Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Summer Thoughts from the Front Porch

This is the time of year when the long days lead to the random front porch musings of an older man who’s seen some things in his day. Step on up and take a seat. Don’t worry, the dog may bark but she won’t bite.

1. Summertime in this college town:

With 48,000 students gone, traffic should be much lighter…

But as soon as the students pack up, the construction crews move in to attack places like Atherton Street, Lemont, Calder Way and all over campus. The race is on to get these things done before school resumes in late August. 

Godspeed to all those movers and pavers from HRI to Glen O. Hawbaker and everyone in between. And hats off to the people flipping the stop/go signs on those one-lane construction zones. It would be chaos without you. And please do not take anything that those drivers who scowl at you may mutter under their breath, it’s not personal.

2. Hey Penn State, make up your mind:

Last week many of us got an email from the Penn State Alumni Association. It asked us to support Penn State athletes by giving NIL money to the official collective of Penn State Athletics. Between that email and numerous social media posts, the ability of the team to win a football championship apparently relies on fans giving money to pay players. 

Just a few hours later, I got an email from the Nittany Lion Club asking me to support Penn State student-athletes by contributing to help pay for student-athletes’ scholarships. 

This is part of the rub in the new world of NIL. One part of the university is asking you for NIL money, while another part of the school is asking you to give to pay for tuition money to pay for student-athletes to get an education. 

3. The NBA can’t match all the action in other courts:

Donald Trump batted an impressive 34 for 34 in felony convictions in New York. Given the former President’s winless streak in cases from the 2020 election to the civil setbacks for The Trump Organization and in his loss to E. Jean Carroll he may want to evaluate how he picks his team.

But Trump has rarely put together great teams. His three-year run as owner of the USFL’s New Jersey Generals saw him sign two Heisman Trophy winners (Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie) and overspend for talent only to be repeatedly denied league titles by the Philadelphia (then Baltimore) Stars. The two-time USFL champion Stars were populated by a bunch of notable Penn Staters.

Elsewhere, the NCAA settled a case that will pay back NIL money to former players as well as open the floodgates for future revenue sharing with athletes. The revenue sharing will be somewhere north of $20 million a year. 

Don’t bet on that number sticking. Any future athlete wishing to make more money can go to court and start the process all over again. This thing won’t end until the NCAA puts together collective bargaining with the cooperation of an established player’s union. And that $21-ish million per year will be the floor with the numbers only escalating from there. 

In other court news, former Penn State team doctor Dr. Scott Lynch scored an impressive $5.25 million judgment that was based in part on allegations that the autonomy of the team doctor was impeded by input by a coach and athletic director. 

There are two areas in Penn State athletics that are to have complete autonomy: the medical staff and the academic support staff. Independence outside the department prevents doctors, trainers and academic advisors from being pressured to cut corners. 

And in another bit of actual on-court sports news, the WNBA continues to grab attention around the persona of Caitlin Clark. This week there was an obvious cheap shot leveled on her away from the ball. Love her or hate her, there is no denying that Caitlin Clark is generating interest in the WNBA. 

No one is suggesting that the league roll over and play dead to give her a title. But taking shots at a player who is clearly selling tickets at home and on the road is not productive. A surge in revenue is good for the whole league and all the women who play.

4. The Pitch Clock:

At a time when life should be slowing down, baseball is in the second year of its pitch clock. This was a big win for baseball. Sitting on the porch listening to games has never been better.

Although this old man is decidedly a Red Sox fan, there is some real excitement around the baseball fortunes of Pennsylvania’s two teams. 

The Phillies are having an incredible year. They look like a strong contender to get to the World Series for a fourth time in the last 16 years. From Wawa to Wawa, the city has embraced a team of likable players that seem to have fun competing every day. 

And for Pirate fans, there is real excitement around some excellent young pitchers, most notably rookie Paul Skenes. His 100+ mph fastballs have created a buzz in a city that has been longing for a star worthy of one of the greatest ballparks in all of baseball.

Here’s hoping that October finds this old man and his dog still on the front porch and listening to playoff baseball.