An Apocalyptic Sign…

There are no circumstances imaginable wherein I would claim to be any sort of Biblical authority.  Having said that, I ran across a report yesterday that led me to check out a story in the Naples Daily News – that is Naples, Florida and not Naples, Italy – because it seemed to me to be a potential sign of the apocalypse.  The report seemed to be too outrageous to be true but the article in the Naples Daily News confirmed it.

There is a town on the west coast of Florida called Bonita Springs.  In fact, one of the readers of these rants lives in Bonita Springs.  They are building a new high school in Bonita Springs and of course the school will have a football team and a stadium in which to play its games.  Nothing seems even a bit off-center so far, right?  Here is the kicker:

  • Bonita Springs High School just sold the naming rights for its high school football stadium for $292K.  The deal runs for 5 years.

That is outrageous all by itself, but there is another layer here.  What sponsor would want to “invest” $292K to put its name on a high school football field for 5 years?  You would think that it would be a sponsor that was involved in the lives of high school students such as:

  • A clothing manufacturer
  • A local merchant
  • A maker of acne medication.

Not even close.  The sponsor here is Lee Health – the largest healthcare system in southwest Florida.  There are other high schools in that area that have sold off stadium naming rights – albeit for far less money – to local sponsors.  One of the other sponsors is a local heating and air conditioning company; another is a local law firm.  To that mix, we now add a healthcare system.

Here is a link to the article in the Naples Daily News in case you find this sufficiently off-center that you want to see the original piece to convince yourself it is not satire.

There is another “partnership” I want to talk about today.  MGM Resorts and the NBA have announced that MGM is the “Exclusive Official Gaming Partner” of the NBA.  Based on the announcement, I think this is what that means:

  • MGM pays the NBA for its official data which will then be used to determine winners and losers of various bets such as player proposition bets.
  • The NBA will get betting data from MGM as a way for the NBA to monitor “unusual” or “disturbing” trends in betting action on its games.

After years of fighting legalization of sports wagering, the NBA moved very quickly to monetize for themselves the fact that sports wagering is going to be legal is a whole lot of places in the future.  Where one stands on any issue depends on where one is sitting at the moment…

Last weekend, I got an e-mail from a former colleague and long-term reader of these rants saying he was surprised I had not commented on ESPN and its TV offering(s) since my return from the Balkans.  He pointed out that Keith Olbermann is back with ESPN and making various on-camera appearances and I have not commented on that state of affairs.  Also, he was surprised that I had not commented on a new ESPN program called High Noon – guess what time it might be on the air – hosted by Bomani Jones and Pablo S. Torre.  So, here is my response:

  • Since I have been back, I have not caught Keith Olbermann on any ESPN programs and I was not aware that he was “back in the fold in Bristol”.  If my count is correct, this is the fifth time Olbermann and ESPN have been “an item”; the last four times they were “an item” the breakup was ”less than amicable”.
  • Everyone here knows that I really like Keith Olbermann’s commentary and style regarding sports.  I really hope he can keep it together with the sits on mahogany row this time around.
  • I had never even heard of the program High Noon until last weekend.  Typically, I am not watching TV at midday unless it is to watch football on Saturdays and Sundays in the Fall.  So, I tuned in to ESPN2 see what this was all about.
  • This program works!  Bomani Jones and Pablo S. Torre are both intelligent and analytical about the issues they discuss; there is little hysteria; there are no hot-takes.  Most importantly, there appears to be a connection between the two of them that makes their interactions more realistic and more engaging.  If these two guys are not good friends off the air, they are awfully good actors.

Granted, I have only seen two episodes of this program, but I came away with a crazy thought in the back of my mind:

  • Maybe the powers that be at ESPN are prepping these two guys to “take over” the Pardon the Interruption franchise whenever Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon turn off their microphones.  Both pairings involve intelligent and rational people who exude a personal friendship/relationship that goes beyond what is on the screen at the moment.
  • Since I enjoy PTI a lot, that last comment should not be seen as any suggestion that the program be kicked to the curb.  I would hope that PTI would continue for years to come.  But if the suits at ESPN are thinking about “succession planning” for PTI, I think they ought to be watching High Noon closely.

Finally, a word from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“Authorities in Manitoba have dropped marijuana charges against Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Duron Carter.

“Apparently the instant-replay booth ruled he didn’t have possession.”

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