Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Sports reporting will survive Woods’ affair

December 29, 2009

Most sports fans get far more excited about fantasy leagues and analysis than by an athlete’s personal fantasies. Yet, Mitch Albom believes sports journalism is devolving into gossip, rumor and paparazzi.

Tiger Woods

Seems like a lot of people are angered by how Tiger Woods has been treated in the media during the past month. Woods’ affairs have certainly been reported rather heavily. But I do not share Albom’s fears about sports reporting.

Unlike Albom, I do not believe this coverage is going to send sports journalism spiraling. We are not going to see stories about cheating offensive linemen, point guards and second basemen plastered across sports pages.

Why? Because they are not Tiger Woods.

So why is it okay to report on Woods’ affair? (more…)


Football team ‘night out,’ a pre-game ritual that costs colleges

October 27, 2009

College football coaches can sure be selfish, at times. And misguided.

The recent Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics reveals that spending at many college sports programs is out of control. A group that represents athletic directors will present some cost-cutting measures to the NCAA in the next few weeks.

Among the cost-cutting measures – Asking schools to eliminate housing teams off-campus before home games, a practice where teams check into a local hotel. Some football coaches are opposed to this cost-cutting measure, believing the hotel minimizes distractions for players who, presumably, can’t stay out of trouble.


Composite bats should be banned, face masks for fielders required

June 22, 2009

OK, so when is someone going to finally step up and admit that using composite bats is a mistake?

When someone dies? That will happen soon, believe me. Especially if coaches don’t force players to wear face masks, which players dismiss as uncool even though they can save their lives.You’ll find travel softball players using these masks at summer tournaments, although mostly at the younger age levels.

Two weeks ago in Mattoon, I watched a batter drill a line drive right off the face of a third baseman in a U-14 game. The ball was hit so hard it popped about 20 feet in the air before being caught by the shortstop. (more…)

Who owns state prep sports?

March 6, 2009

Who owns the rights to prep games? Is that sort of like asking who really owns the fire station or the city park?

Like these other public properties, a community really owns the rights to prep games.

So why are state high school sports organizations trying to say they own it all, the premise for a lawsuit brewing in Wisconsin.


Some youth coaches suck

March 1, 2009

Not sure why some coaches need to play mind games with young athletes. But some do, trying to create doubt or to diminish confidence in another team’s players. At the youth level, these coaches should be dismissed for their disgusting behavior. (more…)

No excuses. File gamers online.

January 28, 2009

Our college news publication is no different than any other. Advertising has slowed considerably, causing the Daily Eastern News to reduce its pages to eight several days each week, a situation that rankled a few ambitious sports editors accustomed to filling three-plus pages a day.

A week ago, the associate sports editor told me they were going to file only a game story on the men’s basketball game. Stop thinking you’re just a print publication, I said. File a side bar online.

Yesterday, I asked why we had not covered a weekend track and field event. No space. Did I mention that online option? He gets it now. I hope. He’s a sharp kid who has helped develop a daily sports blog. Still, I wonder when college journalists (and some pros) will accept the print edition is just one of the ways we present news.

Most college newspapers will stop printing a daily paper edition sooner than later. (more…)

CBSsportsline should delete the sexy ads

December 7, 2008


So I’m sitting here in my office grading papers – but trying also to keep tabs on the New York Giants, who are playing the Philadelphia Eagles. A win clinches the NFC East for the Football Giants. First, I go to, whose play by play does not automatically generate. Since I do not want to keep hitting refresh, I head to cbssportsline, where I am greeted with an ad of a woman trying to pose seductively – head back on a pillow, hair mussed just enough to say she’s been busy, a green skirt just long enough to cover the upper thighs, full lips parted (and wanting to say ‘come, hither’), and brown eyes imploring me to click on the icon. (more…)

BCS is an illogical end to a season

November 30, 2008

Once again, college football’s top level, Division I, will have a pseudo champion, one determined as much off the field as on it. So why should anybody care? They shouldn’t. Athletic directors, college presidents, NCAA officials and any sports writers who support the current system should be ashamed.

cartoon by NICK ANDERSON/Houston Chronicle

cartoon by NICK ANDERSON/Houston Chronicle

A playoff would offer a true football champion, something that is done at NCAA Division I-AA, II, III (and at IV, V and VI, if they had them). Playoffs determine titlists in baseball, basketball, field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse, among others.

Yet, NCAA Division I football would rather be lumped together with figure skating, synchronized swimming, and competitive cheerleading, sports that rely on judges to determine winners. (Oklahoma, Oklahoma, that’s our team, if they can’t go to the BCS then nobody can! Woo.)

Let’s face it: The BCS is not working.

The latest evidence? At least two Big 12 teams are going to get sacked because they happened to have lost later in the season. Texas lost to Texas Tech about a month ago, while Texas Tech lost to Oklahoma a few weeks ago. That Oklahoma lost to Texas is okay, though, since that defeat came early in the season. These three teams are tied atop the Big 12’s South division, but only one team will go to the conference championship. That will be determined when the new BCS standings come out later today. (more…)

Thanks for Title IX, coaches, sports journalists, and (yup) umpires

November 27, 2008

turkey_joe-blakeAt times, I cannot believe I get paid to teach and write about sports. I’m no longer the kid impressed by big events and star athletes. (That ended after I interviewed Earl Anthony so many years ago.) Now, I’m more impressed by smaller events, athletes fighting hard against all odds, and about private acts of kindness.

I’m thankful …

that I could spend time with the wild, passionate fans who attended the NCAA Cross Country Championships last weekend in Terre Haute, Ind. In high school, I ran cross country but I was never talented enough to reach a major event like this, where fans were so excited that they ran across the course to catch a fleeting glimpse of athletes straining and pushing themselves just a little beyond what they should, even the runners at the back of the packs. This is a must-see event for any true sports fan.

that I was able to coach a travel softball team filled with hard-working and fun-loving kids. We did not spend 500 bucks a month on pitching or hitting coaches like some of the bigger teams in Chicago and Indianapolis, nor did we have an indoor facility like the big-time teams, but our girls fought hard every game – fouling off high fastballs, running full bore around the bases, diving for balls – and laughing at their coach’s stupid puns and jokes. I look forward to another season with an equally goofy, determined group of middle schoolers. (more…)

Sex still drives sports entertainment

October 11, 2008

Imagine (but not too hard since you may forget all else) half-naked models running on a manicured grassy field, smacking their voluptuous bodies into one another – legs splayed, exposed, tight bellies breathing heavily above tiny bicycle briefs while another player adjusts her sports bra, (slightly) worried she may be exposing more than Janet Jackson ever dreamed.