At the University of Maryland, the women's basketball team practices with and against a group of men who are students at Maryland but who are not on
scholarship or anything like that. The practice players are "recruited" via advertisements in the school newspaper and their total recompense is a
pair of shoes.
The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics is investigating this situation and it may be that this practice regimen will be declared improper. The
committee chairperson says that there are all kinds of issues that need to be looked at here and that the issue becomes bigger the more they talk
about it. There are issues of health and safety, which might - I said might - be legit, but here is one of the dimensions that are causing the
committee some concern:
"...whether opportunities for participation are being taken away from female athletes because they are standing on the side watching."
First of all, it I raised the "health and safety issue" for these women athletes, I'd be labeled a troglodyte or a chauvinist at the very least.
Imagine the reaction if a man said that these young ladies had to be protected because they might get hurt if they played with the boys because the
ladies are naturally more gentle and fragile. That would go over well!
Secondly, the men doing the practicing are not denying any female "athlete" a chance to participate because all the "athletes" are already on the
team. Any other female student athlete at Maryland can participate here simply by making the women's team. The men are denying other women on the
campus a shot at being the team's "cannon fodder" in practice but I wonder how prevalent it is for a women's basketball team at a university to find
capable players in the student body at large to practice against. I promise you that if Gary Williams had a couple of women who he felt were good
enough players to provide stiff competition for his team in their practices at Maryland and he used them, no one would be wringing their hands about
the exclusion of other men at Maryland from "participation". That would be the "feelgood story" of the season. Once again, the NCAA has contorted
itself into a position where they might actually be more comfortable if they merely had their heads up their butts!
Out in Oregon, there is another disturbing development. You may recall that the Portland TrailBlazers recently suspended Darius Miles for two games
after he cursed out Coach Maurice Cheeks and tossed a few racial epithets at him. That suspension was supposedly another milestone for the franchise
in their attempt to remake the franchise as one of "character" and "good citizenship" and all that malarkey. Well, according to a column in The
Oregonian by John Canzano, that newspaper is in possession of a document - unsigned to be sure - that offers to reimburse Darius Miles for the $150K
he was fined for that two-game suspension with interest if Miles does not file a grievance over the suspension. The team refused to acknowledge that
the document existed and then demanded to know how the paper came into possession of the document that never existed. I draw a few conclusions from
all of this:
1. The team still enables the chronological adults in their employ to continue in their anti-social behaviors.
2. All that talk about making the franchise one that will make the city proud is just that -- talk.
3. Maurice Cheeks has just been cut off at the knees and needs to polish up his resume.
Ellen McArthur just set a world record for sailing around the world alone in 71 days and 14 hours. Since I have been known to get seasick sailing on
the Chesapeake Bay, I cannot even begin to understand how someone could exist on a sailboat for that length of time. [Please note that I resisted the
temptation to say I could not "fathom" how someone could exist ...] But I do wonder why ocean racers voluntarily put themselves in situations where
they will be away from all human contact and interaction for months at a time. Believe me; I appreciate time alone, introspection and peace and quiet
as much as the next guy, but I don't get solo ocean sailing. Other than the undulation of the boat, just how is that so different from solitary
The data is in on Super Bowl wagering at the legal sports books in Las Vegas; and according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the books came out ahead
for the tenth year in a row. A late wave of wagering made the total handle $90.8M, which shattered the previous record by almost $9M and beat even the
most optimistic pregame estimates by about $7M. The books won almost $15.5M because of the final touchdown scored by the Eagles in the last two
minutes of the game. The most prevalent single wagers were to take the Patriots and lay 7 points and the Eagles on the money line. When the Eagles
scored, that made both of those bets winners for the books. Interestingly the most prevalent parlay wager had the Pats minus-7 and the game over 47.5;
those parlays lost on both accounts. According to the article I read, proposition bets came out profitable for the books too, but there were no
details given. So, while people debate about whether or not the Patriots are a dynasty, you can look at the sports books and their ten consecutive
years of profit on Super Bowl wagering and say that the oddsmakers are the real Super Bowl dynasty. And, ladies and gentlemen, that is how they keep
their doors open...
In Tom Fitzgerald's syndicated column "Open Season", he had the following line:
"Personally, I thought the only untoward moment of Super Bowl Sunday was when the game ended and Doug Mientkiewicz ran onto the field and took off
with the football."
That's a clever line but it does remind me that this is a story that must be stopped. Enough already with the silliness about the baseball that made
the final out in the World Series and who owns it. It is now on loan to the Red Sox for a year and then the ownership question will be open for debate
and litigation once again. Please, can everybody just ignore this? It's a damned baseball, people! It's worth about $5.00. If the HoF put any one of 3
million other scuffed balls on display and said it was the game winning ball, no one would know the difference. The people who perpetuate this as a
story with some cosmic significance fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down!
Speaking of baseball and stupidity, there is an item in my paper this morning saying that Darryl Strawberry will be a spring training instructor with
the Mets later this month. He will be used by the Mets "on the baseball side and in marketing" according to the squib in the Washington Post today.
When will Darryl Strawberry's umpteenth chance at a job in baseball based on no obvious qualifications become a cliche?
Finally, an observation from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald regarding the Super Bowl broadcast:
"The game was broadcast in a record 31 languages, including Farsi, Faroese and Greenlandic. Quick note: In Farsi, the word 'Tagliabue' is said to mean
'...with a personality only enjoyed by a woodpecker.'"
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon