John Wayne is the Duke. Elvis is the King.

John Wayne's Holster: October 2006
John Wayne's Holster
Visit my main blog at Monkey Wrench Revival. Visit my birdwatching blog at The Birding Nerd.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Some Parents Are Taking the Fun Out of Youth Sports

Growing up, I played a lot of sports. And I played on a lot of teams. I played baseball in my hometown little league. I played football and basketball in my church CYO league. I played tennis at the swim club. I played street hockey almost every winter day.

Those time were great. We had a lot of fun. Most of the time I was never aware of the score because I was having so much fun. The games we lost were also fun – so long as we didn’t lose too badly.

In all the years that I played in organized youth sports (1975-1985), I NEVER saw or heard of any parents getting in fights with coaches or refs over any issue. And I have played some games were refs were partisan – some even took cash to assure the "right" outcome. Our coach told us not to worry - just go play and have fun. So thats what we did!

I recently read this article about a father from Philadelphia (my old stomping grounds) who pulled a gun on a coach because his son was not getting enough playing time. The son, incidently, is in the first grade!!!

And this is not the first time I have heard this kind of story. Parents are fighting – even killing – coaches or refs who don’t play kids or make bad calls.

What is going here!? These are kids who just want to play. Like m, most of these young kids are probably unaware of the score in their games. Most probably don’t even know all the rules – and don’t care to know either. They just want to play.

The parents on the other hand think that their kid – who probably can’t even tie his own shoes – is going to be the next Michael Jordan or Joe Montana or Wayne Gretzky. Many are probably frustrated that they sucked so much at sports as a youth. Now they want to live vicariously through their children.

Get a life!

Let the kids play. If the parents want to live out their grid-iron fantasies, let them join a beer league. After a few practices – and a few ass-kickings – most will quit and resign themselves to watching sports on TV.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Japan’s Sovereign Right to Self Defense

Following the surrender of the Japenese in WWII, the Allied Occupation, led by the United States, drew up a new constitution for Japan. The goal of the constitution was to replace Japan's imperial system with a liberal democracy. As part of the Constitution (Article 9), Japan was required to renounce war forever.

Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

Some, including many Japanese, believe that the situation requires a change. Certainly times and the world have changed dramatically over the past 60 years.

Even under the new constitution, Japan has maintained a so-called Self-Defense Force. The goal of the SDF is a purely defensive one. What is currently being debated is just exactly constitutes a “defensive” action.

The nature of the threats affecting Japan have certainly changed, particularly since the end of the Cold War. Today, China and North Korea (and to a lesser extent Russia) represent the major regional threats to Japan. All of these countries possess nuclear capabilities. It should also be mentioned that China, and North Korea in particular, are destablizing factors in international relations with East Asia - which represents about 20% of the global GDP.

There are also other very real concerns posed by rapid globalization. Now formerly remote threats can spread rapidly around the world. Such threats include terrorism by failed states, disruption of sea lines of communication, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Since 1947, the United States military has acted as Japan’s defender. With the United States military actively engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq – and perhaps soon in Iran or other regions, it is reasonable to assume that the US Military may be stretched too thin to provide adequate defense to Japan.

As such, it is Japan’s best interest to begin to assume more of its own defensive responsibilities. That will require an constitutional change under Japanese law, but in reality, the situation has already begun to change.

Over the past 10 or so years, Japan has undertaken a massive military build-up. Japan currently has one of the world’s most formidable blue-water navies. Her fleet is considered by many to be on par with the US 7th fleet. Japan's Maritime Defense Force includes over 50 advanced destroyers, including four Aegis-class destroyers equipped with missile defense systems. In addition, Japan has four escort flotillas with helicopters.

Japan also possesses or is developing an extensive missile defense system. In addition to the destroyers mentioned above, the Japan Defense Agency will have at least 16 Patriot Missile systems by 2010. In addition, Japan has or will have 11 radar systems, including four FPS advanced radar sytems.

Its air defenses are also quite formidable. Japan currently has 117 advanced F-15 fighters (second only in numbers to the US), a similar number of F-4 fighters, 74 F-1 fighters, troop and equipment transports, and advanced surveillance (EWAC) aircraft.

Some have questioned the necessity of maintaining such a large and formidable defense forces, but in light of recent events, particularly in the China and North Korea (I am presently preparing an article on this topic), Japan has little choice if she is to maintain her sovereignty and security.

Where Have You Gone Butch Davis?

In case you missed it, Miami trounced FIU Saturday by a score of 35-0. But that was not the big story coming from this game. The big story was a brawl – yes, a brawl. And I am not talking about a brawl in the stands between drunkards. I am talking about a brawl on the field between the players.

Then again, if you have been casually following the University of Miami’s football program over the years, you probably assumed the players were involved.

I think this is a travesty. The Hurricanes have the talent to contend for the National title on an annual basis. But they are squandering that potential by poor recruiting decisions and a lack of accountability for their players – both on and off the field. 'Canes fans deserve better.

Brawling, thuggery and general unsportmanship have become the moniker of the Miami football program. It goes all the way back to Jimmie Johnson’s days on the Miami sidelines. Recall the off-field problems Johnson had to deal with at Miami. And of course there was the taunting and arrogance of the Miami team that JJ lead to the 1986 National Championship Game against Penn State. Fortunately, JoePa gave JJ and his thugs a spanking in that game, defeating the UM 14-10.

Miami’s problems have continued over the years. Just last year, Miami players brawled with LSU players after the Peach Bowl. Part of the credit – or more appropriately the shame - must go to the ‘Canes boosters who have encouraged and promoted the so-called bad-boy image. The UM must also bear some responsibility for tolerating it.

Last Saturday’s third-quarter brawl with FIU was sadly just another embarrassing chapter in the Miami Hurricane’s legacy. Someone - whether they be from the NCAA or the Atlantic Coast Conference or the University of Miami - has to put their foot down and put an end to this mess.

Unfortunately, that does not appear to be happening!

I have heard no official statement from the NCAA. To be fair, they may be giving the ACC or the University the opportunity to act first.

OK, so what do the ACC and UM have to say?

ACC commissioner John Swofford swiftly leveled a one-game suspension for all 13 UM players involved. That’s right! ONE GAME!!!! As Swofford stated, "These suspensions send a clear and definitive message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated…"

Surely, you jest!?

These penalties are joke – and a very bad one at that!

The UM then stepped up and announced Monday that one player was suspended indefinitely. As for the rest of the players, UM President Donna Shalala said she was “satisfied” with Swofford’s decision.

This just in: Expect more problems with the University of Miami football program!

In reality, just about every major college football program has experienced its share of problems – both on-field and off-field. How universities choose to deal with these problems is the difference! You either step in and effectively deal with the problem. If that means eliminating the culture leading up to the problem, or removing the problem-maker, then you do it. The goal is to make sure that the problem doesn't happen again. Or if making money and winning football games is the short-term goal, you take the UM approach and simply turn the other way or settle for a slap on the wrist - virtually guarenteeing that more of the same will happen again and again. In the long-run, your football program will implode.

In my opinion, UM is missing a golden opportunity to turn their football program around and shed their bad-boy image. They need to take a number of steps to ensure that this happens – and they need to do it now!

For starters, the players who actively participated in the brawl should be suspended for the remainder of the season or dismissed from the team. Next, UM needs real leadership at the top. Donna Shalala and Larry Coker must go. While I don't beleive the Coker actively calls for or condones this kind of behavior, it is clear that he has lost control of his football team - regardless of what he says. This is not the first time that Miami has been involved in this type of incident on his watch. As for Shalala, she needs to step aside. I don’t know what kind of administrator or leader Shalala is, but if the “leadership” she is displaying in this brawl incident is any indication, she is not a very good one. Miami needs someone to come in and put a new face on the football program. They need a zero-tolerance policy for poor sportsmanship – and that starts with bringing in a no-nonsense coach.

It seems that only Butch Davis was able to run a clean program down there. Maybe the university should consider bringing him back!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Eagles Are Again the Class of the NFC East

102-yrd Interception Return by Lito Sheppard Seals the Deal Against the Cowboys

After last years’ playoffs, I predicted that the Philadelphia Eagles would win the NFC East this year, despite finishing with a 6-10 record last year and getting swept in their division.

Although we are only five weeks into the season, the Eagles appear the be the class of their division once again.

Many of the pundits are picking Dallas. Some are picking the Giants or Redskins. I just don’t see it happening. I see the same things in those teams this year as I saw last year. The Redskins have no offense other than Portis – and the rest of the team may have taken a step back. Dallas has a lot of talent, but they are also very inconsistent on both sides of the ball. The Giants are also inconsistent and have problems in the secondary. Tiki Barber also seems to have lost a step. Eli Manning on the other hand is getting better and may be a force to be reckoned with in the near future. The big problem with the Giants is a lack of passion and a major lack of discipline. They seem to take major pentalties at key moments of the game.

The Eagles on the other hand look good to me. Their offense in the #1 offense in the league to this point – gaining about 418 yrds/game. Donovan McNabb is having a Dan Fouts-like season, heaving the ball for 1600 yrds and 11 TDs. Their top receivers (Brown and Stallworth) are banged up, but the rest of the receiving corps have performing susprisingly well. In the five games this year, a different receiver has stepped up to lead the team. And T.O. is not missed. The Eagles are also running well. The key for the running game is to keep Brian Westbrook healthy and to keep Correll Buckhalter from fumbling the ball.

The defense is playing fairly well, but they must play better. Currently they are giving up around 335 yrds/game. They have had a lot of injuries to start the season, but they seem to be getting healthy now. The loss of Jevon Kearse is big. He was a great pash rusher. Now someone else is going to have to step up. The secondary also has a few guys that are banged up. Rod Hood is still nursing an injured heel. Lito Sheppard is still hurting, but he returned from injury yesterday and played extremely well.

Fortunately for the Eagles, their first half of their schedule is relatively easy. They should go into their bye week with a record of 7-1 or maybe 6-2. They will have some time to heal up before hitting the meat of their schedule.

In the second half, they have four divisional games (Dallas, Giants, and two against Washington). They also face Indianapolis (A), Carolina (H) and Atlanta (H). This is where we will find out just how good the Eagles are.

My prediction is that the Eagles will finish 11-5. I think the Eagles have a legitimate shot at making it to the NFC Championship Game. If they do, they will probably face Seattle or Chicago. Both of those teams will be touch to beat. Among those three teams, the Bears are playing the best football right now. Seattle is not playing well now, but I think they will turn it around.

How will the Eagles finish? Superbowl? Probably not!