Why do People Hate Deion Sanders?

Deion Sanders

Deion “Prime Time” Sanders recently took a job as the head coach of the Colorado Buffalo’s football team and a lot of people aren’t so happy about it. I’ve read quite a few articles claiming he cannot build a winning program, that he only wants to make money for himself, that anyone who hires him is a fool.

After those articles I’ve read the comments which, outside of Colorado fans, are almost universally negative toward Deion Sanders. It piques my curiosity that so many people feel the way they do. I have my thoughts on the subject. Let’s talk about it.

Deion Sanders is Prime Time

There is no doubt that Deion Sanders lives up to his nickname of Prime Time. He’s brash, he’s confident, he’s the sort of fellow who proudly tells you he’s going to beat you and then often does so. He’s arguably the greatest defensive back in NFL history and was one of the finest athletes in the world.

This sort of cockiness often brings out the haters and I think this is one of the reasons people are rooting against him.

Deion Sanders is Black

Much as some people would like to deny it, racism is still around. There are hardcore racists and more subtle racists. The fact of my first point combined with the second brings out the racism. Not only is he black but he’s cocky, uppity even. The same sort of brashness out of a white guy is perceived as toughness, no-nonsense manliness.

The Bottom Line of the Deion Sanders Hate

The bottom line is the bottom line. Deion Sanders is a relatively young, brash, black man who is coaching football. An enormously outsized percentage of the best high-school football players in the country, called five-star recruits, are minorities. Young, black athletes are choosing to go play for Deion Sanders. This is a threat to the institutions that currently dominate the sport.

I’m certainly not saying all the top recruits are flocking to Colorado to play but it makes a difference. If a dozen five-star recruits go to play in Colorado instead of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Auburn, LSU, and the other dominant college teams; those teams are slightly less good.

This is not just about bragging rights for those powerhouse schools, it’s about money. A lot of money. Those schools generate billions of dollars in revenue by having good football and basketball teams. The coaches make millions in salaries and more in the redistribution of the clothing contract money, private flights, loans for houses, and other perks.

The alumni of the schools do business in million-dollar luxury boxes where they entertain important clients. The wealth is enormous and its influential tendrils permeate every aspect of college towns and beyond.

If Deion Sanders succeeds then he won’t be the last young, black man to take over a program and siphon talent away from the power schools. That’s a real threat and people are genuinely worried. They have a vested interest in making sure he fails at Colorado.


Deion Sanders isn’t the most likeable human being in the world to begin with and the situation here is what people often call the perfect storm. The reality is he represents a threat to the establishment and, if you know anything about history, the establishment doesn’t go down without a fight.

Stay tuned.

Tom Liberman

Bernie Kosar Gambled and got Fired

Kosar Gambled

Former quarterback Bernie Kosar gambled and got fired from his job for doing so. What’s up with that? Well, Kosar works for the Cleveland Browns, where he spent his career playing football, and is a regular guest on various programs associated with the team.

With gambling becoming legal in Ohio, Kosar gambled $19,000 on the Pittsburgh Steeler game this weekend. He bet on the Browns to win but that’s not really the cause of his firing. The NFL has strict rules about employees, in any capacity, placing bets.

Should Employees be Allowed to Gamble?

I find the situation quite interesting from a number of perspectives. Let’s dispense with any silliness right away. The league clearly has a vested interest in keeping their employees from gambling on games. This is the case for a number of reasons.

Employees who gamble might have access to inside information and tip other gamblers to a particular way to bet. Employees might well get into gambling debt and become compromised in some way or another.

Any employee gambling gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. Even betting on the team with which the person is associated doesn’t help all that much. Could the person know something about the other team? It’s a tangled web and I completely understand the various sports leagues prohibiting gambling.

I won’t go deeply into problem gambling that is escalating across the country as I spoke about that elsewhere.

Kosar Gambled his Job and Lost

Kosar knew the rules. He stated well-ahead of time he planned to make the wager. It was almost certain the Cleveland Browns had to let him go once he placed the bet. When Kosar claims he is “shocked” by the turn of events, I find that pretty dubious. He knew what he was doing, the consequences for doing so, and chose to do it anyway.

The League is a Hypocrite

Up until now you’d think I my case open and shut. Hardly. Sports leagues don’t have a strong ethical position to enforce this ban. The leagues and individual teams profit enormously from legal gambling. They are sponsored by legal gambling website. Some of the stadiums even have areas in them associated with those websites.

Gambling fuels interest and betting information is available in any number of places associated with the various sports leagues. It’s hard to say how much money the leagues and teams make from gambling but it’s not insubstantial.

Basically, what the NFL is saying to Kosar is they can associate with gamblers all they want but he cannot. Kosar gambled and he’s out. The league takes millions from gambling sites and that’s just fine.

I do recognize that gambling itself and being paid from the profits of those bets are two different things, but the association and hypocrisy is not to my liking.


Kosar’s firing is completely legitimate from the point view of the league and he should not be surprised. Those in power need to take a closer look at their own behavior. Winners here? Not that I see.

Tom Liberman

The Rooney Rule and Brian Flores

Rooney Rule

Brian Flores is the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins and former assistant coach of the New England Patriots. He is now suing the National Football League because of a sham interview he endured. There’s a lot of talk of racism and discrimination on one side of the conversation and a lot of, frankly, racism and white privilege on the other side.

What I’d like to talk about today is the Rooney Rule that engendered this entire controversy. The rule originated in 2003 after a statistical analysis of head coaches in the NFL proved that black coaches won a higher percentage of their games and yet were fired more frequently. That’s numbers talking, not anyone’s opinion.

What is the Rooney Rule?

The Rooney rule makes it mandatory for an NFL team to interview minority candidates for the head coach position. It doesn’t require a minority be hired for the job, just interviewed. There are a few exceptions but basically it just means minority coaches must be at least interviewed before a hiring decision can be made.

The object of the rule is to force teams to, at a minimum, listen to minority coaches and their plans. It’s an interesting plan with a valid idea behind it. I’ve often heard people who are generally racist, homophobic, antisemitic, or otherwise inclined defend their position with the idea they have friends in the category they despise.

The point being that if you meet someone as an individual, it becomes much more likely you will become friends with that person. Whereas, if you avoid ever meeting someone of the discriminated against class, you never get to know any of them. Not to say a person is not a racist because they know a black guy, it’s just more likely she or he become less racist.

Did the Rooney Rule Work?

From a statistical point of view, the Rooney Rule appears to work fairly well. The number of minority coaches in the league jumped dramatically after implementation and generally remains higher than numbers before.

That being said, what didn’t happen is impossible to prove. Perhaps more minority candidates might have been hired if the rule didn’t exist. Perhaps less. It’s impossible to say. Still, statistics bear out the idea that it works.

The Flores Situation

A situation regarding the New York Giant’s quest for a new head coach brought question to the implementation of the rule. Team officials interviewed Brian Daboll for the job and scheduled an interview with Brian Flores the next week. Apparently, they decided, after the interview with Daboll, to hire him. The rule means they cannot do so immediately, they must interview a minority candidate like Flores first.

Someone in the Giant’s organization told a mutual friend of Daboll and Flores, Bill Belichick, of their plans to hire Daboll. Belichick then sent a congratulatory message to who he thought was Daboll but was actually Flores. Flores is now suing the league for failure to implement the Rooney rule and is also personally and publicly humiliated.

My Take on the Situation

Having spent all this time explaining the Rooney Rule and the Flores situation, now I finally get to my point. The Rooney rule is written in such a way as to exempt NFL decision makers from actually having to consider a minority candidate. All they have to do is pretend to do so. And they can’t even manage that!

Just out of courtesy alone, human decency even, the Giant’s management team should not tell anyone their decision until after all interviews are completed. You never know when the next candidate is going be superior. It’s rude, it’s cruel, and I can completely understand why Flores is furious. I’d be angry also and, don’t even try to deny it, so would you.

I don’t see racism here so much as stupidity and cruelty. I’m not sure the lawsuit is going to go anywhere but hopefully NFL executives will learn to keep their yaps shut in the future.

As to the Rooney Rule itself. I actually think it’s about as well-written and implemented a minority hiring a rule as possible. There is no doubt racism in hiring exists. The problem with quotas is that they create enormous resentment, companies find a million ways to get around them, and the courts tend to narrow their implementation.


The Rooney Rule is fine. The NFL actually did a pretty decent job of creating an impactful rule without tying anyone’s hands, breaking any laws, or being discriminatory itself. As for the Giants? Morons.

Tom Liberman

Jon Gruden would have a Job if he was not an Average Coach

Jon Gruden


The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden, resigned after the release of a number of emails in which he makes distasteful comments. There’s a lot of bleating about Cancel Culture but the reality comes down to the fact that Jon Gruden hasn’t been anything better than an average coach throughout his career.

If Jon Gruden had a coaching record significantly better than 122 wins against 116 losses we’d hear all sorts of excuses from his bosses, talk about sensitivity training, how he is a good man who made a mistake, and he’d still have a job.

What Jon Gruden Wrote

I confess that I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Jon Gruden particularly when I hear him lying in order to excuse his behavior. He insulted his ultimate boss, Roger Goodell, calling him a “clueless anti-football pussy”. He and Bruce Allen exchanged pictures of topless Washington Football Team cheerleaders, a scandal we’re not here to talk about today.

Jon Gruden described DeMaurice Smith as having lips the size of Michelin tires and then lies and claims he just meant Smith had rubber lips, which apparently, Gruden wants us to believe is a euphemism for someone who lies. It’s clearly a reference to the large lipped stereotype of black men. You know it, I know it, and Gruden knows it.

I’d have more sympathy for Gruden if he admitted that he used a stereotype. Gruden is also lying when he claims he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. That’s a lie born of Cognitive Dissonance. Of course, he has racist thoughts, misogynistic thoughts, homophobic thoughts, murderous thoughts. We all have such thoughts from time to time. It doesn’t make us racist or murderers, it makes us human.

This constant bleating that no one is more whatever than me, I don’t have a bad bone in my body is utter nonsense. You can still be a good person even if you have bad thoughts, if you make mistakes, if you do bad things, if you say wrong things. If Gruden stood up and owned up, I’d be more sympathetic to his arguments.

That being said, the bottom line is he isn’t a consistently winning football coach and that is why he was forced to resign.


There’s a lot of hand-wringing and complaining about Cancel Culture from one side and condemnation as racist and homophobic from the other. As usual, it’s somewhere in between but that doesn’t play well with those who only see the world as a one-way street.

Jon Gruden doesn’t have a job this morning because he’s an average coach who made some mistakes. When you’re really good at your job you’re allowed a lot of mistakes, that isn’t Jon Gruden.

Pam Oliver had a Bad Day

Pam Oliver

There’s a bit of an uproar in the sporting world because veteran sideline reporter Pam Oliver had a tough go of it at the Packers and Rams football game the other day. I did not see it live as I’ve pretty much quit on football, but during the game there were any number of reports about her troubles.

Pam Oliver has been a fixture of sideline reporting since she joined Fox Sports back in 1995. Her performance at the most recent game included stumbling to get out sentences and a general appearance of incoherence. Many people expressed concern, and because it’s the Internet, some poked fun at her.

Then I saw an article about the entire thing written by Donovan Dooley of Deadspin and I felt the irresistible compulsion to enter the fray. Dooley is angry that people would dare question Pam Oliver after her many years of excellent performance. My problem isn’t with Pam Oliver, who clearly was out of sorts, but with Dooley and his inane article.

Pam Oliver is a legend who doesn’t need anyone to defend her. Is the opening line of the article which then goes on to both defend her in every paragraph and attack both those who expressed concern and those who made light of the situation. If your opening sentence is a direct contradiction of the entire tone of your article, it’s a hint there is a problem.

Even Dooley admits she had an off day. After watching some of the links, it is clear her inability to properly express her thoughts was more than a little alarming. The idea she had some sort of medical condition, or perhaps a bad reaction to medication, or something else was entirely reasonable and those who expressed this seem to me to be far more concerned with her well-being than Dooley. Dooley presumably would stand idly by, pushing away emergency crews, while she collapsed onto the turf and began convulsing, claiming she just needed a moment.

I don’t care how great you’ve been historically, if you’re clearly struggling in the manner Pam Oliver was, expressing concern is the normal and appropriate reaction. Sure, some people were making fun of the situation and if Dooley wants to take those people to task, so be it. He makes no distinction between those expressing concern and those poking fun.

Frankly, if you’re going to be a public figure, you better be ready for some ridicule. Believe me, I blog plenty and write novels so I’ve heard plenty of criticism, particularly when I make mistake, rare as that might be.

One thing Dooley gets right is that Pam Oliver doesn’t need anyone to defend her. She’s a capable, professional, and talented sports reporter. She doesn’t need anyone to defend her, especially a wannabe savior like Dooley. I’m sure she can defend herself quite nicely.

Were I Pam Oliver, I’d be more pissed at Dooley than any of those who expressed concern over her performance.

Tom Liberman

Who Decides if there will be College Football?

College Football

Will there be college football is a question on the minds of many people these days but I have a different query. Who gets to decide if there will be college football? Coaches? Players? Politicians? The NCAA? Television networks? College administrations?

My question is not an easy one to answer because how far the tendrils of money spread from the game. If there is no college football it will affect a lot of people in a negative fashion and a lot of money won’t be made. In addition, my hatred of the NCAA as a whole undoubtedly clouds my vision. Nevertheless, I will attempt to come up with an answer.

First, I will dismiss the single party that absolutely should have no say whatsoever, despite their bleating to the contrary, politicians. There is no reason for politicians to get involved in this difficult decision in any shape, manner, or form. I tell all lawmakers, whether wanting a college football season to take place or against such, shut your miserable pie holes. Shut them now, stay out. Out!

The moneyed interests are significant. The NCAA makes a huge amount of money from the college football games. The colleges themselves, at least in the Power Five conferences, make enormous sums. The clothing manufacturers who give hundred million-dollar contracts to the schools to showcase their jerseys have a gargantuan financial interest. The television networks and all their employees have a stake. The coaches are paid to coach, not sit on the sidelines and their luxurious lifestyle is in jeopardy if there are no games. The star athletes get exposure and potentially lucrative professional contracts if they play.

The NCAA would certainly like there to be games but if the players intermingle with the regular student body they risk infection and transmission of Covid. The NCAA doesn’t have the luxury of creating a “bubble” like professional athletics. If the so-called student-athletes aren’t allowed to attend school; the entire façade of not paying the players falls apart. It becomes legally clear they are employees of the school, how this reality has evaded the courts for so long baffles me. I shall wax no further on that subject.

So, who decides? Everyone is tainted by financial gain or the potential of such. A clear decision in regards to the health of the players, coaches, and staff of the teams cannot easily be determined by people compromised so. It’s a mess, I readily admit as much, but I have an answer to my question at least.

Each university or college must be the final arbiters of the season as a whole. If a college is unwilling to open the doors to live, in-session classes, then it cannot expect athletes to perform. It is a decision for the boards and presidents of the schools in question. If one Big Ten school says no and another says yes, that’s fine. Schedule accordingly.

Likewise, participation is a choice for each player, coach, and staff member. There are consequences certainly, a player who refuses to play might be removed from the team or have their scholarship revoked. A player who participates, catches Covid, and suffers serious medical consequences has every right to sue for damages.

It’s a messy solution, I agree. It’s a solution that will result in some schools playing and other schools not doing so, I admit. It is, to my mind, the only solution that makes any sense.

Freedom is free, it just isn’t safe.

Tom Liberman

Capitalism Changed the Name of the Washington Football Team

Capitalism Changed the Name

Make no mistake about it, capitalism changed the name of the Washington football team; not outraged Native Americans, not laws passed by politicians, not do-gooders. It was capitalism, pure and simple and that’s a good thing.

By now most sports fans, and plenty of those who are not, are aware Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington football team capitulated to capitalistic pressure from big money sponsors of the team and finally agreed to change the name. It’s about time. The thing to remember is that Native Americans, do-gooders, and politicians have been calling for the name change for decades. Snyder vowed he would never change the name. Never is now.

Everyone knows that capitalism changed the name when nothing else could convince Snyder. Money, pure and simple. The executives at FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and other sponsors told Daniel the money was ending. Nike did more than talk, the company pulled all Washington football gear from sale. That’s what it took. Not, mealy-mouthed things like: I’m going to stop selling your gear. Listen here, Snyder, your stuff is off sale. Go look at the website. It’s gone. Big round of applause for Nike.

That’s capitalism in action. Why did enterprise companies like FedEx suddenly choose now to make it clear the time had come? Because they feared people would stop purchasing their products and using their service. It’s likely the executives at those companies probably think the old nickname is offensive but they didn’t get an epiphany last week, they got a message from consumers. They passed that message along. The name changed. Follow the money.

This is the message of Economic Liberalism, the mantra of the Libertarian. You can pass as many laws as you want but people will find a way around them. People can scream and yell all they want but only when the purchasing patterns change do we see action. And action we see.

What can we learn from the fact capitalism changed the name? That capitalism works to ensure social justice if people want social justice. We rely on politicians but forget that most politicians are elected by a tiny fraction of the population. You want justice? Convince enough people to demand it with their money and you’ll get it. No politicians can do that for you. The power is yours.

Tom Liberman

Twitter and the Professional Athlete

Chris LongAs anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I’m a huge sports fan and being from St. Louis that means I follow the Cardinals, Rams, and Blues pretty closely. It is a story from the St. Louis Rams that caught my attention today.

Most people are aware that a number of professional athletes use Twitter to Tweet their thoughts. This can be a revealing insight into their lives although I don’t follow any athletes nor do I read many Tweets. Chris Long of the Rams was being interviewed after a practice session during what are called OTA (Organized Team Activities).

In the interview he was asked what it was like to be back on Twitter. Long took a break from using Twitter during the off-season but is now tweeting again. If you watch the interview I linked he is asked the question at about 1:00.

He started to give the boring sort of answer that athletes often give to questions of that nature but then stopped himself, thought for a moment, and gave what I thought was an incredible answer. “It hasn’t felt that great,” he said. “I was actually happier in general when I wasn’t on it.”

What was his reasoning? Happily he went on to explain with a forthright honesty that came out loud and clear to me. “It’s just sobering. Twitter is an awful reminder of what’s out there … it’s bad, it’s bad.”

Chris was talking specifically about the LeBron James situation. James, arguably the best player in the NBA and potentially one of the best in the history of the league, is in the midst of his fourth straight NBA Championship series of which his team has won the last two. The air-conditioning went out early in the game and by the last quarter James began suffering severe cramps. He was unable to finish. A lot of nastiness ensued from Twitter. James is both very popular and much hated. That’s its own story. Let’s get back to Chris Long.

“They probably think the same thing about me, but, oh well,” said Chris with a shrug. I can tell you for a fact that there are quite a lot of people out there saying extremely hateful things about Chris Long. I read comments on stories all the time. Long doesn’t “probably think” people are saying nasty things about him, he knows it. In Long’s return to Twitter he defended LeBron with supportive tweets.

As a professional athlete and as a man who uses Twitter, Long cannot claim immunity from attacks or say that people shouldn’t be cruel. People have the right to say vile and nasty things about Long and James. That being said, I can only imagine the immense self-loathing that must fill a person in order for them to spew such awful things. I know some of my readers will think I’m exaggerating the level of vitriol on Twitter. I’m not. When you read some of the comments it is an “awful reminder of what’s out there.” The hate and the anger that boils just below the calm surface of our everyday lives. In your neighbor perhaps, or the person next to you in line at the grocery store, or a co-worker. It’s sobering to think of someone so close, so filled with anger.

Would that everyone could worry more about themselves and less about others.

And that’s what Long’s little speech reminded me. What is Libertarianism all about?

It’s not getting to do what I want. It’s about having discipline, self-control, and a sense of personal responsibility so that I can do what I want and let you do what you want.

Good for you, Chris Long. A tip of the hat.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Jen Welter a Woman on the Football Field

Jen Welter FootballWhile all this Olympic stuff is going on there’s an interesting story out of the Indoor Football League 8 on 8 division.

A young woman named Jen Welter apparently became the first woman to play in a professional football game at a position other than kicker or holder. She came in at running back and ran three plays which I think can be best described in the following way.

1. Ouch!
2. Please get out before that happens again
3. Is she alive?

Video here.

I’ve played a lot of sports in my life including hockey, rugby, and water polo which are pretty “manly” games. I’m 5’7.5″ tall and currently weigh about 165 lbs although was lighter in college when playing rugby. There are a lot of women bigger and stronger than me.

The difference, of course, is that I was playing high school and college ball, not professional sports where the athletes tend to be quite big and strong.

Personally I don’t have a problem with Welter playing although after watching the video of her three plays I am concerned that at 5′ 2″ and 130 lbs she might get seriously hurt. That’s her decision though. She wants to play, apparently is good enough to play, and the league and team are willing to let her play. Maybe it’s largely a publicity stunt to get people to the games but its clear that no one is coercing Welter.

We live in an era when women are essentially treated as equals to men and this is a sword that cuts both ways. Women are employed as the CEOs at major companies. They are in the workplace at historic numbers. Fewer women want to get married and fewer want to have children.

I think this emancipation of women is an extremely good thing for society and the countries where women are largely free are clearly better for it. It relieves the population stress and will eventually end growth altogether and allow the planet to stabilize at a sustainable level.

Anyway, I have no big points to make here. No rants. No admonishment. If Welter wants to play, let her play. Plenty of female athletes get hurt playing against other women. So if she gets hurt, then she gets hurt.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Fellatio, Homosexual Couples, SodaStream, and the Super Bowl

Fellatio InnuendoI wrote earlier last week that Fox Network refused to air an advertisement from a company that sells soda making equipment because it referenced rivals Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

They didn’t give any explanation as to why they refused to air the ad but the assumption is that they didn’t want to offend two of their largest sponsors; Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Certainly both of those companies mention each other in advertisement and significantly more negatively than the Soda Stream ad mentions them.

However, Soda Stream is a small company that doesn’t spend millions of dollars on advertisement on many other shows; therefore Fox made their decision. Offending Soda Stream will not cost Fox potentially huge amounts of revenue. I explained in the first article why I thought Fox had the right to advertise what they wanted but that this forced alteration smacked of censorship and was certainly an example of the Crony Capitalism that is subverting the economic principles of our country.

That is not the focus of today’s blog. Today I want to talk about how it is apparently perfectly acceptable for an advertisement to state pretty openly that a man wants oral sex from the woman next to him. That it’s completely all right to have a homosexual couple in an advertisement. That a halftime show can be filled with sexually suggestive songs and dances (this year was largely bereft of such displays but I’m talking more generally). There can even be wardrobe malfunctions that are intentionally planned to expose a woman’s breast.

Personally I don’t have a problem with any of these things. I’m actually rather fond of women’s breasts. I’m not opposed to fellatio from an attractive woman, and I don’t have a problem with a homosexual couple. Let’s face reality; some people will have problems with all of these things. I have a problem with commercials where couples (gay or straight) are sticking tongues down each other’s throats. There are always going to be some things, that someone, somewhere, will find objectionable.

The question I want to explore is the remedy to this problem. The people who find these things objectionable now go to our government, namely the FCC, to try to get that agency to penalize those who create and display the content.

I don’t doubt that the FCC will see a litany of complaints this morning. To me this is the heart of the problem. We look to the government to redress grievances over which they should have no jurisdiction. You don’t like seeing a man ask a woman for oral sex and the woman apparently relishing the idea? Then organize a few friends and boycott the network or the product. It’s easy today with the internet to find like-minded people. If enough of you make a fuss, there will be changes.

If you don’t like seeing homosexual couples on your television during the Super Bowl but the majority of people have decided that it’s ok to show them? Well, don’t watch the Super Bowl.

If a friend makes a very sweet comment about breastfeeding her newborn son and that offends you, then tell your friend. If you think it’s sweet then Like the post. The internet is the age of the individual. It is a Libertarian’s dream world.

Take charge of your life and don’t look to the government to do it for you. If you empower the government to ban things, don’t be surprised when they ban something you like. Power to the people! Better yet, power to me!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Why I’m Against College Football Playoffs

BCS National ChampionshipI saw an article this morning about how Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, didn’t like the Bowl Championship Series in college football and would prefer a sixteen team playoff. I think he is likely in the majority. Most people would prefer to see a playoff and we’re going to get one starting next year when the top four teams will playoff for the NCAA National Championship.

The arguments for a playoff center around the possibility that the eventual NCAA football champion generally has not proven itself to be the best team on the field. There are often multiple teams with equal records and the champion is picked through a series of formulas and human driven polls. This leads to a murky picture when it comes to a single champion.

In many forms of college sports there is a championship at the end the year with the most notable being basketball with March Madness. It is the same in wrestling, baseball, swimming, and other sports so it seems perfectly reasonable to expect the same with football.

I’m not going to say that people who want a playoff, be it sixteen teams or just four teams, are wrong. I’m just saying that I prefer the Bowl Games.

My rational is simple. It’s better for the kids playing the game. The vast majority of the seniors will be playing their last organized football game. Most of them won’t be going on to a professional career. These Bowl Games give those seniors one last memory, and for half of them, one last win.

As an example; the college team I most identify with is the University of Missouri and they lost in the SEC Championship match against Auburn. If there had been an eight team playoff it’s likely Missouri would have been invited. That means that they probably would have lost the last game of their season although it’s possible they would have emerged as the National Champion.

What happened is they got a great trip down to Arlington, Texas for the Cotton Bowl and managed to win a hard-fought battle against Oklahoma State. Those kids ended their college football career on an amazing high. Many of them were playing their last game of football, as I mentioned before. I think this is a good thing. I think it’s great that a young athlete can go out with a win, a memory. It think it outweighs the public’s desire for an outright National Champion.

I realize that most people disagree with me. I realize there is a lot of money to be made in a playoff system. I realize people find the current system unsatisfying.

My reasoning boils down to the rather simple idea that the game is for the players; not the fans, not the networks, not the college presidents, not the highly paid broadcasters and sideline reporters, not the NCAA enforcement bureau, not the stadium contractors, and not for me.

Maybe the Aaron Rodgers of the world disagree with me but I’d like to think that there are a lot of guys out there, sitting in an office, who won their last game and cherish the memory and the trophy.

I guess about some things I’m just hopelessly naive.

I doubt I will make many converts with this blog and I’m certain I won’t bring about any change, but I wrote it anyway.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Comparing Lopsided Scores

Blowout LossNot that long ago I wrote a post about a high school football game in Texas where one team defeated the other by a score of 91 – 0.

Now comes a college basketball game in which a Division I team beat a small school playing for the Association of Christian College Athletics league 116 – 12.

In both games it was a case of a team that was completely superior dominating an opponent. In my post about the football game between Aledo and Western Hills I noted that the coach of Aledo put into place a number strategies to limit the score. He played largely backups starting as early as the first quarter, insisted on fair-catches for punts, used simple running plays to virtually every backup on the team including wide receivers.

Aledo led 56 – 0 at halftime and then scored 35 more points in the second half.

I think what Coach Tim Buchanan of Aledo did was exactly correct for the circumstances. I think kneeling on offense instead of running plays would be more embarrassing for Western Hills. I think telling players to ease off is insulting to the other team. In those circumstances a class act does exactly as Coach Buchanan did. Try to limit the embarrassment but play the game.

Coach Buchanan and Aledo went on to win the 4A State Championship game with a 38 – 10 victory over the Brenham Cubs. Congratulations to the Aledo team and coaches.

Now to the basketball game between Southern University and Champion Baptist College. Southern scored the first 44 points of the game and led 57 – 6 at the half. They scored 59 more in the second half and according to reports engaged in a full-court press for most of the game. Coach Roman Banks of the Southern Jaguars had all five starters in the game for 20 minutes or longer. A college basketball game lasts forty minutes.

I don’t think Coach Banks is obligated to play backups, to call off the press, to insist on passing the ball five times before a shot. It’s his team and he thought they needed to work on the press for upcoming conference games. He felt his starters needed minutes.

My opinion is pretty meaningless in all of this. Coach Banks is going to run his team the way he wants, as will Coach Buchanan.

This world needs more people who display dignity both in defeat and victory. Anyway, I’ll be rooting for Aledo and Coach Buchanan to continue their winning ways.

Tom Liberman

Worst Call of the Season – Misleading Headline of the Week

Worst Call of the SeasonIt’s only Sunday and I’ve got an entire week of Motley Fool articles ahead of me, but I got suckered in by a misleading headline just now and I can’t stop myself from reporting its existence to my loyal fans.

Worst Call of the Season – This Horse Collar Call blares the headline on the front page of the Sports Illustrated website. Not only was the call marginal but the writer of the article even admits that on replay it was pretty close!

I’m a football fan and my team is the long down-trodden St. Louis Rams. When you root for a bad team you get used to officials making bad calls against them. I’m not of the opinion it’s a conspiracy, just that referees have an expectation of mistakes when dealing with bad teams and fulfill those prophecies with bad calls. Also, bad teams usually don’t get the best officiating crews and this also leads to mistakes.

I’ve seen some bad ones over the years. A few weeks back, Rams outstanding interior lineman Michael Brockers was called for roughing the passer on this one which I nominate as one of the worst calls of the year!

Don’t put out headlines boldly proclaiming the worst call of the year when I’m on watch!

Shame on you, Sports Illustrated!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Is a Lopsided Score Bullying?

Football Bully Charge

There’s an interesting case in the news and it’s really not something I’d normally write a blog post about because everyone is pretty much in agreement.

However, I do want to make a point about something in this story that bothers me. First the details.

A powerhouse Texas high school football team defeated another school 91 – 0 in a recent game. The teams play in a division which is the second highest in the state so there are no mercy rules. Usually such rules are designed to stop or shorten the game to prevent such blowouts.

The coach seems to have taken any number of steps to keep the score down but rightly refused to tell his backup players to ease off. I was a backup most of my sports career and when I got in the game I wanted to impress the coaches with my play. By all accounts there was absolutely no attempt to run up the score or to get personal records for the players involved.

Everyone seems to agree the charge of bullying, which came from an email, is unwarranted. So, why the blog?

State law requires an investigation after any charge of bullying. Coach Tim Buchanan of Aledo in the great state of Texas had to go to the superintendent’s office and explain his actions. The school is performing a mandatory investigation and a written report is required within a certain period of time.

The reason these sorts of laws come into existence is because when real bullying occurs, no one takes responsibility. If a responsible person who witnessed the bullying took immediate action there would be no need for laws of this nature. If parents stepped up and disciplined the bully there would be no need for laws of this nature. If the person being bullied socked the bully in the nose there would be no need for these laws.

The problem is that administrators are afraid to step in because parents will file lawsuits. Parents refuse to critically examine their precious child’s actions. Children cannot sock one another in the nose without risk of imprisonment.So, we end up with a state sponsored attempt to prevent bullying.

We have all these laws to prevent bullying which get the state, the school district, and the coaches involved even when the charge is clearly ridiculous. After witnessing the turmoil caused by this one report what will stop agitators from filing bullying claims constantly? It’s quite possible the claim in this story was an example of trolling or a joke gone awry.

Don’t mistake my intention. Bullying is wrong. Running up a score for personal glory is wrong. I’m just not of the opinion that getting the state involved solves much of anything, and generally ends up doing more harm than good.

I’m certain from what little I’ve read that I can call Coach Buchanan a “stand-up guy” without any chance of being mistaken. If he thought one of his players was taunting a badly over-matched opponent, well, I wouldn’t want to be that player. He’s not the sort of man who causes these problems.

Let’s pretend for a moment we have raised a society of critical thinkers who stand-up and do the right thing all the time. When a bully picks on a helpless opponent someone immediately steps in and explains that what the bully is doing is wrong. Generally we’ve stopped the problem right then and there. Let’s say the bully continues and now faces punishment from the school and the parent agrees, extending the punishment to the home. The bullying generally stops. But, let’s say it continues. Now is the time to look for legal and state sponsored remedies.

There’s a case here in Missouri where a girl was allegedly raped but the charges were dropped apparently because the school administration sided with football players. It was a fight but the case has been reopened. The Trayvon Martin case was originally dropped. I’m not suggesting that bullies don’t exist. That discipline sometimes fails to work. That bad people get away with crimes. I’m just saying that with critical thinking and personal responsibility there is need for only limited state sponsored action.

When we become a nanny-state we absolve people of responsibility and open ourselves up to institutionalized corruption. We’re better off leaving these sorts of things in the hands of those closest to the problem. If they fail in their duties then there is a responsibility for the district, county, state, and federal government to become involved.

Greater power to the state means less to the individual. Small problems become big problems. Everyone becomes paralyzed with fear.

There are no easy solutions here. People must learn personal responsibility. Lawsuits against people exhibiting such responsibility must be dismissed by a jury of their peers. People who act responsibly must be praised. The weak must be taught to stand up for themselves. The strong must be taught to behave politely. People must learn to disagree with civility and come up with compromise solutions.

Eat moderately of healthy foods and exercise and you’ll lose weight. No one wants to hear it, but the real solutions don’t fit into sound bytes.

Tom Liberman

Youth Football and Gambling

Youth FootballThere’s an interesting case breaking right now in Southern Florida involving youth football and gambling rings. It’s a poorly written article with an obvious bias but the story itself evokes several interesting questions.

In this case a group of coaches set gambling lines for youth football games in South Florida. This area of the country is one of the most football crazy regions in the nation. But, let’s not kid ourselves. There is plenty of gambling going on over Texas high school football. We all know about sports betting for professional and college football. It is a huge industry.

What happened in this case is that an entrepreneur found an avenue for profit. People wanted to gamble on the youth football games and someone provided an outlet. The story indicates, and it could be wrong, that whoever was controlling the gambling exerted influence to make certain that no point shaving occurred. That means they were trying to put up an honest game. An honest game is generally in the best interest of the house. It sounds strange but the house prefers an honest game. It is only the gambler that wants to cheat the house.

The problem with gambling is the ancillary harm and illegal activity it can engender. Dishonest games. Players paid to throw the game or change the final score. Referees bribed. Then of course there are those who gamble too much and must suffer for their mistakes. There are the families of those who lose all their money and must accept the consequences through no fault of their own.

It might be difficult to bribe a professional football player but not nearly as hard to corrupt someone making no money at all, a ten-year old quarterback. A coach, a player, a referee, even the ball boy could deflate a ball at a key moment. All these things are possible. I certainly understand why a state would want to make gambling illegal and they certainly have the right to do so.

I’m just not sure it’s a good idea. Generally making things illegal feeds criminals money, lots of money. This money then leads to violence as fights over who gets it occur. Do we think that once people know how much money can be made from youth football gambling that the problem will go away because of a few arrests? Or do we suspect that the underground nature of the gambling will lead to increased criminal activity?

It’s a difficult question to answer. With that much money involved there are bound to be unshady types attracted to it. I guarantee that right now, in your office, on your block, or even in your house, there is someone making an illegal bet and someone else taking it. Do we extend legal sports gambling down to youth football so that people have an outlet to make their wagers? With a legal outlet available many will choose it.

I’m of the opinion this is the only practical solution but I can see where people would disagree.

It’s a fascinating case and I’d love to see what you think! Please comment and don’t be shy about disagreeing with me!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current release: The Hammer of Fire
Upcoming Release: The Sword of Water

Sports as a Force of Good

Cards and Cubs CoupleI was watching European football (soccer) on ESPN3 this past Saturday morning and happened to see a rather heart-warming site in the Bayern Munich v. TSG Hoffenheim match. It wasn’t a particularly good match as Bayern won rather easily but at one point there was a goal that reminded me about much of what is good in sport and how it brings people together.

Bayern plays their home games in the town of Munich, Germany in the Bundesliga which is Germany’s top football league. Just to explain how it works to those not familiar with the league systems of football I’ll give a quick overview. Each country has several divisions and the top division is the most important. At the end of each season the teams that finish near the top of their division get to play extra games in special tournaments and this generates a huge amount of revenue. If they are playing in a non-top division they also are promoted up one division for the next season. In contrast, teams that finish near the bottom of the division are relegated or sent down to play the next year in the lower league.

The system is somewhat flawed but what I really want to talk about is what I saw during the Bayern Hoffenheim match. Bayern is one of, if not the, most traditional powerhouse in German soccer with a history that dates back over a century. The play in question involved a player named Arjen Robben making a beautiful pass to Franck Ribery who then scored much to the delight of the near 70,000 fans in attendance.

Why do I make such a big deal about this? Arjen Robben is a Dutch player while Franck Ribery is French. The fans are mostly German.

How can this not be a sign of the progress of humanity?

We think of nationalism and patriotism as good things and I wouldn’t disagree although perhaps the definition of both words is something I should go into detail in another blog but, sadly, those two ideas can be, and have been, used in ugly ways in the past. Love of your own country can be manipulated into hate of another group of people and this can lead to violence and ugliness. When we see sport bringing traditional enemies together it might not be saving the world but it is certainly makes it a less hate filled place. It’s hard to be a racist when your favorite player is of a different race. Not that it’s impossible but again, that’s another topic.

One imagines a world where we fight our wars on the playing field and go to the pub for a beer afterwards with the winners smiling and the losers dreaming of next year while buying each other pints.

So, for those of you who aren’t sports fans why not give your local club a chance this year by going to a few games. Even if you’re not lucky enough to live in Munich, St. Louis, or Hoffenheim you can witness camaraderie that crosses economic and possibly national lines and maybe make a new friend or two as well.

By the way, aside from the Ribery goal Bayern got a hat trick from Mario Gomez. He was born in Riedlingen and has some pretty progressive views about homosexuals in sports.

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Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist