Archive for the ‘Olympic Sports’ Category

2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 2

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by: 3rd Saturday in Blogtober

This week marks the second edition of the 2009 version of the Big Orange Roundtable and is hosted by the guys over at 3SIB..

Week 2

1)  We will start with an easy one.  Last week, our beloved Rock was relocated across the street to make room for a new building on campus.  What are your thoughts on the Rock’s relocation?

bullet HSH: Being a student, I actually have the slight advantage of seeing the change.  I drove by as the crane was lifting the behemoth out of the ground, and I’ve only seen it once since it’s been moved.  I have to say it’s going be to a little odd driving through the stoplight next to Stokely Athletic Center and the Thornton Athletic Student Center (where all the UT athletes get their school on), looking to my left and not seeing the Rock.  It might take a little bit of time to get used the change come the fall.

For me, it’s just another aspect of a common theme of my years here as a student.  Here’s what’s changed or been built since I came to Knoxville in the fall of 2006: all the recent renovations to Neyland Stadium, the makeover of Thompson-Boling Arena, Pratt Pavilion, a new soccer stadium, a new softball stadium, the brand new aquatic center.

And that’s just the changes on the athletics side of campus.  There’s also been the total change in the old Glocker Building, which has now become Haslam Business Building where all the business majors do their thing.  The Baker Policy Center was risen up on the corner of Cumberland Avenue and 17th Street, replacing the parking lot where my family parked for every game I came to up until I graduated from high school.  Those are two major projects, that I’ve seen started and completed in my days as a student.

Back to the Rock, my only contact with actually came before I was officially enrolled.  I had two of the more enthusiastic Orientation leaders, and late one night during the two-day event we got together and painted the thing.  I would have visual evidence to prove it, but my computer erased my hard drive awhile, thus I have nothing…

The Rock in its new Home

The Rock in its new Home

bullet Lawvol: First of all, I am glad that the Rock did not unceremoniously disappear from campus as a result of the new Student Health Center that is being constructed.  The worst thing imaginable would have been for the university to simply blow the thing up or what have you and cart it off.  I realize the process of relocating the Rock was both onerous and expensive, but I have to give a little credit to university administration (a/k/a “The Big Orange Screw”) for making the right call and preserving this tradition for future generations.

All that said, the last time I painted the Rock was 1997.  I say “painted”—my involvement actually centered more on leaning up against the Rock in a near catatonic state as drool fell from my gaping mouth and I uttered various slurred obscenities at my cohorts.  You see, I was completely pissed drunk overcome by a multitude of circumstances at the time and my recollection of that particular evening of frivolity is fuzzy to say the least.  Still, the Rock does have a special place in my mind due to its tradition of announcing great events, lurid innuendo, and Gameday proclamations.  Considering it is directly across the street from where it used to be located, I doubt there will really be all that much difference.

Of course, I do wonder whether some students may be confused by the relocation—in particular, those suffering from the same … mental confusion … that afflicted me the last time I painted the Rock.  If so, the university may be faced with a long road of maintenance as the drunken masses repeatedly paint the front of the new Student Health Center.

Read the rest of this entry

Peace Out, 2008

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

A List of Reminiscing…

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, the final day of 2008. Yes, I know, I’m asking “Already?!?” just you like may be doing. It seems like last month I was standing in Times Square in NYC for nine hours (without any food, drinks, or bathroom breaks) with five of my friends ringing in 2008. But here it is, the start of another year is less than 24 hours away.

My new logo

Now hopefully you have yet to bail on me because of that terribly mushy opening, and if you have I thank you. I’ll get to my little list of what I’ll most remember from the past year in sports in a minute, but first I need to say that I began this whole blogging thing back in June, when the looming monster of summer school was at my doorstep. When I started, I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I wasn’t sure how long I’d be blogging or any of that. I really enjoyed it at first, mostly the posts following the NBA Finals games and my amateur, yet rather extensive, coverage of the Rocky Top Summer League (yes, I skipped studying for tests and doing schoolwork to do those). However, at first I underestimated how much work blogging actually can be.

So when lawvol approached me (figuratively) about joining forces with him, it was a no-brainer. I have enjoyed writing here at the Gate and I just want to give some props to lawvol for having me on here and for helping me when I bug him about the simplest of issues. And of course thank you to yourselves, the readers (if you’re still actually reading this). Who knows if my blogging will actually help the journalism career I’m hoping for/working towards/trying to gain experience for, but I’ve certainly enjoyed it and I’m glad I decided to begin with it.

OK, enough of those little bits of business, now onto this little list. This will be a little different than the other two I’ve done, as in I’m writing this, I’m not limiting myself to what pops into my mind when I think back of the past year in sports. I was able to narrow my hatred for Alabama down to five and the hope of the Vols’ hoops season to 10, but this is a whole year we’re talking here. I’ll try to keep it as short as I can. Anyways, here goes…

Thanks Coach

1) Good-bye and thank you Coach Fulmer: Well duh. The only Tennessee football coach I’ve pretty much ever known fell victim to a failed replacement of David Cutcliffe and the second losing season in the last four years. It’s been the toughest year as a Tennessee fan I have been a part of by far, but it ended very sweet with the home win over Kentucky.


2) Hello, Lane Kiffin: Fulmer’s replacement has me excited, and I know I ain’t the only one. Some are skeptical, but the Blackjack General (kudos, lawvol) has the fire that I think this program needs. He and his staff have plenty of work to do to return to the level of competing with Florida and the growing empire in Tuscaloosa, but so far, so good…


3) Being #1 for less than two days is still better than never being #1…: This goes way back to February, and the 66-62 #2-over-#1 win by Tennessee at Memphis. I had to cover/get audio for this game for the radio station sports show I was involved in last spring, and it was just fun to watch and see in person. That, and being in the middle of the aftermath right outside the locker room and on the FedEx Forum floor trying to be “professional” is undoubtedly a highlight of this past year.

4) 2008 SEC basketball champs: Need anything else be said? And to do it in Gainesville after getting blitzed in the first half was icing. I also covered that last home game against Carolina, so watching the whole net-cutting and t-shirt deal was a highlight.

5) Fan apathy: Honestly, this was probably the biggest factor to Fulmer’s firing. I have made my thoughts on the student attendance and the whole paying for tickets well known through this site (try this). This video (I wouldn’t dare actually post it) was the lowest point for me as a Tennessee fan in my life. I must admit, I left well before it, but I didn’t want to be a apart of that. I commend you if you did…

Thanks Chris and JaJuan

6) Chris Lofton: Seeing this guy get to play in person for two years was a treat. Talk about a role model, he had cancer, didn’t tell anyone for completely unselfish purposes, and still had a pretty good season and was an integral part of the SEC Title run for the Vols. I have his #5 jersey on my wall of my room in my apartment, and it will be hanging in TBA’s rafters soon enough.

7) JaJuan Smith, too: Walk-on to nearly making the Mavericks. The best part of watching Juanny the past two years of college was that he made it look so fun. From his rainbow threes to pestering defense and occasionaly bonehead turnover, I’ll never forget this guy and what he was to the Tennessee program.

Championship #8: I have to give Pat Summit and the Lady Vols some love. I never go to any of their games, but I do know they exist. That senior class dominated and Candace Parker, well, she’s just awesome.

9) Eric Berry: The dude is just a BAMF. My four years of college may be four of the worst in Tennessee history, but at least I got to see this guy play. Seriously, he was reason enough to watch as the awful 2008 season went down the toilet. His pick-six against Mississippi State might have been the craziest moment of the student section this past year (yeah, indicating how bad the season truly was…). List of guys he almost killed in 2008: Tyler Donovan, Taylor Embree, Knowshon Moreno, Marquis Maze, and that’s off the top of my head. If a team had 22 Eric Berrys, they would never lose. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll like playing in Monte Kiffin‘s defense enough to stay for his senior year…


10) Monte Kiffin: Sweet! Most respected defensive coordinator in the NFL? Yes please.

11) The Streak: Tennessee has now won 37 straight home games in Thompson-Boling Arena. A couple of teams nearly broke it (Ole Miss, Kentucky, Belmont), but it’s still going strong. I still have never left that arena having seen Tennessee lose. It was empty four years ago, now this streak. Could Gonzaga end it a week from tonight?

12) Construction: If you visited Knoxville this past year, you know what I mean. The stadium. Glocker. The Baker Center. Neyland. The TBA facelift. Lindsay Nelson. Heck, even I-40 has been closed since May…

13) Losses I witnessed in person: Louisville (Sweet 16 game in Charlotte), Florida, Auburn (nearly fell asleep in the third quarter), Alabama, Wyoming…

14) My love for the NBA: It gets a bad rap for the most part, but you can’t tell me you’re a true fan of the game of basketball and not like the NBA. Before this past season, I never really followed it other than the playoffs and the handful of Grizzlies games I saw in my high school days. Now, I just plain love it. These guys are ridiculous. I could watch LeBron James play every night. The Lakers-Celtics finals capped off an amazing playoffs and it’s shaking up to be a great season this year too.

15) Wyoming: I saw them beat Tennessee 13-7 in Knoxville. They were 1-7 in the Mountain West and fired their coach. Ouch…

16) UCLA: Kevin Craft is worse than me for Heisman! really wasn’t as good as we made him look. The beginning of the end…

17) This play:

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18) These dunks:

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19) Redeem Team Wins Gold: The highlight of the Beijing Olympics for me. Yes, I watched every minute of every one of their games. They were not going to be denied and watching these guys play together and with a serious sense of urgency was well worth it. Thank you, LeBron, D-Wade, Kobe, CP3, Bosh, Howard, Boozer, D-Will, Melo, Redd, Tayshaun, Coach K and staff.


20) The tornado that almost killed me: I’m getting lazy, so just click here. If you’re too lazy to do that, you’re worse than me I was in the Georgia Dome for the SEC Tournament when that tornado owned downtown Atlanta.

21) Michael Phelps: Second best part of the Olympics. The relay the U.S. stole from the trash-talking French and the race he won from nowhere had me up and yelling at the TV.

22) Scotty Hopson, Bobby Maze, Emmanuel Negedu, Renaldo Woolridge: They’re only going to get better…

23) This NFL season: I don’t get too pumped about pro football other than for fantasy purposes, but this was a fun season to watch. It came down to the end and I can honestly justify about six teams going all the way. Miami went from 1-15 to the playoffs and nobody’s laughing at the Falcons now. And those drama queens in Dallas are watching it all…

24) Jerod Mayo: Any time a Vol gets drafted in the Top 10…and then dominates as a rookie, I’m pumped…

25) Shaun Ellis: This was just plain funny…

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26) Tyler Smith and J.P. Prince: Two transfers are huge parts of Tennessee hoops in 2008 and going forward. Thanks to Tyler for his clutch makes against Ole Miss and Memphis State. This year’s team is his team, and it took Prince hurting himself to make us see how important he is to this team.

27) The Olympics: Yeah, they were about all I watched for that two week stretch this summer.

28) VolQuest/Rivals: I can’t lie, I have spent countless hours procrastinating and wasting time on the message boards. If you have done it too, you know their addictive powers…

29) Jonathan Crompton: Well, there’s not much to say, but most of the Tennessee fanbase thinks he’s the worst QB to ever wear orange. Hell, he couldn’t even hand the ball off against Florida and Auburn. The Auburn game might have been the worst game ever played by a QB – my goodness was it ugly. When he entered the South Carolina after Nick Stephens threw an awful pick-six, ESPN showed his stats for the year – he had thrown for 666 yards. Yikes. Yet, that pass to Denarius Moore against Kentucky…reason for hope? I mean, he’s got an equal chance of starting next year as the other QBs Tennessee has. I’m just saying…

30) And finally, Mario Chalmers: Tiger High/John Calipari = EPIC FAIL…

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Images Courtesy of: Michael Patrick / KNSMichael Patrick /

2008 Beijing Olympics: The Amateur and the Olympic Games

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Olympic Coverage on Gate 21 Over the weekend I spent a fair amount of time watching the XXIX Olympic Games from Beijing — taking in all that comes along with the quadrennial rite that is the Olympics.  It was an excellent weekend of competition, celebration, and pageantry.

Bearing all of this in mind, I began to ask myself what is the Olympics “place” in the overall world of sports?  Many would say that the Olympic Games are the single most important competition in sports — the “ultimate” expression of athletic competition.  On the other hand, others would argue that the Olympics really aren’t about sports at all, representing the exercise of diplomacy through other means.  Finally, there are those who would — for various reasons ranging from the lack of their favorite sport from the games to a lack of interest in international competition — say that, while engaging, the Olympics are largely a second-tier sporting event focused more on “ancillary” sporting events.

For me, however, the Olympics hold a special place — if only because of the “amateur spirit” which they embody…

I do eagerly await the Olympics each time they roll around.  They are — for me — a sublime opportunity to view events and competitions that are far beyond the sports I normally have the opportunity to follow.  So too, there is something that is uniquely endearing in the pursuit of achievement in the name of ones homeland, where the accolade is far less tangible than that which accompanies success in modern “big time” sports.  That is the essence of amateur competition — not completely divorced from many of the reasons I so identify with college athletics as opposed to professional sports.

Of course, one can become a little to idealistic when it comes to the Olympics…

Gone are the days of “lily-white” amateurism from the Olympics as an ideal governing the competition between nations.  This was not only the mantra of the international Olympic movement during the first three-quarters of the 20th Century, but was tenaciously enforced by individuals such as Avery Brundage, who served as the President of the International Olympic Committee until 1972.

During that era, any “taint” of professionalism by an athlete would assuredly lead to banishment from the games for life, and could possibly lead to medals being stripped.  The stand of the IOC was clear: Any athlete competing in the Olympic Games must be an amateur.

Of course, things were not always as pure as the powers that be would suggest …

As anyone who witnessed any of the games held during the Cold War, the amateurism of some of the Eastern Bloc countries was perpetually in question.  Furthermore, at times the stance on amateurism often overshadowed the real purpose of the Olympic Games, and placed form over substance with only the individual athlete feeling the pain of the IOC’s censure.

Thus, perhaps, the “good old days” were not always as good as we have been led to believe…

Nonetheless, there is something that has been lost over the years as the Olympics seem to have moved farther and farther afield from the old amateur standards, to the point that — in all sports but boxing — professional players are welcomed.  With this transition came the advent of the so-called “Dream Teams,” peopled with superstar professional athletes from across the globe.  The thought of playing against the greatest that the NBA has to offer is a daunting and discouraging prospect for a team from a smaller country lacking a professional league or an established sports infrastructure.  Still, as the United States Olympic Basketball team learned in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, “David” still has a lot of stones in his sling when it comes to the “Goliaths” of the sports world.

Competition, however, is not always a fair fight, and, perhaps, that reality is part of what makes the Olympics special.  Perhaps it is the “against all odds” mentality or ethos which makes the Olympics beautiful as a spectacle of competition.

The Olympics are not about necessarily winning or losing, but about trying despite the odds…

For me, the single most poignant image of the Olympics is that of Gabriela Andersen-Scheiss completing the marathon in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.  I still remember watching the then 39 year-old competitor for Switzerland come limping into Olympic Stadium — at least twenty minutes behind the winner — barely able to walk.  She had only to complete one lap around the stadium track to finish the race.  As she staggered from side to side, barely able to stand upright, she continued on.  Fearing that she might be suffering from heat stroke, several medical staff actually walked alongside her as she took a heart wrenching 5 minutes and 44 seconds to complete the circuit of the field, before collapsing across the finish line and receiving immediate medical care.

The pragmatist would say that it was foolish for Andersen-Scheiss to continue on when she was clearly suffering and had no hope of winning.  The utilitarian would undoubtedly conclude that she should stop, because the risk to her health far exceeded the benefit to be gained by completing the race.  Sometimes, it is not rational, it is not practical, it is not about winning or losing — it is about heart, determination, and finding what it takes to put one foot in front of the other to finish the journey you have begun.

Sometimes, it is simply a testament to the human spirit…

I suppose that is what still draws me to the Olympic Games.  In this regard, it is still a competition of amateurs, in some ways. For many athletes at the games, the competition is not one of professionals versus the amateurs.  It is not one of one country versus another.  It is not one of winner and loser.

In the Olympic Games — even today — for many athletes it is a competition between heart and head.  It is the battle between self and soul which brings competitors from far and wide who have not a single hope for victory.  They do it not to prove that they can beat any other athlete, break any records, or win any medals, but to simply prove that they can compete…

… and in this battle with self — the battle to find the will to press on — there are no professionals.

– Go Figure …Email lawvol

Image Courtesy of:

2008 Beijing Olympics: Tennessee’s Christine Magnuson Sets New American Record

Olympic Games Coverage on Gate 21Updated: Christine Magnuson competed in the 100m Butterfly on Sunday, winning a silver medal for the US!  Congratulations to Christine, and all of the other Tennessee Olympians as they represent our country, the State of Tennessee, and the University of Tennessee!

Here’s an interview with Magnuson and Dara Torres from NBC’s Today Show:

Former Lady Vol and SEC Swimmer of the year, Christine Magnuson, set a new American record in the Women’s 100m Butterfly with a time of 57.08. in the Semifinal in Beijing.

Magnuson will swim in the finals on Sunday.

A good start for Tennessee Olympians…

– Go Figure …Email lawvol

2008 Beijing Olympics: The Opening Ceremonies

Olympic Games Coverage on Gate 21 I know there is great controversy surrounding the Beijing Games, but when it comes to the Opening Ceremonies, I have only one thing to say:

Breathtaking.  Simply Breathtaking…

– Go Figure …Email lawvol

Image Courtesy of: AP / CBC Networks
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