Sunday, August 31, 2008

We're on Foal Watch

So Maude is 'officially' due 1st September 2008. However, she does not appear to want to produce her foal for us today and is still looking fairly WIIIIDE as this video demonstrates. Dear old girl, I cannot imagine it is comfortable to be that size!

My Issues with Time

I never seem to have all the time I need to do the things I want to do and need to do. It is getting on my fucking nerves. My reach continually exceeds my grasp.

I'm tired of living like this. I often wonder if I have too many projects going on until I realize that I am making no progress on anything outside of my job. I wake up each day to do things, and I get less and less done each day. It drives me insane.

I've been taking my Labor Day Weekend and using it to try and recharge my batteries and find new ways for managing my life. I'm not sure what the answer is to my problems, but I do know that I am not pleased with how little I am accomplishing.

Looking at the life of Leonardo da Vinci, there are certain chronic problems that he had. The first was that he had a hard time finishing things. The second was that he was always filling those notebooks but doing nothing in terms of execution. He was brilliant but ineffective. There is a lesson to be learned there.

The Achilles' Heel of the Reniassance Man is that he is often unable to complete a project because other projects crowd it out. It is also the problem of the multitasker. It is simply a lack of focus. This is where Aristotle's mean comes into play. Pick too few tasks, and you end up with boredom and time to fill. Pick too many, and you get nothing done.

I am trying desperately to find the midpoint between minimalism and maximalism. I'm hoping I will have the answer this weekend.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Knight Commission on NCAA, College Player Publicity Rights, and Fantasy Sports

Knight Commission co-chairs William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the university system of Maryland, and R. Gerald Turner, president of Southern Methodist University, have an interesting op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times on college athletes being used in fantasy sports (a topic which Rick blogged about in July). Although the NCAA claims to oppose the use of college athletes in fantasy sports, it has thus far resisted taking any legal or other meaningful action to stop the use. As Kirwan and Turner detail, the NCAA's lack of active resistance seems inconsistent with its mission to prevent college athletes from exploitation and to ensure that there is a clear line drawn between amateur sports and pro sports. I've excerpted their op-ed below.

* * *

These online fantasy leagues, which use the real names and statistics of collegiate athletes, raise a crucial question for higher education leaders: Is it amateurism in college sports that has become a fantasy?

The National Collegiate Athletic Assn. -- the organization of colleges, universities and conferences that governs sports programs -- has long upheld the principle of amateurism. NCAA bylaws establish that students participating in college sports "should be protected from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises." Clearly, these fantasy contests violate that tenet.

To fulfill its fundamental purpose of retaining a "clear line of demarcation between college athletics and professional sports," the NCAA and its member universities need to combat these infringements on athletes' rights and the principles of amateur sports.

Fantasy games allow fans to draft a personal "dream team" of players that earns points based on the real performances of chosen players. There are many such start-up games online, but CBS Sports' is the most prominent. That raises particularly thorny questions for the NCAA and its member institutions because the network essentially funds the NCAA through a broadcast contract worth half a billion dollars a year.

Although CBS Sports' Fantasy College Football is free, other companies charge entry fees of up to $19.95 a team and offer cash prizes of up to $25,000 for winning teams. One company goes so far as to assign salaries to top-rated college players because its game requires each team to stay under a pay cap.

* * *

NCAA rules allow the names and images of athletes to be used only to promote their teams and their games. In fact, neither the NCAA nor the universities acquire any other publicity rights to athletes; they simply cannot license the use of their names or images -- not to fantasy leagues, not to video game companies, not to sportswear companies.

However, CBS Sports and other fantasy league operators believe that they have found a loophole. A recent court ruling found that Major League Baseball players' names and stats are not owned by the individual players or the leagues, but instead are in the public domain. This ruling was made by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving Major League Baseball Advanced Media and a fantasy league operator. The court decision describes these professional players as being "handsomely" compensated and able to earn "additional large sums" through endorsement contracts.

Legal scholars disagree about whether this ruling applies to amateur athletes who are not compensated for their participation and cannot earn money from endorsements.

We believe that the NCAA, universities and college athletes should take firm positions that this ruling does not apply to amateur sports -- and that all those groups should contact fantasy game operators to formally demand they stop using students' names in these games. Unless the courts clearly decide that amateur athletes' names can be used without consent and for purely commercial purposes, the NCAA and universities have the responsibility to stand up for their athletes and the amateurism principles that should guide college sports.

* * *

To read the rest of the op-ed, click here. To learn more about the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, click here.

Building a Successful Franchise Takes Time...and Patience

In yesterday's edition of the Washington Times, Thom Loverro rips the management of the Washington Nationals for its poor performance, including Nationals president Stan Kasten for not achieving in two years the level of success he had as president of the Atlanta Braves (Kasten's Impact Not Visible):

If Kasten is not steering this ship - and it's difficult to believe that he is - then he needs to find a life preserver and jump because, as the great Micheal Ray Richardson once said, "The ship be sinking."

The franchise has become a source of bewilderment and amusement throughout the industry, the butt of jokes and the subject of embarrassing national media reports of mismanagement within the organization that are all too evident to those who have watched this debacle unfold here. The team has been abysmal, on its way to a 100-plus losses - the worst record of any team opening a new ballpark since the Camden Yards era began. Sure, the Nationals have been hit hard by injuries, but it doesn't explain the poor play and the wasted money on those players who have underperformed when they were on the field....

If the Lerners are not spending the money on payroll, not spending the money on high-priced draft picks and not spending the money on international signings, then where is the money going?....

And as a rule, I have found that if things seem really bad from the outside looking in - they're actually much worse. Kasten has maintained a positive party line. He would chew broken glass rather than reveal any internal turmoil. But it is clear this is not the work of a seasoned sports executive, especially one as highly regarded as Kasten. In a 2006 article in The Washington Post, NBA commissioner David Stern declared, "They've gotten themselves a first-class sports executive. It's fair to say it would be hard to replicate somebody with Stan's wide range of experience and his successes." The decisions and operations of this franchise do not mesh with the track record of a sports executive who ran what was considered the model organization in baseball for years, the Atlanta Braves. Between the Braves and the NBA's Hawks, he helped them to 30 postseason appearances.

I'm not sure how this reporter professes to know (1) what management decisions the Nationals are or should be making or (2) that the decisions and operations of the Nationals do not mesh with Kasten's track record with the Braves. However, he conveniently omits the fact that, before the Braves became a "model organization," they struggled through 4 consecutive losing seasons (including a season in which they lost 106 games) under Kasten's watch during the mid to late 80's. He omits the fact that, when Kasten took over the Nationals as president two years ago, Kasten warned that it was going to take years to make the Nationals a contender and that it would actually get worse before it got better. He omits the fact that any plan to build a franchise through player development takes much longer than two years. If he had interviewed Kasten, I'm sure Kasten would have pointed all of this out for him. But rather than interview anybody from the Nationals, Loverro chose to base his assertions upon a "rule" he "found" somewhere that says "if things seem really bad on the outside looking in -- they're actually much worse." I hope that's not the ethical standard for sports journalism these days.

Building a successful team on the field is not dependent upon how much money is spent on payroll in the short term. It takes time and patience. It also takes good scouting and player development personnel who share the same vision and philosophy, and who can effectively instill that vision and philosophy into the players at both the major and minor league levels. Kasten knows this all too well from his experience in Atlanta. Give him a couple more years, and he'll get it straightened out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Two expectant mums and my little grey stallion

Not really much to report today. Hamish's book is nearly filled with the addition of another mare on Friday. He was his usual amenable self when the mare owner came out to meet him and once again ensured that I was a very proud mum. Here are some pix taken today:

Debi is due in the first couple of weeks in October. As usual she is carrying a little lopsided. I took these pics of her standing at the gate waiting patiently for her hay this morning.

And finally we have Maude whose official due date is Monday (1st Sept) - She's getting closer, that's for sure! The jury's out as to whether she will be on time but she is usually not too far off. This is the fourth foal she will be having for us and Reilly's very first born! Very exciting. I am hoping for a colt because I really need to sell the foal and a filly would be far too tempting to keep!



Front on

Can someone explain why Metallica is popular?

I know among Heavy metal fans they are popular, but how come people who don't like Metal, love them. I have a mate who doesn't like the genre, but he has their CD's, he swears by this band, and they seem to have been around for decades, at the school I went to kids loved them, they couldn't believe me, I would rather listen to Billy Joel, than rock out to them.

I didn't think much about the band during high school, but in the early 90's, James Hetfield said to a reporter "WHATS A GARTH BROOKS?" in response to the reporting saying Metallica had been knocked out of the number one album spot on the Billboard top 200 by Garth Brooks.

That quote was used by Garth for the next couple of years, in interviews on tv, also on the print and radio media, and well the rest is history, so in some little way, Metallica has to take credit for the success of Garth.

That is my limit of knowledge of Metallica, so my question still remains, why are they popular?

Sean Marks signs with the Hornets

Sean Marks is surly the most underrated kiwi sports star ever. Here is a kiwi, playing in one of the most competitive sports leagues in the world, hes a veteran of the NBA, where millions of basketballers are trying to get a contract, and he has one. At his time with Spurs, he was a crowd favorite, with chants of "KIWI KIWI KIWI", can ya imagine any other NZ sports star being that popular in the the USA?

He has an NBA ring, he is one of our highest paid sports people in our history, probably only second to the great Ryan Nelson. This should be celebrated by the media and the public, and I only hope our media gives him the credit he deserves.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

LPGA English Only Requirement

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) has been at the center of a media firestorm for the past several days. On August 20th, it announced that it was adopting a policy that requires its member golfers to speak English proficiently or face suspension. For players that have been on tour for two years, they must pass an oral evaulation of their English proficiency by the end of the 2009 season or face suspension.

LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens
In defense of this policy LPGA Deputy Commissioner Libba Galloway said "We're focusing on the fact that we're in the sports entertainment business and we have to interact with fans and sponsors. . . . We want to emphasize to our players that they need to be approachable."

Leading Asian American academics as well as other professional tours and players (including the PGA and ATP) have weighed in on this policy finding it offensive.

The legality of the policy remains a question. One argument frames up as follows:

"Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida, said a language requirement could be in violation of state law. 'Florida law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations,' he said. 'They may well violate Florida discrimination laws because language is a key element of person's national origin. People should be judged on their ability to perform a job. English fluency has no more to do with the ability to play 18 holes of golf than whether you walk 18 holes or ride 18 holes.'"

"Deputy Commisioner Galloway, however, said the LPGA can stand its legal ground. 'Organizations and businesses in general have the right to make requirements on skill sets necessary for their employers,' she said. 'We as a membership organization have the right to establish obligations that our members must adhere to in order to do the things fundamental to conduct our business.'"

For the most part, players seem to be voicing support for the program, including many of the tour's South Korean golfers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wow, I am a Grandma!

Today a lovely email arrived in my inbox. Five years ago we sold our first homebred (TF Bridie - half sister to TF Bijou & Century's Glee & a full sister to Roxy) to a fantastic farming home up the line a wee way and on Tuesday our baby had a baby all of her own! A delightful filly. I'm a very proud grandma!

Two (Resold) Tickets to Paradise

As a NY Jets fan, the start of a new NFL season brings new hope. Hope that this might be the first time that the Jets make it to a Super Bowl in my lifetime, and hope that someone I know (let’s call him, “Fabe Geldman”) does not buy counterfeit tickets outside the stadium. I'll save the Super Bowl discussion and my pain in seeing Chad Pennington in a Dolphins uniform for another time and focus on the ticket issue here.

As first announced back in December 2007, the NFL launched its secondary ticket partnership with Ticketmaster in time for the upcoming NFL season. Through this ticket exchange, fans will be able to buy and sell tickets to all games for the 2008 season. According to an article in USA Today, the NFL and its teams will not limit how much fans can resell their tickets for over the face value of the ticket, and fans will be permitted to resell their tickets through other sites such as StubHub. This continues the evolution of the secondary ticket market in pro sports and the move away from anti-scalping laws. Rather than fight the secondary ticket brokers, the NFL, like MLB last year, has decided to join them.

Why the shift? Well, the most obvious answer is that the NFL and Ticketmaster want a piece of the secondary ticket market pie. Total revenue from tickets sales for the NFL last year was about $1.8 billion, with an average ticket price of just over $67. According to the NFL, 5-10% of those tickets were resold on the secondary ticket market. The NFL obviously wants a piece of that 5-10%, and is essentially looking to sell the same ticket twice (or more). I haven’t seen the financial terms of the deal, but Ticketmaster is (not surprisingly) charging an “authentication and ticketFast fee” for the purchase of tickets through the ticket exchange.

Another factor (though perhaps not quite as powerful as the leagues’ economic interests) may be the recognition that anti-scalping and anti-reselling laws and policies are not very effective or efficient. Anti-scalping laws were originally enacted to limit the resale of tickets to sporting events on the belief that allowing the reselling of tickets would lead to higher prices and an “unfair” distribution of tickets to the wealthy. In an interesting study done by Craig Depken (“Another Look at anti-scalping laws: Theory and Evidence,” 130 Public Choice 55 (2006)), however, evidence showed that the face value of ticket prices for baseball and football games were actually higher in states with anti-scalping laws. And, the prevailing wisdom seems to be that the growth of an easily accessible and free secondary ticket market leads to a more efficient and fair system for customers on at least three levels.

First, secondary markets such as StubHub and the new Tickemaster ticket exchange provide an easy way for ticket holders to sell unwanted tickets. In many cases, this creates a market for tickets at a price lower than face value (and serves a benefit to the original ticket holder who is able to get some money for the ticket).

Second, it protects against the sale of counterfeit tickets.

Third, it allows for a more efficient allocation of tickets (and a correction of the “mispricing” of the original ticket). If Fan A buys a ticket for $60, and Fan B values that ticket at $150, it is a more efficient result for Fan B to pay $150 to Fan A for the ticket than for Fan A to go to the game and for Fan B to spend his/her money elsewhere. Granted, some may vehemently disagree with this definition of efficiency (and with the notion that the NFL and Ticketmaster should get a share of that money), but I think we can all agree that this result is more efficient than Fan B (aka, Fabe Geldman) buying a counterfeit ticket from “Fan” C.

I am curious to see what impact these organized and league-approved secondary ticket markets have on ticket prices—both in the primary and secondary market. The reselling of tickets—either by scalpers, ticket brokers, or formal ticket exchanges—has always provided an opportunity for consumers to get a good deal on a ticket that is in low demand (or that a seller must quickly sell) or for consumers to pay a premium to get access to tickets that are in great demand. Will these new ticket exchanges lead to more good deals and higher premiums than would exist without the exchanges? And, will this correction of the “mispricing” of the original ticket have any impact on the face value of tickets in the coming years?

The NCAA's "No Agent" Rule Discriminates Against Baseball Players

Aaron Fitt of Baseball America wrote an excellent article this week that really delves into the issue of the impracticality of the NCAA's "no agent" rule in the sport of baseball (Secret Agent Deals: NCAA Has Rules on Agents, But They're Rarely Enforced, subscription only). In a 2005 law review article, I discussed how baseball is unique from football and basketball because amateur players in baseball have NCAA eligibility remaining before and after the draft. Essentially, baseball players have to be concerned about being disciplined for retaining an agent, whereas football and basketball players don't. I proposed that the NCAA make an exception for baseball allowing players to be represented by an agent so as to put them on par with amateur football and basketball players, but with established guidelines that clearly define the nature of the player-agent relationship and the rights and obligations of the player and agent (regarding agent fees, services to be performed, rights of termination, etc.) pursuant to a standard form representation agreement similar to the NFLPA's standard rep. agreement. Fitt highlighted my article and my proposal. It's nice to see this issue getting some attention now, and Andy Oliver's lawsuit against the NCAA is the impetus for it.

In his article, Fitt discussed the "industry norm" of players being represented by agents and he interviewed scouting directors, college coaches and agents, all of whom confirmed it:
  • "Every single player that we deal with—I don't care what round you're talking about—has representation, has an agent," said an American League scouting director. "It's been that way for the last four or five years, and I'm talking even about kids drafted in the 28th round. It's a prerequisite now. These agents are barraging us with telephone calls before we even select a player. I can't even tell you how early agents try to call us and sell us on a player. It starts way before the draft. Those aren't calls that I initiate, but I'm not going to hang up on the guy. The problem is I guess the NCAA's problem, and it's wide and far and deep, but it's not an issue for us, it really isn't....The college coaches know these guys are represented. You'd think the NCAA would get more involved if they care, because we're playing a charade here if we think these players are representing themselves, and it's just family advisers after they get drafted. That's kind of a joke."

  • "The kids need advice, that's precisely why they pick up an adviser," said Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin, president of the American Baseball Coaches Association. "At the same time there's a rule against (agents representing players) and it's basically ignored by everyone. People will get away with whatever they can get away with. If there's no standards or guidelines or it's not followed up on, people are going to take advantage. If you're going to have a rule like that, you need to have some stick-toitiveness. At the college level, I don't think administrators understand this part of college baseball, the recruiting part of it, where there is this type of activity going on. I just don't think people know enough about it."
Fitt astutely notes: "If the NCAA is going to get serious about enforcement, it needs to start by coming to grips with the simple reality that agents are omnipresent in college baseball in the 21st century. Then it needs to either actively work to change that reality (a daunting and unrealistic goal), or else rethink its rules against the industry norm."

From my perspective, I just never understood the NCAA's position that drawing a line between a permissible "advisor" and impermissible "agent" is essential to preserving the line between amateurism and professionalism. Why is it that a discussion between the agent and club about the prospect of signing a contract (impermissible) is so materially different than a discussion between the agent and player about the prospect of signing a contract (permissible)? The agent-advisor distinction simply has no bearing on being, or even becoming, a professional. In other words, a player's prospect of signing a professional contract is determined by the draft, not by whether the player has an adviser or an agent or no adviser or agent. So what we are really talking about here is how much money the player is eventually going to sign for, which is where the value of an agent or adviser does come into play. Surely, the NCAA can't be concerned with how much money the player is going to get!

Fitt notes that even college coaches, like Louisiana State's Paul Mainieri—a former president of the ABCA himself—see plenty of sense in my proposal. "To be honest with you—and people in the NCAA may be angry with me for saying this—but I don't really see the problem with a representative talking to a team about a player," Mainieri said. "I would much rather my player not be distracted while he's playing the season. How would an organization determine the signability of my player if he doesn't have a chance to talk to him? So if you've got 30 different organizations trying to talk to my player and we're trying to win a regional or super-regional or whatever, it's very difficult for a player to concentrate on baseball."

The Green Party of New Zealand

Your a disgrace Jeanette Fitzsimons, a once proud woman, who stood up for people's right's regardless of Gender/religion or race, someone all kiwis could look too, has showed her real side. I feel quite ill to my stomach, this is beyond repugnant.

You see, there is state sponsored bigotry and sexism happening in our schools, the Green Party has been informed and wont do anything about it, in fact Jeanette supports this action. I hate any form of hatred and I dont think one can use what your culture or religion is as an excuse.

Over in the USA, people stood us to sick behavior and laws, when Rose Parks was asked to sit in the back of a bus, she didn't, even though, White Southern America, said "Hey its our culture", the government saw it was wrong, and changed the law"

When Muslim immigrants still wanted the right to beat up on their wifes, western governments said, that is wrong, you cant use your religion to justify that behavior. Yet, when a young girl of eleven years old was told, that her and all female classmates had to shut up and sit in the back, that is apparently okay according to the green party. This was a state school visit to a Maree, and the female were told they couldn't talk and had to sit at the back.

This eleven year old girl is a visitor to this country, and felt quite ill to her stomach. What kind of message is this sending this to young girls? but the Greenies support it. Can you imagine any school trip anyway else in New Zealand where the Maori students are told to shut up and sit in the back, The Greens would be outraged, but in this case they shut up and say, because its a culture issue apparently.

Can you imagine, if the US Government said "Its the southern culture we wont intervene" in the Rosa Parks case or the government saying "Muslim men can still beat up their wifes, its their religion"

Well this is the same thing, just because its a culture, doesn't make it right, and what makes it worse, the government is supporting it, they are supporting a behavior that says "Hey girls, shut ya mouth, and sit in the back, a man is about to talk"

Our so called , supporters of people's freedom's, the party that is against Bigotry and sexism wont say a thing, they are hypocrites to the highest degree, they are disgraceful as politicians and disgraceful as human beings.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

When young players are "too good"

No time to analyze this, but I wanted to call attention to this story about a youth baseball league in New Haven that has prohibited a 9-year-old on one team from pitching because he is "too good" (he throws 40 MPH, apparently with control) and now has taken steps to disband the team. There also seem to be some sub-surface issues about personal disputes between the adults running the league.

Sometimes, there is nothing to say.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Reilly being a pillock in the paddock

I guess I only have myself to blame. The weather has been so atrocious and the ground getting so saturated, that I have been putting Reilly in the yards to get him off the pasture for a bit. I let him out early this evening and he thanked me by proceeding to play silly buggers and act like a complete numpty in his paddock. I went back inside and grabbed the camera and captured a couple of quick video snippets of his antics for everyone to enjoy!

Ventspils Atlants 2008

Back from the IUKL-competition and European Championships in Ventspils 22-25/8. It was great and many experiences, learnings, and nice people. In fact, it feels like I have been away for weeks, rather than just four days. I will only scribble down some impressions so it does not become a book.

In about 200 competitors and a good number of judges and functionnaries. Ginko, Fuglev, Robert Innus, Lochmels, Kalle Puss… several of the big gs-personalities were there. No comments necessary really. During one IUKL-meeting we were visited by Mr Razkov from the International GS federation. If I understood it correctly, he had been among the ones who first organized kettlebell lifting into a formal sport in 1962. C’est quelque chose ("that's something").

I met my old Finnish friends and also made new ones like Paul Tucker, Jason from Ireland, Vigantis from Lithuania, and Johan from France.

One of the organizers meant that competitions should also be like ”a big party.” This was indeed a big kettlebell party. Very well organized. There were IUKL-busses between the airport in Riga and Ventspils. Ginko, Svetlana Rukina, and many others had worked hard to arrange with lodging and logistics for all the arrivals.
Sweet little girls with signs led in the different national teams (the Swedish too :-). There was music shows, and juggling demonstrations in between gs-sets. It seemed like the audience also enjoyed the events.

I did not pay a nickle for participating, but will contact them to see so there has not been a mistake. Normally, I think there is a fee for participating in competitions?

Then, of course, there were so many good lifters. Girevoy sport also makes a very nice spectator sport. For example, there was a very exciting snatch set were two top lifters raced against one another and the clock. It was even just up till the last second when one guy got 153 and the other guy scored 154 repetitions. With 32kgs…

Got nice pics from Kukka

My contribution
I made the 85kg category. First the scale showed 85,1kg. When I removed my sturdy metal wrist-watch the scale dropped to 84,9kg.

I lifted in between two amateur lifters from Ukraine and Lithuania − guess who won…

Well, I got 15 jerks and 46 snatches with the 24kgs. It is probably the worst result in the entire competition. I had foreseen that, but my thing was rather to get started competing and learn how to compete. I want to bring some more Swedish men, and women, to Ventspils and other competitions (the organizers explicitly asked me for this). So candidates, now you know that you probably will not be the last ones regarding numbers.

An interesting side effect might be that I am actually the first Swede ever to have competed in a formally recognized girevoy sport event. Please, let me know if I am wrong. A buddy sms.ed "First Swede and last. Not bad."

I had no idea really what my results would be like. Would I get nervous, tense up and get very few jerk reps? Would my technique in a stressful situation be okeyed by the judge, or not? I had a nightmare vision of myself doing jerk after jerk, but the meter staying on zero points because of unclean lockouts, or else.

Jerks: I am kind of happy with the jerks. I made over five minutes, and also had 5, or 7, ”no count” reps. That might seem odd that I am happy with that, but I think that it shows that the judge was pretty strict. Thus, I have 15 “real” jerk reps cleared by an official girevoy sport judge. Before, I had none.

Interesting, I think that my total jerks (the bad ones included) is 20, or 22, which is about my personal record in training.

Tactically, I think that I was too afraid of panicking and doing my jerks too quickly. So, I took care to rest in rack. But maybe, I rested too much and lost strength in rack. As well, I might have stayed in lockout too long, just to make sure the rep would be counted.

Snatches: here, I am annoyed with myself. In training, I have made over sixty snatches several times. With my recent jerk training with 24kgs, as well as heavy swings, in combination with the fact that 20/25 snatches per arm has felt easy in training − I thought that I would cash in a snatch number of at least 60 reps.
But alas! I had not checked out the routines for preparing the bells. I thought that there would be prepared bells up front (i.e. with chalk). But, when I came up to the platform my bell was without chalk. My grip was chalked but already moist from warming up. The bell’s handle really smooth and shiny. Well, to make it short, the handle became very slippery immediately – like it was oiled… My palms did not even feel warm after snatching – like I had not snatched at all.
Well, again I think this experience sorts under the “learn how to compete” theme. It was a good handlebell, well-balanced, thin handle. But, I had not taken the time to prepare it for lifting. Do again, do better! J

Here are some more nice photos from the event taken by Hillar Uudevald from Estonia:

I will talk more about the Ventspils events the weeks to come. Another, very important, upcoming post will be a review of Paul Tucker's coming Downunder Guide to Girevoy Sport.

Medals Poll

In this blog's recent poll asking which country would win the most medals at the 2008 Olympic Games, voters were split, 50-50, between China and the USA. As it turned out, it was a split decision . . . sort of. The USA won the overall tally with 110 medals (its highest number ever, not counting the boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Games) to China's 100, but the host country handily beat the USA in gold medals, 51 to 38. In terms of the tally board, the Beijing Games set the stage for the next edition four years hence in London, which looks to be a showdown between the USA and China. My view is that the USA clearly has the tougher task, because it will be a lot easier for China to pick up another dozen or so medals across the 26 sports scheduled for London than it will be for the USA to mine a similar number of gold medals. Let the preparations begin!

NFL Seeking Congressional Support to Exempt Top Exec Salaries from Public View

As Howard and TaxProf Paul Caron noted last week, the NFL is fighting public disclosure of top league executive salaries (other than that of the commissioner). According to an article published on BNA today, the NFL will continue this effort. The article features comments by attorney Martin Gold (Covington & Burling), who explained:
"Discussions are ongoing to see if there is a consensus among parties in Congress who have taken an interest in this matter."

The 2008 Olympics has Ended

What a wonderful Olympics.

New Zealand had its best Olympics in 20 years, with three gold and nine medals overall.

Great Britain became great again by winning a gazillion medals.

China topped the Gold Medal table, while the USA won most medals over all.

Two global superstars were created in Michael Phelps and Bolt.

The Redeem Team , took out Gold.

Nick Willis won Bronze for NZ in the 1500 metres, probably our most important medal of the games.

A German weightlifter inspired everybody, while a Cuban bought shame upon himself.

Lots and lots of happy moments.

A good time by all!

Bring on London 2012!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Reilly's new browband

A very kind online buddy of mine sent Reilly a new browband for his work bridle. The ribbon one that it came with is really nice but tends to slip a bit and I just wanted a leather one for everyday riding but was struggling to find something. It arrived today so I chucked it on the bridle and whizzed up to the paddock and popped it on Reilly so I could take a pic for Debz who sent it to me. May as well share the pix with blog readers as I have nothing of interest to write about!

Reilly sans bridle

Reilly in his new browband

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Separate marathons

Why don't they run the men's and women's Olympic marathons together? They run every other world-class marathon together. And this is the one sport (or event) in which space, rules, and logistics allow the separate competitions to be played simultaneously. And wouldn't it be a nice symbol for gender equity?

Update: Sunday, 7:30 a.m.

In response to Joshue'a comment that inertia trumps absent a compelling reason for combining them, let me rework my point to make it an assertion rather than a question: They should run both marathons together. The compelling reasons for doing so are that they run all other road races together anyway, the symbolic value of having men and women compete together is socially meaningful and furthers one element of the "Olympic spirit," and this is one sport where they can compete together--the fastest women run about 11 minutes behind the fastest men and the logistics allow it.

So I hereby propose this change for 2012.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Joe Biden is Obama's Choice

He brings something to the ticket that is Obama's weak point, experience, he is serving his six term and is considered very moderate for a democrat. He is very tough on crime, having drafted the violent crime control and law enforcement act, according to the good people at Wiki.

His strong points are that he has no weak points, right wingers cannot call him soft on issues of terrorism, there has never been a scandal with him, basically he brings a balance and that is what Obama's needs, right wing radio will hate this choice because there is no mud you can throw at this decent man. He is respected across the board, with this choice, Obama has a chance in states like Ohio.

Let the convection begin!

April 2009

In April 2009, it will be 20 years ago, that Garth Brooks, the biggest selling solo artist in USA history, made his debut, and became the fastest artist ever to sell 100 million albums.

In 2001 he retired, only to come out for special charity concerts or releasing an Ultimate Hits package that covered the music and videos of his career. Garth it seems is enjoying his retirement, raising his three young daughters and wont considered coming out of retirement until his youngest daughter turns 18, that is six years away.

Fans should respect his wishes, and fans should wait and have patience for a new tour and album in 2014. In saying this, I hope he marks his career with something special in April 2009, it will be 20 years since he came on the music scene and changed country music forever.

A box set wont do it, A one off performance wont even do it, so what he can do? There wont be a new studio album without a full tour so that is out of the question, a good idea would be for Garth to write an autobiography of his career so far, words straight from Garth's mouth, surly it will rocket to the top of the New York times best seller list and it will keep the fans happy, so how about that for a idea?, then of course he will have to do a book signing! I think that will be a great way to mark 20 years as one of music's legends.

All dressed up yet nowhere to go!

Amy is a definitely a very spoiled little girl. Recently two of my internet friends have sent her riding clothes and tonight, I was bored, so I dressed her up. The jods came from a long-time internet friend Shiwon Green and the jacket is on loan from another long-time internet friend, Charlotte. The shirt under the jacket came from ANOTHER long-time internet friend (but one I have actually met and stayed with) Jacqui, whose daughter had outgrown a few pairs of jods and shirts (which Amy will grow into in time!). The chaps came from the Saddlery Warehouse a while ago and have matching gloves but do you think I can find them? Of course I can't. Anyway, now I am of course desperate to put Amy on a pony dressed like this and take her somewhere, just a shame the pony isn't broken in really, lol!

Next thing on the list is a saddle. Amy has a pony pad which was a very kind gift from Chris (a very, very long time and one of my closest internet friends) but soon I would like to get one of the Wintec pp's which seem to encourage a good position. It's all money though isn't it. Better be nice to Gramma and Grampa!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stunning weather, sunning ponies!

I LOVE crisp winter days like this - you can really believe that spring is on its way but the snow and sharp frosts remind you that winter is still very much here! Today my photos are a mixture of happy ponies in the sun and the snowy vista of the Tararua ranges - We are surrounded by stunningly snowy mountains and have views that, particularly on days like today, are to die for!

Tom Crean Better be "Mr. Clean"

Tropical storm Fay is getting closer and has caused us to shut down school today and tomorrow. So it's a good time to blog about IU's new contract with head basketball coach Tom Crean signed last week and announced yesterday -- a 10-year deal that could be worth up to $23.6M. Mark Alesia of The Indianapolis Star highlights the fact that Crean's contract "includes far more strict language on rules compliance, disciplinary action and personal behavior than that of his predecessor, Kelvin Sampson." IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre told Alesia, "Obviously, after our experience, president (Michael) McRobbie wants to make sure we never undergo anything like that again, and I don't think we will with Tom Crean."

The provisions in Crean's contract regarding NCAA rules compliance and for cause termination are definitely stricter than Sampson's, and are some of the most stringent provisions I have ever seen in a college coach's contract. A complete copy of the agreement can be accessed here.

For starters, Section 2.01 A. 2. creates an obligation of "strict adherence" with all NCAA rules, including strict compliance by assistant coaches, staff, players and all other individuals under his direct or indirect supervision, direction or control. In the event of any violation of NCAA rules by any of such individuals (including the university), or any act or omission that may give rise to a violation of NCAA rules, Section 2.02 provides that IU, in its sole discretion, may take any disciplinary or corrective action against Crean as determined by IU. [Yes, that is what it actually says.]

The for cause termination language in Section 6.02 B. is also very favorable to IU. Among the definitions of "Cause" worth noting are (1) any violation of Section 2.01 [see 6.02 B.1.] and (2) any act or omission of Crean that may give rise to a finding of a violation of any NCAA rules [see 6.02 B.3.]. Compare those definitions with the definitions of cause in Sampson’s contract, which required (1) “a significant, intentional, repetitive violation of any law, rule (or) regulation” of the NCAA; (2) “failure to maintain an environment in which the coaching staff complies with NCAA … regulations”; and (3) in IU's “sole judgment” Sampson’s conduct “reflects adversely upon the university and its athletic program.” It is also worth comparing Crean's contract with the for cause termination language in Jim O'Brien's contract with Ohio State, which required "a material breach" by O'Brien or "an NCAA violation that results in a major infraction investigation and which results in a finding of a lack of institutional control or sanctions imposed upon Ohio State." Section 6.02 B.3. is something all schools may want to take note of, because it permits the school to fire the coach for cause prior to a final determination by the NCAA, which is favorable to the school if confronted with a wrongful termination claim.

Last but not least, Section 6.02 C. contains a highly unusual process for terminating Crean for cause. The athletics director may, in his sole discretion, make a determination that "Cause" exists, without conducting any prior review or investigation, in which case the university can immediately suspend him without pay. Crean then has the right to have the AD's determination reviewed by the university President, and if the President decides that the AD's determination was proper, the effective date of termination for cause commences on a date determined by the President.

And if you're thinking that Crean would still be able to challenge a for cause termination in court, the contract further provides that the decision of the President "shall be final and binding on the Employee for all purposes" and that it is "the exclusive procedure that will apply to any determination (or review or appeal of any determination) of Cause sufficient to terminate the employment of the Employee." Interestingly, if President McRobbie resigns or is terminated, then Crean has the right to renegotiate a post-termination procedure that includes "impartial members of the University community."

In summary, IU can do whatever it wants to Crean if he or any member of his staff or any player does anything that results in a violation of any NCAA rules or that may give rise to a potential violation, regardless of whether Crean knew about it and regardless of whether a minor or major infraction. The agreement essentially imposes strict liability on Crean and makes him vicariously liable for the acts and omissions of anybody under his direction or control. I know there are some out there who would say, "What's the big deal? If he keeps a clean program then he has nothing to worry about." Well, Tom Crean could be Mother Teresa and it wouldn't guarantee a clean program in today's compliance environment.

What ya talking about Willis?

He's talking about a Bronze medal. New Zealand's first medal on the track since John Walker in 1976. An amazing race, by an amazing man, he has just become a New Zealand hero, in such a global sport that is taken so seriously, this must be one of the biggest sporting achievements our country has ever done.

What a Olympics for New Zealand so far, Three Gold and nine medals overall, will there be more????

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Return of The Single Entity Defense for Sports Leagues

The Seventh Circuit ruled yesterday in American Needle v. NFL (No. 07-4006) that NFL teams act as a single entity “when promoting NFL football through licensing teams’ intellectual property“ and are therefore not subject to scrutiny under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

To give some brief background on this case, the plaintiff (American Needle) designs, manufactures, and sells apparel bearing the names and marks of pro sports teams. For more than 20 years, American Needle held a non-exclusive license from the NFL to manufacture and sell headwear with each of the NFL’s team logos. In 2000, the NFL teams authorized NFL Properties to solicit bids from vendors for an exclusive headwear license. Reebok won the bidding war and received a 10-year exclusive license. At that point, American Needle’s non-exclusive license was terminated and it responded by filing an antitrust claim against the NFL, NFL Properties, each of the NFL teams, and Reebok. The district court granted summary judgment for the NFL defendants, ruling that the NFL and the NFL teams “act as a single entity in licensing their intellectual property.” The district court opinion was discussed here.

The single entity issue is obviously very important and has been the subject of much debate over the years, and I plan to discuss that issue and this case in more detail later on, but I just wanted to give my quick reaction after reading the Seventh Circuit opinion.

The court starts from the premise that, under Copperweld (467 U.S. 752 (1984)), “when making a single entity determination, courts must examine whether the conduct in question deprives the marketplace of the independent sources of economic control that competition assumes.” The court then jumps to the conclusion that:

NFL teams can function only as one source of economic power when collectively producing NFL football. Asserting that a single football team could produce a football game is less of a legal argument then [sic] it is a Zen riddle: Who wins when a football team plays itself? It thus follows that only one source of economic power controls the promotion of NFL football; it makes little sense to assert that each individual team has the authority, if not the responsibility, to promote the jointly produced NFL football. Indeed, the NFL defendants introduced uncontradicted evidence that the NFL teams share a vital economic interest in collectively promoting NFL football.
Putting aside the need for some new Zen riddles, I’m not sure I follow the court’s reasoning, and the opinion seems to conflate the single entity analysis with the ancillary restraints doctrine (discussed in the comments to Rick’s post). Nearly every judge and commentator has concluded (sometimes even without a Zen reference) that some degree of cooperation among individual sports teams is necessary for a sports league to exist. To use a simple example, the Jets can’t play the Patriots unless both teams agree to play a game on a certain date, with certain rules of the game, etc. Courts have relied on the necessity of this cooperation to permit sports leagues to avoid per se illegality in Section 1 cases, but the Seventh Circuit seems to be taking the argument to the other extreme and arguing that NFL teams should be considered a single entity whenever they agree on rules that allow them to play the game (ie, that are necessary for the product to exist).

Assuming, for the sake of argument, the court’s analysis is correct for the single entity issue in those limited circumstances, I don’t see how that answers the single entity question when the activity in question is the sale of NFL-logoed headwear. Yes, the NFL teams have a shared interest in the survival of the NFL (because, under the court’s argument, they don’t exist unless the NFL exists), but does that also mean that the NFL teams have a shared interest (or an independent source of economic control) when selling hats with their team logos on it? It seems to me that the correct answer to that question has more to do with the fact that NFL teams share merchandising revenue equally than Zen riddles. Yet, the Seventh Circuit does not even specifically mention this fact in its opinion, instead choosing to rely on the generic notion of a shared interested in “promoting the NFL” through the sale of logoed wool hats.

There is at least one other troubling aspect of the opinion. The court asserts that: “Simply put, nothing in Section 1 prohibits the NFL teams from cooperating so the league can compete against other entertainment providers. Indeed, antitrust law encourages cooperation inside a business organization—such as, in this case, a professional sports league—to foster competition between that organization and its competitors.” Is the court concluding that the NFL is in the same relevant market as all other entertainment providers (and what is an “entertainment provider”?)? Based on what? And is the Seventh Circuit referring to the market for games (live or televised?) or the market for logoed apparel? I am all for streamlining the determination of the relevant market, but this seems a bit extreme.

I’m not surprised that American Needle lost the case—I thought this would have been a relatively easy rule of reason win for the NFL. I am surprised, though, that this case was disposed of based on the single entity issue. The holding in this case is fairly narrow, but the single entity argument for sports leagues is officially alive (at least in the Seventh Circuit), and I suspect the leagues will do their best to expand its use in future cases.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Daniel's Doodle Stops Potter Movie

So Warner Bros, says theres a slot open for next summer's blockbuster and that is the reason why, they have delayed the release of the new Harry Potter movie, they are saying they want this movie to start off the season and other WB's will follow thus giving the studio a grand summer in 2009.

Well all that is BS, the real reason is Daniel's doodle. You see Mr Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe will be moving on to Broadway with his stage play in November, the same time the latest Potter movie was going to be released.

This would normally not be a problem, but you see, Mr Radcliffe is going to be butt naked on stage, and he will heavily promoting it, and Daniel's doodle is too much for WB to handle.

Hollywood studios need their young teen actors to be clean cut, pimple free, and always clothed.

Look what happened to Z grade actress Lindsay Lohan when she did Herbie, the studio thought that her breasts were to big for a PG movie, even though she was clothed, and digitally altered them for the movie, according to Michael Eisner, Disney actresses are family orientated and that means only having a C cup.

So here we are in a pathetic situation of the New Harry Potter movie being delayed for nine months because one of the actors is going naked in a stage play, even help us if a Emma Watson home video comes out, in fact heaven help us if a Haggard home video comes out.

A day I would rather not repeat!

Well the old boy gave me one hell of a fright today!

I thought I had lost him and then, when I realised I hadn't, I thought I might!Went out to feed out this morning and the old boy was not grazing with his girls. The girls were stood up on the hill looking at the far end of the paddock and did not come down for their hay. I called Bados & he did not appear so I wandered up the hill to look for him - calling every step of the way. As I walked I passed a number of 'crop circles' where someone had obviously been rolling, a lot! I got more and more worried the further I walked and the more crop circles I found. I got to the top of the hill and still nothing (but more crop circles). By now I am panicking and walking faster. And then I see him, in a muddy heap up against a fence, deathly still. I call again ... nothing.

So I YELL! And, he moves! Rushed down to find him in a sodden and trembling heap soaked through from the tips of his ears to his toes. This old guy is 28 years old and tough as old boots so it was terrifying to see him in such a state. He had so much mud in his eyes that they were swollen nearly shut and weeping and there were cuts over his back legs. He kept whickering at me and it was a cold shivery whicker that just broke my heart. When asked, he clambered to his feet and I checked him over and could see nothing that warranted not moving him so, slowly, we made our way back through the paddock to the road and home. It was a slow tearful journey but I could not take him through the paddocks home as feared he would get himself stuck in the bog in the next paddock.

Got him home, changed his rug and rang the vet. Cried lots. Took him up to the shed, rubbed him down with towels and hay, cleaned his eyes as best I could and stuffed a layer of thatched hay up under his cover - he was still very shivery. And then we waited for the vet (and cried some more!).

The vet took about two hours to get to us but by the time he arrived Bados had made nothing short of a miraculous recovery. He was nibbling on hay and his gut was making lots of noise and, he farted! It was the best fart ever! John (vet) was pretty impressed with his heart rate (50) and said his gut sounds were fantastic and his colour good. I apologised for wasting his time but we both agreed, better to be safe than sorry! He had brought the blue juice with him and sounds like it has been a very tough few weeks on the oldies with lots of old horses simply not coping with this dreadful weather.

He's now boxed (begrudgingly - he would rather be out with his girls I think) and wrapped up as warm as toast and he can bloody well stay there until the weather improves. I am emotionally spent! What a day!

Pic of the old boy this summer just gone:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

What can I say? To repeat some of the adjectives overheard from the students to describe this trip, it was at once "awesome," "unbelieveable," "wicked fun," "unforgettable," "amazing," "freaking incredible," and the like. Many of them asked if they could stay a few days longer, and at least some said they definitely will visit China again sometime. I am proud of the 13 students from Western New England College who signed up to join me and Dr. Dan Covell on this "expedition" to China and the Olympic Games. I was impressed by their open mindedness and willingness to venture out of their comfort zone and try new things, whether navigating the subway system and getting around via taxi without speaking a lick of Mandarin (except for AJ), or trying different foods, such as scorpian, sea horse, and assorted other exotic delights. Despite the long days, occasional foul weather, and extensive walking/running/climbing/standing that tested our physical stamina -- and various ailments that afflicted nearly every one of us -- the students were exemplary troupers without exception! This being the "test case" of the Seminar Abroad program of the Center for International Sport Business, I think we passed with flying colors!

Home Sweet Home!

We arrived at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., this evening after our 13+ hour non-stop flight from Beijing and happily, everyone was present and accounted for! While everyone was thoroughly exhausted after our eight-day, non-stop, sleep-deprived adventure -- Seminar Abroad '08: Beijing Olympics -- I think the students' facial expressions sum up their feelings of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even Golden Bear is smiling!

Farewell, China!

Dr. Dan Covell and I pose with Grace Liang, our very friendly and exceptionally capable tour guide, without whom we would not have had the extraordinary experience that we enjoyed in China. Without question, Grace contributed mightily to the students' overwhelmingly positive experience.

Xie Xie, Grace!

Grace Liang, our tour guide extraordinaire, poses with Golden Bear and the rest of our crew prior to our departure at Beijing Capital Airport. In front: Marti, Jenn, and Whitney; and at back: AJ, Shaq, Bre, Mike, Jake, Ashley, Rob, Lauren, Amanda, and Jess.

Chinese Twins

Whitney DePrizio and Marti Blum sport their Chinaman's hat and identical "I Climbed the Great Wall" t-shirts!

Shaq and Friend

Shaq Walker poses at the entrance of our hotel with his newly acquired plush, "Mr. Blizzard" (won with a scratch ticket at Dairy Queen!) . . . a perfect pillow for the plane ride home!

Pearls, Pearls, Pearls!

Amanda, Ashley, and Bre check out the merchandise at the Pearl Market, which is a six-floor department store of . . . you guessed it!

Last Chance for . . . Shopping!

On our last day in Beijing, Sunday, August 17, several students decided to do some last-minute shopping at the Pearl Market right after our final morning seminar (I gave them a break today and started a half hour later at 7:30 a.m.!). Apparently, Jess, Jake, Jenn, Amanda, Bre, Lauren, Ashley, Shaq, and Mike still had Chinese money to "get rid of" before departing for the airport at 2 p.m.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Music Behind The Man

Michael Phelps must the greatest sports person on the planet, his feats will probably never ever be overtaken. What makes him special is, he is an all round down to earth humble guy, there is no trying to be political, making a point about the suffering of the world.

He is without a doubt, the poster boy on what sports people should be, every advantage he uses to better himself, diet, training, watching hours and hours of video. What I also like about him, is that we have the same taste in music, why most sports people would try and stay cool and up to date to appeal to the MTV, Iphone crowd, Phelps is just honest, so he doesn't say, Britney or Blink 182, of Puff or Eminem.

No before a race, he listens to Garth Brooks, an American country singer, who songs are about being honest and true to yourself, and that is a great way to sum up Michael Phelps and Garth.

Both have had success in their fields that will never be match, while staying humble and nice, and ya cant ask for more than that.

Raising of the Flag

This morning at 5 a.m., Jake Roy and I jogged over to Tiananmen Square -- about 10 minutes from our hotel -- to watch the daily flag-raising ceremony at sunrise, which today occurred around 5:23 a.m.. We observed the one-minute spectacle that attracts literally thousands of people (mostly Chinese) everyday to the square. In the background is the Great Hall of the People.

Morning Crowd at Tiananmen

To give you an idea of the bustling activity beginning around 4 a.m. near Tiananmen Square, here's a photo of a section near the famous plaza of people immediately after the flag-raising ceremony concluded . . . at around 5:25 a.m.!

Temple of Heaven

This afternoon, we visited the Temple of Heaven, another popular tourist attraction in Beijing. Larger in area than the Forbidden City but smaller than the Summer Palace, the temple was built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. Here we are -- attracting attention to our banner -- in front of the iconic structure.

Summer Palace

Today was another glorious clear-blue sky day in Beijing (two in a row!), and this morning, we visited the Summer Palace, an historic park about 9 miles from the city center. The Palace proper occupies 764 acres (an area four times the size of the Forbidden City), three fourths of which is a lake. Begun in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), it was continuously improved, and now consists of ancient structures, tree-lined walkways, dragon boats, and beautiful vistas from almost any location. Here, Lauren, Jess, Whitney, Jenn, and Ashley take in the view of the lake.

Bargaining at the Silk Market

Today, after sightseeing tours of the Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven, we took a two-hour break to do some shopping at Beijing's famous Silk Market. Here, Jess and Lauren check out the merchandise. The hallmark of this six-story, department store-sized bazaar is that you haggle over price . . . and from all appearances, our students did quite well!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two Olympic thoughts . . .

sort of related to law and public policy.

1) This week, I watched the women's beach volleyball (a sport I actually have enjoyed watching) match between USA's Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh (they of the frolicking with W while Russia invaded Georgia) and a team from Cuba. The match was a blowout and no one expected it to be close, so the announcers naturally had to find other stuff to talk about. Nothing unusual; announcers struggle to fill during bad games all the time.

What struck me as unusual was the content: Stories about how each one met her husband and of their first dates (which apparently involved some confusion about who was being fixed up with whom) and about what happens after the Olympics, when, the announcers told us five different times, both women would like to get pregnant. I am trying to remember watching a men's sporting event in which conversation turned to how the quarterback met his wife or about the point guard's family planning. Now, in fairness, perhaps it is more relevant for women athletes, who must put their careers on hold for at least a few months, although this story in Sports Illustrated discusses the athletic benefits of pregnancy and childbirth. But I could not get past the feeling that the announcers, needing filler, just wanted to talk about the personal lives of two attractive women whose uniform is a bikini.

2) Had the U.S. athletes not taken gold and silver in yesterday's individual women's gymnastics competition, the headlines this morning would have been about bizarre/unfair/corrupt judging. As it was, the judging did produce 1) apoplexy in the American commentators about inappropriately low scores for the U.S. athletes and inappropriately high scores for the Chinese and Russian athletes and 2) the sight of the head of the technical committee (the chief judge, sort of) walking over to the judges' table after the routine of USA's Nastia Liukin (the eventual winner), it would appear to lecture them about how good the performance was and too make sure the scores were not depressed.

I continue to believe that gymnastics is not a sport, because it lacks the possibility of objective scoring or objective determination of victory. And the early grumblings yesterday (which hearkened back to the glory days of the mythical East German judge) show the inherent problem with "judging," especially when what the judges are looking for is so mysterious.

One way to eliminate some of the mystery (and suspicion) would be to require the judges to explain their decisions--to identify precisely what points were deducted and for what mistakes. Adjudication requires explanations for decisions and that transparency helps the parties and the public evaluate decisions and outcomes. And even football referees explain what happened on penalties (some refs in painstaking detail). Why not require gymnastics (and figure skating and diving and other "judged" events) provide explanation, thus bringing some transparency to what is, for most viewers, completely opaque.

Or put another way: When Harry in When Harry Met Sally talks about having sex in front of the Olympic judges and receiving a low score from his mother, disguised as an East German judge, for what "must have been the dismount," it would be better if we knew it was for the dismount.


This photo of the Olympic Village and edge of the Bird's Nest was taken yesterday, in sharp contrast to the clear blue sky that we enjoyed today!

Multi-purpose ID Card

In addition to serving as an ID card to remind us who we are (in case we lapse into amnesia), our "badges" attract the attention of curious onlookers, who attempt to see what organization we are with. The lanyard is also a good place to display our lapel pins, which invites people to trade theirs for one of ours, or vice versa. Perhaps most importantly, the back side of the ID card has a map of the area around our hotel, the hotel's address in Chinese (to show to a taxi driver in case we get lost), and emergency mobile phone numbers. Here, Ashley obliges me with a photo showing the reverse side of her ID card.

All Present and Accounted For!

To reassure any nervous parents, here's a photo of everyone in front of the equestrian venue at the Olympic Green. Notice that after nearly a week of a hectic and exhausting dawn-to-dusk schedule, everyone still looks fresh . . . and even happy!

The NCAA is at it again

The NCAA is at it again, committing what a parent to a 20 year old college athlete calls “Gestapo tactics” by interviewing his son without an attorney late into the night prior to his getting ready to pitch in a crucial regional championship game. Hours before the game, and presumably as a result of the interview, Oklahoma State declared Andy Oliver ineligible.

Oliver has now sued the NCAA and his former “advisors” seeking to regain his eligibility so he can finish his college career and to recover compensation for his damages. The NCAA’s response is typical of the cartel that never understood the concept of due process: it says only the school can seek Oliver’s reinstatement and the pitcher has no standing to sue the organization.

It all started when Oliver was still in high school contemplating whether to be drafted by a major club or attend an institution of higher learning. Like other young men in his position, he had advisors, who were certified MLB player agents, who were supposed to help him make an informed decision about his future. The NCAA rules, always a lesson in absurdity, permit such advisors so long as they are not being paid and do not speak on the player’s behalf to Major League clubs.

Apparently, the advisors were present when representatives of the Minnesota Twins were trying to woo Oliver to join the ranks of professional athletes. Oliver chose not to. He attended Oklahoma State University where he soon became one of the top pitching prospects in the nation.

The trouble started when Oliver started consulting with another unpaid advisor, Scott Boras. When the first advisors learned they had competition, they sent Oliver and his family a bill for $113,000, which the family refused to pay, saying they had never agreed to compensate these advisors who had to be unpaid to comply with NCAA rules.

The NCAA and its member schools have made billions off its student athletes while serving as a free farm system for MLB, the NFL and the NBA. The least it can do when it conducts an inquisition into whether a student has violated its arcane and hypocritical rules is to allow that student the opportunity for legal counsel in the proper setting.