Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

The War Substitute

January 12, 2015

Legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne told a Congressional investigative committee, in effect, that football is a good substitute for war. According to the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American, starring Pat O’Brien as Rockne and Ronald Reagan as the Gipper,  this is what he told the committee:

“Games such as football are more than merely helpful to boys. They’re an absolute necessity to the nation’s best interest,” said Rockne. “Every red-blooded young man in any country is filled with what we might call the natural spirit of combat.

“In many parts of Europe and elsewhere in the world, this spirit manifests itself in continuous wars and revolutions. But we have tried to make competitive sport serve as a safer outlet for that spirit of combat. I believe we’ve succeeded.”

No argument about that it’s a safer outlet.  Getting jingoists worldwide to switch to that outlet is the trick. In the U.S.A. football is very popular and attracts millions, but it certainly hasn’t kept us out of wars.

 

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The Trouble with Football

December 15, 2014

 

Retired legendary Georgia Tech basketball coach Bobby Cremins

Retired legendary Georgia Tech basketball coach Bobby Cremins

Bobby Cremins, the most successful Georgia Tech basketball coach ever – the school named its basketball court after him – talked as much about football as basketball when he spoke to  members of the Rotary Club of Columbus. That’s because the paying-players controversy affects basketball and all college sports. If you pay football players, you have to pay all team sport athletes. Not everyone agrees. Some say you pay the players that bring in the big bucks. That’s the way capitalism works.  People, they assert, who say you have to pay all of them are just using that as an excuse to keep from paying any.

Cremins agrees the players should get more of the “ridiculous” amount of money the TV networks are paying to broadcast the games.  When they see the schools and coaches getting millions of dollars, while they play the games and take the physical risks and get only a scholarship for and room and board, they feel cheated.  He says they have a case, but he is opposed to paying them.  Instead, he is for giving them a stipend.  So paying them a $5,000-a-month stipend, the figure being considered by the NCAA, is not paying them. Uh huh.

While college football is riding high now, the future is not so rosy.  A recent poll shows that 50 percent of American parents don’t want their sons to play football.  All the news about the brain injuries caused by concussions and about kids dying from injuries is taking its toll. Also, the news about brutal and criminal off-the-field behavior by some players has its effects.  College players are produced by high school football.

As for me, I enjoy a good game, especially if Georgia Tech, Georgia, Alabama, or Auburn are playing.  Still, as I have said before, if I had a young son, I would not want him  playing football. The physical risks are just too great.  It’s just not worth it.

 

 

VInce Dooley Says College Football Facing it’s Greatest Crisis Ever

August 6, 2014

Unionization attempts, pay for play, player product endorsements etc. issues are threatening the very existence of college football, he says.   

Retired University of Georgia football coach  and athletic director Vince Dooley, who is now a  consultant for Kennesaw State University’s new football  program,  saved the most controversial part of his talk to the Rotary Club of Columbus until the very end of his  very entertaining talk.  After getting a lot of laughs about his years at Georgia, he made the point that to start paying players would bring about the end of college football.

He said giving the players a full scholarship and adding a cost of attendance payment should be enough.  He also wants a law passed to regulate those payments.  If such a law is not enacted, he said, the colleges would get into bidding wars for the best players, driving the costs so high college football would be dismantled. He also pointed out that if a school pays football players it will have to pay the atheletes in the other programs. 

Well, how about a law regulating what coaches can make?   That would stop bidding wars for the best coaches. While we’re at it, we could regulate pay for professional sports stars and coaches.  Could such regulations be considered a restraint of trade?

It’s really hard to make the case for not paying players who take great physical risks when their coaches are being paid millions of dollars, and the schools are raking in many millions more. 

I suppose we should clarify that by saying “some top-tier school” are raking in those millions. I’ve read where only  the top-tier schools make money on their athletic  programs.  Most  of them lose money on those programs. 

 

 

 

The Public Employees we Value the Most

September 2, 2013

The President of the United States, arguably the most powerful man in the world, has a salary of $400,000 a year. You would expect that someone with his enormous responsibility would be the highest paid public employee in the United States.

He’s not anywhere close.

The highest paid public employees are not presidents, governors, senators, generals, or admirals. They are college football and basketball coaches, college presidents, and some deans at medical colleges. The majority of the top earners are football coaches.

Adjusting for High Water

June 19, 2013
Running Heaven's Gate at High Water

Running Heaven’s Gate at High Water

When the river reaches flood stage, which it did today, Whitewater Express continues to operate, but only at Heaven’s Gate, and I do mean right there.   The put the rafts in at the Eagle and Phenix Power Plant, run the rapid, paddle back and do it again. They don’t do the long river run, and they don’t do the more challenging Cut Bait on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee.

There are a couple of advantages to doing the short run over and over. For one thing, as a guide told me, “You do improve with practice.” I noticed that was the case. The first time the raft I was watching did a couple of about-faces during the run. The second time it went straight through with no wabbling around. But, the next time, the raft flipped. When I commented that getting the swimmers back on the raft took up time, Blake Quinney, Assistant Director of Operations for Whitewater Express said “They are having fun.” Indeed, it did appear they were.

Another advantage is the rafters get to run Heaven’s Gate as many times as they can get in an hour and a half. The long river runs do it twice. A drawback could be that there are more different rapids to run on the long run.

Blake was pleased with the amount of business they have done so far. Four- thousand people have rafted down the Chattahoochee since the end of May, and he expects to have served as many as twenty-thousand rafters by the end of August.

 

 

Georgia-Auburn Columbus Memories

November 15, 2010

As I watched the Georgia-Auburn, or Auburn-Georgia game (if you are an Auburn fan, Auburn always comes first, and visa versa for Georgia), I had to reflect on when it was played in Columbus.   And it has been played in Columbus more times than anywhere else, 38 games, according to Wikipedia.  It was played in Columbus from 1920 to 1958, with the only break being when it was played in Athens in 1929. The crowds outgrew Columbus’ Memorial Stadium and the game has alternated between Athens and Auburn since 1959.   

A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium, formerly Memorial Stadium, home of Georgia-Auburn football games from 1920 to 1958

I never really knew why Columbus was selected as the site, only surmising that it might have been because Columbus is only about 35 miles from Auburn, but it’s in Georgia. Maybe it’s because Memorial Stadium in 1920 was larger than the stadiums at Athens and Auburn. I really don’t know that for sure. If you do know, please click the comment button and tell me. 

Anyway, as many in Columbus and Phenix City who are old enough to remember will tell you, it was a huge deal, perhaps the largest social affair in Columbus each year.  Parties were held all over town, with some really impressive ones in the homes of the affluent.  Everyone dressed up for the game back then, with men wearing suits and ties, and women wearing their Sunday best and  a red and white, or blue and gold carnation corsage. I knew that, not because I went to the games before the end of World War II, but from my father driving the family by the stadium on game day to watch folks going into the stadium. My parents considered the tickets too pricey at the time.  The most exciting drive-by was during World War II when we saw mega-movie star Bette Davis being escorted by her Fort Benning solider boyfriend into the stadium.  My memory tells me she was wearing a corsage, but I don’t remember which colors. We would go back home and listen to the game on the radio. WRBL radio – there was no TV then – broadcast the games on a statewide network. 

I couldn’t see the games then, but I could see the bands, and I loved the bands as much as I did the games.  On game day, the Georgia band would arrive in Columbus on a Central of Georgia train.  All I had to do was walk from our house on 5th Avenue near 11th Street to the corner of 5th Avenue and 12th Street, which was a short block from the Central of Georgia depot.  By the time the Georgia band got to the intersection it went from a percussion street beat to the band’s playing a familiar march, maybe even Glory Glory to Old Georgia.  Then my buddies and I would follow the band to Broadway where it would join the Auburn band for the Broadway parade. Georgia and Auburn fans would decorate their cars in school colors and signs.

 During the last year of World War II and right after the war, since the war had brought an end to the Great Depression, family finances picked up and we started going to the games.  The one that I remember most vividly was when Charlie Trippi played.  It was either the 1945 or 1946 game.  Trippi, who was an All-American and in the running for the Heisman Trophy (Doc Blanchard of Army won it) put on dazzling show. 

Charlie Trippi (Photo courtesy: Athens Banner-Herald)

It was a warm, sunny November Saturday afternoon.  We were sitting in the end zone seats , but that didn’t matter because I WAS THERE, actually seeing a Georgia-Auburn game.  And while I was rooting for Georgia, I enjoyed the Auburn band when it played The Tiger Rag  as much as the Bulldog band when it played Glory Glory to old Georgia.  I just loved it when the Auburn band tuba section stood and in unison turned from one side to the other when it did the roar part of the song.

And the end zone didn’t turn out so bad after all.  You got to see Trippi doing his dazzling reverses and running backwards before he would turn and run what it appeared to be right through most of the Auburn team in the end-zone area. That turned out to be better than the ultra-expensive 50-yard line seats. Georgia won. I  know that because Georgia won both the 1945 and 1946 games.

The Georgia-Auburn game is billed as “The Deep South’s Oldest Football Rivalry.”  Virginia-North Carolina claim to be “The South’s Oldest Football Rivalry” even though it played its first game in 1892, the same year that Georgia and Auburn played their first game.  Virgnia-North Carolina claim the most games since they played two in 1892.  There is the distinct possibility that Georgia and Auburn can play twice in one year for the SEC Championship so that will make it a tie for “oldest rivalry,” I suppose. 

Anyway, as you know Auburn won this year.  The teams are pretty close to a tie for the most wins from 1892 to now.

Libraries Top Sports and Movies in Attendance

July 30, 2010

A computer area at the Columbus Public Library, Columbus, GA

 

Yes, there is hope for society.  More people go to public libraries than movies or sporting events.

 

 

 

LIBRARIES –  1.4 BILLION

MOVIES – 1.3 BILLION

SPORTS – 218 MILLION

To get the full story, go to this LINK.

Thanks to Chattahoochee Valley Libraries Director Claudya Muller for sending this to me.

Why was the 2010 BCS National Championship the Most Watched TV Show in a Year?

January 9, 2010

IS VIOLENCE MORE APPEALING TO AUDIENCES THAN SEX NOW?

Not only Alabama won big Thursday night, but so did ABC.  According to By the Numbers,  the 2010 Citi BCS National Championship Bowl not only got more viewers than all the other major networks combined during the same time period,  it won the largest TV audience in a year’s time.  By the Numbers says  30,800,000 people watched.

Why? Well, it had almost everything: violence, action, combat, conflict, tragedy, joy, comedy, pathos, music, and a tremendous amount of suspense.  What it didn’t have was romantic sex. 

Maybe violence is a greater attraction than sex now.  The last few times I have been in a movie theater the endless previews of coming attractions showed one violent movie trailer after another, every one of them with that resounding, too-loud, electronic crashing sound and frantic music that accents every violent action.  I thought they really went too far when they ran that effect with a guy putting on his hat.  Ever hear of a hat making that kind of sound when you put it on?

Alabama’s Return to the Rose Bowl is Special

January 7, 2010

Alabama’s participation in the BCS National Championship game in the Rose Bowl is very special, and not just because it is the national championship, but because it’s the first time Alabama has played for the National Championship in the Rose Bowl since 1946. 

It all started in 1926, the game that  has been called the one “that changed the South.”  Alabama, being a Southern Team, was not supposed to win because Southern teams were thought to be no match for teams in the North.  Alabama beat Washington in that game and continued to return to the Rose Bowl to win most of the games it played there.

The Tuscaloosa News has a very good story about Alabama’s football history. You can check it out by clicking  this link.

Update: Not All Million Dollar Band Members Go to Pasadena

January 5, 2010

It turns out that not all members of the University of Alabama Million Dollar Band are going to Pasadena for the National Championship game between Alabama and Texas.  The size of the band at this point is 388 members, but only 349 of them, plus 26 support and administrative personnel, are going.  Band spokesperson Jane Hall says the Citi BCS National Championship organization is paying for the flight and specified the number of people it would transport.  She did say that some band members who live in other states may go on their own.