Monday, December 27, 2010

NFL's Hypocritical Moving of Vikings-Eagles

The NFL moved the Vikings-Eagles game from Sunday night ... to Tuesday night. The reasoning? The NFL was a bit nervous that fans and stadium personnel could be stranded at Lincoln Financial Field after the night game ... and they don't want that.

This is the same league that has staged two Super Bowls in the Detroit area and one in Minneapolis. This is the same league that has had the Ice Bowl and a Bengals-Chargers game in negative-gajillion degree weather. This is the same league that touts the "Frozen Tundra" of Lambeau Field and night playoff games in New England.

I can give them a pass on that since those were all in years past and growth in safety is understandable in that aspect.

So they why hold a future Super Bowl in New York?

The NFL wanted a Super Bowl in the nation's largest city so badly that they thumbed their noses at that whole bad-weather thing and brought the game to the Big Apple. Fine.

But what if what happened this weekend happened during Super Bowl weekend? I mean, the NFL is hell-bent on having an 18-game schedule and doing so will most likely knock the Super Bowl to mid-to-late February. So what if a major storm hits the New York area during a Super Bowl? Imagine the nightmare of all those functions that New York will hold during that time ... not to mention the actual games.

And what if it is Dallas vs San Diego in that Super Bowl? Let's bring people in from those cities to try to hang with a blizzard. People in Buffalo and New England can deal with it: it's part of life. But ask the people in the South who just got him with nearly a foot of snow how they handled the weather.

Are the Vikings Leaving Minnesota For LA?

We may be seeing the last of the Vikings in Minnesota.

With one week remaining in the season (they play in Philly on Tuesday night and then at Detriot on Sunday), a possible lost NFL season in 2011 and their stadium ... which their lease runs out with after the 2011 season ... crumbling to pieces, it could be a wide open door for the Vikings to move to Los Angeles.

It is all set up for them. No one wants to see the Vikings leave the Twin Cities, but without a lease means they are without a home. The Metrodome may not even be worth fixing if there is no Vikings season on the horizon. And we all know that the massive snow storm that damaged the Metrodome's roof will happen again at some point.

When Zygi Wilf looks out there, he sees Los Angeles building themselves a nice new stadium. Nice and sunny new stadium. While the Twin Cities market (and the Vikings reach to the Dakotas, Iowa and Wisconsin) is nice ... it isn't Los Angeles. It would bring the Vikings to the NFL's second biggest market and would be only the 2nd NFC team in the state (the 49ers are the other). That means that So Cal fans could still see Chargers and Vikings games.

While I would never say it's a done deal ... I can say that this doesn't seem like a far out proposal either.

Now, if the Vikings do move to the Left Coast ... would the NFL keep them in the NFC North? While geography is a major factor in the divisional format, it doesn't trump everything. That's why Dallas plays in the NFC East, Baltimore in the AFC North and Miami in the AFC East. With the history there, the NFL could keep the Vikings in the NFC North.

But would it feel the same with the franchise moved? The NFL would be better off putting the Vikings in the NFC West with the Cardinals, Niners and Seahawks and putting the St. Louis Rams in the NFC North. The Rams should love that. The Rams-Bears rivalry would be big in central Illinois. Since Minnesotans are conditioned to hate the Packers, Bears and Lions, the Rams could snatch up that fan base. Plus they aren't stuck playing a slew of 4:00pm games each year.

Don't give me that "Rams don't really belong in that division" crap since ... well, why wouldn't they? The fact they play in "balmy" St. Louis? Have you seen Kansas City at this time of year? The fact they play in a dome? Um, the Vikings and Lions play in domes and have for 30 years or so. The fact that the Rams aren't historically a "black and blue" team? Neither was the Vikings in the Randy Moss era, the Lions during their run-and-shoot days or the Packers over the last 20 years. They have an emerging team that may win the NFC West next weekend.

This must we do know: the Vikings are unhappy about their situation and now have an out. Odds are they'll use it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Maybe Michael Jordan Could Buy "Hornets" Name Back

One thing Charlotte basketball fans hate is the Bobcats. No, not the team, but the name "Bobcats". Michael Jordan said we he bought the team that he was willing to think about changing the name. Everyone seems excited.

Now comes word that the NBA may buy the New Orleans Hornets from George Shinn. Less than a decade ago, Shinn moved the Hornets from Charlotte to N'Awlins. Shinn went from being the most popular man in the city when he got the NBA to expand to Charlotte for the 1988-1989 season, to being the most hated man in the city's history.

So if the NBA owns the Hornets and the NBA still in love with Michael Jordan, could we actually see Jordan try to buy the Hornets name back for the city of Charlotte?

Everyone in Charlotte would go for that. I still see a few people wearing Charlotte Hornets stuff. It could make all that hatred go away and would actually make the Bobcats more popular in the city if they just changed the name and identity back to the Hornets. Stern could then resurrect two franchises.

It isn't like the Hornets have been a New Orleans staple. They are averaging less than 14,000 per game despite getting off to such hot start to the season. In their eight years or so in Louisiana, they spent a quarter of it calling Oklahoma City home after Hurricane Katrina hit. I think a city like New Orleans would relish being able to name a team after itself in some way (similar to the New Orleans Jazz of the 1970s). Let them go nuts and name a team.

Just give "hornets" back to Charlotte. The hornets nest has been a symbol for the city for a couple of centuries and it just fits right. Hopefully Stern and Jordan can work something out and make it happen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

World Sports Community (Again) Shows They Don't Need the United States

Earlier this year, the United States bid for the 2016 Olympic Games ... Chicago ... was beaten by Rio de Janeiro. That will be the first Games held in South America.

Today, the United States bid for the 2022 World Cup was beaten by Qatar ... the smallest country to every host the Cup. Ask most Americans and they have no idea where Qatar is.

In one year, the international sports community has basically said they don't need the USA like they used to.

Yeah, there are other factors out there. The fact that Rio would be the first Games in South America was a big selling point. Qatar is an oil rich nation and would place the World Cup in the part of the planet where events like this are rarely held. The USA has lost these things before and just did again.

What also is a factor is the fact that we're not that good at hosting these things. Sure, the 1994 World Cup was a success here ... even if the game hasn't caught the fire people predicted it would. But the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta was marred by a terrorist attack and an overkill of corporate powers that left a bad taste in the IOC's mouth. Then the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City is best known for the gift-giving scandal that caused the IOC to overhaul its rules. We haven't done it correctly.

In the past, that didn't matter. The international sports community needed the United States so much that they looked past all these kinds of things. They point to the 1984 Games in Los Angeles which showed the world that the games (after sucking the last several cities dry) that a city can thrive because of the Olympics. That momentum continued in Seoul and Barcelona and allowed the United States to quickly get the games back just 12 years later.

The world knew that the corporate dollars would pour in. The world knew that the USA would make it quite a production. The world knew that many eyes would be watching the games and the USA is very "foreigner friendly" so fans from other nations would feel at home.

That isn't the case anymore. Our standing in the world has fallen a bit ... not to mention our likeability. The massive corporate dollars aren't there anymore -- at least not as much to sway an event here. And while we may be more "foreigner friendly" than anywhere else, things have changed where bringing an event like that would be a logistical nightmare in our New America.

Those things are true everywhere, however, so it is interesting why the USA keeps getting passed over. Maybe we've overstayed our welcome on the world stage. Maybe we need to prove that we are worthy of the Games and Cup ... instead of trying to say they are worthy of being here.