Time for sports to bring us to­gether

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Paul New­berry

We’re a na­tion bit­terly di­vided.

And, no, I’m not talk­ing about who should be the fourth-ranked team in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off.

A pres­i­den­tial elec­tion like no other has come and gone, send­ing half the na­tion into the streets for a eu­phoric dance, the other half into the streets for a de­fi­ant protest.

There seems no mid­dle ground, noth­ing we can all agree on.

It’s time for sports to bring us to­gether.

With a nod to Stephen Col­bert, who is­sued a sim­i­lar plea on elec­tion night , here’s some things we should all be able to agree on:

• The NFL is over­ex­posed. There’s no rea­son to pass off the win­less Cleve­land Browns as wor­thy of be­ing shown to the en­tire country (or at least those who can find NFL Net­work on chan­nel 2,345). That was quite ev­i­dent from the snooze­fest we wit­nessed Thurs­day night, when the Brown­ies’ of­fen­sive game plan in a 28-7 loss to Bal­ti­more con­sisted mainly of in­com­ple­tions, 2-yard runs, turnovers, sacks and yet an­other quar­ter­back change. The NFL should be played on Sun­days, with one game on Mon­day. No mas to Thurs­day night.

• On a sim­i­lar note, col­lege foot­ball should be played on Satur­days. End of story. We don’t need games on Thurs­day night (hey, those kids are sup­posed to go to class the next day, so at least play along with the cha­rade). We cer­tainly don’t need them on Fri­day nights. High school foot­ball is meant for Fri­day nights, not the Big Ten.

• We know Nick Sa­ban has some weighty is­sues on his plate, like the Iron Bowl and win­ning an­other na­tional cham­pi­onship. But the Alabama coach should at least know about Elec­tion Day .

• It’s time for Tiger Woods to re­tire. We want to re­mem­ber him as per­haps the great­est player in golf history, not some ag­ing, hair­line-re­ced­ing, in­jury rid­dled ver­sion of Wil­lie Mays or Muham­mad Ali, try­ing to des­per­ately to hang on to a game he can no longer play at the high­est lev­els.

• They still have fight­ing in the NHL? Se­ri­ously, what cen­tury is this? Ban that silli­ness im­me­di­ately. If you need a fight­ing fix, check out YouTube. Those guys re­ally wailed on each other in the truly Ne­an­derthal days.

• LeBron James should take up baseball. Maybe he can do for the In­di­ans what he did for the Cava­liers. But for­get about ask­ing him to play quar­ter­back. Not even a King can help the Browns.

• The Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off should ex­pand to eight teams, with spots go­ing to the five Power Five con­fer­ence champions, the high­est-ranked cham­pion from the Group of Five, and the next two high­es­tranked teams re­gard­less of league. No more con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship games. The first or sec­ond week­end of De­cem­ber is for the quar­ter­fi­nals. The semi­fi­nals re­main on New Year’s Day, fol­lowed by the na­tional cham­pi­onship game a week or so later. See how easy that was.

• No one wants to have a beer with Bill Belichick. Or have him pick out what they’re go­ing to wear to work. But we all want him to coach our fa­vorite foot­ball team.

• Please let there be a day when no city bids for the Olympics. Clearly, that’s the only way to let the IOC know the rest of the world has fi­nally fig­ured out that its ev­ery-twoyears prize is re­ally noth­ing more than an ex­tor­tion plot de­signed to drive cities (and even coun­tries) into bank­ruptcy. We love the Olympics, but we hate all the red ink and bro­ken prom­ises it leaves be­hind.

• The Chicago Cubs took us on a mar­velous ride, but enough with try­ing to turn a World Se­ries vic­tory into some sort of spir­i­tual, lifeaf­firm­ing tri­umph over a 108-year-old curse. Be­sides, you want suf­fer­ing? Let me in­tro­duce you to the A-T-L. While the Windy City has cel­e­brated ti­tles in all the ma­jor sports over the last three decades, At­lanta has man­aged one cham­pi­onship over a com­bined 168 baseball, foot­ball, bas­ket­ball and hockey sea­sons. And it doesn’t even have the NHL any­more, hav­ing lost not one, but two team to Western Canada.

• Bil­lion­aire own­ers should pay for their own sta­di­ums and are­nas. Ku­dos to San Diego for be­ing one of the rare cities that told a team what it could do with its plan to have the cit­i­zenry pick up the tab for a pri­vate en­ter­prise. That de­ci­sion will likely send the Charg­ers to Los An­ge­les, but it’s not a bad drive to make eight times a year while spend­ing pub­lic funds on things that ac­tu­ally ben­e­fit ev­ery­one, like bet­ter schools and parks.

• Baseball needs to do many things to make it­self more ap­peal­ing to a younger gen­er­a­tion, but get­ting rid of the or­gan­ist is NOT one of them. Matthew Kamin­ski of the Braves is proof of that.

• Fi­nally, there’s some­thing re­ally com­fort­ing about watch­ing winners and losers shake hands at the end of a hard-fought con­test and know­ing there’s al­ways next sea­son.

Yep, we can all agree on that.

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