Andy Baggot: Hit ’em where it hurts

2011-07-12T05:45:00Z 2012-05-23T17:55:33Z Andy Baggot: Hit ’em where it hurtsANDY BAGGOT | abaggot@madison.com | 608-252-6175 madison.com

First impressions, second thoughts and the third degree:

Instead of simply vacating the results from its scandal-plagued 2010 college football season — Is there a lamer sanction than that in response to major NCAA violations? — Ohio State should be directed to take the gesture a step further.

As a symbol of the lost season, the school should be required to turn over all gate receipts from one of its eight home games to the Big Ten Conference.

Ohio Stadium has a listed seating capacity of 102,329. Single-game tickets cost $70. Let the math begin.

That’s a penalty that will sting, not to mention get the attention of schools that don’t have the crater-deep pockets of The Ohio State University and thus can’t afford to run afoul of the NCAA rulebook.

The Buckeyes have one of the highest annual operating budgets in the nation (around $120 million) and the one of the most expensive football tickets in the Big Ten. The penalty would come with a two-year moratorium on ticket increases, so the burden won’t be transferred immediately to fans.

What should the Big Ten do with the money? Split it among the other 11 schools to use as they see fit. The knowledge that Ohio State is underwriting the opposition might hurt worse than the price tag itself.

FINISH WHAT YOU’VE STARTED: Any time the forces of patriotism and drama are rubbed together under the lights of a world stage, as was the case with the U.S. women’s soccer team Sunday, you end up with an enduring story.

Decades from now, there’s a great chance we’ll look back on the improbable win over Brazil in the World Cup quarterfinals and find a place for it on a list of all-time clutch performances in American sports history.

For that to happen — for that last-gasp tying goal by Abby Wambach and penalty-kick magic by goaltender Hope Solo to be properly immortalized — the Americans can’t falter now. They have to beat France on Wednesday and claim the World Cup title against either Sweden or Japan.

PAY HEED TO AN INNOCENT TRAGEDY: It’s unbearably sad that a 6-year-old boy watched his father tumble to his death at a baseball game last week — Shannon Stone, a veteran firefighter, fell 20 feet while reaching for a ball tossed to him by Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton — because of the innocent sentiment surrounding the moment.

A father was just trying to do something memorable for his son. A star-crossed player was just trying to do something nice for someone else.

Now a child is scarred and a player who has battled his share of demons — drugs and alcohol — has another burden to carry.

If there is any good to come of the incident, hopefully it will be that baseball fans will think twice before turning away from the action to text someone, to talk on a cellphone or tend to a small child while sitting close to the action. A lot of tragedy can come to life in the blink of an eye.

WE CAN DO WITHOUT IT: If the current labor conflict in the NFL takes preseason games off the table, how is that not awesome for the fans?

Instead of giving in to one of the great shams of sports — paying full price to watch a watered-down product — we can instantly gear up for games that really matter.

Contact Andy Baggot at abaggot@madison.com or 608-252-6175.

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