Enough Already With the Notion Of ‘Nation’

Red Sox Nation. Raider Nation. RG3 even called out Baylor fans as a ‘nation’ while accepting the Heisman Trophy. Whatever. How can you be a ‘nation’ when your school isn’t even in the Top 10 in popularity in the state of Texas?

In fact, Texas is about the only state in the nation that even deserves discussion as to whether or not it should be a ‘nation’. Here in Annapolis, we root for Navy. They play for quite a large nation. It’s called the United States of America.

Whatever happened to just being a fan? I’m a Tigers fan. Is that still possible?  When Detroit rumbled into Baltimore in August last year for a three-game set with the Orioles, the entire family went to the Saturday night game. 25,000 fans showed up, and 20,000 of them were rooting for the Tigers. No “TigerNation”, or “trickeration”, and we didn’t need the “walk-off”, either. Just a 6-5 win for the boys from Motown.

Fans rooting for their team. Is that so hard?

As for the other lame terminology, ESPN’s in-game college football highlight crew quite literally created ‘trickeration’ – it’s not even a word – unless you trust Wikipedia. That gem was preceded by “walk-off”, another ESPN-created term and subsequently run into the ground before I could even think about embracing it. When you win walk in the winning run, it’s not a “walk-off”; it’s called bad pitching.

I really started to notice the use of “nation” during the bowl season. With apologies to Joan Rivers and Dick Clark, the term ‘Nation’ just needs to go quietly into the good night with all the other tired cliches.


~ T.C. Cameron covers prep sports for The Capital newspaper in Annapolis, MD and is the president of the Maryland Pro Chapter for the Society of Professional Journalists. Tweet him @TCCameronSPJ



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Is It ‘Lead’ Or ‘Lede’?

Today I encountered something I’d never seen in nearly 20 years in journalism – the use of the term ‘lead’ spelled as ‘lede.

Huh? Dictionary.com calls it an alternative spelling for the journo term for your story’s opening before you delve into the who/what/why/when of your assignment.

I’ve decided to consider the term foreign, and by foreign I’m thinking in much the same way as if I were to see a bicyclist pedaling down the tracks of a New York City subway while I wait on the platform for the train.


T.C. Cameron is the SPJ Maryland Pro Chapter president and a sports writer at the Annapolis Capital in Annapolis, Maryland.


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The Over-Officiation Of High School Sports

It’s time to take a stand against stupidity. It’s time to reinstate common sense. It’s time to put the onus on coaches to discipline their players and leave the fair or foul and in or out of high school sports to officials.

High schools sports are supposed to be fun for players, coaches, officials and fans. They’re not supposed to be this regulated.

ESPN’s Skip Bayless sounded like ‘the bitter jock who never was’ on this morning’s First Take, which took to task an unsportsmanlike penalty thrown against a Cathedral High player who celebrated a breakaway touchdown for a brief second 15 yards before passing the pylon in Massachusetts’s 4A title game Saturday. A  live-ball, 15-yard penalty nullified the touchdown. Cathedral lost the game.

Stupid. This is what happens when you put these type of rules in rule books. On a big stage, in an NFL stadium, an official abandoned common sense and throws a flag on a kid who is about to score the go-ahead touchdown in a high school title game.

It’s not even the first time this kind of stupid happened over the past weekend,evidence Maryland’s public school 4A title game between Old Mill and Quince Orchard played at M&T Bank Stadium last Friday.

Old Mill seemed to have thundered back from a 21-0 deficit to tie the game with 42 seconds left after Deonte Shields hit Carl Chance in stride for a 70-yard touchdown to make the score 28-27. Chance had thrust his free arm in the air for the briefest of seconds in obvious exuberance, and an official tagged him 15 yards for the sin of scoring the potential tying score with less than a minute remaining in the state’s biggest prep football game.

Quince Orchard elected to take the penalty on the PAT, forcing a successful 38-yard attempt from Old Mill’s Brady Hannon. Old Mill went on to a 36-35 win in overtime, but could you imagine if Hannon had missed? Was Chance’s crime really so egregious to warrant the risk losing a state title game? He scored a touchdown. In a state championship game. From 70 yards out. With less than a minute to play to tie the score! Hello? It’s a big deal.

Of course it’s not worth a flag. It’s stupid to even think about throwing it. But officials, charged with making the correct call on the state’s biggest stage, are fearful of being downgraded in a state championship game. Common sense tells you this is not worth throwing a flag for, but common sense is swallowed whole by the stupidity of the rule. And now this official has landed on ESPN, and not in a good way.

Here’s the solution. Officials, use common sense. Stop calling these stupid fouls. I could care less if they’re in the book. Substitute a “talk-to” with a coach or student-athlete instead. State directors and athletic directors, take a more active role in players’ behavior being the responsibility of your coaches. Coaches, stop pushing rule enforcement of this nature on officials. It’s merely a convenient way to saddle the contractor with being the bad guy.

Old Mill High School nearly lost a Maryland state title last Friday because an excited player scored the tying touchdown. Cathedral High School lost a Massachusetts state title because their excited player scored the go-ahead touchdown.

Stop the stupidity.

~T.C. Cameron is a three-sport official and sports writer from Annapolis, Maryland. Follow T.C. on Twitter @TCCameronSPJ

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Boeheim Finally Faces Media

Just about the only way to describe it would be surreal, but amid all the craziness, Jim Boeheim’s best instincts finally prevailed.

I’m not certain if Jim Boeheim will regret tonight’s press conference after his Orangemen pounded Eastern Michigan, 84-48, but he finally brushed aside the Syracuse handlers and answered some questions about the investigation which ultimately got longtime friend and assistant coach Bernie Fine fired Sunday evening. Initially, Boeheim seemed annoyed the media continued to pursue questions pertaining to the scandal after he had read a prepared statement about what he prepared not to discuss, but he later told his school’s SID staff to “give it up” after they tried to steer questions only pertaining to the game and did his job of addressing the situation.

As much as he might wish, this scandal is only beginning to unfurl, so this grueling presser won’t be the last Boeheim endures this season. At times Boeheim seemed almost too glib and cheerful about the matter, perhaps at the prep of Syracuse’s handlers, who have tried to tighten the sails against the storm.

It’s a strategy doomed to fail, and perhaps Boeheim knows it. The idea of any school, corporation or government entity ‘closing ranks’ during a crisis in the information age we live in doesn’t work. The threat isn’t the media. It’s the 20-something with a laptop who’s so amazingly skilled, he or she ends up plying your server of all confidential and purged e-mails, memos and other sensitive information you tried to hide. Don’t believe me? Ask Enron. The truth will emerge, and the sooner you address it, the sooner it goes away.

There were some initial statements Boeheim made which had me scratching me head. Tops on that list was the “ballboys have never traveled with the team” statement, followed by the “we’ve had approximately 1,500 ball boys or ball girls in my 36 seasons” comment. Later, Boeheim admitted late in the presser team coaches have discretion as to who travels with the team and who doesn’t. If Boeheim doesn’t think ESPN and other media outlets aren’t going to pour over old tape looking for holes in that statement, he better be sure that statement was truthful. In fact, late in the presser, he admitted children have traveled with the team at tournament time, a comment which seemed back-track on his original statement.

When I covered college basketball, every team had a handful of ball boys. They were usually sons or daughters or friends of a coach, a regent’s son or daughter, etc. And it was not uncommon for the visitors to have a ball boy around their shoot-around. Does anyone think a coach’s son hasn’t traveled with his father’s team as a ball boy while on Christmas, winter or spring break? C’mon, man.

Boeheim’s ‘1,500 ball boys’ comment still amazes me, because that’s an average of nearly 42 different ball boys or girls per season. A statement solely made to distance himself from the knowledge of any particular ball boy or girl allegedly molested? Perhaps, but self-serving, not needed and surely disingenuous.

However, at least Boeheim stood and answered. He admitted his initial statements in support of Fine was based on their longtime working relationship and friendship. And after being a bit more cutesy than he should have been, Boeheim finally showed a bit of understanding about the scandal swirling around him.

While it won’t be the last time he stands in front of the media regarding this scandal, Boeheim was right when he says he’s no Joe Paterno.


~ T.C. Cameron is a three-sport official, author and sports writer from Annapolis, Maryland

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There’s No Good Reason To Keep Paterno Now

Like any other fan of major college football, I can easily recite all the outstanding contributions Joseph Vincent Paterno has made to the game, Penn State University and the state of Pennsylvania.

More than any other person, he build and later defined the Penn State brand.  The number of head coaches who have come and gone in Division-I football since Penn State hired Paterno nearly tops four digits.  The school now seats 108,000 for every home game instead of the 29,000 capacity Beaver Stadium had when Paterno took over.  He and his wife Sue have donated an astounding $4 million to the school.  But the most indelible Paterno characteristic was the love he professed for his school, especially poignant in an era where coaches jump from job to job like an airline pilot flies from city to city.

So it should come as no surprise when I say if Joe Paterno truly loves his school, he should resign tonight. Resign, and spare the victims and the school the circus which will follow him and his team until Penn State determines his status.

Paterno has always stressed, rather memorably, that nothing was bigger than the institution and the program.  We now know that was true on a sickening scale, because even sexual molestation of young boys, alleged of his coaching confidant Jerry Sandusky, couldn’t tarnish Penn State’s hallowed football program or anyone associated with it for more than a decade.

Therefore, there’s no further gain by further allowing Paterno’s association with the program.  What further glory or good can Penn State cull from keeping Paterno on the sideline?  He’s won 409 games.  What would another handful be worth to keep him in place?  Assuming Penn State wins its’ final three games, 412 wins would be an increase of %0.7.

Is 0.7% worth having to justify entrusting a man to your football team who you would no longer trust with your son or grandson?   Yes, Paterno was beyond an icon, but if you think it’s unfair, ask yourself this:  Do you think Paterno would have handled the knowledge imparted by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary differently had the child being molested had been his child or grandchild?

This scandal changes everything Paterno did.  His past accomplishments mean little when you realize it obscured nine documented cases of pedophilia alleged against one of his best friends.  What was will never be again in Happy Valley, nor should it be.  That’s why it’s time for Penn State and Joe Paterno’s mutual and immediate parting.


~T.C. Cameron is Maryland Pro Chapter president for of the Society for Professional Journalists.

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Is Bieber’s Accuser Admitting To Criminal Statutory Rape?

The Detroit Free Press, and surely countless other news organizations, is reporting a 20-year-old woman is claiming to have given birth to Justin Bieber’s son.

Mariah Yeater, 20, claims to have been Bieber’s ‘first’ backstage at a concert on October 25 of last year at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. She also claims Tristyn Anthony Markhouse Yeater, born July 6, is Bieber’s son.

What intrigues me is chilling: If Yeater’s story is true, it would also mean she’s potentially admitting to statutory rape. Yeater is now 20 and Bieber is 17. If this happened 53 weeks ago, that means Yeater was 19 and Bieber was 16. The snippet below is from LegalMatch.com’s page on statutory rape.

  • California – The age of consent in California is 18.  It is illegal for anyone to engage in sexual intercourse with a minor (someone under the age of 18), unless they are that person’s spouse.  California employs a tiered system where the greater the difference in age, the greater the penalty. If the person engaging in sex with a minor is less than 3 years older or younger than the minor, then they are guilty of a misdemeanor.  If they are more than 3 years older than the minor then they are guilty of a felony.  Those over the age of 21 engaging in sex with those under 16 are subjected to more harsh penalties. ~ LegalMatch.com

Depending on the possible birth dates of each party, and if her accusation is true, Yeater has possibly set herself up for a potential charge of criminal or misdemeanor rape charge. I think it’s also safe to assume if this woman’s accusations are true, Yeater faces the potential for having her parental rights terminated. If it’s not true, has she made a false claim which includes the claim of rape?

This may be a wild turkey of a story in the Thanksgiving month, or it may be the opening of an overwhelming scandal. Stay tuned.


~T.C. Cameron is the president of the Maryland Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a writer at the Annapolis Capital newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.

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Ultimate Irony: Kiffin Feels Lied To

It seems Lane Kiffin got a healthy dose of his own medicine. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t like the taste.

Kiffin says he was lied to by PAC-12 officials in the waning seconds of regulation of Southern California’s 56-48 triple-overtime loss to Stanford last Saturday, contending he informed an official he wanted to take a timeout after the completion of the last play of regulation. Yesterday the PAC-12 slapped the USC coach with a $10,000 fine for violating league policy regarding criticizing officials.

I don’t know whether or not the game’s side judge, Brad Glenn, guaranteed the request as Kiffin stated, and I don’t know if there was time to grant a timeout after receiver Robert Woods was tackled inbounds on the last play of the regulation.

I do know the irony of the entire situation is sweet. Lane Kiffin is upset because he thinks someone in a position of authority lied to him? Wow. I’ll bet there’s more than few who felt the way Kiffin feels today when he bolted Tennessee after one season for USC. I also think it’s comical Kiffin was the one tabbed to lift USC from the flames of NCAA scandal.

This has always been my problem with big-money college sports. We say it’s all about the kids when the truth is, it’s all about the money and not at all about the kids. In fact, when I hear say someone, “…it’s all about the kids,” that’s when I know it’s got nothing to do with the kids.


~ T.C. Cameron is a three-sport official and writer from Annapolis, Maryland.

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