Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Yesterday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred refused to lift he lifetime ban on Pete Rose.  Manfred listed several reasons for his refusal to lift the ban by saying that allowing Mr. Rose to work in baseball “presents an unacceptable risk” that he might again bet on the sport, a strict violation of baseball’s rules.

This decision keeps him from getting into the Hall of Fame.  This all may seem like a trivial matter.  One might argue, and many are, that the Hall of Fame should not keep the all-time hits leader out.  But, there really is more to this than just that.

In 1918, the Chicago White Sox were accused of “throwing” the World Series in exchange for payoffs from gamblers.  The players were all acquitted in court, but baseball believed there was enough circumstantial evidence against them and banned all of the layers for life.

They then added Rule 21 to the list of rules that all employees of baseball, including on-field employees must adhere to.  Section d. says:

(d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES.  Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.

Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall
bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.

Pete Rose got caught betting on baseball while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.  It was later discovered that he bet on baseball when he was a player.  Furthermore, he bet on the team he was playing for and/or managing.

The gambling issue has been a very serious one for baseball ever since the Black Sox scandal that started this mess.  It is the one rule that is on full display in every locker room in baseball stadiums.  Every player knows the rule and is reminded of it every spring training.

Rose chose to ignore that rule.  He chose to be “his own man” and figured even if he got caught, he was Pete Rose and no one would dare ban him from the game.  He was wrong.  Bart Giamatti, then commissioner, did ban him for life.  Rose even signed the “agreement” and knew he would be banned for life.

One thing that Giamatti did say at the time, was that Rose needed to reconfigure his life before his reinstatement was considered.  In his statement, Manfred said:

In short, Mr. Rose has not presented credible evidence of a reconfigured life either by an honest acceptance by him of his wrongdoing … or by a rigorous, self-aware and sustained program of avoidance by him of all the circumstances that led to his permanent ineligibility in 1989.

Yes, gambling is legal.  However, this is about more than just Rose’s gambling addiction.  It is about ego that was brought on by entitlement.  Pete Rose was a terrific baseball player.  He set the all-time hits record, and really worked hard at his craft.

That does not mean he should have the “run of the chicken coop” as he seems to believe.  He has been praised and lauded over for years.  There are critics who claim that his “lifetime ban” should not prevent him from entering the Hall of Fame.

They claim his numbers should speak for him.  But that is nothing more than feeding Rose’s ego and giving him more entitlement.  Pete Rose made a conscious decision to break the “most rigorous” rule baseball has.  He chose to ignore the gambling issue because he figured he was Pete Rose.

Critics also say that it is unfair for him because other players who are suspected of using PEDs like Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds are still associated with the game.  Problem is that PEDs and gambling are two different things.

Players who used PEDs were cheaters.  The cheated their teammates, other players and fans.  So far, those players have been denied entrance into the Hall of Fame by the voting press.  The other side is that there has been no “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” that they took the drugs.  That is because the drug testing for PEDs really did not exist.

I believe that PED users should be banned from baseball for life as well.  The new drug policy makes that possible under its punishment policy.  But, Rose broke a rule that was fully known and on the books for over 60 years when he violated it.

His lack of remorse and his contradictory statements since his mess began proves he believes he is bigger than the game.  He doesn’t understand, or refused, to understand his errors.  He still blames baseball for his lifetime ban.

That is the entitlement part of all of this.  He is Peter Rose, Mr. Hustle!  He believes he deserves to be in the Hall and won’t accept that it was his own actions that keeps him from being there.

He has shown his ego over the years with his “autograph” sessions in Cooperstown during Hall of Fame weekend.  He is trying to show that he is bigger than the game.

As Manfred wrote:

Most important, whatever else a ‘reconfigured life’ may include, in this case, it must begin with a complete rejection of the practices and habits that comprised his violations of Rule 21.

I applaud Manfred’s rejection of Rose’s reinstatement.  In my opinion, Pete Rose has no place in baseball, nor does he deserve enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.  Yes, he was a terrific baseball player.  That does not excuse his deliberate violation of the game’s rules.

To those who claim he “deserves a second chance” I say he already got that second chance.  Again, he refused to follow the recommendations that might have resulted in a different decision.

As with all people who live a life of entitlement and self-importance, Pete Rose will never “get it.”  Just like all of the PED users, domestic abusers, and others who believe their “talent” lets them get away with their crimes or abuses.

Hopefully, Manfred’s decision in this case will open the door to other “abuses” that need to be more rigorously addressed in professional sports.  Then we will really have something to cheer about in sports.


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It is Labor Day Weekend.  That means the NFL season begins next weekend.  I know a lot of people who are itching to get it started.  Sorry, but I am not one of them.  As many readers know, I believe the NFL stands for No Fundamentals League.  I have watched football for a whole lot of years, and I have witnessed the decline in fundamental football for many of those years.

I bothers me that people making millions of dollars do not know how to tackle or block.  The number of “ole” tackles and blocks is stunning.  I don’t know if players just don’t know how to play the game anymore, or if they are just lazy and won’t earn their paycheck.  In any case, I probably watch less football than anyone I know.

But, today, I want to make a point about labor and management issues.  The current mess going on in the NFL is a good starting point.  I realize that the players union is different from other unions.  After all, the players make millions of dollars while the average union worker makes thousands.  But, all of the incidents that the NFL has faced, and its reaction to them is a perfect microcosm of owner/labor relations.

A lot of people are excited that Tom Brady had his suspension revoked by a Federal Judge.  They are saying that he was “vindicated” from any role in deflategate.  That is a wrong assumption on their part.  The ruling had nothing to do with his involvement or not.  It was simply over the process that was used to issue his punishment.

According to the court, he was never informed his actions could result in a four game suspension.  Therefore, he did not know what the punishment could be which is contrary to labor negotiations.  So, the league couldn’t suspend him like they did.  Furthermore, the court ruled that the punishment for using performance enhancing drugs was not a legitimate comparison for this infraction.

The court never said anything about whether or not Brady had anything to do with the deflated footballs.  Therefore, Brady has not been vindicated by this ruling.  It was all about the process the NFL uses in doling out punishment.

The NFL and the NFLPA have a contract to spell out labor relations.  The NFLPA agreed that the Commissioner would have the right to issue punishment for unbecoming conduct.  The NFL has been racked with lots of incidents like spouse abuse, woman abuse, rape allegations, sexual assault, possession of firearms, and even players accidentally shooting themselves in public areas.

The NFL wants to “protect the integrity of the shield.”  As a result, the Commissioner has taken dictatorial powers upon himself.  Apparently, he believes he is the only person who can “protect the shield.”  As a result of this behavior, he has seen his last four suspensions overturned in court.  Not because the incidents didn’t deserve punishment, but because he failed to follow “due process” which is legalese for doing what is fair and just.

When deflategate hit, the union requested that the appeal process be handled by an independent arbiter.  The Commission refused and conducted the appeal himself.  That was where he went off the tracks.  As a result of this decision which blames the process, we will probably see more suspensions overturned by the courts as well.

Which brings me back to the Labor Day issue.  Here are two groups of millionaires fighting over labor rights.  The owners want to dictate punishment, wages, health policies, and a host of other items.  Remember, this is the only league that has a “no guaranteed contract” policy.  Meaning if they sign you for six years, they can void the contract in just one or two years if they choose.

Most of the contract holdouts are not over the length or total wages for the course of the contract.  They are holding out for more “guaranteed money” at the front end of the contract.  That way they can financially protect themselves if a team decides to “cut” them after a couple of years.

That may be a nice system, but the average worker doesn’t get that kind of treatment.  The average worker gets whatever the company says they get.  If they are let go for any reason, the best they can expect is unemployment checks for up to 26 weeks.  That is a far cry from guaranteed money.

The politicians have been quite mum about the labor processes in professional sports.  I haven’t heard a single politician talk about “breaking the professional sports unions.”  The unfortunate side is that the vast majority of Republican Politicians at all levels of government are continuously calling for “breaking the unions.”

Unions serve a real purpose.  They have helped the American Economy grow by making sure their members receive the benefits of the profits they help create for the company.  They negotiate fair wages, working conditions, benefits, etc., for their workers.  In essence, that is what professional sports unions do as well.  How does that help the economy?  It helps the economy because workers have money to spend.  When people have money to send they spend it, thus increasing demand for goods and services.  Rising demand creates more jobs, and thus grows the economy even more.

But, since the members of average unions are not millionaires, they don’t have the political clout that professional sports players do.  As a result, since their “demands” of fair wages, working conditions, and benefits cut into the profits of the stock holders, they are demonized and called “job killers.”

Union membership exploded after World War II.  As a result, the economy also exploded.  Union membership was at its highest and workers were actually making a livable wage.  Today, union membership is at its lowest point since before the war.  And, we are seeing more income inequality than we have since before World War I.

Politicians and the top 1% wage earners have conspired to take away unionization from the workers.  They don’t want those pesky union people demanding more than a twenty-five cent raise in pay when the company is making billions of dollars in profit.

Unions are blamed for jobs being shipped overseas.  That is a total lie.  Jobs are being shipped overseas because deregulation combined with tax loopholes have made it easier for companies to ship them overseas.  The so-called “Free Trade Agreements” have cost Americans several million manufacturing jobs, not the unions.

We have all had discussions about income inequality and stagnant wages for the working class.  There is a direct correlation between the income inequality and stagnant wages with the demise of unions.  Without collective bargaining, workers no longer have a voice.  Without union representation, workers are no longer protected.

As a result, owners and share-holders have total control over wages, working conditions, and benefits.  That means wages, working conditions, and benefits have been eroding quicker than you can say “oh, shit.”  How else would it be possible for someone to be hired as a CEO, ruin the company, and then be given a “golden parachute” worth tens of millions of dollars as an exit strategy and the workers are given nothing?

As we celebrate this Labor Day Weekend, remember that we are supposed to be celebrating LABOR!  That means we are supposed to be celebrating every working person in this country.  The best way we can celebrate our workers, is to get rid of the people who want to keep them down.  The ones who don’t want to support livable wages.

The one slogan you won’t hear Republicans tout this election is “vote your pocketbook.”  That is because the vast majority of Americans don’t have much in their pocketbook, thanks to Republican Policies that are intended to keep the workers down.

Unemployment is down to 5.1 per cent.  That is the lowest it has been in over seven years.  But, if Republicans in Congress haven’t been holding up bills like the Infrastructure Bill, unemployment could be lower than 4 per cent.  And, more Americans would be making a livable wage.

Plus, a low unemployment isn’t worth that much when Republicans say over-and-over that you should just work more and stop complaining about low wages.  According to them, allowing you to make enough to support your family will just “kill jobs.”

So, as you can see, the NFL is no different than any other corporation.  The owners simply want to keep their employees under control for more profits for the owners.  It all sounds an awful lot like Mitt Romney, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and the rest of the Republican candidates.

It is your choice.  My pocketbook tells me that Republicans are constantly inside them trying to take money from me to give it to the rich.  To me, that is income redistribution at its worst.  I don’t want them to give up their millions, I just want them to recognize that WE BUILT THAT, not them and therefore pay us what we are worth.  Without us and our labor, they would be broke.

That is what Labor Day should be about! By the way, if you love watching big men run into each other without actually tackling them, enjoy the NFL season.

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Is it possible that one major sorts league finally got the domestic violence issue correct?  Domestic violence and sexual abuse have been common headlines in sports for the past few years.  These cases involve professional athletes, college athletes, and even high school athletes.   The problem is only made worse by the “blame the victim” culture that seems to surround, not only sports, but society as a whole.  It just might be possible that one sports league has found a way to break that horrible cycle and actually “help” those involved in these types of cases.

When the NFL found themselves embroiled in a mess over the Ray Rice case last year, the MLB stated it would come up with a “comprehensive plan” to address the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Last week, they announced their plan to the world.  This plan did take a year to be put together, but it was jointly done between MLB and the Players Association.

The significance of this announcement is that both sides worked together to make it happen.  That is really something.  The MLB and its relations with the Players Association was the most fractious relationship for decades.  The Union didn’t trust the Owners, and the Owners didn’t trust the Union.  They really hated each other.

However, peace has broken out between the two groups.  When the NFL found itself in its quagmire over domestic violence with the Ray Rice case as well as others, MLB and their Players Union didn’t want to get sucked into that same quagmire.

The resulting “comprehensive plan” should be looked at by all other sports leagues as a model to follow.  Here is a breakdown of this plan:

  • At the heart of the plan there will be a seven-person Joint Policy Board, composed of two members each from MLB and the players’ union, along with three experts in the field of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. One of the board’s expert members will submit a treatment plan to the full board for approval and oversee the player’s compliance with the plan.
  • A player’s treatment plan could include submitting to psychological evaluations, counseling sessions, court compliance, relocating from a home shared with his partner, limiting interactions with his partner, relinquishing of weapons and other “reasonable directives” to ensure safety of victims. Concurrently, the commissioner’s office will investigate any allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse and can place the player on seven-day administrative league during the investigation, subject to appeal.
  • Discipline will come at the commissioner’s discretion, and the policy does not include suggested guidelines for length of suspension; rather, it allows Manfred to “issue the discipline he believes is appropriate in light of the severity of the conduct.  The Commissioner’s authority to discipline is not dependent on whether the player is convicted or pleads guilty to a crime.”  Players can appeal their discipline and have that hearing held by an independent arbitrator.
  • They will establish a 24-hour, confidential help line for players and their families, with bilingual experts available.

It must be noted that this plan is not just about punishment.  It includes a treatment plan as well.  The objective here isn’t just to punish a player, but to help that player change bad behavior.  That is something that is woefully missing from other leagues and their plans.

The fact that three members of the Joint Policy Board are experts in the field of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse is extremely encouraging.  That means people with knowledge of all of the ramifications for everyone involved in domestic abuse can be fully understood.

Some will criticize that there are no “set limits of suspension” in these cases.  I don’t have a problem with that.  Each case should be evaluated on its own.  Punishment should be appropriate to the severity of the case.  The fact that both sides agreed that any appeals will be heard by an independent arbitrator takes away all of the finger-pointing we now see in the NFL.

When Commissioner Rob Manfred and Union Chief Tony Clark released details of the agreement, they said it aims to: “reflect the gravity and the sensitivities of these significant societal issues.  We believe that these efforts will foster not only an approach of education and prevention but also a united stance against these matters throughout our sport and our communities.”

“Players are husbands, fathers, sons and boyfriends,” said players’ association executive director Tony Clark in a statement. “And as such want to set an example that makes clear that there is no place for domestic abuse in our society.

“We are hopeful that this new comprehensive, collectively-bargained policy will deter future violence, promote victim safety, and serve as a step toward a better understanding of the causes and consequences of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.”

I don’t know what you think about MLB.  But, this is a perfect example of how two sides can sit down and come up with a comprehensive plan that takes into consideration the victims of domestic violence.  It shows that organizations can come up with plans that help everyone and not just have knee-jerk reactions to headlines.

MLB and the Players Association should be applauded for their actions on this matter.  They seem to “get it” on this matter.

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Deflategate has hit the pages again.  This time the Wells report was unveiled, and Tom Brady has been suspended for four games for his role in “deflating” footballs after the officials inspected them.  Also the two equipment managers have been suspended and the New England Patriots have been fined $1 million and have had two draft picks taken away from them.

According to the NFL this is all being done to protect the integrity of the game.

“Your actions as set forth in the report clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football. The integrity of the game is of paramount importance to everyone in our league, and requires unshakable commitment to fairness and compliance with the playing rules,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent wrote in a letter to Brady.

Case closed, right?  Well not exactly.  Obviously Brady is going to “appeal” his suspension.  Critics of the Wells report, including Brady’s agent, call it dubious at best and a sham at worst.  They claim that the incident “did not affect the outcome of the game in question.”

On the other hand, supporters of the suspension argue that the “outcome of the game is not the central issue.  The fact Brady cheated is the central issue.”  The NFL is very quick to shout out “integrity” when it is dealing with rules violations.  Suspensions are all in the name of the “integrity of the game” or “protecting the shield.”

The really funny part in all of this is that the NFL has shown absolutely no integrity at all.  Yes, they are very quick to suspend a player for wearing the wrong colored shoes during a game, or having a logo other than NFL on a headband, or for deflating game balls in order to gain and advantage.  But that is as far as their integrity goes.

In the last year and a half, several players in the NFL have been accused and in some cases convicted of domestic violence.  Ray Rice’s case hit the headlines really hard.  But, the problem is that domestic violence was a problem in the NFL for years, and they did nothing about it.  After all, that person being abused is really a nobody in terms of the game!  And, she probably had it coming.

Several players have also been accused of rape.  But that isn’t an integrity problem for the NFL either.  It is just a few bad apples.  Including the number 1 draft pick this year who not only was accused of rape, but convicted of stealing crab legs.  And how did this draftee show his integrity?  He “selfied” himself and girlfriend eating crab legs to celebrate his selection as number 1.  Talk about rubbing it in.

Then we can take the issue of CSE.  Literally hundreds of former, and even some current players, are suffering after effects of concussions.  The sport of football is a violent game and injuries do happen.  But instead of putting a lot of emphasis on reducing the number of concussions, the NFL has put together a very highly paid legal team to fight against the argument that the NFL is responsible for these injuries.  Besides these concussions are caused by “faulty equipment.”

Then there are the other players who have had several knee operations, hip replacement surgeries, and a myriad of other surgeries that have made them disabled.  The pension plans for these former players who mostly played before a union is measly at best.  And the health coverage they get is even worse.  But, that doesn’t seem to fit into the NFL’s definition of “integrity.”  Not to mention that these players are all injured because the “fundamentals” of the game aren’t being taught anymore.  So, blame those coaches not the NFL.

I used to play football.  I loved the game.  But, as I think I mentioned before, I have stopped watching the game.  Every time I see even a highlight of a game, I am more reminded of the old Roman Gladiators in the Coliseum.  The game has stopped being a game of football, and has become a gladiator match.  The only question during a game today, is how many players will be carted off the field due to a serious injury.

What is even worse is that every Sunday during the season, and now every Monday and Thursday, millions of people tune in to watch this gladiator spectacle.  The NFL and their sponsors make billions of dollars off of these players injuries.  Then, like the rest of our “throw away society” simply throw away these players and say “they chose to play the game so it is not our fault.”

The NFL will suspend players to “protect the integrity of the game.”  But, someone should write Commissioner Goodell and let him know where he can find the definition of the word “integrity.”  I think he will be surprised to learn that it covers a whole lot more than just “playing by the rules.”

Unless people stop watching the game until the NFL cleans up its act in many areas, this stupidity will continue.  The NFL and its sponsors only understand one thing.  Money!  We need to cut off the money before we can expect any real changes in the NFL’s behavior.  Until then, the NFL will have very little to do with “integrity.”

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It is Final Four weekend.  Both the men and women’s Final Four are being held this weekend.  The men play on Saturday and Monday, and the women play on Sunday and Tuesday.  I think it is a shame, but hardly anyone seems to be following the women’s tournament.  It has been suggested that the NCAA move the woman’s tournament so it doesn’t directly conflict with the men’s.  I don’t know if that will do any good, but it may.

However, there is one piece that has come out that actually says negative things about men’s and women’s basketball.  That is Geno Auriemma’s comments that men’s basketball is “a joke”.  Part of his quote points out one of the problems facing basketball, and for that matter many sports.  He said: “….the bottom line is that nobody can score, and they’ll tell you it’s because of great defense, great scouting, a lot of team work, nonsense, nonsense. College men’s basketball is so far behind the times it’s unbelievable. I mean women’s basketball is behind the times. Men’s basketball is even further behind the times.

I have to admit that Auriemma is correct.  Scoring in college basketball is, on average, 10 points lower than it was about 20 years ago.  There was more scoring in the game before the 35 second clock.  That 35 second clock is another stupid item in the men’s game.  Heck, even the women play with a 30 second clock!  Why does it take the men 35 seconds to run a play?

Auriemma goes on to say that “Every other major sport in the world has taken steps to help people be better on the offensive end of the floor.”  That is also true.  However, I must ask Auriemma why these rule changes are necessary to improve or “help” be better on the offensive end of the floor?  There is a simple answer.  Players are not being taught, and not being held responsible to use the “fundamentals” of the game.

There is one “undefeated” team left in men’s basketball.  Kentucky.  However, the one knock against them is they don’t score!  Their shooting percentage is horrible!  Yes, they play good defense, but their shooting and free throw shooting are terrible.  That is their achilles heal.  I don’t know if it will hurt them in the Final Four, and that is the problem with the game.

There were at least two games in the “Elite Eight” that were decided because one team or the other couldn’t make free throws!  Half of the Final Four are in there because their opponent couldn’t make free throws.  What is wrong with that picture?  Why aren’t players, and their coaches, emphasizing fundamental play anymore?  Because it isn’t “sexy” enough and won’t get them on Sports Center “Top Plays.”

I believe the two sports most affected by this lack of fundamental play is basketball and football.  I am talking about both at the college level and at the professional level.  I am tired of hearing about Player A “going off for 45 points” as if he did something terrific.  Player A took about 50 shots himself.  When you take into consideration free throws and three pointers, that pencils out to about 38% shooting!

Not to mention that if Player A made half of his free throws, he might have scored 50 points.  I am also tired of being told that the “Top Plays” are dunks.  Let’s face facts, if a man 6 feet 6 inches tall cannot dunk a basketball, he probably shouldn’t be playing basketball.

Then there are the “violations” that aren’t “violations” anymore.  Like walking or palming the ball.  How can we expect players to use fundamentals when they aren’t being enforced by the referees?  I can’t tell you how many “traveling violations” I counted in just one game last weekend that were not called.  Before you argue that I am just being biased, I did referee high school basketball.

When these players move into the NBA it gets even worse.  The NBA almost never calls “traveling.”  On top of that, the NBA uses a “star hierarchy” to determine who gets the foul called against them.  If a “star” makes a move and there is a collision, the “star” gets the call in his favor, even if he was the one to commit the foul.

Football is even worse.  How many times have you seen a running back “break” six or seven tackles on one run?  Once in a while it is because the runner is that good.  The vast majority of the times is because the defensive players don’t know how to tackle!  Again, thanks to “Top Plays” tackling has become  “run as fast as you can at someone, slam into him, and hopefully he will fall to the ground.”

Those are the kinds of “tackles” that make it to the “Top Plays” list.  As a result, fundamentals of the game are lost.  I doubt that they will ever come back either.  I played football in my youth.  I loved the game.  I have basically stopped watching the game because they don’t play football anymore.  It is more like watching a demolition derby.

Auriemma is also correct in saying ” This is entertainment we’re talking about. People have to decide, do I want to pay 25 bucks, 30 bucks to go see a college scrum where everybody misses six out of every ten shots they take, or do I want to go to a movie?  We’re fighting for the entertainment dollar, here, and I have to tell you it’s not entertainment from a fan’s standpoint.

I have more-or-less abandoned watching both football and basketball.  Yes, I watch the NCAA Tournament, but more by flipping to it during commercials on other programs.  I cannot say I have watched an entire game for years.  The same is true for football.  I used the same technique during the Super Bowl.

This is not to say there aren’t exceptional players in both sports.  There are.  The trouble is that too many “stars” don’t know how to play the game correctly.  They have become more of a one-on-one game of egos rather than the team games they are supposed to be.

As a result, I find both games very boring to watch.  I don’t understand how a team can pay out $100 million to a defensive middle-linebacker who doesn’t know how to tackle or to a 38% shooter.  You can say all you want about how defenses in basketball has gotten better.  But, when one team misses six 12 foot open jumpers in a row, that isn’t good defense, it is bad shooting.

You can also complain about athletes leaving college early for the pros.  But, remember, they came to college not knowing how to play properly, so how can you expect them to play properly in the pros?  Imagine how much more money may be available if someone could actually shoot the ball, tackle someone, or block someone.

If you need to see an increase in offense, teach the game correctly and give the players the fundamental tools they need to compete.  Then you will see offense increase.  You may even see defense increase as well.  To me, there is nothing more dramatic than watching a fundamentally sound “unstoppable” offense pitted against a fundamentally sound “unmovable” defense.  That is sports, and that is something that neither basketball nor football gives us anymore.

Oh well, enjoy the Final Four and “Go Big Ten!”

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Our country sits on the crossroads in history.  For the last 100 years or so, we have what many people believe to be a model for democracy.  Yes, we have had our problems with race before like slavery and the Jim Crow laws.  But, beginning in the 20th century, we have basically been a country that passed laws that protected the rights of individuals.

All of that is changing in front of our eyes, and we don’t seem to give a shit!  The Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that abortion was legal.  Since then we have seen a strong opposition to that ruling.  In the last several years, several conservative states have passed laws taking that right away from women.  They have even passed legislation in several of these states that require doctors to tell women who want an abortion false information.  The object isn’t to protect the woman’s health, it is to make them change their mind about getting an abortion.

We have seen a so-called “church,” whose name I refuse to even mention,  protest at military funerals.  They claim that the soldiers were killed as “god’s punishment” for America’s acceptance of gay rights.  When the families object to their being there, nothing is done to keep them away.

There are voter suppression laws being passed in several states.  They are not-so-thinly veiled attempts to reduce the number of people who usually vote Democratic from gaining access to the polls.  In the last election just last year, several thousand people were denied their right to vote.  In some cases, it resulted in swaying the outcome of close elections.

Now, Indiana has taken the lead in authorizing legalized discrimination.  Governor Mike Pence signed the legislation yesterday.  It is called The Religious Objections Law.  Under this law, if you own a business and you don’t like someone, you can refuse service to that individual as long as you can say you have religious beliefs that says you don’t have to serve them.

The Governor says it is not a discrimination law.  He says “this law is not about discrimination.”  If it isn’t about discrimination, what is it about?  This law has come to fruition because the courts have ruled that same-sex marriage ban that was passed by Indiana is unconstitutional.  In order to fight against same-sex marriage, Indiana came up with this discrimination law to satisfy the far right-wing and the Christian Cult.

This is the reality in Indiana right now.  If you own any business, you can discriminate against anyone you want.  Pence may disagree with that statement, but it is true.  What if I owned a business in Indiana.  I decided that I don’t like Evangelical Christians.  I can deny business to any Evangelical Christian if I simply say it is against my religion to serve them because I consider them heretics.  This law gives me that right.

The laws about discrimination are very clear.  If you own a business, you are not allowed to discriminate against anyone.  Once you open your doors to the public, you are required to serve the whole public.  That is a very simple fact of doing business.  If you own a catering service and say you will cater all events except gay events, you are breaking the law.  This Indiana Law allows you to disobey anti-discrimination laws already upheld by the Supreme Court.

There is only one thing to do.  Businesses must boycott Indiana.  As a matter of fact, Salesforce.com co-founder and CEO Mark Benioff announced on twitter, shortly after Pence signed the bill, that he was cancelling programs that require his customers or employees to “travel to Indiana to face discrimination.”

The odd part is that Salesforce.com bought Indianapolis based marketing software company ExactTarget for $2.5 billion and kept several hundred employees in Indianapolis.  I hope he has the good sense to remove those jobs from Indiana so his employees don’t have to “face discrimination.”

Also, the timing is perfect for a national outcry.  Next week is the Final Four for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.  The Final Four is being held in Indianapolis.  For once, I would love to hear the NCAA do the right thing and announce on national television that this will be the last Final Four, or any round of the tournament held anywhere in the state of Indiana.  I am not holding my breath on that one, but it would be really nice if they did.

NCAA President Mark Emmert did say in a statement:  “We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Final Four are not impacted negatively by this bill.”  The law, by the way, doesn’t take effect until June.

He went on to say “Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it affects future events and our workforce.”  Sounds promising.  But, the NCAA isn’t known for always doing what is right.

Let’s look at just one example of a situation.  It is football season.  A team is due to meet Indiana University at Indiana.  One or more of their players have announced that they are gay.  What happens if the hotel the team is supposed to stay at refuses to allow the gay players to spend the night based on “religious grounds?”

Before you snicker, this is a very real possibility.  But, what if that hotel doesn’t say they won’t allow the gay players to spend the night until the team arrives?  That team will either have to find alternative quarters for the whole team, or follow the old Jim Crow laws and just find alternative quarters for the gay player(s).  What about pro-athletes?  There are a handful of openly gay players in professional sports?  Will they be denied a room when their team meets a team in Indiana?

Nothing will have a bigger impact on Indiana and this stupid law than the NCAA announcing immediately that they will hold no tournaments in the state due to this law.  Maybe that will make Indiana repeal this discriminatory law.

The only way to fight this kind of discrimination is through economic power.  If a state wants to legally discriminate against a segment of our citizenry, they should not be granted anything that would bring money into its economy.

Major sporting events like the NCAA tournaments, the Super Bowl, and others should not take place anywhere inside Indiana.  Wouldn’t it be great if the Indianapolis 500 was held without anyone attending?  Major corporations should sever their ties to Indiana.  Convention organizers should avoid Indiana like the plague.

At least two groups have announced that they were going to reconsider plans to events in Indianapolis because of this law.  These groups are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Gamer’s Convention.  I hope both go elsewhere.

But, that is not enough.  Every person who lives in Indiana and opposes this law should boycott any business that is willing to discriminate against someone based on “religious grounds.”  Any business that openly discriminates against anyone does not deserve to remain open for business.  Boycott them and shut them down!

I have family in Chicago.  When I travel home to visit, I must pass through Indiana.  I promise you that I will make sure I have enough gas to get through the state and I won’t stop to eat.  I refuse to give any of my money to their economy.  I hope all travelers who need to pass through Indiana do the same thing.

If these things happen, the economic impact will be severe.  Not only to businesses who openly discriminate using this law as cover, but to the tax rolls in Indiana as well.

Since several other states are already looking to Indiana as the model to follow with similar laws, it is time to fight back.  By showing the economic implications of such legalized discrimination, maybe those other states will think twice before following suit.

To show just how much this law is legalized discrimination, Pence was asked if he would follow Illinois’ lead and add sexual-orientation to the state’s civil rights law.  He responded “That is not on my agenda.  I will not be pursuing that.”  Therefore, no one can argue that this law is anything but legalized discrimination sponsored by the state of Indiana.

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I like football.  I don’t love football.  I played the game when I was young and enjoyed playing it.  On the other hand, I am not one to sit on the couch all weekend to watch football games.  I admit when my poor Bears are on TV, I will flip back and forth to see how they are doing.  I don’t think I have watched an entire game in years.

One of the reasons I don’t watch a lot of football is because, in my opinion, the game has changed so much that it isn’t football anymore.  Forgive me for being old, but the fundamentals of the game have just about disappeared.  I am sick of watching grown men making millions of dollars who can’t even tackle properly.

The rules have changed so much, to protect the players which is a good thing, that no one even knows what a penalty is anymore.  Including the referees.  The last two games involving the Dallas Cowboys proves that point, I think.  As a result, all we see during the games is a bunch of men running around trying to “slam into” the opponent instead of trying to “tackle” them.  It has become very boring to me.

We have instant replay to “get the call right” but things like penalties cannot be reviewed.  Which is why in those two games involving the Cowboys in the playoffs there was no review.  So much for “getting the call right.”  On top of that, players “trash talking” has gotten so bad, I feel like I am watching Pro-Wrestlers at the microphone rather than Pro-Football Players.

I don’t have anything against trash talking on the field.  But, when you bring it to the post game news conference, it is more like WWE than football.  All of this is going on when the NFL has a problem.  It has mishandled all kinds of situations that crept up during this season.  Look at the Ray Rice and the Adrian Peterson cases.

Before the Seattle Seahawks game on Sunday, the NFL said that if Lynch wore “gold-colored spikes” he would be disqualified for the game and fined to boot.  They said it would violate the uniform rules.  They have fined him thousands of dollars already for not speaking to the media, and threaten to fine him in excess of $50,000 if he doesn’t speak to the media during Super Bowl week.  Then they fined one of his teammates for giving an obscene gesture after a touchdown.

This brings us to what is becoming the infamous “deflategate” incident in New England.  According to reports, the New England Patriots were using under inflated footballs in the game.  One of the Colts complained after he intercepted Brady because he thought the ball felt funny.  It turns out that 11 of the 12 balls the Patriots were using were under inflated by 15%!

According to the rules, footballs must be pressurized between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI.  All of these balls were retested at halftime and were found to be at 11 PSI.  I grew up in the north and I know that weather affects PSI.  But, not at a 15% rate.  Besides, the footballs that were used by the Indianapolis Colts were not under inflated.  So, you should be able to rule out the weather being a factor.

I know this doesn’t sound like something very egregious.  Nor am I suggesting that the Colts might have won if the footballs were not under inflated.  Let’s face facts, the Colts stunk in the game.  But, having played the game, I can tell you that under inflating the ball does make it easier to grip it making passing easier and forced fumbles harder.  Especially on cold wet days like Sunday was in New England.

You must also remember that it was Tom Brady and Payton Manning who lobbied the league to allow each team to bring “their own footballs” to the game.  Before the 2008 season, the home team supplied all of the game balls.  But because quarterbacks each like the ball a little different, Brady and Manning lobbied the league in 2007 to change that rule.  Now each team plays with their own footballs during the game.

Besides, we have to take into consideration that this is not the first time New England has been discovered to be cheating.  Remember “spygate?”  If the NFL is truly out to “protect the integrity of the shield” as they claim, then the only correct thing for them to do is suspend Brady and Belichick for the Super Bowl.  During their news conferences yesterday, both men said “I have no idea what happened” over, and over.

In an ironic twist, Brady said he wants his footballs at 12.5 PSI, but then said he doesn’t feel any difference during the game.  That is a real stretch for me.  He says he can’t feel the difference in the one piece of equipment he handles all of the time, but thinks 12.5 PSI is the “perfect football.”  Look, I like Tom Brady, but I believe he just got caught in his own lie and needs to be punished.

Belichick claims he knows nothing about inflating footballs.  Yet he also contradicted himself when he said that he alters the inflation of the balls in practice so his players “practice under the most extreme conditions” like during the game.  Another contradiction that is hard for me to swallow.

During his news conference Belichick threw his quarterback under the bus.  His quarterback then threw the equipment staff under the bus in his news conference.  All the while standing in front of a backdrop that read “Gillette Flexball.”  Now there is a subliminal message if there ever was one!

To use Belichick’s and Brady’s own words, I would be “shocked” if anything was done to punish the New England Patriots before the Super Bowl.  Even if there was some kind of punishment handed out before the game, it will not include the suspension of either Belichick or Brady.

Even if both men are telling the truth that they don’t know how the balls were under inflated, which I find hard to believe, remember what Commissioner Goodell said during the news conference handing out punishment for the Saints in “bountygate”.  He said:  “ignorance is not an excuse.”

I know “boutnygate” was far more serious than “deflategate” but as he likes to say, “rules are rules” and must be followed by all.  Therefore, I see no recourse but to suspend both the coach and quarterback for the upcoming game.  Otherwise we will continue to see the NFL become more and more like the WWE.

I think you can only sum up this NFL season as a really shitty one for the league!  Only, they have no one to blame but themselves.

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