Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving at Duke

This Thanksgiving, on national television, we will get to watch the latest chapter in the Greg Hardy saga play out. A man who committed unrepentant acts of domestic violence, scooped up by a narcissistic vulture of an owner for the greater glory of his investment, shielded by the weakest of claims of concern and vetting. But hey, Cowboys games on Thanksgiving are a tradition, and the show must go on.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

112 stadiums and counting

So I was sick for most of last week, but since I can't help myself, on Friday afternoon I left my house in North Carolina at 6 pm, and drove all the way to the Alabama state line, where I stopped for the night.  The next morning I continued on to Hattiesburg, MS to see Old Dominion take on Southern Miss.  The game was back and forth well into the 3rd quarter, until So Miss recovered a fumble (which led to a TD) and then on the next series batted a pass at the line (around Old Dominion's own 3 yard line no less) which become a pick 6 - So Miss ended up winning 56-31, much to the delight of the home fans.

I won't delve into too much detail on the stadium itself, since you can read it in my review (see below) but I will say they have done a nice job with the stadium.  Most of it is over 40 years old, but it looks a lot newer than that due to the recent face lift.

So for me this was stadium #112 out of 129, and the last stadium I needed in the great state of Mississippi (there are only 3).  That leaves only 7 more on this side of the river, 3 of which I hope to see before the end of the regular season - there aren't many regular season games on December 5th, except in the Big 12 where they don't have a conference championship game, so will be able to fit it a game then, as well as 2 this weekend.

Wish me look, readers.  Here's to #113!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

111 stadiums & counting (aka, 3 games in 3 days across 3 states, part 3)

So after watching UTEP beat Rice by 3 on November 6th, I spent the night in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and then took a long, lonely drive up to Albuquerque to see New Mexico take on Utah State (also a close game).  The weird thing about driving in New Mexico is they have these border checkpoints really far north, a lot father north than you might expect, perhaps America's second line of defense against illegal immigration?

But I digress.  When I started off my odyssey to see all of the FBS stadiums, I never imagined I could turn it into being a real journalist.  But after 100 stadiums, I started writing for, and the greatest thing about that is I sometimes get to watch games from the press box, which is a real treat.  Number one, you can see the game much better since you can see the whole field, which makes for some great pics.  Number two, you get to sit inside on a REAL chair, not out in the cold (or rain) on a hard metal bench, so that is a big plus, especially when the weather outside is frightful.  They also usually feed you, which is nice, but another great bonus is that sometimes I am allowed to go out on the field to take photos, which is awesome, because it is a vantage point I wouldn't get to have otherwise - this doesn't always happen, depends on what "level" of credential they give me.

It is also great to sit in the press box and listen to the announcers, and hear the constant back and forth checking of...who make that tackle?  Was that a 2 yard gain or 3?  What number is he?  Etc.  I don't always get to sit in the press box when I write my reviews, since I can't always get a pass, but I love it when I can.

On that note, a colleague of mine asked me if writing reviews somehow lessens the experience, because now watching football has become "work".  I laughed and said, heck no, because it actually changes my focus.  I pay more attention to the stadiums now, the architecture, the chants the fans do, the layout, etc. so I actually have better memories of the stadiums I visit than I used to.  Of course, that could just be a recency thing.  But I also notice that I rarely miss any of the great plays on the field, even when I am heads-down writing, because I can sense it - I have noticed many times while I am sitting there writing during the game, I tend to look up at arbitrary times, just in time to see a TD run or an interception or a ridiculous mid-air grab.  I can't really explain it, except to say that I can feel the anticipation - something changes in the crowd, there is a subtle murmur in the instant before the play as fans (and my fellow journalists) realize what is about to happen.  I somehow feel that change, and it makes me look up just in time.

One thing about sitting in the press box that you might not now is that cheering for or against either team is not allowed, per NCAA rules (in working press boxes a professional atmosphere needs to be maintained, so people can work).  The rule is not followed perfectly (you will usually hear some whispered cheers when the home team has a great play), but in general the staff keeps us honest.

I know I haven't said much about UNM's stadium here, but that's okay because I wrote a review (check it out below).  I will say the best thing about their stadium is the food - you can buy fried Twinkies there.  Fried.  Twinkies.  What more could you want?


Monday, November 23, 2015

110 stadiums & counting (aka, 3 games in 3 days across 3 states, part 2)

For the second game in my (not quite) road trip, I flew to El Paso to finally see the Sun Bowl, which was #110 on the list.  The Sun Bowl is a stadium I have been looking forward to seeing for a long time, since I have been told numerous times it is unique as it was literally carved out of the mountain.  While this is a little bit of an overstatement, it is a decent stadium.  Very small crowd though, so I even said in my review this stadium may be best seen for the bowl game in December.  I didn't realize this until I went there, but the Sun Bowl was actually BUILT for the express purpose of having the bowl game, b/c their old stadium just wouldn't suffice.

Read my review of the stadium here:

BTW, I did not mention this in my review (should have) but on 3rd downs, like many schools the Miners do a sound/chant, and in this case it is particularly annoying - they ring a bell/gong, and the announcer says, "Okay, fans, it's time for the 3rd down TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL..." (that is "toll", for people who absolutely hate stretched-out vowels and consonants).  In fact, this chant is SO absolutely annoying, that I noticed by the end of the game even the announcer stopped doing it!

Two other points I will make about this trip:

1) I finally finished all of the FBS stadiums in Texas, which perhaps not surprisingly is home to a whopping 12 FBS teams - the most of any state in the country.  5 points if you can name them all.
There are multiple states that have 0 FBS teams, so 12 is practically infinity times as many.

2) I have said it before, but again, it is nice when the home team wins.  People leave happy, smiles on their faces, and if you zoom out as soon as triple zeroes hit (like me, since I am not a native) it is sometimes easier to get out, as home fans stay and celebrate - at some schools for example the team sings a song or does something to thank the fans after a win, and at other schools you can even go onto the field for at least a few minutes.

Check back again soon for part 3 - if I was better at planning I would commit to a firm date of when that would be, but sadly I am not that good yet.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bad Year For Philly

This is how it was supposed to go this year for Philadelphia sports fans.

The Phillies were going to be terrible, but we knew that, and at least they'd finally embraced the notion of the rebuild. Sure, old favorites were going to get shipped off, but we'd see fresh talent brought in, and there would be some glimmerings of hope for the future.

Friday, November 20, 2015

On Terrible Football

If there has been one recurring theme this NFL season, it is this: terrible football.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Politics and Sports Redux


A suicide bomber attempts to make his way inside a stadium where the French and German national teams are playing a "friendly", with the President of France in attendance. He is turned away and detonates himself on the street, the explosion audible inside the stadium. The choice of targets was not accidental.
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