The holiday season is in full force, and that means conversations with people you definitely want to talk to — and maybe some weirdness at the dinner table or company holiday party too. Whether you’re trying to stir up some debate, impress the table or avoid awkwardness, we’ve got you covered.


What to say … if you want to start a debate

Should college athletes be paid?

The NCAA brings in roughly $1 billion annually. But under the current rules, college athletes never see any of that revenue. The debate has been raging for years as to why the NCAA wouldn’t let athletes profit from their success, especially when high-profile coaches continue to get lucrative contracts.

In September, California passed a law making it possible for college athletes to accept endorsement money. Immediately after, the NCAA’s board voted unanimously to start the process of modifying its rules to allow college athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

As with all good debate topics, there are two camps. One says that of course the athletes should be paid. They are, as we all know, the reason for a sport’s existence in the first place. So how is it fair that everyone else can profit off them, but they can’t?

But there’s a strong counterpoint: Isn’t the ability to go to college on scholarship and possibly become a star as good as getting money for name, image and likeness? In addition to potentially being set up for success by going to college, many athletes get other benefits that include per diems and gifts for playing in tournaments. And it’s a slippery slope: How can the NCAA make sure that the process is fair and equal, and doesn’t become corrupt?

All right, go for it, and let us know who wins!


What to say … if you need to change the topic ASAP

Did you see one of the most clutch grand slams in MLB playoff history?

Howie Kendrick hit a go-ahead grand slam in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, pushing the Washington Nationals past the Los Angeles Dodgers. The franchise sealed its first division series win. Kendrick’s slam set the stage for the rest of the postseason, as the Nats went on to win the World Series in seven games over the favored Houston Astros. So watch it again … and again.

Have you seen Simone Biles’ superhuman triple-double?

Because no one can resist the power of Simone Biles:

The most decorated gymnast of all time landed two never-done-before moves at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in August: a triple-double on the floor and a double-double dismount off the beam. Both were named after her in October at the world championships.


What to say … if you want to make your friends/family/co-workers laugh

Remember that time last month that a black cat stole the show for Monday Night Football?

Kevin Harlan’s call on radio for Westwood One was epic. That someone can make a cat running on grass so entertaining will truly tickle your fancy:

It turns out there have been many other animal-on-the-field — or court — incidents. Check ’em out here. Keep your eyes on Manu Ginobili — he does, in fact, capture a bat on the loose during a San Antonio Spurs game.


What to say … if you want to show off your sports knowledge

I know who will win the Super Bowl and the College Football Playoff — and have all of the odds to back it up.

Super Bowl LIV is approaching, and the Baltimore Ravens are new favorites.

And if you thought that was a sentence that would be typed out when the season began, you are among the few. In September at DraftKings sportsbook, 24 of the 32 teams had attracted more bets to win the Super Bowl than the Ravens, including the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and New York Giants. Um … wow.

Now, with MVP front-runner Lamar Jackson at the helm, the Ravens are at +250 and atop the odds to win the Super Bowl at Caesars Sportsbook, followed by the New Orleans Saints at +350. The Patriots were picked by many at the beginning of the season to win (again), but have since dropped to +450 at Caesars, with the 49ers next at +600.

Want to talk college football, too? Well, we’ve got you set there as well.

According to ESPN’s David Purdum, No. 3 Clemson opened as a two-point favorite over No. 2 Ohio State on Sunday at Caesars Sportsbook. The Tigers and Buckeyes will face off Dec. 28 in the Fiesta Bowl in the second semifinal.

No. 1 LSU has opened as a 10-point favorite over No. 4 Oklahoma in the other semifinal. The Tigers and Sooners square off Dec. 28 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

The favored team has won nine of 15 College Football Playoff games. LSU is the fifth double-digit favorite in College Football Playoff history. The previous four won straight-up, and double-digit favorites overall have won their games outright 89.6% of the time over the past five seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.


What to say … if you want to drop unique sports knowledge

Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry has had the best-selling NBA jersey for four of the past five NBA seasons.

The only time he didn’t have the best-selling jersey was 2018-19, when that distinction belonged to LeBron James.

The King has been runner-up to Curry the years that he hasn’t won.