LaVar Ball’s Mouth Writing Checks His Sons’ Bodies Can’t Cash

LeBronSteph

The National Basketball Association Playoffs are currently ongoing and, to be honest, to say that they have been a bit dull would be the understatement of the year. The two best teams in each conference – the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers with “next evolution in human existence” LeBron James and the 2015 champion Golden State Warriors with smooth-as-silk shooter Steph Curry (among others) – have literally steamrolled past their opposition, with both sides only losing one game so far (did anyone see that decimation the Cavaliers laid on the Boston Celtics in Game 2? On their home floor? That the Celts came back for a squeaker win on Sunday in Cleveland was shocking). Sometime next week, these two teams will meet for the third year in a row (never done previously) to determine the NBA Finals championship.

But the collision course these teams are on hasn’t been the big story in the Association…not by a long shot.

The NBA Draft, like its cousin with the National Football League, has become almost as big a deal as its pro football brethren. Players from around the world and the best “one-and-doners (players who went to college to meet the NBA requirement that they be one year removed from high school)” vie for one of the 60 slots (the draft is two rounds, with the first-round picks guaranteed to be on an NBA roster) in the draft. With these stakes, players are trying to make their best impressions…except for one.

Lonzo Ball is, giving the player his due, one of the better prospects in this year’s NBA draft. If it weren’t for the idiotic “one year” rule that the NBA has implemented to prevent kids from going straight from high school, it is thought that Ball would have been one of the success stories to come straight from the high school ranks. After winning several high school Player of the Year awards across the country, Ball enrolled at UCLA, looking to improve his resume with the one year he plainly told everyone he would be there for.

In his one season with the Bruins, Ball’s statistics were nice but not mind blowing. He averaged 14.6 points per game, shot 55% from the field (and 41% from three-point territory), averaged six rebounds a game and almost eight assists as a guard/forward with UCLA. The 6’ 6” Ball was duly awarded many post-season honors, including the Wayman Tisdale Award for best college freshman and was first-team All-American (the team made the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament), as he held to his promise to only stick for one year on the campus of Westwood by declaring for the draft almost as soon as his Bruins team heard the final buzzer and was defeated in the NCAA Tournament.

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With such accolades and achievements, you would figure that Ball would be the talk of the draft. Unfortunately (for him), he has been overshadowed by his father, LaVar, who will tell anyone that will listen that his son(s) (that’s right, there’s two more following Lonzo) are going to change the basketball world. What the senior doesn’t realize is that he is writing checks that none of the Ball brothers will be able to cash.

Who is LaVar Ball? A quick look at his college life shows that he was a basketball player of no renown (averaged 2.2 points per game at Washington State over two seasons in the late 1980s) and found even less success when attempts were made to turn him into a football player. Ball would play in the World League of American Football (appropriate acronym of WLAF) as a tight end. In one season, he played with the London Monarchs and found time on the practice squads of both the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers. Other than this, there was absolutely nothing that would mark him as a “game changing” athlete, although even having the proverbial cup of coffee with a professional sports franchise is quite an achievement.

Apparently, this is about the time when Ball had his epiphany, even to the point of picking his wife for the express breeding purposes of creating basketball players. Don’t believe me? Ball himself said, “I see this tall girl, very attractive, walking down a hallway and I go, ‘I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’re gonna be doing something!’ Once that was in her head, I had her. I picked a big girl who was beautiful. A big stallion.”

When’s the last time you called your significant other a “big stallion” – and you were SERIOUS about it?

This wasn’t the end of it for Ball. He’s has said that Lonzo is better than Curry, who was only the Most Valuable Player in the NBA for the past two seasons. Ball has trashed Cavaliers’ point guard Kyrie Irving for coming from a single parent home, ignoring the fact that Irving’s mother passed away when he was four. Ball has said that, in his heyday, he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one. Ball criticized Lonzo’s UCLA teammates, saying they were “too white” to win the championship (and, forgetting the fact that his wife is white, there’s a mixed heritage to Lonzo). He’s also created the family company “Big Baller Brand” and is currently marketing Lonzo’s signature shoe to the tune of $459 (you want them autographed by Lonzo? Make it $759…) – only after the three major shoe brands Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas, turned down his BILLION dollar demands for shoe deals with all three of his sons.

Having overbearing parents in sports is nothing new. You can see it pretty much every weekend when you go to a Little League baseball game or watch Friday Night Tykes (about PeeWee football) on television. It’s when those overbearing parents actually think they are doing their child(ren) a favor by pushing them hard does it usually blow up in their faces. One only should look at the career of former quarterback Todd Marinovich – basically engineered by his father to be an NFL quarterback, to the point that the senior Marinovich said that Todd had never eaten at a McDonald’s – or the up-and-down career of tennis player Jennifer Capriati (pushed by her mother) to see the down side of these types of actions.

Britain Wimbledon Tennis

There has been at least one success story. The Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, were driven by their father Richard to excel at tennis, while at the same time inciting similar vitriol from the public for comments that he made regarding taking his girls from South Central Los Angeles to the pinnacle of tennis greatness. It is arguable, however, that the Williams sisters didn’t really reach their peak form until after they removed themselves from Richard’s tutelage and began to think and act for themselves.

The elder Ball may think that he’s helping his children achieve their goals and wants to take the family along for the ride. And that is something that all mothers and fathers want to ensure for their kids. At a certain point, however, that assistance becomes an overbearing, maniacal obsession and needs to be ended. That is where the elder Ball finds himself right now.

While Lonzo may be a high draft pick in this year’s NBA draft (the Celtics have the first pick and the Los Angeles Lakers – whom LaVar Ball has said he wants all three of his kids to play for – have the second), there is still a very close-knit professional community of athletes that will not take kindly to LaVar’s statements. Lonzo, through no fault of his own, is going to be targeted by these professionals for retribution. You don’t think that LeBron James won’t light him up for some of the things that LaVar has said about him? You don’t think that Curry or his teammates, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant, won’t smoke Lonzo at every opportunity? The utter failure of Lonzo Ball – and the “Big Baller Brand” – is a very realistic possibility and it would be a warning to others coming down the road that they aren’t bigger than the game, something that LaVar seems to think his family is.

Elijah Stewart,Lonzo Ball

Where Lonzo Ball goes in the draft – publicly NBA general managers and scouts are saying that Ball’s father isn’t going to affect his draft status – is still up in the air, but even he recognizes that his father rubs people the wrong way. “My dad’s a funny guy,” Lonzo said to Bleacher Report in an interview. “People were coming up to me and saying, ‘Are you embarrassed? Your dad said you’re going to win the championship.’ No, I’m not embarrassed. I know how he’s going to act. I just go out there and play. Let him be him.” There will come a point, however, where the junior Ball – and, if not him, one of his two brothers (who haven’t done jack shit yet) – will have to tell the senior Ball when enough is enough and cut ties with him if they are to reach their true success in professional basketball, just like Serena and Venus did in their pursuit of greatness.

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We All Need to Do Better

I was settling in at my writing garret last night, ready to go off on a few things. My late night writing sessions (when I’m not writing about work) are a great way to relax and get some thoughts out of the system. The outlandish reactions by conservatives to the decision by Federal Bureau of Investigations director James Comey regarding the Hillary Clinton e-mail fiasco – which ran the gamut from mild bewilderment over the processes of legal decisions to the actual gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, thinking that the entirety of the United States’ structure was crashing to the ground as a result of those same decisions – were where I had planned to go, but I was also considering a few thoughts on Kevin Durant’s move to the Golden State Warriors (Larry Bird would have rather jumped off the Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge than team up with Magic Johnson, just saying) or a general catch-all that I like to do every few months for things that don’t require a full essay. In a pinch, I could always go at Drumpf…much as it is for comedians, he’s a well of inspiration for essayists.

Then I looked at the television…

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First off, we have to set the stage for the actions last night in Dallas, TX. Earlier this week in Baton Rouge, LA, police responded to a complaint from a citizen that a man with a gun was threatening them outside a convenience store. Police responded to the scene and found Alton Sterling, a 37-year old black male selling CDs outside the convenience store with the owner’s permission. The police approached the man and all Hell broke loose.

Cellphone video from a couple in a car watching the altercation recorded the two police officers – who haven’t been identified at this time – take Sterling to the ground and, per their training, position their bodies on top of Sterling to allow them to further restrain him (it is unknown what was the cause for such action). At one point, one of the officers pulled his weapon, from appearances a .45 automatic or possibly a 9mm handgun, and sticks it in Sterling’s chest. Then there is the comment “gun,” and shots are fired. Sterling died on the scene.

Less than 24 hours later, arguably the more egregious of the two situations occurred. In a suburb of St. Paul, MN, Philando Castile was riding as a passenger in a car with his girlfriend (driving) that was pulled over because the vehicle had a broken taillight. Police approached the vehicle, with Officer Jeronimo Yanez approaching the passenger side and Officer Joseph Kauser the driver’s window. At one point, Castile is alleged to have told the officers that he was a licensed concealed carry permit holder and he was armed at that moment. From there, once again Hell breaks loose.

Castile’s girlfriend alleges that Yanez yelled two commands at Castile, one to keep his hands in view and one to present his licenses and identification. As Castile jerked around to try to obey the officer’s directives – to put his hands on the dash and reach for his wallet – Yanez allegedly opened fire FOUR TIMES (my emphasis), shooting Castile in the right side. Castile’s girlfriend recorded the immediate aftermath and broadcast the incident over Facebook Live, which showed an obviously seriously injured Castile bleeding profusely while the police held the vehicle for almost 10 minutes before any attempt at medical attention could be performed. Castile would die at the hospital roughly a half hour later.

With all that has occurred – or what hasn’t – in the past few years regarding the situation of police use of force, these new situations only cast kerosene on an already raging inferno. Many major metropolitan areas saw protests against such shootings by police on Thursday and, for the most part, many of these protests were peaceable and stayed on point without resorting to violence. Then there was what came on the television late last night from Texas.

Dallas, no stranger to tragedy in its past, saw one of the larger marches wend its way through the city in Dealey Plaza (history buffs might note the location). As the marchers protested peaceably with a large but equally peaceable Dallas Police Department watching them, shots rang out from a parking garage. Within minutes, a peaceful protest turned into a scene of chaos as people ran for cover and the police, the apparent targets of the shooter(s), took cover themselves to return the attack and protect the protestors (no irony here, for those of you waggling your fingers – that’s their fucking job).

As the hours wore on, the news channels all tried to outdo each other with “breaking news” details. The death toll of officers started at three, shrunk to one, went up to four and finally settled on five officers dead and another seven injured. Three people were arrested for taking part in the shooting, while a fourth was killed after a standoff with police in the parking garage from which he allegedly launched his side of the attack.

Now a nation is shocked…SHOCKED, mind you…that such mindless violence has taken over the streets of our major cities.

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We shouldn’t be. We are part of the reason that it has built up, not one faction or another, one party or the other, one race or the other. WE, the people of this country, have allowed for far too long the vitriol of separatism to infest our very fibers, to infest our thoughts, our speech and our actions. It can be seen across the spectrum, whether it is a simple comment on how much a professional athlete makes for playing a game (the racial animosity in some of the comment sections is a great argument for actual names being used to identify people), our political process (which seems to vilify every action of every person, not imbuing them with even a shred of humanity) or even our interactions with people who are tasked with defending and protecting us (if it wasn’t for the recent shootings, would relations be as strained with law enforcement? I think not…).

But we’re better than this and we’d better start showing it, otherwise there’s not much chance at settling things down.

We can first start with the police. There is an element in law enforcement who gets a Woody because they get to play “cops and robbers” for a living and they exercise that power whenever possible. There are also about 95% of those who just want to get the fuck home at the end of the shift to see their wives and kids. I’ve called for it before:  there should be yearly physical, psychological and financial review of all police officers, stretching even down to their social media usage, to determine that they are stable and suitable for duty. This should be ACROSS THE COUNTRY, from the largest departments to the “one stoplight” towns in rural areas.

Secondly, there should be two tiers of police created. There should be those that are tasked with interaction with the public, be it through traffic patrols (a traffic stop shouldn’t have to break out into a reenactment of the OK Corral), meeting visitors at the police department or other types of situations who would be unarmed. Then there should be a second tier, those who are tasked with taking on situations with active shooters, robberies and other “armed” situations who would be appropriately equipped. This tier of police is able to handle the responsibility that is given to them and act accordingly (I cannot claim original idea on this…a Facebook acquaintance actually proposed it and, to Scott, I say you’re dead on).

We’re not going to overlook the citizens of the United States on this, either. A simple way to start with things is to reemphasize to people that a command from law enforcement personnel isn’t the place to be arguing right and wrong (this is an argument from law enforcement apologists, but it is one that does make sense). If a police officer asks you to show ID, you show ID; if they command you to lie on the ground, get there as quick as possible. Escalation of issues come into play when people want to litigate it on the street corner rather than in a court of law.

Secondly, if the actions in Dallas don’t demonstrate it, it is way beyond time to enact some gun control measures. It is obvious that “concealed carry” isn’t a great idea as the Minnesota man was gunned down DESPITE telling officers he was licensed and carrying. The shooters in Dallas demonstrated great proficiency with rifles at long distances…why do civilians need to have such firepower at their disposal? And before anyone starts screaming “Second Amendment,” note NOWHERE there do I say they should be banned…although others have made that suggestion.

It is time that this country demonstrates what it actually should be – a country that, while a vast assimilation of widely divergent viewpoints exist, can actually work together on issues. This is across the board – politics, law enforcement interaction with the public, even common decency amongst each other – and should be something that we strive to do. We can be better than this, people…the alternative is appealing to no one.

Leicester City – The Greatest Sports Achievement Ever?

LeicesterCity

It may not have gotten much attention here in the United States, but I certainly was keeping an eye on it over the weekend. For those that don’t know anything about football – soccer to the U. S. fan – the English Premier League’s championship was decided over the weekend. In a shocking occurrence, Leicester City – who was on the verge of relegation (re:  being sent down to a lower division of professional football in England because they finished in the bottom three of the Premier League) with seven games to go last season – completed one of the most remarkable turnarounds in sports history in winning the Premiership this season.

How big of a turnaround was this? Here’s some stats to give you an idea. The British bookmaker William Hill had Leicester City as a 5000 to 1 shot to win the Premiership at the beginning of the season last fall (and was still around 100-1 in January when Leicester City was leading the league) and many felt that relegation was more likely for the team in 2016 than anything else. They had to make a late run last year to finish in 14th place and started this year with a new manager, Claudio Ranieri, who wasn’t exactly loved by the Foxes fandom. Additionally, in the 30-plus years of the Premier League (and in going back to 1888 with English football), Leicester City had NEVER won the top-tier football league championship; in fact, in the Premier League, no team not named Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United had won the title since 1995 (Blackburn Rovers).

The stunning turnaround by the Foxes has brought up the question by many if it is the greatest sporting achievement of all-time. While the achievements of Leicester City are up there on the ladder, there’s a whole world of instances like this to choose from.

There are plenty of individual acts that you can put up as the greatest sports achievement ever. If you look at the sport of baseball, we can go back to the legendary Cy Young’s record for most wins by a pitcher of 511. The next closest pitcher to that mark is another member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Walter Johnson, who is nearly 100 wins behind Young with his 417 victories. To get to someone from the “modern era” (let’s be kind and call that 1950), you have to go down to Warren Spahn in sixth place with his 363 wins; even Greg Maddux (355) and Roger Clemens (354), legends from my lifetime, aren’t even close (the active pitcher with the most wins? I didn’t believe it myself…Bartolo Colon with 220!).

Then there are the hitting achievements. Nobody thought that Ty Cobb’s 4191 all-time hit record would ever be touched, but then Pete Rose came along and stroked 4256 hits (best active player? Alex Rodriguez, 3082). The home run record is a bit tainted with the Steroid Era of baseball (I personally still consider Hank Aaron’s 755 the record), but thoughts of anyone touching Barry Bonds’ 762 is a fantasy (even A-Rod – or A-Roid – can’t reach it at 692). The ONE record that might stand the test of time is Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak; nobody’s come close to that since 1978, when Rose went for 44 games (most recently, Jimmy Rollins went for 38 between two seasons in 2005-06).

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors

Basketball has its share of great sports achievements and, this time, there are some team acts that come into the mix. This season in the National Basketball Association, the defending champion Golden State Warriors broke the record for most wins in a season (73) that had been held by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. The Boston Celtics’ string of eight consecutive NBA championships will never be equaled (neither will their nine titles in twelve years) and the dominance of John Wooden’s UCLA teams in the NCAA Men’s Collegiate Basketball Tournament (champions for seven consecutive seasons, ten in twelve years) is unmistakable.

Still, arguably the biggest achievements in basketball were done by individuals. Back in 1962, the legendary Wilt Chamberlain went off in an NBA game against the New York Knicks, scoring 100 points in a game that was played not in the (then) Philadelphia Warriors’ home in the “City of Brotherly Love” but in Hershey, PA. If that wasn’t good enough, that 1962 season Chamberlain AVERAGED 50.4 points per game and a stunning 25.7 rebounds per contest. It makes the recently retired Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006 dim a little in recollection.

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There are potentially only two things that could approach what Leicester City did this season. Once comes from the National Football League and the other comes from the Olympics.

Back in 1969, the New York Jets were a huge underdog to the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. An 18-point underdog (the second largest point spread in the history of the Super Bowl, second only to Super Bowl XXIX, where San Francisco was favored by 18.5 points over San Diego), quarterback Joe Namath not only guaranteed that his Jets were going to win the game but then went out and dominated the event, with a late touchdown by the Colts saving them from a shutout. But were the Jets even close to a 5000-1 shot to win Super Bowl III at the start of the season? Even with a similar number of teams in the NFL/AFL at that time as the Premier League has (18 for the NFL/AFL, 20 for the EPL), probably not.

The ONLY thing that might be comparable to the achievement of Leicester City is the Team USA “Miracle on Ice,” the defeat of the Soviet Union’s Red Army team in the 1980 Winter Olympics. It isn’t that the 4-3 match in the semifinals of the Olympic hockey tournament that stands out so much – albeit it was a stunning occurrence – but in looking back at the history between the teams and the overwhelming dominance of the Soviet hockey machine, there are parallels that can be drawn with Leicester City.

The Red Machine stormed through an exhibition tour against National Hockey League teams in 1980, going 5-3-1 before crushing an NHL All-Star team 6-0 to win the Challenge Cup. Team USA, on the other hand, had a 61-game exhibition schedule against European and U. S. teams not nearly as talented as NHL squads before meeting the Red Machine on February 9, 1980. To call that match competitive would be a joke; the Soviets crushed Team USA, 10-3, and went to the Olympics as the overwhelming favorite, while Team USA was thought to have no chance of even reaching the medal round (the semifinals).

Of course, we know now how history played out. Team USA and the Soviet Union would reach the semifinals and be paired together, with the college boys from the lakes and ice rinks of northern U. S. cities and towns giving the vaunted Red Machine – technically soldiers in the Soviet Red Army but professional hockey players all – the toughest game they would receive during the Olympics. After Mike Eruzione gave Team USA the lead with 10 minutes remaining, no one in the crowd of 8500 could believe what they were seeing (believe it or not, the game was not being shown live in the U. S.). As the partisan crowd counted down the seconds – and as announcer Al Michaels would say over the tape-delayed commentary later, “Do you believe in miracles? YES!!” – Team USA would defeat the Soviet Union and, two days later, defeated Finland to win the gold medal.

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When you have to go back more than 30 years – and back to something that was geopolitically charged as well as nationalistically inspired – to find something that is even CLOSE to what you’ve done, then it is pretty special. Let’s not start worrying about how Leicester City will do in defending their championship in the Premiership next season, nor worrying about how the Foxes will do in the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League that they have qualified for. Bask in the warming glow of what is arguably the greatest sporting achievement in the history of team sports, whether it is English, European or internationally.

The Degradation of Sportsmanship in Athletics

CamNewton

I sat back and watched Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night – as did approximately 112 million other people – and, to be painfully honest, the game was a bit of a disappointment. Yes, I did pick the Panthers to win (more on that at the end of this essay), but it was more than that factor that caused the boredom. The game itself was more of a defensive struggle than most thought it would be. There were only two offensive touchdowns on the night (one by each team and both rushing TDs, surprisingly) and the defenses for both teams were the dominant forces. It was well deserved that the MVP for Super Bowl 50 went to Broncos LB Von Miller, who was a terror in sacking Panthers QB Cam Newton two and a half times and forcing two fumbles.

It was after the game that my appreciation for sportsmanship in athletics – at least here in the 21st century – took a further hit. In his post-game press conference, the Most Valuable Player for the National Football League, Newton, stepped to the podium to take questions regarding the game. Wait…perhaps it is better to say what he actually did. In every other game of the postseason prior to the Super Bowl, Newton had taken the time to dress splendidly following his wins, put a big smile on his face and entertain the reporters who peppered him with questions, of which he answered each with long answers that gave them and football fans additional insight into the game.

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Fast forward to Sunday night and it was like looking at another person – at least the NFL better hope so. Newton, clad in a black hoodie pulled up closely around his head instead of the splendid suits that he had worn, wasn’t standing proudly at the podium when he came to address the media following the Super Bowl loss. Slumped in a chair, gone was the glowing smile that Newton wore throughout the postseason, as were the lengthy answers for the reporters’ questions. Newton basically acted as a petulant child who, when not given what he thought he deserved, decided to pout his way through a requirement that he really didn’t want to do…and, in fact, he didn’t; Newton didn’t finish the post-game press conference, he got up and walked away while reporters continued to ask questions.

This is just the latest demonstration of the degradation of sportsmanship in athletics in the 21st century, and it also seems to be dipping down further into the amateur and even recreational ranks. Earlier this month, tennis champion Serena Williams – a living legend in a sport if there ever is one – acted as if there were about 1000 other places she would have rather been after losing the Australian Open to Angelique Kerber, where a victory for Williams would have tied her with Steffi Graf for second on the all-time list (and only two Grand Slam titles behind Margaret Court). She answered questions from journalists rather abruptly, only lengthening out her answers when it served her purposes, such as when she wanted to complain. “Everyone expects me to win every single match…as much as I would like to be a robot, I’m not,” Williams complained in the post-match news conference.

She was even worse at last year’s U. S. Open where, after being defeated by upstart Roberta Vinci and prevented from becoming the first woman to win the Grand Slam – winning all of tennis’ major titles in one season – since Graf in 1988, Williams basically slumped at the table during the post-match interview, scowling the entire time and actually said, “I don’t want to talk about how disappointing it is for me. If you have any other questions…” before storming out of the press conference early (perhaps we should call what Newton did “pulling a Serena”).

The general degradation of sportsmanship doesn’t stop there, however. Before the National Hockey League went on its All-Star break, defenseman Dennis Wideman of the Calgary Flames was knocked into the boards by a hit from a member of the Nashville Predators on January 27. As he arose and headed to the bench, he cross-checked (held his stick between his hands across his chest) linesman Don Henderson from behind in protest for a penalty not being called. Wideman attempted to say that he was “disoriented” and “never saw” the official until the last minute, but the video of him pulling back his hands and putting a little extra pop on the hit was hard to ignore. The NHL suspended Wideman for 20 games, which is currently under appeal.

This lack of sportsmanship isn’t just in the professional arena either. In September 2015 at the start of high school football season, two Texas high schoolers targeted an official – one knocking him to the ground while the other speared him in the kidneys with his helmet – for his supposed poor officiating and alleged racial remarks during the game. Investigation revealed that one of the coaches for the team ORDERED the players to go after the official; that coach resigned before any action could be taken and the players were suspended for the remainder of the season.

According to the Associated Press’ Paul Newberry, it can get worse. In 2013, a soccer referee in Utah was killed when a 17-year-old player didn’t like one of his calls and hit him with a punch; that player was sentenced to juvenile detention. Another player in an adult soccer game in Michigan killed a 44-year-old referee after receiving a red card in another altercation. That player now is serving 15 years in prison for manslaughter.

Sportsmanship is something that is critical to the conduct of sporting events and it extends to the requirements off the field, no matter how much you don’t like them or that the questions become repetitive. For interviews and dealing with fans, athletes have to be able to treat the press and their fans responsibly and with respect. To sit and act as if it is a burden to answer questions about your chosen profession – the job YOU chose to do, the one that has given you millions of dollars – or to be a complete bitch or bastard about having to be there, perhaps you should try to live among the “common people” for a bit and see how it is to live there.

An outstanding example of how to handle people and the media is tennis player Novak Djokovic. The video of him at the French Open during a rain delay with a ball boy has become famous and there are several other occurrences where “The Joker” has endeared himself to fans and the media alike. Other athletes such as Derek Jeter, Stephen Curry and others also treat the fans like gold, the media well and, win or lose, always try to respect the game.

And perhaps that is the problem with some of the athletes nowadays. They don’t respect the game that they play, they just came for the millions of dollars that it graces them with and screw any responsibility for having to actually do something you might not want to do. For some, they’re set in their ways and aren’t going to change. For Newton, he’s only 26…there’s perhaps time for him to have a change of attitude and become more of a sportsman than he showed on Sunday night.

WRAPPING UP THE NFL SEASON

Hey, at least I got the 24 points for the Broncos right! (To remind you, the prediction was Panthers 28, Broncos 24.)

There were three picks that I made for the actual game on Sunday night. The Broncos came through for me on the spread by winning outright, but the two teams didn’t even come close to going over the 44 O/U line. Add in that “straight up” pick of the Panthers and I went 1-2 to finish the season 56-39-5.

When it comes to the prop bets, I was pretty sharp there! I said to pass on the bet of whether there would be a missed extra point (there was a missed field goal but not an extra point); that the first touchdown would be something other than a passing TD (it was), the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (-4.5) would score more points on Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder than the Panthers would against the Broncos (he did, 26 points versus the Panthers’ 10);  that Lady Gaga would go UNDER 2:20 for the National Anthem (this was a cause of some argument…some sites say it is when she ends the note on “brave” and, the first time, it was under, when she did it the SECOND time, it did go over…as always, the House makes the rules); the Golden Gate Bridge WAS shown, Mike Carey missed a replay call and the Broncos dumped ORANGE Gatorade on head coach Gary Kubiak.

That means I got six prop bets versus one on the Super Bowl itself…perhaps next year I’ll just do prop bets!

Super Bowl 50, Part One: Got Money Burning a Hole in Your Pocket? Here’s Some Crazy Prop Bets!

SuperBowl50

We are just a couple of days away from the spectacle that will be Super Bowl 50. The Carolina Panthers, led by their becoming-iconic QB Cam Newton and looking to finish their stupendous season with only one loss, will be taking on the Denver Broncos and the legendary QB Peyton Manning in what could be his swan song. What better way to celebrate this matchup than – racking up prop bets on things that don’t even have anything at all to do with these men, these teams or sometimes the game itself!

It is estimated that over $100 million is legally bet on the Super Bowl in Las Vegas and upwards of $3 billion worldwide on the game, legally and illegally. More than half of the Las Vegas total is on something that is called “proposition bets.” These bets aren’t your normal “point spread” occurrences or even something that might go on within the actual field of play itself. They are based on some of the activities that may or may not occur during the play of the game – sometimes not even involving the players themselves.

Prop bets come from “proposition betting” where gambling sharps would rope in rubes with a nicely set up short con, basically. In these “propositions,” the sharp would say that they could do something normally unthinkable – such as the legendary road gambler “Titanic” Thompson’s prop bet that he could drive a golf ball 500 yards (legend has it he pulled this trick against notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone). After getting people to place their bets – normally against him – Thompson would then wait until wintertime, activate the bet and go to a nearby lake, where he would indeed proceed to drive a golf ball 500 yards across the frozen surface.

Prop bets today aren’t far removed from something along the lines of what Thompson did. They sound so outlandish that you don’t think that they will happen but, if you do your homework, you can actually make some hay out of the bets. There are also those that you should stay far away from because they are an obvious setup bet. Over the next few choices, we’re going to take a look at some of these prop bets, examine them closely and try to decide whether to take a shot at them or not.

Will there be a missed extra point in the game?

Yes – +300
No – -360

(Remember, this means that, if you want “yes,” you’d have to wager $100 to win $300, for “no” you’d have to wager $360 to win $100)

This was the first year that the National Football League experimented with a longer extra point attempt. Previous to this season, all extra point attempts were from the two-yard line, resulting in a roughly 20-yard attempt for a point. In 2015, however, the NFL backed the kick spot up to the 15-yard line, making the kick a 32-yard attempt. As a result, 71 extra point attempts were missed this year, a 94.2% conversion rate (the lowest rate since 1982). Using that factor, there should be a better payout for those looking to bet the “yes” route. Add in the statistic that Graham Gano of the Panthers and Brandon McManus of the Broncos only missed a grand total of four extra point attempts between each other this year, I’d pass on this one as it isn’t likely to occur. Still, a bet on “Yes” wouldn’t be out of the question…two years ago, the Seattle Seahawks defense scored a safety for the first score of Super Bowl XLVIII, a traditional long-shot prop bet that paid out handsomely for many people for the first time in the history of the Super Bowl.

The first touchdown of the game will be:

Passing touchdown – -165
Any other – +145

The Panthers have scored their first touchdown eight times on the ground, six times through the air and two times via an interception. The Broncos have gotten their first touchdown six times via a passing play. For some reason, the odds makers are saying that the first touchdown is going to come through the air when it is slightly more likely that it will come through other means. I like taking the “any other” route with this one as Newton’s legs or a defensive TD would be a winner.

Stephen Curry (-4.5/-110) scores more points than the Panthers (+4.5/-110)

Here’s where things start to get fun. When you start throwing the results from two sports into the mix, then you really either know your stuff when it comes to sports betting or just like to set your money on fire. In this case, we will put the reigning Most Valuable Player from the defending National Basketball Association’s champion Golden State Warriors, guard Stephen Curry, and put him up against the entire Carolina Panther offense in a simple challenge:  who will score the most points?

Just a couple of nights ago, Curry went unconscious in scoring 51 points in a game, including scoring 25 in the first quarter alone. Currently he is averaging 29.8 per game to lead the NBA in scoring so, allowing for the spread, the Panthers would have to come within 4.5 points of Curry’s output against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night in Oakland. With the Thunder/Warriors game on primetime television – and the fact that Curry will be taking on two other superstars of the NBA in the Thunder’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook – I’m expecting Curry to go off in this game; take Curry and give up the points. Don’t bother about betting the money line on this one because whenever you see both sides with the same payoff, there’s no side for action.

GRAMMY Awards 2015

Length of time for Lady Gaga to sing the National Anthem:

UNDER 2:20 – -200
OVER 2:20 – +150

It wasn’t announced until this week that Lady Gaga would take on the National Anthem prior to the start of the Super Bowl and, once she was named, the wagering began on how long it would take her to sing the song. There is actually a precedent for Gaga with the National Anthem; in 2013, she performed the National Anthem in public and brought it in five seconds under the 2:20 that the line is currently set. You can also consider that, off the last ten Super Bowls played, only one (Alicia Keys in Super Bowl XLVII) went longer than 2:20 (Keys’ was 2:35).

Personally, I think that the scheduling for the Super Bowl has gotten so precise that there is no way that it will go beyond 2:20. I’d like to see a Lady Gaga prop bet on whether she’ll be dressed normally – like she was when she performed on the Academy Awards last year when she performed her stirring tribute to Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music – or whether she’ll come dressed as the Vince Lombardi Trophy. For this bet, though, take the UNDER.

How many times will the Golden Gate Bridge be shown?

OVER .5 – -400
UNDER .5 – +250

This is an intriguing bet. All the Golden Gate Bridge would have to do is show up once to either win someone a nice payday or, if it doesn’t show at all, let someone else pick up some nice green. You might think this one is a no-brainer, but some are overthinking it way too much. The game is being contested in Santa Clara, CA, at Levi’s Stadium, quite some distance from the Golden Gate Bridge, which makes some believe that the iconic span won’t be seen at all during the game broadcast. But the stadium IS the home for the San Francisco 49ers, the Super Bowl festivities for the week have consistently been focused around the Bay Area (that’s where the NFL Network and ESPN has parked their carcasses for the week) and the two teams are both staying in hotels in San Francisco. That means the stock footage shot by the CBS crew has got to have some of the San Fran surroundings in it and, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge is a part of that. If you’re going to bet this angle, take the OVER and pick up an easy payday.

Will Mike Carey be wrong on a challenge?

YES – +145
NO – -190

It is tough enough for the seven guys on the field – the officials assigned to the game by the NFL – to determine what happens in a football game, let alone the Super Bowl. In that rare case when there is a replay challenge – either called by one of the coaches or by dictate of the rules – it can be even more difficult for the replay official to make a determination of the call. That is where CBS’ replay guru Mike Carey comes into play.

Carey, a veteran official who worked one Super Bowl, has caught a great deal of grief for some missteps he has made through the season regarding review calls. With hope, there will be no need for Carey’s (or the replay official’s) services in Super Bowl 50 but, just in case there is a couple of instances where Carey is called on, let’s go ahead and pick YES here for a nice $145 score if we bet $100.

What color will be the Gatorade dump?

Orange – +125
Blue – +300
Clear – +400
Yellow – +400
Red – +600
Green – +1000
Purple – +1000

You might think that, with the Panthers favored to win the game, that a bet on BLUE would be a good call here. That isn’t necessarily the case; after winning the NFC Championship Game, the Panthers doused head coach Ron Rivera with ORANGE Gatorade. In fact, three of the last six Super Bowl winners have chosen the ORANGE bath and that seems to be the safe way to go. I’ve looked around and the one bet that I haven’t been able to find…what if, for a change, there wasn’t a Gatorade bath? I’d like to put a wager on that one myself.

And that’s the thing about Super Bowl prop bets…if you look around long enough, if you find the right spot online or you find yourself in the right locale to be able to get someone to set the bet for you personally, you can bet on pretty much anything about the game. It also gives you something to think about, especially if the game turns into a blowout (see Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle vs. Denver, as an example).

In Part Two, we’ll actually look at the reason everyone will be tuning in on Sunday…THE COMMERCIALS!!! No, we will take a look at the game and see who will be lifting the Lombardi Trophy come Sunday night.