UW-Madison vs. Michigan Basketball Brawl Was Over A MERE Game!

This weekend many people were often checking the news headlines to find out the latest information regarding the massive Russian build-up on three sides of Ukraine. Had the rhetoric ratcheted up to tanks rolling and missiles being launched? Had Putin unleashed a European War? There are really large international consequences to the outlandish military campaign Putin is envisioning.

So when many Wisconsin residents tuned in to their local Sunday evening news broadcasts to discover the fate of the world they were doubtless taken aback to find the top story was not from Kyiv, but from UW-Madison’s Kohl Center.

Michigan coach Juwan Howard appeared to throw a punch after arguing with Wisconsin coach Greg Gard during the postgame handshake line following the Badgers’ 77-63 victory. Howard appeared to take that swing at Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft. Then it was like a hockey game broke out with players from each side getting involved in the shouting and shoving.

Now, let me be very honest. I do not care a whit about the last minute of play in the game, or the time out, or even, frankly the final score. None of that matters to the content of this post.

Juwan Howard told reporters he did not like being touched by Gard. Meanwhile, Gard told the press he was trying to explain the reasoning for decisions he made in the game.

But I strongly suspect a large portion of the television audience was saying to all involved, ‘Grow the hell up!’

There are real people who are packing up belongings in case they need to flee from Ukraine. There are many who know that should Russia invade the loss of life will be high in Kyiv. There are many who have loved ones in that country and worry about them from homes around the globe.

Meanwhile, at the Kohl Center, two teams had the chance to play a game, while thousands watched the players go back and forth between baskets. The most anyone had to contend with was to wonder what they might eat for dinner after the final buzzer.

Then after playing the game the coaches and players had to fight about it!? Really?

We like to talk about the role of sports and how it supposedly engenders good sportsmanship. We all pay a lot of money with taxes so sports and the benefits from the games can make an impact on people.

In high school sports, I recall that it was often stressed the behavior of the coaches set the tone for parents who would be at times highly vocal in the bleachers. We know from little league through college sports that young athletes need to be able to look at their coaches and witness behavior that will fit with the vision we have for sports participants. Anger and shouting and the throwing of a punch are just totally and completely unacceptable.

If this brutish behavior today is the result of a MERE basketball game among college coaches and athletes what message does that send for how differences are to be resolved on the inner-city streets when young people confront challenges with other people?

Or for a large nation like Russia?

Once again, there needs to be a stern message sent SOON so that neither basketball team can miss the point.

Grow The Hell Up.

And so it goes.

Thanks To Men Figure Skaters At Winter Olympics…All Are winners!

After over five hours of watching and cheering….and a smile that seems cemented to my face…..it has come to a conclusion. The three men figure skaters I wanted to see win from the start of the games–did!

The smile and genuineness of Yuma Kagiyama from earlier this week needed to prevail again…and he did it with Silver.

This is the second Winter Games that Uno Shoma has had a robust supporter on the Madison isthmus in our living room, and he finishes with Bronze.

And then Nathan Chen made that human dream from missteps four years ago to Gold tonight.

What a magnificent evening of watching 24 skaters. They are all winners and international smile-makers. Thanks to them all!

Five Lessons Aaron Rodgers Should Learn From Olympic Figure Skaters

When asked to list an example of the epitome of an athlete one needs to ponder no further than the figure skaters who take to the ice at the Winter Olympics. Since last Thursday night, when the competition started, I have again been mesmerized by the skills, artistry, and composure of the men and women from around the world.

Last night while watching Nathan Chen who was truly masterful in the men’s short program I thought how different the skaters are from Aaron Rodgers. While many people who follow football think Rodgers will soon be labeled as the former Green Bay Packers quarterback, I wish to offer him some advice as he packs his bags for the exit door.

I use the figure skaters as my guideposts and examples.

First, demonstrate that you care enough for the fans to look respectful when engaging in the sport. Rodgers has looked too often, as of late, as if the detox center did not have running hot water or soap. Show up for the job with some self-respect.

I understand the world is not watching when Rodgers takes to the field, as compared to the Olympic skaters, but he should at least get a haircut and shave for the local fans.

An example of how to be aware that personal grooming matters is Jason Brown who performed Monday night in the short skate portion of the games.

Second, the way athletes react when the game or event does not go the way they wish speaks volumes about their character. This past season football viewers saw Rodgers slam down and break a $500 tablet when a play was not called as he wanted.

This week we saw a different way to handle stress from an athlete.

Figure skater and medal contender Vincent Zhou tested positive for Covid-19, and made a mature social media statement that was pure class about now not being able to compete in the men’s individual competition in Beijing. Note to Rodgers that no damage to inanimate objects resulted.

After the latest loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Rodgers took to social media to lambast the voices across the nation who roasted him for months about his lack of regard for COVID vaccines and mask-wearing. But male athletes do wear masks, as South Korean figure skater Cha Jun-hwan (below) did continuously during recent training sessions.

Third, stepping up and doing what is in the best interest of the larger community is surely a lesson that Rodgers should learn before entering his next locker room for a different team.

Fourth, when problems develop a strong athlete takes the higher road. Zhu Yi did that very thing this past week after falling two times in her skating performance. Though in tears she proved her inner resolve and character with a heart-shaped design made with her fingers.

Fifth, being rude to those who pay for a ticket is just low-brow. Rodgers was taken to task for his “I own you” comment this past season after a game. Meanwhile, last night after his time on the ice Jason Brown blew a kiss to the audience in Bejing—though the numbers in the seats were very small due to the pandemic. But it was still the classy and proper thing to do.

Brown being thankful for the chance to perform and be in the limelight is something that Rogers has squandered and completely taken for granted during his time in Green Bay.

Perhaps as Aaron Rodgers watches yet another Super Bowl away from the end zone he can think about the lessons to be learned from the artistic, musically inclined, truly athletic, and character-rich figure skaters at the Winter Olympics.

And so it goes.

Poke In The World’s Eye: Uyghur Dinigeer Yilamujiang Lights Winter Olympic Flame As Genocide By China Continues

Let me start with a fact that the vast majority of the nations in the world agree is taking place as I write.

China is carrying out a genocide in Xinjiang.

I applaud the actions of President Joe Biden for clearly demonstrating that such evil in the world must be called out, and never rewarded. I strongly support the decision of the United States to take a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China. There is no way to not stand up in opposition to Beijing’s internment of nearly one million Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province.

So it was a gigantic poke in the eye of the world community that China’s President Xi Jinping selected Dinigeer Yilamujiang, who is originally from Xinjiang, to play such a most prominent and troubling role in lighting the cauldron. If something can be expertly spun, creatively sold, or handsomely packaged, it can be sold and bought by others.

Right?

Wrong.

NPR’s Emily Feng recently reported:

“Since 2017, authorities in Xinjiang have rounded up hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority group, and sent them to detention centers where they are taught Mandarin Chinese and Chinese political ideology. Camp detainees have reported being forced to work in factories during their detention or after they are released. The children of those detained or arrested are often sent to state boarding schools, even when relatives are willing to take them in.”

Meanwhile, at the opening ceremonies, Russian President Putin and Xi sat together and surely were smirking. How could they not as the song Imagine, made famous by John Lennon, played to a choreographed scene in the arena? Hubris and irony competed for attention.

The list of atrocities China is engaged in today can not be forgotten with a truly impressive and technologically driven opening ceremony. While the LED show was dazzling for viewers, human rights abuses by China were taking place against Tibetans’ culture, religion, and language; Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms; and the continuous undermining of the democratic-island of Taiwan. 

Oh, yes, less we forget following the flame lighting Bejing….the genocide in Xinjiang.

The People’s Republic of China and the repressive government might think holding hands with Russia’s Putin and showcasing an axis of power while putting forth a global PR effort at the Olympics will turn the page.

But the world community has access to news and reporting about the genocide within China. In two weeks the Olympic flame will be doused, but the knowledge of the crimes continually perpetrated by China will not be forgotten.

And so it goes.

Haneen Zreika, Muslim Soccer Player, Failed Modernity Test

It is not difficult to be critical of those who break barriers, due to being aided by the larger society, to only then turn around and deny rights and justice to another group.

For instance, I have taken to task some Black and Latino churches in our nation who have not embraced the gay civil rights measures that we either enacted or others yet needed to be attained. After having received support over the decades from diverse multitudes for civil rights it would only make sense that those who knew discrimination would fight for those facing it. The lack of full-throated support for gay marriage from these churches when every voice counted still rankles at this blogger’s desk.

Now consider the current news story concerning Haneen Zreika. While listening to the BBC this sports story caught my attention.

She is the first Muslim to play in the Australian Football League Women’s Competition. It is to be applauded and she deserves credit for following a dream and using her skills for a team effort. There was strong support and encouragement for her to take the field and be proud of her accomplishment.

But when it came to playing a Gay Pride match and wearing a rainbow-themed jumper she took a path that does not place her in a good light. Because she claimed the wearing of the jumper did not align with her religious beliefs, Zreika chose to sit out of the game.

This is the first year that her team had a specially designed jumper for the Pride game which supports inclusion and diversity in sports–which is still regrettably–a persisting problem. While Zreika played in the Pride game last year she refused to wear the jumper this week.

Some may see all this as small potatoes–as it might have been termed back home as a child. Some will argue that true diversity exists when even stances, such as that taken by Zreika, are accepted. I do not align with such views. Making accommodations for only a certain level of bigotry is not progress or something we can find agreeable.

This story also relates to a larger theme made on this blog when it comes to the Muslim faith. There is a tremendous need for modernity by its followers, and until it is allowed oxygen current stress points remain. A tortured education system that spawns new converts to the harshest interpretation of the Koran, religious views that stunt and deprive upward mobility, and a culture that is male-dominated all require talented voices to make a difference.

Haneen Zreika could have been such a voice. One step at a time is not a trite phrase. History continually demonstrates the power of one voice added to another and then another…

Therefore, it was not a pretty picture to see Zreika sitting on the sidelines for the Pride match. It was hurtful to some of her teammates and coaching staff, and instead of serving as a role model to her larger community, it underscored what is so lacking in the Muslim world.

And so it goes.

Aaron Rodgers Deserved His Moment With Karma In Green Bay

Simply put, if a person is a high-profile figure, they must not be rewarded with expressing anti-vaccination sentiments. Novak Djokovic was such an example. Aaron Rodgers is another example.

Insulting the intelligence of state residents, and undermining vaccination efforts within the demographics that look up to and follow Rogers hurt the efforts of the medical establishment to stem COVID. We are going into our third year of the pandemic and we needed to have all folks working for the needs of the larger community.

Rodgers refused.

Karma responded.

And so it goes.

Justice Rendered: Novak Djokovic Had His Balls Handed To Him

There is not so much elation at this desk in the very early hours of Sunday as I write, as there is deep gratitude that facts, science, and law prevailed.

I have been waiting over the past hours to discover the outcome of the judge’s ruling concerning Novak Djokovic’s last-ditch attempt to stay in Australia and play tennis.  I have not shied away from stating I wished for him to be kicked out of the nation for his lies and dismal behavior.

The wait is now over.

The brash and arrogant Djokovic failed in his final attempt to stay in the nation and play in the upcoming tournament.  His unvaccinated stance and lies about his travels have cost him dearly.

Sports personalities have many people looking up to them, and as such have a responsibility that comes with fame and fortunes.  The Australian decision was correct.  It was the second visa rejection based on the fact he could very well pose a risk to public health and order.

The icing on this story is this decision cannot be appealed.

I have made it clear with the most irksome Aaron Rodgers, and others who toss intelligence aside concerning COVID, that there must be a price to pay.  In the case of Djokovic, it was clear that allowing him to stay in Australia could encourage others to refuse vaccines or disregard pandemic restrictions.

Simply put, if a person is a high-profile figure, they must not be rewarded with expressing anti-vaccination sentiments.  Today the only proper outcome that could be rendered was handed down in Australia.

And so it goes.

Novac Djokovic Is International Disappointment

The news from Australia was very disappointing if you are someone who follows science, believes in medical professionals, and disdains arrogance.

Novac Djokovic had a legal victory after a judge in that country reinstated his visa. The thin line of legal justification was that the tennis professional had not been granted enough time to confer with his lawyer for the hearing. (Cue the barfing.)

The problem is that Djokovic is not serious about COVID, and feels comfortable flaunting the rules and common sense about vaccines. Too many people are letting him get away with his insulting our collective intelligence.

He had COVID and used that infection, and the antibodies it created to get a visa, even though he is not vaccinated. There is not enough medical evidence to support the theory that the antibodies provide the protection that the three-shot series does.

This is not the first time this rather disreputable person played fast and loose with the needs of the larger community during this pandemic. It was just months into this international crisis that Djokovic organized a tennis tournament in the Balkans, tossed aside mask-wearing and of course, he came down with the virus. As did others in that stunt.

The problem I have with Djokovic, other than his brashness is that he constantly refuses to adjust his life for the greater good. In December, he was found to have contracted the virus again but was out and about–up close to people, and shunning the wearing of a mask.

Before entering Australia he was not to have been jetting about the world. But, in fact, he had been to both Spain and Serbia. Meanwhile, the Aussies have been under strict mandates and take the pandemic most seriously, as they should.

I believe in a strong sense of justice, and if other legal matters result in his being allowed to remain in Australia then I hope his time in front of the cameras on the tennis court concludes with his not breaking the men’s singles title record. We should not desire to elevate stupidity.

I post about sports personalities and the way younger people look up to them. As such, it is important they set a standard of behavior we would want our youth to follow. When it comes to Djokovic, however, who has spurned wearing masks, being vaccinated, or refusing to be honest let us hope kids worldwide are playing a video game rather than following the news.

And so it goes.