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As I discussed in Part 1 of this series on the cost of sports, at Tennessee, Soma cost, Purchase Soma for sale, the price can be high when it comes to paying your way into Neyland Stadium -- a truth of which Nashville's Thomas Luck is all too aware.  I discussed the issue purely in terms of the experience at Tennessee mainly because it is what I am familiar with.  Tennessee was but a lens -- the reality is largely the same at all schools with a major athletics presence.


The world of professional sports, however, comprar en línea Soma, comprar Soma baratos, Soma pharmacy, makes the college ranks look like small potatoes in the way it is wed to the almighty dollar.  Given the current uncertain economic times, however, order Soma no prescription, Soma interactions, I question whether professional sports in particular can continue in the way it has for so long.


I suppose that sports fans should not be surprised at the notion that professional teams would necessarily focus on money, after all that is what professional athletics are all about: getting paid to play.  I suppose Rod Tidwell (from the movie “Jerry Maguire) summed it up best with the oft quoted line "Show me the money!"  What I think is a bit surprising is how willingly and uncomplainingly professional sports fans have accepted the "money first" approach of all the teams in all the major leagues.  The increases in costs passed along to professional sports fans over the last generation is really quite staggering.


Video: Show me the Money!!


But don't take my word for it...


Fan Costs in Professional Sports


Sports marketing consultants Team Marketing Report (TMR) is a leading publisher of sports marketing and sponsorship analysis for both collegiate and professional sports.  Since 1988, where to buy Soma, Soma coupon, TMR has been tracking major indicators in the world of sports.  One of the key components of their analysis is an analytical model called the "Fan Cost Index" which is used as a measuring stick for the cost to an actual fan attending a game for various franchises.


More specifically, TMR's exclusive Fan Cost Index (TM) survey, Soma use, Soma blogs,   tracks the cost of attendance for a family of four.


The FCI includes:


  • Two adult average price tickets

  • Two child average price tickets

  • Four small soft drinks

  • Two small beers

  • Four hot dogs

  • Two programs

  • Parking

  • Two adult-size caps.



Taking all of these factors into account, the analysts at TMR calculate the costs for fans attending games for teams across the country.  The data that TMR has assembled is telling.


For example, what is Soma, About Soma, let's look at the NFL's presence in my home state: the Carolina Panthers.  The Panthers played their first season in Charlotte in 1996 (they played the 1995 inaugural season in the Clemson Tigers' stadium).  Thus, for Carolina we can see the change over the entire history of the franchise.  Since their first season in their permanent home, Soma forum, Cheap Soma, Bank of America (formerly Ericsson) Stadium, the Panthers have played in one Super Bowl.

Fan Cost Index: Carolina Panthers









































































  Beer Soft Drink Hot Dog Parking Program Cap Avg, purchase Soma online. Soma from canadian pharmacy, Ticket Avg. Prem, Soma treatment. Soma price, Ticket Fan Cost Index Cost Rank in NFL
1996
4.00c

2.00c

2.00

13.00

5.00

15.00

39.26

--

234.04

6th
1998
3.50c

2.00b

2.00

22.50

5.00

15.00

55.47

--

307.39

4th
2008
5.75e

3.00g

3.50

20.00

0.00

9.95

63.32

179.13

330.67

29th
  Increase Since 1998
7.85
 
23.28
 
  Percentage Increase Since 1998
12.4%
 
7.1%
 


Then there's the just-crowned Super Bowl XLIII Champions: the Pittsburgh Steelers.  During the 10 years covered below, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls and moved into a new stadium, Soma duration, Online buy Soma without a prescription, Heinz Field.

Fan Cost Index: Pittsburgh Steelers




























































  Beer Soft Drink Hot Dog Parking Program Cap Avg. Ticket Avg, Buy Soma Without Prescription. Prem, Soma from mexico. No prescription Soma online, Ticket Fan Cost Index Cost Rank in NFL
1998
3.50c

2.00c

2.00

8.00

4.00

12.00

35.76

--

206.03

27th
2008
6.75c

2.75c

4.75

25.00

5.00

18.00

67.47

204.34

384.38

15th
  Increase Since 1998
31.71
 
178.35
 
  Percentage Increase Since 1998
47%
 
46.4%
 


On the other hand, there's one of the biggest disappointments of the 2008 season: the New England Patriots.  During the 10 years covered below, buy Soma without a prescription, Soma use, the Patriots have won three Super Bowls and moved into a new stadium,  Gillette Stadium.

Fan Cost Index: New England Patriots




























































  Beer Soft Drink Hot Dog Parking Program Cap Avg, order Soma from United States pharmacy. Soma brand name, Ticket Avg. Prem, cheap Soma no rx. Ticket Fan Cost Index Cost Rank in NFL
1998
5.00c

3.00g

3.00

15.00

5.00

10.00

39.45

--

236.81

13th
2008
7.50g

4.00e

3.50

40.00

5.00

14.95

117.84

566.67

596.25

1st
  Increase Since 1998
78.39
 
359.44
 
  Percentage Increase Since 1998
65.6%
 
61.3%
 

Key to notes on preceding Tables: b=14oz  c=16oz  e=20oz  g=22oz

• Source data for 1996 Buy Soma Without Prescription, , 1998, 2008 (PDF Document PDF), courtesy of: TMR.

These numbers show that, even in the smaller markets (which definitely includes Carolina and most would say includes Pittsburgh) there have been substantial increases in the cost of attending a game for the average fan.  What these statistics ignore, however, is the increasing impact of Personal Seat Licenses or PSLs on the cost of attending a game for individual fans.  Essentially, a PSL is the professional football equivalent of season ticket rights in college football.  The Average Ticket Price shown above reflects the average cost of a single game ticket available to the public for each team.  The fact is, however, in many of the NFL stadiums the number of generally available seats is wholly insignificant when compared to the number of seats licensed via PSLs.  In many cases, fans are left with only two choices: scalpers or buying a PSL.


PSLs are where the "Premium Ticket" costs referenced above come into play.


Again, let’s look at the Carolina Panthers, this time focusing on the Panther’s PSL program which, according to their website,  includes the following options:


 

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="478" caption="Panthers PSL Options (Click to Enlarge)"]ab3b8e1ce4a756e5499f1d650558dd06[/caption]

Again, when compared to what you see with some major college sports venues, Panthers PSLs are not that expensive.  The Dallas Cowboys, who are preparing to open a grand new $1.3 billion stadium for the 2009 season, however, will charge as much as $150,000 for seat licenses.  As a point of reference, according to Zillow.com, the median home value for Knoxville, Tennessee is approximately $148,000.  In the modern era, there can be little question, in most markets, that professional sports tickets are aimed less and less at individual fans (or the "Common Fan" as Basilio calls them) and more toward businesses and corporations.  As a result, on gamedays many professional sporting venues are primarily peopled by business people engaged in the schmooze game than it is by fans actively pulling for their teams.

The Flip-side of a Very Big Coin


The cost of gate admissions, however, barely scratches the surface of the cost of operating a professional sports franchise.  In that sense, professional sports depend far less on the ticket-buying fan and more on other streams of revenue than do college athletics.  None of this, however, means that the costs of running professional franchises are not passed on to fans.  It just occurs indirectly.  The "real" money for professional sports lies in corporate affiliations, naming rights, licensing and marketing, government subsidies, and the end-all and be-all: television broadcast rights.


Make no mistake, without these key components, professional sports as we know them do not survive.  The irony is, however, that without the common fan, these components of the professional sports balance sheet evaporate.


Of course, some -- most notably the NFL -- contend that professional sports always have and will continue to be recession-proof. In a recent interview with CNBC’s Mark Koba, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy commented on the effects of the recession by stating: "If we could build a stadium for 300,000 people we would sell out the game. The Super Bowl has always lifted the spirits of America and this year is no different."  Others are far less sanguine.


As the Money Players blog notes, there are already strong indications that "the long-held notion that sports is 'recession proof' is being shattered."  The first signs of this change have already begun to become apparent.  Some minor professional franchises folded early in the onset of the current recession, but now the list of the affected is growing.  For instance:


These are but a few examples.


These sorts of "adjustments" on the part of major professional sports demonstrate that professional sports are not immune to recession.  That realization has gotten the attention of many sports-business watchers and has started a new conversation about the state of professional sports.


Said Andrew Zimbalist, a noted sports economist and professor of economics at Smith College:


... Ordering Soma online, fans tend to give up other consumption before they cut back their consumption of sports. The present downturn is, my Soma experience, Buy Soma without a prescription, however, both much more severe and likely to last considerably longer than the typical post-WWII recession, Soma from canadian pharmacy. Soma price, coupon, Moreover, the revenue-generating model in pro sports has been gentrified over the last 20 years, Soma pics, Rx free Soma, becoming more dependent on the sale of premium seating, corporate sponsorships, Soma recreational, Purchase Soma online no prescription, and catering — all expenditures likely to be more sensitive to economic conditions.


... What we do know is that the sports industry will reflect, buy Soma online cod, Is Soma addictive, perhaps with some moderation, the vicissitudes of the overall economy.

• via: Freakonomics


Steve Czaban, a syndicated host with Fox Sports Radio (which, along with Sports Illustrated and others, is itself currently clawing to remain solvent) believes that the market for sports will diminish substantially, unless major corporations are able to save themselves from collapse.   In a recent article by Wall Street Journal columnist Jonathan Last, Czaban noted, "The worst-case scenario, for example, for the NFL, is there's a dozen teams that can no longer sell out their home games."  The article notes that such a loss would create broadcast issues due to the NFL blackout rules for non-sold-out games. Said Czaban, "The U.S. government is buying banks, major retailers are going under, and a half-a-dozen newspapers are folding up shopWhy is it we think this could never happen to sports?"


As Andrew Zimbalist and others note, however, there is no real historical benchmark aside from the experience of Major League Baseball during the Great Depression.  During the early 1930's fan attendance dropped by as much as 40%, but no teams failed.  That begs two questions: 1) Is it possible that the same attendance drops could be on the horizon for major professional sports in the near future, and 2) if so, can they bear the financial strain of a reduced fanbase?


Of course, in the 1930's there was only one major sports league, college athletics were in their infancy and were largely localized, more importantly there was no television.


Television, in the minds of many, will be the savior of major sports in the current crunch, but there are those who question whether that is true.  In fact some assert that television might actually add to the erosion of revenues for sports -- professional and college alike.


The thought that television could add fuel to the already raging fire is a scary one, especially for professional franchises whose “help me, help you relationship with television has been a dependable source of revenue during even the most trying times.


Video: Help Me, Help You...


That is what I will look at in the next installment of this series...


-- So it goes …About Lawvol



Images Courtesy of: Panthers.comSteelers.comPatriots.comWikipedia
.

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Roger, You’re the Greatest!

Wow ... all I can say is "Wow."

We all knew it was bad when the Mitchell Report came out naming Roger Clemens as a doper, but I figured there was more to the story -- a more complete telling, if you will. It got worse when Brian McNamee started waving around dirty syringes and old beer cans, but I assumed - at least to some extent -- it was simply a ploy for attention by McNamee in hopes of deflecting the pressure that was coming down on him like a ton of bricks. It got downright embarrassing when Roger decided to "clear his name" before Congress. I assumed that was about as bad as it could get.

You know what, I was wrong...

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="134" caption="Mindy McCready"]Mindy McCready[/caption] Roger Clemens, has now passed from the uglier side of sports into the completely absurd, as revelations have now emerged regarding Roger Clemens alleged (and I use "alleged" because I am a lawyer, and I firmly believe that everyone has the right to refute charges leveled against them ... oh yeah, and because Clemens has lawyers too) ten-year affair with Mindy McCready.

Don't get me wrong though, I am not purporting to judge Clemens for supposedly having an affair. If he did he would hardly be the first or the last. People are human; people make mistakes -- even athletes. Far be it for me to act like some moral inquisitor on the issue of another person's love life.

I am, however, judging him for supposedly starting the affair when he was 28 and McReady was 15 years-old. It's one thing to be unfaithful to your wife (bad though it may be), it's an entirely different thing to commit statutory rape.

Good To Go

If all of this is, in fact, true, then Roger Clemens has just passed into legend. He has just won the all-time award for bad behavior by an athlete ... ever. He has cemented his place in the Lecherous Idiot Hall of Fame. He has earned the All-Universe Trophy for Excellence in Dumbassery. He has won the gold, silver, and bronze medals at the Celebrity Career Suicide and Flame-out Olympics.

Oh yeah, he may have also earned himself 15 to 20 years in the service of the state...

I have never personally witnessed -- forget me -- the World has never witnessed such an absurdly meteoric and apocalyptic meltdown of a figure in the public eye ... ever. Forget all the others, Clemens has so raised the bar on crashing and burning that there are no words to even describe it

Even Ron Artest knows you don't hit babies. Even Eliot Spitzer knows you have to check their age before you pay them. Michael Vick never threw puppies into the pit.

Still, it is hard to believe that a few months ago, Roger Clemens was doing cell phone commercials. Now he is untouchable.

A few public figures, however, have commented on Clemens' downfall:*

Joe Namath said:

Poor Roger, everything down the toilet ... I wanna kiss you.

Harold Reynolds chimed in stating:

Look what he's done, and they fired me? All I did was hug the b**ch!

Martha Stewart offered a bit of advice:

Well, I just hope Roger understands what prison life can be like. If it hadn't been for my award-winning recipe for making Jailhouse Hooch, it would have been tough.

Pete Rose probably summed it best by saying:

Those are some pretty long odds to gamble on ... so can I get in the Hall of Fame now?

From this day forward, anytime anyone in the public eye gets themselves in trouble for something insanely stupid, for something violating the code of sportsmanship, gets caught breaking the law ... hell ... gets caught doing pretty much anything they shouldn't ...

... they will be said to have "Pulled a Clemens"

Hopefully, this is the end of the fall for Roger Clemens, not because I feel particularly sorry for him, but because the situation keeps getting more ridiculous. I mean what could possibly come next, tying Clemens to Al Queda?

[caption id="attachment_356" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Osama Bin Clemens"]Clemens and Al Queda?[/caption]

Either way, Clemens will forever be emblematic of the select few amazingly talented people who just pissed their lives away.

When it comes to destroying your entire life, everything you have worked for, Roger Clemens is truly the greatest...

-- Go Figure …


*Disclaimer: As if it were not completely obvious, the quotes in this article are complete crap and are purely a creation of the unbalanced mind of the author. The quotes above (along with all images bearing the "Gate 21" Logo contained therein) are fictional humorous depictions (a/k/a "Farks"), intended as satire, of Roger Clemens and others, and do not reflect the views or position of the the individuals named herein. Neither this posting, those who created it, nor this blog are in anyway affiliated with Roger Clemens, or any other individuals mentioned hereinabove. So please don't have your lawyers send me a bunch of nasty letters...

Y’er Outta There!

BANNER%20-%20RANTS

MLBOnce again the sports world is abuzz about the start of spring training, and yet another Major League Baseball season. Baseball has a long list of issues on its plate as the season gets rolling along. All of the off-season chatter has centered on the problems arising from the Mitchell Report, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Bud Selig, Brian McNamee, Bob Uecker, Pedro Cerrano, Ebby "Nuke" LaLoosh, Rick Vaughn, and Crash Davis. Those last five names actually have nothing to do with the controversy swirling in baseball, but I threw them in just for the hell of it -- after all, the more the merrier.

Anyway, I am sure that the powers that be in baseball simply cannot wait to get the 2008 season going so they can put all of this ugliness behind them -- "move on" as it were. There are only 2 problems with this line of thinking:

  1. The start of the 2008 season is not going to put the steroid issues that have been plastered all over the media for the last 6 months "behind" baseball, not even a little, and
  2. Even if it did cause millions of otherwise reasonably informed Americans to suddenly forget about a story that has been covered with more nauseating detail and intensity than the war in Iraq, that forgetfulness would only be the result of the fact that increasingly fewer people in this country give two shits about Major League Baseball anymore anyway.

I think baseball has a very tough road ahead of it...

The National Pastime

Since the 1800’s baseball has held the distinction of being "the American Pastime" and the confederation of teams making up the Major Leagues have always gone out of their way to remind everyone in the US of its regal status. Baseball was supposedly invented by Abner Doubleday in 1839, of course most people now accept this is a complete crock of unadulterated horseshit. Regardless of who actually invented the game, it was around a generation before the Civil War, and by the time of the war, some people were playing it. I say "some" because at that less-than-enlightened time in our nation’s history, I am pretty certain that a large majority of our country was most definitely not playing baseball because they were slaves, who generally were not allowed to have very much fun or play games.

Anyway, by the time we all stopped shooting at one another, and the aforementioned slaves were finally given their freedom, "everyone" realized that, with no one to try an kill, they really needed some way to blow off a little steam -- how about a nice game of baseball. Of course, "everyone" excludes a few small groups of people. Those living in quasi-urban South were probably not playing, because all of the industrial centers had been wrecked due to the South’s extremely naughty behavior in starting the war, and those folks were occupied rebuilding their cities. You can also rule out anyone living in the rural South because they were poor before the war, and even poorer after the war -- lacking the proverbial pot in which to relieve oneself. Thus baseball wasn’t really a priority for them. Midwesterners really hadn’t jumped on the baseball bandwagon all that much either because they were busy with ... "Midwestern" type things, like growing corn and trying to figure out why the land was so flat Buffalo(and, at that point in time, even "if you built it," they would not come...). Those living in the west were equally spare in terms of baseball playing activity. There were only about 50 whites and newly freed slaves living in the "Wild West" at that time, and the Native Americans really didn’t have the time to field a team since they kept getting chased and shot at by those 50 whites and newly freed slaves, besides Bank One Ball Park ... er ... Chase Field, hadn’t been built yet and it was just too damn hard to try and have a proper game with all of those infernal buffaloes running about mucking up the place.

Thus, "everyone" is really better defined as "people living in the State of New York, and a few up the way in Massachusetts"...

Thus, it really wasn’t until some time later that baseball began to be more widely played and watched by Americans. One thing you have to consider, however, is that the reason a lot of folks chose baseball as their preferred recreation was because there really weren’t a whole lot of other choices out there. I suppose if faced with the option of working all day in the field picking crops, getting kicked in the face by a mule, or baseball, then I’d choose baseball as well. After all, the great geniuses that brought us basketball and football hadn’t ... well ... gotten around to bringing us basketball and football, at least not in a recognizable form.

Still, by the turn of the turn of the century, baseball had become an extremely popular way to waste time. By that point professional teams were booming in a select number of big cities -- the genesis of the Major Leagues. Of course there were no teams in the West or in the South, because either there were no people there who cared (in the case of the former) or the people there were still just too damn poor to bother with (in the case of the latter). Nonetheless, colleges and other educational institutions were beginning to play the game, and it was assuming its place as the National Pastime. Thus, baseball pretty much had a monopoly on things.

Then suddenly, people discovered some other ways to have fun ...

Walter CampIn the 1880’s, a guy named Walter Camp came along and changed everything. Camp was familiar with baseball, and liked parts of the game. He was once quoted as saying, "I like the fact that you get to use sticks in the game, but can’t understand why you can’t use those sticks to hit the other players." Okay, Camp never actually said that at all, but he should have. Camp was, however, interested in soccer and rugby. Ultimately, Camp decided that soccer was a silly game, required you to run way to much, and didn’t have enough violence to make it worth playing. Rugby, on the other hand, had plenty of wholesome violence, aggression, and teeth rattling contact, but -- as best Camp could figure -- had no rules or object, aside from breaking bones, bloodletting, and mayhem. While he believed that some of the students at Yale could use a little toughening up, he still felt there needed to be a purpose to the contest. Thus, he set about penciling some rules for a new American blend of soccer and rugby called "Football," which was far better than "Sucby."

James NaismithMeanwhile, a YMCA instructor in Massachusetts by the name of James Naismith, came up with a game which his students seemed to like a lot. In 1892, he published the rules to this game, but -- deciding that the original name, "Duck on a Rock," was just too silly -- he changed it to "Basketball."

Of course, baseball had been around for over nearly three-quarters of a century, and had been fielding professional teams for nearly half a century. The first World Series -- obviously named by someone who thought the "world" ended just past the Mason-Dixon Line and the Mississippi River (or where you could find lots of beer, thus explaining Milwaukee and St. Louis) -- was held in 1903. As the American Pastime, Major League Baseball considered itself to be the only universal in the sports world, despite its concentration in one area of the country, and the fact that a huge part of the population -- namely those who weren't white -- were prevented from even attending the games. Football and basketball were still new, and baseball settled into a prolonged, and ego-inflating, era of dominance of the sports world.

Map of the World According to Major League Baseball - 1903

Then, in the early part of the 20th century, a group of men got together at a car dealership in Canton, Ohio to figure out if football -- which had become a popular college game -- could be played professionally. After their meeting -- which was constantly interrupted by car salesmen getting coffee under the guise of having to "ask the sales manager about that..." -- the National Football League was formed. Despite having to compete with baseball in most markets -- with the notable exception of Green Bay, Wisconsin, for rather obvious reasons -- the NFL began to field teams for the paying fan. Later, immediately after World War II, another group of men formed the Basketball Association of America, which later merged with the National Basketball League to form the NBA. These "insignificant" little leagues were no competition for the grandeur that was Major League Baseball -- or so the baseball cognoscenti told themselves.

Ahh, blissful ignorance... Fast forward to today, and the lay of the land has changed significantly.

The single most watched and attended (on a per game basis) sport is the NFL. College football comes close to baseball’s attendance -- largely due to the fact that truly every part of the country has their own teams, and does so by only playing about 7% of the number of games in the Major League Baseball season. Of course, when you play 162 games, it's easy to rack up big numbers. The NCAA Basketball Tournament, is now the most anticipated playoff series in any sport. Hell, at present, watching cars go really fast, turn left, and occasionally crash into one another -- NASCAR’s addition to the world of American sports -- is more popular than Major League Baseball. The powers that be in Major League Baseball, however are still convinced that they are the proverbial "cream of the crop" -- truly the American pastime.

The fact is that Major League Baseball attendance has been flagging for years. While there are a select few teams which are wildly successful on both the balance sheet and the box score, many of the teams are hardly the icons that MLB would like to believe. Aside from the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs, many of the teams in MLB, despite their fancy new stadiums, simply cannot compete with the NFL and college football and basketball.

It was once said that "Football was America’s passion, but Baseball is America’s pastime." That simply is no longer the case. Now, football is both America’s passion and its pastime. One need only look at the television ratings for the NFL playoffs to realize this to be true. In baseball, most people will only watch the World Series if their favorite team is playing. All sports fans watch the Super Bowl, and the Final Four. In completely concrete terms, the "product" being sold is better in these other leagues. Thus, despite what the baseball powers may want to tell themselves, they’ve been sucking hind tit for a while now.

Enter the Mitchell Report...

George Mitchell

What, Me Worry?In 1987, the NFL began imposing penalties for the use of performance enhancing substances, and later imposed a random testing policy. Although former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle thought that the East German female athletes of the 1970’s were "hotties" with all their rippling muscles, deep voices, and beards, he felt that there was no place for whatever it was they were taking in the NFL. The NCAA, long a bastion of dictatorial rule, had outlawed the use of such substances before they even existed. Baseball on the other hand -- largely due to the demands of their players -- took the "What, me Worry?" stance, assuring the nation’s sports lovers that baseball players would never use performance-enhancing substances.

This is the most laughable and myopic act of intentional ignorance in the sports world since the University of Oklahoma hired Barry Switzer...

Finally, in 2002, baseball -- somewhat reluctantly -- banned the use of steroids, and imposed a penalty of a ten-game suspension for a violation of the policy. Wow, let’s not get too draconian there, I mean banning a player for 6% of the 162 game season is getting pretty tough. Yeah right. Under the NFL’s current policies, the first time a player tests positive for any of the banned substances, a four-game suspension is mandatory -- a quarter of the NFL season -- a second test failure results in an eight-game suspension, and a third in a twelve-game suspension. In the NBA, testing positive for steroids or performance-enhancing drugs results in a ten-game suspension (12% of the season) for a first offense, a twenty-five-game ban (30% of the season) for a second offense, a one-year suspension for a third test failure, and lifetime disqualification if they’re caught for a fourth time. Even the NHL has stiffer penalties, a first-time violation of the NHL’s drug policy earns a twenty-game suspension (24% of the season) without pay and mandatory participation in the league’s substance abuse program. A second failure carries a sixty-game suspension (73% of the season). In the NCAA, a violation of the drug use policy results in the player having doughnuts attached to every square inch of their body, and then being locked in a 6’ x 6’ room with Ralph Friedgen, Mark Mangino, and the Great Punkin.

What’s more, the NFL currently conducts 12,000 annual random drug tests of its players. The NBA and the NHL randomly test their players four and two times a season respectively.

In baseball, the drug test policy went something like this:
Manager: So, umm ... I hate to hell to ask this, Roger, but ... uhh ... you takin’ any drugs? Roger ClemensRoger Clemens: Hold on just a sec ... Manager: Uhh ... Roger, what in the unholy hell are you doing? You’ve got a bunch of syringes stuck in your ass! Roger Clemens: Oh, those? Oh, those are nothing... Manager: Damn-amighty ... that’s disgusting! I bet that hurts like hell. Roger Clemens: Nahh, after a while your ass goes numb. Manager: What in hell is it for? Roger Clemens: Umm ... err ... it’s for ... umm ... it’s a flu shot. Manager: You need eight of the sonsabitches? Roger Clemens: Well, you can never be too safe. Manager: So does that last you a while? Roger Clemens: Well, to be safe, I take them four times a week. My family has a real flu history. (cough cough) Manager: Oh, well, I guess that makes sense. So, anyway, Roger, ... uhh ... do you take drugs? Roger Clemens: No sir, not me. Not now, not ever, not eight doses four times a week. No sir, I’m clean. (flexing muscle) Clean as can be. (long pause) Manager: Okay! Works for me. Good talk, Roger...

The fact is that Major League Baseball’s refusal to address the issue until it was too late has put the league front and center in the public media. Furthermore, the long term refusal to take a stand on the issue fostered an environment where the use of such drugs was effectively condoned. As a result, it wasn’t just a select few on the fringe who were using, it was everyone -- even the big stars.

McNamee's SyringesBaseball’s inability to police its league and its players willingness to do anything they can to win, has called into question the very ethics of the league, and forever changed the way most sports fans look at the game. No matter what the owners and league office officials may hope, the start of the new season is not going to cause people to forget about the Mitchell Report, steroids, Congressional hearings and the rest. Images of Brain McNamee shooting steroids into Roger Clemens’ ass and old beer cans filled with bloody syringes are not going to disappear overnight. The thought of Barry Bonds taking steroids via an IV bag in his back pocket during games, isn’t going to miraculously melt into the ether world. Debbie Clemens getting her steroid fix at Jose Canseco’s house during a kegger, is not going to up and vanish like a fart in the wind. The collective consciousness has a longer memory than that. In fact the whole sports world is grounded on memory and the past -- were it not, then we wouldn’t quote statistics as if they fell from the sky like manna from Heaven.

The fact is that Major League Baseball is damaged goods. It is a league which was already falling behind -- slipping into apathy -- and now there is a reason to affirmatively dislike the league. It’s a shame for all the players who didn’t dope up, for all the minor league players who don’t play just for the money, and for all the college, high school, and Little League players who just love playing the game. Be that as it may, baseball is no longer king -- and it hasn’t been for quite a while. Now, baseball is like the slimy step-brother that everyone keeps around -- because they are family -- who is always asking to borrow money, moving from disaster to disaster, and getting drunk at family gatherings. Now baseball is on the outside, looking in.

Baseball is in the process of reacting (as opposed to "acting") to the situation and will, I’m sure, impose the most stringent drug policy of all the leagues -- that’s what happens when you ignore a problem too long. The fact remains, however, that now they are convicts, and no one will trust them for a very long time. In the meantime, all the other sports will continue to occupy the minds and hearts of the nation, as baseball continues to slide. At some level it is sad. A game that was once at the forefront is now a secondary issue. Still, the league brought it on itself. By the same token, all the other leagues out there should be wary. They all have their own problems, issues, and they all have their "weak spot." Those other leagues and sports best learn from baseball, and not go down that path. Baseball was once lord of the sports world in the United States, and it fell -- its replacements can do the same. Hopefully, football and basketball will take heed and try to avoid baseball’s woes. If they don’t, then they are destined to follow. For now, Major League Baseball will do everything it can to patch itself up, and hope that the fans forget. Eventually, the fans will forgive, but they won’t be forgetting any time soon.

In the meantime, the stadium is open, the popcorn is popping, the hot dogs are ready, but baseball is out...

-- Go Figure …SIG%20-%20Lawvol%20(Small) McAlisters%20-%20Crossout


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