NO SPORTS, POLITICS, OR RELIGION

This past week I stopped by a local inn to see some friends. Two people ended up having a “lively” discussion on the outcome of the recent national election. Naturally, I thought of this guideline.

SERENDIPITY

Some Old World Wisdom, by Rich Paschall

When thinking of blog topics, there is no shortage of subject matter. Some general areas offer a lot of topics.  With a bit of extra thought, there’s an endless supply. Consider well how many areas you can pursue if you are willing to delve into sports, politics, or religion. Each is bound to set some readers ablaze. Would surely bring lots of comments. You do want lively discussion, don’t you?

How lively do you want it?

conversation1

Venture into a sports bar well into the evening and you are likely to find plenty of spirited discussions regarding sports.  These ideas should help you out.  Will the Cubs win another pennant?  Will the White Sox ever get the love the Cubs get?  Will the Blackhawks win another Stanley Cup?  Will the Bears defeat the hated Green Bay Packers?  Will the Bulls beat the hated ____________ (fill in…

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EVERY SPORT NEEDS ONE

Because the “gay athlete” stories never go away, here is a reblog of a story from last year at this time.

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The Openly Gay Athlete, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

If you have read any stories about gay athletes in professional sports you would certainly know about it.  That’s because no matter how often it has been stated, any article that mentions a gay athlete will state that he is “gay” or even “openly gay,” as if telling you he is gay is not enough.  I guess if you tell the press you are gay, then you are pretty open about it, and you certainly can’t take it back.  Reporters follow around openly gay athletes just for the purpose of asking them what it is like to be openly gay and play ______ (fill in the sport here).  I wish just once the athlete would respond that it is the same as being “openly heterosexual.”

Perhaps they should ask the reporter what it is like to be “openly heterosexual” and asking…

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More NCAA BCS to come

For the last few years I have marveled at how the NCAA has taken apart a successful system and ruined college Bowl games in the process.  Next Year they will tell you that three bowl games have meaning, rather than just one.  It does not matter.  The fake play-off system provides no guarantee that the best team will get a bid to play in this mini-tournament.  Remarkably there are sponsors lined up to create more official Bowls if any of the current ones die out.  Here are my thoughts published back on New Year’s Day of this year during the previous mixed up bowl season:

How to ruin the college Bowl season

English: Rose Bowl

English: Rose Bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The college football bowl season used to have meaning, at least more meaning than it has now anyway.  There were a relatively small number of bowl games leading up to New Year’s Day.  That’s when the rival conferences met up again to determine the best in what was generally a long-standing tradition.  Some bowls were invitational, others had predetermined berths going to conference winners. This would usually involve ranked teams, but not always.  You could spend your New Year’s Day nursing your hangover to the Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl.  In 1982 the Fiesta Bowl brought its Tostitos to New Year’s Day guaranteeing nonstop football following the Tournament of Roses parade in the morning until you could no longer keep your eyes open at night.  With various conferences tied to these bowls, traditional rivalries grew and heated debates followed.  The “water cooler” talk these games generated kept every one who cared talking about the bowls for months to follow, if not all the way to the next season.  A few games were so epic in nature they would be debated for generations.

Debate was good for college football.  Anyone with a marketing degree, most sports fans, and even a handful of switchboard operators will tell you that having the general population talk about your product for months or even years is good business.  It will draw people to that product, to buy in or at least to watch.  What is not to like about a series of games steeped in tradition and featuring big name college teams?  By not having a championship game, people could debate who the best team in the nation actually is.  Which Bowl game is most important?  What would happen if OU played UU, or some such thing?  The “my game is better than your game” talk could go on for years.  This was the beauty of the system.  It rarely featured the number 1 and 2 ranked teams in the same game, and when it did other teams could still debate number one in the nation.

For those of us in the midwest, our greatest interest was usually the Rose Bowl.  It is known as the granddaddy of all the Bowl games.  It started on January 1, 1902 when Michigan walloped Standford 49 to zero.  Although the Big 10 participated in the Rose Bowl for many years against the PAC 10 and its predecessors, no formal agreement was reached until 1962.  From 1946 through 1997 the midwest dominated conference, the Big 10, sent a school west for the big game.  Would it be Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan?  Perhaps Northwestern will finally return or Illinois?  Our conference must be better than theirs!  In the 52 consecutive years, each conference won 26 times.  All the bowl games were important, but the Rose Bowl was the best.

Then something happened to ruin the Bowl Season.  It was known as the Bowl alliance then.  Now it is the Bowl Championship Series.  While there has been an explosion of Bowl games, 35 this year, the BCS has told us that only one really counts.  Which game is that?  How do teams get there?  What are the criteria for deciding one and two?  At one time the AP or UPI polls were what mattered.  Were the sports writers better at ranking teams or the coaches?  When the bowl games were over we waited to see how each would give their final rankings.  We do not do that now.  The NCAA computer picks one and two and the rest are left to play in a meaningless bowl season.  The Rose Bowl tries to continue its tradition and have a PAC 10 champion play a Big 10 champion, except when it gets the so-called championship game every 4th year. Even with that they may not get the Big 10 Champion when they do not host the BCS championship, because the BCS may pick them for one of the other top games.  In 2003 the Big 10 had co-champions but the Rose Bowl did not get either one.  One went to the championship game and the other went to the Orange Bowl.  Why?  The Orange Bowl was allowed to pick its matches before the Rose Bowl was allowed to pick.

So when will this great game be on tonight so we can see the champs?  It won’t.  Not only are we told these games no longer count, the NCAA will provide us with another week of meaningless bowl games.  Everyday until next Monday, we will be presented with a Bowl game.  Tomorrow it is the Sugar Bowl.  You may wish to check the sports pages for the rest, or not.  Why did the NCAA decide to break up the traditions in favor of their computer’s rankings?  Do you really have to ask?  Greed.  It is pure and simple.  All 35 of the bowl games have sponsors and a few of them may fill the stadiums.  Some will not draw many fans to the stadiums, however.  Who wants to go to a game after they told you it does not count for anything?  If you look in the stands at most of these games, there are a lot of empty seats.  When I saw the end of the number 20 ranked Northwestern vs unranked Mississippi State in the Something Bowl brought to me by some Important Sponsor I saw many of the stands were empty.  It doesn’t really matter, as long as they have a corporate sponsor.

I am sure all the remaining games have big corporate sponsors and television coverage.  If not, they would not exist.  Bowls without corporate sponsors and tv contracts have gone the way of the dodo bird or previous BCS computers.  Indeed there are far more bowl games in the graveyard of college traditions than there are current bowl games.  The present BCS format will also bite the dust when the NCAA goes to a 4 team play off system.  Is there any guarantee that those on the outside looking in do not deserve to actually be one of the 4?  Of course not.  They will just tell us there will be 3 games of meaning instead of just one.  Why would they go to this format?  Have you been paying attention?  Greed.  The next television deal for the Championship playoffs is worth a reported 500 million for a dozen years.  Now we are getting closer to NFL money.  By the way, you better have cable or satellite television.  ESPN bought the rights and that is no Mickey Mouse agreement.  Well, in a way it is.

London 2012, one year later

Time has not diminished the fine memories brought back from the London games. We were so glad we made the trip. With carefully planning it did not break the bank, it just put a bit of a dent into it. Last year at this time the Olympics were finishing up and I took the opportunity to put a few photos here. Below is the brief article that went with the gallery. I added two pictures to balance out the columns. Click on a thumbnail and go through the larger versions. I was also able to comment on the closing ceremonies because I watched some of it live online, rather than wait for the tape delayed, edited NBC version. The You Tube video is ours and taken at the Basketball Arena. I hope you enjoy our look back:

London 2012 photo gallery

A London Underground train decorated to promot...

A London Underground train decorated to promote London’s Olympic bid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

London was indeed ready for the 2012 summer games.  From sports venues to crowd control, everything was in order for the mass of humanity that arrived in London from all over the world.  This is not to say that we did not encounter some delays getting from venue to venue, but it all seemed to move along smoothly.  To have 70,000 volunteers on hand to greet us seemed an impossible task, but they did it.  Every where we went, the Brits greeted us with a smile and told us they were glad we came.  The volunteers were not just at the Olympic sites but at the train stations and intersections, landmarks and parks and just about anywhere a tourist might need a hand.  It was worth almost a year of vacation planning for us and we only wish we could have stayed a little while longer.  We are pleased to share just a few of the many pictures we brought home.

The closing ceremonies will give you a heavy dose of Beatles music, of course.  Appropriately, in my opinion, a small group of volunteers, representing the tens of thousands were presented flowers by medal winning athletes.  The finale rocks, literally.

LINK:  Official London 2012 closing ceremony photo gallery as well as links to all galleries can be found on the London site.   

How to ruin the college Bowl season

English: Rose Bowl

English: Rose Bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The college football bowl season used to have meaning, at least more meaning than it has now anyway.  There were a relatively small number of bowl games leading up to New Year’s Day.  That’s when the rival conferences met up again to determine the best in what was generally a long-standing tradition.  Some bowls were invitational, others had predetermined berths going to conference winners. This would usually involve ranked teams, but not always.  You could spend your New Year’s Day nursing your hangover to the Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl.  In 1982 the Fiesta Bowl brought its Tostitos to New Year’s Day guaranteeing nonstop football following the Tournament of Roses parade in the morning until you could no longer keep your eyes open at night.  With various conferences tied to these bowls, traditional rivalries grew and heated debates followed.  The “water cooler” talk these games generated kept every one who cared talking about the bowls for months to follow, if not all the way to the next season.  A few games were so epic in nature they would be debated for generations.

Debate was good for college football.  Anyone with a marketing degree, most sports fans, and even a handful of switchboard operators will tell you that having the general population talk about your product for months or even years is good business.  It will draw people to that product, to buy in or at least to watch.  What is not to like about a series of games steeped in tradition and featuring big name college teams?  By not having a championship game, people could debate who the best team in the nation actually is.  Which Bowl game is most important?  What would happen if OU played UU, or some such thing?  The “my game is better than your game” talk could go on for years.  This was the beauty of the system.  It rarely featured the number 1 and 2 ranked teams in the same game, and when it did other teams could still debate number one in the nation.

For those of us in the midwest, our greatest interest was usually the Rose Bowl.  It is known as the granddaddy of all the Bowl games.  It started on January 1, 1902 when Michigan walloped Standford 49 to zero.  Although the Big 10 participated in the Rose Bowl for many years against the PAC 10 and its predecessors, no formal agreement was reached until 1962.  From 1946 through 1997 the midwest dominated conference, the Big 10, sent a school west for the big game.  Would it be Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan?  Perhaps Northwestern will finally return or Illinois?  Our conference must be better than theirs!  In the 52 consecutive years, each conference won 26 times.  All the bowl games were important, but the Rose Bowl was the best.

Then something happened to ruin the Bowl Season.  It was known as the Bowl alliance then.  Now it is the Bowl Championship Series.  While there has been an explosion of Bowl games, 35 this year, the BCS has told us that only one really counts.  Which game is that?  How do teams get there?  What are the criteria for deciding one and two?  At one time the AP or UPI polls were what mattered.  Were the sports writers better at ranking teams or the coaches?  When the bowl games were over we waited to see how each would give their final rankings.  We do not do that now.  The NCAA computer picks one and two and the rest are left to play in a meaningless bowl season.  The Rose Bowl tries to continue its tradition and have a PAC 10 champion play a Big 10 champion, except when it gets the so-called championship game every 4th year. Even with that they may not get the Big 10 Champion when they do not host the BCS championship, because the BCS may pick them for one of the other top games.  In 2003 the Big 10 had co-champions but the Rose Bowl did not get either one.  One went to the championship game and the other went to the Orange Bowl.  Why?  The Orange Bowl was allowed to pick its matches before the Rose Bowl was allowed to pick.

So when will this great game be on tonight so we can see the champs?  It won’t.  Not only are we told these games no longer count, the NCAA will provide us with another week of meaningless bowl games.  Everyday until next Monday, we will be presented with a Bowl game.  Tomorrow it is the Sugar Bowl.  You may wish to check the sports pages for the rest, or not.  Why did the NCAA decide to break up the traditions in favor of their computer’s rankings?  Do you really have to ask?  Greed.  It is pure and simple.  All 35 of the bowl games have sponsors and a few of them may fill the stadiums.  Some will not draw many fans to the stadiums, however.  Who wants to go to a game after they told you it does not count for anything?  If you look in the stands at most of these games, there are a lot of empty seats.  When I saw the end of the number 20 ranked Northwestern vs unranked Mississippi State in the Something Bowl brought to me by some Important Sponsor I saw many of the stands were empty.  It doesn’t really matter, as long as they have a corporate sponsor.

I am sure all the remaining games have big corporate sponsors and television coverage.  If not, they would not exist.  Bowls without corporate sponsors and tv contracts have gone the way of the dodo bird or previous BCS computers.  Indeed there are far more bowl games in the graveyard of college traditions than there are current bowl games.  The present BCS format will also bite the dust when the NCAA goes to a 4 team play off system.  Is there any guarantee that those on the outside looking in do not deserve to actually be one of the 4?  Of course not.  They will just tell us there will be 3 games of meaning instead of just one.  Why would they go to this format?  Have you been paying attention?  Greed.  The next television deal for the Championship playoffs is worth a reported 500 million for a dozen years.  Now we are getting closer to NFL money.  By the way, you better have cable or satellite television.  ESPN bought the rights and that is no Mickey Mouse agreement.  Well, in a way it is.

London 2012 photo gallery

A London Underground train decorated to promot...

A London Underground train decorated to promote London’s Olympic bid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

London was indeed ready for the 2012 summer games.  From sports venues to crowd control, everything was in order for the mass of humanity that arrived in London from all over the world.  This is not to say that we did not encounter some delays getting from venue to venue, but it all seemed to move along smoothly.  To have 70,000 volunteers on hand to greet us seemed an impossible task, but they did it.  Every where we went, the Brits greeted us with a smile and told us they were glad we came.  The volunteers were not just at the Olympic sites but at the train stations and intersections, landmarks and parks and just about anywhere a tourist might need a hand.  It was worth almost a year of vacation planning for us and we only wish we could have stayed a little while longer.  We are pleased to share just a few of the many pictures we brought home.

The closing ceremonies will give you a heavy dose of Beatles music, of course.  Appropriately, in my opinion, a small group of volunteers, representing the tens of thousands were presented flowers by medal winning athletes.  The finale rocks, literally.

LINK:  Official London 2012 closing ceremoney photo gallery as well as links to all galleries can be found on the London site.