Rest In Peace, Ara Parseghian…

Ara Parseghian died yesterday at the age of 94.  He played for legendary coach, Paul Brown, with the Cleveland Browns in the 40s; he was an assistant coach under Woody Hayes at Miami (Oh); he was the head coach at Notre Dame in the 60s and 70s leading the Irish to two national championships.  His winning percentage at Notre Dame was .836 and he is properly a member of the college football Hall of Fame.  By all accounts, he was an excellent coach and a good person.

Rest in peace, Ara Parseghian…

There is another coach in the news today – except I would be hard pressed to say that this man is either a great coach or a wonderful human being.  Dave Bliss was the basketball coach at Baylor about 15 years ago; let me just say that his tenure there ended very poorly.  Central to that story is the fact that one of the players was murdered by one of his teammates and Bliss tried to get the team and his assistant coaches to back up a concocted story that the victim was selling drugs and this murder was “drug related”.  You can read the Wikipedia account of this here; just scroll down to the section about “The Baylor Scandal”.  Just a heads up, that is about as polite a story about what happened as one could hope for.

In August 2003, I took issue with Coach Bliss’ actions as well as plenty of other folks who were involved directly or indirectly in the saga.  At the time I wrote that rant, the guilt of the teammate had not been established; that would not happen until 2005 when the teammate plead guilty to the murder.  Nevertheless, you can read my outrage at what went down at Baylor here.

Dave Bliss is in the news today because he just got a new job as the head basketball coach at Calvary Chapel Christian School in Las Vegas, NV.  In addition to those duties, Bliss will be the school’s Athletic Director and will be a teacher at the school.  Let me be clear; I understand completely that a fundamental precept of Christianity is redemption and it has to be clear from the name of this school that it signs onto Christianity and its teachings.  Nevertheless, I would find somewhere else to educate my children than a school that hired Dave Bliss to be a teacher, Athletic Director and head basketball coach.

If that statement leads you to conclude that I am a closed-minded bigot, so be it.  I prefer to think of myself in this dimension as a parent who is concerned about the values that my child learns in school and how those mesh with what I might be trying to teach him/her at home.

Here is a link to a column written in the Las Vegas Review-Journal by columnist Ron Kantowski.  He and I are of like minds on this hiring decision but his column makes the case more eloquently than I can.  I commend this column to your reading.

Since I am talking about things happening in the Las Vegas area, here is a sports wagering item I ran across last week.  According to the Nevada Gaming Commission, the sportsbooks in Nevada won a total of $14.9M on bets involving baseball games in June 2017.  This represents the highest win total for the month of June ever and the trend in the handle for baseball wagering is increasing year-over-year.  MLB stages 2,430 games in a regular season as compared to 256 for the NFL.  The handle for wagers on MLB games is still dwarfed by the handle for NFL games, but if the trend continues, the sportsbooks could have increased ways to separate players from their bankrolls.

And since I mentioned MLB, there is a report that the Toronto Blue Jays have already “alerted” their season ticket holders that prices will be going up in 2018.  This will be the 4th year in a row the Jays have increased ticket prices and the largest increase for 2018 will be 17%.

Looking at the MLB standings as of this morning, one might be tempted to ask why this is happening:

  • The Jays are in last place in the AL East with a 51-57 record
  • The Jays are 8 games out of first place
  • The Jays are 5 games behind in the race for the second wild-card slot.

The Jays have made it to the playoffs the last two years and in each of those seasons they lost in the ALCS; it would seem difficult to call the 2017 season to date anything less than “very disappointing”.  And during a “very disappointing” season, one wonders who thought it would be a good idea to tell season ticket holders they are going to have to pay more to see Jays’ baseball in 2018?

It is not as if the Jays are struggling at the gate to generate revenue.  As of this morning, the Jays have drawn more fans to their home games than any team in the AL; they average 40,124 people per home game.

Finally, since I mentioned sports wagering above, consider this comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha-World Herald:

“The mayor of a town in France ate a rat after losing a bet on a soccer game.  OK, I think we’ve got another politician ready to take an anti-gambling stance.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………