Wimbledon Withdrawls

Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka announced that they will not participate at Wimbledon this year.  Osaka said that she will be preparing to play in the Olympics for the host country starting on July 23rd ; Wimbledon will begin this year on 28 June and – presuming that Osaka would go deep into the tournament – would not end until 10 July for the women.  That would cut short preparation time and recovery time prior to the Olympics and – in reality – Ms. Osaka has no choice here; she must choose to represent Japan at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Nadal is a different story; he announced his withdrawal from Wimbledon saying that he was “listening to his body”.  Nadal just turned 35 a couple of weeks ago and lost in the finals of the French Open a week ago.  In “dog years”, Nadal is only 5 years old; in “tennis years”, he is a grizzled veteran.  My interpretation here is that Nadal recognizes that his body will no longer make it through the rigors of the “full tennis schedule” and he is now at the point in his career where he will have to pick and choose his appearances.

I think both players have made rational decisions; neither deserves criticism for their choice.

I ran across an item earlier this week that rang a distant bell, so I had to go looking for the backstory.  The report this week was that the women’s basketball coach at Detroit Mercy “left the university” and was replaced by one of the assistant coaches.  What I did not recall until doing some searching was that it was the Detroit Mercy women’s basketball team that quit on the season earlier this year and sent a letter to the Athletic Director there saying that the coach had abused them emotionally and that there were NCAA violations ongoing within the program.  They said they would not play unless the coach was removed.  At the time the letter was delivered, the Detroit Mercy women’s record was 1-13.

The school did not fire the coach; in fact, after investigating the charges outlined in the letter to the AD, the school found that “the most serious allegations were found to be false and unsubstantiated”.  So, at this point all seems right with the program – – except now the coach leaves the university and the explanation for that separation is that it was an “HR personnel matter” that had nothing to do with NCAA violations or student-athlete matters.

  • If this were a Star Trek episode, I believe the stage directions here would be for a close-up of Mr. Spock raising one eyebrow with a quizzical look on his face…

You can read an excellent summary of this less-than-clear matter here in a solid piece of reporting in the Detroit Free Press.  It seems to me that the bottom line is that the school and the team are going to start over and that nothing nearly resembling “the whole story” has been told by any of the parties involved.

The Super Bowl game is still almost 8 months away but there are reports that NBC, which has the telecast rights to the game next February, is already out selling advertising slots.  One report says that NBC is asking up to $6M per 30-second time slot for the most desirable positions within the game.  Last year, the prime slots cost $5.6M apiece; NBC’s asking price represents a 7% increase to the client.  Seven percent is more than the rate of inflation and/or the cost of living but it is not an increase that one might be tempted to call usurious.  Now it is time to cue the voiceover for one of those late-night infomercials:

  • But wait; there’s more…

According to one report that I read, NBC may also require an advertiser who wants one of the “prime slot positions” for the Super Bowl ad to purchase some advertising time during the Olympic Games, which is also going to be an NBC presentation.  If the Games in 2021 take place in their entirety, there will be 33 sports represented and here is a most inconvenient truth for NBC and any potential advertisers:

  • The majority of these 33 sports will not attract a TV audience too large to fit into a typical suburban high school gym.
  • The Super Bowl game will attract – in round numbers – 100 million viewers in the US.
  • That number will not be achieved if you add together all the viewers for all the events in archery, badminton, canoeing, fencing, handball, modern pentathlon, shooting, skateboarding and sport climbing.

You may recall that I wrote about a lawsuit brought in a Federal Court seeking to return the MLB All-Star Game because the suit alleged that the Constitutional rights of Atlanta’s business owners – small and large – had been violated.  The plaintiff there was an entity called the Job Creators Network and it sought an injunction from the court.

Well, since the All-Star Game is going to take place on July 13th, the court had to hear the matter expeditiously.  It did so and Judge Valerie Caproni threw the case out.  That is not so unusual; lots of cases get thrown out of court and every lawsuit has a winner and a loser.  But Judge Caproni was rather direct in explaining her decision:

“To say that the legal underpinnings of this lawsuit are weak and muddled is an understatement.  The plaintiff alleges that [MLB and the Players’ Union] were members of a conspiracy to violate JCN members’ constitutional rights … but I am still at a loss to understand how.”

And …

“But whether small business owners as a group agree or disagree, are deeply divided or are agnostic on that issue, it is hard to see how MLB’s decision had an impact on the equal protection rights of small business owners as a group.”

To me, that sounds like a reasonable decision and one that clearly outlines the deficiencies of the plaintiff’s case.  My original conclusion was that we would hear no more about this until I read at the end of the report that – – JCN planned to appeal the ruling and continue the matter.  Sigh…

Finally, apropos of nothing, here is an observation from H. L. Mencken from more than 80 years ago.  Imagine what he might think about today:

“The typical American of today has lost all the love of liberty that his forefathers had, and all their disgust of emotion, and pride in self-reliance.  He is led no longer by Davy Crocketts; he is led by cheer leaders, press agents, word-mongers, uplifters.”

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