Who are the Pittsburgh Knights?

No, they’re not Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Reaves, Deryk Engellend, James Neal, and David Perron.

The Pittsburgh Knights are a professional eSports organization out of Pittsburgh, PA.  Their goal is to build a legacy to contribute to the “City of Champions” through their sponsorship by the Steelers.  They compete in Super Smash Bros., PUBG, Hearthstone, Fortnite, Paladins, and Gwent.   The Knights aim to be the paragons of eSports by winning and defending championship titles.

They ensure that their teams and competitors are well-supported in their competitive efforts.  This past December they put together an all-female PUBG team called the Dames of PUBG, promoting diversity and inclusion in eSports.  In general, eSports is the perfect platform to promote and enforce a gender balance in the sports world as men don’t have a natural, physical advantage over women as they do in most sports.

One of the owners, James O’Connor, stated that they “… see the Knights as being the fourth major global franchise in Pittsburgh…” which may be a slight shun to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Pittsburgh’s professional soccer team that plays in the USL.  Either way it’s a tall statement to live up to.  The Knights may be the talk among gamers in the greater Pittsburgh area, but they’re not a household team name.  They have a long way to go to have their name alongside the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates.  It will be interesting to see if they can accomplish this feat in the future.

Thanks for reading JMSO fans!

-A. Kam

https://www.knights.gg

USL: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

After the rebrand of the team last season, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC are going into the 20th anniversary of their first season this year.  They have their first preseason game tonight against Cleveland State University and the season officially starts on March 16th at the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the first of four away games.  The first game at Highmark Stadium since their playoff loss will be April 13th.  Hopefully that game won’t go to penalty kicks (as exciting as it was, despite the outcome) and they can give their loyal Steel Army and fans a good win.

Looking at the roster heading into the season, ten players are returning from last year’s team:

Kyle Morton

Tobi Adewole

Jordan Dover

Neco Brett

Kevin Kerr

Kenardo Forbes

Noah Franke

Thomas Vancaeyezeele

Joe Greenspan

Mouhamed Dabo

The two new names currently on the roster are Ryan James and Steevan Dos Santos.  Also signed this off season were Christian Volesky and Anthony Verlarde.  Fourteen additional players were invited on trial to preseason camp, although I cannot find the names listed anywhere.

Group A is as competitive as ever, even with FC Cincinnati moving on to the MLS.  Indy Eleven and Bethlehem Steel always prove to be a challenge for the Hounds.  It will be interesting to see how the season will go for the Hounds, coming off one of their best seasons with ten returners on the roster.   What are your predictions for the upcoming USL season?

 

Keep it classy JMSO fans!

-A. Kam

Anyone but the Patriots 2019

The New England Patriots are playing in yet another Super Bowl this Sunday.  It will be their 11th appearance overall and third in a row.  They are 50% in the championship winning 5 out of the 10.  They’re playing the LA Rams who have gone 1 for 3 in their Super Bowl appearances.  It’s sure to be yet another controversial game from the teams, coaches, and players, to the officials, cheerleaders, and commercials.

Does anyone outside of Patriots fans want the Patriots to win?  And if so, why???  The Patriots have seen a lot of success in their recent history and while there are new players to the team every year, there is too much talent spread throughout the league to want to see one team win year after year.  Which takes us to the next point, are the Patriots winning on talent alone or do they have greater powers helping to sway the results in their favor?  Of course, I’m talking about the sketchy officiating as of late.  More and more it seems that one call, or lack there-of, decides the outcome of big games.  Yes, there are challenges and reviews to be had, but are there enough?  As sports have progressed with their usage of technology, should more plays and calls be review-able/challenge-able?  Would it make a difference, or would it take away from the game itself?

All biases aside, Tom Brady is a legend in the NFL.  From his impressive career numbers to his game-to-game performances, he will definitely be remembered, and his name will never die.  Or maybe you know him best for the great Deflategate of 2015.  It’s been four years, but it hasn’t been forgotten.  Either way, Tom Brady is a household name and has a reputation to uphold.  Will he be the star of Super Bowl LIII or at the center of another controversy?

Speaking of controversies, they’re happening outside of just the game aspect of Super Bowl LIII.  Many people claim to watch the super bowl just for the commercials and this year is no different.  There has been a lot of discussion leading up to this year’s super bowl due to its location in Atlanta.  Pepsi has been a long-running sponsor of the super bowl, but Atlanta is home to Coca-Cola.  It’s a soda showdown and on Sunday, only one can come out on top.

One last topic I want to touch on is a piece of history that will be made on Sunday.  With the LA Rams in Super Bowl LIII, two of their cheerleaders will make history as the first ever male cheerleaders to appear and perform at the super bowl.  I’m sure many people have their opinions about this, but I’m here to tell you it’s a big deal.  These two men are going to show young men around the world that it’s okay to be a male cheerleader in today’s society.  It also further proves the argument that cheerleading is a sport, rather than an opportunity for men to ogle women, and thus should be recognized as one.

Now, I’m sure many of you out there disagree with my opinions.  If so, I ask that you share yours in the comments while remaining respectful of all parties.

Keep it classy sports fans!

-A. Kam

Stronger than Stigma

Hockey. It’s more than just a game.

It’s not always what happens on the ice that counts. The league and individual teams plus the players and their families contribute a lot of time, money, and effort into charitable projects and foundations. This year, on January 30th, Bell Canada is sponsoring their annual Bell Let’s Talk Day to raise awareness surrounding mental health and raise money to support mental health initiatives in Canada. Since 2013, the Canadian NHL franchises have publicly supported Bell’s efforts by hosting Hockey Talks campaigns.

It seems like another NHL player is diagnosed with a concussion every week, making their mental health an even more important factor in their overall health and well-being. Former NHLer Daniel Carcillo is a leader among alumni, speaking out about his own struggles and fighting for those who have lost their own fights. Carcillo advocates for more effective strategies of determining and reporting concussions in the NHL. He shares his thoughts on the matter daily @CarBombBoom13 and through his foundation http://www.chapter5foundation.com. Their mission is to help athletes discover their new purpose and transition into life after their sports careers end.

Earlier today, Carcillo shared this tweet from @DalaiLama, “We should practise by showing affection and helping one another. It is a mistake to pursue happiness and to seek to the avoid suffering by deceiving and humiliating other people. We must try to achieve happiness and eliminate suffering by being considerate and good-hearted.”

It’s time to #EndTheStigma that athletes need to be tough of the time and put on a front for teammates, family, fans, and the media. There are so many programs, foundations, movements, and efforts to spread the importance of mental health and raise awareness. In addition to Bell Let’s Talk Day, Hockey Talks, and Chapter 5 Foundation, there is Do It for Daron (http://www.difd.com/) a youth-driven and focused movement, Bring Change 2 Mind (https://bringchange2mind.org/), and many more.

There are many ways, we as fans, friends, family, and strangers can support these movements and those battling with their mental health and well-being:
TALK ABOUT IT – Start a dialogue, not a debate
BREAK THE SILENCE – Talk about how mental illness touches us all in some way                directly or through a friend, family member or colleague. Stories of lived experience          are the best way to help eradicate stigma.
LISTEN AND BE KIND – Support mental health and anti-stigma programs in your                community.

On January 30th Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell will donate more towards mental health initiatives in Canada by contributing 5¢ for every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view and use of our Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. For EVERY Tweet and Retweet containing the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, 5 cents will be donated. It’s something small we can all do to make a difference.
It’s time to be #StrongerThanStigma together.

-A. Kam

 
https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/bell-lets-talk-day
https://www.nhl.com/canucks/community/hockey-talks

Where Did You Go?

As the title states, where the hell has Antonio Brown gone? Well we know where he is, but mentally where the hell is he? With his latest antics it leaves us all questioning, what are you thinking? His latest tweets have us all scratching and shaking our heads. The one tweet I saw earlier this week he stated that he is “keeping analysts busy and creating jobs for future analysts” then he proceeds to say business is booming. Well lately sir business has been bankrupt, you are burning every single bridge imaginable from throwing shade at the owner to the QB who has defended you to his furthest extent. There comes a point and time where talent is masked by pure arrogance and being self-centered. This town has embraced you with open arms throughout the years. In reality, they shouldn’t have as in his 9 years here he has yet to win a DAMN THING. What happened to the team first mentality and winning super bowls? When did those become an afterthought? Maybe you should have stayed off of those pizza hut commercials and focused on winning more than just regular season games.

Now I am not saying this tumultuous melt down of the organization solely falls on him, nothing is solely an individual’s fault. You have a coach that harbors terrible mentalities and he hires friends instead of the right man for the job. Let’s be honest people, why the hell was Joey Porter even on the team after his famous bar brawl on the south side? Any other organization would have canned his ass and sent him packing. Maybe the “Rooney way” is dead and we need to develop a new philosophy. Maybe we should use the cap space we have and spend it on a decent corner back or better yet get a MLB that’s not Vince Williams. I know this has gotten off track, I just want you to know I’m not biased whatsoever. It’s not just AB’s fault, it’s a toxic locker room and a way to start healing is to separate the wheat from the chaff and send AB packing. His most recent tweets have him arguing with Emmanuel Sanders and Bruce Arians basically calling them dumb along with calling them divas. In my closing statement I’m not asking you to feel any way, I’m just asking you to look at the evidence in front of you and see that this is not a booming business.

Thanks, Cody Potanko

NHL Countdown: It’s More than a Game

It’s not always what happens on the ice that counts.  The league and individual teams plus the players and their families contribute a lot of time, money, and effort into charitable projects and foundations.  Especially over the summer, the aforementioned parties go above and beyond serving their hometown and franchise areas with the work that they do.

Here in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation partners up with many local charities and businesses to serve the surrounding area.  One of their biggest, ongoing efforts has been Project Power Play.  “Project Power Play takes advantage of the growing popularity of hockey in the tri-state area by affording young players access to newly constructed, outdoor, multi-use athletic facilities in partnership with Highmark.”  Basically, they build Dek Hockey rinks in parks and recreation areas in and around the Pittsburgh area.  Their latest Dek was built in Youngstown, Ohio earlier this month.  They also team up with the Mario Lemieux Foundation (MLF) to host a 6.6K run and 3.3K walk every October that starts and ends on Fifth Avenue (RIP Mac Miller) in front of PPG Paints Arena.  Additionally, the MLF works to provide X-Boxes, games, and other entertainment to those in/at Children’s hospitals in the area by sponsoring the building of Austin’s Playrooms named after Austin Lemieux.  Similar Foundations exist in accordance to all the other 30 NHL teams.

During the off-season there are different charity games that take place throughout the US and Canada that are hosted by NHL players themselves or different colleges/universities/organizations that invite NHL players to compete in.  Mentioned in a previous post (justmysportsopinions.com/2018/08/28/comm-ave-charity-classic-bc-cause-i-wouldnt-wanna-bu/) is the Comm Ave Charity Classic that takes place in Boston, Massachusetts every year hosted by either Boston College or Boston University.  They invite back alumni to draft two full rosters of mostly NHL players to support the Compassionate Care ALS, Pete Frates Home Health Initiative, and the Travis Roy Foundation.  Henrik Lundqvist and Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers host their own Summer Classic in Norway where they invite players from around the league and draft their own teams.  This event “aims to assist children and young people in challenging situations around the world.”

Like Zuccarello and Lundqvist, NHL players take it upon themselves to create their own foundations and give back to their communities.  In Pittsburgh, Kris Letang would probably be the guy that stands out when it comes to servicing the community as a family.  The family volunteers at various events around the city and Letang collaborates with Edgar Snyder and Playworks, making appearances at floor hockey and other field day type events.  Players around the league also participate in community events such a PRIDE Parades and the Calgary Flames ride in the Calgary Stampede parade every year.  The NHL as a whole also comes together in support of their Hockey Fights Cancer and Hockey is for Everyone initiatives.

The hockey community comes together in many ways to support one another.  The best example of this would be the follow up of the community after the Humboldt Broncos tragedy.  From the league and NHL teams to online apparel companies and fans around the world, an astronomical amount of support was sent their way.  The surviving members were invited to the NHL Awards this past June where there was a tribute to those who were lost including Head Coach Darcy Haugan who was awarded the inaugural Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.  The GoFundMe created to support the surviving members and the families of those who didn’t make it, reached over $15 million.  Contributing to this total was various online apparel companies such as Everything Hockey that created and sold decals, and other companies t-shirts and hoodies, where 100% of the profits were donated to the Humboldt Broncos.  Similar actions and support was sent to Vegas and Stoneman Douglas High School after their respective tragedies.

Overall, the ice hockey community is arguably one of the strongest and most supportive in the world.  We come together to support one another in amazing ways.  Get involved today in your local foundations/charities/events by checking out your team’s or favorite players’ foundations.

 

For more information on the above foundations and charities, check out the links below.

https://www.mariolemieux.org/austins-playrooms/about-austins-playroom/

https://pittsburghpenguinsfoundation.org/program/project-power-play/

http://summerclassic2018.com/en

https://humboldtstrong.info/

Video-gaming, a Sport?

One of the biggest new crazes in collegiate sport is e-sports.  E-sports are traditionally multiplayer video games played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers.  However, universities and colleges across the U.S. are added e-sports as an actual sport within their athletics departments.  A few have e-sports as a club sport/organization or under a different department.  Most of the schools that group e-sports under athletics offer scholarships/grants to incoming freshmen, transfer students, and returning students to gain and maintain a competitive e-sports team.  Two of the most common games among the schools are League of Legends and Overwatch.  In the summer of 2016, the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) was created to better establish and regulate e-sports at the collegiate level.  The world of e-sports has grown rapidly over the last few years and shows no sign of dying down anytime soon.

 

Here’s a few sites/articles that go into more detail on the topic if you’re interested:

https://nacesports.org/

http://www.espn.com/esports/story/_/id/23718093/college-league-legends-grows-professional-opportunity

https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/22/college-esports-is-set-to-explode-starting-with-the-fiesta-bowl/

https://www.acelesports.org/about/