Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss Phoenix Coyotes fans' treatment of Gary Bettman, MLSE's government handout, Jeffrey Loria and two legacy CFL stars.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is down to those fans at the partly empty Phoenix Coyotes home opener who booed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman when he appeared on the big screen. Those fans will never know I disapprove, of course, since they appear to live in desert caves when they're not at the local hockey game. Blame Bettman for whatever you like, but...Phoenix? The team he tortuously fought to save for five long, litigious years? Phoenix, which could have been Seattle or Hamilton or Quebec City? Maybe it was visiting Canadians; maybe it was just Glendale taxpayers; maybe Coyotes fans were just trying to fit in. But for goodness' sake, if not for Gary Bettman, none of them would have been watching the game at this insane, frozen oasis in the first place.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to the cozy relationship between taxpayer money and the multi-billion dollar business, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. It's easy to be offended that the Ontario government will provide MLSE with $500,000, an apparent incentive to bring the NBA All-Star Game to Toronto, as if it weren't doing it anyhow, with or without a government handout. It's just MLSE has this way about them - their soccer team plays in a stadium they operate, paid for with taxpayer dollars. Their AHL hockey team plays in an arena they operate, again paid for with taxpayer dollars. MLSE is a wonderfully rich, profitable company...if only its teams could win and it left government of all levels alone.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is down to the Miami Marlins, but my palms are up because I can't decide the main reason why my thumb is down. Is it for venality? Or is it for stupidity? Let's start with the venal. Henderson Alvarez no-hit the Tigers on the last day of the season and because, as H.L. Mencken observed, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria tried to peddle 9,000 unsold tickets to the finale, for $15 apiece, as mementos. Now, the stupid - the souvenir tickets, PDFs actually, were printed with the wrong date: October 3rd and not September 29th. Yeah, I guess I'll go with the stupid.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumbs are up to a couple of new CFL stars whose last names are getting them and the league itself, increased attention these days. They are receivers Luke Tasker of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Duron Carter of the Montreal Alouettes. Luke Tasker is the son of former Buffalo Bill and current NFL TV analyst Steve Tasker and Duron Carter's dad is none other than Hall of Famer and TV analyst Cris Carter. Let's not pretend that the players are not interested in the NFL careers that their fathers enjoyed and would love for their sons, but for now, they're making the most of their time in the CFL and they, and the league, are benefitting from those efforts. The CFL can always use big names. In football circles, Tasker and Carter are big names.