A Little Of This And A Little Of That…

Even though I love watching college basketball, I have said more than once that the game is hugely overexposed on TV. Even without any “special packages” on my cable system, I can, on any given night, see way too many games involving teams that aspire to be interesting. Nevertheless, every once in a while the large number of games on a specific night seems to exist only to prepare me for tournament time when I need to try to focus on multiple games at one time.

Last night Duke/Wake Forest was on one channel while Villanova/Pitt was on another channel. Four good teams; two major conferences; two very competitive games; both happening at the same time. The “Recall” button on my remote definitely got a workout last evening.

At the moment, Marquette leads the Big East Conference with a 7-0 league record (18-2 overall). I have seen Marquette twice and they are a good team to be sure. However, before fans in Milwaukee focus on a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament in March, they need to focus on the Marquette schedule at the end of the season. The last five conference games for Marquette – - this is prior to the Big East Tournament where more tough games await – - are:

    At Georgetown
    At Louisville
    At Pitt

Those five games in tandem are more than a mere speed bump.

You may recall that the NCAA once got its knickers in a knot when two teams agreed to play a game at an arena associated with a gambling casino in Connecticut. The game was not going to be in the casino but it would be on the same property as the casino and the NCAA thought that was getting these players far too close to “gamblers” and “gambling”. Well, maybe the NCAA has begun to accept the existence of gambling or maybe the NCAA has found out that there is money to be made by staging games at casinos because – - the West Coast Conference will hold their conference basketball tournament this year in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena. This is the first casino venue to host a collegiate championship tournament. In the past, the Orleans Arena has been the site of the Las Vegas Invitational.

Here is the giant step that the NCAA has taken in acceding to this scheduling. Not only is this a casino where – are you sitting down? – people are playing slot machines and blackjack and poker and roulette but this is also a casino where there is a – gasp! – sportsbook. These young, impressionable, and vulnerable scholar-athletes will possibly be in the same room with folks who will be “getting down” on the game. Catholic colleges dominate the West Coast Conference; I certainly hope that the faculty and administrators there have been praying the rosary as intercessory prayer for these scholar-athletes in light of the dangers these young men will face.

Serena Williams evidently beat Andy Roddick in a one-set tennis match once upon a time; and obviously, she likes to remind him and others about that fact. Based on Roddick’s explanation of the circumstances of the match to reporters at the Australian Open, you can probably figure out that these two have a camaraderie more than a rivalry:

“She forgets to mention that I was 10 years old, and she was 11, back when we were training together in Florida. When I was 10, I literally had to run around in the shower to get wet. She was already bench-pressing dump trucks at that time.”

Back in the Fall, a judge in Kentucky upheld the seizure of the domain names of more than 100 gambling sites by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The governor ordered this seizure on the theory that the domain names of these online gambling sites were “gaming devices” making them illegal in Kentucky and subject to seizure. I wrote at the time that this seemed stupid and hypocritical at the same time. It was stupid because Kentucky also has a state lottery and somehow the lottery tickets were not deemed to be “gaming devices” by the governor. It was hypocritical because the domain names of the horseracing enterprises in Kentucky – - which engage in online gambling – - were not seized. It was hypocritical-squared because this governor of Kentucky is on record in favor of establishing casinos in Kentucky and how a casino might operate without “gaming devices” would be a mystery yet to be explained.

Recently, an appeals court in Kentucky reversed that judge’s ruling. In a 2-1 vote (a split decision notice) , the appeals court found that a domain name is not a gaming device (seemed obvious to me from the start) and that if domain names are to be considered gaming devices the state legislature will have to pass an addendum to the law specifically defining domain names as such. Here is a rather clear statement from the court’s opinion on the matter:

“…it stretches credulity to conclude that a series of numbers, or Internet address, can be said to constitute a ‘machine or any mechanical or other device…designed and manufactured primarily for use in connection with gambling.’ We are thus convinced that the trial court clearly erred in concluding that the domain names can be construed to be gambling devices.”

Since I have mentioned gambling a couple of times today, here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald related to horseracing in south Florida:

“Gulfstream Park has opened its 66th season of racing. Reportedly there are more parking spaces and entrances to accommodate the 328 really old people who still go to the track.”

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

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  • Rich  On January 29, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Great idea to hold a tournament in Las Vegas (more fans will come for the side attractions). This Las Vegas correspondent is reporting that the West Coast Conference Catholic schools will have no gambling conflict of interest at the Orleans Hotel and Casino. They don’t have bingo there. Mea culpa.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm


    I think Las Vegas is an excellent venue for many of the big time sporting events simply because lots of fans will go there for the event and for the other things to do in Las Vegas.

    Fights have always done well in Vegas. More people would go to Las Vegas to watch a Pro Bowl than will go to Hawaii – - although there really is no need to have the Pro Bowl in the first place so I’m conflicted on that point.

    How does the NASCAR race in Las Vegas draw?

  • Rich  On January 29, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Last year the main event drew about 150,000 fans, I think. I don’t go to these races, but I notice at the UNLV basketball games quite a few visiting team fans make it to the Thomas and Mack.
    Last year, when Wisconsin came to Las Vegas to nearly get beat by the Rebels in football, the town was absolutely crawling with Badger fans. Many of them went to Sam Boyd Stadium to tailgate, and with no tickets to be had, back to the casinos to watch on t.v. Imagine traveling all that way to watch your team on television.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm


    That is why Las Vegas works as a venue for special events. Unless you have relatives in the area, you would not go to – oh say Shreveport, Louisiana – if you thought there was a 50% chance that you’d have to find a sports bar and watch your team on TV. You’d stay home and do that.

    But people go to Vegas in that situation because there are other reasons to go to Las Vegas…

    Your story is about fans traveling almost 2000 miles to see a regular season college football game. Imagine the “pop” that would accrue to a special sporting event done up Las Vegas style.

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