Column: Athlete Banned for Failing Gender TestOctober 20, 2014

Dutee Chand’s goal is to compete as a member of her country’s track and field team. However, in September the eighteen-year old Indian sprinter was banned from international competition after she failed a “gender test” under rules established by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Chand has appealed the ban through the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland. She becomes the first athlete in history to challenge the IAAF’s standards which determine whether an individual can compete as a female. The IAAF adopted new guidelines, which are also followed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), after the controversy surrounding South African runner Caster Semenya in 2009. Like Chand, Semenya was suspended from international competition after her gender was called into question. She was allowed to resume her career eleven months later after a group of experts who had been convened to weigh in on the matter couldn’t agree on what the standards for gender should be.

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Column: Baseball is Far From DyingOctober 12, 2014

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Mark Twain The accuracy of the statement attributed to Samuel Clemens, a/k/a, Mark Twain, is a matter of debate. However, there should be no debate when baseball uses the same retort. Every year it seems we are inundated with reports that baseball is dying. For support, critics claim that the games are too slow and too long, the audience is too old, the season is interminable, television ratings are declining and the sport is losing the youth of this country. The naysayers are right, of course, because they believe they are. But the facts suggest otherwise. Baseball is thriving.

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Column: Tax Exempt Status of The NFLOctober 5, 2014

If you’ve ever wondered why references to “Congress” are oftentimes preceded by the words, “do-nothing,” read on. In the wake of repeated reports of domestic violence committed by NFL players, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker introduced a bill designed to repeal the league’s tax-exempt status. As if that move doesn’t embarrass him enough, Booker included nine other professional sports leagues in his bill. Days later, three of Booker’s senatorial colleagues, no doubt as publicity starved as he is, introduced a second bill to scrap the NFL’s tax-exempt status because of the continued refusal of the Washington Redskins to change their name.

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Column: Qualifications of a MLB GMSeptember 29, 2014

The 2014 baseball season is over for all but the 10 clubs that made the playoffs. The remaining 20 teams and their fans can look ahead to next year. But before rosters are remade and games on the field begin, there will be a number of changes in MLB front offices. Two clubs that failed to live up to expectations have already begun the process of change. The Arizona Diamondbacks fired General Manager Kevin Towers and Frank Wren was axed by the Atlanta Braves. Both the D’backs and Braves have identified successors, Dave Stewart in Phoenix and John Hart in Atlanta. Stewart is a former standout pitcher with the Oakland A’s who went on to a successful career as an agent. Despite being a rookie GM, Stewart is unlikely to be any less successful than his predecessor, Kevin Towers, whose career in Arizona never approximated the success he enjoyed as GM of the San Diego Padres.

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Column: Barry Bonds Case Back in CourtSeptember 21, 2014

If you’re sick and tired of reading or hearing the name Barry Bonds, then this column isn’t for you. But if you’re interested in justice, and protection from an abusive government, read on. Bonds is in the news again because his 2011 conviction for obstruction is on appeal before an 11-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2013 a three-judge panel of the appellate court unanimously agreed with the District Court decision. But when Bonds’ attorneys appealed to the full court, a majority of the 28 judges thought a larger panel should hear the case. The saga began in 2003 when Bonds testified before a grand jury investigating the illegal use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. As a result of that testimony Bonds was indicted in 2007 on a number of criminal charges. The jury couldn’t reach a verdict on three charges of perjury but convicted Bonds of felony obstruction for giving a 234-word rambling response to a prosecutor’s question on whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, ever gave him “something to inject himself with.”

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Column: Roger Goodell on Thin IceSeptember 14, 2014

It’s tough to feel any sympathy towards someone who earns $44 million a year, gets free access to any sporting event on the planet, and presumably doesn’t have to wait in line to be seated at his favorite restaurant. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may be the exception to the rule. Goodell has spent the last eight years overseeing the slickest, most efficient, Teflon-coated sport in America. Regardless of the controversy - be it inconsistent and oftentimes arbitrary player discipline, ham-handed negotiations with the players’ union, or the billion dollar concussion lawsuit – there have always been two constants. Goodell has continued to line team owners’ pockets and he has been rewarded handsomely for his stewardship. League revenue will approach $10 billion this year, on track to achieve Goodell’s stated goal of $25 billion by 2025. No wonder owners have been steadfast in their support of the man who has suffered the slings and arrows of the players, Congress and the media.

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Column: MLB Loses Suit on Media RightsSeptember 7, 2014

History can be dry and boring. After all, it’s so “yesterday” and most of us prefer to live in the moment. But if you’re a sports fan, the following bit of history is important to you so bear with me. This history lesson begins in 1922. A Supreme Court decision that didn’t have much of an impact at the time, today affects all sports fans. The Court ruled that baseball games were local affairs, not interstate commerce. As a result, the antitrust laws, which are designed to prohibit actions that unreasonably restrain competition, did not apply to the sport of baseball.

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Column: Colleges Sell Beer, Chase RevenueSeptember 1, 2014

The college football season opened last week and there are a number of changes from last year for the most popular collegiate sport. The most talked about change is The College Football Playoff, a Final Four style postseason format which has replaced the controversial BCS, where the two “best” teams in the land as voted by polls and computer rankings faced off for the national championship. But don’t count on the new format eliminating controversy. Selection of the four playoff participants will be determined by a 13-person committee, fraught with the same human biases and subject to the same intense politicking that pollsters and fans are all too familiar with. Instead of complaints from the second and third place teams, which were du rigueur under the previous system, be prepared for grousing from the fifth and sixth place teams.

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Column: Little League Is Big BusinessAugust 25, 2014

Despite her tender age, Mo’ne Davis, the 13-year old pitcher for the Taney Dragons Little League team in Philadelphia, qualifies as sports’ latest superstar. In the past two weeks, Davis has appeared on live TV pitching in the LL World Series in Williamsport, PA, graced the cover of Sports Illustrated (yes, the cover jinx is alive and well as Davis’ team was eliminated by Nevada), was interviewed by ESPN’s Karl Ravech, made the rounds of the morning talk shows and the evening news, and watched her autograph value soar into the hundreds-of-dollars per item. Whether all that exposure is healthy for a 13-year-old is debatable.

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Column: No Longer a Man's WorldAugust 15, 2014

“This is a man’s world; this is a man’s world…” It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, by James Brown That may have been the case in 1966, the year James Brown recorded his hit single that reached No. 1 on the Billboard R & B chart. But two recent female hires in the sports world suggest that, almost fifty years later, the world has changed. On July 28 the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) elected Washington, D.C, attorney Michele Roberts as its new executive director, marking the first time a women has headed up a Major League sports union. A week later the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs named Becky Hammon, a 16-year veteran of the WNBA, as an assistant coach. The moves were unrelated, except that combined they served to place an exclamation point on the concept of competence over sexual persuasion.

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