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August 10, 1990 - Image 49

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-08-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

HERE'S
LOOKING AT YOU,
KID.

Balzer says Arena football can survive.

GROHE AMERICA

Photo by George McHendry

Sports Columnist Says
Arena Football Is 'Fun'

MIKE ROSENBAUM

Special to The Jewish News

H

oward Balzer says
Arena football is a
fun sport.
"I enjoy it. That's the way
I always kind of look at it,"
says Balzer, the first and on-
ly football editor which The
Sporting News, a national
weekly newspaper known for
generations as "Baseball's Bi-
ble," has ever had.
"Anyone who has a little
different idea, if it doesn't fit
(some sports fans') purist
beliefs of what a sport should
be, then they're going to be
negative about it. But I view-
ed it from the perspective of
`Hey, let's be open-minded.' "
Balzer is color commentator
for Arena Football League
telecasts, carried in the
Detroit area by the Pass net-
work, and will be in town
Aug. 11 for the AFL's Arena-
Bowl '90 championship game
between the Detroit Drive
and the Dallas rIbxans. The 8
p.m. game at Joe Louis Arena
will be telecast live by Pass,
with Dave Eanet doing
play-by-play.
For the uninitiated, Arena
football is a professional ver-
sion of schoolyard, pick-up
football. Its field is about half
the size (50 yards long, 28 Y3
yards wide, eight-yard end
zones) of a standard gridiron.
There are eight players on
each side, instead of 11, and
the standard salary is $500
per game. The wide-open,
pass-happy and high scoring
game is played in the spring
and summer to avoid competi-
tion with college football and

the National Football League.
The average regular-season
league attendance was 8,900
per game, with the Drive
leading the league at 13,121
average per game.
Balzer, who has been foot-
ball editor of the Sporting
News since 1979, likes the
two-time Arena Bowl cham-
pion Drive, which this year
features the league's best-
known player, former Na-
tional Football League and
Ohio State quarterback Art
Schlichter.
Balzer is impressed by
Schlichter's willingness to
run the ball and to take hard
tackles. Indeed, says Balzer,
Detroit's secret is its running
attack.
"I've been impressed with
Detroit for the last few years,"
Balzer says. "It's interesting
how everyone talks about
Arena football and says it's
passing, passing, passing. And
yet, the reason the Drive has
won is because they have, at
least for Arena football stan-
dards, balance offensively.
They can run the football."
Balzer, who became the
AFL's regular weekly com-
mentator this year, predicted
the Drive's main playoff com-
petition would come from
Dallas. "They've really come
on, playing well at the end.
They have an excellent
quarterback in Ben Bennett."
Balzer says the players in
1986, the AFL's first year,
"weren't anywhere near the
caliber of guys who are play-
ing now." Current players, he
notes, include NFL
draft-picks.
"No, it's not the NFL, ob-

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 49

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