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Newz Forum: OTHER: the NCAA HQs organization, Barry Bonds and the 'Game of Shadows' plus more...

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posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 01:40 PM
The gambling paranoids at the NCAA have taken their delusions -- which they routinely defend with apparent logic - to new heights this year. I've said before that the NCAA folks have done the right thing in sending some of their folks to Las Vegas to work alongside the sports book managers trying to spot unusual betting patters that might indicate a tournament game that is not 'completely pure'. That's good; they should do that kind of thing during the college football and college basketball seasons on a regular basis. Kudos to the NCAA for that. But as Stephen A. Smith might say, 'How-Evah... '

These same NCAA gambling paranoids went off the deep end about a week ago. According to reports in several papers around the country and on the CBS Evening News, the NCAA has sent a representative, along with someone from the FBI, to speak to each of the teams in the Sweet 16 about the consequences of gambling and participating in gambling, aiding and abetting gamblers, and of course, point shaving. That's good; they only used to do this at the Final Four, but they expanded the coverage this year. That's fine; I have no problem yet.

Here's the paranoia pinnacle... The NCAA also sent a representative along with FBI presence to the Sweet 16 for the women's basketball tournament to give the same admonitions. Either the gambling paranoids there have really gone round the bend or the gambling paranoids had to pay homage to the 'gender equality mavens' at the NCAA. When you assess the potential 'gambling problem' posed by men's basketball and women's basketball, there is no comparison; the only way you treat these two issues in the same way is if you are looking to manufacture ways to treat it in the same way. Doctors will treat cancer patients with aggressive new techniques that are fresh out of the research phase; they don't do that for athlete's foot.

I didn't know that you could bet on women's games in Las Vegas; I did know that the estimated handle for the men's tournament this year is in the $80M range. Even if you could, I thought that the handle for women's games would be only about 1% of that for the men's games. To try to clear this up in my mind, I asked a journalist in Las Vegas if you could actually bet on women's basketball (including the WNBA). He asked one of the sports book managers out there and here was the reply from the sports book manager:

'Some of us in town actually do book the women's college games. The handle is quite small and saying that it may be 1% of the men's is generous (more like 1/4 to 1/2%). We also book the WNBA which is also a small write.'

So, I think this event demonstrates the pecking order within NCAA HQs. The gambling paranoids have to behave the way the ever-so-politically-correct gender equality folks say they have to. If there's an $80M handle on the men's games and a $200K handle on women's games, the two 'problems' need to be addressed differently from a prevention standpoint. But you can't do things differently between the men's sports and the women's sports according to PC crowd. So now we know who's in charge...

Having said all that, the tournament games over the weekend were really good. In fact, the games that gave us UCLA and LSU as Final Four combatants demonstrated why the college game is superior to the NBA game. In both contests, there was tenacious defense played for the entire game and by everyone. If an offensive player beat his man off the dribble, there was always help there or about to arrive in short order. No one in either game stood around with a hand on a hip watching the action on the other side of the court. Even before Saturday's games, defense showed its value in college basketball; how do you think BC got into the tournament in the first place?

Watching Memphis struggle with UCLA's defense, I concluded that if Memphis entered its team in the Rucker League - or whatever its equivalent might be in Tennessee - this summer, they'd be the favorites to win because they play that style of basketball and they've had a full season to 'perfect' the fly-up-and-down the-court-out-of-control-game. But against a team trying to lock them down on defense, they couldn't manage a point a minute. That is a major feather in UCLA's cap.

At halftime, I thought that Memphis might be choking the game away, but came to realize that UCLA was preventing them from scoring. That got me to thinking, what was - in fact - the biggest gagging in the tournament. I narrowed it down to two events; you make the call:

1. Iowa spitting the bit against Northwestern State.

2. Gonzaga butchering the final five minutes against UCLA.

I lean toward Iowa here but could be convinced otherwise...

I need to switch gears here because I want to comment on Barry Bonds' lawyers trying to sue the authors of Game of Shadows. They didn't sue for libel; they tried to sue to prevent the authors from making money as a result of what Bonds' lawyers called 'illegal activities'. Since some of the book is apparently based on grand jury testimony, the lawyers alleged that publication violated the confidentiality of those deliberations and therefore the authors would profit from that illegal activity. The irony here is delicious; follow this logic:

Game of Shadows would make money and thereby benefit its authors on the basis of an illegal activity; that cannot be allowed.

If Barry Bonds used steroids as alleged in the book that is purportedly based on an 'illegal activity', then Barry Bonds has already derived a benefit from an illegal activity. It was and is against Federal law to take steroids without a prescription.

Since the suit did not challenge the veracity of the claim that Bonds took steroids, it would seem that his lawyers are saying that only Barry Bonds should be allowed to benefit and make money from illegal activities here.

Recall Mark Twain's comment that the only difference between a cynic and a realist is whether or not you agree with him. Now consider the fact that Bonds' lawyers chose not sue on the basis of libel. In a libel suit against a public figure, they would need to show two things - first, that the accusations in the book are false and second, that there was a malicious intent on the part of the authors against Barry Bonds. It is hard to win a libel suit if you are a celebrity or a top-shelf athlete because of that 'malicious intent' dimension. However, in a libel suit, one could demonstrate the falsity of the accusations - if indeed they are false - even if one cannot demonstrate the malice. So, a libel suit could 'clear Bonds' name' even if he didn't win the suit. But all that assumes that he could demonstrate that the allegations are false, that he never took performance-enhancing drugs. And that is not the avenue he and his counsel took. So, which of these two conclusions is more likely:

1. Bonds can't risk testifying under oath in such a suit where the focal point of the questioning would be his use of steroids as performance enhancers, or

2. Bonds doesn't care about his reputation just so long as these authors don't make any money off their book?

I lean strongly to the first one here and probably can't be convinced to come off that point until he actually does sue for libel.

Finally, a comment by Greg Cote in the Miami Herald regarding Bryan Cox joining the Jets' coaching staff:

'Former Dolphins linebacker Bryan Cox has been hired onto the Jets' coaching staff. He'll be a special assistant in charge of giving opposing teams the finger.'

But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...


posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 04:18 PM
I don't know if you know this or not, TRD, but truth is an absolute defense to a charge of libel or slander--i.e., defamation. You can say the most hateful and hurtful thing you want to about a person, and if it's true, it ain't defamatory. And a plaintiff who brings a defamation suit based on statements which he/she knows damn well were true is filing a frivolous and malicious lawsuit, which is itself not only actionable, but grounds for the big jackpot: punitive damages.

This is so basic a point of law that even I, who am strictly a criminal lawyer and have never spent one day practicing civil law, know it. So what do you suppose Bonds' failure to sue for libel means?



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