Sports Commentary 5/29/13
Various winds of change in the sports world -
THE TIMES THEY’RE ALWAYS A-CHANGIN’
Even casual observers know the winds of change are constant in the sports world. Local fans need look no further than the conference in which State U. now plays. Change has become problematic at State U. in New Jersey, where Rutgers officials jumped from the frying pan into the fire, feeling they’d irradicated a situation, in which a coach was accused of abusing players, by firing not only the coach, but also the athletic director who hired him. Now it turns out the successor to the A.D. had similar baggage of her own with the University of Tennessee volleyball team. Still, Rutgers officials say they back Julie Hermann and aren’t about to make another change, president Robert Barchi standing behind his choice, Governor Chris Christie yesterday announcing he stands behind Barchi. The only way change will come now is if Hermann resigns, which she says she has no intention of doing, or the board of governors withdraws the job offer. One precinct that has yet to be heard from, and could dictate change at Rutgers, is the Big Ten, which has stood silently by and watched all this play out after extending a membership invitation to Rutgers, only to wonder if the original situation was covered up until their invitation came. If the big ten says it’s time for Rutgers to make another change or find a new league Hermann will be quickly dispatched. Sporting goods giant Nike is making another change in the wake of the Lance Armstrong performance enhancing drug scandal. Nike cancelled all endorsement contracts with Armstrong but maintained it’s relationship with the foundation he created to fight cancer, “Livestrong”, continuing to manufacture “Livestrong” products and package the iconic yellow “Livestrong” bracelets. All that is changing now, Nike announcing it will cease all “Livestrong” production and will not renew it’s contract with the foundation, which released a statement saying it had already planned for a change in the partnership lineup and was not caught by surprise by Nike’s move. The NFL made the telegraphed change yesterday, announcing it’s annual player draft will move from April, the month of the pre draft combine, to May in 2014, without determining if it will continue in May the following year. It’s not good news for the rest of the sports world as the NFL’s annual calendar now offers head to head competition in every month. It’s change Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL could live without. Change never came faster than it did at Citi Field in New York, where it literally happened overnight. Major League Baseball teams set aside tickets for opposing players who may have a need to accomodate local family and friends, but most fans may not realize the players are required to pay for those tickets. When the Atlanta Braves were at Citi Field over the weekend each Braves player was charged $80 per ticket. The day after the Braves left, however, the cost of those tickets went up, considerably. Yankees players were charged $250 a ticket, and that doesn’t include the cost of the subway ride across the East River, the Mets claiming it’s because of their “Premium Game” pricing policy. The Yankees say they have no such policy. The players union isn’t sure this is change they can live with and they’re investigating the Mets sudden price increase. You know what they say. It’s the spice of life. With an eye on change in the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.