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You'd need a bye week to list all the baffling things in sports

On Sports
Rochester Business Journal
October 26, 2012

It probably is pretty obvious that I have been a sports fan all my life. That's fan, mind you, not fanatic. The only exception might be how I felt about the St. Louis Cardinals back when I was in high school. If I had date, I would tell the girl, "If you don't want to listen to the Cardinals, then stay home." I loved those Redbirds back then!
I love sports; I just don't idolize sports. If I'm interested, I check it out on TV. If I'm not, I'll watch an old "Gunsmoke." I always check out how the Buffalo Bills or the New Orleans Saints are doing. Disappointed or not in what I saw, I go to bed and sleep well instead of agonizing over a loss.
I can't remember when I didn't follow sports, but I didn't eat, sleep and breathe sports. I'm sure we'd all agree that watching sports can be a brief timeout from the real world, a short trip to never-never land, a relaxing distraction.
Still, there are some things in the sports world that not only baffle me but bug me. They come from coaches, athletes, play-by-play announcers, color commentators and even fans. They make no sense but still go more or less ignored.
So, dear readers, would one or more of you please explain to me, WHY! WHY!?
Why will athletes do anything to win? That includes cheating (a la Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire), faking being fouled by an opposing player to draw a penalty, pretending to be hit by a pitch, or just lying about something if it means winning or getting rich or getting famous. I guess pride and honor mean absolutely nothing these days.
Speaking of being rich, Armstrong's income is about to plunge toward zero, but he reportedly will be able to keep the moolah he got before his Tour de France victories were taken away. Then, of course, he'll team up with somebody to write a book that will bring in a few bucks.
Why has basketball changed to the ridiculous point where the refs don't call carrying the ball or traveling anymore? And that's at all levels, from high school to the NBA. It's a much more difficult game if a player can't shuffle his feet, then take three or four steps without dribbling the ball and slam dunk it.
When an NFL team doesn't have a game for two weeks-as the Bills don't-why does the NFL now call that a "bye week" instead of an "open date"? The word "bye" fits only in a tournament, and the regular season, unlike the playoffs, does not use a tournament format.
I mean, why don't they just call it a "beer week" or a "hang out with the babe week" or "golf week" or what it really is, an off week? If you take a week off from work, do you call it a bye week? I might as well throw this in, too: Why do journalists call it a bye week? They should know better!
And when it comes to football, why do 99 percent of announcers never say, "They need to run the ball"? No, it's "They need to run the football"! Listen to them: It's a football game played with a football on a football field by football players. This drives me crazy! (Can you tell?)
Why do some guys covering a PGA Tour event call a bad shot "an unforced error"? Well, let's back up. What's a forced error in golf? If an opponent yells at the top of your swing and you hit the tee shot into the water, then that's a forced error, right? But if the area is as silent as a prayer service, it's an "unforced error"?
If a golfer has a three-inch tap-in putt for par, the crowd must be silent. But if a batter in baseball has a 3-2 count with the bases loaded and his team one run behind, 50,000 fans are all screaming bloody murder and it's no problem. Make sense? Hardly!
Then there's the great game of baseball, which I love, but which also drives me semi-insane when I watch it on television. Why do 95 percent of the batters redo their batting gloves after every pitch, whether they swing at it or not?
Watching the National League Championship Series the other night, I saw a guy do that. He took a pitch, stepped out of the batter's box, undid his Velcro, put it back and stepped back in for the next pitch. Then, of course, he had to spit a time or two. No wonder baseball games last three and a half hours!
Hey, I take dozens of swings on the golf course and never have to redo my golf glove, which is also held on with Velcro.
Anyway, thanks for letting me vent! And I hope you enjoy your next bye week!
Rick Woodson's column appears each Thursday on the Rochester Business Journal website at His book, "Words of Woodson," is available at Listen to his weekly program, "The Golf Tee," at 9 a.m. Sunday on WHTK-AM 1280 and FM 107.10/19/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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