Brett Favre, Short On Character, Not The Man We Want Our Sons To Emulate

The story of Victor Hugo is well known.

In the 1840s the writer was walking about when he noticed that a thin man was being taken away by police for stealing a loaf of bread. Hugo will turn that man, who had ragged clothes and human misery all over him into a most memorable book, Les Miserables. The poor man who just wanted bread for his family can be understood. The rich man who took money needed by those in poverty can only be scorned. This week one can only ponder how Hugo would have constructed a Brett Farve story based on the news coming out of Mississippi.

Favre was always less than what his image makers wished to make him.  His years in Green Bay as quarterback for the Green Bay Packers produced enough stories about his antics and shortcomings off the field to alert anyone listening that he was just another typical sports figure, certainly not a role model. Favre, as a married man, further lowered himself with his sexting scandal and redneckish ways.

The last nail in the coffin, however, for what constitutes Favre’s lack of character can be found in text messages made public last week. His conversations with utterly disgraced Mississippi nonprofit executive Nancy New, who has pled guilty to 13 felony counts concerning $77 million in funds from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families which were improperly siphoned elsewhere in the Magnolia State are truly troubling.

For years Favre has simply denied he received roughly $1 million in welfare funds, the money I should not need to add which was to have been spent on folks who, oh, I don’t know, do not live in a mansion built from being an overpaid sports personality. Last week with the release of text messages we know Favre was not telling the truth. There is no doubt whatsoever that in 2017 Favre was most aware that monies he had no right to have, or use were being improperly channeled for his whims.

The reason this matter lands on CP is my concern about the lack of real heroes when it comes to the sporting world.  Since so much of our culture surrounds sports it seems we should have a bevy of men and women who today’s youth should be able to look up to and truly admire.  But that is not the case. As I read the accounts of Farve it struck me again how no parent would wish their son to emulate him.  I take no glee in that conclusion, but the facts are clear.

There is an old song recorded by Bill Anderson which sums up this mess with unseemly sports figures and our nation’s youth. Where Have All Our Heroes Gone has a few lines that make my point.

This country needs a lotta things today friends
But it doesn’t need any one thing anymore than it needs some real heroes

Men who know what it means to be looked up to by a griny faced kid
Men who want to sign autograph books and not deal under the table
Men who are willing to play the game with the people who made them heroes
Men who don’t mind putting on a white hat and saying thank you and please

I wish I knew more men that I’d be proud of for my son to look up to and say
Daddy when I grow up I want to be just-like-him (Where have all our heroes gone?)

Brett Farve should be asked that question in his next interview.

Good Sportsmanship Should Not Be In Short Supply For Adult Americans

I read in the Monday newspaper that a quarterback was roundly and soundly booed as he made his entrance onto a football field this week.  I generally do not opine on sports and have no thoughts whatsoever on the game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. Rather why I post today is what happened when the former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took the field. It was then that a large portion of the audience displayed their sharp disapproval of the player.

As I quickly read the other paragraphs, I learned the guy they were trying to shame had been very important to the team, so much so that it was during his contractual period with the team they garnered their only Super Bowl success.  There was a rather messy, it seems, off-season trade of his role to the Broncos.

Hence the booing?

I well understand decorum and manners in much of the nation have been packed in a box and placed in the upper reaches of the garage.  People know where they are, but seldom wish to revisit the reasons they learned about them in the first place.  Additionally, there is no longer any reluctance to show off boorish behavior even in the most public of places, even with live television noting all that occurs.

With the huge amount of taxpayer money that has been used for school sports programs, both at the public and college level, and not only for the aim to impart physical education but also to instill a firm grasp of good sportsmanship, we still somehow wind up with the outcome in Seattle. I strongly suggest that taxpayer money has not been used wisely when we continue to witness bad form when it comes to sporting contests.

I can understand the urge to whoop and holler for a team touchdown or growl when a mistake is made on the field, but to act out in a truly low-brow form for someone who just walks out onto the field is so tacky it demands a post on a site that mostly dismisses sports.

Just Plain Dumb, Herschel Walker Talks About Climate Change, Makes Sarah Plain Look Like Rhodes Scholar

I have never been a fan of stupid jocks. I never found them of interest in high school, and even less so as an adult. I do not much care if they find their way to some sports channel to talk about this team or that play on the field. After all, capitalism allows for even the most base to make money, too.

But when the seriously inept and cerebrally challenged wish to trade their name and fame for a powerful political office we need to stop them.

Georgia Republican senate nominee Herschel Walker is such an example of being just plain stupid, and also wanting to secure a senate seat in this year’s midterm election. The troubling candidate who seems more suited for an election as a hall monitor in grade school wanted to talk about climate change on the hustings.

In Columbus: “China’s bad air floats over into our good air. And now we’re trying to clean their bad air and of course it just floats over here and now we gotta clean it, so all we’re doing is throwing money at it.”

In St. Simons: “The trillions of dollars that you’re paying for is cleaning up their bad air but now it’s gonna float back over to China because of the Earth’s rotation and until we can get China and all of these other places to invest in it, it isn’t gonna be any good.”

In south Georgia: “We’re gonna clean it up a little better than it’s already cleaned. But our good air, since we don’t control it, is gonna float over to China where they got bad air. Now China’s bad air floats over to us, where we have the good air.”

I have never been a fan of Sarah Palin, and this blog reflects that fact. But she does not fall as far down the hole of absurdity as Walker has willingly taken. I place her name in this post, however, as she was used by the Republicans for political purposes, even though she has a limited IQ. Just like Walker is now being used. Her acceptance by much of the party has allowed for more of her kind to be elevated and praised as candidates in the GOP.

I know from having done public speaking there were times when my thoughts and words took somewhat separate directions. But I can claim I never made the same mistake or blunder twice. A person who speaks publically learns the lesson.

Walker did not. Will not.

After clearly receiving brain damage from football allows some wiggle room for Walker’s bizarre ideas about how air pollution spreads. But the fact he is not now able to read and learn that reducing or increasing pollution in either China or the U.S. affects the entire globe, or that “our” air does not just say…’hey, some travel time would be fun’ and heads to China points to why this baffoon needs to be stopped by the voters.

If anyone thinks our atmosphere operates like geopolitical masses they need to be scorned, not elected.

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.