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It's probably become clear over the course of the semester that I have a deeply rooted and probably unhealthy obsession with sports. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and while I've tried many times to separate myself from the games, the news and the drama, I keep coming back.

My former editor chides me for writing the "this is why you should watch __" column too often, and I will only provide her with more ammo by the time I reach my conclusion.

Since it's my final 15 inches of the semester and I've attacked you with my opinions enough over the course of four months, I'll just sprawl out what has struck me about the state of Cal athletics as 2010 comes to a close.

First, we could all learn something from Carli Lloyd.

In the final season of her illustrious Cal career, the All-American setter has constantly exemplified the attitude of a true competitor. Never mind the fact that she has broken all sorts of records as one of the best setters in the country, but she has that attitude that all aspiring athletes should try to attain.

The drive to win at all costs is only the first step.

This was a year where Cal was supposed to plummet in the Pac-10 standings, but through Lloyd's leadership and mastery of a new offense, the volleyball team reached its highest ranking in school history and claimed its first ever Pac-10 championship.

One of San Francisco's assistant volleyball coaches, a former NCAA champion at Penn State, told me she sees Lloyd as an individual that "will run through walls to win it all."

The playoffs begin Friday at Haas Pavilion against Utah State. Go watch and witness a winner in person. Cheers, Carli.

Second, Cal men's soccer proved that no matter how serious sports are supposed to be taken, there's always room for fun.

The Bears are one win away from the final four of the NCAA College Cup, but they managed to become YouTube heroes with an entertaining, infectious music video to Chris Brown's "For Ur Love" that has over 195,000 views.

The iPhone-filmed music video, a product of road trip boredom and a long bus ride from Corvallis, Ore., to Seattle, showed there is always room for a light side during the grind of a season. Cal also defeated its opponents by a combined score of 9-1 that weekend, so it's not like it was distracted.

We live in a time where athletes are more concerned with mean-mugging the camera and "protecting this house" than admitting that they are supposed to have fun. Just ask Kellen Winslow. He's a soldier.

Just two weeks ago, the team won a highly controversial tilt against UCSB that saw the Gaucho coaches and players confront and attack the referee at the conclusion of the game.

The behavior of UCSB, most notably coach Tim Vom Steeg, exemplified what happens when individuals lose sight of the values of sports. Sure, the Gauchos were the better side that day and suffered a horribly cruel defeat, but nobody will feel sorry for a team that treats officials like indentured servants and then incessantly complains about the officiating afterward.

Cal men's soccer proudly represents this university. Should it make the final four, I encourage any soccer fan to make the trip. The Bears need the help; the tournament is located in, you guessed it, Santa Barbara, home of the sorest-losing soccer team I'll ever see.

And now for the quick hits:

-Make a point to go to the NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship. It's this weekend at Spieker Aquatics Complex, and under the leadership of Zach White and Ivan Rackov, Cal has a great shot at winning it all.

-Usually, Cal football has nothing on Taio Cruz when it comes to breaking your heart, so why was it that nobody seemed to care when Washington's Chris Polk waltzed into the end zone to end the Bears' season? It's time the higher-ups look long and hard into the state of this program. My advice? Take a look at what Brady Hoke is doing at San Diego State. I'm sure he would love a chance to coach in the Pac-10 ...

-I know that the program was egregiously mismanaged for years, but I refuse to support the cutting of Cal baseball. It makes little sense that the athletic department will fund 24 sports but not the national pastime.

OK, folks. It's been fun. Good luck studying for finals. Hopefully I'll study instead of watching sports.

Tags: CAL VOLLEYBALL, CAL MEN'S SOCCER, CARLI LLOYD, ZACH WHITE, IVAN RACKOV, TIM VOM STEEG, CAL MENS WATER POLO


Join Gabriel in choosing sports over studying at [email protected]



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