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Sunday, June 27, 2010

I-Phone Insanity

I was absolutely amazed by the stories I heard in the media concerning the release of Apple's new i-Phone last week. People stood in lines hours long, even waiting through the night, to be the "first" to get this phone. Some people even paid hundreds of dollars to secure a better spot in the line!

This is more evidence that the people of our nation are totally distracted and focused on material things that don't even matter. We can't get 50% of the people to vote. A majority of parents never attend a parent teacher conference at their children's school. Widows and orphans languish in institutions for lack of attention. Many organizations trying to do public projects to better their communities suffer for a lack of volunteers. Many churches are bordering on empty on Sunday mornings.

The most common explanation? People lack the time to do these important things. Yet, people have the time to waste to sit in a line for a product that the manufacturer will supply in more than adequate quantities. It's not just the i-phone. People stand in unbelievable lines for new movie releases, new book releases, concerts, sporting events, etc. It is totally insane and a sad commentary on modern American culture.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Time to Get Honest About College Athletics

It seemed as if the entire nation was mesmerized by the recent chaos surrounding major conferences within college athletics. University alumni from coast to coast expressed their heartfelt opinions (and some panic!) concerning whether their team or that of a rival should or shouldn't leave/join specific conferences. It was particularly acute here in Kansas where the state's two major universities faced banishment to "obscurity" in the face of the impending demise of the Big 12 Conference.

However, most people missed the most critical point of this entire spectacle: that of the place college athletics should have in our society and within our universities. The time has come to stop pretending that college athletics, particularly the major sports like football and basketball, still has any genuine connection to the academic purpose of a major American university. Major college athletics is out of control and is now the primary driver of policy and strategy in most major universities. College football and basketball coaches almost universally earn more money than the President of the university (the equivalent of the university CEO). A university's athletic record and reputation has supplanted the university's academic reputation as it's marquee promotional tool.

Universities and alumni routinely overlook violations of NCAA rules regarding recruitment of and incentives to potential athletes. Too many (though not all) athletes are not really students at all, but rather semi-professional athletes biding their time until their sport "allows" them to turn professional. Massive fundraising organizations are able to raise tens and hundreds of millions of dollars for the most modern sports facilities while ignoring aging and lacking facilities and equipment in the sciences, engineering and the arts. Oh, and academic scholarships!

The time has come to cut these semi-professional endeavors out of the university setting and let them operate as the huge business enterprises they have become, somewhat like the minor leagues in baseball. Free them from the often conflicting and hypocritical regulation of the NCAA. In an age when there is a growing criticism of the academic vigor of the American university, it is imperative that we re-create an environment in which academics is the paramount focus of our universities. It is time to allow students-in-name only to pursue their impressive athletic opportunites elsewhere while freeing up resources for young people with a sincere interest in learning.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm Back....Here's Another Centrist Thinker in Kansas!

Ok, I'm back again. I was sidetracked by my oldest daughters high school graduation and a promotion at work. However, I have a number of ideas in the old brain pipeline and hope to once again blog more regularly. For now, follow this link http://www.hutchnews.com/Columns/arnhold-2--1 for another Kansan who is also seeking a center path. He's also proof that not everyone in Kansas is a registered conservative.