211031-Book Report

I don’t always write book reports, but today I feel that I must. I just finished John Grisham’s novel titled “Sooley.” It has been one of the most enjoyable reads of the year. Grisham does such a good job on this one I kept thinking it was a true story, and a biography at that. Sooley is a fictitious basketball player from Sudan, Africa. In the beginning he is a simple high school kid that is six foot two and growing. He lives a happy life with his father, mother and three siblings. He is noticed by a fellow Sudanese basketball scout and convinced to join a special team headed to a special tournament in the U.S.A. He is pushed by his family to go for it. Then the real story begins. This is a feel good story with a surprise ending that turns into more good feelings. I recommend all to read it.

I thought Grisham was over doing it by describing too many basketball games, but it was necessary to tell the story of a developing player who very much reminded me of Michael Jordan. I’m almost positive that Grisham used Jordan as the model for his character.

I couldn’t tell what the scout Ecko Lam saw in Sooley, but he believed in the kid’s potential and pushed hard to get him a break. It wasn’t long before the seventeen year old kid from a mud floored hut in Sudan was in an airplane on his way to America. The story will keep you reading to the very last sentence.

NFL Racism

How does the NFL get away with its racist policies? It seems to  me that any organization that is made up of 75% of one race is tilted in the direction of being racist.  Where is the outrage by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? Better yet, where is the outrage of whites? Why didn’t Obama and Eric Holder begin legal measures aimed at making the NFL more racially balanced? This country is so afraid of being criticized by Leftists, and the news media that we are no longer sensitive to the pin pricks of abuse against us. The NFL is not alone in this situation the NBA is even more racially unbalanced. We adore our sports heroes, but cast aside people of color who under perform in schools, or who no longer marry to have families. Instead we pay for their care via welfare, and laws promoting single motherhood, or we promote abortions to people of color because by reducing the population we hold our welfare costs down. What have we become?

My friends will argue that only the best athletes are selected to play in the NFL. Yes he is correct, but how come when it is time to go to college the laws favor the under-educated kids of color over the really smart white kids? Shouldn’t we be selecting kids for college that know how to read instead of on the color of their skin?

Life is not fair, and racism isn’t either, but neither is racial favoritism. Is there any difference between racism and racial favoritism? Not really, except racism carries the stigma of hate while racial favoritism sounds less hateful. The best thing we can do today is to repeal the stupid welfare laws that make having babies out-of-wedlock profitable. It is a practice worse than running for Congress because they have a good pension plan. My guess is that if we were to repeal these laws there would be total war in the country the likes of which we have never fought.

Things will only get worse as time moves on. All the jobs that poorly educated people could hold have been 1.) exported to another country where there is no welfare, and people value work, or 2.) the same job that didn’t require an education now does because the process machinery is computer controlled, and not everyone can handle that. As our country now moves into the information age, our worker force must also, and just like the NFL, and NBA only the best will be chosen for the jobs.

My argument above about why uneducated people can’t hold is fallacious. We love illegal immigrants because they are uneducated, and will take the mundane jobs at low pay that our poorly educated people of color will not.  Why should they take jobs at low wages when welfare pays more? One argument for a higher minimum wage is so that a minimum wage job pays more than being on welfare.

What the USA needs is to shut down and reboot. We are so over-burdened with stupid laws and benefits that we can no longer function without constant trouble. A reboot may be a way to begin with fresh uncluttered programs, and allow us to be productive again.

Chasing Basketballs and Sweaty Towels

Basketball article stub icon

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BASKETBALL

High school was loaded with activities.  Everyday there were announcements about new ones.  One day, it was about basketball and decided to check it out.  I never played basketball formally.  None of the kids I knew owned a basket ball.  The playground at OLH didn’t have a backboard or a hoop.  One kid did nail a bushel basket that he cut the bottom out of to a telephone pole.  There was no backboard at all.  He used to shoot baskets that way.  It  was my only contact with basketball at that point.

The Mendel gym was on the second floor of the west wing.  It was short and the roof trusses were low to the floor.  Anyone trying to take a long shot had a good chance of hitting a truss with the ball.  Mr. DiGiovanni, a short and stocky man with a full head of back hair combed straight back coached the team.  His voice was soft and calm except when he was shouting directions to the players.

The day I went to tryout the team was there practicing.  I was amazed at how tall they were.  I hadn’t started growing yet and was very short.  Mr. D was nice to me and let me down gently, but he offered me the position of team manager.  I accepted immediately because I wanted to be part of the team.  The job involved keeping the equipment organized and ready.  I had to make sure a dozen balls were ready for practice and properly inflated. There were a bunch of sweaty white towels to handle too.

The sessions lasted from 4 to 6 p.m.  By the time I put everything away and caught the streetcar home, it was seven o’clock.  During the practice I sat on the sidelines and did homework.  I learned a lot about basketball that year because Mr. D was always teaching fundamentals.  Today, when I watch NBA games, I see violations of the basic rules at every game. NBA players are a big offenders of the palming rule.  Palming is holding and rolling  the ball over from underneath while dribbling.  Dribbling is supposed to be done by the pushing on top of the ball.  Palming allows the player to carry the ball in between dribbles. Palming goes in tandem with another NBA violation; walking.

I learned strategy, too, like zone defense and man to man, or a pick.  It was fascinating.  I can’t play the game, but I could probably coach it.

I went with the team to all games and kept the equipment, uniforms and towels straight at host gyms. I usually rode with Mr. D in his old Plymouth. During the games, I kept stats. It was important for the coach to know who scored baskets and free throws. He analyzed the stats during and after every game. If a player missed free throws Coach made him practice 50-100 throws. I would stand under the basket and return the ball to him.

Near Christmas break I got the flu and couldn’t go to school so I missed the instructions for what goes on with the team during the time off at Christmas.  Throughout the holiday season I kept thinking I should check with Mr. D to see if I should be doing something.  I didn’t even know if they practiced or not.

After the break, when school started again, I showed up for practice.  Mr. D really let me know how upset he was with me.  The team played in a tournament during the holidays and they practiced too.  I missed all of the fun of going to the games and let the team down.  I never missed another practice or game after that.

One thing I learned about athletes during that season is that they are aloof.  Although they were friends among themselves, I never became part of their clique.  I did become a part of the coach’s life though, and the priests who ran the sports program.

I finished out the season and earned my letter in basketball even though I didn’t play on the team.  I never received the award in person because I didn’t make the award banquet in the fall of the sophomore year. That is another story.

I loved being manager and I loved the sport.  I looked forward to the next season as manager provided that I didn’t make one of the other sports teams, like football.

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