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  • Geebo 10:01 am on April 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Sports, Stadiums   

    The Raiders moving to Vegas is a symptom of a much larger disease 

    The Raiders moving to Vegas is a symptom of a much larger disease

    When it came to the NFL, for many years the city of Los Angeles was always a bridesmaid but never a bride. Whenever an NFL team wanted their city to chip in public money for a new stadium, the team would always threaten to move to L.A. Two teams finally made good on those threats when St. Louis and San Diego told the Rams and Chargers respectively, to take a hike. L.A. went from being a the biggest major market without a football team, to having two teams in less than a year. At one time, the Raiders themselves were in an agreement with the Chargers to share a stadium in L.A. with their AFC West rivals.

    Now with the second largest media market out of reach, where could the Raiders threaten to go to try to get a new stadium out of Oak Town’s coffers? With Los Angeles being at capacity Las Vegas became the next logical market to court. While not as large a market as Los Angeles, or even Baltimore, Las Vegas does attract many travelers from across the country to its glitzy attractions.

    The problem here is that it seems more than likely that the Raiders had no intention of staying in Oakland. Former Raiders and 49ers Hall of Fame player Ronnie Lott headed a business consortium that not only would have created a smaller but more modern and lucrative stadium, but the City of Oakland itself agreed to the deal and had promised to kick in a share of the cost. It would have been a new stadium with luxury suites and plenty of space for concessions which the aging Oakland Coliseum is said to have lacked. It also would have kept the stadium in the same relative area as the Coliseum. However, Raiders owner Mark Davis, and his haircut, had been visiting Las Vegas for the past year, entering into talks with various businessmen including local billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Even when Adelson pulled out of helping the Raiders financially in their move to Vegas, Davis went full speed ahead with the move anyway. while it’s not the Colts moving out of Baltimore in the middle of the night, it’s still an egregious show of disrespect to the Raider faithful. To make matters worse, Davis has sent out e-mails to Raiders ticket holders to make their deposits now for their games in Vegas. That’s a 9 hour drive at over 500 miles, which basically shows that the Raiders don’t want the lunch pail fans, but more of the wine and cheese crowd which goes against everything the Raiders have stood for in the past.

    Therein lies the problem with the modern NFL, it hasn’t been about the fans for years now. It’s all about the owners and their greed. The NFL owners voted almost unanimously to approve the Raiders’ move to Vegas. The lone holdout was Miami Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross, who used private money to renovate the Dolphins’ stadium. With the exception of stadium stalwarts like Lambeau Field in Green Bay or Soldier Field in Chicago, stadiums have become largely disposable. Stadiums that had been previously thought of as hallowed grounds like Three Rivers in Pittsburgh and Texas Stadium in Dallas have all fallen to the proverbial wrecking ball, however, in those cases at least the teams stayed in their markets. Who’s to say that with the current climate among NFL owners we wouldn’t one day see the Portland Steelers or the San Antonio Cowboys? In a few years the new sign of urban, and in some cases suburban, blight will be the carcasses of old sports stadiums littered across the country. While the Raiders may have not been the first to eschew their fans in pursuit of the almighty dollar, they’re certainly a huge part of a much larger problem that one day just may price the NFL out of existence.

     
  • Greg Collier 3:28 pm on June 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FIFA, , futbol, , , , soccer, Sports,   

    Today’s state of sports: Kids could teach the pros a thing or two 

    Over a recent weekend, I spoke with a friend who had spent the past couple of months coaching a little league team of 8-year-old boys. The kids had a good season, he said, emphasizing that “good” didn’t necessarily mean “winning.” Sure, they won their share of games, he said. But they lost a couple of heartbreakers, too.

    Still, he said, all of the kids had a good season. Some really improved their skills. Others picked up some confidence in their abilities. And at the end-of-the-season party, the kids talked about great catches and good hits instead of victories or losses. For these little kids, the game was still just that – a game. And winning wasn’t everything.

    The grown-ups today sure could learn a thing or two from these kids.

    A few weeks ago, just after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down his punishments on the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady for their roles in the “deflategate” scandal at the end of last season, I started to write a blog post about my disgust with the whole episode. But what could I say that I hadn’t said in an earlier blog post?

    But then came the next scandal – corruption at the highest levels of FIFA, the organization behind professional soccer. I’m not as much of a soccer fan as I am of the NFL but you had to admit, this scandal had all of the juicy elements of any good scandal – charges of racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud, the organization’s president suddenly resigning and confessions starting to emerge.

    I’m not naive enough to think that corruption – whether bribery or cheating – is new to the world of sports. And I certainly recognize that the outrage over FIFA’s bribes and Brady’s deflated footballs will eventually fade, especially when the next not-yet-known point-shaving scandal or juicing-gate something or other surfaces.

    Already, the New England Patriots have said that the team won’t fight Goodell’s punishment, choosing instead to “move on” and focus on the upcoming season – without admitting any guilt, of course. But, still, I found myself searching for the right words to express the betrayal and disgust I had been feeling about all of this.

    That’s when I read a quote from Andrew Jennings, the journalist and author who, for years, has been crying “foul” about corruption at FIFA and is largely being credited for sparking the downfall of the FIFA leadership. Shortly after the headlines broke, Jennings spoke to the Washington Post about the FIFA executives. He said:

    “I know that they are criminal scum, and I’ve known it for years. And that is a thoughtful summation. That is not an insult. That is not throwing about wild words. These scum have stolen the people’s sport. They’ve stolen it, the cynical thieving bastards.”

    Finally, someone spoke the words that I’ve struggled to find for months. These grown-ups are stealing our sports – and not just from us. They’re stealing the game from little kids,too. I can’t help but think of those 8-year-old little-leaguers and how they were perfectly content with winning some and losing some this past season.

    I know a lot of young athletes look to the pros as role models and aspire to be like them some day. But for once, I wish the tables were turned. I wish the grown-ups would take a look at some of these kids and behave more like them. It might bring some of the integrity back to the game.

     
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