Category Archives: Sports

Crying foul over long games

The Phillipsburg-Norton girls sub-state game Tuesday took a little longer than I would have liked. I left Norton’s gym 20 minutes later than I had expected, although I made good time on the drive back to Russell and was home before 10:45.

There an awful lot of fouls called between the Panthers and Bluejays Tuesday, and it so happened most of them resulted in foul shots. Norton ended up winning 45-34, and the Bluejays now head to Colby tomorrow to play Cimarron. The other sub-state semifinal is Scott City vs. colby, and the winners play Saturday for the right to advance to the 3A state tournament in Hutchinson starting next Thursday.

In high school basketball, teams enter the bonus when their opponent commits the seventh foul of a half. On fouls seven, eight and nine, the team which is fouled attempts a “one-and-one”, where the shooter only gets a second attempt if they make the first. The exceptions are on a foul committed on a shot, which is two or three shots if the field goal attempt is not successful, and one shot if the field goal is successful; and on an offensive foul, there are no foul shots.

The double bonus (or super bonus, as the legendary LSU public address announcer Dan Borne coined it) comes into play starting with the 10th team foul of the half. The offended team gets two free throws regardless of the situation, except if the foul came on a field goal attempt, or was on an offensive foul.

The same procedure is in place for college men’s basketball, but in college women’s basketball, the procedures are different since the NCAA adopted four 10-minute quarters for the ladies instead of two 20-minute halves like the men play.

In women’s basketball, there is no “one-and-one”; with the fifth team foul committed in a quarter, the offended team receives two free throws. The difference is the fouls reset each quarter.

The NBA system is somewhat similar, but has many differences. One is offensive fouls do not count towards a team’s limit; and second, within the final two minutes of a half, a team has one “foul to give” regardless of whether they were in the “penalty” (opponent in the bonus) prior to the two-minute mark of the period.

I would like to see the rules changed, at least in high school, to reduce the number of free throws. I propose:

  • Adopt the women’s college/NBA rules on the bonus. Fifth foul puts opponent in the bonus, no one-and-one. No two-minute change like the NBA. Fouls reset at the end of the period.
  • On the seventh foul of the quarter, the offended team does not have to attempt free throws. They may instead opt to inbound the ball at the point of the foul. If the foul occured in the backcourt, the team which was fouled may inbound the ball at mid-court opposite the scorer’s table if they chose to forgo the free throws.
  • When a team reaches the bonus, the team which was fouled may choose its free throw shooter from any player on the court. This would be similar to association football (soccer) when a team is awarded a penalty kick. In association football, the player who is fouled inside the box does not have to attempt the penalty kick. That would make fouling less advantageous.
  • I don’t know if I would advocate bringing back a rule which was in the NBA prior to the 1981-82 season which gave a team in the bonus three attempts to make two free throws. That might hold the game up too much. On the other hand, it might make a team think twice about fouling.

I doubt the rules makers are going to do anything drastic anytime soon. We’ll muddle along with the status quo.

Steinle on sports, 2018/02/01

Gary Bettman has now been the commissioner of the National Hockey League for 25 years. I cannot say I hate the man because I have never met him. However, I can hate the decisions he has made, which have included:

  • Robbing fans in Quebec City and Hartford of hockey and putting teams in places hockey has no business, like Tampa-St. Petersburg, South Florida, Raleigh-Durham, Arizona, Nashville and Las Vegas. He also deprived Winnipeg of the NHL for 15 years and Minnesota for seven.
  • Screwing Canada, the birthplace of ice hockey. The NHL could support 12 teams in Canada, and there should be one in every mainland province, plus at least one in Atlantic Canada. And why not expand to Anchorage? Air travel makes it possible.
  • Over-emphasizing inter-dvisional play and robbing fans of more frequent matchups of teams from opposite conferences. The worst is not allowing the Blackhawks to play any of the other Original Six teams–Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Bruins, Rangers and Canadiens–more than twice per season. That’s because the NHL needs Boston, Detroit, Montreal and Toronto to play Florida and Tampa Bay eight times per season. Really?
  • Presiding over three lockouts, the second of which wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.
  • Making a mockery of the All-Star game, first with a draft of players to make it a glorified pick-up game, then a 3-on-3 tournament.
  • The shootout. There really is no need for overtime in the regular season, but the shootout makes it a million times worse. It’s just as bad as overtime used in college and high school football.

Three great Super Bowls have been contested on February 1.

Two were won by the Patriots: XXXVIII over the Panthers, and XLIX over the Seahawks. The games were decided by a combined seven points, typical for the Patriots, keeping things close to pique fan interest, then pissing off the other 31 NFL fan bases by taking it late. The Pats beat the Panthers on an Adam Vinatieri field goal in the closing seconds, and the Seahawks choked when Russell Wilson passed from the 1-yard line and was intercepted by Malcolm Butler.

Super Bowl XXXVIII is remembered by more for the Justin Timberlake/Janet Jackson controversy. You know what it is. If you don’t. Google it. Timberlake fans are eagerly awaiting Sunday’s halftime show, where he is the headline performer. He was the NFL’s Plan B, simply because Plan A, Prince, kicked the bucket in April 2016.

The other Super Bowl played on February 1 hits home for your intrepid blogger.

Your blogger’s favorite NFL team, the Arizona Cardinals, made the Super Bowl for the first time following the 2008 season, one which saw them go 9-7, the worst record for any conference champion. The others were the 1979 Rams and the 2011 Giants. The Cardinals were embarrassed 47-7 by the Matt Cassel-led Patriots in the next to last regular season game, but somehow defeated the Falcons, Panthers and Eagles to reach their first championship game since 1948.

Arizona’s opponent was the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were aiming for their sixth Super Bowl championship and first under Mike Tomlin, who was in his second season.

The Steelers were ahead 10-7 late in the first half when Arizona drove deep into Pittsburgh territory. But instead of going for the game-tying field goal, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt opted to pass.

James Harrison intecepted Kurt Warner’s ill-advised throw, then began to rumble down the west sideline of Raymond James Stadium. Warner and wide receiver Steve Breaston, among others, had several chances to haul down the Steelers linebacker, but they didn’t. Harrison’s 100-yard return gave Pittsburgh a 10-point halftime lead, and it expanded to 13 in the third quarter.

Somehow, Arizona rallied and took a 23-20 lead in the fourth quarter on a long touchdown from Warner to Larry Fitzgerald.

Problem was, there was too much time left for Ben Roethlisberger.

I had a horrible feeling the Steelers would pull it out, and sure enough, they did, with Roethlisberger hitting Santonio Holmes in the end zone despite tight coverage from Arizona’s Ralph Brown and Aaron Francisco.

Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23. Warner’s dream of becoming the first man to lead two different teams to Super Bowl glory was dashed. Peyton Manning would become that man seven years later with the Broncos.

I’ve thought about a few things regarding Super Bowl halftime shows:

  • For Super Bowl I, the NFL should have attempted to lasso The Beatles. That would have ensured a sellout and probably would have cemented the Super Bowl right away as a major spectacle. The Beatles probably would have declined, but Pete Rozelle should have at least tried.
  • Why did Neil Diamond never get to headline a Super Bowl halftime? Too bad it’s too late.
  • The NFL needs to go hard after Elton John next year in Atlanta. Sir Elton will be in the United States on tour (he’s in Kansas City ten days after Super Bowl LIII) and he’s retiring from touring in 2021. I don’t care if he doesn’t fit the young demographic the NFL is looking for. The man set the standard for performance theatrics in the 1970s, and he could teach the young punks a thing or two.
  • How about a field goal contest between some of the best players of association football? Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and other international superstars trying to kick the oblong ball would be fascinating. Every Super Bowl halftime doesn’t have to be music!

LeBron is now saying he would “listen” to a free agent offer from the Warriors. If he signs with Golden State, we might as well hand the Warriors the Larry O’Brien Trophy and let the other 29 teams play for second place. Not that I care about the NBA.

Bournemouth 3, Chelsea 0. At Stamford Bridge no less. The biggest win in the history of AFC Bournemouth football? Considering the Cherries did not play in the top flight of English football until 2015-16, then it probably is.

Manchester Untied lost 2-0 at Tottenham yesterday, and it could have been worse. United gave up a goal 11 seconds into the match, and an own goal later. Sir Alex Ferguson would not have stood for such buffoonery.

It doesn’t matter, though. Manchester City has all but clinched the Premier League title. The others–United, Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal–are playing for the spots in the UEFA Champions League for 2018-19. The rest are trying to finish seventh. Burnley has that spot right now, but Bournemouth may be playing better than any of the “other 14” teams in the league.

Swansea has beaten Arsenal and Liverpool at home recently. Could there be two Premier League teams in Wales in 2018-19? Cardiff City is trying its best to get back to the top flight. It was there for one season, 2013-14, then went back down to the Championship, the second tier.

Right now, it looks like the Premier League will be returning to Molineux. Wovlerhampton has a sizable lead, and there seems to be little danger of the Wolves falling out of the top two. Cardiff City, Derby County and Aston Villa are in hot pursuit of second place, which also earns automatic promotion to the top flight. The third through sixth teams enter a playoff, with the playoff champion also going up.

The bottom three of the Premier League will be relegated. Swansea still sits in the relegation zone, but the wins over Liverpool and Arsenal give the Swans real hope of avoiding the drop. Southampton, Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion are all in trouble, as re the three who were promoted last season: Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion, and Huddersfield Town.

Who’s #1 in college basketball? Never mind.

Resurrecting the XFL

Yesterday, World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon announced the XFL was returning in 2020.

The XFL was originally founded by McMahon and then-NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol in 2000, mostly because NBC was desperate for any type of football on its airwaves (other than Notre Dame home games, which NBC has owned the rights to since 1991) since the rights to the NFL at the time were owned by the other Big Four broadcast networks, CBS (AFC), Fox (NFC) and ABC (Monday Night Football).

The original XFL, which began on February 3, 2001, only six days after Super Bowl XXXV, was branded by McMahon as something totally contrary to the NFL. McMahon and his vice president of operations, Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, bragged the game would be more akin to that when Butkus played for the Bears (1965-73), and even more “smashmouth” than the NFL of Butkus’ era.

The XFL hyped there would be no fair catches, no touchbacks on kickoffs which went into the end zone, and any punt which traveled 25 yards from the line of scrimmage was live and could be recovered by the kicking team. The problem with that was there was a FIVE-YARD halo (not two as was once the case in college) which the kicking team could not violate or face a 15-yard penalty.

On the other hand, the kicking game was diminished by the ban on extra points. Teams could only score one point on a run or pass from the 3-yard line. This was tried in the short-lived World Football League in 1974 and ’75, although in that league, touchdowns were worth seven points, with the conversion termed the “action point”.

Bump and run coverage would be permissible all the way down the field, as long as it was from the front or side and occurred before the pass was thrown. The NFL rule in place since 1978 allows bump and run only within five yards of the line of scrimmage.

Players were permitted to wear nicknames on the back of their jerseys instead of their surnames, although Gerry DiNardo, the former LSU coach who led the Birmingham Bolts, forbid his players from wearing nicknames. DiNardo’s reputation as something of a martinet was reinforced by this move. I’m not saying it was the reason Birmingham was the XFL’s worst team at 2-8, but his players probably would have appreciated the chance to express their individuality.

No doubt the most lasting image of the XFL was that of Rod “HE HATE ME” Smart, a player for the Las Vegas Outlaws who went on to play for the Carolina Panthers and appeared in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Then again, the nickname thing also opened the door to some highly inappropriate names. The XFL drew the line when Brandon Maumalaunga, a defensive tackle for the New York/New Jersey Hitmen who played collegiately for the Kansas Jayhawks, tried to have “Teabagger” placed on his jersey. I will not explain what teabagger or teabagging means. It’s beyond disgusting.

The team nicknames were also revolting, too.

By nicknaming themselves the Hitmen, New York/New Jersey was paying homage to John Gotti and other Big Apple mafiosos, all of whom were worshipped and glorified in The Sopranos. The Chicago wanted in on the action, too, nicknaming themselves the Enforcers, an obvious nod to Al Capone.

The Birmingham team was originally going to be nicknamed the Blast, but that went too far for the XFL, as it evoked memories of the 1963 16th Street Church Bombing by the Ku Klux Klan which killed four black girls at Sunday school, and notorious criminal Eric Rudolph, who was convicted of bombing buildings in Birmingham and was also responsible for the bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Instead, Birmingham nicknamed its team the Thunderbolts, shortened to Bolts.

The other team names were all ridiculous, too: Orlando Rage, Memphis Maniax, Los Angeles Xtreme and San Francisco Demons.

In other regards, the XFL was geared more towards hormonally charged males who otherwise didn’t care about football.

The league promised cheerleaders with very little clothing, and continuously hyped the possibility of going into the cheerleader locker rooms.

The worst, however, was yet to come.

Prior to the league’s first game in Las Vegas, Vince McMahon stood at midfield of Sam Boyd Stadium and screamed “THIS IS THE XFL!”. Then came Dick Butkus with the most horrifying element of the XFL.

Instead of players meeting at midfield for the coin toss, two players stood at the 20-yard line on the south side of the stadium. Between them was referee Randy Christal, one of the most respected college football officials of all-time. Christal was the referee for the 1995 Rose Bowl (USC-Northwestern), the 1996 Sugar Bowl (Florida-Florida State), and would be the referee for the 2002 national championship game at the Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Miami.

If I were Randy Christal that evening, I would have said over the microphone, “What the f**k have I gotten myself into?”.

Christal was forced to explain to the players the rules for “The Scramble”, which would determine which team would receive the opening kickoff.

Two players started from the 20 and sprinted 30 yards, where the ball was laid in the center of the field. The player to possess it first would have the option for his team, and if the game went to overtime, the option for that, too.

At the XFL’s other game on opening night, Chicago at Orlando, the Rage’s Shashmid Haseen-Deen separated his shoulder during the scramble and did not play a down in the league.

Nice going.

The gimmicks were bad enough.

The play on the field was much, much worse.

The teams of the XFL would have had a very difficult time beating a CFL team. All of them would have been beaten by at least 40 points by every NFL team, and that includes some very, very, very bad teams in 2000, like the Chargers, Browns and Cardinals.

Scoring was so paltry in the XFL that in week four, the league went to the NFL rule on bump-and-run coverage. Later in the season, the league instituted new rules for conversions after touchdowns, allowing teams to score more points if they played from farther back (one point from the 3, two points from the 5, and three points from the 10).

The Xtreme won the championship in the “Million Dollar Game”.

Three weeks after that, the XFL folded. I thought it was dead, but apparently, money talks, and 19 years after the disaster that was XFL 2001, XFL 2020 is coming back.

Supposedly, people with criminal records will not be allowed in the league. Kneeling during the national anthem? Forget it. And McMahon wants to shorten games to two hours, which I don’t know how he’s going to achieve unless he either (a) eliminates halftime, (b) lets the clock run after incomplete passes, or (c) adopt a timing system similar to association football, where the clock runs continuously and time is added on at the end to make up for stoppages.

They’ve got two years to figure it out. Not that I’ll be watching.

Not-so-sweet 16 for the XFL

Three Super Bowls have been played previously February 3. Three teams I do not care much for won those three Super Bowls played: Patriots (vs. Rams, XXXVI), Giants (vs. Patriots, XLII, the game which denied New England its 19-0 season) and Ravens (vs. 49ers, XLVII).

Yet February 3 will also be remembered by some for the launch of one of the worst ideas in the history of sport.

The XFL.

I didn’t say it was the worst idea in the history of sport. The designated hitter and giving the league which wins Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game home field advantage in the World Series are and were far more ruinous. At least the latter of the above is no more.

But the XFL ranks right up there. Or should I say down there.

Yes, 16 years ago tonight, the XFL kicked off, with games in Las Vegas and Orlando.

The XFL was the brainchild of Dick Ebersol, Director of NBC Sports, and Vince McMahon, chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which was then known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Ebersol, who created Saturday Night Live in 1975, was deseprate to show professional football on the Peacock after it lost the rights to the AFC to CBS following the 1997 season.

Ebersol did himself in on losing the NFL. He spent ridiculous amounts of money to acquire the Olympics, Summer and Winter, for what seems like forever, although somehow the NBC rights deal currently expires after the 2032 Summer games. If he would have been smart enough to realize ABC and CBS had no desire whatsoever to televise the Olympics at any price, and thus NBC could have had them for far cheaper, the Peacock would never have lost the NFL.

Yet Ebersol wasn’t smart enough to see this, thus overpaid grossly for the Olympics, as well as handing over a handsome sum for the NBA, which was horrendous due to the number of very, very bad teams, as well as the dominance of the Bulls and Michael Jordan. Why watch when you know what’s going to happen?

Vince McMahon badly wanted football. He tried to buy the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, but failed. He had planned to re-expand the CFL into the United States, an experiment which failed miserably in 1994 and 1995. When McMahon’s bid to buy the Argos failed, he opted to form a new league.

He found a more than willing partner in Ebersol, who felt putting the XFL on NBC would be his network’s ticket to total dominance. Even with Seinfeld off the air (THANK GOD) by this time, NBC still had The West Wing, Friends, E.R. and Frasier as the bulwarks of its primetime lineup. Yet NBC was losing ground steadily to CBS, which of course had the NFL once again, plus ABC still had the biggest prize in sports, Monday Night Football.

The league’s launch was announced February 3, 2000. The first games would kick off EXACTLY one year later, February 3, 2001.

The XFL promoted itself as “real” football where “pansies” were not going to make it. It touted new tough-guy rules, such as no fair catches and allowing bump-and-run pass coverage all over the field, which was the rule in the NFL until 1978, and is still allowed in college football, just as long as all hits come from the front.

The other part the XFL liked to promote was wholly inappropriate for family viewing.

It promoted sex appeal.

The cheerleaders wore next to nothing. They were ENCOURAGED to date the players and other team personnel, a strict no-no in the NFL. And there was talk of putting cameras in the cheerleader locker rooms.

What was this, football or the Playboy Channel? I don’t know if Hugh Hefner could have come up with something so brazen.

The nicknames were stupid.

Two of them glorified the mob and organized crime: the Chicago Enforcers (a nod to Al Capone) and the New York-New Jersey Hitmen (ostensibly honoring John Gotti and the numerous mafia members in those states). PUKE.

The Memphis Maniax had a man with cyclone eyes, something akin to the Mr. Pibb logo with the crazy man head.

The Birmingham team was originally going to be called the “Blast”, but some felt that name was too graphic, given the 1963 church bombing which killed four black girls. The name became the Thunderbolts, shortened to Bolts.

Players were encouraged to wear nicknames.

And that created the league’s iconic player, Rod “He Hate Me” Smart of the Las Vegas Outlaws. Smart went on to play for the Panthers, including their Super Bowl XXXVIII team which lost to the Patriots.

Gerry DiNardo, the former LSU coach who coached the Bolts, forbid his players from wearing nicknames. DiNardo would go on to coach three (terrible) seasons at Indiana before he was fired there, too. He has not coached since. Today, he’s an analyst for the Big Ten Network, where DiNardo is simply fantastic.

I haven’t even gotten to the worst part of the XFL.

The football itself.

To say it was terrible would be understating the case just a wee bit.

It was beyond awful.

These were supposedly “professional” football players, being paid (not much, admittedly) to play the game. The winning teams would receive a bonus to be split amongst team members.

Yet the worst part of the football itself was not the games.

It happened before the game.

The scramble, the XFL’s version of the coin toss.

One player from each team would line up at the 20-yard line and sprint towards midfield on the referee’s whistle. The player which gained possession of the ball would have the option to kick or receive to begin the game, and would have the option to play offense or defense first if the game went to overtime (the XFL used a modified version of the college overtime, which I’ll explain below).

One of the first participants in the scramble, Hamad Shasmid-Deen of the Orlando Rage, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. More than half the players who participated in the scramble were injured at some point, and many of those injuries were serious.

The referee in the first game at Las Vegas, Randy Christal, has officiated many high profile college games, including the 1996 and 2002 national championship games, and the Rose Bowl between USC and Northwestern following the ’95 season. Why Christal, who also was an umpire at many a College World Series during the 1980s and 1990s, would lower himself to the XFL is beyond me.

When Christal explained the scramble over the microphone in Las Vegas on opening night, I had a feeling he would have rather been in a dentist chair getting a root canal without anesthesia, even if it was 5 p.m.on a Saturday evening.

Teams could not kick an extra point in the XFL.  It was a play from the 2-yard line, worth one point only. Later in the season, the XFL allowed teams to score two points if it was successful from the 5-yard line, and three points for a successful conversion from the 10-yard line.

Overtime was also very dumb.

It was the NCAA version, which I dislike, although not as much as the high school version (in most states; Massachusetts, Missouri, Texas and a few others excepted).

In the XFL, a team had four downs from the 25-yard line to score. However, if a team scored a touchdown in fewer than four downs, the other team had only that many downs to match the touchdown. A field goal could not be attempted until fourth down. And again, no kicking extra points.

Good idea, but of course, the whole concept of overtime in college and high school is very dumb to begin with, so no way.

I happened to watch part of the first XFL game on NBC, New York-New Jersey and Las Vegas. I only watched it because I was at Ivar’s when the game kicked off, and it was the only thing on. When I left Ivar’s, I wasn’t about to turn the game on at my apartment.

Not once did I tune in to an XFL game from my apartment (or hotel room in one case).

During the second week of the XFL, the game NBC was televising from Los Angeles was interrupted due to a power failure. Worse, NBC’s television trucks were totally shut down since there was no gas in the generators fueling the trucks. Not only that, the game went to double overtime, forcing a very late start to Saturday Night Live, which was hosted that night by Jennifer Lopez. Lorne Michaels, SNL’s Executive Producer, was all over Dick Ebersol worse than ugly on an ape. Most of that conversation is not printable.

After that fiasco, NBC forced the XFL to adopt speed-up rules to ensure no game would cut into SNL’s

When the XFL announced on May 10, 2001 that it was shutting down forever, I hardly shed a tear. Good riddance.

Last night, ESPN premiered a new 30 for 30 documentary on the XFL. It reminded me of just how bad it was.

I have an acronym for the XFL. eXtremely (expletive) up League.

I admit I watched McMahon’s wrestling in the 1980s. My brother and I were huge fans. We went with my dad to a few shows in New Orleans.

But McMahon’s football venture? I’m glad there wasn’t a team in New Orleans. It would have been tempting. I’m glad I watched (or didn’t) from a very safe distance.

What’s wrong with a draw? NOTHING!

Following the Seattle-Arizona tie, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson suggested if overtime ends still tied, that a field goal be attempted. If the kicker for his team makes it, they win. If he misses, the other team wins.

STUPID. REALLY STUPID.

That would be the equivalent of a free throw contest in basketball or a home run derby in baseball to break a tie. It’s already stupid enough in hockey and association football (soccer in America) with the penalty shootout.

Personally, I do not see the problem with a draw. I believe the American obsession with winning and having to have a winner and loser in every single facet of society, whether it be sports or something else, is the reason why people disdain ties so much.

The most popular sports league on earth, the English Premier League, has witnessed 24 of 90 league matches to date end in draws. That’s almost two out of every seven matches. Nobody in Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Southampton, Bournemouth, London or any other Premier League outpost is griping about it. Neither are German fans of the Bundesliga. Or La Liga in Spain. Or Serie A in Italy.

Even though Major League Soccer is seriously flawed, thanks to having conferences instead of a single table and playoffs to determine its champion instead of using only the regular season, at least it ditched the shootout in 2000.

The shootout in MLS used from 1996-99 was beyond asinine. A player had to start 35 yards from the goal, dribble ahead, and shoot from the penalty area. He had to do it all within five seconds. Matches which ended level did not even feature extra time; it was straight to the stupid shootout.

My God. That’s not association football. That’s stupidity. That’s a video game.

If a draw was so toxic, the Premier League and other association football leagues would not award a point for a draw. It would disregard a draw, as the NFL did through 1971.

What is the outcome of many chess matches? A DRAW. STALEMATE. INSUFFICIENT MATERIAL. Has the good possibility of a draw stopped boys and girls from across the globe from learning the game? HECK NO.

Wars have been stalemates, so why are Americans so obsessed with determining the winner of a sporting event? If America would have accepted a stalemate in Vietnam, it would have looked a heck of a lot better than fighting on and accepting disadvantageous peace terms as Nixon and Kissinger did.

Before 1982, there was no provision whatsoever for a penalty shootout in the FIFA World Cup, the most watched sporting event on the planet. If a knockout round game ended drawn prior to ’82, it was replayed in its entirety. Many competitions continue to use the replay rather than a shootout if a match remains level after 120 minutes (90 regulation, 30 extra time).

The NHL got rid of overtime in the regular season in 1943. It didn’t return until 1983. In 1982-83, the last season before overtime returned to the regular season, 127 of 840 games (15.1 percent) ended drawn. That’s slightly more than one in six. What’s the big deal? So what if one of every six ends in a draw?

Hockey is a brutal enough game for 60 minutes of regulation. If a game is even after 60 minutes, that’s enough, at least for the regular season. I understand the need for having a winner in a playoff game. But playoff overtime is real hockey: 5-on-5, 20-minute periods, not this crazy 3-on-3, 5-minute crap for overtime, then the stupid shootout.

The NHL should award a team three points for a regulation win. NO OVERTIME. Draws earn each team one point. That’s it.

The same applies to American football.

Players expend far, far, far too much energy over 60 minutes, more than the average human can only dream of expending. Why make them go any farther during the regular season? If it’s even, the game should end right then and there. In the playoffs, yes, there needs to be overtime. And none of this crap about both teams need to possess the ball. Straight sudden death. If your defense is not good enough to prevent the other team from driving to score a field goal, you don’t deserve to advance.

Don’t get me started on how ridiculous college and high school overtime is. College is bad enough starting from the 25-yard line. High school is much, much worse, going from the 10. If an offense can’t gain 2 1/2 yards per play for four plays, then that team needs to give up the game.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association has done some really dumb things. The tiebreaker its former Executive Director, Brice Durbin, came up with in 1971 is totally ludicrous. It’s not real football. You’re asking a defense to hold a finger in the dike having to keep the offense out of the end zone from 10 yards out, and that team is already within range of a field goal.

The college and high school football format is not football. It takes the kickoff and the punt out of the game. Special teams have made the difference in thousands of football games over time. Why take part of it out of the game? Also, where is the strategy for a high school defensive coordinator, when you’re defending 10 yards every time?

High school and college football games in the regular season should end drawn if the score is level after 60 minutes (48 in high school). Overtime should be sudden death in the playoffs. If high school associations want to return to the old method of using first downs and penetrations inside the 20-yard line to break a deadlock, then go right ahead.

Baseball isn’t nearly as physically taxing as American football or hockey, but there are limits, too.

In Japan, regular season games are declared a draw if the score is still even after 12 innings (three extra). That’s not a bad idea for the United States. Once a game gets to 15, 16, 17 innings, teams are out of pitching, and it affects them for days after.

Major League Baseball would balk at any idea to declare a game drawn, but many managers would breathe a sigh of relief when they didn’t have to throw four relievers three innings each. The vast majority of games are resolved in nine innings, or those which do go extra can be resolved in 10, 11 or 12, so why worry about a draw? Not going to happen very much.

Basketball? Everyone has overtime, so I don’t see too much of a problem. Non-varsity high school games should be considered draws after regulation, simply to keep things moving. .

Some states use the “international tiebreaker” for softball. In that situation, the last batter of the previous inning starts the new frame on second base, and then the batting order proceeds as normal.

Hate it. HATE IT. Play real softball.

There are many, many more pressing issues than if a sporting events ends in a draw. America, as it is on many issues (using red for Republicans and blue for Democrats, not using the metric system, using paper money instead of coins or plastic), is DEAD WRONG.

In the Garden (City)

I spent much of yesterday feeling very guilty.

The first thing Crista told me when we started our session was that she saw Norton play Smith Center in the third place match of the Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament last Saturday. If you recall, I did not go to the MCL tournament the second day, although I did go the first, which coincided with my birthday.

I wish I had been there Saturday. I would have loved to introduce Crista to Peggy and Caitlyn. Now I feel terrible about not going.

I was pretty certain I was going to Norton’s sub-state in Lakin tomorrow, but when Crista told me that, it cemented it.

To that end, I’m now in Garden City, 30 miles east of Lakin on US 50. It was a three-hour drive from Russell, I-70 to Oakley and US 83 down. The TownePlace Suites, where I’ve stayed before, is on K-156, the road which heads towards Jetmore, Larned and Great Bend. I could have saved a few miles if I had taken US 281 from Russell to Great Bend, then K-156 all the way down, but I figured the way I went saved some time.

I passed a tanker about a mile south of Oakley on 83. He was throwing rocks. IDIOT. Every time I then dropped to 65, he would tailgate me. I was ready to call the Kansas Highway Patrol and report him, but after crossing into Scott County, he disappeared from my rear view mirror.

Lucky I passed through Scott City. I had something I forgot to mail in Russell. Better I drop it off than keep carrying it in my car, although it wasn’t super important.

Norton plays Hoisington tomorrow following the completion of the match between Lakin and Syracuse, which begins at 2 p.m. on the east court.

TMP, which is 34-2 and the top seed, plays on the West court at 2 vs. Southwestern Heights. The second match on the West court is Hugoton vs. Cimarron.

The TMP-Southwestern Heights and Hugoton-Cimarron winners play on the West court in one semifinal, while the Norton-Hoisington and Lakin-Syracuse winners play on the East court in the semis. The championship is on the West court.

The winner advances to the Class 3A state tournament next Friday and Saturday at Emporia.

Norton hasn’t been to a state tournament since 2007, when Caitlyn’s sister, Courtney (Otto), was a senior. The Bluejays were 10-20 heading into sub-state, but beat Lakin, Cimarron and Phillipsburg to advance. The state tournament wasn’t so good, with Norton going 0-3, but it was remarkable to make it.

The 22-13 record Norton carries into sub-state is the best for the school since 2005, when Caitlyn’s OTHER sister, Chelsea (Funk), was a senior. Norton has generally had great success in all other sports, winning state championships in both boys and girls track in the years I’ve been here, in addition to seven wrestling championships in 11 seasons, but volleyball somehow has been left behind.

It could be much worse. Some schools have very little athletic success. Like one I’m very familiar with.

The next time Norton has an event in Hays isn’t until Feb. 3, when the Bluejays play basketball at TMP. I will remind Crista many times. .

I’m going to find a place to play Buzztime this evening. Either I’m going to Buffalo Wild Wings, which recently opened, or Old Chicago. Those are the only locales in Garden City, but hey, it’s better than Hays, where the only place you can play now is the Fort Hays Student Union, and I’m sure they hate non-students going in there. Therefore, the closest place to Russell to play is Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina.

Maybe it’s a good thing there isn’t a Buzztime location in Hays. I might spend too much time there and stay too late, which would disrupt my sleep patterns. It’s just too bad the best games are at night, which force me to drive I-70 between Salina and Russell at night. It’s a boring stretch any time, but it’s dangerous at night.

I’ve learned to cut myself off in Kansas City. Never later than 10, usually earlier. And staying very close to Zona Rosa helps.

I have a stop to make at Dillon’s to buy Caitlyn’s teammates some Gatorade for tomorrow. High is supposed to be around 27 Celsius (81 Fahrenheit), which is absolutely absurd for October 22. They’ll need hydration, even though Lakin’s gym is air conditioned. I already bought Caitlyn’s grape Gatorade in Oakley when I stopped for gas and to use the restroom.

I’m hoping I’m not back in Garden City too early tomorrow evening. Bad news if I am.

Wall-to-wall football, day two

I saw plenty of football yesterday, especially from 11 am until 8:30 pm, the time I spent at Buffalo Wild Wings.

I had enough when Alabama started beating the stuffing out of Arkansas. The Crimson Tife won (again) 49-30, and if they lose in 2016, it will be a miracle. Who can beat them? I don’t think Tennessee can. I don’t think Texas A&M can. Not LSU. And certainly not Mississippi State or Auburn. Why bother watching the rest of the college football season? We know who will win the championship game January 9 in Tampa. 

Today it’s more football, this time NFL-style. The Chiefs are off, so Buffalo Wild Wings might not be as crowded, but it should pick up later when the Broncos play the Falcons. The night game is Giants-Packers in Green Bay. The Cardinals played and won Thursday at Santa Clara vs. the 49ers, so there’s no stress today. 

Hopefully Robb and Dawn show up. It’s the main reason I come to Kansas City now. I still know a few Buffalo Wild Wings employees–Morgan, Molly, Ethan, Sekou, Arlene and Megan, plus the mangers–but Liz, Lisa, Jaclyn, Shannon, Alex, Stephanie Suggs and Raymie are gone, as well as both Brittanys. 

I’m probably not staying as late this evening, but I could. I’ve got a lot of work done for Osborne, and what’s left I can knock out quickly. 

I still want to drive to Columbia at some point to get the thing I can’t get in Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Salina, Russell, Hays or anywhere. The only options are going to Nebraska one day, or maybe they have it in Colorado. I need to get to Colorado, anyway, to see Liz, whom I have not seen since July 2015. She’s not happy about that, and neither am I.

Norton’s volleyball team went 2-3 in Scott City yesterday. Peggy and Caitlyn were not happy about having to play five matches in a single day. Three of those went the full three sets. 

There is a provision in the National Federation rules which allow matches to be modified, but the Kansas State High School Activities Association refuses to do so. In Louisiana, the third set of regular season tournaments is only played to 15. I didn’t think it was allowable, but I discovered last night in reading the rules it is. 

Also, the KSHSAA doesn’t allow two-day tournaments, except for leagues which have nine or more teams. In Louisiana, I never saw a team play more than four matches in one day, and there were lots of two-day tournaments. When Brenda was coaching St. Joseph’s Academy, the Redstickers played in FOUR two-day events, and the JV played in one in Hammond for a few years. 

The Mid-Continent League tournament went to two days in 2014, when Trego returned afte a one-year hiatus and Oakley and TMP joined, giving the league 10 teams. Instead of two play-in matches, the format which was used from 1978 through 2004, the principals and athletic directors took the advice of the volleyball coaches and went to two five-team pools. Teams play two pool matches Thursday and two Saturday morning before cutting down to four.

Tom Brady is back today. The Cleveland Browns are in big trouble if they weren’t already. 

Thank God. Praise Jesus. Mazel Tov.

Tonight is a night I have been long awaiting. I thought it migh tnever arrive.

Later this evening, the 2016 Summer Olympics are OVER. FINISHED. DONE.

I cannot stand the Olympics, period. I am sick and tired of turning on ESPN and having more than half of SportsCenter dedicated to the Olympics. I watch ESPN to get away from the Olympics, because every NBC Universal-affiliated network (USA, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, and of course NBC Sports Network) is foisting the Olympics upon the United States. Yet I have to hear about the Olympics during a time I want to see Major League Baseball highlights or the latest news from National Football League training camp.

These Olympics have been mostly about three athletes. all of whom I hope to never hear about again as long as I live. At least Serena Williams was bounced early from the tennis competition, or I’m sure we’d be hearing about her ad nauseam too.

Simone Biles is the greatest gymnast who ever lived, at least according to those in Rio “reporting” back to the United States. More accurately, Biles is being declared the greatest gymnast who ever lived by the American propaganda machine disguised as reporters.

I guess Olga Korbut never existed. Neither did Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, Shannon Miller, Carly Patterson or Shawn Johnson, and certainly none of the great gymnasts who followed Korbut in Russia and the former Soviet republics, nor anyone who followed Comaneci from Romania. If you don’t accept Biles as the greatest who ever lived, I guess you’re anti-American.

I guess I’m anti-American. I’m not buying the Biles crap for one nanosecond. I didn’t watch, and I never will watch. If I never hear the name Simone Biles again, although I’m sure she will be plastered all over the TV screens of the world come 2020, I’ll be a happy man.

Michael Phelps. I was fed up with him in 2008, when NBC tried to shame those who didn’t think he was the greatest Olympic athlete who ever. I didn’t like him then, I don’t like him now. I will not watch swimming. NO WAY.

As for Ryan Lochte, enough is enough. He needs to shut up and just go away. Forever and ever.

I’ve also had enough of the US women’s basketball team. Nobody else cares about women’s basketball. Really. And does anyone in the United States really care about women’s basketball outside of Connecticut and eastern Tennessee? LSU went to five consecutive women’s Final Fours from 2004-08, but women’s basketball was never going to be more than the fourth most popular sport at LSU. Until there’s more competition, both at the Olympic level and in the college game, it will continue to be a backwater. And as long as there’s no competition, I don’t care.

I’ve also had enough of Twitter blaring the Olympics. A few people I know are way too emotionally invested. WAY TOO MUCH. Robin Fambrough, I’m looking at you.

Three slow days

Saturday was fantastic. The final day of my stay and I wish it could have gone on forever. I got to spend almost 10 hours with Brittany and Raymie, and five with Liz. If I did not drive back to Russell the next morning, I would have stayed until closing time at 1 a.m. There will be a weekend for that coming up.,

I miss Brittany, Liz, Raymie and everyone else already. I’m sad I didn’t see Lisa, but I will very soon.

I left Kansas City at 7:30 Sunday morning. I stopped at the Topeka Hy-Vee, and again at the Quik Ship in Salina on I-135 and Crawford to use the restroom and get a frozen Pepsi. Got home right at noon, in time to eat salmon with my parents for Father’s Day. It was delicious, although I was sad to leave my friends. I didn’t get to see Alexandra Mullinax, who didn’t come back from her vacation and back to work until Sunday night.

I watched the U.S. Open most of Sunday evening, simply because there was nothing else on. Jordan Spieth did the unthinkable, bouncing back from a double bogey on 17 to birdie 18 and eventually win the tournament win Dustin Johnson choked with a three-putt on 18. He had an eagle putt to win and missed, then missed a short birdie putt which would have forced an 18-hole playoff Monday. Louis Oostheizen shot 67 Sunday to move into contention, but he ended up tied at 3-under with Johnson and Adam Scott, he of the illegal putter (at least as of January 1) and the arrogant caddie, Steve Williams, who was fired by Tiger Woods.

I like the fact the U.S. Open has refused to let go of the 18-hole playoff if it is still tied after 72 holes. To me, it is the fairest way to determine the champion of a major tournament.

The Masters stinks in this regard, because it has been sudden death since 1976 (the first sudden death playoff was 1979, when Fuzzy Zoeller defeated Ed Snead (?) and Tom Watson in two holes). The last 18-hole playoff was in 1970, when Billy Casper won by five strokes over Gene Littler.

The sudden death playoff is fine for minor tournaments, but it absolutely sucks for a major. Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros found this out in 1987, when Larry Mize chipped in from 43 meters (47 yards) on the second playoff hole to win the Green Jacket.

The PGA Championship was the first major to use a sudden death playoff, when in 1978, John Mahaffey topped Jerry Pate and Watson at Oakmont on the second hole.The sudden death playoff was used five more times, the last in 1996, when Mark Brooks left Louisville and local hero Kenny Perry hearbroken by winning on just one hole at Valhalla. Perry would redeem himself in 2008 when he helped the United States win the Ryder Cup on the same course.

Beginning in 1997, the PGA adopted a three-hole format, which was first used in 2000 at Valhalla, when Tiger topped Bob May. It has been used three more times, most recently in 2011 when Keegan Bradley bested Jason Duffner at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

The last 18-hole playoff at the PGA was in 1967, when Don January topped Don Massengale by two strokes at Columbine Country Club, not too far from the site of the Columbine High School massacre 32 years later.

The Open Championship did not move away from the 18-hole playoff until 1985; however, the last time a fifth round was needed to determine a champion was 1975 in possibly the most famous golf tournament ever played.

Tom Watson and Jack Newton were tied through 72 holes at Carnoustie, as each finished at 9-under par 279. The playoff of July 13 was played in a driving, blustery rain, not unusual for the east coast of Scotland in mid-July. With the golfers tied at 1-under heading to the 18th, Watson, the native of Kansas City, hit his second shot to within 25 feet of the hole, while Newton’s approach found the front left bunker. Watson made par and Newton could not, and Tom had the first of his eight major championships.

The Open Championship did not test out its four-hole playoff format until 1989 at Royal Troon, when Mark Calcavecchia won by three strokes over Wayne Grady and Greg Norman.

Watson was involved in the most recent playoff at the Open Championship, bowing to Stewart Cink only 46 days shy of his 60th birthday. Tom had the lead going to the 72nd hole at Turnberry, but he bogeyed to give Cink new life.

Not much has gone on since Spieth’s victory. It’s too hot to do anything anyway. A little work, some Shark Tank, some college baseball, and some The O.C., where I am beginning my review of all 92 episodes, which I have done every summer since 2010.

I have an appointment with Crista Thursday at 9. Looking forward to that.

Today is the 43rd anniversary of the signing of Title IX, the infamous amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act which guarantees women the same opportunities as men in education. That has been largely interpreted to mean women deserve as many sports as men at colleges and high schools.

Tomorrow is a much more tragic anniversary, at least as far as New Orleans is concerned.

Ringneck girls ousted

The Mid-Continent League’s 2014-15 girls basketball season has concluded. Hill City was eliminated from the Class 2A state tournament in Manahttan this evening with a 52-37 loss to Valley Falls.

Valley Falls got a little honor back for its league, the Norhteast Kansas League. In the 2013 2A championship game, the MCL’s Smith Center defeated the NEKL’s Jefferson County North 63-55. The NEKL wasn’t in existence then; the JCN was in the Delaware Valley League, although the formation of the NEKL had been announced by the time the 2013 state tournament rolled around. 

Hill CIty does have a girls basketball state championship, winning the 2A crown in 1976. Of course, the Ringnecks have three boys titles under the guidance of the ageless Keith Riley, in 1970, 1978 and 1998. 

Stockton’s boys are all that’s left for the MCL. The Tigers face Doniphan West tomorrow at 4:45 in Emporia. The winner more than likely will draw Hanover Saturday at 6:15 for the title. 

Track season is three weeks away…