Welcome to the inaugural edition of Notes On A Scorecard.
This column will appear periodically and touch upon topical issues in the world of sports both inside and outside Japan.
So with a tip of the cap to the late, great Allan Malamud, who penned a similar column for years for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and later Los Angeles Times, we begin.
It never ceases to amaze me the amount of hypocrisy we see in the sports media. Sometimes it is absolutely farcical.
In this instance I am referring to the tempest in a teapot over the name of the Washington Redskins. Recently Native American groups in the United States have been claiming the team nickname is disrespectful to them and their ancestors.
Fair enough. These people are entitled to their opinion and the right to express it. That is understandable.
What is not is the grandstanding by prominent media types (e.g. NBC’s Bob Costas, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth) on this issue. The aforementioned and many others have been using the nickname on air and in print for years, but suddenly when there are some objections to it, they become righteous and get on their narcissistic soapboxes.
Absolutely pathetic. And these are supposed to be people at the height of their professions. Good grief.
I can only wince when I see the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans are trying to cling to the glory that Kobe Bryant has brought the team over the years.
Now 35 and coming off a serious injury (ruptured Achilles tendon), Bryant’s career is clearly on the decline. Taking away nothing from his previous greatness, the reality is it is time for the team to move on and start thinking about the future.
Staking the fate of your franchise on a player heading for the downside, and an injured one at that, is a big mistake. What many forget is that Bryant has a lot of mileage on him.
He came into the NBA at 18 after bypassing college, and will be entering his 18th season when he does take the court this year. At 45,390 minutes, he has already played more than 4,000 minutes more than Michael Jordan did in his entire career.
Singer Gil Scott-Heron once said that, “America loves to live in the past. Even if it was only last week.”
That is what you are seeing with the Lakers. Instead of confronting reality and dealing with it, they are trying to defer it, which is only going to make matters worse.
Take a look at the Indianapolis Colts and how they handled the situation with quarterback Peyton Manning last year. They owed the four-time NFL MVP a huge roster bonus of $28 million if they kept him, but instead chose to offload him to the Denver Broncos and look to the future by selecting Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Though the Colts took a lot of heat for the move, they made the right decision. They got what they could for Manning and took a progressive step with Luck. It has turned out well for both teams.
The Lakers should take a page from the Colts and do the same with Bryant. Get something now before it is too late.
Gymnast Kohei Uchimura recently staked his claim to being the greatest of all time. He won his fourth consecutive world title earlier this month and coupled with his gold medal from last year’s London Olympics (in a year when the worlds were not held), has now been the dominant figure in his sport for five years.
Truly incredible. At the age of 24, he is not done yet.
Hard to figure the Rakuten Eagles not starting ace Masahiro Tanaka in Game 1 of the Japan Series. He was 25-0 on the season and would certainly have given them their best bet at breaking on top.
Speaking of Tanaka, it appears that one of the MLB teams very interested in him is the Chicago Cubs. Let’s hope it works out a little better for the team if it does land Tanaka than it did the last time it went after a can’t-miss Japanese star.
The Cubs signed outfielder Kosuke Fukudome before the 2008 season to a four-year contract worth more than $50 million and the move turned out to be a complete disaster.
The brouhaha over the anti-gay laws in Russia seems to be giving certain groups the opportunity to make political hay by involving the Sochi Olympics in the equation. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, trying to pull the athletes into it is not going to do any good.
This is a dispute that belongs in a different arena. The reality is that there is too much money involved in the Olympics now for there to be any true movement on the issue. Boycotts are costly, and if any athletes try to take action at the games, they will be kicked out.
I must say I am amazed at the whole issue of concussions and the NFL. Once again, it appears that individuals and groups are trying to capitalize on the controversy for financial gain.
Is it good that some of the retired players are getting improvement in medical care?
Of course it is.
But any person who has pulled on a helmet or pads at any level of the game goes in knowing that you can be seriously injured at any moment. To claim otherwise is complete fiction.
Paying NCAA athletes to play sports for their colleges and universities seems to be another in-vogue issue for those looking to raise their profiles.
I have a hard time justifying it because the athletes are provided with full tuition, room and board. They also receive small stipends.
I suppose the stipends could be increased, but trying to come up with a system for paying college athletes would be a minefield.
There are too many different factors and variables at play.
Would Division I players at big schools get more than those at Division III schools?
Would male and female athletes be compensated equally?
How would the payment system be enacted and who would oversee it?
What about image rights and endorsements?
Would the athletes share in those as well?
Who would determine the percentage they would get?
If you start paying the football and basketball players, you are going to have to pay all of the athletes in every sport.
Once you start compensating collegians financially, you will see more under-the-table payments, not fewer.
It may sound like a good idea, but it just isn’t feasible.
You can bet the NCAA and the schools will resist any attempt at paying the athletes until their final breaths.
They will protect their revenue streams like the guards watching over the gold at Fort Knox.