carolina Hurricanes fan. As for the Nets, what can I say they continue to get me excited every year and they prove all their critics right, that "you can't win without a big man." As for the Canes, it's been an interesting ride. They're the former Hartford Whalers, a team whose farm club I grew up watching near my hometown (Binghamton Whalers), so they seemed like the logical choice of team to follow. Well I'll admit it's worked out well these past few years and I hope to get to see them win the Stanley Cup this time around.

In the NCAA, I grew up a Syracuse fan and a Kentucky fan. Syracuse for proximity (I lived an hour from the Carrier Dome) and Kentucky for the style of play and tradition. I spent many a night at the Carrier Dome growing up, watching the likes of Derrick Coleman and Lawrence Moten on the hardwood, Marvin Graves and Qadry Ismail on the gridiron, and the Gait Brothers on the lacrosse field. I loved Kentucky basketball, because I grew up playing for a coach that ran the same style offense that Coach Pitino ran and I always tried to envision myself as one of the players out on the court. Though I still follow both schools and root for them to do well; I'm definitely a fan of the NC State Wolfpack. Shortly after moving to Raleigh I had to make a choice: be a State fan or a Carolina fan? I attended a State football game and new this was the team for me, but not wanting to make a biased decision I went to a Carolina game as well and when I was asked to turn down my music at the tailgate and observed fans actually using table clothes and "fine china" to eat their food, I knew my initial instinct had not steered me in the wrong direction. From 1999 to 2004, I attended as many games as I could for both football and basketball, basking in the upsets and monumental victories and just as often suffering after the tough loss or occasional blowout. Since graduating I am now a season ticket holder to both sports and plan to remain one as long as I can. Someday, hopefully sooner then later, I hope that NC State will have the chance to bring home a National Championship in both sports.

For those of you who know me, I'm surprised you're still reading this, but maybe you learned something new. For those of you who've just met me, I hope you come back and continue to read my thoughts and opinions and look forward to your comments on what I have to say. Since this is my first post I'm not sure yet how often I will be updating the site, but I hope to eventually get to the point where I will be providing new links and info each day and a new post at least once a week, so check back frequently and I will do my best to keep you up to date on the wide world of sports.