Soccer, All Stars and NASCAR

Jul 12, 2013 -- 9:30am

I offer thoughts on a mixed bag of sports topics:

I wouldn’t turn around to watch a soccer match, but I’d never tell you not to watch. If soccer is your sport, then good for you. And there does seem to be a solid base of soccer fans on the First Coast. The turnouts for four major matches in the last 14 months support that theory.

That’s my way of saying I’m happy Jacksonville is about to be awarded a North American Soccer League franchise. It’s all but a formality that will officially happen July 25.

As someone who makes a living talking and writing about sports, I say the more than merrier.

While such major events as Jaguars games, The Players and the Georgia-Florida game grab the most attention, the key to being a good sports town, in my opinion, is variety and quantity. I love watching the Suns play baseball and couldn’t care less about the Sharks and Giants but I’m glad there are people who love and support those teams.

They’re all important. Welcome aboard NASL.


The Major League Baseball All-Star Game actually matters. The winning league gets the home field advantage in the World Series, and that’s huge.

So why is MLB using the same rules it used when the All-Star Game was simply a midsummer showcase?

Instead of arguing whether a rookie should be named, the MLB should seek to get the best and hottest players in the game. It’s past time to get rid of such rules as every team must have a representative and such unwritten rules as every player deserves to play.

If the game is going to matter, then the leagues must do everything they can to win the game. That means teams and players must be willing to make sacrifices instead of looking for ways to only make a token appearance or skip the game altogether because of blister of on the pinky finger.

Better yet, forget about the game impacting the World Series and go back to the game being a showcase.


Morgan Shepherd will become the oldest driver to compete in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race this Sunday in the Camping World RV Sales 300 in New Hampshire. Shepherd is 71.

Shame on NASCAR. A 71-year-old man has no business competing in such a dangerous sport.

I know it’s basically a publicity stunt. Shepherd probably won’t run more than 20 or 30 laps. I know he has driven in four Nationwide events this year, never finishing a race or placing higher than 35th place.

Still, it is a bad and, more importantly, a dangerous stunt. People die in car racing. High speed racing with cars literally inches apart requires cat-quick reflexes, not something 71-year-olds are known for.

This isn’t some age discrimination rant by a young whippersnapper. I’ll be 68 next week. And this isn’t a slam against Shepherd, who was talented driver who seldom had top notch equipment during his NASCAR career that began in 1970.

But his time has passed. Think how horrible and inexcusable it would be if Shepherd caused a crash that resulted in injuries or worse.

Publicity be damned.

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