Earlier this week, Gene Conley passed away. Conley has a unique position in the world of sports; he is the only person to win a World Series (with the Milwaukee Braves) and to win an NBA Championship (with the Boston Celtics).
Rest in peace, Gene Conley.
Yesterday, I listed some things in the sports world about which I do not care even a little bit. Via e-mail, several readers offered addenda to that list:
- Home-Run Derby – – a huge waste of time and energy
- Drone Racing – – a new sport that has already become tiresome
- Dressage – – essentially, this is horse dancing
- Fantasy sports – – this reader and I share a harmonic connection in the cosmos.
FOX Sports will need a new head honcho. Earlier this week, Jamie Horowitz was fired from the position of “President of National Networks at FOX Sports”. According to reports, this firing has something to do with sexual harassment allegations at FOX Sports. [Aside: Given that similar allegations resulted in the dismissal of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly at FOX News, one might consider that there is something in the water at FOX HQS…] Horowitz’ attorney denies all allegations here and says that the firing was egregiously wrong; I suspect there is more to learn here.
Horowitz is generally regarded as the person who – in his previous incarnation at ESPN – created the “debate format” for sports TV. At ESPN, he is seen as the creator of First Take, a program wherein Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith concocted ways to talk past each other in very loud voices about real or imagined “issues” in sports. When Horowitz left ESPN for FOX, Bayless also jumped networks and is now paired with Shannon Sharpe on a program named Undisputed. [Aside: The only thing “undisputed” about the program is that it is unwatchable.]
According to Sports Illustrated media commentator, Richard Deitch, FOX will not be abandoning the “debate concept” for its studio programming and that there is a significant divide within FOX Sports between the folks who produce “studio work” and those who produce “field work” i.e. live sporting events. Here is a link to that report on SI.com.
Back at the turn of the century, Katie Hnida made news when she was a walk-on placekicker for the football team at Colorado. She dressed for games at Colorado but never saw the field; later she transferred to New Mexico for whom in 2003 she kicked 2 PATs in a Division 1-A college football game making her the first woman to score a point at that level of competition. Recently, there has been another “first” in this area.
Becca Longo has been given a scholarship as a placekicker at Adams State – a Division II school. According to reports, she can “routinely” convert 45-yard tries and she reportedly has made a 50-yard field goal in practice. She has trained with Alex Zendejas who asserts that this is not some sort of publicity stunt because Longo is a real kicker. Moreover, this story may have legs because reports say that Becca Longo wants to be an NFL placekicker down the road. As she enters college, she is listed at 5’ 11” and 145 lbs. NFL kickers – Sebastian Janikowski notwithstanding – are not behemoths, but I doubt that any of them weigh only 145 lbs. If she is going to have a chance to get a tryout with an NFL team – and not get crushed by a special teams’ opponent on a kickoff – she is going to have to add some muscle to her frame over the next 4 years.
Bonne chance, Becca Longo…
Last week, Manny Pacquaio lost a controversial decision to a hometown fighter in Brisbane, Australia. Some folks say there was “corruption” involved; that is an ever-so-polite way to assert that “the fix was in”. Others say that the judges’ unanimous decision was merely a demonstration of monumental incompetence. I have only seen short highlights from the fight and have not nearly sufficient interest to find an online video of the entire fight and watch it. Therefore, I have no way to offer any comment on the “corruption versus incompetence” spectrum here. I will offer a few generic comments however:
- If indeed “the fix was in”, this would not be the first time something like that happened in boxing. The earliest fight I recall where it surely appears as if “the fix was in” was when Jess Willard beat Jack Johnson for the heavyweight title almost 100 years ago.
- Boxing has been replete with “cheating” situations over the years to include things like plaster-loaded fists under the gloves and gloves that had some of the padding removed to make each punch landed more impactful. One fighter claimed to have been given a sedative just before entering the ring in the form of an orange slice.
- This controversial decision has generated more publicity and more focus on boxing than anything in recent years. It also sets up a rematch – surely to be held somewhere other than Brisbane – down the line. A cynic might see great convenience here… [Aside: The Mayweather/McGregor spectacle is technically a boxing match and it has generated more publicity than this decision but I think that “hybrid match” is not much more than a one-off money-grab and not generic boxing.]
Finally, since I mentioned Becca Longo as the first female to get a college football scholarship, let me close with this observation from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald regarding an oddity in the world of college football scholarships:
“The University of Hawaii offered a fifth-grade quarterback a scholarship. The quarterback is looking forward to taking a recruiting visit as soon as he’s old enough to cross the street by himself.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………