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Archive for the ‘General’

The Heckler: A Big Mouthed Sports Fan 1

Posted on September 28, 2015 by Mike Raffone

The HecklerBecause I enjoy his antics, this big mouthed sports fan is an easy choice for today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

This big babbler has been barking from the stands at sporting events since the first chariot races in Rome and original Olympic Games in Greece.

He’s that garrulous guy who plays the role of the annoying fan at games. He’s been seen and heard at every pro game in every sport for as long as fans can remember.

Many observers would say he’s just as bothersome, or entertaining, “now” as he was back “then” at sports events!

The colorful and, at times, irritating big mouth sits court side at NBA games, in the end zone at NFL games or behind home plate at Major League Baseball games and creatively maligns the opposing team’s players. His duty is to toss barbs at the other team and their fans.

Universally known as the Heckler, this super fan ironically may not boast too many fans of his own.

Some fans may find him insulting, but I like him and think he’s an expected, entertaining part of attending a professional sports event.

He’s pretty funny, especially if he’s rooting for the same team.

Plus, I can handle his non-stop heckling – provided he’s seated far enough away and doesn’t make the little hairs on the back of my neck stand at full attention with his non-stop jibber-jabbering.

And, I get a kick out of watching rival fans deal with the Heckler during a game. The guy’s entertainment factor wears off quickly, especially when he’s not cheering for their squad.

Soon, opposing fans within earshot realize this guy has a bullhorn for a voice box and no off switch for his grating trash talk.

During the rest of the game, these same rival fans are constantly on edge, much to my delight and that of all of my fellow fans.

For the rest of the game, I’m entertained by watching these rival fans try to keep themselves in check.

In a fight to the end, they struggle to restrain themselves from dumping their beer on this loud mouthed Heckler.

Because of the entertainment factor he has always provided at games since fans can remember, this timeless irritant and big mouthed sports fan secures a spot in today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Out of curiosity, what’s your favorite Heckler line?

Let us know. Just keep it clean and leave everyone’s mother out of your response. Lol

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!


Remembering College Football’s “Galloping Ghost” Red Grange 0

Posted on September 21, 2015 by Mike Raffone

MIKE Comic 72 Galloping GhostToday’s Sports Then and Now blog features an incomparable college football player with the unforgettable nickname – The Galloping Ghost.

In 2008, called this electrifying running back and kick returner the greatest college football player ever.

However, nearly 90 years earlier it was Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown who attributed The Galloping Ghost name to Harold Edward “Red” Grange.

Grange earned the moniker because of his race horse speed and quick, ghostlike movements that avoided tacklers in the open field.

Tackling Grange was like trying to lasso a fast moving cloud driven by a strong wind in a large open field. Few defenders ever succeeded.

A three-time All American at the University of Illinois, the 5’11″ and 175 lb. Grange led the Illini to an undefeated season and college football’s national championship in 1923.

The Galloping Ghost’s best college game was against Michigan on October 18, 1924. Most college football fans called it the greatest individual performance in the history of college football.

Against the Illini’s fiercest rival, Grange spooked the Wolverine defense by racing the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. He scored three more times on runs of 67, 56 and 44 yards – all within the first 12 minutes of the game.

There was no television or internet back in The Galloping Ghost’s era. Instead, TIME Magazine highlighted Grange’s amazing college career by including The Galloping Ghost on the cover of its October 1925 issue. It was a huge national honor.

An original member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Grange signed with the Chicago Bears immediately after college. Grange is also a history maker for the professional sport of football. Back in the 1920s, professional football was only beginning to form nationally, and Grange became instrumental in its initial success.

Grange participated in a 67 day, 19 game cross-country series of exhibition games. For his efforts, The Galloping Ghost pocketed an incredible $100,000 for his role. The other players were paid only $100 per game.

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame owner George Halas called Grange the greatest running back he had ever seen. Unfortunately, The Galloping Ghost suffered a terrible knee injury in 1927 that inevitably shortened his professionally career.

The highlight of #77′s NFL career came in 1933. Grange made a heroic game saving play on defense in the closing seconds of the NFL’s first ever Championship Game held at Wrigley Field.

The spirit of this Galloping Ghost will always live on. And, today’s Sports Then and Now’s blog rekindles the fiery spirit of this amazing college football player.

Red Grange passed away in 1991, but today let’s remember the elusive, fast gridiron great whom recognized as the best college football player of all time.

MIKE on sports!


What the Marvin Sharp Case Means for the 2016 Olympics 1

Posted on September 15, 2015 by Brooke Chaplan
Marvin Sharp was a coach during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Marvin Sharp was a coach during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Every four years, young female gymnasts from all over the world draw the eyes of many nations and become stars of the summer Olympics. But with less than a year to Rio 2016′s opening ceremony, a Team USA gymnastics coach faces state and federal charges of child molestation and child pornography.

The coach, Marvin Sharp, owns and directs Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was arrested on August 25, 2015, on suspicion of child molestation. Two days later, he appeared in court to hear the state charges against him: four counts of child molestation and three counts of sexual misconduct

In the investigation that followed Sharp’s arrest, officers searched his home and business and found thousands of child pornography images. Sharp faces additional federal charges related to the child pornography.

USA Gymnastics issued a statement the day of Sharp’s arrest. They affirmed that athlete safety is their top priority, saying these charges go against their philosophy and standards. They also stated they are cooperating with investigators regarding Sharp’s case.

Still, when situations like this arise, it’s helpful to examine how coaches become Team USA and Olympic team coaches. To qualify as a Team USA gymnastics coach, coaches must obtain a membership with USA Gymnastics. Membership requirements include a background check that lasts two years. Any coach at a Team USA–sponsored gymnastic event must have a membership.

Team USA Gymnastics coaches become Olympic coaches only if an athlete they train earns a spot as an Olympic athlete. To earn the five open spots, gymnasts must place among the top competitors at the US Olympic Trials. The individual all-around champion earns an automatic spot; a selection committee names four other team members and up to three alternates. Read the rest of this entry →

Pieces in Place for Dallas Cowboys to Contend for Super Bowl 50 1

Posted on September 13, 2015 by Chris Kent

The 2015-16 version of the Dallas Cowboys are about to be unveiled. The stage will be set as America’s Team will be showcased in prime time before a national television audience on NBC’s Sunday Night Football tonight. AT&T Stadium will be nothing short of a Texas-sized circus.

An offseason that brought many changes with additions and losses of players through free agency, the draft, trades, and undrafted signings has altered the Dallas team. The team’s offense, defense, and special teams will all feature new faces at key spots and those new faces will largely determine how successful the team is this year. While the Cowboys’ biggest loss is NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray, who is now wearing green and white in Philadelphia, other players will be missed. Dallas also lost their punt and kickoff return ace in Dwayne Harris who also contributed as a receiver. Offensive tackle Jeremy Parnell who was a valuable reserve for an offensive line that was regarded as the best in the NFL last season is now in Jacksonville. Also lost in free agency were linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive lineman Henry Melton. Both were important contributors to last year’s 12-4 team that won the NFC East and a playoff game, each for the first time in five years. Murray is the biggest loss out of this bunch as his franchise rushing record of 1,845 yards will be missed. Murray also ran for 13 touchdowns and had 57 receptions for 416 yards last season.

Former Oakland Raider Darren McFadden was signed by Dallas to help pick up the slack in the running game left behind by the free agent departure of DeMarco Murray

Former Oakland Raider Darren McFadden was signed by Dallas to help pick up the slack in the running game left behind by the free agent departure of DeMarco Murray.

This year’s running game appears as it will operate by committee unless someone emerges with consistent productivity. Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar all bring different strengths and styles to the position. Randle, a third-year back out of Oklahoma State, brings speed but lacks experience. He has been serviceable in spot duty over his first two years but needs to fulfill his blocking assignments better. Two legal incidents including a shoplifting charge last year following the Cowboys’ upset win in Seattle have raised questions about his character. McFadden, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2006 and 2007, played seven injury-riddled seasons in Oakland where he managed to post only one 1,000-yard rushing season, that being in 2010 when he ran for 1,157 yards on 223 carries. Even then he ran for only seven touchdowns while also missing three games. Dunbar has amassed only 324 yards on 80 carries with no touchdowns in his three-year career. While each of these backs are different, they each can contribute. If McFadden can avoid the toe and chronic foot injuries that have plagued his career, he could be productive for Dallas while Randle will have to stay out of off-the-field trouble and be more consistent. Dunbar’s challenge will be to take advantage of his opportunities and be reliable as a pass catcher and blocker out of the backfield. Waiting in the wings in the backfield is Christine Michael who the Cowboys just signed this past week from Seattle. Michael saw only limited action in his two years as a Seahawk but was on Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII championship team. In time, Michael could make a contribution this season and have a chance to show more. If nothing else, he gives the Cowboys some depth at running back.

Read the rest of this entry →

How Technology Has Changed Sporting Events 1

Posted on July 29, 2015 by Cassie Phillips

Have you ever considered the way in which you watch your game, and how it might be different from decades past? Smartphones and video-streaming computers are really inventions perfected in the last two decades, but everyone acts as though they’ve always been here. When it comes to sports, we are going full steam ahead to see things that are conservative by their very nature, and that balance is a delicate thing to consider.

There have been different, small advancements in technology and improvements in sports medicine have changed how long player’s careers are and pushed their bodies to the limit. Yet for the common fan of nearly any sports, the advancements have been in how they watch it and the options available for viewing. You can watch the game from two sets of commentators, hear a variety of radio stations talk about it, and so on. The relative ease of setting up a station means that, if you want, you can spend every waking moment of your life surrounded by sports and sports talk-shows. The fans have never had it easier, but it important to put it into perspective.


Replays and Multiple Cameras

During the dawn of the sports era in America, having just a couple of cameras to watch on a black and white screen was a technological achievement all sports fans asked for. Now HDTV on a TV greater than 30 inches is the new norm. Every little detail is displayed, and that leads to an extra level of scrutiny on all levels, especially when there are at least ten cameras at every major sporting event. It makes one wonder just how the players are affected by the extra pressure and attention.

You can now find instant replay of referees taking a look at instant replay. There used to be no such thing; now every sport on television has it, and some officials use it on the field or are just starting to open up its use. It is as if we are starting to not trust our officials anymore. If you watch a full baseball game start to finish, you will see the same big play about four times spread out over the nine innings just so that the broadcasters can remind you that it happened. Do they trust our attention spans anymore? Are we as fans becoming this bored with the games we love that we require all of this technology? Read the rest of this entry →

Examples in Excellence: Most Inspiring Coaches of the Last Decade 1

Posted on July 24, 2015 by Brooke Chaplan
Jill Ellis has been successful building the U.S. Women's Soccer Team into a team of stars.

Jill Ellis has been successful building the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team into a team where everyone plays their role.

The greatest sports coaches have the power to inspire their athletes to be better than they’ve ever been and change the whole dynamic of a team. We’ve all seen what an amazing leader can do for an otherwise scrappy team, and here are just a few of the most remarkable examples of the last decade.

Build Teams with Great Players, Not One Great Player
Jill Ellis experienced incredible training as a young coach at UCLA when she was mentored by John Wooden. Now she is the manager of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team.

Ellis creates a clear team concept and teaches each player their role within it. At her father’s suggestion, she learned communication outside her sport. For a while, she was a technical writer. Now she can explain her team vision and help her players to be their best within it. Her background was able to prepare her for seeing a big picture and what each part needs to do to organize a working machine.

Leadership by Listening
Steve Kerr was the first rookie head coach in the NBA to win the championship since 1982. The Golden State Warriors were a team of current and future all-stars, but they needed someone who could pull all the pieces together.

Kerr created a system based on the strengths of his players to maximize the team’s performance. He also empowered his coaching staff to share their ideas and listened to everyone. Most significantly, in the NBA Finals, an assistant coach wanted to change the starting line-up to help them deal with the previously unstoppable LeBron James. Kerr accepted and implemented the idea. Not only did it work, Kerr publicly identified his assistant as the source of the idea. This is one example out of dozens of Kerr giving credit to others for the team’s success.
Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Bob Gibson: Big Game Hurler
      October 4, 2015 | 10:33 am
      Bob Gibson

      Bob Gibson

      With the baseball playoffs upon us, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a two-time World Series MVP who hurled eight complete games in the Fall Classic and still holds the record for strikeouts in a World Series game.

      Throughout his 17 year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, opponents knew they were in for a battle every time they faced Bob Gibson.  

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