AI generated robot wearing cavs gear.
Credit: Microsoft Image Creator
AI generated image of a robot in Cleveland Cavaliers gear.

The state of Cleveland sports according to AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming and in an attempt to understand its applications or drawbacks, the Cleveland Stater asked it to give us some hot sport takes.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is gaining traction in multiple fields, including in news, so I decided to put its sports knowledge to the test and ask for its opinion on Cleveland sports.

Week after week, fans of the Browns, Guardians and Cavs voice every opinion imaginable about how the coaches could be getting more out of the city's professional teams, which promise so much, but rarely deliver.

If "run the damn ball" was somehow revolutionary, then perhaps the Browns would hire that fan as a coach, but then the stands would be full of coaches instead of fans. Still, perhaps the fans have a point.

So for my first question, I asked Google’s Bard AI, “Do you think the Cleveland Browns should run the damn ball more?

As you can see below, Bard’s response took the logical route:

Arguments in favor of running the ball more:

  • Running the ball can help control the clock and keep the opposing offense off the field. This can be especially important in late-game situations when the Browns are trying to protect a lead.

Arguments against running the ball more:

  • The Browns’ offensive line may not be good enough to consistently open up holes for the running game. This could make it difficult for the Browns to consistently gain yards on the ground.

I found these responses to be not only a tad obvious, but also not exactly accurate. Despite several injuries along the Browns offensive line, it still consistently ranks in the top five or ten in the league according to most publications.

The part of the response I felt was the most accurate was its closing comments on the team’s decision making:

Ultimately, the decision of whether to run the ball more is up to the Browns' coaching staff. They will need to weigh the pros and cons of running the ball more and make a decision based on what they believe is best for the team.

A swift kick to the footballs of all you Twitter pundits who think that the Browns' success is being hindered because head coach Kevin Stefanski just needs to run the ball more.

Speaking of Stefanski, fans are constantly saying he is the reason this roster isn’t as successful as they should be, despite Stefanski maintaining the best record of any Browns head coach I can remember.

So, I asked Bard, “Should Kevin Stefanski be fired based on the Browns' performances?”

  • Kevin Stefanski has undoubtedly brought stability and improvement to the Cleveland Browns organization. He has demonstrated his ability to lead the team to success and has shown signs of further growth. While there are some weaknesses in his performance, his overall contributions outweigh the negatives.
  • Given his strengths and the context of the Browns' history, it seems premature to consider firing Kevin Stefanski. Instead, the focus should be on providing him with the support and resources he needs to continue building on the progress he has made. With consistent development and better game management, Stefanski has the potential to lead the Browns to sustained success and a long-awaited Super Bowl title.

Bard recognized that compared to recent seasons, Stefanski is the best coach the Browns have had and calling for him to lose his job is, at the very least, premature.

For my last question, I asked Bard to give me some sports takes on the Browns with the tone of something sports television personality Steven A. Smith might say:

  • I'm not saying that Stefanski should be fired tomorrow, but the Browns need to make a decision about their future soon. They can't keep going on like this. They're wasting the talent they have, and they're breaking the hearts of their fans.
  • Stafanski is a nice guy, but he's not a championship-caliber coach. He's too soft, he's too indecisive, and he doesn't hold his players accountable. He's like a guy who's trying to drive a Ferrari with flip-flops on.

This was interesting to me because all the “Stephen A. Smith” style responses were largely negative. I wondered if Bard was simply mimicking the general discourse surrounding the team.

Browns fans are one of the most pessimistic fan bases I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve only lived in Ohio for five years and I’ve heard “same old Browns” more times than I can count.

I wanted to test whether Bard extended that pessimism to the city's other teams, so I asked the AI about the Cavaliers who, from my experience, have a more optimistic fan base.

I asked, “Do you think the Cavs could win the NBA championship?”

  • It is certainly possible for the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA championship this season. They have a talented roster with a proven head coach, and they have shown that they can compete with the best teams in the league. However, there are also some challenges that the Cavaliers will need to overcome in order to win the championship.

Bard noted some of the team’s strengths, which are offensive firepower and their steady improvement on defense. However, it mentioned one of their challenges being depth, which I disagree with. Depth was addressed in the off season with the signing and trade for Georges Niang and Max Strus.

Finally, I asked Bard for its "Stephan A. Smith" style takes on the Cavs. The AI's optimism and analysis suggested to me that some thinking might be actually going in amongst all that circuitry.

  • Donovan Mitchell is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He's a dynamic scorer and playmaker who can take over a game at any moment. If the Cavs want to make a championship run, they need to find a way to get him more involved in the offense.
  • Darius Garland is the future of the Cavs. He's a skilled facilitator who can create scoring opportunities for his teammates. If he can continue to develop his game, he can become one of the best point guards in the NBA.

Throughout this experiment, I found some comfort in how anodyne so much of what Bard had to say was. There’s a lot of fear that with the implementation of AI many people in the journalism industry will lose their jobs. Based on the responses I received from Bard, that won’t be happening any time soon. It was a well-informed tool that could tell me in a nanosecond exactly who was on the 2003 Browns roster, but its ability to form a narrative around the facts was sorely lacking. 

The human ability to find storylines in an instant based on what we see on the court and sense from the fanbase is something I don’t think AI will be able to duplicate, hopefully for the remainder of my reporting career.

What then did Bard think of the single biggest question in the NFL today? “Are Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce in love, or is their romance a public relations stunt?”

  • There are a few reasons why someone might believe that Swift and Kelce's relationship is fake. First, the couple is very different in terms of their backgrounds and careers.
  • However, there is also evidence to suggest that Swift and Kelce's relationship is real. The couple has been seen together on multiple occasions, and they have been photographed holding hands and kissing.
  • Ultimately, whether Swift and Kelce's relationship is real is up to them. However, the evidence suggests that they are at least very interested in each other. Only time will tell if their relationship is the real deal or not.

And with that, I decided that Bard, unlike some fans, at least has a heart.