Category Archives: Uncategorized

Indiana Picked a Terrible Time to Pass That Dumb Law

As I’ve watched the recent fiasco in Indiana play out over the past few days, I couldn’t help but think of the old Chinese proverb; “If you have to do something incredibly stupid, it is best not to do it when everyone is watching”. Several States have passed similar, clumsily written laws whose sole intent is to win the votes of religious conservatives, but nobody paid any attention because they didn’t do it while their State was hosting one of the most watched sporting events in the country.

Indiana had the entire year to pass this law, yet they waited until army of journalists descended on Indianapolis to cover the NCAA Final Four and the only time of the year when anyone pays any attention to anything that happens in Indiana. A few weeks later and they could have banned blasphemy and nobody would have noticed.

Hasn’t anyone told the governor that most media types tend to be socially liberal? Did he think that all these journalists who are expected to crank out an article a day for their employers in exchange for their free hotel, airfare, and admission, would somehow ignore that new law? Governor Mike Pence is learning that journalists with deadlines and no job security can be a dangerous things.

Until this week, most people thought of Indiana as a quiet place filled with people really good at basketball and stealing car manufacturing facilities from Michigan. Now they are known as a bunch of homophobic hicks terrified at the prospect of one day being forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The governor was apparently still considering a run for President, but by signing that bill into law he instantly transformed himself into a less famous Rick Santorum. Good luck with that Mike.

Ted Cruz’s Presidential Campaign Further Proof of God’s Existence

Every now and then, with all of the troubles around the world, it is easy for many of us to begin to question whether there really is a God out there. We are taught that God works in mysterious ways, so we don’t necessarily expect him to just make every problem on earth simply disappear. When things are bleak, quite often all we are looking for is some sign that he is out there, so that we may maintain our faith and hope. Today, God gave us a sign not only that he is out there, but he also has a great sense of humour.

Many people associated with the “Tea Party” in the United States, a loose affiliation of extreme fiscal and social conservatives, have long questioned whether Barack Obama was eligible to run for president. They helped fuel a type of conspiracy theory that President Obama was not actually born in the United States. The theory was that his mother gave birth to him in Indonesia, then later somehow falsified his birth certificate to make it look like he was born in Hawaii. As the Tea Party movement grew, so did the “birther” movement, eventually forcing the president publicize his birth certificate and as well as a copy of a birth announcement from a Hawaii newspaper. This helped to quell the issue but by no mean extinguished it.

The questions regarding Obama’s birth have always been dripping with irony. His first presidential opponent, John McCain, was actually born along the Panama Canal. His next opponent, Mitt Romney, actually embraced those who were fueling the conspiracy theory around Obama’s place of birth even though his own father was both born in Mexico and ran for president. But nothing could have been as comically ironic as the darling of the Tea Party, Ted Cruz, seeking the presidency despite being born in Canada.

Keep in mind that it is not a rumor or an accusation that Cruz was born in Canada; he himself has been quite open about it, but asserts that because his mother was born in the United States (his father is from Cuba) that makes him a natural born citizen. Nobody has ever disputed that Obama’s mother was a US citizen, but yet huge numbers of Tea Party supporters felt that if he were born in another country he should be ineligible to run for president. Most of these same people, with the notable exception of Donald Trump, are now enthusiastically supporting the Canadian born Ted Cruz for president.

If Ted Cruz’s campaign accomplishes nothing else, it will at least help to have exposed how absurd and shameful the entire birther conspiracy was. If Barack Obama’s skin was the same colour as Ted Cruz’s there would never have been a birther story to begin with. This is not to say that every Tea Party supporter who subscribed to the theory are racists. Most of them were simply mindless, fanatical hyper-partisans.

NCAA Tourney Helps Make March Worst Month in Sports Calendar

In terms of sports, March is my least favourite time of the year. Football is over, baseball hasn’t started yet, and the biggest stories in both the NBA and NHL are which mediocre teams will secure a final playoff spot and which awful teams will give themselves the best chance at winning the draft lottery. March is perhaps the only month of the year when there isn’t a single meaningful game played in any of the major professional North American sports leagues.

Since there are no actual pro games that matter in the month, the first two weeks of the month are dominated by frenzied NFL and free agent speculation. Every year the sports media waste endless hours covering a big college name who promptly fades into obscurity once the actual season starts, and bad teams make huge free agent signings that will somehow manage to make their team worse before New England scoops them up for half the price a season or two later. Mind numbing as those first two weeks may be, they are an absolute pleasure compared to what awaits in the final half of the month – college basketball.

I would rather watch cricket than college basketball. All of the best college players are hardly even college players at all. They only spend a single year in college because the NBA forces them to be there. As soon as you start to learn who these people are they are out of college an on to the NBA. While we are on the subject, I suspect that most of these guys even truly in college for a single year. If you know you are going to declare for the draft in the spring, and you have been too focused on basketball in March to do any studying, why would you even bother trying to write an exam in April after your college career is over?

So many great players leaving after a single year has not only hurt the quality of the play, but perhaps more importantly, it has hurt the rivalries. There is a 30 for 30 documentary airing tonight that is quite literally titled “I Hate Christian Laettner”. Great college players these days are simply not there long enough to be either hated or loved.

What really bothers me about the NCAA tournament is that I cannot escape it. I don’t like cricket, but it doesn’t bother me because never see it on TV and never hear people talk about it. Once we get to the Ides of March my favourite sports shows are suddenly pre-empted for college basketball games, or even worse, people talking about college basketball. I have to stop listening to sports talk radio shows as they become 100% focused on college basketball for two straight weeks. Canadian sports talk radio offers very little relief as this time of the year the only topic of conversation is how terrible the Toronto Maple Leafs are. I actually enjoy that topic, but there is only so much of that you can listen to.

An Open Letter to Jake Locker

When I first read today that you were retiring my first thought was that it was some kind of joke. Just a few days before I had read stories about you either potentially being a starting quarterback with the Titans or a sought after backup for any number of teams. A good backup quarterback in this league can make millions of dollars per year. Even if you were never to become a star quarterback, the worst case scenario for you would have been to make millions of dollars a year for the better part of the next decade, yet you have decided to retire at 26 years old.

I know that you have battled injuries, but you need to realize that those injuries resulted from being the starting quarterback on a terrible team where you were frequently pounded by the opposing defense. You had the possibility to sign a seven figure contract with a very good team to be a backup quarterback where you might never step on the field in a live game. You could have made millions by spending time practicing and rebuilding your health and then a few years down the road perhaps gotten another chance to be a starter. Or you could have continued to be competent backup playing a couple of games every other year. For someone who perhaps dreamed of being a superstar quarterback that may not seem so attractive to you, but trust me when I tell you that is a dream job.

You mentioned in your statement that it wouldn’t be unfair to your next team to play if your heart wasn’t into it. You have absolutely no idea what unfair means. Right now you likely have a nice house and several million dollars in the bank. When you are 50 and there are only thousands of dollars in your bank account and you or someone close to you finds themselves in a difficult medical or financial situation you will learn what unfair really means. Like it or not, you and I live in a very unfair world. Don’t worry about the fan whose team’s backup quarterback’s heart just isn’t that into it anymore; worry about potentially having to tell your parents or children in 20 years’ time that you aren’t able to help them.

What is With All the Wife Rumours in the NHL?

Those who follow hockey know that there has been a long tradition of starting rumours about players sleeping with other players’ wives. It seems like every time a star player got traded there were whispers that the cause was either the player had slept with a teammates wife, a teammate had slept with the traded player’s wife, or some combination of the two. If you had a friend who lived in that city he would swear that everyone knew that the rumour was true, but of course there would always be at least three degrees of separation between him and the actual source. The rumours have just been limited to players. When a highly successful coach was suddenly fired in one NHL city, rumours circulated that the real reason was an affair with one of the star player’s wives.

What was once merely confined to sports bar gossip has suddenly become mainstream news. First, Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks felt the need to go public to denounce the local rumours he had torn the locker room apart by sleeping with a teammate’s wife. Then just a couple days later TSN, the Canadian version of ESPN, inexplicably aired a tweet suggesting that Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupol had slept with teammate Dion Phaneuf’s wife, actress Elisha Cuthbert. TSN later issued a formal apology for somehow letting such an inappropriate tweet air during their trade deadline coverage.

The question is, why is this happening? One explanation would be that hockey players are all a bunch of amoral, conscienceless cavemen who would sleep with any woman who batted an eye at them. That may be true, but I doubt that they would be any more so than professional athletes in the other major sports leagues. The other explanation could be that both hockey players, and perhaps more importantly, hockey fans, are far more gossipy than in other sports. I suspect both may be true, but it is the gossipy nature of hockey fans that is the primary cause.

Hockey, unlike the other big three sports, remains much more regional in nature and much more dominated by regional coverage, particularly in the United States. If you are a hockey fan most US cities, you are listening to much more hockey discussion at your local sports bar than you are on television. Hockey gets the most prominent coverage of any sport in Canada, but outside of Toronto and Montreal, most teams play in relatively small cities where half the population is probably only a couple degrees of separation from someone connect to the hockey team. Montreal and Toronto are very large cities, but the passion for hockey there creates a form of mania that is fertile ground for all forms of gossip and rumours. All this has combined with social media to make the NHL the most gossipy of all the professional sports leagues.

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.

If Seahawks Lose They Will Have John Madden to Blame

The Seattle vs New England is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated and evenly matched Super Bowl contests in recent history. Las Vegas odds makers have essentially declared the game a tossup and both the general public and the sports media are evenly divided on who will win the game.

Those picking the Seahawks think their defense will be able to rattle Brady just as they rattled Manning in last year’s Super Bowl and Russell Wilson will continue pulling rabbits out of hats. Those picking the Patriots believe that the Seahawks were lucky to get past the Packers and the Patriots are due for another Super Bowl victory. The people picking the Patriots are most likely right, but it is not for any of the reasons they have cited. The reason why the Patriots should be favoured is the John Madden Curse.

It has been well documented that virtually everyone who appears on the cover of Madden video game goes on to experience terrible misfortune and a drop off in performance. Michael Vick is the most famous example, as he actually was sent to jail shortly after appearing on the cover. Peyton Hillis’ career as a starting running back ended almost immediately after appearing on the cover. The 25th anniversary edition of the Madden game, which came out before this season, featured none other than Adrian Peterson on the cover. Who is going to be on the cover of the next edition of the Madden franchise? Richard Sherman.

As great a player as Sherman is, fate has almost certainly conspired to make him have a terrible game in the Super Bowl. There have already been several ominous omens that suggest the Madden curse may be setting in. He is nursing an arm injury that may severely impact his ability to tackle and to pick off the football. His pregnant girlfriend just happens to have a due date right around the date of the Super Bowl, which if it doesn’t cause him to miss the game at least has the potentially to distract him. A couple of days ago, Sherman actually played the Madden video game against Shawn Vereen of the Patriots and lost 14-0. And as if that weren’t enough, EA Sports official Super Bowl simulation had the Patriots beating the Seahawks 28-24. As great as the Seahawks are, it is tough to imagine them beating both the Patriots and the Madden Curse at the same time.