Monthly Archives: February 2015

Blue Dress/White Dress Phenomenon Exposes Widespread Colour Blindness

Before the picture of the blue and brown dress became the biggest Internet sensation since the day before when two llamas were filmed running from police, most people assumed that colour blindness was a fairly rare condition. It appears that is not the case. Rather than being a merely entertaining diversion like the llama video, the blue dress picture has actually served a great public service in uncovering what is actually an epidemic of colour blindness in society. Thanks to the dress, we now know that well over half of the population may suffer from some form of colour blindness.

It turns out about half of the population look at the blue and brown dress and see a white and gold dress, while others see a black and blue dress. The disagreement about the colour of the dress’ trim isn’t really that big a disagreement at all. The actual trim is black, but because of the contrast in the photo it is lightened, so reasonable people can disagree on whether it is gold, brown, or a faded black colour. The most interesting and enlightening disagreement pertains to the base colour, which is blue.

Shades of brown and gold can easily be confused and are often a matter of subjective judgement, as all colours are on a spectrum. Few blues are totally blue; there are a million slightly different shades of the colour and there is a shade that is exactly half way between purple and blue. White, however, is not on a spectrum with other colours; it is essentially the absence of colour. There is no such thing as a light white, a dark white, or a teal white; there is just white.

It isn’t just that colour blindness may be far more widespread than previously thought, it is that it may be taking on different forms than previously recognized, which may explain why this epidemic has gone unnoticed for so long. Generally colour blind people have trouble differentiating between colours like green and red when they are mixed together. What has been revealed is that there is a sizeable chunk of the population that cannot detect the presence of a particular colour at all. This seemingly superfluous viral picture may have unlocked an important medical issue.

I Love Michael Jordan

I am a sports fan in my late thirties who loves Michael Jordan. While there are millions of men in their late thirties who are crazy about Jordan, I am perhaps unique in that I only became a huge fan of his last week, when I learned that he was considering building himself his own golf course so he could be assured of being able to play a round of golf in three hours. I am thrilled that such a famous person has taken a stand against 3+ hour rounds of golf.

I love golf playing golf, but unless I get the first tee off time in the morning I find most of my time on the course is spent standing around watching someone take practice swings or size up their 4 foot putt. I am far from the only person who has complained about pace of play in golf, but I find that most of the people complaining seem to be upset about rounds taking longer than four hours and fifteen minutes. Four hours and fifteen minutes is a ridiculous length of time for a round of golf.

The posted times for all golf courses, not just Michael Jordan’s future course, should be 3 hours. If you are elderly or have some leg problems, then you should use a cart. How can anyone be expected to regularly play a sport that takes longer than watching a major league baseball game? The sport is being destroyed by people who have absolutely nothing else to do besides play golf, and those who play as if the entire nation is hanging on the outcome of their every shot.

If golf wants to halt its steady decline over the last decade it needs to be a sport where people don’t feel like they need to build their own private course in order to have an enjoyable, fast paced round. In order to grow the game golf needs to start focusing more on people who have other things to do in their lives who just want to have a fast based, enjoyable round of golf.

Sports Leagues Should Ban Hereditary Team Ownership

There is a growing problem in professional sports leagues that has gone largely unreported, even as it has begun to cripple some of the most important franchises in MLB, the NBA, and the NFL. That problem is the growing number owners of major market teams who inherited the team from their parents or grandparents instead of purchasing them with their own money. In some of the biggest sports markets like Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, hereditary owners are in the process of driving some of the most prestigious and most valuable teams in the league straight into the ground.

34 year old Jed York was appointed as president of the 49ers by his parents when he was 28 years old. York’s uncle, a real estate mogul originally bought the team and oversaw all of its Super Bowl victories before being forced cede control to his sister after some legal troubles. Mr. York made headlines this year by effectively running the team’s best coach in years out of town, then badly mishandling a coaching search the ended up selecting their little known defensive line coach for the head job. Jim Harbaugh had led the team to three straight NFC championship games and a Super Bowl appearance, but York still wanted him out. Someone who had built a successful organization from the ground up would have always put performance ahead of any personality clashes. Not so for someone who had a formerly successful organization dropped in his lap.

In the NBA, two of the three most important teams in the league are currently being slowly poisoned from hereditary ownership. Jerry Buss bought the Lakers and turned them into the most exciting and successful teams in all of sports for over 30 years. During his tenure, the team not only developed young stars like Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant, but also attracted big names like Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson. Since his son Jim assumed control of the team, the Lakers have been in steady decline, changing coaches every year or so, failing to attract big name free agents, and even being unable to retain a big name player like Dwight Howard.

The New York Knicks, though they have nowhere near the pedigree of the Lakers or 49ers, have traditionally been perennial playoff and occasional championship contenders for much of their history, but in recent years under the control of James Dolan, who was put in charge by his father, the team has been known mainly for its losing seasons, scandals, and terrible contracts. The management of the team has been so bad that even David Stern at one point publicly questioned the intelligence of management decisions and new commissioner Adam Silver even made some jokes at the Knicks’ expense.

In the business world, the presidency of billion dollar companies are rarely handed down to a son or daughter. They quite often own shares and benefit financially, but since the business world is so competitive, most company founders understand that the best way to provide for their children and grandchildren is to ensure that the best managers are hired to run the business. They know that inserting an unqualified son or daughter at the top would risk killing the business altogether.

The problem with professional sports teams, particularly those who play in big markets, are essentially monopolies that will fill seats and enjoy millions in television revenue no matter how terribly the team is run. The Knicks and Lakers are among the worst teams in the league but yet have among the highest ticket prices and best attendance. But while even the worst managers could not possibly bankrupt teams like the 49ers, Knicks, and Lakers, the league as a whole suffers when these premier teams are so poorly run.  Though owners would be unlikely to agree to it, the best policy for the league would be for the team to be sold to the highest bidder whenever an owner passes away or chooses to cede control of the team.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Aren’t Any Good Because They Don’t Need to Be

In any discussion of the worst teams in North America, you often hear the usual suspects like the Knicks, Raiders, and any team based in Cleveland. None of these teams remotely compare to the open sewer that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Because they are based in Canada, and because hockey gets much less coverage than basketball, football, and baseball, the truly remarkable underperformance of the Leafs over the past 30+ years has not gotten anywhere near the attention it deserves.

Even those who have no interest in hockey should be interested in the Maple Leafs, not so much as a sports story but more from the perspective of organizational mismanagement. Toronto is easily the biggest market in the National Hockey League, it’s stadium has been sold out for generations, it has more endorsement opportunities than any other hockey city, and more players in the NHL grew up as fans of the Leafs than any other team, not because of past greatness but because so many players were born within a 3 hour drive downtown Toronto. Yet despite all of that, the Toronto Maple Leafs have never signed a star free agent in his prime. The Minnesota, a relative hinterland that has already lost one NHL franchise, seem to have no trouble attracting top talent.

It isn’t just that the richest, largest market team cannot sign top free agent stars; they can’t draft them either. The Maple Leafs have by far the worst scouting and drafting system in all of professional sports. Their futility in the draft stretches back almost three decades. To put in in perspective, if you took all of the 1st round picks made by the Leafs in the 28 years, Luke Schenn would be in 4th place in total career goals scored in a Leafs uniform. He scored 14 goals in a Leaf uniform. Scoring 14 goals in your career with a team would be like a receiver racking up 250 career receiving yards. Not a single 1st round pick scored 30 goals in a season for the team. That would be like a basketball team having 28 years of first round picks and never finding a player who could average 15 points a game.

The reason why the Leafs have been so bad for long, and the reason why even non-hockey fans should pay attention, is that the team has operated as a monopoly for much of its existence. Toronto is the biggest city in the most hockey mad country in the world and there is just one NHL team in the city. The nearest other NHL team, Buffalo, is in a different country. It isn’t just that there are so many hockey fans in the city, it is that the city has, proportionally speaking, far more corporate head offices than any other city in the league. There are 7 million people that live within a few hours of downtown Toronto, and 95% of them are hockey fans. There is a single NHL team in the city and their stadium has just under 20,000 seats, and all of the corporations based in Toronto buy large numbers of season tickets to entertain clients, so there is an incredible supply/demand imbalance in the market for hockey tickets in the city. It doesn’t matter how the team plays, people will continue to show up.

The monopoly situation that the team finds itself was actually aided by the rise of the Quebec separatist movement in the early 1980s. During the peak of the separatist movement between the early 80s and the mid-nineties, when there were two referendums and breaking up the country, huge numbers of corporations moved their head offices from Montreal to Toronto. With more head offices came more companies buying more season tickets. With a huge waiting lists for individuals hoping to buy tickets, even the most disgruntled fan will hold onto his seats as he knows he will likely never get season tickets again if he were to give them up.

The reason why the Toronto Maple Leafs have not been any good for the past three decades is that they don’t need to be any good. Most other sports franchises at least need to give their fan bases some hope for the future. The Leafs could literally buy a bunch of size 18 skates and put the Raptors out on the ice and they would still sell out. As long as people line up to pay scalpers twice the face value of tickets to watch one of the worst teams in all of sports, there is little hope that the Leafs will become a competently run organization any time in the foreseeable future.