Tag: sports

Superbowl Sunday 2011

I’m surprised that Superbowl Sunday has not yet been declared an official National Holiday, for all of the publicity it gets, and for how little ends up getting done. It has to be one of the least productive Sunday’s of the year. Unless you count gluttony, in which case, it has to be one of the most productive Sunday’s of the year. I say this as a die-hard baseball fan, with little patience for the lesser sport. From what I recall of the actual event, the best part is the commercials–unless Janet Jackson is performing, in which case the best part is the peep show.

When I lived in L.A., my Superbowl Sunday was typically spent at Disneyland. Really, it’s one of the best days of the year to go if you want to avoid the crowds. Today, Kelly and I are heading to a shower for some friends of ours who are having their first baby sometime soon. I have no idea what time the Superbowl is on TV, but it’s a safe bet that I won’t be watching it.

All that said, this is a free country and I can be both derisive about the lesser sport and at the same time, choose sides. Or as Kelly likes to say, vote for a team. In this case, I’ll stick with my comrades in Pittsburgh and vote for them to win the game. (Yes: I had to go and look up who was playing.) Go Steelers! (Weren’t the Steelers big in the 70s. Or maybe the early 80s? I seem to recall a time in grade school when you were either a Steelers fan or a Cowboys fan. I don’t think I knew there were any other teams.)

So if you’re a fan of the lesser sport, happy Superbowl Sunday. (I believe that term is trademarked.) And if you don’t care for football: good for you! Way to declare your independence. After all, we know in the end that baseball is the superior sport.


A world without football?

Not long ago, Kelly mentioned how she found it interesting that I could hold my own in a conversation about football, despite not being a fan or even following the sport. Really, it’s not that difficult. You pick up things here and there, and learn to respond with vague generalities to various statements.

“Think Farve is going to end his starting streak?”

“With the way these things go, who knows?”

You know, stuff like that. You generally can’t miss getting the local scores and that can help, especially when there are outliers.

But I am not a football fan, and I don’t think I ever have been. Baseball is enough to keep my occupied. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed playing football when I was a kid. But I can’t stand it when football is on TV. In part, this is pure rebellion. My parents were (and still are) big football watchers and the Sundays of my youth were filled with enough football to last me a lifetime. Then, too, Monday Night Football (at least when I lived on the west coast) tended to preempt my favorite shows, and that didn’t earn it any sympathy from me.

I never understood the football pre-season, either. They begin their practices in the hottest part of summer and then play scrimmage games in which a large number of players injure themselves and are out for the season. Add to that the price of football tickets, the length of the games relative to the actual action (I think I once saw a stat saying that a 3 hour broadcast could be boiled down to 15 minutes of action–but perhaps the same is true for baseball), the seemingly constant unsportsmanlike conduct of the players, and I would be perfectly happy in a world without football.

As it happens, such a world may be on it’s way. An article caught my eye today, indicating that there may be a players lockout in 2011. Players are being urged to save at least 3 paychecks this year to weather the storm. I look upon the idea of such a lockout with eager fascination. What would the world be like without professional football? What programming would fill the void left on Sundays and Monday night? I wouldn’t have to come into work on Monday and listen to everyone around me talk about how terrible the Red Skins are, or how fantastic Dallas is. I would not longer have to wing conversations about the latest round of games because there would be no games.

Of course, there would still be college football, but I can tolerate that because it barely enters my consciousness.

In fact, I can think of only one downside to a world without football: we would miss out on those clever ads that run during the Superbowl.

But that is a sacrifice that I am willing to make.

A statement of Olympic proportions

I don’t follow the news too closely anymore because it is too depressing and I’d prefer to simply deny it. That said, I do check the headlines a couple of times a day so that I am not completely out of the loop, and I have been following what’s been going on with the Olympic torch and the related protests.

While I am sympathetic to the notion of global bonding, brotherhood and sisterhood, in the interest of sportsmanship, I’ve got to take the position that the U.S. should boycott the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, like other nations have threatened to do. In my mind, I don’t see how one can encourage good sportsmanship and brotherhood, when the hosting nation is notorious for its human rights violations. I’m not saying that all nations should be like the United States (we are far too flawed a nation for me to suggest that), but surely there is a set of humane standards that we can all agree on–indeed that we have to agree on if we seek to become a truly global community. Setting all nationalism aside, as a humanist, I think we owe it to people all over the world to demonstrate that there exists a set of basic human rights and violation of these rights won’t be tolerated.

We’re cheating on video games now?

This has probably been going on for quite some time, right under my nose, but my attention was drawn to it by this Yahoo!Tech article I saw this morning. Apparently, cheating at video games has been steadily on the rise and has become enough of a problem that cheaters are being punished.

Set aside the fact that I find it incredible that a person would feel the need to cheat at a video game. What impresses me most about this is that it seems that the video game industry is stepping into to actually do something about this, which is more than can be said for, oh, I don’t know, major league baseball, to pick one random example. (I know, I know, baseball did do something about it but it seems too little, too late.)

I don’t know why I find it amusing that someone would cheat at a video game. It somehow seems to me to be a particularly sinister form of cheating although I cannot say why this is. I guess it’s because I tend to associate a kind of laziness with video games (they are played while sitting on a couch), and that cheating is the lazy-person’s attempt at winning, and the combination of a lazy game and cheating at a lazy game seems to me to have a Milton-esque irony to it. But then again, I’ve never been able to understand cheating at any game. What’s the point really? The cheater knows that they didn’t win by any legitimate means. Any bragging rights associated with the cheat are built on a self-delusional house of cards.

I think it says something about society that we have to spend so much time and effort dealing with cheating in various forms. And what it says can’t be very good.

Should college sports players be paid?

Here’s a sports-related question that I’ve never in my life considered until this morning when the guy I was talking to on the train asked me what I thought about the subject. He asked, “Do you think college sports players should be paid to play?”

I don’t know the arguments, pros or cons, in response to this question. I’ve never given it any thought until this morning. Since then (and mostly off the top of my head), here are my initial thoughts:

Why not? My guess is that colleges, especially the competitive sports colleges, take in a lot of money for their athletic programs, so why shouldn’t the players share in the proceeds? Of course, one might consider that they really are being “paid” since most of these men and women get full scholarships to the school for playing. And you can’t really put a price tag on an education, can you?

Perhaps more fundamental is the idealism of sports. Apparently, some think that, at the college level, it should all be about the sportsmanship, and that money should not factor into the equation. I can agree with that, but I also have to ask: are “professional” sports not about sportsmanship? What makes college sports different?

I suppose that some people worry there’s a slippery slope. If you paid college players, why not pay high school players? Where do you draw the line?

It seems that the definition of “professional” when it comes to sports, is the same as when it comes to sex: you are paid for it. Between two athletes of equal skill, one is called “professional” because she is paid, the other is not because she isn’t. And why is “professional” bad? In most other vocations, being professional is a sign of achievement: a professional plumber, electrician, mechanic, pilot, writer. Why the slant against professional “sports” players? And why in college?

I’m sure there are plenty of arguments, pro and con, on this topic. These are my initial thoughts, and I haven’t made up my mind yet. I can easily go either way, and I’m interested in the rational that others have as to why college players should or should not be paid to play their sports.

Steroids, Baseball, Due Process and Skepticism

With the infamous Mitchell Report leaked yesterday and released today, I have a few comments to make on the whole matter of steroid use in baseball and how it has been handled. Keep in mind that I did not read the entire 409 page report.

You’d have to be a complete moron to deny the fact of steroid use in baseball. It’s obvious that its been going on because random testing has caught a few people here and there. You’d have to be an equally complete moron to think that no one on the list of players contained in the Mitchell Report used steroids. However, I also think that you have to be pretty short-sighted (I won’t say moronic here, although it’s really what I mean) to take this report and all of the media spin behind it at face value. A modicum of skepticism is required.

I have problems with the whole investigation


Yesterday, while the girls went to their fancy spa to get their fancy facials and whatever else people get in spas, the boy went scuba-diving.

Mom arranged it with a friend of hers who teaches scuba diving. Doug, stubiebrother and I headed to Thousand Oaks to the Sports Chalet, where at about 10 AM, we signed our lives away and proceeded to learn how to scuba dive in the 13 foot-deep pool that they had on site. The pool was kept very warm so that we didn’t need wet suits.

We learned how to wear the gear. We learned how to clear out our masks. We learned how to breath through the regulator. We learned to different ways for clearing the regulator while underwater. We even learned how to recover the regulator underwater if we lost it. We learned some basic hand signals as well. Once we’d done a few practice runs, we headed for the deep end. We spent a total of about 40 minutes underwater, and might have spent a little longer if Doug hadn’t come close to running out of air. (When we finally surfaced, me and Jason’s tanks were at about the 1,000 PSI mark. Doug’s was almost at 0 PSI.)

It was an interesting experience. For the first few minutes, I found myself much more conscious of my breathing than normal. I made sure to practice removing the regulator from my mouth, clearing it, and getting it back in. It was easy. We tossed around underwater frisbees. We swam through hoops. We laid down on the bottom of the pool (making sure to equalize the pressure in our ears). It was a lot of fun.

After it was all over, Doug, Jason and I headed to a nearby T.G.I. Friday’s for lunch.

We spent the afternoon hanging around the house. Then, in the evening, we headed to Wood Ranch grill for dinner. Almost everyone had tri-tip and it was excellent! We celebrated Ruby’s birthday after dinner, with a birthday cake from Coldstone, and a bunch of presents (Ruby turns 4 on December 1). By the time that was over, I was exhausted. Mom, Jen and Jason put on a movie but I was out cold. When I next woke up, the lights were out and everyone had done to sleep.

I head back home tonight. My flight departs LAX at 10:20 PM. I’ve used some more upgrade credits to upgrade to first class. The airplane is a 767 on the flight home so First Class may be a little bit nicer than on a 757. There are fires in Malibu, so we’ll probably have to take the freeways to LAX this evening, and miss the pretty ride along the coast. I get into Dulles at 6 AM, and if everything goes well, I hope to be home (and in bed for a little while) at 7 AM.

March madness

Apparently, we have entered a phenomenon known as March Madness, as evidence by the seemingly dozens of college basketball games on in the bar last night during happy hour. People really get into this March Madness. There are these “bracket” boards all over the place and people try to guess who will end up as the final two teams to play one another when all other teams have been eliminated. There is a kind of mad, drunken obsession with these games, which perhaps explains the term itself. I just don’t get it. Basketball never seemed that exciting to me (although it’s better than football). But all of this hubbub over college games? I wouldn’t even know who to cheer for. I suppose I could cheer for Maryland, since that’s where I live. But it seems to be the better bet would be on UCLA. Granted, I didn’t got to UCLA, but I did got to UCR, and besides, UCLA, UCR, UCI, UCSB, UCSD, they are all just “annex” schools of Cal anyway, right?

I did have fun at happy hour last night, despite the basketball madness. It was a “going away” party for someone and we were there for hours. I finally ended up leaving just before 10 PM and I got home as the clock struck 11 PM.

I was up just after 8 this morning. I have a number of things to do this weekend, not the least of which is preparing all of my tax information and getting it sent out to my new tax adviser. I’m nearly 200 pages through Houdini and hoping to make some headway there as well. And I’d like to get through a few more Italian lessons this weekend if I could.

Incidentally, it’s exactly ONE WEEK from Norm and Vicky’s wedding in Orlando. I still have a few things to do in preparation for that. I leave on Wednesday and I have to get a shirt pressed. On second thought, I’ll probably just buy a new shirt. My neck size has grown some in the last few months and those 15-1/2 next sized shirts strangle me when they are buttoned up. I think I need to move up to a 16 or 16-1/2.

The Golden Rule

I am a firm believer in the Golden Rule, which when properly stated, is roughly: “Treat other people the way you would want to be treated” (but is often misstated as: “Treat other people the way that they treat you.”)

It is because of my firm belief in the Golden Rule that I did not call up strausmouse on Saturday evening and gloat over UCLA’s victory over UCS. I’m not a big football fan, but I caught some of the game while having dinner at the Outback. I don’t know much about the college rankings, but it seems to me that this loss messed up USC’s ranking somewhat. Well, in any event, knowing that I would not want people to call me and gloat after a rare Yankee loss, I did not call Eric after UCS lost on Saturday.

One last thing: while the title of this post is “The Golden Rule”, I was strongly tempted to call it, “The Gold ‘n’ Blue” but I was afraid it would sound spiteful. See what a nice guy I am?

What a dope!

I’ve reached my limit when it comes tolerating drugs and sports. For a while, I figured, give the guy (or girl) a second chance. But with what doping is doing to many sports, I’ve changed my mind.

You’ve got it in baseball. You’ve got it in cycling. You’ve got it in soccer, and who knows where else people are doping up to perform better. It’s a problem and it’s terribly embarassing to just about everyone involved. It’s harmful to kids who look up to the Bonds’ and Landis’ as role models.

And there is simply no excuse for it.

My new philosophy on the matter is simple: if you’re caught doping, or otherwise cheating in a sport, you’re fired. Period. Most companies don’t tolerate drug use in their employees, why should sports franchises be any different.

The fact is that doping is cheating and cheating should not be tolerated. I used to think, heck, give the guy another chance. But I’ve grown a little more cynical, I suppose. I now think, that while someone may be caught for the first time using some illegal substance, it is very unlikely that it’s the first time they’ve used the substance.

What’s done is done. McGuire, Bonds, Canseco, Giambi. It’s all controvertial and bad for the sport. If they are caught doping again, I say, ban them for life. But I think this goes for anyone who is caught, first time or not. The only way to show the world that cheating won’t be tolerated, is by not tolerating cheating.

Busy season

It has gotten busy here at work. I have finished up one project, and am in the middle of managing a second. Tomorrow, I head to Pittsburgh for two days of requirements meetings on a third project that I will be managing. And in the meantime, there is a fourth project on which I am developer, but not a project manager.

The last couple of months have been very low stress for me. The trick now is to maintain the low stress levels, but actually somehow manage to make all of this projects work within the limited 40 hour week that I put in. (Going over 40 hours is the first thing to raise the stress levels.) I don’t know if it’s possible.

I’ll be in Pittsburgh Thursday and Friday, as I mentioned, and that will mark my first time to Pittsburgh. Friday night, I’m flying to New York and spending the long weekend there, helping jen_ashlock and Jason move from Astoria to Manhattan. I plan on seeing Superman Returns again while I’m in the city.

I’m about 100 pages through Will Durant’s Our Oriental Heritage and I’m really enjoying it. He has a great writing style and the stuff is really fascinating. I’ve already culled one new story idea from what I’ve read. One of the most interesting things is the social context in which that book was written. It was published in 1935, well after World War I and a few years before World War II, but the spectre of war permeates the pages, as in this passage on Cro-Mangnon and Neanderthals:

The distribution of their fossils suggests that [the Cro-Magnon] fought for many decades, perhaps centuries, a war with the Neanderthals for the possession of Europe; so old is the conflict between Germany and France.

It makes me think that it’s a good thing that France is playing Brasil and not Germany in the World Cup. Could you imagine if France and Germany had to face each other again?