Sports and Presidential politics have a long and storied history of entanglement. Everyone knows that President Obama is a White Sox fan who has dutifully filled out March Madness brackets and agitated for a college football playoff. Likewise, Mitt Romney is said by some melodramatic fans of figure skating to have saved the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Lesser known amongst political nerds is that William Howard Taft, along with being our 27th President and also serving as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was the original starting center for the Harlem Globetrotters. The original Round Mound of Rebound, Taft was said to have installed a basketball court in the White House commissary. Late at night, when the Mrs. was fast asleep, Taft could be heard working on his lethal hook shot and pounding large boxes of chocolate donuts downstairs on the newly installed court.
Among his more famous quips, Taft is said to have uttered, during an oral argument at the Supreme Court, “I’m the Michael Jordan of law! Who wants to sex Mutombo?”
Let’s talk sports…
I BELIEVE THE CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE
Florida is a cesspool of absurd, hilarious, and outstanding things. About this, there can be no doubt. This week, the state continued in its quest to constantly entertain us when nine men were arrested in South Florida in connection with a wide-ranging gambling ring. You’re thinking this is boring as hell, and I get that. But please wait for the only-in-Florida punchline: the gambling ring involved youth football games. Hut, hut, hike!
The 18-month long investigation started when ESPN journalists brought Broward County Sheriff’s officials surveillance video showing parents openly exchanging money in the stands while watching their kids’ tackle football games. Authorities later uncovered the stakes on pee wee games were high, with more than $100,000 wagered on the youth football championship.
Coaches routinely met before games and set point spreads, investigators said, but they do not believe the games were thrown or that coaches encouraged players not to complete a touchdown in order to control the outcome. Authorities said they had no evidence that the players were aware of the bets.
Investigators do not believe games were thrown. Relax, everyone. The integrity of the South Florida Youth Football League has not been sullied by these despicable acts.
The ringleader of the alleged gambling… uhh… ring was an ex-con named Brandon Bivins, who preferred to be called ‘Coach B.’ The operation was alleged to have been run out of a fake barbershop which adds even more hilarity to the proceedings.
Lest you think I’m picking on Florida and lest you think this is an isolated incident in the annals of South Florida youth sports, the article disabuses you of all of that toward the end:
Authorities worry that betting on games can lead to violence and other crimes. The gambling bust comes after a Miami youth football coach was arrested earlier this month for punching a referee in the face during a game. In another South Florida city, a coach followed another coach home and killed his dog in front of him, Ballante said.
There’s a Michael Vick joke somewhere in there, but dammit if I can’t figure it out.
UTAH AG ADMITS DEFEAT, BUT NOT REALLY
This week brought news that the Attorney General of Utah had suspended his investigation into and potential lawsuit against the Bowl Championship Series for antitrust violations. The AG, Mark Shurtleff, is on his way out at the end of this year and his quixotic fight had managed to, in the year it had been ongoing, attract no supporters and fewer attorneys:
It didn’t deter him when Utah announced a move to the Pac-12 Conference, or when his alma mater, Brigham Young University, declared football independence. It didn’t much deter him when attorneys general from other states declined to join a potential antitrust suit. A yearlong process to hire outside legal counsel that mired the case in its tracks was frustrating, Shurtleff acknowledged, but he still planned to move ahead.
Shurtleff, a University of Utah Law grad, still planned to move ahead, y’see. Forget that the facts on the ground changed, forget that no other Attorney General supported this cockamamie plan, forget that the state of Utah couldn’t find an antitrust attorney willing to carry their flag into battle. Forget all of that for a moment and recognize that Mark Shurtleff stands before you, an elected official, bloodied but unbowed.
I can only imagine that the impetus behind this fight-that-never-was originated in a bull session where AG Shurtleff said something to the effect of “There ought to be a law…”
In recognition of this, I too propose there ought to be a law. There ought to be a law that elected officials stay as far away as possible from sports. When they attempt to swing their dicks in the world of sports, they end up covering themselves in whatever the opposite of glory is. Poop? Shame? Shame poop? Something like that.
RAP SHEET ROLL CALL
* Domestic violence charges against Dez Bryant, in connection with an alleged attack on his mom, will not be dropped. Unlike so many Tony Romo passes.
* Former Pro Bowler Michael Bennett was sentenced to 15 months in prison for wire fraud. Unlike so many Tony Romo passes.
* Massive lineman Bryant McKinnie is being sued for unpaid strip club bills. Unlike so many Tony Romo passes.