From Left Field

    You really have to feel sorry for most college football fans; the real fans, fans of the big-time programs, anyway. They pay their 50 bucks a game — or $30 or $100, depending on the school — and get abused up one side and down the other.
    When Ohio State season ticket holders left Unhappy Valley or buttoned up their TV after Saturday's win at Penn State, they still had no idea what time their next home game would start — even though the game was scheduled the following Saturday. The TV folks hadn't yet decided what time would best fit into their schedule.
    The Penn State fans got a real treat, a 5:30 game. Not noon, not 3:30, not 8, but 5:30. Who ever heard of a college football game at 5:30? Is that a "tweener"?
    So if you are a loyal, true-blue fan, you pay your money, sit in the stadium whenever TV wants you there, and watch TV repeatedly stop the game for commercials. Add that to what's going on with the in-game reviews and you've got yourself a long day ... or night.
    Sitting at IU a couple weeks back, we were "privileged" to view a game that took three hours and 55 minutes. to complete Yep, that's five minutes shy of four hours. It could have been worse; had the game been on a major network instead of the Big Ten Network the commercial breaks would have been more frequent!
    So a game that TV dictated be played at 8 at night wasn't over until five minutes before midnight! (The one plus to the 8 p.m. start is a longer tailgate session.)
    When one Buckeye fan in the stadium complained about the umpteenth stoppage, an IU fan wanted to know if the complainer was merely worried about not making the (gambling) spread. No, the guy said, I've got a three-hour ride home; I'd like to make it before daybreak.
    Yes, the 101 points (52-49) strung out the game, but so, in addition to the TV stops, did all the official reviews that have become a boring part of college football. We've now reached a point where some officials will review, if allowable under the rules, any close play, apparently to protect their backsides. And fans sit in the stadium, look at the big TV screen and  can see what the call should obviously be ... while the officials in the booth upstairs look at 99 different angles.
    Time passes ... and passes ... and passes ... and you're thinking, JUST MAKE THE •§∞*%$#@$#% CALL AND LET'S MOVE ON!
    And so it goes. Pity the poor folks who pay big bucks to sit through all this — often in foul weather — every Saturday, not those of us who normally relax warm and confortable in front of the big screen and use the constant timeouts to read, or get something to eat, even to, shall we say, "freshen up."

Big Bro, the insurance dude
    Big Brother may be watching us, but standing alongside is Big Insurance Brother.
    Given "recommendations" in an Indiana Municipal Insurance Program report, Berne City Council decided to remove the "swinging gate" and the "witch's hat" from Lehman Park. Ron Dull, a member of city council as well as president of the park board, said the liability assessment report recommended the removal for "safety reasons."
    Both pieces have reportedly been around for decades, but someone with the insurance carrier apparently decided the hat and the gate are no longer "safe" and "recommended" both be removed.
    Of course, if the "recommendation" isn't followed, rates go zooming skyward or the entire park gets the gate — also swinging — from the insurance carrier.
    The liability report, according to Dull, contained "a laundry list of things we need to work on down at the park," including the eventual removal of outdated slides and other safety upgrades.
    Better hope they don't deem the ball diamond "unsafe."

Packin' a piece to vote
    Don't forget to vote Tuesday (if you haven't already). This one is as big as it gets, with all sorts of local races including, for the first time, school board elections. And then there's governor, U.S. Senate and presidential decisions to be made.
    Just as a heads-up, if you see someone walking around in your precinct carrying a gun, don't raise a fuss because he — or she — won't be breaking the law.
    Thanks to the Indiana Legislature, as of July of 2011 local governments cannot restrict firearms from parks, libraries, city halls, fire stations — public buildings which often become voting places on Election Day.