As I understand the nature of the competition, the team that accumulates the largest number of cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy wins.
Today in Political Weirdness
Blue Demon Jr., the “adopted son” of the legendary luchador Blue Demon, is running for mayor of the Mexico City municipality of Gustavo A. Madero (GAM) as a progressive. He is anonymous, and says he will only reveal his identity to authorities if he wins https://t.co/i93MJ3dfWm
— Populism Updates (@PopulismUpdates) January 18, 2021
This is actually kind of reassuring.
It shows that the USA is not alone in the mishugas.
Student Athlete My Ass
It appears that when college football players decide to sit out the season because the sport is a Corona virus infested hellhole, the colleges pull their scholarships in violation of both human decency and NCAA regulations.
NCAA Division 3 sports are slavery, pure and simple:
Henry Bazakas embodied everything the University of California wants in a football player.
A third-generation Cal student who grew up in Berkeley, Bazakas arrived on campus five years ago as a walk-on offensive lineman. Three times he earned an award for having the team’s highest grade-point average. He and a teammate spearheaded a summer reading program at local elementary schools. He won another award, for his commitment to strength and conditioning while recovering from a torn knee ligament. And last season, after he finally earned an athletic scholarship, he started three games at left tackle.
But none of that counted for much in June, when Bazakas called the Cal football coach, Justin Wilcox, to say that he was opting out of his final season because of health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The call was the beginning of an odyssey that illustrates the normally unseen, cutthroat side of the business of college football, with tensions that have been magnified for athletes by the determined push to play during the pandemic.
Nine days later, Bazakas found his scholarship had been cut off, and he was then billed more than $24,000 halfway through his summer term because the athletic department had revoked the financial aid that it had already paid.
The summer school aid was ultimately reinstated by a university appeals committee, which said the school had violated N.C.A.A. rules by abruptly pulling Bazakas’s aid before giving him an opportunity for a hearing.
Bazakas also asked for his scholarship back for the fall semester, but the appeals panel sided with the athletic department’s decision to not renew it. While most of his teammates arrived at Cal with scholarships pledged for four years, walk-ons, like Bazakas, who eventually earn scholarships may not get them in subsequent years, and Cal had met an N.C.A.A. deadline in July not to renew his.
As major college football has lurched through the pandemic in pursuit of billions in television revenue — Cal had its first two scheduled games canceled, then lost Sunday to U.C.L.A. in a game arranged two days before kickoff — not even mandated protections for players have been ironclad.
In August, Washington State receiver Kassidy Woods, who opted out because he has the sickle cell trait, was allowed to keep his scholarship but removed from the team when Coach Nick Rolovich told Woods it would be “an issue” that he was aligned with a player rights’ movement. Utah State Coach Gary Andersen, before he was fired after an 0-3 start, said there was a reason none of his players had opted out. “It’s not an option,” he told reporters. “If you opt out, you’re not with us.”
Yet “Great American Institution” that is rotten to the core.
Div 3 sports are a profit making institution, and they should be treated as such.
Today in Mediocre French (With Subtitles)
Always fun to get RT’d but we’re about ten minutes away from actual French people coming in here and telling me all the mistakes I made (I’ve counted three so far!!)
— Pjörk🐷 (@NicoleConlan) November 12, 2020
Before this, I never truly understood the deep existential angst that is Gritty before this, and it is completely appropriate that it is being said in French. (with subtitles)
H/t Naked Capitalism.
Tommy Heinsohn 1834-2020
How I Will Remember HIm
Boston Celtics Legend Tommy Heinsohn has died at age 86.
I really don’t recall his days as a Celtics player, but I do recall his time as Celtics coach, and I remember how he seemed to regularly blow his stack and get ejected from the game. (Hence this classic beer ad)
It was at this time that I became a life long Celtics fan, and I remember his walking in front of the bench in an almost constant state of near apoplexy.
My dad remembered a forward during the Celtics glory days who had a rather unique flat shot that he developed playing in a gym with a low roof.
Another part of my childhood gone:
Tom Heinsohn, the Hall of Fame forward who played on eight N.B.A. championship teams with the Boston Celtics, coached them to two titles and became their passionate broadcaster for more than 40 years, died on Monday at his home in Newton, Mass. He was 86.
Jeff Twiss, a spokesman for the Celtics, confirmed the death. He said Heinsohn had multiple illnesses, including diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
Playing on the parquet floor of the old Boston Garden from 1956 to 1965, Heinsohn brought a superb shooting touch to the dynasty engineered by Coach Red Auerbach. He loved to shoot, most famously hitting flat-trajectory jumpers, and he had a deadly running hook.
Coaching a rebuilt team after the retirement of Bill Russell, who had become a player-coach with the Celtics after revolutionizing the game with his defensive prowess at center, Heinsohn took Boston to N.B.A. championships in 1974 and ’76.
The Greatest Quarterback of All Time
Patrick Mahomes asked the Chiefs to turn Arrowhead Stadium into an Election Day voting site, but the election board said no due to a lack of voting machines.
Instead of giving up, Mahomes bought new machines — splitting the “six-figure investment” with the Chiefs.
He gets it. pic.twitter.com/IfbUJ6zp0l
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) November 4, 2020
I am not a Kansas City Chefs fan, but I am a fan of their quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
I Know That I Shouldn’t Be Happy at Other People’s Misfortune, But
I am unreasonably happy about Liberty University suffering from a mass exodus of athletes of color because the “university” is a thoroughly racist place.
moron Moral Majority was founded as a racist reaction to integration by Jerry Falwell, so I’m thinking that being hoist by their own racist petard to be profoundly amusing:
In mid-June, as the pandemic surged across the country, hundreds of students were living on Liberty University’s campus. Tayvion “Tank” Land was one of them, taking a summer math class with about 10 other students—half of them his football teammates.
One Thursday morning, class was partway through when the instructor told one of Land’s teammates that he needed a tutor. Sensing some reticence, Land said, the instructor followed up with an attempt at a joke. “Don’t be scared,” he allegedly told the player. “I’m not going to pull out my whip and hit you with it.”
Land and his teammate are Black, the instructor is white, and the joke came during a period of intense scrutiny of the way Black people are treated in this country, and of the unwelcoming atmosphere Black students face at Liberty in particular. In fact, Asia Todd, a top freshman on Liberty’s women’s basketball team, had announced earlier that month that she was transferring “due to the racial insensitivities shown within the leadership and culture” at the school.
Land had finally had enough, too. When I talked to him recently, he told me it was that moment in class that convinced him he had no choice but to transfer. He was done with the slights and general discomfort of being a young Black man on a campus where the student body, not to mention the population of professors and senior leadership, is overwhelmingly white.
………PLEASE RESPECT MY DECISION‼️ pic.twitter.com/Ljti2CJOWb
— Tayvion Land (@LandTayvion) June 22, 2020
Land’s departure was big news at Liberty, where a year before he’d been the highest-rated football recruit to ever sign with the school. His teammate, roommate, and close friend, Kei’Trel “Tre” Clark, who was also in the math class, decided to transfer as well, saying, “due to the cultural [incompetency] within multiple levels of leadership, it does not line up with my code of ethics.” On July 17, a third Black teammate announced plans to leave but didn’t specify why.
Jerry Falwell Sr., the legendary televangelist and school founder, famously talked of building a football program on the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus that could someday compete against Notre Dame. “This was when all we had was a local church and rented public school buildings. Everybody thought he was crazy,” Falwell Jr. once said of his father’s early aspirations. Those dreams seemed especially improbable back then, coming only a few years after Falwell Sr. founded a K–12 school in Lynchburg that the local paper called “a private school for white students.” But Falwell Jr. has dreamed even bigger than his father, aiming to turn one of the nation’s largest Christian universities into what Notre Dame is for Catholics and BYU is for Mormons: the home team for millions of believers.
“In order for them to attract the kind of players they need to become a top Division I school, they need to go recruiting people, Black and white, who aren’t necessarily perfect fits for a place like Liberty,” said John Fea, a historian of American religion at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. “They’ve gotta go beyond the megachurch youth group.”
In our conversation just before his announcement, Land made it clear that football was never a problem for him at Liberty. The training facilities at the school were top notch. He’d acquitted himself well as a freshman defensive back, playing in 11 of 13 games, including five starts, and finishing with 23 tackles. He was projected to start as a sophomore. It was everything he dealt with off the field, Land said, that made it hard for him to recommend the experience to anyone else.
As the saying goes, when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
The origins of Liberty “University” are steeped in racism, so it should come as no surprise that it remains a racist cesspool.
I Guess That These Gladiators Are Not So Eager to Die
Derek Jeter founded The Players Tribune in 2014 to give athletes a forum to write about issues important to them. It’s where basketball player Elena Delle Donne disclosed her struggle with Lyme disease; where volleyballer Merete Lutz discussed what it was like to be in South Korea during the pandemic; and where numerous Black athletes have published their reflections on #BlackLivesMatter.
On Sunday, it served as the sports equivalent of Martin Luther’s church door. A group of college football players from the Pac-12 Conference, which includes schools such as Stanford, Washington and Oregon, posted a series of extraordinary demands that they said would have to be met or they would boycott the coming season.
The proximate cause for this potential work stoppage — and yes, that’s what it would be, a work stoppage — is the pandemic. Even though the virus continues to surge in much of the country — and many universities have become fearful about opening their campuses to students in the fall — the power conferences still seem intent on having a football season. There is simply too much money at stake to pull the plug. At all the top football schools, players have been on campus for weeks now, participating in “voluntary” workouts.
And the Pac-12 players, empowered by #BlackLivesMatter and handed tremendous leverage thanks to Covid-19, concluded that they would never have a better opportunity to force the system to change.
After a preamble that lays out all the ways they are exploited (“Because immoral rules would punish us for receiving basic necessities and compensation …”), they list a series of ambitious demands, only a few of which have to do with Covid-19 prevention measures. They call for coaches and administrators in the Pac-12 to reduce their “excessive pay” and for schools to restore the nonrevenue sports that have been cut because of the pandemic. They want the conference to set aside 2% of its revenue, which “would be directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.”
There have been hundreds of players who have come down with Coronavirus, and the college’s response is to force them to sign liability waivers.
If there is a more corrupt organization in the United States than the NCAA, I haven’t seen it yet.
Today, I am a San Francisco Giants Fan
San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler plans to use his position to speak out against racial injustice and provide a voice for those who aren’t heard.
Kapler and several of his players knelt during the national anthem before their 6-2 exhibition victory against the Oakland Athletics. Kapler shared his plans when he addressed the team earlier Monday, and he said everyone would be supported by the Giants no matter what they decided to do.
“I wanted them to know that I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality and I told them I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities as well,” Kapler said. “So I told them that I wanted to use my platform to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with the way we’ve handled racism in our country. I wanted to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with our clear systemic racism in our country and I wanted them to know that they got to make their own decisions and we would respect and support those decisions. I wanted them to feel safe in speaking up.”
Right fielder Jaylin Davis, who is African American, and first base coach Antoan Richardson also took a knee as shortstop Brandon Crawford stood between them with a hand on each of their shoulders. Davis held his right hand over his heart, while Richardson, who is Black and from the Bahamas, clasped his hands in front of him.
In honor of the late Steve Gilliard, life-long Mets fan, let me say the following, “F$#@ the F%$#ing Yankees.” (I favor the Boston Red Sox, but I only have to make a choice if they meet in the World Series, as the Giants are NL, and the Red Sox are AL.)
The Washington Heffalumps?
The big news out of Washington, DC today is that the Washington Redskins are finally going to change their name.
As a fan, I’ll adjust, and I wholeheartedly endorse the change.
It turns out that Dan Snyder’s (יש”ו) promise to keep the name forever really meant, only until it was not profitable, as Eugene Robinson so pithily noted.
I want them to be called the Hefalumps, but my reader(s) can suggest an alternate name.
Tweet of the Day
Ray Ciccarelli (0-31 in his career) has announced his retirement from NASCAR due to their decision to ban confederate flags. NASCAR is scrambling to find someone else to regularly finish 28th.
It's no surprise. Ciccarelli has never been good at anything race-related.
— Steve Hofstetter (@SteveHofstetter) June 11, 2020
This is a remarkably sick burn.
Hell Has Frozen Over. Now Give Colin Kaepernick a Job
The whitest guy in sports has decided that it was no longer in his best interest to suck up to Donald Trump.
Still, no mention of Kaepernick though:
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league made mistakes in not listening to players in a video on Friday denouncing racism in the United States amid widespread protests over police brutality against black people.
“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” said Goodell. “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”
Goodell, who offered his condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all families who have endured police brutality, said he would be in touch with individual players who had voiced concerns about the league.
No mention was made of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback whose decision to kneel during the national anthem during a preseason game in August 2016 kick-started the protest movement.
I’m not going to hold my breath about this actually resulting in meaningful changes, particularly since Goodell’s real bosses, the team owners, have about as much interest promoting justice and tackling inequality, as I would in reading the complete works of Ayn Rand.
Headline of the Day
South Korean Soccer Team Apologizes for Filling Stands with Sex Dolls
We are living in profoundly weird time.
After the Pandemic, This Gets My Donations
Nobody ever accused Rod Kennedy Jr. of thinking too small.
A Brooklyn Dodgers fan who took a beating in a Pelham, N. Y., schoolyard in the 1950s defending his team’s honor against partisans of the New York Yankees and Giants, he began making his living 35 years later by manufacturing tiny tin replicas of ballparks.
His favorite, naturally, was Ebbets Field, the Dodgers’ longtime home in Flatbush, where he saw Sandy Koufax pitch as a rookie in 1955 and where, he said, his “nervy” mother once slipped into the team’s locker room — “a room of half-naked men” — to collect autographs.
Dissatisfied with recapturing Brooklyn’s past in miniature, however, Mr. Kennedy soon enlarged his ambitions by many orders of magnitude, embarking on a quixotic quest to build a one-quarter-scale replica of Ebbets Field to house a Dodgers museum. To further his aim, he teamed up with Marty Adler, who ran the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame, which had no home.
This is beautiful. I hope that they succeed.
Removing the Olympics from My List of They Who Must Not Be Named
Normally, I do not watch the Olympics, summer or winter, and I do not write about it, because the coverage is painful to watch, and because I think that it does more to foment international hostility and discord than any other mass gathering in the world.
That being said, when Covid-19 forces a 1 year delay of the games, it does take on a significance beyond sport and mindless nationalism:
A week ago, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, were promoting the Summer Olympics in Tokyo as the balm the world needed to show victory over the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, the virus won out.
Bach and Abe bowed to a groundswell of resistance — from athletes, from sports federations, from national Olympic committees, from health experts — and formally postponed the Games, which had been scheduled to begin in late July, until 2021.
I guess that the Covid-19 pandemic now qualifies as real news now.
Well, This Has Gone from Concerning to Bat-Sh%$ Insane Quickly
I am talking, of course, about Coronavirus.
In the past 24 hours, after Donald Trump gave the least reassuring political speech since Pennsylvania State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer’s resignation speech 1n 1987,* things have gone to hell in a hand-basket.
The NCAA has canceled the collegiate basketball championships, AKA March Madness, because of COVID-19 19 concerns.
This is the most ppopular sporting event in the United States, normally pulling in about 50% more in ad revenue, and even more in eyeballs, than the Superbowl, and it’s canceled.
In addition, the Baseball Spring training has been suspended, the NBS has suspended its season,
Heard on every trading desk for last 10yrs: “Fck Dodd-Frank.”
Heard on every trading desk for the last 10d: “Thank fck for Dodd-Frank”
— Joseph S. Mauro (@jsmauro13) March 10, 2020
And then, for the second time this week, but only the third time in more than 20 years, circuit breakers temporarily halted stock trading after the S&P 500 entered free fall.
I am certain right now that there are a lot of brokers who are VERY happy that Dodd-Frank strengthened these market protections.
Finally, in Maryland, all public schools will be closed for 2 weeks, Catholic Schools in Baltimore are shutting down, Episcopal Churches are suspending services, and both state and federal courts are suspending cases, with most public entertainment events cancelled as well.
This all went pear shaped rather quickly.
* Following his conviction on bribery charges, he blew his brains out at a press converence.
Tweet of the Day
Not often a European soccer game is stopped due to fans being *too anti-Nazi*.
Rayo Vallecano's anti-fascist fans already chased Ukrainian Nazi Roman Zozulya out of town once. Then he came back with a new team.https://t.co/cCjIhp9VEp
— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) December 17, 2019
Anti-Nazi chants from rowdies at a soccer match in Europe.
There may be hope for the future of humanity yet.
Bill Russell is a Stand Up Guy
The great Boston Celtics center Bill Russell has refused to acknowledge his induction into the basketball Hall of Fame for decades.
He’s always kept his reasons private, until now.
He has now has finally accepted a HoF ring because the Hall of Fame has finally inducted the player who broke the color barrier in the NBA:
Ask anyone who is the greatest basketball player of all time, and you’ll surely get a diversity of opinions—including Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Magic Johnson and that dude who played for your cousin’s high school in 1987 whose jump shot was wet but he got shot in his layup leg running from the police his senior year in high school after he stole a black-and-white television from Radio Shack, so he never made it to the NBA. But if you ask who was the greatest man who played in the NBA, you’ll only get one name:
William Felton Russell.
The eleven-time NBA champion (no, that’s not a typo) is known as much for his willingness to stand up for what is right as he is for his five NBA MVP awards (no, that’s not a typo). Bill Russell counseled Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown; fought for civil rights his entire career, and financially supported the movement as one of the NBA’s biggest stars. He held Boston Celtic fans accountable for their racism and once convinced his entire organization to forfeit a game because a restaurant wouldn’t serve black customers. Only one other human being (Buddy Jeanette) has won an NBA title as a player while he was the team’s head coach.
Bill Russell did it twice.
But, despite being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, Russell never acknowledged the honor or accepted his Hall of Fame ring. When asked why he essentially boycotted the ceremony, Russell would only reply that he had his “own personal reasons.” Throughout his post-NBA career, he refrained from referring to himself as a “Hall-of-Famer” and never explained why.
On Thursday, Bill Russell finally accepted his Hall of Fame ring in a private ceremony at his home, but only after he confirmed that Chuck Cooper had been inducted into the Hall of Fame:In a private ceremony w/my wife & close friends A.Mourning @AnnMeyers @billwalton & others I accepted my #HOF ring. In ‘75 I refused being the 1st black player to go into the @Hoophall I felt others before me should have that honor. Good to see progress; ChuckCooperHOF19 @NBA pic.twitter.com/2FI5U7ThTg
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) November 15, 2019
So who the hell is Chuck Cooper?
No one would ever argue that Chuck Cooper was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He only averaged 6.7 points per game throughout his career. So, why would Bill Russell boycott the most prestigious honor in his sport because of this unknown guy?
Because Charles “Chuck” Cooper was the first black man drafted into the NBA.
I Don’t Care About the World Series, But ………
I am Amused
The fact that Donald Trump showed up to game 5 of the world series, and the crowd booed and started chanting, “Lock him up,” is something that I find intensely amusing:
Donald Trump once claimed he was courted by several major league baseball clubs in his youth but turned them down because they couldn’t offer him enough money. On Sunday, baseball got its revenge.
The President attended Game 5 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros at Nationals Park, a short journey from the White House. When Trump was shown on the video screens in the stadium he was loudly booed by fans. That, perhaps, was predictable: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and both Bushes were all booed while attending baseball games as President. What came shortly afterwards was a little more personal in a city that is heavily Democratic as cries of “Lock him up!” rang out, a reference to the chants about Hillary Clinton used at Trump’s rallies in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections.
I wish that I could have seen his face when this happened.
Oh, wait, I can:
Poster Child for Lack of Moral Standing
I am referring to the organization generally known as the US Olympic Committee (It’s actually the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee).
They have gotten their panties in a bunch because athletes have used the medal awards ceremonies to protest issues of racism and law enforcement misconduct.
Some have kneeled, some have used an outstretched fist, and not the OSOC is threatening sanctions.
This is an organization that covered up the sexual abuse of Larry Nassar, was complicit in corruption at the 2002 winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and was the proximate or contributing cause of dozens of other scandals.
F%$# them. They have no moral standing whatsoever to claim to be guardians of the Olympics or of the Olympic ideal.