In sports, they say that winning cures everything. We have some evidence to support that assertion from Jacksonville. For years, the Jags could not sell out the stadium and it was “not a good look” on TV to have the team playing in front of vast swaths of empty seats. So, the team put tarps over about 10,000 of the seats to give the impression that the Jags were playing in front of a crowd that came closer to filling the stadium.
In the 2017 season, the Jags were much better than they had been for a decade. The Jags won 10 games; the last time they reached double-digits in wins was 2007. Their record won them a division title and that got them a home playoff game. The team pulled off the tarps for that game and sold a surprising number of tix for the game given the lukewarm attendance figures from the last 10 years. And now the Jags have announced that they will keep the tarps off for the 2018 season. Moreover, the Jags also announced that ticket prices will go up by 10% for 2018.
The Jags remain committed to playing one of their home games in London and in 2018, they will play the Eagles there in Wembley Stadium. That is a scheduling glitch for the Jags. The Eagles would probably have filled EverBank Field in Jax as the reigning Super Bowl Champions. Two other opponents scheduled to visit Jax next year are the Jets and the Skins. Those two teams will probably not draw full houses – but they very well could in London.
Winning cures everything – – except a scheduling glitch by the NFL schedule makers…
Sonny Dykes is the head coach at SMU taking over for Chad Morris who resigned the position. Sonny Dykes had been the head coach at Cal and La Tech prior to this job; he is considered a “passing offense guru”. The thing that I like about Sonny Dykes is that he is the son of Spike Dykes who was the head coach at Texas Tech for almost 15 years. Spike Dykes was one of the more colorful head coaches that I can recall. Nowadays, when a team loses a game, the head coach will go the lectern and say that he is proud of the way his team competed and how they showed resilience in the face of adversity. Everyone will go back to work tomorrow and “get better”. That was not Spike Dykes; when his Texas Tech team laid an egg, here are some of the things that he said about the team and the game:
“We played like three tons of buzzard puke out there today.”
“They whipped us like a tied-up goat.”
“We just weren’t productive; that’s because when you have five turnovers, miss two field goals and get another one blocked; my gosh, that’s enough to choke a mule.”
“They say you lose 10 percent of your fan base every year. And I’ve been here 11 years, so you do the math.”
I can only hope that Sonny Dykes takes up his father’s mantle as a colorful football coach. There are more than enough coaches who speak only in platitudes.
Yesterday, I watched two soccer games on FOX Sports Networks; this was the first phase of the elimination round in UAEFA Champions League. One of the things that the commentators mentioned several times was that the World Cup Tournament in Russia was set to begin in 4 months. The US will not be part of that Tournament having missed out on qualifying when it lost to Trinidad and Tobago last Fall. Many commentators have said that this will be a setback for “growing soccer” in the US and they are probably right. However, other commentators have pointed out that the failure of the US to qualify is also a blow to the Russian economy. Here’s why:
- The Russian government is spending about $12B to stage the World Cup. That is a pittance when compared to the more than $50B it spent to stage the Winter Olympics at Sochi in 2014, but $12B is not a trivial expenditure.
- In recent World Cup Tournaments, Americans were well represented in the cadre of new tourists coming to see the games. With the US out of the tournament, it is likely that the American “representation” will be much smaller. The estimate for the number of Americans who went to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 is 100,000.
- Americans are also spenders as tourists. When the US team was eliminated from qualifying, that slot went to Panama. It is highly unlikely that Panamanians will travel to Russia in numbers equivalent to US tourists or that Panamanians will spend the same amount of money once they are in Russia.
Another country that did not qualify for this year’s World Cup is The Netherlands. That is a bit surprising because The Netherlands finished 3rd in the World Cup in 2014 and finished 2nd in the World Cup in 2010.
Finally, since I was talking about soccer, let me close with this comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
“Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo may leave Real Madrid after being accused of tax evasion by Spanish authorities. Surprised Real Madrid fans haven’t started a GoFundMe to pay what he owes.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………