Take it from me: NFL prospect edition

Two months ago, we profiled Florida high school defensive end Donovan Winter, who was arrested two days prior to National Signing Day for stealing his girlfriend’s father’s gun from the family’s garage. Winter is a prime example of what not to do for high school athletes.

But what about collegiate stars?

Tonight’s NFL Draft in Philadelphia (8 p.m. on NFL Network and ESPN) marks the equivalent transition for these young men who are about to leave college, instead of enter it.

And yet, even with three to four years of coaching and education at some of the finest institutions this country has to offer, young men still make the same mistakes that are inexcusable of high school athletes. 

Three cases come to mind in this year’s draft alone, that will likely cost each man millions of dollars, and they are not alone. 

Last year, DURING THE DRAFT, a video surfaced on Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil’s Twitter page of him smoking pot with a gas mask on. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock was beside himself and called the video, “stupid and inexcusable.” 

Tunsil, once in consideration for the number one overall pick, fell to the Miami Dolphins at pick 13; a difference of $15 million dollars.

This year the spotlight is squarely on Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster.

Take it from me, from the moment you play your final game in college, to the weekend of the NFL Draft, don’t talk, don’t go anywhere, don’t do anything outside of school, the NFL Combine and your college pro day.

I am talking total blackout. No friends, no parties, no booze, no women, and most important NO SOCIAL MEDIA. Shut your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, whatever you have, off.

I’m not kidding. Your life should become “yes sir” “no sir” “yes ma’am” “no ma’am” for those five months.

Reuben Foster was a consistent top ten pick amongst scouts at the end of the season. 

He was one of the SEC’s most feared linebackers on Nick Saban’s pro-style defense.

Then Reuben went to the NFL Combine.

While getting physical work done in Indianapolis, he became combattive towards a female nurse trying to do her job and was immediately sent home; his draft stock has been in limbo ever since, with people wondering if his character concerns outweigh his immense potential on the field.

Joe Mixon. 

The name alone is enough.

In July 2014, Mixon got into an argument with a woman at a bar on campus in Norman and was caught on tape assaulting her, in an ode to the infamous Ray Rice elevator tape. Mixon was charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to 100 hours of community service. 

But the damage had been done. Mixon missed the 2014 season, and now NFL teams must decide if they want to deal with the PR nightmare that would come with drafting him.

Talent wise, Joe Mixon is an incredible back and NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks has him going in the first round to Green Bay in his latest mock draft.

But talent isn’t enough, in an era where the NFL is trying it’s best to combat a culture problem of domestic violence amongst players in it’s ranks.

The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins have already said Mixon is not apart of their draft plans, and they will not consider him at any point this weekend. After facing the same scenario in 2013 with Ray Rice, and the backlash the organization faced in Baltimore, it’s safe to assume the Ravens are likely to join them, even if they don’t say so publicy.

Gareon Conley presents the most interesting case of the three.

Over the weekend, a woman accused Conley of raping her at a hotel in Cleveland earlier this month after she claims he attempted to force her into group sex with him and two of his friends. The unidentified woman went to the hospital, and was given a rape kit, but refused to talk to police. 

Conley insists upon his innocence, and claims the woman was kicked out from his party. But he was still in a situation he never should have been in in the first place (see above rules).

Meanwhile, NFL scouts and investigators are in panic mode trying to verify the claims made against him and determine if he is worth having on their draft boards.

Conley was once seen as a potential top 15 pick, and now his future is in doubt.

Whether the claim is true or not, Gareon Conley won’t be attending the Draft after being disinvited.

Each of these young men provide a lesson as to what not to do when you’re auditioning for a job in the NFL. 

So those of you preparing for your final season of college football this summer, take note of Tunsil, Mixon, Conley and Foster and realize how not to make the same mistakes they did. 

Because in the end, it will cost you…millions.

There’s nothing wrong with baseball

Sitting in the press box at Angel Stadium on Sunday I realized something. There’s nothing wrong with baseball.

In fact, it’s the purest of the four major sports in North America.

Increasingly baseball has come under scrutiny for taking too long, and losing appeal amongst younger generations of fans.

A mound visit clock was introduced at the beginning of last season, limiting pitcher and catcher interactions to 30 seconds, before the umpire breaks up the party.

Commissioner Rob Manfred, only on the job in his third season, hoped to have a pitch clock installed by the start of this season, but alas, it will have to wait until 2018 at the earliest.

Much has been made surrounding the appeal of baseball to younger generations, including myself.

However, trying to fast forward the game of baseball to appeal to a portion of the population whose attention span is scientifically documented as less than a goldfish, would do the game a disservice.

One of my favorite Alanism’s is with age comes understanding and patience. Baseball has always appealed to older generations more than younger, but as these young men and women mature, they grow into the next generation of fans. 

Case in point, my Aunt Suzanne. Growing up she never cared for baseball, now she’ll attend games with my uncle or with friends from work when she gets the chance.

That’s not to say younger fans don’t exist. Just this weekend, was the first of many Little League parade days at Angel Stadium. Some 8,000 baseball fans under 13 marched around a field they someday hope to play on.

Back to the purity of baseball for a moment.

There is no experience in sports fandom on par with entering a major league ballpark. 

Back in Baltimore, you walk past recently erected bronze statues of Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr., and Jim Palmer, before filing through the turnstyles, and looking up at the giant scoreboard in centerfield, as well as the B&O Warehouse. The smells of pit beef and Roma sausage grilling at Boog’s BBQ fill the summer air in Baltimore. And then, after picking up a Natty Boh and maybe a program, you’re standing on the flag court looking down on the stadium that changed how all others have been built.

I know some of you are wondering why I haven’t mentioned the dark cloud ready to rain on baseball’s parade at any moment: steroids. 

Name me one sport they don’t present a problem for and I’ll take it into consideration. Baseball has turned a corner on the steroid era in it’s history, as new generations of players look to cement a legacy of playing the game clean.

I’ll be the first to admit 1-0 games are kind of a drag, as was the case until the 8th inning Sunday in Anaheim. But when you realize the mastery of two pitchers matching each other pitch for pitch, the game’s appeal expands. 

Especially when you consider Jays starter, Marcus Stroman, threw a complete game against a potent Angels lineup in just 97 pitches. 

In a previous column, I wrote how baseball season should be shortened by almost fifty games. While I stand by the argument, there is a reason we can tolerate 162 baseball games and nothing close in other leagues.

Like tonight’s NFL Draft that takes up a portion of the football offseason, baseball carries us through summer. By the middle of June we’re left with baseball, tennis and golf. Imagine a summer without baseball. Go on…let that sink in.

No Father’s Day at the ballpark, no Fourth of July uniforms and fireworks, no late August end of summer hurrah before returning to school.

It’s unfathomable.

Somehow we can handle no football from the first Sunday in February to the second Sunday in September, but there is no way we could live through a summer without baseball. 

If you think baseball need’s fixing, I recommend going to a game. Don’t go to go, go to experience.

Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the park. 

The crack of the bat, the music on the sound system specifically chosen for that team (Thank God I’m a Country Boy still gives me chills in Baltimore), the sound of the beer man cracking open another cold one. 

Open your eyes, and see the fresh cut grass and pristine dirt field with pure white bases. 

Smell the grills cranking out enough hot dogs, to literally circle the globe. 

Regardless of who wins or loses just enjoy the experience, because it’s the purest one you will find in sports.

And trust me, once you relax and let baseball take hold of you, it will open your mind.

My first game as a credentialed MLB reporter

First things first, I need to thank a few people who made this possible:

Adam Chodzky Angels Media Relations

Bill Shaikin L.A. Times 

Alan Abrahamson USC Professor/3 Wire Sports/NBC Olympics

Joe Smith Former Toronto Blue Jays Relief Pitcher 

Jason Grilli Former Toronto Blue Jays Relief Pitcher 

Toronto Blue Jays Public Relations Department 

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Organization


On April 23, 2017, I spent the day in Anaheim, California covering the Blue Jays-Angels game for my final in Sports and Society, as well as this article for Blue Ring Sports.

Thanks to some behind the scenes assistance from Alan, Bill and Adam, I was given press credentials and access to the press box and Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse at Angel Stadium.

Normally I am never up before 7 a.m. on a Sunday, but as a MLB reporter, when there is a day game you need to arrive at the ballpark no later than 10 a.m. to pick up your press credentials and make your way to the clubhouse.

So after a pitstop at CVS to pick up a much needed lint roller and bottle of water, I Uber’d off to Union Station in Los Angeles to take the thirty minute Amtrak ride to Angel Stadium.

Thankfully Amtrak’s Anaheim stop is located at Angel Stadium, meaning no additional Ubering.

As I made my way from the train stop across the parking lot in my Blue Ring Sports white polo and black dress slacks, I saw hundreds of eager Angels fans tailgating three hours prior to gametime. They were grilling sausages and peppers, playing catch with their kids, chilling out with a cold one and enjoying the warm Southern California morning.

This marked the first time I had gone to a MLB game for work, not pleasure. Normally I would be clad in my Blue Jays socks, royal blue jersey, 40th anniversary cap and waving my Blue Jays flag. Not this time. I was dressed in a white Blue Ring Sports polo with black dress slacks.

 

 

Officially the story I retrieved is my final for Alan Abrahamson’s Sports and Society course at USC, but it also represented the first time I attended a baseball game for work, and not as a fan.

Normally clad from head to toe in my favorite team’s colors, I wore a white polo, embroidered with Blue Ring’s logo, along with black dress slacks and shoes.

Immediately after retrieving my media credentials, I literally walked down a red carpet into Angel Stadium walking behind SportsNet’s Shi Davidi (one of my inspirations). After some kind members of the Angels staff pointed me to the correct elevator, I went down to the clubhouse level, was asked to present my credentials, and walked into the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse.

After a second of being in awe, I came back to Earth. I talked to Shi about how to succeed in this business and how he got involved covering the Jays. Also was honored to

The Cubs had a choice, the Patriots didn’t

Shortly before leaving office, President Obama hosted the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs at the White House.

Precedent dictated the team would visit Washington later in the summer, as the Kansas City Royals did last July. The trip most likely would have occurred when the Cubs played the Nationals in late June, or even more likely, following the All-Star break before their series in Baltimore against the Orioles.

But they chose to come early, visiting the nation’s capital in the waning days of the Obama presidency.

Now whether this was politically motivated, a matter of convenience — so as not to distract the team during the season or the fact a team from Chicago which hadn’t won the World Series since 1908, coincidentally won with a president from Chicago in the White House, we’ll never know.

During the Cubs visit, the White House East Room was full of Cubs fans in the administration decked out in everything from an Ernie Banks pinstripe jersey, to a blue and red Cubs yarmulke.

The Cubs in attendance laughed while President Obama made jokes about GM Theo Epstein turning around his beloved Democratic Party following last November’s election shellacking at the hands of the Republicans.

It was personal, as the president told a heartwarming story of a little girl with an Afro, growing up on Chicago’s North Side, watching her beloved Cubs, wearing the iconic blue cap with a little red C on it.

That girl went on to become his wife, one of the most glamorous and impactful first ladies in this country’s history.

Today’s ceremony honoring the New England Patriots fifth Super Bowl title was a complete 180 from that event.

Held on the South Lawn instead of the East Room, President Trump spoke for only six minutes before handing the podium over to Patriots owner Bob Kraft and head coach Bill Bellichick.

Surrounded by players to his aft, a Patriots helmet on a table to his right and five glistening Lombardi Trophies to his left, the president began to speak.

As with any speech he has given, dating back to the campaign, the president regurgitated facts written for him on a sheet of paper, often just naming players and, “…how great they [were].”

However, the president failed to recognize wide receiver Danny Amendola wasn’t present and after talking about his performance in the game said, “where’s Danny, way to go Danny.”

Even though this day was about honoring the Patriots, and their accomplishment, and let’s face it, whether you love New England or not, coming back from 28-3 in the third quarter is an accomplishment, President Trump managed to make the event all about him.

He spoke about how great his election victory was, again. And the most personal note the president offered wasn’t on par with Barack Obama’s story about Michelle, it was about Bill Belichick sending him a note, “…that helped him win big in a primary.”

This visit was fraught with controversy as six players said in the days following the Super Bowl, they would not attend the ceremony over personal disagreements with Trump.

The Boston Globe’s Rachel Bowers reports only 34 members of the team officially showed up to the event, marking one of the smallest visits by a championship NFL team in recent memory.

Granted, these are the New England Patriots and many players had visited the White House following the team’s victory over the Seattle Seahawks two years prior.

But the White House trip that comes with winning the Super Bowl, has become so polarizing with Democrats skipping under Republican administrations, and vice versa.

Quarterback Tom Brady did not attend the event, citing family issues, according to The Boston Globe. But when you’re golfing buddies with the POTUS, does it matter if there were, or he didn’t want the press or he simply had better things to do?

Because the Patriots won the Super Bowl following the inauguration of Donald Trump, they had no option as to who would greet them upon their arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

And while a visit to the White House is normally a cherished honor by players, the new administration will likely deal with more players in other leagues deciding whether or not they feel up to being honored by a man they personally despise.

What’s going to happen following the Stanley Cup or NBA playoffs?

President Trump spent most of the campaign criticizing immigrants.

Only 20% of players in the NHL were born in the United States, according to USA Today.

Trump committed numerous faux pas’ against the African American community, notably forgetting Frederick Douglass has been dead for 122 years.

The NBA is over 80% African American, according to a 2014 Harvard study.

Chances are these athletes will likely take the high road and still attend, but it will certainly be interesting to see what happens.

Dear Blue Jays, I’m done fishing…

I love The Big Bang Theory, and my favorite character on the show is Sheldon’s mother, Mary Cooper.

On the fourth episode of the series, “The Luminous Fish Effect,” Mary Cooper grows tired of Sheldon cowering in his room, simply because he doesn’t get along with his boss and tells her son, “I’m done fishing.”

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Eight games into the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays season, I’m done fishing…

This is a team that’s been to back to back American League Championship Series.

Minus Edwin Encarnacion (Cleveland) and Michael Saunders (Philadelphia), the Jays return their starting lineup from 2016, along with one of the best rotations in baseball.

And for some reason, the offense is what you’d expect from a Little Leaguer facing Clayton Kershaw.

Never mind the fact Toronto was just swept, AT HOME, by the MILWAUKEE BREWERS…

…A team so young and inexperienced, if I challenged you to name a single player, other than Ryan Braun, in their Opening Day lineup — odds are you’d fail.

Tonight was a perfect example of the offensive impotence plaguing the Blue Jays.

Marcus Stroman dazzled yet again, exceeding the pitching performance that earned him MVP honors during the World Baseball Classic, less than a month ago.

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Marcus Stroman wins the World Baseball Classic MVP award. // March 22, 2017

And yet, a Jays team equipped with plenty of All-Star bats, could not score him a single run.

If the sound techs at Rogers Centre played the famous “Charge!” bugle call tonight, it’s obvious; the cavalry ain’t coming, and the Jays are still losing.

It doesn’t get any easier from here, with the rival Baltimore Orioles making the trek north of the border to begin a four game series in Toronto on Thursday night.

Division leading Baltimore just split a short two game set with the Red Sox in Boston, hammering five home runs in a 12-5 rout at Fenway Park on Wednesday evening.

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Outfielder Trey Mancini (16), hit two of the Orioles five home runs. // April 12, 2017

The Red Sox follow the Orioles on the Blue Jays schedule beginning Tuesday.

So if Toronto can’t handle the Brewers, how much trouble will they be in this time next week when they begin a grueling seven game road trip that takes them to Anaheim and St. Louis?

This is not shaping up to be a pretty month for these Blue Jays.

And in the past, April hasn’t been kind to the Jays.

But previous squads managed to tread water and finish near .500 for the month. At this rate, Toronto will be lucky to leave April with five wins.

“But Matt, they’re not losing by much!”

I’d respond with, “much can make all the difference.”

Two weeks ago, USC and Olympic swimming legend, John Naber, dropped by campus to discuss his swimming career.

During the presentation, I noticed he competed at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal with a mustache.

When the same John Naber competed for USC, he was clean shaven.

I asked why.

“Because I felt confident enough I’d win a gold medal with the mustache. When I competed for USC, every second mattered to our team’s success, so I shaved.”

If a world class swimmer understands the concept of margins, why can’t a billion dollar baseball franchise?

If Ryan Goins is not picking up hits, stop sending him out there every night to strike out.

Start Darwin Barney instead.

What’s really hard to believe is, a team that hit 221 home runs in 2016 (1.36 per game), has hit exactly four through eight games. The San Francisco Giants’ Madison Bumgarner hit two on Opening Day, and he’s a pitcher.

The Blue Jays are honestly in this predicament because of self inflicted wounds.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

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The Blue Jays knew in the offseason their bullpen was a major liability. It was last year as well, and partly why they finished as a Wild Card, and Boston took their division crown.

Did they do anything to improve it?

Not unless you count letting one of your best relievers walk, and trying to patch things together.

Also, how much longer is this team going to continue with the Aaron Loup experiment?

We’ve seen the results, they’re not good.

I don’t fault them for Encarnacion. They offered him more money and years, and he still walked.

I do fault GM Ross Atkins and President Mark Shapiro for abandoning the plan they outlined at the beginning of last season: get younger, get faster, diversify.

Instead, they signed Kendrys Morales, who represents more of the same “home run or bust” mentality the Jays are stuck in, and that has let them down in back to back ALCS’.

Toronto hasn’t gotten younger or faster, and continues to trot out the oldest lineup in baseball on a nightly basis.

EVEN THEN…the Blue Jays should still be able to win ballgames, or at least score more runs.

Troy Tulowitzki is still the best shortstop in the American League, Josh Donaldson is the second best (Manny Machado) third baseman — when healthy, and Jose Bautista proved during Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic he still has the power that made him the famous “Joey Bats.”

We’re eight games into a 162 game season, so is there time to turn things around?

Absolutely, but that will require this team pull themselves up and hit.

Stroman and the rest of the pitching staff cannot go out there and win without the offense clicking.

Injuries plague every team, so I don’t want to hear “Donaldson and Travis are hurt” or “Sanchez has a blister.”

AGAIN, we’re eight games in…

If the Jays start wasting away in April, this is going to be an incredibly long season for fans in the 6IX.

 

Perfection isn’t everything…

This afternoon, reigning two-time American League MVP, Mike Trout, finished 0-3 with two walks and two strikeouts against the Seattle Mariners, lowering his season average to .280.

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Mike Trout strikes out against Seattle Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. // April 9, 2017

That means for every 100 at-bats, arguably the best player in baseball, will only come through, 28 times.

You have betters odds of getting into every university in the conference that can’t spell or count, except Michigan and Northwestern (I can feel Alan singing “Go! U Northwestern” right about now), than Mike Trout does of getting a hit.

Even the greatest hitter of all time, Ted Williams, ONLY hit .406 in a single season.

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Ted Williams hit .406 for the Red Sox in 1941. He is the last player in MLB history to hit over .400.

At The Masters in Augusta this weekend, the world’s top golfers did something us amateurs do on a regular basis, bogey a hole. Yet onlookers and those at home responded in shock and awe, as if these professionals aren’t human as well, and allowed to make mistakes.

Why?

Absolutely, nobody on Earth is perfect.

So why do we expect athletes to be? Why do we expect ourselves to be?

When I studied Olympic History at the University of Queensland, my professor — Dr. Ian Jobling, told me he never gave 100% on an exam because, “…there has only been one perfect person to grace this Earth, and his name was Jesus Christ and you are not him.”

I’m a perfectionist. Things have to be perfect, down to the most minor detail for me. Most articles you read on Blue Ring Sports, are short to read, but take HOURS for me to write.

I am constantly checking them for spelling errors, grammar and length.

This week I had a heart-to-heart conversation with Alan about just that.

He gave me some great advice and said, “You’re not going to win the Pulitzer Prize this year. You’re not going to win the Pulitzer Prize next year. You need to dial it back from an 11 to a 7.”

At first I thought he was totally insane, because I run at such a high octane, they don’t even make one of those fancy fuels to keep up with me.

And then I realized something.

If that fuel doesn’t exist, eventually the engine will burn up, and so will I.

When Mike Trout struck out this afternoon, did he have a meltdown at the plate and freak because he didn’t get a hit?

No.

He went back to the dugout knowing the Texas Rangers come to town on Tuesday evening, and he’ll have another chance at getting a hit.

There will be other articles, there will be other opportunities.

A month ago when Blue Ring Sports was off for a week, I was back home in Baltimore taking care of my mother while she recovered from surgery. It forced me to miss an extra week of class, including one of Alan’s lectures.

This one proved most “unmissable.”

It turns out, on a whim, “The Baltimore Bullet” himself showed up to class.

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My reaction was along the lines of the Wicked Witch of the West melting.

When Alan sent a copy of the above photograph that the class took with Michael, I was cc’d in on it.

I immediately texted the greatest mentor a person could ever ask for: “You. Rat. Bastard.” 

When I returned to Los Angeles, he sat me down and told me there would be other opportunities in life to meet Michael Phelps. Seriously if you go to USC, take Alan’s class…you’ll love it!

I know it’s hard for me to comprehend, especially when I am in overdrive. But not sweating things or expecting life to be perfect is so much easier than the alternative.

If Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson or any player lost it over an error or striking out, the game of baseball would cease to exist. But like them, you and I have to learn life’s not always going to go the way we planned.

The cute brunette from Policy Knowledge and Analysis won’t always say “yes” when you ask her out.

Your boss won’t always appreciate the hard work you put into a project for him or her.

It just boils down to taking some advice from Elsa, and just “LET IT GO!”

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While NHL owners won, we just lost

Citius, Altius, Fortius.

In case you don’t speak Latin, the translation is: “Higher, Faster, Stronger.”

Also known as the motto of the Olympic movement.

Every two years, the Olympic Games provide an opportunity for the greatest athletes in the world to compete against one another.

The only problem is, with the NHL’s decision not to send players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the league just ensured that won’t happen.

All afternoon, hockey fans from around the world have condemned the decision as a ploy from greedy owners looking out for their bottom line, and not fan entertainment.

After all, these will be the first Winter Olympics not to feature NHL All-Stars since 1994.

Owners came out against player participation for obvious reasons. Cutting the NHL season two weeks short, cuts into their profits.

No games, no money.

Adding to their concerns, was the worry, at a moment’s notice, one of their star moneymakers could suffer a career ending injury; doing irrefutable harm to the franchise they own.

Granted, Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby could suffer that same injury in a game next February, or even tomorrow for that matter.

Like fans, players have expressed their disappointment in the decision they won’t be going to South Korea.

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist took to Twitter.

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Former Vancouver Canucks left wing, Brandon Prust, went even further, directing his frustration at long embattled NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman.

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He can say this, because he no longer plays in the NHL.

Bettman, long the scapegoat of league quandaries, including the decision to award a franchise to Arizona, over cooler climate-prototypical hockey locations — including Quebec City, will have a hard time explaining this to fans and players.

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Gary Bettman announces the league’s decision to skip the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The question now becomes, how long until NHL stars return to the Olympics?

Washington Capitals left wing Alexander Ovechkin already has an answer: 2018.

Ovechkin has made it clear, regardless of the decision, he intends to play for Team Russia in PyeongChang.

Will other players follow suit?

Well, is a the chance for an Olympic gold medal worth the fines and lost game checks you’ll accumulate during two weeks of Olympic competition?

The likely makeup of national teams, now falls to those who competed at the World Junior Championships in Canada in January, and recently retired/minor league players.

Simply put, the best in the world won’t represent their country at the Olympics.

This cannot make Olympic broadcasters, especially CBC and NBC, very happy right now.

It costs billions to air the Olympics, and ever since it first broadcast the Games from Tokyo in 1964, NBC has had to diversify its viewership platforms.

There is now an NBC Olympics App, and the Games are broadcast across networks owned by parent company Comcast, including USA, NBCSN, Bravo and Universal Sports HD.

When the United States played Canada in the semifinals of the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, NBC Sports Network scored its highest rating ever for a hockey game.

For a network to secure ratings like this again, and have their billion dollar investment pay off, NBC needs NHL stars to participate.

Advertising revenue, which is largely how NBC makes its money back, won’t be the same without the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

Why should Coca Cola spend the same on a thirty-second ad during a game that features junior all-stars instead of NHL elites?

Does Pepsi pay the same in advertising during a Browns-Jaguars game as it does during the Super Bowl?

I don’t think so.

So today’s decision that will keep most, if not all NHL players, from competing in PyeongChang, has far-flung and long-lasting ramifications, beyond just fan disappointment. The consequences of which, we’ll only know after the Olympics next February.