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.

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.

Blue Jackets

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist NEWS ITEM: A recent 16-game win streak gave the Columbus Blue Jackets the best record in the National Hockey League. Yes, it’s true. My Blue Jackets are finally on top. A “Cinderella” story, to be sure. There aren’t many of us Blue Jacket fans around. Truth be told, the Bruins are my favorite NHL team, but I’ve always been a closet Blue Jacket fan, going back to when they joined the NHL in 2000. I like the idea of a major league pro sports team in a “small” town like Columbus and I like their team name. “Blue Jackets” honors Ohio’s considerable Civil War heritage—kind of like “Patriots” honors New England’s Revolutionary War heritage. (When it comes to the Civil Wat, I’m definitely a fan of the North. My favorite Blue Jacket is #13, right wing Cam Atkinson, the NHL leader in power play goals. My man Cam is a New Englander, hailing from Connecticut—which, like Ohio, was on the right side in the Civil War. Goalkeeper Sergie Bobrovsky has a sparkling 1.97 goals against average at this writing. A hot goalkeeper can take a team a long ways. My man Sergie was born […]

Sportscasters

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist The final 2016 regular season NFL football game was played on Sunday evening, January 1, 2017. The Green Bay at Detroit contest was part of the Sunday Night Football series, featureing sportscasters Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth. The Packers controlled the game, but I watched because I enjoyed Michaels and Collinsworth. To paraphrase Sally Field, “I like them. I really like them!” Michaels, 72, has done national sports telecasts since the 1970s. He’s forever immortalized by his shout-out at the end of the American Olympic ice hockey team’s 1980 victory over the Soviet Union. “Do you believe in miracles? YES!” Collinsworth, 57, is a former All-NFL wide receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals who once worked for FOX. These guys are knowledgeable, consummate professionals who love sports while enjoying the broadcast booth. With the NFL’s network television deals worth billions of dollars, the telecasters handle some very valuable material. They can’t alienate viewers. FOX’s “A-Team” of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are a bit iconoclastic, but they transmit a sense of drama, reverence, and excitement about every game they cover. Their voices on Sunday afternoons have become part of the sound-tracks of our sports lives. […]

Florida Sports Adventures

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist A fellow Plymouth State alumnus named Steve recently invited me to fly to Florida to meet and speak to veterans on beautiful Marco Island. Not wanting to “look a gift horse in the mouth,” I happily accepted, exchanging snow and sleet for sun and sand. The Florida people were wonderful, although a transplanted New Yorker—an Air Force vet—sized me up with a critical eye at a social event. “So you’re a Marine and a Red Sox fan? What a bad combination!” I gave him a Clint Eastwood squint. “It’s better than being an Air Force guy and a Yankee fan. That’s the worst of all worlds.” My antagonist stared at me for a moment. “No, the worst of all worlds would be a Navy guy who likes the Mets.” We both laughed and did a fist bump and then the Yankee fan bought me a drink. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. My Sunshine State sojourn was a wonderful opportunity to speak, swim, and socialize. During a boat trip around the island, my host cautioned me about getting too much sun. “Bring it on,” I exclaimed, as I removed my shirt. “It […]

Cleveland Browns

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity …” – Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities” Dickens was writing of London and Paris. I write of Foxboro and Cleveland—of Patriots and Browns. New England’s NFL franchise has been a top Super Bowl Contender for 16 straight years. Cleveland’s current NFL franchise, established in 1999, has seen losing season after losing season. These Browns never make the playoffs. They were 3-13 last year and started this season with 12 straight losses. It wasn’t always so for the Browns. Named for their original coach, Paul Brown, the team dominated the All-America Conference in the late 1940s, going 47–4–3 and winning four titles in four years. They joined the NFL in 1950 and immediately won the league title. Led by quarterback Otto Graham, the team played in six straight NFL Championship Games. Superstar running back Jim Brown joined the team in 1957 and the Browns remained constant contenders, winning another title in 1964. Then fortunes changed for the Browns’ passionate fans, who dressed up as dogs and barked and […]

Notre Dame Football

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist NEWS ITEM— The University of Notre Dame is forfeiting all football victories from the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to violations of NCAA rules by a student-trainer. What? This can’t be true! With all the shenanigans that we know go on with so many big-time college football programs, is the NCAA actually going to screw the Fighting Irish like this? Over a student-trainer? Apparently. USA TODAY reported that the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions panel ruled the student-trainer violated ethical conduct rules when she committed academic misconduct by helping two football players complete their coursework. Three players allegedly committed individual academic misconduct, violating the school’s academic integrity policy. The student-trainer also provided inappropriate assistance to six other players.

Kickers, Pressure and TR

 by Mike Moffett Weirs Times Columnist “It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt I thought of TR’s quote while watching the recent 27-27 NFL tie game in London between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Washington’s Redskins. A missed PAT by Bengal kicker Mike Nugent arguably cost Cincinnati the win—much as New England kicker Steve Gostkowski’s missed PAT in the playoffs against Denver in January arguably cost the Patriots a trip to Super Bowl L. Washington appeared to have the game won with 2:13 left in overtime, but then Redskin kicker Dustin Hopkins sliced HIS 34-yard field goal attempt wide left. The FOX camera’s focused on Hopkins afterwards, standing isolated on the sidelines. My heart went out to his friends and family. Presumably Hopkins’ mom watched the poignant […]