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Old 01-07-2005, 03:28 PM   #1
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Default [Sports Central Newsletter] #120 - Surviving the Sports Winter

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The Sports Central Newsletter
January 2005 - Issue #120
http://www.sports-central.org
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|-- WELCOME --|

We hope you enjoy this issue of our newsletter. The Sports Central Newsletter is sent out on the first Sunday of every month. Subscribing and unsubscribing instructions are located at the bottom.

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor
- SPONSOR: Game Day Ritual
- The O-Files: "Surviving the Sports Winter"
- SPONSOR: Home-Team-Sports
- Editor's Pick: "2004: The Year in Sports"
- Shots From the Lip: "BCS Fiasco Makes Mockery of College Football"

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|-- WORDS FROM THE EDITOR --|

Hello folks,

Happy New Year and welcome to the first issue of 2005! On somber note, our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the Asian tsunamis. If you can donate to help the millions in need, please do. Google, among others, has put together a resourceful list of organizations you can donate to: http://www.google.com/tsunami_relief.html. My personal recommendation is donating to the Red Cross via Amazon.com. Over $12 million has already been donated by generous patrons: http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/ts/...67334-2853546.

Best,

Marc James
Sports Central Founder
mailto:[email protected]

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|-- THE O-FILES -- |

"Surviving the Sports Winter"

By Brad Oremland

In one day, something awful will happen. Sports fans have known to expect it, but that doesn't mean we're prepared. What is this dreaded event? The Orange Bowl. We'll have about half a week of Auburn and Utah fans arguing about national champions, and then the college football season is over.

Normally, this isn't that big a deal. But this year, the NHL is on sabbatical, and the North American sports landscape from January to April is a little light. Two more weekends of NFL playoffs, only six games total. Then a backbreaking two-week gap before the Super Bowl. If you aren't a basketball fan, those two weeks are tough to get through. But they're nothing compared to the whole months of February and March.

I'm a casual fan of the NHL. I haven't really missed it too much to this point, but when football goes into hibernation, I count on hockey. This year, from the Super Bowl to spring training, it's a basketball world. And if you aren't a fan, it's a rough way to start off the year. I do like basketball, but the NBA does nothing for me. After Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, I find today's NBA unbearably dull. Men's college basketball is a little better; I've never found the WNBA entertaining. That leaves women's college basketball.

If ESPN2 cooperates, I expect to fill the sports void with Seimone Augustus and Ann Strother and Lady Vols. Women's hoops suffers from a lack of balance; upsets are much more rare than in the men's game, and the best teams are virtually unbeatable except when they go head-to-head. That's less true this year than in the past, but as a whole, men's college basketball is probably better. But give me a top matchup, like the January 17 game between UConn and No. 3 Texas, and I'll take the women every time. Strother has a beautiful three-point shot. Tennessee's Shanna Zolman shoots free throws as well as any of her male counterparts. Team play and defense are fairly common. It's fun.

Even if you love the NBA, a diversion, something else to follow even casually can be a blessing. In years past, many of us have turned to the NHL. In 2005, we'll probably need to find something else. Here are 10 nationally-televised January sports events in which you'll never hear the name "Kobe":

Jan. 8-9. NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Round
Jan. 15. Men's College Basketball: North Carolina at Wake Forest
Jan. 15-16. NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round
Jan. 17. Women's College Basketball: Texas at Connecticut
Jan. 17-30. Tennis: Australian Open
Jan. 23. NFL Playoffs: Conference Championships.
Jan. 24. Women's College Basketball: Duke at North Carolina
Jan. 26. Men's College Basketball: Maryland at Duke
Jan. 29. Men's College Basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh
Jan. 30. Women's College Basketball: Notre Dame at Connecticut

Open each day by giving thanks for the beginning of conference play in the ACC. Enjoy football while it's still around. Give women's basketball a good look. Attend an AHL or IHL minor-league hockey game. Watch the women's final of the Australian Open on January 29. There are four PGA events in January alone, if you're looking for something away from the hardwood.

No one-dimensional season is fun. Late summer, when baseball is the only game in town, is just as bad as a no-hockey winter. But alternatives are out there, and sports never sleep: the NHL may be out of commission, but that doesn't mean you have to turn off the TV.

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Brad welcomes your feedback: mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)

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====================================================

|-- EDITOR'S PICK --|

There have been 12 new articles posted on Sports Central in the last week. Check them all out at: http://www.sports-central.org. The Editor's Pick is:

2004: The Year in Sports
By Greg Wyshynski

What will we remember from this year in sports? The Red Sox finally beating the Yankees and winning the World Series? BALCO and Barry Bonds? Janet Jackson's "malfunction?" Actually, SC's Greg Wyshynski thinks 2004 will be the year of the fan ... the angry, surly, PO'ed fan.

http://www.sports-central.org/sports..._in_sports.php

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|-- SHOTS FROM THE LIP --|

"BCS Fiasco Makes Mockery of College Football"

By Mike Round

New Year's Day is here and the bowl season has been grinding us down since the Wyndham New Orleans Bowl on December 14th. How did we all live before the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho? The BCS stinks and there should be a playoff system in college football, right? Right and wrong. The BCS stinks, but to instigate a "January Madness" plaoff system in college football is futile.

As I write this, the Continental Tire Bowl is on ESPN2. UNC and BC are tied at 14. It's the first bowl I've watched this year, and I'm only watching this one because my buddy works in Chapel Hill and is in Charlotte to watch it and I promised her I'd look out for her "witty" home-made placard. Apparently, it makes reference to my ever-expanding waistline using the letters ESPN.

I'm also watching because I'm in the doghouse with Susan. Forgot some anniversary that I should have committed to memory, or at least penned on the calendar. Anniversaries are a bit like Bowl Games there are way too many of them and most of them are trivial. The Wedding Anniversary is obviously the national championship game of anniversaries. That one gets the big build up. The in-laws visit sort of like the College Gameday crew showing up, if you like. Only Lee Corso is less annoying than my father-in-law marginally.

I forgot the Champs Sports Bowl of anniversaries. It wasn't the "I love you, I love you too" anniversary that's the Rose Bowl. It wasn't the "The first time we ... you know ... that!" anniversary that's the Sugar Bowl of anniversaries. I forgot the anniversary of the first time we got a place together in Hoboken and now I'm in the den watching the Continental Tire Bowl.

Maybe that's why there are so many bowl games? They give us guys in the doghouse a bolthole and the women a break from their aesthetically-challenged men. There has to be some reason for Cincinnati against Maryland in the Fort Worth Bowl.

Ever since NCAA football returned three unbeaten powerhouses in the 2004 season, the debate has resurfaced about how to resolve who is the true national champion. Every pundit who can get his mug on television, in print, or on the Internet has started with the same sentence: "Any right-minded person is in favor of a playoff system in college football."

Obviously, I'm not a "right-minded person" as I haven't seen a playoff proposal I like yet. I'd like my 90 seconds with Michael Wilbon on "PTI" on this one. Wilbon is a playoff zealot and even called university ADs "corrupt" for refusing to tow the playoff line. Under the plan put forward by zealots such as Wilbon and Trev Alberts, eight teams, determined by the polls, would play three rounds of playoff games to determine a consensus number one.

Putting aside the logistical problems with tacking on three extra weeks of college football, the academic affect it would have on young men who are supposed to be at university to be educated and the fact that men still in their teens, primarily, would be asked to play up to 15 games of high-intensity football, how about the arguments that would immediately rage about who was left out of the top eight?

If you use the AP poll from this season, Virginia Tech gets stiffed at No. 9. Does anyone really think Louisville (No. 7) is better than Virginia Tech, who goes into the Sugar Bowl with a realistic shot at beating unbeaten Auburn? Unbeaten Boise State misses out at No. 10. Georgia would be in and Tennessee out; yet the Vols beat Georgia 19-14 in Athens fair and square. Anybody fancy three weeks of that on "Around the Horn?"

The most ludicrous part of the "playoff zealots" argument is that an 8-team fight out would return a true champion and undisputed number one. How is that so? What if, in a mythical playoff scenario for this season, Texas got past Cal in the round of eight, then won at a beat up Auburn? That would put Texas in the Championship Game against, say, Southern Cal. If they win it they are returned as the national champion, ahead of Oklahoma, despite the fact the Sooners beat them 12-0 in Dallas.

The BCS would be no more under a playoff scenario and Utah wouldn't have to end their season playing 8-3 Pittsburgh, but would anyone really be happy with say Texas or Georgia winning a national championship, as would be eminently possible under the system suggested?

Athletic Directors across the country are said to be split on the whole issue. Some are arguing, sick to death with the whole annual BCS saga, that the whole national championship game thing should just be scrapped and the nation returns to watching the traditional Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange, etc. matchups and we argue around the water cooler about who's number one.

I have more sympathy with this position than that of the playoff zealots. College football isn't the NFL and thank God for that. The NFL has a playoff system, no polls, and zillions of devotees. Yet the New Orleans Saints, the Clemson of the NFL, are still in the playoff picture with a losing record and a coach on the verge of dismissal. Is this the Camelot that college football fans yearn for? This is a world so mediocre that losers like the Saints could win a Super Bowl.

I actually preferred the days of the mythical national champion to the repetitive BCS bashing we're subjected to now. At least then you only had the arguments at the end of the year and that was only if there were two unbeatens or a bunch of one-loss teams.

Next year, the BCS goes to a five-bowl system, but the picture will hardly be any clearer even then. The suggested "plus-one" model, utilizing the existing four-bowl system plus an extra one tacked on to the second week in January, will serve no purpose if there are still three remaining unbeatens, given that under that proposal, numbers one and two would not automatically be matched up in one of the current four BCS bowls.

The whole thing is a total mess and discredits the sport. With ADs unwilling to give up the cash cow that is the current bowl system, as well as the reservations on academic achievement that comes with a playoff system, the sport's governors seem to be at an impasse.

A playoff system will be in place sooner rather than later. The current television deal between the BCS and FOX runs until 2009. At that point, the BCS should be scrapped and either a playoff system, preferably involving only four teams, chosen by absolutely anyone other than the coaches, will be introduced, or the polls, preferably only the writers poll, will be used to determine the national champion.

Until then, get used to the Christmas schedule of pointless bowl following pointless bowl. BC has just beaten UNC. I'm still in the doghouse so, until she cools off, it's the Emerald Bowl for me. Go Midshipmen!

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Mike welcomes your feedback: mailto:[email protected]?subject=SFTL
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)

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(Thanks for reading! Next issue is set to come out on 02/06/05.)

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No part of this newsletter may be reproduced without permission.
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