I have lots of stuff to catch up on so let me begin with the latest news out of the NCAA - or should it now be called Hypocrisy Central? One of the
main reasons given by the university presidents as to why a football playoff can't be done is that it would too intrusive on academics.
Stop giggling; they have learned to say this with a straight face and you'll have to get used to it too. But now, they are about to vote on a proposal
which will add a twelfth football game to the season for all Division 1-A and 1-AA schools. Of course, this is driven by financial considerations no
matter how anyone might try to obfuscate it, but let's do some math here.
In a football playoff involving 8 teams - and assuming they played these playoff fames after ALL the current Bowl Games had been completed - there
would be 8 teams that spent one extra week on football, four teams that spent an extra 2 weeks on football and 2 teams that spent an extra 3 weeks on
football. That is 22 "team-weeks" of extra football to intrude on academic pursuits. That's unacceptable.
Under the new proposal, all Division 1-A and 1-AA schools will add an extra week of football meaning there will be approximately 200 "team-weeks" of
extra football here to intrude on academic pursuits at those institutions. But this is not only acceptable; it is the brainchild of some of the
Do you now understand why some politicians retire and become university presidents?
Mike Tyson is supposed to fight some guy named Kevin McBride in DC sometime in June. Since we are only three days past "Tax Day", I presume that the
experience of forking over a portion of your assets to the IRS is fresh in your mind. Now consider this. If you shell out $30 to see this fight on
pay-per-view, you are handing more of your money to the IRS because they have a huge tax lien on Tyson and they are going to take a huge percentage of
any earnings here for current taxes and back taxes and penalties and interest. So, you'll get the thrill of contributing more of your money to the IRS
while you are watching this fight. At the initial announcement of the bout, Tyson said the fight would be a "train wreck".
Memo to Mike Tyson: Any fight you are in is a "train wreck". Your life has been and seems to continue to be a "train wreck". What's new?
The local DC papers are heralding this bout as the return of big time boxing to DC. The last significant heavyweight fight in DC was when
then-champion Riddick Bowe fought Jesse Ferguson. Looking at the upcoming Tyson/McBride encounter, that Bowe/Ferguson fight stands a good chance of
remaining the last significant heavyweight fight in DC...
As the NBA regular season winds down, there is some discussion about who should be coach of the year. Lots of people point to George Karl who took
over a moribund and disorganized Nuggets' team in mid-season and has had them win about 80% of their games since he showed up. Others point to Scott
Skiles in Chicago where the BabyBulls started out 0-9 and are now going to be in the playoffs with a record over .500. A few people mention Stan Van
Gundy in Miami for getting the Heat to come together so quickly and so thoroughly this season. Here is the coach who is not mentioned nearly enough -
Rick Carlisle. The Pacers lost Ron Artest for the year and Jermaine O'Neal for almost half the year when you count his suspension and his shoulder
injury. And they lost Steven Jackson for 25 games too. The Pacers could easily be excused for missing the playoffs and winning only 30-35 games this
year, but they will be in the playoffs and that is pretty amazing.
Speaking of the NBA, the national ratings for "NBA on ABC" are down yet again this year but this time it is a mere 4% drop. The league is trying to
spin that to say that is good news because the drop is not as bad as it had been in the recent past. Nonetheless, ratings are down; and in the long
run, that is not good news. When you combine the national "over the air" telecasts with the national cable telecasts, the ratings are down 8% this
year. The product is getting less attractive and compelling to viewers.
The NBA has a problem with the playoffs this year. Kobe Bryant will not be participating; Kevin Garnett will not be participating; it is unlikely that
Jason Kidd/Vince Carter AND LeBron James will all be participating. The marketing and promotional basis for the league is the individual stars; and
this year, lots of them will be on the outside looking in at the playoffs meaning TV ratings could crater. So here's something for all the conspiracy
theorists to focus on. The NBA needs - and therefore wants? - Shaquille O'Neal in the playoffs for as long as possible. Expect the Miami Heat to
"benefit" from that situation in the Eastern Conference playoff games...
A reader from London sent me a note about fan violence. I had not mentioned the incident where the goalie in an Italian soccer match had to be removed
from the field because fans had thrown lit flares onto the pitch and one of these burning flares hit him on the shoulder/head. Obviously, the idea of
"security" there in Italy is to put a moat around the field to keep the crowd from getting out there to "mix it up" but they seem not to have gotten
to the point where they examined very closely what fans bring with them to the games. There were a couple of dozen of these flares tossed onto the
pitch from various points in the stands, so this was not the handiwork of a single genius. And the problem is not confined to that one stadium in
Italy because this reader pointed out to me that in the UK last week fans were arrested because they were trying to bring knives and bludgeons into
the stands. That is a pathological level of support for a team or a game. People who go to these extremes need professional help in a big way.
Another reader from Canada sent me a note regarding the failure of the NHL and the NHLPA to hold talks about resolving their labor problems while
holding talks to discuss rule changes. He had a brilliant idea for making the NHL games more enjoyable and more popular. His suggestion was simple;
PLAY THE GAMES. He's right. If they changed the rules that they are following to resolve the labor problems such that the games could be played, that
would be the first step toward changing the rules of the games themselves to make the product more widely accepted. I wish I had thought of that
logical progression; what are the chances the NHL/NHLPA reps will think of it?
There is a National Surf League. Trust me on this; if you "google" the phrase "national surf league" and hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, you'll
learn more than you need to know about this. The league says it is "set to revolutionize professional surfing" and that it has a "new competitive
format called The Game to bring pro surfing to the general public". I'll wait before investing my IRA Funds here, but I wish them good luck in their
There are 5 teams in the National Surf League and they will compete against each other in a series of 5-day competitions; one team is the Orange
County Octopus, which has to get some kind of recognition for its name alone. But here is what caught my eye about this. The National Surf League held
an event at Leo Carrillo State Beach in California. Leo Carrillo was an actor that I watched very often as a kid; he was "Pancho" - the sidekick to
"The Cisco Kid" in a TV western in the 50s. I never knew he was into surfing...
Finally, a comment from Bob Kravitz in the Indianapolis Star regarding the Colts' off-season moves:
"Bill Polian just saw his shadow. That means six more weeks of not signing a free agent."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon