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MSR’s “Late To The Party”: April 17, 2014

I think it’s safe to say that sports, like most things in life, is a fickle thing. Stories always have a short shelf life – let it pass you by – for even a second – and it’s old news. Especially in this current social media landscape, a breaking news story one minute is literally old news the next.

Well, not here, it’s not.

This is a new segment called “Late to the Party” – a requisite reprieve on sports stories gone by that I didn’t get a chance to talk about. Whether major, minor, or just caught my eye, these are some of the sports stories of the past – from a few days ago, to a few weeks ago, or even a few months ago – that I still have an opinion on.

So, let’s do this. Here we go:


Item: The NFL considering 42-yard extra points

From: March 4, 2014

The state of the extra point has been equated to an NFL afterthought over the length of the modern sport.

With this in mind, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Competition Committee are thinking about tweaking with it just a little bit.

Okay, okay. Maybe not that far.

Okay, okay. Maybe not moving it that far.

About 23 yards worth of tweaking, that is.

The story was first reported in early March, but reports of the league’s consideration of the rule change lingered for weeks. The 42-yard extra point rule was never brought up in a significant capacity at the NFL Owner’s Meeting at the end of March, but that didn’t stop a number of pundits from throwing in their two cents about the matter.

From NFL reporters to kickers, themselves, it was a mixed bag of opinions about the proposed rule change. As it stood, the rule would have had placekickers take an extra point attempt from the 25-yard line, rather than the customary 2-yard line.

The thought behind the change was that extra points, as currently situated, were simply too easy. According to NFL.com, the conversion rate on extra points is as high as it ever was, at 99.6 percent – statistically, a virtual lock for seven points made per touchdown play. Moving it back to a 42-yard try would reduce the conversion percentage rate to between 80 and 90 percent – a rate the NFL had not experienced for extra points since the 1940s, according to this Deadspin report.

Opponents of this rule bring out the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” argument: there is no reason to change a rule that no one really had a problem with in the first place. Then again, it is about the pure competition of the game. And if a large part of the game is essentially “automatic” in and of itself, then why continue to have it as part of the game? What’s the point?

The fact is, it would make the game, and the role of the placekicker, at least a little more interesting. I won’t argue that a 42-yard extra point is a drastic change, considering a placekicker will boot a 42-yard kick through around 9 out of 10 times, anyway. But the strategy behind an extra point from the 25-yard line vs. a two-point conversion from the 2-yard line just might change a few coaches’ offensive playbooks. You just never know.

Then again, NBC Sports’ Mike Florio argues that enacting a rule like this is a pointless, impractical alternative to the extra point rule currently in place. In that case, it would be best to just get rid of the extra point, and a major role of the placekicker, altogether.

I won’t argue much with that, either. All’s I know is, I certainly know one high-profile pundit who would laud the day placekickers would be eliminated from the NFL.

And seriously. Who wants this guy to be proven right?

And seriously. Who wants this guy to be proven right?


Item: Missy Franklin wins the Laureus Sport Award

From: March 26, 2014

If you paid attention to swimming at the 2012 London Olympic games, and you’re an American, two names should immediately pop into your head.

If those names were Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, then I highly underestimated Lochte’s overall popularity.

If those names, however, were Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin, then we’re definitely on the right vibe.

Considered the “female Phelps” at the previous Olympiad, Franklin was one of the American darlings at the London games.

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Or at least I thought so. Considering I couldn’t stop talking about her.

In any case, after winning five Olympic medals, including four golds, from the London Olympics, Franklin went back to a semi-normal life, despite her newfound fame. She was only 17 in 2012, which meant she was still deciding between going professional or going to college.

Apparently, she chose the latter, and joined the Cal Golden Bears’ swim team.

"Hi, everybody."

“Hi, everybody.”

Fast-forward two years, and Missy Franklin is now one of the best female athletes in the world. But don’t take my word for it: let Franklin’s recent win at the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards for Sportswoman of the Year speak for itself. Her victory was the first by an American woman since Lindsey Vonn in 2011, and is the youngest American woman to win the award (age 18 in 2014), surpassing Serena Williams (age 21 in 2003).

Franklin won the award based on her performance at the 2013 World Aquatic Championships. At the event in Barcelona, Franklin won six gold medals (three individual golds, three relay golds), including an American record in the 4 x 100m freestyle (3:32.31), and an event record at the 200m backstroke (2:04.76).

Seriously - how can this young woman NOT put a smile on your face?

Seriously – how can this young woman NOT put a smile on your face?

On top of that, Franklin was reportedly having a great time at her first year in college at Cal-Berkeley, calling her first semester “the best decision I ever made“.

Her accomplishments over the past year as a member of the Cal Golden Bears Swimming and Diving team include a 3rd place finish at the NCAA Championships, shattering the 200m freestyle record in the process. She also amassed a number of individual accolades, including Pac-12 Newcomer/Freshman of the Year. And it doesn’t look like she will end her time in college anytime soon.

Most likely, after the many college championships she will participate in over the next two years, her achievements will likely take her to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016, for the next Summer Olympic games.

For a girl who started in the London spotlight, and seems to have her feet firmly on the ground (and in the Cal swimming pool), I will be one of many who will be rooting for her in two years.


Item: Lindsey Vonn Moonlights as a Vail Employee

From: April 7, 2014

Speaking of Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award winners, it’s amazing that some of the most recognizable celebrities and sports stars can – at least, in certain instances – hide in plain sight. Famed Olympic skier, and girlfriend to one Eldrick “El Tigre” Woods, Lindsey Vonn put that hypothesis to the test last weekend at a Vail ski resort. While recovering from a recent knee surgery, She moonlighted as a ticket booth employee for the day, wearing a fairly flimsy disguise.

No. This was NOT her disguise.

No. This was NOT her disguise.

Surprisingly, not many people recognized the 5-time World Championship medalist and 2010 Vancouver Gold Medalist in the Downhill. But, again, don’t take my word for it – see for yourself:

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A few things to take away from the video:

  1. Referring to 2:14, did anyone else know that Vonn could speak fluent German? I’m sure it comes in handy spending a lot of time in Germany and Austria, but still – very impressive for her to just whip that skill out like that.
  2. The dude at 4:05 couldn’t have been more creepy. Seriously, bro, what makes you think saying stuff like that to anyone – let alone the actual Lindsey Vonn – is gonna grab you points? Dude, I hope you were trolling.
  3. I’m glad that the patrons were told that was actually Lindsey Vonn at the end of the video. The looks on some of their faces were priceless.

Here’s hoping she does more of those in the near-future. I’m sure it would go viral right quick and in a hurry.

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