Tag: football

Monday buffet: Which way will it be?

In our constant quest for understanding, information and a reasonably-priced Cabernet, we present the Sunday night/Monday version of the luau buffet brunch (because brunch isn’t just for breakfast anymore). As always, the traditional rules: Use a clean plate each time, eat all you take and consume all alcoholic beverages on the premises, please.
• So, the same Arabs the president accused of dancing in the streets as the World Trade Center came down are suddenly, at least the ones in Saudi Arabia, among our most important allies in the Middle East? Something smells in Washington, as usual. Or maybe we just need better friends, like Canada, Germany, France, the British … remember how nice they were?
• You wonder at times, what Obama (or either Bush or Clinton or Reagan or Carter) would have done in this situation, but there’s just no precedence for the type of situation we’re in here. Especially with someone as unpredictable as the current resident of the White House. I’d like to think past presidents would have sent their own investigators in, though.
• In the same vein: The president said Kavanaugh was being considered guilty until proved innocent during his hearings, but the thousands of Guatemalans trying to cross the border into Mexico and, presumably, enter the United States are “criminals,” without the benefit of a trial?
• Bring us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses … but only if they’re the best people, right? Emma Lazarus, and the rest of us who still cling to the ideals that hunk of copper in New York Harbor stands for, weep.
• I think the last rioting I saw in California was … oh, hell, I don’t know. Maybe over the last avocado, or someone trying to snag one of those $22 Dodgers NLCS tickets.
• And there goes the 82-0 season for the Warriors. That’s it, trade them all. Call up the kids from the Santa Cruz Warriors, at least they’ll try!
• Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of your San Francisco 49ers, just south of Great America, is downwind from a one-time dairy ranch. Which explains a lot about the 49ers in the “Life Without Garoppolo” era.
• The only thing worse? Whoever dressed the Rams on Sunday. Stockholder in a mustard company, or someone trying to remind us to slow down before the light changes?
• And finally, this public service announcement: Monday is the last day to register to vote in the midterms in California. Not just the national and state office are up for grabs, but plenty of local boards that may impact your life more are up for grabs. Not to forget all those propositions the California ballot is famous for, from water and hospital bonds to how much space farm animals should have. If you haven’t yet, register at https://registertovote.ca.gov/

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Nike, Kaepernick send great message

In a week that’s seen the contentious questioning of a Supreme Court nominee and more tales of crazy times inside the White House come to the surface, it appears a sneaker company has stolen the spotlight.
And what a wonderful, positive message Nike has presented. One that, unfortunately, might get lost amid the controversial choice of the deliverer of the message, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
From the moment the folks in Beaverton, Ore., announced Kaepernick would be featured in a new “Just Do It” advertising campaign, reaction has been, well, usual for these confusing times.
Folks who equate his kneeling during the playing of the national anthem with disrespect for the flag and the military have perhaps been the most vocal, some to the point of burning their Nike gear.
Others have wondered why Nike couldn’t have made a less-controversial athlete, or a military hero like the late Pat Tillman, the focus of the campaign.
Invoking images of Tillman is particularly bothersome in several ways. Recall the Army originally had the NFL player turned Ranger dying in battle, only to announce after his services he was killed by friendly fire.
There’s also the fact that Tillman’s family had to – again – ask that his name not be used for political purposes. Recall about a year ago President Trump cited Tillman in one of his periodic Twitter rages regarding NFL players kneeling during the anthem.
Besides, as someone who has read and studied quite a bit about Tillman’s life, I am convinced that, like many who knew him, he would have taken the time to talk to Kaepernick and others who joined his protest of police brutality and social injustice, he probably would have taken a knee himself.
Remember, it’s about selling shoes, T-shirts, visors, and anything about sports. Would any of the names named have drawn as much attention as Kaepernick? I don’t think so.
As for the ad itself, wow! What a terrific message of encouragement to the upcoming generation. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mreQsQrDF-A
The ad is clearly not about Kaepernick, but about encouraging athletes to strive to be their best.
Yes, Nike’s going to sell a lot of stuff. But perhaps a young athlete will take some of the words of the script to heart and want to be better.
And who knows, he or she may be the key to working us out of this mess that we should be focusing on.

Sorry, not ready for the NFL

Training camp and preseason games are just a blip in the back mirror now. Soon they’ll be teeing it up and kicking it off for another season of the National Football League.
As I look over what’s been going on in the league the last few years, though, I wonder what all the fuss is about.
The game is being overwhelmed by a myriad of problems on and off the field.
Despite the best efforts of the rule makers, it appears no one knows how to define a catch, which should be basic.
Rules designed to improve player safety, such as the concussion protocol and helmet hits, seem to be equally as hard to grasp, if not outright ignored.
Until this gets worked out, there’s no doubt we’ll continue to see an increase in concussion-related problems with former and current players.
Off the field, it’s equally as messy, if not worse.
The whole question of players being allowed to kneel during the national anthem has turned into such – and trust me, I want a better term – a political football that the reason for the protest, police brutality in the African-American community, has become lost.
This was an issue the NFL, given its place in the sports and media food chains, could have taken leadership and joined forces with its 68 percent African-American player personnel, but instead chose to follow the path of the current political winds, which seems more interested in stifling minority communities than encouraging growth.
Compare and contrast with the NBA, which has not only worked out a solution with its players, also has two of its most prominent players, LeBron James and Steph Curry, involved in projects to better their corners of the world, James with his school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and Curry, the father of two daughters, with his girls basketball camp, which he discussed in this recent essay in The Players Tribune. https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/stephen-curry-womens-equalityhttps://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/stephen-curry-womens-equalitys
All in all, not the rosy, star-spangled scene, flanked by bosomy cheerleaders, the league would like us to see as the season starts. And it’s one I wonder if I can continue to support.

High school football: A whole new ballgame

As someone whose working life has revolved around the high school sports schedule until recently, it came as a bit of a shock this week to find the prep football season is beginning in some places this week.
The early start is thanks to the California Interscholastic Federation, with the goal of holding championship games the weekend of Dec. 7-8.
That’s nice for basketball, wrestling and soccer coaches of schools that don’t have long playoff runs, since they’ll get their athletes sooner, as well as families celebrating the holidays, but also gives some schools as many as three games before Labor Day weekend and a regular season that ends before Halloween.
That’s three games in some places where temperatures are still in triple digits. In some areas, such as the San Joaquin Valley, air quality will also be an issue. Not helping are several fires burning in Northern and Central California.
While I have my misgivings about where the NFL is headed, which we’ll get to as the season gets closer, still, there’s something special about the start of the high school football season.
New schools and the diminishing number of players going out for teams has changed some things, but this is still the time when communities come together to cheer on the team, support the band and cheerleaders and all the other folks involved in making Friday nights special from Barrow, Alaska, where the field is just 100 yards from the Arctic Ocean, to Miami.
It’s not only the start of the school year, but there’s also a sense of renewal, something that’s likely being felt most at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where, on Saturday, the Eagles take to the field for the first time since the February shooting that left 17 dead, including an assistant football coach.
The biggest problem I’ve had among the schools I’ve covered and followed over the years is where they’re playing now, as the painful, but necessary, process of realignment has reshuffled the deck.
• Atwater continues its rivalries with Buhach Colony, Merced and Golden Valley in the new-look Central California Conference, along with El Capitan, Central Valley and Patterson.
• Livingston again calls the Trans-Valley League home, along with Escalon, Hilmar, Hughson, Modesto Christian, Ripon and Riverbank.
• Turlock and Pitman renew acquaintances with Modesto rivals Downey, Enochs, Modesto and Gregori in the Central California Athletic League.
• Modesto’s Davis, Beyer and Johansen, along with Ceres, Lathrop, Los Banos, Pacheco and Mountain Home, find themselves in the Western Athletic Conference.
• Hanford West drops from the West Yosemite League to the Central Sequoia League, joining Dinuba, Exeter, Central Valley Christian, Kingsburg and Selma. The Huskies will continue to play Hanford in the Dog Bowl, now a nonconference game, and meet county rivals Sierra Pacific and Corcoran.
• Also new to the Central Section are 13 schools from the San Luis Obispo-Santa Maria area, although their impact likely won’t be felt until the playoffs.
• Last but not least, there’s the wholesale changes along the shores of Monterey Bay.
With the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League disbanding for football two years ago and the merger of the Mission Trail and Monterey Bay leagues, welcome to the Pacific Coast Athletic League, which for football stretches from Felton to King City.
Schools are divided into four equity leagues, featuring the powerhouse Gabilan Division, featuring Aptos, Christopher, Alvarez, Gilroy, San Benito, Palma, Seaside and Salinas.
Got all that? Guess the only question left is, are you ready for high school football?

Just say no, Raiders Nation

If you’re a Raiders fan, this is the day you knew was coming, again.

Goodbye, Jack London Square. Viva Las Vegas.

By a 31-1 vote (according to reports, Miami was the only no vote), the NFL cleared the runway for the Raiders to leave Oakland for a new playpen coming to a Las Vegas near you before this decade is done.

And while fans may be crying about losing their team for the second time, it’s also time for them to act.

During Monday’s newser, Mark Davis said they’d refund the money of any season ticket holder.

They should take him up on that.

Walk away from the 2-3 lame duck seasons of the Oakland Raiders. Stay home. Give the money to charity.

For all the talk of Raider Nation, it’s really nothing more than a set decoration for the studio show that’s the NFL on TV. Doesn’t matter where they play, as long as the field is 100 yards long and 180 feet wide. Could be Oakland, or Las Vegas, or Kalamazoo.

But let’s face it, for all the mayor Libby Schaff’s brave talk over the weekend, it was too little, too late, in a city not only trying to juggle the desires of the Raiders and the Oakland Athletics, but a myriad of real life problems.

And as much as the NFL likes to talk about being a part of the communities they serve, in reality, it’s all about the Benjamins. Just ask the folks in St. Louis and San Diego.

So what happens next?

As noted, the Raiders will play at least two more seasons in Oakland, assuming attendance doesn’t fall to the point of embarassment (like in Memphis, where the Tennessee Titans played briefly while fleeing Houston for Nashville).

Levi’s Stadium? If that were really a viable option, would not the Raiders and 49ers already be sharing it?

And in Oakland?

A new stadium for the A’s – now the city’s only team in the four major pro sports with the Warriors moving to San Francisco’s Chase Center by the end of the decade – will happen, but for all the speculation of sites near Howard Terminal or even Merritt College, their best bet may be to build a new yard on the current site, which features fantastic access to the freeway, BART and the airport.