Football, the NFL, and it’s impending death

I love Sunday football; the mere thought of a cool, fall day on a Sunday afternoon gets me excited. It’s been a part of my life, and my peers’, for decades. Some are more dedicated to the game than others. I, for one, have been a staunch Packers fan since my childhood. I remember watching quarterback Brett Favre play one of the greatest games I’d ever seen. It was against the Oakland Raiders in late December of 2003, the night after the death of his father. Favre threw for nearly 400 yards, 4 TD’s and was precise with every throw he attempted. According to the QB rating metric, he was literally perfect at halftime. I was 14 at the time, and I thought I was watching my hero. It was as inspirational as it gets, a great story.

Though, I sit here, after watching a fantastic Super Bowl finish, succumbing to the fact that my child will likely never have his/her hero be a professional football player. In fact, looking back on it, it’s a bit silly to have a professional athlete as your “hero.” They don’t add any value to society except for entertainment. Perhaps MLK or Ghandi would have been a better choice. But the fact remains, I love football, and I always will. But that doesn’t mean I or any other die hard out there shouldn’t recognize that their sport is collapsing before their very eyes…and there is nothing we can do about it.

The demise of the NFL will not be due to lack of popularity among its fans. It will self-destruct. The same way an alcoholic has their liver “self destruct.” It will find itself enjoying the sweetness of such success, that it will have binged hard enough until the once healthy, thriving sport, becomes nothing but a shadow of itself.

Concussions, head mashing, bone jarring hits, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), player suicides, lawsuits, etc. All of these, and more, will be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Recent autopsies conducted by Boston University show that, of the 34 brains of deceased NFL players studied, 33 had CTE, the degenerative disease that was found in the brains of recently suicidal Junior Seau and Dave Duerson. Research is on going regarding this disease, and more will be learned of its debilitating nature.

As a result, NFL players are suggesting they will never let their child play football. Today, you have generations of football families — The Manning’s, the Harbaugh’s, the Greise’s, the Winslow’s, the Matthews. Thirty years from now, there’s a good chance none of those “football families” will exist. Parents will enroll their children in other sports, avoiding football all together. College football programs will wither away, struggling to find interested talent. NFL franchises will lose the Robert Griffen’s, Colin Kaepernick’s, Michael Vick’s, Adrian Peterson’s and Calvin Johnson’s of the world, and their talents will be exploited elsewhere. The talent pool will diminish, resembling the old USFL. Television contracts won’t be renewed, causing the league to lose out on millions of dollars in revenue. Interest in the league will dwindle…and poof, there goes the NFL as we know it.

All of these events are probable. Now, is it possible the NFL could save itself? Anything is possible, of course. But with the way things are headed, I say the NFL stop trying to micro manage its impending death, pull the plug, and let it die. Now, this of course won’t happen. Too many millions are on the line. But it’s the only reasonable thing it can do.

The NFL is investing millions of dollars of research into player safety, including new equipment. I say, good luck. The kinetic force that is generated by a 280 pound brick of a human being, that can run a 40-yard dash faster than I can spell football, and can bench 250 pounds over 30 times, is not something new science and research can protect. Players are bigger, faster and stronger than ever before. There is no solution. Just acceptance.

The only thing the NFL should do is more research regarding head trauma and taking in-game concussions more seriously (i.e. removing a player out of the game, and the next, after a serious head collision). Educating the players and coaches should be its only goal. Don’t try to change the game by adding rules, and don’t try making the game something it’s not. It’s a barbaric sport where one of its main functions is to knock the other man on his ass, by any means necessary. That’s football, and it cannot be saved. Accept it. It’s time fans compartmentalize their passion for the game. Yes, touchdowns and game winning drives are still exciting. But it’s also a ticking time bomb. No one knows how long it has left, so lets enjoy it while we can.

Go Pack Go.

Money and Politics

Corruption is rampant in American politics. While it’s not as bad as governments like, say, Syria, it’s definitely not something to be be proud of. It’s consumed by money and greed. It’s over-run with political handouts and favors. One person is gaining at the expense of someone else’s loss (mostly the tax payer). It’s a sad, sad truth: it’s aiding the erosion of our once proud political system. Is it the end of the world that our politicians are bought and sold? No. They’ll still pretend to care about the “everyday” American; they’ll still make promises they cannot keep; and they’ll continue to get reelected. And the world will go on. The only trouble now is what to do about it — and this is where many people, mostly on the left, get it wrong. Their hearts are in the right place, but it’s all misguided.

They claim we need to limit campaign donations, and, in some cases, make money lobbying illegal; in essence, we need more laws. More laws supposedly equal less money in politics. This is the classic case of: intentions do no equal results. Laws are sometimes ineffective at curbing certain behaviors. That’s just the plain truth of things. The war on drugs has been going on for decades and marijuana use (and abuse of other drugs) is higher than ever before in our history. The drinking age is set at 21, college kids still binge drink. There are certain inevitabilities in life, and someones desires at times cannot be tempered. Not only are drugs and alcohol included, but so is money and greed.

Greed has existed for…well…forever. It’s not as if man kind over the last half century has become more and more greedy. Everybody wants to know “what’s in it for me,” and they always want more of it. This is basic self-interest, and it’s not always bad. So, since our problems cannot be blindly placed on greed, what is the root cause of our issues? Simply put: Power and control.

Think of government as a tool; it’s a tool for control. It regulates most industries. It (sadly enough) plays a significant enough role in the US economy. It’s tentacles are far reaching across the scope of our economy. Some argue this is good, while others will say it’s harmful. That’s not the point. The point is to understand who is partial to this kind of control and who can take advantage of it? The quick and easy answer: those with lots and lots of resources and political connections.

“If you build it they will come.” It’s exactly this quote from the, Field of Dreams, which aptly explains the problem with money in politics. If you give the government the tools for control, the lobbyists will come flocking the same way the baseball greats crawled through the cornfields.

If you’re a multi-million dollar corporation and you see the government has the ability to regulate you and your competitors, who do you think you are going to protect? Yourself. You’d lobby your buddies in DC, and you’d get the rules written in your favor. That’s how it works in government.

Truthfully, money will always be in politics. If laws are written that make it illegal, or certain amounts illegal, it can always be exchanged under the table or in black markets. Don’t believe this can happen? Talk to a drug lord. They’ll tell you differently. Writing more laws to get money out of politics is like telling a bird it can’t fly.

The real answer is not to bang your head against a wall and hope for change. And it’s not about kicking out the guy in office and hoping the other is better. Those who support bigger government and less money in politics are feeding the monster while poking it with a twig. It’s ineffective.

The answer lies in limiting the size and scope of the federal government.

Until this is done, nothing will change. The endless cycle of corruption will dominate our political system. A lot of noise will have been made. But the only thing it will do is give you a headache.

Presidential Debate — my thoughts

Throughout the day, people asked me if I was going to watch the presidential debate tonight.

I told them, “No.”

They curiously asked, why.

I usually responded with something like, “Because it’s a crock of shit, gimmicky side show. That’s why.”

I think that sums things up pretty succinctly.

Terror: the red, white and blue way

There are times when I feel proud (and grateful) to live in this country. And then there are times when I feel ashamed, and every American — no, every human being — should feel disgusted with the actions committed by the US government under the previous two administrations. Both President Bush and Obama have caused and are still causing terror on thousands of innocent lives, and it should be condemned, loudly.

In September, Stanford  University and New York University (NYU) released a study they conducted in the country of Pakistan, where they researched the impact of US drone strikes. It’s an eye-opener to say the least.

To start, “the drone” is a brilliant weapon. It flys high above, with no human pilot, and merely has someone controlling the operations from a distance through remote control, or through autonomous programing. It then drops bombs over targeted areas. It’s a devastating weapon, and it’s been abused by the US government, especially in Pakistan.

Abused so much that the study finds that US drone strikes have killed as many as 881 civilians since 2004. That’s right, 881. This number ranges from 474- 881 due to the fact that these were testimonials and could not be counted exactly; but, still, whether it’s 400 or 900, that’s way too many innocent lives.  Here’s the kicker, though. Of those killed, 176 were children.

Can we imagine — just for a few minutes — this happening in our country, our states, our cities, our subdivisions or our blocks? Hundreds of people in an 8 year span are blown up, many of which are children. Planes, with intent to kill, are flying over your home, everyday. You’ll wake up, waiting for your worst nightmare. You’ll go to work, praying the drones don’t drop a bomb on your family while you’re gone. Forget about having a life under these circumstances. You might even be afraid to leave your home, fearing the next strike. Imagine the fear, the terror. It would be horrifying.

This is exactly how the people of Pakistan feel. According to the study:

“Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.”

The study examines the tactic of “signature strikes” vs. “personality strikes.” The two are still lethal, but very different. Personality strikes are when intelligence is completely and totally aware of who the enemy is and where they are located. Signature strikes are where things get ugly.

“According to US authorities, these [signature] strikes target “groups of men who bear certain signatures, or defining characteristics associated with terrorist activity, but whose identities aren’t known.”

Interestingly enough, it was Bush who mainly performed personality strikes, while it’s President Obama who has increased the number of signature strikes, and, thusly, killed more innocent lives.

It gets even worse. There are documented instances of “first responders/rescuers” being bombed immediately following the initial strike. That’s right, read that last sentence again. The US government drops bombs on people who are trying to save the lives of those who have already been harmed/killed.  These are called “double taps,” and it’s one of the most inhumane acts anyone could ever perform.

Not only does all of this cause fear, but it also brings rise to many militant groups around the country and the rest of the middle east. It’s used as a recruiting tool by many terrorist organizations. Ever ask, why “they” hate us?

It then begs the question: How productive are these strikes? It’s a salient question to ask, because there is a good chance we are creating more enemies than we are killing. Which would then make the “war of terrorism” totally counter-productive.

These are human beings, not pieces in some board game. The killings can’t be coined as “mistakes” or “rare occurrences.” Rare isn’t murdering hundreds of innocent lives over an 8 year span. Terrorism is murdering hundreds of innocent lives over an 8 year span. There is no other way to describe it.

It’s terrorism, the American way.

Team USA is Made in China

Recent news that US olympians will be wearing uniforms that are tagged, “Made in China,” have caused a minor uproar. How is it that someone that represents America wear something made in China? People are confused, but most importantly, they feel defeated. They want jobs back in America. Who doesn’t? But it’s all misplaced.

This label doesn’t mean “everything” was made in China. It simply represents where the labor took place. It’s a fallacy to assume the entire process of making, say, a basketball jersey took place entirely in China. The literal wording should say, “Stitched in China.” Because that’s all that happens. What about the cloth, tools and machinery? Did that all come from China? It’d be hard to know for certain, but it’s not likely; and that point on it’s surface beautifully illuminates the complex processes of our world economy. It’s 2012, not 1800 — everything is made from…everywhere!

It’s also worth noting that it would be quite sad if we, collectively, asked members of our society to work the monotonous task of stitching together a basketball jersey. Sure, some people might be willing to work that type of job in today’s economy. But that’s not how America rolls. We move forward, not backwards. Asking someone to work 8 hours a day, sewing together pieces of cloth isn’t progress, it’s quite the opposite. This is America, damnit. We’re better than that. We’re moving forward at a rapid pace, and have been for quite some time.

It works in China right now. They have a cheap and willing workforce. But if their economy ever grows to the same level as the US, that kind of labor will find itself elsewhere. Keeping that labor in one country is static, there’s no progress if it stays.

Get over it. We are a service-based economy now. It’s just a bunch of t-shirts and jerseys anyways.

Penn State and Jerry Sandusky: What now?

It’s over. Jerry Sandusky is in prison, serving all 45 convictions of sexual abuse. He will die alone, in prison. Justice – on it’s surface at least – has been served. Though, nothing can do justice to the trauma he caused to the young men of the grand jury, and countless others he might have abused. It’s a sad story, really. The universe still doesn’t feel at equilibrium. It feels as if he got away with murder. A part of me wants him dead; to line him up along a wall and lay a bullet in his forehead. I’m sure others feel the same way. But this can’t happen. It shouldn’t. Nothing more can be done about Jerry Sandusky. It’s time to move on.

The next chapter in this horrific story is determining what should happen following the release of the Freeh Report, an internal investigation conducted by the Board of Trustees. They hired an independent investigator to determine if the university failed to “respond to and report to the appropriate authorities, the sexual abuse of children by former University football coach Gerald A. Sandusky.”

The findings were damning. Though, to most, they weren’t all that surprising. Throughout this investigation, there was an assumption that Joe Paterno, the head football coach, and a few other Penn State authorities, did very little to stop the horrific acts Sandusky was committing. After reading the press release of the Freeh Report, it exposed one sad fact: inconvenience is the greatest barrier to truth. While reading between the lines, it became clear that Paterno, and others that knew, did nothing because it would have been inconvenient for them and their football program. They were afraid of the implications. Perhaps Paterno was concerned about potential recruits if the news broke in 1998 or 2001. Maybe the higher authorities were concerned about lesser donations from boosters and alumni. Either way, it puts a damper on…no, it completely obliterates the great legacy of Joe Paterno and the Penn State Football program. This is real life, not football. And as far as I’m concerned, the cowardice shown by Paterno, trumps anything he did as a football coach.  The report puts the final nail in Paterno’s and the football program’s coffin (pun intended). Together their legacy is forever tarnished, and justly so.

Further justice should be served, however. Paterno is dead, and some might feel comfort knowing he may have died a “broken” man. I can’t provide a detailed explanation of what should and shouldn’t happen next. I just know that the coming punishments/prosecutions/convictions in the next weeks and months should feel harsh. It should bring about serious emotion, perhaps shock, when we read or listen to what happens to the university and to those who knew, but were silent.

Nothing can make up for the horror Sandusky caused. The universe is still not at equilibrium. The scales will remain in favor of evil. But the imprisonment of a monster, and the damning evidence that has proven a lack of moral backbone, should at the very least, help tilt the scales a little closer to what we call, good.

 

Why there is nothing to be afraid of…

I often try to catch myself when I’m pessimistic. My girlfriend likes to point this out to me quite a bit, and deservedly so. There are times when I look into the future of this country and foresee gloom. I see a country that continues to support a status quo that contradicts the very values that made America great. I see a political class that thirsts for more power, control and money. I see a lack of character in our “established” politicians. I see a dollar losing value, power moving to the top, Wall Street executives receiving bailouts, the 10th Amendment being rendered meaningless, government overspending, overtaxing and over-regulating, etc. I could keep going if I really wanted to, but I stop. I stop because I see something different taking place. Something very special happening with the young people of this country. I’m beginning to think that, when people said I was crazy, they were wrong. I’m succumbing to the fact that there is something to smile about, something that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s cheesy, all to familiar, and perhaps cliche, but it’s true — I have hope. Not so much in the short term, but 30 or 40 years from now, I see great things happening.

Do I know exactly how it will play out? No. But it’s an itch. An itch that keeps me reading, writing and talking. It’s because it’s about ideas, not about red or blue, Republican or Democrat. Presidential candidate, Ron Paul says it best: “People don’t change countries, ideas do.” And that’s exactly the seed that Ron Paul has planted. His ideas are the intellectual seed of the grassroots movement. He likely won’t place his hand on the Bible in 2013, but his influence will be far greater than any would be president. I’m not saying this to sell a campaign, or to root for a party. I’m saying this because it’s happening before our very eyes. All we have to do is open them.

Students from all over the country are flocking towards his ideas. I used to feel as if most of my fellow peers were stuck in a rut; that they couldn’t part with the mainstream ideas that our schools drowned us with in classrooms.The idealistic youth is back, where thought is critical, not submissive. Where questions are asked and not ignored. They’re not afraid. When the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernake, is mentioned in one of Paul’s speeches, young people boo as if they heard The Joker was taking over Gotham City.

Who would have ever thought students could explain in layman’s terms: CIA’s theory of blowback; what fiat money is; the Austrian Business Cycle theory; why drugs should be legalized; who Ludwig von Mises is; why John Maynard Keynes was a tool; and why freedom works better than anything else that’s ever been tried in human history?  And here’s the kicker: who would have thought that they all taught it to themselves? No classroom. Just them, a book, a computer, YouTube and Google. That’s how it started for me, and that’s how it began for millions of young people like myself. It’s purely independent thought that first manifests itself into curiosity, then into words, and then into action. It’s grassroots at its core, not some presidential slogan.

I’m a speck of dust compared to the earnest efforts of other like minded individuals. My words are a drop in a bucket. But it’s fun to know I’m a part of it. Call me crazy, but something BIG is set to happen, and it’s nothing to be pessimistic about.

 

More delegates for Ron Paul

Ron Paul is winning the caucus states’ delegates. First, he won Iowa and Minnesota…and now Nevada and Maine. The fact of the matter is, delegates win nominations. Not who the media tells you is the “favorite”. I have to admit, at first I was skeptical his plan to win delegates would work. But, so far, it appears it is…