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Author Archive for Jack Moore

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The dread hand of private equity ended up killing Deadspin

The popular website understood that ‘sports’ represents more than just what occurs on the field. We are all much poorer for its demiseThis week would have been a great time to read Deadspin. The Nationals pulled off two straight wins in Houston to take…

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Just what the NFL needs: another rich, white owner who boasts about his testicles

David Tepper may have taken on Donald Trump publicly, but he doesn’t appear too different from the fraternity that already controls the leagueLast winter, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson embarrassed the NFL. According to reports by Sports Illu…

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At least the NFL isn’t pretending it’s not blackballing Colin Kaepernick

Kaepernick and comrade-in-arms Eric Reid have again been denied employment due to their anthem protest, further proof that for the NFL’s owners it’s simply a matter of powerAs if there were any doubt that the NFL was going to continue its blacklist aga…

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The age of Trump seems like a better time than ever for an XFL revival

Calls for a safer, more regulated NFL have been concurrent with the rumored revival of Vince McMahon’s XFL. Which couldn’t make more senseDuring an interception return in the third quarter of last week’s game between the Carolina Panthers and the Green…

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How the FBI’s corruption inquiry is undressing the myth of amateurism

By criminalizing violations in college sports, the US Department of Justice will make it so that it is not just the NCAA who runs the market but the state as well

A bombshell was dropped on the college basketball world this week as an FBI probe into the seedy underbelly of the sport has resulted in the arrest of 10 men, including four high-level assistant coaches under charges of “bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes, honest services fraud conspiracy, honest service fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and Travel Act conspiracy.”

That laundry list of charges is impressive, but for those with any experience in how the world of college sports really works, it should come as no surprise. Under the table cash contributions to entice players to come play college sports has been a reality of the game ever since its inception. It was true in the 1980s, when Southern Methodist University earned the NCAA’s death penalty because it failed to properly cover up its payments to 21 different athletes. It was true in the 1940s, when American University officials blew the whistle on postwar attempts to recruit players to college football squads with bribes. It was even true in the first decade of the 1900s, the earliest period of the organization that would become today’s NCAA, when McClure’s magazine broke the news that Ivy League schools were fielding teams of “phantom students,” and that Yale coach Walter Camp had a $100,000 slush fund from the school.

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MLB needs to act on beanballs – but we should know better

Last week’s beanball war between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles cast a harsh light on Major League Baseball’s toxic approach to violence

The absurdity of Major League Baseball’s beanball culture reached a peak during last week’s Red Sox-Orioles series. Boston entered the series with its hurlers still angry at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who inadvertently clipped Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia with a slide in their previous series. Matt Barnes and Chris Sale threw at Machado over the clubs’ next few meetings, only for Machado to punish those attempts with an RBI double and a home run respectively.

But Machado was mad following Sale’s brushback attempt in the second game of their most recent series this past Tuesday. After the game, he vented to reporters. “Pitchers out there with fucking balls in their hands, throwing 100mph trying to hit people,” Machado said. “And I’ve fucking got a bat too. I could go out there and crush somebody if I wanted to. But you know what, I’d get suspended for a year and the pitcher only gets suspended for two games. That’s not cool.”

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MLB needs to act on beanballs – but we should know better

Last week’s beanball war between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles cast a harsh light on Major League Baseball’s toxic approach to violence

The absurdity of Major League Baseball’s beanball culture reached a peak during last week’s Red Sox-Orioles series. Boston entered the series with its hurlers still angry at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who inadvertently clipped Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia with a slide in their previous series. Matt Barnes and Chris Sale threw at Machado over the clubs’ next few meetings, only for Machado to punish those attempts with an RBI double and a home run respectively.

But Machado was mad following Sale’s brushback attempt in the second game of their most recent series this past Tuesday. After the game, he vented to reporters. “Pitchers out there with fucking balls in their hands, throwing 100mph trying to hit people,” Machado said. “And I’ve fucking got a bat too. I could go out there and crush somebody if I wanted to. But you know what, I’d get suspended for a year and the pitcher only gets suspended for two games. That’s not cool.”

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‘A form of punishment’: Colin Kaepernick and the history of blackballing in sports

The free-agent quarterback isn’t the first professional athlete to find himself denied the opportunity to play for expressing his political beliefs

As the National Football League’s offseason plods along, marginal quarterbacks across the football world are getting scooped up. Mike Glennon, a third-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, received $18.5m guaranteed from the Bears despite having just five NFL wins and a wholly mediocre 84.6 quarterback rating under his belt. Career backup Josh McCown found himself a $6m deal with the New York Jets. These two join the list of wholly unimpressive quarterbacks to sign free agent deals this season: Brian Hoyer ($9.85m guaranteed), Nick Foles ($7m), Landry Jones ($600,000) and Matt Barkley ($500,000) have all found work this offseason, and all have the potential to earn at least $4m should they make their respective rosters.

Colin Kaepernick, meanwhile, remains unsigned despite a track record that far outpaces any of the above-mentioned signal-callers. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Kaepernick was an above-average quarterback by both QB rating and adjusted yards per passing attempt in 2016, and he also added a strong 468 yards on 6.8 yards per carry with his speed. Spotrac, which tracks major professional sports contracts and transactions, analyzed Kaepernick and found that similar players had signed contracts with an average salary of $14.75m and a duration of 2.5 years. Looking at those comparable players and Kaepernick’s statistics over his career, SpoTrac calculated Kaepernick’s market value as worth $14,226,196 for a one-year contract. And yet, it has been the Mike Glennons and Brian Hoyers of the world finding the money at quarterback this offseason.

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‘A form of punishment’: Colin Kaepernick and the history of blackballing in sports

The free-agent quarterback isn’t the first professional athlete to find himself denied the opportunity to play for expressing his political beliefs

As the National Football League’s offseason plods along, marginal quarterbacks across the football world are getting scooped up. Mike Glennon, a third-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, received $18.5m guaranteed from the Bears despite having just five NFL wins and a wholly mediocre 84.6 quarterback rating under his belt. Career backup Josh McCown found himself a $6m deal with the New York Jets. These two join the list of wholly unimpressive quarterbacks to sign free agent deals this season: Brian Hoyer ($9.85m guaranteed), Nick Foles ($7m), Landry Jones ($600,000) and Matt Barkley ($500,000) have all found work this offseason, and all have the potential to earn at least $4m should they make their respective rosters.

Colin Kaepernick, meanwhile, remains unsigned despite a track record that far outpaces any of the above-mentioned signal-callers. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Kaepernick was an above-average quarterback by both QB rating and adjusted yards per passing attempt in 2016, and he also added a strong 468 yards on 6.8 yards per carry with his speed. Spotrac, which tracks major professional sports contracts and transactions, analyzed Kaepernick and found that similar players had signed contracts with an average salary of $14.75m and a duration of 2.5 years. Looking at those comparable players and Kaepernick’s statistics over his career, SpoTrac calculated Kaepernick’s market value as worth $14,226,196 for a one-year contract. And yet, it has been the Mike Glennons and Brian Hoyers of the world finding the money at quarterback this offseason.

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Will the NFL go back to being its more brutal old self under Donald Trump?

The president-elect has been clear about his contempt for ‘softer’ rules in America’s most lucrative sport. Will that effect the fight against brain trauma?

Earlier this November, an NFL executive gave a fascinating, if bewildering, quote to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman regarding the future of the nation’s most popular sports league under Donald Trump.

“Under President [Barack] Obama, the country was intellectual and looked at facts. I think that’s why our ratings fell,” said the anonymous executive. “People read a lot about our scandals or CTE and didn’t like what they saw. Under Trump, the country will care less about truth or facts. It’ll be [more raw] and brutal. Football will be more of an outlet. We’ll go back to liking our violent sports.”

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NBA owners who bemoan superteams have only themselves to blame

As Golden State’s superteam takes form, the NBA owners who complain over the loss of league-wide competitive balance are learning there’s no turning back

Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors as a free agent has much of the basketball world up in arms. Reggie Miller claimed Durant “traded a sacred legacy for cheap jewelry” in a 1,500-word screed for Bleacher Report. His fellow Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said Durant “is trying to cheat his way into a championship” in an interview with ESPN. Their responses echo the social media din of fans mad at Durant for either betraying the Thunder or forming a team so strong in California that a championship for the Warriors in 2017 is an inevitability.

One would think NBA fans have learned the limits of inevitability by now, with the juggernaut Miami Heat capturing just two titles with their big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and with the Warriors of just this past season failing to claim the trophy despite setting a new single-season wins record. But that hasn’t proved to be the case. Instead, the panic over Durant’s decision has gone as high as the commissioner’s office.

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History shows ‘smarter’ football is no match for concussion

Rule changes and improved equipment have been offered as solutions, but the only way to avoid debilitating head injuries may be to not play football at all

Earlier this month, the equipment company Riddell announced its Smarter Football campaign. The aim was to wage “a grassroots campaign that recognizes and rewards those who advance the sport through more progressive playing habits and approaches to the game”. The campaign also includes a $100,000 pledge to pay for equipment for teams “that best articulate how an equipment grant strengthens their ability to implement a safer, smarter game on and off the field.”

Related: Judge upholds NFL’s ‘imperfect but fair’ $1bn concussion settlement

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Why NBA players’ college ‘development’ is far from crucial

If the league raises its age limit the NCAA will gain even more control over young athletes

The NCAA never miss a chance to extoll the virtues of amateurism. Naturally, NCAA media coordinator David Worlock jumped on the results of the NBA MVP ballot, in which eight of the 10 players (including the winner Steph Curry) spent multiple years playing in college before departing for the pros.

Sporting News college basketball writer Mike DeCourcy seized on this point, claiming the statistic contains something compelling. “Perhaps it’s an indication that the race through the age-limit turnstile is not producing quite the level of NBA player many hope,” DeCourcy writes, suggesting the NBA need to raise the current age-limit of 19 to force elite young basketball players to ply their trade for NCAA masters for free rather than seek a wage in the NBA.

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Cowardly NFL still shows anti-gay bias, two years after Michael Sam’s draft

Two years after Michael Sam became the league’s first out gay player, the NFL still sees homosexuality as a distraction to be swept away – or a violation that must be punished

Back in March, at the NFL’s scouting combine for incoming draft prospects, Atlanta Falcons assistant coach Marquand Manuel asked former Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple if he was gay.

“The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like: ‘So, do you like men?’” Apple told Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. “It was the first thing he asked me. It was weird. I was just like: ‘No.’ He was like: ‘If you’re going to come to Atlanta, sometimes that’s how it is around here. You’re going to have to get used to it.”

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The NHL punished Dennis Wideman to cover its own backside

What happened to Don Henderson was horrible – but the league’s 20-game ban allows the NHL to deflect responsility and place it on a clearly concussed player

Last week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld a 20-game suspension for Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman for a hit on a referee back on 27 January. At 20 games, Wideman’s suspension is the second-longest in NHL history. At first, the case seemed cut and dried. Wideman checked a linesman who had his back turned, a hit so hard that the official, Don Henderson, was still suffering post-concussion symptoms as of last week.

But the action leading up to the hit complicates things. Wideman himself had just been checked head-first into the boards, and appeared disoriented as he skated off the ice to sit on the bench.

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Sports are great for civic pride – and even better for speculators’ pockets

For many owners, sports teams are investments and service to the community is secondary

In their quest for a new downtown arena, the Milwaukee Bucks have been running a familiar playbook. Not only have they been making the typical economic arguments, talking up supposedly inevitable growth in the area around the new building, but they have been seizing on the regional pride of Milwaukeeans and Wisconsinites. In his visits to Milwaukee, Adam Silver has repeatedly invoked the “town hall” as comparison, citing a basketball arena’s capability to hold events such as concerts and the circus.

The team has been similarly aggressive in its appeals to civic pride. This video heralding a new arena’s “ripple effect” includes such lines as, “This is our time, a bold new beginning in Milwaukee”, “This is Wisconsin’s home from the court to concerts,” and “A proud heritage is the spark for a bold new future.” This is how the Bucks’ new owners Marc Edens and Wes Lasry, worth a combined $3.6bn, have justified asking for $250m in public funding from Wisconsin and Milwaukee taxpayers.

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We want to believe: the creation of ‘sports fan’ as brand identity

Sports, as they’ve done for more than a century, continue to hold America in their thrall – even as the true cost of being a fan has never been higher

New Yorker sportswriter John Tunis made a compelling argument in his 1928 book $port$: Heroics and Hysterics that America’s sporting institutions were powered by something he called The Great Sports Myth. As Tunis conceives the myth, we see superstar athletes, the Babe Ruths and Jack Dempseys of the sports world, as “cleansed (and so sanctified) in the great white heat of competition,” and that young Americans, through participation in organized sport, can achieve the same. This myth is responsible for the uniquely American system of interscholastic sports and has given sports an outsized importance all across the nation, from the publicly subsidized stadia for professional teams in the cities to the rabid enthusiasm for high school football in America’s rural areas.

This myth was easy enough to maintain when most of the professional sporting world’s activities took place behind the curtain, available to the general public largely through radio or newspaper accounts. However, as the sports industry grew, boosted by the growth of televised sports in the 1960s, the contradictions of the Great Sports Myth were laid bare. The crucible of organized sports spits out millions of nobodies for every Ruth it creates. The sportsman experience for the vast majority of American youth isn’t the continued pursuit of athletic improvement, but rather learning that dreams of a life participating in sports won’t be realized, and that most will be left with little but the reminiscing over the glory days.

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Racial equality, three-pointers and big money: why US sports need rival leagues

If American sports wants to thrive, somebody, somewhere will have to challenge the establishment to keep up

The “four major sports leagues” – MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL – have ruled the American sports landscape unchallenged for three decades. Every now and again, a league premised on a gimmick pops up – like the WWE-backed eXtreme Football League, or the way ahead of its time trampoline-and-basketball hybrid Slamball – but there hasn’t been a competitor big enough or rich enough to put into question which league boasts the best talent in the world. Not since the United States Football League (USFL) closed up shop after its 1985 season, 30 years ago, has there been a legitimate competitor to keep the major leagues honest.

It can be easy to forget in this era of gigantic, monolithic leagues – in which all four major leagues pull in billions of dollars of revenue yearly and in which MLB, NBA and NHL all own entire developmental leagues to pull talent from – that it wasn’t always like this. Throughout the history of American sports the major sports leagues have been shaped by competition. Upstart leagues, from the American League to the American Basketball Association to the World Hockey Association, are as much responsible for the things we enjoy most about sports as the major leagues still around today.

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Muscular Christianity and American sport’s undying love of violence

As long as sports fans believe brutality creates nobility, the NFL will leave broken bodies and minds in its wake

Football is in the midst of a massive injury crisis. San Francisco’s Chris Borland retired before he had even reached his prime, leaving millions of dollars in future paychecks on the table. The National Football League has agreed to a $1bn settlement to help pay the medical costs of retired players dealing with debilitating neurological injuries.

This is a scene that plays out once every 30 or 40 years in America. It happened in 1905, when around 20 players (estimates vary on the exact figure) died in game action. It happened again in the 1930s, when so many players were getting hurt that the American Football Coaches Association felt it necessary to begin an annual survey of player injuries. It happened in 1968, when 66 players were either killed or paralyzed on the field, an epidemic that forced the creation of official equipment standards and led to the birth of the hard shell plastic helmet still in use today. And it has been happening once more over the past half-decade, as the damage hidden under those hard helmets has been revealed in the form of CTE diagnoses and other mental health issues now rampant among former NFL players.

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When Denver rejected the Olympics in favour of the environment and economics

Colorado’s biggest city won the bid to host the 1976 Winter Games, but its citizens decided they had other priorities

The 1976 Winter Olympics in Denver seemed like a wonderful idea six years prior, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the games to Colorado’s biggest city. The Games were positioned as the perfect celebration of both the United States’ bicentennial and Colorado’s centennial anniversaries. And where better to host a Winter Games than in the majestic Rocky Mountains?

But the 1976 Denver Games never happened. In November 1972, the Denver Olympic Organizing Committee (DOOC) served notice to the IOC that the city would be unable to host the games due to a lack of available funding. Four months later, the Olympics were awarded to Innsbruck, Austria – the city had hosted the 1964 Games and thus already possessed the necessary facilities and infrastructure. The United States would have to wait another four years to host the Winter Olympics, in Lake Placid, New York.

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