Picking Splinters: Mailbagging It Up

So what’s your opinion on the vuvuzelas at the World Cup? You know, those plastic horns that drone on and on in the background. I heard FIFA might ban them. Do you think they should?

Diego M.

Absolutely, 100-percent, unconditionally no. I am no fan of the vuvuzela. When I watch a World Cup match it sounds like cicadas are eating my ear drums. However, it’s a part of soccer in South Africa and part of the World Cup is about different cultures coming together around the sport. FIFA should embrace the horns, even if they are a bit – okay, a lot – grating.

I suspect the real reason prompting ban talk is the potential damage the droning noise is doing to TV ratings. A lot of big companies paid astronomical figures for broadcasting rights and they – and their sponsors – want to make sure their audiences aren’t turning off games or hitting the mute button – for games and commercials – during matches. If they’re that concerned about it, maybe they should offer a crowd-mic free broadcast and just use a sound feed of the announcers.

Regardless, any Caps fans should push for vuvuzela freedom, as the three-note blast from the upper deck has started many a “let’s go Caps” chant.

I can’t even keep up with all this conference re-alignment talk. Is it done yet? And why do they keep shuffling things up?

Woody H.

I’ll address the last part first: Money. It’s always about money. In this case, it’s about the significantly higher TV revenue that goes to the Big Ten and the upcoming TV rights negotiations for the Pac-10. If the latter conference can add football powers like Texas and Oklahoma, they could have bargained for a much richer deal.

But it looks like the absurdity of half the Big 12 jumping to the Pac-10 to create a second 16-team conference is over. Texas announced it will stay put and the conference will not span three different time zones as proposed.

Is it really over though? No. First, the Pac-10 now has 11 teams after Colorado jumped ship. Rumor has it that Utah will come over from the Mountain West to make it a 12-Pac. Beer enthusiasts everywhere (well perhaps not Utah) can appreciate the value of that move.

Here’s what I don’t understand though. Sure, Texas could have made more money by playing in the Pac-10, but that money would have been driven solely by football. All of the school’s other sports – yes, there are other sports besides football – would have seen their expenses dramatically increase. Not only would the Longhorns and other potential defectors from the Big 12 have to travel to California and Washington for football, but they’d have to do so for golf and softball and squash and swimming and wrestling and track and … You get the idea.

I don’t understand why schools don’t treat football as a separate entity entirely. Create four regional mega-conferences, but just for football. All of the other sports remain in the conferences as we know them. This way, you add stability and maximize profits while maintaining regional and traditional rivalries. They already do it for hockey, although the reasoning there is likely because many schools don’t field a varsity hockey team. I think it’s a matter of time before someone finds a way to accentuate the positive (profits) and minimize the negative (dissolving rivalries and adding expenses for non-revenue generating sports).

Should Stephen Strasburg pitch in the All-Star Game? He’s the hottest thing going right now for baseball and the All-Star Game is the game’s biggest showcase outside the World Series. So what do you think?

Bud S.

No. No. No. And No.

Let’s start with the fact that he doesn’t deserve it. Two starts does not an All-Star make. By the time the break rolls around he should have four more starts under his belt, but do you really think a guy with all of six career starts belongs on an All-Star roster?

Besides, if I’m the Nationals, I don’t want them wasting his arm like that or messing up his routine. He’ll earn his way to the Mid-Summer Classic eventually. No need to rush it.