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February 2, 2008

Out Of Bounds (Post # 4)

Super Bowl?
Call me cynical. The name for this sports event no longer fits. Nor does it seem appropriate. In 2008, it should be called "The American sports event in which billions of dollars are spent on ridiculous things."

We have ticket prices for the Super Bowl exceeding $50,000. That's for a single seat folks! Scalpers make out quite well - reports are that at a minimum the price for a pair of scalped tickets are going for $2,000.

Las Vegas is making out nicely - regardless of who wins. The current odds show the Patriots being the favorites by 13 points. Some say that large point spread was fixed on purpose - with the hope that even more people would bet on the game. Which means that if you are a diehard Patriots fan, you would have to consider betting against your team. Unless of course, you are convinced the Pats can cover that large point spread.

Speaking of diehard Patriot fans, there is a gentleman in the Boston area offering an entire HOUSE for a pair of Super Bowl tickets. He is a developer or contractor of some sort, and is offering a beautiful fully furnished home for a decent pair of tickets. This story was on our local news the other evening. A house for 2 tickets to a sporting event?

It is estimated that the Super Bowl will generate $400 million dollars for the State of Arizona, the city of Glendale and the local businesses, hotels, bars, and restaurants within a 50 mile radius of The University of Phoenix stadium where the Super Bowl is being held.

Another estimate to consider - and this is staggering - companies and corporations will spend $750 million dollars on television advertising. A 30 second ad during the Super Bowl will cost - on the average - $2 million dollars.

Now if you are wondering where I'm headed with these numbers and facts, this is the deal. It cost me $700 dollars this week to fill my oil tank and keep the house heated for another 2 months. After paying the phone bill, groceries, satellite TV bill, and insurance, my checking account will barely clear $1,000 dollars as a balance. And I haven't included the labor or materials for the work the carpenter was doing on my house the past 3 days. To put it simply, does anyone else out there find it disturbing that all this money is floating around for a football game - while most of the rest of us are struggling to make a living and make ends meet?

I won a prize and got my picture in the local paper in 1978. Why? For making the best cardboard box representation of Super Bowl XII, between Dallas and Denver, for a third grade project. Back then, it was truly a Super Bowl. The name fit. No one was discussing money, or the odds, or advertising, or for that matter ticket scalping. We discussed the score, the players, the coaches, and looked ahead eagerly to the Sports Illustrated cover which we knew would be coming the following week in the mail. I can remember my classmates and friends battling over the Cowboys and Broncos football cards in school. (My luck was good - I took great delight in giving away nearly all of my Cowboy and Bronco cards that January - in exchange for all of their Redskin cards.) But none of us battled over money. That was the furthest thing from our minds.

I miss the Super Bowl. When it truly was a game.
Not the gambling, money spinning, greedy, advertising machine version we have now.

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January 27, 2008

Out of Bounds (Post # 3)

I've been watching a lot of the Australian Open the past 2 weeks. It is normal for me to watch much of a tennis grand slam event. But since I was without cable or satellite television service since last May, you could say I had a ton of tennis withdrawal. Missing Wimbledon and the US Open made me realize how much of a tennis fan I am. Simply watching the updated scores on the web just doesn't cut it. So I spent hours watching this event, including some of those matches that started at 3:30 am here on the east coast.

The men's final ended a little earlier today. Tsonga played very well but Djokovic was better. I thought it would be even closer than the final result. I am very impressed with both players, but Djokovic appears to be the next Federer. The announcers sure made it seem that we were seeing the changing of the guard in men's tennis. Somehow though, I don't think we have seen the last of Federer or Nadal in a grand slam final.

Random thoughts on the 2008 Australian Open:

  1. Maria Sharapova was brilliant. I don't think any opponent could have beaten her.
  2. I loved the Aussie fans. The network coverage showed how much they get into the event, whether it be the attire they wear or the energy and enthusiasm they show for the sport and players.
  3. The best match of the tournament had to be the late night thriller between Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis. It was a classic.
  4. Speaking of that evening, I still think the Aussie Open officials blew it by allowing tennis players to take the court for a match at midnight. A line was crossed in making that decision - it was a certainty their match would last at least 3 hours. Are we saying matches will take place 24 hours a day at grand slam events? Granted, Hewitt and Baghdatis put on a show but both players were exhausted by the end of the third set. Their match ended around 4:30 in the morning! The sun was coming up! Give me a break!
  5. Kudos to Venus Williams for sticking up for herself that same evening - to ensure her match was played at a reasonable time.
  6. Kudos to James Blake for making it to the quarterfinals and playing exceedingly well against Federer.
  7. Speaking of Federer, this was the first grand slam that we have seen some weaknesses. He barely made it out of the third round in his match with Tipsarevich. He struggled against Blake, and looked frail and tired in losing to Djokovic. But he is still Federer.
  8. Andy Roddick would be better served to have John McEnroe as his advisor/coach than Jimmy Connors, given his impatience and lack of control during his match with Kohlschreiber. I don't know where he goes from here but he needs to pull it together and maintain his cool in tough matches. It was embarrassing to watch him......
  9. There is something about Mary Carillo's voice that is both calming and intoxicating at the same time. She has the perfect announcing voice for tennis.
  10. It was great to see Lindsay Davenport back. Despite her loss to Sharapova in the second round, you get the feeling she will be a force later in the year once she gets more playing time in and raises her ranking.

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January 26, 2008

Out of Bounds (Post # 2)

I've been a Redskins fan for over 30 years. It started with a Pat Fischer football card from what I think was the very first pack of football cards I ever purchased - 1976 if I'm not mistaken. Still have that card to this day. I liked the uniform, the logo, the colors. Pat had a neat look on his face - and it appeared he was chasing down someone. I don't know - for some reason that lone football card grabbed my attention and I became an instant fan of the Redskins at the age of 8.

Enjoyed the 'Skins successful Joe Gibbs run through the 80's and early 90's. We all thought his return in 2004 signaled a return to greatness for this team - finally. We suffered through several lean years - Gus Frerotte as the starting QB? Please.

Somehow I knew upon hearing the news a couple weeks ago that Gibbs was retiring might lead to more problems for the 'Skins. I was right. If you haven't heard already, Gregg Williams and Al Saunders were let go earlier today. Williams had interviewed for the head coaching vacancy but did not get the position. So Dan Snyder, in his infinite wisdom, fires both Williams and Saunders. He promoted some guy I've never heard of to replace Williams as defensive coordinator, and hires former Seahawks QB Jim Zorn as the new offensive coordinator. I just beat my head on the table and made a fist. This is like replacing a Lincoln Continental with a Ford Escort. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure Zorn and Greg Blache (had to look up his name) will do fine - in fact I was a fan of Zorn's - way back when he was the QB for Seattle. But this looks like a step backward for the staff of the Redskins. Williams had the entire defense playing extremely well all year long, and that despite the death of Sean Taylor. The offense struggled a bit early on, but played much better during the end of season winning streak. Saunders deserves some credit for that. I fear Snyder has once again made a significant blunder by firing both of them.

Dan Snyder may be a fanastic business man, and I know he has millions of dollars, but he is NOT a good football owner and he is an even worse GM. He is the owner of my favorite team and I can live with that. But I am tired of his poor decisions and mistakes in running the organization. His ego is getting in the way of success and progression for this team. It's time for Dan to admit he needs help - and put money into a decent GM. And let the GM run the show. Imagine if he had hired Bill Parcells as the GM? I predict within 2 years the Dolphins will be a playoff contender thanks to Parcells. The Redskins? They will finish 3-13 and Snyder will fire both Zorn and Blache. And so the cycle will start all over again, no thanks to Snyder.

And my 1976 Pat Fischer card? I'll take it out of the box and examine it. It will make me smile. It will always make me smile no matter what the Redskins record is, and no matter what other bizarre and ridiculous moves Dan Snyder makes.

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