Sporting Events Archives




Brett Favre became a grandfather last week, and all indications are that he would become the first ever grandfather to play in the NFL if he comes back for the 2010 season. Granting that the league has a 90-year history and certainly lacks records for many of the players from the olden days, how unlikely is it that an NFL roster should include a grandfather?

The average length of an NFL career is about 3.5 seasons. Even if you make some conservative allowances, that means the average player is done by age 28. Only 49 players have ever played to age 40; there are seven out of 1,696 available roster spots in the league. Favre is older than 0.295% of the other players from 2009 NFL rosters -- he's an exceptionally old NFL player!

On the other hand, people become grandparents at age 47, on average. So 40 is young, but not that young -- a quickie check with GSS data suggests that it's about one standard deviation from the mean. Presumably there's less variance in NFL player age than grandparent age, which makes him that much more of an outlier comparatively.

If I'm thinking this through right, and my assumptions are close to correct, that means about 16% of grandparents became grandparents at 40 or younger. Moreover, about 22% of American adults are grandparents, meaning about 3.5% of American adults 40 or younger are grandparents. By these calculations, you might be saying, the NFL should have 60 grandfathers! But, that's only the case if we assume age is normally distributed among NFL players, which it of course is not -- it's quite skewed toward the young end, which is much less likely to contain grandfathers. When the average NFL player's career ends he's still almost three standard deviations away from the mean age of grandparenthood. By the time you optimize that 3.5% at age 40, there are only seven players left to look at. So, on average, we'd expect that about a quarter of one player in this group (or zero players, rounded) would be grandfathers. It's a pretty low number. On the other hand, it's high enough that you might expect there to have been another NFL grandfather in the relatively recent past. That there wasn't suggests the work of some additional variables -- income is certainly one on which NFL players differ from the general population significantly.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... Permalink




Dear Brett Favre,

Please stop it:

"I guess the best response would be, right now no," he said of a possible return to the game.

Favre added he would not return unless he was in shape.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... Permalink




Hockey in HD is fucking amazing. But even so, I don't know if I can stand watching another Red Wings playoff collapse.

The only thing nearly as cool as this TV is upgrading my laptop to 2GB of RAM, so that I can do anything at all that I might want to do while also playing videos onto the new TV.

Adobe Creative Suite 3 is pretty nice so far, but I'm a little confused as to why it takes up twice the hard drive space of CS2.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... TV ... Technophunk ... Permalink ...
Comments (1)



I tend not to be much of a hater when it comes to sports, but I hate Notre Dame and I think it's hilarious that Brady Quinn has fallen out of the top 10 in the draft. Just like they do every few years, the good ol' boys of college football decided that some nondescript Notre Dame QB (Rick Mirer anyone?) was the future of football, and this time it looks like the NFL didn't bite. When's the last time they produced a star QB, maybe Joe Montana? If Quinn keeps falling, I guess there's always the CFL.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... Permalink ...
Comments (1)




Hey, look who's the #18 men's college hockey team in the country in one poll and #15 in another after back-to-back sweeps. Weird.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... Permalink




I've been missing shows left and right lately. I missed both the Gossip and Smoking Popes last week so that I could get two papers submitted to the AEJMC conference (deadline April 1 at 11:00 PM) and missed the Appleseed Cast on Thursday so I could go to Wisconsin's national semifinal in the college hockey tournament.

But they wound up winning the championship on Saturday, and getting into AEJ means a free trip to San Francisco in August, so I suppose it's not all bad. And anyway, in the next two weeks I'm seeing Centro-metic, Metric and the Elected, and possibly the Crystal Skulls and Shiny Toy Guns, which I guess is enough.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Sporting Events ... Permalink




We're going to the Saturday game of this year's Tech at Wisconsin series. So what happens in the Friday game?

The top-ranked Badgers had talked all week about avoiding a letdown. But talking isn’t playing and No. 1 Wisconsin was upset 4-2 by Michigan Tech in front of 12,718 at the Kohl Center Friday night.

UW started off on the wrong foot and never recovered as the Huskies used three special teams goals—including two short-handed tallies—and an empty-netter en route to the victory.

“We lost the battle of human nature,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “It’s tough when people are patting you on the back. It happens at every level—it’s tough to battle human nature.”

Just two minutes into the game Chris Conner, Tech’s sparkplug, jump-started the Huskies with a short-handed goal that knocked the wind out of the Badger crowd.

Tech always plays way above themselves in Madison, though, so maybe they'll be able to get it done again tonight.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Sporting Events ... Permalink



ONE CURSE DOWN... to go. Boston rising, bitches.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... Permalink




Those watching the ALCS have just witnessed one of the most boneheaded managerial decisions in baseball's recent memory. Pedro Martinez, the most overrated pitcher in the history of the major leagues, is in the midst of blowing an unprecendented comeback, and if he doesn't get it together, expect Terry Francona to be run out of Boston on a rail.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... Permalink ...
Comments (1)




The first BCS rankings of the year have come out, and the sports writers are pissed, as usual. Oklahoma's #2 in both the coaches and writers poll, but they're #3 in the BCS. Horror! Outrage! Lowly Utah is #4 in the BCS. How dare they!

The BCS rankings are based on three things -- the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, the AP writers poll and an average of six computer-based polls. The first of those -- the coaches and writers -- are polls where people vote on who's the best team. This differs from every other sport in the entire world, in that the winner is decided by ballot; it's actually more of an election than a sport. (It should be noted, in fact, that there's no such thing as the NCAA Division I-A football championship, there are just the trophies that the operators of those two polls give away.) The six computer-based polls are decided based on things like win/loss record, opponents' win/loss record, total point differential, etc.

There are two camps about why this violates something sacrosanct. Some believe that we never needed anything other than the electoral system. There's no need to field a championship game, they protested, when we can simply vote on who's best. The great thing about this system is that teams could continue to float by on last year's reputation forever. Another year, another preseason poll with Notre Dame in the top five. On the other side are those who demand nothing short of a March Madness-style playoff system. Decide it on the field, they howl!

Look, everyone who enjoys sports in any way understands that a playoff would be best, but that's not going to happen in the foreseeable future. And voting for who the champion should be is just stupid -- just ask the 1994 Penn State team. The fact is, the BCS is the best compromise we can get right now. The computer polls dull the tendency of human voters to undervalue west coast teams, small conference teams and Cinderella teams, while overvaluing last year's big guns. And in fact, there has yet to be a major conference team go undefeated in the regular season and not get invited to the BCS championship game. That's just as it should be -- you win all your games, you're the champion. There was a "split" championship last year -- that is, the polls elected different teams champion -- when nobody was undefeated and three teams finished with one loss. Everybody blamed the BCS for this. People, please. The BCS didn't do that, the big moneymen behind the bowl system did that. Obviously a playoff system is better, but that's not happening. Deal with it and be glad we not just leaving it all up to Craig James and his fevered ego anymore.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... Permalink ...
Comments (2)




I got rid of cable last summer. Now I'm trying to watch the fifth game of the Stanley Cup Finals, which has gone into overtime and suddenly become a really exciting series. So why is it that, just as the overtime puck drops, my ABC reception goes all to hell? Damn you, antennas!

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... TV ... Permalink




In a futile effort to get everybody to move on to something relevant, here are my thoughts on the Pat Tillman story-qua-eulogy that would not end:

* It doesn't matter that he played professional football. How many dead soldiers played college football? How about high school? How many were professional somethings else? The masses can be excused for thinking it matters. Media elites, who spend hour upon hour telling us that it doesn't matter, can't.

* He had to be kind of an egomaniac. How else do you come to the conclusion that one extra person joining the Army will have a more significant impact than the donation of the millions he would've earned signing a new NFL contract? Most people don't get the opportunity to put those kinds of resources into making a difference; that's why, for most people, military service seems like a chance to make that difference. Pat Tillman, as a multi-millionaire professional athlete, was not most people.

* God did not "draft" Pat Tillman. Fuck you, everyone who appropriates this to push a religious agenda. Here's what Tillman's brother said at the funeral/rally:

Pat isn't with God. He's fucking dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's fucking dead.

* Pat Tillman's funeral was broadcast all over the place. Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan, a theater that people generally still think we're doing a good job in. Sinclair Broadcasting refused to air Nightline's reading of the names of the Iraq dead. A majority now think we're fucking up in Iraq. I think we can expect more and more coverage on the Afghanistan "success" in the coming months.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... The World at Large ... Permalink ...
Comments (2)




Here are some things that are going on. In San Francisco, the Giants' baseball stadium has gone WiFi:

Baseball fans bored by the slow pace of a game or wanting more statistics and information will be able to connect computer devices via wireless computer networking, or WiFi, at San Francisco Giants home games this year, the team announced on Tuesday. The Giants' stadium is, after all, called SBC Park, for telecommunications giant SBC Communications Inc.

"We've created, if not the largest, one of the largest hot spots in the world," said Larry Baer, the team's chief operating officer. "We're the first professional sports facility to provide people universal WiFi connectivity."

The article doesn't address security at all, which is surprising. After the Day Everything Changed, security at stadiums and arenas became a really big deal. Are Giants fans going to have to stand in airport-style lines while people ahead of them turn on their laptops for the rent-a-cops?

Meanwhile, in krazy konservative Grand Rapids, MI, the city that gave us Acting President Gerald Ford and where my dad was born, police have begun infiltrating anti-war protests and physically intimidating protesters:

When opposition to the war in Iraq began to mount last year, Grand Rapids Police sent undercover officers to anti-war meetings and rallies, collecting intelligence about the aims of activists, the department's chief confirmed.

"We are living in a different time now. It's a different day," said Grand Rapids Police Chief Harry Dolan.

War opponents say their surveillance came closer to tyranny than protection from terror. In one case, they say, police threatened the job of a protester and said they would arrest her if she identified undercover officers she knew from her work as a Spanish interpreter at the Kent County Courthouse.


Undercover officers called her over to their car, Puls recalled. The man on the passenger side took her hand, then squeezed it hard enough to force her to tell them her full name, she said.


Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell said he is "very concerned" about the alleged incident involving Puls. Heartwell said he recognized the need to investigate threats against public safety but warned of "the tightrope you walk" when police conduct undercover operations.

This does not surprise me. Grand Rapids has always had a big inferiority complex because of its proximity to Detroit and Chicago, and I can very easily see its police deciding that the next terrorist attack would involve peace activists taking out the Gerald Ford Museum.

Lastly, a study has been released which shows no effect of file-sharing on sales of popular music and only a slight negative effect for niche records.

Songs that were heavily downloaded showed no measurable drop in sales, the researchers found after tracking sales of 680 albums over the course of 17 weeks in the second half of 2002. Matching that data with activity on the OpenNap file-sharing network, they concluded that file sharing actually increases CD sales for hot albums that sell more than 600,000 copies. For every 150 downloads of a song from those albums, sales increase by a copy, the researchers found.

"Consumption of music increases dramatically with the introduction of file sharing, but not everybody who likes to listen to music was a music customer before, so it's very important to separate the two," said Felix Oberholzer-Gee, an associate professor at Harvard Business School and one of the authors of the study.

Oberholzer-Gee and his colleague, University of North Carolina's Koleman Strumpf, also said that their "most pessimistic" statistical model showed that illegal file sharing would have accounted for only 2 million fewer compact discs sales in 2002, whereas CD sales declined by 139 million units between 2000 and 2002.

"From a statistical point of view, what this means is that there is no effect between downloading and sales," said Oberholzer-Gee.

For albums that fail to sell well, the Internet may contribute to declining sales. Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf found that albums that sell to niche audiences suffer a "small negative effect" from Internet piracy.

They don't track things like concert ticket or merchandise sales, however, which is where small artists and likely to gain a lot from file-sharing. If you're on a major label and only sell 100,000 copies, you're making nothing from that record -- you're probably losing money, in fact. However, if file-sharing gets people interested enough to sell more tickets and t-shirts, you're getting a pretty sizeable cut of some significant new money.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Orange America ... Sporting Events ... Technophunk ... Permalink




Having ditched cable TV last summer, I have managed to get through this college basketball season without seeing more than five minutes of any single game. That's just how I like it. The college basketball regular season holds no interest for me. All it's ever managed to do is bump SportsCenter and foul up traffic near campus. But I like the tournament for some reason.

I'm picking Stanford to go all the way, and I'm picking St. Joseph's to finish #2, just because Billy Packer said their undefeated regular season was meaningless.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Sporting Events ... Permalink