THE QUESTION: 1, The NBA has decided to put a mic on its coaches. See it? Like? Does it add anything to your viewing experience? I assume, in time, they'll get used to it. Not that they'll have a choice. In this desire to bring the game closer to those following on the tube, give me a suggestion or two on what gimmick you would add to the broadcast of MLB, NBA, NFL, MLS, NHL games or NASCAR races.

2, Your reaction to the recently announced Phillies alternate uniforms sans pinstripes? What to you think?

3, The results of the 20-month investigation of George Mitchell into steroid use probably will be released Thursday. What are you anticipating, and how do you think it could affect your passion for the sport, if at all?

4, The Portland Oregonian wrote today that the NCAA has tabled a proposal that would allow schools and the NCAA to use players' names or images in ads and, instead, form a commission to look further at the issue. All of this comes out of colleges looking for more revenue to run their athletic programs seeing this as another source. Schools currently can use players on posters, billboards, etc., to promote the schools and its teams, but that's where it stops. This isn't necessarily a one sentence answer, but you're free to toss in your valuable 2 cents. Right or wrong to lend athletes' mugs to selling everything from tires to mouthwash?

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As I'm 68 and saw the Phils in those uniforms in 47-49 I love them and I think the fans will love the look. Micing the coaches is asinine. Another bs idea from King, eh, I mean David Stern.

Bill Shanahan
Philly

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1.  I don't think more gimmicks are needed, and I wish they would subtract one in particular.  Those gigantic superimposed graphic "down, distance and direction" arrows on NFL telecasts are completely superfluous. At least in my case, they really DETRACT from my viewing pleasure. There already is a down and distance on the graphic at the top.  And for that matter, all that junk is unnecessary also.  Anyone watching the game knows what's going on.  Sometimes I feel like this stuff is designed for 1st graders. Which brings me to a larger question. Just because technology exists, does that mean they/we have to use it?

3.   I meant to comment on this before.  Who cares?   The other day, half the Inquirer's first sports page was devoted to these uniforms.  Aren't they just a way of making money for the Phils, and when did a supposedly independent paper become a shill?  Is this "news" because the papers are starved for anything?  And then the next day I saw it -- a color ad at the bottom of the first Inquirer sports page selling Phils new unis.  I have always viewed the Inquirer as one of the best papers in America.  I thought they were above this sort of stuff.

Larry Buzby
Ocean City, N.J.

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3. It doesn't matter. Athletes will always use something to get an edge. The one thing the Balco investigation proved is that scientists are way ahead of the people whose job it is to test for these substances. There is really nothing you can do to stop it and it won't affect the way I look at sports at all.

4. The NCAA is the most hypocritical sports organization in the world. Their basic premise is that everyone can get rich off of athletes EXCEPT for the athletes. I have no problem at all with athletes who take money from boosters. It might be illegal but it is no more right or wrong than the BS that the NCAA does. How can you on one hand use a person to make money but on the other hand say that the same person is not even allowed to have a job to support himself? It's a joke.

Kyle Outting
North Philly

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1, TI think it's a good idea. Gives the fan a new view of the game. They do similar things with all the sports. This may be a bit off topic but one thing most of the sports seem to ignore is the TV view at new stadiums. Some friends think my brother and I are nuts for always noticing it, but the new stadiums and arenas have HORRIBLE views of the game. But, if you watch a game on TV when the 49ers, Chiefs, Mavericks, Warriors, Dallas Stars and some other teams are at home, they have great views. But, most of the new places are brutal. Even locally, if you compare the camera view of the Vet vs. the Linc and the Spectrum vs. the Wachovia, it's not even close. It's so much closer to the action at the old stadiums and arenas-especially in hockey, basketball, and football. The NFL is so smart with their TV plans and all that I don't understand how they ignore something as important like that. Important to me, at least.
 
2, It's fine as long as they don't wear them too often. But, I would prefer that they wear the old maroon pinstripes or powder blues as a 3rd jersey.

3, It won't affect my passion, but I can't wait to see if there are some names that have never even been rumored. I assume there will be a few. As long as they aren't Phillies. And I'm hoping to see some names of guys I don't like. (The Giles brothers, for example.)

4, I don't see it as too big a deal. They do it every where else, but of course the athletes get paid for that. Although if I'm a big time college athlete and I anticipate getting big endorsement money when I turn pro, I probably wouldn't want to overdo the commercials and all while in college. I assume they will have to have a limit on the numbers of things allowed. Maybe they should only allow the athlete to shill for their college and not for commercial products.

Brian Ward
Blue Bell, Pa.

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1.  It will be interesting to see how much they'll have to bleep out.  As far as coaching strategy, it might be interesting to hear what coaches are saying.  I think it's a gimmick that will get old quickly.  I imagine TV will use it sparingly, at key spots during the game, but maybe it will replace the meaningless sideline reporters.  As far as gimmicks, what I look for is a good game with good commentary.

2.  I'm completely underwhelmed by the alternate Phillies uniforms.  If you're going to have an alternate uniform, give it some zing, or at least change the logo.

3.  Since he didn't really interview anyone, I can't imagine he'll name names.  I expect to identify that steroid use was wide-spread, yet be non-specific.  My guess is it'll be much ado about nothing, a line in the sand with a glance back at the past while allowing baseball to crow about the regulations they currently have in place.

4.  Yes, it's wrong to use athletes who don't get paid to sell products.  I can understand the school using the players to sell the school and the program.  In return, the player gets free room, board, and whatever education they actively want to pursue, and then there are the few who use colleges to springboard into the pros.  To use the players as shills for products, without compensating the players, is blatant abuse of workers' rights.

Joe Boyce
Levittown, Pa.

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1.  For MLB, I'd love to see a 30 second pitch clock.  This minute or two between pitches wouldn't have flown in the old days, either the pitcher would have thrown at the batter or the ump would have warned the pitcher.  Combine those lengthy delays with the added advertising and you have a needlessly long game.

2.  I think the simplicity will grow on me.  I would still like the old blue road uniforms to come back, even if it's in the new style.

3.  I think baseball should shake steroids hand, without the McGwire and Sosa chase, the sport might not have recovered as well from the strike.  You can say dirty cheaters all you want but they saved the game.  Now, if Selig had any stones, he go back and erase all the records from the Needle and Cream age and give them back to the rightful holders.

4.  College athletics hasn't been the pure utopia of amateur athletics it was cracked up to be for some time now.  I don't think college athletes should be allowed to individually endorse products, not even at their own school.  They are students, not professionals.  If they start to endorse other things, then they will need to be compensated.  I think they are compensated fairly right now with a scholarship.  If they go beyond representing the university on the playing field, then they become endorsers deserving of compensation.  If they are compensated, they become professionals, which, in my opinion, college athletes shouldn't be.

Bryan D. James
Wilmington

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1, The NBA has decided to put a mic on its coaches. See it? No.  Like? Yes. Does it add anything to your viewing experience? Yes.  Allows you to hear what is really going on during a game.  I assume, in time, they'll get used to it. Not that they'll have a choice. In this desire to bring the game closer to those following on the tube, give me a suggestion or two on what gimmick you would add to the broadcast of MLB, NBA, NFL, MLS, NHL games or NASCAR races.  I would mic the umpires and NHL refs.  The Rangers used to mic the refs once in a while back ion the 80s on their home broadcasts.  They stopped it because of the language but I think they need to bring it back.
 
2, They need an alternate Red jersey and an alternate Blue jersey.  Back when they wore maroon and blue in the 70s and 80s, they once played a Saturday night home game in May of 1979 wearing all-maroon uniforms with white trim.  They lost to Montreal and never wore them again.  I missed seeing them because I was a senior at Penn State getting ready for my final exams.  The great line from that game was that Greg Luzinski looked like a giant radish.  
 
3, As I have said before, if everyone or most elite athletes are using them, then it all balances out.  I will still watch MLB, NFL and NHL regardless.  It is their health they are gambling with, not mine.
 
4, Wrong unless the NCAA stops the insane rules that do not permit a D-I athlete to get some stipend to live on, do not allow them to have part-time jobs and do not allow them to travel home for a family emergency unless they pay for it themselves.
Joe Peca

Lansdale, Pa.

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1.  No mics on coaches...they have a job to do.  The whole world should see "Hoosiers" and then decide if there should be a mic on a coach.  Sports are beautiful in itself and the only gimmick they should use is athletes playing hard.  Why does a Bobby Clarke image immediately pop in my mind?

2.  As long as the Phils do not wear those blue hats, whatever.  They lost with the blue hats.

3.  Use of steroids should be thought of as a problem to be solved instead of a crime.  The athletes who used them are people.  Bonds may seem like a jerk but if everyone would have a cup of coffee (hmmm, decaf) with him would think of him differently.

4.  These are young athletes and should not be exploited...as much.

Ralf Baay
Highland Park, N.J.

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I have an idea for a gimmick: How about if the NBA went back to being a team sports instead of a show. I mean actually have teams who play sound fundamental basketball. I feel like the NBA has become closer to the Harlem Globetrotters than a team competition. Now if the goal is to just be entertainment, why not create a bunch of teams like the Washington Generals who the Globetrotters used to play. The Generals were deliberately ineffective so the Globetrotters could perform their dazzling passing, dunk shots, half court acrobatic shots, and comedy routines. The Generals had just good enough good players that it didn't look "fixed," but at the same time it certainly wasn't competitive ball, which is why the Globetrotters would always win AND be incredibly entertaining for the crowd. But it wasn't a competitive game....wait, that sounds like today's NBA?

Mike Grossman

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1. You know how I feel about the NBA. But I'd like that in NCAA basketball. I'd love to have mics on the ice in the NHL, but I think that will not be coming until we can direct our own televisions, choosing audio feeds. Because the language wouldn't meet regular broadcast standards. It would be hard to have any more access in NASCAR. Next thing you know we'll be riding along virtual reality in our living rooms.

2.  None. I don't buy the uni, so it doesn't affect me. Baseball isn't like hockey or football. Not nearly as many jerseys in the crowd. It's hotter out, so it's more a t-shirt crowd.

3. I'm not sure. I think it depends on how baseball reacts. I have no faith in Selig to set the right tone with his response.

4. Absolutely not. The players can't even use their own images to promote charities. The only way this is a go is if the revenue is split at least 50-50 with the player. And do you suppose the NCAA goes for that. What a bunch of leeches.

Deborah Sullivan
Philly

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1. I like the idea of NBA players being mic'ed up so at least someone can pay attention to what they are saying because the players sure don't listen to them.

2. I love the Phillies new alternate uniforms. it gives them an old time look. Very classy.

3. I am so tired of this story. MLB needs to look forward and get it right. It is my belief that the MLB gets all the bad ink but the NFL has just as many players doing illegal stimulants. The difference is the PR machine that is the NFL.

4. Aren't the players getting compensated with an education that is valued at in excess of $100,000. Some of these guys wouldn't have been able to sniff school without a scholarship.

Joe Messina
South Philadelphia

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1, I hate it. It brings nothing to game. In fact, I really don't like the fact that they pull a coach or manager away from a game they're involved in just to ask a couple of mundane questions. I DO like mic'ing a player. It gives a good feel for what actually happens on the field of play. Even that should be in small doses.

2, I like it. My thought was "what took them so long?" They have those beautiful home and road practice jerseys, and I would have been fine with that. The road practice jerseys could have been complimented with the blue alternate caps they wore back in 1994 (even those would have been nice if they matched the pinstripes and lettering accordingly).

3, Lots to do about nothing. The union will fight it. Nothing will come of it.

4, Do they REALLY need more revenue? If so, and this thing goes through, how about they take that money and use it to reduce the cost of a college education? It seems to me that education has fallen a distant third behind revenue and success on the field. If these athletes are going to have their likeness on these items, they should get a cut of the profits. If the claim is that they lose their amateur status, then put it into a trust fund of some sort until they graduate.

Rick Bauer
Bellmawr, N.J.

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1). I don't think real fans need gimmicks to get them to watch. If it's something that's enabled by technology, maybe it's not a gimmick. Like the pitch tracking stuff that shows breaks and strike zones. Probably adds to the pressure on umps that already have that other thing watching them in most parks. Questec or something?

2). I think most teams are looking at this sort of addition. Why? To make money, of course. It's not about bringing back a design like this one, it's about adding revenue (and I hear the Phillies stuff was and is flying off the shelves) in a year when a team hasn't completely redesigned their unies, colors, logo, name (e.g. Rays) or all of the above. Where it might get interesting is if the Phils lose their first game in the new uniform and don't want to wear it again a la the blue hats a few years back.  Somehow I think they'll be overruled this time if it happens again...

3). Best question of the lot, I didn't know Mitchell's report was expected this week. I don't look for any surprises aside from maybe new names. I don't think the guy got much cooperation from either the players or mgt and I don't think Bud and baseball want to go there. They allowed it all, if not encouraged it. From day one, probably due to the '94 strike doing a lot of damage. I think you'll see names of guys no longer playing, like David Segui, who apparently just 'fessed up because his name was likely going to be in that report. So upfront of you, David. I'm looking for that Brady Anderson, too. It sure as heck wasn't just Barry, although he's fun to bash as maybe the last poster boy. Never lie to the feds, Paul. Especially if they've already given you immunity.

4). Wrong for colleges today. Pay the players in collegiate sports and end the ridiculous double standard there, where these guys make that much money for their schools but can't be given bus fare home. Joke. That's the essence of why it got tabled; they know it. Might even keep a guy in school who isn't good enough for the pros or better prepare those that are.

Regards,

Scott MacMullen
Schwenksville, Pa.

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4,  I'm old fashioned in that I believe student-athletes should be playing college sports.  That's why I prefer NCAA Division III, where college student-athletes are not (or aren't supposed to be) on financial aid based on athletic ability (scholarships).  If the schools begin using images of players to promote products or services, regardless of what the product or service is, I believe they're getting further and further away from the original college athlete.  If they're going to do that -- they must pay the athlete for the use of that image, similar to paying a model or actor.  Too much money is spent by the BCS schools already -- Villanova and Temple hoops, along with Penn State football (and the others on those levels) are semi-professional at this point.  It's out of hand, and I don't see it ever stopping.  Adding the student-athletes as salespersons continues the spiraling trend downward.  I'm not an idiot -- i know its too late to stop it ... that's what makes me sad about the situation.

Else Burns
Irwin, Pa.

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1, Putting a microphone on a coach can give fans an entirely new perspective on the game - or bore them to tears.  It all depends on how it's done.  We've probably all watched an NFL telecast in which one player - an emotional guy like Ray Lewis is an obvious choice - agrees to be miked.  And on an infrequent basis, we see and hear the guy firing up his teammates during the pre-game warm-up or after a big play, or hear the impact of a defensive hulk grinding a QB or RB into the turf.  Don't know about you, friends, but half the time, I can't make out what the heck the miked up guy is saying under that helmet.  And it's invariably a ho-hum moment, with all the intensity of a sideline report ("I spoke to Coach Vigna when he emerged from the locker room and he said his team has to play smarter in the second-half!").  Whoop-de-do!!

I want a live microphone on that coach, and let it all out.  Remember the touching moment towards the end of a rare Eagles victory when Big Red hugged # 5 on the sideline?  Wouldn't it have been great if Reid had been wearing a mike?  We could have heard just what he said to his beleaguered quarterback.  Maybe it was, "Atta baby, you sure showed your critics what you're made of!"  Or, "It's about time, you &%$# bum!"  Or perhaps, "Tammy says thanks for the Christmas cookies recipe."

The notion of putting a microphone on an NBA coach makes sense if it gives fans a chance to listen in on play calling.  What strategy is the coach employing?  Will we hear him criticize one of his players for failing to make a smart play or follow the game plan?  But if we hear "Hey, ref, you missed a call" - well, pass me the remote.  I'd rather watch the "Gilligan's Island" marathon on TV Land.  Oh - any more chips and guacamole dip??

2, The Phillies' new-yet-nostalgic look is fine.  But who cares?  I want to see guys like Bonds, Vick and every wife-beating, dog-abusing, pill-popping, drunk driving and steroid taking athlete -- college and professional - dressed in striped attire.  Or, if they prefer, bright orange jump suits.

Ed Shapson
Philly