If Maine’s tourism industry is looking for untapped potential – a large group of people with high-paying jobs who apparently never set foot in this state – it should start sending brochures to college football recruiters. If statistics published in a national magazine are to be believed, hardly any recruiters are combining a little leaf peeping with catching a few local high school games each fall. And when it comes to observing spring workouts, well, let’s just say muddy fields and mud season do not make for an attractive tour package.
According to Sports Illustrated, Maine ranks behind such hotbeds of gridiron activity as Sweden, Germany, American Samoa and North Dakota as producers of quality candidates for Bowl Championship Series universities.
In fact, Maine is rated dead last among U.S. states (tied with Wyoming) in the number of major-college prospects it sends to schools eligible for the BCS. Which, over the last five years, has been none.
We need to use some of that federal economic stimulus money to hire personal trainers, import tanker trucks full of protein supplements and put steroids in the water supply.
Otherwise, there’ll be no reason for anyone from Maine to ever watch the Tidy Bowl Bowl or whatever that game is where the wrong teams play for the national championship.
Football isn’t the only sport in which this state is coming up short. Slumping attendance, probably due about equally to a nose-diving economy and a lousy team, appears to have cost Lewiston its minor-league hockey franchise.
According to media reports in Canada, the Lewiston Maineiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (motto: We Have More Words In Our Name Than Your Hockey League) are about to dump us for Boisbriand, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal.
The Maineiacs are playing their sixth season in Lewiston, but drawing less than 1,600 fans per game. Boisbriand is building a new 4,000 seat arena.
Also, if hockey doesn’t work out for these kids, Quebec is one of the many places that sends more players to major college football programs than does Maine. And they don’t even play by the right football rules in Canada.
Lewiston did get some positive national publicity this past week. Positive – but fictional.
Newsweek published an article explaining how the influx of Somali refugees had transformed what had once been a dying mill town into a model of diversity and economic rebirth.
There’s nothing in the story to explain why this wasn’t enough to save the hockey team. Although, there’s also nothing in the piece about the immigrants’ unemployment rate, which, according to published reports last year, is somewhere north of 50 percent. Most of the local people quoted in the magazine said their comments were taken out of context.
That’s an excuse journalists hear all the time, but, for once, I believe them.
The gizmo can be used to track the wearer, thereby allowing college recruiters to keep tabs on hot football prospects.
Sorry, that’s false. I was relying on Newsweek for my information. In reality, the boot may be useful for locating miners who get trapped underground.
But this innovative footwear is hardly my favorite local invention of the week. That honor goes to the mobile robotic hoof tester equipped with ground-penetrating radar that’s been developed by a University of Maine engineering professor in conjunction with a colleague (whose location gets no mention here because I’m still in a snit over how that place comes up with way more college football players than Maine does).
The hoof tester, which took six years of research to create, can be used to examine racetrack surfaces to see if they’re safe for horses, thereby preventing injuries. According to Newsweek, it also locates immigrants who’d like to move to your community and revive it.
There’ll be plenty of places in need of an infusion of new blood if this past week’s economic news is an indicator of what the rest of the year is going to look like.
Blue Hill Memorial Hospital has eliminated 34 positions (15 layoffs) in order to deal with cash flow problems.
L.L. Bean in Freeport is freezing wages for 2009, but still plans to ax 75 to 100 jobs.
Demand is down at Sappi Fine Paper in Westbrook, which means 19 workers have to go.
Fraser Papers in Madawaska is shutting down machines one at a time as orders decline, idling 25 to 75 people for a week or more.
And Miller Ford in Sanford is closing in February. Kiss another 35 positions goodbye.
That was depressing. Let’s get our minds off the economy by discussing sex.
Well, actually it’s just simulated sex. But, still, it beats mentioning the rising foreclosure rate.
Or … oh yeah, I was going to discuss simulated sex.
The move came after KHS officials learned that their football players weren’t being considered for scholarships at major universities because performance on the dance floor can inhibit performance on the playing field.
Sorry, it’s that damn Newsweek, again.
In fact, the strict regulations were put in place after incidents of underage drinking at the school’s homecoming dance in October. Apparently, sexy dancing leads to drinking.
Funny, I always thought it was the other way around.
In any case, students weren’t pleased with the new rules and responded by not buying tickets to the annual Snow Ball. Late last week, the event was in danger of being cancelled, but authorities were unconcerned. One parent involved in developing the new rules said the group had contacted other schools with similar anti-simulated-sex codes and found that the conduct codes affected participation, but only temporarily.
“The majority said it went down at first,” she said. “But then, it rebounded.”
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.