Tag Archives: Football

Helping Out My Bestie

My seventeen month old granddaughter Brooklyn, helping her best friend Bailey, get ready for the game. Since she’s a solid secondary food source and constant companion, he’ll let her do just about anything.

Even this.

Greed, Violence And Sports

There is a 56-year-old man in Baltimore clinging to life today because he was beaten inside the stadium of a Baltimore Ravens football game.

In Alabama, the first three months of football season are the deadliest months of the year because of DUI fatalities.

Not long ago, before a college football game in Nebraska, police had to breakup a tailgate and force 3000 people to leave, after arresting fifteen individuals.

In separate incidents at different stadiums across the country, a group attacked a single man and stabbed him to death, two other people were shot at different times and two men suffered irreparable brain damage after being attacked outside different stadiums.

A two-year old girl who was out on a pumpkin picking trip with her parents will live her life as a paraplegic because of a head-on collision caused by a man who was driving drunk after leaving a professional football game.

Philadelphia Eagles fans are notoriously brutal; so much so that in the late 90’s the club installed a jail and courtroom in the bowels of their stadium where unruly fans were arrested, put on trial and sentenced by a judge who was forced to be in attendance for every home game.

These examples are a microscopic sampling of what goes on before, during and after sporting events in this country. Football games, both college and professional are especially  guilty of this type of behavior. I’m not even addressing the rioting that goes on after teams win or lose championships, as if celebrations need to be intoxicated examples of boorish and irresponsible behavior.

Why? In part, the short answer is alcohol, though the parties involved will quietly move away from that topic because of the financial implications.

Now, I have been a season ticket holder for New York Giants football games for 40 years. For the first 30 years I rarely missed a game, attending well over 300 during that 40 year period. I’ve seen some pretty ugly stuff during that time. I’ve also attended countless baseball games in several ballparks. Also not a pretty picture.

When you take upwards of 80,000 people, many with testosterone issues, and you place them in a parking lot where they’ve been drinking for 3-4 hours before a game starts, then cramp them into a stadium where large amounts of beer is sold, considering there are fans from both teams at these games, you have the strong potential of several thousand angry and drunk individuals. That’s a potent combination and a recipe for dangerous confrontations in and outside of the stadiums.

Statistics tell us that those who tailgate are fourteen times more likely to be legally drunk during or after a game and that one in ten people leaving these games are legally drunk. So in a stadium that holds 80,000 people, 8,000 people are walking out impaired and many of those are getting into car and hitting the roads. Multiply that by hundreds of stadiums across the country on any given weekend.

And yet, very few restrictions are put on these individuals before or after a game.

Look, I love a good tailgate as much as the next person and even though I don’t drink, I don’t have a problem with people who do, as long as they do it responsibly. But if I want to take a child to a game and it’s going to cost me upwards of 250.00 for two tickets, another 30.00 to park and who knows what else inside the stadium, I want to be able to enjoy the entertainment in front of me without  someone throwing around four letter words. I want  to know I can cheer for a team without being attacked because of it, regardless of what stadium I’m in. I want a safe environment and considering the billions of dollars these teams and leagues are generating in revenue, they should be able to provide that for me. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

But they won’t do that because the product would suffer. They don’t want to alienate the crazy fans who buy $120.00 team jerseys and they certainly don’t want their beer concession sales to suffer. Both would be a financial hit to the bottom line, and regardless of the smoke and mirrors they place in front of us, it’s always about the bottom line. Restrictions, random testing, increased security, removing people from games before incidents occur, implementing proactive measures to avoid injury or death; these are all things that should be considered but probably never will.

So lives will continue to be altered, families will continue to mourn the loss of loved ones or face a future of long-term care and the games will continue to be played.

Because greed and violence is as much a part of sports as the play on the field.

Anyone who tells you differently works for a team or a league office.

 

Football, Gambling And Life

I read an article a few days ago that estimates Americans will wager 95 BILLION dollars on college and NFL games this coming season. Of that figure, 93 billion will be bet illegally. Keep in mind, this is only one sport that essentially covers five months out of the year.

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In order to try to gain some perspective, that number is 30 billion more than Google’s 2014 revenues.

Now, I enjoy watching football, I attend games and even take part in some friendly and inexpensive football pools. I don’t bet on games and never have. Though it may be entertaining, for me, all forms of gambling is a fool’s game. If it wasn’t Vegas would be dark and the bookies would be selling cars.

There are many hypocrisies related to sports, with gambling being close to the top of the list. The NFL, as an example, realizes that, in large part, their popularity is tied into the money that is being gambled each week. All sports do, which is why they are all trying to find ways to legally grab a piece of that pie. Politicians are no different. Legalized gambling can generate significant revenues for states, which they can then use to____________ ( you can fill in the blank as sarcastically as you wish.)

As for me, I can’t help but wonder how much good we can do in this country with 95 billion dollars. I understand sports is an entertainment and we’re all entitled to spend our entertainment money in any way we like.  But 95 billion dollars? That’s a lot of good being spent on self-indulgence, isn’t it?

Whenever I doubt if I’m right in thinking our priorities may be a little distorted, I read an article like this and wonder how we got to a place where, with everything we see going on around us, we can read something like this and not even blink or react.

How much does the sandbox need to be filled before it can no longer hold its own weight? My guess is we’ll find out soon enough.

 

Domestic Assault Hypocrisy, NFL Style

Let’s start with the details. Greg Hardy is 6’4″ and weighs 275 pounds. He plays defensive end in the National Football League and is considered a premier player. His girlfriend, Nicole Holder, weighs considerably less.

imagesLast year they got into an argument at Hardy’s home, at which point he began choking her before picking her up and throwing her into a tiled tub area in his bathroom. Then he pulled Nicole out of the tub by her hair  and began screaming that he was going to break her arms and kill her. But he wasn’t done. He then proceeded to drag her out of the bathroom and into the bedroom and began choking her with both hands around her throat while she was lying on the floor. Then he picked her up over his head and threw her onto a couch that was filed with at least 30 assault rifles and shotguns, all of which were apparently loaded. When he got done, he threw her outside and told her he would shoot her if she went to the police or media. Both were intoxicated at the time of the incident.

images-1In July of 2014, Greg Hardy was convicted of 2 counts of assault on a female and communicating threats. He was sentenced to 18 months probation and his 60 day jail sentence was suspended. He appealed the decision and during the appeals process, his team, the Carolina Panthers, thought it would be okay to let him play. This, in the middle of the Ray Rice assault incident. After playing the season opener, he was suspended by the NFL, until his appeal process was concluded.
Last month, all charges were dismissed because the Nicole told the court that she would be completely unavailable to testify. This came on the heels of a settlement offer.

Surprised? No, I didn’t think so.

So this past week, the Dallas Cowboys signed Greg Hardy to an incentive laden contract for 13.1 million dollars. If he never hits even one incentive, he will still make 750,000 this year.

Why would a team with an ounce of sensitivity do that? It’s simple. It’s the same reason most other NFL team or, for that matter, many professional sports teams will do the same thing.  If someone can help you win games, they don’t care who he is, what he’s done, or what message this sends to society in general.
And really, why should team ownership care? There are groups who will protest but it won’t prevent 80,000 people from showing up at every game and cheering each time Hardy does something that helps their team win.

Sportscasters and media in general pontificate about how we all deserve second chances and that the NFL is a second chance league. The NFL is not a second chance anything. They are a league that has a group of teams that will sell it’s soul for wins and a championship and they, like their fans, don’t care how they get there. You drive intoxicated and kill a teammate? No problem, we’ll give you a contract. You beat up your mother and get arrested? Not a deal breaker. We’ll pay you. You do despicable things to women? We’ll make you a multimillionaire.

We all deserve second chances, huh? What do you think would happen to the common person who committed this crime, didn’t have the legal resources that Hardy has or the money he used for a settlement? You think after he had this on his record and got out of jail, companies would flock to hire him? No second chance there, pal.

It’s hypocritical and pathetic. The sad part is, this isn’t an isolated case. There are countless criminal changes filed against football players, and athletes in general, from high school to college to the pros. If you’re good, you live a charmed life. If you’re great, you can pretty much get away with anything. And each Sunday, we cheer those players and kids look up to them as heroes. And every day of the week, someone goes into a store and buys a jersey with the name of one of these players on the back and gives it to their son or daughter. Who profits from that? The NFL, of course; and lets not forget the player also gets a share of the profits generated by the sold jersey with his name on the back.

The NFL puts out commercials highlighting how awful domestic abuse is. They put their better citizens out front; and there are many players who really do so much good for their communities and are good family men. But they put the message out during time outs at games and then trot those same criminals out onto the field after the commercial is over so we can cheer for them again.

Come on now.

I can’t decide who is worse. The owners or the fans. Either way, we all lose.