Category Archives: Sports

APPLES ORANGES HUMANS AND DOGS

Could we please stop with the stupid James Harrison -Mike Vick comparisons.

It’s not about abusing humans versus abusing dogs.

It’s about premeditated, systematic, barbaric cruelty versus a stupid, violent, cruel, spontaneous action.

Nobody denies that hitting an undeserving human is worse than hitting a dog.

James Harrison slapped his then girlfriend in a fit of rage – a rotten cowardly thing to do.

Mike Vick deliberately and continuously, systematically tortured and killed defenseless dogs.

Not in a fit of rage, but for his ENTERTAINMENT.

He stuck their heads in buckets of water.

He hanged them from trees.

He electrocuted them.

And he laughed while he was doing it.

Is that as bad as slapping a woman in a fit of rage?

Is it worse?

I don’t know.

You tell me.

WHEN EVERYBODY WINS EVERYBODY LOSES

Good for James Harrison.

But before we nominate him for Father of the Century as a result of his stance on participation trophies for kids, let’s remember he was arrested in 2008 for hitting his girlfriend.

Charges were eventually dropped when he agreed to enter domestic abuse counseling.

Harrison,a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, made national news last week when he posted this on Instagram: “I came to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing. Participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them until the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry, I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned …”

As it turned out, the trophies, from former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch’s Best of the Batch Foundation, weren’t technically participation trophies, which is good for the Best of the Batch Foundation, but Harrison’s comments, justified in this case or not, were valuable because they drew attention to a disturbing trend in American culture.

HBO’s Real Sports devoted a segment to it this month that included lots of comments from youth coaches and officials supporting the idea of giving a kid a trophy for showing up.

The segment also included examples of huge increases in sales for trophy companies.

Is this a great country, or what?

The “Everybody Gets a Trophy” movement is most likely a result of the self-esteem movement in schools that began in the 1970s and eventually led to schools eliminating just about everything that could potentially damage a kid’s self-esteem.

It gave us soccer “matches” and baseball “games” with no scores and high school graduation ceremonies with 20 valedictorians.

What’s really disturbing and a little scary is that so many educators and coaches could be unaware that giving nobody a trophy would be better than giving everybody one.

The value of a trophy is directly related to the number of them given out. If everybody gets one, they are all worthless.

And how could so many supposedly smart people not realize that, by not singling out individual performances, they are denying kids an opportunity to get a large jolt of positive self-esteem by being honored as the best at something?

And if you are constantly giving kids praise and rewards for doing nothing but showing up, why wouldn’t they become cynical about all praise and awards?

New York Magazine, in an article written eight years ago called “How Not to Talk to Your Kids,” cited psychologist Wulf-Uwe Meyer on the subject.

Meyer did a series of studies of kids watching other kids receiving praise.

He determined that, by the age of 12, kids believe that earning praise from a teacher is not a sign that you did well – it’s actually a sign that you lack ability and the teacher thinks you need extra encouragement.

Why would it be any different with kids and coaches?

And trophies?

Participation trophies may be the result of misguided self-esteem programs in schools but it may not be that complicated. It still comes to kids being over-organized and too much parental involvement.

How have adults devolved to the level of stupidity that they would believe it’s a good idea to put baseball uniforms on four and five year-olds and expect them to be able to play anything that resembles the game of baseball?

Maybe it’s time for adults to realize that baseball, football, basketball, soccer and hockey are not kids’ games.

Major League Baseball players like to tell you that they’re lucky to be getting paid big bucks for “Playing a kid’s game.”

They’re not. Baseball was invented by a man to be played by men.

Maybe the kids shouldn’t be playing on an organized team until they’re old enough to understand the concept of winning, losing and being singled out as the best.

WHEN CONSERVATIVE POLITICIANS LOSE THEIR MINDS

What is it about sports teams that cause conservatives to lose their minds?

Before Donald Trump crashed the party, according to most of the polls, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was leading in the Republican primary.

He sells himself as a fiscal conservative and most voters seem to have bought what he’s selling.

And maybe his record as governor backs up the claim.

So why is he in favor of corporate welfare?

The corporation is the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA.

They want a new arena and they want the taxpayers of Wisconsin to pay for it. So does Walker.

He justifies it by saying that the state would lose more money if the Bucks followed through on their threat to leave town. He points to the taxes paid by the Bucks franchise and the state income taxes that the Bucks’ players and visiting players will pay between now and when the debt is paid.

Walker told ABC News, “Our return on investment is three to one. It’s a good deal.”

Even National Review Online’s Christian Schneider bought that pile of steaming horse manure and apologized for Walker’s support of corporate welfare.

What people like Walker and Schneider don’t or won’t understand is that, if the Bucks were to pay for their own arena, those revenues would still be raised by the state, but the money could be spent on something other than a building that should be paid for by the building’s tenant.

Couldn’t every restaurant that pays taxes and hires employees who pay state income taxes make the same argument and ask the state of Wisconsin to pay for a new building?

Neither Walker nor any other politician passing him or herself off as a conservative would buy that argument.

There are stadiums and arenas all over America that are financed by plans that have been supported by conservative politicians.

Including two in Pittsburgh, PNC Park and Heinz Field, that were funded by a corrupt plan endorsed by another conservative candidate for the Republican nomination, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

David Boaz of the Cato Institute cites several economic studies that should be required reading for all political candidates, including Walker, who buy and sell the notion that building stadiums for billionaires is great for the economy.

One study done by Raymond Keating of the Cato Institute called “Sports Pork: The Costly Relationship between Major League Sports and Government,” says, “The lone beneficiaries of sports subsidies are team owners and players… the results of studies on changes in the economy resulting from the presence of stadiums, arenas and sports teams show no positive economic impact from professional sports – or a possible negative effect.”

I’ll bet Scott Walker agrees with the Cato Institute on economic policy 99% of the time.

So what is it about a sports team that causes him to lose his conservative senses?

Boaz says, “Any presidential candidate who believes that taxpayer-subsidized stadiums are ‘A good deal,’ shouldn’t be anywhere near the federal Treasury.”

A poll taken several months ago in Wisconsin showed that 79% of voters were opposed to the state paying $150 million for the Bucks’ new arena. The plan Walker is pushing has the taxpayers paying $250 million.

Instead of caving in to the pressure from vocal fans and a cheer leading media, like so many other governors in so many other states, shouldn’t a true conservative running for president be taking the lead to stop the insanity?

Maybe there’s a reporter or two in Iowa this weekend who could ask Governor Walker that question.

FIRST STRING MONEY FOR THIRD STRING FOOTBALL

Who needs two?

How would you like two tickets to Sunday Night’s NFL Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio?

Prices may be a little higher now, but, as of Friday afternoon, StubHub had two tickets on the 20-yard line for $200.25.

How about a parking pass for $125?

To see Landry Jones play quarterback?

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said on Friday morning that Ben Roethlisberger will be standing on the sidelines Sunday night against the Vikings.

So will Le’Veon Bell, Murkice Pouncey, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller and James Harrison.

In other words, just about every player worth seeing won’t be seen.

Resting the starters in early preseason games is nothing new, but fans used to be able to count on seeing the starters at least play a series or two.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was a little more coy about how much his starters would play but he gave the impression that lots of them would be missing in action Sunday Night.

Fans of the Steelers and Vikings -at least the ones watching on TV and not paying a hundred bucks a ticket – might be okay with watching wannabes and never wills but what about NFL fans in, say, Keokuk, Iowa?

This game is going to be televised nationally on NBC.

Only a company with a monopoly could get away with charging regular prices for a blatantly inferior product and the NFL sure has one of those.

Absent the monopoly, do you think the Steelers and Vikings might feel a little pressure to at least give the customers a taste of the real product?

Wouldn’t they be a little worried about backlash from giving people Landry Jones at Ben Roethlisberger prices?

The Hall of Fame Game is played at a neutral site and maybe fans living in a small town like Canton are just thrilled to have the opportunity to see humans wearing NFL uniforms in their local stadium, but the rest of the preseason – or, as they used to be called, EXHIBITION- games will be played in publicly funded stadiums and the customers will be paying regular season prices.

After listening to season ticket buyers howl about being forced to buy exhibition game tickets in their season ticket packages, the Steelers lowered the price but made up the difference by instituting a tier system that charges more for the most attractive regular season games.

As of Friday, you could get a ticket to the Steelers first home exhibition game against the Carolina Panthers for seven dollars.

That’s the free market telling you how much a ticket to an NFL exhibition game is really worth.

Obviously, because of the hoopla surrounding player inductions, the Hall of Fame Game is about more than the game, but it’s on national TV and, unless you’re a Steelers or Vikings fan, it becomes a snooze fest about eight minutes into the telecast.

Here’s an idea: Move the Hall of Fame weekend to the third week of the preseason.

That’s the week when the starters usually play at least three quarters and the paying customers and TV viewers actually get something that resembles a real NFL game.

Shouldn’t a showcase game showcase the product in the best possible light?

That’s a stupid question unless you’re talking about a monopoly.

And come to think of it, considering the value of a star NFL quarterback, the Steelers would be wise to not play Roethlisberger until the last exhibition game, if at all.

Let Landry Jones keep the customers satisfied.

WERE THE U.S SOCCER WOMEN CHEATED?

What to do about the World Cup pay gap?

There was quite an outcry from feminists in and out of the media when it was learned that the U.S. Women’s Soccer team took home $2 million in prize money last month, while the German men’s team won $35 million in last year’s World Cup and the American team that didn’t make it out of the round of 16 made $8 million.

Of course, there was a politician ready to show his ignorance on the subject and pander to his voters.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont passed a resolution urging soccer’s corrupt organizing body, FIFA, to immediately end the pay inequities.

Anybody with a brain should know that the only way to get equal pay for the women would be to pass an international law requiring people to watch the Women’s World Cup.

The ratings for the U.S Women’s games in the USA were through the roof – the highest metered record ever for a soccer game on a single network, but, world-wide, they were 1/10 of what the Men’s games drew.

The Men’s World Cup in 2010 produced $3.7 billion in revenue. The 2011 Women’s World Cup generated $73 million.

Is this complicated?

It’s not sexism or the grass ceiling.

It’s economics.

Shane Ferro of Business Insider’s not buying it: “Most of us have been socialized to accept men’s sports as dominate and somehow more interesting.”

“The problem is that once society has internalized this falsehood – and let’s face it, it’s a falsehood that’s millennia in the making – it’s not so easy to correct.”

She’s right. It has been millennia in the making.

You know why?

Because men invented sports.

Golf was invented over in Scotland, where the Women’s Open Championship is taking place this weekend.

About 600 years ago, a bunch of guys, on the spot where the Men’s Open Championship was played two weeks ago – Old Course at St. Andrews in Fife Scotland – started it all.

They were bored shepherds in the field, who thought it would be fun try to hit round stones into rabbit holes using their wooden staffs.

For hundreds of years, women, who have always had more common sense than men, couldn’t imagine doing anything so stupid.

What are the chances that a woman came up with the idea that feeding Christians to the lions would be a nice way to spend a Summer evening?

I’m not an anthropologist but there must be a good explanation for why every sport was invented by a man and, despite the fact that both genders have been on the planet for the same amount of time, women only became really interested in playing them pretty recently.

Where have you been, ladies?

Six hundred years ago, the shepherds’ wives thought their husbands were idiots for spending their time knocking rocks into rabbit holes and, you know what? They were right.

Who knew it would evolve into an activity that would be played, not mention watched, by millions of people?

Most sports, when reduced to their essence are pretty stupid.

What about two men standing toe-to-toe trying to punch each other unconscious?

How about 22 men running into each other trying to prevent someone from advancing a pig’s bladder across a line drawn in the dirt?

These sports were invented by men, not because they’re superior to women, quite the opposite.

Women had better, more important things to do.

Now, more and more women are demanding that men be as interested in watching women play the ridiculous games that they invented as they are in watching other men.
With all due respect to Ms. Ferro, we haven’t been socialized to believe men’s sports are more interesting. They just are. Not always. But most of the time. Especially to men.

And instead of being offended by the long history of male dominance in sports, maybe women should take pride in the fact that, throughout the millennia, they have found better things to do with their time.

And rememeber, it was a man, Genghis Kahn, who thought that polo would be more fun if they used human heads instead of a ball.

TOMLIN DESERVED THE EXTENSION BUT….

Based on the way the Steelers do business, Mike Tomlin deserved the two year extension. Bottom line, he went 11-6 last year and won a division championship.

But…………..

The Steelers haven’t won a playoff game in four years. You’d have to go back to the dark ages before Chuck Noll to find a stretch of five years without a post season win.

Before Noll, the Steelers went 40 years without one.

Tomlin inhrited a team with a lot of talent and he did whatr a good coach would/should do. He won a lot.

Went to two Super Bowls.

BUt……………..

He inherited a team with a franchise/future HOF quarterback, a HOF safety, a probable HOF wide receiver, an all-pro RB, a HOF caliber TE and a genius for a defensive coordinator.

As the players he inherited have begun to disappear, so have the playoff wins.

Tomlin has to prove that he can draft (and he has a lot to say about who gets drafted) and develop players on his own and win with them.

The Steelers have their toughest (on paper) schedule in a long time.

I don’t think the Steelers are better now than they were last January.

Let’s see how that extension looks at this time next year.

NO TEARS FOR TIGER

Tiger Woods is a middle of the pack hack.

That’s what ESPN golf analyst Paul Azinger called him during coverage of the first round of the British Open. The actual quote was, “It’s hard to watch the greatest player of this generation be a middle of the pack hack.”

Azinger may have been trying to be nice by saying that it’s hard to watch, but he probably wasn’t speaking for most of the people who play, cover and follow professional golf.

As I write this, Woods was trying to finish his second round and on the way to missing the cut. He was 21 over par for his last 45 holes in a major tournament.

It’s dangerous to write off a once in a generation player in any sport because their otherworldliness could very well mean that they have the ability to overcome the odds and be great again.

But Tiger’s game needs drastic improvement to reach mediocrity. He’s really been bad for a while. Going into the British Open he was ranked 241st in the world and was averaging 73 strokes per round.

That’ll get you a 1 or 2 handicap at your local country club, but it won’t get you enough prize money on the PGA tour to pay your expenses.

Talk to guys who have covered Tiger Woods over the years and you will find that many, if not most, don’t find it hard at all to see him becoming a hack.

Woods was never a very popular guy on tour. Not with his fellow golfers or the media who covered him.

A Hall of Fame golf writer, who has been covering the PGA since the early days of Arnold Palmer, told me two years ago that most of the players on the tour felt that Woods’ decline couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

And, regardless of what the golf media say publicly, as much as they appreciate what Woods has done and could still do for the sport, it’s safe to assume that they don’t find Woods’ fall hard to watch at all.

Woods was always fun to watch even it never looked like he was having fun playing. Jordan Speith, who’s trying to win his third straight major tournament this weekend, has already smiled more in post-round interviews than Tiger has smiled in his entire career.

Woods will always be mentioned in the same breath as Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Watson and Hogan, but he stands alone as the guy who, while he was the face of golf, would throw his clubs and drop F-bombs on the course.

Tom Watson played his last 18 holes at the British Open on Friday and got the proper sendoff from the crowd as he crossed the famed Swilican Bridge at St. Andrews.

With the way Woods’ career is going now and with his lack of friends in the golf world, it’s hard to imagine him having a moment like that 25 years from now.

Jack Nicklaus, who is back to being the indisputable best player in history, is also universally regarded as one of the nicest, classiest, most gracious players ever.

In any sport.

At his age, he probably appreciates that more than his accomplishments on the course.

There are, no doubt, still millions of golf fans out there who would like to see Tiger Woods become Tiger Woods again for no other reason than their appreciation for greatness.

Woods has sunk so low that even the media, who were turned off long ago by his lack of cooperation and surliness, would be fine with a miraculous return to his old self because it would be a great story to cover.

But you know who would really like to see Tiger come roaring back to the top of the golf world?\

Nike.

How would you like to have $50 or $60 million in endorsements riding on him for the next several years?