Starr Gazing

Dr. Dan Starr
Retired Director of Athletics and Professor Emeritus of American History at Canisius College.


Some Sports Updates Or?

Any discussion of a new Bills stadium, invariably brings up the size of Buffalo. Once, a century ago, Buffalo was in the top 20 of US cities. Today metro Buffalo ranks 49th. There are 30 cities in the NFL (LA & NY, 2 each). As we often hear, Buffalo is the smallest city, other than Green Bay, in the NFL. Packer town is sacrosanct. Green Bay was one of the first teams in the National Football League, in the 1920s, and Curly Lambeau, a founder, coach, player and patron saint may be next in line for a place on Mt.Rushmore. Thus the Green Bay Packers are untouchable.

So when discussions arise in the NFL about which franchises are most vulnerable to be sold or moved, Buffalo is at the top of the agenda.

But is Buffalo that small?

The NFL bottom 12 cities, by metro population are:

( Source: Statistical Abstracts and Google , 2020. (Figures are “rounded”)

Charlotte. 2.6 million

Pittsburgh 2.37

L. Vegas 2.265

Cincinnati. 2.256

Kan City 2.19

Indianapolis. 2.11

Cleveland. 2.08

Nashville. 1.98

Jacksonville. 1.605

New Orleans. 1.27

Buffalo. 1.16

Green Bay. .328

If you add the population of Rochester, and Canada (Niagara Region) to Buffalo’s metro, then the metro population becomes 2.6 million.

Interesting? Buffalo then, as Kevin G might say, Buffalo is right in the ballpark, with the other metros - the bottom 12 of the League. I know, Zuke stated, the NFL will not consider Canadian population in Buffalo’s metro. Owners may be frightened at the prospect of Tijuana, Mexico being included with San Diego. Probably far- fetched!

Zuke brought up the recent NCAA tournament, noting that Buffalo was one of the cities that hosted first round (64-32)games. Zuke, with a sports memory like the legendary

Milt Northrop, asked if Buffalo was ever considered for the Final 4. I said “yes, in 1976”. The NCAA tournament had expanded to 32 teams (64 in 1985). The NCAA tournament committee met in Chicago to listen to proposals from those cities interested in hosting the Final Four in 1981 in Philadelphia. I recall that 4 cities presented their case. We, from Buffalo, had a delegation that included myself, Canisius, Frank Layden, Niagara, Terry Fitzpatrick, of Buffalo tourism/chamber of commerce, and Joe Figliola, the Director of the Aud.

I thought our contingent made an excellent presentation. The Aud had been rejuvenated a few years earlier. A slide show showed the Auditorium at its best including the very attractive Aud club. But Buffalo simply did not have enough large, first class hotels. Sid Warner mumbled that a Red Roof Inn would not do. Today, first class hotels would not be an issues. Yes, downtown Buffalo is vastly different today than it was a half century ago.

About 1990 Buffalo did do a superb job when it opened the Bison baseball stadium.

It was, and is, a first class,Triple A venue. Congratulations to Mayor Griffin, Public Relations maestro Mike Billoni, and Owner Bob Rich.

The big, perhaps huge, issue is sports currently involves sex. Same sex! Trans sex! Or ?Especially sex/gender in college athletics. The issue has been dramatized by the male swimmer who became a female. She/he/it is at the University of Pennsylvania. “She” is on the womens swim team this year and is dominant. I refer to Lia Thomas. She won the NCAA championship. But, some women swimmers cry foul, not fair. Phil Mushnick, legendary iconoclastic sports writer of the NY Post says common sense and fairness are called for. He cites Bruce Jenner, now Caitlin, who calls Thomas’ records - bogus.

The NCAA does not have the solution. But there are some options being offered. We have all kinds of championships. The Super Bowl is played for a championship, and so is the contest that declares the gluten who eats 50 hot dogs or 65 chicken wings in an hour’s time. He’s a winner and is crowned a champion. We see champions for all sorts of contests. So how about the sex/gender issue? What is the answer. Many states have already banned the transformed athlete from competing in various activities. That is not the final solution. But how about a trans gender championship - a level playing field for college and high school athletes. A separate championship for sex changers. Call it the sex change championship or the Rainbow Championship or the Trans women, or trans gender or change/ gender championship. Or name it the male to female, and a female to male championship. There are many naming opportunities.

PS. Sheas : yep they were right. The Schanks, Jarmuses, Eckert’s and Klugs,, among the many theater goers who lambasted the dark, ill-conceived Oklahoma at Sheas Buffalo knew it was the exception. Since then the performances of My Fair Lady and To Kill a Mockingbird have been first rate.


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