Still Playing Like a Girl- One Year Later

With the plethora of topics about which one can post, I find it necessary to return to  a subject of almost exactly one year ago. But it isn’t my fault. The blame lies with  the soccer team ( women’s) of the University of North Carolina. About this time last year they won their 19th national  championship ( out of 27)  by defeating a previously undefeated team in the finals.

Fast  forward ( no pun intended) to 2009 in chilly College Station, Tx. Th opponent is undefeated  Stanford in the finals. Doggone it, history managed to repeat itself and the Lady Tar Heels won it all, with a 1-0 victory achieved by a  Jennifer McDonald goal.  So again we salute the  team and program for its 20th championship. Seniors Tobin Heath, Whitney Engen, Casey Nogueira,Ashlyn Harris, Caroline Boneparth, Kristi Eveland,  Sterling Smith and Ashley Moore who have been a part of 3 titles in 4 years.  Now, if the men’s team can beat Akron, who knows , we may have twin titles.


December 10, 2009 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Was all True or at Least Most of it was

Every day seems to bring another batch or rumor/innuendo/fact about Tiger Woods and his heretofore secret life. Some are appalled(Jasper Parnevik, who introduced Woods and his wife), some are saying it makes him more human- Joy Behar. The tabloids and the celebrity magazines; People, Us and others are seeing a gold mine, at least short-term.

There are screaming headlines about how much $ a divorce could cost. Once again, a sports icon has proven to have overestimated his immunity from scrutiny. It happened to Jordan, to Kobe Bryant and to others. Bob Molinaro wrote  a good column in today’s Virginian-Pilot newspaper about what has transpired. One thing in particular struck him. For a while, the bad publicity will hound Woods and he may even lose some  endorsement contracts. After a while, he will return to the PGA  Tour, perhaps withing  a month or so. He will sooner or later play well and will inevitably win again, perhaps even a major tournament. And, sooner than we might think all will be forgotten.

Should he be forgiven for what he calls his transgressions? That should probably be left between he and his wife. But I sure hope he learns some vitally needed lessons and that maybe someone else in his  shoes can benefit enough to not repeat this same sad story.

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Media, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Talking Tar Heels

It’s been a good week for Tar Heel sports, with the exception of  a certain football game last Saturday. But, there is still postseason play to come. Soccer is the subject de jour  today. Although it is mainly aimed at the Lady Tar Heels, the  guys deserve some credit as well.

The #4 ranked men’s team under Coach Elmar Bolowich play at home  on Saturday  against Drake with  a trip to the College Cup on the line for the second  year in a  row and an opportunity for  a 2nd national title.

Coach Anson Dorrance’s women’s team, led by Casey Nogueira plays  Notre Dame on Friday at Aggie Stadium in College Station , Tx. These two  are old rivals but this will be their first  final four match. Any time one can beat Notre Dame is a good time so all the best to  Whitney Engen, Casey Nogueira  and all the Heels as they chase their 20th national championship( out of 28 possible).

Go Heels !!

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Glad I’m Not Famous

Years and years ago, one  of my favorite cartoons was Rocky and Bullwinkle. By today’s standards, the animation was not so good and perhaps the” plots” left  a bit to be desired. But the irony was rich and it was enjoyable to watch.  One of the common features of the show was to title  an episode and then to give it a second title  with a bit of  a twist . That is my intent with the following. ….Or, “Being Top Dog Isn’t Always  As Good As  You Think  It Is.”

In this case, we speak of Tiger Woods, who is definitely famous but is probably wishing  for just a bit of anonymity right about now. Less than 5 hours after an early morning traffic accident or something, the internet was literally rampant with theory, speculation and just about all the salacious stuff one  could imagine.

I  know, I know, it may be  true. Perhaps he  and his wife are having issues and maybe there will be  a lot more juicy stuff to surface in the next few days. But, I sincerely hope not. I would like to believe that the incident was nothing more than  a traffic accident and  a minor one  at that. I recall that I  was in disbelief when the rumors surfaced about trouble in Michael Jordan’s marriage. In that case, the rumors were all too true, but I still regretted it for the entire  Jordan family.

Historically, Tiger Woods’ personal life has been remarkably personal, considering his stature as one of the world’s most famous athletes. Got  a bad feeling that his privacy is turning into quicksand and very quickly at that.

Reports are that he  and his wife will speak with the authorities tomorrow. This fan hopes for the best while  anticipating  something less.

November 28, 2009 Posted by | Media, Sports | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In A Word Scandalous,But is it?

Richard Lapchick is the director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute  for Diversity and  Ethics in Sport. He is very involved in efforts to increase the number of minority football coaches  in college. (Fyi, the school at which he teaches has one George O’Leary, former Georgia Tech head man, as its head football coach and no Coach O’Leary is not  a minority) Mr Lapchick is working with the BCA, the Black Coaches and Administrators Group, headed by Floyd Keith, to increase the number of minority head coaches at major football playing institutions.

At this moment, there are 120 Football Bowl subdivision schools. Alas, there are only 9 minority head coaches and I agree with Lapchick that the number needs to increase. But he is not just looking at the hiring but where they are hired. Case in point. Three minority head coaches were fired after the 2008 season. They coached at Kansas State, Mississippi State and Washington. Four coaches were hired, a small increase, but an increase nonetheless. The problem as seen by Dr Lapchick is that the schools where these hirings occurred; New Mexico, New Mexico State, Eastern Michigan and Miami(Ohio)  are not powerhouses. Neither is Kansas State, but I digress.

Lapchick calls it “scandalous” that five of the six BCS conferences have no minority head coaches. Is it a problem-yes, does it need correcting-yes. But does it fall in the realm of scandal? I submit that it does not by any definition of the word. He also thinks that there should be a civil rights movement in college sports. Some even think that a lawsuit might be the way to go.

Again, I have problems with that approach, although I am not dogmatic about it. There is a need for more minority head coaches, but at the right schools. How does one define that? By size, by winning percentages, by bowl games, by what and who defines it? Conveniently left out of the discussion is the number of minority basketball head coaches. In my conference of choice, the ACC, the numbers are even, for example. Nationwide, I would guess that the numbers are pretty good. It has taken a while but I don’t think a lawsuit was necessary.

In the interest of full disclosure, my Tarheels have yet to hire  a minority as a head coach for any sport. Although, i don;t wish per se for someone to be fired, I hope that the Heels will rectify that situation in the near future. Listening, Mr Baddour?

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is There A Correct Way to Criticize?

So, now that Rush has been dropped from the potential  ownership group maybe attempting to buy the St Louis Rams, one of only how many members we don’t know, since only he and Dave Checketts names were released. Doubtless there is joy in liberal land this night. As an aside, rock singer Fergie is joining the Dolphins as a partial owner. Pretty soon, the Dolphins will be able to put on some rollicking concerts, using only their ownership. You might want to check out some  of  her song lyrics and remember NFL Commish Roger Goddell saying that we don’t need divisive comments  and we here are all held to a higher standard. Contrary to Mr  Sharpton’s comments, it is not a moral victory for all Americans.

Anyway, score one for the libs. And today we have this. Award winning journalist, Seymour Hersh spoke at Duke (guess I can use that word in my blog) University last night with an interesting theme. He says that the U  S military is at war- with President Obama. Yep, that’s what he said. Gotta be true, he said . There is racism in the Pentagon and we all know it, as he was quoted in the Durham Herald-Sun.

Mr Hersh was critical of the president, particularly on Afghanistan. He said that the President must  stand up to the military. He must run the Pentagon or the Pentagon will run him. Other statements say that the military think he  is weak and the wrong color. He criticized Gen McChrystal for publicly requesting 40,000 additional troops, adding that it puts Obama in a no-win position. Give him the troops and lose politically or not provide the  troops and  lose- politically. That is somewhat telling to me. Not sending the requested troops is  a    loss  politically, not militarily. Hmm.

Mr Hersh has suggestions. Negotiate with the Taliban, it is  the only way. Continue the  process with Iran, which Bush of course mucked up. And, realize that we have a lot in common with Russia.

I close with this thought. What is the acceptable way in which one  disagrees with  the President? Can it be done without being racist? Hint only if you are a liberal, since a liberal cannot be racist, right?

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Media, Politics, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mikhail Prokhorov and Rush Limbaugh

What could our title subjects possibly have in common? Why, sports, of course. Prokhorov is the richest man in Russia, estimated worth is $9.5 billion and we all know who Limbaugh is, although not nearly that wealthy. Both are involved in efforts to buy professional sports franchises. Prokhorov is attempting to buy a controlling interest in the New Jersey Nets while Limbaugh is involved in efforts to buy the St Louis Rams.

Who cares, except maybe fans of those teams or of the NBA or NFL? Why, for starters, the Rev Al Sharpton and the head of the NFL Players Association,DeMaurice Smith. Both of these individuals are opposed to the Limbaugh bid as are a number of NFL players, seven so it is said, none of whom have been named.

First caveat is that Limbaugh’s group is not the only one interested in the Rams. There are  at least  six other groups,including one that has African-American members;Donald Watkins and Dave Steward. Mr Smith is careful not to use the word racist in describing Limbaugh. He also says that the union does not have a say in potential ownership choices. He is encouraging players to speak their minds about this issue and other facets of the league’s  business. No problem with that. But wonder how often, players have expressed their feelings-pro or con- about a potential team owner?

Mr Smith, a Washington attorney, had some other comments in his e-mail.

“Our men are strong and  proud sons, fathers, spouses and I am proud when they stand up,understand this is their profession and speak with candor and blunt honesty about how they feel.”

“…sport is  at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer and  it transcends.Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and reject discrimination and hatred.”

Smith at no point makes any direct accusations against Limbaugh. Reading between the lines,to me at least, are strong inferences against him.

Now, stack up these quotes with comments by Stephen A Smith in  a  CNN    interview. This Smith is well familiar with sports fans for his ESPN work. The host, Christine Romans questions Smith about the  opposition to Limbaugh.

She asked him players allegedly taking a moral stand, implying they would not play a Limbaugh owned team because of comment she has made in the past that had racial overtones. Smith said, “They’re lying. Wasting my time….

If he has the dollars. he should be allowed to do it.It’s not like he’s ignorant to the game of football.The man knows football. He’s a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.Oh, you’re going to pass up money because …I’m offended by Rush Limbaugh being the owner? Who are you fooling? They’re liars.”

So, it is fine for a Russian billionaire to own a sports team, if he has the money? Sure, doesn’t  bother me. Not for Limbaugh, because he   is   allegedly racist and I mean allegedly?

Back to the head of the players union for a moment. He wants the players to speak their mind. What if several of them came  out publicly in favor of a Limbaugh bid? Would  he feel the same? Seems like  a fair question to me, a lot fairer than the rumor and speculation  about statements Limbaugh has never made.

One last comment which comes  a sports guy I really like. Michael Wilbon is the co-host with  Tony Kormheiser of ESPN’s PTI program and is  also a Washington Post columnist. He had this to say about Limbaugh after some of the initial reaction to his bid. “He is universally reviled by black people in this country and justifiably so.”  That is a comment from a guy who met Limbaugh at a Las Vegas golf tournament just as Limbaugh was beginning his  brief  ESPN tenure. One wonders if Wilbon had the same feelings then and if so, why did he not express them? Just a thought.

October 12, 2009 Posted by | Media, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Cheering and Booing

If you have ever been to at least 1 sporting event, you have no doubt engaged in both of the above behaviors. And it’s ok, right? We pay our money for a ticket, for parking, for concessions, for the gear of our favorite team, so we should have a say. Boo the opponent, cheer for our team. How about when it is our team that is lousy. They were supposed to win, they stink, so we have aright to boo, to express our displeasure.

i have done those very things, booed “my” team when they disappointed me. But, I must confess a bit of doubt has crept into the vacant spaces in my mind(yes, I know, there are probably a lot of those) about whether my actions are appropriate. I have reached some conclusions, probably not definitive ones, but some that seem to work.

North Carolina football went further down the rabbit hole today, with a disappointing loss at home to  a Virginia team they were supposed to defeat, Quarterback T J Yates had another disappointing game  while Robert Quinn defensive efforts provided  about the only bright spot.

My sister and her husband attended the game and she called me about 3/4  of the  way through and let me know that the score wa s 6-3, to our detriment. I thought for a moment she was hallucinating since she is recovering from a surgical procedure, not so, she said. She related some of the significant booing through the stadium, directed at Yates, offensive co-ordinator John Shoop and head coach Butch Davis. She promised to call again if things improved.

Somewhat later in the pm, she had not called. So I called her and got the sad but true finale. She related how the booing had increased and perhaps gotten a bit more specific, even.

That call and how we both seemed inclined to defend the players, is what got me on this train of thought. These are young men, by and large 18-22 years of age. Sure, they have scholarships, but they are not pros. They have not yet reached the stage of earning large sums of money to play this game and the vast majority never will. With college players, it just should be different, I think. They have not “earned” the privilege of vociferous booing(again, my opinion here) in the way that the big $ guys have. How to react to their disappointing performance, I don’t know. Hard to call them overpaid, but  I guess that  could make the coaches fair game. If you feel inclined to chastise your college team in print or online etc, just remember, they are not play for ap, so  give them a break, if you can.

Besides, the soccer team plays tomorrow and basketball season is coming soon.

October 3, 2009 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Olympic Update

Just a bit of bonus Olympic coverage. The Oprah flew over with the first lady in stage one of the Obama blitz. The first lady said that it was a great sacrifice for both she and the President to make the trip. But it is for  a good, no, make that a great reason. According to her, they are doing this for the kids. Whose, have no idea. Remember , while they are there, undoubtedly there will be  a party or two, a little schmoozing, etc.

Listen to what else she said. ” Athletics is becoming a fleeting opportunity.Funds dry up so it becomes harder for kids to engage in sports, to learn how to swim, to even ride a bike. It is so important for us to raise the platform of  fitness and competition and fair play.”

I would dearly love to explain what she  said but I have very little clue as  to  what it means and even less as to what it has  to do with the Olympics. And, no telling what the President will say when  he buzzes in on Friday. He arrives on Friday and returns home  on Friday. Lotta  jet fuel being used on these trips. Sure hope some people in Chicago will profit financially from this.Oops! Maybe  I shouldn’t have said that.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Sports | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Copenhagen Or Bust

By now we know that both the president and first lady will be off to Denmark this week. Why, not just the shopping, but maybe there will be  time for that also. No, we have bigger fish to catch,the 2016 Summer Olympics for Chicago. Do sitting presidents usually throw the   prestige of their office behind  such efforts?  Not sure. Maybe he already had a Denmark trip on the schedule. Sure, major ally there. Of course, nothing is too good for Chicago.

Perhaps even more interesting than the Obamas  joing the campaign is word that maybe Chicagoans don’t really want the games so much anymore. The cost figures are probably a bit scary, the city’s finances are not so good and    why  did we want this honor anyway?

Chicago Tribune numbers showed a 2-1 majority in support of the bid in February. Now it is about even;47% for and  45% against. Suppose that $300 million city budget deficit which had to be covered was a factor. Oh yes, there have even been mandatory shutdown days for some  city services,such as  libraries and sanitation. But not to worry. Obamas + Mayor Richard Daley may yet bring home the bid.

After all, who possibly could Madrid,Tokyo or Rio de Janeiro match in starpower. Still, I vote for Rio. Brazil has never been a host nor has any other South American country. Tokyo  had it in 1964, Barcelona, Spain in 1992 and we  just had it 1996. Better make  that  call to the International Olympic Committee quickly or the Chicago mafia will take over the show,

September 28, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment