THE ENEMY WAS WEARING ORANGE

Sports fans can be idiots.

This is nothing new but they continue to go where no fan has gone before.

Take Tony Williams, for example.

He intercepted a pass on Sunday at the Superdome (or whatever it’s called now) in New Orleans during the Saints game with the Cincinnati Bengals. Tony doesn’t play for the Saints or the Bengals. He’s a 70-year old Saints fan who intercepted a pass intended for a Bengals, fan who was sitting next to him in the end zone seats.

She (that’s right, SHE) was wearing a Bengals jersey. Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham scored a touchdown and when he spotted Christa Barrett’s orange jersey, he went to the back of the end zone and flipped the ball to her.

Williams jumped in front of her and snatched the ball away.

When Barrett smiled and asked him for the ball, Williams shook his head no. Then she begged him to give her the ball that was intended for her and Williams still said no.

There has been way too much violence in stadiums these days, much of it precipitated by one moron in his favorite player’s jersey picking a fight with another moron wearing the jersey of a player from the opposing team. And that really needs to stop.

But this was one time when it would be hard to blame Jarrett for a violent response.

There were several men seated around Jarrett and Williams and not one of them stood up for Jarrett and demanded that Williams give the ball back.

Apparently, chivalry really is dead.

Of course, the video of the incident went viral and Williams was trashed and ridiculed around the world, but it didn’t seem to phase him. He said he wanted the ball for his grand baby.

And won’t his grandbaby be proud when 20 years from now, the video of his grandfather shamelessly stealing a ball from a woman is still out there?

This is no small thing.

It’s another example of just how far sports fandom has fallen, but, more than that, it’s a prime example of where the human race is headed.

There was a time when a man would be not only ashamed to do what Williams did, he would be afraid of what other men in the vicinity might do to him if he didn‘t give the ball back.

He still has the ball.

And this 70-year old man still thinks he did the right thing. I hope he lives long enough to explain how it was the right thing to do to his grandson.

You would think that any adult working at a major TV network would condemn and/or ridicule Williams for what he did, but 34-year old Mike Smith, co-host of ESPN’s His-Hers said, “I’m not gonna sit up here and judge Mr. Williams for being a true fan.

“You’re a Saints fan and you got a Bengals fan trying to celebrate a touchdown and getting a souvenir ball at your home field. This is called creating a hostile environment. So, yes I would allow it.”

“She put on that jersey…you take on that responsibility of being a fan, you don’t get no kind of double standard involved here. No. You don’t get the ball. Not next to me.”

This is a grown man, working for the world’s number one sports network as a commentator and he’s telling fans that they have a right to “protect their house.”

When Smith’s co-host, Jemele Hill, asked him about chivalry, Smith said, “Hey, man, this ain’t a game here. All’s fair. This is war. You’re in the Superdome, you’re a fan. You’re a grown woman, you got a (Bengals) jersey on, you’re the enemy. Simple as that. She’s a fan, She’s the enemy. You are not there to make friends with her. You’re not there to watch her enjoy her stay.”

Once again, this is not a drunken fan in a sports bar. It’s a network commentator saying that a person rooting for the visiting team in a stadium is the “enemy.”

He said it with a straight face.

Is this the prevailing attitude among sports fans in 2014?

If so, how pathetic is that?

TROUBLE IN TALAHASSEE

Florida State University has another chance to make its alumni proud.

The College Football Playoff Rankings had their alma mater ranked third in the country going into this weekend. That means, if the season ended today, FSU would be in position to defend its Mythical National Championship as one of the final four teams in college football’s new format for determining the Mythical National Champion.

If the overall integrity and reputation of Florida State University figures into the average alum’s sense of pride, he or she should stay away from the New York Times.

It was the Times’ investigation into the sexual assault allegations against FSU quarterback Jameis Winston last year that exposed a slimy association between the football team’s athletic department, booster club and local law enforcement.

The Times concluded that the Tallahassee Police Department hampered the investigation and only got serious about it when the media started asking questions.

Winston was never charged with sexual assault but, under federal government rules covered by Title IX, FSU was required to do it’s own investigation.

A hearing had been scheduled for November 17th but was delayed until December 1st, two days after Florida State’s last regular season football game.

The Times’ reporting uncovered multiple examples of FSU players getting a pass from the local cops. The most recent example was the case of cornerback P.J. Williams, the Most Valuable Defensive Player in last seasons Mythical National Championship game.

He, “Drove his car into the path of a teenager returning home from a job a the Olive Garden.”

Both cars were totaled and Williams and his two passengers ran from the scene. Hit and run, right?

Maybe. But apparently not if you are an important FSU football player. The Times investigation found that Williams was driving with a suspended license and was given a break by the local cops, who reduced what should have been a criminal act to two traffic tickets.

The cops said that they didn’t charge Williams with hit and run because he returned to the scene 20 minutes after the accident. The Times found that others who returned to the scene of less serious accidents had been charged with hit and run violations.

Of course, they didn’t play football for Florida State.

The local cops make lots of extra money working overtime during Florida State football games and they’re paid directly by the boosters.

Good FSU football teams are good business for just about everybody in Tallahassee.

Last January, the cops answered a 911 call about a man beating a woman who was holding a baby. When they arrived on the scene, the man and the woman were inside and the woman said everything was okay. Instead of getting written statements from witnesses and the possible victim, which they are legally bound to do, the cops told their sergeant that it was an FSU football player and the sergeant who, according to the Times is “a Florida State University sports fan, signed off on it and the complaint was filed away as ‘unfounded’.”

Tallahassee is a long way from New York City but the New York Times has shown an interest in the corruption at Florida State that doesn’t seem to have been matched by any other major media outlets, including Florida media.

For the Times, it’s been like shooting fish in a barrel.

There’s the story of 13 players, including Winston, who were involved in multiple BB/pellet gun shootouts that resulted in thousands of dollars in damages the last two years.

Three FSU players accused of domestic violence in the last two years.

In June, wide receiver Jesus Wilson plead guilty to stealing a scooter and crashing it. He was originally charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle but was able to plead down to a misdemeanor. The owner of the scooter told the Times that the arresting officer told him that he didn’t want to ruin Wilson’s career by arresting him.

And who cares, anyway?

We’re talking possible back-to-back Mythical National Championships here.

Go ‘Noles.

ADS ON UNIFORMS! WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

Is our country doomed?

Not because of anything that happened on Tuesday but because of what was unveiled on Friday in Westchester, New York. The Westchester Knicks, D League affiliate of the New York Knicks, unveiled their new jerseys and they include advertising.

You can bet that there are fans and even some in the media who are hiding under their beds in fear of laying their eyes upon an NBA jersey that has been contaminated by an ad.

They should get used to the idea because it’s only a matter of time before NBA players become the 2014 version of the sandwich board. The NBA started experimenting with jersey ads during the 2012 D-League playoffs and no one died or became seriously ill.

The plan was to test it with the developmental league teams to see if fans could handle it. Apparently the rioting was kept to a minimum and now jersey ads are part of D-League uniforms and headed to an NBA team near you very soon.

Seriously, what’s the big deal?

Every pro league depends on advertising for its very existence.
Players in the four major leagues aren’t making mega-millions because of ticket sales. The money comes from TV and we all know where TV’s money comes from.

Minor league baseball and hockey teams couldn’t exist without in-stadium and radio advertising.
What’s so sacred about a uniform anyway?

Teams change them all the time because they know fans are dumb enough to believe that they have to be wearing the latest version of their team’s jersey if they want to be really cool.

There was a time when a man wearing a jersey wasn’t cool at all, but that‘s another story.

Now, maybe the grown men who wear the replica jerseys of their favorite players can get a cut of the advertising money.
Or maybe the teams can give their customers a break on the price of the jerseys if they come with an ad.

Sure they can.

There was a time when ads on the outfield walls were perfectly okay in Major League ballparks. When the new cookie cutter, all purpose stadiums started popping up all over North America in the late sixties and early seventies, it was considered bad taste, if not sacrilegious to defame a wall with advertising.

Then; around the turn of this century, came the new stadiums that were paid for by the taxpayers and named after an advertiser.
It’s not only Heinz Field in Pittsburgh where the scoreboard video screen shows ketchup pouring out of a giant Heinz Ketchup bottle every time the home team enters the red zone.

It happens all over the NFL.

You would have to be pretty old to remember when a pitching change was not brought to you by Pennzoil, Pampers, a local bank or some other advertiser.

Believe it or not, there was a time when the power play in a hockey broadcast was not brought to you by anybody. It used to be just a power play.

So, let’s nip the outrage in the Bud – sorry, I mean bud.

(Hey, maybe I’m on to something. There’s money to be made here. The next sentence is brought to you by ___YOUR AD HERE_______.)
Get used to the idea that, before long, your favorite players in your favorite sports are going to be running, jumping, diving throwing, living billboards.

It’s America. You’ll get used to it.

\ It kind of reminds me of what I think is still the best in-stadium ad in sports history. And its message applies here.

The Atlanta Braves put a gigantic ad on the tarp that was unrolled to cover the field during rain outs at Fulton County Stadium.

It was a picture of a gigantic box of Morton’s Salt with the words, “When it rains, it pours.”

WORLD SERIES TANKS AGAIN

As long as people stop dying, the World Series will do just fine.

The average age of the this year’s World Series viewer was 54. Five years ago the average age was 49. See where this is going?
At this rate, in 25 years, the average age of a World Series viewer will be right around 80.

That’s not good for Major League Baseball.

Back in 1980, the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the Philadelphia Phillies was watched by an average of about 50 million people.

Game 7 Wednesday night between the Royals and the San Francisco Giants drew 23.5 million viewers. The first six games averaged about 12.5 million and, if there had been no Game 7 to pump up the final numbers, it would have been the lowest rated World Series ever.

Apologists for Major League Baseball will tell you that it’s unfair to compare TV ratings when people have 150 channels from which to choose to ratings from a time when their were less than 10 choices for most people.

That argument might be valid if not for the NBA’s ratings.

Back in 1980, the Los Angeles Lakers of Jabbar and Magic played the Philadelphia 76ers of Dr. J and Julius Dawkins. The games were televised by CBS. You know how many people saw it on live TV.
None.
It was on taped delay.

The 2014 NBA Finals on NBC averaged 15.5 million viewers, including 22.4 million for Game 5, when the Spurs clinched the series.

There was a time when the World Series was the most anticipated, most watched, most talked about sports event of the year. And that was when it was played in the afternoon.

Now MLB and Fox Network have to avoid scheduling games on Monday and Thursday nights to avoid getting smoked in the ratings by an NFL regular season game.

The Sunday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos had two times the audience of Games 1 and 2 of this year’s World Series.

And, as the New York Times pointed out, “NCIS: New Orleans” and “The Big Bang Theory” had more viewers, So did “The Walking Dead,” a cable show about zombies.

When baseball was king, kids used to get in trouble for listening to the World Series on their transistor radios during school and they would hustle home in hopes of catching an inning or two on TV.

How many kids do you think were watching Game 7 Wednesday night? How many kids even knew it was on?

Kids 6-16 made up less than four percent of the World Series audience this year and that number is inflated by the huge number of kids in Kansas City who got special permission from their parents to stay up late.
The 54-year old average viewer who tuned into this year’s World Series is old enough to remember when people watched or listened to the games at work and the local drug stores and barber shops knew it was good business to have a TV turned on for their customers who considered it can’t miss TV.

Nobody should be feeling sorry for anybody associated with Major League Baseball. The local TV ratings during the regular season are huge and the ball parks are filled. The owners and players are making more money than they’ve ever made before.

And they’ll continue to make obscene amounts of money in the future. How far into the future is a different story.

Thirty years from now, those 54 year-olds will be 84 and telling their grandkids about the good ol’ days when the World Series really mattered.

IF UNC DOESN’T DESERVE DEATH PENALTY, WHO DOES?

Congratulations to Roy Williams.

He has been able to keep a straight face while saying that he had no idea that many of his basketball players at North Carolina were taking sham courses in the Afro-American studies program.

This is the institution of higher learning that, according to a whistle blower in the UNC Athletic Department,has, for decades, been giving scholarships to athletes who read at somewhere between the fourth and eighth grade level.

The results of an independent investigation by former federal prosecutor Kenneth L Wainstein were released on Wednesday and if the NCAA doesn’t issue the death penalty to UNC’s athletic program, then it is even more useless than anyone could have imagined.

The scam was first brought to light by Mary Willingham, who worked as an academic counselor for UNC athletes. She spoke of “students” who couldn’t read beyond the fourth grade level and a few who couldn’t read at all.

That led to Wainstein’s investigation.

In simple terms, the scam involved steering black athletes toward courses in Afro-American studies. Whatever grade they needed to remain eligible was the grade they received without the inconvenience of, you know, going to class or taking tests.

But, really, why should anybody be surprised that kids, who are reading at an elementary school level, would have to cheat to stay eligible?

One of those players was Rashad McCants. He told ESPN’s Outside the Lines in June that Williams helped him manipulate his transcript from the fall of 2004. He replaced failing grades that semester with passing grades from summer school courses to keep him eligible.

Williams appeared on the show with 11 of his former players and said – with a straight face – that he didn’t know what McCants was talking about.

According to the investigation, five of the players on UNC’s 2005 national championship team were enrolled in a total of 39 bogus classes.

So, when does that 2005 championship banner come down?
Williams should have been fired by now.

Maybe you believe that he didn’t know what was going on, even though UNC football coaches have admitted to being aware of the scam, but I’m not buying it for a minute.

How many kitchens did Williams sit in over the years and promise the parents of a potential recruit that he could be trusted to make sure that their son would get a good education?

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt has already fired four people and put five others under disciplinary review. Personnel laws prevent her from making their names public.

I’m betting that Williams still has his job.

Folt has some plausible deniability since she’s only been on the job since 2013, but, based on the pervasiveness and long history of the corruption, it’s hard to believe that someone didn’t at least mention it to her at a cocktail party.

Folt could do the right thing – fire multiple coaches and impose the death penalty on her own football and basketball programs instead of waiting for the NCAA to come up with reasons not to do it- but I wouldn’t bet on that happening.

The NCAA will get around to ruling on the UNC case after it conducts a study on the effectiveness of allowing athletes to spread cream cheese on their bagels.

Don’t bet on the national media putting much pressure on the NCAA. The reaction, based on what I’ve seen since the results of the investigation were released on Wednesday, has been a long, collective yawn.

And this story is not one that should only interest the sports media. It’s not just about basketball and football. It’s about lousy high schools that graduate kids (mostly black) who have trouble reading The Cat in the Hat.

Where’s the outrage over kids who read at the fourth grade level being able to get a high school diploma?

And who thinks that the University of North Carolina is the only institution of higher learning that allows this to go on in the interest of justifying billion dollar TV contracts?

I once watched a college football player at a major university put the free books he had just picked up on the first day of the semester under his desk. Three months later, I saw that the books hadn’t been touched. I also know that he didn’t go to one class that semester.

He was given the answers to tests before he took them.
He made the Dean’s List.
That was in 1970.

NFL AND POLITICIANS THICK AS THIEVES

Don’t you just love those venerable, old stadiums and ball parks? Wrigley Field. Fenway Park. Dodger Stadium. Lambeau Field. The Rose Bowl. Edward Jones Dome.

In case that last one kind of caught you off guard, it’s the dump where the St. Louis Rams play.

The Rams want a new stadium and they, with the help of the NFL, are using a not so veiled threat to move to Los Angeles in order to get it.

The Edward Jones Dome opened in 1995. Yep, 19 years ago.

Remember when teams used to play in the same building for 50 or 60 years? That was when team owners paid for their own buildings.

As of 2012, 125 of the 140 teams in the NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer, were playing in stadiums built or refurbished since 1990. Most, if not all of them, were paid for mostly with tax payer dollars at a cost of more than $30 billion.

You’ve heard all the arguments about what a great idea it is for local and state governments to subsidize pro franchises.

They’re usually made by consultants paid for by team owners, or stupid and/or corrupt politicians. Economists who study the effect of the new stadiums after the fact tend to blow that theory out of the water.

Greg Mankiw, who’s chairman of the economics department at Harvard, did a survey of economists and 85% of them said that local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises.

What do you suppose the local “leaders” were telling the fine citizens of St. Louis in the early nineties when they were trying to sell them on the idea of spending a quarter of a billion dollars on a stadium for the team that was going to be re-locating from Los Angeles?

Georgia Fronteire, the owner of the Los Angeles Rams, was tired of sharing a stadium with the California Angels and decided to move when she found out that the local politicians weren’t dumb or corrupt enough to give her one of her own.

So, here we are 19 years later and the usual promises and threats are being made.

There will be even more economic benefits with the new stadium than they got from the old dome and the Rams are threatening to move again.

To L.A., of course.

They would like a new $700 million stadium and would like the local taxpayers to pay for it.

As usual, there is plenty of media cheerleading being done on the part of the local thieves…er, team. In his St. Louis Post-Dispatch column on Tuesday, Bryan Burwell showed lots of impatience with the team and local politicians for not coming up with a deal that would keep the Rams in St. Louis.

Nowhere in his column did he question whether giving the Rams one dime of other people’s money to replace a 19 year old stadium was a good idea.

Nothing new in St. Louis.
It has happened and will continue to happen in cities all over North America.
The Rams will get their new stadium.

The NFL will let everyone know that it is willing to pay for half the cost of a new stadium in Los Angeles. More teams will threaten to move there and one eventually will.
That will open up another jilted city for an expansion team.

Remember Cleveland?

The jilted fans will be easily convinced that a new stadium will bring jobs, improve the quality of life in their neighborhood and help them overcome the embarrassment of losing a team.

Owners will get richer and politicians will be re-elected.

They all should be arrested.