Category Archives: Diversions
Those of us who understand that we must model proper authority to our children can still be a part of the fathering problem if we don’t intentionally model success. I wrote the following during the 2012 Summer Olympics:
“Do you think someday I will be as fast as him?”
This is what my six-year-old son asked as we watched Usain Bolt win gold in the 200 meter race last night. Way to put me on the spot, kid.
That’s a tough question to answer when your son is grinning at you with that imaginative glow in his eyes. I didn’t want to belittle him or his six-year-old imagination that can still envision himself standing on top of an Olympic podium… I remember having that same dream when I saw Carl Lewis in 1988. On the other hand, I don’t want to fill his head with garbage. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much he trains or works or runs, Jack just doesn’t have the genes to be the fastest sprinter in the world. I guess that’s my fault. Well, half my fault half his mom’s fault.
“You can do anything you put your mind to” may be the most-often quoted lie. Maybe second to “No, that doesn’t make you look fat.”
I answered him by saying something like “That would really be something if you could run as fast as Usain Bolt because no one else in the history of the world has ever run as fast as he can” and we went back to watching the Olympics. See how I didn’t answer the question and avoided crushing his dreams? I’m pretty good at deflecting. At least I thought I was good at deflecting…he was obviously still thinking about it because a few minutes later he asked another question that was easier to answer but a lot more to think about.
“Dad, someday could you teach me to run as fast as you?”
In the span of 2 minutes he had gone from an unrealistic dream of being the fastest man ever to the all-to-obtainable goal of being as fast as a thirty-year-old, slightly overweight guy who likes to go for a three mile run a few times a week. Who we compare ourselves to makes all the difference, doesn’t it?
“Jack, I will run with you as much as you want, and I hope you’ll be faster than me someday.”
So back to the current topic…
- Every dad knows it—our kids learn from us.
- Every dad gets it—our kids want to be like us in many ways.
- If we’re honest, every dad all also understands that sometimes our kids say “I’ll never be like that.”
I wonder how much it would change the way I interact with my kids if I realized that I am my kid’s measuring stick for life. How they compare to me will be their gauge of both success and failure. If I kept that thought forefront in my mind, I wonder if I would have a better chance of being their idea of success.
The All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe cannot simply focus on the big money sports of the United States. The last four words of my title imply that I must have a broader perspective; therefore, I will now turn my attention to some of the most glaring problems of other sports. The following regulations will take effect immediately on all levels of competition:
- All position rules will be abolished. Six players on each side have three hits to get the ball over the net. That’s it. No forced rotations, front line, back line, players who can’t attack, etc. No other sport forces players into a certain position or role simply by rotation them through. Now volleyball doesn’t either.
- All professional and international games will have TWO field referees and two linesmen. How dumb is it to think that one referee can possibly be in good position to make every call when chasing the best athletes in the world around a 120 yard field?
- A golfer’s shot routine should reflect his skill level. Any golfer who repeatedly takes more time to line up shots, read putts, examine the ball’s lie, check the wind, envision the shot, take practice swings, or plan shots than their skill level will forfeit all expectations for silence and stillness from playing partners. They may walk, talk, swing, and take shots while the slow golfer is playing provided they have warned him using the phrase “You’re not as good as you think you are” or “This isn’t the PGA, Tiger.”
Recreation League Sports
- Any team that does not show up for a scheduled game without notifying the league or opposing team will not be permitted to play in that league for the next two seasons. All members of the roster will be banned.
Youth Sports Spectators
- Any adult who continues to yell at an official, coach, or opposing fan after an official warning will be required to attend umpire/referee classes and obtain their official certification before attending another ball game on any level.
- Any adult who yells at or publicly insults a minor on an opposing team will be banned from all sporting events for life. This ban may be appealed; however, all appeals to overturn this ruling must be accompanied by a donation to the offended child’s college fund.
Flagrant Fouls (All Sports)
- Any player, on any level, who commits a flagrant, illegal act that injures another player will be suspended from play until the injured player is medically cleared to play.
I’d like to hear your ideas to make sports better. Please leave your ideas in the comments section below.
Thank you for joining me once again. I anticipate that my life-long term as All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe will have many memorable days filled with parades and feasts in my honor. Although my previous press releases have been met with great enthusiasm, I imagine that many of those celebrations will be on the anniversary of the proclamations that I am going to make today regarding the most-watched sport in the United States, American football. Since fans are extremely passionate about both collegiate and professional football, I will be addressing both the NFL and the NCAA today.
These guidelines will be effective immediately in the National Football League:
- A single Point After Touchdown will be awarded to any team choosing to take the point. No more kicked extra point attempts. The 7th point will be credited to the team’s kicker for fantasy football purposes.
- If a team wishes to go for two, they may choose to neglect the free PAT and attempt a two-point conversion according to current NFL rules.
Field of Play
- The digital first down line will be placed on the field and will be considered the official line to gain. I have a few ideas of how this could be accomplished:
- Fiber-optic material should be included in the artificial turf. It could be activated by a linesman holding a stake to the ground on the sideline (much like the chain gang now).
- Laser beam from a pole (similar to the chain poles they have now) on one side of the field to a similar receiving pole on the other. This system has the added benefit of being able to sense when it has been interrupted like the invisible lasers that stop the conveyor belt in the grocery store.
- Disappearing spray paint like they use in the World Cup. An official could very quickly push a sprayer across the field after the ball has been spotted. This is clearly the most low-tech solution and could slow the pace of play, therefore, it should only be used if the first two solutions prove to be scientifically impossible.
- Ball tracking technology (a combination of GPS, stationary cameras, and the computer program used in tennis) should be used to indicate exactly where a ball is in relation to the goal line. An instant replay official should know with certainty if the ball is across the line while viewing every single frame of game footage. I’m envisioning an exact distance from the goal line displayed in the corner of the screen on every single frame. I would love to hear Ed Hochuli say “The ball carrier’s knee hit the ground when the ball was exactly 12.4 cm from the goal line. 3rd”
These guidelines will be effective for NCAA football beginning with the 2015 season:
- The national championship will be determined in a 16 team tournament as seeded by an independent panel. I would like to see how satisfactory this year’s 4-team selection process is before deciding who will serve on that panel.
- Champions of all ten NCAA conferences will receive an automatic bid. The additional six teams will be selected by the panel.
- Round of 16 and round of 8 games will be played at the home field of the higher seed. The home team must make at least 15% of the total seats available to the visiting university. The final three games will be played at a neutral site with 30% of the total ticket sales being outsourced to each the two universities.
- Seeding of the tournament will be up to the sole discretion of the panel, however, only champions of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC 12, and SEC must be seeded 1-5, guaranteeing them home field advantage.
- If teams are tied at the end of regulation, they will play actual football to determine the winner, not backyard scrimmage from the 25.
- After a coin toss to determine possession and direction of play, a kickoff will start the overtime period. Play will continue for one 15 minute period.
- If the score is still tied at the end of one 15 minute overtime period, play will continue where it left off in sudden death fashion with the next team to score declared the winner.
- All NCAA football uniforms must fit the player properly. Shirts must be long enough to be tucked in and pants must expend below the knee.
- Under Armor will be banned from designing any uniforms after they have repeatedly made Maryland look like a clown at a box of crayons then threw up all over the Terrapins.
The following rules are effective immediately for football games at all levels:
- Television broadcasts may not go to commercial after showing only a kickoff. Touchdown, commercial, kickoff, commercial may be the most annoying part of all sports. Networks may extend post-score commercial breaks by an additional minute to make up for lost revenue.
- Following any touchdown signaled by the referee, the 40 second play clock will start. Excessive celebration will only be called if the celebrating players are not back to their bench area by the expiration of this time.
- Celebratory dances are encouraged for every player scoring a touchdown and required for any player weighing over 250 pounds.
Thank you for joining me once again. It has truly been remarkable to see the sporting world rally behind my initiatives to make the world, if not better, at least more entertaining. In my 24 hour tenure as All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe I have focused primarily on Major League Baseball. Now that, due to many long minutes of work, the problems of America’s Pastime are genuinely in the past, I have taken my talents to the National Basketball Association.
The following changes will be made to the NBA, effective immediately:
Length of Season
- The regular season will be shortened from 82 to 50 games. Over half of the teams make the playoffs; I don’t think it takes 82 games to figure out the best half.
- No team shall play more than 3 games per week. No one wants to buy tickets to see Tim Duncan sit on the bench because the Spurs have 9 games in 6 days.
- Preseason games, not to exceed two per week for any team, will begin the day after Thanksgiving and the regular season will begin on Christmas Day.
- The following season’s salary cap will be increased by $2 million per team for the conference that wins the All-Star Game.
- Participants in the dunk contest will be determined by fan votes. The eight players receiving the most fan votes must participate or pay a fine of $1 million.
- An off-court official (preferably in a reporters booth or luxury suite) will be assigned to watch the television feeds and will be independently responsible for correcting out of bounds, timing, and any other reviewable calls. The head referee will no longer take time to watch instant replay on a courtside 17 inch monitor. As everyone at home knows, it doesn’t take that long to correct a call when you are watching the game in HD on a 50 inch LCD. Game officials will call the game as normal and will be buzzed if there is a need to review.
- The in-the-booth replay official will also be responsible for reporting players for flopping and correcting fouls called after such actions. Don’t just fine them the next day, get the call correct right now.
- All games played at Eastern Conference sites will begin by 8:30 pm EST. Games at Western Conference sites should begin no later than 8:30 MST. Children should be able to watch the best players on the planet and still get more than 45 minutes of sleep each night.
- Along with their traditional roles in the studio, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith will be responsible for interviewing the head coaches on the court at halftime and following each game in hopes that Gregg Popovich loses it and puts one of them in a head lock.
- Both of Derrick Rose’s knees must be completely surrounded by bubble wrap when not participating in a competitive NBA game.
- Carmello Anthony will be fined at the end of each game according to the following formula: (number of shots – number of passes) x $10,000 when Ns > Np.
- Tim Duncan may only protest fouls in writing.
- All players’ names will be pronounced phonetically. Names that are not pronouncable phonetically will be changed to “Bob.” Here’s a guide:
- durk no-WITS-key (Dallas)
- HEE-doh turk-oh-GLEW (Toronto)
- BRY-an SKA-lah-bryn (Boston)
- LEW-awl Deh-ng (Miami)
- SEERG eye-BAK-ah (Oklahoma City)
- Vlad-ih-mir rad-MAN-oh-vik (Chicago)
You may notice that both of my declarations have cleared other major professional sports out of football season. Please do not infer that I will leave football the way it is. My next declaration will, in fact, make changes to NFL and NCAA American football that will improve the game for both athlete and fan alike.
I want you to remember that I am doing this for you, the fan. As always, any opposing opinions regarding my rulings may be voiced at any of our open-forum discussions—the next of which is in December of 2035.
For immediate release
It is with great hesitation and reverence that I accept this position. I understand that all athletes, owners, coaches, and fans of every sport are placing a tremendous amount of trust in my judgment by making me the first All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe. I will do my best to honor the office and justify the exorbitant compensation package that has already been transferred to numerous Swiss bank accounts in my name.
With this unprecedented unilateral authority over all athletic competition, rules, leagues, and associations on this planet and any others on which humans may eventually settle and compete, I will institute changes to make sports more enjoyable at all levels. However, in order to foster more interest in all athletic endeavors, my first actions will be to make professional sporting events more enjoyable for fans both at the actual event and watching on television. With this primary goal in mind, I have compiled a list of changes for the major professional leagues that will be addressed one at a time.
Unfortunately, “America’s pastime” is a very fitting description of the game of baseball. It is largely in the past and takes a lot of time. Therefore, my first declaration as All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe is designed to make this once-great game worthy of primetime broadcast again. I will make the following changes for the 2015 Major League Baseball season:
- Behind the plate umpires calling balls and strikes will be replaced by the virtual strike box that is shown on TV (FoxTrax, PitchTrax, K-Zone, etc.).
- Since he does not need to call balls and strikes, the home plate umpire will be repositioned to stand to the side of the catcher, facing the batter so that he may accurately determine if the batter swung at a pitch or successfully checked his swing.
- Umpires will no longer be allowed to scream back at irate managers like a spoiled little girl whose brother crashed Barbie’s tea party. Either walk away or listen politely. If the manager yells, eject him. Upon ejection, managers must pitch a fit worthy of the “Not Top Ten” or face heavy fines and suspensions.
Length of Games
- A 12 second pitch clock will start as soon as “ball” or “strike” is displayed on the scoreboard, or when the ball is returned to the pitcher after a batted ball. A ball will be called if a pitcher has not entered his pitching motion when the clock expires. 5 seconds will be added for a throw to a base with a runner but no more than 10 seconds will be added between each pitch.
- Visits to the mound by managers or catchers will not be permitted. Pitchers, catchers, and, managers will be permitted to wear in-ear radios and microphones to discuss pitch strategy.
- No on-mound warm up time will be permitted for pitching changes after a half-inning has begun.
- Batters may not request time or step out of the box once the pitcher is on the rubber. Any pitch thrown while the batter is out of the box will be recorded as a ball or strike.
Increased Offensive Production (That’s what we’re paying to see)
- All teams in both the National and American Leagues will be permitted to utilize as many designated hitters as they wish in their lineups. No one buys tickets to see pitchers, catchers, and 2nd basemen hit routine grounders to pitchers, catchers, and 2nd basemen.
- I think we can all agree that baseball was much more exciting when Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGuire were hitting baseballs so far that TBS was reporting the distances in Astronomical Units. Random testing will be administered to ensure super-human levels of testosterone in designated hitters—players who have the sole responsibility of crushing the ball like Bruce Banner after someone insulted his momma.
- Opposing teams may not wear the same uniform color. Period.
- Managers with a Body Mass Index greater than 30 will not be permitted to wear the same uniform as players. During games, obese managers should wear officially licensed, business casual, MLB-branded clothing. During batting practice, they may wear officially licensed MLB athletic gear and run laps around the warning track.
Length of Season
- The regular season will be cut from 162 games to 124.
- The MLB playoffs will conclude before Labor Day. Let’s face it—once football starts, no one cares.
I will not be taking any questions at this time, but rest assured that changes will be made in the NFL and NBA soon. When professional leagues are in line I will turn my attention to amateur athletics from the NCAA all the way down to the youngest of youth sports. Spoiler alert: No more trophies for losers.
I love March Madness! Not only is it a chance for me to watch 4 basketball games at one time, I get to geek out with some ridiculously large numbers—the odds of producing a perfect bracket prior to the tournament. For this exercise, we will limit ourselves to the round of 64 and beyond (since the NCAA can’t trick us into pretending we care about the First Four unless our team is playing).
Number of teams- 64
Number of games- 63
This is way more obvious than most people realize so you can stop counting the blanks on your bracket. If one team is eliminated in every game, it will take exactly 63 eliminations (games) to leave one team victorious.
Possible outcomes of each game- 2
One team will win, one team will lose.
Possible number of brackets- 2^63 = 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (over nine quintillion)
If you don’t understand basic probability, here is a crash course. Multiply the number of possible outcomes of an event times the number of possible outcomes of every other event. In this case…
2 (the number of possible outcomes of the first game) x 2 (the number of possible outcomes of the second game) x 2 (the number of possible outcomes of the third game)…x 2 (the number of possible outcomes of the 63rd game) = 2^63 power.
If you don’t trust that math, work it out with a simple 4 team bracket:
There are only four possible winners of the tournament, but there are two different ways for each team to win because there are two possible opponents for each winner in the championship game. To verify the math…
2 (the number of possible outcomes of the first game) x 2 (the number of possible outcomes of the second game) x 2 (the number of possible outcomes of the third game) = 8
Understanding 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible brackets
If you printed out 1,000 brackets you would have a stack of paper 8 inches tall.
Print 1,000 brackets 999 more times you would have one million brackets.
You now have enough 8 inch stacks to cover ¼ of a basketball court.
Repeat that whole process 999 more times and you will have one billion (1,000,000,000) brackets that are now covering 250 basketball courts in 4 inches of paper.
You would need to repeat this entire process over 9 billion (9,000,000,000) more times in order to have every possible bracket.
If you printed that many brackets…
- You would be able to cover over 76.5 billion basketball courts up to the height of the rim.
- You would be able to make 6,261 stacks of paper that reached the sun. and still have one-tenth of a stack left over.
- If you enlisted the help of every person on earth (all 7,000,000,000 of us) to make one unique bracket per minute with no breaks to sleep, eat, or do anything else…we would finish a few months after the tournament ended in the year 4519.
- From the time the bracket is finalized to the time entries are locked in most contests is about 89 hours. In order to have all of the brackets printed in time, you would need to have a computer capable of printing 28,787,054 brackets every nanosecond.
But don’t bother with all of that…
I made out the perfect bracket this year and have already spent Warren Buffet’s $1,000,000,000.
Ever wish you could just cut the garbage out of life the way you do a photo? Halloween is full of metaphorical photobombs and downright ugly background distractions.
Here’s what I would crop out of October 31:
Pictures of every kid in the world in costume. I’ve already seen every Disney princess and every member of the Avengers seven times tonight.
Trashy adult costumes. Seriously. Have some dignity.
Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. I think anyone who posts the video to Facebook should also be required to post a video of himself doing the dance. I’d watch that.
Warnings about razor blades in candy. I’m pretty sure this never happens. If so, point me to the news story.
Dentists offering to buy back kids’ candy at $1 per pound. That’s a rip-off. And shouldn’t you be glad kids’ teeth are decaying? KaChing!
Arguments about the origin of the holiday. Unless someone is sacrificing cats or having witch trials in your neighborhood, you probably shouldn’t be that worked up.
What do you dislike about this holiday? Don’t hold back. This is not a place for a positive attitude.
Here’s another bracket from our young adults Bible study last week.
I was shocked that only one Cap’n Crunch (Crunch Berries) won a single matchup when we voted on the winners. My final four would be Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Frosted Mini Wheats, Cocoa Pebbles, and Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries.
What would your final four be?
@webby778 and I usually head up a young adults’ Bible study at our church every Wednesday night. We try to have practical lessons and include some sort of activity or discussion that can be anywhere from “Complete Flop” to “Complete Chaos.” Either of those extremes result in a lot of laughter.
For four weeks, our pastor has agreed to teach a series for us so, without actually needing to worry with the learning portion of the class, I have been able to devote my prep time to putting together an activity. Each week, we are voting our way through different brackets. Here was the first: The ’90s Kid-Friendly TV bracket.
Who is your final four?
I’m not superstitious. I just like to make sure that I play my part in helping my team win. Here’s how that played out recently:
On Thursday, January 31 my dad, brother, and I were about an hour from home watching our high school teams win their season finale tournaments until almost 10:00 (Go Crusaders!). We rode back to Virginia Beach together listening to the Virginia/Duke game on the radio and arrived home with about nine minutes of game time remaining and decided to watch the remainder of the game at my parent’s house. After all, three fans parting ways with a ten point lead could have been disastrous.
Although not sports fans (at least not like the three males of the family), my sister and my mom had the game on while they were doing other things in the house. My sister was in the middle of composing a rather lengthy post for an online discussion board as part of a class assignment for her work at Liberty University, but joined in the intense watching when we arrived.
With about five minutes remaining and a ten point lead, my phone dinged as my sister (her name is being withheld to protect her identity) updated her Facebook status to “is trying to complete a class assignment while my parents and brothers are all here enthusiastically watching UVA beat Duke. Not a bad distraction.” She even had the audacity to tag me in the post.
I was outraged! You can’t claim victory when you are the underdog and there are still 5 minutes remaining! I told her she had cursed Virginia and that the “basketball gods” don’t smile on that type of thing. David and my dad completely agreed and, as Duke hit a three within a minute of her post, we started blaming her for the imminent collapse. She denied her obvious mistake claiming “I said they were winning now, not going to win! It’s present tense!” When Duke stole the ball and cut the lead to five on the next possession, she had to admit her error and agreed to delete the post.
I argued that the damage had been done and simply deleting the post would not remove the curse. She must make a sacrifice of atonement to the keeper of the brackets, Joe Lunardi. We all sat in stunned silence as Virginia flailed around the court and we knew we were in the presence of the one who caused the collapse.
A few minutes later she realized “Oh, no! In my rush to delete the Facebook post, I closed the discussion board tab!” She had lost all four paragraphs she had typed…and Joe Harris immediately hit a three pointer! A sacrifice had been offered, restitution had been made, forgiveness granted, and UVa went on to win.
The next day, I posted this story to a sports message board along with the statement “UVa punched their ticket to the big dance!” I don’t have to tell you what happened next—Virginia lost two straight games to inferior opponents and was placed outside ESPN’s predicted field of 68.
I had to make my own sacrifice. On Saturday, I purchased a honey bun from 7-11. Not a four-for-a-dollar Little Debbie deal. I’m talking about a ridiculously unhealthy, 850 calorie, mammoth honey bun with white icing a half inch thick covering the top and sides. It is sitting on my dresser under a Virginia hat, not to be eaten until UVa’s season is completed.
And lo, it came to pass that on the first day of the week the Cavaliers did prevail against the Terrapins of Maryland, and thus have they found favor in the eyes of Joe Lunardi.
That’s not superstitious at all.