Archive for the ‘football’ category

A Ship With A Broken Compass

September 18, 2014

The recent weeks beginning with the release of the second Ray Rice video has revealed a National Football League which is operating on the high seas of national sports with a broken compass.

The NFL ship at times seems rudderless, but in truth its rudder works fine, it is just that NFL bosses can’t set a sensible course. Hmmm.

Ray Rice (wife beating) and Adrian Peterson (child abuse) have been en ensnared in a conflicted NFL justice system. The league and the individual teams were surprised when the media reported the incidents initially. The league and the teams went into “damage control”. How could they minimize any public affairs damage (which might translate into economic damage)?

These incidents have been a boon to supporter dedicated to end domestic violence. With a national stage, these groups have damned Rice and Peterson without necessarily any knowledge of them or the entire situation surrounding each incident.

For example, Rice married the woman he had struck and together they have given money and time to charities in the Baltimore poorer areas. Peterson was being present with his son, and as such stands in sharp contrast to too many African American fathers who are absent in the lives of their children.

The US has laws and courts to assess whether specific charges are transgressions of the law, and to meter out appropriate punishment. It certainly could be that both Rice and Peterson violated laws which should carry with it jail time. That verdict belongs in the courts, not on the playing field.

The NFL never the less has found it necessary to run a parallel “court system”. Standing before cameras, the NFL professes its abhorrence of these acts and sanctimoniously says that behavior has no place in the NFL. These players cannot be part of the NFL until they have spent some time in the penalty box (suspension, behavior treatment). Hmmm.

I wonder why the NFL trains cameras on pass receivers and line men who are poised to sack the quarterback and then replays the biggest and harshest take downs until the next week’s killer plays are ready.

American law has long held that someone is innocent until proven guilty. The NFL apparently feels it can act when the tide of public opinion might reduce the barrels of money flowing in.  Proof: a comment from a advertiser. Hmmm.

Domestic violence, unfortunately, is just the tip of the ice berg. The NFL is populated with real people, many who find it difficult to leave violence to the playing field. There is also a long history of celebrity entrapment where someone seeking fame or money (or both) entraps a player in some compromising situation.

Sorting out “he said, she said” is simply not straight forward. Again, however, there are courts to settle these cases. The NFL is not needed.

At this point, it would appear

  • The NFL has no internal moral compass and its apparent loss of clear cut rules on socially unacceptable or criminal behavior is no accident.
  • Players are just tools of labor and expendable on a whim.
  • The NFL has a low opinion of the public and demonstrates this each time it reacts to some interest group or large sponsor.

The NFL will get through this controversy and adopt a set of conduct standards which will spell out acceptable behavior. If, however, the NFL continues to adjust its conduct standards given the next politically correct group’s preferences, the NFL will lose its way and decline from the number one entertainment spot.

Whether Roger Goodell will continue as the commissioner is irrelevant. The Owners, who are a big portion of the problem, will most likely fire Goodell if there team value decreases, and not whether Goodell leads them successfully through this transition phase.

Hmmm, not much of a compass.

The Beauty of Athletes

July 14, 2014

This past week the residents of Cleveland rejoiced on the news that Labron James would return to play basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers. James is considered a great athlete and maybe the best playing basketball today. Basketball players are all tall men (or women), some just taller than others. Their ability to almost float in air as they drive for the hoop is magical.

College and Professional football teams are busily preparing for their 2014-15 season. Each team has picked their best athletes and are filling their heads full of new plays. While the goal of each team remains making gobs of money, the speed and agility of these player, cutting left or right and then accelerating to top speed is breathtaking.

Baseball has reached its mid-summer break. Time for the annual “all-star” game. In a hard to imagine the picking process, fans select the starting “all-star team” by voting as many times as they wish for the player of their choice. All Stars? The second half of the 2014 Baseball season will begin later this week. Winning teams for sure make more money. They almost always possess the best players too. Hitting a baseball traveling at close to 100 mph is an amazing accomplishment.

Not to be overlooked, ice hockey professional teams are also screening junior league players for future stars. Come the winter, winning hockey teams can thrill the audience and crowd out basketball as a fan favorite with their full rink dashes and powerful slap shots. For those fortunate franchises, hockey means money.

Stepping back, it appears we have a deal with organized sports. We pay for tickets, television rights, and merchandize. In return we expect to see great athletes, performing great athletic feats, and of course, winning. Fair deal?

Yesterday made one wonder.   The FIFA World Cup Soccer championship took place in Brazil. Germany beat Argentine 1-0 after 120 minutes of full out effort by both teams. Watching these athletes run, cut, and jump to head the ball and then racing back on defense was awe inspiring. Looking at each athlete, there was no sign of fat. Each player was fit and gave no hint of wanting to pause. (I cannot think of now popular American sports athlete who look this fit.) While most of these athletes play for club teams and earn a good living, playing for a national team is an honor. Lots of money was made by FIFA but for the players, it was about winning for their country.

What could be more demanding and athletic than world class soccer? Hmmm.

How about bicycle racing and the Tour d’France?