The Sports Report: Chip Kelly explains why fans are staying away from UCLA football games

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson runs for a five-yard gain.
Not a lot of people in the stands watching UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson on Saturday.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Ben Bolch: Build a schedule filled with brand names and they will come.

That was Chip Kelly’s message Monday when the UCLA coach addressed the team’s sagging attendance at the Rose Bowl. Already this season, the Bruins have drawn the two smallest crowds since they began calling the venerable stadium home in 1982, including 29,344 on Saturday against South Alabama.

“Attendance, I think when you look at it, especially here on the West Coast, is probably relative to your opponent and really knowledge of the opponent,” Kelly said, alluding to a lack of awareness about South Alabama.

“People know the name of LSU [a UCLA opponent last season that drew 68,123]. I think what’s kinda lost on me is that you don’t understand that South Alabama, just cause it’s a regional school from the Sun Belt [Conference], but that’s as good a football team as we’ve played in the last two years … but they don’t have name recognition and I get that.”


UCLA’s no-name schedule that also included Bowling Green and Alabama State — a Football Championship Subdivision opponent the Bruins added after Michigan backed out of two games — has left it with an average home attendance of 30,072 that ranks 10th in the Pac-12, above only Oregon State (26,475) and Washington State (24,422). (For context, Oregon State’s capacity has been reduced to 26,407 during renovations at Reser Stadium and the team has played one of its home games this season at Providence Park in Portland.) The Bruins’ number is less than half the 63,670 that USC has averaged for its first two home games.

Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman ripped fans from his alma mater Saturday on Twitter, calling the attendance “an embarrassment” while also acknowledging his top-ranked Bruins couldn’t fill the Rose Bowl for a game against Washington State in 1988.

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From Mike DiGiovanna: Batting average is considered old-fashioned in today’s analytics-driven game, a statistical relic that has been replaced by on-base percentage, slugging percentage and wins above replacement as more accurate measures of offense, and a batting title doesn’t carry the weight it used to.

“It does for me,” Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman shot back before Monday night’s 5-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks before a crowd of 44,854 in Chavez Ravine.

“I know people don’t put as much stock in batting average and RBIs, but if you go to a stadium, what numbers do they put on the scoreboard? It’s batting average, home runs and RBIs. If they don’t really care, then take them off the board.”

Freeman’s defense of batting average might be a little personal. The 2020 National League most valuable player and 2021 World Series champion with the Atlanta Braves is in position to win the first batting title of his 13-year-career, his major league-leading .329 average seven points better than St. Louis slugger Paul Goldschmidt (.322) in NL.

Freeman has hit .300 or better seven times but has never won an NL batting title and the Tony Gwynn trophy that comes with it. He finished second with a .341 mark to Washington’s Juan Soto (.351) in 2020.


From Bill Shaikin: These are the first words of the MVP ballot: “There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide.”


There is a disturbance in the force, and his name is Shohei Ohtani.

In the Angels’ 2-1 victory over the presumably playoff-bound Seattle Mariners on Saturday, Ohtani scored one run, drove in one run, and allowed no runs. This is about as close as you can get to winning a game by yourself. That seems pretty valuable.

Ohtani can do this in any given start. No one else can.

Ohtani is 28. He can keep this up.

That really is the undercurrent of the Ohtani vs. Aaron Judge MVP debate: If Ohtani wins this year, he might just win every year. Is that fair?

Perhaps the emergence of a two-way superstar should prompt the BBWAA to define “valuable,” and to explore whether there is a way out of what is starting to become another tedious debate, intensified because Judge plays for the New York Yankees.

If the distinguished Judge were on the verge of hitting his 60th home run for the Houston Astros — a team with a better record than the Yankees — he would not be generating the attention that comes with playing in the league’s biggest media market. We would not be subjected to the East Coast bias that produces such absurd lines as this: “Almost no one not currently employed by the Angels or living in Orange County, Calif. actually believes someone other than Judge could be MVP.”


Angels mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in loss to Mariners


From Gary Klein: The Rams open play in the NFC West on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals — and they will do so with another different offensive line combination and possibly an injury-depleted secondary.


Guard Tremayne Anchrum suffered a season-ending ankle injury, and cornerbacks Troy Hill and Cobie Durant suffered groin and hamstring injuries, respectively, in the Rams’ 31-27 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, coach Sean McVay said Monday.

McVay said he would be surprised if Hill is ready to play against the Cardinals and that Durant would be “week to week.”

Anchrum, a third-year pro, had his first career start end after two plays. McVay said Anchrum was injured on the first play, but he played one more snap before he was carted off the field. He had surgery Monday.

Alaric Jackson replaced Anchrum and helped the Rams rebound from their season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills. Jackson, a second-year pro, had practiced primarily as a swing tackle to back up Joe Noteboom and Rob Havenstein.


Elliott: Rams might have lost edge against Falcons, but don’t underestimate winning progress

Rams welcome family of Agoura’s Carter Stone to practice



From Kevin Baxter: At a sinewy 5-foot-3, Andrea Castillo looks like a soccer player — something she once was growing up in Panama.

But it didn’t take long to realize that “the beautiful game” wasn’t for her.

She was 12, just entering secondary school, when she gave up fútbol for the fledging sport of flag football. It proved to be a good move for the now 18-year-old, who this summer quarterbacked Panama to a bronze medal in the World Games in Birmingham, Ala.

“I think a lot about that,” she said of the decision to quit one of her country’s most popular sports for one that had little more than a cult following. “I’ve been growing with flag football. … I have had the opportunity to be in all these events and have all these achievements at a young age.”

The sport has blossomed almost as quickly as Castillo’s career. And while the global appeal of the National Football League has helped fuel flag football’s rise in Panama and elsewhere, about the only thing the two sports share is the shape of the ball.


1913 — Twenty-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet beats Britain’s Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in an 18-hole playoff to win the U.S. Open.

1924 — Grover Cleveland Alexander wins his 300th game as the Chicago Cubs defeat the New York Giants 7-3 in 12 innings.


1939 — Joe Louis knocks out Bob Pastor in the 11th round at Briggs Stadium in Detroit to retain the world heavyweight title.

1973 — Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in straight sets to win the Battle of the Sexes and the $100,000 winner-take-all purse at Houston’s Astrodome.

1980 — Spectacular Bid wins the Woodward Stakes in the world’s richest walkover. Before a crowd of 23,000 spectators, the 4-year-old covers the 1¼ miles at Belmont Park in 2:02.4. It’s the last race of his career and he finishes the year undefeated in nine races and is named American Horse of the Year. There had not been a walkover in a major U.S. stakes race since Coaltown won the Edward Burke Handicap on April 23, 1949.

1982 — The NFL Players Association announces a strike at the completion of the Green Bay-New York Giants Monday Night game.

1987 — Chicago’s Walter Payton breaks Jim Brown’s NFL record with his 107th rushing touchdown as the Bears beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-3.

1988 — Greg Louganis wins Olympic gold medal in springboard diving, one day after hitting his head on the diving board in the preliminary round. Louganis, who needed five stitches, is solid throughout the 11-dive program. His 730.80 points wins the gold, beating China’s Tan Liangde. Tan, who finishes with 704.88 points, also finished second to Louganis in the 1984 Olympic Games.


1992 — Raymond Floyd makes PGA Tour history, becoming the first player to win tournaments on the regular and Senior PGA tours in the same year. Floyd birdies five of his last seven holes to win the GTE North Classic after winning the Doral-Ryder Open in March on the regular tour.

2003 — Rashaun Woods of Oklahoma State, catches seven touchdown passes to set an NCAA Division I-A record in the Cowboys’ 52-6 win over SMU. Woods breaks the mark of six set by San Diego State’s Tim Delaney in a 1969 game against New Mexico State. Woods finishes with 13 catches for 232 yards.

2007 — Floyd Landis loses his expensive and explosive case when two of three arbitrators uphold the results of a test that showed the 2006 Tour de France champion used synthetic testosterone to fuel his spectacular comeback victory. Landis forfeits his Tour title.

2009 — The first game at the Cowboys Stadium sets an NFL regular-season attendance record with a crowd of 105,121, and most of them go home disappointed after the Giants win 33-31.

2009 — Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre sets an NFL record with his 271st straight start in a 27-13 win over the Detroit Lions. Defensive end Jim Marshall had the previous mark for consecutive starts, 270 games in a row for Minnesota from 1961-1979.

2015 — The United States beats Europe with the biggest comeback in Solheim Cup history. Paula Creamer beats Germany’s Sandra Gal 4 and 3 to complete the 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory. Europe had a four-point lead entering the 12 singles matches, which the United States win 8 1/2 to 3 1/2 in those matches.


2018 — The World Anti-Doping Agency reinstates Russia, ending a nearly three-year suspension caused by state-sponsored doping.

2021 — Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals, hits his 46th home run to break Hall of Famers Johnny Bench’s MLB record for most home runs in a season by a catcher.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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