A different view of sports

 

Clearing my mind and notebook while beginning to get excited about another season of college football:

Final stand?

President Trump was back at it again on Friday, taking aim at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for allowing the pro football league to freeze its newly-implemented policy requiring players to remain standing during the national anthem.

That didn’t make Trump happy, so he took to Twitter to let his base know what he thinks.

“The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!” Trump wrote.

Ol’ Donnie boy does enjoy stirring the pot.

Maybe he could stand to face such scrutiny. First time kissing Putin’s butt, issue America an apology. Second time kissing Putin’s butt, suspension of Twitter privileges. Third time kissing Putin’s butt, impeachment proceedings.

But then we’re past that, aren’t we?

The NFL had announced a new policy this spring following widespread player protests last year. Those protests made the NFL one of Trump’s favorite targets, calling former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others, mostly African-American players, SOBs. He said the league’s owners should kick players off teams if they knelt.

He even questioned whether they should be allowed to stay in the country.

So when Goodell bowed to pressure from the players union to review the new rule that would have required standing during the national anthem, Trump was back at it.

The NFL announced the policy freeze by stating, “Our shared focus will remain on finding a solution to the anthem issue through mutual, good faith commitments, outside of litigation.”

Meanwhile, when it comes to his own policies, Trump has been known to reverse field quicker than Ezekiel Elliott.

 Power struggle

Stewart Mandel of TheAthletic wrote a column handicapping the odds of an SEC coach not named Nick Saban winning a national championship. Interesting stuff, but it is guaranteed to disappoint South Carolina fans who have had to watch Clemson’s Dabo Swinney win one title and contend for several others.

Mandel rates Georgia’s Kirby Smart at 3:1, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn at 9:2 and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, who has won a title at Florida State, at 11:2.

The Gamecocks’ Will Muschamp places seventh on the “others” list at 35:1. And here is how Mandel assessed those odds, calling it “highly unlikely” and pointing out that USC has only played in one SEC championship game: “However, he’s probably only a couple of nine-win seasons from getting hired by an SEC school where he can.”

Speaking of jumping schools, Mandel rates Saban’s eventual successor at 6:1 and lists the favorites to replace him as Swinney, Smart, Malzahn and Fisher.

They said it

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Carmelo Anthony has been sent to Atlanta. So while we can’t yet cure cancer, apparently it can be traded.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Ex-NBA player Charles Oakley was arrested on a gambling-fraud charge at a Las Vegas casino after allegedly getting caught on camera trying to take back a $100 chip from a losing hand. Oakley apologists, though, say it’s no more than an over-and-back violation.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Glass half full: Mark Reynolds of the Nationals recently had 10 RBIs in one game. Glass half empty: that almost equaled his RBIs from the previous 35 games.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “We’re just beginning hour 18 of the ESPYs.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Miami Dolphins could suspend players up to 4 games for kneeling during the anthem. Open note to PED users, if you know you’re going to be tested, kneel & take the same 4 game suspension without the drug taint on your record.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson, again on Twitter: “England not only lost 2-1 to Croatia in the semifinals, but the team was fined $70,000 for wearing “unauthorized socks.” Since when has Roger Goodell been in charge of the World Cup?”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “University of Michigan researchers have designed a computer that is smaller than a grain of rice. The screen is so tiny, we hear, that even the Orioles’ playoff chances won’t fit on it.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny fired for being 1 game over .500. Mets fans wonder if he was fired for overachieving.”

Game on

Esports are making inroads in college athletics.

In 2014, Robert Morris University of Illinois was the first college to offer scholarships to nerds, uhh …esports competitors. Less than two years later, there were several other schools onboard, which banded together to form the National Association of Collegiate Esports.

Utah is the first power-five school to have a team, although it is administered as an academic program rather than as part of the athletics department.

But that could be changing as the NCAA explores sanctioning esports teams. The big issues now are that current esports competitors aren’t convinced they need the NCAA’s involvement and realize that their ability to cash in on their gaming careers could be hindered if the NCAA begins its oversight.

Utah’s director of operations for esports, AJ Dimick, told ESPN, “…the NCAA brings a degree of regulation to kids who typically have a way of monetizing themselves in esports, making a little money, and that degree of regulation wouldn’t serve them very well … (But) NCAA involvement would legitimize this in a way that nothing else possibly could and offer a template to those schools to get involved.”

Title IX is another potential issue because of the male dominated world of gamers.

Play for pay

If gaming is on the verge of breaking through, can gambling be far behind?

The NCAA is already busy studying how the nationwide expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and its member schools.

Maintaining integrity of competitions is the main point of emphasis, but there are concerns that spin off from there — officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, law enforcement oversight.

Blame the Supreme Court for this mess, which struck down a federal ban in May and gave states a right to venture into legal wagering on sporting events. West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are considering plowing ahead by collecting integrity fees.

The NCAA’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that previously only affected Nevada, has been temporarily suspended by its Board of Governors.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”

Here’s an idea – scrap those debates about paying student-athletes. Forget about integrity initiatives. Let the players gamble on whether their teams will win or lose, but only allow the wagering to be done through NCAA-approved gambling centers.

The schools can track the monetary wins and losses and freeze individual accounts when necessary. And any gambling by student-athletes through unapproved sites will lead to loss of scholarships.

Meanwhile, legal wagering will not only be a way to for the athletes to make some money. They’ll probably also learn some tough life lessons and maybe improve their math skills, too.

Circle the date

From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The Class AA Montgomery (Ala.) Biscuits will hold Millennial Night on July 21, giving away “free things without doing much work” such as napping and selfie stations, participation ribbons and “lots of avocados.” So what’ll they follow up that brainstorm with, a special event for codgers called Get Off My AstroTurf Night?

Headlines

Fark.com: “UNC football coach thinks the sports is under attack and it will ruin America. He also said Duke sucks.”

TheOnion.com: “Peyton Manning’s wife asks quietly how much longer Papa John is going to crash on their couch.”

TheKicker.com: “How to embarrass losers of the All-Star Game.”

Fark.com: “ESPN ditches its comments sections, unfairly silencing thousands of morons.”

TheOnion.com: “Qatar unveils indentured mascot for 2022 World Cup.”

Fark.com: “Milwaukee Brewers pitcher apologizes for racist Tweets but remains silent about inexcusable mullet.”

Sporting News: “J.R. Smith thinks LeBron re-signed with the Cavaliers.”

TheKicker.com: “Remember when Miami had a pro baseball team?”

Fark.com: “Usain Bolt hopes to replicate (in soccer) the immense success of Michael Jordan’s baseball career.”

Best/worst manager?

The Atlhletic.com beat writers polled MLB players during the All-Star Game break, asking them to rate the best and worst of the pitchers, hitters, etc. They also asked which manager, aside from their own, they would want to play for.

The Cubs’ Joe Maddon topped the list with 27.1 percent of the vote.

But when the question was flipped and players were quizzed on which manager they wouldn’t want to play under, Maddon earned 20 percent of the vote. The only manager who polled worst was the Orioles’ Buck Showalter with 23.3 percent of the vote.

Battle of Scotland

Today is moving day at the British Open, so who’s going to move out of the house that Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner are sharing this week in Carnoustie, Scotland?

The two, after all, enter the third round tied for the lead.

Johnson, who won this major at St. Andrews three years ago, is to blame because he knocked in a 30-foot putt on the 18th hole to record a 4-under 67.

Kisner, meanwhile, made a double bogey that cost him a two-shot lead. He finished with a 70 on Friday.

After two rounds, the two Americans both have 6-under 136s scores with three others just one shot behind. Five others, including Rory McElroy, are two shots back. And defending champ Jordan Spieth and two others are only three back.

Nine of the top 13 are Americans.

Should be a fun day of watching golf, even if the leaders do tee off a 10 a.m. ET today.

Lane violation

Lane Kiffen is at it again.

During his appearance at the Conference USA media day Thursday, Kiffin said Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was more suited to play pro baseball than college football.

Guess who Kiffen and his Florida Atlantic team open the season against on Sept. 1? Murray and the Sooners.

Murray, who transferred from Texas A&M, was the ninth pick of the first round in this summer’s MLB Amateur Draft. But Murray has decided he wants to play one more season of football before taking to the basepaths.

While he hasn’t locked down the starting job at Oklahoma, he’s the favorite to replace Heisman winner Baker Mayfield in his duel with sophomore Austin Kendall.

Kiffen obviously would prefer to face Kendall.

“(Murray) should change his mind and play baseball,” said Kiffen.

King dethroned?

There are reports that LeBron James’ move to the Lakers could have him moving to an unfamiliar position, too.

According to the Bleacher Report, the brain trust in Los Angeles is anxious to experiment with a small-ball lineup with James playing center, surrounded by Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzman.

James, who is 33 and entering his 16th season, only played the post 1.5 percent of the time last season with Cleveland, according to Nylon Calculus, a basketball analytics site. But the Lakers seem to be convinced the old dog can learn new tricks.

They’d be smarter trotting Magic Johnson on to the court to play point guard.

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