Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Columbus's poor "sports town" image resurfaced Tuesday, with news that the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers might be going out of business. The team has lasted all of one season - but so many teams seem to come and go that local sporting goods stores can stay in business.

You may recall we called the President of the American Indoor Football League a few weeks ago [30 Jun - 1 Jul], and he said he knew nothing of reports that the Vipers couldn't pay players and coaches. Now we learn the team has $50,000 in unpaid debts - only they're to everybody else in Columbus.

The evening news reported the Vipers have yet to pay A&H Printing for some team outfits. But even worse, they haven't paid the rent to play at the Columbus Civic Center. There could have been a less expensive place to play a year ago -- but a furniture store had finally moved into the old Phenix City Wal-Mart building.

Columbus City Manager Isaiah Hugley said if the Vipers couldn't pay their bills to play at the Civic Center, the lease agreement might as well be terminated. Am I glad I don't have an insurance policy through his wife....

(Before you search for some sports analogies to show compassion on the Vipers -- remember: baseball has a "mercy rule." Football might have a running clock in the fourth quarter, to end things early.)

The Vipers' financial problems could be traced to the fact that attendance was low this past season. The team simply had too many games on Saturday nights - so it couldn't have any "Thirsty Thursday" promotions.

But I read complaints from some area bloggers before the season even started, about the Vipers not doing much to promote themselves. The team even neglected to tell at least one TV station about its first pre-season game. In 2006, shouldn't free e-mail accounts still be available somewhere?

The Vipers may have prepared for Tuesday's announcement of financial problems by firing head coach Jason Gibson Monday. When the football team has money trouble, it cuts staff - a luxury Columbus Council doesn't seem to have in an election year.

Yet I saw a flyer the Vipers sent out the other day, indicating open dance team auditions are coming up in a couple of weeks. Of course, you don't have to spend much on a dance team - since their skimpy outfits don't require a lot of fabric.

But hope remains that indoor football might survive in Columbus. A new "World Indoor Football League" is forming in seven Southern cities. If that qualifies as the "world," the players might as well be Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The speculation is that the Vipers or a similar team will play in this new league next year. But what will they call the game? "Arena football" is taken already. Indoor football is possible. But they could borrow from the league's initials, and play a year of WIFL-ball.


Watch WTVM "News Leader 9 Morning" Thursday for details about Power Frisbee, and this weekend's "Free Frisbee Sunday" at Grainger Park in LaGrange and Rigdon Park in Columbus! Learn all about this new game right now at the official Power Frisbee of Georgia web site; then offer your comments at the P.F.G. blog.

BLOG UPDATE: Our invitation to the opening of Bob Poydasheff's election headquarters was clarified Tuesday. The campaign kickoff will be late Thursday afternoon - in a workspace we noticed Tuesday seems small, compared to Jim Wetherington's big house on Wynnton Road. And you thought the Republicans had all the election money.

E-MAIL UPDATE: The online feuding involving the mayor's race is just getting started. This message came Tuesday:

If Jim Wetherington gets elected will he arrest "Bob" for leaving the scene of an accident?

OK, let's all sing along with Streisand: "Memories spark the corners of my mind -- tainted memories of elections, and the way they were...."

I don't know if the statute of limitations has run out, for Bob Poydasheff's car collision downtown four years ago. But with all the police buddies Jim Wetherington has, you'd think he'd appoint a "Veteran Detectives for Truth Committee" right now to get to the bottom of that.

(Keep in mind, Bob Poydasheff hasn't done anything in the last four years to reopen the 1981 Columbus High School arson case. But of course, scoffers would say he's been consistent - and hasn't done anything in other areas....)

We'll have to save one other e-mail for another day - as we must quickly wrap off Georgia Runoff day:

+ The high temperature in Columbus hit 100 degrees F. for the fifth time this summer - and I must admit the heat affected me hard this time. Take my eating schedule, for instance. The first meal of the day went in at 2:45 p.m. -- then came back out in two stages, at 4:45 and 6:15. [True!]

+ Our sympathies to the family and friends of Howard Mott, whose death was announced in Tuesday's Ledger-Enquirer. Mott founded the Valley Rescue Mission - and who knows how many lives were changed in Columbus because of that? Not to mention how many donations of Mott's Applesauce he gained....

+ A report presented to Columbus Council showed construction of the main library on Macon Road actually ended one million dollars UNDER budget. Take that, you critics! It's only a $49 million Taj Mahal....

+ Instant Message to sportscaster Jack Rodgers: Welcome back to WRBL for - what is it, the third or fourth time?! How come you haven't convinced the managers to bring Mitzi Oxford and Brad Means back with you?

SCHEDULED THURSDAY: A runoff wrapup.... for the few of you who apparently care....

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