Tag Archives: sports

Stand up, Sit down…

(Fall 2017)

High school football fans have cheerleaders to help them cheer for the home team.  There are also some unauthorized cheers, and one of them ends with the phrase (and actions) “…stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight!”  That cheer came to mind last weekend as the NFL National Anthem controversy continued.

People have strong opinions on players not standing for the National Anthem.  The same people have opinions on whether children should be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  And, I guess flag burning is probably mixed in as well.

I grew up in a time when respect for our country was assumed.  People put hands on hearts and took off hats for The Anthem and the flag.  My family also took it seriously.  I still do today.

The people protesting have the right to do it, as do the statue haters.  Kneeling before a game is surely a better avenue of protest than burning down buildings and throwing rocks at police.

A wise man once told me that with people there will always be an “us” and a “them.”  Just who the “us” and “them” are changes – sometimes in a heartbeat, like the morning of 9/11/2001.

You can have labor and management, men and women, brothers and sisters, Republicans and Democrats, Christians and Muslims, blacks and whites… it’s just a human tendency to want to be part of a group and identify another group that is in opposition.

Nothing good generally comes of it, of course.  Rather than working together, energy is expended on the battle between “us” and “them.”  And, sometimes there is a true “them” out there threatening us while we aren’t paying attention.

The funny thing is that football teams face the ultimate “us” and “them” fight every week.  I wonder how much that has changed now that the additional “us” and “them” of kneelers and standers have emerged. 

Of course, everybody has something loud to say about it, including the President and the President’s supporters and opponents and the opponents of the opponents.

It’s really a shame.  There are so many wonderful things about our country about which we should all be grateful.  And there is also a lot of work to do, including looking honestly at the issues the protesters are protesting. 

All the “us” and “them” stuff just divides us.  I’m not sure how that can possibly help us Americans accomplish anything positive.    



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World Cup of Feet

(From June 2014)

One of my Facebook “friends” posted that she had World Cup fever a couple of weeks ago. I responded that I had World Cup sniffles. Translation: I have a mild interest in the soccer games that have consumed most of the world. I don’t hate soccer. In fact, I admire that athleticism of soccer players. It just isn’t my favorite game.

I think it was Jimmy Kimmel who did a bit that included video of some soccer players tapping the ball back and forth to each other while the crowd roared. Fifteen seconds of soccer action where nothing happened. It makes for a good joke, but while there are moments like that in soccer, the tying goal scored by Portugal against the U.S. team on Sunday was pretty spectacular, and not boring at all.

There are a number of sports that seem boring to people who don’t know them well. Many people think good old American baseball is boring. And, I guess it can be. But for someone who knows the subtleties of the game, a three ball/two strike count with runners on first and third and one out with a left-handed batter at the plate can be quite exciting. And, I’d say the infield fly rule of baseball is as esoteric as the off-sides rule in soccer.

And, in fairness, the World Cup really does include teams from all over the world, while the World Series excludes most of the world. Just us and Canada.

Professional bowling has an opposite issue to soccer and baseball. In the later two sports, there is hardly any scoring. In pro bowling, the average game involves the bowler knocking down 90+ percent of the possible pins. Strike after strike. Definitely boring to watch. Now, if you were to watch me bowl, there would be far fewer pins knocked down, and much more comedic value, as it is always possible that I might bounce the ball, let it go backwards, or fall down in the process of bowling. Many people would pay good money to watch that!

Some say that NASCAR is nothing but drivers turning left, which is a fair comment. What makes NASCAR fun to watch is the driver relationships, and the risks the drivers take.

Somehow, poker has become a sport. It has no appeal to me, but lots of people watch it. I’m holding out for the slot machine network.

Soon the World Cup will be over, and we can get back to life as we once knew it, by which I mean Futbol will be edged aside for Football.

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Scandals Everywhere

It seems like there is a new scandal to wrestle our attention from other pressing issues almost every day.  Penn State’s athletic program seems to be in shambles, and now Syracuse has their own sex crime alleged in their basketball program.  Schools like Ohio State and USC are probably thankful that they were only found guilty of cheating, and not sexually charged scandals.

Then Monday morning I heard that a Green Bay Packer linebacker spent some time in the hooskow for some sort of physical assault.  Various Badger football and hockey players have been accused in the past, and I honestly didn’t follow those cases to their conclusions to see what was true and what was simply accusations.

Back during the years when the Packers weren’t winning championships, both James Lofton and Eddie Lee Ivory were accused of sexual assault.  Lofton is doing television for some network now, and I think he’s in the hall of fame.  Marv Albert, a famous sports announcer, got caught in his own sexual scandal years ago, but he’s still on the air.

We hear the news on these things, but not always the end of the story.  Scandals are usually on page one, but charges being dropped end up on page 24, if they’re printed at all.  That’s part of the problem with these things.  Did Justin Bieber father a child, or did someone accuse him of it for financial benefit?  How will we know?  And, is it any of our business?

Sadly, some scandals, true or not, take on a life of their own.  The infamous story of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich asking his wife for a divorce on her death bed sounds pretty heartless.  But, in reality Mrs. Gingrich asked for the meeting to discuss their relationship, and not only that, she hasn’t been in her deathbed yet, since she has recovered from that sickness and is still alive and kicking.

Herman Cain has been the target of many accusations recently, and some or all of them may be real.  But what if they aren’t?  Black conservatives have pretty consistently been the subject of such accusations.  John Edwards, on the other hand, was given a pass on his indiscretion until after the primary was over.  And his wife really was dying.  Jessie Jackson not only had a child from an affair, but was paying off the woman with funds raised under the guise of helping those less fortunate.  Likewise Arnold Schwartzenager, who is off to star in movies now that he’s not governor any more, impregnated his housekeeper, and bought her her own little house.

President Clinton lied under oath about one of his scandals, but was given a pass on the others including an accusation of rape which many believe to be true to this day.  And yet we view him as a charming elder statesman now.  Justice Thomas was accused of transgressions that he denied, and 20 years later he still carries the burden with him.  Teddy and Jack Kennedy were both serial womanizers throughout their marriages, but they are revered.

I guess the truth of the matter is that nobody is perfect, and people who have the makeup to excel at sports or politics or business at a high level sometimes have the unsavory characteristics that lead them to scandalous behavior.

But in addition to that, people who are in the public eye might as well wear bulls eyes on their backs, because charges – true of false – can do a lot to slow down someone’s career.  A radio commentator once said that guilt or innocence are less important to some people than the seriousness of the charge.  And, there’s little risk to making those charges against a public figure, which is why I think I’ll live the rest of my life as a very non-public figure.

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