I am shutting down jaydawg.sportsblog.com and joining Fansided's dawnofthedawg.com as co-editor. Dawn of the Dawg is a site dedicated to covering UGA sports. I feel like it is a big step up to attaining my future career goals. I am thankful to Sports Blog for the opportunity and thankful for all of my readers. It's been a fun ride, but an even brighter future awaits.
The NCAA is corrupt. We all know that. Mark Emmert needs to step down, and the whole organization needs to be shut down. However, college athletics has to deal with it. I have not really spoken a lot about my thoughts on Emmert, but I hardly ever see eye-to-eye with him. That has changed on one issue.
That issue is in the form of one of the most outspoken and controversial men in college football. I'm referring to Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. He's been making headlines lately by planning a spring practice in Florida on UM's spring break. This is technically not against NCAA rules, but Mark Emmert still doesn't think it's right according to an interview with The State (a newspaper in South Carolina).
"There's a difference between not being prohibited and being OK. There is a big debate going on among administrators right now about how to provide more time off for student-athletes so the use of spring break for practices caused a lot of people to be concerned about it, and that's an appropriate concern. We are trying to find ways to dial back the demands on student-athletes, not ramp them up."
Jim Harbaugh is one of the most controversial figures in today's college football landscape.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
I agree with Emmert. Though it might be within the rules, making students practice on their spring break is just not fair. The strain on college athletes, particularly college football players, is enormous, and no one needs to make their life more stressful. I really wouldn't put it past the NCAA to pass legislation banning this in the future.
Don't get me wrong. I love Jim Harbaugh overall. He's a fun guy to have in college football and always seems to find his way into the news. He's an absolutely amazing football coach and is turning the Michigan program back into the power it should always be. Heck, I don't even have a problem with the controversial satellite camps.
Nevertheless, Harbaugh got this one wrong. Making student athletes practice in Florida on spring break is just not fair. For all the criticism I've had for the NCAA's top dog Mark Emmert, he actually got this one right. One for a thousand is not bad, right? Just kidding, Emmert has no business in college athletics.
Atlanta United FC is one year away from its first touch in Major League Soccer, and I, for one, could not be more excited. Yeah, I like soccer. I am a proud US Men's National team supporter/fanatic. I love the Premier League, watching the UEFA Champions League, and keeping up with the beautiful game worldwide. The one thing that has lacked in my fandom thus far, though, is having a local club to support.
That has changed. My beloved home state of Georgia will finally be getting a soccer team. (Sorry, Silverbacks didn't count in my mind.) Arthur Blank, the NFL's Falcons owner who is pretty well off, announced during the summer of 2014 that Atlanta would be getting an MLS franchise in 2017. The excitement for Atlanta getting an MLS team has been incredible and is growing day by day. Heck, even Ludicris is on board. The team has a name in Atlanta United FC, a sweet logo, and a black, red, and gold color scheme.
A big topic by future Atlanta United fans is about the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium that is set to be erected in Atlanta in 2017 as the new home of the Falcons as well as Atlanta United FC. It now sounds like the stadium might not be ready when the MLS season starts in 2017. The current estimated completion date is June 1 of that year. A new partnership between Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Greenfields USA of Union City, Georgia, was reached on Thursday.
The new stadium will have a synthetic surface made by Greenfields USA, as the retractable stadium does not allow enough sunlight for grass. This kind of synthetic turf has been used in the Netherlands and according to FIFA “closely mimics the shock absorption and energy restitution characteristics.”This basically means ATL UTD will play on the best turf in the business and in a world-class stadium.
But forget about venues, ATL UTD has signed their first player in goalkeeper Alex Tambakis from one of the most successful clubs in Greece in Panathinaikos. Tambakis is currently on loan at the Charleston Battery, which happens to also be ATL UTD's new USL affiliate. Tambakis is a dual-national. He grew up in Athens, Greece, to a Grecian father and a mother who was born in California. He has a big 6-2+ frame and is self-described as an all-around goalkeeper. Pertaining to his coming to America, Tambakis told charlestonbattery.com that he was very excited about playing in the US.
Atlanta United also signed a Salvadorian international midfielder in 27-year-old Junior Burgos, who is now on loan with the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the NASL. He has previously played for clubs in Germany, Columbia, Chile, and in America's USL and NASL. He's probably most remembered by locals for scoring a beautiful free-kick goal for the NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks. The goal was selected as NASL Goal of the Year in 2015. I have included the video of it here for your viewing pleasure.
To sum it up, Atlanta United FC have made a lot of strides in getting ready for their MLS debut in 2017 but expect many more to come. Atlantans know who their first two players are as well as their own brand. Later this year, ATL UTD will begin officially putting a full roster together with the help of the MLS' expansion draft, and in January of 2017, Atlanta will participate in the annual MLS SuperDraft. The season will kick off that spring and a new era will be ushered into the city of Atlanta.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, fans don't even know where our first games will be played or what big-time international star their team will get. Anyway, it may be quite a whirlwind of change, but everyone knows that the global game will finally be in Atlanta.