Here are a few things going on in the sports world that I’ve just got to discuss this week:
We made it, folks.
We lived through the Carolina Panthers’ decision to draft Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick in last week’s NFL Draft without cursing, mauling or hating each other.
For the most part, anyway.
Sure, the majority of the ABCers – Anybody But Cam folks – have remained that way. And that’s fine. But the talk of selling Personal Seat Licenses and switching loyalties from the Panthers because they selected Newton has been sparse. Even though they might’ve wanted Carolina to draft another player, it appears most fans now have made the rational decision to continue cheering for the Panthers – even if Newton is the quarterback.
My fear before the draft was that the selection of Newton would create a line of demarcation between the fan base. I was concerned that Newton’s arrival would be more of an opportunity for people who love to spew vitriolic conversation – be it about sports, society or race matters – to have an even louder voice.
But it’s been far from that. I’m glad my suspicions were unfounded. I’m so happy that most people have been able to sit back and have sensible debates about Newton’s ability to help pull the Panthers out of last season’s state of misery.
Heck, some people have been so open-minded about things that, after seeing Newton’s introductory press conference last Friday, they decided to embrace him like most other Panthers until he actually gave them a reason to dislike him again.
I’m proud of my county. I really am.
Now, if we could just get the owners to unlock the stadiums, things would be perfect.
Are you reading, Jerry Richardson?
Tiger’s not here, but we are
I was pleased to hear that this week’s Well Fargo Championship golf tournament is a sellout. On the surface, it might not seem like a huge surprise that all the tournament tickets are gone – the event has been sold out in eight of its nine years of existence at Quail Hollow Club. But with an ailing Tiger Woods being absent from the field this year, I’m sort of shocked this year is a sellout, too.
Woods, in fact, announced that he wouldn’t play in the Wells Fargo event on April 26. It wasn’t until May 1 that tournament officials announced that all tickets had been sold. That means people still bought tickets, even though they knew Woods wasn’t going to be here. And that’s saying something.
Of course, it’s hard to believe this year’s Tiger-less tournament won’t negatively affect the event – and the county – in some way. According to USA Today, PGA Tour events’ television ratings often bounce up or down 50 percent based solely on whether Tiger is in the field.
But maybe, just maybe, there’s something different about this area.
I mean, with apologies to all the NASCAR drivers who live here with Carolina Panthers Steve Smith and Jon Beason, how often is it that a freshly tanned Phil Mickelson is walking around town?
It’ll be nice to see fans show up in droves for the Wells Fargo Championship. After all, it truly is the city’s signature sporting event.
I’m not counting the awesome NASCAR race weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway because, well, the track’s actually in Concord. Go figure.
Which got me to thinking …
The whole Charlotte Motor Speedway thing brings me to something that always bothered me: I’d love to see professional sports teams actually go by the names of the cities where the stadiums/arenas and headquarters are located.
In the NFL, things would be quite different if the following teams used their true locations:
The Orchard Park Bills.
The Pontiac Lions.
The Foxborough Patriots.
The East Rutherford Giants and Jets.
The Glendale Cardinals.
The Landover Redskins.
And the Arlington Cowboys (formerly the Irving Cowboys).
Doesn’t have quite the same cache as the bigger cities, huh? Who cares? The pro teams should give the ’burbs their just due and stop trying to capitalize on the big cities’ names.
After all, one of the most famous sports franchises in the world has a small-town name. And the Green Bay Packers are doing just fine.
Team of the Week
This has absolutely nothing to do with sports, but I had to find some way to publicly recognize the Navy SEALs Team 6, the two dozen professionals who swooped into Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout this week – a mission that ultimately resulted in the Al-Qaida leader’s demise.
I know some people have taken the opportunity to make the situation a political debate. You won’t get that here.
I simply want to heap more credit on the men – and women? – who slid out of those two helicopters in the dead of night and executed the plan to perfection, without truly knowing if they’d be able to get back on one of the choppers.
When I was growing up, most of the kids around my neighborhood wanted to be sports heroes. After learning more about Team 6, I’m betting there are scores of youths now who aspire to be Navy SEALs.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, it’s been great to see so many Americans who proudly walk our streets with caps and T-shirts emblazoned with “FDNY” or “NYPD.”
Now that I know more about what Team 6 did on Sunday, I’m on a mission to secure some Navy SEALs garb.
Paypal, here I come!