Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's Thursday and I Finally Went to the Gym

It's funny having a crazy, busy schedule, because you never realize how much time you have to do things until you get a moment to relax and then it's either rehash the list and be overwhelmed or fall asleep at a moment's notice. I've managed to accomplish both feats this week, as girl and I do some moving of rooms in our house and we generally clean the place from top to bottom. You'd think having 3 people in a big house, it'd be easy to keep up, but then again, having 7 cats means the mess is done by creatures that talk back but you can't understand them. Some of the things that have suffered greatly during this busy time include sleep, eating right, and the gym. I love going, simply because it's a great way to de-stress and do something good for yourself. I've been playing soccer twice a week for the past few months, which has helped out my fitness a bit, but the stress is still there because I'm trying to learn how to do things in the right way. I'll get it, but it's still fun, and I'm already looking forward to Sunday.

The world of sports has had an entertaining week, which is nice considering all the craziness in the world right now with the financial crisis, presidential debates, and trying to keep tabs on everything. I try not to spend too much time on the internets, but it's hard with the back and forth political posturing. I'm rather looking forward to November 5th and the entire thing will be done for a couple of years. Not that I don't mind elections, but they've become a corrupt business all their own. Politicians don't talk about issues or helping anyone, it's more about palatable sound bites that are vague enough to stand for something yet not get them into any trouble with opposing viewpoints. Trying to fit in the middle and appease large groups of people is really hard I get that, but many campaigns have turned taking a position into pandering and throwing any bit of mud they can at opponents simply to make themselves look better in comparison. Politics is an ugly business, which is why I wish folks that want to run the best because they're better than me. I just couldn't stand the scrutiny, the single mindedness about certain issues, the pandering, all the things that you have to do to in order to convince people to vote your way.

The topic of sportsmanship came up after Oregon State crushed Washington State this past weekend 66 to 13, the same weekend that a couple of high school football games ended with extremely large margins of victory. Even the sports columnist in town got on the wagon, calling running up scores a part of the game. I can't blame players who come into blowouts late, and want to play hard and get the same chance as other more talented players to score. I know from my days of playing football, the only time I got into games was late, because while I gave a lot of effort in my game, I just didn't have the talent like other players. I understood the reality of things, but worked hard because I was there to play. And I learned a lot of lessons about winning and losing, being on both sides of blowouts. It's a great feeling to win big, but it can over inflate your confidence and put false expectations into your brain, while losing big, well, sometimes it's just better to forget a big loss. But in either event, it's about learning for the next time, and not getting too high with wins or too low in losses, and showing respect for your opponents. I think it's a disservice to take the throttle off in blowouts, it sends the message that you don't respect your opponent enough to play hard the whole game. I understand that you want to be sportsmanlike or show mercy a bit, but seriously, life doesn't take it easy on you at points when things happen just because there's too much going on. Taking a big loss in the chin taught me to work harder so that I never wanted to deal with that again, and when it happened again, I just worked harder. Losses happen, and I think the more people try to protect athletes from reality, the more issues it brings up.

You already have a class of people that is used to getting advantages for being good at sports, having people tell them they are great or could go professional, so now, let's cushion them from big losses because it will hurt their feelings. The best athletes want to play anytime and prove their talent in the arena, and play until someone wins. But playing also means respecting your opponent enough to play all the way, all the time. It means showing respect by not trash talking or belittling an opponent with disparaging remarks, but playing until the game is done and then shaking their hands and thanking them for competing. That's why sports keep score, it may not help any hurt feelings, but competition can be healthy if it's done in the right way. And honestly, it needs to be simplified. Young athletes shouldn't be ranked or scouted in eighth grade, but instead encouraged to find their sports and play better. Learn to win the right way by being respectful, and learn to lose respectfully by not blaming teammates, officials, or others. I know it's human nature to complain about losses, and so I'm not naive enough to be pollyana here, because I do that myself. But after some soul searching, it's time to shake off the loss or issue and get back to work to do it better the next time. If you aren't striving, you aren't getting better.

I also spent some time reading an opinion in today's Oregonian about MLS to Portland, and why public money shouldn't be used. I respect the author's position on this issue, but I think the points used in arguing his side are flawed, so I crafted a response to the O about it. The studys that say new stadiums don't bring economic impact to the area where they're built are many, but even the staunchest anti-public money economists admit that there are economic streams that aren't included in most studies that should be, including money spent due to civic pride in the team, or the "free-rider" impact. Free riders are folks that don't pay for tickets, but follow the team at home, in their local pubs, read about them in newspapers and are generally fans that don't go to games. It's also difficult to tag income figures of people attending games, knowing if the income used is really new income to them or a movement of discretionary funds from another purchase, which if that could be measure would make those figures more accurate. The best estimates are estimates at best, and there's studies showing benefits as well as studies that are critical.

The final point is that cities feel they are missing something if they don't have major sports, and so many of the economic benefits thrown about are in competition from cities trying to entice teams because there is a limited amount of them. Hey, having a monopoly on professional sports teams gives owners some control, and some use that control to their advantage, bleeding cities of monies until the next gravy train comes along. I get that some owners are like that, but I don't feel this is the case with Mr. Paulson. The deal to get MLS here is a partnership between the city and his group, with both sides submitting money, time and effort, and sharing risks on both sides. I think it's a great idea, and one that comes to fruition. So I'm talking about it to anyone that asks. Learn more at or, both are great sites that talk about the issues and address most major questions. And now with our bid submitted, it's a waiting game. But I'm not worried about having things to do until then...

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