Archive for Saturday, February 2, 2008

Simons: Attention to athletics exceeds far more significant matters

February 2, 2008


Congratulations to Kansas State University basketball players and coaches. The almost-unbelievable 25-game winning streak Kansas University teams enjoyed at Kansas State came to an end Wednesday evening. There is every reason and justification for K-Staters to be thrilled.

From the sideline, it appeared the Wildcats wanted the game more. They were more motivated and they took the game to the Jayhawks, who were thought to be more seasoned and battle-tested. Maybe that's what too many of the KU players - and maybe even the coaches - thought, and consequently, the streak is over.

The two teams will meet again in Allen Fieldhouse on March 1, and it will be interesting to see how Wednesday's loss will affect KU players and coaches, as well as the team from Manhattan.

No matter how the teams perform, it is not the end of the world. Based on the manner and actions of some fans, before and after the game, a visitor from outer space might have thought the basketball game must be an event of national or international importance with grave and significant consequences.

Again, it is just a game.

When will the sports bubble break? Or will it?

The collegiate basketball season is in full swing at this time, with the NCAA Tournament getting under way in about six weeks. The National Football League's Super Bowl will be played Sunday, and more money is likely to be wagered on the Super Bowl than on any other single event in the country. Advertisers will pay millions of dollars for 30-second television commercials during the game.

The same week that so much concern and worry was being focused on the KU-KSU basketball game, a few other things were occurring that would seem to merit a reasonable level of public interest and concern.

President Bush, whether you like him or not, delivered his State of the Union address and his assessment of where the United States stands today, the nation's challenges and the danger and presence of those who want to destroy America's image and strength in international affairs, as well as inflict mortal damage on its citizens.

It seems reasonable that a fairly large percentage of Americans would have an interest in the president's outlook and how it might affect them - at least as many as are so uptight about whether the Patriots or Giants win this Sunday's football game. Consider the amount of space and time America's news media gave to the State of the Union address and what they have given to the Super Bowl over the past several weeks. There is no comparison.

Kansans should have had an added interest in Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' response to Bush, hoping she would do well, represent the state well and have others around the country saying, "I wish we had a governor who is so articulate and reflects so well on our state."

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards dropped out of the race for the world's most powerful elective position, the presidency of the United States, the world's only true superpower. How much attention, concern and interest should this merit?

The possibility of a giant coal-fired power plant near Holcomb and the possibility of higher taxes for Lawrence residents to increase teacher salaries and fund mental health services in the schools are a couple of matters that popped up this week and could affect most Lawrence-area residents. And yet, how much interest is there in these matters compared to the KU-KSU basketball game or whether the Patriots' quarterback has a sprained ankle that might prevent him from performing up to his potential in the Super Bowl game.

What are today's priorities?

Maybe it is unrealistic to think anything can be done to bring about some kind of balance on what's really important. It's all based on individual likes and dislikes.

Maybe those who get so excited at a basketball game really do care just as much about our national leadership, the huge gap in compensation between teachers and sports figures and other such matters, but sports gives them a way to forget such troubles or challenges.

Perhaps many so-called "average" citizens have a feeling of helplessness, believing their ideas or thoughts don't make any difference. Whatever the reason, it is not good for the country.

Loyal Jayhawk and Wildcat fans will wait outside for more than a day in bitter cold to get a seat for a KU or KSU basketball game. Their arenas are filled to capacity.

What other activity generates such interest, emotion and attention? The most important people in the country today are sports heroes and those in the entertainment business - at least based on salaries and attendance numbers.

Bringing enjoyment to individuals and giving them a diversion from their everyday routines is fine and probably healthy, but can it get out of hand? Or is it already out of hand?

Who's supposed to take an interest in the truly important matters facing our citizens?


overthemoon 10 years, 2 months ago

This would be more pertinent and interesting if the JW had bothered to cover the Focus the Nation panel discussion at the Dole Institute on Thursday night. How often do you get local, state, and national leaders together in one room for a focused discussion? But the JW was still focused on basketball, so there you have it.

DonnieDarko 10 years, 2 months ago

Dolph: "President Bush, whether you like him or not, delivered his State of the Union address and his assessment of where the United States stands today, the nation's challenges and the danger and presence of those who want to destroy America's image and strength in international affairs, as well as inflict mortal damage on its citizens."

The danger and presence of those who want to destroy America's image? My god, that's funny. "W" has done more to destroy America's "image" than the rest of the world combined. "Evildoer", indeed.

busymom 10 years, 2 months ago

Maybe some of us knew where America would be today when Bush was re-elected.

fredrick_stinson 10 years, 2 months ago

Starts with education.

Typically, people are more interested in things they know more about. Most avid sports fans are pretty familiar with the rules of 'their' game. Contrarily, trying to get somebody excited about the Superbowl who doesn't know a field goal from on onside kick can be a challenge.

The same is true with public affairs and politics. For many people, the political process is very confusing so it can be really frustrating to try to follow. I'd be willing to merit that if people were as educated about government and sociology, if they understood the rules, the guidelines, the causalities and the vernacular, half as much as they do for their favorite sports, then we would hear much more public discussion, we would be asking for many more answers to better thought out questions, and we would probably see much more activity regarding such issues.

QUIZ: Are you a socially responsible sports fan?

  1. Who is quarterback for the Patriots?
  2. Who is currently third in line for the Presidency?
  3. How many games have the Patriots lost this year?
  4. Who was the last Kansas Attorney general?
  5. What is a 'jump ball'?
  6. What is a 'quorum'?
  7. How many fouls is a college basketball player allowed in one game?
  8. How many votes does it take for congress to override a veto?
  9. How many Superbowls have there been?
  10. How many Congresses have there been?
  11. Which is more 'super', this coming Sunday, or this coming Tuesday?
  12. How long ago was the last time K-State beat KU in Manhattan?
  13. How long ago was the last time the U.S waged war against Iraqis in the Middle East?
  14. Who is Bill Self?
  15. Who is Bill Frist?

Answer all questions correctly and... well... you win I guess.

wysiwyg69 10 years, 2 months ago

Overthemoon might have hit the nail on the head but fredrick stinson drove the nail in with one swing of the hammer. most sports nuts can tell you every persons name on their favorite team, but can't tell you the last four presidents, and we wonder whatts wrong with this country

mytake 10 years, 2 months ago

This article is right on. Many people need to identify with something and that is why, socially in the US, so many people are sports fans. It gives them something to feel part of and celebrate together. It has, in many respects, become the 'new religion' in this country (i.e. sports bars, tailgates etc, etc, etc). Many studies, books, and articles identify this trend in America - which we see constantly in Lawrence and it goes much deeper than anything I can write in a comment section. Anyway, back to the article - it's right on in my opinion. Sure, sports are fun and important to know about and participate in, but many other things are too. It would be nice to see articles in the LJ World giving as much attention to local and world issues as it does a KU game. Dolph has identified a common social science concern going on throughout the country. Thanks for your article.

Kookamooka 10 years, 2 months ago

I hope someone from USD497 is reading. The High Schools football and sports field expansion can certainly wait out the recession so the community can put it's money behind the buildings that are crumbling and unsafe, the roads that need repair, and bringing the salary schedule of the school district in line with our neighboring communities.

jhawks22 10 years, 2 months ago

Somehow you find a way to connect sports with the President being an evil man...amazing.

Bob-RJ Burkhart 10 years, 2 months ago

Dolph - We need to vigorosly defend our "Fifth Freedom" from both framing errors (decision traps) and multi-media use of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and CIA-type "PsyOps" techniques that continue influencing our perceptions of reality!

Daniel Smith ... reflections on The 480 as future history ... Athenian victory over the Persians at the 480 BCE naval Battle of Salamis. ... takes on new dimensions as authentic artifacts of American culture. ...

But whatever their sentiments towards the foreign invader, it seems clear that defining Serbian national identity seems to rely, in part, on defining their relationship to the United States. But even further, the play's popularity abroad (it has been translated in over twenty languages) seems to imply that Srbljanovic's depictions of the "Ugly American" appeal to an international audience.

I am interested in taking a deeper look of Srbljanovic's depiction of Americans in The Belgrade Trilogy and the critical responses to its productions in order to determine how Americans are viewed on the world stage. Particularly, I am interested in how the aspects of Srbljanovic's personal history mark her as both an erudite and authentic participant in history, thus guaranteeing her authority as an author. Finally, on a personal level, I am interested to compare the play's reception abroad to the play's reception here in the United States <<

Excerpt from:

nobody1793 10 years, 2 months ago

There are tons of empty seats at the Mizzou game... so by the logic being put forth here, Missourians are smarter and more patriotic than the rest of us.

dirkleisure 10 years, 2 months ago

N E R D S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

it's ogre, demmit.

sdinges 10 years, 2 months ago

I did my first two years of school at a Canadian university, where it's illegal to offer scholarships based on athletics alone. Athletic scholarships include the necessity for the equivalent of a 4.0 average out of high school. As a result, many serious Canadian athletes accept scholarships to the U.S., and Canadian college sports are not the big deal they are here. Many Canadian universities also have a general policy against the greek system.

I prefer the system where the focus of the university is wholly on academics. There were plenty of clubs and activities, and there were sports for those who were interested - no one had trouble meeting people, or finding something fun to do.

It was a culture shock to arrive at KU. I didn't come to school to join a sorority or watch the basketball game. I didn't think that was why any normal person would go to school. The atmosphere at KU made me feel like the abnormal one.

63BC 10 years, 2 months ago

All who value a 'sense of community' should celebrate sports. It is one of the few things we genuinely do together. Our shared appreciation of sports teaches resepect for excellence, human achievement and provides a common cultural vocabulary.

Look at the top ten most viewed TV programs in America in any given year. Now break them out by racial subgroup. Almost the only programs that appear on each list are sports programs.

Sports are a big part of making us one from many---E pluribus unum. And that is not something to lament.

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