Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Back in the 1960s, folk music was a more important segment of popular music than it is today. In one portion of folk music at the time were the so-called “protest songs” which decried things like racial inequality, gender inequality and war in general. One of the most popular of the “protest songs” was Where Have All The Flowers Gone? which was recorded by a lot of different artists including The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary. In the refrain of that song are the lines:

“When will they ever learn?
Oh when, will they ever learn?”

Three things happening in the sporting world today bring that refrain to my mind because it seems as if some folks are committed to – or are at least planning to – travel down a path that has previously led to nowhere. Then again, taking a path to nowhere is probably better than taking a path that leads to a toxic waste dump. You make the calls here…

For the last two seasons, the Chicago Bulls had a center come off the bench for them last year named Omar Asik. In 13 minutes per game, Asik has given the Bulls 3 points per game and 4 rebounds per game. That is pretty ordinary but his foul shooting is not even that good; Asik shoots 48.4% from the foul line. The Houston Rockets covet Asik and have given him a free agent offer sheet supposedly for 3 years and $25M with a poison pill in there whereby Asik would make $15M in the third year of the fully guaranteed contract. Why the Rockets are so high on Asik is a mystery to me. To the Rockets, I say, Mazel tov.

If the Bulls choose not to match that offer – and objectively, they should not – the rumor around Chicago is that the Bulls will make an offer to free agent, Darko Milicic. At this point, my mind says:

    “When will they ever learn?”

Milicic entered the NBA in 2003 with the Pistons as the #2 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Over his career, Milicic has appeared in 467 games so there is a bit of “game tape” on him; he is not the mystery prospect who came out of Serbia at age 18 back in 2003. The “game tape” says he cannot play at the NBA level. For his career, he has averaged 6 points per game and 4 rebounds per game. At 7’ tall, one might expect him to do a lot more rebounding and to have a high shooting percentage based on offensive rebounds put back for baskets. Not so, his career shooting percentage is only 46%. Darko Milicic is not the answer for the Chicago Bulls.

Well, since I said that Milicic is not the answer for the Bulls, allow me to use that as a segue here and move on to another strange occurrence in the NBA. The Sixers signed Kwame Brown to a 2-year contract worth a paltry $6M. Let me say this about the decision to sign Brown:

    If Kwame Brown is the answer, then the only possible question would be:

      Who is the only player who was a bigger draft bust than Darko Milicic in this century?

Kwame Brown entered the NBA in 2001 with the Wizards as the top pick in the NBA Draft. He has appeared in 581 games in his career so there is a bit of ‘game tape” on him too. Like Milicic, the “game tape” says he cannot play at the NBA level. For his career, he has averaged 7 points per game and 6 rebounds per game. The Sixers will be Brown’s sixth team in the last four years.

    “When will they ever learn?”

About a week ago, the Washington Post had one of its “Olympics Feelgood Stories” on the front page of the sports section. It was about a woman who had played soccer for the University of Virginia and who was not on the US Women’s soccer team who was hoping that the Olympics would provide the momentum necessary to start a top-shelf women’s professional soccer league in the US.

There have been two women’s pro soccer leagues launched in the US since the US women won the Women’s World Cup over china a little more than a decade ago. You remember that event; that was when Brandi Chastain flashed the most famous sports bra in the history of womanhood. Both of the women’s pro soccer leagues have gone belly-up financially despite the fact that the most recent league had a TV contract going for it. The fundamental cause for the absence of financial viability in both cases is as follows:

    Soccer is a niche sport in the US at the very best.

    The core of soccer fans in the US is mostly male and most of those choose to watch and support men’s pro soccer to the exclusion of women’s pro soccer.

    Girls who play soccer as children by the millions do not grow up to be fans of women’s soccer to the point that they will spend the time or the money to attend games.

Until and unless at least the third issue on that list above changes dramatically – and preferably all three would change – women’s professional soccer in the US is going to remain relegated to a lower rung on the ladder than being a niche sport. Currently, there is a “second-tier” league for women soccer players in the US called the W-League where professionals and amateurs both participate. The distinction between a “Pro-Am League” and a “Semi-Pro League” is left as an exercise for the student…

    “When will they ever learn?”

Finally, here is Greg Cote’s comment in the Miami Herald regarding Drew Brees resigning with the New Orleans Saints:

“The Saints and Drew Brees agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract including an NFL-record $60 million guaranteed. That’s quite a bounty! Wait, let me rephrase that.”

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

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  • Tenacious P  On July 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I will forward your piece on women’s soccer to my wife and daughter. You are not going to win any fans by telling them the truth. However, I still love you.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On July 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm


      Wasn’t it Dale Carneige who worte How to Make Friends and Influence People ? I guarantee that he never advised folks to tell others truths that others did not want to hear as a way to make friends or influence people. Oh well…

  • Ed  On July 20, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Now, now, of those millions of women and girls playing soccer, when they grow up it leads to literally DOZENS of fans who want to watch soccer…

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On July 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm


      I think your math is absolutely correct.

  • Steve  On July 22, 2012 at 11:40 am

    And in the mid-eighties, a pianist and accordion player by the name of Bruce Hornsby penned a song in which the refrain goes something like:

    “That’s just the way it is
    Some things will never change
    That’s just the way it is…”

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On July 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm


      I am not familiar with that song or its lyrics – – but it certainly seems to work in the context here.


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