The NFL, Boxing and Soccer

September 10, 2014

A while back I wrote a blog titled The National Felony League, a comment on the growing criminal activity that was ruining the sport. At that time my focus was on New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who now sits in a Boston jail awaiting trial accused of three murders. Certainly, an NFL player as an alleged murderer is a rare occurence ( although Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens was acquitted of involvement in a murder a few years ago).

Now it is Ray Rice, who threw that haymaker in the elevator that decked his fiance (now wife) and caused a media firestorm and the wrath of any right thinking American sports fan. It is no news that the NFL has an image problem as more and more stories emerge about domestic abuse by current players, players who in all cases were not punished except a promise to go into anger management classes.

But the Ray Rice debacle aside, the National Football League has a whole gridiron of felonious or at best behavioral problems – illegal use of performance enhancing or mood changing drugs, alcohol-induced bar fights, firearms violations, rapes, homophoic outbursts and increasing numnbes of domestic abuse allegations, and I haven’t even mentioned the concussion compensation fiasco and the racist argument over the branding of the Washington Redskins. With a multi-billion dollar industry at stake and the label of “America’s sports pastimne”, the NFL has moved forward with blinders on toward that holy grail of revenue with illegal activity a mere minor bump in the road.

The punch in the elevator has at least for a time awakened many Americans to the troubled sport of football. This current PR mess will soon blow over and fans can get back to their man caves with the boys and cheer on those bone-crunching tackles and end zone victory dances.

But I was intrigued to read a few accounts by sports columnists with a brain and a heart who feel that in perhaps twenty or thirty years football will go the way of boxing, a sport with limited support watched by fans willing to pony up thirty dollars for a pay per view game.

There are already signs of football’s future demise and the analogy to boxing as parents are taking their kids out of pee wee football and even high school teams have some no shows as mom and dad tell their athletically inclined kids to find another sport. The fear of concussions or other long term injuries has soured a growing numnber of parents and indeed young people on ” America’s pastime). Take this attitude out some twenty years and football is in trouble and becoming the new boxing.

What will replace football, well that’s easy – football or as we call it soccer. Already gaining in popularity, soccer is a sport that mixes endurance with skill without shoulder pads and helmets. Now the international organization that runs soccer – FIFA – makes the NFL look like a bunch of choirboys as it remains scandal-ridden. But the sport itself is attractive and a lot safer than our brand of football, and at the moment not overly populated with criminal and miscreants.

Ray Rice didn’t know it the night he clocked his fiance, but he may have contributed to the decline of American style football and given new meaning to the title of his employer – The National Felony League.

The Online Revolution

September 6, 2014

Some analysis of online education

The Evil of ISIS

September 3, 2014

My commentary on the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff

Ilustrated Men and Women

August 13, 2014

As a member of the senior set I have had a little trouble with tattoos. I must admit that as the years go by I have come to accept the occasional butterfly on the shoulder or the Chinese character symbol on the wrist or ankle. But I still cringe at the full arm or leg length colorful designs that turn young people into a modern day Gueequeg, the head to toe illustrated South Sea harpooner in Melville’s Moby Dick.

Well now the overkill in body art is being linked to job opportunities and career advancement. A study out of Scotland and one out of Texas Tech ( as reported in the Economist) found that those individuals who have extensive body art have a more difficult time convincing HR managers that they are qualified for the job posting. The illustrateed job applicants are often seen as people who may be involved in illegal drugs, firearms or crime.

Such prejudices are unfortunate but the stigma of tattoo overkill is real with the result that some job applicants who have experienced the prejudice are beginning to engage in laser tattoo removal. According to one study, tattoo removal has increased by 440% in the last decade and there is no reason to believe that this trend will end anytime soon.

Even the United States military is getting into the business of frowning on extensive body art as it has set a new standard for grooming including tattoos. According to US military officials, head, neck and extensive body tattoos and body art that send a racist or sexist message will not be tolerated and likely will lead to a rejection from the recruiting process. This decision by the military will not be easy as in one case a battalion seeking to recruit new soldiers had to turn away 50 applicants because of over the top tattoos.

Let’s face it body art is here to stay and people like me will just have to accept illustrated men and women as a generational thing that has created an entire cottatge industry of dye-injecting entrepreneurs. Personally, I wish years ago I had put my money in start-up laser removal companies, but for the 20-40 demographic it is instructive to note that large scale tattoos do influence hiring and savvy job seekers are beginning to head to the removal clinics to get that barbed wire “tat” off their bicep.

Clinton and Obama

August 2, 2014

My take on the statement ten hours before 9/11 from former President Clinton about trying to kill Osama bin Laden

The Women From Shanghai

July 31, 2014

I had the pleasure of hosting 19 women from Shanghai Normal University for the last two weeks, part of a student exchange program sponsored by Bridgewater State and the Minnock Center for International Engagement. There is simply no better way to break down barriers between people than travel and face to face interaction.

During the two weeks that the women were on campus and in the region, I was able to make some observations about their impressions of life here in the United States. For example, on many of the field trips I noticed that the women were looking at the sky. I asked their group leader why? She remarked that in Shanghai the students do not often see blue sky and giant white clouds as they are filtered by the heavy pollution from cars and industry. We are indeed lucky.

I also noticed a great interest in our family structure. In China there has been in place for decades the one child policy that limits the size of families. The students were most inquisitive when they met our daughters and our three grandchildren to see a different family structure. Moreover, they were overwhelmed by the size of our house since with three girls there was a definite need for bedroom space and more than one bathroom. In Shanghai, unless one is wealthy or connected to the Communist Party, housing space is often a modest three or four room apartment.

Finally, when we traveled to the State House in Boston and toured the House and Senate chambers the students were full of questions about political parties, elections and citizen participation. They know that in their country involvement by the people and popular decision-making are almost non-existent. We may complain about our gridlocked system of government but it is far superior to the centralized control that the Chinese experience.

The women from Shanghai have returned home from their visit to Bridgewater State and Massachusetts but I believe they learned a great deal about our way of life and the benefits of living in an open society, free of conditions and restrictions that we take for granted.

Save The Children

July 25, 2014

It is heart-wrenching and deeply saddening to see video and photos of children, innocent children, perish in the most awful way as victims of war in Gaza and Syria or to hear story after story of children fearing for their lives from the violent gangs of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

This insane killing of civilians, especially children, has become so commonplace in today’s world that too many of us in this country just walk by the television and stare for a moment only to switch to a sports channel. The world has become immune to the killing, hoping it will end, but not seeing the death and destruction as events that touch people personally.

These killing fields around the world are certainly the result of harsh social and political conditions – Israel vs. Palestine, Syria vs. rebels, border children vs. gangs. Each side is blamed for the killing of innocents, but there is a distinction that must not be forgotten. Blame is everywhere, but it does reside in the tactics used by terrorists, dictators and gang members.

To fire deadly rockets into Israel from high density neighborhoods, schools or hospitals as Hamas is doing is deliberately placing civilians and children at risk. To drop barrel bombs with pieces of shrapnel in them without a real target as Syria’s Bashar al Assad has done is designed to send a horrific message. And to kill young boys and rape young girls just for refusing to join the M-13 street gang in Honduras is an act without conscience and a callous disregard for the sanctity of life.

Certainly there are official arguments for the use of deadly force in each of these terrible killing fields, but the politics and the power games mean little if terrorists, dictators and gang members think nothing about those who just want to live their lives in peace and not be used as pawns to win a war or make a statement or control turf.


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