Why I Love Ohio State Sports

My Dad grew up in Lawrence County, Ohio, just across the Ohio River from Kentucky and West Virginia. As a homegrown Buckeye, Dad loved Ohio State. His uncle took him to an Ohio State game when he was a sophomore in high school, which would’ve been 1957. Dad doesn’t remember anything about the game, and it was the only Ohio State football game Dad ever attended.

Dad moved to Nashville in 1967 after teaching high school in Lawrence County for three years. He brought his Buckeye fandom with him and instilled it in his three sons.

I got a double dose.

Don’t tell anybody, but as a small child I remember cheering for the University of Tennessee at times. I remember being overjoyed that UT beat Miami in the 1986 Sugar Bowl. I was nine years old at the time, and, well, as a man grows up he puts away childish things. In the winter of 1986, I watched Ohio State beat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on TV, and I was hooked. (My oldest brother, Mark, still has that game on a VHS tape.)

There wasn’t anything special about the late ’80s to early ’90s Buckeyes. They had good records, a few special players (ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit was a quarterback on one of those teams), and a couple of bowl wins. But things changed dramatically in the mid-’90s. The talent level sky-rocketed. Dan Wilkinson was the number one overall pick in the NFL draft in 1994, Eddie George won the Heisman Trophy in 1995, and Ohio State was consistently a top 10 program year after year. But there was one problem: They couldn’t beat their biggest rival, Michigan.

John Cooper, who would end up in the College Football Hall of Fame, ended his career as Ohio State’s coach (1988-2000) with a 2-10-1 record against Michigan. Unacceptable. And since that game is always the last game of the season, Michigan kept Ohio State from playing for–and possibly winning–at least two national championships in the ’90s. Otherwise, Cooper was a terrific recruiter and his teams consistently won 9-10 games a year.

Ohio State’s Michigan woes ended with the hiring of Jim Tressel (2001-2010) and his successor, Urban Meyer (2012-present). Since 2001, Ohio State has won 14 out of 16 Michigan games. What’s more, Tressel and Meyer each won national championships in the meantime.

So, here’s the thing: Ohio State football has given me many awesome weekends and only a few agonizing disappointments. Watching Ohio State sports is something I can do with my Dad and brothers. It gives me something to root for, and everybody needs something or somebody to root for. And it’s just a lot of fun.

Playing The Odds

Legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes was known for his disdain of the forward pass. He said, “When you throw the ball, only three things can happen, and two of them are bad.” A pass can be complete (the one good thing), or it can be intercepted or incomplete (the two bad things). So, Hayes figured the safest thing to do was to run the ball far more often than throw it. His theory worked. Hayes won five national championships, and he coached the only player in college football history to win two Heisman trophies–Archie Griffin, a running back.

Decisions we make are often not based on right or wrong; they’re based on the odds. For instance, researchers determined that extended car warranties are only used about one-third of the time. Therefore, there is a 66% chance that the money you spend on the warranty will be wasted.

Consider the flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control states that on a given year the flu shot decreases your risk of contracting the flu by 50%. Can you still get the flu after getting a flu shot? Sure. The strain of flu that infects you might not be the one the shot prevented. But the fact remains that your risk of getting the flu greatly decreases by getting the shot.

When you consider the odds, the smart thing to do would be to pass on the extended warranty, then drive to your local Walgreens and get a flu shot.

By playing the odds, you’ll save yourself money, time, and a lot of frustration.


The Case Against Donald Trump

I have been a conservative Republican my entire life. I was born in 1977, a few months after Jimmy Carter took office, but the first president I was aware of was Ronald Wilson Reagan. Even as a small child, I was mesmerized by his Oval Office addresses, State of the Union speeches, and…him. He was The President. He was My President. He carried himself with dignity. He shrugged off criticism with a smile. He battled hardened politicians like Tip O’Neill, often won, and then called them to say, essentially, “That was a good fight. No hard feelings.” Being a former governor of the largest state in America (California), he understood the role of government and the rights of the states. He had two clearly defined objectives: make income taxes as low as possible and end the Soviet Union forever. Both were accomplished by the time he left office in 1989.

So, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency, I was stunned. There was nothing about Donald Trump’s life that made me think he could be the leader of the free world. When the Republican debates started, my thoughts were confirmed over and over again. He never demonstrated that he understood the complexity of government. When trapped in his many contradictions and half-truths, he resorted to playground insults. His ultimate joy came from the adoration of the masses. Once he was (somehow) elected, his deficiencies came into full bloom. Almost a year into his presidency, here is what I have seen from Donald John Trump:

  1. A complete lack of humility. All great leaders (and presidents) are fully aware of the scope of their job. It’s overwhelming. While we don’t need or want a president who cowers in fear, we do need and want one who knows that each speech, sentence, and even word will echo in eternity. President Trump speaks as if he has no idea that historians are writing down what he says. His Twitter page is full of snide remarks, vague policy choices, and–more than anything else–a disdain for those who dare object to him. Which leads me to…
  2. A childish ego. On the playground, when one child insults another, the insulted child might say, “Oh yeah, well my Dad can beat up your Dad!” The relative strength of each child’s father is not in question, but in order to save face, the insulted child must change the subject just to get a dig on his opponent. Again, this is what children do. But–unfortunately–this is also the modus operandi of our current president. He acts like he is the first Republican (and I use that term loosely for Trump–I’ll get to that in a minute) president that the media despised. He can’t handle negative headlines. It is clear from his Twitter feed that he watches “Fox and Friends,” a conservative morning show, every morning. He needs a puff of smoke to shoot up his skirt so he can face a new day. It’s his espresso. If he reads or hears opposition, he resorts to name-calling and personal attacks. You don’t have to be an Ivy League trained psychologist to diagnose his problem: He has rarely ever heard the word “no” in his life, so his skin is tissue paper thin, which is not what you want from the leader of the free world.
  3. He has no idea what it means to be a conservative Republican. President Trump had never been elected to anything in his life prior to becoming president, so he had no history of policy-making and policy-implementing. All we knew about his ideology came from what he said during the campaign. What did we hear? Populism masquerading as conservatism. There is no set of beliefs with populism. If you think a certain crowd is bigger than the other crowd, you say what the bigger crowd wants to hear, and you’ll get elected. It’s that simple. Since President Trump’s ego longs to hear the roar of the crowd (after all, he put his name in large letters on anything he built as a businessman), he gave the people what they wanted. He talked about building a wall on the Mexican border that Mexico would pay for. (It’s not a bloated government program if another country pays for it, right?). He talked about doing religious tests for Middle Eastern immigrants. He talked about high tariffs on foreign goods (which is a policy that was partly responsible for the Great Depression, but when you don’t know history…). He wanted to tear up the Iranian deal Obama made. He wanted to repeal and replace Obamacare. Do you see a theme here? President Trump basically said, “Everybody is out to get you. The Iranians, the Mexicans, the insurance companies, everybody. Your life stinks because everybody else makes it stink. Make America Great Again!” That theme is not conservative. It’s liberal. Liberals are always blaming The System, The Man, The White Man, The Religious Person, etc. Conservatives preach personal responsibility. If the tide turns, make adjustments. Chart your own course. President Trump preached “Blame! Blame! Blame!…and believe everything I say!” This theme also brought the crazies out of the woodwork. “Make America Great Again” has been a mantra of the white supremacists for decades. They’ve always wanted to go back to better times…when whites were 90 percent of the population, when blacks and other minorities were subjugated, and so on. When President Trump spoke their language, they ran to his side. His message was not about the future (which is what Reagan focused on), but about the past. So since his election, we have seen violent demonstrations concerning racial issues.

It’s been one year since the election. There is no wall or any design for one. Republican legislators who won by large majorities in red states are deserting him. The latest Kim Jong in North Korea is as dangerous as ever. And the President’s disapproval rating is near 60 percent. Maybe one day we’ll elect an intelligent, articulate, conservative Republican who can talk about what makes America the freest nation on earth. But until then, we’ll have to tolerate the current occupier of the Oval Office–Agent Orange.

The Left’s Condescension

A few weeks ago, a Google employee wrote a memo which addressed–among other things–the lack of women in the technological field. A friend of mine from college, who refuses to accept my friend request on Facebook, made a comment about the issue on one of my friend’s pages. Predictably, he stated that women have been locked out of tech jobs because that field has been dominated by men for generations. He believes–like most liberals–that there is a giant Misogynist Monster who manipulates the minds of women and steers them away from tech jobs. I showed this friend a study from the federal government that showed that over twice as many men than women have technology majors in college, which is a good indicator of professional desire. Based on those facts,  I said that there is nothing keeping women from pursuing tech majors/jobs, and that maybe women just aren’t as interested in those jobs as men. No conspiracy. No misogyny. For drawing that conclusion, he called me “uneducated, dismissive, and naïve.”

After the second church shooting in about a month, the gun control debate went into high gear again. In each shooting, an armed citizen put an end to the slaughter. John Feinstein, a best-selling author, tweeted that armed citizens did nothing to prevent any of the shootings in Las Vegas, Newtown, etc. I responded by stating that good guys with guns kept things from getting much worse. (We were probably talking about two different issues, but that’s beside the point.) For that seemingly innocuous comment, Feinstein–an ardent liberal who promotes open-mindedness and compassion–called me a “moron.”

Some liberals who are a little more conscientious hide their condescension in flowery expressions. They’ll talk about “coming together” and “having more dialogue.” They won’t call their opponents bad names or use inflammatory language, but they’ll be instantly dismissive of anything that isn’t a full endorsement of liberal ideology. “Coming together” simply means, “Conservatives, you need to understand how right, compassionate, and people-loving we are. When you open your eyes to these truths, our society will greatly improve. In the meantime, please do not express your conservative views. Leave all political discussion to us, the smart people.”

Are there politically hypocritical conservatives? You bet. Are there conservatives who refuse to listen to the other side of a discussion? Absolutely. But I honestly believe that the Left has cornered the market on condescension. No one should be taken seriously when he/she uses the “I’m smart, you’re stupid” debate tactic. It’s a childish defense mechanism and proves that he/she can not or will not debate the issue at hand.

Socialism Only Does One Thing

America has always been a capitalist society. Ask the guy on the street to define capitalism and he’ll probably cough a few times before admitting he can’t. If he does define it, he’ll probably say something about everyone’s freedom to get rich, which isn’t a terrible definition. At its core, capitalism is an economic system that thrives off the average American’s desire for more capital (money). In order for capitalism to benefit the most people, the government must promote free markets and limited regulation. Here’s how it works: If a guy designs a better mousetrap (which no one has ever done, by the way), he should be able to get his product into the marketplace with as little hindrance as possible. His desire for money will help his family by putting food on their table. It will help his community by giving jobs to people who will make, market, and sell his mousetrap. The government benefits as well–the employees who built the mousetrap will pay taxes on their new income, and people who buy the mousetrap will pay sales tax. Everyone wins because some guy wanted to make a better life for himself. Thus, America became the richest nation that ever existed.

Liberals in America today want to tear down capitalism. They are infuriated that some people have done really well in the capitalist system while others have not succeeded. But that’s the harsh reality of capitalism:  It’s not designed to ensure that everybody gets rich. It simply provides the opportunity for anybody to get rich. But liberals are not really concerned with opportunities. (They say they are, but they’re not.) What they strive for are equal outcomes. They talk about the rich paying their “fair share.” “Fair” to a liberal is whatever they say it is. Even though the rich in this country pay for an overwhelming majority of the roads, schools, policeman, etc. through the graduated income tax, liberals believe the rich still aren’t contributing enough to the welfare of society. Why? Because after they pay the highest levels of income tax, they still have a lot of money. Again, the outcome is what concerns the liberal, not the opportunity.

But here is something they fail to realize (or maybe they do realize): Socialism–the system they seem so fond of–only brings people down. It cannot lift people up. Socialism is the redistribution of wealth through high taxation and the expansion of governmental regulation. Therefore, socialism takes away that guy’s zeal to make the mousetrap. He knows that the more money he makes, the vastly higher taxes he’ll pay. Why make more money if the government will just take more of it? He knows that it’s better to stay in his current economic status rather than get involved in the beaurocratic web that will smother his business. He will be joined by millions of others whose upward mobility was stifled by socialism’s ideals. Granted, there will be fewer greedy millionaires, but there will also be a smaller middle class, fewer products in the marketplace, and more governmental intrusion into the lives of all Americans.

Socialism cannot lift up anyone–it can only keep everyone the same. And that is the real goal of liberalism. It’s not about diversity. It’s not about equality. Liberalism’s goal is sameness. And sameness will ruin America.

Giving Up “Whiteness”

Not long ago I watched a short clip on Twitter of a black man pleading for white people to give up their “whiteness.” To illustrate, he said that as much as he tried, he couldn’t understand the daily struggles his wife goes through as a woman, and white people can’t understand what he goes through as a black man.

So far, I’m with him. I get it.

But then he said that what white people needed to do for the black community was give up their “whiteness.” He said he didn’t mean they should give up blue eyes and blonde hair, but they should give up the power they possess as white people.

Now I’m lost.

He never defined exactly how white people should go about giving up whiteness, but he seemed certain that if we would just give black people more power (however he defines that), then the condition of black people would improve.

Here’s the thing: Slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, and all the other horrible things this country did in order to subjugate the black community were initiated and implemented by white people. But it was also white people who corrected those wrongs. It was white people who passed civil rights legislation, gave us Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, enacted affirmative action policies, and ensured that those acts were enforced. So, white people have been giving power to black people for decades in various ways. And let’s not forget the Great Society programs that a white president, Lyndon Johnson, created to pull the black community out of poverty. The welfare support many in the black community receive today comes from the accumulation of taxes paid by white citizens (and others) from coast to coast.

I know, I know. The previous paragraph reads like the preface to a white supremacist brochure. But there is no racism in that paragraph, only facts. If a black man claims that white people should give up more whiteness, it is only fair to recount the power that has already been given to the black community by white people.

But the question remains: What is meant by giving up “whiteness”? Well, I don’t really know. But I know this: There are millions of white people who have no power to surrender to the black community. The white people who live in the Appalachian Mountains have no power. Elderly white people in nursing homes are powerless. White teenage single moms notice little power in their lives. And so on. “White power” does not exist, which is something both white supremacists and black activists need to know.

Power in our society is not black or white–it’s green. It’s money. The more of it one has, the more freedom one has. When a black person recognizes that and does the moral and ethical things needed to earn more money, he or she will have no need to expect power to come from another segment of society.

Hand wringing does not create financial independence. “The Blame Game” does not lift someone out of poverty. Pitting races against one another does nothing but breed resentment. We cannot move forward as a society until we stop thinking that one group is responsible for the success of another group. “I am responsible for me” should be the mantra of every American.

Biased and Objective

You’re biased, and that’s okay. You love what you love and hate what you hate. I get it. I hope your biases are not based on group stereotypes or misinformation, however. I hope they are simply preferences about things that are of little to no significance. You love Fords and hate Chevys. You love PCs and hate Macs (which will bring you great scorn from Mac devotees, of course). Whatever.

But there is a common misconception that if you are biased you cannot be objective. But it is possible for anybody to be objective about anything. It’s actually a sign of maturity if you can criticize something you love. A core problem in our current political discourse is that many on the right and the left have no interest in being objective. Democrats do not understand that it’s okay to say that Obamacare is a dysfunctional, overpriced, bloated mess. They can still be proud Democrats. Some Republicans (like myself) have been objective about Trump, saying that he is an inarticulate narcissist who shouldn’t be the president of anything. Even though I believe that about a Republican president, I don’t need to denounce all my political views. But other Republicans believe they should love what Trump loves and hate what Trump hates, lest they be perceived as being disloyal to the brand.

So…you can be biased and objective. It’s actually a much easier way to live. It keeps you from defending the indefensible.