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High court betting case pits states against sports leagues

The Free Press WV

With its spacious bar and banks of TVs tuned to all-sports stations, the lounge at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park Racetrack is a sports gamblers’ paradise-in-waiting. All that’s standing in its way: a 25-year-old federal law that bars betting on sports in most states.

An hour before Thursday night’s Washington-Dallas NFL game, only about half a dozen people sat at the bar, most of them workers at the horse-racing track or nearby residents. But a case the Supreme Court will take up Monday could change that, packing the bar and making wagering on sports widely available nationwide.

The high court is weighing whether a federal law that prevents states from authorizing sports betting is constitutional. New Jersey is leading the challenge against that law, with all four major U.S. professional sports leagues and the federal government on the other side.

If the Supreme Court strikes down the law, giving sports betting the go-ahead, dozens of states could quickly make it legal. Monmouth Park is gambling on a win for New Jersey and has already spent $1 million on its sports lounge, ready to turn it into a sports betting parlor in short order. British bookmaking company William Hill would run the operation.

“I don’t think it’s unfair to say if there is a broad ruling, you could be witnessing a reshaping of the global gambling industry around that ruling,” said Chris Grove, managing director of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a California-based research firm that believes 32 states would probably offer sports betting within five years if the Supreme Court makes that possible.

Daniel Wallach, a legal expert in sports and gambling, says the case could “transform how sporting events are consumed and watched in this country.”

Monday’s case pits New Jersey and other states against the four big sports leagues and the federal government. The stakes are high. The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year. In court, the NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball have fought New Jersey, arguing that expanding gambling would hurt the integrity of their games, though leaders of all but the NFL have shown varying degrees of openness to legalized sports gambling. More than a dozen states are supporting New Jersey.

Shawn Fluharty, a West Virginia lawmaker who has sponsored sports gambling legislation, says he believes his state would be one of the first to offer sports betting if the Supreme Court permits it. The Democrat says sports gambling is “a way to raise new revenue without raising taxes.”

New Jersey has spent years and millions of dollars in legal fees trying to legalize sports betting at its casinos and racetracks. In 2012, with voters’ support, state lawmakers passed a law authorizing sports betting there. The state’s action was a direct challenge to a federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

The 1992 law bars state-authorized sports gambling with exceptions for Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware, states that had some form of sports wagering before the law took effect. Nevada is the only state where a person can bet on a single game, though the law doesn’t cover wagering between friends. In passing the law, Congress gave New Jersey a yearlong window to authorize sports betting at its casinos but the state didn’t act in time.

Two decades later, when New Jersey decided to legalize sports betting, the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA sued. New Jersey argued that Congress exceeded its authority when it prohibited states from authorizing sports betting, but it lost in court. In 2014, New Jersey tried a different approach, repealing laws prohibiting sports gambling at casinos and racetracks. Again, it lost in court.

Now that the Supreme Court has taken the case, the outcome could be sweeping but doesn’t have to be. If the court strikes down the 1992 law, it would be greenlighting the expansion of sports gambling nationwide. But the court could also rule narrowly, agreeing that the way New Jersey changed its laws to allow sports betting at racetracks and casinos in 2014 was permissible. Few states may be willing to follow that route and have no say in licensing or regulating sports gambling. The court could also uphold the law, keeping the status quo.

And even if the law is struck down, Congress could try to step in again.

Florida State University professor Ryan Rodenberg, in a filing with the court, urged justices not to rule broadly. And, in an interview, the sports law expert said he doesn’t think the justices’ ruling will ultimately be sweeping. The court’s conservatives are generally in favor of states’ rights and would be expected to rule for New Jersey, but they’re also generally against gambling, he said. The policy implications have to be in the back of the minds of the justices, he said.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who pushed his state’s sports betting legislation, says he is “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome.

New Jersey resident Vito Paolantonio, who was at Monmouth Park Racetrack’s bar Thursday, said he’d wager on sports if he could in the state.

“I’m a 52-year-old male who loves sports,” he said. “If we were here and I was watching a game, I would absolutely throw in a few dollars to make it more interesting. I think as a middle-class American, a lot of others would do the same.”

MEC Men’s Basketball Roundup (November 29)

The Free Press WV

UVa-Wise 83, West Virginia State 81

ajh Eason’s floater as time expired gave UVa-Wise an 83-81 win over West Virginia State on Wednesday night at the Walker Convocation Center.

With the score tied at 81-81, Eason stole the ball from Ernest Jenkins at the top of the key with just three seconds left, and raced the length of the floor and released the floater at the foul line to beat the buzzer for the win.

UVa-Wise (4-4, 3-0) shot 50 percent from the field in the win. The Cavs had a 44-41 edge in rebounds, however, West Virginia State (4-3, 2-1) was able to pull down 20 offensive rebounds in the game and had 26 second chance points.

Taiwo Badmus had 33 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Cavs. Chance Sheffey had 14 points and eight rebounds and Michal Seals tossed in 10.

West Virginia State received double-doubles from Robert Fomby (19 points and 10 rebounds) and Pat Johnson-Agwu (17 points and 12 rebounds). Jeremiah Moore had 13 points and Langston Cooke contributed 10.


#9 Wheeling Jesuit 91, Notre Dame 80

Wheeling Jesuit held off a furious second half rally from Notre Dame to hold off the Falcons, 91-80, on Wednesday night at Murphy Gymnasium.

The Cardinals (6-0, 3-0) led by as many as 19 points in the second half with 13:24 left before a 22-2 run in just over five minutes put the Notre Dame (3-3, 1-2) back in the lead. WJU was able to bounce back and held the Falcons to just nine points in the final 6:34 and managed 22 points during that span to take the win.

Notre Dame hit 15 three-pointers in the game as it played without Will Vorhees. Wheeling Jesuit committed just seven turnovers in the game and had a 24-3 edge in second chance points.

Pat Boswell and Haywood Highsmith each dropped in 29 points for Wheeling Jesuit. Highsmith added 16 rebounds and four assists, while Boswell contributed three steals. Jeremiah Wilson scored 18 points and Pat Moseh added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Cards.

Levi Frankland led the way with 22 points, and Cole Hayes tossed in 17. Angelo Cugini had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.


Concord 77, Charleston 72

Concord erased a 10-point deficit with just 8:46 to play and escaped with a 77-72 win over Charleston on Wednesday night at the Wehrle Innovation Center.

Down 60-50, the Mountain Lions (4-3, 2-1) went on an 18-4 run over the next five minutes to surge ahead by four with just 3:20 left in the game. Charleston (4-3, 1-2) would get to within a point on two occasions in the final stretch, but each time CU’s Tommy Bolte hit a shot that kept the Mountain Lions in front for good.

Bolte went for a game-high 30 points on 13-of-21 shooting that included four three-pointers. B.J. Hamlett added 16 points and Darian Patterson finished with 11.

Lamont McManus led Charleston with 15 points and nine rebounds. Jonathan Tshibuy contributed 11 points and eight boards, while Austin Howard chipped in 10 points. 


#7 West Liberty 115, Urbana 86

West Liberty shot 55 percent from the field and had seven players score in double figures as the Hilltoppers downed Urbana, 115-86, on Wednesday night at the Grimes Center.

Dalton Balon led the charge for West Liberty (6-0, 3-0) with 20 points. Brandon Smith had 13, while Tyler Primmer, Dan Monteroso and Eric Meininger each had 11. James Griffin contributed 10 points and nine rebounds. WLU connected on 46-of-86 shots from the field and out-rebounded Urbana 48-33.

Carlas Jackson led all scorers with 28 points for Urbana (0-6, 0-3). Aarmanni Garnett had 12 points, while Mike Ryan and Chris Jackson each notched 11. Roy Hatchett had eight points to go with seven assists. UU shot 40 percent from the field and was plagued by 24 turnovers.


Fairmont State 69, Glenville State 64

Fairmont State outscored Glenville State 8-3 in the final 3:24 to come away with a 69-64 win over the Pioneers on Wednesday night at the Waco Center.

A steal by Jason Jolly led to a layup by D’Ondre Stockman to break the 61-61 tie with under four minutes to play. Fairmont State would never trail the rest of the way as it improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play. FSU had to overcome a 10-point second half deficit to earn the win.

Jolly led the Falcons with 15 points, and Stockman finished with 13. Vonte Montgomery chipped in 10 points.

Darhius Nunn paced the Pioneers (0-6, 0-3) with 25 points, four rebounds and three assists. Elisha Mayberry scored 12 and Jon Dunmyer netted 11 points to go with seven rebounds.


Shepherd 82, West Virginia Wesleyan 64

Shepherd earned its first conference win of the season with an 82-64 win over West Virginia Wesleyan on Wednesday night at the Rockefeller Center.

The Rams (2-4, 1-2) had five players reach double figures led by 16 apiece from Thomas Lang and Winston Burgess. Lang also had five assists and four rebounds, while Burgess contributed six rebounds. Derek McKnight came off the bench to score 13, while Gavin McTavish and Steffen Davis each notched 12. A.J. Carr filled the box score with nine points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Luka Petrovic scored 16 points for West Virginia Wesleyan (0-7, 0-3). Kevin Kagni added 10 points.

MEC Women’s Basketball Roundup (November 29)

The Free Press WV

Urbana 92, West Liberty 84

Stefanie Davis scored a school-record 38 points as Urbana topped West Liberty, 92-84, on Wednesday night at the Grimes Center.

Davis hit 15-of-21 shots from the field and was 7-of-8 from the line on her route to her point total. She also had nine rebounds and seven assists to help the Blue Knights improve to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play. Erin Marrow came off the bench to score 15 points and add three steals, while Sylvia Hudson and Danie Shafer each scored 14 for Urbana. UU shot 58 percent from the field and dominated the points in the paint, 62-36.

West Liberty (2-5, 1-2) was led by 22 points and 13 rebounds from Marissa Brown. Brandi Beader added 19 points and McKenna Shives hit four three-pointers to end with 12 points.


Notre Dame 67, Wheeling Jesuit 50

Notre Dame slowed down Wheeling Jesuit on its way to a 67-50 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday night at Murphy Gymnasium.

The Falcons (6-2, 3-0) held Wheeling Jesuit (1-5, 0-3) to just 29 percent shooting from the field in the victory. Kim Cook had 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals to pace Notre Dame. Marisa Finazzo added 12 points and five assists.

Mariah Callen had 16 points to lead WJU. Cassi Stein contributed 12 points for the Cardinals, and Chenelle Moore had eight points to go with 11 rebounds.


West Virginia State 74, UVa-Wise 51

West Virginia State used a big second half to down UVa-Wise, 74-51, on Wednesday night at the Walker Convocation Center.

The Yellow Jackets (2-4, 2-1) trailed by two at the break, but outscored UVa-Wise (1-5, 0-3) by 25 in the second half. WVSU held the Cavs to just five points in the final 10 minutes of the game. West Virginia State forced 25 turnovers in the came and committed just 12.

Aurreshae Hines led the way for WVSU with 17 points, four assists and three steals. Kim Richburg had 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Jasmine Davis added 13 points and five boards. 

The Cavs were led by Hanna Oliver’s 14 points. Cynita Webb had seven points to go with eight rebounds.


Glenville State 99, Fairmont State 70

Glenville State produced a 99-70 win over Fairmont State on Wednesday night at the Waco Center.

The Pioneers (5-1, 3-0) forced 22 turnovers in the game and Paris McLeod had 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Courtney Davis had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while also coming up with five steals and three blocks. Abby Stoller tossed in 12 points and Erika Toney had eight points and 10 rebounds.

Sierra Kotchman had 23 points and four assists for Fairmont State (3-3, 0-3). Kelli Jo Harrison had 10 points to go with a game-high 14 rebounds.


Charleston 78, Concord 63

Octavia Loll and Anna Hayton each scored 15 points to help lead Charleston to a 78-63 win over Concord on Wednesday night at the Wehrle Innovation Center.

Hayton added seven rebounds and a pair of blocks to help lead the Golden Eagles (4-2, 3-0). Abby Watson chipped in 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Madison May paced Concord (2-4, 0-3) 16 points and three assists. Heather Chapman added 10 points.


West Virginia Wesleyan 76, Shepherd 69

West Virginia Wesleyan pulled away from Shepherd late in the fourth quarter to register a 76-69.

WVWC improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play with the victory, while Shepherd slipped to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the MEC.

The Bobcats got double-doubles from Mari Stewart (14 points and 10 rebounds) and Tara Goldman (11 points and 12 rebounds) on its way to the win. Tyra Hughes had 15 points and dished out six assists. Brittany Stawovy came off the bench to add 10 points.

Shepherd’s Morgan Arden led all scorers with 25 points, while Kari Lankford added 23 points.

Shake-up Atop College Football Playoff Rankings Has Alabama on Outside Looking in

The Free Press WV

As Clemson leapt from No. 3 to No. 1, the expected turbulence hit the top of the College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday evening, the bulk of it blowing in from the state of Alabama. Auburn’s 26-14 mastery of Alabama on Saturday at Auburn caused the Tigers to vault from No. 6 to No. 2, while the Crimson Tide plunged from No. 1 to No. 5.

Not only did it mark Alabama’s first absence from the coveted top four since Nov. 11, 2014, but it positioned Auburn (10-2) above five teams with fewer losses. Eye test-wise, Auburn’s two thumping victories over teams ranked No. 1 at the time – Georgia on Nov. 11 and Alabama – clearly impressed the 13 sets of eyes on the committee, which ranked teams for the fifth and penultimate time this season.

The final rankings, replete with the four teams that will play off Jan. 1 in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, will appear at midday Sunday.

Behind Auburn sits No. 3 Oklahoma (11-1) and No. 4 Wisconsin (12-0), both up a notch, then No. 5 Alabama (11-1), No. 6 Georgia (11-1) and No. 7 Miami (10-1), which fell from No. 2 after its jarring 24-14 upset loss at Pitt (5-7).

It marked the first entry into the top four for Wisconsin, which started out at No. 9 on Oct. 28 before inching upward, budging past some losing teams while being overtaken by some winning teams, all while hauling the hard weight of its tepid schedule. In a system that prizes challenging wins, Wisconsin’s nine Power Five victims include only one ranked team (No. 21 Northwestern). Those nine are a combined 50-58 as the schedule offered no opportunity against anybody in the Big Ten East Division top three (Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State).

Clemson’s Power Five victims are 67-39, with Auburn’s at 54-30 and Oklahoma’s at 57-51. Four teams with vague (at best) playoff hopes rested just beyond the top seven. Those were No. 8 Ohio State (10-2), No. 9 Penn State (10-2), No. 10 Southern California (10-2) and No. 11 TCU (10-2). All except Penn State get a chance to burnish their CVs this weekend, with Ohio State playing Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, Southern California playing Stanford in the Pacific-12 championship, and TCU playing Oklahoma for the Big 12 title.

Kirby Hocutt, the chairman of a committee that includes five men from coaching and five from athletic directing, said the margin between No. 5 Alabama and No. 8 Ohio State remains small, raising the possibility of a royal argument between those two fan bases, should chaos butt in.

Stanford (9-3) held down No. 12, just ahead of Washington (10-2), which Stanford defeated Nov. 10. With the Pac-12 widely presumed the only Power Five conference without a viable chance at the four-team playoff, its three teams in spaces Nos. 10, 12 and 13 still outpaced No. 14 Central Florida, the top team from the second-tier Group of Five. The Knights’ much-lauded 49-42 win over South Florida pushed UCF to 11-0 but pushed it only a notch up the charts, but it does find the privilege of a ranked opponent for its American Athletic Conference Championship Game, and that will be No. 20 Memphis (10-1), which it throttled, 40-13, on Sept. 30.

Notre Dame (9-3) saw its 38-20 loss at Stanford dock it from No. 8 to No. 15.

Among the top 11, four heavy occasions this weekend will help sort out matters, or not so much. Clemson will play Miami in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in Charlotte, Auburn will play Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship in Atlanta, plus the bouts of Oklahoma and TCU, and Wisconsin and Ohio State.

With Alabama just outside the top four, Clemson’s streak of 17 consecutive rankings within the top four became the nation’s longest run. (The committee does not issue postseason rankings.)

Clemson spent the entire 2015 season at No. 1 in all six rankings, and has not departed the top four since. The No. 1 Tigers (Clemson) and the No. 2 Tigers (Auburn) played each other long ago Sept. 9, with the former Tigers hogging 11 sacks and winning, 14-6. Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn stressed Saturday that he meant no disrespect to Clemson, but his Auburn team differs utterly from that Auburn team from early September.

While both sets of Tigers play this weekend, Alabama will rest and hope for unrest from above.

In so doing, the Crimson Tide will know that only one team so far in the four-season-old playoff era, Ohio State in 2016, has reached the playoff without reaching a conference championship game. Alabama did get a wee boost from the bottom of the rankings, when one of its semi-anonymous September victims, Fresno State (9-3), nudged in at No. 25, having reassembled itself mightily after starting off 1-2 with losses at Alabama (by 41-10) and Washington (by 48-16). Fresno State’s presence gave Alabama, whose stash of wins is less shiny than those of Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma and even Ohio State, three wins over ranked teams, counting No. 17 LSU (9-3) and No. 23 Mississippi State (8-4).

At the top, Clemson caused itself to lose a ranked victim because it blasted No. 24 South Carolina 34-10 on Saturday and shooed that rival from the rankings, but it gained one when a previous Clemson victim, North Carolina State (8-4), replaced South Carolina at No. 24. Another Clemson victim, Virginia Tech (9-3), went from No. 25 to No. 22, meaning Clemson has beaten teams ranked Nos. 2, 22 and 24, plus four more wins over Power Five teams with winning records. In an unusual boon, none of its nine Power Five victims has gone worse than 5-6.

Stonewall’s Palmer Course

The Free Press WV

West Virginia State Park golf passes for the 2018 season are now available and may be used for reciprocal play at Cacapon Resort, Canaan Valley Resort, Pipestem Resort and Twin Falls Resort golf courses.

Passes purchased before December 22 will include a 5 percent discount and other extras, like complimentary overnight lodging at Cacapon, Pipestem or Twin Falls, a 20 percent room rate discount at Canaan Valley Resort, and green fees discounts that may be used by non-passholders who wish to golf with a passholder.

“Buying a West Virginia State Park golf pass is a great investment for golfers of all skill levels,” said Stan Beafore, superintendent at Canaan Valley Resort State Park. “In addition to reciprocal play at our park courses, pass add-ons offer many benefits, like golf play for a friend or overnight opportunities that encourage playing at different courses.”

All passes include reciprocal play as well as a discount greens fee at the Arnold Palmer Signature Course at Stonewall Resort, Monday through Friday after 1 p.m. Junior passes for golfers 18 and younger include outdoor swimming at any of the four state parks with golf courses. Passes make a great gift and can be purchased at Cacapon, Canaan Valley, Pipestem or Twin Falls. Seven versions of the pass are available.

“These passes give golfers another reason to get out on state park golf courses throughout the year,” said Tom Boyle, golf pro at Cacapon Resort State Park. “It’s good golf strategy when golfers play different courses and experience the diversity of course design, topography and hospitality.”


Seven golf pass options

“Snow Birdie” is a new pass for unlimited reciprocal play at any of the four courses on any day, from September 01 - December 31, 2018.

Any-day Annual Season Pass may be used by the passholder for unlimited reciprocal play at the four courses.

Any-day Annual Season Add-on may be purchased and used for unlimited reciprocal play for a spouse or adult dependents (over 18) living in the pass-holder’s household.

Mid-week Annual Season Pass may be used by the passholder for unlimited mid-week reciprocal play at Pipestem, Twin Falls and Cacapon on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Mid-week at Canaan is Sunday, after 1 p.m., through Thursday. This pass does not include national holidays that occur mid-week.

Mid-week Annual Season Pass Add-on may be purchased and used for a spouse or adult dependents (over 18)  living in the pass-holder’s household with the same restrictions as the Mid-week Season Pass.

Any-day Junior (18 or younger) Annual Season Pass may be used for unlimited reciprocal play at the four courses.

Any-day Summer Pass may be used for unlimited reciprocal play at the four courses, June 1 through August 31, 2018.

2017: WV High School Football Scoreboard: Semifinals

The Gilmer Free Press

Area High School Football Scoreboard
2017: Semifinals
 
AAA AA A
 
#4 Spring Valley (11-2) 10 #4 Fairmont Senior (12-1) 35 #5 St. Marys (11-1) 27
#1 Huntington (12-1) 7 #1 Mingo Central (12-1) 6 #1 East Hardy (12-1) 21
 
#6 Capital (9-4) 28 #3 Bridgeport (11-2) 14 #11 Summers County (8-5) 14
#2 Martinsburg (13-0) 49 #2 Bluefield (13-0) 37 #10 Wheeling Central (9-4) 42
 

College Football Rankings

The Free Press WV

Associated Press Top 25

1. Clemson
2. Oklahoma
3. Wisconsin
4. Auburn
5. Alabama
6. Georgia
7. Miami (Fla.)
8. Ohio State
9. Penn State
10. TCU
11. Southern California
12. UCF
13. Washington
14. Stanford
15. Notre Dame
16. Memphis
17. LSU
18. Oklahoma State
19. Michigan State
20. Northwestern
21. Washington State
22. Virginia Tech
23. South Florida
24. Mississippi State
25. Fresno State

Coaches Poll

1. Clemson
2. Oklahoma
3. Wisconsin
4. Auburn
5. Alabama
6. Georgia
7. Miami (Fla.)
7. Ohio State
9. Southern California
10. Penn State
11. UCF
12. TCU
13. Washington
14. Memphis
15. Stanford
16. LSU
17. Notre Dame
18. Oklahoma State
19. Michigan State
20. Northwestern
21. Virginia Tech
22. Washington State
23. South Florida
24. Mississippi State
25. San Diego State

Lady Pioneers Pickup Road Victory Over Saginaw Valley

The Free Press WV

The Glenville State Lady Pioneer Basketball team erased an eight point halftime deficit as they went on to pick up their third straight victory as they defeated Saginaw Valley, 82-62.

Glenville State (4-1, 2-0) forced Saginaw Valley (0-6) into 27 turnovers and converted them into 28 points on the way to a 20 point win.

The Lady Pioneers had a great second half as they outscored Saginaw Valley 47-19 in the third and fourth quarters. GSC also scored 18 second-chance points while Saginaw Valley only scored 3 second-chance points.

Paris McLeod scored a game high 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds just missing a double-double while Kristin DesRocher was the only other GSC player in double figures as she scored 13 points.

Bhrea Griffin chipped in with nine points while Asiya Smith scored eight points in the contest. Courtney Davis scored just three points but grabbed a game high and season high 18 rebounds.

Saginaw Valley had two players post double-doubles with Abby Duffy scoring 18 points and grabbing 14 rebounds while Anna Hall scored 11 points and had 10 rebounds.

Glenville State (4-1, 2-0) will return to the court next Wednesday, November 29th as they host the Fighting Falcons of Fairmont State University at 5:30 p.m. from the Waco Center. 

NFL Weighing Change To Anthem Policy For Next Season

The Free Press WV

Some NFL owners believe there is a strong possibility they will enact an offseason change to the league’s national anthem policy if the players’ protests during the anthem persist through the end of this season, reverting to a previous approach of keeping players in the locker room while the anthem is played, according to several people familiar with the league’s inner workings.

“I think that if players are still kneeling at the end of the year, then it could very well happen,“ said one person familiar with the owners’ deliberations on anthem-related issues.

That person said it was “too early to tell” for certain if the change to the anthem policy will be made by owners and the league. The person was “not sure” if a formal vote of the owners would be required to enact such a change but said, “I think most owners would support it, particularly if players continue to kneel this season.“

Those sentiments were echoed by several others with knowledge of the owners’ thinking on the matter. They said they did not know at this point exactly how many owners would favor such an approach, and they cautioned that there have been no detailed discussions yet about leaving teams and players in the locker room for the anthem because owners did not consider it appropriate to make an in-season change to the policy.

But they agreed that if the protests last all season and remain intensely controversial among fans, the issue will be raised during the offseason and a policy change to having players remain in the locker room until the anthem’s conclusion would have the support of a significant number of owners. They said the matter could be addressed at the annual league meeting in March.

“It would certainly have to be considered very strongly,“ said an official with an NFL franchise who is familiar with the thinking of that team’s owner on the matter.

The NFL declined to comment.

The change to having players and coaches on the sideline for the anthem was made in 2009. The current league policy says that players must be on the sideline for the anthem. It suggests but does not require that players stand for the anthem.

At various points this season some players, including full teams, have remained off the field during the playing of the anthem. They have not been fined or otherwise disciplined by the NFL.

The league has been under intense pressure from President Donald Trump and some fans to require players to stand during the anthem. In September, Trump said during a campaign speech in Alabama that owners should fire any player who protested during the anthem. His fiery speech included a reference to such a player being a “son of a #####” and it fueled an intense national controversy over the issue.

The pressure from the White House has not relented. After Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch refused to stand for the U.S. anthem before Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots in Mexico City, Trump offered critical comments Monday on Twitter.

“Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our national anthem,“ Trump wrote. “Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.“

Owners held a series of meetings last month in New York focused on the anthem and related topics. Owners met with representatives of the players, then held their regularly scheduled fall owners’ meeting. Owners emerged from those meetings without enacting a rule requiring players to stand for the anthem. But even without such a requirement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and owners said they wanted players to stand.

“We believe everyone should stand for the national anthem,“ Goodell said at the conclusion of the October owners’ meeting. “That’s an important part of our policy. It’s also an important part of our game that we all take great pride in. And it’s also important for us to honor our flag and our country, and we think our fans expect us to do that.“

Goodell and owners said then that they were focused on discussions with the players about league support of players’ community activism. They said they hoped that such support would convince players to voluntarily stand for the anthem, although they cautioned there was no formal or implied agreement that NFL support of players’ activism would lead to all players standing.

“This is not a trade off,“ Jed York, the chief executive officer of the San Francisco 49ers, said at the October meeting. “From what I’ve read, there are some players that have said that they’re still not considering standing yet. And that never came up in the meeting. . . . This has been, ‘How do we take protest to progress?‘ How do we make sure that we move these issues forward that matter to the players and I think that matter to the owners?“

Players and owners have not had a face-to-face meeting since then and have not completed a formal policy for league support of players’ activism. But the conversations have continued and an agreement could be coming.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he would bench any player on his team who protested during the anthem and thereby, in Jones’s view, showed disrespect to the American flag. But other owners said at the October meeting that the overwhelming majority of owners wanted players to stand for the anthem but did not want to enact a rule requiring it.

The players’ protest movement began last season with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, then with the 49ers. He refused to stand for the anthem to protest racial inequality in the U.S. and the treatment of African Americans by police. Kaepernick was not signed by an NFL team this season and has filed a grievance accusing teams of collusion.

The NFL’s current policy is in its game operations manual, sent by the league to teams, and not in its publicly available rule book. The policy says: “The national anthem must be played before every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the national anthem.

“During the national anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the national anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.“

One NFL sponsor, Papa John’s, recently criticized the NFL for a lack of leadership related to the players’ protests, although the pizza maker later issued an apology to those who believed its stance was divisive. With TV ratings sagging and Jones citing the league’s current financial circumstances as a reason for his bid to stall Goodell’s pending five-year contract extension with the owners, some owners have acknowledged that the anthem controversy and the protests have had an effect on the business of the NFL.

“We know how important this is to our sponsors, our partners, our licensees,“ Goodell said at last month’s owners’ meeting. “It’s important to us, also. We all share that.“

Miami Gets Bump To No. 2 Behind Alabama In Playoff Rankings

The Free Press WV

Miami made a small but potentially significant move up to No. 2 behind Alabama in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night, with Clemson slipping one spot to three and Oklahoma holding at four.

Wisconsin and Auburn remained next up behind the top four in a week when the top half of the selection committee’s rankings were mostly unchanged.

Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Southern California followed in the same order as they did last week. Over the next two weeks, every team in the top nine will play another team ranked in the committee’s top 25, including four games matching top playoff contenders.

The Crimson Tide will play at Auburn on Saturday to decide a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship on Dec. 2. The winner plays Georgia.

The Atlantic Coast Conference championship will match Clemson and Miami on Dec. 2, and Wisconsin and Ohio State play in the Big Ten championship.

Miami’s move comes after rallying to beat Virginia last Saturday. Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said Miami is showing characteristics of a championship team.

“When you get down the way Miami did to Virginia two times, once in each half, and you have the poise and the ability to come back and win in a convincing manner, that is special,” said Hocutt, the Texas Tech athletic director.

The Hurricanes (10-0) play at Pitt Friday and now seem better positioned to get into the playoff even with a loss to Clemson, depending on how things play out in other conferences.

Central Florida came in at No. 15 and Memphis is 20th, the highest ranked teams from outside the Power Five. The American Athletic Conference rivals could meet in the league title game in two weeks if UCF beats USF on Black Friday, setting up a game that would likely send the winner into a New Year’s Six bowl.

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HOW DOES THIS PLAY OUT?

On championship Saturday, the selection committee gathers at the Dallas-area resort hotel where it holds its weekly meeting to watch games together. When the games are done, Hocutt and his crew of 12 experts dig into the results and put together their final, and only truly meaningful, top 25.

Will it be a late night at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine or will the committee members be able to uncork a bottle of wine during the second half of the ACC title game? A lot depends on Alabama.

The Crimson Tide could essentially eliminate two other playoff contenders in Auburn and Georgia. The Tigers have no shot if they don’t win the Iron Bowl and the SEC title. Georgia at 11-2 with a loss in the conference title game could still have a flicker of hope to be the second SEC team in the playoff, but would need a lot of help.

At 13-0, the Crimson Tide would be seeded No. 1 and heading to New Orleans to play in the Sugar Bowl semifinal. Easy.

If Alabama loses the Iron Bowl or wins that and loses the SEC championship game, it means the committee will likely be ordering up a couple extra pots of coffee instead of a nice pinot noir.

The SEC champion is pretty much a lock to get in. But what to do with Alabama at 11-1 or 12-1? The Crimson Tide has been the most dominant team all season, rarely challenged on the field. Nick Saban’s Tide, loaded with five-star recruits and future high draft picks, will always pass the eye test. Alabama’s best wins now are against LSU and Mississippi State, both 8-3.

Alabama is the only team to make the playoff all three seasons. Is the committee prepared to leave the Tide out?

The next team that can help clear things up for the committee is Wisconsin.

The committee is not thrilled with the Badgers’ schedule, but Wisconsin can get a marquee victory in the Big Ten title game — as long as Ohio State takes care of Michigan on Saturday. At 13-0 and with a conference championship, the committee can replace the ACC championship loser with Wisconsin in the top four.

Wisconsin can also eliminate Ohio State and its 31-point loss to Iowa. A Wisconsin loss to Ohio State — or Oklahoma losing to TCU in the Big 12 title game — opens to the door to consideration of two-loss teams that could bring Notre Dame and USC back into the discussion.

The committee could be weighing two-loss conference champions against one-loss teams with no titles. Last year Ohio State was the latter and got in on the strength of three victories against top-10 teams. No contender can match that without winning its conference this season, which could make the decision much tougher this time.

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