Showing posts with label Corruption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corruption. Show all posts

Friday, June 2, 2017

No Justice in Happy Valley

If you're like me, and I know I am, you can't believe they still have a football program at Penn State:

A former president of Penn State and two other former university administrators were each sentenced Friday to at least two months in jail for failing to alert authorities to a 2001 allegation against ex-assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a decision that enabled the now-convicted serial predator to continue molesting boys. 

"Why Mr. Sandusky was allowed to continue to the Penn State facilities is beyond me," Judge John Boccabella said. 

"All three ignored the opportunity to put an end to (Sandusky's) crimes when they had a chance to do so," the judge said. 

Ex-president Graham Spanier, 68, got a sentence of 4 to 12 months, with the first two to be spent in jail and the rest under house arrest. 

Former Penn State president Graham Spanier walks to the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, March 20, 2017. Matt Rourke / AP

Former university athletic director Tim Curley, 63, received a sentence of 7 to 23 months, with three in jail. Former vice president Gary Schultz, 67, was sentenced to 6 to 23 months, with two months behind bars. 

The judge also criticized the actions of the late head football coach, Joe Paterno, who like the other administrators failed to alert child-welfare authorities or police to the 2001 complaint, but was never charged with a crime.

These are slaps on the wrist. These are sentences designed to make old men comfortable. The punishment here does not fit any of the crimes committed. Oh well. It's not like anyone's going to atone for their mistakes or man up when it comes to Penn State. Just another day in Happy Valley.

The precedent here has been set, and this is why they still play football at Baylor--you can commit any kind of sex crime you want against a vulnerable person and the law isn't going to touch a Division I university. Some institutions are so rotted out from within and packed with filth and treasure that they simply won't be held accountable anymore.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Greatest Non-Story in Sports Ever

FIFA is dirty? Corrupt? I did not know that:

Former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner aired a televised broadcast Thursday in which he promised to expose corruption by everyone at soccer’s governing body. “I apologize for not disclosing my knowledge of these events before,” he said, adding that he is delivering documents to his lawyers. “Not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming. The die is cast. There can be no turning back. Let the chips fall where they fall.” The former official, who was one of 14 indicted in the U.S., also added that he “fears” for his life.

This is the end result of decades of looking the other way and imagining a world where a corrupt sports entity just gives people the sport itself without ever facing any scrutiny. There isn't anyone in the world who ever truly believed that FIFA was on the up and up. When World Cup mania paralyzed Germany a few years ago, I was in the middle of it, and everyone enjoyed the hell out of the games. They knew the fix was in but their love of the sport transcended the need to ask questions as to why it was such a corrupt sport.

It took the FBI to fix FIFA? Really? And yet, you could go back twenty years and tell this story and it still wouldn't have surprised anyone.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

No One Cares About 1,200 Dead Men

If this isn't proof that we have become numb to slave labor and human rights violations and baldfaced corruption, what the hell else do you need?

The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that 4,000 workers will die in Qatar by the time 2022 arrives.

How the hell is this even possible?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday, February 5, 2010

How is This Even Ethical?

Allow me to put on my 'old scold' jersey.

Do you really think it's a good idea to put the pressure of playing college football on the shoulders of a kid who is 13 years old? I certainly don't. Lane Kiffin has now done it twice.

He did it at Tennessee and
now he's now done it with the USC Trojans:
Go ahead and laugh, but this time, Lane Kiffin may have outfoxed us.

Kiffin's scholarship offer to a 13-year-old seventh grader has turned into a national joke, right down to the obligatory Chris Hansen/Dateline NBC references. It's positively hilarious that Kiffin -- whose just-spell-my-name-right style of attention-grabbing recruiting has earned him a reputation bigger than his 7-6 record as a college head coach -- would promise a scholarship in the class of 2015 to a player who might not shave for three more years.

I'll admit it. I chuckled, too. Until I searched for David Sills on YouTube. Then everything made sense.

The description of the clip touts the Bear, Del., quarterback prodigy as "the best young phenom since Tiger Woods." (Get your minds out of the gutter, sickos.) The clip itself is a 117-second commercial for DreamMaker, the newest project for quarterback guru Steve Clarkson, whose past students include Matt Leinart, Jimmy Clausen and Matt Barkley.

Let's not discount the fact that Sills is a promising young quarterback who, at 11, was profiled on this site. But even if Sills stops growing and remains stuck at 6-feet, even if he never throws a football one mile per hour faster, Kiffin has accomplished his mission. He has done a huge favor for Clarkson, whose DreamMaker project is a made-for-TV event, an American Idol for quarterbacks. We all know how rich Simon Cowell is, so if I'm Clarkson, I'm eternally grateful to Kiffin, whose scholarship offer to Sills made the ESPN crawl and sent college football fans scrambling to the Web to find video of the kid.

I don't care if the young man becomes the best quarterback in the land--that's not the point. The point is, how the hell do you, ethically and otherwise, recruit a 13 year-old to play in a sport five or six years from now?

You don't.

Shame on the NCAA for not having a basic rule in place to prevent this sort of nonsense.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It Was Sleazy in Tennessee

You know, Lane Kiffin sure owed them folks in Tennessee a whole lot, didn't he:
Lane Kiffin was behind the wheel of his leased Lexus in August when, the coach said, he fell asleep and crashed the car, a high-ranking University of Tennessee official confirmed to's Mark Schlabach on Tuesday.

Also, Kiffin told athletic director Mike Hamilton that he had been at the football complex for a late meeting that night and said that he was heading home when he got into the accident, according to the source.

Kiffin left Tennessee after only 14 months on the job to become coach at USC. An atmosphere of animosity in Knoxville has led to Internet and blog chatter about his actions during his time working for Tennessee.

Hamilton interviewed Tennessee assistant football coaches to corroborate Kiffin's whereabouts that night, and one assistant confirmed having seen the coach in the athletic offices at approximately midnight. The accident occurred in the early morning hours. Tennessee officials said the time between Kiffin's last being seen in the offices and the crash was unaccounted for. The university did not pay for the repairs to the damaged car, according to the source.

So, it's all good right? Would have been news back in August, though. Instead, it's news today. And today *ain't* August:
Earlier in the day, WVLT-TV in Knoxville reported that Andy White, an employee of a Lexus dealership in Knoxville, confirmed that a Lexus leased to Kiffin was involved in a one-car accident.

White did not specify the date of the incident, where it happened or who was driving the vehicle, which was leased to Kiffin through the coach's vehicle program for Tennessee men's and women's athletic teams.

White told the station: "The proper authorities were contacted and the vehicle was towed to our location. Coach Kiffin's insurance was contacted and promptly paid the claim."

Knox County Sheriff's office spokesperson Martha Dooley told the station there were no reports of any accident filed by Kiffin in 2009. Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Darrell DeBusk also told the station there were no reports of any accident filed by Kiffin in September or October.

That's what we call a "sleazy coverup" in virtually any walk of life. You get in a car that is leased to you, you fall asleep behind the wheel, you bang it up, and nothing happens to you. Your insurance pays it off, no one tells the cops. The only reason you're finding out about this now is because it is no longer in the interest of anyone at Tennessee to cover up the transgressions of one Mr. Lane Kiffin. That's about as ethical as you can get in the NCAA right now. The truth comes out--after the coach blows town for a better gig.

What? It's not like we're talking about a regular citizen here. We're talking about a football coach. There's no accountability for football coaches. They are Gods. We are mere mortals.

As the man said, move along folks, nothing to see here. So what if Lane Kiffin and his army of enablers and one crooked college football program after another comes and goes--it's not like we have a working sports media or ethical administrators and educators anymore, is it?

It's all a goddamned farce. Smash up a car, don't tell anyone, someone pays to fix it, no one says anything while the coach is still a university employee, keep it hushed up, and the cops are left to say whatever it is they say when they don't have any "records" of what happened.

So what? On to the next job.

Monday, November 9, 2009

South American Kidnappers and Major League Baseball

This is sad:
The mother of former major league pitcher Victor Zambrano was kidnapped Sunday, Zambrano's agent Peter Greenberg said late Sunday night by phone.

Elizabeth Mendez Zambrano was abducted sometime Sunday morning from her son's farm, about half hour from the central Venezuela city of Maracay, Greenberg said.

Venezuela has been haunted in recent years by the kidnapping of rich and famous people. Yorvit Torrealba Jr., the son of Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba, and his uncle were kidnapped this summer. They were left unharmed on a road a couple days later. Torrealba has since moved his family to Hollywood, Fla.

Former Angels infielder Gus Polidor was killed in April, 1995 while trying to prevent the kidnapping of his infant son via a carjacking.

Zambrano played seven years for Tampa Bay, the New York Mets, Toronto and Baltimore. His last game in the big leagues was Sept. 30, 2007.

The attraction is, of course, money, and big league players have certainly been flush with cash. While a player like Zambrano may not have played under a lucrative contract in recent years, there is a perception that anyone who has played in the big leagues has money, and in South America, that means the threat of kidnapping. Throughout Latin America, kidnapping is used to extort money from the rich, or from people perceived to be rich.

Here's an older article about the situation, but I think it is indicative of how the crime has perpetrated itself throughout the world, not just Latin America:
Kidnapping is defined as "to hold or carry off, usually for ransom", and encompasses a wide variety of crimes. Economic kidnapping – or the kidnapping business – is where a financial demand is made, which could be either hard cash, or some other financial resource. Political kidnapping, on the other hand, is where political concessions, such as the release of prisoners, changes to the law and policy retreats, are demanded. This distinction may seem straightforward, but in reality cases are rarely this clear cut. There are often grey areas between political and economic kidnapping. For example, the FARC in Colombia is a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group, but kidnaps for money and is thought to earn hundreds of millions of dollars from it each year. Criminals with political aspirations have also been known to diversify. Definitions are often regarded as the preserve of hair-splitting academics, removed from the reality on the ground. But effective policies and practices for tackling kidnapping are not possible unless they respond to the motivations for the crime and take account of the way kidnappers will react to pressure. For this reason, it is vital that kidnapping cases are defined in terms of the immediate demand rather than any higher order political, religious or other goals a group may have.

Economic kidnapping is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. It is estimated that kidnappers globally take home in the region of $500 million each year in ransom payments: the hostage is a commodity with a price on his head. Reliable statistics are hard to come by, but it is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 kidnappings each year worldwide. The undisputed kidnap capital of the world is Colombia, where the activity has been described as 'a cottage industry'. In 2000, the Colombian National Police recorded 3162 cases. Colombia's problem has not been contained within its own borders. Colombian kidnapping groups often cross over into Venezuela and Ecuador to take hostages, and both countries feature in the top ten. Other hot-spots around the globe include Mexico, where the problem has risen dramatically in the last five years, Brazil, the Philippines and the former Soviet Union. The following table shows the top ten hot-spots in 1999.
Global Kidnapping hot-spots – 1999

1 Colombia

2 Mexico

3 Brazil

4 Philippines

5 Venezuela

6 Ecuador

7 Former Soviet Union

8 Nigeria

9 India

10 South Africa

As the table above shows, Latin America is an important hub for kidnapping. However, it would be wrong to see the crime as a uniquely Latin American problem. Over the past decade or so, kidnapping has risen in parts of Africa, most notably Nigeria and South Africa. This can largely be traced to the expansion of multi-national companies into these countries following the rich natural resources on offer. Similarly, companies moved into parts of the Former Soviet Union following the collapse of communism at the start of the last decade, and the kidnapping rate has grown there, too.

How sad is it that, ten years later, this sort of thing is still prevalent, even in Venezuela? Let's hope that Zambrano is able to get his mother back safe and sound.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The New Yankee Stadium is a Lemon

What if you built it, and they came, and the damned thing turned out to be unsafe and full of cracks?
It seems the Yankees' new $1.5 billion city-subsidized stadium is beginning to show cracks, just six months after its debut. The team has recently fallen under scrutiny for cracks in the concrete pedestrian ramps -- some as much as an inch wide and several feet long -- prompting the team to hire an engineering company to determine whether the problems were caused by the installation, the design, the concrete or other factors.

On the bright side, Alice McGillion, a team spokeswoman, called the cracks "cosmetic," saying that they pose no safety issues because they did not affect the structural integrity of the ramps.

"There is no evidence that there is any issue or problem with concrete or any material in the building," she said.

Interstate Industrial Corporation, the company that poured the concrete, was banned from doing city work in 2004 because city investigators concluded it had ties to organized crime, an accusation its owners have denied.

Interstate may sound familiar since they are currently front-and-center in the trial of former Giuliani Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik. According to the Village Voice, Kerik is accused of accepting $165,000 in renovations on his Riverdale apartment from the DiTomasso brothers -- the principals of Interstate -- in return for recommending them for city contracts they were barred from.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the company that evaluated the strength of the concrete poured for the walkways, Testwell Laboratories, its owners and several officers were indicted last year on state racketeering charges. It's unclear whether the team will have to tear out any of the concrete in the ramps in question, however, according to the New York Times, the problem could cost several million dollars to fix.

Typical East Coast mentality--no one gives a shit. Well, if your fans have noticed that the structure is full of cracks and that the thing is falling apart after having only been open since April, then someone will quietly have to go back and assess whether all of that cheap organized crime cement was worth it.

Tonight's ballgame is moved to Sunday--how sad for me. I was hoping to see this series extended to seven games. One more day of rest will help the pitching, and perhaps we'll see an excellent game tomorrow night.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Work Stoppage No One Cares About

Have you heard? The NBA might go without union referees. Yawn.
The lead negotiator and spokesman for the NBA's referees union said Thursday a lockout appears "imminent and unavoidable" following the latest breakdown in talks.

Lamell McMorris said the officials made another $1 million in concessions in their proposal, but believes it's evident the league is not interested in further discussions. The officials then headed home after spending the last 24 hours meeting in Chicago.

"It's become evident that the league would not be interested in continuing conversation at this time," McMorris said.

The NBA had a similarly pessimistic view.

"I'm not going to handicap it, other than to say there's always time to make an agreement if the parties want to do that," NBA general counsel and lead negotiator Rick Buchanan said. "I'm not optimistic based on what happened today. We'll just have to see what happens."

The contract between the NBA and its officials expired Sept. 1 and the sides have been trying to reach a new two-year deal. McMorris said they largely agree on salaries, but the union has balked at the league's attempt to change retirement benefits.

Besides the severance and pension disagreements, the officials are resisting a league development plan for young officials.

Without a new deal, replacement officials will be used when preseason play opens Oct. 1. The NBA last began a season without its regular referees in 1995-96, when the caliber of officiating was roundly criticized.

So what? The dirty little secret of the NBA is, the gambling scandal has not fully been explained or cleared up. The legitimacy of the sport is gone, as far as I'm concerned. I don't bother watching it anymore. I watched little or no professional basketball last season because I think that the inability of the league to address whether or not other referees had gambling ties amounted to a cover-up that would have been exposed in any other sport for what it was--widespread game fixing and point shaving. Before anyone says, "how do you know?" I have to say, "of course I don't know--but now, no one else will know, because the NBA did a spectacular job of covering it up."

Are the games fixed? I suspect they're not fixed anymore, but I do know this--referee Tim Donaghy had a lot to do with the Lakers win over the Kings in game 6 of the NBA Western Conference playoffs in 2002. I watched that game, and I didn't think anything of it at the time.
The allegations are some of the strongest ever made against the NBA, coming at a time when the officiating of this year's Finals between the Celtics and Lakers has come under heavy scrutiny.

In the letter submitted by Donaghy's attorney, the following "manipulation" is alleged:

"Referees A, F and G were officiating a playoff series between Teams 5 and 6 in May of 2002. It was the sixth game of a seven-game series, and a Team 5 victory that night would have ended the series. However, Tim learned from Referee A that Referees A and F wanted to extend the series to seven games. Tim knew referees A and F to be 'company men,' always acting in the interest of the NBA, and that night, it was in the NBA's interest to add another game to the series. Referees A and F heavily favored Team 6. Personal fouls [resulting in obviously injured players] were ignored even when they occurred in full view of the referees. Conversely, the referees called made-up fouls on Team 5 in order to give additional free throw opportunities for Team 6. Their foul-calling also led to the ejection of two Team 5 players. The referees' favoring of Team 6 led to that team's victory that night, and Team 6 came back from behind to win that series."

Replacement refs? Scab refs? Hey, if the current slate of NBA referees thinks it can win a labor dispute with a corrupt league, then go for it. Organized labor could use a shot in the arm, provided the refs win and get what they want.

My guess is that the fans won't care, won't notice, and life will go on as usual. "Fearing" what will happen assumes we will suffer because there won't be any of that high-end, high class, infallible officiating we've all come to know and love in the NBA. Puh-leeeze.

Bad officiating, and perhaps dishonest officiating, is the norm in the NBA.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Of course they're listening in

It's really not that difficult to intercept wireless signals--any idiot can learn how to do it. One of my favorite things in the world is to sit with all three of my police scanners on the back porch and adjust frequencies in order to pick up as much information as I can:
Integrity of the game dialogue often focuses on player conduct. But several NFL coaches and executives enter the 2009 season with wider inspection practices and more paranoid eyes.

Growing, probing technology is causing some in the league to consider if cheating is reaching unprecedented sophistication. They are on guard. They are insistent that NFL leadership be as vigilant.

This goes beyond old-school and novel concerns. They know that some teams hire personnel to scour the hotel rooms of visiting teams' coaches and players and postgame locker rooms in search of any scrap of game-planning that can be pilfered -- They can beat that. It has little to do with opponents continuously seeking ways to survey sideline coaches in hopes of cracking their signals and intended personnel groupings -- They can outsmart them there.

Even familiar charges of artificial crowd noise pumped into stadiums are relatively tame compared with the type of cheating that new technology can provide. So, too, are fresher concerns that some teams are focusing cameras on quarterbacks during his calls at the line of scrimmage, playing the images on jumbo, in-stadium screens, and seeking an advantage for the defense whether instant or later after analysis.

How about home teams showing replays of controversial calls instantly and repeatedly when they work to their advantage -- and never showing them when they do not?

None of this alarms NFL coaches and executives as much as this issue: Are communications involving coaches' headsets and those involving players' in-helmet radios being intercepted by opposing teams?

Some coaches and executives say they have heard enough cracking sounds, enough interference, enough odd feedback and experienced enough times when the technology simply did not work that they believe this issue is a paramount one that must constantly be examined in the 2009 season and beyond.

Static or interference really is not an indicator of being eavesdropped upon. Intercepting a wireless signal transmission from point A to point B isn't going to interfere with the signal unless active jamming is taking place.

Here are the basics:
Home intercom systems. Baby monitors, children's walkie-talkies and some home intercom systems may be overheard in the vicinity of the home in the same manner as cordless phones. Many operate on common radio frequencies that can be picked up by radio scanners, cordless phones, and other baby monitors nearby. If you are concerned about being overheard on one of these devices, turn it off when it is not in use. Consider purchasing a "wired" unit instead.

Speakerphones. If your standard wired phone has the speakerphone feature, be aware that some models may emit weak radio signals from the microphone even when the phone's handset is on-hook, (that is, hung-up, inactive). For short distances, a sensitive receiver may be able to pick up room noise in the vicinity of the speakerphone.

Wireless microphones. Radio scanners can intercept wireless microphones used at conferences, in churches, by entertainers, sports referees, and others. Fast-food employees at drive-through restaurants use wireless systems to transmit order information. Their communications can also be received by scanners in the vicinity. Scanners can also pick up conversations on some walkie-talkies.

Wireless cameras. Wireless videocameras have been installed in thousands of homes and businesses in recent years. The camera sends a signal to a receiver so it can be viewed on a computer or TV. These systems are advertised as home security systems, but they are far from secure. While they are inexpensive and relatively easy to install, they are also easy to monitor by voyeurs nearby who are using the same devices.

Images can be picked up as far as 300 yards from the source, depending on the strength of the signal and the sensitivity of the receiver. Before purchasing a wireless videocamera system, ask yourself if you want to be vulnerable to electronic peeping toms. Research the security features of such systems thoroughly. You might want to wait until the marketplace provides wireless video systems with stronger security features at an affordable price.

Air-to-ground phone services. Conversations on the phone services offered on commercial airlines are easily intercepted by standard radio scanners. They are a favorite target of hobbyists.

Essentially, all you need to know is the frequency that the helmet devices work on, and then you need to have someone monitor that frequency with a scanner. Attach it to a laptop, and you can then pull in the signal and decode it, if necessary, or even make audio files and retain it.

I own several police scanners, the kind that scan EDACS and trunked radio networks. I can sit at home and listen in as camera men, producers, and local television staff sit in their trucks throughout the Washington D.C. area and chat about things. I can listen to virtually anything, and I have a 75-foot antenna wired up at the home in order to help me pull in signals. The Washington D.C. area is a hotbed of signal activity, and your uncle Norman loves to write things down and keep records. All of it perfectly legal, of course.

I'll have to acquire NFL tickets, should we end up near a stadium this season. I'll take my handheld scanner and see if I can pick up some signal calling.

Something to howl about in Phoenix?

Doesn't sound too good for the Phoenix Coyotes:
Finally, auction day has come for the Phoenix Coyotes. It's two days, actually.

The NHL franchise is to be sold at auction in a two-day hearing that begins Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in downtown Phoenix.

Only two bids have been made. One by Canadian billionaire James Balsillie is contingent on moving the team to Hamilton, Ontario, over the overwhelming opposition by the NHL.

The other is by the NHL, which says it will resell the team outside of the bankruptcy process, either to an owner who would keep the team in Glendale or, failing that, to someone who would relocate the franchise.

I have long believed that contraction might be a good thing for the NHL, and this case clearly demonstrates that eliminating one or even two cash-strapped franchises (to maintain a balance) might save the NHL the embarrassment of dealing with Balsillie.

I realize that the travel costs are prohibitive, but it's too bad the NHL can't expand into Scandanavia or Russia. I would hate to see the Coyotes go under, but the NHL apparently wants nothing to do with a corrupt figure like Balsillie, and it might want to find a way to stay economically viable by making some hard choices. Canada, especially, has shown that it cannot hang on to franchises, having lost several already to big cities in the US. What makes Balsillie think he can make an NHL team work in Hamilton?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Washington Redskins Sure Hate Their Own Fans, Don't They

What a disgrace:
One night last fall, thousands of fans walked into FedEx Field carrying gold towels. From the opening kickoff, it was clear that they were not part of the Washington Redskins burgundy-and-gold. The towel-waving throng cheered for the Pittsburgh Steelers, so loudly that on some downs the Redskins couldn't hear quarterback Jason Campbell call the signals.

Redskins players and many others were puzzled that Steelers fans were able to get their hands on so many coveted tickets. For more than 70 years, the Washington Redskins have boasted that they have sold out every game. Seats are so scarce, the team says, that the waiting list for general admission season tickets has 160,000 names on it.

But the reality is that those who want tickets can often find them online through ticket resellers such as StubHub. And in recent years, the Redskins ticket office itself has sold tickets into this secondary market, making it easier for fans of opposing teams to invade FedEx.

Thousands of general admission tickets were sold to brokers, who resold them on the secondary market, often at higher-than-retail prices, according to interviews and internal Redskin documents. These were often tickets to the very seats that Redskins fans have waited years to get.

The Redskins acknowledged that the sales were made but said they were against team policy.

Redskins General Counsel David Donovan said the prohibited sales were discovered in the spring during an internal audit of last season's ticket contracts and involved about 15 ticket brokering companies. He said the ticket sales employees involved were disciplined. He declined to name the employees or specify the discipline because it was a personnel matter.

"Somebody in the ticket office was doing something they shouldn't have been doing, and when it was discovered, it was all dealt with," Redskins Senior Vice President Karl Swanson said. "If the story is, this is a scandal, uncovered by Redskins, verified by The Post, or whatever, yeah, we're telling you: People got tickets who shouldn't have gotten tickets, and they were dealt with."

Washington is a money-grubbing, stab-you-in-the-back, I-gotta-get-mine kind of a town, and that's just when Congress is in session. Apparently, you can extend that to the jackasses running the ticket enterprise for the Washington Redskins. No amount of money is ever enough, and the shocking greed of such people renders them incapable of understanding the importance of being a fan.

Now, here's where the insidiousness of this is even more evident. Sports Talk 980 (WTEM, AM-980) is, essentially, the only listenable sports talk radio station in the Washington D.C. area. It regularly runs ads by StubHub, the reseller which undercuts the fans by using this broker method, as outlined above. WTEM-AM is, in fact, owned by Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins. Now, explain to me how this process of allowing the company that resells the tickets to advertise on the radio station you use to connect with the fans of your sports team does not tell them to go take a hike when it comes to their own efforts to come by a couple of decent seats to a Washington Redskins football game. It's an incestuous, money-making proposition, and any fan that falls for it deserves to have every dollar in their pocket sucked into Daniel Snyder's teenaged-boy sized pants.

That's right. That guy? Shopping next to Mike Lupica in the boy's department? That's Danny Boy himself, trying to save a few bucks on something off the rack in a 32 Small.

When is it ever going to be enough? When does an organization finally say, okay, we're milking our fans enough, let's stop the gravy train? The NFL doesn't care--the Redskins did nothing illegal. That's all well and good. From a public relations standpoint, doing something perfectly legal still screws the fanbase. There is a finite number of people with the resources to pay these prices and there is a finite number of people who will accept being screwed. The Washington Redskins are betting that the Washington D.C. area, which has a high turnover rate of people moving in and out of the region and which has a relatively high employment rate will continue to see those finite numbers shift just enough to catch the suckers who haven't figured this out yet.

It's never enough. Spare me the phony outrage--whoever was working in that ticket office wasn't putting the money into their own pants. They were sticking that money back into the organization. With a wink and a nod, of course.
The Washington Post basically destroys the credibility of Dan Snyder's money-printing operation and exposes it as a charade and a fan-hating machine that prints money by allowing real Redskins fans to suck wind trying to get tickets that are then sold to the fans of other teams, or are not even sold at all.

Here's how a broker works the Redskins system:
The story of one ticket broker shows how employees of the Redskins ticket office bundled club seats with general admission to make sales.

ASC owner Jeff Greenberg said a Redskins official first reached out to him in 2007 because sales agents were having trouble selling premium-priced club seats, with many fans declining to renew 10-year contracts signed when the stadium opened in 1997.

Greenberg, 42, who has been a ticket broker for 17 years, works out of a storefront in a building he owns in Gaithersburg. The company, which occupies two floors and has 12 employees, sells tickets to concerts, shows and sports events in almost every major venue in the United States.

Constantly switching between his cellphone and land lines, he sits before three computer screens, listing every ticket he buys or sells.

The 2007 arrangement that Greenberg had with the Redskins covered 1,360 individual tickets that he bought for about $60,000, team records show. Most of them were general admission tickets -- 710 in the upper deck and 366 in the lower bowl.

In 2008, ASC bought 217 season tickets (for 10 games) and 2,000 seats to individual games during the season. About half of those seats were in the lower bowl, with most in sections 101 to 142. About 40 percent of the seats were premium, and the rest were in the upper deck.

Greenberg said the contracts required him to buy the premium seats for two years in exchange for being allowed to buy the 169 lower bowl season tickets "in perpetuity."

Remember that the next time someone suggests that professional sports is on the up and up and that the Redskins are a great organization. They're not even bothering to spend an extra nickel and use lube when they give their fans the shaft.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Coach Bobby Knight Should Tell Indiana to Kiss His Backside

Really, where was the loyalty?
A little over a week ago, Indiana University announced it would be inducting Bob Knight into its Hall of Fame. In the nine days since then, there has been no shortage of discussion around the state of Indiana, message boards, newspapers and local talk radio. Normally, the induction of someone with Knight's accolades wouldn't cause such a stir. He won three national championships, 12 Big Ten titles and went to the Final Four fives times in 29 seasons at Indiana. He's currently the winningest coach in Division-I history.

But that doesn't tell the whole story, of course.

Everyone who follows college basketball knows the general story of Knight's ugly divorce from Indiana, as he was dismissed by then-President Myles Brand in September of 2000. Since then, Knight has refused to acknowledge anything about Indiana University or his time there in any public forum. Thus, it's pretty easy to see why there is such a debate on whether or not he'll attend his own induction.

Who stood up to Myles Brand? Who stood up and said that Coach Knight should have stayed at Indiana? The fans certainly did. But did the University officials, who will benefit from any appearance by Coach Knight, stand up for him? Or were they rolled by the ESPN-fed shark frenzy that created a tsunami of phony outrage? I can guarantee you that if ESPN were running stories, quotes, and recurring highlight reels critical of a Coach Knight appearance, they would be hiding like terrified bunnies under their well-appointed desks.

Who will point out that Brand's tenure as head of the NCAA has allowed programs, coaches, schools, and amateur athletics to run wild and commit offenses far worse than anything Coach Knight could have ever cooked up on his own? You have schools being forced to give up wins. Okay, that's great. Why are they still playing? There used to be a thing called "the death penalty." How about we have one for Indiana, Kentucky, Memphis, UConn, and whoever else has been running fast and loose with the rules?

Do you know why Coach Knight should laugh in the face of Indiana University? Because that great disciplinarian, Myles Brand, allows Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Bob Huggins, and a host of others to continue coaching in his vaunted NCAA. Because Brand allows college football programs to continue to run wild and get away with all but murder.

I'll let Dr. Boyce D. Watkins explain why Coach Knight was never the problem, but was, to put it mildly, a rare and unique example of how the NCAA is supposed to work:
...I believe that Myles Brand, in spite of the propaganda exercise performed by he and CBS Sports last year (in an attempt to refute my analysis), knows that he would never allow himself or his coaches to operate under the same constraints, penalties and exploitation placed on athletes and their families (especially if his mother were getting evicted, as many of these players come from poverty). In fact, I found it quite ironic that nearly every participant in the CBS sports special was earning at least a few hundred thousand dollars per year while simultaneously explaining to athletes and their families why they shouldn’t get any of that money.

Beyond paying the athletes, I would make a decision: either the NCAA is going to be a professional organization or an amateur one. It’s not going to be a hybrid. A truly amateur organization doesn’t have coaches earning as much as $4M dollars per year. Coaches earn no more than, say, $80,000 per year.

-- An amateur organization doesn’t fire losing coaches with high graduation rates and reward winning coaches with low graduation rates -- any coach hired by the NCAA is expected to not only teach at the university, he/she is expected to ensure that academic achievement is first and foremost in the life of each athlete.

-- The rules should disappear: why can’t players transfer to other schools without being penalized? Coaches leave in the middle of the season all the time. Why is it illegal for athletes to receive compensation from outside entities? Coaches take money from whomever they please. Athletes are given the same responsibilities as adults, told to behave as adults, yet we put rules in place that treat them like children. Again, anyone who exploits another human being, whether it’s the NCAA or a corrupt warlord in a third world country, is going to place constraints on you and then guise his/her motivations by claiming that the rules are in place for your protection. That is the consistent theme of the NCAA’s justification for controlling their student athletes. But their desire to protect the athlete goes out the window when an athlete gets into trouble, loses his/her eligibility or loses his/her scholarship for not being able to perform on the field.

-- The NCAA needs to redefine its mission and be honest with the world. Right now, it is an elephant with bunny ears, swearing that it’s nothing but a harmless little rabbit. The truth is that the NCAA is exactly what it appears to be: a professional sports league. So, rather than allowing me to become the head of the NCAA, I would rather be the head of the House Ways and Means Committee, which initiated an investigation into the NCAA and began to question its non-profit status. A bureaucratic beast that has grown so deformed with contradictions needs to be deconstructed and rebuilt in a model of fairness. As it stands, the NCAA exists in stark contrast to the values most of us embrace as Americans. I’ve seen it up close over the past 15 years and it bothers the heck out of me.

Coach Knight graduated student athletes, kept his program clean, played by the rules, and got run out of Indiana for nothing but political correctness and for being everything the Myles Brand detested in a coach--a competent educator and disciplinarian who could teach, mold young men into something, and blast the ridiculously incompetent and narrow-minded sports media establishment while enjoying the hell out of himself.

Coach Knight, tell them to kiss your ass.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Of course it has been hell on your family, you moron

Louisville Mens Basketball Coach Rick Pitino is lucky to have a job, period. Were it not for the low standards and overwhelming emphasis on winning no matter what, no decent school would have kept him on for the upcoming season. That is not to say that he couldn't have signed on somewhere else in a few years and gone back to coaching. No, it's the lack of accountability for what he did that stings here. He's paid no price, other than a personal one, and, of course, he's complaining about that in the media:
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Wednesday a sex scandal involving a woman accused of trying to extort him has been "pure hell" for his family, and that the airing of her claims made him angry enough to speak out against his lawyer's advice.

Pitino spoke at a hastily called news conference hours after Louisville police released audio and video recordings of phone calls and an interview with Karen Cunagin Sypher, the woman at the heart of the scandal. Pitino has told police that he had sex with her six years ago.

Sypher claims in the interview that Pitino sexually assaulted her. Prosecutors did not pursue charges against Pitino, and Sypher is now accused of trying to extort millions from the coach. She has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of extortion and lying to the FBI.

The coach lashed out at the media for again reporting on her accusations by airing clips of the interviews Wednesday.

"Everything that's been printed, everything that's been reported, everything that's been breaking in the news on the day Ted Kennedy died is 100 percent a lie, a lie," Pitino said. "All of this has been a lie, a total fabrication of the truth."

The married father of five, who's also a devout Roman Catholic, said the scandal has taken a heavy toll on his wife and family.

"It has been pure hell for her and my family," he said.

"I admitted to you I made a mistake, and believe me I will suffer for that mistake," he added.

If you're contrite and attempting to rehabilitate your image, you do not lash out at the media. You roll over and take it and try to behave in a humble way.

Not so with Pitino. This is becoming a farce. He isn't sorry about anything, other than the fact that his image has taken a hit. He's not the choirboy. He's like any other middle-aged man in America who has sex in public with someone who is not his wife and then has to pay hush money to in order to keep from being held accountable for his lapse in judgement.

It's also very, very clear that when you're the head coach, you get preferential treatment:
In an interview with police that was not taped but was summarized in a police report, Pitino said the encounter with Sypher was consensual. Police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said Pitino's interview wasn't taped because his attorney accompanied him to the interview.

Why not? Is it because he was simply being asked questions and wasn't suspected of anything? Because I will bet you anything you want to bet that it was favoritism and it was designed to try to keep him from being held accountable or liable in a civil suit of some kind. When the police start treating lawyered up VIPs different from the rest of us, it means something is afoot. Good for Pitino--he was able to bring his lawyer to an untaped, friendly conversation with the police when he wasn't suspected of anything. People of means, they get all the special breaks. It certainly could be an innocent questioning procedure, now could it?

If I'm having any kind of conversation with the police and with my lawyer present, I think I'd want to have it taped, provided I was innocent. I think I would want to have that record of the proceedings in order to keep from being accused of something I didn't do, especially if I was innocent. Now, given all that, how innocent is Pitino, when you get right down to it? Why bring a lawyer and then why not tape it? Weird.

Is it asking too much for the NCAA to do something here? Perhaps gagging Pitino would violate his right to free speech. It's not like someone should keep him from speaking out--it's just that, every time he does, he reminds people of why Louisville should have fired him in the first place. He does not get that his public stance right now should be one of relief and humility, not defiance and anger at the media for simply doing their job.

If the NCAA can go after assistant coaches for minor recruiting violations as if the Republic is about to fall, perhaps they can look into how a big-time coach runs his affairs while professing to be a role model and an educator and a shaper of young men's character.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Time to go after corrupt programs

If the NCAA doesn't start punishing schools soon, the backlash is going to overwhelm the major sports. And, let's face it, there may be cheating in every college sport of some kind, but we're really only talking about college football and college basketball.

Florida State University is about to be stripped of victories in football, and this comes on the heels of seeing Memphis stripped of 38 wings in basketball:
A top official at the NCAA said a court ruling Thursday that documents dealing with cheating at Florida State are public records sets a precedent that will "rip the heart out of the NCAA" and its efforts to ensure competition is fair and equal.

David Berst, the NCAA's vice president for Division I, said few witnesses other than school officials and employees would be willing to tell what they know about cheating, whether in recruiting, academics or other areas, without the promise of confidentiality.

"We could see copycat efforts in other states," Berst said. "Yes, I believe that would rip the heart out of the NCAA."

His comments from the witness stand came soon after Circuit Judge John Cooper rejected the NCAA's claim that the documents in the Florida State case are not public.

Well, of course they are. Florida State isn't a private university. Lawyers--they think they know the law or something.

Coach Bobby Bowden is slated to lose as many as 14 victories--a staggering number for a coach in the twilight of his career. Joe Paterno will rise to the top of the heap if this happens and if Bowden cannot coach long enough to outpace him. I don't see it being very likely.

The NCAA is being run like a clown circus, and the last few years have seriously tarnished any credibility that the ailing Myles Brand may have brought to it. Allowing schools like Florida State to continue competing is a farce. That John Calipari is allowed to walk away from the debacle at Memphis and go to the oft-sullied Kentucky is tragic for the credibility of the sport. It's not Calipari is a first-time offender. More schools need to be handed "the death penalty" to get them back in line.

UPDATE from Fanhouse:
An annoyed Florida State President T.K. Wetherell wasn't in a forgiving mood Friday.

Not when it came to the NCAA's terse stance that suggested the Seminoles could be deprived of their rights of due process within the governing body or, better yet, they could simply leave the NCAA -- all because FSU must abide by the state's public records law.

A Leon County (Fla.) circuit judge ruled Friday the NCAA must publicly release documents on FSU's appeal of an academic cheating penalty. Circuit Judge John C. Cooper also criticized the athletic organization for making underlying threats against the university.

Wetherell, who has been at odds with the NCAA on past occasions -- he led the school's fight to keep its "Seminole" nickname -- criticized the NCAA's threats against FSU.

"I cannot accept or believe the statement by an NCAA official that the NCAA would take away the due process rights of a Florida public university because that university must abide by public records law," Wetherell said in a prepared statement. "Nor do I accept the statement made in court by an NCAA representative that FSU (and therefore all Florida public universities) has the option of leaving the NCAA if they want to abide by Florida's public records law.

"There will undoubtedly be changes suggested for the NCAA infractions cases and appeals involving public records issues. I will send a letter to Myles Brand, requesting that the NCAA Executive Committee look into this matter as soon as possible because it impacts all Florida public universities that are members of the NCAA."

FSU has already transcribed one of the NCAA documents and released it to the public in a redacted form. The second document (350 pages) is the official transcript made by the NCAA of the Committee on Infractions Hearing of the FSU matter in October 2008 in Indianapolis.

Wetherell says the court case could have been easily avoided, pointing a finger at you-know-who.

"Statements made by the NCAA continue to disappoint me," he said. "It could have resolved this whole crisis long ago by giving us hard copies of the documents the news media had requested."

Leave the NCAA? Isn't that worse than the death penalty? Wouldn't that mean that Florida State couldn't play any college team in the country? Is Florida State going to become an NFL franchise?

The mind reels...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What's in the Water in Kentucky?

Is there anything that will get you in trouble with officials in the State of Kentucky? Is there any standard of conduct whatsoever for someone who coaches basketball at the collegiate level?
Memphis will be forced to vacate the record 38 victories from its Final Four season of 2007-08, according to a report by the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

The newspaper, citing a source close to the situation, said on its Web site Wednesday night that the NCAA will on Thursday release findings of its investigation into violations committed by the program.

The NCAA investigated whether someone took the SAT exam for a player on that Final Four team. Memphis was notified of potential violations in January and met with the NCAA in June.

Memphis finished 38-2 in 2007-08, setting the NCAA record for wins in a season. The Tigers lost 75-68 to Kansas in overtime in the national championship game.

It would be the second time both Memphis and former coach John Calipari had to vacate Final Four seasons. The Tigers were stripped of their 1985 appearance and Calipari's Massachusetts team lost its 1996 berth.

Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson, coach Josh Pastner and a spokesman for the team couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Calipari, appearing at the Kentucky State Fair on Thursday, had no comment because the report had not been officially released but did say he would be "disappointed" if Memphis was stripped of its trip to the Final Four.

Mitch Barnhart, the president of Kentucky who hired Calipari away from Memphis earlier this year, told the AP last week he's not concerned about the potential violations that became known only after Calipari was hired. The coach has not been deemed "at risk" by the NCAA, and Barnhart stressed Calipari is eager to help the Wildcats win the right way.

In Kentucky, basketball is king. Rick Pitino and John Calipari are gods walking the Earth, impervious to accountability. These men can say or do whatever they want and they will never be held accountable. Don't even begin to argue that a basketball program stripped of 38 victories because it was rife with academic cheating should not reflect upon the coach of that program. Academics, coaching, and ethics are all wrapped up as one, and if that coach didn't know, then that coach is either lying or incompetent. That should preclude that individual from having anything to do with collegiate atheletics, period. End of story. Clem Haskins can help you sort that out if you need help with it.

The next time some blowhard on ESPN or any other sports channel or forum goes off on Bobby Knight, tell them to shut their pie hole and hold up as an example the disgraceful conduct of Rick Pitino and John Calipari in the corrupt and venal state of Kentucky. (Yes, Jay Mariotti is the blind pig finding the acorn with this one and gets one right).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gambling in Delaware Wins One Legal Round

As I have said many times, legalized sports betting in Delaware will ruin us all. That horrible, horrible possibility moved closer to reality:

A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request from the major pro sports leagues and the NCAA for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the state of Delaware from offering sports betting.

Barring intervention from an appeals court, U.S. District Judge Gregory M. Sleet's ruling clears the way for Delaware's plan to begin single-game and parlay wagering in time for the NFL's regular-season opener, Sept. 10.

After denying the injunction, Sleet set a series of October deadlines related to the leagues' request for a summary judgment ruling on its lawsuit against the state; such a ruling would come without a trial. Still, Sleet also scheduled a trial date, Dec. 7.

"The state is moving full speed ahead with our plans to implement a sports lottery by the start of the NFL season," Michael Barlow, lead counsel for Delaware Gov. Jack Markell's office, said in a statement.

"The Delaware Supreme Court gave us permission to initiate a sports lottery and today's decision reaffirms that we can move forward."

At a hearing in Wilmington, lawyers hired by the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL and NCAA argued that Delaware's plan violated the federal ban against sports betting. Kenneth Nachbar, the leagues' lead attorney, said his clients are evaluating their options, including appealing Sleet's decision to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

Someone better pray that the judges in Philly can stop this thing.

If sports betting in Delaware goes through, it will allow people on the Eastern seaboard to bet on Big East and ACC games. Think of the implications inherent in the nightmare of all of this. The economy has already turned suckers into fat, juicy marks. Internet scams, fake mortgages, birth certificates printed on toilet paper, and disenfranchised princes from West Africa abound. It means that we are headed for meltdown, horror, bank failure, government bailouts for sports betting clowns, subsidies for high rollers who go bust, all of that jive. Every slackjawed goober with an extra hundred dollars is already slavering over the possibility of making it turn into eight hundred dollars by betting on Georgetown vs St. Johns, or Duke over Maryland at Maryland.

Think it won't ruin college basketball? Think again, Poindexter. College basketball will become almost, but not quite, as bad as the NBA, which is fixed, I tell you, fixed.

They want to bet on the NFL, and on the rivalries that have turned the NFC East into a nightmare of screaming fans, broken dreams, and shattered players. The amount of money bet on an Eagles-Cowboys game would likely drain hard currency from the banks, causing many of them to fail outright if a fourth quarter miracle pass from Romo to someone playing third string were to connect for an upset. You'd have Joe Sixpacks jumping off roofs throughout the state of Pennsylvania. The strain on our first responders would leave hundreds of people stranded without help for days if the Giants were to beat the Redskins at Fed Ex field by thirty in a blowout that would obliterate the point spread. It would lead to a forced return of the barter system because money would cease to mean anything. People would be forced to trade their loyalty to a football team for seeds with which to grow food.

It would all end in drunken yammering into a wet sleeve, lone gunshots, rope burns and broken tree limbs from half-assed suicide attempts, television movies about trust and honor being thrown away by point shaving middle school players with draft prospects, distant howling into the cold night, families evicted from squatter homes, loan sharks being driven before crazed mobs by loan shark eating dogs, people migrating to Oklahoma in order to take advantage of the Big XII's dominance over the Mountain West, chaos in the schools, violence in the workplace over fantasy football teams run amok, wives beating their husbands over gambling losses...the mind reels. Stop sports betting, for the good of all mankind.

Stop it now. But only in Delaware. In Vegas? Cool beans.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Delaware Faces Lawsuit Over Sports Betting

In the 1950s, men routinely emptied their bank accounts to go gambling

Having been to Delaware, I can assure you--sports betting will not save the First State. I don't know what will save it. Swim-A-Longs with Dolphins? Fully Nude Strip Clubs? State Line Fireworks Booths?

Back in May, I told you Sports Betting Will Ruin Everything and I laid out my reasons for being against the practice of betting on games. Fans will upend their lives and pawn their belongings just to bet on a Jets-Bills or Redskins-Giants game. There is no moderation in the life of a professional football fan, sir. None.

Today, the four major sports, yes, they were kind and they allowed the NHL to join in, plus the NCAA, filed a lawsuit against Delaware. Methinks Delaware is going to lose:

The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA sued Delaware Friday, seeking to block the state from implementing sports betting.

Delaware's sports betting plan "would irreparably harm professional and amateur sports by fostering suspicion and skepticism that individual plays and final scores of games may have been influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition," the leagues and NCAA say in a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Delaware.

Congress banned sports betting in 1992 but grandfathered four states - Delaware, Nevada, Montana and Oregon - that had already offered it. But the lawsuit argues that Delaware's plan to allow single-game betting would violate the legislation because Delaware has never offered single-game betting before.

Under the '92 law, the leagues and NCAA said, a state like Delaware may only reintroduce sports betting if it had been conducted between 1976 and 1990.

They also argue that Delaware's plan is illegal because it allows betting on all sports, going beyond the professional football betting program that constituted the state's brief failed experiment in 1976.

Now, depending on how the judges view that, it could definitely cut against Delaware. I would argue that, in the time frame of 1976 to 1990, there were far fewer methods of betting. Using a credit card was available then, but the advent of the Internet, texting, wireless technology, and the expansion of the major sports franchises, not to mention the creation of the Bowl Championship Series, means that limiting precedent in this case won't fly. I think the case will be won by looking at why Delaware is trying to do this--Delaware, like virtually all of the other states, is broke. It's trying to raise revenue.

The four major sports, and the NCAA, realize this, but they're afraid of losing money as well. A few gambling scandals have hit in recent years--NBA, I still don't watch you because I'm convinced your games are rigged by phony referees--and baseball is still reeling from a steroids scandal. The NCAA, especially, is vulnerable because of the influence of alumni and the fanatical fan base found in places like the SEC and the Big East (but, really, everywhere, even in the Mountain West).

The fans will bankrupt themselves betting on games--no one is more certain of their ability to win some mad money than an Eagles fan that smells blood in the water when the hapless Cowboys come to town. Now that Tony Romo is facing an NFL season without the lovely Jessica Simpson there to keep him grounded, he will likely throw seven or eight interceptions per half when he faces the Eagles.

The societal breakdown of gambling is such that you really want to keep it in Las Vegas, and let them deal with the fallout. If you turn the East Coast into a sports betting paradise, with flocks of erstwhile experts rushing in and out of Delaware to place bets on single games, well, all I can tell you is that one fixed NFL game would bring everything crashing down all around us. Many years ago, Hollywood gave us a pretty good documentary on this issue, and I cannot give you a better example of the evils of sports betting.