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LGHL Group Chat: Sports mean so much more than that, Dak Prescott is the opposite of weak

A glimpse into the inner workings of our staff’s minds

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 08 Rutgers at Ohio State Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

First, on behalf of the entire staff at Land-Grant Holy Land, we’d like to take a moment to remember the innocent lives lost, the loved ones they left behind and the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to save others 19 years ago today. We will never forget.

In Land-Grant Holy Land Group Chat, you’ll find what we like to call our “staff brain dump.” Despite absolutely no one asking, we here at LGHL are going to write about whatever the heck is on our minds. Maybe it’s the Netflix series we’re bingeing, how our fantasy football team is doing or a tweet that brought us to tears. In other words, if it’s something we’re talking about in our staff Slack channel, you’ll probably find it here.

Now, that doesn’t mean this series will be void of all things Buckeye football. It just won’t be all Ohio State, all the time (especially considering we have no idea what’s happening in the Big Ten right now). Because contrary to popular belief, we have many other interests outside of college football, and we assume you do as well!

So without further ado, here’s what we’re chatting about at LGHL.

Matt Tamanini

As I assume many of you have, I’ve watched a ton of sports since they returned in late July. I’ve watched golf, NWSL, The Basketball Tournament, MLS, various European soccer leagues, NHL, WNBA, NBA, MLB, tennis, and probably some other random stuff that I can’t remember and probably didn’t understand to begin with.

In consuming all of this quarantined sports content, I have gotten pretty used to seeing screens and/or tarps where fans normally would be, and — if I’m being honest — I have kind of become enthralled with the art of piping in just the perfect type and amount of canned, artificial crowd noise.

Houston Texans v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Perhaps I have gotten too used to this new normal, because last night when I watched the NFL opener between the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, it was weird to see fans — albeit socially distanced — in the stands.

As I have made clear, I fully admit that I am not smart enough to know the science of what should or shouldn’t be done in terms of allowing fans to attend games. I have my personal opinions, but they aren’t important in this discussion, because my shock at there being roughly 15,000 people spread across the vast Arrowhead stands wasn’t because of any potential health risk, I had just forgotten that that was a thing that people were allowed to do.

I think the NBA playing games at the Milk House and the other various “arenas” at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports has been incredibly successful; not just from a bubble standpoint, but from a television perspective as well. And even the cardboard cut out thing that Major League Baseball teams are doing can be cute. So, when I saw real, live human beings bundled up in the rainy Kansas City night, it was just weird.

When the pandemic first forced so much of our lives to be put on hold, in the back of my mind, I envisioned some grand return to normalcy where we would all celebrate our triumph over an unseen enemy by congregating in public spaces again; smiling, hugging, and enjoying the games that had been taken away from us.

While obviously the two situations are incredibly different, I imagined that we would have something similar to the post-9/11 celebrations when games returned and served as a beacon of our unity; a shared pride that we overcame our collective foe.

Instead, we have stadiums roughly 20 percent filled, if anyone is there at all; and that’s sad to me. After months of watching games with nobody in the stands, I think I’d prefer that to the depressing reminder of what could have been.

Connor Lemons

Season 4 of the Masked Singer

Instead of writing about what they pay me to write about (sports), I wanted to give everyone a heads up that season 4 of The Masked Singer airs September 23 at 8:00 p.m. on FOX. You can also catch it on Hulu the next day, which is what I do.

If you haven’t watched before, The Masked Singer begins much like your run-of-the-mill singing contest, with 16-20 contestants competing to be the last one standing. The participants are celebrities from all different sectors of pop culture; there have been athletes, politicians, actors, and actual singers, too. Grammy award winners, Super Bowl champions, and vice presidential candidates have all been unmasked, so you really have no idea what you’re getting into.

The premise of the show is this: each week, there is a “clue” video that is played before each contestant performs. This might give you a hint as to what they do as a profession, where they grew up, if they have kids, etc... all while wearing a wacky costume that completely disguises their identity. After they perform, the judges guess who the person might be. At the end of each week, the audience and judges vote on the best performer, and the contestant with the least votes has to take off their mask. Therefore, the audience is voting solely based on the performance, with no prior knowledge of who the person really is. The audience doesn’t find out who the person under the mask is until that participant has been voted off, and you will not see them perform again once their identity has been revealed.

I’ll admit, this isn’t something I would usually watch. But last summer a friend of mine showed me a video of a performance from the show. The tall and lanky contestant wore a yellow and blue costume and went by “Thingamajig.” He sang a Kacey Musgraves song that brought the audience to tears, and then my friend asked me if the voice sounded familiar. I had no idea. “That’s Victor Oladipo” he said, and then showed me another video where the former Indiana Hoosier and current Indiana Pacers guard was unmasked as Thingamajig, stunning the whole audience. Oladipo came in fifth out of 16 participants, and finished ahead of artists such as Patti Labelle and Michelle Williams. If you don’t believe that Oladipo has the voice of an angel, see for yourself:

To me, what makes the show great isn’t the performances, it’s the guessing game you play with yourself each week trying to figure out which athlete, singer, actor, or game show host might be performing. Each season has had at least a few athletes, so one of the jerseys hanging in your closet could very well be included in this upcoming season. Enjoy!

Gene Ross

Having lived my entire life in New York, I can vividly remember the events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001 — despite only being five years old. I’ve never been the most articulate of types when it comes to being able to write about tragedy, and so it is tough for me to accurately describe my feelings about a day that changed the course of American history forever 19 years ago today. So, instead of discussing the sadness of that horrific event, I would rather take a look at how sports have played a role in the healing process.

If you remember, the MLB postponed its schedule following the 9/11 attacks for a week as a precautionary measure to make sure everything was safe. That week, the New York Mets were scheduled to host the Pittsburgh Pirates, but that series got moved to Pittsburgh out of an abundance of caution. The Mets would return home for the first time post-9/11 on Sept. 21. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth to the Atlanta Braves, up to the plate came Mike Piazza.

With Desi Relaford on first base, Piazza crushed a fastball into deep left center for a two-run homer to give the Mets the lead. The over 41,000 fans in attendance went into an absolute frenzy, and for the first time in 10 days, the people of New York were able to find some semblance of joy in what had been otherwise times of doom and gloom. It was a truly special moment, not just for fans of the Mets, but for people all across the country. In a tiny, tiny way in the grand scheme of life, it showed the world that you can't keep the American people down forever.

Piazza would go on to donate his $68,000 game check to relief efforts.

A lot of people like to use sports as an escape from the real world, but they are so much more than that. Sports are a microcosm of our society, and we’ve seen lately with the onset of massive social justice movements in athletics that sports have a chance to make a real impact on the world outside of just a box score in a game. The Piazza home run was something out of a movie script, and in a time where people were terrified for what may come next, it provided a glimmer of hope. You can say it’s just a game, but we see time and time again that it means much more than that.

Brett Ludwiczak

We are all devastated that Ohio State can’t take the field this year (as of now) but at least we can now watch some former Buckeyes at the professional level. Unless you were living under a rock, you know the NFL came back last night, with Kansas City beating Houston.

Personally, I’m a Buffalo Bills fan so I know the only way the Bills’ season ends is in pain. I’m sure this year will be no exception, especially since Tom Brady is finally out of the AFC East. Josh Allen has a shiny new toy to overthrow this year in Stefon Diggs, and expectations are high for the Bills. Buffalo.....we are just a Cleveland that is farther up the lake.

May all of your NFL teams find success this year. Except for New England. Y’all deserve to get kicked around for at least a decade.

Tia Johnston

If you’ve been on Twitter in the last 24 hours, you’ve probably seen the news surrounding Skip Bayless’ horrible comments about Dak Prescott opening up about his depression since his brother died of suicide in April. If not, take a minute to watch the video below.

I, like the rest of the world, am pretty pissed off over Bayless’ comments. They’re damaging in more ways than one. It’s an archaic point of view, and one that I, personally, believe is grounds for termination. If you have a son, brother, nephew, etc. who is at an impressionable age, I urge you to help him understand that Bayless is wrong, and opening up about your mental struggles is not a sign of weakness, and is on on the contrary, a sign of immense strength.

However. I came across this tweet this morning which helped me ease up on my anger toward Bayless.

Obviously, Bayless is strongly convinced that sadness and depression have no place in a man’s head, especially if he wants people to respect him, otherwise he would have never said it as nonchalantly as he did in the above interview. Somewhere down the road, whether it was when he was a child, a teenager or a young adult, he was taught, probably by a man he looked up to, to suppress those feelings and to “man up.” Men don’t cry. Crying is a sign of weakness. Like Bomani Jones tweeted, that’s not an easy way to live.

We’ve all seen what happens when any human, not just men, bottles up their emotions. Those emotions turn into anger, resentment, frustration—sometimes even panic attacks. It’s refreshing to see a new generation of prominent men like DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Love and Prescott being so open about their struggles, which will hopefully make a lasting impression on all the kids who look up to them. Hopefully those kids will grow up knowing it’s okay to cry, to be sad, to feel strongly and passionate about things, especially when a loved one passes away. And I hope they know that being open about those feelings and those passions is what makes a leader truly great.

On a lighter note, this new Baker Mayfield commercial during the Chiefs/Texans game Thursday night had me dying.