I don't know how things are in the area where you live; but around here, there is a tsunami of political advertising on TV stations. I've tried to
ignore as much of it as I can, but I'm afraid they have begun to take hold of my subconscious. I feel compelled to tell you that I am The Sports
Curmudgeon and I approved this rant...
One week ago, Scott Ostler wrote a column in the San Francisco Chronicle saying that if he has a vote for the MLB Hall of Fame in 2011 or 2012 when
Barry Bonds is eligible, he will not vote for Bonds. He spent the column outlining why he would make that choice and why Bonds would have had his vote
had Bonds retired about five years earlier.
I mention this column specifically because it is the basis for Scott Ostler's next column in which he responds to the "high volume of emotional e-mail
in reaction to that column". Evidently, people who are staunch fans of Bonds were more than just a tad upset with the first column and sent him
missives suggesting that he do some outrageous things to himself such as sticking a shotgun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. He spends the rest
of the column answering some of the "misconceptions" that were contained in readers' e-mail messages and it is an outstanding piece of work. His
response to readers' allegations of racism and his explanation of why "innocent until proven guilty" is not applicable here are really outstanding.
Let me move along here to one of my least favorite organizations on the planet, the NCAA. Over the weekend, they decided that there was no impropriety
involved in Rick Neuheisel's participation in those NCAA bracket pools and he was exonerated and it now on track to get another coaching job in
college. Since I believe that betting on NCAA bracket pools is a foregone conclusion anywhere other than in the NCAA offices itself, you might think
that I agree with this decision. Well, I don't.
Part of the basis for the NCAA's decision is the fact that the University of Washington compliance official erroneously wrote a memo saying that such
behavior was allowed. I don't doubt that the memo was written and I don't doubt that the person how wrote it was the compliance officer. But just
suppose that Michael Milken's lawyer had told him that everything he was doing was just "hunky-dory". Would that mean that Milken would have been
shielded from blame? How about John Gotti's lawyer?
One other thing that is wrong with the NCAA ruling is that the NCAA extended the University of Washington's probationary status for two more years and
the reason was that the institution failed to "monitor the football program". Excuse me, but who was in charge of the football program at the time -
when he wasn't busy filling out his bracket pools?
An AP report on this situation said:
"The NCAA also cited the football program for undercharging recruits and their parents for rides in a 65-foot yacht and other private boats between
2000 and 2003, and for allowing impermissible contact between a football booster and recruits."
Neuheisel was the coach from 2000 to 2003 when all this happened. If the university failed to monitor the football program to a degree that earns an
additional two years of probation and you want to argue that Neuheisel was unaware of what was going on, then de minimis he is also guilty of not
monitoring the football program that he was directly in charge of. Woody Paige once hung the moniker Rick New-weasel on this coach who seems to be
hounded by rules infractions wherever he goes. I think that name is very appropriate indeed. But the NCAA can't seem to figure out how to enforce its
own rules in a manner that will make it less likely for others to break them in the future. If coaches and ADs got minimum five-year suspensions
without pay for serious violations of NCAA rules, there would be less cheating. If universities had to forego all TV money and pay back any bowl money
earned during years where violations occurred, the university administrations would awaken from their slumbers and see to it that programs were a lot
cleaner. But once again the NCAA pats itself on the back with pabulum findings and issues a statement about the evils of gambling - which is NOT what
all this is about.
Says the NCAA:
"Sports wagering is a problem that continues to threaten the well-being of student athletes and coaches and the integrity of intercollegiate
Memo to NCAA:
1. No athlete's well-being was threatened in the University of Washington matter.
2. No coach's well-being was threatened either.
3. If there is a threat to the integrity of intercollegiate athletics, it stems from your arbitrary and capricious rules and your feckless enforcement
In another move that demonstrates how useless it is, the NCAA just announced a reprimand and fine for the football coach at Central Oklahoma "for a
violation of the NCAA's sportsmanship and ethical conduct principles." Did someone in the back of the room ask, "So what's the problem here?" The
incident occurred in the 2003 Division II Football Championship playoffs. That's a year ago in case you do not have a calendar in your line of sight.
How long can it take to determine that someone violated sportsmanship and/or ethical principles? And if the integrity of intercollegiate athletics is
something to be defended at all costs, how can someone who has violated ethical principles still be in the coaching business? The NCAA enforcement
people and the adjudication mechanisms there are about as useful as a snooze button on a smoke detector.
The Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe have folded. That leaves NFL Europe with several teams in Germany and the Amsterdam Admirals. At what point
should we just declare this experiment in "seeding NFL football" into Europe a failure?
MLS began its playoffs last weekend. One team in the playoffs has a record of 8-13-9. I don't know - or particularly care - if that means 13 ties and
9 losses or 13 losses and 9 ties. Here is what I know, the New England Revolution played 30 games and won 8 of them; that qualifies them as a playoff
team in MLS. Pardon me while I yawn.
Finally, here is another comment on Barry Bonds and steroids coming from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
"A published report indicates a trainer has linked Barry Bonds to steroids. In other news, visual evidence apparently has linked sunrise to
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon
[Edited on 28/10/04 by TRD]