Pay-per-view prep hoops? An idea worse than New Coke

Ed Odeven
Arizona Daily Sun sports column

Random remarks while anxiously awaiting tonight’s big football game between Flagstaff and Sinagua at the Skydome …

Pay-per view has made Don King one of the nation’s leading scam artists. He routinely promotes fights while lining the pockets of both boxers. Well, we all know boxing’s so-called integrity vanished long before New Coke failed miserably.

Now, pay-per view is seeping its way into the prep ranks. St. Mary-St. Vincent High School of Akron, Ohio will be airing its boys basketball games this season on Time Warner’s Ohio cable system — that’s if you’re willing to shell out $4 to $7 per game. LeBron James, who has already been anointed the next great basketball player (or as some pundits say, the reincarnation of Michael Jordan), plays for the Akron school.

This is a blatant case of a greed. It’s a bad idea, a bad precedent. We do not need pay-per view high school games. These games should be televised for free or not televised at all. Period. Shame on St. Mary-St. Vincent for agreeing to do this.

Just how bad have the Atlanta Thrashers been since they joined the National Hockey League as an expansion team in 1999? They’ve only won three games in a row twice. Now, in the midst of their second such streak — the first occurred in December 2000 — the Thrashers are a favorite topic for sarcastic headliner writers.

“Get this: Thrashers on a winning streak,” proclaimed The Associated Press in a Thursday headline.

By beating the San Jose Sharks 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday, the Thrashers (4-9-1-1, with 10 points) no longer have the league’s worst record. That dreaded distinction belongs to the lowly Buffalo Sabres (3-9-3-0, with nine points).

Is a superstitious coach getting this team on the right track?

“When we were in Florida, there was a boat show across the street, so I went to it,” Thrashers coach Curt Fraser said. “We won that night (for Atlanta’s first victory of the season). So, when we came back home, I had to call a guy at a boat dealership. We won again.”

Tonight, Fraser will be sitting on a bench at Phillips Arena, not in a boat, when the Thrashers play host to the Phoenix Coyotes.

The St. Louis Browns pulled a wild stunt in 1951, when 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel was employed as a pinch-hitter — well, for one at-bat.

Now, it appears the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League may give Manute Bol, a 7-foot-7 former NBA center, a chance to play.

Indianapolis general manager Larry Linde confirmed this week that Bol has signed a contract with the team.

“A company told us they have a size 16 skate and our equipment guys have been putting together extra-long sticks,” Linde said. “All I can say is we hope to have Manute in uniform and sitting on the end of the bench.”

Bol, who is not known for taking slap shots on the ice but rather swatting shots on the court, is on a crusade to raise money for Ring True Foundation, a charity he founded to help Sudanese refugees.

The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons have already played one memorable, exciting game this season, a 37-35 game the Falcons won on a last-second 47-yard field goal by Jay Feely.

Now, the teams are engaged in an amusing war of words leading up to Sunday’s showdown.

Saints receiver Joe Horn insists these teams are not heated rivals.

“He’s an idiot,” Falcons defensive end Patrick Kerney said. “He gives all football players a bad name when he says stuff like that.”

It’s been a dark week for University of Michigan basketball supporters. The NCAA placed the school on probation and declared that it must forfeit all its games from 1992-93 (back-to-back NCAA Final Four appearances) and 1995-99 because former players accepted gifts from a gambler.

San Jose Mercury News sports columnist Bud Geracie offered this off-beat take on the Wolverines’ long-running fiasco with the NCAA:

“The good news, Michigan fans, is that Chris Webber’s infamous timeout didn’t cost you the championship after all,” Geracie wrote.