Friday Grab Bag: 30 on 30 Returns, Arena Bowl Tonight

Avitae Arena Bowl XXV

The Arena Football League will crown a champion this weekend when the Arizona Rattlers take on the Philadelphia Soul in New Orleans at 10:30 ET on Aug. 10 for all of the marbles.

Philadelphia reached the championship game by decisively defeating the Jacksonville Sharks 89-34 while the Rattlers reached the final round with a much closer victory over the Utah Blaze, 75-69. The Rattlers will be playing in their second consecutive championship and seventh overall, quite an accomplishment in a 25-year-old league.

What do the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA have in common?

Apparently it is an extreme hatred of a new sports betting lottery game that has been long talked about in New Jersey. The bill would permit gambling on both pro and college sports, and that is something that has the said sports leagues very upset.

From a look at the discussion at ProFootballTalk it looks like New Jersey has a very tough challenge ahead of it. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, relies on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, and the window that would enable New Jersey to allow gambling has long since closed. In addition the state of Delaware has already tried this and lost.

It seems that if the bill does make it past the courts the NFL will retaliate by “punishing” New Jersey by not allowing it to host another Super Bowl. I wonder if a win would open the floodgates to other states also allowing sports betting and what the NFL will try and do about that?

Apple expected to exclude YouTube in iOS 6
Apple is expected to no longer include the popular video viewing app YouTube in the next version of its mobile operating system iOS 6 when that OS is released. The app has been a standard feature included with Apple’s products for the past five years.

Apple said that its license to include the standalone version of YouTube app in its operating system has ended. It can still be used via the Chrome browser and Google is working on a version for the App store. What will the world do without its morning fix of cute animal videos?

Will NBA backpedal on Under-23 rule for Olympics?
NBA Commissioner David Stern had advocated that future Summer Olympics only allow players that are under 23 into the competition. This move would have the affect of saving the NBA’s team owners the angst of worrying about their star players’ health prior to the start of the season.

However it appears that there is a great deal of pushback from the rest of the basketball playing world. It seems that many nations want to send their best athletes, not just the ones that are convenient for the NBA. Who would have guessed?

Anyway it now sounds as if the NBA may just leave well enough alone, at least until a new commissioner replaces Stern, who is running out his term as commissioner.

AT&T Shared data plan on the horizon
AT&T has said that it will launch its mobile share plans, which allow a user to have a data plan that can be used with multiple devices, eliminating the need for a separate plan for each device, on Aug. 23.

The plans will range in size from 1GB to 20GB each and requires at least one smartphone with a unlimited talk and text plan as part of the overall bundle. A user can have a maximum of nine devices on a single plan.

ESPN re-ups 30 for 30 for second season
ESPN’s 30 for 30 series will make a reappearance this year as the sports giant has a new slate of topics that will get a full blown film treatment. The series is scheduled to start on Oct. 2, 8 pm ET with an episode entitled “Broke” about athletes who have burned through their fortunes. The series will run through December and you can head over to ESPN to get the synopsis for the fall offerings.

Google to add voice activated services
Google is once again firing a shot across Apple’s bow as it launches a voice activated service that will run on Apple’s iPhones and so directly compete with Apple’s Siri. The company will also be pushing the app, called “voice search” on the Android platform.

The company expects to release the app for iPhones within the next few weeks and then it will release it for the Android at a later, unspecified date.

Instagram on your camera?
It makes sense on the face of it. You might have a camera that has much greater capabilities compared to the one in your smartphone. Now at least one camera manufacturer is working to deliver both Android in its cameras, but Instagram along with the operating system.

Mashable has reported that Nikon is working on just this solution in its next generation cameras and that one could be available soon. While the vast majority of apps would be relatively worthless, unless the camera is a hybrid of some sort, image apps such as Instagram should find an instant home.

Are you Watching this Weekend’s Arena Football Playoffs?

The Arena Football League playoffs start this week with some returning powerhouses and new up-and-comers as the league continues to make a nice recovery after being left for dead a few years back when it ceased operations.

I have a number of friends that deride the league as bush league but in the few games I have attended I really enjoyed myself. It features very high scoring and continuous action. The short field and odd rules really make it a great viewing spectacle, especially in person where it is an inexpensive yet fun time.

For the first round of playoffs, which will see games played on July 27 and 28 there will be eight games, two apiece in each conference. In the National Conference the San Antonio Talons, founded this year, against the Utah Blades in one set while the other will feature the Arizona Rattlers against the San Jose SaberCats, one of the oldest established teams in the league.

Over on the American Conference side the first week matchups will include the Philadelphia Soul against the New Orleans VooDoo and in the other match there will be the Jacksonville Sharks against the Georgia Force.

The winners from both conferences will meet the following weekend for the conference championships and the week after that is the Avitae ArenaBowl XXV to be held in New Orleans with a 10:30 pm ET kickoff. So New Orleans could have a home field advantage if it manages to win out. Some games will be broadcast on the NFL Network while others will be available online at

Just for those that do not know, the AFL was founded in 1987 and played until the economic downturn of 2007 forced it to dissolve. It was reformed in 2010 and has been playing since with 17 teams in two conferences of two divisions each. The season is 20 weeks long with two bye weeks.

What makes it interesting to me is the field. It is 85 feet wide, 50 yards long and has a 3-yard end zone. Eight players per team and they have four downs to move the ball at least 10 yards. Scoring is a bit wide open with six points for a touchdown with one point for a conversion by place kick, two points for a conversion by drop kick and two points for successful run or pass after a touchdown.

Three points for a field goal by placement or four points for a field goal by drop kick. Missed kicks can be returned by the opposition and a safety is two points. Interesting note is that the AFL is the second longest running football league in the United States, after of course the National Football League.