An Addendum … Then Tennis Tuesday

#1 son is a serious runner who tries to do at least 2 marathons per year when he is not being a university professor and raising his son.  He sent me an email yesterday after I wrote about Eliud Kipchoge’s breaking of the 2-hour barrier for the 26.2-mile distance.  Here is the text of that email:

“You really should give a shout out to Brigid Kosgei of Kenya. She broke the women’s world record at Chicago this weekend too. 2:14:04, beating the previous WR by over a minute. That record had stood for 16 years.”

That email demonstrates that I do not follow marathon running closely at all.  Indeed, breaking a world record that had stood for 16 years by a clear and open margin is worthy of a “shout out” at least.

I saved this next item for a couple of days in order to provide a long-term reader with something he routinely suggests for these rants.  Here is a Tennis Tuesday item…

Gianluca Moscarella is a chair umpire for matches sanctioned by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).  He has been a tennis official for ATP matches since 2010 and has earned a Gold Badge which – evidently – is the top level of certification handed out by the organization.  He was suspended from the ATP “provisionally” and removed from a tournament in Florence for some remarks that are more than a tad unusual.

  • Early in the match, he is overheard to say to a young ball girl kneeling by his chair that she is “fantastic, very sexy”.  He also asked the girl, “Are you OK?  It’s hot.  Do you feel hot?  Physically or emotionally?”
  • Later in the match while one of the players was taking a potty break after the first set, Moscarella climbed down from his chair, went to the contestant still on the court and encouraged him to “stay focused” and engaged in “coaching” that player.

The ATP has launched a “full investigation”.  Indeed, there may be more to learn by a “full investigation”, but one thing is clear to me.  If in fact there is audio evidence that Moscarella “coached” one of the match participants, that sort of behavior is anathema to sports officiating no matter what the sport.  Moreover, if again there is audio evidence that Moscarella said those things to a young girl as the match was going on, there is no justification for his continued employment as a tennis official by the ATP.

As Warner Wolf used to say – – with a minor modification here:

“Let’s go to the audio tape…”

As the sports world gets ready to ignore the XFL Draft that will happen this week, there is a report that the average XFL player will make $55K.  Since winning teams earn bonuses for winning games, the calculation here does not mean all the players will earn that much; some will necessarily earn less.  And so, before there are any announcements from the league or any analyses of rosters that are generated via the Draft, let me remind everyone:

  • You get what you pay for…

The XFL season will run 12 weeks – from the second week in February to the XFL Championship Game on April 26, 2020.  One of the provisions in the standard XFL contract is that every player is free to opt out of his contract to accept a bona fide NFL contract offer after the XFL Championship Game is over.  The salary structure here and the player’s freedom to opt out of his XFL contract in favor of an NFL contract demonstrates to me that the XFL is initially seeking to occupy a market niche as a developmental league for the NFL without any formal or legal ties to the NFL.

We have seen this business model in operation in the past and it has not worked.

  • The World League of American Football tried to use “minor league football” to develop market interest in Europe.  It failed to do that, and it also failed to develop any serious following here in the US.  Yes, it did provide NFL teams with some players in its existence, but that was not worth the cost of keeping it alive.
  • The Alliance of American Football crashed and burned in mid-season last year.  It did not have nearly the time on the vine to develop any players for the NFL; its problem was a fundamentally flawed business model wherein their games were on network TV, but the league was not getting any money for putting those games on network TV.

People tuning in to see the first XFL games played will do so the week after the Super Bowl in February 2020.  If those fans are to enjoy the XFL game on their TV screen, they are going to have to erase from memory the quality of football they saw the week before in the Super Bowl – and indeed the quality of football they saw in the full range of the NFL playoffs for the 5 weeks prior to the XFL debut.  XFL football is going to be rough around the edges to say the least; it is not going to look like the NFL; it is probably not even going to look like the CFP.

Here is the “survival question” for the XFL:

  • Can it generate sufficient interest in Year 1 to get it a revenue-generating contract for its media rights in Year 2?
  • If it can – or if it enters into some sort of symbiotic relationship with the NFL – then XFL 2.0 might just make it.
  • If it cannot, then perhaps it will have the wherewithal to try to make a go of it for a second season.  But that will be a make-or-break situation for XFL 2.0.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this observation in the Seattle Times recently:

“For you big believers in Bad Things Happen in Threes, Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) is out for the Steelers, Drew Brees (thumb) is out for the Saints and Christie Brinkley (broken arm) is out for ‘Dancing with the Stars’.”

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