Sports and John McCain: “Exploring John McCain’s Profound Impact On The Sports World”

John McCain Hand Over Heart
John McCain Hand Over Heart

By Larry Brown

http://larrybrownsports.com/baseball/john-mccain-profound-impact-sports-world/461521

“Senator John McCain died on Saturday, August 25, 2018 at the age of 81 after succumbing to brain cancer. The longtime Arizona state senator was best known for running for president against Barack Obama in 2008 and for being a Vietnam War hero who survived despite being tortured as a P.O.W. McCain was also a big sports fan who had a profound impact on the sports world during his time in congress. That is the part of his legacy that we would like to explore.

During his political career, McCain had a big hand in the reformation of baseball, boxing, and the UFC, as well as other sports. Matching his conservative ideology, McCain often focused on more fairness and rules to protect athletes.

BASEBALL

McCain was one of the big reasons why MLB introduced a drug testing program that helped end the steroids era in the sport.

Even though the use of steroids was illegal in the country, MLB’s drug testing was extremely lax (just one test per year), with light penalties. That led to the game being overridden by steroids users for around a decade between the early 1990s to the early 2000s. In order to get the sport to clean up the drug use, McCain, acting in his role as Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, threatened federal legislation if MLB did not introduce a harsher drug policy.

“Major league baseball players and owners should meet immediately to enact the standards that apply to the minor leagues, and if they don’t, I will have to introduce legislation that says professional sports will have minimum standards for testing,” McCain said in Dec. 2004. “I’ll give them until January, and then I’ll introduce legislation.”

In 2006, MLB introduced its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The program included more comprehensive testing as well as significantly harsher penalties to discourage cheating.

His big reason for pushing for harder drug testing? “What I care about are high school athletes who are tempted to use steroids because they think that’s the only way they can make it in the major leagues,” McCain said in a 2004 ESPN article on the matter.

McCain also supported bills that pushed for Shoeless Joe Jackson to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and legislation to honor Jackie Robinson.

BOXING

McCain was a lightweight boxer and huge fan of the sport. He also worked hard to help improve the sport with regulations aimed at protecting fighters medically and from financial exploitation.

In 1996, his Professional Boxing Safety Act bill was passed. The bill mandated all boxing matches be supervised by a state athletic commission; fighters be physically tested before being medically cleared to fight; health insurance coverage for each fighter; and the presence of an ambulance and medical personnel at each fight.

As positive as those changes were, he made even more contributions later with the passing of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. The Ali Act, which came into law in 2000, sought to prevent fighters from being exploited. The act mandated a separation between promoters and managers so that a fighter’s best interest would be represented. The act sought to end widespread corruption in the sport.

“If we can pass this legislation, there’s some hope,” McCain said in an ESPN article by Tim Graham before the legislation was passed. “I believe that boxers are the most exploited of all professional athletes. They come from the lowest economic rung, and they generally are the least educated, and they’re in the only major sport that’s not unionized.”

UFC

McCain was not a fan of the UFC, which he compared to “human cockfighting” back in 1997. He was one of the biggest enemies of the organization, which began without weight classes or rules, notoriously holding an “anything goes” attitude. McCain’s criticism and issues with the UFC led to it being pulled from pay-per-view and banned in every state around 20 years ago.
The UFC began to clean up the sport little by little, introducing rules and regulations, and seeking legalization state by state. In 2014, UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta credited McCain’s toughness for helping the league gain legitimacy.

“I have to give him credit,” Fertitta said. “Without him doing what he did back in the ’90s to force regulation, this sport would be dead. It wouldn’t exist. Honestly, for all the negatives he caused, he actually allowed the sport to foster and grow.”

McCain’s influence on sports doesn’t end there. During his political career, he sought to ban gambling on college sports. More recently, he sought to end government spending on military recognition at sports events, which many thought were done out of patriotism rather than commercialism.

McCain was incredibly accomplished and worked hard to improve the sports world. His work in the sports arena has had a great effect and will continue to long after his death.”

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SPORTS360 Podcast

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Hey Everybody! 

My book Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds is now available on Amazon.com!  Please check it out and let me know what you think.   If you like the blog, you’ll love the book. AND a dear friend featured me on his new, insightful and thought provoking Podcast, SPORTS360.  Jeff and I discuss the book, how we connect with God through sports, my Philly teams, and the intersection of sports and spirituality. Check it out on YouTube.com.

My Book Is Out! “Upsets, Comebacks & Turnarounds” Coming Soon

UCT Cover

Hey Everybody! I birthed a book!

After years of writing and editing and kneading and massaging this baby of an idea inside of me, voila, my book is here!  It will be available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com soon so stay tuned! I hope you read and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s a pick me upper and a shot in the arm for all who love the little guy and the also-rans in sports and in life. 

Here a few excerpts from the back cover:

In the World of Sports, there’s nothing like an upset win, a comeback from way back, and a complete turnaround. The same is true in life. In sports, we celebrate the underdogs, both the teams and the players who are at a distinct disadvantage and are expected to lose. Yet some way, somehow, these teams and players  find a way to triumph in spite of adversity.

Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds looks back to those who have alreadly overcome and looks forward to those facing overwhelming obstacles yet to be overcome.

This book examines the intersection of God and sports . . . and is a tribute to all of the biblical long-shots; to all of those who, in sports and in life, “didn’t stand a chance.”

Did The Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor Fight Live Up to the Hype?

 

Mayweather-vs-McGregor
Mayweather-vs-McGregor

The MayMac fight in Las Vegas was big, but there have been bigger, right? Ali vs. Frazier, the Rumble in the Jungle (Ali vs. Foreman), all of Sugar Ray Leonard’s  fights and all of the Roberto Duran fights and all of the Joe Louis fights lived up to the hype (mostly). But did this one? You tell me.

First of all, Connor McGregor lost because he doesn’t fight with boxing gloves. It’s a small thing but it’s a big deal. He’s an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter that fights without shoes and with light gloves (4-6 ounces) that allow fingers to grab.  None of that was happening with Mayweather.

Think about it. Mayweather was smart enough not to fight a UFC fight with McGregor. Right? Would the outcome have gone another way had it been a UFC fight?  You tell me.

McGregor is used to a different style and different rules. While he is the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion, and a former UFC Featherweight Champion with a mixed martial arts (MMA) background, he had a learning curve to overcome. So he came in with a decided disadvantage.  Did he overwhelm or overpower or override all of that? Not quite.

Second, Mayweather won and finished his career going 50-0, which is no small feat. But he’s a defensive, “pretty boy” fighter. His MO, modus operandi, is not to get hit, to outlast his opponents, and to capitalize off of their weaknesses.  Well, check all of the boxes, because once again, Mayweather managed to avoid getting hit (for the most part), he outlasted McGregor, and he capitalized on McGregor’s weakness of wearing out and burning out in the early rounds.

Finally, McGregor’s manager said that he was OK with the stoppage in the 10th Round. The TKO was called essentially because Conor was cornered, out of gas, and was running on fumes.  But did the fight live up to the hype? You tell me.

The real question is this: are you living up to the hype? Does your life and your lifestyle as a believer in the Ultimate God living up to the billing that the Bible says it should? The Bible says that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. The Bible says that God always gives us a triumphant win. The Bible says that we will overcome every foe by the blood of the Lamb and by the message that we preach.

Christians believe and preach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Our belief is rooted in and grounded on the faith that our lives should be fuller and richer and deeper and stronger than those who don’t believe.  But many of us are losing the fight in a technical knockout because we’re running out of gas; we aren’t fighting this fight of faith like we should. 

So, is your fight with this wanton world and your flimsy flesh and the diabolical devil a victory for you or not?

You tell me.

Muhammad Ali: How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

muhammad-ali-si-cover_0 - Copy (2)

If you want to remember and honor and pay respect to Muhammad Ali, check out his web site at http://www.muhammadali.com Its well worth the visit.

What would you like people to think about you when you are gone?

“I’D LIKE FOR THEM TO SAY,
HE TOOK A FEW CUPS OF LOVE.
HE TOOK ONE TABLESPOON OF PATIENCE,
ONE TEASPOON OF GENEROSITY,
ONE PINT OF KINDNESS;
HE TOOK ONE QUART OF LAUGHTER,
ONE PINCH OF CONCERN
AND THEN HE MIXED WILLINGNESS
WITH HAPPINESS.
HE ADDED LOTS OF FAITH,
AND HE STIRRED IT UP WELL.
THEN HE SPREAD IT OVER A SPAN OF
A LIFETIME, AND HE SERVED IT TO
EACH AND EVERY DESERVING
PERSON HE MET.”

“WHAT KEEPS ME GOING IS GOALS”
-Ali on training
A VOICE FOR THOSE WITHOUT ONE
There has always been far more to Muhammad than what took place in the boxing ring. He was fearless in his stance on civil rights, fighting for people suffering injustices in the United States and the rest of the world.

ALI ON THE VIETNAM WAR
Muhammad Ali’s polarizing decision inspired Americans of all backgrounds. New York Times columnist, William Rhoden, wrote, “Ali’s actions changed my standard of what constituted an athlete’s greatness. Possessing a killer jump shot or the ability to stop on a dime was no longer enough. What were you doing for the liberation of your people? What were you doing to help your country live up to the covenant of its founding principles?”

“Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee”

muhammad-ali-sonny-liston

Muhammad Ali, a.k.a. “The Greatest,” taught us how to be great. He could only teach what he knew, and he knew greatness.  He knew how to be grand and how to be grandiose; he knew how to be extravagant and how to be exaggerent; and he especially knew how to be over-the-top and under the table, all at once at the same time. Ali was one of a kind and in a class all by himself. That’s why he was loved and loathed, reviled and revered, and shunned and wooed the world over.

In the 1960’s, Ali was known for being a captivating and a controversial and a popular and a polarizing figure both inside and outside the boxing ring. He was one of the most recognized sports figures of all time, crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC.

Ali was iconic and an icon, a legend and legendary, a trend setter and a trailblazer.  Ali did what no other athlete, and a black athlete at that, did before. He stood up for his rights as he stared down the draft. He made many friends and made many more enemies, all in the same breath.  He did his fighting in and out of the ring. And along the way, he taught us some things he didn’t intend or set out to. Ali taught us how to take a hit, and why not to.

Ali is said to have ushered in the “Golden Era” of boxing.  Along the way, he won the Heavyweight Championship of the World three times as he fought and defeated some of the best boxers ever to enter then ring. Ali defeated the likes of Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, and Leon Spinks.  He also fought to defeat racism and classicism, poverty and paucity, inequity and inequality, imbalance and injustice, just to name a few.

Ali was impressive “on and off the court” and in and out of the ring. He was lush and lavish, most times gaudy and garish, oft times loud and lurid and showy and brassy and crude and what we thought was rude. But Ali was truthful and candid and straight and frank, especially about himself and the times he lived in.

Ali could “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” His style of fighting was new and novel and different and divisive. During his career, he was criticized and ridiculed and jeered and sneered and derided and disparaged from day one. Yet and still he managed to reach the top of his craft three times, and stayed at the top of the charts and was first in the hearts of millions of fans the world over.

So how did he do it?

Ali remained true. He was who he was and he didn’t try to please or appease just to “get a vote.” He made many decisions I’m sure he’d like to take back; but then again, he wouldn’t be Ali if he didn’t do what he did or say what he said. This is the lesson that Ali taught us.

So don’t be afraid to be different and to make a difference, even if it costs you a few friends or your championship belt. Dare to be distinct. Dare to be divergent. Dare to be diverse from the crowd. We are made to be our own snowflake. So, if God made you uniquely you, why are you trying to fit in?  If you don’t fit, it’s because God made you NOT to fit, but to be a stand up and to stand out and to make a difference where there needs to be change and modification and alteration and transformation.

Thank you, Muhammad Ali, for teaching us the trade secrets of success in sports and in life.

 

Here are some the other things Ali taught us, in quotes:

It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.

I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.

A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.

Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.

Don’t Throw In The Towel

Rocky poster 6

The Eagles lost to the Redskins today, 23-20. And it was pitiful and pathetic and painful to watch (didn’t I tell you not to watch?) Anyway . . . Since I’m from Philly, I’m reaching and looking and straining to find some semblance of hope. And Rocky is the best I can come up with.

In the film that bears his name, Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect. The character, the actor and the film were long shots to be respectable and all three could have thrown in the towel. But the film won 3 Academy Awards in 1976, including Best Picture, and is an enduring emblem of courage, confidence and spiritual conviction. And I need all three right now after watching my Eagles blow a winnable game in a woeful way.

So don’t throw in the towel. Even though the coaching is callous and the kicking is cockeyed and the “O” Line is dreary and the outlook is bleary, I’m not going to throw in the towel. I’m not. I want to, but I won’t. I care to, but I can’t. Because no able bodied, bona fide, born again believer will ever throw in the towel.

This phrase comes from boxing. When a boxer is too beat up to continue, his coach throws a towel into the ring to signal that the fight is over. But even though we are beat up and beat down and beat all around, we never give up. Just like Winston Churchill said.

And the Apostle Paul gave us this encouragement:

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, KJV

Rocky Inspirational Poster

So, my Eagles fans, don’t throw in the towel. At least not yet.

http://www.artistdirect.com/video/never-give-up/39789