Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear me out...The worst sports organizations of 2016

 

December 24, 2016

COURTESY/ MGN

2016 is coming to a close and yearly recaps are all over the place. 2016 was an unusual sports year - the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Cubs become world champions in their respective leagues, Villanova finally moved past the second round all the way to the championship title, NBA legends Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant said goodbye, the Warriors super team, oh, and the Summer Olympics happened.

It's was a fun sports year but rather than rehash what everyone else is talking about (Let's be honest the two biggest sports stories were the Cubs and Cavs), I'm ranking the top five worst sports organizations of 2016.

By worst I don't mean poorly run, but despicable behavior that makes you question the humanity of those running the various leagues. Quickly, the general criteria for making the list is quite simple;

-Displays an "eff" you behavior to the fans.

-Harbor contempt for their players paired with an almost plantation like feel.

-A false sense of divinity.

-Put profits ahead of human lives.

-Makes you the viewer feel exploitative and dirty for watching and sucks the fun out of the sport.

You get the idea, so starting off the inaugural worst sports organizations of 2016...  

No. 5 NCAA

I have a feeling the NCAA is going to be a permanent resident on this list. How in 2016 they still stand by the student-athlete myth is a head-scratcher. The student-athlete designation applies to high school students, once in the college it flies out the window. If the student-athlete existed in the NCAA there wouldn't be fake classes or coaching assistants taking test for the athletes. More time would be given to the classroom rather than the field or court.

Then there's the issue of transferring players. If a player wants to play ball at another school, more often than not they have to sit out a year which is fine, I personally am not a fan of it but I get the reasoning. What's annoying is that rule doesn't apply to coaches. They're free to leave for another school whenever they damn well please.

For example look at Tom Herman, the former University of Houston head coach left so quickly for his new job at the University of Texas that he was practically helping the fired Charlie Strong pack up before he settled in.

If the players have rules and regulations on their movement, so should the coaches who have a far greater impact.

One more note on the NCAA and it makes me sick to my stomach that I'm actually agreeing with Captain Checkers Nick Saban. But the College Football Playoffs have made all these other bowl games even more irrelevant.

Quickly, explaining the Captain Checkers nickname for Saban. The way I see it college football is checkers and the NFL is chess. Checkers is a fine game but intellectually it doesn't come close to that of chess. And when you're a chess player dominating in checkers but acting like it is chess, it comes off a little sad.

During the BCS we could pretend the other bowls meant something or were some sort of accomplishment. Now with the CFP they're truly a glorified exhibition game. Basically, these bowls are as meaningless as an NFL preseason game but with more pageantry.

No. 4 UFC

The UFC's growth the last two decades is impressive. To have gone from a backyard wrestling step up to one the fastest growing sports, and selling for $4 billion back in July, deserves a tip of the hat.

But the way they treat their fighters earns them a spot on this year's list.

First there's the press demands. Does it matter if it interrupts a fighters training and they must fly around the world for a one-hour press conference? Nope. If a fighter doesn't like it and wants to skip, they can stop training because they'll be replaced on the card.

Secondly, it has been reported if you're not a marquee name like Conner McGregor or Ronda Rousey your fighting purse is around $15,000 per fight and you're only fighting twice maybe three times a year. There is the revenue-sharing but as much as the UFC wants to spin their fighters have the same amount of sharing as the other leagues, which averages around 40 percent. The truth is fighters get around 16 percent of the revenue.  

Considering the shelf-life for a fighter that's very little pay for a lifetime of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).

Instead of treating their relationship with the fighter as a partnership they'd rather dump all over the men and women who put asses in the seats and bring eyes to the screens. Honestly, it's quite perplexing to have this kind of disgust for the very people who are responsible for your success but it's a common theme among those on this list.

No. 3 NFL

The NFL landing at only No. 3 has to be one of the bigger upsets of 2016. The Shield is the very reason this column idea even exists but as I did a little more digging into the worst of the worst. Their stranglehold on the No. 1 spot lessened and they slowly fell to No. 3.

Nonetheless, let's look at how the NFL earned their spot on this list.

Until the NFL stops with their cowardly/greedy behavior surrounding concussions they might as well get used to being an annual fixture on this year-end list. I know you're reading Mr. Goodell and Mr. Jones.

For a league that prints money, the denial that there is no correlation between their game and CTE is going to go down as one of the more moronic lines drawn in the sand in sport-industry history.

Right now it's indefensible and if they continue with their staunch denial, 10 years from now they're going to be the Phillip Morris of the sports leagues. The top athletes will choose other leagues that for one have a better players union and owners who seem treat them like partners rather than field hands.

If you think the play in the NFL has been bad this season wait until most the elite athletes are in the NBA, MLB or some soccer league, and the players on the field are closer to that of the defunct XFL.

We're probably heading for the XFL because the NFL has never been good at admitting they screwed up. If they ever did take ownership of a mistake then us mere mortals would finally see that these "gods" do bleed. There would be chaos in the streets. So the 32 and their puppet Roger Goodell have to keep the lie up that they came to the right decision about Spygate, Bountygate, the Ray Rice video, Deflategate and Deflategate 2.0.

Oh yeah Deflategate 2.0 was swept under the rug real quick like. When the Steelers and Giants played on Dec. 3 the Giants accused the Steelers of using underinflated balls. The NFL took the balls in question, and only the two, not their entire stock like they demanded of the Pats, and said hey it was cold that's why they were underinflated.

As hypocritical as the whole thing was, I'm quite stunned the NFL took in account science and used them as facts. Maybe it's a small step forward or maybe it's Roger afraid of being picked on for being the one kid in science class who doesn't believe dinosaurs existed. So he decided to agree with everyone rather than face even more ridicule.

I haven't watched as much of the NFL as I have in the past and that could be for a number of reasons but I think it's the loathing they have for everyone outside the 32 that's the biggest turnoff.

Their loathing attitude is most apparent with their stadiums and how they try to sucker the citizens of a city to building them. If a city is dumb enough to build one it's over because then the owners will ransom the citizens every eight years for upgrades or additions and if they say no. The owner packs up the franchise and moves to a new city. Meanwhile the old city is left with a massive debt, like St. Louis who is in the red to the attune of $144 million after the Rams left for LA.

Every city that has an NFL team or is thinking of getting an NFL team needs to take a page from San Diego or LA. San Diego told the Spanos family to build their own damn stadium or hit the bricks and LA has always said we'd love an NFL team but we're not giving you a penny to build a stadium.

Just whatever you do don't be like Las Vegas and take money from your education system to build an NFL stadium.

One last thing on the NFL, please stop it with these Thursday night games. For all the talk around player safety how does a Thursday night game help that cause? On top of that they're horrible games and often they're divisional games so these sorry excuses for a football game have an impact on the season. Just once I want to see an NFL coach do what the coaches in the NBA do. If the league schedules poorly which could result in key players getting injured. They rest the key players.

I want to see an NFL coach rest some starters on Thursday night or maybe even the Sunday before. That would get the NFL's attention. But knowing the NFL they'd probably make a rule against this rather than admit their scheduling is horrendous.

No. 1 and No. 2 will have to wait. This column has gone quite long, so I'm going to turn this into a cliffhanger and make this column into a two-parter. Look in next Saturday's edition of the Northern Wyoming Daily News for the conclusion of the worst sports organizations of 2016.

If you would like to take a guess at who No. 1 and No. 2 will be, or think I left a league out, email me at sports@wyodaily.com. Have a merry Christmas!

 
 

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