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Archive for Life

July 21, 2019 — A hard self-reflection

PARENTAL ADVISORY: If you’re a teenager reading this, you may want to have a parent or guardian with you.


A friend of mine, a jazz singer from California, posted an interesting question on social media, in response to the arrest and denial of bail this week of Jeffrey Epstein, a financier who is being charged with sex trafficking.

My friend quoted journalist Sarah Kendzior, who said this on a podcast last December:

Donald Trump is friends with at least five pedophiles, most of whom were involved in sex trafficking or blackmail schemes. There’s (Jeffrey) Epstein, (John) Casablancas, (Tevfik) Arif, (George) Nader, (Roy) Cohn. Who the hell is friends with five pedophiles?

I thought for a second. To nobody in particular when I was reading the post, I said aloud, “Three.”

Part of what this site is about is reporting news and accomplishments in field hockey, lacrosse, and women’s sports in general. But a highly regrettable part of my reporting over the last two decades has been chronicling the arrests and convictions of people in the field hockey and lacrosse communities for various morals charges.

And of the dozen or so people who have been arrested, fired, or outright banned from their field hockey or lacrosse positions because of their actions, I can say that I knew three of them.

Well, let’s be clear: I thought I knew them.

When you’re a writer, in any beat, you get to know a lot of people, from the powerful to the pauper. You talk to coaches, parents, and some outliers — private coaches, trainers, alumni/ae, and athletic administrators.

In athletic competitions, I get to see two stories. One is the coach trying to get a group of 20 players to buy into a competitive vision. The other story is the parent ceding control of the child for a few weeks.

It’s the latter story that has, regrettably, led to many of the dozens of stories of teachers and coaches having sexual relations with students over the years. At one point, there was an average of more than one arrest per day being reported in newspapers around the country. It got to the point where Bob Reno, the editor of BadJocks.com, stopped counting (and, eventually, stopped publishing the site).

Given what I have seen, I ask myself all the time what I could have done to alter or prevent some of this behavior. Then again, even if I had influenced one person or another to not engage with an undercover FBI agent to trade child porn, or to not have sex with his students, or to not interfere with a police investigation, there would be many others.

Our nation, I think, is a sexual cesspool when it comes to adults and minors. The regrettable thing is that it’s taken the lurid tales surrounding the Larry Nassar trial and conviction to bring this to the fore.

Our President’s associates, and their predilections, are just another symptom. Nothing more to see here.

July 4, 2019 — What today is really about

There were no tanks, no helicopters, no fighter jets in 1776.

All there was back then were just a set of powerful ideas: self-determination, freedom and independence. They are all encapsulated here.

April 1, 2019 — No fooling today

Usually, this space has been filled on April 1st with humorous or satirical sports story. But if you remember, a year ago your Founder was in the hospital recovering from surgery.

Since that weekend, it’s been three more procedures to treat this same area, the last of which was five weeks ago.

To be sure, this whole ordeal has not been easy. Recovery from these occasional surgeries has curtailed a lot of activities and travel, especially since I need to be in a reclining position in order to allow the bacterial abcess to drain.

But I think this episode has taught two important lessons.

One is that the United States, for all of its flaws, does have a pretty good health care system as long as you know how to navigate it and advocate for yourself.

The other lesson, however, is patience. The last surgery, done by a specialist in Baltimore, seems to be leading to a closure of the bacterial mass, albeit very, very slowly. It’s frustrating, to be sure, but I’m sure that I’m heading to a good place when it comes to my overall health.

March 14, 2019 — And how many more?

You’ll notice that we led off yesterday’s blog entry with two seemingly isolated stories.

This is the one regarding admissions fraud at LSU, and this is the one at the University of Pennsylvania. Taken together with yesterday’s indictment of 50 administrators, coaches and parents, that’s enough to make you think there’s a problem.

But William Singer, the man behind the admissions fraud and broker between parents and universities, has admitted to 761 fraudulent admissions — 20 times what were documented in yesterday’s charging documents.

Now, that’s remarkable enough, the damage that one man has done to the higher education system in the United States.

The question is, how many other self-styled education brokers, go-betweens, and hangers on are there? And we’re not just talking about the cesspool of intercollegiate football and men’s basketball. We know that there are plenty of Sonny Vaccaros, Lonnie Balls, and Curtis Malones out there trading favors for athletic talent.

But how many other side-door deals have there been made over the years? Hundreds? Thousands? Every time a name goes up on a building on one of America’s 5,300 colleges, universities, and trade schools, should you assume that the only reason was that money changed hands?

I’d like to think that certain kinds of naming are as memorials to great people in the past; two of the main buildings at my old high school were named for bishops in the Episcopal Church. The third, however, was named for a wealthy donor who, frankly, saved the school two decades ago.

But now that Harvard Medical School has the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University has the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell has the Zuckerberg School of Health Sciences, it’s hard to know where the university ends and the benefactor begins.

March 6, 2019 — Sidney Verba, 1932-2019

There are three books which have, more than any others, informed my worldview on public administration and civics.

One of these is The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. It was co-written by Sidney Verba, who died earlier this week. He and co-author Gabriel Almond oversaw about a thousand interviews with citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Mexico, in an attempt to ascertain what affects the political compact between the citizen and the government.

In this tome, and in later scholarship, he hit upon the concept of participation and “the citizen’s voice” as the driving force behind government and public administration.

In the last 20 years, with the proliferation of the Internet and social media as information sources, Verba’s thesis has been put to the test, especially with large money sources being poured into influencing elections on Facebook and YouTube. But with social media and crowdfunding creating a bumper crop of new faces in the U.S. House of Representatives (in comparison to the very white and very male Senate), the central question framing Vebra’s work remains as prescient as it was 55 years ago: “Whose voice is being heard by the government?”

Makes you wonder.

Feb. 14, 2019 — A counter-movement against billionaires?

Earlier this week, it was announced that Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland, had broken off negotiations with the NFL’s Washington Redskins to build a new stadium to replace the current FedEx Field, which was built in Landover in 1997 — only about 20 years ago.

Today, it was announced that Amazon would not be building a segment of its headquarters — codenamed HQ2, in Long Island City, N.Y. after local opposition led in part by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Time was, billionaires such as Daniel Snyder and Jeff Bezos could approach governments and demand all kinds of incentives — tax abatements, land giveaways, and such — and get them.

But infrastructure has become pricier ever since the original study on this subject by Andrew Zimbalist and Roger Noll. Indeed, entire societies have been lured by the promise of economic development, and have found themselves, for lack of a better word, fleeced.

Brazil, which held the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, now has a raft of sports stadiums which sit empty. It’s the latest country which saw its people shift its wealth to line the pockets of members of FIFA and the IOC’s cronies.

I’m so glad that Gov. Hogan and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez have shown courage and leadership against billionaire owners. I’m hoping this is just the start.

Feb. 11, 2019 — A civic duty

Later this week, your Founder is going to take part in a necessary part of the American democracy.

Your Founder has been called into jury service.

I’m kind of glad it occurred in February, when there isn’t much in the way of field hockey or lacrosse on the scholastic level (South Carolina excepted). But as much of an inconvenience as the act of jury duty is, it’s something that is needed, to be able to fill out that jury of (more or less) 12 average citizens.

I haven’t been on a jury for about a decade; the last time was to convict an up-and-coming young athlete in a special drugs court for possession of crack cocaine.

I never got to know what happened in the sentencing phase of the trial. That was not under this jury’s purview. All we were supposed to do was to ascertain guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Years on, I do wonder if this particular judge was one of a number whose sentences have had to have been scrutinized or altered because of harsh sentencing for possession of crack as opposed to powder cocaine.

I wonder what will happen this week, too.