Monday, January 26, 2009

Some random thoughts of randomness ...

A few thoughts while enjoying a wonderful bowl of Frosted Flakes ("They're Grrrrrreeat!")

  • Much has been made around the country about the 100-0 result in a Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools girls basketball game a couple of weeks ago. The Covenant School played the role of Shellackers in that one, while Dallas Academy proved to be the Shellackees. When word of the rout spread, Covenant officials quickly tried to distance themselves from the outcome, even going so far as to request the sanctioning body record the game as a forfeit for their school. "A victory without honor is a great loss," Kyle Queal, headmaster for Covenant, was quoted as saying. The carnage continued Sunday when coach Micah Grimes, who was steadfast in his belief that he and his team did nothing wrong, was fired, apparently for sending an e-mail to various news organizations, including USA Today. In his e-mail, he said, "I do not agree with the apology or the notion that The Covenant School girls basketball team should feel embarrassed or ashamed. We played the game as it was meant to be played." Amen. What "honor" would come from Grimes' players giving up and allowing Dallas Academy to score? Is it honorable to stop doing your best just because you're far more talented than your opponent? Absolutely not. It was up to Dallas Academy to do something different, anything, to try to slow down the scoring assault of Covenant. Of course, Dallas Academy is winless over the past four seasons, so nothing seems to be working. Here's an idea: if you can't do any better, maybe you ought to drop basketball. I applaud the girls on this team for sticking it out and trying, but perhaps it's time to try something different. Table tennis, anyone?
  • One of my favorite columnists is a fellow named John Canzano for The Oregonian in Portland, Ore. Unfortunately, he erred a bit with this offering, where he essentially wrote that Tiger Woods and LeBron James finally are becoming more involved in important political issues, much as Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali did before them. What soapboxes did Tiger and LeBron climb? Prop 8 out in California? Abortion? Genocide in African nations? Nah, they both applauded our new President, Barack Obama. Oh, and for good measure, Tiger thanked the members of the military for their service to their country. Now, let me get this straight: I've got nothing wrong with supporting these things. I'm as excited about the possibilities of Barack Obama as anyone, and I always have admired countrymen (and countrywomen?) who risked their lives to protect me. What a sacrifice. But let's wait until LeBron or Tiger actually stand for something before we anoint them the 21st Century versions of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Maybe when Tiger declines an invitation to The Masters because of Augusta National's longstanding policies against minorities (race and gender) we can pat him on the back. Or when LeBron vows to stop wearing Nike shoes unless the company closes one of its manufacturing plants in some Third World country, where children work for pennies a day to make the latest $150 shoe, then we can nominate him for some Nobel prize. Until then, they're just what they always were: splendid athletes more concerned with making money and cultivating their image (not that there's anything wrong with that).
  • In case you missed it, Southern Cal and Washington State might have forced Dr. James Naismith to roll over in his grave Saturday in an epic fight for Pac 10 mediocrity. The Trojans prevailed 46-44, and no, a jump ball was not held after each basket, and yes, they had actual rims on the backboards instead of peach baskets. Proponents of this style (say "Hello!" John) would argue it was a defensive struggle, with players on both teams digging in when they didn't have the ball to deny scoring opportunities. I watched the game, and what I saw was a couple of teams set on walking the ball up the court, working the shot clock down to the waning seconds, then frantically firing an open jumper that clanged off the rim. It was awful. Why do the majority of college coaches feel as if they need to reign in their players, control them from start to finish, instead of letting them play the game? It reminds me so much of North Carolina State's Sidney Lowe, a wonderful point guard for the Cardiac Pack of 1983 who acted as a coach on the floor. Now, as the coach on the bench, he does the same thing, orchestrating each possession as if the young men on his team can't possibly know what to do. Ease up, Sidney (and Tony Bennett and Tim Floyd). Let your players show their skills. I think you might be surprised.

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