5-at-10: True or false Tuesday with Super stakes, ‘fanflation’ and a union win in college sports

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce shake hands during NFL football Super Bowl 58 opening night Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, in Las Vegas. The San Francisco 49ers face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 58 on Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt York)
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce shake hands during NFL football Super Bowl 58 opening night Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, in Las Vegas. The San Francisco 49ers face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 58 on Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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Super stakes

No, this is not about whether Travis and Taylor are going to get engaged at the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Seriously, SI reported earlier this week that various betting sites are offering plus-1120 (bet $100, win $1,120) that the Chiefs star tight end will pop the question to the pop princess before, during or after the game. If you want to be no, you have to wager $3,500 to win $100.

(Side note: I don't really understand the Taylor Swift hatred in this one. She is ubiquitous in almost all walks of life, and anyone with a functioning idea of how TV works realizes the value she brings to the game. Why the anti-Swift angst?)

(Side note on the side note: Make no mistake the power of the Swifties, friends, because my daughter has not watched a complete NFL game we have not attended maybe ever. And she is locked and loaded for Sunday. There may be a T-Kelce jersey purchase in my future.)

Anywell, the stakes that accompany Ms. Swift are always lofty.

The stakes for two of the other prominent Chiefs are just as great.

Patty Mahomes can make a hard-argument to being the runner-up GOAT in NFL QB discussion with a win Sunday, which would be his third Super Bowl title ever.

It also puts him on a career path to do the unthinkable and get into a chase to seven to catch the previously believed uncatchable TB12.

It also has a similar lasting legacy line-item for Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who could post a monster claim as being on the Rushmore of NFL Super Bowl-era coaches with a W against San Francisco on Sunday.

Reid is fourth all-time in wins. This would be his third Super Bowl title, which would be tied with Joe Gibbs and Bill Walsh behind Chuck Noll (4) and Bill Belichick (6).

Plus, Reid would be the only one in that group to get to the Super Bowl with two different teams, which should count for something, too.

So, yeah, there's a lot on the line.

Of course if Kelce hits a knee and pops the question, it will all be tertiary headlines come Monday morning, right?

Monster stakes

Wow, I found this story quite interesting and had never heard the term "fanflation" before.

The story goes into some detail about the tactics and efforts to jack up ticket prices and how major sports teams and leagues do not really care about whether a family of four can afford a trip to the ol' ball game.

And yes, the story details that Super Bowl tickets are around $9,000 per. Which begs the question: Would you pay $9,000 for a ticket to anything on this planet?

According to Team Marketing Report, a family of four going to an NFL game with tickets, food, parking and two souvenirs averages $631.

Couple of things have added to the ever-rising cost of tickets.

First, there is the experience over goods trend in terms of what average Americans are spending their extra money on.

Second, leagues are willing to build smaller venues — looking at you Truist — to make more money off smaller crowds who pay much higher ticket prices.

Third, the leagues do not care how exorbitant teams' ticket prices are because the leagues are only worried about the TV product. Heck, the NFL has cornered this market long ago with blackout rules for fans within 90 miles of non-sellouts.

And D, the infusion of corporate season-ticket buyers and even online brokers and their gosh-dog-diculous upcharges gobble up huge numbers of tickets before the season starts.


Game changer?

So the National Labor Relations Board has now ruled the Dartmouth men's basketball team are employees of the university.

Ergo, the Dartmouth men's basketball team can unionize.

Buckle up.

This is the game changer that makes conferences cower, programs pray and coaches constipated.

Sure, there are several details to consider for the 15 Dartmouth hoopsters to consider. (Side question: Should they be nicknamed the Darts?)

Equal pay. Scale raises. Tax implications. Paying dues and the guaranteed kickbacks that frequently come with unionization.

Now there are layers here. First, this is not the first time an athletic program has been given the union OK by the NLRB. It granted similar approval to the Northwestern football players almost 10 years ago, but that decision was overturned on appeal because the NLRB ruling only works in the private sector and not state-run schools, and while Northwestern is a private school, it competes in the Big Ten, and the federal appeal successfully argued jurisdiction concerns for the rest of the schools in that conference.

Dartmouth is a private school in the all-private school league where a lot of the walls are covered with Ivy.

So experts believe, according to an article in The Athletic (pay site) that the ruling has a much stronger case to stand on appeal.

Moreover, the recent ruling on Dartmouth viewed "equipment, lodging, meals and more are considered compensation" and that's even before NIL and even athletic scholarships, which are not officially granted in the Ivy League.

But the uniformity of union rules — and the bargaining power in terms of work (i.e. practice) conditions as well as travel, off-days, salary and even Title IX issues — could forever overrun Ivy League athletics.

Even as deep as those pockets are for those schools, how long will they be willing to dip into those double-digit trust funds to pay the lacrosse team (men and women) the same as the hoops or football crews?

This and that

— So Eric Bieniemy is out as Washington's OC after the news of the weekend of Dan Quinn hiring Kliff Kingsbury. Cue the Screamin' A. Smith outrage in 5, 4, 3, 2 ... Serious talk. Bieniemy got a bum deal. And yes, it has been widely reported that a) the Chiefs (where Bieniemy was the OC for six straight AFC title game runs and two Lombardis) run Andy Reid's system, and b) Bieniemy has been less than impressive in the interviewing process. But if the NFL hiring system was truly racist and 100% an old-boy network, would Bill Belichick, Mike Vrabel or Pete Carroll be weighing offers from NFL studio shows right now?

— Rest in peace, Toby Keith. Cancer got him Monday. He was just 62. And how he did not break down and start squalling during this unforgettable performance of "Don't Let the Old Man In" during last year's People's Choice Country Awards is beyond me.

— An interesting story from Paschall here on Joe Lunardi's top four teams in the chase of 1 seeds and how the Vols are on the doorstep of that group.

— Wow. So three years ago, a broadcast duo for an Oklahoma high school basketball game was caught on a hot mic blasting a high school team at the state tournament for kneeling during the anthem. One of the announcers unloaded a blanket of curses and insults that included the N-word about the team. The Oklahoman newspaper posted a story about the incident, but for multiple hours online had the wrong man of the two-man team in the story. The jury awarded the non-slur-slinger who The Oklahoman called out $25 million in damages earlier this month.

Today's questions

True or false, it's a Tuesday. Morning, Ernie.

True or false, before my 13-year-old seventh grader enrolls in college, college athletes will have unions.

True or false, you attended a professional sporting event in the last year. (If so, please share what it was and how much the tickets cost, you would/can remember.)

True or false, you are rooting for/or against the Chiefs because of Taylor Swift.

True or false, Lunardi's four projected teams — Purdue, UConn, Houston and UNC — are the right ones.

You know the drill. Answer some T or Fs. Leave some T or Fs.

As for today, Feb. 6, let's review.

First, we are remiss to say that we missed yesterday's seven-year anniversary of the 28-3 Falcons Super Bowl debacle. Or to cue the dude from Office Space — "Wouldn't say I was missing it, Bob."

On this day 59 years ago, the Righteous Brothers hit No. 1 with "You Lost That Loving Feeling."

Wow some all-time greats were born on this day. Babe Ruth would have been 129. Ronald Reagan would have been 113. Yeah I too would have thought the Babe was more than 18 years older than the actor who played the Gipper.

Bob Marley would have been 79.

Axl Rose is 62, and has joined a growing crew (looking at your Steven Tyler) of aging male rock stars who look like the eccentric old woman in my grandmother's canasta game.

Alan Shepard became the first man to hit a golf ball on the moon on this day in 1971.

Rushmore of most famous golf swings that did not happen in a tournament.