As I read stuff and watch other stuff on TV as sources of ideas for these rants, I have begun to come to the conclusion that I really needed to have gone to law school earlier in life to understand what is going on in sports. Consider:
The NFL and the NFLPA are arguing in court over the nuances of federal anti-trust laws vis á vis the Norris-LaGuardia Act.
We have another alleged point-shaving episode in college basketball.
The Feds just cracked down on Internet poker sites.
Ed O’Banion is challenging the NCAA’s right to use their likenesses for the profit of the NCAA.
Assorted sports figures are constantly arrested with regard to DWI, substance abuse, spousal abuse or some other anti-social behavior.
Barry Bonds made a grand jury’s job difficult by not telling them the whole truth under oath – - but he did not commit perjury according to a jury verdict.
This is enough to fill a half-dozen episodes of the old TV series, The Paper Chase, and it is surely enough to get my head spinning on its axis. In order to try to stop the spinning, something happened to me and it presents the regular reader here with six simple words that ought to make the reader wary:
“And that got me to thinking…”
What I wanted to do was to ban the publication of the details of these kinds of stories for a while just so there was time to refocus on things that are actually sporting activities. However, there is that pesky thing called the First Amendment, which I recall from my high school civics classes is part of the Bill of Rights. That forged the link; suppose sports fans had a Bill of Rights; what would compose that Bill of Rights?
So, here is a first cut at such a thing. Please feel free to add to my list – - or to tell me where I am wrong and why. Remember, I did not go to law school and I make no pretense that I am comparable to the Founding Fathers in terms of prescience. Nevertheless, I think these are good ideas.
Right #1: Pro athletes justify their enormous salaries by saying they are entertainers. OK, so fans should have the right to be entertained by them every time the fan shells out $100 for a seat to a game. That means that fans have the right to demand a fully engaged effort on the part of the athletes for the entirety of every game. If the “entertainers” loaf through the first half of the game and play seriously for the second half, then the fan should get a $50 rebate. Moreover, that rebate should come from the salary checks of the players involved.
Right #2: Fans have a right to a safe, secure and benign environment every time they go to a stadium/arena. That means no roving gangs of thugs in the stadium or parking lots; that means no drunks in the stands throwing up during the game on other patrons; that means no drunken fights or public sexual displays. Owners and stadium authorities should pay dearly when any of the above kinds of activities interrupt a fan’s enjoyment of a game.
Right #3: Fans have a right to see a game without having an idiot DJ assaulting their eardrums with meaningless noise at 110 decibels.
Right #4: No owner, team or league should be allowed to negotiate a TV contract that blacks out games in home team areas if even one penny of public funding went into building the stadium/arena where the game is played or if public funding paid for access roads to the stadium/arena.
Right #5: No owner or stadium authority should be allowed to sell a ticket to a seat that has less than a full view of the playing field for more than $10 per seat per game.
Right # 6: The NCAA may never again schedule any men’s basketball tournament games in football stadiums. The venue for all NCAA tournament games will be played in indoor arenas where the maximum seating capacity shall be 25,000. Yes, that will make seats more expensive; yes, that will cut down the number of “corporate partners” handing out free tix; yes, that will make the games even more exciting.
Right #7: Fans have a right to a college football championship tournament. The NCAA may choose to schedule that tournament in addition to all of its stupid bowl games or they may schedule it in place of some or all of its stupid bowl games. However, there has to be a college football championship tournament…
Right #8: Fans have a right to root for teams that have stable rosters for the vast majority of the season being played. Therefore, trading deadlines should all be in the first 30% of the season in question and sham “free agent exchanges” after that deadline should be declared null and void. GMs need to set a roster and then the managers/coaches have to make it work.
Right #9: Fans have the right to hear the National Anthem sung – or played – the way it was written. The song can be completed in less than 90 seconds; it has a score; it has lyrics. If the “artist” cannot be contained by those things, then the “artist” should be contained in a cage and pelted with rotten tomatoes by fans.
Right #10: Fans have a right to be safe from gouging when it comes to parking at sporting events (no more $35-60 charges to park a car) or when it comes to food and beverages (no more $7 hot dogs or $9 domestic light beers).
Before anyone accuses me of being a rabble-rouser here and promoting some form of fan anarchy, allow me to present a series of three fan responsibilities that should accompany the codification of these fan rights.
Responsibility #1: Fans go to games to see the games. They are not there to Tweet; they are not there to text; they are not there to call friends and wave to them on camera. Fans who do that should be banned from all sporting venues for a full calendar year.
Responsibility #2: Fans go to games to see the games. Therefore, fans will limit the time they are out of their seats looking for food, chatting up hot babes, or telling tales about how they hit .790 on their high school baseball team to halftime or three minutes to either side of halftime.
Responsibility #3: Fans who have tailgated for more than 90 minutes prior to a game – - or who have consumed more than the alcohol equivalent of 4 beers prior to a game – - shall not seek admission to the stadium/arena. Breathalyzers will be used…
As I said above, those six words – - “And that got me to thinking…” – - often lead to the Highway to Hell.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…