Trash Talk: Monday Night Bites

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Hey. Golf widow here. I survived another quiet weekend, this time with dogs added for company.

This weekend was a good one – not only did I get to pet dogs on loan but the entire family was here. They made up a foursome and kicked some ass in their respective flight.

And I got my cut of the winnings without having to swing a club.

If only Monday Night Football was as promising.

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We’re wrapping up Week 5 of the NFL football season with Oakland Raiders (1-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-1) – kickoff was at 8:15 p.m. ET this evening.

Gee whiz, I wonder who will win? The suspense is killing me. Not.

I dare you to go to Google News → Sports → NFL and scan the coverage for Tua Tagovailoa’s name. It’s almost as if he doesn’t exist. Tagovailoa is still out because of his injuries. The NFL and the NFL Players’ Association, however, have modified the concussion protocol since Tagovailoa’s last game.

Under the new protocol, the Dolphin’s backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater ended up out of yesterday’s game after an injury in the first play of the game. Bridgewater showed signs of ataxia after the hit; Tagovailoa displayed ataxia after his first injury in Week 3 but was put back into the game instead of being pulled out for further observation.

The new concussion protocol may leave the Dolphins down to their rookie QB Skylar Thompson with head coach leaving the line up for next Sunday up in the air.

But not strictly observing the concussion protocol to avoid unnecessary closed brain injury could lead to retired football players being used like toilet tissue by crooked old white men even off the field:

while completely unaware how pathetic their lives have become.

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Speaking of abusive situations, we learned late this past week that U.S. National figure skater Bridget Namiotka died this July. She was a victim of sexual abuse by her pairs partner John Coughlin for two years.

Namiotka’s parents told USA Today in an interview that their daughter died on July 25, having “succumbed to her long struggles with addiction after several very difficult years of dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse.”

Coughlin committed suicide in 2019 after he was suspended from the sport during investigation into allegations of abuse.

Namiotka was not the only skater who came forward to accuse Coughlin of assault; like Namiotka, some were minors at the time.

This feels too much like other sports where minors were abused and adults failed to detect the problem when it happened and as it continued. Should we have more oversight of sports when minors are athletes?

Sadly, the GOP only seems to be able to regulate women and girls’ athletes’ fertility and not their personal safety. Surveys completed by Florida girls’ doctors for clearance to play ask about girls’ menstrual history; while not yet mandatory, this is grooming girls to expect compulsory disclosure for eligibility.

That’s horse shit misogynist repression which does nothing to ensure healthy athletes.

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Major League Baseball’s playoffs have begun, with the first game of the 2022 World Series set hard and fast for November 1. Geez…that leaves a whopping 19 days until Thanksgiving.

League division championship series continues tomorrow with NY Yankees, Cleveland Guardians, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners in the American League, and LA Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies in the National League remaining.

Baseball fans in Toronto, Tampa Bay, and St. Louis may not be following along after their teams were eliminated this past weekend. I’m following no teams into the playoffs since the Detroit Tigers haven’t been in it at all.

By the way, if you’re dogsitting a particularly spoiled dog who won’t settle in their crate for the night, try playing live or recorded MLB games for them on low. Worked like a charm.

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It’s kind of a theme around here, losing at sports. Our family cheers for Michigan State football and they were obliterated by Ohio State this weekend. Detroit Lions also got beat up again and badly. Tigers aren’t in the playoffs.

I should be thankful being a golf widow paid off better than betting on other Michigan teams.

Yes, I know, U of M won this weekend again. It may be Marcy’s alma mater but this particular household goes Green and White, not Blue.

Treat this as an open thread. It will be used for other topics unrelated to the House January 6 Committee hearing currently scheduled this Wednesday.

Trash Talk: Much Trash, Very Sport, So Talk

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Yes, it’s me, the golf widow, once again drafting a Trash Talk post.

And yes, I’m here at home alone enjoying the quiet of my remaining golf widowhood. This weekend is one of the last of regular play on the local course; next weekend there will be some celebratory golf outing shindig in which my kids will also golf while I dogsit.

Meanwhile I’m doing exciting things like cleaning carpets and scrubbing floors, washing draperies, and baking since I won’t be able to much next weekend with dogs and adult children underfoot.

What about you? Are you sportsing, or watching sportsing, or cleaning up after this week’s hurricane? Do tell.

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Dreadful news came from Indonesia this week when at least 127 people died in a stampede at the Kanjuruhan Stadium after police used tear gas to disperse an angry crowd gathering on the football pitch.

This Reuters’ video shows how the crowd funneled toward an exit:

But this video reveals the animosity police displayed toward the attendees on the field which may also have led to panic:

The resulting death toll already exceeds that of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, making Kanjuruhan Stadium disaster in Malang the sixth deadliest sporting event related disaster in history.

Let’s hope there will be a thorough inquiry into this horror with accountability, and more quickly than followed the deadly Hillsborough crush. There are global repercussions in spite of the soccer match’s local nature; were there any stadium design problems which encouraged this crush? Were there lessons from policing at the stadium which might prevent future stampedes?

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It’s been a shitty week in the National Football League – not because of any one game but because of players’ health and the league’s handling of the same.

Lots of buzz right now after this tweet by St. Louis Cardinal’s JJ Watt:

ahead of this news:

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is a particular kind of irregular heart beat rhythm. There are many underlying causes though it occurs most frequently in persons age 50 and older. Watt is a bit young and assuming his general health has been monitored by the team, conditions like heart disease and diabetes are unlikely.

Football fans are shocked by this development but they shouldn’t be; A-fib can also be caused by viruses, both during active infection and as sequelae. We should expect to see more younger persons developing cardiac sequelae because of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

Watt may or may not have had COVID, but it’s not impossible for an exposure to have played a role in his A-fib event.

It should disturb football fans that Watt’s health care privacy was violated in spite of HIPAA privacy rules – especially since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision undermined citizens’ unenumerated right to privacy.

As distressing as it is to know an NFL player was treated for A-fib this week and is playing today, it’s also distressing that another NFL player’s career may be over because the NFL and their team didn’t handle the player’s recent injury with more caution.

The Miami Dolphins’ 24-year-old quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was injured during last weekend’s meetup with the Buffalo Bills:

In spite of what appears to be a head injury in the second quarter, Tagovailoa came back after halftime and finished the game throwing 186 yards after he was given a once-over by the team’s medical personnel which said Tagovailoa had a neck injury. The NFL Players’ Association demanded an investigation into what appeared to be the Dolphins’ skirting of the league’s concussion rules.

Before Thursday’s match against the Cincinnati Bengals, the concussion Legacy Foundation’s founder tweeted about Tagovailoa:

A sadly prescient opinion; Tagovailoa suffered head and neck injuries during the game, so severe that he manifested a fencing response on the field before the Dolphins’ medical team could reach him.

It was so awful and gruesome I won’t even share it, such an obvious sign of a head injury. He was seen at the local hospital but the team managed to get him packed up and on a plane with the rest of the team to head home to Miami. Goodness knows what all that handling including pressure changes did to Taigovaloa’s head and neck.

The NFLPA terminated the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant involved in the assessment of Tagovailoa after his Week 3 injury before Thursday night’s game, but too late for Tagovailoa whose career may be over.

How badly do football fans need sports? At what point will they demand the NFL do better by players?

Or have fans become numb after more than 31 months of death and disability chewing away at the country during the pandemic?

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Finally, we get to my kind of sports.

The World Series kicked off last night in Kansas City, Missouri. Nope, not Major League Baseball, not any kind of ball sports but the American Royal World Series of BBQ.

I think we need to send our contributor Jim White to this event next year, provided a hurricane doesn’t bear down on his part of the country next September/October.

Better get to practicing, Jim!

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Once again, this thread will be an overflow catch-all this week if the House January 6 Committee hearing is rescheduled to this week. Bring all your off-topic discussion here to this open thread.

Did President Trump Violate Federal Law With His Alabama Rant?

I wrote yesterday about the racial, social and football implications of Trump’s rant in the history and home of George Wallace.

But a new, and by all appearances excellent, commenter on that post noted this:

“It occurs to me that his tweets are at least arguably in violation of 18 U.S. Code § 227. That section prohibits the POTUS (among others), from “attempting to influence or interfere” in a private company’s labor matter, to urge a “political” firing. This is especially true where the basis for the POTUS’s urging of the firing of such a private company employee (union covered, collective bargaining agreement governed) — is (as here) centered on protected political first amendment expression.”

So, is that right? Well, it is a LOT closer call than most would dismissively think. Let’s look at the language of the relevant statute, 18 USC §277:

18 U.S. Code § 227 – Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch:

(a) Whoever, being a covered government person, with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity—
(1) takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act, or
(2) influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.
(b) In this section, the term “covered government person” means—
(1) a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress;
(2) an employee of either House of Congress; or
(3) the President, Vice President, an employee of the United States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission, or any other executive branch employee (as such term is defined under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code).

Read the statute. It is a lot closer call than you think. Will Trump’s own Department of Justice pursue this? No, no chance, nor probably should it be. Is it a viable question, and one that ought be discussed in the public and media, yes, absolutely.

As sports law “experts” would say, let’s break it down. There are elements to a crime. Trump is unequivocally a “covered person” within the ambit of the statute. Also unequivocal is the fact that his words in Alabama were meant to influence “an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity”, in this case, the National Football League.

The problem lies in section (a)(1) of the relevant statute, which requires:

takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act

It is easy to see and admit that Trump would do just that in a heartbeat. But Trump did not do that per se in his Alabama speech.

No. That element cannot be met by Donald J. Trump’s Alabama Song of hate. So, no, there is no exposure to 18 USC §227.

It is a great thought and question though.

And it is a perfect example of the precipice of racism, bigotry and ignorance on which the political discussion in the United States, and our Article II Executive Branch, courtesy of President Trump, nows perilously treads nearly every day.

The events and actions in and from the NFL today, tomorrow, and in the next few weeks pale in comparison. They are a symbol and a voice. But it is so much more and bigger than that.