About BTiell Sports Reports

Dr. Bonnie Tiell writes a monthly column for the Tiffin Advertiser Tribune Sports Department (http://www.advertiser-tribune.com/). This blog archives each column and dates back to the 2008 Olympic Academic Experience in Beijing, China. Check out the Blog Archives to read more. Check out info about the TU Olympic Academic Experience at http://www.tuolympics.blogspot.com/ and contact Dr. Tiell at btiell@tiffin.edu

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

January 20, 2009 Washington DC mixes sports and politics

Thousands of coaches, administrators, conference personnel, and university presidents converged in the nation’s capital last week to legislate and discuss annual governance issues in intercollegiate athletics such as declaring seventh grade basketball players as “prospects” in division I. The attendance pales in comparison to the million plus people who are currently in Washington DC experiencing the unprecedented fanfare exalting America’s 56th Presidential Inauguration.

The NCAA convention site, the Gaylord National Resort, is located in National Harbor, Maryland. The resort features a black and white marble spa, lush indoor gardens, and an eighteen story glass atrium with breathtaking views of the Potomac River and the Washington Monument. There is only one reason why our $225 plus room rates jumped to $799 per night immediately following the convention.

Welcome Barack Obama.

During the NCAA convention, signs of the impending inauguration were abundant from the signature “Obamatini” served at the Gaylord’s Moon Bay Coastal Cuisine Seafood restaurant and Belvedere bar to the portable tents, grandstands, and transportation barriers popping up all around DC. Even room service got on the band wagon offering the “Inaugural Plate” (two, long-stem strawberries double-dipped in white and dark chocolate, three truffles, and an edible, miniature presidential seal).

If only we had the time and the financial resources to stay a couple more nights at the Gaylord, we could have been basking in the presence of a truly historical event. But hey, I didn’t even vote for the guy who is about to be our 44th president and commander in chief. When the Maverick, John McCain, shook my daughter’s hand (twice!) and grabbed one of Chris Demith’s specialty donuts at the downtown Tiffin Bake Shop last fall, I believe I was in the company of most of Seneca County residents who became keen on the man we hoped would lead the country for the next four years. Obviously, Obama was the clear winner in the November election, and whether we voted for him or not, Americans are now reliant on this charismatic statesman to bring some type of economic relief and job prosperity to the people of this great country.

It was great to be in DC and envision how Barack and his family may happen to frequent the same locations the collegiate athletics world convened on this past week. In fact, the Gaylord is host to three inaugural balls among the sixty plus that will be scattered throughout the DC area. Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle, and the O’Jays are all expected to be in the Gaylord for official inaugural ball duties. Other ball locations include scores of hotels, Union Station, several Smithsonian museums, and a historical society. The brand new “Newseum” which hosted the NCAA Delegate Party in grand fashion, will broadcast the January 20th Inauguration on a 40 by 22 foot high definition screen which will also televise the Super Bowl twelve days later. Yes, Washington DC is where politics and sports mix in January 2009, but then again, the two truly haven’t been void of each other when considering governance issues at all levels in sport.

Scores of celebrities and politicians are in town for the main event. Among them is Texas state representative Joe Barton, a top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who introduced legislation to replace the Football Bowl College Series (BCS) with a play-off system a few weeks ago. Personally, it seems an unlikely scenario given the revenue and media implications. According to Barak Obama, it is a possibility he would like to see take shape (ah, the man of “hope” has arrived). Yes, the mix of sports and politics are occasionally important national matters.

Politicking has been cited as the effective strategy aiding NCAA’s president Myles Brand’s influence for passing legislation linking substantive scholarship penalties for a team’s academic deficiencies. Incidentally, the collective GPA of Tiffin University’s student-athletes is higher than non-athletes with the last recorded mark of a 3.01 semester average.

Sadly, our TU group did not meet Dr. Brand in the capital city since he was back in Indianapolis undertaking chemotherapy treatment for Pancreatic Cancer. Plenty of social opportunities did allow us to catch up with colleagues such as former athletic directors, Ian Day (Tiffin) and John Hill (Heidelberg).

Day actually joined the TU contingency when invited to a same-day taping of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption (PTI) featuring Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. Off the air, the silver tongue duo made a few references to the city’s impending political transportation nightmare for the inauguration while also referencing Tiffin’s proximity to the home of the highest paid player in the NFL, Ben Roethlisberger. Hines Ward was the guest which made it completely logical for our group to mention Nate Washington’s connection to Tiffin, but the reference was minimized by Kornheiser’s fondness to roll his R’s and repeatedly acknowledge how he just likes to say the name Rrrrrrroethlisberger.

The day following the taping, it was a little pay back to get a message to Kornheiser and Wilbon to check out the latest Sports Illustrated featuring – that’s right – our own Tiffin University / Pittsburgh Steelers cover boy, Nate Washington. Nice to see that Washington heading to Tampa for perhaps, his second Super Bowl championship.

Stay tune for February’s column. The sports world just gets better.

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