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Sports Arena

Hitting on Fantasy Sports

By 12.1.15

To date, the lone highlight of Chris Christie’s longshot campaign for President came when the media cranks asked the Republican candidates about fantasy sports during the infamous MSNBC debate, and he answered incredulously, “Fantasy Football! We have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us, and we’re talking about fantasy football?”

Indeed, as the world falls apart around us, there has been a lot of press and chatter about fantasy sports.  Fantasy sports for those of you who aren’t in the know, goes back at least to the 1970s, and the basic principal is that individuals can act as virtual team owners or general managers drafting and trading real players in a fantasy league, competing against other likewise individuals based on the players’ real world results.

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Football on the Brain

By 11.25.15

To me, watching professional football on cold fall Sunday afternoons is certainly one of life’s great pleasures.  Judging by the TV ratings the NFL generates, I’m certainly not alone in that sentiment.  Professional football players display equal parts athleticism, ferocity, and bravery, and are, as the overused cliché states, truly America’s modern day gladiators.  The games themselves offer what you would want from any good soap opera: good guys and bad guys, dramatic turns of events, and cliff hangers. And now that Christmas has been turned into happy holidays by the PC crowed, it can be argued that the Super Bowl, the pinnacle event of the National Football League, is the last cultural experience we as Americans all share.

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Stadium Security Post-Paris

By 11.18.15

As bleak and barbaric a night as it was in Paris on Friday the 13th, it could have been worse. Islamic terrorists struck in multiple locations in the City of Lights and succeeded in temporarily bringing one of the world’s finest cities to its knees. One of the locations targeted was an 80,000 seat sports stadium (Stade de France) that, at the time, had an international soccer match ongoing, with thousands of spectators, including French President François Hollande. Shortly after the match began, a terrorist wearing a vest filled with bolts and explosives was detected trying to gain entry by a security guard while being frisked. Police suspect the original plan was to detonate the pack inside the stadium, sending a panicked crowd stampeding into the streets where two more suicide bombers awaited to set off their devices. If ISIS had succeeded in penetrating Stade de France that night, not only would the death toll have been exponentially higher, they even would have had an opportunity to assassinate a major head of State.

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Houston, We’ve Got a Problem

By 11.12.15

The ballots were still being counted on Election Day when leftist advocates began threatening a full court press on the NFL to move the Super Bowl from Houston in 2017. Their snit was due to Proposition 1, better known as bathroom ordinance. Not surprisingly the ballot initiative was crushed by Houston voters 61-39%, as it would have bestowed a whole new set of “civil rights” to transgendered people. The opposition to Prop 1 were effective in illustrating the absurdity of the new “civil rights” the proposition would have granted, by pointing out how grown men, including sexual predators, would have full access to women’s restrooms if the proposition passed.

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Strippers and Sports

By 10.28.15

The college basketball world was afire last week with all the elements needed for a juicy story: strippers, one of the countries’ most fabled college basketball programs, cash from an unknown source, top college athletes, and did I mention strippers?

Allegedly, Andre McGee, a former player and later director of basketball operations at the University of Louisville, paid for strippers and sex at parties in the dorms from 2010-2014 that involved players and recruits of the basketball team. This has led to a buzz of publicity of the kind you don’t want. What did legendary head coach Rick Pitino know and when did he know it? Where did the $10,000 of supposed payments come from? What, if any, NCAA violations were broken in the process?

It may take years, if ever, for the truth and nothing but the truth to finally reveal itself. Although I’m sure we’ll be treated to bits and pieces of the story in the interim from sources such as an NCAA investigation, tell-all books, and appearances on daytime talk shows suited for tawdriness. While the drama plays itself out, one bit of conjecture gave me that woozy what-in-the-name-of-George-Orwell-is-going-on headache.

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From Thank-Mas to Thanksgiving

By 11.25.14

Thanks-mas — as our new winter holiday deserves to become known, with pumpkins and red-and-green lights merging in anticipatory celebration — only partly occludes the opportunities for national and personal gratitude widespread in Novembers past.

Such opportunities as can be found might, if grasped, afford a few moments of useful reflection on America’s present challenges. Those challenges have many forms and shapes, but a certain political character seems to shove most others aside. This makes a certain kind of sense. The big news stories are about politics: The president proclaims how it’s going to be on immigration policy; the secretary of Defense jumps from a White House window, propelled by supposedly friendly hands; a new Congress prepares for confrontation; the Supreme Court prepares to tell us what we think about everything or what we’d think if we all wore black robes.

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Patawomeck Tribe: Snyder Could Rename the Redskins After Us

By 7.3.14

Hail to the Potomacs? If the owner of the Redskins wants to put the controversy over his team name to rest while keeping a Native American theme, he’ll likely have one local tribe’s blessing.

“I was just telling my wife the other day, ‘Why don’t we write to Dan Snyder and suggest changing the name to the Washington Potomacs?” said John Lightner, chief of the Patawomeck tribe of Virginia.

The Patawomecks (or Potomacs), native people of the region, gave their name to the river that flows through Washington, D.C. In the 1600s they belonged to the tribal confederation headed by the great chief Powhatan, from whose war club daughter Pocahontas, legend has it, saved John Smith. (Pocahontas’s mother was a Patawomeck.) Today the tribe counts some 1,500 members, most in Stafford County, Va.

If — and that’s if — the Redskins wanted to style themselves the Potomacs, after the local tribe and the great waterway that shares their name, the tribe likely would endorse the move, Lightner, said.

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Wildcats on Strike

By 2.12.14

Labor unions in this country are struggling. Union membership as a percentage of the overall workforce remains flat and the prospects for growth of their ranks remain bleak. Unions are sorely in need of new untapped markets from which to fatten their treasuries.

So, the recent announcement that the United Steelworkers are seeking to unionize Northwestern University football players shouldn’t come as a surprise. There are 66,000 Division I football players in Division I of the NCAA. That’s a great new market for organized labor to tap for new dues revenue. It’s an opportunity that has unions licking their chops.

NCAA basketball players may be another target of union organizing, but they are a much smaller target. There are approximately 900 NCAA basketball teams, each with only 12-13 players, so unions would be chasing only about 10,000 potential dues payers. But, given their stagnant membership it’s more than likely that union organizers will be moving from the gridiron to the hardwood shortly (if they haven’t already).

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A Closer Game in Tampa

By 2.4.14

Sunday’s less than suspenseful head-knocker in New Jersey was not the only shot at a competitive ball game in my weekend. Good thing.

Save for members of that raucous and coffee-stained chorus wearing #12, Sunday’s bowl game was considerably less than super. From the Keystone Kops opening snap to the not-with-a-bang-but-a-whimper fourth quarter ending, the favored Broncos were never in the game — not in any quarter of the game, not in any phase of the game. The technical term for the XLVII result is butt-whuppin.’ Sunday the Broncos were the armadillo. The Seahawks were the steel-belted radial. It’s a good thing Bronco players brought their dental records with them. These were of great help in post-game identification of remains and notification of next of kin.

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David vs. Goliath at the Super Bowl

By 1.31.14

Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He has exceptional arm strength and passing accuracy, is one of the league’s most dynamic running quarterbacks and has the leadership skills and football IQ of a ten-year NFL veteran.

But the second-year starter, who will lead the Seattle Seahawks against the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl, has been down-graded his entire quarterbacking life because of a single physical characteristic: his height.

Generously listed at 5'11", Wilson is the shortest starting quarterback in the National Football League. Wilson’s height was the primary reason he dropped to the third round before being selected with the 75th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. But it also may be part of the reason he is flourishing now.

Wilson put together an impressive college career. He starred at both North Carolina State and the University of Wisconsin, where, as a senior, he led the Badgers to the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl just six months after arriving on campus.