NFL BAN OF "THE N-WORD"--GOOD IDEA OR WASTE OF TIME?
If you have not heard, the National Football League is trying to change our society. They want to ban the N-word, and penalize any players that are heard saying it during a game 15 yards for a version of "unsportsmanlike conduct".
In case you are totally clueless, or have been in some kind of time pod for the last 30 years, the N-word is jargon for a specific word. It's a word no one dares say anymore. No one can even mutter it anymore, for the last 30 years or more, for fear of being labeled a bacist. All anyone can say is "the N-word".
Well the beauty of writing for one's own website is that I don't work for anybody. I don't answer to anybody. No one can fire me. I am not going to be arrested...at least, not yet, for saying whatever I want, and taking advantage of that silly amendment of free speech.
The word no one can bring themselves to say is.....NIGGER.
Now yes, it is an ugly word. I understand that. The origins of that word go way back to the Civil War days, slavery in the south, and oppression of blacks in our country's history.
It is not a pleasant word. There are many negative connotations to it. I understand that.
The thing is, there may not be a single word in our society that has morphed more in the last hundred years than "nigger".
If the only meaning to the word was what it was a hundred years ago, then obviously, I can see the NFL, the US government, local governments, TV shows, every other professional sports league, and every possible organization doing whatever they can to ban that word forever.
Here is the funny thing though....there is a HUGE difference between "nigger" and "nigga".
It is all in the context.
A white person who is pissed off because some well meaning black man who works for the airport, scuffed their hundred dollar suitcase, calls the man a nigger. That is incredibly offensive and in bad taste and damn well racist.
A black man who sees his best friend at the local convenience store and says with excitement, "Hey nigga, what you be up to, yo?" That is NOT racially motivated in any way, and in fact, often used as a "term if endearment.
The NFL is planning on penalizing any player an official hears saying that word to another player 15 yards. If it is a white player saying that word in an antagonistic fashion to a black player, I can buy that penalty. If it is a black player who is defending a black wide receiver and says after an incompleted pass, "Yo nigga, that was one mad go route yo. You a bad nigga", then I believe it is a bad penalty and a waste of time--not in the spirit of the rule.
What is the NFL trying to do anyways with this rule? Are they trying to affect society? Do they have the "God complex" so much that they feel if they can stop anyone saying that word in the league, then everyone in society will follow suit? If so, then they are wasting their time.
The word "Nigger" is still a derogatory term, when a white person says it to a black person. The word "nigga", when said by a black person to another black person, is usually a term of ultimate endearment. It's similar to white people using the word "dude".
Think I have no idea what I am talking about? Well, being blind, I had to take the #4 bus to work for 6 years.
The 4 bus is highly black. I was often the ONLY white person on the bus...either going downtown, or going away from downtown. Almost every time I was on that bus, I heard that word. I heard the context of that word, and I can assure you, it was NOT derogatory.
It's all perception. If you are white, you should just never use that word. If you are black, hey, do what you want, but just know it is a very uncomfortable word for white people to hear, even if you are using it to each other.
I will share a brief story with you. My wife was recently in a Hess Mart, standing in line. She
walked up to that line with just a refilled Coke. A young black man saw this and had a half dozen items and told her, "Ma'am, you can go ahead of me".
At that point, a white woman who looked a tad "trailer park trashy" standing at the ATM, heard the interplay and said to the black man, "well, look at that...there are still a few good niggers in the world".
My wife was flabbergasted, and understandably so. The poor, nice man who was allowing her to cut in front of him acted non-plused, but embarrassed. He sheepishly said to the woman, "well yes, there are a few of us left", and smiled at her uncomfortably. After my wife had paid for her drink, and turned to leave the line, the woman, now getting in line, passed the black man and once again said to him out loud, "You're a good nigger!".
Like I said, it's all perception. That woman probably thought she was being "cool" and "hip". That black man probably felt uncomfortable at the time, then told his buddies later and they all had a good laugh about it. My wife, and any other white people in the store at the time probably felt beyond uncomfortable, and told everyone they know how some uncouth white woman insulted a black man at the Hess mart.
Who's right? Who's wrong? I don't know, but to me, you can't legislate it when it comes to a word like this. Would everyone be better off to have that word gone forever from our lexicon and dictionary? Yes, of course. But to assume so and attempt to regulate who can say it and who can't is almost being racist in an unintentional way, isn't it?
WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?
"Time keeps on slipping...into the futrure" --Steve Miller, 1976
I have nothing to say about sports. What can I say? It's that time of year. Oh sure, I could talk about Syracuse's collapse recently, or go into my thoughts on who the Buffalo Bills should target in free agency, or the Knicks total ineptitude. Really though, none of that is very interesting, and most of it is pretty obvious. So, this column will not be about sports.
I feel like just ruminating about....getting older.
Time is an interesting thing. We try to make time for things. We run out of time. We never seem to have enough time. We work overtime. We time ourselves. We take time for special events. We call a time out for our kids. We sometimes need time alone. We need more time for friends and loved ones. We take time to reflect. Now, it's time to continue...
All the time, we are getting older. We are born, and then most of us don't have any memories until around the age of five. From the time we go to school to the time we move away from college, it seems like it takes forever when you are in that time frame, but then when you get to be 40, you realize that 12 years went by so fast. College is a blur, then you enter the workforce. Before you know it, you are into your 30's. Often, a wife and kids follows sometime in there, and you hit your 40's.
I am hitting 48 years old this coming May. I say that, look at it in print, and shake my head. It is almost hard to believe. It seems like just yesterday that I was graduating from high school and then college. What the hell happened?
Time also plays funny tricks on you. Perceptions change wildly. For example, I remember watching "All In the Family" when I was a kid. At the time, I thought Caroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton, who played Archie and Edith Bunker of course, were so old. It seemed like that were in their 50's or 60's--far into middle age. Now you look back and realize that O'Connor was 45 years old and Stapleton 46 when the show premiered in 1971. They were both younger than I am now!
Same thing goes for that show "Match Game". Remember that panel game show? My wife and I have lately taken to DVR'ing that show every day on the Game Show Network. We both fondly remember watching it when we were young children. At the time, Richard Dawson, Brett Somers and Gene Rayburn seemed so old. They were in their early 40's. Fannie Flag looked spinster-ish. Now we find out she was in her mid 30's. It's crazy!
Same thing goes for the reverse. Now that I am on the wrong side of 40, every time I see high school kids in the mall or if I go to a high school basketball game or something, they all seem like they are 12. 16 and 17 year olds never looked that young when I was that age!
Time is good to some of us, and not good for others. My friend Scott looks the same as he did when he was 30. Full head of hair, and in good shape. Our high school prom queen still looks like she could be a model. Me? Well, I am starting to look like Wilfred Brimley, hawking grape nuts. The hairline has disappeared, and most of my hair is gone. Speaking of hair and how it's not on my head, I do have it growing out of many orifaces that you would think hair is not supposed to grow out of. My cheeks look like I am hiding a couple of walnuts, and as far as shape goes...well, "pear" is a shape, right?
It sucks, and it's not fair. Time should treat everyone equally, but it doesn't. The one thing that is consistent, is that none of us will be here forever. As William Shakespeare said, "We are all just food for worms". I'm sorry to be so somber, but what can I say--my mood must be reflected by the weather. It's just how I have been feeling lately.
The funny thing about our lifetimes is that in the big picture of things, we are just a blip on history's radar. This world we live in has been spinning for thousands of years and will probably be spinning for thousands more. Our 70-80 or so years that we spend on the planet amounts to such a short, short time.
What is my point of this overly depressing column? Well, I guess it is just to remind you of all that life has to offer, and how we need to slow down and enjoy it. Losing my job of 20+ years last summer,
and starting a new career in a consulting business and freelance writer has given me new perspective. I am working out, eating better and losing some pounds. I am trying to live better, love harder and smell the roses more along the way.
Time is continuing to fly by, and I am going to do all I can to enjoy all it has to offer, especially before
my sight fades away.
It would be nice if you would join me. I'd like to have some company in the old folks home in a few years. It'll be here before we know it.
GOT THE BLUES? IT'S MILLER TIME!
Less than 24 hours following the Buffalo Sabres trade of their franchise goaltender, Ryan Miller, it seems like there is a lot of sadness and second guessing going on among the fan base. At least that is what I am seeing on social media and hearing on local talk shows.
"How can they trade away Miller? He is all they have!" says one person. Another laments, I just don't understand it. There is just no layalty in sports anymore."
"I can't believe it. He was my favorite Amerk way back when."
"So the Sabres trade away their best player, and what do they get back??? A bunch of nobody's. Ridiculous!"
And so on. Folks....relax! Calm down. Take a deep breath/ It will be ok. I promise! The Sabres know what they are doing. You don't, if you are complaining about this trade ok?
Fans don't want to admit it, but professional sports is a business. There is no such thing as loyalty--either from management and ownership to players or from players to management and ownership. Everyone wants to get theirs, and the other side doesn't mean jack squat when it comes to achieving those goals. For the Sabres, they made a business decision, but to be honest, it wasn't just that. It was a good trade for them.
I can't fault Buffalo's trade. I definitely can't fault the decision to trade Miller in the first place. Ryan Miller was Buffalo's most marketable commodity. The Sabres are in the midst of a youth movement, complete rebuild of their team. In that case, it doesn't help either party when your face of the franchise is 33 years old, and in the final year of a contract.
Here's the deal folks. Miller could have, and most likely would have walked away from the Sabres after this season. He and his agent would have little to no interest in resigning a new long term contract with a team that was at least 2-3 years away from serious playoff contention. Not at 33. The Sabres beat him to the punch, and helped him by trading him to a bonafide Stanley Cup contender in the St Louis Blues.
Trading Miller was a no brainer. There was no other option. Perhaps if the Sabres had a legitimate chance to win a cup, but that is far from the case, so he had to go. The Sabres realized this and played their hand perfectly.
Buffalo could have waited until the clock was ticking down on trade deadline day March 5th. They would have backed themselves into a corner, and had to settle for trading Miller for a 2nd round pick and a minor leaguer or something like that. They didn't. They found a suitor early in the Blues, who felt that Miller might be the key to putting them into serious Stanley Cup contention this season. They wanted him, but they also wanted a gritty, two way forward named Steve Ott as well. Ott is just the type of player that is a huge help in the postseason. By getting Miller and Ott, the Blues got two vetteran pieces that could push them over the top in the West.
The Sabres love Ott. He is their captain for crying out loud. How often do you trade your team captain? Well, the Sabres are getting good at it. They traded Jason Pominville last year when HE was the team captain too. Sometimes though, you have to bite the bullet and do something you don't want to do in order to help yourself down the line. That is exactly what Buffalo did.
First of all, they traded Miller for Jaroslav Halak, who is also a goaltender. Halak is younger (going to be 29 this May), and has similar statistics this year. Miller had a 2.72 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Halak has a 24-9-4 record with a 2.23 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. He is in the same situation as Miller in that his contract expires at the end of the year, but will presumably be cheaper to resign than Miller wwould have been. He will essentially be on a tryout over the remainder of the season for Buffalo.
The Sabres also received forward Chris Stewart, a still young but inconsistant forward who can score. Stewart has 15 goals and 11 assists this year, and 115 goals in six seasons with Colorado and St. Louis. The Sabres also get a prospect, 19 year old William Carrier, in the deal. Carrier was the Blues 2nd round draft pick last year and has potential to be a solid NHL player. He could also help the Amerks.
Not only did the Sabres get three players for two, but here is the key to the trade in my opinion: they also got two draft picks, one of them a first rounder in 2015. They also pick up a conditional third rounder in 2016.
This is exactly what the Sabres need. With all their trades in the past two years, Buffalo is stockpiling draft picks.
Buffalo has one first round pick in 2014 and an option on a first round pick this year because of the Thomas Vanek trade from the Islanders. Most likely, they will choose to take that first round pick in 2015. They also have THREE 2nd round picks this year becuase of their Robin Regehr and Jason Pominville trades. If they defer the Islanders first round pick to 2015, they now have THREE first round picks that year, plus three second round picks. Now you add in a 2nd second rounder in 2016, and that is a LOT of pieces for new GM Tim Murray to play with.
Of course, the Sabres need to hit on many of those draft picks if they use them, OR they can use those picks as an enticement to other teams to possibly trade for established players.
All in all, it was an very good haul for the Sabres. Miller and Ott will be missed, but I don't have a problem with the trade one bit. Life moves on in the NHL and for Buffalo, the kids will be alright.
WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
Well sports fans....welcome to the worst time of the sports year.
From the day after the Super Bowl ends to the day the NCAA tournament begins, this is where sports fans enter sports "no mans land". It is a yearly purgatory that we sports fans have to suffer through each and every year.
This year, this hellish period was mercifully shortened by two weeks though. That's the good news. The Sochi Winter Olympic games eased us into this period, providing much needed excitement of something to watch, follow and cheer for. Now that the closing ceremonies have come and gone though, things are looking mighty bleak.
Pitchers and catchers are just starting to report. The NBA and NHL are at their boring midpoints, as teams begin to gear up for the stretch run. The NFL draft is still months away, and when the combine makes for big news--you KNOW it's a slow time of year.
So, until March Madness kicks off in a few weeks, it is my job to try to give all of you sports fans some alternatives. We need some ways to pass the time, and now is the perfect time of the year to get those things done. Some of you need some ideas, so I will do what I can to help. Lord knows it won't be long before the NCAA tourney kicks off, baseball's regular season starts, and the NBA and NHL playoffs begin and we can all return to our mancaves, so if you are in need...here are seven sure fire ideas:
1. Talk to our wives or significant others. Yeah, I know guys. This is a tough one. I know most of you don't care about her excitement over her new nail polish or that new blouse she bought, but this is the time to actually act like you do. Give her that little extra attention that women all need. Have a "date night" or two. Romance her! Bring her flowers "just because". Who knows--it may actually lead to a little bonus time in the boudoire, which is always a nice thing. Besides, what else are you going to do? Watch the key college hoops game between Saint Mary's and Pepperdine?
2. Volunteer for a local charitable organization. There are plenty of great organizations out there to choose from that need your help. Big brothers and big sisters is a good one. You get to pass the time with a local underpriveleged kid that you can regale with all of your high school sports exploits. Do some shopping for the old folks in your neighborhood. Instead of cheering for the Wildcats, go help out the local animal shelter with their wild cats. Even if it's just helping out at the local soup kitchen for the homeless, any of these things will get you through until Final Four weekend at least.
3. Clean up around the house. If you are anything like me, many of the rooms in your house haven't been vacuumed since late August, so get out that Eureka and hit it. Straighten out your closets, and purge them of all those things you never wear anymore. Take them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army or even Savers. Someone out there may want that old bowling shirt that you used to wear in your mens league in the 90's.
4. Clean out the garage. Sure, it's still going to be pretty cold, but you know you aren't going to want to do it when the weather gets nicer. Admit it, right now, you moved things around and scrunched them into every possible crevice in order to get at least one car into your two car garage last fall. Now is the best time to get rid of a lot of it, and gussy up the remaining space. Don't be wistful either. I know there are many memories associated with that rickety wooden step ladder, but it's time has passed. Put all the unneeded crap out on the curb for all the people driving by that want more unneeded crap.
5. Get together with friends. Everyone has dozens of friends that they rarely see anymore. Some of whom they probably don't even like. Well, your friends are your friends--like 'em or not--and now is the best time to call them up and invite them over to "catch up". Of course, you are going to want to tackle #3 on this list before you do, and possibly even #4. Have a dinner party for a number of these friends if you want to get it all out of the way in one fell swoop. Pretend that you care about their lives. Play some gin rummy or pinocle. Just don't let Bob bring his famous taco dip, since it made you sick last time.
6. Start taking your dog for walks again. Admit it, you haven't been a great friend to your best friend during football season. You can't take the dog on a walk when the Niners are playing the Packers. Make it up to Fido now by taking him for a nice walk a few times a week. His out of shape ass needs the workout even more than you do. Get that pooch in shape again now, because you know you aren't going to want to do it during those NBA and NHL playoff games.
7. Take up a new hobby. If you've never whittled a wooden horse or pipe or some other small object, you'd be surprised how relaxing it is. I haven't either, but that's what I've been told. Try needlepoint or macrame, but of course, don't tell your friends. Once you get the hang of it, it's amazing how quickly you can put together a quilt or an afghan that you can use next football season on those cold fall days. Or you can get into building model trains. I know people who build such elaborate trains and settings for them, that it is like a little world inside their real world. This will also give you something to break when your favorite college or pro football team loses next fall!
Well, you get the idea folks. Hopefully that will get you off on the right track. With a little imagination and thought, I am sure many of you can think of some other things to help get you through this trying time.
Just remember, you are not alone. We are all in this together, and with a little help, we CAN get through this. Good luck!
JUDGING THE JUDGES: AN F!
US Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner is pissed off.
"I feel gypped,", said Wagner, who skated completely clean programs in both her short and long program at the Sochi Olympics.
Wagner was fired up after both programs. After her long program, she pumped her fist in the air in jubilation, knowing she did just about all she could do in her quest to win an Olympic medal. She left it all on the proverbial ice. Her reward? A 7th best 127.99 score in the long program and an overall 7th place finish.
Finishing ahead of her were teammate Gracie Gold, who had the 5th best score in the long program despite falling on her cute little derriere after one of her jumps. She also finished behind Russian 15 year old Yulia Lipnitskaya, who also hit the ice after one of her jumps.
And then there is defending Gold medalist Yuna Kim, who had the lead skating into the long program. She skated a flawless performance, as did Russia's Adelina Sotnikova, yet somehow, when the dust cleared and the judges scores rolled in, Sotnikova ended up with the gold and Kim the silver.
For many observers watching who don't know a salchow from a loop, it baffled the mind. It surely did mine.
How can it be that a skater can skate what looked like a flawless performance, hitting all of their jumps, looking graceful on their spins and quick and seamless on all their footwork passes, end up with a lower score than one who does the same thing, yet falls down on their posterior at least once during their program?
It wasn't even close either! Wagner had a score that was NINE whole points lower than Gold, and four less than Lipnitskaya. It doesn't make sense.
"People don't want to watch a sport where you see people fall down and somehow score above someone who goes clean," said Wagner. "It is confusing and we need to make it clear for you.
"To be completely honest, this sport needs fans and needs people who want to watch it. People do not want to watch a sport where they see someone skate lights out and they can't depend on that person to be the one who pulls through. People need to be held accountable."
I couldn't agree more.
The whole thing is confusing. There is this thing called "bonus time" that came up on the screen after two minutes of each skaters program. What did that mean? I watched the whole thing, and never got a feeling that I had a solid grasp on an answer for that. Did it mean that each skater had to get all their "compulsory" elements in before that and the bonus time was just to impress the judges? That is the idea I more or less settled on, but I'm still not sure.
You would see the sets of scores come up for technical merit and artistic impression, and then "deductions", but it was never explained what the deductions were for, and it seemed a number of the skaters that fell had little to no deductions. The whole thing seems very convuluted and hard to understand--even for the skaters.
As for Wagner, I have a hunch as to her low scores. After the team skating programs, Wagner was seen on camera after her scores came up, showing a look of disdain and muttering "that's BS" (she actually said the longer version of the phrase), and that video clip went viral on social media and youtube. Obviously, the judges weren't too thrilled with her reaction and their judgment being questioned like that, and held it against her.
I can see that, but it is totally unfair. A skater is supposed to be judged on each individual performance, and not punished by a silly vendetta. Wagner skated the performance of her 22 year old life, and comes away from it looking like a whiner and a crybaby, which is too bad.
"They need to get rid of the anonymous judging," Wagner said. "There are many changes that need to come to this sport if we want a fan base, because you can't depend on this sport to always be there when you need it. The sport in general needs to become more dependable."
I think she has a point. The judging in figure skating now is way too much like that of another sport that often gets questioned and is embroiled in controversy, and that is boxing. Add in the fact that it came out today that one of the judges in last nights ladies figure skating was suspended for a year for fixing a competition sixteen years ago, and another is married to the head of the Russian skating federation, and the whole thing smells even worse.
What should be done? Well, I'm not even a figure skating afficianado, but I have a suggestion. I think the
whole thing should be uniform. Each skater has to perform the same exact list of compulsory elements. No more, and no less. Everyone should be judged on the same criteria. Simple as that. Whoever does the elements the best should win.
It is too late to help Wagner and Kim this year, but it would make things much better for 2018
MIRACLE ON ICE--A FADING GLORY?
For those of us sports fans who were there, it was an indelible moment. For those of us who remember, you can tell exactly where you were when it happened. You know where you were and what you were doing when the Americans beat the Russians. If you are like me, you probably remember where you were and what you were doing when team USA beat Finland for the gold medal two days later as well. The sad thing is, if you are under about age 40, or maybe 38, you really can have no appreciation of what has become known as the "Miracle on Ice".
And that's a shame.
Oh sure, you have heard about it. You have seen the movies. The one with Karl Malden and then the one with Kurt Russell playing coach Herb Brooks. As good as those movies were though, it is hard to fully explain the magnitude of that event. It beccame a microcosm of all things great about this country. Sure the Berlin Wall didn't fall officially until a few years later, but in some ways, it began to crumble that day in February of 1980.
I was a 13 year old boy at the time. Full of vim and vigor, and a huge sports fan, in many ways, it was the first Olympic winter games I had really truly followed in my life. Oh I remember Franz Klammer winning the downhill and Dorothy Hamill winning womens figure skating in 1976, but in '80, I was more mature. More aware. More "into it".
I remember staying up late, laying in bed and watching Bill Baker score on a slap shot from the point to tie the heavily favored Swedes 2-2 in their first game. It gave the US team confidence--confidence that would grow two days later when the US walloped favored Czeckoslavakia 7-3. A 5-1 win over Norway and a 7-2 win over Romania would follow. Eyebrows began to be raised and expectations began to grow. A 4-2 win over the favored Germans would get team US into the medal round.
At that point, reality sunk in. The US team going 4-0-1 in preliminary play was a nice story, but now, it was time to play the Russians. The mighty Soviet Union. C.C.C.P. The red menace. The best hockey team in the world. The team that had toyed with the American boys in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden 10-3, in a game played just two weeks before the Olympic matchup.
The Russians were MEN. Grown men who had gone 5-3-1 in an exhibition tour against NHL teams in the previous year, and had beaten an NHL Allstar team 6-0. Team USA was just a bunch of kids. Most of them 19-22 year old college kids. Heading into this medal round semi-final game, it wasn't a matter of win or lose. It was a matter of how embarrassed the US team would be after losing to the Russians. Would they take it easy on us, and only beat us 7-3 or would it be just like the previous outcome?
I remember the game was on a Friday. I don't even have to look up a schedule of 1980. I just know that. The game was played in the late afternoon hours, and I remember it was snowing in Rochester, New York. The game was being shown on tape delay in prime time on the network that was covering the games, so by the time most Americans actually saw the game, they knew the outcome. Most didn't care. I somehow was able to turn the channel whenever anyone was about to mention the result, so honestly, I didn't know who won until I watched it.
In 1980, the United States was much like it was in 2009 economicallly. It was just coming out of a horrible recession under the Carter administration, and the country's mood was in the doldrums. The US had just dealt with the Iranian hostage crisis, botched attempts at rescues, and was still less than a decade removed from the Vietnam war ending. Tensions were still at an all time icy high in the Cold War between the US and the USSR. There had not been a lot to cheer about for a long time in this country.
That all changed in the late afternoon hours of February 22nd, 1980. The Russians jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first period, and then the magic happened. Mark Johnson jumped off the bench on a change, gathered in
a dump in shot, and with a second left in the period, slipped the puck past Vlad Tretiak, who happened to be possibly the best goaltender to ever play the game. Tretiak was inexplicably pulled after that, and the Americans started thinking, "hey, we might have a shot here!"
After a Russian goal made it 3-2, Johnson scored again on a power play to tie it at 3, which set up the "goal heard round the world". Captain Mike Eruzione gathered in a loose puck at the edge of the right circle and fired it past Myushkin, the backup goaltender, and the US had a lead with exactly ten minutes left in the 3rd period.
What followed was the longest, and most gut wrenching, edge of your seat nervousness I have EVER felt in the history of sports. The US went into a defensive shell, and withstood an onslaught of shots and pressure. Russia out shot the US 39-16 in the game, and it seemed like 29 of those 30 came in those ten minutes. As the clock wound down to zero, you can still hear Al Michaels yelling "Do you believe in miracles.....YES" in the back of your mind as if it was yesterday.
I will never forget the US players jubilation on that ice surface after the game. I will never forget the entire country's jubilation either.
When you think about it 34 years later, it gets even more remarkable. Add in the fact that of that whole Olympic team, only a handful of those players had decent NHL careers (Ken Morrow, Mark Johnson, Mike Ramsey, Neal Broten, Dave Christian), it becomes even more impressive. The US winning that game would be like the University of Rochester beating Alabama for the National title in football. It would be like the Batavia Muckdogs beating the New York Yankees in the World Series. It is the mother of all upsets in the history of sports, and probably always will be.
Since 1980, the International Olympic Committee decided to allow professional hockey players to play in the Olympic games. Dream teams. That is an ironic term really. It seems that now, it doesn't allow us to dream.
Like it did in 1980.
Now it seems like every four years that goes by, that accomplishment of the 1980 US mens Olympic hockey team gets mentioned less and less. Every four years it gets more and more forgotten.
And to me, that is very sad.
That team showed us what is great about America. It brought us out of the doldrums as a nation. It gave us all hope and belief. It made us all realize that with hard work and determination, that any obstacles can be overcome. In some ways, it was the beginning of the end of the Cold War, and the start of national prosperity.
It will never happen again.
The United States hockey team is playing very well in these Olympics. Maybe team USA might even be the team to beat for the gold medal. It will be fun to see if it happens, but I know I won't feel that same excitement that I felt on that Sunday afternoon on February 24th 1980, when the US beat Finland 4-2 to wrap up the gold medal game.
It just can't. And that's allright by me.
This just in. This kid who plays point guard for the Syracuse Orange is pretty darn good.
Tyler Ennis is just a freshman, but is playing better than any point guard the Orange have ever trotted out there onto the floor.
Sure, Ennis is only fourth on the team in scoring, at 11.9 points per game. But what Ennis is providing transcends point totals. He is 2nd on the team in minutes, and leading the team in assists at 5.8 per game. It is his intangibles--his leadership and his mind for the game that is far beyond his years. This week, Ennis provided perhaps the most defining moment for an Orange freshman since Pearl Washington that has everybody talking.
With just under five seconds left in a game at Pitt, and Syracuse trailing by a point, Ennis stole the show, and made his mark in a defining moment. After Pitt coach Jamie Dixon inexplicably called his last timeout, Ennis, the team's 2nd option, took an inbounds pass, weaved his way down the court, and heaved up a 40 foot prayer that was answered.
Nothing but net!
Cuse players mobbed Ennis and SU stayed unbeaten on the year, keeping hold of their number one ranking. It wasn't all because of Ennis of course. CJ Fair and Jeremi Grant had big games and made key plays as well, but Ennis is becoming DA MAN at crunch time.
In the final two minutes of all ACC games combined this year, Ennis is 8-9 from the floor and now 1-1 from three point range. There is something special about this kid, and coach Jim Boeheim must be thanking his lucky stars that he loses Michael Carter Williams, but gains a guy like Tyler Ennis.
Can it continue for the Cuse? Well, with no single dominant team in division one, and Tyler Ennis running the show and making big shots like this week, I would say the Orange have as much chance as anyone else in the country to win it all the first Monday night in April.
--Shifting gears, so much has been made about Missouri pass rusher Michael Sam's big announcement this week that he is openly gay. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "What's the big deal??"
We know there are gay athletes in all of the major sports. If about 5% of the general population is gay, then it stands to reason that the same amount would be gay in professional sports. Personally, I just don't need to know about it.
If a player feels the need to come out and let everyone know about it, well, that's his prerogative, but it doesn't make him some kind of "hero". It is what it is, and he is what he is, but I wish it wasn't such big news.
If you happen to be gay, I wish you'd just keep it to yourself. It shouldn't matter what anyone's sexuality is between the lines. Can you use a swim move and chase down a quarterback running out of the pocket? That's what I want to know. I don't give a rats ass who you slept with the night before!
--Shifting gears again, I am enjoying watching the Olympic Winter Games. It seems like so far though, it has been primarily a Winter X-games exhibition.
Haven't the networks shown a LOT of slope style, half pipe, moguls, jumps and snowboarding? It is pretty fun to watch, but where are all of the other events?
While I'm at it, some of these jumps from these guys are incredible. They way they fly 50 feet in the air, twisting, turning and flipping while flying through the air takes your breath away. But it really makes me wonder....how the hell do these guys ever get tthe courage to try some of these jumps in the first place???
Seriously! You know these guys must have fallen hundreds of times while trying to perfect these amazing jumps. It amazes me that these guys and girls still have four limbs attached when you think about it.
Anyways, I can't wait for some of the more "traditional" events to get going. Figure skating, bobsledding, hockey, ski jumping, and even curling (which I call bocce on ice) are all fun to watch. Should be a great week to come!
IT's THE OLYMPICS, BUT BETTER NOT CHEER FOR THE AMERICANS
Yes, it's hard to believe folks, but another four years have rolled by and once again, it's time for the OlympicWinter Games.
This year they are in Sochi, which is a little skiing town in Russia. The good folks in Sochi were so excited to get these games, they agreed to provide running water for the Olympians and all the fans and media, but reportedly, not much else.
The rumors from Sochi are that the living conditions there are pretty brutal. Hotel rooms falling apart, lousy food, and transportation that is only slightly better than mule carts. But hey, who's to complain. These are the Olympic Winter Games! The home fans in Russia are stoked, and they are cheering wildly for their men and women. In the good ol' US of A, we better watch out who's watching though when we cheer for our competitors.
You see, the US is the great melting pot. We have citizens from all over the world, and according to them, they aren't Americans. They are just people from another country who happen to live here, where they can have a much better way of life than where they came from. They don't cheer for the American competitors in the Olympics. They cheer for the competotors from their home country. The thing is, they don't want you to be cheering for the Americans either. They will get offended.
Don't you know, we live in a "politically correct" society here in the United States. NOTHING in your life matters more than NOT offending any foreigners, immigrants or illegal alians who chose to live here.
Did you hear about the school in Colorado whose kids wanted to start up a "celebrate America" day fpr a special project, but were told that they couldn't because it would alienate all the non-American students? It's true. Check out this link from Fox news:
Isn't that something? Well, it is the culture we are living in here in the states folks. Get used to it. So if we can't "celebrate America" for fear of offending people, then we gosh darn better not cheer for the American competitors for the same reason. Right?
I got fired from my radio job last summer for having the gall to suggest that the LPGA tour would be better received here in the US if they had more AMERICAN players on it, and less foreign players. Many of these foreign players come from Korea or other Asian countries, but it doesn't really matter what country they come from. My suggestion was simply offensive. How could I even SUGGEST that? Why, it's offensive, and bordering on racist to suggest that more US born players should be on a golf tour that primarily plays its events on US soil. That was ludicrous, and I was fired and shunned for it.
I most definitely learned my lesson, and so you can bet your ass that I am NOT cheering for a single American Olympian during this Olympics, and the following Summer Games two years from now.
Back when I was a kid, it was different. We lived in America, and wore red, white and blue, and cheered for the US Olympians with all of our might. We felt a sense of pride when a US Olympian won a gold medal and stodd on that podium, watching the American flag be raised and the Star Spangled Banner being played. We felt our hearts swell up, got a little tear in our eyes, and yelled "way to go!"
Can't do that anymore. You never know who in the room with you is from another country and is offended by your nationalistic outburst.
The best thing to do is to watch the Olympic games, enjoy the competition aspect of things, appreciate how every Olympian is doing his or her own best, and cheer for everyone you watch.
If you are in a bar or restaurant, try to introduce yourselves to as many people as you can, and ask them what their nationality is. Then, when one of the people's country's wins a medal, go over and congratulate them. Shake their hand, and say "I'm so glad it wasn't an American who won".
If you happen to own a restaurant or bar, have a copy of each countries national anthem on hand and play it on your sound system whenever one of your patrons countries wins a gold medal. Encourage everyone else to buyy that patron a drink.
Yes, these are different times we are living in, but if we all follow these simple rules, act accordingly, and by any means, not cheer for the Americans, we can all enjoy these Winter Olmpics without offending anyone.
And really, that is all that is important nowadays, isn't it?