Well, the NCAA went and did it. All Division 1-A and 1-AA schools are now allowed to schedule a 12th football game if they so choose. The Knight
Commission opposed it; the American Football Coaches Association opposed it; the Atlantic Coast Conference opposed it; advocates for academic reform
of athletics opposed it.
But the NCAA approved it in a closed meeting. Does that tell you anything about the commitment of Dr. Myles Brand to reining in these out of control
athletic programs? Or does it tell you he is feckless in his leadership role at the NCAA despite collecting a salary in excess of $830K in the 2003-4
academic year? You make the call.
The only reason that the NCAA won't walk away with the Hypocrisy Award for the Week is that its only real rival in that dimension - the IOC - took
action this week too. London is one of the cities bidding for the 2012 Olympic Games; about a month ago, the city of London offered some incentives in
the event that the games might wind up there. Included in the incentives were things such as free public transit passes and museum entrances for
athletes and officials. The IOC was offended because this bordered on bribery and after the fiasco of Salt Lake City, the IOC does not need another
bribery scandal. So they shrieked and London officials withdrew the offer and today the IOC said that they would not take any punitive action against
London in the Olympic Sweepstakes. Let me translate that for you:
They did something sufficiently awful and wrong and heinous that it caused the IOC to screech and use the term "bribery", but no sanction applies to
Obviously, that can only mean that the IOC took offense at the public announcement of the "bribe" and/or the fact that the offer included the athletes
and not merely the IOC bigwigs and/or the offer was insultingly low because it only included public transit passes.
You make the call.
One of the tune-ups for the US Open tennis tournament was the Hamlet Challenge Cup played in NY; it was commonly referred to as "The Hamlet". In the
era of corporate sponsorship, this event became the TD Waterhouse Cup but the efficacy of corporate sponsorship of sporting events in general is
something whose time may have passed and the popularity of tennis is such that the time is long gone. And so the TD Waterhouse Cup nee "The Hamlet"
will be no more. The ATP says that another tournament will be put together quickly to serve as the US Open warm-up. Maybe they need to revert to the
name Hamlet Challenge Cup and see if - at least on a one-time basis - they can get the folks who make Shakespeare fishing rods to be the sponsor.
You got any better ideas?
People have focused on the problems that the Eagles and Falcons have had during this off-season with their star players, Terrell Owens and Michael
Vick. But that ignores the happenings in Green Bay. While Brett Favre is indeed going to play again this year, much of the rest of the news coming off
the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field has been less than wonderful. Javon Walker has not participated in the off-season program because he is part of the
Drew Rosenhaus Crew that is looking for a sweeter contract. Ahman Green was cited for another episode of domestic/spousal abuse. Al Harris reportedly
is under investigation for sexual assault. What's next on this trend line? If the Packers are smart, they'll be sure that Najeh Davenport doesn't
visit any college dormitory rooms...
Around the NFL, the off-season has had some steroid tests come back positive and has had to deal with a coach who was scalping Super Bowl tickets in
addition to the Packers' woes and l'affaire Ron Mexico. In years past, there is no way that all of this kind of embarrassing stuff could have gone
down without involving the Dallas Cowboys but it has this year. For a while, it looked as if the Cowboys under Bill Parcells were not taking the
"behavior issues" nearly as seriously as some of his teams in the past might have. The Cowboys had signed CB, Tyrone Williams, who did time in
Nebraska related to weapons offenses and spousal issues; the Cowboys had also signed DT, Leo Carson, who served some jail time for trespassing. That
may not sound like a big deal but the charge of trespassing was part of a plea bargain that reduced the charges from kidnapping. Even so, the Cowboys
seem to have come through a turbulent off-season unscathed in terms of arrests/indictments/convictions/sentences.
In February, former NFL cornerback, Bennie Blades, was arrested in Florida - where he worked a substitute teacher - on charges that he is a deadbeat
dad. He is now in Michigan to answer those charges. Blades is allegedly $400,000 behind in support payments for one of his daughters. That is serious
enough but in addition to that allegation, there is the fact that Blades has six children with six different women and is behind in payments to more
than one of them. If you think the situation can't get worse than that, think again. The Attorney General for Michigan has been on the trail of
deadbeat dads for several years now and the money Blades owes in support of that one daughter is part of an agreement he signed to resolve the matter.
However, Blades does not have $400K net worth at this time; that puts him in violation of the laws of Michigan, and he is in the custody of the law in
Earlier this week, I pointed out that the NBA's announced attendance figures - nominally at a record level - are not representative of the fannies in
the seats because all you need do is look at the games and do crowd estimates. Jerry Greene of the Orlando Sentinel provides real data to support my
empirical estimates. On April 27, Greene took the NBA report of total home attendance for the Orlando Magic of 597,942 and compared it to the
"turnstile count" that is recorded in the public records of the City of Orlando; the city only counted 521,692. That may not look like much at first
glance but the league would have you believe that the average crowd in Orlando was about 14,600 when it was really about 11,800. That means that the
figures overstate real attendance by almost 24% and that's not trivial. Unfortunately, it isn't criminal.
Here's more news the NBA would prefer to apply spin to if it has to be broadcast at all. The Memphis Grizzlies' first home playoff game this year
scheduled for tonight is not a sell out. The Washington Wizards' first home playoff game this year - and the first one for the team in 9 seasons -
scheduled for tomorrow is not a sell-out. You can call up and get tickets for the Wizards' game by calling the box office as I am typing this; I made
the call just to be sure.
Finally, here's an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
"As many as 14,000 volunteers from southwestern Pennsylvania are expected to converge on Pittsburgh's PNC Park next month for training during a
simulated terrorist attack. The number could even swell to 20,000, experts figure, once word gets out that the simulated disaster won't include a
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon