The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012

February 5, 2007

Hot Potato!

Grossman is who we thought he was…


…an embarrassment.

Attn: Kyle Orton. Get yourself out of Chicago. ASAP! When Lovie lets Grossman start, and even brings in Griese to take the 2nd string spot, after you led the team to 10 wins as a rookie, it’s a bad sign. Get out and get to a team with decent management.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 8:59 am || Permalink || Comments (2) || Trackback URL || Categories: Sports

January 20, 2007

Torn— Saints vs. Bears

Tomorrow is going to be tough for me. Normally I don’t get too deep into NFL Football, preferring instead the college game. But it’s always easier to get involved in the playoffs, and now that Purdue has a decade of regularly producing NFL talent, it’s always nice to sit back and watch what that talent is doing.

But growing up in Chicago, being 7 years old when the Bears won Super Bowl XX, I’ve been a fan for years. I still remember the Super Bowl shuffle, can tell you without even looking it up that the Bears beat the Pats by a score of 46-10, that Walter Payton didn’t score a TD (although the “Fridge” did), and that the game occurred on Jan 26, 1986 (the fact that my sister was born the very next day helps with that bit of info). I’ve watched the Bears for years, and there’s a bit of fandom in there. But that’s waned over the years.

First, Chicago hasn’t really ever been known for smart sports management, and the McCaskey family has whiffed many, many years. Then they took a gorgeous historic stone stadium, Soldier Field, and built this weird-looking alien steel monstrosity out of the middle of it. But soon thereafter, they started to revive the team. They built a defense that was again known as the Monsters of the Midway. Then came the final bit. They signed Kyle Orton, Purdue’s QB. Early in the season, the starter went down injured and he led the team to 10 wins as a rookie. All of a sudden, I could forgive the years of bad management and the hideous stadium. They had a team again, with a Purdue QB waiting to challenge Rex Grossman.

And then they destroyed it. They decided that the QB who had led them to 10 wins as a rookie wasn’t an adequate enough backup to Rex Grossman, so they brought in Brian Griese. The one thing that was tying me back to the hometown team was bringing in Kyle Orton, and then they decided to screw him over.

As for the Saints, I’ve never really cared much about them. In fact, the little I knew about them was that they sucked. As another Purdue QB, Drew Brees, was getting screwed over in San Diego, I looked at his chances as a free agent going to either Miami or New Orleans. Of course, I felt he’d have a better shot for success in Miami. But he got traded to New Orleans. At the same time, the Saints gave a few rookies, Rob Ninkovich (Purdue DE, currently active but on IR), Brandon Villereal (Purdue DT, currently on Saints practice team), and Ray Williams (Purdue CB, who unfortunately was released) a chance. Not only that, they started having success. Drew Brees appears to be the key to the offense, a solid leader who makes the players around him perform, finishing second in the NFL MVP voting this year.

So it’s the hometown favorite from a town that’s barely my home anymore, versus following a player that I got to watch sling the rock in person at numerous Purdue games. It’s not often these two teams play, and it’s even more rare that it’s for such high stakes. I’m stuck watching to find out if the Bears get to have a rematch with the team they destroyed in 1986, or whether the Saints, perennial underdogs, shock the world and go to the Super Bowl.

Tomorrow, I’m going to have to fall towards the Saints. I’ve always been a fan of the underdog, and I’ve sat and watched as Drew Brees has worked some miracles for Purdue. He’s back in the Black and Gold, and he’s up for probably the biggest challenge of his career. Drew rises to challenges, so I’m going to be rooting for him and the Saints to knock off the Bears tomorrow.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:24 pm || Permalink || Comments (5) || Trackback URL || Categories: Sports

January 2, 2007

Bobby Knight

Today, Bobby Knight has made history. He’s passed Dean Smith’s record for career Div I-A coaching wins in NCAA Basketball:

Bob Knight has been the game’s orneriest coach forever. Now he’s the winningest, too. Knight earned career victory No. 880 the hard way when his Texas Tech Red Raiders blew a 20-point lead but withstood a 3-point miss at the buzzer to beat New Mexico 70-68 on Monday in a game lacking the fanfare of his first attempt.

But to myself, and the rest of the people who endured his temper and his constant presence on opinion pages all through the state of Indiana, he’ll be remembered a different way:

Knight – whose temper got him relieved of his duties at Indiana in September 2000 after he grabbed a student on campus who had greeted him with “What’s up, Knight?” – is the last of the great bully coaches. And while some decry his methods as crude and outdated, many who have played for him wouldn’t have it any other way.

The greatest cost, of course, was the loss of his job at Indiana. Knight, who was so popular in the Hoosier state that he could have been elected governor, was fired after 29 seasons. Though it was his run-in with a student that precipitated the firing, the university saw the incident as the final straw in what had been a series of embarrassing incidents that involved Knight’s losing his temper. The most egregious of those was when he was caught on tape trying to choke guard Neil Reed.

I was a student at Purdue back in September 2000, when the story at IU broke. A student who saw Knight on Campus asked him “What’s up, Knight?” as reported above. Knight lost control and accosted the kid, grabbed him roughly for “not respecting his elders”, and ended up losing his job over it. At the time, the student involved, rather than being seen as the victim in the situation, started receiving death threats from angry IU fans. At the time, I sent off a snarky letter to the editor to Purdue’s student newspaper, suggesting that if that student was having trouble at IU, we’d gladly welcome a transfer to Purdue. The letter was printed and was available on the Purdue Exponent’s web site up until recently, but unfortunately now even the Wayback Machine can’t find it.

This incident, of course, wasn’t the beginning. Knight’s temper is legendary, and he’s been caught on film several times comporting himself in a manner far from professional. In addition the the choking incident reported above, and the recent furor he caused for smacking a player in the chin, few can forget the sight of him throwing chairs around the court.

Knight may have entered the record books, but his personal record will never be clean.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 1:22 am || Permalink || Comments (1) || Trackback URL || Categories: News, Sports

December 1, 2006

Big Ten Network Ready For A Fight

Big Ten watches NFL as it readies network

But if the NFL Network’s experience is any indication, the Big Ten’s new 24-hour channel might need to enlist its fans for some arm-twisting of cable companies to see games they’ve had easy access to in the past.

While the Big Ten’s best games will still be on CBS, ABC or ESPN, the rest will be televised only by the Big Ten Network. In 2007-08, that will include 35 football games and 105 men’s basketball games.

The Big Ten said it made that decision in part because, with costs rising for college sports, it will guarantee each school an extra $7.5 million annually.

But if a cable company doesn’t carry the Big Ten Network, the fan who wants to watch, say, an Indiana-Northwestern basketball game is either shut out or must switch to satellite television. That’s what is happening with the NFL Network, which is involved in a dispute with Time Warner, the nation’s second-biggest cable carrier.

When I highlighted the first news of the Big Ten Network, I was cautiously optimistic. It has the ability to be a very positive change, or it could end up making it harder for me to watch Purdue football, as the trees around my house make it impossible for me to get satellite TV.

If this network takes off, and Comcast picks it up as an affiliate, all will be well. I’ll get great Big Ten content that I don’t get now. If it stays with only DirecTV, though, I’m going to be spending a lot of fall Saturdays sitting in sports bars watching Purdue. Again, being down here in SEC country, that will entail trying to convince some bartender to devote at least one little TV, maybe in the corner, to a little ol’ school like Purdue.

But after this year, I’m not quite as concerned about this. This year, many of Purdue’s games were televised on ESPN360 (internet), ESPN Gameplan (pay per view), ESPNU (uncommon ESPN variant) or ESPN Classic (not on basic cable). I couldn’t watch a single one of those games at home. I did watch the game televised on ESPN Gameplan at a neighbor’s house, but otherwise it was off to sports bars.

So for me, I see this as either a positive thing, if Comcast picks up the network, or neutral. In the linked story, they show that the Big Ten Network will get any game not on ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2, so they won’t be competing with ESPNU for broadcast rights. Now all I need to do is start emailing Comcast every other day to make sure they’ll carry it, and all will be well in the Warbiany household!

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 1:03 pm || Permalink || Comments (1) || Trackback URL || Categories: College Football, Media, News, Purdue, Sports

November 29, 2006

Was Garry Kasparov Juicing?

Chess players to face anti-doping measures

Chess’s world governing body will introduce dope testing at the Asian Games this week, although the sport’s top official in Doha said he had no idea how drugs could enhance chess performance.

“I would not know which drug could possibly help a chess player to improve his game,” competition manager Yousuf Ahmad Ali said.

“But, yes, there will be official monitors who may demand that players undergo a drugs test after the rounds.”

I think we need Congress to investigate this. How much damage will it do to children in this country to find that their favorite chess heroes are using performance-enhancing drugs?

Just what did Bobby Fischer’s parents have him taking?

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 1:11 pm || Permalink || Comments Off || Trackback URL || Categories: News, Snark, Sports

October 31, 2006

Politician Uses NFL QB Son as “Prop”

Brees wants no part of mom’s campaign in Texas

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has asked his mother to stop using his picture in TV commercials touting her candidacy for a Texas appeals court.

In commercials running on Austin stations, Mina Brees had been using a picture of her son in the uniform of his former team, the San Diego Chargers, to emphasize her ties to football.

“I think the major point here is that my mother is using me in a campaign, and I’ve made it known many times I don’t want to be involved,” Drew Brees said Monday.

I’ve been following Drew Brees’ career since the late 90’s when he was the starting QB for Purdue, and I was sitting in the stands watching those games. At that time, and since, I have never heard anyone with a negative thing to say about Drew. In fact, he has been routinely praised for the work he does in the community, and with his recent trade to New Orleans, he’s very active in helping to revive the city after Katrina.

So my initial thought is to take his side. This is even further the case given what I know about people in politics, who are usually willing to do just about anything to get elected. And with a little more of the back story, it sounds like his mother is blatantly trying to use her connection to a famous football player to bolster her campaign:

She said her connection to football is relevant to her campaign because her father, a successful high school coach, used sports to teach her a strong work ethic that she would bring to the judicial bench.

Drew Brees, who won a state football championship with Westlake High School in suburban Austin, said he got no response from his mother when he first heard about the ads and called her to ask that she stop using them. His agent sent her a letter Oct. 20 threatening legal action, he said.

He called his relationship with his mother “nonexistent” after it crumbled six years ago when he refused to hire her as his agent.

Hmm, it’s funny how she wants to show her ties to football and how it has helped her work ethic, and yet gloss over the fact that she’s basically estranged from her son due to her past attempts to ride his coattails. People who are threatened with legal action from their children may have a great work ethic, but I’d have to think that some Texas voters would worry about her commitment to “family values”.

But one bit of this story made me really angry. Sometimes you can see in certain comments just how duplicitous and conniving people can be, and this quote is a perfect example:

“I love Drew very much, and I’m very proud of him. But sometimes when people are following a career path, they change,” she said.

So she says she’s very proud of her son, but in the way she makes this statement, it’s clear that she’s unhappy with the “change” he’s gone through. If she’s so unhappy with the “change”, why is she trying to hype her connection to him?

When you look at that statement again, perhaps she’s unconsciously talking about herself. She was probably a good mother, and then when the time came for her son to enter the spotlight, she decided that it was time for her to bring her career in line with his, by becoming his agent. When that didn’t work, she pushed ahead to try for elected office, and used her position as the mother of an NFL QB, in a state where football is very important, to bolster her campaign. So who changed while following their career path, Drew or his mom?

With an attitude like that, is it any wonder that Drew describes his relationship with her as “nonexistent”?

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 3:50 pm || Permalink || Comments (3) || Trackback URL || Categories: News, Politics, Sports

October 20, 2006

How Far ‘Out Of It’ I Am

I was just reading Sunday Morning QB, and he was talking about NCAA ranking poll voters watching the World Series instead of college football. I thought to myself, “There’s a World Series game already?”

But that’s not the odd part. I had to find out that the World Series was going on by reading a college football blog. I guess that might show you where my sports priorities lie!

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 2:41 pm || Permalink || Comments Off || Trackback URL || Categories: Sports

August 23, 2006

Oooh… Someone’s Jealous!

Something to Chew On: Skipping Dinner With President

Every so often a football coach says or does something that leads most of us to wonder how he can be a functioning member of the world the rest of us live in. The latest case in point is Nick Saban, head coach of the Miami Dolphins, who just the other day turned down a dinner invitation from President Bush. Saban didn’t have to fly to Washington. He didn’t have to miss a game, seeing as the NFL season doesn’t begin for another five weeks. All Saban had to do was drive to Joe’s on South Beach. I’m sure somebody would have been perfectly happy to fetch the coach a car and driver.

But no, Saban turned down the president. Why? Because he didn’t want to take two hours out of training camp.

So, it’s as simple as this: Saban would rather lock himself in a cave and watch film, tinker with schemes, pore over depth charts and sit around with his assistants plotting the exciting intricacies of the next day’s practices than have dinner with the president for two hours. Saban said, “It was a really tough decision for us last night to stay here, work with our team, go to the meetings and do what we have to do in camp.”

It wasn’t a tough decision as much as it was a dumb decision, certainly an arrogant decision. And it wasn’t “we” it was he, Saban. I guarantee you he didn’t put it to a vote of the assistants and players.

Arrogant?! It’s not like the president was offering him the job of Secretary of State, and he said that running a football team was more important. He had an offer to go have dinner in a room where, if he was lucky, he might have a few minutes with the president. This doesn’t show arrogance, this shows that Nick Saban considers his responsibilities a few weeks prior to a season, in the middle of training camp, to be more important than a social activity with a celebrity. That celebrity is the president, yes, which makes someone like me consider it a little more of an honor than dining with Paris Hilton. But it’s a social gathering, it’s not like they’re discussing public policy.

I’m racking my brain wondering why the author, Michael Wilbon, is so critical of Saban here. And the only thing I can come up with is that he’s a reporter. His job is to report on events, and by god, when you’re a reporter, you take every chance you get to be around somebody like the president. After all, the president is a powerful guy, and it’s powerful people who you report on. I can only think that Wilbon is jealous. After all, he may not get invites to dine with the president very often, and here goes Saban, turning down the invitation because he’s too busy.

You know what I think? I think Saban should be commended for keeping his priorities in line. He’s a football coach, and as such, he has responsibilities. Particularly when he’s a few weeks away from the start of the season, in the middle of training camp. Those responsibilities preclude him from leaving in the middle of practice for a social gathering. He’s not a reporter, and he doesn’t have to kneel and kiss the king’s hand. He’s got his own life to live.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 1:23 pm || Permalink || Comments (1) || Trackback URL || Categories: Media, Pop Culture, Sports

August 22, 2006

NCAA v. NFL Football

Quite a while ago, Dec 2004, in fact, I told you all why I prefer NCAA football to NFL. Given that we’re coming up on my favorite season of the year again, when I wake up and spend morning, afternoon, and evening every Saturday watching college football, it’s a good time to revisit that post. And to let Ivan Maisel do it much better than I can, when his editors asked for 20 reasons. And as he puts it:

Oh, the sleepless nights of trying to face such a task. Oh, the agony.

Oh, and one other thing: Only 20 reasons? Sure you don’t want 40?

A few of my favorites:

1. Passion
The appeal of college football is rooted in the simple notion that your team represents you, your state, your alma mater, your youth. The NFL represents — what, exactly? A bunch of 25-year-old millionaires who will dump your town the minute their agent secures a better offer. There is no loyalty in the NFL. College football is all about loyalty.

2. 25-year-old millionaires
Speaking of which, college football has none. What the game does have, instead, is humility. You want the bling and the talk? Have at it. We’ll stick with guys who are still happy to get their names in the paper.

3. Rivalries
Army-Navy. Ohio State-Michigan. Alabama-Auburn. Texas-Oklahoma. Harvard-Yale. Williams-Amherst. No matter the division, there are rivalries that go 365-24-7. You revel in victory and agonize in defeat. What does the NFL offer in comparison? Dallas-Washington? How big can a rivalry be when they play it twice a year?

8. Stadiums
NFL owners hold up their hometowns for state-of-the-art palaces that have as much personality as a downtown skyscraper. Give me old-school (there’s a reason that became an adjective) classics like the stadiums at Notre Dame, Ohio State or most any SEC school any day of the week.

And think about this: Which sport has 16 stadiums that average more than 80,000 in attendance? The NFL has one. Which sport has four stadiums that average six figures in attendance? It ain’t the Sunday one.

14. JoePa
Joe Paterno has been at Penn State as assistant (beginning in 1950) and head coach (since 1966) for 56 seasons — or seven years before the dean of NFL coaches, Bill Cowher, was born.

And one of my favorites:

20. Eternal youth

How about “eternal co-eds”? I get older, but they stay the same age…

Below The Beltway linked with Football: College vs. The Pros
Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 9:22 pm || Permalink || Comments (1) || Trackback URL || Categories: College Football, Media, Sports

June 22, 2006

Big Ten Network?

Big Ten college sports in TV deals with ABC, Fox

The Big Ten Conference on Wednesday announced new partnerships to broadcast its college sports programming on ABC and ESPN, as well as on a new cable channel it plans to launch next year with Fox.

“This is the first effort to launch a national collegiate sports network,” Big Ten Commissioner James Delany said, adding the agreements were aimed at giving the conference schools more control over their “brand.”

The Big Ten’s cable channel to be based in Chicago will launch in August 2007 with partner Fox Cable Networks, which is owned by News Corporation Inc..

DirecTV Group Inc. has signed on as the 24-hour cable channel’s first affiliate, and negotiations will get under way with cable distributors in markets across the United States with the aim of reaching subscribers to the lowest-cost cable packages, organizers said in a conference call with reporters.

This could be a very good thing for me, or a very bad thing. Obviously, being down here in SEC/ACC country tends to limit my watching of the Big Ten. So anything that helps me to watch more of my favorite teams is a good thing. Especially since Purdue is a mid-level Big Ten team, they’re not televised nationally quite as much as Michigan or Ohio State.

But there’s a big problem. I can’t have DirecTV. I’d love to have it, as I used to back in California. It is cheaper than digital cable (although more expensive than expanded basic analog). And their TiVo is perfect quality, because it’s recording DirecTV’s pre-compressed stream. But I have trees. Big trees. Trees up the slope behind my house, that will impede any sort of line-of-sight to the satellite.

If this network takes off, and Comcast picks it up as an affiliate, all will be well. I’ll get great Big Ten content that I don’t get now. If it stays with only DirecTV, though, I’m going to be spending a lot of fall Saturdays sitting in sports bars watching Purdue. Again, being down here in SEC country, that will entail trying to convince some bartender to devote at least one little TV, maybe in the corner, to a little ol’ school like Purdue.

For everyone else, this will be an interesting experiment. Much like the Big Ten was the first conference to implement instant replay in the NCAA, other major conferences will be looking at their example to determine if a conference network is viable. The Big Ten is probably the largest conference when it comes to national support, so it will make for a very good test subject.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 7:24 pm || Permalink || Comments Off || Trackback URL || Categories: College Football, Media, News, Sports

June 21, 2006

Wear a Helmet…

…or you might end up like Ben Roethlisberger!

Big Ben

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 9:36 pm || Permalink || Comments (1) || Trackback URL || Categories: Motorcycles/Racing, News, Snark, Sports

June 16, 2006

World Cup Mania!!!

Soccer is for skinny guys who can’t throw. ‘Nuff said.

UPDATE 6/18 – 8 AM:

Well, this post didn’t generate as much controversy as I thought. So let me up the ante. I visited Mike’s blog and posted this comment in response to his soccer post. In it, I argue that soccer is anti-libertarian:

Seriously, though, I realize it’s a very in-depth game, and for those people who understand it, it can be quite exciting. I don’t particularly understand how a game is over in 90 minutes plus “whenever the ref feels like it”. And the red card/yellow card thing just seems arbitrary.

Let me tie it into libertarianism a little bit… In American sports we have defined rules, where you know what happens when you break them. In hockey, you’re guilty of high sticking? Get in the box for 2 minutes (or it might be 5, I’m not a huge hockey guy). In football, you’re guilty of clipping? 15 yards from the previous spot, loss of down. Soccer, though, puts all this stuff in the ref’s hands. It’s the rule of man, not the rule of law. Definitely more “European” of a sport…


Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 8:47 pm || Permalink || Comments (5) || Trackback URL || Categories: Libertarianism, Snark, Sports

June 12, 2006

It’s a Good Thing Big Ben is Rich…

…because he won’t be getting women based on looks anymore!

Roethlisberger Injured in Motorcycle Accident

One source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the Steelers had not released any detailed information about Roethlisberger’s condition yet, said the quarterback had suffered a broken jaw and a broken bone in his sinus cavity. Roethlisberger also lost some teeth and had a significant gash on his head, the source said.

People close to Roethlisberger had heard reports that he suffered injuries to both knees but weren’t immediately certain if those reports were accurate. Any knee injuries potentially could be the most serious to Roethlisberger’s prospects for playing football this coming season.

One witness told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that Roethlisberger was not wearing a helmet. Pennsylvania’s mandatory helmet law was repealed three years ago, and Roethlisberger has said publicly that he does not like to wear a helmet when riding.

Ugh. I was in Florida last weekend, and saw a bunch of riders without helmets. I still hate the idea of helmet laws, but every time I see someone riding helmetless I want to just shake the stupidity out of them. I realize that some folks are not worth the skin they leave on the highway when they crash, but to see this happen to someone like Roethlisberger, with so much going for him, is just a sad, sad thing.

I’ve been in three crashes on motorcycles. The first was pure novice riding. I was up in the mountains (Hwy 9 in Northern California, between Saratoga & Four Corners), riding with someone I barely knew. He was more skilled than I was, and I was trying to keep up with him. I entered a corner a bit too hot, although nowhere near the bike’s limits, and got scared. I got on the brakes, stood the bike up, running off the road. The instant my front wheel hit dirt, the bike came out from under me, and I was face-to-dirt. There’s something odd about sliding through dirt a mere two inches from your eye, and being able to see it move past through your visor. But it’s a hell of a lot better than leaving your face on the side of the road, which I would have done without a helmet.

The third crash was a real doozy (I’m omitting the second crash, because it’s not interesting). I was at my third trackday, at the Streets of Willow. It was my first day to join the “Race” group, which is the faster of the two classifications. I use quotes because there is no actual competitive racing during the track day, it’s just the step above the “Sport” group. I was able to get my knee down for the first time, and was really starting to feel my oats. Sure, I was getting passed often by the fast guys, but I was riding faster than I ever had before. One of my sessions, I was going through the bowl, and I had noticed a small bump on track right where I was starting to open the throttle in the corner. On one lap, I even felt the rear end of the bike break traction and “step out” a bit. But, being an idiot, I didn’t change my behavior in that corner. Well, the very next session, I was hauling through there, and the rear end stepped out again. The next thing to happen was a classic highside:

Honestly, except for the fact that I’m not a factory-sponsored, world-class motorcycle racer, I expect my crash looked just about identical to that. When something like that happens, things move so quickly that certain portions are a blur. But I remember the initial snap as I lost traction and the bike tossed me. I remember (like Miguel in the video) being above the bike, hands still on the bars, trying to save the crash when it was way too far gone. And I’ve got a nice scar on my right shoulder from the impact when I finally did hit the ground. But with good protective gear, I was able to get up after the crash (albeit without running over and picking the bike back up, of course!).

Good protective gear that Ben Roethlisberger didn’t wear. Ben has said in other interviews that he considers himself a “safe rider”. But being a safe rider doesn’t protect you from all the other idiots on the road. The early reports of Ben’s crash are that it was caused by a driver pulling out in front of him. It’s pretty unlikely that he had any chance to avoid it, no matter how safe or skilled of a rider he is. At that point, the only thing you have to rely on is the “just in case” precautions. They say to “Dress for the crash, not for the ride”, because you never know when you’ll crash.

I can only hope that this will have a silver lining, and more people who choose not to wear a helmet will rethink their choice. After my first crash, I told a close friend about how I’d be missing half a face without a helmet, and he vowed to always wear a helmet after that conversation. That may have saved his life when he crashed at high speed on the freeway a few months later. If a few people see how easily Ben Roethlisberger— a self-declared “safe rider”— crashed, perhaps they’ll start wearing helmets. But knowing our current political climate, I fear that more and more people will just start clamoring for a return to mandatory helmet laws.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 8:22 pm || Permalink || Comments (2) || Trackback URL || Categories: Motorcycles/Racing, News, Personal Life, Sports, YouTube

June 2, 2006

Health is the Issue

Why are we anti-steroids in baseball? Well, Charles Krauthammer thinks we’re all hypocrites to support performance increases like Lasik, while blasting Barry Bonds for being pumped more full of ‘roids than Teddy Kennedy is of Chivas.

Performance enhancement turns out to be disturbing only in the narrow context of competition, most commonly in sports. And the objection is not cheating nature, but cheating competitors. It’s basically a fairness issue.

When everyone has access to technological improvements (graphite tennis rackets, titanium drivers, more tightly wound baseballs) the sport may be transformed, but the playing field remains level. When technology is enhancing the equipment, fans become quickly reconciled to the transformation. (And it can be radical: the transition from bamboo to fiberglass totally changed the pole vault.) But when technology enhances the physiology of the athlete, we tend to recoil.

Interestingly, however, not always. What about Lasik surgery? Tiger Woods had it and said it made his game stronger than ever. I have yet to see a banner at the Masters saying: “Nicklaus did it by squinting.”

Vision enhancement is even more helpful to baseball players trying to follow the flight of a ball approaching at 90 mph. Hitting requires hand-eye coordination. Bonds turns his arms into tree trunks, and boos rain down. Change the physiology of the other part of the equation — the eye — and no one cares.

Why? Because Lasik is legal, common and available to all. Steroids are not.

Krauthammer is impugning us all as using the Appeal to Authority argument. But, at least for me, that’s not what this is about. I’m not worried about technological advancements. I’m not worried about the fact that better knowledge of physiology allows athletes to train better and become stronger naturally than they used to. And I’m not worried about things like Lasik, where baseball players are paying to enhance their vision beyond 20/20, in an effort to be able to better compete. More natural “steroids”, such as creatine, also don’t rankle me.

Why do I accept all those competitive things, but I’m against steroids? Because steroids are dangerous. Lasik is widely regarded as being a safe medical procedure, with no known long-term side effects, and very low risk of damage. Natural “steroids”, such as creatine, likewise appear to have little long-term health benefits, it’s just a way of helping the body convert fuel to muscle. Not so for steroids, though. Steroids have all sorts of unwanted side effects, and are widely considered to be a good way to shorten your lifespan.

I’m not willing to support a sport where we have to tell athletes they need to seriously impact their health by taking dangerous substances to be able to compete. When medical science creates a safe (within relative levels of safety, of course) steroid, I’ve got no issues with it. But until then, I fully support MLB taking every step they can— short of looking to the US Senate— to stop the practice.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 12:37 pm || Permalink || Comments (17) || Trackback URL || Categories: Libertarianism, Media, Politics, Science, Sports, Technology

March 2, 2006

What Happened to Vince Young?

Don’t pass on Young because of Wonderlic score

You’ll have to pardon my confusion. It’s just that I recently emerged from a seven-week hibernation that began the day after the Rose Bowl, and I can’t figure out how, in that time, Vince Young went from being the nation’s reigning football hero to a plummeting draft prospect who supposedly can’t run, can’t throw, can’t catch, can’t dress himself, can’t sing, doesn’t know the Dewey decimal system and, based on last weekend’s combine Wonderlic bombshell, can’t read or write, either.

And that was before Young got to the dreaded Wonderlic. There are only about eight billion conflicting reports out there right now as to what exactly took place in Indianapolis this weekend — that Young scored a disastrous 6 out of 50, retook it and got a 16, that the first test wasn’t graded properly, that his agent inexplicably failed to tell him about this part of the combine, that the first score was legit and the retake was part of an NFL cover-up of its embarrassment at letting the score leak in the first place. Either way, 6 or 16, Young bombed. There’s no sugar-coating that. While plenty of elite prospects over the years have done similarly poorly and not had it affect their draft status, the NFL cognoscenti say they hold quarterbacks to a different standard. They’re understandably reluctant to hand their playbook over to a guy who can’t figure out which is the ninth month of the year.

All of a sudden, Vince Young’s draftability is in question. Not like he’ll be anything other than a top ten pick, but people are wondering if he’s still 1st or 2nd pick material.

Now, the Wonderlic is a difficult test. It’s 50 logic questions in 12 minutes, which means you have to know what you’re going into before taking the test. It would be very, very easy for someone to get flustered by one hard question, spend a minute and a half on it, and then suddenly realize that they have no time to complete the rest of the test. I find it hard to believe that anybody capable of scoring high enough on the SAT to qualify for an NCAA scholarship is dumb enough to score a 6 on the test, if there aren’t extenuating circumstances.

Frankly, I think that Vince Young has shown in his consistently amazing performance from the Rose Bowl against Michigan through the Rose Bowl against USC, that he is a truly special player. He understand the game of football, and I think he’s a future hall of famer. If Vince Young is truly this much of a liability, it’s an indictment of the University of Texas for admitting him in the first place. Something doesn’t add up, and at this point, I’m willing to give Vince the benefit of the doubt, and assume he was having a bad day.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 11:29 pm || Permalink || Comments (1) || Trackback URL || Categories: College Football, News, Sports

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