Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 93

On the Most Important
Thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the tornadoes across the south.

On Political Shorts
Count me in as one of the disappointed when President Obama released his birth certificate. I enjoyed watching people make fools of themselves, but alas – at least they can still do that. Meanwhile, birthers may be a new low point in US politics.

Congratulations to Mr. Trump on achieving a “will definitely not vote for” rating in the range of Sarah Palin. (USA Today/Gallup poll) Donald the Ronald McDonald loves the spotlight and will milk it for all that it’s worth. Politically, he is a buffoon, yet he should be proud of reaching the level of the nincompoop.

Speaking of the nincompoop, she recently mocked Katie Couric. The nincompoop must still be bitter about her own inability to answer simple questions.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) seeming is leaving the door open to ceasing government subsidies to oil companies. I wonder, with their profits, why do they receive subsidies? Oh, I forgot – it is effective lobbying!

David Brooks had this interesting column about disconnection and the current political climate. Remember all the comments about political discourse after the Gifford’s shooting? Ah yes, nothing like a short memory.

Former Democratic candidate Gary Hart writes why he is a republican.

Last Sunday’s This Week (ABC) devoted the entire show to “God and Government”. It was an enlightening hour, of which I may write about in the future.

I’m just about to the point of saying it’s time to remove ourselves from Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

On Short Shorts
This season of Dancing with the Stars has been a pleasant surprise. After all, most of the cast is likable and their abilities are close.

New York State deems Red Rover, Freeze Tag, and other kids games as dangerous, thus a need for regulation. What?

Ohio State football fans are defending Coach Tressell (for lying to the NCAA investigators).What if the university fires him AND the NCAA bans him from coaching for the number of years remaining on his OSU contract? Wouldn’t that be an interesting message! (I must be dreaming.)

We Cincinnatians have not only had the wettest April on record; and it may become our wettest month ever on record! Come on rain!

Congratulations to me. April 2011 was the blogs best month ever! On the other hand,  this week’s numbers are trending downward.

How could I forget this – but congratulations to Prince William and Kate. This gift of a short bit of British humor is a fitting. Hope everyone as a safe weekend.

They’ve Earned It Rankings: Week 2 2010

Two weeks into the season and a few surprises have notched knots on the heads of many pundits. Meanwhile, I continue to base rankings on the old fashion way – they earn it by playing someone noteworthy and winning.

From Last Week

  • Up – Michigan
  • Down – LSU, Utah
  • Out – Boise State, TCU, Maryland, BYU, Fresno State, Notre Dame, Kansas State
  • New – most of the list

What? How can Boise State be out? It’s simple: last weekend they did not play and Va. Tech lost to James Madison. Maybe they’ll return in a few weeks.

They’ve Earned It Rankings: Week 2

  1. Michigan (2-0) (UMass)
  2. South Carolina (2-0) (Furman)
  3. LSU (2-0) (Mississippi St)
  4. Ohio State (2-0) (Ohio U)
  5. Oklahoma (2-0) (Air Force)
  6. Utah (2-0) (@ New Mexico)
  7. Alabama (2-0) (@ Duke)
  8. Oregon (2-0) (Portland St)
  9. Auburn (2-0) (Clemson)
  10. Texas (2-0) (@ Texas Tech)

Good news for the week 3 weekend as only five games involves non-D1 teams. The games below are some of the more interesting out-of-conference games.

  • Cincinnati @ NC State
  • Maryland @ West Virginia
  • Air Force @ Oklahoma
  • USC @ Minnesota
  • Nebraska @ Washington
  • Tulsa @ Oklahoma State
  • Clemson @ Auburn
  • Iowa @ Arizona
  • Houston @ UCLA
  • Notre Dame @ Michigan State

On the Completed March Madness

In the past week we’ve crowned a college basketball and hockey champions, started baseball season, and witnessed a great Masters tournament. So this post is to ending of another March Madness.

Congratulations Duke – a true national champion that earned it fair and square!

Congratulations Butler for representing all mid-majors and for capturing many fans across the country you appreciate underdogs.

Congratulations to the NCAA for providing a three-week frenzy of upsets, dramatic endings, unbelievable athleticism, and so much more – including a true national champion.

Congratulations to my alma mater, Bowling Green, as the Falcons continued one of the longest streaks in the country for not making it to the first round (since 1968).

Congratulations to my MA alma mater (Cincinnati) for getting one NIT win – yet seemingly so far away from what was not all that long ago.

Congratulations to Bob Huggins and his WVU Mountaineers. Besides still being special to many UC Bearcat faithful, he also guaranteed ABK would win the tournament – Anybody but Kentucky.

Congratulations to the NCAA for continuing to ring the register of its recognized cash cow. I wonder how they can make even more money? I wonder if they will do something incredibly stupid for the sake of money?

On College Athletes Doing Good

I’ve been using weekends for trivia question, but this story is too good to pass and a story that needs to be told. I like stories about the good things people do as they are too often underpublicized. Of all the college football players, only a small fraction will attend an NFL camp, let alone make a team, but in this case – everyone is a big-time professional.

The article below appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday, Sept. 3.  Unfortunately, the paper is quick to archive articles but to me, this is one of the good stories that should be kept alive.

Bill Koch, Cincinnati Enquirer wrote this wonderful article about a positive impact by a whole college football team.

Football Players Inspired by Mitch: Bearcats have a New Teammate

At first, Mitch Stone was hesitant when he was approached with the idea of being “adopted” by the University of Cincinnati football team.
Mitch, who completed the fifth grade last year at Maddux Elementary School with straight A’s, does not like a lot of attention, according to his mother, Dee. And even though he was an ardent UC fan, he wasn’t sure this was right for him.

“I had to talk him into it,” Dee said.

That was back in July when the Bearcats became the first Division I football team in the country to adopt a child as part of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. Six weeks later, both Mitch and his family are grateful for the support they’ve received from UC.

Mitch was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February. He has undergone surgery to attempt to remove the tumor and has had 31 radiation treatments. Now he’s in the midst of high-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell rescue over a four-month period. He just finished round three.

It’s a lot to ask an 11-year-old to endure, even one as upbeat and optimistic as Mitch, but he hasn’t had to endure it alone. Besides his parents, Dee and Anthony, he has a twin brother, Nick, two older sisters, Piper and Paisley, and plenty of friends lending their support.

He also has an entire football team in his corner.

As part of their “adoption” of Mitch, everyone in the UC program, from the coaches on down, wears a red, white and blue bracelet with the words “Mitch’s Mission” written on it. He receives text messages and e-mails on a regular basis from the players, who chipped in $5 apiece to buy him a prepaid phone with a monthly plan so the players can call him if he’s having a bad day.

“Our guys feel like they wanted to be a Big Brother,” said UC head coach Brian Kelly.

The effect on Mitch has been energizing.

“It’s done so much for his spirits, just knowing that the Bearcats are behind him,” Dee said. “It just lifts his sprits every time he hears from them. He got a text message from (wide receiver) Mardy (Gilyard) the other day and he was so excited. It’s been wonderful. The whole experience has been wonderful.”

The idea to “adopt” Mitch originated with Ernest Jones, UC’s director of player of services. Jones had heard about the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children diagnosed with pediatric brain tumors by matching the child with a college or high school sports team. He investigated to see if this was something the Bearcats could get involved in.

“I talked to the founder and said, ‘How can we be a part of it at the University of Cincinnati?” Jones said. “They said none of the Division I football teams were doing it. I said we’d like to do it. I went up to Children’s Hospital and I talked to some doctors and nurses and then we found Mitch.”

After Jones presented the idea to Kelly, he presented it to the players, who were overwhelmingly in favor of it.

“I was one of the first ones Coach Jones mentioned it to,” said linebacker Craig Carey. “I thought it was a great idea, just to give him a group of brothers that he can look up to, that we can help out, just lend a helping hand to him and his family. It’s a great thing that more people can be involved in.”

Both of Mitch’s parents are UC graduates and are such big fans of the football team that the entire family made the trip to the Orange Bowl at the end of last season.

Still, Dee and her family didn’t know exactly what to expect after they agreed to the “adoption.”

“We didn’t expect it to be such a big deal,” Dee said. “It’s turned out be so special. It’s meant something to everyone in our family.”

Gilyard is Mitch’s favorite player, Dee said, but he’s just one of many players who have reached out to Mitch and his family.

“Ricardo Mathews left me this wonderful prayer on my voice mail when Mitch was really sick,” Dee said. “It was just this heartfelt prayer. I still have it on my voice mail. I still listen to it.”

The players first met Mitch in July and let the Stone family know at the adoption “ceremony” that they were serious about this.

“That’s what was so neat about the whole experience,” Dee said. “As soon as the ceremony was over, these guys just surrounded us to offer their support, to say I really am here. This isn’t just for show. This is for real.”

A reaction to medicine prevented Mitch from attending any practices at Higher Ground, the Bearcats’ pre-season training site in West Harrison, Ind.

And with Mitch schedule to undergo his final round of chemotherapy on Labor Day weekend, he might not be able to attend a UC game until sometime in October.
Whenever he shows up for that first game, Mitch will provide the Bearcats with some special motivation.

“He’s given us so much strength he doesn’t even know about and we’re trying to give the same strength to him,” Carey said.

“You come out here for camp and you’re at football. People might be complaining about bangs and bruises, but he’s going through something we can’t even imagine. The strength that he’s given us, knowing that he can fight through that, it’s amazing.”

Note: Last winter I also posted this article about the good deeds of Bearcat WR Mardy Gilyard, who is also mentioned in this article.

On the NCAA’s Color Green

First of all, congratulations North Carolina – the 2009 NCAA champions of the hardwood. Unlike your counterparts on the college gridiron, at least you’ve earned the title that is recognized and seen as legit by all.

Very seldom do I cut and paste an article, but this case is an exception. Paul Daugherty, sports columnist – Cincinnati Enquirer, wrote this column about the NCAA that the paper published on April 3, 2009. I think his column is right on the mark.
Two national quasi-amateur basketball semifinals happen Saturday night, in a football stadium the size of an aircraft carrier. About 70,000 people will attend, some 30,000 more than ever before for a Final Four. Ford Field in Detroit will have all the hoop ambience of an abandoned General Motors plant.

A gym it ain’t, but that’s OK with the NCAA: It will make an additional $7 million in gate receipts this year, compared with last.

“The goal is to find a balance between … crass commercialism and idealistic purity,” NCAA president Myles Brand told reporters this week in Detroit. Do tell. And where would that balance be, coach, somewhere between the Nosebleed Suites and the Mt. Everest Section up near heaven?

Remember when the NCAA used to scold newspapers for printing betting lines on college games? According to USA Today, five Pac-10 Conference schools now take casino ads, either on stadium and arena signage or in game programs.

New Mexico is getting $2.5 million from Route 66 Casino Hotel, so the gambling den and sleepover stop can call itself the school’s “exclusive gaming sponsor.”

And yet: “We continue to be stridently opposed to any type of sports wagering” an NCAA spokesman told USA Today. Right. And Arnold Schwarzenegger got big pounding Flintstones Chewables.

Look, the NCAA needs money like every other major corporation. And it can’t ban its member schools from taking cash from gambling houses. All the NCAA can do is frown and appear concerned.

It’s not the billions of dollars or the appearance of rampant, naked greed that marks the NCAA. It’s the astounding hypocrisy. Myles Brand must think we’re all stupid.

The NCAA runs its tournament with an iron fist, and puts a steel clamp on what gets marketed. In Boston for the East Region last week, any evidence of the Celtics’ championships was blatantly missing from TD Banknorth Garden, lest some forlorn fan believe he was watching the NBA Finals and not March Madness.

The Cup Drill has become a staple of the Tournament. At every site, security guys – sometimes honest-to-god cops – are stationed at the floor-level entrances. They have lots of duties, no doubt. The only one that directly affects the media is Cup Patrol.

If you are in the press room and you would like to take a beverage to your courtside seat, you must pour said beverage into an NCAA-approved cup.

If you don’t, Security Guy will stop you in your tracks. Wouldn’t want a Pepsi logo appearing in some random camera shot when Coke or Dasani or whoever is an official “partner’’ of the NCAA Tournament.

Players’ likenesses are used to sell video games. Replays of their heroics are seen in “Pontiac Game Changing Performances.” Players see T-shirts and jerseys bearing their names. And of course, CBS is paying $6 billion-with-a-B to televise the tournament.

If you don’t have a naming-rights deal for your gym, you better fire your marketing department. The NCAA, of course, is strongly opposed to exploiting its “student athletes.”

“I think you have to ask some very hard questions,” said Myles Brand. Maybe he’s asking a few while counting tall piles of cash. “Whether this is really in tune with the academic values, whether we’re at a point already (where) these high salaries (have) extended beyond what’s expected within the academic community.”

What academic community? This weekend, the focus isn’t on academia. It’s strictly dunkademia. And that’s fine. I don’t even think players should be paid. A free education is priceless. But at what point do we drop the academic pretense and act like grown-ups?

Brand was referencing John Calipari’s almost-$32 million deal to coach basketball at Kentucky. Is that “in tune with academic values?” It has nothing to do with academic values. Since when did big-time college sports in general concern itself with academics or values?

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t unleash your marketing on an unsuspecting media guy holding the wrong cup and expect anyone to believe this enterprise has anything to do with “the academic community.” That would be, you know, Madness.

Pay the players, don’t pay them. Continue to refer to them in the post-game news conference as “student-athletes.” Tell the world that every one of them will go on to eliminate the common cold. Just try to hold the screaming hypocrisy to a dull roar. We’re really not that stupid.

Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati Enquirer; April 3, 2009