Monday, December 19, 2016


She was probably seven or eight.

I literally know nothing about this little girl other than that she was at the viewing I was at on Friday night for a seven-year old boy who died suddenly early last week.  We’ll get back to the young girl in a minute, but first, some backstory.

The boy who died was named Harper Adams. He was six months younger than my son. When we lived in North Carolina, they would play together at church and at other places. Our families went to the fair together. None of us had family there, so we were kind of like each other’s family away from home.  Harper spent the night at our house on a couple of occasions. We had Easter dinner together. We visited them in the hospital when his brother was born. We moved away when Harper was almost three, but we still kept in touch with his family, though like many

And then, one day last week, Harper suddenly died.

And that tragedy is, unfortunately, where this story begins. It’s not a long story because, as I said, I know nothing about the little girl. She was there with whom I presume to be her dad. Maybe she was a classmate or a friend from church. Maybe they played together in the apartment complex they both lived in. I don’t know.

But I kept watching her during the visitation. Harper’s casket was in the front of a chapel, but his family was in the back when you walked in. We were about halfway up the aisle as I couldn’t bring myself to actually go up to see Harper. I didn’t want my final memory of him to be that. It’s the same way I couldn’t bring myself to go up to my grandmother’s casket when she passed. Others need that, and I get that, but it’s not for me.

So after speaking to the parents and other family members, this dad asks his daughter something. My guess, from her reaction, is that he asked if she wanted to go see Harper. She obviously did not. She took a few steps towards the back of the chapel and sat in the back row while her father went to say his goodbyes and give his final respects.

It was in that moment that I think the finality of everything hit me. Not only is this a terrible loss for the family in which their life will never be the same, but it’s a loss for countless others.

We’ll never get to find out what kind of impact Harper would have had on this girl. Would they be classmates all through school, playing on the playground at recess and friends who would trade desserts at lunch? Would they have gone on to encourage and challenge each other in school and have unofficial contests to see who would get the highest grades on their tests? Would Harper have introduced her to some interest of his that sparked her imagination and interest for years to come?

In that moment where she didn’t go up front, whether from fear or sadness or whatever the reason, I realized that Harper’s passing wasn’t just devastating for the family and friends who knew him and the unfulfilled potential of his life, but the unfulfilled potential of his impact on others’ lives as well.

I think that may be the hardest part for me. I’ve given up trying to understand why something like this would happen. Far smarter people than me have grappled with that question for years and haven’t come up with a good answer. There are times when there aren’t answers, and as much as I want them, I’m learning to be ok with knowing there are no answers.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped wondering “why?” It just means I’ve stopped hoping to find an answer.

 And when I think of that little girl in the back of the chapel, not wanting to go say goodbye to her friend, I hope that as she tries to move on with her life, with visits from Santa Claus and running around on the playground to at some point learning the quadratic equation and more, that she will occasionally remember her friend Harper and strive to reach her full potential not just for herself, but for her friend who didn’t have the chance.

Monday, November 7, 2016


This column first appeared in the Friday, November 4th edition of the Statesboro Herald.

Before he even fielded the ball for the final out, Kris Bryant was smiling.

It was the smile of a man who knew he was about to make the last play that would finally give the Cubs their first World Series in more than a century. The smile of a man in just his second year in the Majors knowing he had a Rookie of the Year award, likely an MVP award to come and now a World Series Championship.

It was the smile of someone who was not only reaching the pinnacle of his sport, but doing so while ignoring the pressure and having fun. It was joy.

But for me and millions of other Cubs fans, it was not only a smile of joy, but a smile of relief.  It means relief from ever having to hear about 1908 again. About never having someone mention the last time the Cubs won the World Series, the Ottoman Empire still existed. Or the fact that 1908 was closer to the time of the Louisiana Purchase than it is to today, or any other random piece of trivia pertaining to the end of the Teddy Roosevelt administration.

I was the kid who grew up in Statesboro, Georgia as a Cubs surrounded by a sea of Braves fans. I was in middle school in 1991, which Braves fans know as the start of the seemingly endless string of division titles. So all though middle school, and high school, and college, and after college, I got to endure the (mostly) good-natured mocking that Braves fans earned the right to give Cubs fans.

There were glimpses of good times. The 1998 season saw Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire chase the most hallowed record in sports and the Cubs made the playoffs. I got to go to a Cubs playoff win in Atlanta in 2003 and see watch them fall apart both that year (it wasn’t Steve Bartman’s fault) and the next year.

I can remember wearing a Cubs jacket to a Georgia Southern football game during one of the Cubs’ rare winning seasons and being roundly mocked and even perhaps a jinx on the Eagles for bringing the Cubs’ bad luck to Paulson Stadium with me.

And like all Cubs fans, I suffered through the rebuilding years after Theo Epstien, the man who built the team that ended the World Series drought for the Red Sox, was brought in to do the same for Chicago. There were some rough seasons during Epstien’s first few in Chicago, but if you were paying attention, you could see the plan in place. Acquire lots of young hitters, trade pitching for prospects, draft the best hitters available, and then let them develop.

The plan obviously worked as last year saw the Cubs win 97 games and make it to the NLCS. Unfortunately for me, they would fall just short of fulfilling the prophecy of Back to the Future II, which predicted a Cubs World Series title to the amazement of Marty McFly.

At the start of this season, the Cubs were considered the best team in baseball and proved it by winning 103 games during the regular season. The playoffs, however, are a horse of a different color.

Even the dominant 2001 Mariners who won 116 games in the regular season didn’t win the World Series.

But through skill, luck, good fortune, karma, divine intervention or whatever natural or supernatural powers that guided the outcome; the Cubs defied the odds and came back from a three games to one deficit on the road to win in a dramatic Game 7. In doing so, they ended the longest championship drought in professional sports.

So keep smiling, Kris Bryant. Smile that smile that is symbolic of the joy my son has while he make amazing catches in the back yard and  that I have when you hit a bomb and that you have from winning the World Series. If nothing else, smile knowing that this Cubs team has brought more than its share of smiles and joy to myself and Cubs fans around the country.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Game 7 Relfections

My wife said I should do a quick blog post the day after each World Series game to kind of recap my feelings since there's no documentary crew following me around as the Cubs go for their first championship since 1908. So here we go on Game 7.

Next Year is finally here! This is the year Cubs fans have been waiting for and it's really, actually here.

The best thing about the Cubs winning (8-7 in 10 innings for those who somehow missed it), is that the Cubs won.

The unexpectedly awesome thing about the Cubs winning is hearing from friends from high school and college who messaged me on Facebook or Twitter to congratulate me. Being a Cubs fan in South Georgia meant I stood out in that regard, which, to be honest, is the only way I ever stood out in school.

My facebook feed was flooded with congratulatory messages and likes from people I haven't really seen since either high school or my 10-year reunion, which was about 10 years ago. A guy a four years younger than me (meaning I was a senior when he was a freshman) messaged me to say he was in Chicago and wanted to know if he wanted him to get copies of today's paper for me.

Those are the kinds of moments that make sports special. Yes, the games themselves are captivating and tense and dramatic, but the fact that nearly 20 to 25 years later, people still remember that I was a Cubs fan in south Georgia and not only thought of me, but took time out of their lives to send me congratulations, well that's awesome.

That connection to friends and friends who have drifted off to become acquaintances, is special. And few things in life have the power to create that. I've never taken the time to congratulate my friends when their favorite singer wins a Grammy or an Academy of Country Music award (though maybe I should). But my team wins the championship and I'm hearing from people from throughout my lifetime.

But sports also allowed me to become friends with people I've never met. People on Twitter that I couldn't pick out of a lineup but who are baseball fans and rode the ride of the playoffs with me. People who inexplicably liked my dumb jokes and who watched the games and cheered along with me. (It was probably easier for a few of them who are Royals fans and won last year when I took the journey with them.) It's awesome.

So thank you to everyone who reached out over the course of October to either wish me luck or to congratulate me or just to say you were thinking about me during the Cubs run to a World Series title or even if you just read this blog post. The championship is awesome, but the friendships, both of people I've met in person and who I've only met in the digital world, made winning a World Series more special.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Reflections on Game 6

My wife said I should do a quick blog post the day after each World Series game to kind of recap my feelings since there's no documentary crew following me around as the Cubs go for their first championship since 1908. So here we go on Game 6.

I actually enjoyed more than an inning of Game 6 without being crazy nervous. I mean, it wasn't much more of an inning, but when the Cubs jumped out to a 7-0 lead, I was able to relax for a brief time and watch the game with minimal stress, at least until Cleveland scored, then it was back to "oh please, oh please, come on." Eventually the Cubs would go on to win 9-3.

So here we are. It's a one game, winner-take-all, Game 7 for the World Series. Somehow I'm supposed to concentrate at work and be productive when all I want to do is read articles and listen to podcasts about the World Series. I started in February reading articles from Spring Training and in March watching spring training games. I watched as many games during the regular season as my schedule and and my wife would let me.  

I probably spent more time with to Cubs broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies from April to October than anyone other than my wife and kid. They are as much a part of my family as anyone at this point, even if they never show up for Thanksgiving.

I've spent countless hours watching games, reading articles, listening to podcasts. From the outset of the season, all those outlets were saying the Cubs were the best team in baseball, and over the course of the 162-game regular season, they were, winning 103 games. But the playoffs are a different animal and for the Cubs to reach the brink of a World Series title isn't something I was prepared for.

So here I am, sitting at work anxiously watching the time go by until 8 p.m., when the first pitch of what could be one of the greatest sports days of my life to begin. I've been fortunate to be at two National Championship football wins by my alma mater, once when I was 10 and again when I was 20. Looking back, I didn't realize how fortunate I was to be there when my team won a title. I've also had the misfortune of being a a title game in which they were heavily favored and lost.

I'm not sure yet how this compares. At least with football, there's a week the prepare and get yourself set for the one game. I've been living in a constant state of sports anxiety for a week with wins and losses and nerves and joys. It's the best kind of exhausting.

If the Cubs win tonight, I'm sure it'll be a feeling unlike anything I've experienced as a sports fan before. (And I'll have to apologize to my son for waking him up.) If they lose, it'll be a disappointment that will eat at me until next February, when hope will once again well up as part of its eternal renewing. 

But that's for tonight. For now, I've got hours of nervous energy to deal with.

Go Cubs Go.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Relfections: Games 4 and 5

My wife said I should do a quick blog post the day after each World Series game to kind of recap my feelings since there's no documentary crew following me around as the Cubs go for their first championship since 1908. So here we go on Game 4 and 5.

Weekends are busy, so I didn't get a chance to reflect on Games 4 and 5 until today.

Game 4:

My wife and I have been cord-cutters (cable free) for about six years. We get subsist on a television diet of Netflix, Amazon Prime, free Roku channels (thank you PBS and PBSKids),, and, perhaps, the sharing of a cable password of my parents for things like WatchESPN and HGTV, or perhaps we don't do that, who really knows.

We also have a digital antenna in our attic to get the broadcast channels. However, there are pine trees between us and the signal, meaning we usually can't get NBC and ABC, which is fine because the World Series is on FOX.

So we planned on having some friends over on Saturday night to watch Game 4. They arrived right around first pitch and the first inning went fine. However, the signal started going in and out shortly after that. My friend and I went in to our attic to try to move the antenna around and the game came back, despite the fact it ended up in the exact same spot as it was when we got up there. After another inning or so, the signal went out again, and back up to the attic we went. I'm pretty sure I didn't do all that good a job of hiding my frustrations.

Eventually we decided to move the party to my friends' house (you know, the people we invited over) and streamed the radio broadcast of the game on the way over there.

Neither place was much luck as the Cubs lost 7-2 to put them on the brink of elimination. Other than enjoying time with my friends, I can't say I enjoyed Saturday night.

Game 5:

For whatever reason, our antenna worked fine all day and so did the Cubs. They put up three runs and managed to hang on thanks to an eight-out save by Aroldis Chapman. I have mixed feelings on Chapman. On one hand, he's one of the best pitchers in the game and routinely throws baseballs 103 MPH. On the other, more important hand, he doesn't seem to show any remorse for being a domestic abuser. Sure, he served his penalty by MLB, but the idea of punishment is to change behavior and while there haven't been any reports of additional abuse, remorse and a stated desire to change and work with victims would be a giant step towards showing he's changed, but we haven't seen any of that.

(Fans have taken to donating money to domestic violence charities for every save Chapman gets. You can read about that idea here.)

Sunday was much more fun, but still nerve-wracking knowing that one mistake could end the season that has brought me so much joy and fun.

Now I get to live on pins and needles again tonight, needing another win to force a Game 7, at which point I may just spend Wednesday night curled up in a ball of anxiety in the corner of the living room. Man I hope I get to do that, but first, the Cubs need to win Game 6 tonight.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Reflections: Game 3

My wife said I should do a quick blog post the day after each World Series game to kind of recap my feelings since there's no documentary crew following me around as the Cubs go for their first championship since 1908. So here we go on Game 3.

This season, the Cubs are 8-1 when they've scored at least one run in the game. Obviously they've lost every game in which they failed to score. Well, Friday night, the Cubs failed to score, falling 1-0 in the game and now trailing the series two games to one.

As many of you know, I do freelance reporting for the newspaper here, typically during the Fall when they need extra people to cover all the high school football games in the county. But the beauty of being a freelance writer is I can say I'm not available if I want to. Well, last night I was unavailable to cover a game as the Cubs were hosting the first World Series game in Wrigley Field since they lost Game 7 in 1945.

I settled in to my recliner, turned on the game and was expecting a high scoring game as the wind was blowing out, which is usually a precursor to a lot of runs. Instead, both pitchers pitched great with the only run coming on an RBI single.

It was a frustrating evening to say the least. Baseball isn't a lot of fun when you don't score and last night, we didn't score. I'm not quite in panic mode, yet, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't close. The bad news is we have to win three of the next five games to win the World Series. The good news is that, over the course of the season, the Cubs essentially won three out of every five games they played. Granted, it wasn't against the best team in the American League all year, but three out of five is what we've done and it's what we need now. It just means the Cubs won't be able to win the series at home, but after 108 years, I don't think Cubs fans will care if they win it all somewhere else.

As for tonight's game, I'm certainly anxious. I'm still struggling to truly enjoy the experience, but I think I've given up on that. I'm just a nervous fan and I'm going to be ok with that. I've got faith than an offense that has been so good all year will eventually find their rhythm. I just need it to be sooner rather than later.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reflections on Game 2

My wife said I should do a quick blog post the day after each World Series game to kind of recap my feelings since there's no documentary crew following me around as the Cubs go for their first championship since 1908. So here we go on Game 2.

Well that was fun.

The Cubs won last night 5-1 and it turns out baseball is much more fun when your team is getting runners on base and scoring runs while simultaneously keeping the other team off base and not scoring runs.

The start time for the game was moved up an hour due to the threat of rain and "wintery mix" forecast in the Cleveland area, which means a nice 7 p.m. start time for me. There's no reason that every World Series game on weeknights couldn't start at 7, except for the fact that the television broadcasters who pay millions of dollars want it at 8 p.m., so games start then.

Fortunately for us, this game started earlier because it was a long one, even though it only went 9 innings. The Cubs saw nearly 200 pitches, which is a lot. The game went on for more than four hours, which I can see how it might drive away casual fans, but at best there are only five games left in the season so I'll take as much as I can get. It's even better that the Cubs won.

Even though the Cubs were comfortably ahead for most of the game, I found myself struggling to actually enjoy it. I'm more of a nervous fan who always worries about the worst. The Cubs' Jake Arietta had a no-hitter through five innings but I kept looking at his pitch count and was worried that he'd walked a few batters. With the Cubs up 5-1 in the eighth, Cleveland got two baserunners on and even though a home run still wouldn't have tied the game, I was terrified of a potential comeback.

This is a weird feeling to have for a team that is something like 71-4 when leading by four runs at any point in the game, but I get nervous that the worst could happen. It's not always a fun way to watch a game, which may be why I enjoy comeback victories more. I don't have to worry about the potential loss and can instead hope and dream on a comeback victory.

One of the Cubs writers I follow on Twitter said he's trying not to let the pressure exceed the pleasure of the playoffs and World Series. I can say that, after two games, I'm not succeeding at that.

But there's another game Friday night, so I get another chance to enjoy the game. Here's hoping it works.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Reflections on Game 1

My wife said I should do a quick blog post the day after each World Series game to kind of recap my feelings since there's no documentary crew following me around as the Cubs go for their first championship since 1908. So here we go on Game 1.

My thoughts on Game 1: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Corey Kluber pitched like the former Cy Young award winner he is, getting strike outs for eight of the first nine outs, the first pitcher to do so in World Series history. He was dominant. The Cubs seemed to execute their game plan of being patient and working deep counts, as they've done all year, but last night, it didn't really matter. Kluber was just that good.

Cubs pitcher Jon Lester gave up three runs in 5.2 innings, but he wasn't sharp. There were lots of baserunners (six hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch) so to "only" give up three runs was really a fortunate break for Chicago.

Cleveland Catcher Roberto Perez, he of the three home runs total during the regular season, hit two home runs last night, including a three-run shot in the 8th that effective put an end to any chance of a Cubs comeback.

Chicago's best chance came in the 7th, when they loaded the bases with no outs, but a shallow fly out and two strikeouts to end the rally.

But that's all game recap stuff you can read anywhere. Sure, the Cubs lost and that's disappointing, but I got to see a Cubs World Series game on television, something no one on the planet had ever done before last night. There are only two teams left playing and the team I grew up cheering for is one of them. But as a football coach once told me after his team suffered a loss, "hey, the other team practices too."

I was frustrated, like any fan, at the Cubs inability to get the big hit when they needed it, but my team is in the freaking World Series.

Earlier yesterday afternoon, after my son had finished his homework and reading his book, he looked around and said he was bored. I offered a few suggestions, (read more, play a board game, clean up the playroom) but he didn't take me up on any of those.

Instead, he looked at me and, with excitement in his voice, said "I want to have a catch with you."

So off we went to the back yard, just a father and son, having a catch, throwing pop ups and grounders and having a great time.

So yeah, the Cubs lost Game One of the World Series last night. But I got to watch them play and my son asked me to play catch with him, so I'm not going to complain one bit about it.

Now if they lose tonight, it might be a different story.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Go Cubs Go

On October 25, 1986, the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox played Game 6.

Baseball fans know the game, but for those who aren't familiar with it, the Red Sox were on the verge of winning their first World Series since 1918. Boston was up 5-3 in the 10th inning when a series of unfortunate events, including an untimely error by Bill Buckner, led to the Mets coming back to win 6-5 and force a Game 7, which the Mets would win to claim the World Series.

It's among the most memorable World Series games ever played.

At the time, I was a seven-year old kid who convinced his parents to let me watch the game. It was the end of daylight savings time, which I'm sure had something to do with the decision to let me watch. My dad swung the television towards the our screened-in back porch and we sat outside watching the game.

I have no idea how long I lasted and I'm quite sure I didn't get to stay up to the end of the game, but it's my first real memory of watching baseball.

I'm not really sure how I became a baseball fan. My mom was (and is) a fan of the NFL's Green Bay Packers while my dad was (and I guess kind of still is) a fan of the NBA's Boston Celtics. Neither seemed to be much of a baseball fan and to this day I'm not exactly sure why or how I got in to it.

That Spring of 1987, I started watching the Chicago Cubs. There wasn't any real reason for it other than they were on in the afternoons after school on WGN so I could catch the last five innings or so of a lot of games. That was the year Andre Dawson hit 49 home runs and would go on to win the MVP award that, at the time I thought he deserved, but now realize he was far from the best player in the league. It didn't matter that the Cubs finished in last place that year. I was eight and Dawson was hitting home runs and really, what little kid doesn't love home runs.

My parents indulged me, letting me watch more than they probably should have, though there were times they'd make me let my brother get to watch something other than baseball when we came home.

That next year, for Christmas, I asked Santa Claus for season tickets to the Cubs for the 1989 season, despite the fact that I lived in south Georgia. However, I also asked for round trip airfare to get me to and from the games, though I neglected to think about food and lodging and, you know, being nine and flying halfway across the country by myself.

All through high school I remained a Cubs fan, even as the home-state Atlanta Braves would go on to become one of the most dominant franchises in all of sports. Starting in 1991, the Braves would win their division for (checks my math) 173 consecutive seasons, or so it seemed to me. The Cubs, meanwhile, would make the playoffs in 1998, but otherwise had a pretty lousy decade, which was par for the course for them seeing as how they (spoiler alert) haven't won a World Series since the first Roosevelt administration. No, not FDR's first term, Teddy Roosevelt, all the way back in 1908.

The great home run chase of 1998 with Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire was fun and the Cubs managed to make it to the playoffs, but they were swept by the Braves in three games, so that wasn't quite as fun.

In 2003, the Cubs were expected to be good. They were on the cover of Sports Illustrated (which I hung on my cubicle wall) and lived up to expectations. They won the division title and then defeated the Braves three games to two to advance to the National League Championship Series. My wife, (we'd been married less than three months), made sure we went to one of the games in Atlanta. It's still the only Cubs playoff game I've ever been to.

The Cubs would come within one game of making their first World Series since the 1945, but they lost two games at home to the Florida Marlins (including the infamous Bartman game) to continue the longest drought of reaching a championship game/series in all of major professional sports.

I was devastated. I thought for sure this was the Cubs year. It was going to happen. Only it didn't happen.

A few years later, in 2007 and 2008, the Cubs again returned to the playoffs, but once again, failed to make it to the World Series. I was excited about those playoff teams, but didn't have the same hope that I did a few years earlier.

Things got progressively worse for the Cubs until five years ago.

October 25, 2011. That's when the Cubs introduced Theo Epstein, the architect behind the Boston Red Sox, teams that won two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, as the President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs. 

Epstein brought with him more than skills and knowledge and a staff of people who knew what it takes to win. He brought hope, though it wasn't immediately clear to a lot of people at the time what he was doing. Epstein inherited a team of overpriced, aging players and in the span of a few years, tore the team down to the ground and rebuilt it. I won't bore you with the moves he made, but through solid drafting, trading players at their peak value for young prospects, and an owner willing to spend when the time was right, the Cubs would win 97 games in 2015 and make it to the National League Championship Series where they would again lose, this time to the New York Mets.

Which brings me to this year. The Cubs came in to the season as the heavy favorite to finally reach the World Series. After a regular season in which they won a league-best 103 games, they dispatched the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the playoffs, setting up a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers with a World Series berth on the line.

The Cubs won the first game before becoming just the second team ever to be shut out in back-to-back games in the playoffs in games two and three. However, Chicago would go on to win three straight to reach the promised land.

Which leads us back to tonight, October 25, 2016. Exactly 30 years ago to the day of the first baseball game I can truly have any memory of, and five years after the most importing hire in the history of the Cubs organization, the Chicago Cubs will take the field in a World Series.

Their leadoff hitter, Dexter Fowler, is African-American. He would not have been allowed to play in the major leagues in 1945 as the league didn't integrate until two years later. I've been able to watch pretty much any Cubs game I wanted to this year thanks to the magic of, which lets fans stream games of any out-of-market team. The first World Series wasn't televised until 1947, meaning no one has ever seen a Cubs World Series game on television.

I don't know what to expect as the World Series begins. All I know is my son, who just turned eight, will be with me watching the Cubs play in the World Series on October 25, 2016.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Goodbye, Wrigley

Boxes were everywhere.

My wife and I were in the process of unloading our moving truck in to our apartment in North Carolina with the help of some of her new coworkers who were kind enough to come help us. I'd never met them before that day and, in fact, didn't know a single person there when we moved. So boxes were piling up around the small apartment as we were trying to figure out where things needed to go.

But in the corner, hiding out and trying to adjust was our dog, Wrigley. We'd had her for about three years before we moved and she made the six hour trip in her crate in the front seat like a champ. When we got to our new place, she ran inside, ran around looking and smelling her new home and after being content with where she was, she found a corner of the apartment, plopped down and basically watched as we unpacked.

As it turned out, our new apartment was directly across the street from a five-mile walking and bike path around a lake. Since I was a stay-at-home dad during our time in North Carolina and money was tight, so we didn't exactly go out all that much, that walking path became my escape. When my wife would get home, I'd turn on a podcast, take Wrigley and we'd walk. Not the entire way, mind you, but we'd walk a mile or so each day. She'd stop to smell the bushes or bark at the ducks or most often, just pull me along.

It wasn't only my escape, but it was her's too. She was excited to get out and even though we often went the same way and saw the same things, she was always pulling me, wanting to go faster and stretching her leash as long as it would go. She loved those walks we got and while there were certainly times I didn't want to go, she would be at the door wanting to go, so we went.

I thought about those walks yesterday as we were talking to the vet in preparation to put her down. We moved to North Carolina about seven years ago and as with all of us, time marches forward, taking it's toll. Since we'd been back in Georgia about four years ago, Wrigley had developed some pretty bad allergies that, honestly, were too expensive for us to treat to the full extent. We'd give her Benadryl when it got really bad and changed her diet to try to alleviate some of the discomfort.

As she got older, she stopped wanting to go for walks as much. There was a time I could just show her the leash and she'd run to the door. But as time went by,  the enthusiasm she had for those walks became less and less. Over time I would show her the leash and she'd just look up at me and then lay her head back on her pillow. She was tired and didn't want to go anymore.

A few weeks ago, while I was out, my wife and son were going to go for a bike ride around the neighborhood. Much to her surprise, Wrigley wanted to go for a walk, so she took her for a short walk down to the end of the street and back. It was her last walk around the neighborhood.

She'd started eating less and was having trouble moving around. The vet said she had one tumor that was visible and from the color of her eyes, likely had others that was causing internal issues.  After a brief conversation with my wife, we figured it was the most humane thing to do to put her out of her pain and suffering.

We picked my son up from school and with all of us in tears, went to the vet to say goodbye to Wrigley. Our son hasn't known life without her as she was a part of our life even before he was. After he was born, Wrigley was extremely protective of him, barking at any men who walked in the house, including my dad and uncle. Women, for whatever reason, she had no issues with, but she did not like men to come around him when he was born. Eventually she realized that if we let a person in the house, they must be ok. 

After we went in to say our goodbyes in the exam room, the vet asked if I wanted to be in there with her when they performed the procedure. I'd gone back and forth on that and at the time, didn't want to be there. Now, however, I wonder if I made a mistake in not being there. As we were leaving, she looked so nervous, but I don't know if that's because she always is at the vet's office or if she knew what was about to happen.

But I'll choose to remember her not like that, but as the enthusiastic dog who wanted to go for a walk every afternoon around the lake. That's the fun, loving, affectionate dog I want to keep in my memory.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Not quite Panic at the Disco

"Temple University Media Relations, this is Dianne, how can I help you?"

"Yes, I need an expert for a story I'm working on,"

"We'd be happy to help you, what paper did you say you're with?"

"Oh, sorry, yes, this is Steve Jones with the New York Times and I'm here covering the Democratic Convention."

"Of course, we have many political science professors who would be happy to speak with you...."

"No, no, that's umm, that's not what I need."

"Sorry Mr. Jones, so what was it you were needing an expert with?"

"Well, I don't know if you heard, but Bernie Sanders supporters are planning a 'fart-in' on the convention floor..."

"Mr. Jones, we're a highly respected academic institution."

"Yes, yes, I know that Dianne, and I only bring this up because my editor wants a story on the fart-in. Believe me, I'm embarrassed that I've spent my life working towards my dream of being a writer for the New York Times and now I'm covering fart-ins, but life is funny, you know."

"Ok, so how, exactly do you want me to help you?"

"Well, I need an expert in olfactory to speak with."

"A what now?"

"Someone who studies smell. I need someone to tell me how many people would have to fart at once for it to make a difference in the arena."

"And this is for the New York Times?"

*sigh* "Yes, it is. I've already tried Drexel and Penn and both of them hung up on me. Please, Dianne, I just need someone who can help."

"Help you figure out how many people need to fart at once to have the arena smell like farts?"

*heavy sigh* "Yes, that's what I need. Do you have any faculty members who could help with that?"

"Let me see what I can do. Hold please."

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Elephant In the Room

None of what I'm about to write is anything new. You've likely heard or experienced it in one way or another over the past decade or so. Nevertheless, I'm going to write it because it's a good reminder for all of us.

There's an Indian story about blind men and the elephant. Each one touches a different part of the elephant and then tries to tell the others about the animal. Because each one had a different experience, yet each one true to them, they can't agree on what an elephant is like. Different versions of the parable have different endings and lessons, but most often it's used to illustrate how our experience can be true but also miss larger truths that we can't or don't see.

And that brings me to this. The United Methodist Church is holding their quadrennial meeting in which delegates from all over the world meet to decide what, if any, changes are made to the Book of Discipline, which, contrary to what I've told my kid, is not what parents consult to determine punishments for various infractions ranging from leaving your clothes on the floor (a reprimand) to breaking the tv (banishment from the family for bringing shame to our name). No, instead, the Book of Discipline is the set of rules and beliefs of the United Methodist denomination that gets reviewed and revised every four years at the General Conference.

Belonging to the UMC, I figured I'd follow along with the General Conference on Twitter. I thought I'd learn a little about the workings of the organization and, with luck, find some humor amid the drudgery of what is essentially a 10-day legislative session. I mean, I've been on Twitter for several years and it's an invaluable tool for making me a smarter baseball fan. I've encountered both smart writers who take the time to answer my questions to intelligent fans who have found the right balance between taking the games seriously but also realizing they're supposed to be fun. If I can find that for baseball, surely I can find that for church, right?

So I set up a search for all tweets related to the UMC General Conference while I was at work the first day and it appeared I'd walked in to the middle of a giant family fight. Instead of joy about all being in one place to work together and try to resolve the issues facing the denomination, there appeared to be lot of finger pointing and blame spreading. Over the course of the first few days, it felt more like I was watching the United States Congress debate rather than a church organization.

I don't say that to diminish the importance of the issues or the direction of the church. But for three days the debate seemed to center on how to go about debating and if there would be changes to Robert's Rules of Order. Three days. I'm pretty sure if Jesus had been killed on the first day, he'd have risen from the dead by the third day just to tell everyone to knock it off and their their ... together. As I'm writing this, there's apparently talk of a schism going on so clearly there are serious issues that need to be addressed.

And with heated issues comes heated rhetoric. And that leads us back to twitter, the land of overheated rhetoric. While the name-calling did seem to stay a minimum (unless you count "liberal" and "conservative" as name calling), everything else seemed to exactly as you expected. If I had more time, I would have played my favorite mental game and just retweeted various posts and adding "spot the logical fallacy" on so many things. But I figured that wouldn't have been all that helpful and simply make people more upset, which isn't exactly conducive to finding solutions.

So for days, I kept reading the tweets and eventually figured out which side people were on and the rhetorical tricks they would use to try to frame the issue how they wanted it framed. People locked on opposite sides were talking past one another instead of to one another. Often these were people at the conference. People who, if they wanted to, could say "hey, meet me in the back of Conference Room C and we can talk about this in person." But I didn't see much of that. People were more interested in making their point then they were in listening to each other, of which twitter is the perfect medium for that.

But here's where the biggest issue for me comes in. I have no idea if what I'm seeing on twitter represents a true representative sampling of the delegates at the conference of if they're just the loud extremes on either end. I don't have a context to put the conversation in the larger picture of the United Methodist Church discussions. I have some general ideas that I've gleaned about the situation, but my guess is for me to try to draw any conclusions only from twitter would likely mean I'm missing a large segments of people at the conference who are either not on social media at all or are avoiding it for the duration of the conference.

So what am I supposed to do? At this point, I have no idea. I'm not likely to follow this debate once the conference ends and after seeing three days of debate on how to debate, there's not a chance in hell I want to ever attend any of these conferences. In a way that probably makes me part of the problem as I'm not actively seeking to be part of the solution. The best thing I can find to do is remember that I'm only seeing a sliver of the debate and remind myself that I'll never have all the information. That doesn't absolve me from making decisions, but it's a reminder to me not to cling tightly to decisions when additional knowledge is still out there for me to learn.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Housing Bubble: How Our Neighborhoods Affect Our Friendships

So I went for a walk around my neighborhood last night. We'd just gotten home from dinner and I had just enough time to walk the 1.2 mile loop around twice before a combination of dusk setting in and the Cubs game starting. It was a nice evening out, not like in Summer when going for a walk at 7:30 means coming home drenched in sweat from the unrelenting south Georgia heat and humidity. No, this was still what passes for Spring with the humidity not being oppressive and the heat relatively non-existant.

And with it being such a beautiful evening, there were other people out too in our middle class neighborhood filled with three and four bedroom houses and two car garages. There was the woman jogging, the husband and wife walking their dog and the guy riding his motorcycle. I couldn't tell if he'd just purchased it and was learning to ride or just out for a night ride, though I suspect it was the former because anyone out for a night ride would presumably not be riding in a residential neighborhood. There was also the family of one of my son's classmates outside playing together. In this instance, the dad was racing his 7-year old daughter down the street with her younger sister hold her arms outstretched to be the finish line, with mom cheering her daughter on while the puppy looked confused and wasn't sure who to chase after.

I enjoyed seeing so many people out enjoying their evening. But as I walked, I paid closer attention to the houses that I'd passed hundreds of times before. Much like my home, most of these homes didn't really have a front porch and those that did didn't have much room for more than a chair or two. There was no convenient gathering places for neighbors to get together and talk while watching their kids play in the front yard and waving to passersby on the street.

This thought has been kicking around in my head for a while. Really, ever since I read "How Friendships Change in Adulthood" in the Atlantic and this "How our Housing Choices Make Adult Friendships More Difficult" on Vox. The truth is, at least for me in my little corner of the universe, we've set up housing and    and recreational activities in a way that we can easily be isolated for much of the time. Even something like my son's baseball or soccer games requires a 15 minute drive to the park where it's just my wife, son and I in the car. We've basically designed our society to minimize chance encounters with anyone we don't know or don't want to interact with.

But bumping in to people, especially the same people, over and over is how friendships develop. Removing the opportunities, either through our housing design or land use or our own tendencies to keep to ourselves, takes away opportunities to meet new people, experience new things and have a more fulfilling life.

Rereading that last paragraph, it sounds lofty, especially for me who is quite content to sit inside on a nice Spring night and turn on a ballgame and make dumb jokes online. I'm not extroverted and it's often easier for me to just keep to myself and do the things I know I like. And there's something to be said for how, for many people, their online life is a rich and rewarding to them as offline life is to others. But we can and should strive to be a little better about at least knowing the people who live around us. Not just their names or the names of their kids, but about what's going on with them.

Then again, during my walks I have the familiar white cord stretching from my phone up to my ears with my earbuds in blocking out the world and my neighbors and potential friends so I can listen to a podcast about fantasy baseball.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

If sports were covered like politics

"That's all for the weather, let's go over to Jake Kershaw with sports."

"Thanks Wendy. A busy sports night all around, lot of action going on so let's get right to it. In baseball action, the Orioles took 3 innings, the Rays 2 and they tied in the other four innings. In other action in MLB, the Cubs took 4 innings while the Cardinals took 2 with a virtual tie in the other three. Moving on to football, the Ravens won in a blowout, taking three quarters while the Bengals got one...."

"Ummm, Jake, that's all well and good, but what about the final scores?"

"Jonathan, it only matters how many innings or quarters you win. I used to think final scores mattered, but then I started watching you and the other news anchors talking about the campaigns for the democratic and republican nomination and all you talk about is how many states each candidate won. All along I thought it was delegate totals that mattered, but all you and the other news anchors and analysts talk about is the number of states won, not the delegates, in those states. So obviously me, being the lowly sports guy, learned from you and now just report how many states, errr, innings or quarters, that teams win."

"Jake, that's not how it works, you need to know the score."

"You keep saying that, Jonathan, but didn't you just get done telling me it was a big night for Bernie Sanders because he won Michigan? You didn't tell me the score, just that he won Michigan and Hillary Clinton won Mississippi. So they tied 1-1. But if you look at the delegate count overall, Sanders won 69 and Clinton won 87. But you and your colleagues keep telling me the score was 1-1. So when I say the Ravens won 3-1, it makes just as much sense. And sure, if you want to count total runs, the Rays beat the Orioles 7-4, but they only outscored the Orioles in two innings while the Orioles outscored the Rays in three innings, so using what I've learned from you, I've converted all the sports coverage to saying who won certain periods or innings rather than final scores."

"Jake, people need to know the final score, that's why they tune in."

"You would think, Jonathan, you would think. But watching you news guys cover this election, it's pretty obvious that people tune in for the drama. Saying Clinton picked up roughly 20 more delegates is fine and accurate and all, but saying Clinton and Sanders split the two states and it's a closer race now, well that's drama. That will get people to tune in. And while 7-4 seems close in the Orioles game, 3-2 is much closer and creates much more drama and it's also factually correct."

"But it's not the innings that count, it's the runs. Come on Jake."

"And it's not the states that count, it's the delegates. So when you change your coverage and start talking about delegates, I'll go back to giving people the final score. You know, the useful information people need and not something useless like who won what state."

Monday, February 29, 2016

Trump is an Awful Person - That's Why I'm Voting For Him

Donald Trump is a loathsome, offensive, brute.

He's unfit to be elected to be a small town dogcatcher, let alone to the highest office in the country.

And yet, I can't wait to vote for him.

I should clarify here that I am opposed to everything Trump stands for, from his policies to his demeanor to his arrogance and everything else about him. I don't think all Mexicans are rapists and drug users. I think John McCain, whatever you think of his politics, is an American hero who deserves to be saluted an honored for his service. I think the idea that we need a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to be absurd and it's even more crazy to think Mexico would pay for it.

I think a total ban on Muslims entering the country is among the dumbest things ever proposed by a serious candidate for President. I find his treatment of women to be offensive. And while I don't find his lack of belief in the Christian God to be offensive, I find his pandering and attempts to make it look like he does to be completely unconvincing.

And yet, come Super Tuesday, I'm going to stroll in to my local precinct, request a Republican ballot, and proudly cast my vote for Trump to be the Republican nominee and standard bearer for the Grand Old Party.

A Trump presidency would be a disaster. I know this and you likely know this too. And so do nearly 60 percent of Americans who have a negative favorability rating of Trump.

So why would I want to vote for him?

Because it's not only about the presidency. A Trump candidacy would be an unmitigated disaster for rank and file Republicans, who by and large can't believe Trump  has gotten this far and also can't or won't find a way to stop him for fear of alienating his supporters who they need to win in November. But those supporters, as many as there are, aren't enough to carry him to victory in November.

A Trump nomination forces Republicans to either vote for Trump, who opposes key platforms that the Republican establishment holds dear, vote for the Democratic nominee (which, for those who place party before country, they would never do), vote third party, or stay home. Most of what I've seen suggests that voters would stay home rather than vote for Trump. (And you don't have to stay home guys, go out, have dinner and support the local economy).

But staying home has the added benefit of reducing Republican voter turnout for key Senate races for those senators who were elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave, thus increasing the chances of Democrats taking the seat and possibly flipping control of the Senate away from Republican control. And there lies the beauty of voting for Trump. It won't change one thing about my state. Georgia is going to vote Republican in the November election for president. It's highly likely that a Republican is going to win the senate seat in Georgia. But other states aren't nearly as certain, and Trump at the top of the ticket hurts down-ballot candidates by depressing Republican voter turnout.

Having said all that, I'm well aware and constantly push the idea that my vote doesn't matter. Not that democracy isn't a great idea, but statistically, my one vote out of hundreds of thousands cast won't make any statistical or actual difference. But since I live in a state that pretty solidly Republican, doesn't it make sense for me to cast my vote in that primary so I can at least have a voice in who will represent me?

Despite that fact, I'm looking forward for the chance to vote for Trump on Tuesday so I can vote against him in November. After all, isn't the whole point of elections to vote for what you want to happen in the future?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sports and Politics Do Mix

Welcome back to 'I Didn't Inhale' the political talk show tacking the most important issues of the day as filtered through sports talk radio.

Those of you tuning in for the first time, I'm your host, Bill Graham.

Our first topic, the Democratic Caucuses in Nevada saw Hillary Clinton secure the win over rival Bernie Sanders, giving her two wins in the last three contests and seeming giving her momentum. Let's turn to our panel.

(Robert A. Johnson): I think the real question here is did Hillary win or did Bernie lose? Hillary may have played just well enough to win, but I'm not sure it was her best game. Bernie, meanwhile, seemed to throw the game away. He basically gave up in Las Vegas, showed no heart and no hustle. What was he doing out there?

(Charles "Chuck" Smith): What are you talking about? Of course Hillary won this matchup. Not only that, Hillary just knows how to win. The experience in the 2008 championship against Barak Obama was a learning experience for her. She took that and now she just knows how to win. She wanted it more than Sanders and that's why she came out on top.

(Johnson) Chuck, you have never been more wrong in your life, and that includes the time you got behind Santorum for his run. If Hillary knew how to win, she's be president now instead of running for president. Bernie picked the wrong time to play his worst game. We saw what he can do in New Hampshire and he nearly won Iowa. We're a couple of votes away from this series being entirely different.

(Smith) Robert, it's clear Hillary just wanted it more. You can say all you want about Sanders not playing well or focusing too much on rural Nevadans, but the fact is, Hillary just wanted it more and that's why she won.

(Graham) Ok guys, we're going to have to leave it there for now. Next topic, what did you see from each candidate? Chuck, we'll start with you.

(Smith) The biggest thing to take away from Nevada is just how clutch Clinton is. She bounced back from a tough loss and when the series was on the line, she came up big. Big time players make big time plays and that's what we saw from Hillary this weekend. I think the real question is can we consider Bernie an elite candidate?

(Johnson) Oh come on, of course Bernie is elite. In the last eight years, only three people have won a state in the Democratic party, Obama, Clinton and Bernie. To say he's not elite is just absurd.

(Smith) I mean, he won his neighboring state to where he's a senator. He basically won his home game. That doesn't scream elite to me. He's got to show me more if he's going to be an elite he's got do a lot more than what he's done so far. To me, it's preposterous, calling Bernie elite and things of that nature. Quite frankly, there's only one elite candidate and that's Hillary.

(Johnson) Are you insane? Bernie has Clinton running scared. Elite candidates don't run scared.

(Graham) That's all the time we have for today. Tune in next time we when take a look at the Republican field here on I Didn't Inhale.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Passing of a Facebook Friend

We were Facebook friends, but I didn't know her well. She was an undergraduate student working in the campus recreation center where I was doing my Graduate Assistantship. We were probably at the same parties and we ran in to each other enough at work that we became friends online, but I'm not sure I could tell you anything about her life.

I don't know what she majored in or even where she was from. I don't even know what she did for a career. Every now and again she's show up in my news feed and I'd think, "oh yeah, her" before scrolling on to see what the next person posted so I could go "oh yeah, him," like we all do when we're reading Facebook.

But yesterday morning, I found out this woman who I barely knew and who probably wouldn't recognize me if I walked past her died suddenly.

Now, as happens in our digital age, my news feed was full of remembrances of this caring, sweet, beautiful woman. Real friends (not the Facebook kind like me) expressed their grief, sympathy, shock, prayers and every other emotion that accompanies the loss of a life so young.

All day, as more and more people learned of this young woman's passing, pictures of some party or work event or just dinner were posted. Friends shared memories of the good times while at the same time still trying to process the overwhelming grief they were feeling.
They're left to grapple with trying to understand something that has no answer. Why a woman so young and so loved would suddenly be gone. Each of her friends and family will come to their own answers that ultimately may be unsatisfying, but hopefully will bring each some measure of comfort as they try to remember her.

Ultimately, however, we all have to deal with both the best and worst part of life - it goes on. In times of grief and sorrow when we don't feel like we can face it anymore, life goes on. In times of joy and peace and calming when we never want the moment to end, life goes on. It is to be experienced uniquely in our own way for whatever time we have.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Debate Thoughts

I didn't watch the Democratic debate last night.* I haven't watched any of them so far. I also haven't watched any of the Republican ones. Life's too short for me to watch people argue about politics. If that's your thing, cool, but it's not mine.

But like most things, I'm following it online. From what I can tell, Henry Kissinger showed up and crashed the debate, which was probably some compelling television for those watching.

Despite not watching, I do have a general debate theory for those who do watch. You ready for it?

If you ask a person before the debate which candidate they are supporting, that candidate will always be declared the winner after the debate. This doesn't hold true every time. I know several people who supported Obama in 2012 who said he lost the first debate with Romney. But by and large, it's a pretty good rule of thumb. Confirmation Bias is a hell of a drug and one we all struggle with.

*For those keeping track, this is the second post this week I've started out by telling you what I didn't watch. Maybe one day I'll write about what I actually do watch.

And now links to end your week with:

The One Thing the NFL Will Never Do To Make Football Safer - Short answer, take away the pads.

How the Presidential Campaign Looks Through the Eyes of a Foreign Journalist - Kind of like it does to me, very strange.

The Wow Factor - The story behind how the Rams, and not the Chargers or Raiders, got to move to Los Angeles.

The Cruel, Unrelenting, Back-Breaking, Knee-Busting Anti-Logic of the NBA Schedule - In this, it says NBA travels more than MLB players, which at first didn't make sense as the NBA has 41 road games and MLB has 81. But MLB teams play 3-4 game series before traveling, so it's more like 27 road trips, not 41. Anyway, the story is about the effect of the NBA's crazy travel schedule and its effect on play on the court.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

That's just cruel, man.

Frontline had an episode the other night on the rise of Daily Fantasy Sports, or DFS. I, unfortunately, haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but this being the internet and all, that's not going to stop me from writing about it.

Ok, that's not completely true. I should probably mention what DFS is for those who either don't know or have managed to block out the commercials that were everywhere this fall. DFS is a one day fantasy sports game where you pick players and based on how they perform that day, you get so many points. Whoever has the most points wins. Oh, and you wager on it so there's the potential to win or, more often, lose money.

But like I said, I haven't watched yet, but that didn't stop me from following along on Twitter during the show. And one tweet in particular stuck out to me.

One producer for Frontline watched all the different commercials for DFS. He or she spent 10 hours a day watching. 50 hours a week.

Since September.

I'm not sure which level of hell having to watch DFS commercials all day is in Dante's Inferno, but it's going to be in there. I really hope that person was able to get the help they need. Oddly, I also hope they kept track of ever promo code word listed as I'd like to see that list.

So I'll be watching that sometime soon (hopefully tonight.) If you didn't DVR it, it's on I'm sure.

On to the links:

Bullying was Christ Christie's trump card, before Trump got into the race - On the decline and fall of Christie's campaign for president. 

Step by Step on a Desperate Trek by Migrants Through Mexico - A look at the challenges and difficulties faced by migrants trying to even get to the U.S. border.

Stop Calling the Babylonians Scientists - An article that raises the question of what is science and what is understanding.

Thanks, as always for reading.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My Dog is Only Happy When I Leave

So a lot has happened since my previous post last Friday. The Super Bowl and halftime show. (For what it's worth, Twitter during the halftime show is my favorite 20 minutes of twitter for the entire year.) There was the New Hampshire primary elections last night that saw Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders get big wins.

But I want to talk about my dog today. We adopted Wrigley about three years after my wife and I got married. She's a beagle mix (with what, we're not sure as we rescued her) that is just about the perfect dog for us. At this point, she's about 11 years old and while she doesn't have the energy she used to, we don't either, so it works out well. She's gotten to the point that she doesn't even like to go for walks with me anymore because apparently the two miles I go is too far for her.

But unlike most dogs who are super excited to see their owners when they come home, Wrigley doesn't even acknowledge when I walk in the door. No greetings, no excitement, no "I'm glad you're home now let me out."

Instead, I she's excited when I leave.

She used to get very anxious when we would go to work in the mornings, so we would give her a rawhide bone to chew on to work off that anxiety and keep her from chewing up my son's stuffed animals (RIP Lion). But that got expensive, so we switched to giving her a dog treat before we left. Understandably, this was exciting for her. And it happened day after day.

And now, anytime I look like I'm going to leave, she runs to the pantry expecting a treat. So if I'm going to the mailbox to get the mail, she thinks it's treat time. If I'm just going to the garage to put something away, she thinks it's treat time.

Basically, she now believes me leaving is cause for a celebration, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

On to the links:

We Are Hopelessly Hooked - The average person checks their phone every 4.3 minutes. That seems like a lot. I mean, who does ..... ohhhh, twitter notification, be right back.

Stick to Sports? Never! - Craig Calcaterra with a look at where sports writing is heading and why that's a good thing.

The Enduring Solidarity of Whiteness - Black Poverty is fundamentally distinct from White Poverty - And so cannot be addressed without grappling with racism.

Why is the NFL Giving More Super Bowl Ad Time to its Favorite Sham Domestic-Violence Group - Remember that Super Bowl ad for No More? This article takes a look at what the charity actually does.

Is Solitary Confinement Torture? -  More and more, I feel like the answer is yes.

Roger Goodell Defends the Indefensible - Sally Jenkins takes the NFL commissioner to task for his comments on the risks of football. 

Hang Up and Listen podcast - Ok, so not an article, and I'm not even recommending you listen to the whole thing, but from the 55:40 mark to the 1:00:30 mark, Stefan Fatsis discusses an article in which high school football coaches are asked what they'd say to parents of kids who want to play football but are concerned with concussions and brain injuries. Some not-safe-for-work language, but close your office door for five minutes and you'll be fine.