SportThoughts

MMoffett_profileMike Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management at the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord. He grew up in Groveton, N.H. and attended college at UNH and Plymouth State College, where he captained the basketball team. He graduated in 1978 with a degree in Social Science. He later taught and coached at Groveton and Trinity High Schools, before spending three years as a Marine Corps infantry officer. He also served as a sports writer for the Coos County Democrat and then the New Hampshire Times before becoming the Sports Information Director at Plymouth State.

Mike returned to active duty with the Marines for Operation Desert Storm in 1991.  After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, he served on General Tommy Franks Operations Staff at Central Command. He remains active with the Marine Corps Reserve.

Mike has contributed various editorials and feature pieces to the Weirs Times over the years and joined on as a weekly columnist with “SportThoughts” in early 2005.

JOHN FARRELL …. Is GONE

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist JOHN FARRELL …. … is gone as Boston Red Sox manager—despite two straight first-place finishes and a memorable 2013 World Series title. His sin? Failing to advance in the post-season. Red Sox Nation has high expectations. Consider Bobby Cox. He managed the Atlanta Braves to 14 first place finishes in 15 years, between 1991 and 2005. But, like Farrell, he won but one World Series. If Cox had to work for current BoSox General Manager Dave Dombrowski, would he have lasted? I doubt it. Imagine firing someone who usually finishes first. I’m reminded of San Diego Charger football coach Marty Schottenheimer. The long-time NFL mentor led the Chargers to league’s best record in 2006 (14-2). But when San Diego lost its first playoff game that year—to the Patriots, in a game I attended in San Diego—Schottenheimer was fired. It’s about expectations. CHARGE “THIS!” Speaking of the Chargers, this NFL team which abandoned San Diego for Los Angeles has been struggling, on and off the field. They’ve been drawing around 20,000 fans per game to the StubHub Center, while they await a new L.A. stadium which they’ll share with the Rams in 2019. Shame on […]

Columbus, Indigenous People, And Sports Nicknames

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist Happy October 12th. Columbus Day! Or at least it used to be, before it was changed to an October Monday to make a long holiday weekend. And now in many places it’s being changed to “Indigenous People’s Day,” ostensibly to honor those who lived in America before they were decimated by European colonialists in the wake of Columbus’ voyages. I like the idea of an “Indigenous People’s Day.” But does it have to replace a day that’s special to so many millions of Italian-Americans? While not Italian, I recently visited beautiful Italy. And while Native Americans were certainly brutalized after 1492, do activists really need to stick their thumbs in the eyes of Italians? Columbus was a brave sailor and a visionary explorer—even if he died not realizing he’d never made it to Asia. He certainly influenced history, for better or worse. While the conquistadors and other explorers were brutal, they had no monopoly on violence. Many indigenous tribes were constantly at war with each other. Erasing memories of Columbus hurts not only Italian-Americans, but also anyone who cares about comprehensive history—including Native Americans. The activists seeking to denigrate Columbus are largely the same […]

Football Head Cases

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist FOOTBALL HEAD CASES? Another football season beckons and excitement abounds as professional, college, high school and junior level football players take to the playing fields, dreaming of gridiron glory. The 2017 season will end on a down note for most as only one team can win a championship in any league or conference. But some players’ seasons will end extra early due to the inevitable injuries associated with this violent game. Which brings us to the perennial question about whether football should just go away, given that so many players get hurt and maimed. Concussions and brain injuries are of particular concern lately, given the many anecdotal examples of former gridsters suffering dementia. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association focused attention on research conducted by Boston University’s School of Medicine where researchers studied 111 brains donated by former NFL players—110 of which showed damage characteristic of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Yet despite a growing movement to ban football, more New Hampshire high schools than ever are offering the sport. Locally, Laconia, Kingswood, Plymouth and Franklin High Schools have long-established gridiron traditions. But now Gilford/Belmont fields a joint football team. […]

NASCAR in Loudon

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist NASCAR IN LOUDON It was wonderful to hear the roar created by the world’s best race car drivers at the Overton’s 301 NASCAR race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on July 16. I heard the noise from the back deck at my home in Loudon, roughly a mile from NHMS—as the crow flies. More than just crows were flying that day, as some small planes pulled banners through the sky to advertise to the tens of thousands of NASCAR spectators. Helicopters were aloft as well, at least one of which was carrying a camera for some aerial shots for NBC sports, which telecast the event nationally. I always get a kick from watching the action on my television, as I can listen to the event in real time while watching the splendid telecast with its wonderful graphics, multiple cameras, and excited announcers. The aerial shots showing New Hampshire’s hills and forests always make me proud of this unique major sports venue on Route 106 with a capacity for 100,000 spectators. Of course, there were less than 100,000 fans at the track on July 16, as NASCAR attendance has been declining nationwide for […]

The Celtics And The Draft

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist The 2017 NBA draft is a week from today—June 22—and for the first time since 1950 the Boston Celtics have the top pick. The burning question is: What will Celtic General Manager Danny Ainge do with the pick? With the Celtics a young and deep team that was one of the NBA’s “Final 3” this season, perhaps they could trade the pick for an established star who could help them to the next level—the NBA Finals. (As this is being written well in advance, if Danny has already traded the pick, you’ll have to excuse me.) The names of several stars have been bandied about, including that of Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant. Would you trade the pick for rights to someone like Durant? Actually Durant will be a free agent so the Celtics could just make him a great offer and sign him directly and trade the pick for LeBron James. This scenario is not entirely implausible. The 28-year-old Durant expressed interest in Boston before heading to Golden State. Having just won a title with the Warriors, he may need a new challenge. The notion of the Cavaliers trading LeBron—an Ohio native—might seem […]

Tim Tebow

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist Sports Illustrated recently ran a big baseball story on a Class A, South Atlantic League, minor leaguer toiling away for the Columbus Fireflies. With the countless sports stories percolating and countless teams dreaming of priceless SI attention, how did SI come to run such a feature? The answer is that the subject of the story is the most famous baseball minor leaguer since a dude named Michael Jordan batted .202 for Terry Francona’s 1994 Birmingham Barons. That subject was Tim Tebow. Tebow played on a couple of national championship football teams at the University of Florida and won the 2007 Heisman Trophy. He led the 2011 Denver Broncos into the playoffs and stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an overtime TD pass. But the Broncos traded him to the New York Jets and Tebow never started another NFL game. The New England Patriots cut him during the 2013 pre-season. But what made Tebow especially newsworthy was his very public affirmation of his Christianity—for which he endured endless ridicule and countless slings and arrows from, well, the “unchurched.” I’ve never understood how so many in American society can preach about tolerance and inclusion while a brave […]

The Celtics And Walter Brown

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist The Celtics And Walter Brown While watching the Celtics’ wonderful 115-105 Game #7 victory over the Washington Wizards last week at the “new” Boston TD Garden, I was struck, as always, by the occasional camera shots of all the championship banners and retired numbers hanging from the Garden rafters. As I pondered the incredible long-term success enjoyed by the NBA’s most storied franchise, I focused on one of the retired numbers in particular—Number 1. Many fans are oblivious as to whom that number represents, but Walter Brown is someone that all Celtics fans should revere—for many reasons. A Massachusetts native who attended Philips Exeter Academy, Brown succeeded his father George as manager of the old Boston Garden, which was then a hockey mecca. First and foremost a hockey guy, Walter actually coached the USA hockey team to its first Gold Medal in the 1933 Ice Hockey World Championships . An ongoing challenge for the Garden back then was what to do with the building when the Bruins weren’t playing. After World War II, entrepreneurs planned for a new professional basketball league—one that would eventually become the NBA. Brown wanted in. So he took out […]

World All-Star Baseball

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist World All-Star Baseball Sports Illustrated’s ace baseball writer, Tom Verducci, recently proposed replacing the current Major League Baseball All-Star Game format with a five-day mid-season World Baseball Classic tournament. The WBC presently goes in March where it has to compete with March Madness, Spring Training, etc. An eight-team, five day, international tournament in July that yields a world champion is a great idea. A 24-man All-Star roster should be sufficient. Presently SIXTY-SIX All-Stars show up for the Mid-Summer Classic—33 from each league = too many. Hold the event in Chicago or New York or someplace with two big baseball parks. The quarterfinal/first-day round requires four games—i.e two doubleheaders. Then come two semifinal games and a championship game. So we actually get SEVEN All-Star games instead of just one. And with MLB on hiatus, and no other major league sports happening, the WBC gets maximum media attention—both domestically and internationally. A home run derby and similar All-Star traditions could be worked into the schedule—as in how the NBA turned its All-Star game into a multi-day, multi-event festival. Hopefully those with the power and influence can overcome inertia and make this happen. The 2018 MLB All-Star […]

Marines, Moffetts and Marathons

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist MARINES, MOFFETTS, AND MARATHONS Fitness is part of the Marines Corps ethos. If you want to be a Marine, then you need to be able to run. My brother John was a cross-country standout in high school, so when he joined the Marines running was not a problem. Because he could shoot, move, and communicate he was the honor graduate for his Parris Island recruit training platoon. He later became an officer. I followed John into the Marine Corps and for a while we were both lieutenants stationed in California. It took me longer than it did John to become a shooting expert but I eventually made it. I also recorded some excellent run times but never could quite match those of John. After finally beating him in a 10K road race on a Marine base, I immediately called our mom with the great news. Always careful not to show favoritism, she congratulated both of us instead of just me! John eventually ran in the Marine Corps Marathon, the same one that Oprah Winfrey famously completed. John’s time was considerably better than Oprah’s fairly impressive 4:29:15

Devin Booker Goes For 70!

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist Devin Booker Goes For 70! One of sport’s attractions involves unpredictability. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Sports are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” A movie is what it is—a fait accompli. Similarly, a Broadway play has a script. Even a live concert features music that’s already been written. But a sports event unfolds in actual time—a true reality show. A game can break your heart OR send your spirits soaring. You never know. The price of admission is the same either way. Every time I go to Fenway I hope to see a perfect baseball game. Or a no-hitter. Or a great catch. If the hits come early then let there be a lot of them. Let there be a record set. Or maybe a fight! (I was at Fenway when Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk had that fight at home plate and the benches emptied. Loved it!) When it comes to Celtics games, I just want to see Boston win with some great plays along the way to get the crowd going. And when the C’s are playing a lousy team—like the Phoenix Suns—a friendly wager makes […]

(Semi) Pro Basketball In N.H.

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist With college basketball’s “March Madness-2017” reaching its climax, many basketball fans can’t help but cast their minds back to great games and players of the past. Through the wonders of You-Tube many of these magic moments can be relived with a couple clicks on a computer mouse. Nostalgia has its place. However, some basketball stories are just not available via You-Tube. But they can still be savored via the “oral history” recollections of hoop historians regarding the wonderful players and performances of yesteryear. Such a historian is Concord’s Bob Gile. Presently a Vice President for Investments at Benjamin F. Edwards and Company, Gile graduated from Franklin High School in 1951. He later graduated from Dartmouth College and then served as a naval officer before entering the world of finance. Some of Gile’s most vivid memories from his Franklin days involve some of the best basketball in the country taking place right in the Franklin High School gym. Franklin, N.H. Not North Carolina, not Kentucky, not Indiana, and not Madison Square Garden. Franklin “In the late 1940s a sort of semi-pro basketball circuit evolved in New England,” recalled Gile. “Sunday afternoon basketball became an entertainment […]

Rick Barry And Son(s)

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist This being a March of college hoop Madness, alert basketball fans may have noticed a Canyon Barry playing for the Florida Gators. Yes, he’s the son of Hall-of-Famer Rick and his second wife Lynn. Canyon is actually a grad student at UF, studying nuclear engineering, having already graduated from the College of Charleston—with a year’s hoop eligibility remaining. Named for the Grand Canyon, where he was conceived, the younger Barry is one of the top scorers for the Gators, who earned the fourth seed in the Eastern Regionals. Canyon has four half-brothers who all played pro ball—Scooter, Jon, Brent, and Drew, sons of Rick and his first wife Pam. In his prime, Rick was the top forward in pro basketball. I met him in 1971 at a basketball camp in Fitzwilliam, N.H., where the other big name was Jerry West, then the top guard in pro basketball. (Imagine LeBron James and Steph Curry coming to New Hampshire today to run a summer camp to make some extra money!) Barry was with the Nets then, who lost in the ABA Finals to the Pacers the next year. Rick then returned to his former Warrior team, […]

New Golf Rules!

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist The annual Masters Golf Tournament—my favorite sports event of the year—is only a month away. The flags are going up at Loudon Country Cub—my favorite golf course. So it’s a good time to reflect on long-overdue golf rule changes recently promulgated by the U.S. Golf Association. Most people I play with follow a very liberal interpretation of golf rules, i.e. if you can’t find a ball on a leafy autumn fairway, then just drop a ball where you think your ball ended up. No problemo! Or any two-foot putt is a “Gimme!” Of course, in league and tournament competitions, one really needs to know and follow the rules, especially if your opponent is one of those dreaded “sticklers.” Still, not only do the new and overdue USGA rule changes make sense but there are actually FEWER rules now. (Washington and Concord take note!) For example: *There is no longer a penalty for accidentally moving your ball on the green. (I hate it when that happens!) *You can repair damage on the green before putting. (My balls always seemed to end up behind an unrepaired hole on every green.) *A ball is declared lost after […]

First Pro Sports Games

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist Recent Facebook postings remind us that 2017 is a year for Red Sox commemorations—this being the 50th Anniversary of the pennant-winning 1967 Impossible Dream Boston team that created the modern Red Sox Nation. While young Sox fans have no recollection of that magical year they should better appreciate Boston’s baseball heritage through the anniversary dates the team will be highlighting as the season unfolds. Some of these Facebook postings from old-timers including reminiscences about first trips to Fenway Park. My first trip to the Boston ball-yard was on August 9, 1972. My bleacher seat cost $2 and Rico Petrocelli hit a home run as the BoSox beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2. When I played golf with Rico last summer I asked if he remembered that game and he confessed he had no memory of it—in contrast to my vivid recollection.

Prep School Hoops

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist Granite Staters rightly take pride in Concord High grad Matt Bonner playing 12 seasons in the NBA. But did you know that no less than TEN alumni from Wolfeboro’s Brewster Academy have played in the NBA? Check out Brewster’s web site. The school’s captured four National Prep Championships since 2010, as well as five New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) Class AAA Championships since 2008. Over the past decade, Brewster’s averaged over 30 victories per year (305-50) for a winning percentage over .860. The Bobcats have captured six regular season NEPSAC Class AAA Championships since 2008. And Brewster’s advanced to the National Final Four in each of the past eight years. Besides Brewster’s ten NBA alumni, over 50 others have played professionally in other leagues around the world, including the NBA Developmental League—not to mention the numerous Bobcat grads who’ve played college ball at every level. Who knew? Brewster head coach Jason Smith is in his 17th season as Brewster’s head hoop coach, having compiled a 414-109 (.792) record during his first 16 seasons. But our Lakes Region prep school basketball universe includes much more beyond Brewster.