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Political Football

Trump wins again.

On the largest sports and media stage in the world, several news outlets somehow got it into their heads that Brady’s sole responsibility wasn’t to concentrate on football and lead his team to a fifth Super Bowl title. No, he also had a moral responsibility to denounce his friend and golfing buddy, Donald Trump.

In their attempts to put Brady and the team on notice about their problematic friendship, the media somehow managed to convert former Patriots haters into fans. Because while few institutions are more hate-able than the Patriots, the media is definitely one of those institutions.

Obviously, we New Englanders don’t hate the Pats and it’s not our fault the rest of the country – or the NFL offices – can’t handle their success (but those of us who grew up as Yankee-haters do sorta get it!).

That being said, the week leading up to the Superbowl saw Brady, Belichick and Kraft join the ranks of other celebrities who have fallen afoul of the media moralizers.  “Spineless Feminist” Taylor Swift came in for criticism when she didn’t attend the Women’s March on Washington.  Fellow Diva Lady Gaga has now fallen afoul of the Progressive Prudes for not properly politicizing her Superbowl Halftime show. “[I]t’s disheartening to watch someone with so much heart (and guts and spleen) stare down a moment of this magnitude and blink.Twitter was full of lefty media types gloating over the Pats performance and correlating the blowout to their support for Trump.  Karma or something.  But then at least some of those tweets got deleted once the Pats won.

Here’s hoping things calm down soon. I don’t think we can take this amped up environment that politicizes everything.  Can we?

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Even Playing Field, Equal Trophies!

At the Rhode Island State Field Hockey Championships on Oct. 30, seventh-seed Pilgrim High School upset the top-seeded Lincoln School to win the Division II championship. It was an outstanding achievement, and the team’s hard work and perseverance was rewarded with the receipt of the traditional championship plaque — well, traditional for every champion except for the Division I champion. For earlier that day, the Division I state champion Barrington High School team received a more elaborate and impressive trophy.

Source: Marc Comtois: R.I.’s ‘second-class’ champions – Opinion – providencejournal.com – Providence, RI

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Rich, Poor, and the Nature of Politics

Basketball star Charles Barkley has hit the news now and then recently with some unexpectedly common-sensible statement or other, and he hits close to the mark when he says:

“All politics is rich people screwing poor people,” he said during the NCAA basketball tournament media day, according to The Guardian.

However, when he elaborates, he slips back into the received wisdom of people who, like him, have “always voted Democratic — always” and emphasizes that Republicans are especially good at “dividing and conquering.”  I think he’s got that exactly backwards, with Democrats’ being especially good at pushing divisive policies and ideas to the point that Republicans look to be dividing the wave by standing firm.

But be that as it may, Glenn Reynolds contributes two key points:

  • When people suggest, as Barkley does, that the poor ought to “band together,” politically, they’re very often rich people hoping to use poor people for their own political purposes.
  • The inevitable use of government to disadvantage the poor is a central reason conservatives argue for keeping as much of society outside of government-related politics as possible.

The second point merits detail.  For one thing, other institutions in society are less prone to total capture by an elite and, in any event, aren’t empowered to force people to do things or to confiscate money from them as government is.  For another thing, when the inherent power of society is divided up across a variety of institutions, even to the extent that they’re all captured by “the rich,” they’re directed by different rich people whose interests might conflict and create a friction that gives the middle class and poor leverage.

The basic principle underlying all this is so simple and obvious as to be axiomatic: Consolidating power helps the powerful.  The more people consent to be ruled by their leaders, and the smaller the group of leaders whom they consent to follow, the more likely the poor will be screwed.

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Stadiums and Economic Activity

With the push for a taxpayer-subsidized minor-league baseball stadium in Providence continuing, this quotation from a 2012 essay in The Atlantic seems like something worth keeping handy (emphasis added):

… according to leading sports economists, stadiums and arenas rarely bring about the promised prosperity, and instead leave cities and states mired in debt that they can’t pay back before the franchise comes calling for more.

“The basic idea is that sports stadiums typically aren’t a good tool for economic development,” said Victor Matheson, an economist at Holy Cross who has studied the economic impact of stadium construction for decades. When cities cite studies (often produced by parties with an interest in building the stadium) touting the impact of such projects, there is a simple rule for determining the actual return on investment, Matheson said: “Take whatever number the sports promoter says, take it and move the decimal one place to the left. Divide it by ten, and that’s a pretty good estimate of the actual economic impact.”

Others agree. While “it is inarguable that within a few blocks you’ll have an effect,” the results are questionable for metro areas as a whole, Stefan Szymanski, a sports economist at the University of Michigan, said.

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MLB Banning Catcher Collisions

Major League Baseball has decided to ban the ability of a baserunner to intentionally collide with a catcher in an attempt to score a run. Personally, I’m in favor of this. It never made any sense to me. If people want to see those kinds of collisions, go watch football. A catcher is all geared up, but his protection is intended to lessen the blow from a baseball, not a 220 pound man charging into him at full speed. The equipment is negligible. Also, why is it an accepted practice to barrel into a catcher like this but no other fielder? Imagine if a runner were able to simply run over a first baseman on a routine ground out? I bet those close plays at first wouldn’t be so close when the fielder is shying away.

Do you like the ban? Or is this a part of the game’s history and should still be allowed?

Here are some examples of the collisions:
Pete Rose vs. Ray Fosse:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Fj2B9z4Dbw
(Fosse, the catcher was never the same again)

Buster Posey two years ago, ended his season:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKCT5mcOmYU

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Shut Down the NCAA

The NCAA handed down a one half of one game suspension for current Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for taking money for autographs. However, they have a bit of a history with giving out much longer suspensions for lesser offenses. It’s time to shut down the NCAA.

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