A dream for many high school athletes

It is not uncommon for any young aspiring athlete to dream about being famous and successful in their chosen sport. It starts at a very young age. You watch games on television and the natural inclination is to be like those guys someday. You want to be a professional athlete making millions of dollars. That dream eventually fades as you develop in your sport and you realize that you do have certain limitations. I realized at a very young age that I will never make it to the NBA. My goals shifted to a college career instead. I also had another dream as a young athlete that echos so many others, especially those growing up in a small town like I did. What would that be? It would be to play in the State Tournament at the end of the season. Making it to the tourney at the end of the season is what drives so many high school athletes.

One of the things that I really look forward to every March is watching the State Tournament games on television. Our hockey tournament is arguably the best high school tournament in the country. After the hockey tournament, the boys and girls basketball tournaments take center stage. What makes these tournaments so exciting is that they are televised all around the state. You are playing for your school and hometown in front of thousand of viewers on television. Even those who do not play get some airtime as all the players are introduced before the game. I can only imagine how exciting that would be for some young athlete to appear on state-wide television. You become a well-recognized person in your community and school and what young person would not want that?

The regional games leading up to the state tournament are always intense and very entertaining. I can honestly say that as an avid sports fan, some of my most memorable games have been watching high school sports during the regional finals. The excitement in the arena was off the charts. I will never forget watching a regional final basketball game that was decided at the buzzer. The joy of the winning team was absolutely priceless! Equally, the loss devastated the entire losing team. I saw many tears and heartbreak that sent chills up my spine. Their dreams and many years of hard work and hope had been crushed by one shot. I left the arena that night with a feeling that would not escape me for weeks. It was one of the most memorable nights of my life to have witnessed something like that.

Eventually those thrills go away and some players go off and play at the collegiate level. But for those who are fortunate enough to play in the State Tournament in front of thousands of television viewers, it is a memory that will stick with you for the rest of your life. It is a dream that is worth pursuing and makes getting up for those 6am practice well worth it.

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The party of no hate?

A politician from my home state of Minnesota, Representative Illhan Omar caused quite a stir in Washington during the last few weeks with her Anti-Semitic little tirade against Israel. As many of you already know, Israel is a very important ally to the United States and might be our best ally in the whole world. Many House Democrats scrambled to save face after Omar’s comments and came up with some type of resolution condemning hate speech. I found it rather interesting that so many Democrats actually had such a tough time calling out Omar for her comments. Imagine if a Republican had uttered those same comments about Jews and Israel? Imagine if President Trump had spoken the same words as Omar did? Does anybody in their right mind think that there would be any hesitation to condemn him? The Democrats would unanimously be all over Trump. But somehow since Omar is a Muslim and a Democrat, she was given a seemingly free pass over her very irresponsible comments. In all fairness, not all members of the Democratic House of Representatives supported Omar and this caused some friction among the party. Finally, a resolution was passed condemning hate speech, not only against Jews, but against Muslims as well. Congratulations House Democrats, you really saved your rear ends on this little controversy. But the truth about how racist some members of the Democratic party are really came out and will not be forgotten.

Many Democrats are famous for lecturing people about inclusion and how we ought to treat all people with respect and dignity. It is not uncommon to see a member of that party take the lead in supporting the rights of LGBT individuals, Muslims or other minority groups. It is our duty to stand up for the rights of these people they tell us. But what about Christians, Jews and those who disagree with the values of the party? Do they not deserve the same type of treatment as those who you love to fight for? After all, this is America. We all deserve to be treated with some sort of dignity.

Way too many members of today’s Democratic party seem to have a huge double standard when it comes to dealing with different groups of people. Jews are a very valuable part of our culture and calling them out as evil people is totally wrong. Israel as I mentioned is a very good friend of the United States and a very key ally. They represent what the United States is all about in the Middle East. We desperately need good relations with that country. Unfortunately and sad to say, we have representatives like Omar and others who see Israeli as an evil nation and that is very disturbing. If she cannot stand up for the values of the United States and our allies, perhaps she should just step down. There are many other Democrats who would be much kinder to our friends from Israeli.

Yes, the Democratic party is the party of no hate. Unless you are a white Christian, Jew or supporter of Israel. If so, you are the most evil person in the world. The Democratic party needs to get rid of those racist people if they want to continue to win election. Omar would be a good person to start with.

A huge nightmare for Nike

The athletic gear industry is a very highly competitive industry. Companies like Nike will do anything to help boost their products and stock. For example, Nike pays many major colleges to use their apparel and shoes. Nothing gives that company greater advertisement than to have potential consumers see major college and professional athletes wear their products in a nationally televised game. A young aspiring athlete might want to go out and buy some Nike basketball shoe because they see LeBron James wearing them on television. It is all part of very timely and savvy marketing by Nike and other companies. They know how to reach their audiences. Even an older athlete like myself wears Nike shoes on the basketball court and track because they are a very well-known and good brand.

That perception of Nike gear really took a hit the other night and probably at the worst possible time. It all happened in the opening minutes of one of the most highly anticipated college basketball games of the year. Millions of sports fans were watching on television a top matchup between two bitter rivals, North Carolina and Duke. Before many fans could sit down and relax, the unimaginable happened. One of the star players from Duke, and a future NBA star, Zion Williamson, slipped and fell to the ground. While on the floor, Williamson started to grab his knee and you could hear a pin drop in that otherwise very loud arena. A replay showed the incident was more than just a slip. Williamson’s shoe had ripped apart during a cut which forced him to stumble awkwardly and fall. How could this possible happen with a Nike shoe? I could see this happen with some cheap knock off shoe that you buy from Walmart, but Nike?

Imagine if you are some high executive at Nike and you see this incident? Is it not the worst nightmare that you can ever encounter? Your product malfunctions on national television in front on millions and perhaps several thousands of potential customers. I am sure this incident caused several of us pickup jocks who like to hoop at our local clubs some doubts about purchasing our next brand of shoes. Maybe I should switch over to those Under Armour sneakers that I saw online last week?

Fortunately for Williamson, the injury appears to be a very minor one and he should be back in a few weeks. He was very fortunate. That shoe malfunction could have cost him millions of dollars and ended his career. I would be shocked if Williamson continued to wear those same type of shoes in the future.

If anyone will benefit from this incident, it might be companies like Under Armour. You better believe that they will do everything to keep this incident alive and remind consumers of what could potentially happen if you buy a pair of Nike sneakers. Your shoes rip apart as well and you might end up falling and tearing your ACL.

It should be very interesting to see how the Williamson incident affects the sales of Nike sneakers in the future. From personal experience, I have had a great deal of success with those sneakers so I am very shocked to have witnessed this incident. Nike shoes have been my favorites and have been my most durable shoes. Will they continue to be? Nike has some serious damage control to do to convince consumers like myself that their shoes are still very durable. If I pay top dollar to buy a pair of sneakers, the last thing I want is for them to break apart. How Nike handles this incident going forward should be very interesting. It was a nightmare that the company will have to deal with for a long time. They will have to convince millions of consumers like myself that their shoes are still very safe and durable and worth the expensive price.

The hoax of the century

It was a news story that sent shock waves across the nation. A black, gay actor named Jussie Smollett alleged that he was attacked while walking home at 2:00 am by a couple of men wearing those infamous “Make America Great Again” hats. To make matters even worse, a rope was said to be used in the attack which only added to this heinous crime. On a scale of 1 to 10, this hate crime ranks as a 10. The media immediately picked up on this story and talked about how racism and homophobia is certainly alive and well in today’s America. A few presidential 2020 candidates quickly picked up on this event to condemn it, a few even went as far to blame President Trump for the attack. The general consensus of those reporting the story was it was just another example of how racist a typical Donald Trump supporter is. While many of those same news outlets were speaking about how wrong and awful this attack was, it was very evident that deep down inside, they were filled with glee and happiness. Finally, it was the moment to finally show the world what a bunch of losers and evil people those Trump supporters are. Never mind that this story just broke and the facts were still very sketchy at best. It had to be true. Now flash ahead a few weeks later, these same journalists are busy peeling egg off their faces for yet another blunder. The real evil people in the story was not those alleged Trump supporters wearing the MAGA hats. It was Smollet himself. He had staged the entire attack to help further his career and his deep hatred for President Trump and his supporters. Now Smollet is in deep legal problems for reporting a false hate crime, and quite frankly, I feel the least sorry for him. He deeply deserves to be punished severely to set an example for other people thinking about doing the same.

There are several things that make this story so troublesome. The more these fake hate crimes occur and are proven to be false, the more it causes doubt and skepticism among the general public. It is kind of like the “boy who cried wolf” syndrome. There could be a future attack that is very legitimate and truthful. The victim will be hurt by the actions of Smollet and others who have paved that doubt into people’s minds. People will just react to another incident as being untrue and yet another individual with an agenda. Suddenly nobody will believe one story and that really hurts the true victims of these awful attacks. And I am sure there are many very legitimate attacks of hate that go on everyday in this country. By the way, these attacks are also against Trump supporters as well.

Probably the most concerning aspect of these false claims is the amount of time and resources it takes away from the authorities in fighting real crime and problems. The place where this made up crime took place, Chicago, is well-known for its vast number of shootings. An innocent person might have been shot or even killed because the police did not have the necessary manpower to stop the crime or even solve the crime and put the bad guys behind bars. This makes our communities less safe. We all lose when people fabricate stories like Smollet did.

I don’t know exactly what will happen to Smollet, but he deserves the worst. Lying about a hate crime is very troubling and needs to be addressed. This incident seems to be part of a growing troubling trend in our country. It does nothing to help further any cause. It is just a selfish way of furthering one’s own agenda. In the process, many innocent people end up getting hurt by lies from people like Smollet and the media.

A rather sad day for singles

This coming Thursday, February 14th is arguably the most romantic day of the year. Millions of couples will celebrate their relationships in many forms. You cannot turn to any form of media and not find one advertisement for Valentine’s Day. Whether it be for buying your sweetie flowers, candy, jewelry or maybe a night a quick weekend getaway. Suppose you do not have a significant other to celebrate Valentine’s Day with this year? How do you feel this week? For many, it is one of the loneliest weeks of the year. Your attached friends are all excited about celebrating Valentine’s Day with their mates and you are all alone. Perhaps your co-workers all got nice flowers delivered to them at work and you got absolutely nothing. It can be a very empty and lonely day for millions of singles. Sure you feel very happy for your attached friends, but deep down inside, you feel very envious and jealous. You just feel like there is this deep void in your life and it is a very sad feeling.

The feeling is even sadder for those who have recently gone through a breakup or a divorce. The thought of romance cringes at your soul and you just want to forget about the day and its meaning. You think back at past Valentine’s Days with your ex and those sad feelings of loneliness are really amplified.

I must confess while writing this that I am one of those many unattached singles who will not be celebrating Valentine’s Day with anyone important. Yes, there is a certain level of sadness and hollow feeling that I will certainly feel on this day. Sometimes I feel like a complete failure and loser for not having a special woman in my life. But being the optimistic that I am, I look on the bright side. I could run into my future wife while I am at the grocery store later today. And I could have a very unexpected good Valentine’s Day. There are also countless opportunities to meet singles online so I am not at all worried that I will never find my Valentine. She is out there somewhere on this planet.

I also look at the fact that I do not have to worry about pleasing some woman on this Valentine’s Day.  Believe me, it can keep many guys up at night worrying about what to buy and what to do on Valentine’s Day. I will not have to worry about that this year. No need to worry about buying flowers or jewelry for anyone. Don’t get me wrong; I would love to do those things, but not having the stress of dealing with those issues can be very nice.

If you will be sitting home all alone on Valentine’s Day, do not feel alone. There are many thousands of us who are with you. Being single and unattached can be a very exciting lifestyle to live for most days of the year. But there is just something sad about not having a significant other to share Valentine’s Day with. I know I wish I had someone to spoil this year.

Just say no to socialism

A very alarming trend is hitting the United States, and no, it is not some new fashion or beverage to hit the market. It is a particular ideology that many believe will make it “fair” for everyone in this country to live a good and prosperous life. That ideology is called socialism and the Democratic party seems to have a growing support for it. A number of members want a more European style of government where basically what you make in life is controlled by a central figure and is spread equally among members of a country. That form of ideology is very different from the current heavy capitalism model. Now granted, the country does have some very light socialist programs that everyone pays into. For example, we pay taxes to the government so our streets can be taken care of in the winter time. I certainly get that. But socialism expands greatly on that concept and creates a huge government that includes more than just taking care of your basic human needs. It is supposed to take of every need, free health care, free tuition, guaranteed income in case you happen to decide to quit your lousy job and so on.

On paper, this looks very appealing. There are a number of people in this country who probably cannot afford to go to college and free college seems to be the only way they can go. There is a huge problem though that often goes unnoticed. Who pays for this? Imagine if all public colleges in the country were suddenly forced to be free? Who would pay the professors? As you can quit imagine, it would be us the tax payers. And don’t give me this crap that this so-called investment will pay for itself. What guarantee do we have that it will?

The same goes for this “Medicare for All” concept that is floating around. Once again, it sounds like some great idea that everyone with the snap of a finger can have top-notch medical care. A recent Democratic stated her desire to end all private insurance companies and switched to this radical concept. The price tag for “Medicare for All” would be absolutely enormous as well. Where would the money come from?

In order to pay for these massive programs, socialist supporters want heavy taxes particularly on the rich. A 70 percent marginal tax rate and higher is often mentioned as a way to pay for these programs. I find it hard to believe that these higher rates would even come close to paying for all these programs. If you do the math, it does not even come close. You could tax the ultra rich 100 percent and still not come up with the necessary funding. On top of that, those tax rates will severely cripple our economy for years. Suppose for a minute that a rich business owner is forced to pay several thousand dollars more in taxes each year. Do you think they will have any desire to expand and grow their companies and hire more workers and hire more people?Absolutely not! Who would even consider investing anymore? What motivation would anyone have to start a new business with those type of taxes? I certainly would not want to! Furthermore, if adopted, under those tax rates, unemployment would skyrocket and with more people out of work, the tax revenue that would be gained with higher taxes would be greatly offset and even diminished by more people out of work and less spending.

Besides being unsustainable, socialism is very dangerous in its promises to people. What happens when that gravy train runs out of money? As we saw in Greece several years ago, it leads to violence and unrest in a country. And believe me, the more this country becomes socialist, the more unrest we will have. Also, the larger a government becomes, the more corrupt it becomes especially with our money.

Probably the biggest issue that I have with socialism is that it punishes people who have actually had some success in life and that is not morally right. It is not right to punish someone who has worked hard to achieve much in life and has been very smart with their money. Imagine if you took a class and studied very hard to obtain a good grade. There were others in your class who did not study as hard and failed to do any homework or even attend class. At the end of the semester, the professor suddenly announces that everyone will get the same grade; how would that make you feel? That my friend is socialism in a nutshell.

If we are to help the poor and the middle class in this country, we must find ways to make capitalism, not socialism, stronger in this country. The ideas being mentioned by some of these Democrats are utterly ridiculous, foolish and irresponsible. It is our duty to keep socialism out of this country by not voting for these idiots. Capitalism is what and will always make this country great. Socialism will just make a bunch of government officials rich and the rest of us poor. Just ask the poor folks in Venezuela. How is socialism working for them?

 

 

A few thoughts on the NFL playoffs and a bold Super Bowl pick

The season started back in July when several teams reported for training camp with a fresh slate and hopes of playing in tomorrow’s ultimate game. For all but 2 teams, those hopes have been dashed. The Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots face off in the final game of the season. As just your run of the mill sports fan, I have a few thoughts on this season’s playoffs as well as a bold pick for the big tilt.

1. The best conference championship Sunday ever. They say that for a sports fan the day of the NFL conference championships is arguably the best day of the year. This year certainly did not disappoint. In all my years of watching the NFL, conference championship Sunday 2 weeks ago produced the best back to back games that I have ever seen. Both games went into overtime and were filled with much drama. I have to admit that I and probably many others were overly entertained.

2. MVP of the playoffs. I have to give it to the old man, Tom Brady, quarterback of the Patriots. This playoff run is only adding to his legacy of being one of the great athletes ever in any sport. There will always be a discussion on who is the best quarterback of all-time and maybe that discussion can stop and end with Brady. A strong performance in the Super Bowl tomorrow should cement his claim to be the GOAT. In the runner-up position, I give it to the Rams field goal kicker Greg Zuerlein. What he did against the New Orleans Saints was nothing short of remarkable. First he made a long field to tie the game at the end of regulation, then won it with a long 57 yarder in overtime. Both kicks were under intense pressure on the road. I tip my cap to him for a job very well done.

3. Biggest surprise. Actually the fact that they were very surprises in the playoffs was the biggest surprise. No team really flew under the radar this year. How often do you see top seeds from both divisions play for the conference championships?

4. Rule change discussion. The NFL really needs to take a look at the overtime rules during the off-season. I am of the belief that both teams deserve to have the ball in overtime with a chance to win the game. That is not the case with the current rules.

5. Last run for the Pats. This will be it for the Patriots. The multi-year run of the Patriots might go down as the best ever in sports but all good things have to come to an end and it will this year. Look out for the Indianapolis Colts. They will be the next NFL dynasty.

Now for a bold prediction on the Super Bowl. First of all, neither team can really stop the other team from scoring. It should be a very high scoring game similar to last year’s game. I am not going to break down all the matchups and tell you who has the advantage. I believe the Rams have the better overall team but the Patriots have a couple of factors working for them that makes them my favorite. First of all, they have a strong desire to avenge last year’s heart breaking lost. Do you really think that any team coached by Bill Belichick will lose 2 straight Super Bowls? I think not. Furthermore, the Patriots have the more experienced team and that will make a huge difference. I like the Patriots to win 38-35 in overtime. Enjoy the game everyone!