A Blast From The (Near) Past ...

This shot of the scoreboard at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas is from a game played Feb. 8, 2020. Although leading when this photo was taken, the National Hockey League’s Las Vegas Golden Knights lost the game 6-5 in a shootout against the Carolina Hurricanes. Almost exactly six months later, the Knights are the No. 1 seed in the NHL Western Conference Playoffs being played in Edmonton, Canada. The Chinese characters on the scoreboard reflect the fact that Feb. 8, 2020, was the last day of the Chinese New Year. The T-Mobile Arena that evening had 18,150 fans in attendance, a hard to fathom total during our current worldwide health crisis.

Yet another sign The Apocalypse is upon is The San Diego Union-Tribune no longer publishes out-of-town box scores, further diminishing their product. Conversely the other daily paper I read, the Chicago Tribune, has an entire page of box scores accumulated from all sports… Despite a lifelong love of pro basketball, I’m having trouble getting interested in the current NBA Bubble re-start to the regular season. When star players are resting and missing games after being idled for four months, the games just don’t seem to matter as much… An example is rookie New Orleans Pelican forward Zion Williamson being on a minute restriction and not playing at all in one of the games. It’s hard to believe that at the age of 20 he can’t play at least half of each game… And to me the NBA’s piped in crowd noise and digitized background have lost whatever charm they might have had… Over the past few weeks I have written about the challenges facing College Football and by extension College Athletic Departments. I couldn’t have predicted that my Alma Mater Miami University’s (Ohio) Mid-American Conference would lead the way in moving fall sports, including football to Spring 2021. Monday afternoon the Mountain West Conference made a similar decision, meaning all fall sports at San Diego State University, including football, will be played, hopefully in the spring. Monday, reports were circulating that 12 of the 14 Presidents of the Big 10 Conference Schools (yes, the Big 10 has 14 member institutions) had voted to move all fall sports to the spring, with Nebraska and Iowa voting to play in the fall. The key elements to their decision can be summarized up by two concepts, future financial liability, and lost revenue. Myocarditis or an inflammation of the muscles surrounding the heart has been found in COVID-19 survivors, including a handful of Big 10 football players. Exposing athletes, coaches, and staff to a serious medical condition in the future would produce an unacceptable financial risk to schools. As we wrote last week, providing players and staff with adequate and timely COVID-19 testing would be prohibitively expensive for schools outside the Power Five of the Big 10, the Pac-12, the Big 12, the ACC and SEC. Also the Mid-American Conference member schools took a $10 million hit when the Big 10 cancelled their non-conference football schedule a couple of weeks ago. MAC schools needed that game guarantee revenue to have any hope of breaking even with their football programs. For years Miami University had two Big Ten teams on their schedule to generate revenue. The additional problem is if College Football is moved to spring 2021, the stars of this year’s senior class will simply pass on the season and prepare for the NFL Draft… Speaking of the NFL, with 67 players opting out of the 2020 season thus far, the talent level of the game has taken a hit. And there will be more players opting out as Training Camps open soon… February 2020 the Better Half and I went on a short vacation to Las Vegas and while we were there, we went to see the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights play the Carolina Hurricanes. That met two goals, getting to see an NHL game in person for the first time in several years, while simultaneously paying waaay too much money for the tickets. The game, which drew a crowd of 18,150, was played almost exactly six months ago and it seems more like five years. The Golden Knights, after holding a 3-1 lead after the first period, eventually lost to the Hurricanes in a shootout by the score of 6-5. At the time I thought the Golden Knights were a good club, as they were 28-21-8 at the time, but not great. Fast forward to the Edmonton NHL Bubble created for Western Conference teams and the Golden Knights have just earned the No. 1 seed and have a record of 39-24-8 after defeating the Dallas Stars, the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche. The bad news is the Golden Knights play my hockey rooting interest, the Chicago Blackhawks in the next round, and they will provide a formidable challenge for Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and the Blackhawks… A sad farewell to Pete Hamill, who was a long-time columnist in New York and an author of considerable skill, who passed away last week. A few times in your life, as you are reading a book, you might think, “This person can really write.” One of those times for me came while reading Hamill… Congratulations to former NBA player Rony Seikaly, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon, for promising to raise $1 million for a relief effort for that country. I was with the Heat when Seikaly was selected with the No. 9 pick in the First Round of the 1988 NBA Draft. Seikaly initiated the fundraising effort with a personal donation of $100,000. Over 10 full NBA seasons and parts of three others, Seikaly who played collegiately at Syracuse, averaged 14.7 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game, and 1.3 assists per game. As of Tuesday morning, he had raised $421,000 to aid residents of Beirut.

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