RIP Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker

Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker died earlier this week in Virginia Beach.  He was run over by a car as a pedestrian.  Whitaker was an Olympic Gold Medalist in 1984 – a boxing teammate of Evander Holyfield – and as a professional he was lightweight and welterweight champions.

Rest in peace, Pernell Whitaker…

I sent an e-mail to Gregg Drinnan thanking him for posting one of Jim Murray’s classic columns about DelMar racetrack.  In his response, he alerted me to a situation that is playing out in Canada today; I was totally unaware of this until his note arrived.  Here is the message:

“Big controversy up here right now that you may not be aware of. Calgary Stampede wrapped up Sunday. All told, the chuckwagon races claimed six horses. . . . Check out Calgary Herald or Calgary Sun websites. . . . Animal rights people going crazy. Stampede people and rodeo fans in full damage control.”

Indeed, the letters to the editor published lately in the Calgary Sun show the emotions running high on this issue.  Here is a link to some of those letters:

ESPN is in the news today with two recent announcements;

  1. The newest member of the ESPN college football announcing roster is Ryan Leaf.  Yes, that Ryan Leaf.  He has battled and seemingly overcome his addiction issues and has been working in the “sports media” field for a while on a local basis.  He will be paired with Clay Matvick on play-by-play as he does color analysis for some college games on the ESPN family of networks.  [Aside:  I must confess that I do not know Clay Matvick from a clay pigeon.]
  2. In October, ESPN is planning to launch a new podcast whose purpose will be to focus on sports news with in-depth analysis and discussion by a varying group of participants dictated by the topic.  The idea is to bring thoughtfulness and intelligence to bear on sports topics.  This sounds like podcast I might subscribe to – – if I can get #2 son to show me how to do such a thing.  This link will tell you more about this new upcoming programming:

At the recently concluded SEC Media Day, the SEC Commissioner, Greg Sankey, linked together sports betting and the mental health of athletes.  Since I did not see an immediate connection there, I went to find out how he made that linkage.  Sankey is firmly opposed to any sort of in-game wagering (which is coming to most sports) and to proposition betting (which has existed for decades with regard to many sports including college football).  He forges the link between sports betting and mental health along this axis:

  • Athletes may experience more pressure/anxiety in attempting a field goal in football or a 3-point shot in basketball knowing that the success or failure of such an attempt could change the betting outcome of the game.

I understand that Commissioner Sankey would prefer never to have a farthing be wagered on a college football game involving an SEC team.  Notwithstanding that strong preference, the reality is that loads and loads of dollars and dollar-equivalents have been and will continue to be wagered on SEC games.  Now considering that reality, let me offer two scenarios here and then pose a question related to ‘mental health”:

  • Scenario 1:  Team A leads Team B 21-20 with 5 seconds left to play.  Team B is attempting a field goal from the 35-yardline; the kicker has made field goas from as long as 50 yards in this season.  If the field goal is good, Team B wins; if the field goal is not good, Team B loses.
  • Scenario 2:  Team A is favored to beat Team B by 7 points.  Team A leads Team B by a score of 26-20 with 1-minute left to play and Team A is about to attempt a 35-yard field goal to put them up by 9 points.  Given the time, a made field goal almost assuredly gives Team A the win; a made field goal also gives Team A an excellent chance of covering the spread.

Given those scenarios, why does the kicker in Scenario 1 (no bets on the game) feel any more or any less pressure than does the kicker in Scenario 2?  It seems to me that any attempt to score points in an athletic contest involves pressure and produces anxiety if the attempt is unsuccessful.  Conversely, a successful attempt produces joy/exhilaration/etc.  I think Commissioner Sankey is off his tether on this issue.

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“According to Le’Veon Bell’s 911 call, the last time the Jets running back saw those two ‘girlfriends’ who allegedly stole $500,000 of his stuff, he was leaving for the gym and they were still naked in his bed.

“In other words: Bares 2, Jet 0.”

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