Mark Chalifoux

Mark Chalifoux

Mark Chalifoux is a stand-up comedian who has been featured on Fox and IFC and has made national radio appearances on The Bob and Tom Show, SiriusXM and BBC Radio. As a writer, Mark has contributed to ESPN.com, CBS Digital, The Baltimore Sun, The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Chalifoux Family Christmas Newsletter. Mark is the father to a beautiful and amazing daughter and her sister.

Son Grieving Dad’s Death Catches Walk-Off Home Run Ball on his Birthday

Grieving Son Catches Walk-Off Homer
(Twitter/Dbacks/alexrxbertsxn)

Alex Robertson celebrated his 21st birthday Tuesday by going to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks take on the Texas Rangers. It was the first time he’d been to the ballpark since his father passed away nearly a month ago from liver failure. Baseball was his dad’s favorite sport, so Alex was hoping for a dramatic comeback at the D-backs were down one in the bottom of the ninth. Well, obviously you know how this story ends.



Obviously, Jarrod Dyson smashed the first pitch out of the ballpark, and straight into Robertson’s hands. The game-winning home run was one of those rare feel-good plays in sports, the type that you can convince yourself happened for a reason. Roberston wasn’t even supposed to be in those seats, but he moved earlier in the game when he saw other fans sitting in his seats.

“I’ve been having such a hard time dealing with it,” Robertson said to ABC15 in Phoenix. “We became best friends when my mom and him got divorced. We would watch the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals together all the time.”


This is such a touching home run that it almost feels like it was scripted by a Disney Channel writer mailing it in before a holiday weekend. We know for sure it’s not though is because it happened at an Arizona Diamondbacks game, which wouldn’t be Hollywood’s first choice.

Is the Masters the Most “Dad” Sporting Event? + More Sports News

Tiger at The Masters
(Getty/David Cannon)

Sunday is the final day of the Masters, and I think it’s unquestionably the most “Dad” sporting event. From a pure sports fan perspective, I’d take a fantasy football NFL Sunday slate over the Masters any day. That being said, I think The Masters has a pretty compelling case as the biggest dad sporting event. Golf, a sport beloved for its peace and quiet and lawn-porn courses, is already targeted at the dadographic. It’s also the only sport that can be played routinely by unathletic older men. Throw in the fact that the final day happens on a Sunday (so Dad) and that it’s the sport’s Superbowl, and I think The Masters takes the crown. If you have a better example of a sporting event tailored so heavily towards Dads, let me know in the comments.

Happy Dad’s Day! Father’s Day is still 8 weeks away, but that’s the formal celebration anyway. It’s filled with obligations with your kids, with your own father, etc. Today is an even better version of that day for sports fan dads. A random Sunday packed with elite entertainment. It’s not just the Masters. There are also four NBA playoff games and four NHL playoff games, all followed by the season premiere of Game of Thrones, with a Veep chaser. While nothing can match the frenetic pace of the early days of the NCAA tournament, I’d argue that today may be one of the most underrated days on the sports fan calendar.

Now is the time to cash in any goodwill you’ve built up with the Mrs. If you’re in need in this area, I highly recommend planting a spider somewhere in the house, so you can heroically “remove” the spider in exchange for an afternoon alone. No one needs to know about false flag bug incident.

Dwyane Wade is finishing his storied basketball career and Budweiser produced a pretty stellar send-off for the Miami Heat great. We covered it here, but if you missed it, stop now and take 5 minutes to watch it.

The jersey trading thing seems like such a cool tradition and it’s one I’d like to integrate into normal society. For instance, looking back on my working career, I’d love to trade shirts with a person I worked with during my three-month stint at McDonald’s when I was 15. He was in his 20s, and he spent every lunch break tearing the Monopoly pieces off empty fry boxes. When I told him “hey man, you know you can’t win if you work here, right?” He simply replie,d “I’m not an idiot, when I win the million dollars, I’m gonna cash it in at the McDonald’s across town.” I would love to have a memento from that person, who is probably for sure dead at this point.

At the opposite end of the NBA spectrum, Magic Johnson made waves by quitting his job with the Lakers on live television. It was completely surreal to watch. Even crazier was when he said one of the reasons he wanted to leave was so he could tweet more, at which point Twitter roasted him mercilessly.

At the same time, if there was ever a player who could relate to making such a momentous Decision on live TV, it would be LeBron James.


Boston Red Sox Utility Man Brock Holt was put on the injury list by his two-year-old son. When he was getting his son out of bed on Opening Day, he suffered the type of eye poke that so many dads have endured. This poke left him with a scratched cornea, which made hitting a baseball very difficult.

Depending on how you feel about the Red Sox, this kid deserves either a six-month timeout or a mountain of ice cream.

Eye Poke
(Giphy)

Finally, while I don’t know much about being a dad, you must not have been very good at the job if you earn a headline like this one in the New York Times.

When a Huddle Becomes a Hug, Let’s Embrace It & More Sports News

Youth Team Hugs it Out
(Twitter/ESPN)

A youth basketball team was told to “huddle up” at practice. That huddle ended up much more in the hug territory, a simple autocorrect by the brains of the 5-year-olds.

The video has since gone viral, and while it’s a cute 10 seconds, I’m sure there are at least a few coaches who can’t watch that without fuming about how they aren’t listening to directions. Enjoy it, for these pure moments in sports, are few and far between. Well, OK, here’s one more…

The Greek Freak made a young girl cry. Sports news, like most news in 2019, can feel like a steady stream of awfulness, whether it’s players getting arrested, owners getting arrested, or worse. So it’s nice to see a genuinely sweet moment between a star athlete and a child. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak, had a heartfelt moment with an 11-year-old girl who presented him with a collection of artwork she had been working on for more than a year. After he praised it, the girl tears up.

Any chance to see the sports world through a child’s eyes is refreshing and reminds fans of what brought them to the games in the first place. It’s easy to become so jaded after years of hot takes and fantasy sports that you forget the simpler times before you worried about your team’s salary cap.

I will say that the overwhelming police presence in this video is alarming. I don’t know what usually happens at these autograph signings, but I’m guessing the art must have been pretty bad last time to require that many cops. It also has to be surreal to be a pro athlete at these things and having no fewer than six people constantly recording you on their phones during any interaction.

The Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens pranked his daughter on April Fool’s Day. He tricked his daughter into thinking a water pipe burst at her school, canceling classes for the day. She fell hard for it, as any trusting, blissfully naïve child would. It was only fitting that a pipe actually did burst at the Celtics training facility later that day, which Stevens called “karma” for his prank. I hope that same kind of karma extends to my new prank, where I tell my daughter we won the Powerball, then reveal I’m a liar, only to actually win the Powerball later that same day.

Some parents got cruel with their “gotcha” April Fool’s pranks (dunking on your kids for social media content is the new American pastime), so it’s refreshing to see a boring, dorky dad prank still in action.

 

A 9-year-old girl was getting bullied, so her dad signed her up for jiu-jitsu. Now she’s winning tournaments and tapping out older boys. This sounds like a superhero backstory. She even has a go-to finishing move (an inverted armbar). At this point, all she’s missing is the action figure for sale.

When my daughter deals with bullies, she has learned to narc immediately. Her finishing move is having my wife call the kindergarten to resolve any issues amicably.

So, I think it’s a pretty baller move for this dad to enroll his daughter in combat sports the first time someone was mean to her.

MLB Player Uses Baby Shark as Walk-Up Song + More

Baby Shark MLB Batting Intro
(Twitter/FOXSportsSW YouTube/PinkFong)

What started as a harmless, catchy kids tune quickly morphed into something much darker, corrupting the minds of toddlers and young children everywhere. “Baby Shark” is no longer content with billions of Youtube plays, and is now ruthlessly invading the sports world after Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus used it as his walkup song. He said it was his toddler son’s favorite song, but what might have been a cute early season story could stick around longer, as he smashed a home run and added two other hits in the season-opener. It could’ve come and gone in the sports world if he had a forgettable day, but there is no stopping Baby Shark. He had a great game and threatened the song is here to stay. But we all knew that in our hearts. It is only a matter of time before it replaces the national anthem before games. Do not fight it any longer, simply bow down to our new baby shark overlords.

 

UCF lost to Duke in the second round in a very Duke way. Every single bounce went the Blue Devils way at the end, to the point that it was bizarre even for Duke. It’s one thing when you have a demonstrably crooked ref who clearly has the fix in for you, but this was just missed shots that should’ve been easy and giving up freakish offensive rebounds on missed free-throws. Now, as a big fan of Zion and as someone who picked Duke in his bracket (we are the worst people), I was fine with it. But the video from the UCF locker room is really tough to watch.



As hard as that game was to watch for a UCF fan, imagine being head coach Johnny Dawkins. The former Duke star had to watch his son, who played amazing, miss a late game-winning shot. My heart breaks for my daughter if she misses a PK in soccer, in a league where they don’t keep score and the kids care a thousand times more about the postgame snack than anything that happens in the game. I can’t imagine what it would be like to see your son leading the team you’re coaching in one of the biggest upsets of the year, only to see it crumbling away in the final seconds.

And I think that’s part of what makes the NCAA tournament so great. It’s an incredible roller coaster of emotions. You see an end-of-the-rotation guy get hot and hit a bunch of 3s. You see a future NBA player choke in the limelight and watch another have the game of his life in the next. And most importantly, you see that these guys care. Too often in professional sports, the fans care much more about the wins and losses than the players. If a team gets bounced from the playoffs, those millionaires are surely disappointed, and it might ruin their week before they are back to the grindstone working towards the next year or their next team. For some fans though, they live and die by those wins and losses. There is not the same disconnect at the college level, especially in a game with the immediacy of basketball, where the teams are smaller and the fans (and TV cameras) are right on top of them. You can see how much emotion they have, how much they care, and that makes you feel more invested as a fan.

If you need more evidence that college sports are great, some kids are now getting scholarships for e-sports. I wish I had been born a decade or two later, so I could have fully committed to the video game life. Now there is a clear career path for gamers, and that rules. And I get to be one of those ancient old-timers who can still talk about ‘the good old days’ playing EA Sports College Football.

 

MLB Dad Plays It Cool When Son on Opposing Team Hits a Home Run + More

Son homers Against MLB Dad
(Twitter/NBCSWhiteSox)

Alek Thomas was in high school a year ago and Wednesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks prospect homered in a spring game against the Chicago White Sox. What makes a mildly cool story even better was that his dad was in the opposing dugout when it happened.

His dad, Allen Thomas, has been the White Sox director of strength and conditioning for nearly two decades. Alex practically grew up at the ballpark, so I can’t imagine what this moment was like for them. I do know, however, that Allen held his poker face far longer than anyone could’ve expected.

I think the highest I’ve jumped in the last two years was when my daughter kicked the game-winning goal in a soccer game between five-year-olds where I was the only one keeping score. There is zero chance I could’ve been that cool in a moment like this.

If that was my kid, the second he crossed home plate I would’ve jumped out of the opposing dugout and run crazily around the infield like one of those impossible-to-catch soccer hecklers. Then I would’ve signaled to the PA announcer to play my pre-scheduled music cue, at which point I would dramatically tear off my White Sox jersey, revealing my son’s Arizona jersey beneath, like a pro wrestler making a full heel turn.

Spring training might just be take your kid to work month for Major Leauge Baseball, as the Cincinnati Reds first base coach Delino DeShields got to exchange lineup cards with Texas Rangers center fielder….Delino DeShields. In case you were wondering when Texas plays Cincinnati during the regular season, come on, you already know it’s Father’s Day weekend.

The other sports video that took the internet by storm this past week was a youth basketball game. If you’re curious why so many people have been spreading it around, I’m pretty sure it’s because it is a classic example of how bad sports officiating has become. It’s pretty clear that #50 travels like four times RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REF! How does he not even see that???? The fix was in, I’m tellin ya.

March Madness is just heating up but we already have one-star performance, after Ja Morant put on a clinic when No. 12 Murray State blew out No. 5 Marquette. Zion Williamson has made his mark as one of the most impressive prospects in more than a decade, but Morant may have done enough to get himself to second. If you ask his dad, he thinks he should go even higher than one, which is exactly how I would act after my kid put up a performance like that. Honestly, it’s not even fair to put a microphone in front of a parent’s face after that, of course, they are going to say something nutty.

In sports dad revenge news, Richard Pitino coached No. 10 Minnesota in a big win over No. 7 Louisville, the school that fired his dad, Rick. At least, that’s the narrative that was being pushed by a small part of basketball media. Rick did, after all, get Louisville entangled in one of the biggest bribery scandals to hit college sports in years. So, I don’t know that I’m quite on board for the revenge story when his dad was a disgraced coach who led his program to more FBI investigations than championships (granted, how you view his legacy depends on how much you value things like vacated final fours and sex scandals).

No matter how you spin it, it doesn’t pack quite the emotional punch of a major leaguer still trying to get his dad’s attention after hitting a home run.

Stand-up Dad of the Week: Nate Bargatze [WATCH]

Stand-up Dads: Nate Bargatze
(YouTube/Link TV Instagram/natebargatze)

Every week we showcase a talented stand-up comedian whose jokes clearly indicate that he’s married… with children.

Usually, you try very hard to keep your baby from crying. Parents often have Vietnam-esque flashbacks to the days of hour intervals of sleep punctuated by the piercing screams of a newborn. But, there is one time you want your baby to cry.


Comedian Nate Bargatze is one of the best comedians you (maybe) haven’t heard of. He cut his teeth in New York, both his comedy albums (Yelled at by a Clown/Full Time Magic) were in the Billboard top ten, but the Nashville comedian is best known for his Netflix half-hour special and his late night performances on Conan and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

 

Both of his albums are terrific, as is his Netflix half-hour. Check them out, find him at a live show, like him on Facebook and make yourself happier by filling your life with more laughter.

This late night set on The Tonight Show about running into his wife’s ex-boyfriend, taking his daughter to Disney World, helping with homework, and going back in time is an outstanding place to start.

Coach Miles Takes a Tumble, Kids Are Key to Winning NCAA Pools & More

Coach Miles Takes a Tumble
(Twitter/JKollerKLKN)

I was in second grade the first time I filled out an NCAA bracket. I was a sports nerd and carefully cut one out of the sports section of the newspaper (a sentence that makes me feel 95 years old) and hung my picks up on the fridge, in lieu of art. Unbeknownst to me, my dad copied those picks and entered them into his office pool. I rode a hot first-weekend into a cool second place overall finish, giving me enough money to buy candy cigarettes for months. And thus my love affair with gambling was born.

The important thing to take away from this is that it’s a savvy dad move. The NCAA tournament is one time you should feel OK about making money off your kids. I would never advocate locking your kids in a room with a camera and sacks of toys until he/she became an unboxing-phenom and god help any parent of an Instagram “influencer”. Stage parents, pageant moms and alcoholic little leaguer dads all move through the world with a nostalgic sadness and desperation that does its share of damage to kids. But using your kid’s bracket to win some beer money is harmless, and is one of the perks of having a kid.

Everyone has been bounced out of an NCAA tournament pool by someone’s kid. It’s frustrating, but it’s also a lot harder to be mad at some precocious kid than it is to hate the new guy who eats tuna every day and picked his bracket based off mascots. And kids do seem to have a necessary ignorance of college basketball that wins pools. It’s not the person trusting ESPN analysts or new-fangled algorithms (stop trying to use math to cheat, it’s too much like homework!) that usually win these things, it’s someone’s kid or an elderly administrative assistant.

Kids are also an excellent excuse to get out of work to watch games. There’s not a boss alive who would believe you scheduled a conveniently timed dentist appointment for Thursday afternoon, but that boss won’t raise an eye at anything involving a kid (an appointment/after-school function/post bail/etc.). Skipping out on work and watching four basketball games at once at a sports bar while drinking beer and eating wings is one of the purest joys as a sports fan. I think more sporting events should be played during work hours.

We already have our first major college basketball tournament highlight, when Nebraska coach Tim Miles had a comically-beautiful fall walking off the court. Five stars, highly recommend.

The tournament comes at a great time for the college sports world, in light of the college admission bribery scandal that’s been dominating the news coverage. After reading about parents paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their kids into college, I was left feeling two things. First, shocked that the “photoshopping a head onto the body of an athlete” plan worked. That’s the same level of careful planning I used to fake my 9th-grade report card, I could’ve been using those skills to earn real money.

But, overall, I mostly feel like I’m not doing enough for my kids. Parents are out here dropping half a million for their kids to get into college and I’m over here feeling like a hero when I drop $14 at Chick-Fil-A.

The Cleveland Browns…are going to be good? The Browns made a blockbuster move when they acquired Odell Beckjham Jr. and Cleveland is starting to look like a real playoff contender. The Cleveland Browns. The same team that will bring a coach that went 1-15 back for another season. Even in a universe where the Cubs won the World Series, I thought we’d always have the Cleveland Browns to make fun of. But here we are, as they continue to make competent football moves and have an actually talented roster. They should win the AFC North, which still feels weird to type. I’m not ready for a sports world where the Washington Generals become a winning franchise.

Finally, Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins has a terrific tribute to her father, the iconic sports writer Dan Jenkins.

LeBron Is Better Than Jordan, UFC Fighter Dislocates Shoulder Celebrating & More

(Twitter/Ringer YouTube/ESPN MMA)

LeBron James passed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list and it seems like an important time to state an objective truth: LeBron James is better at basketball than Michael Jordan. LeBron is a far superior rebounder, can guard more positions, scored more than Jordan, has more assists than Jordan, has hit more game-winning shots than Jordan.

Forget about the fact that LeBron seems like a better guy, teammate and human (the championship undid all the damage done by The Decision) and forget that he never gambled himself to the point that he needed to play another sport for a year. If you were starting a basketball team from scratch, you would take LeBron over Jordan every single time.

After all, Jordan is 56 years old, out of shape, and hasn’t played professional sports in YEARS. No debate.



A touching moment that night was shared between LeBron and Lakers guard Alex Caruso.


The biggest sports story on the internet a few weeks ago was the 4-year-old who was mic’d up for hockey practice. While it’s a cute story, there is part of me that lives in abject fear of being in the reverse scenario. I would not want the entire country to see a video of me mic’d up while watching my 4-year-old play soccer. It would be a lot of this:

“Ahhhh, why is she doing that? GO TO THE BA—is she dancing? Why is she dancing?…I have no idea who taught her that word… some of these parents are yelling loud enough that I’m starting to think they have money on this game…

what is she doing now, is she collecting leaves off the field?…please don’t miss the ball, please don’t miss the ball, please don’t miss the ball, SIGH, how did she miss the ball? I’m pretty sure that one kid is old enough that he drove here…why did we sign her up for this?…I never should’ve bet the over on a game where they don’t keep score.”

Killer moves: A UFC fighter knocked out his opponent in less than a minute, and then dislocated his shoulder celebrating. That has to be a crazy range of emotions, to go from winning a fight you spent weeks training for, escaping unscathed before being wrecked by a 90s dance move.


Here’s how it’s done:

Speaking of LeBron earlier, he always saves his best for the playoffs, so I can’t wait to see what’s in store this year. Maybe a guest color analyst?

A 9-year-old girl opened a whole new business line for Steph Curry. In November, she wrote a letter to Curry about how she was disappointed his shoes didn’t come in girl sizes. So, Curry responded and promised that would change. On International Women’s Day March 8, Curry and Under Armour dropped a new color of the Curry 6 and had the girl add her personal design touch. The money raised from the shoe sales will go to a scholarship for female students in the Bay area. This entire story has inspired me to keep a list of celebrities for my daughter to call out when she gets older. Also, it’s very inspiring to see anyone anywhere actually writing a letter.

In far less empowering news, there is going to be a new movie starring Will Smith as the father of tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams. So, instead of making a movie about iconic female athletes and some of the best players of all time…we’re just going to make a movie about their dad and how he’s the real hero? Cool…cool.

Don’t Let Your Kids Hit Athletes, Breakin’ in 2024 and Ja Rule’s Curse

(Twitter/WorldWideRob Getty/verity jane smith/Anadolu Agency)

Russell Westbrook was on the sideline in a recent game when a young Denver fan sitting courtside took a miniature swipe at him. That’s when the grown man stared daggers into the child until he sat down. And then the OKC All-Star had something to say to his dad.

“He hit me,” said Westbrook after the game. “So I told his dad, you know, just, “Be careful man, you can’t just have your son hitting random people.” I don’t know him, he don’t know me, so.”

They smoothed things over before play resumed but that must have been a terrifying three seconds for that dad when the explosive professional athlete made him responsible for his child’s actions. Kids can get you into all kinds of trouble, but hopefully they don’t get you into the kind of trouble where you have to spend 1.5 seconds wondering if you’re gonna have to fistfight a superhuman.

It reminded me of the schoolyard “my dad can beat up your dad” taunts, if only the kid was talking that smack directly to other dads.

(I do wonder if that has ever in history been the cause of a fight. Like, maybe there’s one dad out there who was like “Woooof, well, I have to defend the honor of my trash-talking third-grader, so now I’m gonna wrestle a stranger.”).

Nevermind the fact that “he don’t know me” is sort of a bizarre response to any interaction WITH A CHILD, Westbrook is in the right here. And I’d like to think that dad will properly discipline his child for humiliating him as a parent on national TV, but any child sitting in courtside seats at an NBA game is probably pretty spoiled already. His dad will probably threaten him with a weeklong iPad ban before letting him off with time served (the screenless drive home from the game).

It looks like breakdancing could be an official sport at the 2024 Olympics. I’m all for it, since some Olympic events seem like a glorified middle school field day anyway. But let’s go all the way, and add even more sports. Tops on my list would be water balloon toss. Could it be a disaster? Sure. Could it become just as fun to watch as curling? I mean, yeah, probably. Water Balloon toss in 2024, followed by beer pong in 2028.

The NFL may cut down on TD celebrations, which is the type of buzzkill thing the NFL is known for. It’s the NFL way, to make a needlessly boring rules change to try and take a criminal out of the news cycle.

College basketball’s scandal that wasn’t. While some coaches are facing possible jail sentences from the FBI investigation, it seemed like this was all going to be much, much worse than it seems so far. It’s possible that some programs will face major consequences once the court battles are all sorted out, but one of the biggest stories in college basketball last year is little more than an afterthought now. I thought Sean Miller would never be coaching again, and he’s still on the sidelines for the Wildcats somehow. Truly bizarre, although I think most rational fans would not be shocked at some of the shadiness that exists with recruiting 5-star players. All the more reason to pay the players.

The Curse of Ja Rule Ja Rule stole someone else’s gimmick when he tried to curse several NBA teams on social media after a bizarre half-time performance in Milwaukee. Regardless, you would have to feel pretty good being cursed by him, as recent history has taught us you do not want to be on the same side as Ja Rule in anything.

Kids Boost Brands, Lightsaber Sports and a Caddie Paid Under Par

(Getty/Streeter Lecka/EyeEm Twitter/MailSport)

Few things are as good for a professional athlete’s brand as their kids. Isaiah Thomas was the latest example as a cameo from his 7-year-old son in a postgame interview with NBA TV stole the show.


In an age where the internet seemingly exists only to drag famous people for even the slightest of missteps, kids are a surefire antidote to the amorphous hate. Steph Curry’s daughter has been the highlight of post-game press conferences and we’re only a month removed from sports media twitter canonizing Drew Brees for playing catch with his kids.

Social media has made players more accessible than ever before and too many sports fans use this world-changing technology to unleash torrents of toxicity. Seeing a player with their kid helps people remember they are human. What a sad sentence to have to write in 2019, but it’s true.

It even works for Tom Brady. The greatest quarterback of all time also seems like a robot with a quack trainer and an excessively disciplined lifestyle. His day-to-day seems as boring as it would need to be in order to be effective at his age in the most brutal sport. But seeing him with his daughter after the Super Bowl made you see him as just another dad.


Throwing a kid into the equation or giving fans a window into your home life seems like a home run every single time. It’s impossible to get bad press when your kid is involved. Like any rule, of course, there are exceptions. In this case, that exception would is named Adrian Peterson.

The Chicago Cubs owner had to apologize recently for his dad’s racist emails. As the son of a billionaire, I’m sure this isn’t much of a blip on his radar, but it does feel like it’s setting a weird precedent. Yes, the emails were racist and bigoted, but crazy conspiracy email is not the province of the insanely rich, and the last thing we need is the expectation that we all have to answer for our parents internet habits. While I don’t want to be part of the gotcha culture we live in now, I will meet it halfway and cosponsor a bill to ban computers for anyone over the age of 70.

Lightsaber dueling is now an officially recognized sport in France and I am genuinely surprised at how quickly I got over my shock. I still remember a time when sports fans spent entire months pointlessly arguing about whether or not NASCAR was a “sport.”

I guess the groundwork has been laid by nerd sports like Quidditch and the growing prevalence of eSports. It does seem a little absurd that competitors have to wear body armor, because if Star Wars movies have taught me anything, it’s that armor is ineffective even against rocks thrown by a tree muppet.

If you want someone to get mad at, I’m all in on the Matt Kuchar loathing. He won 1.3 million in a tournament and then paid his caddie (granted, it wasn’t his usual caddie) $5,000, which is about $125,000 short of what a normal caddie would expect in that scenario. His publicly manicured “apology” was confusing and vague. For example, during his damage control rounds, it was a little bizarre that he released a statement and spoke to the press before calling the caddie. He needs to tweet a picture of his kid handing the caddie a giant check.

Finally, as someone who has worked in hockey broadcasting, this is one of the most terrifying videos I have ever seen:

The Worst Sport for Parents, Zion’s Block and Rivers Defends Dad

(Getty/Steve Nagy Twitter/ESPN/Bleacher Report)

My daughters are still in the kids sports limbo of scoreless soccer, so I haven’t made the jump into the world of being a sports dad just yet. But as we’re getting closer, it makes me wonder, what is the worst sport for your kid to play?

After several compulsory tours in the soccer world, I transitioned to basketball in middle school, playing on a team where everyone had to play at least a little bit of the game. I didn’t even know that was required until the morning after a game, our coach called me to apologize for not playing me the night before. That call was a bummer to get because I actually had played in the game the night before. Apparently, I made such an impression that my coach spent his night wracked with guilt, before placing an early-morning phone call to apologize to a 9-year-old. Either that or my coach was engaged in some next-level trolling that I completely missed.

The next year I started playing ice hockey and made a travel team by junior high. Only recently have I realized how much that must’ve sucked for my parents. I went from playing games at normal times in reasonably heated gyms to 7 a.m. practices in unfathomably cold strip-mall sportsplexes. Throw in the fun extras of hours of travel, hotel stays, and exponentially more expensive equipment, and that’s a pretty rough trade-off for a parent.

*obligatory disclaimer about how I’ll support my kids in whatever sport/activities they want to pursue goes here*

But for real, what are the worst sports experiences that I can hopefully avoid? I was performing at a comedy club in Atlanta last year and there were several teams from a youth dance competition staying in my hotel. At breakfast, one of the families was wearing team-branded t-shirts, except for the dad, who was wearing a custom “I don’t dance, I finance!” shirt. He seemed profoundly unhappy, despite a better than normal breakfast offering from the Holiday Inn Express.

It’s hard not to be on the Zion Williamson hype train. It’s so much cooler to hate what everyone loves, but no one can remain nonplussed after watching that block. I was at a sports bar before going to a college basketball game last week and caught the last five minutes of the Duke-Virginia game. Almost immediately, a nearly 300-pound man flew through the air to block what was previously a comically wide-open 3-point-attempt. Those incredible athletic moments transcend all rational Duke-hatred (I understand it, even if I don’t fully practice it) and remind you why sports are fun.

College athletes shouldn’t have to sit out when they transfer. Recruiting is a ruthless business and coaches can say whatever they want to get a kid on campus, then bolt as soon as a better job opens up. College football coaches are freaking out because of the transfer portal and the concern about “free agency”, but the players deserve it.

Austen Rivers quickly shut up a fan after he insulted his dad. It’s a minor thing, but as a stand-up comedian, it is very gratifying to see someone trying hard to be obnoxious get put in his place. The team probably isn’t thrilled to have him engage at all, but it is funny to see how fast the guy shuts up.

The comic of the week is Chad Daniels. If you aren’t familiar with him, his recent album, Footprints on the Moon, is outstanding. His late night sets are among the best in comedy and if you are completely unfamiliar with him, you can start below. He is one of the best.

The Super Bowl Was Garbage and the President’s Kid Can’t Play Football

(Getty/Elsa)

The Super Bowl was garbage and it was loved only by two kinds of people: Bostonians and people over the age of 50. If there is one thing old people love, it’s “the way things used to be,” so an astonishingly boring Super Bowl made up mostly of errant third-down passes, unremarkable punts and good enough defense is like reruns of M*A*S*H* to them (that’s such an old reference that I wouldn’t have known to put the * in there without Googling it).

Even before it was over, you heard nearly 60-year-old Jim Nantz haughtily mocking “the year of unstoppable offense” that was the 2018 NFL season and launching into a boring soliloquy about how defense truly wins championships. As if we weren’t coming off two wildly entertaining Super Bowl shootouts and an incredible conference championship weekend. We were due for a dud.! Yes, the child-coach of the Rams was dramatically outcoached by grizzled veteran (“football is war”-old people) Bill Belichick, but the game really has changed, offense is here to stay, and we’ll be back to Super Bowls that rarely dip below 60 points before we know it.

The commercials were fine. It’s 2019 and America’s new favorite pastime is hating things online, so of course, the commercials could live up to no one’s expectations. Just like last year. And the year before. People treat Super Bowl commercials like they do Saturday Night Live, and wax nostalgically about how they used to be funny. Yet, SNL continues to churn out some of the funniest people in the world (if you really need proof, start with Kate McKinnon and John Mulaney) and Super Bowl commercials weren’t any better or worse than they were last year. Some of them were even funnier than just OK! Like, what could be funnier than a universe where people prefer Pepsi over Coke?

I missed half of the game. My daughters are three and five, so their Super Bowl hype lasted about a quarter before they were whining about being bored with the intensity of the first five minutes of a long car ride. So, I selflessly missed some of the most boring Super Bowl ever and even missed what I can only assume was a legendary halftime show from Maroon 5. I hope they appreciate my sacrifice.

Where was Todd Gurley? The Rams have the best running back in football and he seemingly fell off a cliff after he finished terrorizing my fantasy football season. He was a complete nonfactor in the NFC Championship game and barely played in the Super Bowl. Both Gurley and his coach insist he was healthy, which only makes it more confusing that one of the best weapons in football spent most of his Super Bowl as a spectator. It’s like the end of the Sopranos, everyone has a theory about what really happened, none of them are ever confirmed, and we will all sort of lose interest eventually. But this was very bizarre!

President Trump would have a hard time letting his kid play football. I know just typing his name has likely caused dozens to reflexively chamber some very helpful and productive internet comments, but divorce yourself of your cyber warrior role for a minute and consider it from the hypothetical. How could ANY president’s kid play football? Every game would become an absurd spectacle. Any time he dropped back to pass, the first quarterback would be protected by an offensive line of grown secret service agents looking to punish anyone who even dares to get close (in the NFL, these people are refs and the President’s son is Tom Brady).

In fact, I’m not entirely sure that this isn’t the plot of an existing Disney channel movie. Besides, the children of billionaires have their own category of sports, which don’t exist anywhere else besides Harvard and Yale (you don’t really see too many pickup games of rowing).

I joked about being a degenerate gambler in this space last week, but there are certain moments where you feel like you’ve hit a new low. For me, it was right after the game where I had to exchange several texts with friends to find out what color Gatorade was dumped on Bill Belichick to see if we hit our prop bet on red (we did not).

I used to work in sports talk radio in Cincinnati and got to witness first-hand the misery of people who live and die by one team. Few things are sadder than watching someone base their happiness on the hope of Marvin Lewis winning a Super Bowl. I learned that one of the most important things as a sports fan is to diversify your portfolio of favorite teams. Don’t go all-in on one. Entire sports fan years of mine have been saved because I follow a college basketball team that is a perennial factor in March. In years they’ve been bad, I’ve been picked up by a great year by the college football team I root for, or that one time the Bengals were actually good.

That being said, this was not a great month for me. My college basketball team is having its worst season in decades, my college football team is Notre Dame, which got obliterated in the college football playoffs. I became a Knicks fan when I lived in New York, and they just gave away their best player since Patrick Ewing, and the Bengals just announced their new head coach is a position coach on the recently humiliated L.A. Rams offense. Sports are so fun!

Super Bowl Ads, Loser T-Shirts, Brady and Prop Bets

(Getty/Jim Rogash/spxChrome)

This Sunday, millions of people around the country will take the rare action of getting together to enjoy an American past time that is on a decidedly downward trajectory: commercials. In the era of cord cutting, streaming and mobile devices attached to our palms to distract us when confronted with more than seven seconds of boredom, commercials have never been less relevant. My kids are so used to getting every show on-demand that commercials are going to be my generation’s version of “walking to school in the snow uphill both ways.”

When I was a kid, I used to complain that I wanted to “watch cartoons.” Now, my 5-year-old daughter whines that she wants to watch season four, episode six of“Spirit” on Netflix.

The Super Bowl will briefly make commercials relevant again, as some parties will probably have more people interested in the commercials than the game (especially true amongst Rams “fans”). Even this tradition is dying, though, as most of the next-day discussion will center on how they weren’t as funny as they used to be (frogs and dogs selling beer are the height of the medium, and this cannot be debated). Brands aren’t helping the decline of the Super Bowl commercial as they try to capitalize on #buzz by releasing their Super Bowl commercials weeks before the game and seemed locked in a contest to out-woke each other. A few years ago, I had a fever dream where McDonald’s made a commercial about letting people pay for meals with random acts of kindness, which I suppose we should’ve all seen as the point-of-no-return.

Football isn’t far behind the television commercial when it comes to optimism about the future, but none of that matters on Sunday when the entire country will be riveted by both.

Speaking of the big game, if you weren’t actively rooting for New England 18 years ago or born into a Patriots family, you are legally obligated to root for the Rams. Sure, even the people in their city don’t really care for the Rams, but rooting for Tom Brady And the Interchangeable White Guys isn’t much different from telling people your favorite basketball team is the Harlem Globetrotters.

Keep an eye on Tom Brady, says The Ringer! Tom Brady vs. Aaron Donald is the “Must-See” matchup of the Super Bowl, according to The Ringer. I … I don’t even know how we could not see that. One is literally the most famous person currently playing the sport, and the other starts every play inches away from him, so you’d be hard-pressed to miss that one (while the headline is terrible, there is some great game analysis in the story).

The t-shirts of the losing team being sent to some impoverished third-world country is a tradition we can probably end. I know their heart is in the right place, but I don’t think a ton of good comes out of dressing a 7-year-old in an XXXL championship t-shirt meant for an offensive lineman. In 2010, an earthquake-ravaged Haiti, killing more than 100,000 and affecting millions. Weeks later, Haiti was sent the t-shirts for the Super Bowl losing Indianapolis Colts, as if they hadn’t suffered enough.

Instead, the NFL should auction that limited inventory and donate the money raised to those countries. There would be no better way to troll your Atlanta-based friends than by wearing a Falcons Super Bowl LI Champions shirt around them.

Let’s not pretend that gambling isn’t a major reason football is popular, and dive right into the most fun prop bets. The over/under for the number of plays that Tony Romo correctly predicts is 7.5. That seems high, but you’ve gotta take it, just because it will make listening to the announcers interesting and give you a legitimate reason to shush the annoying person at your party when he begins a soliloquy about the evil of straws.

For the coin toss, bet heads. Betting on a coin toss is a real thrill. Did I just wander into degenerate territory here? Well, while we’re here…for the national anthem, go with the under 1 minute, 47 seconds, and I also like the announcers to talk about Rams head coach Sean McVay’s age more than once (although it won’t be much more, since they are likely aware of this prop bet and don’t want to go overboard with it).


Andrew Whitworth deserves a Super Bowl ring. As a Bengals fan, I’ve followed Whitworth’s career for a long time, and he’s always been a terrific human. Beloved by teammates, does a ton of work for the community, one of the best offensive linemen in football for years. All of that means nothing when it comes to winning the Super Bowl, of course, but it’d still be cool to see! Part of me also believes Whitworth should get it because most of the Patriots already have one, an equally nonsensical point. I don’t know why I’m treating Super Bowl rings like they are Legos I’m trying to get my kids to share.

Speaking of Brady, there’s little he can do in this game to change his legacy. He’ll be remembered as one of the game’s all-time greats regardless of the outcome Sunday. One thing he CAN do in this game that could change his legacy: kneel during the national anthem. It’s such a polarized act, and so many people would be utterly
confused about how to process it, taking the knee might be the thing that finally melts down the entire hot-take ecosystem.

Not only that, but the refs would throw a flag for roughing the passer as soon as his knee hit the ground (as is customary when Brady hits the turf), taking NFL officiating to the logically ridiculous place it needs to be to get meaningful change for the future.

And then Brady can go down in history as the most influential person in football both on and off the field.

Mark Chalifoux is a writer and stand-up comedian. His recent comedy album, Think Fast, opened at No. 2 on iTunes and is heard regularly on SiriusXM. His writing has appeared on ESPN.com, CBS Digital, The Baltimore Sun and the Cincinnati Enquirer.