In a rare moment of dissent, the University of Michigan’s board of regents rejected a request from athletic director Dave Brandon for fireworks at two football games this season. With the athletic department now giving away tickets for free, columnist John U. Bacon writes that the program is at risk of failing to fill the Big House this fall – and that’s when the real fireworks might begin.
Columnist John U. Bacon says farewell to Coach Mac McKenzie, who coached him as a youth and taught him much more than just baseball. McKenzie died recently, and Bacon reflects on his influence.
A recent appearance on NPR’s game show “Ask Me Another” reminded columnist John U. Bacon of another, more traumatic experience: Trying out for Jeopardy. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, the try-out was an exercise in humiliation. And for sports fans, a warning: There wasn’t a single question about sports on the the test.
Columnist John U. Bacon describes specific steps that college athletic programs can take to save the football experience from corporate greed and growing fan disinterest. If you think the University of Michigan is just a brand, he writes, and the athletic department is merely a business, you will turn off the very people who’ve been coming to your temple for decades.
With a sharp drop in student ticket sales for this fall’s football season, the University of Michigan athletics department is reaping what it sowed – and that’s no surprise, writes columnist John U. Bacon. The move toward a higher-priced, corporatized experience at the Big House is resulting in less interest from loyal fans who shun the artificial excess.
In February 2013, University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam publicly declared he was gay – a first for a likely NFL draft pick. Last week, the St. Louis Rams drafted him in the last round – another first. But columnist John U. Bacon believes the trickiest terrain is still ahead.
In April, the NCAA ruled that Michigan basketball player Mitch McGary failed a drug test for marijuana, and suspended him for the entire upcoming season. McGary has decided to leave for the NBA. Columnist John U. Bacon believes McGary obviously made a big mistake – but the NCAA made a bigger one.
This year, American Meb Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon – the first time that a U.S. runner has achieved that goal since 1983. Columnist John U. Bacon describes how that earlier American, Greg Meyer, worked his way to victory, starting with his training at the University of Michigan.
Nik Stauskas grew up in Mississauga, Ontario – a Toronto suburb better known for its neighborhood hockey games than for a Lithuanian kid spending thousands of hours shooting on his parents’ backyard hoop. This year, Stauskas was named Big Ten player of the year. It worked. Glenn Robinson III took a completely different route to the NBA: His father is Glenn Robinson Jr., also known as “The Big Dog,” and was the first pick in the NBA draft twenty years ago. If Stauskas had to work to get attention, Robinson had to work to avoid it.
This week marks the 40th anniversary of one of baseball’s signature moments: Hank Aaron hitting his record 715th home run, to surpass Babe Ruth’s 39-year old record. But to appreciate how special that was, columnist John U. Bacon says you have to understand who Hank Aaron is – and what he faced.