Sunday, March 21, 2010

Basketball vs Brains.

Good Morning Folks:

Well its that time again. March Madness, a title applied to the NCAA Basketball Tournament .This Tournament always starts me to wondering what will happen to these players when they leave College.

Some of them, a very few, will go on to the "Professional" ranks, a term which is misleading because it only means that these players are getting paid to play. In that sense, every working man and woman in the United States is a "Professional". that sense, I prefer to not refer to these players as "Professionals", but rather as paid players.

I read an article in this Morning's Newspaper, written by a Man whose opinion I have respected in the past, for his thoughtful insights, and frequently amusing columns, and today's column is what made me start mulling over the subject for this post.

But today's column, I respectively submit, is Hogwash. I submit this criticism with the full knowledge that this Newspaper is published in Kentucky, and to say anything even remotely critical about Basketball, or its players or Coaches, is tatamount to, at the least heresy, and usually sedition, in the State of Kentucky, so I guess one cannot blame this Editor for not wanting to put his head on the chopping block.

Today's column as mentioned above, is about the U.S. Secretary of Education's Proposal that any College not graduating at least Forty Percent of its athletes should not be allowed to participate in the NCAA tournament to which I say, " RIGHT ON MR. SECRETARY.!!!!!!!!!!!!."

However, in the above-mentioned column, the writer (The Executive Editor of the Paper, or the Archbishop of Articles) takes issue with the Secretary of Education, saying that he (the Editor) thinks that time in College is beneficial for these "Athletes". Perhaps it is beneficial to the College, in that the College makes money off its sports programs (supposedly), but I fail to see how it has been shown to be beneficial to the so called Student Athletes, other than to enable a very few of them to become Millionaires via the Professional Circuit.The Editor goes on to state that the graduation rate at the University of Kentucky is Thirty-One percent. In my amateurish research I seem to have found a figure of Twenty-One point Three percent as an accurate figure for these student athletes at U.K. (pronounced 'Ewe Kayee")

I believe the overwhelming majority of College Athletes DO NOT go on to become Professional Athletes, or as I call them, felons. In the main, and this is based on personal experience and observation, what these players all too frequently contribute to the College is disruption in the Classrooms and often a lowering of Academic Standards, so that Joe Seven Foot can remain eligible, and by this making the average students (Those who PAY for their education) have to work even harder to glean an Education from a reluctant and dysfunctional college, which are, it seems, more and more tailoring their standards to the least common denominator,thus making "scraping by" an accepted norm and discouraging REAL Students from trying to excel, and gain a REAL education. Also, the Majority of these players either flunk out, drop out or get kicked out of College, thus making all the Instructor's time and efforts wasted on them, when it could be better spent on those Students who are really striving for an Education.

So, as a suggestion, let us also increase that percentage, suggested by the Secretary of Education. by one percent every year. It's only fair, and could serve as a precursor for these young people in their daily lives, and in making a living. After all don't most Businesses, large and small, tend to hire only the brightest of applicants, and retain only those who do the best work ? Seventy Four years of life have qualified me to answer that question with a resounding YES! Hell, even Bill Gates, the founder and Chief Muckety Muck of Microsoft, himself a drop out from Harvard, has instituted a policy for his Company of not even ACCEPTING a job application from a person unless the applicant has a College Degree. so, I think, that even Mr. Gates probably thinks that he could have done a little better (and yes, it's hard to see how) If he had graduated from college. However, as best as I recall Mr. Gates didn't attend Harvard on a Basketball Scholarship, so perhaps he learned enough in the time he WAS in school to help him become the wealthiest nerd in the World.

Folks, we can either face hard facts now or later, but sooner rather than later we will, as individuals and as a Nation, HAVE to face the facts.

If our High School and College graduates are becoming a smaller and smaller percentile of our population, and our graduates are slowly becoming less and less intelligent, doesn't it follow that our Nation will also slowly fall behind other Countries, where Education is given the highest Priority ?

And if our country falls behind, doesn't it follow that the quality of life for each and everyone of us will degrade? Of Course it does.

In checking Statistics, I see that Kentucky, the State wherein the Newspaper containing the article which prompted this post, ranks Forty-Fifth in the Nation in College Athletes who Graduate with at least a Bachelors Degree.

This may or not be because the University of Kentucky has long been known as a "basketball school", and perhaps then not chosen by parents deciding on the best University for their children to get the best Education, and thus, presumably, have a better and more successful life.

It doesn't have to be this way folks. The University of North Carolina, which usually has a pretty fair basketball team,has as their Graduation Rate Sixty-Four percent. Likewise Duke University with a Sixty percent graduation rate , illustrates the fact that a College or University can have both an abundance of first rate Scholars AND a highly proficient Sports Team, which is after all (or should be) only a addendum to SCHOLARSHIP programs, and not a raison d`etre for the Schools existence.

This, of course, doesn't hold true in all cases. There are thousands of people who have graduated from a "Sports College" who have gone on to accomplish much. But I think it is a fair argument that the more emphasis Schools place on Education, at the cost of sports, the better chance a kid has of getting good Education. The shame of all the above is that this Nation has gradually over the past four decades or so, slowly lowered out standards of excellence, and our status in the World.

But as the old query goes "What do you call the lowest ranking graduate from Medical School? A. Doctor"., so maybe now Businesses don't really care if you know anything or not, just as long as you have a college Degree, any Degree, Any College.

So, With deep respect Mr. Editor, You're Wrong.

Says Me


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

College "Sports".

Good Afternoon Folks:

Well brace yourself folks, once again I am in a mood to "Harp" on the subject of College Sports.

I take it as a sign of the denigration of our society , when so called "Sports" take the upper hand in our Educational Institutions.

Time was, a College or University was a place where young people went to gain an Education in order to make themselves more employable, a place of respect, where Scholars were esteemed, and when one graduated from their chosen Educational venue, one could take pride in their education, and society as a whole generally benefited from their efforts.

Now it seems that Colleges are simply a place for far to many people to go for no other reason than to play "Sports", and hopefully get a free ride to a lucrative Professional career.

I would find not as much fault in this loophole in our Educational System, if the players in these sports also studied for and received a measurable education, obeyed not just Criminal laws, but generally accepted moral guidelines, which decent people are expected to follow to become good citizens, and contributors to an improving society.

But today, thanks to those people who don't care what a young person does, or what variety of laws they break, just as long as they show up for practice, hungover or not, and be ready for game day.

I guess the fault lies with all of us, in not absolutely insisting that our children be able to attend such an institution with a realistic probability that they would get a good education, in a safe environment for learning, and learn valuable lessons, to be of value to not just themselves and their families, but to society as a whole and succeed in being a good and contributing part of our society.

What started me on this current "Rant", was an Associated Press article in our local paper about an incident in a Texas College.

It concerned an event at Division II Texas A&M-Commerce, when several members of the University's Football Team were arrested on drug charges.
The Schools Student Newspaper ran a front page article about the players arrest, and distributed some Two Thousand copies around the campus, presumably in free vending machines.

The article went on to say that football team players went around the Campus, removing every one of the copies of this edition, and, though the article doesn't say, presumably destroying the papers.

But to throw salt on an already grievous wound, the Football Coach was quoted as saying "I'm proud of my players for doing that". The article says that the Coach, one Guy Morriss, was disciplined for his words, but, typical for what passes for Associated Press Journalistic excellence, doesn't spell out what said discipline amounted to, saying only that someone or something called "Jolly" declined to discuss details. We are left to wonder whether "jolly" if a living person, is the President of the College, The Athletic Director or maybe the towel boy for the team.

We are also left to not only shake our heads at the apparent unbelief in Normal Ethical behavior in our Colleges and Universities, but at the sloppiness of the Associated Press.

Perhaps the A.P. writer graduated from A&M-Commerce?

This is a sad state of affairs in itself, but even sadder when we stop to think that this kind of behavior goes on all the time, and all we can do is shake our heads in disbelief , and wonder why so many decent honorable young people are no longer able to afford to attend one of these Institutions of Higher Learning.

Until and if, we as a society stand up on our hind legs and say "NO MORE" willl this sorry state of affairs end, and our Politicians and Academic Officials get their heads out of their asses, will the collective intelligence of this great Nation once again to embark on the path to our former place of pride in our Institutions and their Faculties.

What Say You?



Monday, March 8, 2010

A Life Examined...Part II

Good Afternoon Folks.

In part one of this self-examination of my character, I mentioned people who I have met, worked with or paid attention to over the course of my rather tattered excuse for a life, and my failure to keep in touch with many of these folks.

So I took my own advice, and called an old Colleague of mine from years past, and was thoroughly glad that I did so.

Hearing voices "from the past", I found, was an enriching experience. The fellow I called, I remembered, was a very nice person, and we had a lot of fun times while we worked together, as we both agreed, and this conversation just made my day.

But the point I am making is that if you know someone who somehow, by word or deed, has enriched your life's experiences, by all means take the trouble to stay in touch with them. You won't be sorry you did.

But I guess, all in all, that self examination can serve little purpose, than to try and admit the mistakes one has made, and try, earnestly, not to make them again.

I've met a few people who have staunchly maintained that if they had their life to live over, they wouldn't change a thing. This tells me a couple of things about this particular sort of person. Either they have led a perfect life, never made a mistake, and have been a roaring success, for which I truly envy them....or they are just lying to themselves and others, and determined, come Hell or High Water, not to admit their mistakes.

At any rate, we'll all be judged, sooner or later, and then will be forced to realize whether or not we've been honest with ourselves.

Just another point to ponder.

Stay Well


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Life Examined

Good Evening folks.

As with many people in my age group, I seem to spend a lot of time in retrospective thought about my life, such as it has been , and I seem of late to be spending a lot of time in finding fault in the manner in which I have lived my life.

From Mark Twains Notebook: " It is not in the least likely that any life has ever been lived which was not a failure in the secret judgement of the person who lived it".

So....I guess I'm not alone in finding fault with many parts of my life, that, if given the possibility of living my life over, I would vow to do differently.

But, would I? Since there is no recorded instance of any man having the opportunity to live his life over (this probably applies to you, as well, girls!) There is no way to say whether or not I would make the same mistakes in life Redux, as I did in Opus one.

But, it pleases me to think that I would seize the opportunity to correct all those things I did wrong,and would try to eliminate the things in my 'First Life' that were detrimental to other people. I like to think I would somehow, in this "Second Chance" seize the too-late recognized opportunities that I failed to grasp in part one, and eliminate the errors which most of us commit in the exercise of growing up. I think I would somehow recognize the good people I have met over my lifetime more quickly, and not only learn from observing them, but to stay in touch with them, but I should quickly add that I honestly believe that I have learned everything that I know from either watching other people and noting their mistakes and successes, and listening more to what they said instead of trying to think about they really meant, their hidden meaning behind their words, as it were . I have said, pretty much all through my life, that one can learn something from almost anyone one meets in life, even if it is only to forswear something that this other person has done or is doing. And I know that I have said that I have learned something from virtually every book that I have read, either for Education, edification or enjoyment and escape, but, that said, I hastily admit that there is a whole lot more that I don't know than there is that I know for sure.

For instance, in this blog, I frequently criticise politicians, as they are such an easy target. I happen to live in Illinois, a State that is rich with Politicians who are so crooked that they have to screw their socks on, and in fact, are so crooked that it is becoming less and less fun to pick on them. I guess its not the old "familiarity breeds contempt" syndrome, and becomes more what I would call the "Familiarity breeds Assumption" syndrome. This would automatically lead one to assume that if a person is an Illinois Politician, they are simply a criminal not yet indicted.

Maybe we could save time, if, instead of swearing in a new Politician, we just forward their file to a Grand Jury and skip the preliminaries .

But, I digress, and in digression I exemplify what I have already admitted to myself and to the world,that there is just a whole lot that I don't know.

But maybe, by admitting this, I will sort of begin to recognize the person I see in the mirror, instead of mentally asking "who the heck IS this person?

If anyone has any answers I would welcome the opportunity to hear them.

Enough of the Introspective Thought, already, that way leads to madness.

Recently, I have been randomly checking other Blogs. There are quite a number that I like to keep up with, for I have learned from them, and enjoy them.

But, instead of just going to my favorites list, one day I just started checking "next blog" on the toolbar and running through quite a number of Blogs.

I have found through this exercise that it seems that a whole lot of Blogs are written by young people, and this is good, in that these folks are developing their talent for writing BY writing, which I guess is as good a way as any, and I applaud them for it. But, I worry, in a way, that more older people are not writing a blog, so that the young people out there, if they are smart enough, can read these amateur writings and perhaps learn a thing or two from them.

I have discovered also that more than a few Poets use their Blog as a way of "Publishing" their works. Personally I have, through my life, found very few poems that have lodged themselves in my memory, and have also noticed that too many poets are apparently sad creatures, as reflected in their poems, and are thus, at least to me, pretty depressing to read, and are best avoided.

There are, of course, poets whose works will live on, due to the quality of their works. Carl Sandburg comes to mind as A good example.

My wife and I visited Carl Sandburg's home a few years ago, and I was struck by the number of books in Mr. Sandburg's Library and how few of them were books of Poetry.

So I guess in the main, I notice poetic works more when their Author has written in other genres, such as Sandburg's excellent Biography of Abraham Lincoln.

But, back to blogs, and their Authors (if that is the correct term ) and my wondering why so few older people seem to maintain a blog. Perhaps it is because they have too many other things to occupy their time, and are thus to be envied.

I guess if there is one thing I have discovered in this Life of mine, that generally, people who stay busy just don't have time to be depressed, let alone write Poetry or fool around with a Blog, and if they aren't depressed maybe they won't be driven to express their depression in "Poetry" (if you can call it that), and thus depress anyone else who reads it.

As for me, my favorite poems are of the nonsensical sort, and generally amuse the folks who read them.

So, enough for now, and I pray the Good Lord will forgive my failures.