COLUMN: It Takes Balls To Read This Column

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to Harry is a resident of Logan and an alumnus of Utah State University. He can be reached via email at His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees. 

<em>“A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall.”</em>

—attributed to Vince Lombardi.

The President of the United States is still a woefully inept, mentally incompetent grifter.

Utah is still a theocratic oligarchy with arcane liquor laws that makes this place a continuous punchline for the other 49 states.

Another Thursday shall pass before the new season of “Game of Thrones” premieres.

These facts will most likely not change in the next week. As such, I will use an “off” week to share a few random thoughts about some things going on in the world of sports.

— The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is coming up next week. Zzzzz. Two years ago, I <a href=”” target=”_blank”>scribed a column</a> where I suggested getting rid of all all-star games. My opinion of their irrelevance is unchanged.

The awe and spector of watching the best players in any sport playing an exhibition game has long been dulled by cynicism and overexposure. Few care.

Add to this that many of these top players—especially in baseball—make hundreds of millions of dollars and I have to ask whether an all-star game is an incredibly stupid idea. If I own a Major League Baseball team, I do not want some guy I am paying $25+ million a year to play in any game that does not count in the standings for my team.

Too much money in professional sports is wrapped up in the very best players. To risk their value to the teams they are committed to so they can play an exhibition game that few care about anymore is asking doom.

— Monday will be the unofficial kickoff of college football season when the Southeastern Conference will start its Media Days. As a proper noun, Media Days are events held by college football conferences. Ranging from one to four days long, Media Days feature the head coaches and select players being interviewed by members of the media from all platforms. It also reveals preseason polls.

For hardcore college football fans, it is the first fix of the year. The first Saturday of games is only seven weeks away. And that first Saturday features BYU playing noted football powerhouse Portland State!

The allure of coaches talking about their depth chart at strong safety may be lost on many of you. That is understandable. For a guy like me, it is a wonky wonderment.

— Staying on college football, my beloved Utah State Aggies are fated to a terrible season. When you consider how the team has experienced a terrible offseason filled with criminal activities, you have to wonder if major changes will be made before Thanksgiving comes and goes.

Starting with Wisconsin and running the gauntlet of a much-improved Mountain West Conference, a quick look at the Aggie football schedule may have as many as 10 losses.

I plan to watch the team practice a few times when camp starts; so, I will reserve my final prediction for my college football preview at the end of August. But that brief interlude of winning seasons we Aggie fans experienced may not be back for a few years.

I can accept the Aggies losing. But, I would kindly request of my alma mater that if the Aggies are due for a few losing football seasons in the immediate future that they cease stocking the team up with rapists and armed robbers.

If only as a courtesy.

— Soccer players for the English Premiere League returned to the practice field this week. Do these guys get any time off? They do not even play their warm-up games near home. Most of the top European club teams go around the world to play games prepping for their seasons, which start in the middle of August.

You do not have to love soccer to acknowledge that it requires great physical stamina to play the game at the highest level. The top players have to play for their national teams every summer and then they get three hours off before getting back to their clubs.

It has to be exhausting.

— Finally, a word about a sports league I care very little about, the National Basketball Association, specifically the Utah Jazz.

The announcement Tuesday that Gordon Hayward was leaving the Jazz to sign with the Boston Celtics has been met with seething bile by many Jazz fans. I understand being disappointed, but did anyone who loves the Jazz really believe a player of his quality would want to stay in Utah?

I am not going to attempt to read Hayward’s mind and tell all of you why he left. But outside of the Jazz offering an abundance of cash that would be impossible to refuse, Hayward did what any top player in a major professional sport would do—leave Utah!

Proud Utahns, you have to face the reality that your doe-eyed enthusiasm for this place is not shared with professional athletes who want to experience the stereotypical lifestyle that comes with being paid millions of dollars to play a game. Of course, not all athletes consider a city’s party scene a criterion for whom they sign with, but most do.

Even that rare superstar who wants a “family friendly” environment to raise his children wants to live in a place that has some activities on Sundays.

And please do not throw John Stockton and Karl Malone at me. Those days are gone. Let it go.

If you listed every NBA locale by desirability, Utah would be in constant battle with Sacramento, California for 30th of 30. And what have the Sacramento Kings done lately? Eleven consecutive losing seasons.

The best the Utah Jazz and their amazing fans can hope for is to cultivate a team that plays in a system that sees no player being superior to the others. If that would happen, that player will walk out the door the moment he can.

Utah is a minor league state. Major league players will not stay here. Accept this and adapt to it. Because good beer, nightclubs and other intriguing nocturnal activities are not coming to Utah anytime soon.

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