Category Archives: MMA

Metta World Peace Out!


Ron Artest worked hard to overcome. Now, Metta World Peace has undone it all.

I don’t think Peace intended to club Oklahoma City’s James Harden. But after feeling as if justice was not served on his own behalf in the first half today against the Thunder, I believe he intended to club somebody.

And for that, Peace will (or should) be out for awhile.

By this time Monday, I expect Stu Jackson to announce that Peace is suspended for as much as 10 games. That’s right. Ten.

Now, I could also see him getting a mere five game suspension–with the league giving him credit for “good behavior” since that ugly, going-in-the-stands thing.

Five games would take him into the first round of the playoffs. Gievn his past, I’m not sure Stu will think that’s just enough.

Peace should miss no’ ‘money time.

And that can only happen if Peace is suspended for double digits.

Fortunately, Harden appears to have survived the clubbing. The Thunder reported that he passed league-manded concussion tests, and he was apparently available for the second half of the thrilling Lakers-Thunder game. And that could help Peace’s cause.

But Peace did what he did. And considering his past, he will (and should) be suspended for a considerable period of time–time that matters.

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Sports Needs an Economic Attitude Adjustment

Great coach. But maybe a bit out of touch.

Great coach. But maybe a bit out of touch.

It’s getting ugly out there.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he’ll slash his pay package by as much as 25 percent in order to save a few jobs. However, he can’t save them all. Anonymous team employees throughout sports are being sliced with the same sickle that has eliminated millions of jobs across America since last fall. NBA owners are divvying up $200 million in loans to cover millions in shortfalls due to diminishing ticket buyers and vanishing sponsors.

Every sport, maybe for the first time ever, is feeling the same economic pinch as the fans.

Pretty soon, NASCAR teams may consider carpooling.

And yet: Albert Haynesworth gets $100 million from Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, Manny Ramirez snub $45 million like it’s s stick insult before coming to his senses this week – and Jim Calhoun (pictured) just doesn’t get it.

Ugly.

The relationship between sports and fans has long been tenuous – not coincidentally, as salaries have risen to Wall Street CEOesque levels. That’s especially true among fans of a generation when their own paychecks carried pretty much the same digits as the men (and, yes, they were mostly men then, too) they cheered. Superstars always made superstar money, but there was a time when the working-stiff jock actually made near working-stiff wages.

So did most coaches – guys who chose the profession for the love of their sport more than the love of money.

Not anymore. Sports has created a new, young class of fast-twitch millionaires: guys who won the gene pool lottery and, in most instances, applied diligence, discipline and plain old hard work to their physical gifts and reached the highest level of their sport. And on the sidelines, pro coaches can afford to live next door to their superstars. In college, many make more than all but their elite players ever will.

I don’t begrudge any of them. I’ve always chuckled at the petty grumblings of folks who rail against them for one sin (“They’re not as good as their predecessors.”) or another (“They don’t hustle.”) when what they really mean is: They make too much damn money.

I typically chalk up their rants to ignorance and jealousy, and move on.

But now it could get uglier than a few rants. As more Americans are stripped of their livelihoods each day, sports is being given less of a pass.

Calhoun was asked at a postgame press conference to comment on his $1.6 million annual base salary at UConn, which makes him one of the highest-paid state employees at a time when Connecticut is facing a reported $944 million budget deficit that is projected to be $8 billion in two years.

His snippy response – “My advice to you is, shut up,” followed by a rift on how much money the Huskies generate for the university – has been polarizing. Governor M. Jodi Rell called it “embarrassing,” and the leaders of the state’s General Assembly want Calhoun to be reprimanded by the university. Conversely, many have defended the coach’s reaction, saying his success through the years more than justifies his compensation – even in these trying times.

Calhoun could have been more mature in his response, even if he has the data to back his argument. As it stands, he’s come off as the newest poster boy for the excesses of sports and showed how out of touch he is with Joe Taxpayer.

And it’s more than an isolated tempest. Attendance will likely be unaffected in Storrs, but loyal ticket-buyers elsewhere are deciding they can no longer afford to see their favorite team live or buy that $100 jersey; or they simply no longer have the desire to go see athletes and coaches who don’t seem to feel their pain.

As they grow weary of the kind of “not-my-economic problem” attitude displayed by Calhoun, Ramirez and others, sports may lose its status as The Great Escape. More fans may no longer see sports as a respite from the woes of their lives.

If sports can no longer serve that purpose, then what’s its purpose?

That’s a question no one wants to answer.

Reuters photograph

Fight On, Evander!

Fight on, Evander! Yeah, I know you’re 46 years old. I know that after 53 fights you’re not quite the warrior you once were. (Not even close, actually.) I also know the down side of fighting too long. Boxing is not kind to its aging kings.

That said, Fight on.

It’s your call, your choice. Your life.

Your’ve got mouths to feed (11 Holyfield kids, at least), and a monster mortgage. I’ve driven by your spread in suburban Atlanta many, many times. I can’t even imagine how much it costs to cut the grass and heat the place, let alone pay the monthly note.

Fight on, Evander.

And you’re living there with your fourth wife, right?

Please. Fight on.

A lot of people are a ‘sad’ about your December 20 title bout against Nikolay “The Russian Giant” Valuev (49-1, 34 KOs) in Zurich. They think you shouldn’t fight any more, that you’re risking serious injury, that you’re about to become boxing’s next punch-drunk poster child. Valuev is the two-time reigning World Boxing Association title holder. You’ve won the world heavyweight belt (or one of them) four times, more than any other man. You want five?

Fight on, Evander.

Fight on because, well, it’s boxing.  Some guys (Lennox Lewis, Marvin Hagler and Rocky Marciano, for instance) leave just after their prime and before they become punching bags for younger, usually ordinary fighters. Others (most, actually) fight on and on and on and….they do it not only because they can but because fans will still pay to watch.

Take the recent fight between the legendary Oscar De La Hoya and rising star Manny Pacquiao. At 35, De La Hoya was no match for Pacquino. And yet 1.25 million people paid to watch, generating about $70 million in revenue. Why deprive the million who’ll no doubt pay $24.95 to watch you fight, even if your opponent was, well, your grandmother?

Fight on, Evander.

Do it because I love the theater – as absurd as it may be. That’s what it is now, theater. I read somewhere that you’re going for the “record” for defeating the biggest man ever for the heavyweight title.  Valuev is seven feet tall and 320 pounds, said to be the biggest cat ever to wear a heavyweight belt. I don’t know who tracks such things but if Valuev says he’s the biggest of the ‘heavies’ that’s fine with me. You’re 6’ 2 ½” and about 215 pounds.

Fight on, Evander.

another thing: I hate it when people talk about you in the past tense. As in he was such a warrior, he was such a great champion, he had a great heart or he was one of the best. No matter what you’ve done after leaving your prime in the dust, or since you’ve begun to speak and move and jab a tad slower, it will not diminish the fighter who at his peak epitomized a champion’s heart. You are still that Evander (Real Deal) Holyfield.

Fight on.

Spitzer’s Exit and the UFC

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer prepares to speak at a groundbreaking ...
    Had it occurred in the octagon, the chain-linked fenced arena in which the Ultimate Fighting Championships holds its bouts, Eliot Spitzer’s swift and sudden fall would have been just as stunning. Rarely does a fighter with the kind of skills, savvy and passion long displayed by the now-disgraced New York governor fall as far and fast. But Spitzer was felled by a punch of his own doing, and now, like the entirety of New York, the UFC is left to wonder what’s next.
    Spitzer’s scandalous demise came at an inopportune time for the most powerful organization in the fast-growing world of mixed martial arts – almost to the day the UFC embarked upon its campaign to have the sport legalized in the state of New York, where it has been banned for 11 years. Some UFC stars, like Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes and Forrest Griffin, are some of the most popular athletes in any sport, particularly among young men. Fights are drawing sold-out crowds to arenas in the 32 states where the sport is sanctioned. And pay-per-view events are creeping towards the realm of boxing’s most popular recent bouts.
    On Monday, Zuffa, the UFC’s parent company, launched a website – www.mmafacts.com – created to state its case for allowing the sport to take place in New York. More important, UFC officials had already held discussions with Spitzer and were confident they were on the right track. Zuffa had even hired a political consulting firm once used by Spitzer, the Global Strategy Group, to liaison with the media.
    Now, the organization must start anew – wooing soon-to-be governor David Paterson.
    Spitzer’s office had not commented on the effort, in part, because no legislation had yet been introduced. Earlier this week, Marc Ratner, Zuffa’s vice president for regulatory and government affairs, told The New York Times: “We’re working on [a bill] as we speak, and that should hopefully be forthcoming, but it’s not quite ready yet.”
    He went on to say confidently: “We’ll have people on both sides of the aisle. We’re very bullish on coming to New York.”
    Only now, there’s a new bull to chase.