Sports & Entertainment

Sports & Entertainment

Opening day

The Washington Nationals open their season today against the Atlanta Braves, which got me to thinking about the connections between baseball and Congress.

Baseball is usually associated with the White House, because of the tradition of presidents throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. That started with William Howard Taft, who threw out the first first pitch in 1910.  

Taft was an enormous presence — physically, not so much politically. Despite his efforts to cultivate a more populist persona, he could never overcome the political presence of his predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, who ended up running against him in 1912, splitting the Republican base and giving the keys to the White House to Woodrow Wilson.

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Let Brady, Manning and Brees run the country as a Council of Watchers

As the pending government shutdown looms, we might think to let famed quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees run the country. They have offered themselves as plaintiffs in the event of an NFL shutdown, and their instincts for leadership, management, problem-solving and the ability to get along with others is legendary. The NFL lockout clearly runs a parallel with the government shutdown. But compare these quarterbacks and the skills, dedication and physical courage of their teammates to the motley crew in D.C. today.

A country that thinks about football more than it thinks about politics is a healthy country and one with a life force and a future, but sometimes that inattentiveness can let things slip. So we might hold on with Brady, Manning and Brees after the shutdown as a kind of triumvirate and let them form their own Council of Watchers to keep an eye on things while we are watching football.

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Political correctness and our national anthem

In his recent missive, titled “Time to Turn Off the National Anthem Before Sports Events,” Kevin Blackistone argues that the singing of the national anthem at all sporting events has outlived its purpose. He submits that very few Americans even know the song, and suggests that still fewer can recall why the words were written in the first place. There’s nothing about playing tee-ball that should stir memories of a lopsided British attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

“Sports,” Blackistone writes, “have and continue to ritualize [the anthem] with barely a shred of relevance.”

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Institute for Education fellows opine on 2010

In the words of IFE Fellows, here is what 2010 was all about:

Sports
 
Dog killer or MVP? Michael Vick, in his second season back after serving 23 months in jail for dogfighting, lit up the NFL with his MVP-type performances. Vick's comeback is fascinating because it makes sports fans ask questions that make them very uncomfortable. Can I root for a dog killer? What is more important to me: my love for my team or my love for dogs? Does jail really rehabilitate a person, and since he paid his debt to society, should I forgive Vick?

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Waiting

OMG! news reports that James Franco and Anne Hathaway will host “Hollywood’s biggest night,” the Oscars. Omg! He played the sidekick in “Spiderman,” I think, and she was in that movie that gave away the ending to “Lost.” Suggests we are in a between; a time waiting as Israel waits for David, as Markos Moulitsas and crew from the Daily Kos wait for the Clinton-era people to go away — the time described by the Wu Priesthood as “wu chi”; undifferentiated karma between worlds; imagine there’s no heaven, no country, no religion too. Imagine there’s no Oprah. Imagine Dr. House finally gets a girlfriend. Imagine the new generation finally arising, but for big-screen Hollywood, there won’t be one.

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India and Pakistan team up on the tennis court

The moment has finally arrived! An Indian, Rohan Bopanna, and a Pakistani, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, have made it to the finals of the U.S. Tennis Open, a Grand Slam event. Hats off to the Indo-Pak Express! The U.S. Open is tennis’s largest event, garnering far and away the most media coverage.

Now it’s spotlighting two world-class athletes and, more importantly, their partnership. What they’re doing takes guts. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since becoming independent in 1947, and remain bitter rivals. For Rohan and Aisam, these facts are history, and should be treated as such.

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End of things/new beginnings

It does something to see your life pass in pictures, as I did watching a PBS fundraiser of the early Newport Folk Festival. The young Joan Baez was on stage asking the audience, “Is Bobby here?” And Bob Dylan was there and he jumped up on the stage with her. I was there too, sitting somewhere in the audience. Now his voice pops up on “Mad Men,” ominously foreshadowing “something coming” in 1962. And it was coming. Now it’s leaving.

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A World Cup win for South Africa

Sports has a unique way of bringing out the best in humans. Beyond the sheer sense of competition, merit and sportsmanship, major events on the world stage seem to bring nations together in some ritualistic bond of community. A common language is shared, no matter the winner. The 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament was no different.

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LeBron James: The bum who would sell you the $150 shoe

As a born and bred New Yorker, I had hoped that LeBron James would sign with the Knicks. As a citizen and human being I had hoped he would re-sign with Cleveland. But above all, to me LeBron James, in the end, is just another bum looking out for himself, full of vanity and ego oozing from every pore of his body.

LeBron James is like the worst of the worst on Wall Street: The public be damned.

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World Cup

Like Big Wheels, I missed the soccer generation.

Let me explain. My younger brother was the first in my family to get a Big Wheel, because they came out just at the right time for his height and weight. I was too big to ever ride a Big Wheel.

And by the time soccer came to my high school, I was already set on football, baseball and especially basketball. I didn’t have time on my hands to get into soccer, because I was too busy doing the other stuff.

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