In my previous article, I alluded to the L.A. Clippers' futility of seasons past. Only two or three days after it hit Noozhawk, with the Clip Show in playoff action against the Golden State Warriors, the disturbingly racist comments uttered by owner Donald Sterling were released by TMZ. Less than a week later, and Sterling is banned from the NBA for life. The franchise ownership situation is in limbo.
The Sterling scandal is the first real fire NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been tasked to put out since he succeeded longtime boss David Stern earlier this year. He must defend the integrity of the league and protect it from racism, prejudice, etc. The process to officially separate the Sterling family from the Clippers is ongoing.
In sports, the commissioner is akin to a president, chancellor, prime minister, any head of state. His signature is inked on every game ball. He announces draft picks and the postseason trophy presentation. More to the point, the league depends on him to act decisively in its best interest. Its just goes to show how sports affairs provide more political undertones today than ever before.
Sometimes sports and politics collide in more obvious ways — in particular, fiscal issues. Every off-season, free agent players sign lucrative contracts worth well beyond six figures. Should taxpayers and municipalities foot the bill for a pricey new stadium, or should it be privately financed? A new facility is usually a lynch pin to keep the team from moving, so the dough has to come from somewhere to silence relocation threats.
Revenue sharing is the contentious procedure to spread wealth as evenly as possible to all clubs. Big market teams scoff at the idea as socialist in what they deem a capitalist industry, but small market ones may need it to stay afloat.
There is no shortage of socio-political rumblings in the sports pages either. Collective bargaining agreements between players' unions and owners dictate the day-to-day operations and conditions. How to deal with football players falling victim to brain injuries more than likely sustained from numerous blows to the head on the field? With the crafting of a drug-testing policy effective enough to discourage doping? With determining an appropriate minimum age limit for draft eligibility? These and countless others are challenges the powers-that-be must come up with solutions for.
At least in baseball, on-the-field legislation provokes enough debate to generate an ideological spectrum for fans. Are you a purist, or are modern gimmicks like the designated hitter, interleague play or the All-Star Game determining World Series home-field advantage fine by you? This season, umpires are allowed to use instant replay review for just about everything besides balls and strikes, as opposed to solely home runs.
The way I see it, whether you are for or against instant replay, it adds another generational comparison variable. Us baseball fans like comparing eras. If Don Denkinger had replay review capacity, he might have reversed the call that had Kansas City Royals' Jorge Orta safe in the 1985 World Series. In 2010, Jim Joyce might have reversed the safe at first ruling that denied Detroit Tigers hurler Armando Gallaraga a perfect game.
Its not that I'm apathetic towards politics, just more cynical. More often than not I hear bad news from CNN, C-SPAN and most other outlets. Nuclear weapons are developed. Sovereign nations are attacked. Innocent civilians are killed. The environment gets destroyed from oil drilling and pollution. Too many are without access to affordable health care. The House and Senate cannot agree on a budget deal so the government shuts down.
The business and legal hoopla of sports are often inevitable. After all, this is 2014, not 1914. Still, I tend to hear more good news from sports. Unless work stoppages cancel games like they did to the 1994 baseball and 2004-05 NHL seasons.
As long as the games go on, that's enough good news for me any day.
— Max McCumber is a Santa Barbara resident.