Tag Archives: College Hockey

…And Now For a Bracket Completely Different…College Hockey!

john cleese completely different bracket

Many people don’t realize it, but the NCAA College Hockey Tournament is timed exactly to give you, the bracket loving public, another shot to fill out a bracket, albeit a completely different one.  What you know about college hockey matters little; most of you who fill out brackets for basketball don’t know shit about that either.  What you do need to know is that college hockey is chock full of awesome rivalries. For example, the opening round game in the West region features North Dakota and Wisconsin, two schools who have a hatred of each other all the way back to the old days of the WCHA.  Now that the WCHA saw most of its big school depart for the NCHC or the newly-formed Big Ten (which balances out the football conference which will open next season with 14 teams by only having six) version, this tournament gives us first-round match-up that would have never been seen in previous year. That means you don’t have to wait for the Frozen Four to see a scene like this:

Thankfully, it is a later-day group of Sioux supporters that give us the best college hockey bracket out there. To enter, you need to sign up, but that’s free.  So you really don’t have a reason to do it, unless you are some sort of wussy Wisconsin Badger fan.

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The Dubscast, Volume 5: “Offensive” Mascots Prove The Hypocrisy of the NCAA

jdub offensive mascots dubscast

Back in 2005, the NCAA declared that Native American mascots were “hostile and abusive” and outlawed them. Eight years later, the fact they are still around may be the perfect example of why the NCAA is the standard by which one measures ineffective and hypocritical organizations. The fact the debate spread beyond that is even more of a damning statement.

In today’s installment of the Dubscast, J-Dub takes a critical look at how the NCAA really isn’t interested in “hostile and abusive” because it clearly makes decision based on other criteria it won’t tell anybody.  It is important to understand this IS NOT a discussion as to whether these mascots are “offensive,” you will need to get past that debate in order to see the bigger picture in play in this issue.

In other words, after checking out this episode of the Dubscast, you will need to decide for yourself why the NCAA either cannot or will not enforce its own rules.

Teams That Grind My Gears: Boston College Hockey

First of all, I have to offer congratulations to the Boston College Eagles for winning their 5th national championship. Honestly, this team has been the best in the college game for the better part of the last decade; this latest triumph represents B.C.’s 4th title since 2001 and their third in the last six years. So, before I get into my rant, let’s cover the basic facts of this win for Boston College.

The game itself drew a crowd of 18,818 to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a record for a first-time Frozen Four venue, and the total attendance for the semifinals and championship game was 37,423. The fact that they drew this much of a crowd in a sports-challenged hole like Tampa has to be encouraging for the devotees of college hockey who are hoping this sport continues to grow in popularity.

As for the game, Boston College (33-10-1) was playing in its seventh championship game since 2000 and by beating “Cinderella” Ferris State the Eagles became the first school to win three titles in a six-year span since the Denver Pioneers won three in 1958, 1960, and 1961 respectively.

Despite the “David v. Goliath” feel going into this game, the Ferris State Bulldogs played B.C. to a virtual standstill for 57 minutes.  B.C. took a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into the game on a Steven Whitney backhander from the left side of the crease.  But Ferris State came back less than two minutes later when Garrett Thompson pulled the Bulldogs even.

Can anybody beat B.C.? Bueller? Anyone?

The Eagles took back a 2-1 advantage in the first period on Paul Carey’s power play deflection with nine seconds remaining on a Ferris State penalty.  While the final score ended up being 4-1, the last two Eagles’ scores were irrelevant because of the stellar play of Eagles’ goalie Parker Milner.  Milner was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Frozen Four on the strength of his 27 saves against the Bulldogs and the fact that during the entire tournament he notched 110 stops while only allowing two goals in 240 minutes.

In other words, the Boston College Eagles have become in this most recent decade what my North Dakota Fighting Sioux were in the 80’s.  And this is why I hate them…call it whatever you will, but these east coast pukewads are enjoying the success which should be reserved for the Sioux.

You really don’t to tell me this makes me the college hockey version of everything I hate about Yankess and/or Red Sox fans; the fact that B.C. brings this bile-spewing invective out of me is the big reason they grind my gears. But it certainly isn’t the only one; let’s walk through some of the major ones…

1) They Killed Ferris Bueller State

If you are a fan of the underdog, you had to love Ferris Bueller State, whose 26-12-5 record got them into the tournament as a #3 seed.  Ferris Bueller State reached the championship game by beating Denver, Cornell, and #1 seed Union.  The Bulldogs were attempting to become the first school to win the title in its first appearance in the championship game since Maine in 1993, and the first to triumph in its first trip to the Frozen Four since Lake Superior State in 1988. But B.C. felt the need to play “killjoy.”

2) They Exemplify Dave Hakstol’s Impotence As A Head Coach

As the Red/Green show above tells you, I gagged on three of the Frozen Four and have no shot at hitting the winner. The damn WCHA screwed me once again as out of the four teams the conference placed in the tournament, only the Minnesota Golden Gophers advanced to the Frozen Four. At least this is the last year that I need to worry about the WCHA as a factor in this tournament with the tectonic re-alignment that is coming to the college hockey world.

Let me begin by saying that Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol is an enigma to me. Under his tutelage, his teams historically have had have some of the best talent in the country, but his teams play with a lack of discipline and interest for the front half of the season; during the back half they become the best team in the country, then lose in the playoffs because they revert to the style of the front half.  He is like the Dudley Do-Right of college hockey coaches.

The Sioux performance in the NCAA West Regional Final was just another example.  The Sioux spent large periods of that game playing some very stupid hockey.  They gave away four power plays, at least two of two of which were just dumb penalties.  They kept committing sloppy line changes, at times allowing the Gophers to roll through the Sioux zone like Von Runstedt’s panzers did through France.  At times, the Sioux played very inattentive defense, letting the open man literally skate through the slot right up to the crease, and allowing them to enjoy a cup of coffee while waiting in front of the net for the puck. This helps explain how Minnesota had a 3-goal outburst in the second period that effectively ended all hope for the Sioux.

The bottom line is this. Once again, Sioux fans got a team that underperformed early in the season. Once again, Sioux fans had their hopes for that elusive national title dashed by a team that keeps shooting itself in the skate. Since Dean Blais led the Sioux to their last national championship in 2000, this most recent season under Dave Hakstol is a microcosm of the entirely of his career behind the Sioux bench; play well enough to get home ice in the conference tournament, win the conference tournament which gets either a #1 or #2 seed in the NCAA tournament, then blow it.

And more often than not in recent history, they’ve blown it against Boston College.

3) Their Star Goalie Has a Stupid Name

Parker Milner. What the hell sort of name is that? Either one would be acceptable on its own, but together they suggest a love child created by former Dan Patrick Show Cougar of the Week Parker Posey and 60’s television icon Martin Milner.

4) They Are In Boston

What happened to the B.C. Hockey team the last time they won a championship really says it all.

Usually, one expects hockey players to be able to handle collisions. Or course, usually one also expects them not to collide with a light-rail vehicle, which by the way, aren’t really that light. But when you win a championship, sometimes the parties get out of hand, and next thing you know, a Jeep becomes just a wad of metal stuck on a knuckle coupler.

It seems last week three lads from Boston College’s NCAA hockey championship squad thought it might be a good idea to play chicken with a Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) Green Line train. Obviously, the three lads, Parker Milner, 19, Patrick Wey, 19, and Philip Samuelsson, 18, and the Jeep lost. Luckily, none of three or the four other people in the Jeep were seriously hurt, and nobody on the train was hurt.

Too bad you likely won’t be able to say the same for their wallets, as all seven passengers face charges of being minors in possession of alcohol after it was determined Ol’ John Barleycorn was a factor in the crash.  According to the operator of the MBTA train, three of the passengers allegedly tossed what looked like alcohol containers out the window.  It doesn’t help that an MBTA spokesman also said a bottle of vodka was found in the Jeep. It also doesn’t help that three of the seven people in the Jeep fled the scene.  And it certainly doesn’t help that MBTA has announced they will be seeking restitution for the damage to the Green Line vehicle, as well as the cost of running buses while the line was out of service.

While the three hockey players are likely to be suspended to start next season, all face some stiff legal and possibly financial issues stemming from the criminal charges and the possible restitution for the damage to the train. the more pressing matters are the impending legal ones. All seven teens have been charged with being minors in possession of alcohol, and could pay a hefty sum if it’s decided that they have to pay restitution to the MBTA.

All this begs a simple question: How the hell does the WCHA keep losing to a team that gets the only hockey players in the world who can’t handle their liquor?

And that last question begs an even bigger question: How the hell do you get hockey players who can’t handle booze in Boston, one of the drunkest cities on the planet?

Thanks to Dave Hakstol, I’m Never Filling Out Another Bracket Ever Again…At Least Until Next Year

That headline is the classic exasperated utterance as the sheet on which any of my brackets were printed gets wadded into a ball and serves as yet another miss as it doinks off the rim of the wastebasket.  Every year, I think the NCAA Hockey tournament can save my enjoyment of filling out brackets. Every year, I am FUCKING WRONG! Every year I sear I’m never filling out another bracket ever again, and every year I’m the moth the the college tournament bracket flame…because I’m an idiot.

As the Red/Green show above tells you, I gagged on three of the Frozen Four and have no shot at hitting the winner. The damn WCHA screwed me once again as out of the four teams the conference placed in the tournament, only the Minnesota Golden Gophers advanced to the Frozen Four. At least this is the last year that I need to worry about the WCHA as a factor in this tournament with the tectonic re-alignment that is coming to the college hockey world.

A while back,  we here at Dubsism penned a primer comparing the members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) to characters from The Simpsons to give you an insight into the best sports league you’ve never heard of. We even added the two newest members when the conference expanded. But now, with this league headed for obscurity, it may be time for the team that gave me a reason to watch this league to make a change.

As an alum of the University of North Dakota, I am required by law to be a college hockey fan. North Dakota prides itself on two things; that it is a leading research university, and that it is akin to the “New York Yankees” of college hockey. With seven national championships and 15 WCHA titles, the Fighting Sioux are amongst the old-school,  traditional powers in the sport.  With such a tradition of excellence, Sioux fans have become like Yankee fans; we expect championships on an annual basis, and when we don’t get them, we start screaming for heads to roll.

But there is another similarity the Sioux share with the boys from the Bronx; more often than not lately both sides don’t play to the level of their talent, and find themselves often living on reputation.  You all can debate this point as far as the Yanks are concerned; I’m here to breakdown the Sioux.

Let me begin by saying that Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol is an enigma to me. Under his tutelage, his teams historically have had have some of the best talent in the country, but his teams play with a lack of discipline and interest for the front half of the season; during the back half they become the best team in the country, then lose in the playoffs because they revert to the style of the front half.

Last night’s NCAA West Regional Final was just another example.  The Sioux spent large periods of that game playing some very stupid hockey.  They gave away four power plays, at least two of two of which were just dumb penalties.  They kept committing sloppy line changes, at times allowing the Gophers to roll through the Sioux zone like Von Runstedt’s panzers did through France.  At times, the Sioux played very inattentive defense, letting the open man literally skate through the slot right up to the crease, and allowing them to enjoy a cup of coffee while waiting in front of the net for the puck. This helps explain how Minnesota had a 3-goal outburst in the second period that effectively ended all hope for the Sioux.

Nine days after erasing a 3-goal deficit against Minnesota in the WCHA Final Five title game to capture its 15th Broadmoor Cup, North Dakota found itself again needing to make a comeback.  Behind 2-0 in the second period,  North Dakota seemed to regain some momentum  1:43 in on Danny Kristo’s 19th goal of the season. That lasted about seven minutes, until the Gophers scored twice within five minutes. The first of those goals by Taylor Matson at 9:08 was the back-breaker.  Matson scooped up a rebound on a Nate Schmidt breakaway, and went untouched through the center of the Sioux defense to make the game 3-1, a deficit from which Sioux would never recover.

As bad as the Matson goal was, it was worse that there was never a single coaching adjustment.  The Sioux kept letting the Gophers camp in front of the crease. They spent two periods playing “dump-and-chase” on offense.

The bottom line is this. Once again, Sioux fans got a team that underperformed early in the season. Once again, Sioux fans had their hopes for that elusive national title dashed by a team that keeps shooting itself in the skate. Since Dean Blais led the Sioux to their last national championship in 2000, this most recent season under Dave Hakstol is a microcosm of the entirely of his career behind the Sioux bench; play well enough to get home ice in the conference tournament, win the conference tournament which gets either a #1 or #2 seed in the NCAA tournament, then blow it.

And of course, like a Yankee fan, all will be forgiven when the Sioux come home with their 8th national championship. But, the mercurial nature of Hakstol’s teams are begging the question how long will Sioux Nation wait.?

Here’s Another Bracket You Can Watch Go Up In Smoke

I should have known better. Every year, by the end of the first weekend of the basketball tournament, my brackets are just so much smoldering wreckage. Every year, I think the NCAA Hockey tournament can save my enjoyment of filling out brackets.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that statistically speaking, my chances of picking a perfect bracket in a 64-team field are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1 (that’s 9.2 quintillion, sports fans – which means you are 24 billion times more likely to win the lottery). I mention this only because I discovered the flaw in my belief that a sixteen-team bracket would be far easier to predict. While technically it is, to do it perfectly is still leaves the odds at 380 billion to 1.

My Own Greatest Year In Sports

Let’s be honest, 2011 was a lousy year in sports. Just look at all the stories which happened in that twelve-month span which completely  took away the usual uplifting nature of sports. So, as part of moving forward, I thought it was time to take a look back to a year which for me was the opposite of this one most recently and thankfully past.

That year was 1987.

Ironically, as 2011 brought the low point in the history of Penn State football, 1987 brought one of the highs.  The Nittany Lions came into the Fiesta Bowl in 1987 as a prohibitive underdog against the brash, trash-talking Miami Hurricanes. Joe Paterno’s traditional style of football served as the classic antithesis to the wide-open style of Jiimmy Johnson, but the Hurricanes flat-out got beat.  If you were watching college football in 1987, there is no way you can forget Pete Giftopoulous’ game-sealing interception in the 4th quarter; the one that cemented Penn State’s second National Championship.

Later that year came the culmination of the 1986–87 season in NCAA men’s ice hockey.  To most people, that isn’t such a big deal, but when your alma mater prints its diplomas on hockey pucks, North Dakota’s defeat of Michigan State  to capture it’s 6th National Championship was a big deal on that campus.

The end of March means spring is most places, but Grand Forks, North Dakota is not one of them. The average temperature in Grand Forks in March is about 20 degrees Fahrenheit; average of course meaning a great deal of the time it is significantly colder than that. In short, living in Grand Forks in March means nearing the end of a winter where you’ve been trapped indoors, left to three main forms of entertainment: eating, drinking, and fornicating.  Naturally, after a while, you become a fat, drunken hump-meister that needs no reason to party.

The Fighting Sioux were such fun to watch that winter; their dominance of the indoor ice was an antidote to the ever-present outdoor variety; in January in Grand Forks, even the air freezes.  But thanks to a complement of talent such as Ed BelfourTony HrkacBob Joyce, and Ian Kidd, the atmosphere around North Dakota Fighting Sioux games on Friday and Saturday nights warmed to a simply sub-arctic Bacchanalian orgy filled with the aforementioned three surrounding activities.  That is why to this day, there is a hockey puck on my desk to remind me of the the hockey season in which I drank more beer, ate more pizza and after-bar food (for those of you who know…who else misses The Red Pepper?), and had more sex than in any other six-month period in my life.

As long as we are on the subject of things that forever combined the concepts of ice rinks and sex, when is there a better time to mention East German figure skating gold medalist Katarina Witt?

After all, when’s the last time you remembered a figure skater for her serious upper-body pride rather than her triple axle?

If a figure skater who doesn’t look like a hockey stick wearing toe-pick blades is rare, then the phenomenon known as Mike Tyson must have been the sporting world’s version of Haley’s Comet.

The boxing world hadn’t seen anything quite like Mike Tyson before, and it certainly hasn’t seen anything quite like him since. The year before, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion at just 19 years old. In  March 1987, Tyson nearly (and ironically) crushes several James “Bonecrusher” Smith’s internal organs; a victory which unified the WBA and WBC heavyweight titles. Already the the year before, Tyson became the youngest undisputed heavyweight champion in boxing history.

Over the course of the next year, Tyson left a trail of corpses formerly known as challengers (four in all) to retain his title. Early in 1988, he added the last of the great “old-school” heavyweight champs to his body-count when he separated Larry Holmes from his consciousness; the only time Holmes ended up looking up during a ten-count in 76 career bouts.

1987 marks the apogee in the meteoric orbit of  Tyson’s career; this the last year before the tumult takes over.  The following years will bring his divorce from  actress Robin Givens, after being accused of domestic violence, the firing and subsequent suing of his manager, breaking his hand in an early morning street brawl, two car accidents  (one of which was reportedly a suicide attempt), a rape conviction and related prison sentence, a drug conviction with another stint behind bars, and the Evander Holyfield “ear biting” incident.”  Somewhere in that freight train of fouls, Tyson lost the title to a club fighter named Buster Douglas, never to regain it.

At least Tyson always has being a hip-hop and video-game icon.

Now, let’s go from the rare to the unbelievable.  Those of you under 30 may never swallow this, but there was a time in this country when people were all jacked up over yachting, specifically the America’s Cup.  Remember that in the 1980’s, thanks to the “Miracle On Ice” and two Olympic boycotts in that same decade, international competitions became more of an issue of national pride than they had ever been previously. This was magnified when it came to the America’s Cup, which not only is the pinnacle of the yachting world, but had never been outside the possession of the Americans in it’s entire history, which dates back to just after the Civil War.

That all changed in 1983 when Kookaburra III, a tub from the Royal Perth Yacht Club wrested the Cup from the Newport Yacht Club. Seriously, people went crazy over this loss. Stories came out about how there was talk replacing the Cup’s place in the club’s trophy case with the head of the skipper who lost it.  ESPN got the rights to broadcast the races when the American challenger went to Australia. People stopped in their tracks to watch two hours of boats. Water cooler sports-talk included terms like “jibs” and “tacking.” It was like the Olympics with flat-soled shoes, life jackets, and that white sun-block stuff on your nose.

When skipper Dennis Conner led challenger Stars & Stripes ’87 of the San Diego Yacht Club to a four races to none Cup win over the Australian defender, he literally became a national hero.

Believe it or not, for two weeks in 1987, America went boat-shit crazy.

As far as more conventional sports are concerned, 1987 offered two of the great championship series in sports.

First, there was the NBA Finals. It would be easy to simply say the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers which I grew up on (my dad had season tickets) beat the hated Boston Celtics 4 games to 2.  While I loved the outcome, just focusing on that would ignore so many great points of this series.

For example, this series was such a perfect contrast in styles. There is no better word to describe the Lakers than “dominant.” They were a beautiful blend of speed and power, of flash and fundamentals that when they were firing on all cylinders it mattered little who they faced.

Despite that, the Celtics offered the effective foil; not only were they the defending champs, they did it in a way that was a complete opposite of Los Angeles.  The Celtics played high-school half-court basketball, but they played it better than anybody ever did.

Even though they were already a championship caliber club, The Lakers were a team on the way up. Michael Cooper emerged as a guard who offered match-up problems of anybody else in the league,  A.C. Green, James Worthy, Mychal Thompson, and Kurt Rambis offered a mix-and-match option for a front-court that could beat you ant any game you wanted to play. This was augmented guy named Magic Johnson who was a point guard in a power forward’s body, and was better than anybody at either position. Even the grand old man, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still brought his unstoppable “Skyhook” to the mix.

Meanwhile, even though they were the defending champions, the Celtics were a ship taking on water. The fact they made it to the finals was a major accomplishment, considering the death of Len Bias, the ongoing infirmity of an aging Bill Walton,  and nagging injuries to Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Boiled down to basics, this meant the Celtics did not the horses to run with the Lakers.

This is why the Lakers were such a prohibitive favorite. It’s also why just zipping ahead to a Laker 4-2 win is a mistake.  Had this series gone seven games, it would be regarded as one of the great NBA Finals of all time.

The Celtics were, for all practical purposes, playing with five players. The Celtics had to play perfectly to win; they did it twice and nearly pulled it off a third time, which is really the only reason this series only went six.  It all started in Game 1, when at one point Larry Bird hit 11 shots in a row.  This showed the younger, faster Lakers that the Celtics were so resilient that if they lapsed even the smallest bit, Boston could capitalize on that slip.

Secondly amongst the “big” sports came the “boys of summer.” In a year packed with basketball, boxing, and bimbos, baseball belted the prize-winning punch.

For openers, there were so many guys who had great “pre-steroid” seasons.  A look at the league leaders in the “Triple Crown Categories” will lead you to that conclusion.

Batting Average:

  • American League: Wade Boggs, Boston, .363
  • National League: Tony Gwynn, San Diego, .370

RBIs:

  • American League: George Bell, 134
  • National League: Andre Dawson, 137

Home Runs:

  • American League:  Mark McGwire, Oakland, 47
  • National League: Andre Dawson, Chicago, 49.

1987 also had a story one might think impossible; a player being traded for himself. Granted, it wasn’t the first time it happened. Thanks to he provision in baseball trades known as the “Player to be named later” (PTBNL),  there have been two times when a player has been named on both sides of a trade.

In April 1962, the expansion New York Mets traded catcher Harry Chiti to the Cleveland Indians for the aforementioned PTBNL.  By June, the Indians discovered why Chiti was on the trading block to begin with; the Indians gave Chiti back to the Mets as the PTBNL.

The same situation arose in 1987 with career bullpen jockey Dickie Noles.  Noles had been ping-ponging around the league as a “have fastball, will travel” type, but in 1987 the last place Cubs offered Noles to the first-place Tigers as one of those trade deadline “bolster the playoff run” moves to which we’ve become so accustomed.  The trouble is that Noles sucked so bad the Tigers didn’t want him either, so he was shipped back to the Windy City as…you guessed it…the dreaded PTBNL was also traded for himself in 1987, in a deal between the Cubs and Tigers.

But the real story of baseball in 1987 is the Minnesota Twins. The magic started in June, when the Twins went 18-9 to capture first place in the American League West. They would never be worse than tied for the lead again that season.  But it was August when the stars really seem to align for the nine of the North Star state

August 3 – In a moment that brings this  team to national attention, Twins pitcher Joe Niekro is suspended for 10 days for possessing a nail file on the pitcher’s mound against the defending division champion California Angels. Niekro claimed he had been filing his nails in the dugout and put the file in his back pocket when the inning started.  He later makes an appearance on the David Letterman show in which he makes light of the incident by showing Letterman exactly how to “doctor” a ball.

August 6 – Later in the same West Coast road trip comes the moment where the Twins never look back.  The Twins are opening a four-game set with another contender, the Oakland A’s. In Bottom of the 4th inning, the Twins have a 3-1 lead and a one-out, bases-loaded chance to blow the game open thanks to an error by A’s shortstop Alfredo Griffin.  The Twins do just that when Kirby Puckett ropes a bases-clearing double off 20-game winner Dave Stewart to put Minnesota ahead for good. The Twins win the game 9-4 to capture sole possession of first place, a lead they would retain until Friday, August 28th…or as I will always call it “The Weekend in Milwaukee.”

August 20 – Even though they’ve just been swept by the Tigers, it dawns on me that the Twins can’t win on the road, but can’t lose at home.  This becomes CRUCIAL as this is in the days when the home-field advantage for playoff series were scheduled in advance; in 1987 the American League West Champion would have home field in the championship series, and the American League would enjoy that same advantage in the World Series. This is when I become a firm believer that all the Twins needed to do in win the AL West, and a World Series title would be coming to Minnesota for the first time.

August 29 – The Saturday of “The Weekend in Milwaukee. ” The Twins had lost to the Brewers the night before to find themselves again tied for the AL West lead. The Twins have Bert Blyleven pitching, and the feel in the air is this game is a “must-win” for the Twins playoff hopes.

In the top of the first, Gary Gaetti belts a two-run shot to put the Twins ahead early.  Puckett adds a solo shot in the top of the third. By the top of the fifth, the Brewers crept back to 3-2, until Puckett added his second home run of the day. Puckett’s bomb opened the flood gates to a Twin 7-2 lead as it was followed by an RBI single by Tom Brunansky and a 2-RBI single my Steve Lombardozzi. Later, Kent Hrbek blasted a three-run dinger to seal the deal. The Twins capture sole possession of first place and never relinquish it.

"The Weekend in Milwaukee:" The first step in getting a street named after you.

August 30 – The Sunday of “The Weekend in Milwaukee,” otherwise known as the day I accepted Kirby Puckett as my Lord and personal Savior.  Puckett leads the Twins to a 10-6 victory by going 6-for-6, including two more homers, two doubles, and 6 RBIs. This made for a two-day total in a critical series of 10 hits in 11 at-bats, 4 home runs, 8 runs batted in, 7 runs scored, and  24 total bases.  Oh, and somewhere amongst that offense-gasm, Puckett also robbed future Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount of a home run.

There were so many more moments along the way to the Twins World Series Title…the game against the Royals when the Twins rode three first-inning home runs to clinch the division title, or Game 4 of the ALCS where the Tigers’ Darrell Evans became the goat to end all goat, or hometown hero Kent Hrbek’s game-sealing grand slam in Game 6 of the World Series.

There were also many firsts. The Twins were the first team with only 85 regular-season wins. Game 1 of the 1987 World Series was the first World Series game played indoors. It was also the first World Series in which the home team won every game. Most importantly, it was the Twins first Championship since the franchise moved to Minnesota.

The Dubsism Top Fifteen Sports Stories of 2011

Being that we are at the end of what has proven to be a tumultuous twelve months, why not take a look back at the biggest sports stories of such a year? After all, I’m pretty sure nobody else does these sort of retrospectives…

15) The Establishment of Two All-Time Winningest College Coaches: Paterno and Krzyzewski

Will there again ever be a year in which we see the crowning of two all-time winningest coaches? We may not see either of those records (Paterno, 409 wins; Krzyzewski, 903 and counting) fall in the next half-century, let alone having them both occur in the same year.

14) Kevin Love’s Double-Double Streak

For nearly 30 years, Moses Malone’s record stood at 51 consecutive games, until Kevin Love scored 16 points and grabbed 21 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers for his 52nd straight double-double. Love’s streak ended at 53 three days later at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

13) Two More Yankees Make The Record Books

Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter…Get ready for two more monuments behind the center field fence in Yankee Stadium.  Rivera notched his  record-setting 602nd career save, eclipsing Trevor Hoffman’s previous mark. And in the same season,  Yank captain Derek Jeter smoked a long ball to reach the 3,000-hit milestone, becoming only the the 28th member of the exclusive club and the first 3K Yankee.

12) The End of The Peyton Manning Era

The Colts spent two decades as an NFL afterthought before the arrival of the wunderkind Manning in 1998, and now neck surgery may spell the end of the Manning era in Indianapolis. Manning’s surgically rebuilt neck, his back-loaded contract, and the Colts prime real-estate in the upcoming NFL Draft form a perfect storm scenario in which if Manning does ever take an NFL snap again, it may be in a uniform not of Colt blue.

11) The Improbable Run to the Championship

When is the next time you will see such a harmonic convergence of “underdog” champions?

  • NFL: The Green Bay Packers make the playoffs as the bottom 6th Seed.
  • MLB: The St. Louis Cardinals literally make the playoffs as a wild-card on the last night of the season, then they win what may be the greatest baseball game in a generation, Game 6 of the World Series.
  • NHL: Granted, The Boston Bruins were a #3 seed in the East, which isn’t a prohibitive underdog, but nobody gave them a chance in the Stanley Cup Finals against the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks
  • NBA: Like the Bruins, the Dallas Mavericks entered the playoff tournament as #3 seed, but it was their complete domination of the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers which set the tone for the next two series, both of which saw Dallas facing teams which seemingly should easily over-match them in terms of talent on the floor. That was until Dirk Nowitzki decided to become unstoppable.
  • NCAA Men’s Basketball: Again, the #3 seed proved magical, as the Connecticut Huskies rode that to the top of the field of 64. The fact they played their way to that seed was only slightly short of a miracle, considering they entered their conference tournament as a #9 and had to play AND win four games in four days to ensure getting into the NCAA tournament. Honestly, the ten-game streak in the Big East and NCAA tournaments pulled off by the Huskies may be one of the great playoff runs of all time.
  • NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey: Another #3 seed…are you sensing a theme here? The University of Minnesota-Duluth (which is really the UCLA of hockey) had an improbable run to the championship of the Frozen Four.
  • NCAA Women’s Basketball: I know that it is hard to call a #2 seed an underdog, but let’s not forget the womens’ basketball world was dominated by a single goliath at Baylor which Texas A&M  had to slay, but there was the ever-present team dragons in Tennessee, Stanford, and Connecticut.

10) The NBA Lockout

In what may prove to be a Quixotic exercise in abject futility, the NBA owners locked out the  players on July 1st  for reasons I still really can’t understand given what has happened since the lockout ended.  Star players getting big money has been the rule in professional sports for decades; Babe Ruth was the first jock to pocket more than the President of the United States. But when the Samuel Dalemberts of the world world are getting $13 million a year in a league that can’t pull in big-time national TV money, the problem is much larger than a simple collective bargaining agreement.

9) The Death of the Man Who Made the NFL What It Is Today

There’s a certain amount of irony in the fact the world lost Al Davis and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il in the same year.  Much like the regime of Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il, the end of the Al Davis Era marks both the end of an era that once made the Raiders a serious factor in the world of the NFL, but now leaves them as an isolated dictatorship viewed as a pariah in contemporary circles.

Kim Il-Sung shaped at least a half-century of world history when he ordered the North Korean army into South Korea in 1950, starting a war that is still technically unresolved to this day. Al Davis forever changed the face of the NFL when he sued the league for the right to move his franchise as he pleased.

Much like Kim Il-Sung left his eternal mark on North Korea beyond the war, the legendary Raiders owner had six decades’ worth of unique impact on pro football. I would be lying if I said that I never criticized Davis.  Just a few months ago, I included him on my list of the 15 Worst Owners in Sports.  However, as I said in that piece, that criticism was reserved for the Al Davis of the past 20 years or so.

For those of you under 30, you may not believe there was a time when Al Davis wasn’t a batshit crazy Cryptkeeper look-alike and the Raiders were not the laughing stock of the NFL. In an 18-year span during the 70′s and 80′s, the Raiders won 13 division championships, made 15 playoff appearances, and took home three Lombardi trophies. This is the era when the Raiders were the winningest team in all of professional sports, and love him or hate him, Davis was a respected and visionary leader who helped build the AFL into a league so successful the NFL couldn’t beat it so they joined with it.

That paragraph only scratches the surface as to what Al Davis meant to the world of professional football.  Davis literally climbed the football ladder, going from college assistant coach to an NFL assistant coach, to head coach,  to owner to AFL commissioner, to Super Bowl champion,  and ultimately to the Hall of Fame.

Perhaps his single greatest honor is having made a record nine presentations of inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Al Davis made presentation speeches for  Lance Alworth, Jim Otto, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, and John Madden. Davis himself was enshrined in Canton in 1992.

Davis changed the game of football through sheer personality; a personality which was a collection of contradictions. At once, he was was loyal and rebellious;  cantankerous and vindictive,  yet sentimental.  Yet through all that, Davis’ name must be included amongst the founding fathers of the NFL; a name that must be mentioned with same reverence in NFL circles as that of George Halas.

His contributions to the league as a whole notwithstanding, there the matter of his success with the Raiders. His trademark slogans weren’t just some words on a banner, it was a philosophy that propelled the three-time World Champion Raiders to the very top of the professional sports world. In the 48 year marriage between Davis and the Raiders, they had 28 winning seasons, including 16 in a row from 1965 through the 1980 World Championship season.

Davis died earlier this year died at age 82 and it’s hard to dispute the Hall of Famer’s place among the most influential of the sport’s history-makers. Davis was controversial. He was a contrarian. But he was also a gift to the game.

8 ) The Ever-Deepening Cesspool That Is The NCAA

This is only layer one of what is wrong with the NCAA. The truly disgusting stuff comes later down this list. This entry is all about the corruption and the hypocrisy of the organization which is supposed to keep these factors out of college sports.

It all starts back in January when the NCAA first found violations at Ohio State, but let the players who committed the violations play in their bowl game.  The theme here is the NCAA clearly values money over integrity. Keep this in mind as you read.

In August, the Miami situation broke,  when it was reported that Nevin Shapiro was pumping thousands of dollars in illegal benefits to past and present Hurricanes players over the past decade.  The tale told by Shapiro from his prison cell (he’s currently parking his ass in a federal cell for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme) includes prostitutes, cars, cash,  and paid vacations, much of which he alleges were known of by Miami staff and coaches.  Shaprio dimed out the names of  73 current and former players.

University of Miami president Donna Shalala being presented a check by Nevin Shapiro.

Go back to the Ohio State situation. At first, this was just about tattoos. Then it mushroomed into costing head football coach Jim Tressel and starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor their jobs. In this case, it wasn’t so much the crime, but it was the cover-up which killed everybody. But the fact the NCAA dicked around for months only underscores the fact they are not really than interested in enforcement.

Then there’s the completely laughable finding that Auburn “committed no infractions” in the Cam Newton affair when there were admissions about cash payments totaling $180,000.

The best part is this isn’t just teams who are mired in unethical activity. The Fiesta Bowl committee was exposed in a 276-page report which detailed allegations of Fiesta Bowl employees being reimbursed for donations to state and local politicians (which happens to be a felony), $1,241 spent at a Phoenix strip club was illegally charged to an expense account, and the misappropriation of $33,188 bill for Fiesta Bowl’s president and CEO Junker’s 50th birthday party.  Junker has since been fired, but more stories like this will emerge until the swamp that is the NCAA is drained.

7) The Conviction of Barry Bonds

Another story indicative of what a depressing year in sports this really has been. Again, instead of talking about accomplishments on the field, we are dealing with matters decided in a courtroom.

In April, Bonds became the first player from a “major” sport to be convicted for an issue stemming from the latest round of scandal about performance-enhancing drugs. While he was acquitted of the more serious charges, just this past Friday U.S. District Judge Susan Illston issued a 20-page order refusing to overturn the obstruction of justice conviction handed down by the the jury in her courtroom  nearly eight months ago.

6) The Continuing Tectonic Shift in College football

Texas A&M is headed to the SEC. So is Missouri.  Syracuse and Pittsburgh are bolting from the Big East to join the ACC. West Virginia is trying to ditch the Big East for the supposedly greener pastures of the Big 12; the same greener pastures TCU left the Big East at the altar for.  In return, the Big East extended invitations to at least six teams, and the madness isn’t over yet.

5) The Phenomenon Known as Tim Tebow

I’ve been watching football for nearly 40 years, and I’ve never…repeat NEVER…seen anything like the Tim Tebow story. He’s either loved or hated; he’s either the future of the Denver Broncos or an impostor. Everybody has a strong opinion, and everybody is convinced they are right.

Frankly, I have no idea what to make of the guy, so I’m going to stick with the facts.

  • Whether or not the Broncos complete this miraculous run to the playoffs, there is no denying this team was on life-support when they handed Tebow the keys, and that team responded to him.
  • The Tebow story is one of the few uplifting stories in a year in sports filled with so many negatives.
  • Like it or not, Tebow is the biggest star in the NFL right now. Doubt that? Tell me another NFL player that had an hour-long special dedicated to him exclusively.

4) The Night of the Dueling Collapses

In the last story, I said I have been watching football for nearly 40 years. I can say the same for baseball, and again, I can say I never saw anything like the last night of the regular season.  In what was inarguably the wildest night in baseball I’ve ever seen, the Red Sox and the Rays,  and the Braves and the Cardinals entered the last game competing for the American League and National League wild-card berths respectively.

This set the stage for six hours of baseball that will be talked about for at least as many decades.

In the National League, the Braves blew a ninth inning lead, eventually losing in the 13th inning 4-3 to the Phillies.  This loss opened the door for the Cardinals to capture the wild card by cruising past the Astros 8-0 to complete their amazing late season run; one that found them trailing Atlanta by 10.5 games on August 25th but prevaiiling in the end by winning 23 of their final 31 games.

Believe it or not, the collapse in the American League was even more epic.  The Boston Red Sox  led Tampa Bay Rays by nine games on September 4th, which seemed to be an insurmountable lead. It wasn’t, as the Sox found themselves in need of a win on the last night of the season to keep their playoff hopes alive. The stars seems to be aligning Boston’s way; they seemed on the verge of staving off a historic choke-job, taking an early 3-2 lead over the Orioles while the Rays fell behind the Yankees 7-0.  But then somebody messed with the lenses of the Sox telescope; Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon surrendered consecutive hits to Chris Davis, Nolan Reimold, and Robert Andino to earn a season-ending 4-3 loss.  Meanwhile, the Rays regrouped and mounted a comeback on the shoulders of a pair of dramatic homers from Evan Longoria, including a 12th-inning walkoff game winner.

3) The Fiasco of the Los Angeles Dodgers

We may never know how sordid the details of Frank McCourt’s mismanagement of the Los Angeles Dodgers really are; what we do know is that after the Dodgers began showing signs of financial trouble in 2010, Commissioner Bud Selig made the decision to give the league control over the club’s day-to-day operations starting in April 2011.

Since then, we’ve been treated to McCourt attempting to overturn Selig’s take-over via the courts, then threatening to engage in more legal maneuvering over a proposed television deal with Fox Sports was rejected by Selig. Then since the Dodgers struggled to meet payroll deadlines, the club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, all during which McCourt was embroiled in what may have been the nastiest divorce in the history of the state of California.

Thankfully, Major League Baseball and McCourt reached an agreement in October under which he will sell the team and the media rights by April 30, 2012.

2) The NFL Lockout

Really, all this lockout proved is that the NFL owners and players really don’t understand the problems they have. They think this new collective bargaining agreement solves all the acrimony we all lived through, but that’s an illusion made of money. Realistically, the NFL and the NBA share some common problems, namely that they have franchises in places they shouldn’t, and those franchises are draining the league’s resources. The difference is the NFL is the country’s most popular sports league, it is literally floating on money, so it can pave over it’s issues with revenue-sharing. When the NFL finally hits the point where it has priced itself out of the market (wait until you see what the new TV deal is going to do to your cable bill), all of a sudden the illusion made of money will disappear. Mark my words, the next NFL lockout (and there will be one) will look and sound just like the NBA lockout we just lived through.

1) The Penn State and Syracuse Sex Abuse Scandals

This is the one story here that transcends sports. We have all heard the allegations, we have all read ad nauseum about all the sickening details; there’s really no need to rehash them here. What matters most is that these stories should serve as a wake-up call to all of us. We all must take a stand in stopping this sort of abuse of our children, and we must do it now. There is no excuse for any other course of action.

To that end, this should serve as the moment of truth for the NCAA. It’s time to find out how many more Jerry Sanduskys and Bernie Fines there are out there, and it’s time to ensure they are stopped. If the NCAA can’t do that, then the NCAA needs to be dismantled.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference – A Super League Is Born

Editor’s Note: For purposes of full disclosure, J-Dub is an alum of the University of North Dakota and is a fervent Fighting Sioux hockey fan. In fact, that’ s his real fat ass all Sioux-ed up. For Christ’s sake, the man has a Fighting Sioux shower curtain.  We mention this only for purposes of stating up front this article may be written with a bit of a bias. If you disagree, feel free to comment, or start your own blog. Either way, you’ve been warned.

College football isn’t the only sport in the NCAA experiencing a tectonic shift in it’s conference alignments.  Two of its oldest and most storied leagues are breaking up and re-forming a college hockey world that will look very different from the way it does today.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) will celebrate its 60th anniversary this fall. The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) turns 41. However, it is these two leagues which will be the most effected by the announcement yesterday that the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) will begin play in 2013-14 with some of the game’s most powerful programs as charter members.

Perennial power North Dakota, defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth, along with Denver, Colorado College,and Nebraska-Omaha are leaving the WCHA for the new league.  These five schools have combined for a total won 17 national championships.  Miami (Ohio) is departing the  CCHA for the NCHC.

For those of you unfamiliar with college hockey, if such a shift were to happen in college football, it would be the equivalent of  (current sanctions notwithstanding) USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State all announcing they are leaving their current conferences and forming their own.

“The WCHA has changed pretty dramatically over the years,” Colorado College athletic director Ken Ralph said. “As we look at the institutions that are most like us from a hockey perspective, the institutions our fans like seeing and the institutions that are providing national media for us, it became a pretty defined group.

Such a shift was inevitable once the Big Ten sponsored men’s hockey as a league sport.  Once Penn State added hockey, the Big Ten had the needed six teams to form a conference once it gained Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA and Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State from the CCHA.

This re-alignment will leave the WCHA with only five members: Alaska-Anchorage, Minnesota State, Bemidji State, and charter member Michigan Tech.

“Obviously, it’s a tough day for the WCHA and a sad one for me personally, and it’s not one that is easy to put into perspective,” WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said. “We wish everyone well, but make no mistake, the WCHA is not going away. . . The WCHA has a short-term plan that we will implement immediately. In the long-term, we will formulate a strategic approach that will ensure the well-being of this Association and its members for the long run.”

The CCHA fares a bit better…for now. As it stands now, the league will have seven remaining schools, the most notable being Notre Dame. However, their is a strong possibility the Fighting Irish will join the Fighting Sioux in the new conference.

The league, which intentionally didn’t define itself with one region of the country, may expand by the time it starts. The National, as it was called by coaches and athletic directors at Wednesday’s introductory press conference, covets adding Notre Dame as a seventh team. If the Irish come aboard, an eighth team is possible as well.

The thing that all college hockey fans must remember that such big shifts are not new.  Set the Wayback Machine for 1982 when Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Northern Michigan all bid farewell to the WCHA for the CCHA. Two years later,  Boston College, Boston University, Maine, and New Hampshire were the vanguard of what became a seven-team defection from Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) to form Hockey East.

I know you are all wondering…what does does J-Dub, North Dakota alum and fervent Fighting Sioux fan think of this?

First of all, everybody thought 1982 was some sort of apocalypse; everybody thought all those teams leaving the WCHA (more importantly, the split of the North Dakota/Michigan rivalry) was the death knell of the WCHA. In fact, the opposite was true. North Dakota and Michigan continued to be the pre-eminent programs in the game, and both the WCHA and CCHA flourished as conferences.

We weren't kidding...the man has a Fighting Sioux shower curtain.

The same held true for Hockey East. People thought it was bad for college hockey when Hockey East was formed and it strengthened the game in the East. Look at how many times Boston Fucking College has beaten the Sioux in the Frozen Four lately. That didn’t happen 20 years ago.

Not to mention, this will be good for the development of new programs. At the outset, we get a new Penn State program (fun for me, as I did some post-grad work there, and the Beaver Stadium experience is what hooked me on college football).  Since I literally now live spitting distance from the Purdue campus, you know I’m going to be doing whatever I can to get them to move hockey from a club sport up to the level of competing with the big boys; I sure as hell don’t want to have to keep get my college hockey fix in South Bend or via satellite.

But beyond my myopic needs, this could bring the college game into a growth period. The calculus works like this: a period of more conferences smaller in size instead of the double-digit alignments of today means six-team conferences like the  Big Ten and the new NCHC have slots for new programs. If I can get Purdue to pick up hockey, they are a no-brainer for the Big Ten. The non-regional nature of the new NCHC means it is rife with possibilities, ranging from adding members from existing, yet struggling conferences to welcoming newcomers.

Either way, the future of college hockey is at the same time different and bright.  I for one look forward to it.

Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization: Genderless Babies

Frankly, I couldn’t believe this when I first read it.

“Nahhh, somebody hacked this page, or I’ve been somehow re-directed to the Onion” I thought to myself. But, no, the page  was still Yahoo! News. I literally could feel my blood pressure pulling into the left lane and putting the pedal to the metal toward Stroke City. But for a brief few moments, I didn’t really understand what it was that bothered me so much about this. I literally had to read it three or four times before it dawned on me; this is the intersection of two really frightening roads we as a society have traveled. Allow me to walk you through my discovery.

When many couples have a baby, they send out an email to family and friends that fills them in on the key details: name, gender, birth weight, that sort of thing. (You know the drill: “Both Mom and little Ethan are doing great!”) But the email sent recently by Kathy Witterick and David Stocker of Toronto, Canada to announce the birth of their baby, Storm, was missing one important piece of information. “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now–a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place? …),” it said.

That’s right. They’re not saying whether Storm is a boy or a girl.

This is what initially threw me off the trail.  First of all, these parents should be tossed into the slammer just for the name “Storm” alone. I’m sure in twenty years, regardless of gender that kid will be grateful for having been given a name which makes it impossible for anybody to ever take them seriously.

Then there’s that whole bullshit line about “the world becoming a more progressive place.” This is the stuff that makes my blood pressure ring the bell. Do you know who says shit like this? That pretentious ass-loaf at your office who bitches at you about recycling your Mountain Dew cans and acts all “holier-than-thou” because he drives a Prius. This is the same guy who wears one of those ribbons/wristbands/whatever to show you that he cares about some cause so much more than you do despite the fact he never lifted finger number one to support that cause other than put on that useless ribbon/wristband/whatever.

Follow me close on this, because the key is coming, but trust me, it is easy to miss.

There’s nothing ambiguous about the baby’s genitals. But as Stocker puts it: “If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs.” So only the parents, their two other children (both boys), a close friend, and the two midwives who helped deliver the now 4-month-old baby know its gender. Even the grandparents have been left in the dark.

Stocker and Witterick say the decision gives Storm the freedom to choose who he or she wants to be. “What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s obnoxious,” adds Stocker, a teacher at an alternative school.

I wish I could ask these parents what the weather is like on Planet Delusion. I really have to wonder how this kid was even conceived; I’m sure that when Daddy was looking for a Mommy, it was a prerequisite that any potential Mommy had working Mommy parts. In other words, we are only four paragraphs into this story, and we can already see how it is never going to hold water.

Even if you buy the “what’s between their legs” argument, let’s talk about the feasibility of keeping this all a secret. The simple problem here is too many people know about it. I have a rule about keeping secrets: any three people can keep a secret as long as two of them are dead. Think about it for a minute…don’t you think the grandparents might want to know if they have a grandson or granddaughter? Don’t you think the grandparents might be able to worm the truth out of one of the other kids? Even worse than that, it also has to mean these grandparents have limited access to this kid because the first time Grandma changes a diaper, the jig is up.

So, the first two components in my discovery are Delusion and Denial. Remember these, because there’s more coming.

The quoted paragraphs above also contain the framework for the next components. Re-read the last sentence in the last quoted paragraph. Do you find it a bit curious these parents are whining about parents making choices for their children being “obnoxious,” yet, that is exactly what they are doing. Sorry, but choosing not to play by the existing rules is still making a choice.

They say that kids receive messages from society that encourage them to fit into existing boxes, including with regard to gender. “We thought that if we delayed sharing that information, in this case hopefully, we might knock off a couple million of those messages by the time that Storm decides Storm would like to share,” says Witterick.

“In fact, in not telling the gender of my precious baby, I am saying to the world, ‘Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what s (he) wants to be?!.” she wrote in an email.

This is the part where pretentiousness enters the picture. These two idiot parents have deluded themselves into believing what they are doing is good for this child, and it is that same “do-gooder” cloak in which all those “progressive thinking” people  wrap themselves.

Add Hypocrisy and Pretentiousness to the list of established components.

Were in the home stretch here…just tow more pieces of the puzzle are left to expose.

How did Stocker and Witterick decide to keep Storm’s gender under wraps? During Witterick’s pregnancy, her son Jazz was having “intense” experiences with his own gender. “I was feeling like I needed some good parenting skills to support him through that,” Witterick said.

Stocker came across a book from 1978, titled X: A Fabulous Child’s Story by Lois Gould. X is raised as neither a boy or girl, and grows up to be a happy and well-adjusted child.

“It became so compelling it was almost like, How could we not?” Witterick said.

The couple’s other two children, Jazz and Kio, haven’t escaped their parents’ unconventional approach to parenting. Though they’re only 5 and 2, they’re allowed to pick out their own clothes in the boys and girls sections of stores and decide whether to cut their hair or let it grow.

Both boys are “unschooled,” a version of homeschooling, which promotes putting a child’s curiosity at the center of his or her education. As Witterick puts it, it’s “not something that happens by rote from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays in a building with a group of same-age people, planned, implemented and assessed by someone else.”

Because Jazz and Kio wear pink and have long hair, they’re frequently assumed to be girls, according to Stocker. He said he and Witterick don’t correct people–they leave it to the kids to do it if they want to.

So, genius parents, let me get this straight…you have male children, ones that you’ve admitted are male children (apparently a big step for you), you let them wear girls’ clothing, you don’t correct people who think they are girls, and then you can’t figure why these kids have gender-identity issues? Are you fucking kidding me? This is the part where I thought I was reading The Onion; I thought there is no way this could be true.

But these vapor-brains honestly believe this. They read this shit in some old book and thought “Hey, here’s a great way to abdicate any of our parental responsibilities. We can pretend we are making some powerful social statement!” Guess what, guys? There was another book written in the 20th Century that advocated a major change to the social construct. It was called “Mein Kampf,” and it turned out to be not such a great idea, either.

Just in case you think that is a little too heavy of a rap to drop on these people, further consider the effects of this on the children.

But Stocker and Witterick’s choices haven’t always made life easy for their kids. Though Jazz likes dressing as a girl, he doesn’t seem to want to be mistaken for one. He recently asked his mother to let the leaders of a nature center know that he’s a boy. And he chose not to attend a conventional school because of the questions about his gender. Asked whether that upsets him, Jazz nodded.

As for his mother, she’s not giving up the crusade against the tyranny of assigned gender roles. “Everyone keeps asking us, ‘When will this end?'” she said. “And we always turn the question back. Yeah, when will this end? When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?”

Wasn’t the whole point of this to let these kids “decide” what their gender is? So why is the kid asking his mother to define what he is? Doesn’t that in and of itself tell you this is headed for abject and catastrophic failure.

Then, consider the mother’s “crusade against the tyranny of assigned gender roles.” Nobody assigns gender, you are born with it; this woman is swimming upstream against nature, and both these parents seem comfortable using their kids as pawns to further their own cause.  This is the problem with these so-called “progressive thinkers.” You would be hard-pressed to find a more self-righteous, self-centered group of people. These parents have no problem forcing their kids to be social outcasts based on their socio-political beliefs. Worse yet will be the time when these kids fail at living in the real world because their parents spent so much time creating their own reality they neglected to prepare the kids for the real deal. When that happens, you just know these are the kind of people who will blame everybody except themselves.

This brings us to the last two components of why this is so onerous. We’ve already established this story contains Delusion, Denial, Hypocrisy, Pretentiousness. Now we can add Selfishness and Lack of Accountability to the mix.

This is the part where you are thinking “why the hell are you ranting about this in a sports blog?” Look at those six  components again. Youth sports and the NCAA are full of all six of them. This is the intersection I referred to at the beginning of this piece. If you stop and think about it, it is the attitude we have taken toward youth sports in this country that has allowed the NCAA to get away with a lot of the crap it has been peddling for the last 15 years. Let’s run through the six components to see how it has happened.

Delusion: In youth sports, there are far too many parents using their kids to live out their own alternate reality just like the parents in the quoted article. But instead of gender, it’s all about how little Timmy is going to become a pro athlete. As far as the NCAA is concerned, a lot of Division I recruiters play to this mentality by telling kids “you have a much better shot to be a pro if you pl;ay at our university rather than at (insert competitor here).”

Denial: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the parent who can’t come to terms with the fact that little Timmy just may not be very good at the sport said parent has chosen for him. It always the coach who sucks, or the league, or the sports program, or the facilities, etc…In the NCAA, the denial is all about not recognizing that sports like men’s ice hockey, men’s basketball, and football, are businesses that generate billions of dollars in revenue.

Hypocrisy: Sadly, we are getting to the point where youth sports, particularly at the high-school level and the NCAA can share the root cause of this – the phrase “student-athlete.” Much like the big universities act as feeder programs for big-league sports, there are high schools lining up to perform the same function for those universities. Naturally, this arrangement exists due to the money, not for a benefit to any of the kids involved.

Pretentiousness: This is really an off-shoot of Hypocrisy, and it can also be shared. Both youth sports and the NCAA love to pretend they are funneling benefits of their activities into programs for “students/youth,” when in reality the vast majority of any resources generated are most often pumped back into “feeding the beast.”

Selfishness: This may be the purest example tying the parents in the article to youth sports and the NCAA. There are too many  parents in youth sports using their kids for some vicarious purpose, and they simply do not care about how that effects the kids. At the D-I level, it is crystal clear the NCAA couldn’t care less about the “student-athletes” they both profit from and hide behind.

Lack of Accountability: Nobody in this article, be they the gender-eschewing parents, the youth sports’ parents, or the NCAA have any idea what to do with the kids who don’t successfully navigate their “systems.” Nobody wants to talk about what to do with a kid who has been raised to be a social outcast, and who will completely lack any social skills to remedy that problem. Nobody wants to talk about the high-school athlete who can’t get a D-I scholarship and who is woefully unprepared for life because he is functionally illiterate. And certainly nobody wants to talk about the college athlete who doesn’t make the pros and who is woefully unprepared for life because he is functionally illiterate.

In all three cases, nobody wants to have that conversation about what to do with the kids who have been failed by their parents and the NCAA because wants to admit they exist. In all three cases, everybody will find somebody other than themselves to blame, will offer no solution to the problem they created, and will do nothing to change a broken system so long as it continues to benefit them.

Perhaps it is time as sports fans that we let this pair of moronic and dangerous parents act as a wake-up call for us. Much like Child Protective Services ought to snatch the kids away from these  knuckleheads, perhaps we should take steps to fix the monsters we as sports fans helped to create.

What Do My Brackets Have in Common With a Push-Up Bra?

I should have known better. Every year, by the end of the first weekend of the basketball tournament, my brackets are just so much smoldering wreckage. Every year, I think the Hockey tournament can save my enjoyment of filling out brackets.  And every year, I am as wrong as a push-up bra for eight-year-olds.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that statistically speaking, my chances of picking a perfect bracket in a 64-team field are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1 (that’s 9.2 quintillion, sports fans – which means you are 24 billion times more likely to win the lottery). I mention this only because I discovered the flaw in my belief that a sixteen-team bracket would be far easier to predict. While technically it is, to do it perfectly is still leaves the odds at 380 billion to 1.

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