To visit the White House or not

It started several years ago during the Reagan administration when newly crowned champion professional sports and college teams were invited by the president to visit the White House. Now that honor seems to be dying a slow death with several professional teams in recent months declining because a few players are not happy with the individual who holds the highest honor in the White House. It seems that many of those champion athletes cannot come to grips that someone, who holds different political beliefs than them is running the country, so they decline the invitations. Just another sign on how divided this country is slowly becoming.

I am by no means a professional athlete, but I would relish the opportunity to visit the White House no matter who the president happened to be. How many people in their lifetime can say that they had the chance to visit the White House and visit the most powerful man in the country? An extremely small percentage of people living in this country can say that. It would be one of the most memorable moments of my entire life. I could tell my grandchildren that on a certain day, I was there at the White House visiting the president. And more than likely, I could show my loved ones pictures and videos of my visit. It would be a moment that I would cherish forever.

It seems that the athlete of today does not think that way at all. It is more about going with the false belief that the president is a racist and does not stand up for certain minority groups. Many of the players are not happy with president wanting players to stand up for the national anthem and pay some respect for this country. I believe that many are just caving into peer pressure by a few teammates who are very vocal about President Trump’s policies. Many players probably are willing to go, but do not want to be seen as an outsider on a team.

I personally am not hurt if my favorite team does not visit the White House after a championship. It is up to them as a team to decide. I am just a fan who does not make those decisions. However, it upsets me that these visits are becoming more and more about the political makeup of the team and nothing else. Maybe these players should look at these potential visits as more than just meeting someone they just so happen to disagree with politically. It is a chance of a lifetime to do something that will carry lifetime memories, maybe even just as much as winning a championship. Sadly those days appear to be gone forever. Maybe future presidents should just stop these invitations. Why bother when you got a bunch of crybabies who cannot respect the White House and the people who run this country?

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Roseanne picks on the wrong person

A large controversy erupted this week when comedian Roseanne Barr, who is a very vocal pro President Donald Trump supporter, said something rather degrading things on Twitter about former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett. The comments were very distasteful and racist in nature and in this blogger’s opinion, she deserved the ensuing heat that she got. Her new show on ABC was quickly canceled. Thankfully, Barr delivered a much-needed apology to Jarrett which many on the left still cannot accept. Apparently Barr does not realize that it is a mortal sin to say degrading comments towards anyone who is a leftist, which Jarrett is. An apology is not enough; Barr should have been sent to prison for the rest of her life!

A few months ago on the same network, a bunch of ladies on a show called “The View” were talking about Vice President Mike Pence and the subject of Christianity and Pence’s faith were brought up. One of the ladies went so far as to describe people of the Christian faith as having some sort of mental illness. This woman in effect insulted and mocked millions of Christians throughout the country and world. Was the show canceled much like Barr’s show was? Absolutely not! Why? Because we now live in a world of double standards when it comes to saying degrading things about race or religion. Imagine if that woman had said that about a person who practices the Muslim religion? Don’t think for a moment that they would not have canceled the show. In this day and age, it is alright to mock a person who practices the Christian faith, but not someone who practices the Muslim religion.

A few days after Barr’s comments, a comedian on a cable network said some rather distasteful things about our first lady. I am still waiting to see if that show will be canceled, but I am not holding my breath. This is another double standard in our society. It is alright to mock and ridicule anyone who is a Republican or Conservative, but not a Democrat or liberal. President Trump is fair game for degrading comments and insults, but not Barack Obama.

Had Roseanne Barr made those same comments about Mrs. Trump, she would have been hailed a hero by many in the media and her show would still be on. But Roseanne picked on the wrong person and she is paying the price for a very obvious double standard that goes on when it comes to controversial statements by celebrities. The thing is that all degrading statements about people should be treated equally. Unfortunately, people like Roseanne just found out about the very unfair rules in the media these days.

Legalized sports betting is great but…

A few weeks ago, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that all states now have the right to regulate sports betting. This ruling pretty much paves the way for a huge increase in sports betting for this country. You do not have to travel to Las Vegas or New Jersey to legally bet on sports anymore. Many people have praised this decision as a way to generate tons of new revenue in many states. One famous owner even stated that the value of many sports teams will automatically double. Is in an increase in sports betting and gambling such a good thing though?

Many of us, including yours truly, have been betting on sports for years albeit illegally. I have participated and won money in office pools for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The amount I put down is very small, but in the end, my winnings will be in some cases 50 times more. Without these office pools, the NCAA tournament would not even be a 1/10 of what it is today. How many people really give a hoot about college basketball? But when you throw in the gambling and betting, the interest in the tournament spikes dramatically.

The same can be said about other sports. Pro football is as popular today as it ever has been due to betting and fantasy football. There is little doubt in my mind that this new ruling can only pay strong dividends to the already strong professional sport of football. I see some of the lesser popular sports benefiting from more betting as well. Two sports that would really be helped are auto racing and golf. Auto racing is largely a regional sport, but imagine how much more popular it would be if more people bet on who would win the weekly NASCAR races? To really sum it up, all sports would greatly benefit. Many sports are already very popular and with less restrictions on betting, I can only see the popularity of sports really booming in this country.

Having said those things, is a big increase in gambling and betting really such a good thing in our society? I love the fact that more sports betting and gambling businesses will pop up and more jobs and revenue will be created for many states. My concern is if this a healthy lifestyle for people. Gambling is a serious problem for many in this country and many folks have had their lives ruined by excessive gambling. Throw in more opportunities to gamble and we could be seeing a new gambling crisis come about in this country. More gambling can lead to more scandals and crime. It is very likely that some players will get involved and that could create many headaches for the sports leagues. Big time scandals could ruin some of the major sports leagues.

While it appears on the surface that an increase in sports betting will be a great thing, I am not sure if the increase in gambling will be such a positive thing for our country. There are many cons to consider as well when you talk about increasing gambling. The jury is still out on how much of impact this will have on our country. I am definitely one of those who sees both sides of how this might impact our country. Sometimes things that appear to be a gold mine turn out to be a nightmare. Will more legalized sports betting be a great thing? Only time will tell.

A few random thoughts on the NBA/NHL playoffs

As a sports fan, this is one of my favorite times of the year. The NBA and NHL playoffs are in full gear and I have found myself watching a little more television than usual in the last month or so. If the playoff game is a late game, I will check my phone immediately after I get up in the morning to see the results and details. Yes my friends, it is playoff time and if you are sports fan, it is just like Christmas time. As is my yearly custom on this blog site, I like to give a few observation on what I have seen so far as well as throw out a few predictions. I have to confess that I am not a big NHL hockey guy, so if you want some intelligent puck talk, go to ESPN and look up Barry Melrose. You will not find it here. But having said that, I do love the NHL playoffs. Here are a few thoughts of mine after watching and following the playoffs this year.

1) Predictability can be a good thing. One of the knocks against the NBA playoffs is that it is too predictable. The NHL playoffs are always full of more surprises and upsets which I have to admit makes their playoffs at times more entertaining to watch. However, this year is different. There is a very good chance that we will be blessed with a Stanley Cup final between Vegas and Tampa Bay. I am sure that the executives at NBC are doing back flips over that stellar match up. The average sports fan probably would have a hard time naming one player from each team. The NBA finals will no doubt have many big-time players. Star players are what drives up ratings. A Golden State vs. Cleveland matchup would be far more interesting than a Vegas, Tampa Bay final in the NHL playoffs.

2) Danny Ainge. Ainge has taken his share of heat in Boston over the years but his recent moves makes him just short of a genius. About 5 years ago, he hired a young coach of some mid-major college program. Many NBA followers including myself were very surprised by the move. Today, that coach Brad Stevens, might be the best coach in the game. In addition, Ainge has brought in a nice mix of players along with a few stars through trades. The future is very bright if you are a Celtic’s fan.

3) The Vegas surprise. I do not know who is responsible for putting together the current roster of the Vegas Knights roster but they deserve a tremendous amount of praise. Can anyone recall when an expansion team has ever won a major professional sports title? It is simply one of the most amazing stories I have ever seen in professional sports.

4) Biggest disappointment of the playoffs. My vote goes to Oklahoma City in the NBA. After picking up Paul George and Carmelo Anthony last summer, this team was supposed to contend for the Western Conference finals and even the NBA Finals. As it turned out, they barely made the playoffs and were quickly dispatched in the first round. It will be an interesting off-season for this franchise. Are there enough basketballs to go around when Russell Westbrook is on the floor?

5) Good for Winnipeg. Several years ago, Winnipeg had an NHL franchise only to lose it to that hot hockey hotbed in Atlanta. In 2011, the Jets returned to Winnipeg and now the team is one of the best in  the NHL. I have always rooted for Canadian teams because their fans are always so passionate. Winnipeg has some of the most passionate hockey fans in the world and are very deserving of a good NHL team.

6) Predictions. I look into my crystal ball and see a Tampa Bay vs. Vegas match up in the NHL finals with Tampa winning the Cup. On the NBA side, I see a Houston vs Boston finals with both teams winning epic game 7’s at home to reach the finals. Houston will win the title. I would have picked Golden State but I wonder how healthy Steph Curry really is.

 

A very disturbing trend of school shootings

Last Friday, 8 students and 2 teachers were more people added to the growing list of people killed in senseless school shootings. Nobody at that school probably ever imagined their day would be laced with tragedy. It was supposed to be one of the happiest school days of the year. School was coming to a close for the year; the weekend was almost there and many students and staff were no doubt in a very happy mood. Then the unimaginable happens. A disturbed student walks into the school and starts shooting; several students and faculty are killed or injured. A very brave school resource officer helps stop the carnage with his brave actions. My question is this, when is this madness of school shootings going to stop? We have seen more school shootings this year than any year since this type of data has been collected. Lost in this tragic story was another school shooting that was averted just a few days ago that could have been even more tragic.

Before I go any further, I join many others in sending out my condolences to the folks of Santa Fe, Texas and the many students of that school who had to endure this tragedy. My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the school and community. No innocent human being should ever have to go through an event like this. Many of these poor students will be traumatized for life.

The natural reaction after a horrible event like this and the Parkland shooting is to ask what can be done to prevent these events from happening and make our schools safer. Several ideas have been thrown out by lawmakers which make some sense. Having special locks on doors, metal detectors and having specially trained personal on campus are all good ideas that deserve some consideration. But I find it amazing that many fail to understand where the real problem arises from. So many of these mass school killers leave clues as to their intentions and yet nobody reports on them. Sorry, but do not blame the NRA when someone cannot report their child who is showing very abnormal behavior at home. Or maybe someone who hangs out with them might hear them say that they want to blow up the school. Many people do follow-up on these actions because they are afraid of offending their friend or child. Well, offending that friend of child is the responsible thing to do. It might save several lives someday. It is also a sad fact that in many situations, law enforcement fails to follow-up on these tips that could have prevented these tragedies. That was especially true in the Parkland tragedy.

We are living in a very violent culture now and I am not optimistic that these school shootings will be totally stopped. The toughest gun control laws will not stop a troubled teen from finding other methods of doing harm. A metal detector will not stop a student from planting a bomb. The real key is picking up these disturbing traits early on. Dare I say it might mean being a better parent or close friend? Something needs to be soon because no student should be fearful of going to school. These events are slowly becoming a national crisis. No school in this country is exempt from this happening. The next victim could be your loved one.

 

The best advice that my Mother ever gave me

Mother’s Day is coming up next Sunday and we honor those very important people in our lives. Our parents are definitely among the people who you can point to as having the most influence in our lives. Many of the ways that they influence us is the type of advice they give us. My mom was always willing to lend advice to my sisters and I whenever she could. In many cases, those words of advice went in one ear and out the other. But there is one bit of advice that she gave me that really hit home and I still remember her telling me. It a very simple yet powerful words of advice that everyone should apply to their lives. That advice is this, be careful about the type of people who you hang out with and who your friends are.

When you think about it, who you hang out with can have a tremendous negative or positive impact in your life. I think my mom really meant those words to pertain to the women I dated when I younger. I know so many young people have completely ruined their lives because they have gotten involved in relationships with the wrong people. When you are younger, those relationships with the wrong people seem pretty harmless. That great looking young lady in your class that you have been eyeing appears to be the woman of your dreams. She has a beautiful face, a great body and a killer smile that melts your heart. You finally ask her out and start a relationship with her. Never mind that she has  drug, alcohol and emotional issues. Things get serious and you guys get married at a young age. Shortly after the marriage ceremony, you guys start having children. You are still blinded by the fact that she has these issues in her life. About 5 years later, the relationship dissolves and your life is temporarily ruined. Her drinking has influenced you to start drinking as well. I see so many young people making these mistakes in their lives. They are desperate for love and they end up getting involved with the wrong people.

It does not always have to be with members of the opposite sex. Many young people meet up with the wrong type of people when they go off to college or they start living on their own. Most young people want to be accepted and not be lonely. There are many temptation out there that can have life long consequences much like the example I just mentioned. It is very easy to get caught up in a different lifestyle which goes against what you believe in. I struggled in my college years with this. It is not worth ruining your life over.

I cannot thank my mother enough for those strong words of advice. The older I have become, the more I realize how powerful those great words of advice were and still are today. Of all the things she has ever taught me, picking your friends wisely ranks up there at the top. If I ever had children, I would strongly pass on those same words. I would like to wish all the moms others out there a very happy Mother’s Day. Many give strong words of advice that help their children for years and generations to come.

Is college even worth it?

I read a story yesterday about my alma mater’s commencement ceremonies and could not help but think to myself about the thousands of mostly young people who received diplomas. What is next for these individuals? Will this new degree actually pay off some day in the form of some very lucrative job down the road? Will all that hard work and stress that many have had to endure for the past 4 and maybe more years lead to a successful life and earnings? Sadly, many doubts filled my mind. I am one of many who are very skeptical of the importance of getting a college degree these days. Is it really worth it to go through all of that effort to get some signed piece of paper stating that you were able to pass a series of tests?

For many high school students, the decision about what to do after you graduate from high school might be the most important decision you will ever make in your life. Going to college is probably the number option that these students will probably strive for. The next decision is determining exactly what is the purpose of going to college and what field you will be studying. And there lies the problem. Very few young people at that age really know what they want to do at that point in their lives. Furthermore, college is a very huge investment of money and time and for someone who is unsure of what field they want to pursue, it can be a huge waste of money, not only for them, but their parents. In many cases, the parents help foot the bill.

Which leads into my next concern about going to college. The cost of college continues to skyrocket these days with no end in sight. Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians actually brought this up as a campaign issue more often? I strongly believe this is a huge problem affecting our country today. Student debt is a major issue. Any potential student going to college should realize that when they get out of school, they will have a lot of debt to deal with immediately after graduating. How are they going to pay for it? Do they have a game plan in store? And to add to this problem, many students falsely belief that they will land some high paying job immediately after graduating from college. Most students are not so fortunate. Many entry-level jobs for college graduates barely pay the rent.

There is no doubt that a person graduating with a 4 year college degree has much higher earning potential than someone without a 4 year degree. But the thought that you will be working for minimum wage the rest of your life without a 4 year degree is absolutely ludicrous. There are many good high paying jobs that ambitious hard-working people can get without a degree. Many manufacturing jobs pay nice salaries and benefits. The most important qualification at these jobs is not a degree, but a willingness to work hard and work well with people.

An option that many young people seem to forget about is going to a technical or trade school after graduating from high school. A person can pick up a skill and only attend school for only a couple of years. Furthermore, many of these schools actually give you hands on experience in applying your learned skills. One of my gripes about attending a 4 year college is that most of the classes do not really prepare you for the actually work place. It is one thing to pass a test, it is another to actually your knowledge in a work environment with other people. And by the way, there are no safe spaces in a typical work place!

If you are a good ambitious student who wants a career in a particular field, then college is definitely for you. However, if you struggle with grades in high school, maybe college is not for you. It does not mean the end of the world though. Many successful people do not have college degrees. There are many options available to those who are not quit ready to tackle the challenges of higher education. Some day, you might by thankful that you considered those other options. And your wallet might be thankful as well.