Saturday, January 25, 2014

NFL gaffes

As a college football fan, I don't care much about the NFL.  If anything, I dislike it, as one of our local news channels is now running Green Bay Packer reports 365 days per year, thus forcing me to try to remember which channel that is so I can avoid it.  Despite things like this, however, I've always admired the NFL's business model and business acumen (including its recent settlement of the concussion litigation on terms so favorable that the deal was rejected by a judge as being unfair).  But my admiration of the NFL is waning.  Why?  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why isn’t there a major in “college athletics”?

I’m kind of torn on the so-called student-athlete.  On the one hand, I like to joke about the title — for the most part, we all know that they’re athletes and not really students, right?  But on the other hand, the student-athlete probably isn’t much worse than the typical student at many schools.  (It’s just that non-athlete students aren’t thrust in front of the camera every Saturday afternoon after the game, so we don’t get to see and hear them.)  And then, when I saw an article about what some kids are able to study in order to earn a degree, I started to appreciate the student-athlete even more.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Breaking the bank: JP Morgan Chase needs to stop paying off the government

JP Morgan Chase just agreed to pay another $1.7 billion to the government as part of a criminal settlement agreement.  So what was Chase’s alleged crime this time around?  The government alleges Chase violated the Bank Secrecy Act by failing to file a “suspicious activity report” for certain “suspicious transactions” in Bernie Madoff’s bank account. (Source: WSJ.)  I find this absolutely hilarious, given that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) did absolutely nothing to stop Madoff, even though a Wall Street Analyst named Harry Markopolos did all of the SEC’s work for it, mathematically proved that Madoff was running a ponzi scheme, notified the SEC repeatedly in writing, and begged the SEC to put a stop Madoff’s then ongoing crimes. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

God intervenes in the 2014 edition of the GoDaddy.com Bowl

After Arkansas State blocked a last second field goal attempt by Ball State to win the GoDaddy.com Bowl, the Arkansas State Coach attributed the win to his personal god: “god answers prayers,” he said, when interviewed by the sideline reporter.  This kind of thinking is deeply flawed, very upsetting, and even potentially dangerous. 

First, coach, even if your personal god takes an interest in college football, I can assure you that he/she/it was not watching the GoDaddy.com Bowl.  (I barely watched it, and I probably have less on my plate than a god would.)  Second, and more to the point, how did you get so arrogant that you believe god would choose your people over the fine men of Ball State?  Are they somehow less worthy or less deserving of his/her/its love and rewards? 

The problem, of course, begins with “faith,” i.e., the belief in things without evidence or reason.  The Arkansas State coach, like so many of us, has been taught from a very young age that faith is good and should be respected.  And once we accept that as our starting point, then any claim that is made in the name of faith is as valid as any other.  The results range from the incredibly harmful and even deadly (e.g., religious wars or religiously-motivated terrorist attacks) to the usually harmless but ridiculous (e.g., the belief that god put someone’s cancer into remission, or spared a person from some type of harm, or intervened in a college football game).

The solution, of course, is simple.  As the late, great one argued, faith, in all contexts, should be questioned, challenged, and criticized.  It should not be rewarded, praised, or encouraged.


The post-BCS world: don’t call it a playoff

I loved the pre-BCS college bowl system because, unlike the NCAA tournament in college basketball, half of the teams in college football went home winners.  And, I hate to have to admit it, but I also liked the BCS system.  First, the BCS essentially preserved the bowl system that I loved; second, the BCS typically didn’t screw up my beloved Big 10 – Pac 12 matchup in the historic Rose Bowl; and third, the BCS’s four-decimal place faux accuracy that it used to decide the national championship matchup and other bowl matchups gave me something to ridicule.
 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Friends who let friends drive drunk (and the prosecutors who charge them)

According to this story, a 17-year old girl was driving drunk and killed herself, and now two of her friends are charged with misdemeanor crimes for letting her drive when they knew she was intoxicated.  It’s rare to get two issues in one news story.  Here they are: