The inexact science of drafting players

With the NFL draft 2012 finally over, many football experts are now analysing the teams choices and making grades on how each team did. Fans in various NFL cities are probably rushing to buy season tickets because their team has drafted the next big thing in the league.  I hate to break news to these fans but how can you be sure the players will pan out and live up to their billing?

If I were a scout and could predict with 100 percent certainty which players will have the biggest impact, I would probably be one of the richest guys in the world. But it does not work that way. Oh sure, if a player dominates in a big time conference in college, he should be a star in the league, right? But sometimes the most heralded players wind up being the biggest busts ever.  The pro game is much different and a players weaknesses can be hidden against the weaker competition of the college game.

Many top players go to this NFL combine thing where they are evaluated on several tests such as the 40 yard dash, agility drills, vertical jump and some IQ tests to prove they are not stupid. I often hear stories about scouts raving about a player because he can run a 4.3 40. Well that is great but the game is football, not track. It doesn’t do much good for a player to run a fast 40 when he is afraid of contact or cannot catch the ball. If I were a scout, i would be more interested in watching film of a player than watching him run a 40.

Often, teams neglect a few crucial things when looking at drafting players. First of all, how does the player face adversity? Does he sulk and quit or get more determined to learn from his failures and move on to success. How does he handle pressure and last of all, what kind of heart does this player have? Does he have that desire to work hard and pay the price to get better? I have often wondered how scouts can determine these things but sometimes they are more important than any 40 yard time.  All the top players are great athletes with good physical skills. But character is usually the determining factor in how successful a player will be.

Unfortunately, I did not get drafted this weekend. My cell phone was quiet. I guess teams have no use for a middle-aged guy who runs a 9.2 40. Well maybe next year!


The NHL deserves more love

I consider myself a rather avid sports fan. Yes, I have my favorite sports but I will watch anything and all sports if the event is somewhat entertaining. Which leads me to the National  Hockey League.  I don’t consider myself  a huge fan of the league but I do watch several games a year. The sport is a refreshing break from the countless games of pro and college basketball on television.  The games have a good fast flow to them. There are not constant stops in play for timeouts like what happens in many basketball games. Yet, the NHL typically has dismal ratings for many of its games including the playoffs. I find that really hard to believe especially come playoff time.

The NHL playoffs have always been very entertaining because of the unpredictable nature of  the series. It is not uncommon for an upset to happen and that alone makes for good viewing. There is nothing more boring to watch than a series go the way it should. You need to have a little intrigue like a number one seed struggling in the opening series or getting bounced out of the playoffs. Until recently, the NBA playoffs were way too predictable and one might argue that the NHL playoffs are just, if not more exciting than the NBA playoffs.

I believe the NHL has a few problems that must be addressed before it becomes more popular with the American sports viewers. First of all, the players have to be marketed better. A non-hockey sports fan will be more likely to tune in to watch a particular player like a Sydney Crosby.  The NBA has constantly marketed their players for years and it has produced great results and interest. Maybe the NHL can learn something from the NBA.

Another problem the league has is that it is a regional sport. Quite frankly, most people in the United States have not been exposed to hockey. Sure people like in this state, Minnesota and places like Michigan and states in the northeast have grown up watching hockey. But how do you suddenly expand that to warm weather areas like the deep south? The only ice those folks deal with are the ice cubes in their drinks.  I think the more exposure a person has to a sport growing up, the more they tend to watch it in their adult life.  That is why football, baseball and basketball are so popular.

The television situation for hockey is not bad now that NBC has started their own sports network. They have done a very good job of covering the games. But it was a shame that the so-called leader of sports ESPN decided to drop its NHL coverage years ago. They seem to find time to find time in their programming to have poker, why not have a few hockey games a week? The exposure that ESPN has would have been great for the sport.

I would encourage any sports fan in this country go outside their own little viewing box and watch a little hockey from time to time.  This die-hard hoops guy does and likes it.

Memories of Dick Clark

Like many folks across this country, I was saddened to hear of the passing of a true icon in the television industry, Dick Clark. With his boyish looks, Clark might have been the youngest looking guy for his age of all time! I just could not picture him growing old and senile with gray hair but eventually, father time catches up to everyone.

Most people remember Clark from his annual appearance on the New Year’s Eve show from New York. My memories of Clark were a little different. I remember him from that very popular show, American Bandstand which ran over 30 years. I started watching the show as a preteen when I first developed my great taste in music, some people might argue with that!.  Saturday mornings were not the same without seeing that bandstand symbol in the background and a very young-looking host of the show. He seemed to blend right in with the crowd of young people. I still remember that rate a record segment and Clark playfully teasing the guests because of their short explanation as to why they liked the record. The response typically would be “Because it has a good beat to it” .  I also enjoyed his interviews with the musical guests he had on the show.  Of course, who can forget that painful interview he had with Prince! I have so many memories of that show which was a part of my Saturday for many years. Besides watching all the young people dance and seeing the wild fashions,  Clark was another reason I watched the show. He was one of my favorite television hosts.

Maybe there is an American Bandstand show up in heaven and Clark is needling one of the angels to give a better answer as to why they like a certain song.  He was one of a kind and certainly a big part of my childhood television viewing. Nobody did it any better or looked any younger than him.

The best month for a sport’s fan

Nearly everyone,who is an avid sports fan like myself, has a favorite month for sports. You know how it goes. Suddenly, you are not seen around the clubs anymore, you fight with your wife or girlfriend over the remote and that recliner or couch develops a worn out spot because of the overuse you have caused. Yes my friends, it is the classic case of a great lineup of sporting events on television. In my opinion, there is no better month than April.

Now some people would disagree with me. Maybe if you’re a huge football fan, September is because of the opening of the NFL or college seasons. And March certainly has to be brought into the conversation.  But there is something about April which brings something for just about everyone.

The month typical starts off with the NCAA final four which, arguably next to the Super Bowl, is the biggest sporting event in this country.  With the popularity of office pools, the weekend has a great deal of interest even for those non-basketball fans.

After the tournament, comes the famed Master’s golf tournament. I believe it is the best major of the four and one that I enjoy watching the most. Some of the most captivating moments in sports have taken place during that tournament.  I was telling someone last weekend that heaven probably looks like that golf course. It is serious eye candy for the sport’s viewer.

Usually just before the Masters takes place is the opening of the baseball season.  Now sports fans have another option to an already crowded sports lineup.  Opening day of baseball is a very special event for many fans.

Besides the Masters and final four, my favorite events of the month are the NBA and NHL playoffs. After months of meaningless games on television, the games are so much more enjoyable to watch with everything on the line.  It is even more enjoyable when your favorite team is in the playoffs.  Life suddenly revolves around those playoff games.

And last but not least, how can we forget the NFL draft, yawn! I realize some fans spend hours watching the draft but why? ESPN has now expanded it to 3 days.  If you waste your Saturday watching the 3rd round picks, you need to get a life my friend!

Yes, April is a wonderful month and it is hard to keep up with all those events. But for the pure enjoyment of sport’s viewing, it is hard to top April.  Just don’t forget to take out the trash and say hi to your wife once in all during that month!


The individual mandate argument

Probably the most controversial and talked about issue with Obamacare is the individual mandate that requires all people to purchase health care by 2014 or pay a fine. Whether this is constitutional or not, is currently being decided by the Supreme Court and has caused quite a stir in this country.

One of the main goals of Obamacare is to get coverage for the 40-50 million people in this country without health insurance. I  get rather sick of hearing people say that this number of people cannot get health coverage. That is a bunch of baloney!! A good majority of people without coverage elect not to have it. It is not because they cannot pick up a plan or get some kind of coverage. They elect not to buy the product. Now all of a sudden those same people will be forced to buy something they do not wish to purchase. Is that fair?

In my opinion, that is totally unfair. Having the federal government forcing me to purchase something I might not use is a definite overreach of power. What is next, forcing me to trade in my current car because it uses too much gas and hurts the supply? It is just a start of giving the federal government more power than they should have.  Many people under 50 could do fine without any coverage and use the money on something else more to their liking. I do not think it is a good idea not to have coverage but it should not be forced onto anyone.

Forcing businesses to cover workers or pay a fine is another poor idea.  Who is to say a business will just pay the fine rather than cover its employee’s? A lot of  employers will simply lay off workers or not hire new ones to help offset the  cost of being forced to cover everyone.  A sure way to help increase the unemployment rate.

While I do agree that uninsured people do drive up health care costs during emergency visits, I disagree that covering everyone will suddenly make it more affordable. Perhaps we ought to look into what really drives down the price of a product, competition. Suppose we had more choices for health coverage and could purchase health insurance in other states similar to buying car insurance. Let the private, free market work its course instead of having more folks on a federal program which is doomed for disaster and is very costly.

Fixing our health care problems is, no pun intended, no quick fix. If your going to force folks to buy health coverage, why not regulate tobacco companies, fast food products, monitor people’s lifestyles etc..?  Smoking is one of the leading causes of health problems and forces more people into health care.  Maybe the federal government should ban all McDonald’s or Burger King stores. Or force them all to serve nothing but fat-free salads.

Having the government force a product down our throats is just not good policy and will lead to other mandates. In the business world, there is a saying “There has to be a better way” I think that applies to Obamacare and the individual mandate.