SPEAKING OF SPORTS: Why women won’t get their ‘due’

There is an undercurrent of discontent among the players as the U.S. women’s soccer team gets ready to defend its World Cup championship. The discontent involves money–the women don’t think they’re getting enough of it.

Several of the players sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, alleging institutional gender discrimination, and team co-captain Megan Rapinoe of Redding charged last week that soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, isn’t doing enough to close the huge gender disparity in prize money.

When it comes to inequality in the U.S., the women have a point that should be an embarrassment in a country where the money goes to the winners. The U.S. women’s team has excelled on the international stage, winning three World Cups–the only nation to do so–and four Olympic gold medals. The U.S. men’s team is just embarrassing–heck, they didn’t even qualify for the World Cup competition this year because they couldn’t beat Trinidad Tobago.

But in the U.S., the women on the national team get just 38 percent of the compensation of their male counterparts. In the World Cup, the men’s teams will divide up a pot of $440 million in prize money, with more than $40 million going to the winning team. The women’s prize money has been doubled to $30 million, with $4 million going to the winners.

But since we’re talking about professional sports, equity has nothing to do with it–compensation is bottom-line driven. The reality is that women’s sports are not as popular as men’s sports and the women are compensated accordingly.

The experience of the WNBA illustrates the point. No new league was better positioned to succeed than the WNBA when it opened for business in 1997. For starters, the operation was bankrolled by the highly successful National Basketball Association. The women’s teams were owned by NBA franchises, which meant they had financial stability, nice venues to play in, and favorable schedules.

Then NBA Commissioner David Stern strong-armed the TV networks carrying NBA games to broadcast the women’s games. Two networks signed multi-year deals with the WNBA. None of this produced the success everybody expected. Men ignored the women’s game, and there aren’t enough female fans to fill the arenas. TV ratings were poor and coverage has dwindled to a few games on ESPN.

Several franchises, including the one in Sacramento, folded and others moved to new cities. The players are so poorly paid that many of them play overseas during the off-season in order to make a decent living.

The comparison isn’t fair, but the reality is that men compare the women’s game to the men’s game and conclude it’s inferior. Until there are a lot more female sports fans in this country wiling to buy expensive athletic shoes and drink low cal beer, operations like the WNBA and women’s soccer will continue to be second-class sports, and will be compensated accordingly.

Female athletes who want to make serious money in the U.S. should take up golf or tennis.


Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger had a record of 98-148 over the last three seasons. Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton had a record of 98-148 over the last three seasons.

But Vivek Ranadive, principal owner of the Kings, is apparently an impatient man, so Joerger was fired and Walton was hired two days after the Lakers canned him, making Walton the Kings’ sixth coach since Ranadive and his partners bought the team in 2013.

As it turns out, Walton may be the shortest tenured coach of the bunch. A week after he was hired, former Southern California television sports reporter Kelli Tennant filed a civil suit alleging Walton sexually assaulted her when he was an assistant at the Golden State Warriors in 2014.

Tennant never filed a police report and waited five years to take action against Walton, so a lot of people will question her claim. But this is the age of #MeToo and the NBA has launched an investigation into the allegations. If the league concludes there is substance to her claims, Walton could be fired and the Kings would again look like the dolts they’ve been for years.

The Kings have had only eight winning seasons since arriving from Kansas City in 1985–all of them during the reign of Rick Adelman–and this last season was their best since Adelman was fired in 2006.

But the young Kings faltered after the All-Star break, finishing the season 9-16, and General Manager Vlade Divac decided Walton was the coach to lead Sacramento to the promised land. “I’ve found my teammate,” Divac told the media the day Walton’s hiring was announced. “We’re going to work together and it’s going to be an exciting season for us.”

Then the lawsuit hit, and Walton disappeared from public view. The Sacramento Bee reported a siting last week–Walton showed up at the team’s training facility to work out some free agents–but has studiously avoided any contact with the media.

Even if the NBA gives Walton a passing grade, you have to wonder how he will deal with persistent questions about the lawsuit and the salacious details it will undoubtedly contain. The Kings already have a difficult time attracting good free agents. This won’t make it any easier.

Way to go, guys.


As long as we’re on the subject of dysfunction, let’s not ignore Magic Johnson’s recent bridge-burning exercise designed to cover his inept leadership of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson was hired two years ago as president of basketball operations, tasked with reviving one of the NBA’s marque franchises. He was less than successful in this endeavor before abruptly resigning in public, not even bothering to alert the Lakers’ main owner, Jeanie Buss.

Then he went on ESPN to blame everybody but himself for the team’s inability to become a contender during his tenure. In Johnson’s accounting, too many voices in the front office and back-stabbing by general manager Rob Pelinka did him in.

People in the organization describe a Johnson who tolerated no dissent, signed players without discussing or vetting them with anybody in the organization, and made deals in secret. As for Pelinka, Johnson could have fired him if he was the back-stabber Magic now claims he was.

But Johnson owns the deals he made, and none of them look very good right now. For starters, he signed the likes of Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley–players on the downside of their careers with a history of being malcontents and trouble makers.

Johnson failed to sign Brooke Lopez, who went on to have a solid season off the bench for Milwaukee, and traded young center Ivica Zubac for essentially an expiring contract. NBA insiders laughed at that deal.

Then there’s the saga of Anthony Davis. After the New Orleans star demanded to be traded, the Lakers offered the few good young players they have to the Pelicans for Davis. The offer was rejected, and the players are now less than enthused about their futures in Los Angeles.

Of course, Johnson did sign LaBron James, who proceeded to undermine Walton’s authority.  Now there are reports James is trying to lure future free agents Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry to the Lakers, apparently without consulting team ownership.

Magic Johnson can do all of the shucking and jiving he wants, but that won’t disguise the fact he was a disaster during his latest stay with the Lakers.


Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse needs to work on his sideline posturing: He reminds me of a high school coach who is trying too hard to win…It is rare for the team with the home court advantage to be the underdog in a championship series, but that’s what the Raptors are…If the Warriors win their fourth championship in five years, Steve Kerr won’t get the credit he deserves for the coaching job he did this year.


Nevada City’s own Alexander Rossi, who won the Indy 500 two years ago and finished second this year, comes across as a guy who has been packaged for sponsors, not for fans.

Posted in Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Sports, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Two invisible candidates are running for our state Senate seat

Voters in the first state Senate district have less than 2 weeks to decide who they want to represent them in Sacramento, but don’t expect to see either one of the candidates before you cast your vote.

Brian Dahle, who represents Nevada County in the state Assembly, has avoided making any public appearances in the county since declaring his candidacy to replace former Senator Ted Gaines. His opponent, fellow Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, is also missing in action.

Brian Dahle and his little red wagon.

If you’re a Republican and attended the local party’s annual dinner in PLACER County Saturday night, you were able to meet and hear Kiley speak–Dahle said he had an engagement elsewhere in Placer County. As you would expect from Republicans, you had to pay $40 to meet him at the VIP reception or $85 to have dinner with Kiley, who apparently devoted his speech to blasting Dahle.

So much for Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment!

The candidates remind me of Republican Sharron Angle’s run against Senator Harry Reid in 2010. Angle disappeared during the last two weeks of the campaign, making unannounced private–almost secret–visits with small groups and avoiding the media whenever possible.

Our problem is that both candidates are acting this way, apparently deciding to avoid the media and public while running their campaigns through mailers and social media, where they have total control of the message.

Except, of course, when they screw up. Dahle, apparently courting the county fair crowd, professed on his Facebook page to be a fan of all county fairs in his district. He held up signs expressing love for all of them–except the 1 in Nevada County. Jeff “Podunk” Pelline says he called Dahle on it and, based on Jeffy’s reporting, clumsily tried to lie his way out of the gaff. This is the kind of representation we need in Sacramento?

Newspapers in the district, which have been hollowed out by years of cutbacks, are devoting little energy to holding the candidates accountable. There has been practically no coverage since the primary, when they were forced to surface if for no other reason than to distinguish themselves from the other candidates. I’m sure we’ll see straight-down-the-middle profiles of each before election day, but most of the people who care in Nevada County will have voted by then.

Each candidate seems content to add to his endless list of endorsements–most of them people you never heard of–while standing 4-square for the local motherhood issues: Low taxes, good schools, stop wildfires, etc., etc.

Kevin Kiley

Kiley claims he started the campaign with a $500,000 war chest and has been spending it on mailers trying to woo Nevada County Republicans. Meanwhile, Dahle is reaching out to people in the Democratic Party. My wife received a letter recently from a couple who claimed they lost their home in the Paradise fire, asking her to support Dahle against PG&E and other special interests. The letter contained a Paradise street address. Maybe their mail box survived the fire.

Then we received a mailer claiming Kiley has taken $500,000 from PG&E and other special interests, apparently accounting for his campaign war chest. The mailer also lists 5 instances where Dahle “held PG&E accountable for wildfires” while Kiley (of course) didn’t. The flyer doesn’t mention Dahle’s participation in crafting legislation that will let the utility offload some of its liabilities on rate payers, a major issue now that state officials have formally blamed PG&E for starting the Camp Fire.

Each claims to be the most conservative candidate while bashing special interests that traditionally support Republican candidates. A review of past campaign contributions shows that both–particularly Dahle–have accepted plenty of money from special interests.

As for me, I’ve already thrown out my ballot. Since I can find out little or nothing about Kiley (his campaign web site is no help), I’m essentially flying blind if I vote. It doesn’t matter who wins  anyway because he’ll be a member of a super minority in the senate.

But who knows: Maybe the winner will start appearing at public forums when he has to run again in 2020.

Posted in Assemblyman Brian Dahle, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, Politics, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

SPEAKING OF SPORTS: From high school star to ???


The NFL Draft can make or break the dreams of college kids who have been working for years in hopes of playing professional football. Given his high expectations 4 years ago, I doubt few people were more disappointed at this year’s draft than former Folsom High phenom Jake Browning.

Browning is certainly a familiar name to fans of the Nevada Union Miners, but not in a good way. Browning terrorized the Miners the four times he played them from 2011-14, turning every game into a rout.

But the Miners weren’t alone. Browning set new state records for completed passes, passing yards, and touchdowns during his time at Folsom. He was considered a 4-star recruit out of high school and the third-best pro style quarterback in the class of ’15.

Browning landed at the University of Washington, where he was the school’s first freshman starter at QB since 1997 and was the Pac-12 offensive player of the year in 2016. Then his career flat lined.

While the Huskies were successful in ’17 and ’18, Browning became more of a game manager and less of an offensive force, putting up respectable numbers while relying on the skills of his receivers to make the big pass plays. Browning had shoulder surgery after his sophomore season and was considered a weak-armed thrower by the time he finished his career in the Rose Bowl in January.

Browning went undrafted and subsequently signed a free agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings, a team that is committed to Kirk Cousins and his $84 million (guaranteed) deal. The Vikings signed free agent Sean Mannon as Cousins’ backup and have another young prospect in Kyle Sloter.

If the Vikings decide to carry three QBs on their roster (unlikely), Browning’s best shot will be the taxi squad. He was an “A” student in high school and studied business at Washington. I hope he got his degree because it looks like he’ll need it.


Kevin Durant is the most dominant offensive player in the NBA today, capable of taking over a game and ruining the day for the opposition. But the Golden State Warriors shouldn’t break up their team to resign him when he becomes a free agent in July.

Durant is an iso player on a team that emphasizes movement and passing by players who are willing to do what’s best for the team. While Durant has been a good teammate during his time in Oakland, he really doesn’t fit into the Warriors’ style of play.

Golden State’s core players–Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green–are still relatively young and masters of coach Steve Kerr’s style of play. Given the team’s salary cap constraints, Green, Thompson or both would have to be jettisoned to resign Durant. He’s not worth it.


Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney was rewarded recently for winning two of the last three national championships with a 10-year contract extension that will pay him a minimum of $92 million.

That makes Swinney the highest paid college coach (and maybe the highest paid coach, period) in the nation, ahead of Alabama’s Nick Saban (8 years, $74 million) and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher (10 years, $75 million).

Keep those numbers in mind the next time the NCAA and its member schools explain why paying players is a bad thing.


Long-time football coach Dick Tomey died recently at the age of 80 from cancer. While he was a head coach at Hawaii, Arizona and San Jose State, Tomey was best know for running his “Desert Swarm” defense for 14 years at Arizona.

Tomey was one of those coaches who didn’t feel comfortable running an offense; he would much rather play defense all the time and take his chances. As a result, Tomey’s Arizona teams were known for playing tough defense but not scoring much, which presented opportunities for people who bet on college football games.

Specifically, it became a winning bet to take Tomey’s team when it was an double-digit underdog and bet against them when they were double-digit favorites. A lot of bettors were sad when Tomey got fired.


Lamar Odom, a former Kardashian spouse whose NBA career was ruined when he became addicted to cocaine, is out with a book claiming he’s bedded 2,000 women in his life.

The book is probably Odom’s last shot at making some decent money, so you should probably make allowances for exaggeration. And he admits he paid at least some of them for their services–should they be deducted from the total?

In any event, Odom’s an amateur compared to NBA great Wilt Chamberlain, who claimed he bedded 20,000 women–not 2,000. Since Chamberlain was never sued for paternity, he was either very lucky, infertile, or lying. Wilt’s dead so we’ll never know the truth.

Posted in College athletics, Golden State Warriors, NCAA, Sports, Sports betting, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Small towns are a hoot, as Podunk Pelline keeps reminding us

Jeff “Podunk” Pelline is all aflutter that his magazine was called “classy” in, of all places, The Union.

The word was used by Lorraine Jewett in her column, “Lorraine’s Lowdown,” where never is found a discouraging word. Lorraine speaks for herself, not The Union. As the paper continually reminds readers, opinions expressed by columnists are their own and don’t necessarily reflect the viewpoint of management.

But what’s really interesting is that Jewett made the comment in the context of reporting Jeffy’s membership in the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, an institution he has regularly trashed on his blog.

Jeffy had it in for Keith Davies when he ran the chamber with his wife, Robin Galvan-Davies. In Pelline’s accounting, Davies was just a front man for the good old boys who run the town and retard progress. Here’s just one example of Podunk’s bile; there are plenty more if you’re interested: https://sierrafoothillsreport.com/2014/06/09/incoming-district-3-supervisor-miller-jumps-in-the-pool-on-election-night-its-a-small-world-after-all/

Davies has since moved onto other ventures, but his wife is still running the chamber. You have to wonder what she thought when Jeffy’s membership application showed up in the mail, and you have to wonder what he thinks he can gain after trashing the outfit all these years.

But business is business, and this is a small town. What a hoot!

Posted in Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, Jeff Pelline, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

QUICK HITS: Who don’t you ask the GOP’s leader in California?

–Conservative blogger George Rebane finds merit it the Reconquista theory, the idea that Mexico will reclaim land lost to the U.S. in 1848 “bloodlessly by immigration and out-breeding our European descended whites.” He may want to raise that issue when Jessica Patterson, currently chair of the state Republican Party and a Latina, addresses local Republicans in Auburn next month.

–If the regular commentators at Rebane’s Ruminations put their heads together, they’d have an impressive rock garden.

–Is Donald Trump telling the truth when he says he “loves” Wikileaks or when he says he knows nothing about the outfit? That’s a trick question because Trump never tells the truth.

–Trump keeps insisting his father was born in a “beautiful” part of Germany while all of the evidence suggests he was born in the U.S. I think it’s time for Trump to produce a birth certificate. If it was good enough for Obama, it’s good enough for dear old dad.

–Speaking of Trump’s lying, nobody laid it out better than Robert Mueller.

–Podunk Pelline, the Miss Grundy of local grammarians, is quick to jump on anybody who does something as innocuous as leaving the apostrophe out of “it’s.” Meanwhile, Pelline regular Chip Wilder wrote on Jeffie’s blog April 19 at 6:06 a.m. that Trump is a “cereal liar.” Chipper could give Walt Branson and Todd Juvinall a run for their money when it comes to creative use of the English language in the local blogosphere.

Posted in Donald Trump, George Rebane, Jeff Pelline, Politics, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

SPEAKING OF SPORTS: New Giants golden boy?

Larry Baer, president and CEO of the San Francisco Giants, will have diminished power when he returns to the team from a suspension for getting in a well documented public scuffle with his wife.

The day Major League Baseball announced Baer’s suspension without pay until July 1, the team said a member of the investor group, Rob Dean, will become acting CEO and the team’s control person when it comes to dealing with MLB.

(When no investor owns more than 50 percent of a team, the team is required to designate a control person who can speak for the owners in league deliberations.)

Dean is married to one of the daughters of the late Harmon Burns, who was the biggest investor when the current group of owners purchased the team from Bob Lurie and saved the Giants from being moved to Florida.

Burns made his fortune at Franklin Resources, which owns Franklin Templeton mutual funds. Charles Johnson, a son of Franklin’s founder, is currently the biggest investor in the Giants with a reported share of 25 percent.

Johnson got in hot water a couple of years ago when it was revealed he contributed money to a PAC that ran a racist political ad campaign in Arkansas, and helped fund the campaign of Mississippi Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith, who among others things said she would enjoy a “front row seat” at a public hanging.

That created a political fire storm in ultra liberal San Francisco, requiring Baer to publicly repudiate Johnson’s actions and reaffirm the team’s commitment to San Francisco values.

So, is Johnson now teaming up with the heirs of Harmon Burns to oust Baer from the top spot? The team announced that Baer will remain president and CEO when his suspension ends, but that a new control person will be named.

We’ll see how long he retains those titles. Peter McGowan and Bill Neukom looked secure in the team’s top spot until they weren’t.


Cal passed on Eric Musselman, the head coach at the University of Nevada, Reno, when it hired Wyking Jones to coach the men’s basketball team. Now they’ve hired Mark Fox, former head coach at UNR, to replace Jones.


Kevin Harlan, who did the play-by-play of several NCAA tournament games on TBS, can make a call for a time out seem exciting. Then there are commentators like Reggie Miller, who criticizes the college boys for failing to play defense. Nobody ever accused Reggie of playing defense.


Miller was a junior at UCLA when his sister, Cheryl, was a senior at USC. Sports Illustrated’s college basketball issue that season featured a cover shot of Cheryl with the headline proclaiming her the best college basketball player in America. Reggie never heard the end of that.


One of the reasons women’s college basketball has trouble generating interest is the disparity between the good and bad teams. Blow outs are common in the women’s tournament, and then you get something like this last Saturday: Stanford missed 26 of 29 3-point shots against Missouri State and still won by 9 points.


When the annual speculation starts on which college basketball players will turn pro, I’m always reminded of what John Calipari said when he was coaching Memphis and his star player was Derrick Rose:

“If he does what’s best for his family, he’ll leave. If he does what’s best for my family, he’ll stay.”

Posted in College athletics, NCAA, San Francisco Giants, Sports, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

More shoddy voter deception from NorCal Republicans

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in a contest to fill the vacant District 1 state Senate seat that represents Nevada County, part of Placer County, and other areas north of us.

Election day is actually Tuesday, but most people are voting by mail to decide if one of four Republicans or a Democrat will fill the post. If nobody gets 50 percent plus one of the votes cast, the top two vote getters will advance to a runoff.

Steve Baird: Out

That would figure to involve the two best know candidates in the race, District 1 Assemblyman Brian Dahle and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of Loomis, both Republicans. The only campaign literature I’ve received (as of Saturday) is two mailers from “Taxfighters for Brian Dahle for Senate 2019” that assume voters are ignorant.

The mailers, in different formats but with the same verbiage, suggest the only choices in the election are Dahle and Democrat Steve Baird. “Democrat Steve Baird and Republican Brian Dahle will both appear on the ballot and offer platforms that Democratic voters and Republican voters will find appealing,” we’re told.

Brian Dahle and his little red wagon: In

The flyers have pictures of both candidates and list three political positions for each that presumably makes them appealing. There’s only one problem with this: While Baird’s name is on the ballot, he withdrew from the race several weeks ago and is not an active candidate.

In other words, the “Taxfighters” want Democrats to vote for a non-candidate to draw votes away from Silke Pflueger, the only actual Democrat in the race.

That would make it easier for Dahle to make the run-off and possible win the election outright, particularly since Kiley faces two Republican candidates from Loomis and Placerville. One of them, Rex Hime, has raised a lot of money for the race.

“Taxfighters” obviously believe a lot of voters are ignorant about Baird and will fall into their trap when they vote. The mailers are reminiscent of a flyer put out by supporters of Rep. Doug LaMalfa that featured a doctored picture of Democratic challenger Audrey Denney pledging to faithfully follow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. LaMalfa later laughed it off as a “joke.”

“Taxfighters” say they’re independent of Dahle’s campaign but don’t tell you much about themselves. They list an IP address that was acquired in late February and will probably be gone next week.

The flyers were paid for by the California Professional Firefighters PAC with major funding from the California Association of Realtors and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. If you know anybody who belongs to those three outfits, you might want to ask them why they support such shoddy campaign practices.

If asked about the mailers, Dahle’s campaign  would probably take the Sergeant Schultz approach: “I know nothing.” But this is another example of the work of Republican strategists who clearly think there are a lot of stupid, ignorant voters in the north state.

If they’re referring to Republicans who lap up this stuff, I can see where they’d get that idea.

Posted in Assemblyman Brian Dahle, Democratic Party, Government, Media, Politics, Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Uncategorized | 3 Comments