The Play by Play
The Cheerless Cheerleader Reality
In recent weeks much has come to light about the life of, and restrictions faced by, professional cheerleaders. Last month Bailey Davis, a former dancer for the Saintsations cheerleading squad (affiliated with the New Orleans Saints professional football team), first brought attention to the issue when she filed a complaint against the NFL following her termination. The Saints let Davis go after she posted a photograph to her private instagram account that was deemed “inappropriate” and in violation of a rule outlined in the employee handbook. However, it would seem, and this sits at the crux of Davis’ complaint, that no such regulation exists for the NFL players themselves. And this is no isolated discrepancy. It has become apparent that the rules in place to regulate cheerleader behavior are far more oppressive and restrictive than those faced by the players. Dancers, across most professional sports, are prohibited from socializing with players, eating at the same restaurants, following them on social media or even making eye contact while at the stadium. Male athletes, on the other hand, are permitted to do any or all of the above mentioned, with no repercussions, thus placing the responsibility solely on the women’s shoulders. What’s more, the cheerleaders face these strict behavioral and beauty demands while barely making the minimum wage. The extent of the fallout remains unknown but in the midst of the #MeToo movement it looks like the NFL will remain under the microscope until change is made.
Pitcher’s Mound to Hospital Bed
Danny Farquhar stood on the mound Friday night, having entered the game in the 6th inning to pitch for the Chicago White Sox. He notched two outs before heading back to the dugout, where he proceeded to vomit, collapse, and fall unconscious. Rushed to the hospital, the 31 year old, suffering from a brain aneurysm, went into emergency surgery to relieve the swelling around his brain. Farquhar will remain in the hospital for the next three weeks, currently in critical but stable condition. It is unclear whether he will ever return to professional baseball (some players who’ve suffered similarly have, others have not). But at this point his wife and three kids are just hoping Dan walks out of the hospital healthy and happy. An unfortunate reminder that not even professional athletes are immune to the harsh realities of life.
The Faces and Facts
Featured Female – Danica Patrick (Race Car Driving): Patrick has found great success, while simultaneously breaking barriers, as a race car driver in both IndyCar (open wheel cars) and NASCAR events. In 2008, Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar race and to this day remains the only to do so. She also holds the highest finish for a female in both the Indianapolis and Daytona 500s.
Sean Couturier (Hockey): A forward for the Philadelphia Flyers who scored 3 goals in Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins despite having a torn MCL. Sean sat out from Game 4 due to the injury; however, with his team down 3-1 in the series, Couturier returned to the ice for Game 5 and ended up scoring the game winning goal, keeping the Flyers’ playoff hopes alive. Unfortunately, his hat-trick in Game 6 was not enough to hold off the Penguins, who won 8-5 and advanced to the next round. Had Couturier suffered this injury during the regular season, he likely would have sat out for at least 4 weeks. Yet another example of the true toughness (or, some might argue, craziness) exhibited by hockey players. Whether playing with a torn ligament, getting stitched up on the bench, or skating until an eye is completely swollen shut, it is amazing the grit they possess.
The Midweek Rundown
As promised in last week’s post, here’s a snap shot of the somewhat newly changed and at times confusing NHL playoff structure.
- Who advances:Similar to basketball, there are 16 teams that enter the postseason, 8 advancing from the Eastern and 8 from the Western Conferences. Each of the 2 conference has 2 divisions. The top three teams in each division go to the playoffs, taking 12 of the 16 available spots. The four remaining spaces (called the Wild Card spots) are filled by top 2 teams in each conference who did not finish in the top 3 of their division.
- Seeds/Who Plays Who: Rather than ranking teams based on their conference standing, as is done in basketball, it is done so by division. The first place team in each of the 4 divisions gets a number 1 seed. The second and third place teams in each division are the number 2 and 3 respectively and play each other in the first round. The wild card teams are seeded 4th and play the number 1 seeds, with the better of the two wild card teams playing the lesser of the two 1 seeds (here’s a visual from last year’s playoff brackets). What this means is that, while there are 8 teams from each conference represented, teams are only seeded 1-4, with two teams holding each seed.
- How Many Rounds: The first round is considered the Divisional Semi-Final and the winners move onto the Division Finals. The third round is the Conference Finals and it all culminates in the Stanley Cup Finals, where the last team standing from the Eastern and Western conference face off. Each round is a best of seven, meaning, just like in the NBA, a team has to win 4 games to advance.
A general playoff update helps to decide what games to watch this week. And while baseball is also in season and on tv, I’d prioritize the sports in post-season because they can be far more entertaining to watch.
- NHL Update: Only two spots remain unclaimed in the second round of the NHL playoffs and these games could decide who gets them:
- The Toronto Maple Leafs v. The Boston Bruins: Monday, April 23rd at 7pm EST. Boston leads the series 3-2 so it’s win or go home for Toronto.
- The Washington Capitals v. The Columbus Blue Jackets: Washington leads the series 3-2 so, similar to the Leafs, the Blue Jackets are in a must-win situation. Puck drops Monday April 23rd at 7:30 EST.
If either series goes to a Game 7, those will be played on Wednesday, April 25th.
- NBA Update: Only one first round series has finished (the Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers) and most still require at least 2 games before a winner is determined. With a lot of basketball left to be played in those matchups, the two games worth watching in the coming days would be:
- Philadelphia 76ers v. Miami Heat: Joel Embiid has returned to the court which gives the 76ers an edge, despite the strong play of Miami’s Dwayne Wade (who credits comedian and 76ers fan Kevin Hart for his offensive performance). Philadelphia leads 3-1 so the Heat must win Game 5 in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Tip off is Tuesday, April 24th at 8pm EST.
- Golden State Warriors v. San Antonio Spurs: Without Kawhi Leonard the Spurs don’t stand much of a chance against the offensive prowess of Golden State. However San Antonio managed to avoid a sweep, winning Game 4 on Sunday night, despite the absence of their head coach Gregg Popovich whose wife died last week after a long bout with illness. Tune in Tuesday, April 24th at 10:30 EST to see if the Spurs can continue to honor Pop and his wife with another win.
If you’re busy on Monday and Tuesday, check here to see the basketball playoff games scheduled later in the week.