Issues surrounding the Trayvon Martin case

The recent shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Florida brings up a couple of issues in our society. First is the very long-standing issue of how young black males in this country are treated and the second involves the “stand your ground law” which means that you can use deadly force on an individual without walking away from a confrontation if you believe a threat is being made to yourself or someone else.

As a middle-aged white guy, I certainly agree that young black males get mistreated in this country. It is unfortunate because there are many fine young black men in this country who could make a positive impact in our society. However, when you look at a police report or read a newspaper article about a crime,  the majority of the criminals are young black males.  Statistics do not lie. So when people see a group of young black males dressed up like a bunch of gang bangers, they naturally become suspicious and will not treat them with open arms. It is sad but the truth.  A small sample of a particular group, young black males gives the whole group a bad name.  I assume that is what happened to Trayvon Martin.  Some young black guy walking through a neighborhood with a hood up invoked someone to take action and unfortunately, the confrontation ended up in the shooting death of Martin.

The “stand your ground law” is legal in Florida and raises another issue about the rights of the shooter and was he actually acting in self-defense. I have very mixed feelings about this law but for the most part, I oppose it. If someone breaks into my house and wants to harm my family, am I going to retreat and run away? Heck no!! I am going to defend my family and property as best and safe as I can. If I end up shooting some criminal because he was going to harm a family member then so be it. However, where do you draw the line in this law? Suppose I am driving on the freeway and somebody gives me a bad gesture and I give one back. Then he takes out a gun and shoots at me. During the police questioning, the individual claims self-defense. I did not have any weapon on me at the time. Imagine the headache that many prosecuting attorneys will go through with this law? This law certainly comes to light in the Martin case. I mean how are you going to charge this guy and prove this was not about self-defense.  What is going to stop other people from going out and doing the same thing not because they are protecting themselves from harm but because they simply do not like young black males?

It is very sad that an incident like this had to take the life of a young man. Everyday, people of all races are victims of crimes not just young black kids wearing hoods.  I can understand why many people are upset that the shooter did not get charged. Hopefully more facts will emerge about this case so the truth will be known. I cannot base my opinion until more facts are clear.  But to kill an unarmed teenager is very disturbing and could set the stage for future acts of violence against innocent people.

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The 3 point shot in basketball, good or bad rule?

The 3 point shot first started in basketball during the ABA days when some genius came up with idea that a shot beyond a certain distance should count as 1.5 times more than a normal field goal. Eventually, the NBA adopted this rule in the mid 1980’s and the colleges and high schools followed shortly after. But is this rule a good or bad idea?

Personally, I don’t really care much for the rule and never have.  First of all, it is a somewhat difficult shot to make even when wide open.  The whole object of any offense is should be to get a good high percentage shot. When an average player probably only makes about 35 percent from beyond the line and I am being generous with that stat, how can that be a good shot? Any shot closer in has a much better chance of going in than some long-range missile. Some teams base their entire offense around making  shots beyond the arc which is fine but to have a consistent more effective offense, you need more shots in the paint area.

Another beef I have with the shot is the point value. A guy can make a tough fall away jumper in the lane and only get 2 points while some guy makes a long 22 footer uncontested and get 3 points.  Why should certain shots get a 1.5 times more value than other more difficult shots? Every field goal should be worth the same amount.

The 3 point shot has certainly changed the way the game is being played. It is becoming more of a guard orientated game than ever and big men are being forced to play more on the perimeter. But do you want a 6’11” guy jacking up threes during a game when he has a several inch height advantage on players inside? Sadly that is happening in today’s game.

I get all those arguments for the 3 point shot. It does help a team come back quicker from a deficit and helps to a certain degree, spread out the offense and opens up the game. But is it really a good thing for the game and the way it is being played? I have my doubts.

A high school senior’s last game

I was watching a high school tournament on television last weekend and during the closing award ceremonies, a thought occurred to me. No it wasn’t about the winning team and how the game was won or how great those trophies and medals looked. My thoughts turned to the seniors on both teams. For these athletes, this is it. The end of the road. From the look on their faces as they received their awards, they seemed to be thinking the same thoughts as me. It is all over.

Sure, some of these athletes will go and play at the college level but for many high school athletes, this is it, the ending of a sports career that probably began around 10 years earlier when they stepped on the field or court for the first time. It may have been a Saturday morning youth football or basketball league.

As the year’s progressed, things got a little more competitive. No more guaranteed playing time and trying to become the best you can be was the main point of emphasis. Some athletes had visions of becoming all-state or conference and felt the need to put in many hours of hard work and sweat while others just wanted to make the team or win a starting spot. Whatever level you played at, the common denominator was the amount of time and effort you had to put in. While some of your buddies went home after school to relax and kick back, you had to go directly to practice and put in your time. Sometimes it was the last thing you wanted to do but you did it.

Suddenly, that career is over. All those games and practices are just a memory. The final chapter is finished. As someone who played high school sports and played a little at the college level, my advice to any high school athlete is to enjoy it while it lasts. Unless you go on and play at a glamorous college, nothing will top the thrill of playing high school sports. The memories will last your whole life. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it is worth it. The coach is a jerk, you don’t get enough playing time or you would rather work and earn money. But hey, you have the rest of your life to work and earn money! There are so many benefits of playing a sport in high school that cannot be taught in the classroom. Never, never take it for granted. Before you know it, that career will be done with.  It certainly goes by fast.

 

The Vikings stadium debate

When it comes to building new sports arenas and stadiums here in Minnesota, the odds of that happening without a long, drawn out debate is  about 2 percent. And I am being very optimistic with that figure!! It might be easier for someone to sell snow to an Eskimo in Alaska than get a new pro sports facility built here in the Twin Cities. Just ask the Twins about their nearly decade long fight to get a new outdoor ballpark. Funny how that hasn’t worked out for them!! Where are all those anti-ballpark critics now?

I hear all these arguments about why the stadium should not be built and we need to focus on more important things like people starving, schools and how we should not give out handouts to billionaire owners and millionaire ball players. I understand why people have those opinions and some of them are true to a certain extent. But I just wish people would drop their own little biased opinions and think outside the box a little.

The current bill being presented at the legislature calls for the team to put up nearly half of the cost of the stadium,which is one of the highest contributions any sports owner has ever given to build a new stadium.  The biggest sticking points are how to pay for the state and city of Minneapolis’s share of the cost.  The state’s share will not use any general fund money and will be raised by allowing the use of electronic bingo and pulltabs in bars and restaurants in the state. The Minneapolis share will be a simple or not so simple method of reallocating taxes already approved by the state legislature, which may prove to be the sticking point of this whole deal. Apparently, there are some really courageous members of the Minneapolis city council who would rather put this to a vote of the citizens instead of making the decision by themselves.

I find it really sad that many politicians in this state don’t realize how serious this issue is and would rather pass it off until the next session. The time to get this done in NOW!! Take the initiative and show some guts by making a bold stance. That is what you got elected for! If we wait much longer, the Vikings will be gone and the state will be out of many millions of dollars that the Vikings bring on every year. I am amazed that the Wilf’s haven’t already packed their bags by now.

The Vikings are a huge asset to this state and keeping them here for many years should be a priority. Not only for the money they bring in but for the economics of this state. We have some of the top companies in the nation here in the Twin Cities and studies have shown that having a pro sport’s franchise especially football is a huge way of recruiting people to come to your area therefore increasing the tax base.

This whole debate is not just about people who like football. Even if you do not like football and could care less about whether the Vikings stay or go, it directly impacts you in some way.  I just hope the politicians of this state realize what a big asset the Vikings are to this state and will make a good deal that will keep the team here for many years.

 

NFL bountygate

One of the most disturbing sports stories in recent memory came out a few weeks ago with allegations that members of the New Orleans Saints were offered money if they could injure opposing players and force them to leave the game.

If anyone can remember back to the 2010 NFC championship game between the Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, there were numerous occasions when it appeared the Saints were trying to injure the Vikings quarterback, Brett Favre. I find it hard to believe the Saints were allowed to get away with some of the cheap stuff that went on during the game. Sometimes I wonder even if the referees were on the field! Not that I am making excuses for the Vikings loss, they didn’t deserve to win the game with all those turnovers and a stupid, costly penalty near the end of the game. But the referees also need to be taken to task for allowing late hits to occur and other illegal stuff.

I realize pro football is a seriously rough sport and hard-hitting is part of the game.  But to take cheap shots after the play is over with intent to injure is just plain wrong and needs to be dealt with severely. The NFL likes to fine and suspend players for far less serious infractions than this. If this is not dealt with soon, the league will be nothing more than some goon league with a pro wrestling type of mentality. Imagine how things would get out of control if teams decided to get revenge if they felt they were the victims of a bounty? It would not be pretty and there is the potential of numerous serious injuries and maybe even fatal ones.

I strongly believe in winning fair and these allegations are far from what I consider fair. A full fledged investigation should take place and any player found guilty should be suspended for several games and if it happens again, be banned from the league and fined heavily. A team that encourages this type of play should lose draft choices and be the subject of a massive fine. Pro football is a great sport and we do not need a few punks destroy the game for the many players who play by the rules.