Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday 11-24

It's ironic that just a day after I lauded golfer JP Hayes for disqualifying himself from PGA Qualifying School for discovering he used an un-approved ball we got a reminder of real heroism.

Three Neenah Police officers are credited with rescuing two handicapped women from their burning apartment building last Friday. Those are the people we really need to be applauding and honoring. Officers Zuehls, Obrey and Baumann ran into the thick smoke and carried out the women--who likely would have been overcome by the smoke and could have died before fire crews arrived on the scene.

My Two Cents blogsite is usually overrun by anonymous postings criticizing public employees--usually about their salaries, benefits, or vacation times. But how much should the officers have been paid for what they did last Friday? Did they stand outside the building telling each other "rescues from burning buildings are the responsibility of the fire department--it doesn't say anything about breathing all of that smoke in my union's contract"? No, they went in there immediately and saved two lives.

When we talked to some of the officers on Friday, they wanted to deflect any glory--saying they were just doing their jobs and that it wasn't anything special. I disagree. In an era when "celebrity" is the top career goal of kids (I kid you not, that was the top response in a recent USA Today poll of grade school kids)--we need to highlight the actions of the brave people who serve us every day. Thank you for all you do.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday 11-20

You won't see much of Appleton native JP Hayes on the PGA Tour next year. Hayes was eliminated from Qualifying School last week for a penalty he called on himself. Hayes was in the second stage of Q School in Texas when he noticed a ball he had put into play was not the same model with which he started the round. Hayes initially called a two-stroke penalty on himself at that time--in accordance with the rules of golf.

But after returning to his hotel following the round, JP took a closer look at the ball and found it was not on the list of those approved for play on the PGA Tour. Now remember, JP is by himself--nobody associated with the Q School, the Tour or any of his fellow competitors know about the rules violation and yet Hayes went to officials the next day and disqualified himself for using illegal equipment.

Don't think JP isn't going to suffer for this small act of honesty and honor. This season, the 125th ranked player on the PGA--the last to enjoy fully exempt status--made just under 826-thousand dollars. If Hayes had made it through Q School, he would have been fully exempt next year. Now he will have to hope for sponsors exemptions and Monday qualifying to make it into any tournaments on the Tour.

I wonder how many people would have had guts, the fortitude or the honor to make the same decision JP Hayes made last week in that hotel room? Think about it, would you give up the possibility of nearly a million dollars a year to come clean about a very minor transgression? I doubt there are many out there (probably mostly golfers) who would do that.

And JP is handling the situation with poise and class. In an interview last night with The Golf Channel, JP took full responsibility for using the illegal ball. He didn't blame the USGA for having a rule limiting what equipment can be used on the course. He doesn't think the PGA is being unfair for requiring players to go through qualifying to get on the Tour, he's not throwing his sponsor under the bus for giving him an un-approved ball to practice with, and he's not asking Congress for a bailout. JP Hayes says he has only himself to blame and he had to hold himself accountable. What a refreshing change in our society today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday 11-14

College basketball is already underway, and if you haven't seen one of the pre-season tournament games you may be unaware that the three point line has been moved back this season. The three is now a 20-foot-9-inch shot--and probably should be moved back another foot or two. I hope the WIAA will follow suit and move back the line at the high school level as well--because the distance now is bad for the game.

People who have seen me play ball would be surprised by this opinion, because the three is a big part of my game. I drained four of them last night in our rec league. But the 19-foot-9-inch three pointer has been as responsible for the decline in the quality of American basketball as Michael Jordan and the "And 1 Streetball Tour". The glorification of Jordan in the 1990's brought on the age of the one-on-one game--where it was all about breaking down your man and trying to dunk over the top of him. The And 1 Tour's television popularity has led to the worst ballhandling habits in the history of the game. Kids copying the "Killer Crossover" and around the back dribbles look at you like you are from another planet when you call them for palming the ball or double dribble.

The too-short three has also changed the game significantly--but not for the positive. I was ecstatic when the three came into the game when I was in high school--because it gave us guards more value on the floor. Too bad our coach hated it and stuck with his offensive philosophy of pounding it into the post and shooting from 15 feet and in. Unfortunately, the three has completely taken over at the lower ranks of basketball--as even the big kids want to step out and drain it from long range.

I was at the dedication of the new basketball courts at the 20th Avenue YMCA last month. As soon as the ribbon was cut and the other festivities were done the kids stormed the floor to start using the baskets. Nearly every one of them stopped at the arc and started launching 'em. Even the little kids that could barely get it halfway there. They would just grab the ball and run back to the line and come up way short again. When I ref grade school tournaments on weekends you see entire teams running their offense around the three point shot--and these kids are ten or eleven years old.

I play ball with a couple of guys who went through high school before the 3-point shot was adopted--and they have beautiful mid-range games. They are deadly from 15 to 19-feet because they were never tempted to step back another couple of feet and launch a three. You hardly see anyone with that kind of game at the high school or even college level anymore--got to get that extra point from a few feet farther back.

That's why the NCAA should back the three-point shot out to 22-feet-9-inches and why the WIAA should move the arc out to about 21-feet. I doubt many coaches would encourage a lot of kids to launch it from that distance--and would reward those who can still stroke it from back there. And for the little kids--lie and tell them that free throws are worth three--we need more players who can make free throws.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday 11-11

A happy Veterans Day to all of those who have served this country. We all owe you a big "Thank You" for your efforts--whether it was in a time of combat or not. There seems to be some confusion over the basis for today's holiday. I cringe everytime I hear an emcee or public address announcer ask the crowd to remember those who were killed in the line of duty on this Veterans Day. Today is for all of those who put on the uniform. Memorial Day is for those who lost their lives.

Having just completed the process a week ago (it's only been a week?) I think we should move Election Day to Veterans Day. What better way to honor those who served by exercising our most sacred democratic right? Unfortunately, that would require an amendment to the constitution and might not be worth the effort. I'll still add it to the Jonathan Krause Calendar Change Proposal.

For those not familiar with the Calendar Change Proposal, it includes making Super Bowl Sunday a national holiday, making the 4th of July our big gift-giving holiday--since that date represents something we can all celebrate--and making June 1st New Year's Day so we don't have to bundle up to go out for a night on the town. Actually, nearly all of the major holidays would move to the summer in order to take advantage of the nice weather.

Back to the main point today...thank you to my Dad, several of my uncles and my great-uncles for their service over the years. It's because of them and all vets that I get to speak my mind for two minutes a day without repercussions. Until the Democratic Congress tries to re-instate the Fairness Doctrine--when we would have to give two minutes to someone who disagrees with everything I say. I bet you can't wait for that.