Posts Tagged Sports

DON’T ASK ME TO ORGANIZE MY RECOMMENDED BOOK TAB!

I’m sure that some people would find the “Books that I recommend” list much easier to use if everything were organized into quite distinct categories, such as: Politics; History; Science—or, at least, Fiction and Non-Fiction.  But, that’s not how my mind works.  It’s just too cluttered!

Consider the most recent addition (and yesterday’s post): “Three Days in January”. President Eisenhower left the Presidency 57 years ago; but the real story, I believe, is a combination of:  World War II and Early Cold War History; reflections back to our Founding Fathers, and what their intentions were, with regard to the Constitution; contrasts of the Leadership styles between Ike and JFK, and the lack thereof with Trump. and, lastly, the peril which the Military Industrial Complex might present today, especially in the hands of a Fool.   Now tell me, how would you categorize that NY Times Best-Seller?

“Freeman” is a well-researched historical novel about Racism in post-Civil War rural Mississippi.  That book, not only depicts the reality of how both blacks and whites regarded one another, at the time; but, it also provides some insight as to Racism, as it is today in America today, and particularly, in the rural South.

“Moneybag” is nominally a book about baseball; but, it is really more about the use of statistics in player personnel management.  The Oakland A’s had one of the very smallest budgets in Major League Baseball; however, for a time, they compiled better Win-Loss records than all but a few of the league’s 30 teams.  The A’s realized that some of the more pedestrian statistics, such as: on-base average; total bases and “small ball”, won more games than often considerations: physical looks: home runs and fielding.  For the owners, that approach was more “cost-effective”.

Statistics has also played an increasingly important role in general decision-making theory.  Much of what is pointed-out, by Michael Lewis, the author of “Moneyball”, is based on the insight of the two Israeli Psychologists, who are his main subjects in “The Undoing Project”.  Those psychologists won the Nobel Prize for, get this, Economics, in 2003.  Their research has led to: the creation of the new field of Behavioral Economics; revolutionized Big-Data studies; advanced evidence-based medicine, and helped rationalize government regulation.

NOTE:  If anyone can devise an algorithm, which will organize my “Books That I Recommend” tab, please send me the “For Idiots” version, so that it can install itself.

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“LAND OF THE FREE, AND HOME OF THE BRAVE?” REALLY?

Yes, the actual lyrics of our National Anthem really do end with a question mark.  That’s a key point, since so many Americans have no clue as to what those words mean, or what the song even stands for.   Most people just stand, because they feel…that’s what you’re supposed to do! Colin Kaepernick, who plays quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers team in the National Football League, has brought a lot of attention to himself, and to our Anthem, because he doesn’t stand when it is played.

Kaepernick recently said: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.  To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.  There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

A number of other athletes—both past and present—have defended Colin Kaepernick’s right not to stand for the playing of the National Anthem before ball games.  Interestingly, the many soldiers who have served in America’s wars, throughout our history, have similarly defended his right to either stand or not stand.  Isn’t that what freedom is?

A number of politicians and other public people have declared Kaepernick’s refusal to stand as disgraceful. But consider: would’t Colin have saved himself a whole lot of rebuke and aggravation by just standing? Maybe so; But standing to honor something that he does not respect is truly insincere.  In this case, isn’t standing-up, or sitting down, in the face of adversity, a form of bravery?

Frankly, I have always wondered why the National Anthem is played before sporting events, or the Pledge of Allegiance is recited before school.  Shouldn’t love of country, belief in your God, or anything else that you hold to be self-evident be a personal matter?  These things should be retained in your thoughts and your heart, and not forced on others.  And once again, isn’t that what Freedom truly means?

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WHY DOES THE NFL THINK IT CAN ESTABLISH A TEAM IN EUROPE?

America’s National Football League, our most successful professional sport, held the first of three exhibition games at London’s hallowed Wembley Stadium, on the Sunday before last.  The Miami Dolphins played the Oakland Raiders before a sold-out audience. Miami is well-known to many Europeans as a good place to stop for a few days, en route to many other places in the Western Hemisphere.  And, the Raiders, of Oakland, California, has fan clubs worldwide due to its tough guy image.

Before the NFL gets too enthusiastic in jumping to the conclusion that London, or Europe, is ripe for a full-time team, it really should think again.  Consider that the Dolphins spent eight hours in air travel time, and the Raiders thirteen, in addition to going through Customs and hotel check-in.  And, be sure to factor-in that that whole process has to be repeated on the return trip, as well.

Now, think of how that time would eat into the practice schedule of a European team that would go through that whole ordeal, for eight regular season, and two pre-season, games in America each year.  That’s half the season!  Also, this would be during the season, not like the World Cup, which ends several weeks before the European football (soccer to Americans) season begins.

Now, which established team (or teams) would be designated to re-locate from the U.S. to anywhere in Europe?  The New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburg Steelers or New England Patriots?  Don’t bet on it!  None of those cities would be willing to give-up their home-town team, and the owners certainly wouldn’t move or sell them.  But, there is one team that is often suggested to be the first.  But why is that?

The Jacksonville, Florida Jaguars are that team.  Most of the other teams are reasonably to exceedingly profitable–which means TV rights, ticket sales, team paraphernalia, etc.  Apparently, the Jags are the one team that might be either willing, or could be persuaded, to move or sell.  But think about it:  if a team cannot cut-it in football-crazy Florida, what would suggest that it would in London, Frankfort, Barcelona, etc?  There’s no way!

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THERE TRULY ARE STILL SOME REALLY BIG HEARTS IN THE NFL

Recently, there have been two horrendous episodes of domestic violence on the part of star players in the National Football League.  One was by a player who knocked his (then) Fiancee (and now his Wife) out on a casino elevator, and had to literally drag her to their room.  The other case was of another player who physically beat his four-year old son, leaving various bruises and scars.  He has  allegedly also physically abused another son, as well.

There are some concerns, on the part of the corporate sponsors and the general public, as to how badly both of the two Teams handled these distressing events.  More importantly, there are suggestions that the NFL–and even the League Commissioner–covered-up these offenses, until they became public knowledge.  I believe that there are other cases of such violence that have just not been made public.  I guess that anything goes in the pursuit of Money.

There is, however, another situation where Devon Still, a Defensive Tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, asked to take a day off during the Pre-Season to attend his Daughter’s dance recital, in Delaware.  As he was preparing to take the four year-old  Leah to the Recital, he noticed that she was sick; so, he took her to the Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware.  After many tests, Leah was diagnosed as having a neuroblastoma–brain cancer.   She has a 50-50 chance to survive.

As it turns-out, after having his heart set on being a professional football player, Devon Still was cut from the Team.  Marvin Lewis, the Head Coach of the Bengals, was surprised at how calmly he took being dropped from the Team.  Generally, that can mean a detour from a player’s dreams of fame and fortune.  Devon just stated that then he would have more time to spend with his Daughter.  Actually, he had been quite distracted by Leah’s medical condition.

When Coach Lewis learned of why Devon Still didn’t seem too concerned about being cut, he telephoned him and told him that he could join the Bengal’s Practice Squad, which meant retaining his health insurance.  Leah’s cancer operations and treatment were going to cost over $1 Million, so remaining on the Team, in any capacity,  would certainly help.  The linked article from Sports Illustrated is as follows: http://mmqb.si.com/2014/09/16/devon-still-leah-cancer-cincinnati-bengals/.

The Cincinnati Bengals also placed Devon Still’s Football Jersey #75 on sale and promised that 100% of the profits would be donated to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, to support pediatric cancer research.  Sean Payton, Head Coach of the New Orleans Saints immediately placed a personal order for 100 of the Jerseys, at a cost of $10,000.

There are several other pledge sites which are cited in the article.  I encourage readers to read this very touching, linked story, a really feel-good article.  The story of Devon and Leah Still shows that some people, even aspiring pro athletes certainly do have their priories straight.  Not everyone in Professional Football is like the two horrendous people at the very beginning of this story, or the money-grabbing NFL.

Oh, by the way, Devon Still was activated for the second game of the Bengals season.  In a very short period of time, just 16 plays, he had two sacks and several tackles.  That would have been a great day for a defensive player in an entire game.  To those readers who are unfamiliar with American Football, a Sack is when the opposing quarterback is tackled for a loss.  Hopefully, Devon Still will stay on the actually Team permanently.

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DID LEBRON JAMES REALLY MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE?

Even though I live in South Florida, I really don’r care where “LeBron”, or anyone else, plays a game.  Frankly, Professional Sports is all about the money.  Build me a new stadium or arena, let’s get those TV rights, buy our New Jerseys, etc.  Player contracts:  hey, the fans pay!   It’s all about Me, Me, Me–and Big Bucks for the players too.  So what else is happening?

But, did Mr. James really make the right decision?  Perhaps he decided in favor of Family, rather than Strangers?  Did he feel that he owes this to his Hometown Fans in Cleveland/Akron?  Or, did he switch teams for the money?  Perhaps some of both.

Last year, Lebron James reportedly made $53 Million, with $19 Million coming from the Miami Heat, and $34M from endorsements and other sources.  So, with 64% of that income coming from outside sources, how important really IS the Money?  If so, will that still be his to lose if he is not playing for the Team that made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals–winning two?  Oh, and obviously his four NBA MVP Awards.  If Cleveland doesn’t go to the Finals, then the NBA Final MVPs probably won’t be his.

Now, let’s look at his after-tax returns. Professional athletes are usually taxed according to the State and Local Taxes earned, where the games are played, on a per-game basis.  So, since Florida doesn’t have an Income Tax, an apples-to-apples comparison must be made with regard to his player contract income from games played.

So, once the analysis accounts for the potential outside income–let’s say for the term of his contract–and for the tax-neutral difference in salary, will LeBron James benefit from the move?  Once again, I cannot possibly factor in his desire to play near his hometown, his loyalty to the fans of the Cleveland Area and, let’s not forget his reconciliation as to why he left the Cavaliers four years ago.  Let’s just hope that he made the best choice–both for him and his Family.

NOTE:  LeBron James has always been a class-act during his four years as a member of the Miami Heat, and as a resident of South Florida.  I truly wish him the best of luck in both his basketball career and in his future life.

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IS BRAZIL REINVENTING THE BROKEN WHEEL, TWICE IN TWO YEARS?

Throwing good money after bad?  That is somewhat like the reality of Nations hosting major international events: World Cup Football (Soccer); Summer or Winter Olympics; or World’s Fairs.  Oftentimes, the Host Country spends money that it cannot really afford in order to play the gracious host.

Just consider the Billions of Euros that Greece spent to host the 2004 Summer Olympics.  Afterward, the various venues were expected to be turned into the largest park in Europe. Due to the normal dysfunctional bureaucracy, which hampers most development in Greece, hover, the Olympic Site is mostly covered with overgrown weeds and silence today.   And, you can only ask if hosting the Summer Games was just one more cause of Greece’s current Debt Crisis.

During recent Bidding Wars to host Major International Events, many different cities actively tried to “win” the right to host the Next Big Thing.  Unfortunately, the many of the contestants can’t really afford to Win, and end-up borrowing to finance the extreme costs of preparing for the Games or Cup, or they would often be building sports or other venues which would hardly be used again–if at all.

Just consider the $300 million that Brazil has spent on the construction of the “Arena Amazonia” to host all of just four World Cup games, in Manaus, a city of Two Million that doesn’t have a football team to fill the stadium afterward.  Oh, and it is in the middle of the Brazilian Rain Forest.  Most of Brazil has been questioning what will happen and who will use the New or Re-modeled Soccer Stadiums once the World Cup is over.

Brazil, the Host Country for this year’s Cup, has one of the fastest-growing economies in the World; however, there are two things that stand in its path to achieve true economic greatness.  First, Brazil’s economy is not sufficiently diverse, since it is primarily dependent upon Financials, Consumer Staples (Necessities); Materials and Energy.  Also, to a certain extent, the size of its economy is due to its large population, rather than any systemic growth.

Although Brazil has increased the size of it Middle (or “Consumption”) Class, there is still a very substantial number of Brazilians who are living in abject poverty.  This has caused numerous protests over the past couple of years as many Brazilians have questioned whether the $11.5 Billion, which was spent on the World Cup, might have been better spent, improving: Education; Health Care; Personal Services; Transportation and other Infrastructure Projects.

The FIFA (International Football Association), the governing body, receives $4 Billion for a given World Cup, and retains $2 Billion of that in Profits. The politicians and the Wealthy derive status and corporations generate Profits.  The average Brazilian, especially the Poor, however, cannot even afford a ticket to attend a local game–nor the transportation to get there.  And guess what? Rio de Janeiro, with help from the Nation, will get to do it all over again, when it hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics.

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WHAT DOES TODAY’S U. S. TRADEMARK OFFICE RULING FOR THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM MEAN?

Today, the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelled the Trademark for the NFL Washington Football Team, in the case of: Blackhorse v. NFL Football, Inc.  The Trademark was cancelled because a it is prohibited by Law from being disparaging to any Person or Group.

The cancellation can be appealed, which had happened one time before.  In the previous Appeal, the cancellation was overturned by a Federal Court.  The political environment today, however, doesn’t seem to be in favor of a reversal.  The Team may continue to use the Name and Logo; however, it cannot block others from doing so, as well.  An article from The Guardian (UK), which provides more information on the cancellation, is linked as follows: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/jun/18/washington-redskins-lose-trademark-team-us-patent-office.

The official web site for the NFL Washington Football Team is as follows: http://www.redskins.com.  There has been some discussion on TV, comparing this situation to the recent brouhaha regarding the NBA L. A. Clippers Basketball Team.  In that instance, a number of large corporate sponsors withdrew their financial support for the Team.

It will be interesting to see if there will be any carry-over to other Teams, whether Professional or College.  In some cases, such as the Cleveland Indians Baseball Team, the name might not be offensive; but, the logo of a Looney Indian, with the name of “Chief Wahoo” might be.  Others, like the Florida State Seminoles and the Fighting Illini, of the University of Illinois, might not be considered offensive.  I believe the provision that a Trademark not be “Disparaging to any Person or Group” might be the key test in future cases.

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