Where does Hockey stand?

Don’t lament hockey. It has things more right than other sports:

1.) Defense first. This is what hockey is all about. Other sports used to share this mentality, but they found that SCORING is what people wanted, so they made rules designed to create points. I recently watched a Rangers game where the first goal was scored with about 5 minutes left. They lost, but it was a wildly exciting game.

2.) Penalties: Hah!!! IN EVERY OTHER SPORT, penalties suck, both for the team who gets them, AND for the fans watching. How many minutes of a football game are we watching the striped-shirt fellas walk and announce the penalty (they have chosen to enforce) for that play?

I don’t think watching the striped shirts ‘walk and announce’, has made football more exciting. In football, ‘certain contact’ is penalized. In hockey, contact usually penalizes the one who gets hit harder, but I digress…

When there is a penalty in hockey, the game gets MORE EXCITING! Hockey is the ONLY professional sport that can make this claim.

I still like basketball, but it is really hard to watch: If you can toss the ball in from mid court, you are awarded with an additional point. (3 point play.) You can ALSO get a 3-point play if you are slapped, hacked, mauled, and tackled on your way to the basket – and the shot goes in – PROVIDED you make an ADDITIONAL shot from the free-throw line. There is a disconnect here. These don’t seem ‘equal’. That is why basketball has become a ‘huck-fest’. Free throws aren’t exciting, but THE GAME was more exciting when the goal was to get to the basket.

3.) The Penalty Box: What if basketball penalized like hockey? Hmmmm… imagine the 5 on 4 in basketball. Now THAT would be exciting. The same goes for football. 11 on 10 with a penalty.

But I could be wrong. Now let’s imagine striped shirts pacing off 10 or 15 yards on the rink to drop the puck… would that make Hockey¬†better?

I’ll take hockey rules, any day of the week.

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GO JETS!

Today is one of the most exciting days in New York Football history. I am a lifelong Giants fan. My father had Giants season tickets for years and years, before the new Corporate Stadium was built. When he appraised me that he was getting rid of the tickets, I was stunned.

We had premium seats: Mezzanine. About the 37 yard line, behind the Giants bench. If there was weather, we were covered. Even the wind didn’t seem to fuss too much with that location. It was windy, just about 25 mph less than on the field. I remember going there when the seats were $40.00, maybe $45.00. I remember $55.00. Then I remember it creeping up over the years. I think they were $95.00 just a few years ago. $115.00 just last season.

“You can’t get rid of the tickets, Dad!”

This proclamation peeled no skin off my teeth. It wasn’t my expense. My part was simply to go to the games and enjoy the seats. I did such an amazing job at this – over a tremendously long period of time – I just couldn’t believe my father was firing me. I had the perfect ass for those seats.

“There is a PSL,” my father told me. “What is a PSL?” I asked. “A Personal Seat License.” He said. “They are really building up the value of the PSL.”

We had 4 seats. Years ago, when no one would go to the game, the seats would be empty. In the past few years all that changed, and dad sold the seats. He was only out the cost of the games the family attended. Rising prices had been offset by the ability to sell any unused tickets. The PSL was a real slap in the face for Jet and Giant ticket holders. This wake up call was comparable to being dropped into an ice fishing hole from REM sleep.

“How much is the PSL?” I asked. I had to know what we were talking about. I was determined to find a way to keep those tickets. “$15,000.00 per ticket,” dad said. “whaaaat?” I said, mulling over and grappling with the significance and value of my attendance at these games. “Every season?” I asked, not fully understanding the concept. “No,” he said, “It is a one time fee. You own the right to those seats, and when you buy the tickets, you purchase the right to sell them. If they go up in value, you stand to make a profit. That is how they have hyped this thing, anyway.”

‘Okay, okay.’ I thought. ‘I need to figure this out.’ That is $60,000.00 for our seats. We could turn a profit, but I need to figure out how to hold onto them first, then worry about the rest, later.

“The seats have gone up too.” Dad added. “How much?” I asked, knowing that a 30-50% increase was likely going to come in the package. “$500.00 per seat.”

Suddenly, my brain burst open. This produced an oozing of words into the phone:

“Dad, you can’t sell the seats.” I said.

I knew he heard me the first time. I was hearing him, but had no capacity for comprehension. I would have to sit on this one for a few days in order to secure the tickets, but the future was bleak. This is like being in the Panhandle of Florida, with an enormous hurricane 150 miles out. Dad was doing what any reasonable man would do: He was getting out of there, and finding the shores of safety far, far away. I would arrive at this decision, but not before the winds began howling louder.

“So that is 8 games, every year, plus 60k?” I said, thinking out loud. Thinking Out Loud is an annoying habit I inherited from him. When people visit the Daley household, my father and I can get awfully flustered as the guests simply start conversing with our thoughts. On the one hand this is convenient. Dad answered my thought which, having made it’s way out my throat without thinking, was now airborne and responding to his thoughts: “The problem is, they sell you the 2 preseason games, which nobody wants to go to, and are impossible to sell,” he thought. As Dad’s thoughts reached into my eardrums, I said, “4 tickets at $500.00 per ticket is $2000.00 Per Game. 10 games at this price is $20,000.00 per year.

“That’s FUCKING CRAZY!” I screamed. Or perhaps I just thought it.

The Giants were telling us – season ticket holders for well over a quarter century – that we needed to shell out 60 thousand dollars. This was merely a downpayment. This gives us the privilege of spending 20,000.00 per year, every year. Nothing else comes with it. That is it, down to brass tacks.

Why not just buy available tickets at 10 grand per game, and go twice a year? That saves 60 thousand dollars, and relieves you of the responsibility for losing money every year. I finally knew my quest was over when I came to this realization: If Dad paid the PSL, and said ‘the tickets are yours,’ I would say, “I don’t want them!” Season Tickets – at this price point – hold very little value. They are a liability.

Does the Giant Brass think their ticket holders are desperately trying to find more ways to spend money?

In 1986, Dad got tickets to the Super Bowl in Pasadena. He and my mother sat close to the field. I sat with Jim Windhorst at the back of the stadium, in the corner of the endzone. I stood up the entire game. I was happy when the volume of the crowd corresponded with the blue uniforms congregating in the end zone. Every once in a while I see a play from this game on TV. I used to gloat about being there. Now I just watch, having never seen the plays.

Having season tickets was great. I can say without blinking: It was a very good run.

If the Jets win today, they will be headed to the Super Bowl. The last time that happened, Joe Namath was the quarterback. Many people don’t know who he is, others only know the legend of Joe Willie Namath. The Jets looked really good the last 2 weeks. Mark Sanchez doesn’t have the stats of an elite quarterback, but he makes enough plays at the right time to win games.

Every great quarterback eventually acquires statistical superiority. Along that road, they need only amass victories. Mark Sanchez is a winner, and this Jets team is quite spirited. I am more excited than I would be if the Giants were in it right now. That is because I have had the good fortune of smelling the bouquet, and tasting success. The Jets haven’t been there since the early 70’s. They have worked hard, and they deserve it.

GO JETS!

Olympics

I used to love the Olympics. Grew up watching them. Huge event, not just for the Olympians, but for our household. We would watch nightly, daily, and endlessly – all winter and all summer – every election year. It was intense and exhausting. It felt as if we were part of a ‘family olympics’. The goal of OUR games was to endure the grueling schedule of watching televised olympic events for an entire year.

Then they changed it to every other year.

It used to correspond with elections. There were Presidential Elections. There was hope. There was the Olympics. We were in tune with our country, and regardless of any allegiance to our country’s olympians, the olympics themselves seemed patriotic.

I couldn’t care less if the individual who wins is from our country or not. My patriotic allegiance is to skill, beauty, and talent. If this red, white, and blue-ism includes being elated over the stunning performance from someone born in another country, so be it. I will favor based on attitude, a winning smile, or just personal style. If the olympian meets the standard I alone set, then I root for them. I love when they stand on the podium with their country’s flag. Good for them! They met my criteria AND the judges. They should get to wear heels or something for that.

The skiing is visceral. These phenomenal athletes race down the slopes at highway speed, making turns on ice with just boards attached to their feet. I watched this past week as many women fell, audibly gasping as I internalized their plight. This is dangerous stuff, and these women were braver than almost any man you will meet. But they don’t think of themselves as such. When you are in it, you are thinking only of how you will win. Others falling ahead of you could inspire you to show your stuff, but you cannot be oblivious to what it means. Lyndsay Vonn was amazing, but so was the final skier who finished 2 seconds behind her. As she came down the announcer was saying, “She’s really gotta pick up the pace…” but all I could think was: ‘She’s doing it. She is going to finish.’ She skied cautiously, and finished, while Lyndsay skied aggressively and amazingly, and snagged the gold.

Recently the skating has been on, and this is great. The men skate and train all their lives to get to the olympics. What they don’t know is they only win by a nose. In the final analysis, in order to grab a medal, you must have a sizable proboscis.

In women’s skating, there was a 16 year old American by the name of Mirai Nagasu who skated brilliantly in the short program. Then she skated extremely well in the long program, but fell short of a medal. Talent, athleticism, and artistry are important, but don’t forget to make a deduction for age. Sure, Kim Yu-na was better. She was amazing. But Mirai Nagasu deserved the silver.

I am a proud American. I proudly announce Kim Yu-na deserved to win the Gold. Hooray for South Korea – – even though she felt the fatal pressure of shame for her country had she returned with a measly silver medal. Between Gold Medal or death, Kim Yu-na made a wise decision.

It isn’t my patriotic spirit that feels ripped off by Mirai Nagasu’s failure to win a medal. This is a yearning inside that says sports – especially at this level and on a World Stage – deserve better score-keeping management. If the judges don’t get their act together we will make a hole in the ice to stick their face, then require the skaters to do spins in this place.

I am a proud American. Bleeding red, with white blood cells, and singing the blues.