By Paul Newberry
AP Sports Columnist
We’re a nation bitterly divided.
And, no, I’m not talking about who should be the fourth-ranked team in the College Football Playoff.
A presidential election like no other has come and gone, sending half the nation into the streets for a euphoric dance, the other half into the streets for a defiant protest.
There seems to be no middle ground, nothing we can all agree on.
It’s time for sports to bring us together.
With a nod to Stephen Colbert, who issued a similar plea on election night , here’s some things we should all be able to agree on:
• The NFL is overexposed. There’s no reason to pass off the winless Cleveland Browns as worthy of being shown to the entire country (or at least those who can find NFL Network on channel 2,345). That was quite evident from the snoozefest we witnessed Thursday night, when the Brownies’ offensive game plan in a 28-7 loss to Baltimore consisted mainly of incompletions, 2-yard runs, turnovers, sacks and yet another quarterback change. The NFL should be played on Sundays, with one game on Monday. No mas to Thursday night.
• On a similar note, college football should be played on Saturdays. End of story. We don’t need games on Thursday night (hey, those kids are supposed to go to class the next day, so at least play along with the charade). We certainly don’t need them on Friday nights. High school football is meant for Friday nights, not the Big Ten .
• We know Nick Saban has some weighty issues on his plate, like the Iron Bowl and winning another national championship. But the Alabama coach should at least know about Election Day .
• It’s time for Tiger Woods to retire. We want to remember him as perhaps the greatest player in golf history, not some aging, hairline-receding, injury riddled version of Willie Mays or Muhammad Ali, trying to desperately to hang on to a game he can no longer play at the highest level.
• They still have fighting in the NHL? Seriously, what century is this? Ban that silliness immediately. If you need a fighting fix, check out YouTube. Those guys really wailed on each other in the truly Neanderthal days .
• LeBron James should take up baseball. Maybe he can do for the Indians what he did for the Cavaliers. But forget about asking him to play quarterback. Not even a King can help the Browns.
• The College Football Playoff should expand to eight teams, with spots going to the five Power Five conference champions, the highest-ranked champion from the Group of Five, and the next two highest-ranked teams regardless of league. No more conference championship games. The first or second weekend of December is for the quarterfinals. The semifinals remain on New Year’s Day, followed by the national championship game a week or so later. See how easy that was?
• No one wants to have a beer with Bill Belichick. Or have him pick out what they’re going to wear to work. But we all want him to coach our favorite football team.
• Please let there be a day when no city bids for the Olympics. Clearly, that’s the only way to let the IOC know the rest of the world has finally figured out that its every-two-years prize is really nothing more than an extortion plot designed to drive cities (and even countries) into bankruptcy. We love the Olympics, but we hate all the red ink and broken promises it leaves behind.
• The Chicago Cubs took us on a marvelous ride, but enough with trying to turn a World Series victory into some sort of spiritual, life-affirming triumph over a 108-year-old curse. Besides, you want suffering? Let me introduce you to the A-T-L. While the Windy City has celebrated titles in all the major sports over the last three decades, Atlanta has managed one championship over a combined 168 baseball, football, basketball and hockey seasons. And it doesn’t even have the NHL anymore, having lost not one, but two teams to Western Canada.
• Billionaire owners should pay for their own stadiums and arenas. Kudos to San Diego for being one of the rare cities that told a team what it could do with its plan to have the citizenry pick up the tab for a private enterprise. That decision will likely send the Chargers to Los Angeles, but it’s not a bad drive to make eight times a year while spending public funds on things that actually benefit everyone, like better schools and parks.
• Baseball needs to do many things to make itself more appealing to a younger generation, but getting rid of the organist is NOT one of them. Matthew Kaminski of the Atlanta Braves is proof of that.
• Finally, there’s something really comforting about watching winners and losers shake hands at the end of a hard-fought contest and knowing there’s always next season.
Yep, we can all agree on that.