Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jameis Winston and Florida State: college football at its very most

By Mike Wise
October 16, 2014

Jameis Winston is the embodiment of the big-time college athlete who can do whatever he damn well pleases as long as he remains the greatest economic engine on campus.
Jimbo Fisher is the embodiment of the big-time college coach who is not really a leader of men but actually a follower of arrested locker-room development.
Florida State football and Tallahassee law enforcement are the embodiment of how athletic revenue transforms universities into institutions of higher corruption.
You can’t follow the two-year odyssey of Winston and come away with any other conclusion: Heisman trophies and national championships give superior athletes immunity from real-life consequences for their actions.
This learned culture of entitlement bleeds down from the NFL and Ray Rice, through the Florida panhandle and then trickles all the way to the high school level in Sayreville, N.J. That’s where seven adolescent boys were arrested last Friday on charges stemming from sick hazing rituals that allegedly involved the sodomizing of “teammates” — and where some parents and coaches couldn’t believe they canceled the rest of the varsity football season because (horrors) the Bombers’ streak of 20 straight postseason appearances would end.
This is the part of Football in America that gets edited out. This is our new national pastime.
Winston will start at quarterback for Florida State in college football’s game of the week against Notre Dame on Saturday night. I predict he will start the remainder of his team’s games this season, too, because no FSU compliance officer interested in further employment with the university would declare Winston ineligible while investigating the sophomore star for the latest allegation against him: swapping autographs for cash.
In further evidence of the game’s twisted values, this claim may be the most serious yet — because criminal behavior toward women and irresponsible pranks such as firing BB guns on campus or stealing food from a supermarket is considered nothing compared to trying to profit personally off your own exploits that generate millions of dollars for others. Now that’s criminal, son.
Fisher says Famous Jameis is innocent, and except when he and the school are publicly embarrassed into taking action, Fisher always says Famous Jameis is innocent — whether he’s being accused of trying to make a little coin on the side or something far more serious, such as last year’s sexual assault investigation.
Winston could join ISIS and contract Ebola tomorrow, and you feel like Fisher would tell you he was trying on a Halloween costume and had a sore throat before sending him out to take on the Fighting Irish.
The coach, who has lost just 10 times in 41 / years and is 4-0 in bowl games after replacing the legendary but hardly saintly Bobby Bowden, oversees a program with at least nine players arrested in the past three years on charges from sexual assault to being an accessory to a fatal shooting, the New York Times reported last week.
Fisher’s continued support shows he needs Winston more than Winston needs him. Florida State and Tallahassee need Winston more than he needs them. Never was that imbalance of power and leverage more clear than last season before prosecutors decided to drop a rape investigation against Winston, deciding there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges.
Fact: The athletic department made sure Winston’s attorney had the investigation report before the state attorney did. By the time the state prosecutor’s office got it, Winston’s attorney got copycat affidavits from his roommates to say the sex was consensual. His defense was set before the proper authorities even knew of the case.
Fact: The investigating officer, Scott Angulo, has done private security work for the Seminole Boosters, a nonprofit claiming, oh, $150 million in assets, the New York Times reported last spring. Seminole Boosters is the main financial pipeline to Florida State athletics.
The lawyer for Winston’s accuser said the investigating officer who handled the case told her that her client would be “raked over the coals” if she went forward with the case — because down there in the panhandle, they take cracking helmets seriously.
The entire affair — Winston’s entire college career, really — shows how the system failed everyone, how star athletes are inoculated from repercussions for their actions at the cost of the institutions they represent. And it’s the same corrosion afflicting the NFL and a high school football powerhouse in New Jersey.
Here’s a window into what Winston learned from that investgation: A month or so after prosecutors decided not to charge him, he and a teammate posted an Instagram video of themselves singing a verse from a rap song called “On the Floor.” It’s about men who proceed after hearing the word “No” from women. Sample lyric: “She said she wants to take it slow. I’m not that type of guy I’ll letcha know. When I see that red light all I know is go.”
I don’t know whether Winston sexually assaulted a woman or the sex was consensual. No one knows but the people in that room. I do know that, through their handling of the investigation, Tallahassee police and the university made it all but impossible to find out.
I do know for all of Jameis Winston’s rotten decision-making off the field, he did make one important one as an 18-year-old that propelled him toward the NFL yet prevented him from genuine human development: He decided to play football at Florida State, where he would never be told no — and if even he was, no one would ever find out about it.
For more by Mike Wise, visit
Photo: Reuters

Incompetence Meets Mendacity in Obama Administration’s Ebola Response

Americans are shaken by government’s inability to function. 

Friday, October 17, 2014


By Ann Coulter
October 15, 2014

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

There had never been a case of Ebola in the U.S. until a few months ago. Since then, thousands of people have died of the disease in Africa, and millions upon millions of dollars have been spent treating Ebola patients in the U.S. who acquired it there, one of whom has died.

But the Obama administration refuses to impose a travel ban.

This summer, the U.S. government imposed a travel ban on Israel simply to pressure Prime Minister Netanyahu into accepting a ceasefire agreement. But we can't put a travel restriction on countries where a contagious disease is raging.

It's becoming increasingly clear this is just another platform for Obama to demonstrate that we are citizens of the world. The entire Ebola issue is being discussed -- by our government, not the United Nations -- as if Liberians are indistinguishable from Americans, and U.S. taxpayers should be willing to pay whatever it takes to save them.

Maybe we should give them the vote, too! If Ebola was concentrated in Finland and Norway -- certainly Israel! -- we'd have had a travel ban on Day One.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, justifies Obama's refusal to prohibit flights originating in Ebola-plagued countries, saying, "A travel ban is not the right answer. It's simply not feasible to build a wall -- virtual or real -- around a community, city or country."

What is it with liberals living in gated communities always telling us that fences don't work? THAT'S WHAT A QUARANTINE IS.

At the congressional hearing on Ebola last week, Republicans repeatedly pressed the CDC representative, Dr. Toby Merlin, to explain why Obama refuses to impose a travel ban.

In about 17 tries, Merlin came up with no plausible answer. Like Frieden, Merlin kept insisting that "the only way to protect Americans" is to end the epidemic in Africa.

Why, precisely, must we attack Ebola in Africa? Research on a cure doesn't require cuddling victims in their huts. Scientists who discovered the AIDS cocktail didn't spend their nights at Studio 54 in order to "fight the disease at its source."

Until there's a treatment, we can't put out the disease there, or here. The only thing Americans will be doing in Liberia is changing the bedpans of victims, getting infected and bringing Ebola back to America. When there's a vaccine, we can mail it.

Naturally, Obama is sending troops from the 101st Airborne, the pride of our Army, to Liberia. Their general should resign in protest.

Merlin further explained the travel ban, saying that if West Africans can't fly to America, "that would cause the disease to grow in that area and spill over into other countries." So instead of infecting people in surrounding countries, our CDC wants them to come here and infect Americans.

But that won't happen because the government assures us there's nothing to worry about with Ebola. They've got it under control.

Unfortunately, everything the government says about this disease keeps being proved untrue -- usually within a matter of days.

They told us that you'd basically have to roll in an infected person's vomit to catch the disease. Then, nurses at two first-world hospitals in Spain and the U.S. contracted Ebola from patients.

With no evidence, the CDC simply announced that the nurses were not following proper "protocol." The disease didn't operate the way CDC said it would, so the hospitals must be lying.

The government told us that national quarantines won't work, but then they quarantine everyone with Ebola -- or who has been near someone with Ebola, such as an entire NBC crew. To me, this suggests that there's some value in keeping people who have been near Ebola away from people who have not.

Quite obviously, the only way to protect Americans is to prevent Ebola from coming here in the first place. The problem isn't that Ebola will leap across oceans to infect Americans; it's that Obama doesn't want to protect Americans.

At least he's only putting expendable Americans on the frontlines of the Ebola epidemic -- doctors, nurses, members of the 101st Airborne.

At the moment, more than 13,000 West Africans have travel visas to come to the U.S. Having just seen an Ebola-infected Liberian get $500,000 worth of free medical treatment in the U.S., the first thing any African who might have Ebola should do is get himself to America.

Of all the reasons people have for coming here -- welfare, drug-dealing, Medicare scams -- "I have Ebola and I'm going to die, otherwise" is surely one of the strongest. The entire continent of Africa now knows that this is a country that will happily spend half a million dollars on treating someone who just arrived -- and then berate itself for not doing enough.

Thomas Eric Duncan's family may be upset with his treatment, but they have to admit, the price was right. Medical bill: $0.00. Your next statement will arrive in 30 days.

And now we're going to have to let in entire families with Ebola, because the important thing is -- actually, I don't know why. It's some technical, scientific point about fences not working.

Republicans -- Americans -- have got to demand Frieden's resignation. If only we could demand Obama's.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Today's Tune: Trampled by Turtles - Alone

Bob Ryan on his two passions: sports and writing

By Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
October 15, 2014

At an early age, Bob Ryan developed a love of sports and words, and he combined those two loves into a rewarding, prolific and Hall of Fame career in sports journalism.
He covered Boston, national and international sports stories for more than 40 years at The Boston Globe. ESPN's Tony Kornheiser, who also used to work for a newspaper, once called Ryan "the quintessential American sports writer."
It's a tag that rings true and one deep down that Ryan appreciates. He concedes anyone younger than 40 years old who knows who he is knows him from ESPN's Around the Horn. He knows TV changed his life – fame, more money – but he made his name writing words. He says with great satisfaction, "I'm a writer. When I look in the mirror, I'm a writer. I still see a writer. Writing is still what matters to me."
Ryan's new book, Scribe: My Life in Sports, was released on Oct. 7. It is part memoir and part historical account of Boston's professional sports teams, especially the Celtics, during his career. On the Celtics beat, he helped shape a more modern way to write "game stories," injecting analysis and opinion. (Grantland's Bryan Curtis covers this topic wonderfully in this story.)
"I believe writers are entitled to a point of view," Ryan said. "If you like certain things about basketball or baseball and you see them either upheld or violated, you have a right as a writer to write your point of view."
USA TODAY Sports' Jeff Zillgitt sat down with Ryan for a Q&A:
JZ: You have a section in your book on the Olympics, and it's clear you enjoyed covering them. I also once heard you say on a bus at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics that many stories coming out of the Games are "drive-by-reporting." Why that phrase?
BR: That's not the only circumstance in which that takes place. That's a very frequent occurrence for any of doing one-shot columns on high schools or colleges or anything. Quite often, that's a reality. It's a definite drive-by story.
JZ: What's the secret to doing those stories well?
BR: I'm speaking, trying to act as if I did that well. I would say having a curiosity and a breadth of background about enough sports that you might have a relevant question for an ice-breaker. You might have some cross-reference. I always think it helps to have some ice-breaking material or maybe some background that will help them open up and then they do their work for you.
JZ: How do you reconcile your enjoyment of the Olympics and the political maneuverings at the very top of the International Olympic Committee?
BR: I've always enjoyed the adventure, and the only reason I went to my first Olympics was because of the (1992) Dream Team. I kind of rattled my sabre and stomped my feet because I was off the Celtics beat at that time. We had beat people. But I just thought clearly that should be my bailiwick, and they sent me. While I was there – and I only wrote columns on two other subjects that year. One was Ron Villone, a left-handed pitcher who later had a Major League career but he was from the University of Massachusetts. The other was an assassination, a rip-job I did on Ben Johnson prior to him racing in the 100. Funny thing about that one, and it's not my nature. I never viewed myself as a ripper. You can deliver the hammer when you have to but something about him really set me off. That got me in the APSE top 10 columns, which I never got into with those people. I said, 'Is that what it takes?' If that's all it takes, I can go out and rip people 20 times a year. But that's not who I am.
JZ: After Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa in 2007, we were at a table in the media hospitality room and you said something along the lines of this about football, and this is paraphrasing but you said few want to know how the sausage is made. It is a violent sport and we've seen several stories, some very sad, about ex-players with serious brain damage among other long-term disabilities. In your book, you began a chapter on football titled "I Can Hardly Believe It's Legal, with this sentence, "If they stopped playing football in the next five minutes it wouldn't bother me at all." You have a distaste for that side of it, but you also enjoy football. How can you do both?
BR: I wrote about this (on Sept. 21). I had a column about football where I identified myself as an enabler. I didn't get into any of the stuff that's going on here specifically. I talked about the idea that this is America's favorite sport and what does it say about America that this is its favorite sport given the nature of it, which is carnage. It's a game that is designed where you hit and you're going to get hurt, and so on and so forth. However, I come to you as somebody who goes back six decades watching football, and I've come to a new rationalization I guess which is with all the evidence out there, anybody who plays now cannot go in blindly that he isn't going to get hurt and if they're OK with it, then well, I'm OK with it. If that's what they want, fine. I still enjoy it.
I know enough about football and No. 2, I have a professional obligation to stay on top of it as long as I want to keep doing television programs on ESPN and Comcast and being on radio show and getting paid to do so. I have to have a professional obligation to stay aware and enough of a residual appreciation of the game once I can just put the injury thing aside to enjoy it. So what I do last Sunday (Sept. 21)? I watched the entire Patriots game and the entire Seahawks-Broncos game. The first one is a mixture of obligation and interest and the second one primarily is a professional obligation so I know what's going on, and that was a game that needed to be seen.
JZ: You mention your TV work. You talk about your TV career in the book and it started at local TV long before ESPN's The Sports Reporters. Do you look at yourself as a pioneer for opening the multimedia doors for traditional print journalists who now have more opportunities to get their name or brand out there and of course, make extra money?
BR: I see pioneers before me. The No. 1 pioneer was at my paper, and it was Bud Collins. He eventually went from being a fulltime columnist at the Globe to making a fulltime living out of tennis coverage on TV and a part-time living writing for the Globeand for tennis magazines. I actually succeeded him in briefly in 1976 as a columnist when he left the Globe fulltime to go into television.
Take The Boston Globe itself. Will McDonough is from The Boston Globe. Lesley Visser is from The Boston Globe. I'm from The Boston Globe. Peter Gammons is fromThe Boston Globe. Michael Smith is from The Boston Globe. Michael Holley is fromThe Boston Globe. There's a span there starting with Bud of over 30-some years of people making the move to TV. It really started in 1962 when Bud started doing some tennis commentary for Channel 2, the public station in Boston.
As far as I'm concerned, The Sports Reporters changed my life. It's the second-most important professional thing that ever happened to me. The first was obviously getting hired by the Globe as an intern and staying on as a writer. The second one was joining The Sports Reporters. The first 15 years, I tried pretend I wasn't doing TV. I tried to never let it interfere with my real job at the Globe. I never talked about it in the office. I wanted to pretend it didn't exist, and I tried to work around my Globe schedule and work in these Sports Reporters appearances.
Talk about coming full circle. While Don Skwar was still the (Globe) sports editor in 2002, Around the Horn came into being and low and behold, the Globe signed a contract with ESPN to provide talent, namely me, and construct a TV studio in our sports department, which they did. That was the nature of the beginning of theAround the Horn – the five newspapers involved put TV studios in their newsrooms or in their sports department. That's how far it came. We were actually in partnership with them. Didn't have to hide anything anymore. But in the beginning, I tried to work around it. I would never do anything that would jeopardize my Globe situation by showing up on The Sports Reporters on Sunday mornings in New York. And to see it evolve into where the Globe is a partner with ESPN, it kind of made me laugh.
JZ: In your book, you wrote that before the digital world, you would relax by walking around the arena before the game began. That's not possible today. Would you like to be covering sports for a newspaper today in your 30s or 20s in what is almost a 24-7 news cycle with Twitter, blogs, video, stories, features, analysis?
BR: Long before I got out, I got out two years ago, my last official act was the (men's basketball) gold-medal game at the London Olympics. Long before that day, I said I would never go back into it knowing what I know now. I would find another way to channel my sports interests. I probably would've tried to channel it into working in the profession directly on the other side, going with a team, a league, a conference. I would've gone on that side knowing what I know now, knowing what I knew then about the way it has evolved. It is simply too much. It is not as enjoyable as I knew it. I can't imagine – I've said this countless time – being a beat person on any of the four major sports. I can't imagine. I'm very grateful I did it when I did it under the circumstances in which I did it.
(Parenthetical aside: At the 2012 London Olympics, I took a picture of Bob Ryan putting away his laptop after that gold medal game. The tweet is still there. Unfortunately, the photo-hosting service I used at the time is no longer working. Here's the tweet:)

The venerable Bob Ryan packs up after writing his last column as a fulltime Boston Globe staffer: 

JZ: And that's regardless of the direction the newspaper industry has gone?
BR: If you want to go there, I just don't see a happy ending. I can't see it lasing as we know it. How long? A long time ago, I foresaw it. I was saying by 2025 that newspapers as we know them will not be around but there will be maybe one last gasp for print for the elite who still want news and commentary delivered in that form. But the daily habit of print and putting it in your hand is going to be gone and that's pretty evident that's exactly what's going to happen.
JZ: You have a section in the book and write often in the book about Dave Cowens. He was ahead of his time when it came to flopping, and he wrote a well-reasoned treaty against flopping in 1976. He was ahead of time. What are your thoughts on flopping?
BR: You're not going to change Dave's mind, obviously. The letter in there is an incredible defense and rational defense and rational objection to the act of flopping. My feeling is this: Referees should not be susceptible. Referees should know better. They should be able to tell, especially once they've been around a while and learn the habits of various players. Referees can prevent a lot of this by knowing when a guy is flopping. I can't believe so many referees fall for flopping at every level. I just can't. I put the blame on them. I really do. It's not that difficult to govern. When David Stern came up with the flopping fines a couple of years ago, I wrote that this isn't necessary if the referees were better and could do their job. If certain people are notorious floppers and you see these circumstances, they should know. When a guy sells it – quote, unquote – falling three, four steps and falling down when clearly there wasn't enough force to knock him down, they should know that's not an offensive foul. It's nothing. It's a no-call. I really feel that way and don't understand why referees can't handle the situation better.
(Parenthetical aside: This is a portion of what Cowens wrote about flopping in 1976: "Fraudulent, deceiving and flagrant acts of pretending to be fouled when little or no contact is made is just as outrageously unsportsmanlike as knocking a player to the floor." Cowens' full letter to the Globe, is included Ryan's book.)
JZ: You were around for some great moments and Hall of Famers in Boston sports, including championships in the four major pro spots – multiple NBA titles, NFL titles, MLB titles and a Stanley Cup. Were you aware at the time how fortunate you were to cover all of that or did you realize it later in life or as you were writing the book?
BR: I believe I was always aware of it in the '70s and '80s but never more so than in the first part of the first part of the 21st century. We're the only city with eight parades. We're the only city that has had a championship in each of the four major professional sports (in that time). It was very important to me, in a satisfaction sense, to have some direct role in covering the Bruins in 2011 to give me the final piece of the puzzle. It was a lot of run. It turned out it was great. I didn't cover all four series. I didn't jump into until the third series but when I got into it, I was into it immensely, and the whole thing was wonderful.
I am so grateful. I can start here. I'm grateful that I joined the Globe when I joined the Globe at a writer's paper led by one of the great 20th century editors of all-time, Tom Winship, whose spirit permeated the entire newspaper, not just the news section. I was grateful that the Celtics got good for me. It gave me a vehicle. That was my vehicle. There's no question that if I had been in Kansas City or somewhere else, I wouldn't have become whatever it is I've become because I wouldn't have had the platform. The Celtics were amazing platform for me, and I'd like to think I made the most of it. But believe me, I was presented with a vehicle, and I was able to use that vehicle. It kept going and going. I went from the Havlicek-Cownens era to the Bird-McHale-Parish era and eventually to the second Big 3 era (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen) and meanwhile the Red Sox ended the so-called curse and I was around for that. The Patriots, who were buffoonish, trust me, were buffoonish in their imagery before (Bill) Belichick as a legacy became the Patriots and finally the Bruins win one year before I'm going to quit and provided me with that little ride.
Meanwhile, I get to cover all kinds of good college stuff even though we're not a great college town. I covered 29 Final Fours and ultimately BC wins four hockey championships, and I'm a BC guy. That was very gratifying, too, even though I only covered one of them.
To answer your question, I was always grateful, then it just got laughably ridiculous at the end. I'm totally grateful and I expressed it as often as I could.
JZ: Your book is part memoir, part historical Boston sports story. Was that your intent when you started to write this book?
BR: There was actually more meaty, personal life included than I thought there was going to be, and like all books, it was edited down. I turned out more copy than they needed and George Gibson did such an amazing job of shaping the book and figuring out a way to present because I just dumped 130,000 or so words on his lawn and said, 'Go to it.' I didn't write it chronologically. It was going to be thematic. If you look at it, he's got it arranged so that the first half is reasonably chronological until the end of the '87-'88 basketball season and the second half is more thematic.
But there was personal stuff, and if there was a part he didn't feel was warranted, I would've easily acquiesced because I wasn't sure how much of that was warranted. I wasn't sure where I was going. I didn't know I was going to end up writing that much about Trenton, N.J. Trenton was essential to my formation.
The big thing, I had never written about father in public at all. I never really sat down and analyzed it. That was and I don't want to go overboard and say cathartic, but it was important to me. It was very gratifying getting it out there and let the world know there was a man named Bill Ryan who lived this life. I'm totally a product of that DNA.
JZ: Your dad died when you were young and you tried to find out more about him. Your dad was in sports marketing and always on the fringe of the next big sports marketing bonanza but never got there like a Bill Veeck did.
BR: That's true. I found out in that column that I quoted from by Joe Logue, the local sports writer, I found out when I was doing the research for the book in the Hamilton Township library which has the Trenton Times archives and I had never seen that column. I had other stuff, but I had never seen that one. It so amplified and confirmed the thought of who he was. I didn't even know that Joe wrote that. Everything I wanted to convey, he said it beautifully. My mother had that quote in there, but to have it from a non-blood relative source was very gratifying and I didn't know that existed until I got involved in the research part of this book.
JZ: So there were unintended benefits to writing the book?
BR: I didn't see it taking that turn when I started. I was more thinking about which parts of my career I would get into. How much detail? What are you going to leave out? Then the whole father thing took on a life of its own after I got started.
JZ: You make no bones about being a fan while covering the Celtics. In journalism, there this whole idea of being objective and impartial in but we all have our biases and our fandom. Many of us can compartmentalize pretty easily. How were you able to cover the Celtics?
BR: I never had trouble. I could root for them during the game, and then when the game's over, then I put on the writer hat. I had no trouble making that shift in my mind. I don't believe in objectivity. It's a farce. There's only selective subjectivity. You're looking for fairness. Forget objectivity. There is no such thing. Everyone word you choose – every "a," "an" and "the" is a choice. It's fairness and balance and common sense. Not objectivity. That's a farce. I never had any problem doing that at all. So much of what I wrote was a viewpoint coming from a fan, and if there was one thing I want to stress is that I'm still a fan and always was. So many guys in the business, as you know, are detached observers and they will tell you they don't care who wins, they just want the story. Well, that's fine. That's OK. But I did care who won and I had no trouble writing the story. I think my stuff stood up.
It's your personality. There are plenty of very good writers who don't give a damn, and they're terrific writers and that's fine. There's room for all of us. This is my niche. One thing I wanted to portray in the book – and the phrase I always use is point of view and I believe writers are entitled to a point of view. If you like certain things about basketball or baseball and you see them either upheld or violated, you have a right as a writer to write your point of view.
I would like to portray in this book that my calling card was enthusiasm and love of the game, and I made that point. People so often say, 'I write about people.' That doesn't impress. If you can't write about people, you don't belong in this business. If you can't do that, you're not a writer to start with. I've written a lot of good player profiles, I think. That's not the point, ultimately. If you don't have the games, who would care about the people? You wouldn't even know about the people. The game has to be there first. That's one point I always tried to stress.
JZ: Red Auerbach had his 11 principles for playing basketball that he included in his 1952 book Basketball for the Player, the Fan and the Coach. They were similar to John Wooden's aphorisms, and some of Red's thoughts on playing basketball still apply today such as "Don't hold the ball too long. Look for men cutting."
BR: Some of the stuff is dated, no question. But some of the stuff is apropos, no doubt about it. Red was a gigantic figure in the world of sports. It was translated into many languages and had a long shelf life. My copy was one year afterward and it was 25 cents. I still have it. I persevered it. Right now, it's sitting downstairs in a baggy in my office so it doesn't get damaged and I got him to sign it. That's one my proud little possessions.
JZ: You love to watch Larry Bird. You would take Michael Jordan in championship but LeBron James encompasses everything that a basketball player can do on the court. You dedicate a chapter to the greatest of all time. Who is it?
BR: I really ended that chapter with a waffle. I'll have my cake and eat it, too. You've got to go with Michael, but I'd rather watch LeBron. LeBron encompasses everything I think. He's a better rebounder than Michael. He's a better passer. Michael had that undefinable cutthroat instinct of winning you can't deny. The record is clear. He never even got to a seventh game in the Finals. That's how incredibly dominant he was. Fine. But LeBron is just exquisite. I just love watching LeBron. I think his heart has always been pure and as I wrote, the thing he had to do was get a little more selfish. That's a chapter I'm glad I included. I hope people take something away from that chapter because I think they're a very interesting comparison.
JZ: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
BR: I'm not naïve or Pollyannaish, and I know there's a lot things wrong with sports. That wasn't my point. My point was to celebrate a gratitude of somebody who was able to make a living in sports and had fun with it and satisfied my two passions – sports and writing. I love words. I've always loved words. I love composing. The thing I'm most proudest of frankly is deadline writing. I'll leave you with this one and I didn't mention it in the book because I didn't know how to shoehorn it in quite frankly. You know the Best American Sports Writing book, right? It's been around in one format or another since 1944. I spent hours and hours and hours and hours reading every available copy in the school library at Lawrenceville when I was there. It was a dream to get in the book someday, which I finally did a couple of times.
I'm hanging my hat on this one. For years and years and the book was originally about deadline writing. It was all about covering events and there were a couple of pieces that were magazine pieces. It's evolved over the years and it's an entirely different book now. If you look at it every year, it is nothing but magazine pieces, newspaper takeouts in which people have all the time in the world to write what they want to write. The last story in that book that was a deadline story was written by yours truly in 2003. It was after the Aaron Boone home run after Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and the column I wrote made the book and every year, I pull my Don Shula 1972 Dolphins, and I open the book and go, 'Yesss!' I am the last person with a deadline story in that book. It may be the thing I'm proudest of. I think I have a pretty good chance of going to my grave having opened the metaphorical bottle of champagne every year.
I'm a writer first. If I'm known in America by anybody under 40, it's because of TV. I know that. It's great. I'm grateful. It's changed my life and put two kids through college. I love it. But I'm a writer. When I look in the mirror, I'm a writer. I still see a writer. Writing is still what matters to me.

Book Review: 'Scribe' by Bob Ryan

By Allen Barra
October 11, 2014
Since 1957, when he typed his assessment of the Mercer County Parochial Basketball League’s 1957-1958 season on a single sheet of 8 x 11 paper, Bob Ryan has been a sportswriter. “[A] two-part word,” he says early in “Scribe,’’ and “my entire life has been devoted to both aspects.”
“Scribe: My Life in Sports” is not so much a personal memoir as one of a career, and given that Ryan has been writing for half a century, the book serves as a cutaway view of sports from the tabloids of the late 1950s to satellite TV and Twitter. He approached each event with the professionalism of a journalist and the enthusiasm of a fan. All in all, no one in Ryan’s time has covered as much for as long and as well.
If you’ve read any of Ryan’s columns or any of his previous 11 books — and if you haven’t I suggest you begin with “Celtics Pride’’ and “When Boston Won the World Series’’ — you know what to expect: a swift and elegant prose style that gets to the point in a hurry. And “Scribe’’ offers a bonus: a reflective humor that can only come from years of working at a job you love.
Beginning with the high school basketball games he attended with his father in Trenton, N.J., “I did not consider the experience to have had any validity until I read about it the following day in the Morning Trentonian” — his hometown tabloid newspaper.
Through six summer and five winter Olympics, nearly 14 Boston Celtics seasons, hundreds of playoff and World Series games, and “the ultimate résumé booster — a Dog Show,” Ryan has covered more sports than ESPN has channels for. In August of 2011, his boss forced him to cover an Ultimate Fighting Championship, and “I was smart enough to retire before he could coerce me into another one.”
“I grew up in a time,” he writes, “and in a manner that has vanished.” The lots where he and his friends played hardball and tackle football have long been turned into strip malls. “I have no idea where the neighborhood kids would play any game of their choosing today.” (I do — in their bedrooms with their video games.)
His father worked in sports in various capacities from the athletic department at Villanova to the business offices of teams such as the Trenton Giants, where Willie Mays made his minor league debut in 1950, with a four-year-old Bob in the stands. Ryan’s father died when he was 11. His mother, “a staunch cradle-to-grave Catholic,” resisted pressure from parish priests who wanted him to attend Notre Dame High School. Instead, he was lucky enough to get into the Lawrenceville School, where he became sports editor of the prep-school’s paper, The Lawrence.
Later, while attending Boston College, he found work as an office boy at The Boston Globe and got his chance when an opening came up in the sports department. He had the spectacular luck to mature as a writer at almost exactly the same time that pro basketball boomed from “a mom-and-pop organization into an international conglomerate.” He recalls, “When I began covering it, I was not an NBA aficionado. I was a conscripted college man. That didn’t mean I wasn’t eager to learn. It meant I had a lot to learn.’’
One of the things he learned was that he was going to have to control himself when face-to-face with sports legends. After his first game, he found himself interviewing the great Oscar Robertson and “thinking to myself as I was doing it, Oh my God, I’m talking to Oscar Robertson!” Another thing he learned was that deadlines are sacred. He was late on the first story he wrote.
In “Scribe,” Ryan empties his notebooks of a lifetime’s worth of great stories, observations, and anecdotes. His favorite basketball player to watch was Larry Bird, but he says Dave Cowens had “the most inimitable and unforgettable combination of athletic skill and personality.”
His favorite Olympic basketball game was played by women, Team CIS (then an acronym for the Commonwealth of Independent States, a group of former Soviet republics) vs. Team USA in 1992. “[I]f ever a group of basketball players had no reason for an allegiance to anything other than their own individual and collective happiness, it was that collection of young ladies,” he wrote of Team CIS, which won, 79-73.
The worst thing Ryan can say about Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight is that “while he seems to have high standards for other people’s behavior and actions, he does not seem to be able to hold himself accountable.”
Not knowing hockey is “definitely a problem in Boston.” Baseball “is the greatest game ever to spring from the mind of mortal man . . . I know more about baseball than I do about anything else.”
On pro football, though, he has become grown more dubious: “Football is a barbaric game. In a more civilized, more genteel society no one would even think of sanctioning such an activity . . . That said, I wouldn’t dream of missing the Super Bowl or the National Championship football game.”
For millions of Boston area fans over the last few decades, a major sporting event wasn’t validated till Bob Ryan wrote about it. It’s fitting, then, that he should leave us his own epithet: “I strongly suspect my last words will be, ‘Who won?’ ”
More coverage:
Allen Barra writes about sports for and the Wall Street Journal. His latest book is “Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age.’’

UCLA’s New Cover Girl: Guess Which Far Leftist It Is!

Posted By Ron Radosh On October 14, 2014 @ 2:22 pm In Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Look whose photo graces the campus of UCLA, meant to be an inspiration to incoming students. The woman in the photo is standing above the slogan: “We Question.” On the right-hand side, in small letters, students are informed that they are “the optimists.”

This banner adds to the shadow that today is cast over so many of our major universities.
For those who can’t identify her, the photo depicts Angela Davis, the notorious former Communist Party USA leader who, beginning in the ’60s, molded together black nationalism with Marxism-Leninism. She created a heady brew for recruiting new cadre into the CP and the original Black Panther Party of Huey Newton.

Some optimist! Davis believed in the triumph of Communism.

For her loyalty to the Soviet Union and its foreign policies, in 1972 she was awarded a Lenin Centenary Medal in the Soviet Union, after which she spoke to thousands at an outdoor rally in Moscow. Next, speaking at a factory in Kirov, Davis praised the workers for not using “products of labor [to fuel] the irrational drive for capitalist profits as it is used in our country.”

As she left Moscow and went up the stairs to enter her plane, she yelled out with a clenched fist: “Long live the science of Marxism-Leninism.” There is not an iota of evidence that she questioned anything about the dreary reality in the Soviet Union and their Eastern European client states.
Davis also received the International Lenin Peace Prize — formerly called the Stalin Peace Prize — from the STASI state of East Germany in 1979. She was awarded it for supposedly strengthening “peace among peoples,” but it was actually for her continued fidelity to the Soviet bloc, which to her represented the future of humanity.

Not only did she not “question” authority, Davis openly defended the repressive measures of the Communist states by endorsing their imprisonment of dissident intellectuals. When the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the movement for “socialism with a human face” that the citizens of the country believed they could pull off without Soviet intervention, Davis strenuously supported the invasion that was forthcoming.

In 1970, she was implicated in a plot to free her imprisoned lover, black revolutionary George Jackson, whose brother took over a Marin County courtroom and took the judge hostage, as well as an assistant DA and two jurors.

After a gun battle, the judge was murdered by a shotgun owned by Davis.

Davis then fled, assumed different aliases, and disguised how she looked. She was brought to trial, and to great amazement of those who believed no black could get a fair trial in the U.S., the jury found her innocent. As it turned out, the jurors were all defenders of Davis. One juror even faced TV news cameras and gave the clenched-fist salute, indicating their lack of objectivity or intent to evaluate the evidence.

After the jury’s acquittal of Davis, Pelikan wrote: “Try to help [the imprisoned Czech dissidents] so they can defend themselves against their accusers as you have been able to do in your country.” His plea fell on deaf ears. She had a close friend, another black female American Communist Party leader, tell the press that Davis believed that the critics of the Czech regime were counter-revolutionaries who were undermining socialism, and therefore were undeserving of support.

Davis’ entire life reveals a woman who, rather than question authority, uses her skills to attack the very democracy she lives in — which allowed her to teach at a university, obtain highly paid speaking engagements, and publish scores of books attacking the American government.
After 9/11, Davis said: “The United States significantly contributed to conditions that led to the violence on September 11.” As for demands that she not be allowed to speak, she said in a campus speech at Keene State College in New Hampshire that she finds it “bizarre, if freedom is being defended, that it is necessary to curtail freedom in order to defend freedom.”

As we have seen, she had a very different view when it came to defending freedom in the so-called “people’s democracies.”

From the ’60s to the present, Angela Davis has been a thoughtless propagandist for every far Left cause one can imagine. How did she ever become a Communist and believe in the Leninist theory of “dialectical materialism” and all of its mumbo-jumbo? The answer comes from the high school which she attended — Elisabeth Irwin H.S., the upper level division of the famed private school the Little Red School House, referred to by its critics with an additional three words: “for little Reds.”

I attended the same high school to which Davis got a scholarship and then moved from her middle-class black home in Birmingham, Alabama, to attend in New York City. There she was taught history by its longstanding history teacher, a man named Harold Kirshner — the very same man who taught me that “dialectical materialism is a science” and that Marxism explained the world. The author of a recent book [2] about the high school writes that it was the same Kirshner who “effected a life-altering transformation in Davis” by assigning her the works of Marx and Engels. The effect it had, Davis said, hit her “like a bolt of lightning.” After that she graduated from Kirshner to taking a class from the official CP “historian” Herbert Aptheker at a Communist school he had set up in the city.

One might ask: Why is Davis so important? The answer is that today’s cultural elites, like whoever at UCLA decided to adorn the campus with her photo, treat any rebel — even a dogmatic ideologue like Angela Davis — as a leader from which students can learn valuable lessons. It is these academics who treat her as both a saint and a leader, and who constantly invite her to give major speeches on our campuses which they urge their students to attend.

To herald Angela Davis as a person who questions anything reveals the mindset of our university administrators, and is itself more evidence of the decline of standards at our major colleges and universities. Expect Ms. Davis to be a graduation speaker sometime in UCLA’s future. That is the logical next step in helping Angela Davis lead her march to a communist future via “the long march through the existing institutions.”

Article printed from Ron Radosh:

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