Taking mean streets to the White House

Thoughts heading into a weekend …

  • If you needed further evidence on how strange this Presidential election cycle has turned, we present the Al Smith dinner held Thursday night in New York City.

Normally a lighthearted affair, Republican Party nominee Donald Trump turned it into yet-another bully pulpit – emphasis on bully – with jabs at Democrat Hillary Clinton that, under the guise of humor, came across as mean, even drawing a few boos from the audience.

It captured what Trump’s campaign has become: An AM radio right-wing talkfest on steroids, heavy on accusations and innuendo, but lacking in evidence or even concrete positions.

I doubt Trump’s speech would have made the cut at a Dean Martin roast (OK, a Comedy Central roast, for you youngsters).

Maybe that’s all Trump has left, a Howard Beale screaming nonsensical statements and finding conspiracy theories around every corner in a world that seeks solutions. At least solutions beyond “we’re going to fix this” or “we’re going to build a wall.”

Say what you want about Hillary Clinton, as she has her sins, too, but with her, we can at least grasp a sense of a better future. And that’s all everyone wants, right?

  • NFL ratings are down for the early part of the season, including record lows for the showcase games on Sunday and Monday nights.

What’s the problem? Some point to the never-ending election cycle (two of the three presidential debates went against the NFL, with record ratings across all networks), others point to recent studies linking increased concussions to football, and others see this as fallout from Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem.

But the biggest problem, at least in this corner of cyberspace? Too much of a good thing, to the point where the fatted calf may end up at the pet food plant.

Used to be you could confine your televised football fix to the weekends, with the college games on Saturday and NFL on Sunday and Monday.

Sunday night pro games were a nice addition, but then they had to add Thursday games, with a huge drop-off in quality as a result of less recuperation and preparation time for players and coaches alike.

Add the mid-major and low-major college programs that have adopted the mantra of former Fresno State coach Pat Hill when it comes to scheduling: Anyone, anywhere, anytime, as long as the TV light is on. So now we have games on Tuesday, Wednesday and even violating what should be sacred territory for high schools, Friday nights.

We’ll give our friends in the Great White North a break here, since the CFL has always scheduled on non-traditional days, plus we like their game.

Will the drop-off in quality mean a cutback to saner scheduling? Not likely, both the pros and collegians are too addicted to the revenue. About all a beleaguered fan can do is keep voting with his clicker.

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