by Joe Santoro

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August 9, 2012
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Sports Fodder: Pack needs the support this year


Uncle Chris needs you. We can see the posters plastered in windows all over Northern Nevada. Nevada Wolf Pack football coach Chris Ault, decked out in a spiffy silver and blue top hat and tails, wearing a wild and crazy goatee with a determined look on his face, pointing at us with the words, "I Want You To Show Up at Mackay Stadium" in big, bold letters at the bottom of the poster. Hey, it worked in World War I. It could work for the Wolf Pack football program as it wages its war on its shrinking budget. Ault said this week that the Pack needs fans to fill Mackay Stadium if the program is ever going to reach elite status in the Mountain West. Attendance hit its lowest level last year since 2005. Ault wants some more new toys -- most notably an indoor practice facility -- and the Pack won't get those toys if it continues to average under 16,000 fans a game. That's why the Pack needs some new volunteer fans to join the Pack army. Then again, they could always institute a draft and force us go to Mackay.

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Ault knows as well as anybody that there is only one way fans will fill Mackay Stadium. The team has to win just about all of its games. The core of the Pack's army of fans is the 12,000-15,000 fans who will show up no matter what. But Division I football programs can't thrive with merely 12,000-15,000 fans. The Pack needs that extra 10,000 or so fans who love to see a winner, who love to see a name opponent and who love to be able to go to work on Monday mornings and talk Wolf Pack football around the water cooler. Nobody wants to talk Wolf Pack football when the team is losing to Louisiana Tech and Utah State. The bottom line is the Pack needs to win. And it all starts Sept. 1 at Cal.

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It is difficult to feel sorry for Lolo Jones, the United States' Olympic track athlete who went on the Today Show this week crying that a New York Times article unfairly portrayed her as the Anna Kournikova of track. The 'don't hate me because I'm beautiful" act just doesn't work. First of all, there are certainly worse things than to be called the Anna Kournikova of anything. And, second, Jones has gone out of her way to flaunt her good looks and attract publicity all along the way. If you take your clothes off for a sports magazine then you can't complain when the media says you are more style than substance. Jones just needs to keep smiling and take the good with the bad. She'll be able to make millions posing in front of the cameras (like Danica Patrick, Jennie Finch, Katarina Witt, Maria Sharapova, Lindsey Vonn, Gabrielle Reece to name but a few) long after her track career ends. Enjoy it and stop crying.

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The problem with Olympic coverage is that 99 percent of the media has no clue about any of the sports they are covering. You couldn't drag the vast majority of sports writers to a track meet, a handball game, a swim meet, a volleyball match, a gymnastics meet or just about any of the other sports now going on in London if it wasn't an Olympic year. And that's because you can't force anyone to read those stories unless you paste a photo of Lolo Jones on top of it. Hardly anyone cares about those sports unless there is an American flag stuck on it somewhere. That's why the media simply covers all of the fluff around the sport. And America thrives on fluff.

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Come on, admit it. Down deep inside you almost want the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team to lose, don't you? It's OK. There is nothing wholesome and heartwarming about cheering for a bunch of spoiled millionaires playing basketball against a bunch of teams that wouldn't make the D-League playoffs. The U.S. players don't represent the United States, no matter how many cliches they spout. They represent Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Under Armour, Gatorade and McDonalds. It's time to give Olympic basketball back to the college kids.

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Some idiot Penn State supporters are selling t-shirts that read "National Communist Athletic Association" on the front and "Overstepping their boundaries and punishing the innocent since 1906" on the back. Really? The innocent? At Penn State? Yes, the NCAA's punishment of Penn State has gone a bit overboard (taking away the program's victories since 1998 is silly and petty) but Penn State's fans simply need to keep quiet and disappear for a while. It just might be that this arrogant attitude of "we're innocent" and "we've been unfairly picked upon" that got them in this trouble in the first place.

Ask O.J. Simpson fans how that works out in the end.

. . .

The Oakland A's are the best story in baseball that nobody east of Vallejo knows about. The A's won two of three from the Angels this week and are now in second place in the American League West. And they are doing it with, well, who are those guys again? But nobody seems to care. The biggest crowd in Oakland for the Angels series was 21,150. Even the Pack football team will surpass that at least once (Boise on Dec. 1) this year. It's like they are a bunch of synchronized swimmers in a non-Olympic year. Nobody is paying attention. If anyone needs to start going on the Today Show to cry and complain, it's the A's. Maybe Brad Pitt can sit in for Billy Beane to attract some fans.


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The Record Courier Updated Aug 9, 2012 07:11PM Published Aug 9, 2012 07:08PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.