Archived Story

What qualifies as disrespect in today’s sports?

Published 10:30am Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Last week in this space, I talked about how the word ‘commitment’ has taken on new meaning in the world of sports. After reading my cohort Andy Graham’s article last week, I realized that the word ‘disrespect’ has changed too.
Well, maybe not changed per se, but it has definitely been overused. This is not to point blame at Andy, mind you. His article just made me think about the topic.
If you remember, last week Andy wrote that Auburn is already being short-changed in 2014 because a few publications had the Tigers finishing second in the SEC West behind Alabama. I suppose logic would dictate that a team returning as much as Auburn should be the favorite in their division, but is picking a team that has won three of the last five national titles over Auburn (slightly, mind you) locker-room posting material? Does it truly qualify as being disrespected?
Meanwhile, Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun newspaper picked Auburn NUMBER ONE IN THE COUNTRY  for 2014! Does that mean Dooley is disrespecting Alabama, Florida State and Oregon?
What about LSU? Most mags have them finishing third in the SEC West. If Auburn was disrespected being selected second, LSU – a team that beat AU pretty good last year – has to feel doubly dissed. Texas A&M, Mississippi and Mississippi State even more so.
Just because a publication believes your team will go 10-2 instead of 14-0, doesn’t mean they have disdain for your program. Alabama brings a ton of talent back in 2014, too. Selecting them over Auburn in a tight SEC race is not unbelievable. If the magazine had selected Arkansas, maybe there would be an argument.
I think it is more about fans’ and players’ desires to manufacture motivation than it is about really being disrespected. Listen to any interview after any game in any sport and one player from the winning squad will inevitably say that the lack of respect from the media helped propel them to victory (even if they were 40-point favorites headed into the game).
I remember the Seahawks feeling scorned because the Broncos were favored by two points in the Super Bowl. TWO POINTS!
Now, Seattle blew Denver’s doors off, but that line seemed pretty fair in the beginning. Odds are based on stats and history (along with some guesswork), but the games themselves are moving targets that ebb and flow.
Take last year’s Iron Bowl: The spread was Alabama -10, but Auburn won by six (as I am sure you remember). Does that mean Vegas is filled with anti-Auburn odds makers who hold contempt for the Tigers?
Heck no. Not even Vegas could have known Alabama would miss multiple field goals or fail to convert a few fourth and one situations.
If the Tide converts on a couple of those situations, the score may have ended just as they predicted. But ‘Bama didn’t convert them, and that game took on a life of its own apart from the determined script as some games are apt to do.
Every sports enthusiast thinks their team is being undervalued when some talking head says their squad will not finish number one in the country.
Hear me out here: Prognosticators gonna prognosticate! It’s not that they hold disregard for your team; it’s more about their editor telling them to write something to generate talking points!
Every single preseason magazine I have seen has Auburn finishing in the top ten for 2014, and they are being disrespected?! Where should they be ranked? Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4?
I don’t mean to pick on Auburn alone, either. Alabama fans do this too.
I sat in Miami as some ‘Bama fans said that Notre Dame didn’t respect the Tide pre-game back in 2013.
Ummm … yeah, they did. Their players and fans just had confidence in their abilities as any team should.
Now, it didn’t work out for the Golden Domers, but I can assure you that squad anything but lack of respect for their opponent.
Auburn earned respect last year and in my view they are getting it in the summer publications. Alabama has earned respect over the last several years, and they are getting theirs, too.
To pick one over the other in 2014 isn’t showing contempt; it’s a coin toss.
Robinson is a sports columnist for The Outlook.