what do you think…

…about concussions and football?

I’m not a sports fan myself so I’d just as soon see the game go away. In theory. I say that because I understand that football, and other contact sports, are acceptable outlets for aggressive behavior. Since prehistoric times man has had to use brute force to survive. Times have changed, but man’s primeval behavior hasn’t gone the way of the dinosaurs.

The over-arching problem is the millions of dollars the NFL dangles before would-be prospects looking to play pro-football. Most concerning, however, is that parents wholeheartedly encourage their sons to play a game which, according to recent statistics, puts their lives at risk. Is the money worth it?

…about bringing trade schools back?

In our rush to outdo, or at least keep up with, China and other countries technologically, America has placed tremendous emphasis on math and science. Our children are pushed to excel academically in order to secure jobs with Microsoft, Apple and the like. As has always been the case, not every child is suited for college.

Trying to force square pegs into round holes is as implausible today as it was in generations past. A child who is more adept with his hands is not going to be happy sitting at a computer all day. Forcing youngsters to pursue careers in the hopes that they will be set financially, can set them up for failure in the long term. Besides which, all the jobs for which they might be better suited are being shipped overseas. Meanwhile, folks who might be happier in those blue collar jobs are beginning to form a new class of “have nots.” They are the ones clamoring for a return to the good, ole’ days when they could “pull themselves up by their own boot straps.”

…about life imitating art…or real life imitating reality tv?

With the media’s constant hype about Donald Trump’s steady rise in the polls, it makes one wonder…”What in the world?” This morning it finally dawned on me…reality TV may have more to do with it than we might like to think.

Look at Barbara Walter’s choice for the most fascinating person of 2015. Caitlyn Jenner!

(Photo…businessinsider.com)

Yes, I get that she champions the gay-lesbian community but that’s primarily because of her celebrity on reality TV. By comparison Johnny Weir, a well-known, gay American figure skater, does not share the same mega-watt platform as former Olympic track and field star Bruce Jenner aka…Caitlyn.

Who would have thought that the Kardashians and the Housewives and the Bachelor would still be with us…years later? And what about Abby Lee of “Dance Moms” fame? My daughter, a professional dancer, cringed whenever she caught a segment of that reality show. How those mothers could allow that evil woman to treat their daughters as she did is unfathomable.

I must confess to watching those shows now and then, especially since they dominate much of what’s available on TV now. I’ve done so with fascination and disbelief. And perhaps that’s what most viewers find intriguing about reality TV. How can these people put their lives out there for millions to see? Do viewers relate to the flaws…the gaffes…the ridiculous lives? Or are these reality stars so far outside our realm of what’s normal, that we watch in disbelief, our mouths wide open?

Is that then, Trump’s appeal? A reality star transcending the small screen into the arena of real life politics? Looking for our votes as…favorite reality star of all time? A vote for Trump as President is akin to saying he’s won the Oscar of all Oscars?

So again I ask you…

…what do you think?

………hugmamma.

 

 

bullying…adults, take heed

Gosh darn! Why can’t the NFL leave the Seahawk’s Marshawn Lynch alone???

Yeah! I get he’s suppose to honor his contract about talking with the media like his fellow NFL football players. No matter the circumstances, however…bullying is bullying! Plain and simple.

The message sent to our children is that…it’s okay for adults to bully one another, especially when millions of $$$ are at stake. 

As often happens with adults, we like to think we’re above the lessons learned as children. “Been there. Done that. Now I’m all grown up so I don’t have to do that no more.”

Better we try to teach the next generations to…think outside the box when circumstances call for it. 

Can we finally dump leftover Victorian Era stupidity which…hammered round pegs into square holes…and…square pegs into round holes? 

Haven’t we yet learned in 2015 that no two human beings are alike? 

So if Marshawn Lynch can’t make small talk…which some of us can garner Oscars for…then let the man do something else which might satisfy the contract. For goodness sake’s! Even his teammates are willing to cut the guy some slack. 

So it’s not like Lynch is going to commit suicide over something stupid like this, but can we recognize why teens pushed far enough end up taking their own lives?

This is no different.

Although the NFL, and those of the same mindset, will undoubtedly hem and haw…and hide behind their standard speak…”Well, if we make an exception for one, then we’re setting a precedent, and then the whole thing starts falling apart.”

As far as I’m concerned that’s just lazy talk.

It’s too much trouble and too much money to “think outside the box.” 

The NFL and its rules are set in concrete.

So if Marshawn Lynch can’t keep his mind on the game…and his eye on the ball…it may be due in part to his being bullied. 

Something to remember the next time the NFL and the media get up on their soap boxes denouncing bullying by their players.

And something we adults need to reflect upon when…

…another kid commits suicide.

………hugmamma.

gladiators…then…and now

Physical abuse among professional football players continues to occupy many in the media. While I don’t condone the behavior being reported, I also don’t condone CNN and others using such tragedy to drive their ratings numbers. Rather than droning on and on about the salacious details, why not report more substantively about the story…behind the story.

Who are these men recruited for their prowess on the playing field? Where do they come from? How were they raised?

I would imagine many of them, especially the black athletes, hail from inner cities where crime is rampant. They were probably parented by a single mother, or a grandmother. If the family did include a father, it’s more than likely he wasn’t a positive role model. Of course there are exceptions to this scenario. Unfortunately, they are just that…exceptions.

Whether these disadvantaged, young men naturally excel at sports or make it their life’s goal to get hired as professional athletes, their lives have not prepared them to make the leap from impoverished backgrounds to wealth beyond their wildest imaginings.

Unless their personal background issues are resolved satisfactorily, the behavior of these men off the playing field cannot help but be at odds with society.

Money, lots of money, doesn’t buy morals. These are learned over all of one’s life, not in the blink of an eye.

Whom do we blame? There’s more than enough to go around. The player for his own actions. The owners, managers, and coaches for not holding their players to acceptable behavior on and off the field. Sponsors who pay exorbitant amounts of money for the persona, without knowing the full measure of the person. The fans who elevate the players to demi-gods who can do nothing wrong, as long as they bring home the Super Bowl Trophy.

Professional sports players bear the burden of fame and celebrity. Like it or not, they are also icons for millions of youngsters who yearn to follow in the footsteps of these men.

In the days of ancient Rome, no one asked about the gladiator’s personal history before sending him into the arena. Who cared? As long as he provided great entertainment while battling his foe.

…are we so different?

………hugmamma.

 

artists, “children of god”

Dancer performing Fouetté en tournant. A dance...

Image via Wikipedia

Regular readers of my blog are aware that my daughter is a professional ballet dancer. It’s no secret that I’ve felt superstar athletes could do a good turn for their peers working in less financially advantageous careers, dancers being one such group. No NFL, NBA, or baseball player will deny that dancers are highly underrated athletes. Not too long ago, professional football players were taking ballet classes to supplement their training. Think “light on their feet,” and you’ll get the picture.

When 9-11 occurred, I silently gave thanks that my daughter had chosen to pursue a career in the arts. While not viewed as financially essential to the community at large, I think the arts represent the better side of human nature and, therefore, are necessary for civilization. Remove the arts, and we are no better than the beasts we confine in cages, or hunt down for our personal aggrandizement. Remove the arts, and we would be no better than the terrorists who killed Americans in blind obedience to their baser instincts, disguised as martyrs to their religious beliefs.

While those who do not partake of the arts might feel they reap no benefits from federal funding to the National Endowment of the Arts, I say think of it as an investment in our humanity. It’s a small price to pay that we remain more God-like, than that we return to crawling in the dirt like the serpent.

Dance, even ballet, is no longer a past time for the wealthy. As current reality TV shows demonstrate, the young, and not-so-young, are flocking to the dance floor and the stages. Joyfully, enthusiastically, they are overflowing with positive, creative juices as they strut their stuff. Many entertain the hope to one day dance professionally. I can tell you from my daughter’s experience, there is not the money to sustain such a workforce, unlike that which sustains billion dollar sports clubs, and 3 foreign wars.

ABT Principal dancer Xiomara Reyes, in a 2006 ...

Image via Wikipedia

One beautiful dancer, like my daughter, reminds me to be compassionionate, to be hopeful, to be humble, to be grateful, to be thoughtful, to be forgiving. While these are not winning entries in a mega-millions powerball lottery, these intangible gestures of good will are of immeasurable value in who we are as children of God.

So I disagree with Sarah Palin who decries the National Endowment for the Arts as “frivolous.” It’s more likely that the “bridge to nowhere” was superfluous, as admitted by Alaskans themselves. 

Sarah Palin trashes National Endowment for the Arts

Palin JUSTIN LANE EPA Television commentator and half-term Alaska governor Sarah Palin trashed the National Endowment for the Arts recently, describing the agency as “frivolous” in a Thursday interview on a Fox News talk show.

“NPR, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, all those kind of frivolous things that government shouldn’t be in the business of funding with tax dollars — those should all be on the chopping block as we talk about the $14-trillion debt that we’re going to hand to our kids and our grandkids,” Palin told right-wing host Sean Hannity. “Yes, those are the type of things that for more than one reason need to be cut.”

Palin did not elaborate on what the other reasons might be for chopping the NEA budget. But the government of every major civilization in world history has also prominently funded the arts.

The comment about the NEA came during a discussion of the ailing U.S. economy. Palin is certainly conversant with frivolous activity, but her grasp of the economy is weak.

Debt reduction would barely be affected by penciling out the small federal arts agency, which currently operates on a $161-million annual budget. Palin’s support of a federal subsidy for the notorious “bridge to nowhere” in her state became a campaign issue when she ran for vice president on the 2008 Republican ticket. That local project carried a price tag of $223 million.

“Reality is we have 15 million Americans who are out of work,” said Palin. Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry supports 5.7 million jobs and generates $166.2 billion in annual economic activity, according to Americans for the Arts. The NEA is one linchpin in that sizable economy.

In the interview Palin made no statement advocating similar budget cuts to her home state as she recommended for the NEA, which is also in the cross hairs of Washington’s Republican leadership. Palin’s Alaska gets $1.84 in federal spending for every dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes.

 

please visit…#2

My ongoing challenge to you, dear readers, will be to “please visit” other blogs in the WordPress community. There are literally millions of others whose voices want to be heard. I can’t guarantee you’ll love all that you “hear.” But they will definitely broaden your outlooks, as they’ve already begun to enlarge and in many cases, enhance, mine.

One of the better advantages of the internet, I find, is the capacity to meet people I would otherwise never know. Not only that, but be allowed inside their private world, be privvy to their innermost thoughts, probably be told things that not even those they hold dearest and nearest know. It’s mind-blowing, if you think of it.

Mark Zuckerberg at South by Southwest in 2008.

Image via Wikipedia

Which came first, blogging or facebooking? I don’t know, but they both serve a great purpose, social networking. Although I’m not an avid Facebooker, since blogging occupies the majority of my computer time, there’s no denying that Facebook has risen to the top of the ranks in social influence. Its millions of users are able to change the course of history with a click of their computer keys. Who knew that it would be a global power player? Maybe Mark Zuckerberg had the tiniest inkling when he founded the media Goliath.

A man wearing a tin foil hat

Image via Wikipedia

But my ramblings about social networking are to largely encourage you to visit 3 sites I’ve recently discovered. Beyond a small introduction, I’ll let you discern more about the bloggers for yourselves. “Ramblings of an Emmett” is a single mom’s adventure. She writes from the heart, and shares moments of joy, as well as frustrations. A recent post about her dad resonated with me. “Haleywhitehall” writes beautifully of sweet remiscences. There’s a light and airy feel to her blog. I don’t recollect that she rants about causes, as I’m oft inclined to do. And finally, “Beneath the Tin Foil Hat,” which I’ve just now discovered is poised to take on any ultra-conservatives among you. He makes no bones about being a liberal, probably as left-wing as he can get. I can sense a big heart beneath his brawn. He and I agreed that the current NFL-management money brouhaha is much ado about greed. As I’ve said before, athletes like professional dancers, get paid “peanuts” by comparison, but show up for work every day because of their passion for their job. I wonder if these over-paid, over-coddled, self-aborbed football players would perform for “peanuts,” for the love of the game? What do you think?

go become a “site-seer”…notice my new gizmo in the right side bar of my blog…it’s still getting “up to speed”…hugmamma.

attractive, or irresponsible?

Ynez Sines, the Mexican sports reporter in the midst of an NFL investigation into sexual harassment charges leveled against members of the NY Jets football team, claims she is only a “witness” to the events which occurred in the locker room. Essentially, her tight jeans and white, button-down blouse provoked comments by some players. Having been within earshot, Sines twittered that she was very embarrassed and uncomfortable. Yet she explained on ” Good Morning America” and the “Today Show,” that she didn’t want the situation to become the brouhaha that it has. But now that it has, she is content to leave the matter in the hands of the NFL. Will she rethink how she dresses on the job? No, she wants to remain true to herself, dressing as she pleases.

Sines is entitled to live her life as she wishes. She’s chosen to be a sportscaster, with access to the men’s locker rooms. She’s obviously aware what presses mens’ “buttons,” athletes being no exception. That their testosterone levels are “through the roof” after exiting a game like Roman gladiators of old, should be no surprise. Being the sole woman in an atmosphere heavily laden with male hormones running wild, requires Sines have the impenetrable skin of an armadillo or a rhinoceros. Judging from her appearance, she bears no resemblance to either. She looks more like a fawn, vulnerable.

Many years ago when my daughter was still a student at a performing arts conservatory, my husband and I accompanied a group of young dancers to a dance festival in Utah. Looking forward to the trip with excitement, the teenage girls made plans including what to wear. Twelve years ago, the dress code on airplanes was not as relaxed as it is today. (But definitely more relaxed than a decade earlier.) So my daughter’s announcement that a couple of the 13 and 14 year olds planned to wear short shorts upon take-off, garnered our disapproval.

I explained that the girls would receive unwanted attention from men, whose leering glances would undoubtedly follow the youngsters sashaying their way down the aisle of the aircraft. I’m sure they would have approved if the looks came from attractive boys, but men in business suits? Picturing it, my daughter felt the image was a yucky thought. The dancer who initiated the trip’s provocative dress code eventually left the conservatory, and enrolled in a public school where she was in and out of relationships, seemingly in search of love and security. We were happy to recently learn that she is settled, enjoying marriage and motherhood.

I agree that women should do what they want to do. But I think it wise to consider the realities of life when making choices. If Sines were my daughter, I would be concerned for her safety. Dressing to look beautiful, her explanation, will draw attention, good and bad. Men shouldn’t “cross the line,” but who’s going to stop them? Rapes are reported in the news with regularity. Something snaps in a rapist’s mind, he victimizes a woman, killing her to eradicate his crime, knowing that if he’s caught he’ll most likely serve a life sentence. While that can end life as he knows it, he’s still alive and cared for, until he dies. Unfortunately his victim is gone forever. I wouldn’t want that for Sines. I wouldn’t want that for anyone’s daughter.

A woman can, and should, fight for her rights. I just think she should choose her battles, and life, so she can continue to be an activist for women’s rights.

the right choice, hugs for…hugmamma.

a football player, and more

Read an amazing article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Meet the NFL”s Most Interesting Man.” In part, it reads “The wonderfully named Zoltan Mesko speaks five languages and grew up dreaming of being an aerospace engineer before graduating from Michigan with a business degree and a master’s in sports management. He got lured into football only after he smashed a ceiling light with a kick ball in his Twinsburg, Ohio, junior-high-school gym.”

Romanian by birth, Mesko moved to America in 1997, when he was 10. Having left behind a war-torn country, his parents, both engineers, found living in a New York City apartment not much better. “It was expensive, dirty and cramped-even for three people–so they moved to Twinsburg, a Cleveland suburb with a large Eastern European community.”

In high-school Mesko discovered he could earn a college scholarship as a punter. “When he told his parents, they didn’t believe him. But Mr. Mesko knew they couldn’t pay for college, so he devoted himself to the singular skill of kicking a football as high as he could.” With the help of his father who “sent VHS tapes of Zoltan’s highlights to 86 colleges,” and his mother who researched school rankings according to their academics, he was the nation’s top punting prospect before his senior year. He was offered a scholarship to Indiana, and thereafter, admission to every Ivy League school. Wanting the best of both worlds, Ohio State and Columbia University, Mesko enrolled at Michigan State University.

“In 2009, he set Michigan’s records for gross yards per punt, at 44.5, and net yards per punt (gross minus the return), at 41. He was also named an Academic All-American and became the first specialist in 130 years of Michigan football to be named a captain. ‘That’s one I’m proudest of,’ he says.”

On July 16, the 24 year-old, 6-foot-4 punter signed with the New England Patriots. At the NFL’s minimum wage salary of $325,000 a year (we should all try out at that rate), plus a team bonus of $187,250 Mesko “might be among the poorest players in the NFL but is probably the richest kid from Timisoara, Romania.”

a football player, and more…hugmamma.

NFL, for the men

My recent focus has been women, so I’m turning the limelight over to the men.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, an interesting article got my attention “Who Forgot to Turn Off the NFL?” I have a difficult time paying homage to athletes with attitude who make a lot of money. So I perused the paragraphs, searching for ammunition to bolster my opinion. The subtitle read “As Football Booms, Once-Sleepy Training Camps Become Stages for Grudges, Boasts, PR Stunts and Psychodramas.” Aha! I thought. Here’s fodder for me to chew on.

The article opens with remarks by Dick Vermeil, former NFL coach,  “Sometimes in your effort to make the team better, you bring in players who bring a lot of attention to themselves,…These distractions are an irritation.” The article goes on to list some of the “sideshows.” Cincinnati’s camera-hogging wide receiver Terrel Owens and media magnet Chad Ochocinco are teaming up as “Hot Summer Couples!” Washington’s defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has failed to pass the Redskin’s fitness test. Might it have anything to do with the fact that he opted out of the team’s off-season training program? Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t yet recommitted, once this final year in his 6-year contract expires. Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens safety, grumbles that he’s not able to quickly access game film from the team. Minnesota Viking quarterback Brett Favree still “sits on the fence” about retiring (for the third consecutive year). Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback, returned to camp before serving “a multigame league-issued suspension after an incident at a Georgia nightclub.”

NFL Network analyst and former Steeler defensive back and Hall of Famer, Rod Woodson describes current league athletes as “mouthier…and less beholden to the idea that all team business should be handled in the locker room. ‘Today’s players seem like they have an agenda every time they speak to the media,’…” Vermeil contends that “the NFL’s summer landscape has become increasingly loony.” even before the training camps commenced. A contributing factor might be the NFL’s increased popularity. According to Harris Interactive, pro football “has risen to a 35% favorable rating among American adults in 2009, a 46% increase since 1985.” In the past decade it’s shown an average 3.7% increase in regular season TV ratings, while three other major U.S. pro sports leagues saw an average 35% drop in ratings.

“The appetite for all things NFL was apparent Friday in Westminster, Md., when 11,506 attended the Ravens’ first full-squad practice, the largest turnout for a nonscrimmage practice in team history. When the big-talking Jets arrived at their camp site in Cortland, N.Y., on Sunday, 1,500 fans lined the street to welcome them.” Woodson seems perplexed that the league is in the news even when nothing’s going on.

Patriot’s longtime coach, Bill Belichick seems to suggest that present day players are being coddled. ” ‘Compared to when I came into the league, there is no training camp,…in 1975, we started camp July 5 and our first regular-season game was Sept. 21. It was forever; it was 2 1/2 months. So has training camp changed? (The players) have no idea.’ 

 The article ventures to add that training camps in earlier times were “far more likely to induce yawning.” The big news in 1990 from the Vikings camp was how to get more touches for running back Herschel Walker, and that 5 players from the Chicago Bears missed their camp startup. The San Fransisco Chronicle reported one day that phone service in the 49ers dorm was temporarily disrupted.

Comparing the hoopla surrounding NFL training camps today, former NFL coach Jerry Glanville claims “that training camps have always been crazy. The only real difference is the impression itself. ‘It’s just covered better…Nothing that’s going on hasn’t happened before 100 times.’ ” He remembers when the Houston Oilers required players to “complete a mile run in six minutes in order to practice. But the team’s star running back, Earl Campbell, couldn’t do it. The team’s coach at the time, Bum Phillips, came up with a solution, Mr. Glanville said: ‘If it’s 4th-and-a-mile, I won’t give him the ball.’ ”

Have the fans unknowingly created modern-day NFL Frankensteins who lay claim to all they see? Or are we unfairly scrutinizing every detail of their lives in an attempt to know them better? Do the players call attention to themselves, or do the fans put the spotlight on the players with unrelenting adulation? Maybe there’s enough guilt to go around.

what do you think?…hugmamma