Moral Mercy…

30 01 2009

Over the past couple of days there has been outcry in America over the result of one high school basketball game. It was not an important game, and in no other way was it remarkable, save for the final score:

100 – 0.

Yes, you heard right. The Covenant School from Texas beat their counter-parts from Dallas Academy by 100 points. To nil. This result has had America up in arms though. It has cost the Covenant School coach his job. It is argued, by pretty much everyone, that such a score, in such an unimportant high-school game, is hugely demoralising, and that when the score got to, say, 40 or 50, the coach should have told his girls to stop. That Covenant School is, unsurprisingly, a Christian school, has simply fanned the flames further, with parents and teachers alike admitting that such a drubbing is un-Christian-like. You can read more of the details here.

Basketball has no mercy rule. Nothing to tell the winning side to stop when the margin gets silly. The girls from Dallas, who were on the losing end of the result, are winless for four years now, but this drubbing must have done so much more to shatter any confidence than anything previously. Pundits, commentators, and the public alike are reasonably unanimous in arguing that the coach had a right to stop his team inflicting such a hammering on the Dallas team. I agree. It was wrong of the coach to let the match continue with his team so comfortably in front. He should have had a responsibility to the match, rather than just his side.

Yet, I cannot help but recall a rugby scoreline from just a few weeks previously, where Alcester beat Coventry Saracens 194-3. There was no such media outcry over the result. Nobody really heard about it, and fewer still cared about it. The only difference that I can really see (other than the obvious one of different sport) is that the ages of the different sets of competitors was different. In America we are looking at high-school kids. In England, the guys were older, in their 20s and 30s. It seems somehow more acceptable for older people to lose by hugely demoralising scores. This maybe because they could just go to the pub and drink away the pain and humiliation of defeat after the game. It may be because we, as a global society, are more sensitive to stuff affecting young people. I would argue however, that regardless of age, a defeat of such gargantuan proportions (Alcester must have scored 26 converted tries [7 points], and 4 penalties [3 points] – or some other combination) would be hugely demoralising. Does the Alcester coach have a responsiblity to stop his team from butchering their opponents? Not in the eyes of the British media, who instead marvelled at the ‘record’ score (which has since been wiped from the records due to Coventry not fielding enough players).

It seems to me that you either need to have mercy rules enforcable in all sports, thereby protecting all teams from an embarassing hiding, or none at all. We either need to accept that teams are going to get beaten, potentially by a lot, or we need to give the rubbish teams a safety net to stop them being so overwhelmed by superior teams. It should not be left to the morals of the individuals involved, as this has been shown to be an entirely ineffective way of preventing thrashings such as that in America.


Two thoughts…

4 01 2009

I have just a couple of ponderances to give to you today.

1. With the trouble in the middle east kicking off one more with disappointing gusto, just where is Britain’s middle east envoy? That’s right, he’s over in America telling everyone how part of everything is luck. According to Alec Trevelyan in Goldeneye Tony,  the other half is fate. At a time when the middle east is crying out for help from anyone who is willing to give it, wouldn’t it be nice to actively see Blair doing something about it rather fattening his own wallet by participating in student conferences?

2. At the moment I have nothing to confirm this, as I’ve heard it only in conversation, but guess who the biggest advertiser is on the tv? That’s right, it’s the government. Various governmental campaigns such as the “know your limits” campaign, the car-tax advert or the new obesity advert all come from those at the top concerned with our well-being. It goes a long way to explain just why most people get really annoyed with adverts, and, naturally enough, change the channel.


21 10 2008

In life you must always prioritise things. Usually, as a student, that involves completing a piece of work before going out to the pub. There are frequent occasions when it is hard to justify doing something ahead of something else, one piece of work against another, for example.

There are though some things which are easy to prioritise. Family especially. Which is why I am delighted to be reading about Barack Obama taking time out of his hectic campaign to visit his sick grandmother in Hawaii. We all know that this is a critical time for Obama, just weeks before the elections begin, but it is, I think, good to know that even a man clear in the polls for the most important job on the planet, still has his priorities in order.

The beeb reports that his absence will “make his staff nervous“. I think I disagree with this, if anything, the demonstration by Obama that his priorities are his family first and foremost, will appeal to the American public, especially the unconvinced swing voters. The public are quick to forget that politicians are human too. They are prone to emotions, and are as concerned with their families as much as they are with saving the economy. To my mind, showing you are human is an important trait in a society which elevates people to ‘super’ human, above and beyond trivial matters such as emotion. In the age of celebrity the media and public expect certain people to be idyllic images of contentment and perfection. In visiting his sick grandmother, I believe Obama is showing that he is human, and he knows what his priorities are.

What is fact?

13 03 2008

Having been busy recently, I have had neither the time nor the willingness to write anything about anything. This is despite recent events such as the budget, or the storms hitting the UK, or the death of Michael Todd, or English crickets continuous woeful form.

But today I saw this. And felt compelled to add my two cents worth.

Now on some level I think I agree with Geraldine Ferraro. She has, in my eyes, highlighted a very important issue which tends to be overlooked. “Racism works in two different directions. I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white” she said, and said that anything negative about Obama was instantly seized upon as being racist. For me, it should be much more widely accepted that racism does indeed work both ways. The culture in which we seem to live is that being racist only works towards black people. This should definately not be the case. It should be noted and accepted by society that white people can just as easily suffer racist abuse from black people as vice versa.

However, I completely disagree with her when she suggests that Obama was doing well because he was black. For me, he is doing well because he engages with Joe Public much better than Clinton. And I’m not still not sure that he plays the race card as frequently as Clinton plays her woman card. This whole issue seems to suggest to me that the whole Clinton team is beginning to feel the squeeze as things are moving towards the end of the race. Obama, apparently coolness personified, just plods on, doing what he is doing, very focused. Even the problems that he has faced, he has taken in his stride.

This is epitomised by events last week, as Hillary insisted she was given a raw deal by having to field the first question at every event the pair attended. Despite the success she had last week, she still trails Obama, and I think the pressure of being runner-up may be starting to really show now.

Let’s all be friends…

20 02 2008

I hadn’t really thought about it before. Not until I saw the news today at any rate. And I really should have.

For Obama and Clinton, winning is everything. There will be no place for the runner-up. Seriously. The pair, I think, are growing less and less fond of each other as the days pass and Obama gathers momentum. The public smiles when gathered in the same place seem to mask the very private dislike the pair have of the other. Of course I could be wrong, but with Hillary losing her grip very quickly (Obama has just won in Wisconsin, and seems likely to take Hawaii too), the feeling of antipathy between the pair seems to be growing.

Both have been critical of the other during their campaigns, and I am left wondering, given they are still on the same side, whether they could ever really work together after this race is over, regardless of the outcome. More importantly than this is whether they would want to work together. Both, it must be noted are able politicians, they both have some good policies, and they both have some bad policies. I feel that they could work well together, had fate not pitted them against each other in this contest. For the failed candidate, will it be the end of public recognition? Those Republican candidates who have fallen by the wayside seem to have disappeared from the public eye. Thompson, Romney and Giuliani have all declared their backing for either of the two men left in the fight, but apart from that, little, certainly on this side of the pond, has been heard from any of them.

I suppose this is where the issue lies, media coverage. The media concern themselves with the real news, that is, those people who still are important, be it Clinton or Huckabee, Obama or McCain. The others are yesterdays news, chewed up, thrown around and rejected by in favour of the continuing process.

I return therefore to my initial musing. What will happen to either Obama or Clinton when they lose this race. To my mind, I am less fearful for Hillary. She has a reputation attached to being a former president’s wife, and a Presidential nominee. She, I think, will be fine. For Obama though, the future would be less clear cut, certainly from a public perspective. He would, like many before him, drop out of the public psyche and float around for a few years, until one day he releases a film about how cows are bad for the world, and claim the nobel prize for it.

We stand and salute…

18 02 2008

I am, by my ‘word origin calendar’, reliably informed that today is Presidents’ Day. This is meant to be, according to Wikipedia at least, a day where the former Presidents are celebrated and remembered. It is meant to be a public holiday and was, initially a celebration of George Washington (Remember him? The guy who fought Jebediah Springfield in The Simpsons? Yeah, that one.) but now has grown to include all Presidents (unless you are from Massachusetts).

In honour of this jovial day, I propose a toast.

Will you all rise and raise your glasses to our great and esteemed former-leader…

President Blair.

Just another reason…

14 02 2008

My dislike of the american police force is growing daily. This, from yesterday’s news, just takes the biscuit though: