Things Aren’t Always What They Appear

News is anything that makes a reader say, `Gee Whiz’! “
– Arthur MacEwen, American editor

You may have heard or read about the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) news story on the youth soccer league in Midlake, Ontario, Canada which has decided that they want to improve the experience of the children playing on its teams.  In order to achieve this goal, the league’s administrators have decided to eliminate what they consider to be one of the more damaging aspects of sports; that being competition.
Helen Dabney-Coyle of Midlake’s Soccer Association explained the objective this way, “This year to address some of the negative effects of competition, we’ve actually removed the ball.  And the kids are loving it.
(I added the emphasis)

According to the story, Helen went on to say, “By removing the ball, it’s absolutely impossible to say ‘this team won’ and ‘this team lost’ or ‘this child is better at soccer than that child.  We want our children to grow up learning that sport is not about competition, rather it’s about using your imagination.  If you imagine you’re good at soccer, then, you are.

Here in the U.S., several major media outlets including The Washington Times and USA Today picked up the ball-less soccer story, running it in their print and on-line editions.

There’s only one small fly in this particular ointment.  Nothing about the story is true.  It was originally broadcast on the CBC’s “This Is That ” program which, by the way, happens to be entirely satirical in nature.

Sadly, I don’t find it surprising that so many people were hoodwinked into believing that this story was true.  After all we do live in a culture which, far too often, is guided by ill-advised, but politically correct philosophies.

As an example, some school systems have eliminated the use of the letter grade “F” because it might serve to label particular students as not performing up to minimal standards.  No matter that those students are in fact not performing up to minimal standards!   We just wouldn’t want their egos damaged by their having to face the truth regarding their own lack of effort nor to hold them responsible for making an attempt to improve their study habits.

In the world of youth sports, political correctness is responsible for the now common-place practice of awarding every child on every team a trophy at the end of each season regardless of how they or their team performed.  Apparently, it’s now considered bad form to only recognize the hard work and achievement of those teams and individuals who actually put in the effort to excel.

From my perspective, those individuals who are wearing their rose-colored, politically correct glasses fail to understand the simple and age old truth that when events are structured so that everyone wins, in actual fact, everyone ends up losing.

The winners soon learn that their extra effort gained them nothing at all.  While the losers learn that little or no effort is required to achieve the same level of reward and recognition as those who did put in the extra effort required to achieve.

Hear that loud slamming sound?  That’s everyone being forced to the lowest common denominator at exactly the same time.

But enough about programming subsequent generations into being under achievers who expect to be rewarded for their (lack of) effort.

The really sad thing about this story is that main stream media in the U.S. picked it up and reported it as being factual and newsworthy.
There was a time when news stories weren’t published unless the facts contained within them could be thoroughly substantiated by at least two reliable and independent sources.  In those days, journalists actually worked very hard to vet, or to confirm, the truth of their stories before they were reported as being factual.  Apparently those heady days of journalistic accuracy and excellence are going, if they are not already gone, the same way as the “F” letter grade and the awarding of trophies only to actual winners.

Even if The Washington Times and USA Today had just taken the time to have an intern Google “Midlake, Ontario“, they would have learned that the place simply doesn’t exist.  Good job Main Stream Media.  I’d give you an “F” on this one if that grade still existed.

Edward R. Murrow most certainly is turning somersaults in his grave.


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Remembering the (little) Boys of Summer

Like millions of other 9 to10 year old boys before and after me, I was possessed by a burning desire play Little League baseball.  The memorable summer of 1961 saw me donning the uniform of my hometown Franklin Drugs Little League team for the first time.  I went on to play three seasons with the Franklin Drugs squad.  The thought of free agency having never crossed my mind.

Our uniforms were modeled on those worn by the New York Yankees.  We may not have played the game very well, but we sure looked good doing it.  Since one of my favorite major league players happened to be Yogi Berra, the Yankees catcher, I asked for and received uniform #8.  It would be difficult for me to put into words the pride that I took in wearing that uniform and being part of that team.

Even though Yogi was a favorite player, I was never called upon, nor did I ever ask to catch for the team.  Not knowing where my unique skills as a ball player could best be put to use, I wasn’t quite sure which position I should attempt to play in my inaugural season.  For that reason during our preseason practices, I migrated out into the friendly and wide open space otherwise known as right field.

I’m not quite sure why I chose that position.  It may have been due to the fact that most hitters were right handed.  This meant that in the unlikely event that a batter actually managed to hit a pitch, the ball would most likely stay on the 3rd base, shortstop, and left field side of the diamond.  Assuming these contingencies to be valid, it seemed to me that right fielders would not be called upon to field the ball too often.  Even at that young age, I understood probabilities and how to work them to my advantage.

My respite from fielding responsibility was to be short lived, however.  On the third or fourth day of practice, Coach, who was standing alone at 3rd base, waved to me out in right field and bellowed, “Hustle in here! 

Oh geez” I thought to myself as I ran across the infield, “This can NOT be good! 
When I arrived at 3rd base, Coach handed me a ball and said, “Throw this over to 1st base.

Somewhat confused, I looked back across the infield in an attempt to gain the attention of the 1st baseman who at that moment was intent on studying a bug crawling on a dandelion.  Another bellow from Coach brought the 1st baseman back to his senses, thus allowing me the opportunity to hurl the horsehide spheroid over to him on the fly.

Congratulations,” Coach said with a smile, “you’re our new 3rd baseman.  Nobody else has been able throw the ball that far.

Such was the level of innate athleticism to be found on our team.  Our prospects for the upcoming season never seemed brighter!

So began my tenure as a 3rd baseman.  Inexplicably, I found myself playing at the “Hot Corner“, as it’s known in baseball parlance, due to the number of balls hit in that direction and the speed with which they get there.

My performance as a 3rd baseman was characterized by an unmistakable lack of range in covering my position, as well as a decided absence of speed in attempting to do so.  To put a positive spin on my athletic skill set, as the season progressed, it became clear to all that Coach could have used a calendar to time my attempts to steal second base.

But hey!  Beggars can’t be choosers.  On those occasions when I did cleanly field a ball hit in my direction, I could throw it all the way to 1st base….. usually on the fly!

And in that snappy Franklin Drugs uniform, I looked damn good doing it!


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