Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Saturday, August 13, 2021

With its burgeoning expansion and popularity, is NASCAR becoming more and more like the other sports leagues in terms of labor relations?

Could be. Not only has free agency developed (in a bizarre method whereby the owners actually might prefer dealing with a drivers’ union), but, owing to practicality, soon we may be seeing a robust NASCAR transaction wire:

The complexity of modern NASCAR contracts eventually could lead to the kind of trades that occur in other sports. The Roush/Ganassi/Penske drama could be solved with such a deal. Busch and McMurray will be lame ducks next season, an unattractive proposition for their sponsors. Their new teams would like to have their services immediately. If Ganassi allowed McMurray to go to Roush in 2006 and Roush let Busch go to Penske in 2006, Ganassi would receive compensation from Penske, his longtime open-wheel rival. It could be a driver, money or better engines for Ganassi’s struggling Indy Racing League program.

I’m looking forward to the first strike and/or lockout. And will motorsports fans still hold as much affection for their good ol’ un-athletes when they hear more and more about those multi-million dollar contracts they’re pulling in?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/13/2005 01:34:17 PM
Category: Other Sports
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Monday, July 25, 2021

bring it on, bitch!
As far as professional competitive fishing goes, I’d rank it right up there on the sporting pyramid with bowling.

But marketing can make just about anything look good. And so ESPN is doing what it knows how to do, selling this year’s 35th Annual Bassmaster Classic with humor by framing the competition as a classic sports duel of man-against-fish, complete with trash-talking bass.

The campaign, which carries the theme “The competition is wild,” has many online and offline elements. There are virtual trading cards of fish bearing names like “Lance Bass,” “Gordon Van de Bass” and “Larry Bassman,” listed as playing “defense” (versus “offense” for the human competitors in the tournament, which takes place in Pittsburgh Friday through Sunday). In television commercials, the fish lip off to the fishers and take questions from reporters just like their human counterparts…

[The athleticism-based humor] is most noticeable in the print ads, which present data about each competitor to try to determine which has the advantage over the other. For instance, one ad describes bass as “so sensitive they locate and capture minnows by vibration alone,” while men are known to “give their wives bowling balls as gifts.” (Advantage, bass.)

Another print ad declares bass “won’t strike at the same lure twice” while man “drinks spoiled milk after smelling it.” (Advantage, bass, again.) A third print ad says that man “teaches his children how to fish” while bass “eat their children.” (This time, the advantage goes to man, though, W.C. Fields, were he still alive, might disagree.)

I can’t say it’s going to lure me to watch the switch-and-bait action, but I am looking foward to catching the ads.

Stuff like this should certainly be food for thought for my favorite sport. The NHL can’t market its way out of a paper bag, and it needs deft promotion now more than ever.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/25/2005 10:21:05 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Other Sports
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Thursday, July 21, 2021

superfly!
Bolivian female wrestling, with the participants wearing full-length traditional skirts in the ring.

El Alto, which in a generation grew from hamlet to sprawling satellite city overlooking La Paz, has largely created its own form of wrestling, borrowing from Mexico’s famed spectacle of masked men battling for the honors and sprinkling it with a local touch. Ms. Choque fights with a particularly successful troupe of wrestlers called the Titans of the Ring.

“The cradle of freestyle wrestling is Mexico because that’s where the best fighters were - Hurricane Ramírez, the Jalisco Lightning, the Blue Demon,” explained Juan Carlos Chávez, promoter of the Titans.

But now, he says proudly, Bolivia has its own stable of wrestlers who tussle in choreographed matches. And Bolivian organizers have introduced the innovation of fighting Cholitas, the indigenous women who wear bowler hats and multilayered skirts.

“I wanted to get people’s attention and fill up the coliseum,” said Juan Mamani, 46, the president of the Titans and a wrestler himself. “At first, I thought of fighting dwarves. I even brought in one from Peru. Then I thought of Cholitas. It’s been popular ever since.”

Quick, what’s the Spanish word for “wacky”?

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/21/2005 08:31:35 PM
Category: Other Sports
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Saturday, July 09, 2021

If you subscribe to the theory that sportstalk radio is the barometer of a particular sport’s wider popularity, then the lack of airwave chatter over tomorrow’s Chicagoland Speedway race in the Windy City (and Tampa Bay) tells you that NASCAR hasn’t completely arrived as mainstream.

None other than NASCAR’s head honcho shares this view:

That indicates to NASCAR CEO Brian France that although viewership and interest continue to increase, stock car racing has failed to leach into the fabric of America’s sporting consciousness. That’s the last realm, it would appear, for NASCAR to conquer, and until it does, France seems bothered by what he hears. Or doesn’t.

“That’s one of the hot topics that occurs in my office every day,” France said in a national teleconference. “Because, in fact, we are very undercovered for the size audience we have, not just in sports-talk radio.”

So why aren’t more firsttime-callers, longtime-listeners burning up the phonelines over restrictor plates and how much Jeff Gordon sucks? Aside from too much competition in the big cities, France also offers up this intriguing reason:

“The other thing is, we have a big plus in that all of our races are national events, mega events. That’s one other issue: We don’t have home teams. So there is a tendency for publications and newspapers and radio affiliates to want to cover just what they think the hometown fan base wants to hear, which is the hometown teams.”

Of course, those of us who hold sportstalk radio in the highest of contempt — here, right here — might suggest that autoracing is better off being free of the idiot squawkbox. Not that that’s particularly good business advice…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/09/2021 08:11:54 PM
Category: Other Sports, Radio
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Wednesday, May 11, 2021

shuffled away
Curse you both, NHL and NHLPA! Look at what young people in the Bay area are resorting to in the absence of hockey: Freakin’ shuffleboard!

It is kind of funny, the notion that a group of hip 20- and 30-somethings might give up their Friday nights to play a sport more popular among septuagenarians and cruise ship passengers.

But over the past month, a swelling crowd has turned out at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club for weekly matches organized by a group of preservationists and young artists. They view art, listen to music and mingle with friends, just as they would in a loft or bar. Only they’re doing it on the city’s historic shuffleboard courts.

“It’s, like, kitschy beyond kitschy. It’s uber-kitsch,” said Phillip Clark, director of the Artillery, the St. Petersburg artists’ collective behind the tournaments. “It’s this weird, seemingly old person’s sport. But it’s just dying to have someone come in and freshen it up.”

Kitschy, my ass. No one in their right minds under the age of 100 would get into shuffleboard, ironic intent or not. I’m telling you, this can be correlated directly to the lockout; these hipsters normally would be kickin’ it at the St. Pete Times Forum instead of making like Sheldon Shuffleboard.

If this isn’t enough to get the two sides to declare “Game On!” this October, I don’t know what will. Think of the kids!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/11/2021 03:52:39 PM
Category: Comedy, Hockey, Other Sports
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Monday, May 09, 2021

It’s not quite like hockey in Florida, but seeing that grand Northeastern shin-whacking game of lacrosse starting to take root in the Sunshine State’s high schools and colleges seems a bit foreign.

Locally, there are teams in Citrus Park, Clearwater, Freedom High School, Lakewood Ranch, FishHawk Ranch, at Plant High School, Tampa Jesuit and Tampa Catholic.

Saint Leo University will field its first intercollegiate team next year, and two Wesley Chapel players plan to be on that inaugural team. Saint Leo president Arthur F. Kirk Jr. is a lacrosse player himself.

“Colleges in the northeast have been playing for years,” Kirk said. “Now you’re seeing it catch on in California, and you’re going to see it in Florida. We’re trying to get a little ahead of the curve.”

The Wesley Chapel teams have been around four years - longer than most in this area. They are among the best in the state. The high school-level team won its conference this year, losing only two regular season games. The middle school-level team was undefeated.

My limited exposure to the sport convinced me that you need a healthy streak of masochism to really get into it — and this is a hockey fan/player talking. It’s like a constant high-sticking marathon, with the odds of getting your teeth knocked out very high. All in all, I’ll take the ice, thanks.

Can lacrosse make it here? Hey, who ever figured the Stanley Cup would wind up in Florida? Or for that matter, the Bucs ever winning a Super Bowl? Anything’s possible.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/09/2021 10:07:56 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Other Sports
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Saturday, March 05, 2021

Think the Kentucky Derby is the only way to party with an equine theme? Churchill Downs has nothing on Palm Beach’s burgeoning polo scene, which features the U.S. Polo Open.

Lest you think the sport of kings is too hoity-toity:

“It’s the greatest addiction in the world. The excitement, the challenge, the passion, the danger. After you get off a horse after a seven-minute chukker, your brain is totally refreshed. It’s better than sex.”
- Marysue Jacobs, Wellington real estate broker and occasional polo player

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/05/2021 07:00:38 PM
Category: Other Sports
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