NHL Beards, Education For Athletes, And Women's Sports On TV

Download Audio

Not all of the interesting sports stories of the week are splashed across the headlines. That's why we created "3 Stories You Should Know" -- a discussion of the things you might have missed. This week, Bill Littlefield was joined by Only A Game's Karen Given and Patrick Hruby, contributing editor at Vice Sports.

NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus wants to end playoff beards in the NHL :

Mark Lazarus said that he'd prefer to see the end of playoff beards in the NHL, according to the Chicago Tribune. 

“The players won’t like this, but I wish they all would stop growing beards in the postseason,” Lazarus said. “Let’s get their faces out there. Let’s talk about how young and attractive they are. What model citizens they are. (Hockey players) truly are one of a kind among professional athletes."

The tradition of growing a beard during the playoffs has been around since the 1980s, and Bill Littlefield isn't eager to see the beards go away. 

BL: I think Mark Lazarus has made a fool of himself. Playoff hockey is often terrific. The Blackhawks and Lightning have a great Finals series going right now, and people who don't care about that will not be convinced to care if the players go around appearing more cherubic. If the NHL eliminated fights by suspending the combatants for half-a-dozen games or so, then the sport might grow. But promoting the players as "model citizens" who shave regularly is not gonna do it. It's just silly.

Allegations of academic misconduct at University of Texas:

The University of Texas confirmed Wednesday that they are investigating allegations that men's basketball players received improper assistance with coursework and cheated on tests. The Chronicle of Higher Education released a report citing three instances since 2006 of alleged academic misconduct. Patrick Ruby wants schools to stop treating athletes as merry moneymakers:

PH: We're not talking about lazy or bad students, we're talking about these very elite athletes who often for very socio-economic reasons are not elite students. And the schools bring them anyway, because they want to perform on the field. And now they have created this incentive to cheat. And they pump these kids out on the other side with no real education, and if they get a diploma it's basically worthless.

If these schools could stop pretending, if they could say, "Look, if you come here with NBA-level basketball ability, but a sixth-grade reading level, we're going to put you in some remedial classes. We're going to start there. And maybe we won't graduate you in four years, but maybe we'll get you on the way and we'll actually educate you." Now this would require the schools to stop pretending that all these kids just happen to be college kids who are really good at sports. And that sort of is how they defend amateurism and that is why I think they don't do this, and I think it should change.

Women's sports coverage on TV:  

The quarterly journal Communication & Sport published a study by social scientists that found that ESPN's "flagship" show, SportsCenter, devoted a "paltry 2% of its hour-long highlight show to women's sports" in 2014. The study also says, "Over the past 10 years, portrayal of women athletes has become increasingly "respectful" and suggests three steps towards more equitable coverage of women's sports. Karen Given isn't convinced. 

KG: The fact is that television isn't programmed to reflect the way that we want the world to be. It's programmed to reflect the way the world actually is. And sadly, in America, we use money to show how much we value things. And the money shows that Americans just don't value women's sports as much as they value men's sports. So, if you want to change (and I hope you do), I say instead of saying, "Hey media, you got it wrong," let's go out and buy tickets, let's go to games, let's buy merchandise, let's support the sponsors. And then, we actually have to tune in and watch SportsCenter, because if we aren't part of their audience then they don't need to cater to us.

To hear more from Karen, Bill and Patrick, click the play button above. 

Earlier "3 Stories You Should Know": 

This segment aired on June 13, 2015.


More from Only A Game

Listen Live