Daily Archives: August 13, 2020

Envy and jealousy,”I feel really good about canceling the sport” edition

You know, my first thought was to post something about this piece, because it really sums up my feelings about how absurd the whole “the media wants to cancel the college football season” whinefest really is, but then I thought about the shitstorm that might ensue if I did, so I said to myself, nah.

Then I said to myself, screw it.  Because, in the immortal words of King Kaiser, “you never cut funny.”

You don’t have to look far to find somebody who blames the media for canceling the college football season, and says we are trying to cancel NFL season, too. I will be blunt here: This ticks me off. “The media” is not canceling college football season. I am doing it all by myself, thank you very much.

Look, we all got bored and anxious during quarantine. Some people put together jigsaw puzzles. I dismantled a sport. It helped pass the time.

You might wonder if I was “rooting for the virus.” Well, duh. What self-respecting journalist would not root for a virus that has killed 160,000 Americans? It all falls under the umbrella of being a bad person, O.K.?

Of course, it’s “better” for sportswriters to have “sports” to cover. It gives us “work” which helps us get “paid.” But I am devoted to my passion of being a bad person, and sometimes—I recognize the irony here—being a bad person means being unselfish. If I can work and get paid, my colleagues can work and get paid. That’s a non-starter for me.

The scare quotes really tie the piece together.

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UPDATE:  Well, if it’s not the media

Given this backdrop, the decision of major college conferences—especially the Big Ten and PAC 12—to abandon football this fall, understandably disgusts Americans. The soft and selfish administrators of universities and their NCAA conferences have stolen a season away from young athletes and deprived adoring alumni and fans of the rituals of autumn.

Why? For politics.

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Filed under Envy and Jealousy

Here comes “a college athletes bill of rights”.

You know, I’m beginning to think the NCAA isn’t very good at lobbying Congress.

A group of U.S. senators plans to introduce in Congress “a college athletes bill of rights” seeking to guarantee NCAA players monetary compensation, long-term healthcare, lifetime educational scholarships and more eligibility freedoms.

The sweeping proposal comes during a year in which college leaders are pleading for help from lawmakers to craft NCAA-friendly legislation on name, image and likeness (NIL), wanting a federal bill to preempt a bevy of differing NIL state laws. In response to the NCAA’s requests, some Congressional members have demands of their own. They want reform beyond NIL.

“For them to get the cooperation from us, they’re going to have to change some of their practices,” says Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a sponsor of the bill. “The NCAA feels urgency and needs to get federal cooperation. I’m going to make sure that we also are able to change NCAA practices that undermine the students’ education, well-being and basic first amendment rights.”

Ten senators—nine Democrats and one independent—jointly announced the bill’s framework on Thursday morning. Booker, a former college football player himself at Stanford, intends for the bill of rights to be rolled into federal NIL legislation already in the works in both chambers. He suggests that some Congressional support for NIL may hinge on the support for the bill of rights proposal, which as of now does not include Republican backing. “The way the Senate works…. the NCAA has come asking for significant authorities (with NIL). We are a body that works… they are not going to get something done if it’s not bipartisan.”

Jeez, dude, all the schools wanted was a little antitrust help, and you come back with this?  Think of the kids!  (The worst part from the NCAA’s point of view is when Blumenthal says, “Our goal is really beyond this immediate session. We’re looking to the next session when we might have different membership in the Senate.”  They’re not even going to get the NIL relief they want before Florida’s law kicks in next year.)

Once again, the NCAA is about to learn the hard lesson that a maximalist approach almost never succeeds.  It didn’t in the courts and it won’t with the politicians.

Five years from now, I expect to hear widespread grumbling about how Emmert mismanaged the whole affair and the schools should have been persuaded to settle before things started rolling downhill with O’Bannon.  Lots of short memories and hindsight, in other words, from people who preferred to fight a losing battle than proactively settle for more favorable terms than they wound up getting.

Can’t say they don’t deserve what’s coming.

31 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

“What the hell are we going to do every Saturday this fall?”

Here’s another story about life in college towns across the country facing no college football — and, more particularly, no college football fans — this fall.

“This is easily going to be the most impactful in towns that are in this sweet spot, where the smaller the town is, the higher the [game] attendance is,” said Adie Tomer, a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute. “When you’ve got a stadium that’s holding 80,000, a hundred thousand-plus, and only 20 to 25,000 are students, those are massive economic impacts.”

Alumni travel from all over the country to return to their alma maters on Saturdays in the fall, bringing not just kids to bore with old stories, but also dollars that stay in town.

“It’s the lifeblood of this community,” said Happy Valley Adventure Bureau president and CEO Fritz Smith of Penn State football. “It draws people back to the community in huge numbers. Football is probably the single biggest economic driver in the community.”  Smith estimates that the economic impact of Penn State home games is $70 million to $80 million apiece, and that loss — on top of the dollars that vanished when students left town in mid-March — is catastrophic.

“This was another kick in the shins,” Smith said. “We’ve gone cold turkey on sports for some time now, and everybody was looking forward to fall football. Now that’s been yanked away from us, and there’s a lot of, ‘What are we going to do?’ ”

“The economic impact will be significant,” Tomer said. “Most critically, there’s no replacement for what’s being lost. Those games aren’t coming back. There will be an absolute concrete loss of sales to a full suite of game-serving businesses.” There’s the obvious loss to dining, retail and lodging businesses, but also other “off-the-books” businesses: Front yards turned into parking lots, churches and Scout troops selling lemonade and barbecue, all the small elements of a full game-day experience.

It certainly sucks, but there’s a part of me that wonders how many of these same people lamenting the loss of business now have been dismissing mask wearing and going to bars and restaurants without social distancing in mind over the spring and summer.

104 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, The Body Is A Temple

“When weird stuff happens, like all of this, you can’t plan for it.”

Funny timing yesterday — I got a notice from the folks that host the Fabris Pool that it will be open for business next week and no more than five minutes later saw this:

Sportsbooks around the United States have halted betting on college football, as bookmakers try to determine the best approach to a season in flux.

All of which is to say I guess we’ll be playing this by ear.

3 Comments

Filed under GTP Stuff, What's Bet In Vegas Stays In Vegas

TFW you try to pretend the horse isn’t already out of the barn

Now this is more like the NCAA I’ve come to know and love.

The “many already allowed by Division I rules” bit is a nice touch, don’t you think?  Totally explains why Team Emmert has been fighting like a bitch to have the ruling overturned on appeal.

Comments Off on TFW you try to pretend the horse isn’t already out of the barn

Filed under Blowing Smoke, See You In Court, The NCAA

Good job, NCAA.

No, really.

As much as I bitch about how useless and corrupt an organization it is, when those rare times occur when it actually does something in line with what it claims its mission is, it deserves to be called out and praised for it.

And this is one of those times.

This is so well done that I’m not gonna spoil the moment by pointing out that at this point it’s only a recommendation that has to be approved by the Board of Directors.  Er… well, you know what I mean.

5 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

You know, I can actually hear conference commissioners’ balls shrink as they read this:

But for those pressing forward to play, heed one warning: The lawyers will be circling. Not the ones counseling conferences to avoid trifling with players’ health, but the ones who will be doing the suing if, God forbid, a player dies, has long-term damage or career-threatening complications. In an email to Sports Illustrated, prominent college sports attorney Tom Mars offered this chilling view of what the Big 12, ACC and SEC could be getting into:

“Whatever conference(s) decides to play football this fall will be taking a ridiculously high risk they may soon regret. I know and have talked with some of the best plaintiff’s lawyers in the country this week, and they’re praying the SEC, Big 12 and/or the ACC are greedy enough to stay the course. If things go sideways, the plaintiff’s Bar will immediately get their hands on the internal financial analyses of the schools (a FOIA layup), get the conference financials through the discovery process, and then just stand in front of the jurors and point to the conferences that decided not to risk the health of their student-athletes. Good Lord, I’d hate to be the lawyers defending those cases.”

And the attorneys lining up to represent plaintiffs? “These are lawyers who’ve already slain bigger dragons than the SEC, and they can afford to finance the most expensive litigation on the planet. As a coalition, they’d be the legal equivalent of the Death Star.”

But fear not, fellas!  Brian Kemp’s got ‘yer backs.

“Across the South, college football is a sacred tradition, and I want to see it played this year if we can ensure the safety of players, coaches and staff,” Kemp said in a social media message.

“Based on recent discussions with university leaders and sports officials, I am confident that they are putting the health and well-being of our student athletes first.”

Well, shit, he’s nailed everything else about the pandemic so far. What could go wrong listening to him now?

24 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Political Wankery, See You In Court

Kids these days

He seems nice.

That’s a guy who was actually paid to mentor college athletes once upon a time.  What a country!

Speaking of mentoring college athletes

… When asked about the proposed players association, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said in a media session Monday, “It would be great,” but added, “that’s different from a union, I’ll say that.” University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh sent a letter in which he pointed to the few positive tests among the Wolverines players and advocated for a season to be played, capping the letter with a Teddy Roosevelt quote. University of Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said that the Cornhuskers would look outside of their Big Ten schedule if the conference decided to cancel the season. After the Big Ten became the first Power Five conference to cancel fall sports on Tuesday, followed shortly by the Pac-12, Nebraska’s athletic department said in a statement that it still believes its campus is “the absolute safest place” for players and will continue to pursue playing in the fall.

These voices are the ones who stand to lose money if their cut of the athletic department revenue is distributed among the players. But they also can’t outrightly dismiss a growing, albeit softer, push for financial equity and medically safe play that includes their five-star, NFL-bound players. So instead of taking the Kelly Loeffler route, these coaches and executives cling to the current model of genteel dismissiveness that’s worked out so well for them while nodding their heads at the lightest of the players’ demands.

This is how it’s always been. Swinney was supportive of former Clemson player Darius Robinson when he joined the O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA but famously stated that he personally disagrees with paying college players “because there’s enough entitlement in this world as it is.” Harbaugh has advocated for removing the requirement that football players stay in college for three years before going into the NFL but opposes paying players. When a California court ruled last fall that players could make money off their name, likeness, and image, Frost openly worried about it as a “slippery slope” that might “destroy opportunities and competitive balance” in college athletics. (For all his concerns about “competitive balance,” Frost was wooed away from the University of Central Florida by Nebraska in 2018for a $5 million annual contract, which was extended last fall after he led his program to a 9-15 record in his first two seasons.)

Coaches like Alabama’s Nick Saban have employed selective hearing as of late as they try and bend #WeWantToPlay to fit their personal desire to not miss out on a season’s salary. “I want to play, but I want to play for the players’ sake, the value they can create for themselves,” Saban told ESPN. “I know I’ll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don’t care about player safety. Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home.” This we-know-best logic, beyond being insulting to athletes, is also paradoxical. Saban is respecting some of his players’ decisions to press on and play football but only because they’re unruly children in need of a babysitter. When they ask to be paid or sit out the season, they will once again be too immature to know how the real world works.

The idea of compensation or unionization for players provokes such aghast responses from wealthy men because it would give the young adults actual power. It’s why Swinney claimed in his answer about a players association that Clemson football already had one—that initiatives like “the Swinney Huddle, the Swinney Council” provided all the voice that players needed. It’s why ESPN’s Booger McFarland and CBS Sports’s Danny Kanell both had the same brilliant idea—why not have the players who opt in for the season sign waivers releasing the school from all legal responsibility?—on an issue that the Pac-12 players already addressed.

Doing it for the kids can never fail.  It can only be failed.  By the same kids.

5 Comments

Filed under College Football

This could be Lulu and Junior’s year.

I don’t know the greater context behind this, but it’s funny ’cause it’s true.

Somebody should start a Gofundme to build a rocket to launch Neyland Stadium into the sun.  At least there’s no pandemic there to worry about.

2 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange