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Why youth sports isn’t reducing child obesity

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I’m part of Generation X, which is followed by Generation Y, which is, naturally, followed by Generation Z, of which my 8-year-old son is spokesman. Apparently, though, a better term for young people — heck, most Americans of any age — these days is Generation Fatass. And youth sports apparently isn’t doing much of anything to make our children less corpulent, less adipose, less… .(Hold on, let me find my thesaurus.) Not that it should be expected to, when there are much bigger, pardon the pun, reasons for obesity than youth sports could ever handle.


Baby, you put the “roll” in “b-roll.”

You might have caught news earlier in the week about a study in the journal Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine that explained why youth sports wasn’t doing anything to help matters. A sample of coverage, from McClatchy Newspapers:

Parents who sign their kids up for youth sports leagues need to know: That’s not enough to ensure youngsters get the physical activity necessary for good health.

A study released [Dec. 6] indicates youth sports practices often don’t provide the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. And since most youth sports involve only one or two practices each week, kids need to be active on those other days, too.

“Some parents sign their child up for a youth sports program and then check off that box,” said Russ Pate of the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. “The typical youth sports program is not going to meet the physical activity requirements.” …

In some cases, the teams’ practices were limited to an hour or less on the field. But even longer practices often didn’t meet the activity requirements. The study found players were moderately or vigorously active 46.1 percent of the practice time.

Various coverage has remarked on how parents expecting organized youth sports to make their children less oleaginous (found that thesaurus) should THINK AGAIN, BABY! But parents don’t sign their kids up for organized sports so their children can stay fit, not when a two-hour softball games of mostly standing around is following by a team snack of chips and juice-ish. They do it so they can get college scholarships!

Actually, the study and a companion piece note that organized sports are, say, better than THOSE GODDAMN VIDEO GAMES YOU PLAY ALL DAY (another reason parents sign their kids up for sports). But the study authors recommend, at a minimum, more vigorous practices.

That will work as well at combating obesity as reducing taxes on the rich will in turning around the American economy. Fat cats getting fat paychecks actually have a lot more to do with our fat selves having fat children than anything youth sports can or can’t do. Not to get all political, but I’m going to get all political.

Numerous studies have found direct links between income inequality and obesity rates, as in the higher the former, the larger the latter. This is true in any country in the world. Numerous studies also have found that higher poverty rates (which are often concomitant with income inequality) also mean higher obesity rates. That rank communist Ben Bernanke says that income inequality is worse in the United States now that it’s ever been, and that’s a very bad thing:

The gap between rich and poor in this country has never been greater than now. In fact, we have the biggest income disparity gap of any industrialized country in the world. The highest income 20 percent of Americans received almost half (49.6%) of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent received by those below the poverty line. At the top, the richest five percent of Americans — those who earn more than $180,000 — had their annual incomes increase last year, census data show. However, families at the $50,000 median level saw their incomes drop. Although the changes in each direction are small annually, cumulatively they add up to greater disparity over time and that is what has happened.

Don’t feel like you’re the only villain, America. Other countries are letting their poor children languish, too.

Youth sports cannot make up for a culture in which the top earners get a lot, and everybody else gets crumbs. Unfortunately, in America, exercise and free time (and decent, nutritious food) are luxuries. Even if you’re working a lot, and especially if you’re not making much for it, opportunities to move are few, for you and your children. With schools cutting back over the years on physical education and sports, opportunities for children to have free or inexpensive organized play and sports activity are dwindling, making a bad situation worse by making sports and organized play even more inaccessible to those without means.

Sure, there are people who’ve made lousy choices, and we can all be more conscious of what our children eat, and their opportunities for play, which doesn’t have to be organized all the time.  But there has to be a societal commitment to giving children opportunities in sports that don’t involve travel teams and thousands of dollars most families don’t have to spare, and the first opportunity is to have an economy that doesn’t have a few winners, and a lot of people on the margins.

You can make youth sports practices two hours of hardcore exercise, but until we as a nation aren’t willing to feed our children to the porcine (still have that thesaurus handy) appetites of the wealthiest Americans, that’s just wasted work, as far as solving the problem of childhood obesity is concerned.

Israel president’s peace process: Youth sports teams with Jewish and Arab kids together

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Israel President Shimon Peres and his counterpart with the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in separate visits to Brazil came away impressed that Jews and Arabs in that country seemed to be able to interact without checkpoints and rocks. When the president of Brazil’s Olympic Committee visited Israel recently to chat with Peres about the 2016 Rio de Janiero games, Peres’ memories of harmony got him to thinking that maybe sports would be a great way to build some Brazil-style peace in his country.

From the Jerusalem Post:

Peres proposed that Brazil host joint Israeli/Palestinian youth teams at various of the year, because sport is a great equalizer. He did not suggest a joint Olympic team, although he was pleased that Jews and Arabs are serving together on Brazil’s Olympic Committee. The Peres Peace Center which has demonstrated that sport is a means of breaking down psychological and political barriers, has sponsored such teams of youngsters in games in Israel and abroad. The President’s proposal may gain support as there are both Jews and Arabs on the Brazil Olympic Committee.

Actually, I’m not sure that Peres has to take a joint Israeli-Palestinian team all the way to Brazil to ease relations between the two sides. If joint leagues start in Israel and Palestine, there might be tension at first, but soon enough both sides will stop fighting each other as they unite around their shared interest — doing something about that fucking coach.

Written by rkcookjr

November 12, 2010 at 2:23 am

Arizona won't kill school sports — and itself

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With 14 of 15 counties reporting — including its largest, Maricopa — Arizona appears to have passed Proposition 100 by a 64-36 margin. Prop 100, passed first by the state’s legislature, raises Arizona’s state sales tax from 5.6 percent to 6.6 percent through 2013, providing an extra $1 billion to schools, health care and public safety, and preventing an immediate $900 million cut — $450 million of it to education — in the state budget.

For purposes of this blog, passage means that Arizona schools will not be eliminating or greatly reducing their sports programs.

As you might recall, in my Prop 100 preview, I talked a lot about how Arizona was making itself the capital of Scared Old White People, what with all the anti-immigrant legislation and the threat of voting down Prop 100 despite knowing the trigger would be pulled on some draconian cuts. With Prop 100′s passage, perhaps Arizona does need to build its Scared Old White People Capitol building yet.

However — and I say this as someone who has broken the tape on 40 — a quote like this one from the Arizona Republic makes me wonder if health reform legislation missed the boat by not really having death panels.

But for Tempe residents Al and Joan Laninga, both retired and registered Republicans, the proponents’ campaign was not necessarily persuasive – at least not in the way it was intended.

Joan, 71, a retired private school teacher, said the amount of the tax was insignificant and she had initially considered supporting the tax hike, but the campaign changed her mind.

“First it was all about having enough police and fire,” she said. “When they changed their focus to education, I figured the whole thing was a scare tactic.”

Written by rkcookjr

May 19, 2010 at 12:02 am

Will Arizona kill school sports — and itself?

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Arizona’s developing quite a reputation for being a state by and for scaredy-cat old white people feeling the hot breath of becoming the minority (which the Census Bureau expects will happen by 2015). The infamous SB1070, another law banning the teaching of ethnic studies, and  a bill coming through that would make schools count illegals and tally up their “cost” — I guess that’s what happens when a real estate market collapses, and white people can no longer sell their houses to flee, um, whatever they call those who are not white people.

It didn’t take a Sarah Palin-assailed girls high school basketball boycott for the state to set up a “hey-weren’t-not-so-bad-commission” to burnish its image as something more than Crazy Coot Cracker Central. It took multiple boycotts by multiple organizations.

Even with all that, the worst hit to Arizona’s image may be yet to come. That will happen if the state’s voters on May 18 turn down Proposition 100, which adds another percentage point to the Arizona sales tax, with most of the money going to schools, as well as health care, and police and fire services. It won’t be interpreted nationwide as an attack on illegal immigrants only. It’ll be interpreted a sign Arizona is closing up shop to pretty much everybody except scared old white people — and even they’re going to be hit if the day comes that budget cuts make an ambulance a lot slower in coming.

How do I know this? Because the of the list of supporters. Among them: pretty much every state and local division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Education Association, the Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Gila River Indian Community, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, the Arizona Medical Association, US Airways and the Arizona Cardinals. Basically, a mishmosh of large and powerful and not-so-large and not-so-powerful that rarely stand on the same side of the same issue. Oh, and also the majority of Arizona state House and Senate, and Gov. Jan Brewer, who had to approve of the ballot measure.

Their fear is this: if Prop 100 — which would raise taxes only through 2013, when the provision sunsets — doesn’t pass, the state immediately cuts $900 million from a state budget already collapsing from a housing and tourism bust, including $450 million in cuts from education. This isn’t a threat or a hypothetical. The Arizona state legislature already has a contingency budget passed in case the tax increase is rejected. (The Cardinals also might feel a little guilty for youth sports funding being slashed because tax revenue generated around its new stadium wasn’t up to par.)

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And more than the budget cut is the signal the rejection sends: that the old white people of Arizona are dying, and they’re taking the state with them. Even for business types who get a cold sweat at every mention of a tax, such a loud and public signal of disinvestment in education, public safety and health (the beneficiaries of the tax increase) would let the world know Arizona isn’t willing to step up to invest in its future. I know every state is cutting, and the backers know every state is cutting. But they also know that at least the signal needs to be sent that they feel a little bad about it.

So what does this have to do with youth sports? Plenty. Many Arizona schools already have certain sports, particularly nonrevenue sports and programs for those who are not on the high school varsity — at the ready to get chopped by their budgetary guillotines. From MaxPreps.com:

“If it fails, the announcement has come from our district office that the possibility of eliminating athletics across the board in our district is real,” said Herman House, director of interscholatics for the Tucson Unified School District. House doesn’t think it will come to that. He believes revenue-producing varsity sports such as football, basketball, baseball and softball will survive, but the reality is, if Prop. 100 fails, Tucson will have to shave about $45 million from its annual budget.

“Athletic directors are a resilient bunch and we always seem to find a way,” said Mesa district athletic director Steve Hogen, whose district is the largest in the state. “At the same time, there are fiscal realities you can’t ignore. Sometimes, that has bad consequences for the kids.”

Hogen said Mesa was already discussing a pay-for-play fee for all student-athletes. But if Prop. 100 does not pass, that fee will likely rise by 50 percent, putting a hardship on a district with many lower-income families. House said if Proposition 100 fails, his district is also considering restrictions on travel and a reliance upon fundraisers to pay coaches’ salaries and keep sports self-sufficient.

Not to mention, a Prop 100 passage might speed up or intensify a plan by Arizona’s state high school sports authority to cut athletic divisions and tournaments, and set limits on travel, all in the name of saving money.

If Arizona wants a preview of how this would work, it can look at New Jersey, where school districts across the state are slashing sports — and, of course, lots of other, more curricular parts of education — when locals rejected higher school taxes on top of state budget cuts. Or just about anywhere else nationwide, really. Having your funding tied in a big way to property taxes and state government receipts is great when housing prices are flying upward, not so when they’re crashing. Just go to Google News and search “school sports budget cuts,” and you’ll get the feeling in many places this recession means the end of days for school-sponsored sports.

Or look at the past coverage of tax rejections at the Grove City Schools in Ohio, which became national news precisely because the district eliminated sports entirely as a result — but were brought back when voters finally passed a hike. Maybe you don’t notice when the math department cuts a teacher, but everyone notices when the football team isn’t playing on Fridays.

So why does Arizona get the pressure of having its image tarnished by rejecting an education tax hike? Well, there’s the matter of all the other legislative nuttiness in the state. But there’s also the matter of Arizona’s taxes being relatively low to start with. The sales tax hike would go to 6.6 percent. Not bad at all, especially to someone such as myself in Chicago, where the sales tax can go more than 11 percent. That’s not to say Arizonans deserve to get soaked as much as I do. It’s more like the feeling I have when I would hear my parents in Carmel, Ind., carp about their property taxes, and I’d find out they were paying about one-quarter as much for a house that wasn’t worth that much less than mine. It’s just hard to work up sympathy. And least New Jersey’s rejections were understandable, with the state’s extremely-high-in-the-nation property taxes.

However, the main issue is that Arizona’s populace knows exactly what it will get if the tax doesn’t pass. The gun is loaded and at your head — and yet you might still decide to pull the trigger.

If most polls are to believed, about half of the state’s voters are suicidal, with passage of Prop 100 as a tossup. While the supporters are well-funded, the opponents have some politicians on their side, as well as the always more popular stance of not raising taxes.

Maybe what supporters need more than money is 7-year-old Logan Wade. He is the young fan Glendale (Ariz.) City Council member Phil Lieberman credits with convincing him to join the majority vote May 11 for a $25 million guarantee for the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, which play in a taxpayer-funded arena in a taxpayer-financed entertainment district that threatens to go down the tubes if the Coyotes, as is very possible, move back to their ancestral of Winnipeg. This vote, which would come if the NHL-owned, bankrupt team can’t find a buyer, comes despite the city budget deficit of $15 million. But how can you turn down a little kid? From the Arizona Republic:

Councilman Phil Lieberman, who had asked tough questions of staffers, said he was persuaded by Logan Wade, a 7-year-old fan.

“‘Will you vote for this resolution tonight?’” Lieberman said the Glendale boy asked.

“I can’t turn him down,” the councilman added.

What Prop 100 supporters should do is spend their money on jetting Logan Wade around the state on the May 18 election day, and have him wear a jersey for a local high school, asking voters, “Will you vote for Prop 100 today?” Even scared old white people can’t turn him down!

Girls basketball meets SB1070 and the right-wing outrage machine

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A few days I noted that if anyone in the youth sports world objected to the new Arizona law, SB1070,  that creates a Latino hunting season, I mean, allows police to demand identification is they suspect someone might be an illegal immigrant, a boycott would be an effective way to suck money out of the state and draw some attention to the cause.

I had no idea that someone would take this suggestion seriously (even if, technically, they probably came to the idea independent of me), or that it would succeed so wildly — in the same way Disco Demolition Night was a wild success for the Chicago White Sox. In that, the decision to disallow the Highland Park (Ill.) High School girls’ basketball team to go to a tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz., is certainly attracting attention to the cause, but with an out-of-control reaction by a lot of over-the-top yahoos, someone is going to suffer some collateral damage for the unexpected amount of attention it generated. Especially with Sarah Palin getting involved.

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The scene at Highland Park High.

The most likely victim: Suzan Hebson, assistant superintendent of District 113, of which Highland Park is part. She is the one who, apparently all by her lonesome, decided May 12 that the Giants girls’ basketball team should not go to Arizona. According to the Chicago Tribune, she cited safety concerns raised by the new law, what with 15 percent of the district being Hispanic. (Highland Park itself is an upscale suburb, but the district also draws from the poorer, much more heavily Latino suburb of Highwood.) However, the part that got parents riled up and fueled the backlash against her decision was her statement that the trip “would not be aligned with our beliefs and values.”

So instead of going to Arizona and wearing “Los Giants” in protest, the school wasn’t going at all.

If President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics over its invasion of Afghanistan (ah, remember the days when the Taliban was on our side?) taught us anything, it’s that athletes who have worked hard for a big event, and the family members who supported them, get very upset when one person decides to cancel a trip for political reasons. If there’s any doubt this was not a decision by committee, the Tribune story had this line:

District 113 Superintendent George Fornero declined comment, saying it “wasn’t just my decision.” He referred calls to Hebson.

Plus, the coaches running the tournament in Arizona said they didn’t know about Highland Park’s withdrawal until reporters asked them what they thought about it.

While I suggested a boycott of Arizona, let me clarify: I don’t think canceling the girls basketball trip was a good idea. At least when the Phoenix Suns won “Los Suns” on Cinco de Mayo, the Suns’ owners asked the players what they thought, and got their support, before their protest. I could understand Hebson saying, from here on it, no new trips to Arizona. But canceling a trip already scheduled, without checking with anyone? Yes, you’re hurting Arizona (which I have no problem with), but you might end up hurting yourself more.

And here’s where Sarah Palin comes in.

By coincidence, Palin — on her I-quit-being-governor-to-make-scads-of-cash-neener-neener speaking tour — happened on the evening of May 12 to be speaking a few miles to the west of Highland Park, in Rosemont, Ill. With conservative talk radio already starting to get het up over the Highland Park cancellation, Palin decided to throw her folksy weight around on the issue in front of the adoring audience of 4,000. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Them are fightin’ words when you say a girl can’t play in the basketball tournament … for political reasons … so we’re going to see about that,” Palin said. …

Palin said the school is still sponsoring a trip to China.

“You know how they treat girls in China?” Palin said. “It makes no sense. Even if they have to do this on our own. …  If the kids have to ‘Go Rogue,’ girls.”

Bringing up Chinese human rights? That’s such a cheap… such a cheap… dammit, Palin might have a point.

Of course, having the former Republican Vice Presidential candidate and the de facto leader of the Tea Party Republicans weigh in put the backlash against Highland Park and Hebson into overdrive. Actually, Palin, a former high school basketball player, did more than weigh in. She is sponsoring, with a local right-wing radio host, a Facebook page dedicated to demanding the Highland Park girls get their trip back. I would love to be inside the heads of any liberal parents of Highland Park girls’ basketball players, trying to balance there incredible dislike for Palin with the strange sight of her now being on their team.

Palin isn’t specifically sending people after Hebson, but she doesn’t have to. The right-wing outrage machine, fueled by Palin’s interest in the matter, is already all over that, not the least of evidence being the top of the Sean Hannity radio show I caught on my car radio (for research purposes only — by the way, I might be a liberal, but I usually find the local left-wing talk station as predictable and unlistenable). A Fox News story talks about Hebson’s background as principal of the other District 113 high school, Deerfield, and the controversy she courted for various gay-friendly initiatives, including a diversity seminar for freshmen that included gay students and adding gay-friendly literature to the school reading list and library.

Of course, the quotes in the Fox News story are exclusively from parent activists from the starboard side of the political spectrum, and they make it sound as if Hebson was authorizing students to have gay sex in front of each other as an integral part of their education. Instead, Hebson said her efforts were simply a means to make for a safer and more tolerant environment, and this report said only a few parents objected, not the dozens Fox said. Yes, that report is from a gay newspaper, but you want the opposite of Fox if you’re trying to make a report like this fair and balanced. (Sorry.)

The school district itself, under siege, on May 13 put out a letter that explained the REAL reason for the cancellation, a letter signed by Superintendent Fornero himself.

As you are aware, there has been significant media attention to Township High School District 113’s decision to not send the Highland Park High School varsity girls’ basketball team to a tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona scheduled for December, 2010.  This decision is not a political statement regarding the State of Arizona’s recently enacted legislation regarding immigration.

OK, I know you’re going to explain why that’s true. But it might be a little late for that explanation.

Under long standing constitutional law, all school districts are required to provide an education to all children within the District’s borders regardless of immigration status. District 113 boasts a diverse student population and, as a school district, we believe in equal opportunity for each of our students.  The selection of a girls’ varsity basketball team for the 2010-2011 winter athletic season will take place in November, 2010.  The team has yet to be selected.  When our students travel, the school district is responsible, both legally and ethically, for their safety, security and liberty.  We cannot commit at this time to playing at a venue where some of our students’ safety or liberty might be placed at risk because of state immigration law.  Our athletes will play in a competitive basketball tournament during their winter break.

Possibly on the back of Highland Park parents’ cars, instead of “Go [insert daughter's name here]! Win state!”

So what the superintendent is saying, if I read this right, is that the district is not sending a team because it has a philosophical issue with SB1070. It’s because of the possibility that there will be players who may or may not be the target of police for suspicion of being illegal.

That’s a reasonable discussion. And it’s the discussion that should have taken place between Highland Park school officials, the coaches, the players and their parents before one person made the ill-explained decision to cancel the Arizona trip. The consistent thread in Hebson’s most controversial decision-making — and why in some cases the school system has backtracked — it’s been an inability or disinterest in anticipating problems on contentious issues, putting her district in the position of having to explain, after-the-fact, in a crisis situation what might have gone down with far less difficulty if the discussion had happened earlier.

When I say that Hebson might be the collateral damage in her all-too-successful attempt to put a spotlight on a troublesome state law, I don’t think that means she will lose her job. If she was going to, then her boss wouldn’t have put out a statement supporting her decision. What I mean is, Hebson is going to be the latest Enemy of Freedom No. 1 for the right-wing outrage machine, in ways she never was when she was being assailed for being gay-friendly.

After all, in those cases, Sarah Palin wasn’t fightin’ for ‘em.

No gun sponsorship allowed for N.J. youth baseball team

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Apparently the only arms the South Orange-Maplewood Baseball League wants referenced on its fields are those attached to the players. From My Fox New York:

TheInstructorA Maplewood, New Jersey man is upset that a Little League baseball league has rejected his business as a team sponsor.

Matthew Carmel’s (right) son played in the South Orange-Maplewood Baseball League last year and he wanted to sponsor a team in the coming season. A sponsorship costs $300.

The league committee rejected his offer.  Carmel thinks that it is because his business happens to be a gun store called Constitution Arms. [The league did not give an official reason for denying his sponsorship.]

Carmel says, “It is fairly clear that someone has a problem with firearms.”

Mao was wrong. Youth sports sponsorship power does not come from the barrel of a gun.

Written by rkcookjr

March 5, 2010 at 10:58 am

America's craziest Christian football coach declares run for Congress

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davedaubenmire

Dave Daubenmire is the most successful high school football coach in America at running his offense out of the wingnut formation.

Since 1999, when he got canned from London (Ohio) High School following a lawsuit over his bringing his extreme religion into the classroom and the locker room, Daubenmire has become a right-wing media star, with multiple appearances in his ever-present cross cap on such standard who-loves-America-the-most shows such as Hannity.

Daubenmire, who as football coach at Fairfield Christian Academy in Lancaster, Ohio, can preach to the converted all he wants without the mean ol’ ACLU getting in the way, wants to fight the evil godless government from within, having filed to run as a Republican for the House of Representatives seat held by Democrat Zack Space, one of Daubenmire’s many mortal enemies.

From the Chillicothe Gazette:

Daubenmire said the time is right for a conservative grass-roots campaign to succeed, especially in a district dominated by Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the 2008 election.

“I could run as an independent, but I don’t want to do that,” Daubenmire said [Jan. 28] on his radio show on WLRY, in Rushville. “I’m convinced whoever wins the Republican primary will be the next elected representative in the 18th District.

“(Space) is not even a Blue Dog. We have the most traitorous Democrat, Zack Space, in that position.”

Daubenmire used his radio show to blast the president and the policies of the Democrat-controlled Congress.

“I don’t think we understand the depth of the evil that is involved in the American government,” Daubenmire said.

“We watch the president of the United States. If he is under demonic control, we watch him on TV and we are hypnotized and drawn to him and how articulate he is. We say he’d never do that or that would never happen. What are the limits of the depths of evil of the evil one? How evil could his minions be?”

The … coach said on the radio show he was still undecided about entering the race, saying he would be assaulted by news media and portrayed as an idiot.

“The question I’m struggling with, I guess, I don’t know, is who better than me to grab the sword of the spirit and go into the devil’s lair and swing that sword,” Daubenmire said.

Here is video of Daubenmire swinging his sword in a sit-in outside Space’s home office in Dover, Ohio. He vowed to sit there until Space had a town hall meeting on health system reform, specifically one involving Daubenmire personally. (Space did have meetings, though none involving the coach.)

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If Daubenmire sounds like he’s moved beyond Christianity into delusion, it’s because he has. In his personal bio, Daubenmire notes he started his Pass the Salt ministry after a great victory over the American Civil Liberties Union. It sued the London City Schools on behalf of parents complaining that Daubenmire required players to participate in team prayer, and preached during practice and during class. The case was settled the day before it was supposed to go to court in 1999, and Daubenmire was fired. Here is how Daubenmire recalls the ending:

After a two year battle for his 1st amendment rights and a determination to not back down, the ACLU relented and offered coach an out of court settlement. God honored his stand and the ACLU backed off. Coach’s courageous stand, an inspiration to Americans everywhere, demonstrated that the ACLU can be defeated.

And here is the ACLU’s recollection, in a release whose title begins ACLU Declares Victory:

The settlement, which ACLU attorneys have been quietly negotiating with lawyers for the district and the coaches since early last month, prohibits future acts of religious indoctrination and establishes a system for reporting violations of the agreement to the United States District Court in Columbus [also, for two years any violations had to be reported to the ACLU]. …

[T]he London School Board voted unanimously to accept the terms offered by the ACLU.

Daubenmire also never mentioned that he sued the complaining parents for defamation — and lost.

Of course, Daubenmire has a long history of using the ACLU’s scorn and other people’s disapproval as the fuel for his holy fire, and I don’t mean the one he set when he publicly burned a copy of the Koran. Like his good buddy Alan Keyes, Daubenmire uses his runs for office (he also ran unsucessfully for the Ohio State Board of Education in 2004) to bring more attention to his own activities, and get himself more time on Fox News.

In fact, Daubenmire, as he hinted above, is running as a Republican out of expediency, not out of love for the party. He probably is insulted that the Chillcothe Gazette referred to him as a conservative, given one of his jeremiads: “Let Conservatism Die.”

Meanwhile, the modern “conservative” movement awakened by Barry Goldwater, carried up the mountain by Ronald Reagan, preached over the airwaves by Limbaugh and Hannity [editor's note: great way to guarantee future apperances on their programs], and destroyed by GW Bush and the Republican Party is still being called “conservatism” by those on both the winning and the losing side.

… [C]onservatives went “compassionate” (which really meant compromised) and sold Christianity down the river; Only Christians aren’t smart enough to realize it. They still vote the way “conservatives” Hannity and Limbaugh tell them to, because, after all, they are “conservatives” too. Christianity and conservativism are not the same thing.

… You wouldn’t have to look very far into the “conservative” Republican Party to find the fornicators, covetous, idolators, railers, drunkards, or extortioners. Just look at the guest list at a Republican fundraiser. Those “conservatives” are the one’s [sic] that our Christian leadership are breaking bread with inside the big Republican tent. Is it any wonder they have lost? Has the Republican Party compromised their position to advance the standards of Jesus or has the Christian leadership compromised on the standards of our Savior to advance Republican candidates? … Let conservatism die.

I’m not sure the coach’s offensive activities will get him elected, but they certainly will score points with a certain amount of the electorate — the ones who enjoy watching their politics run out of the wingnut formation.

Former Congressman accused of punching youth soccer coach

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One day you’re a rising star in national politics, the next you’ve fallen from grace to the point you’re punching a kids’ soccer coach who wears a neck brace.

Chip Pickering, once a shoo-in to replace his old boss Trent Lott as the U.S. Senator from Mississippi, instead is begging coach and nurse Chris Hester to drop simple assault charges against him after the two got in a scuffle following a 10- and 11-year-olds’ soccer game in Madison, Miss.

Hester’s team was playing a team featuring Pickering’s son. Hester said Pickering attacked him in his truck, while Pickering said that after he went to upbraid Hester about being what he called verbally abusive to his son, Hester attacked him. For what it’s worth, Hester also has a simple assault charge against him related to the incident. He might have a neck brace, but apparently his fists still work.

Each side’s lawyers are talking to see whether charges might be dropped before a scheduled Jan. 19 court date. Pickering already is on the record saying he wants to settle this “man to man.” Um, Chip, you already tried settling one conflict with Hester man-to-man, and it’s safe to say that didn’t work out too well.

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I’m sure the coach hurts, but I haven’t seen such a hilarious neck brace since the cancellation of whatever the last sitcom was that featured a fake auto accident injury as a major plot device.

If this were just a lesson in how even the most august among us are prone to going goofy at youth sports events, the story would end here. Unfortunately for the Chipster, the incident appears to be part of a precipitous decline from future U.S. Senator to someone going to the courthouse enough to get a punchcard that would make his 10th appearance free.

When Lott resigned as Senator in November 2007, Pickering, his former aide and the son of a judge (Charles Pickering) famously appointed by President George W. Bush and famously not confirmed because of Democratic objections (and a judge who is a longtime power-broker in the Mississippi Republican party and a Tea Partier), was rumored to be the top choice to replace him. Pickering not only refused to take Lott’s seat, but he also announced he would resign from the House of Representatives in 2008 after 12 years, saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife and five sons.

At least with his wife, Chip Pickering’s pledge to “spend more time” meant “spend more time with her before a judge.” In June 2008, Pickering announced he and his wife Leisha would divorce. A little more than a year later, Leisha Pickering sued Chip’s alleged mistress, Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd, in what’s called an alienation-of-affection lawsuit. (Mississippi is one of four states that allow those, which gives aggrieved ex-spouses-to-be the right to sue homewreckers on the grounds they sabotaged a legally binding contract. I guess that sounds easier to rationalize to yourself than “she was my husband’s reverse cowboy.”)

As part of the court cases, apparently Republican bigwigs are trying to make sure a diary Pickering kept of his shenanigans, a missive that includes the names of his boys who covered his tracks for him. This is a bit of an issue because Pickering is the third member of the s0-called, allegedly highly religious C Street Fellowship, following Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (a former House member) to be caught walking the Appalachain Trail.

So I can imagine that the lawyer(s) for Chip Pickering are trying to impress upon the soccer coach with the neck brace to be a little understanding. After all, Chipper’s having a bit of a rough go. C’mon, man, be a pal!

If Pickering is being made to look a fool for the youth soccer incident, well, it’s hardly the first time. You might remember Pickering for his co-starring role as a Congressman appearing a church to preach against evolution and for Christian government in a little movie called Borat.

God and cheerleader at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High II: Goodbye to the Good Book

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I’d say the Catoosa County, Ga., school board’s decision tonight (Oct. 13) to uphold its superintendent’s ban on football cheerleaders quoting Bible verses on banners is evidence that prayer doesn’t work, except that there could have been people praying the ban was upheld.

From the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Press:

Catoosa County’s Christian community turned out in force tonight in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., to call for lifting a ban on Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School cheerleaders’ Bible-verse banners, but school board members said they’re sticking to the decision.

“We adopted a resolution on October 1 acknowledging that (schools Superintendent Denia) Reese had taken the correct action, and that resolution stands,” Board of Education Chairman Don Dycus said.

Mr. Dycus spoke after board members met in executive session with attorney Renzo Wiggins.

Four people addressed the board about the ban during the public comments section of the evening meeting’s agenda, and the executive session and announcement followed immediately.

n140892811343_2526This verse makes more sense regarding the cheerleaders’ struggles than it does the football team, especially when you add the next verse: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life… .” By the way girls that’s 2 Timothy, not just Timothy.

Quick background in case you missed yesterday’s post: the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High football cheerleaders wrote Bible verses on the banner that players ran through as their introduction to the field at games. A parent, divinely inspired by a law class she took through fundamentalist Liberty University, complained to the superintendent that the Bible verses had to go because they violated separation of church and state and could be “divisive” to the community, the first time in recorded history someone used their Liberty University education to separate church and state. The superintendent grudgingly agreed, and ordered the Bible be stricken from the banners.

Really, this was an amazing case of public school authorities balancing freedom of religion with freedom from religion. The superintendent said cheerleaders could pray and quote the Bible all they wanted outside the stadium, and she was sympathetic to it as a Christian. But she and the board also balanced, well, if not the needs and desire of nonreligious students, the needs and desire of not getting their asses sued off while property taxes plummeted.

The meeting itself, with only four people speaking, doesn’t sound like it was a crazy quilt of crazy religious. You get the sense everyone kind of knew this was where things were heading. Interesting, because a Facebook support site for the cheerleaders, run by 2004 LFO High class president Brad Scott, notes that a similar effort to take down the Bible-verse banners was beaten back five years ago.

I sent an email to Scott earlier today to get his thoughts on things, particularly whether he or anyone else would try to launch a legal challenge to the board to get the Bible signs back. I haven’t heard back. It wouldn’t surprise if Scott did so, if nothing else but for the attention. A local newspaper article from fall 2003 notes that Scott was already active in Republican politics and someday wanted to be a U.S. Senator. As a high school senior, Scott was Catoosa County chair of Johnny Isakson’s U.S. Senator re-election campaign. He’s already had one unsuccessful run for state office. Scott, if he can find some partners, just could be the kind of guy to take his 15,000-member Facebook support group as a sign from God he should go to court and fight this.

I’ll let you know what he says, if he says anything.

When did the Nobel become an everybody-gets-a-trophy league?

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Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize winner, getting a participation award for being a president that, unlike his predecessor, wants to play nice with others.

Then again, Henry Kissinger also has one of these, so maybe the Nobel committee has always had a streak of making sure everybody gets a trophy. I think it also provides juice boxes and animal crackers at the awards ceremony.

bobbys-cameravideo-100My son and his bowling teammates, with their Nobel prizes.

Written by rkcookjr

October 9, 2009 at 4:09 pm

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