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A great reason to coach photography

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 11:36am
Cliff Pfenning
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This weekend I'll probably coach my son for the final time in a sporting event.

It's been quite a few seasons, and a lot of fun, mostly, anyway.

We started with his first throw of a small, plush football that was a perfect spiral at age 18 months. And, while we never got to the level of club teams for more than a season, playing a sport three seasons per school year has been a wonderful experience and forged a strong bond between us. Until the teenage years, at least.

As we draw to a close in the Portland Parks Goldenball basketball season, it's a time to look back and think upon what I taught my son and/or what I hoped he learned from all the seasons of soccer, basketball, baseball and one season of football and lacrosse.

I'm not sure I have a good answer, which is a bit disappointing.

In contemplating these two thoughts, though, I reinforced my belief that photography is something every parent should focus on more as it relates to their children. And, it should be taught as a basic requirement in the education system. People should know how to take good pictures, how to print them out and what their importance is in the world.

It's something that should be talked about at the start of every season for every team - "hey, make sure we capture some of these moments on film (they're going to be printed on paper).

For one thing, pictures don't lie, at least not without Photoshop.

And, they tell stories that don't need words - words being one of the great methods of ruining any situation in parenting.

A whole lot of teams, especially ones that play indoors, have a handle on the value of photos at the end of a season through "Senior Night." That's when seniors and their families get a moment to celebrate the close of their son or daughter's athletic career with public recognition and a family picture. It's a very strong moment for most of these families and captured with a photo.

Or course, you don't know when your athletic career might end, so getting a photo from every season is important.

This past week I did the play-by-play for a webcast of the Grant at Jefferson boys basketball game, which was a great experience especially as the color guy ended up being Portland Community College coach Tony Broadous. We had a great time and the webcast showcased that, but I missed having someone take a photo of us, which would have multiplied the value of the experience. Thursday, I sang the national anthem at a high school basketball game ... with a parent as a duet, but missed getting a photo, which would have made my Facebook page go wild.

It's not something just for athletics either. How many parents are able to get a photo of their son or daughter studying? Some of the great photos from American history are of people just thinking - President John Kennedy and his brother Bobby during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The skill of photography that might be taught is how to isolate specific photos. Everyone has a camera now via their cell phone, and can take thousands of pictures. They forward many of those photos to social media, and that's where the photos end. Getting a physical copy of photos is a tremendous loss in our society.

I think I have enough good pictures of my son, and daughter's athletic career, too, that I feel good about how he'll look back upon all those practices and games in two, five, 10 years and beyond. How we will look back upon them as we grow older.

 

 

Five reasons to watch the Winter Olympics

Fri, 02/09/2018 - 9:45pm
Derek Weber
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If you're like me the summer edition of the Olympics carries a bit more interest than the winter version. But, there are still some great stories and amazing athletes to watch.

5. Curling – What was it, 1 or 2 Olympics ago, curling became the world’s favorite pastime - for a few days anyway. Will this continue this year or will another sport take it’s place like … OK nothing is that quirky. Curling it is.

4. Snowboarding – Welcome to the “X Games more people watch.” In all seriousness, snowboarders are pretty much the cool kids at the games, and unlike other sports each time we watch them we see something new and impressive.

3. Hockey – Who will win this year? Ok, it shouldn’t be a surprise right? Sweden on the men’s side, and Canada on the women’s side. But Russia, Canada and even the U.S. have a shot at the men’s gold even though Russia hasn’t ever won a gold in this event … who knew? For the women only Canada and the U.S. have played for a gold - how big of an upset would it be if anyone outside of those two made the gold medal game, let alone wins it?

2. Crazy People – The luge, skeleton and bobsled. You folks are crazy, I hope you don’t crash, but when you do I understand people who watch NASCAR for the crashes.

1. Local connections – Cheer on your fellow Oregonians!

Tommy Ford – Alpine skiing

Laurenne Ross – Alpine skiing

Jacqueline Wiles – Alpine skiing

Sam Michener – Bobsled

Ben Ferguson – Snowboarding

Asa Miller – Alpine skiing

 

Playoff excitement leads to live webcast

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 6:46am
Cliff Pfenning
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Get ready for some basketball! Because the Grant at Jefferson boys game is headed for a live webcast through Oregonsports.com, the Jefferson High athletic department confirmed Wednesday.

The game will be the first live webcast for this site, working in conjuction with producers at Oregon Sports Beat. The game will feature high school broadcasters as well.

Grant at Jefferson is likely to be the biggest game in terms of attention within the state this season, so impressive that it was originally moved to the Chiles Center following the meeting between the teams at the Marshall campus in January. Several hundred spectators were turned away, and PPS Athletic Department personnel figured the chances were very good the second regular-season match-up could come close if not fill the 5,000-seat arena on the University of Portland campus with area fans just looking for a good time.

That game was set to be teamed with the Benson-Grant girls game, featuring two of the top teams in the state. But, the scheduling fell through and the boys game moved back to Jefferson, where the school expects to seat more than 1,200 fans of a crowd that may approach 2,000. The junior varsity game held prior to every varsity game is going to get some attention.

The student broadcasters are being trained at Benson High School, which has a radio broadcast program.

 

State of world through sports

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:18am
Cliff Pfenning
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In the wake of political garble from Tuesday night, it occured to me to look at where the state of the world is in relation to ... our future. As in, if the students of today watched one of the 24-hour news channels for about 90 minutes (and as a parent of two teenagers I wonder what the Vegas odds would be on that), how would they look at the world they're inheriting from the leaders of today.

What lessons are they getting from politicians, from journalists who dominate national news coverage? What are they getting out of their parents? Their teachers? Their coaches ... if they're lucky to be involved in a sport.

It wouldn't take long for many students to get a handle on the idea that the only thing that matters is winning. You're either a Democrat or a Republican and your side has to win, pretty much at all costs. That those two parties combined make up America - so you're an American above all else - seems to have gotten lost, although these days the significant focus on immigration has made the nation one of Americans and immigrants who are invading the nation illegally.

The supreme focus on winning at all costs is one I cannot think would go very far in the sports world, especially in youth sports. Imagine a football coach telling his players it was okay to injure an opposing player because that would impact that team's ability to win? If there were an assistant coach available, that strategy would get challenged immediately. Players would challenge that, and likely rebel. But, that's essentially a lesson coming from so many leaders, and that's politics and business. Win at all costs.

A "New American Moment" ended up as a catchphrase Tuesday night, but it had exactly zero weight behind it. The new moment is one of collaboration? Teamwork? President Donald Trump has made a name for himself as one of a bully starting with his mantra of never apologizing. Apologies are a sign of weakness, so don't apologize for anything.

A "New American Moment" would start at the top, with the nation's head coach, and it could start with an apology for basic things such as name-calling, from the President. Hillary Clinton. Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio. They all should get an apology for the playground names thrown at them. Imagine what a simple round of apologies would do for America? For the world for that matter.

Political leaders of today owe their voters of the future, students in the education system and before, a big apology for allowing the world to veer in directions that are entirely opposite of what they should be getting taught.

Nuclear codes? That's the most basic way to get students to tune out, tell them that America is actually ready to unleash an atomic bomb on another nation. All the education that the adult world has, and it still hasn't figured out there's never going to be a need to drop a nuclear bomb on a city. America apologizes to Japan annually for using atomic bombs to motivate the end of World War II. At least it has in the past.

There's a great source of strength within the sports world, and these are days when that strength is sorely needed by our leaders, both political and business.

 

Where's Damian's big mouth?

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 9:46am
Cliff Pfenning
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In the wake of Russell Westbrook's whining, complaining comments about teammate Paul George being, at least, temporarily left out of the All-Star Game, it's not hard to wonder ... how come Damian Lillard isn't whining about someone else not being left off the big roster that's going to be separated into two, basically playground teams.

That's how far the All-Star Game has devolved to get people to pay attention. There's now two captains who pick teams based on a draft system.

They should hold the draft on game day - make it like the captains used to do when they were younger. That would get some attention at the start of the game. Then, make them trade a couple guys at halftime. Like the playground days.

Instead of whining like Russell, Damian took the high road Wednesday in talking to media:

"I respect Russ a lot, so it was kind of disappointing to see him say that," Lillard said prior to Wednesday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. "Because he's played against me, he's played against our team, he knows what I've accomplished. Not just this year, but over my career. So it was a little bit disappointing, but I know that I earned my spot this year. And that's pretty much what it is: I earned my spot."

Pro sports has always been about, heck being in the public eye, has always been about getting headlines, and that means shooting your mouth off on a regular basis.

Westbrook could have gotten some of the same headlines by saying people might say Damian is having a great season, and he's been overlooked the past couple years (and he has), but Paul George is having a great season and deverses a spot as well. So if Damian pulls a muscle and needs to sit out, or anyone else does, then Paul George should be the first call. Otherwise, he'll probably be at home toasting those of us who are still working while he's got a weekend off.

 

Let's send New England back!

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 6:19pm
Cliff Pfenning
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It's not hard to review the AFC Championship game from Sunday and think how much a split second impacted the Super Bowl. A delay of game penalty called on Jacksonville late in the first half wiped out a first down, and New England turned events in their favor to score a touchdown and avoid what was becoming a marquee performance by a team that can't even fill it's own stadium for home games.

And, so we get another Super Bowl with Tom Brady - the world's most hated future Hall of Famer - unless, of course, there's all those conversations about the ethics of cheating.

New England - again.

As we go through the day-after moaning about having to watch him/them again in the big game, maybe there's a way to get back at him/them by just getting rid of New England altogether from the NFL. That's right - banish New England. Not, the Patriots, just New England.

Make the Patriots go back to Boston.

As a way to get fans from hating the NFL, the league should require teams to represent their home city, not an entire region, which would affect only a handful of teams. That means the Patriots would go back to being the Boston Patriots - their original AFL name, Carolina would be the Charlotte Panthers, and we'd become used to the Nashville Titans.

 

 

Possible Super Bowl Match ups.

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 12:03pm
Derek Weber
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Sure the NFL Conference Championships are this weekend, but let’s look ahead. Who could we see in Super Bowl XLII, and who do we want to see?

There are four possible matchups at this point.

New England vs Philadelphia

New England vs Minnesota

Jacksonville vs Philadelphia

Jacksonville vs Minnesota

Our friends in Las Vegas say that we have the best shot of seeing a New England vs Minnesota match-up. Does that sound the most interesting to you? Perhaps, obviously the most recognizable team to the county/world out of this group is New England, and while Minnesota has Case Keenum running its offense most folks seem to trust him more than they do Nick Foles at this point so wouldn’t this be the best possible match up to watch?

You’ll have a Pats offense that will throw 40-50 times and a Vikings D that has the ability to hold their own.

Or…

Should we go crazy here and should we think about the best possible game from an entertainment stand point? Could that be a dreaded match up of Jacksonville vs Philadelphia? Most fans would poo poo this potential match-up of two QBs who wouldn’t start on half the teams in the league. But hear me out. Don’t we want to watch a game full of surprises, full of competitiveness, full of wild changes?

Tell me why this match up wouldn’t produce? Neither team has won a Super Bowl, the Eagles have won some NFL championships before the Super Bowl became a thing, the Jags haven’t even played in one. Both teams would be fighting for their first Super Bowl, both teams have a great D but are susceptible to long plays.

Annnnddd, both QBs have had success in the past. We should all remember Nick Foles' 27 TDs and 2 INT season or Blake Bortles' 4,428 yard 35 TD season?

We’ll see in a couple of days what match up we get but I don’t care for ratings I can about TV entertainment. I’m pulling for a Jags vs Eagles. How about you?

 

Too bad about Nick

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 3:56pm
Cliff Pfenning
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As the football season heats up professionall, and concludes collegiately, I look longingly at Nick Saban and how he isn't a better American. Or isn't allowed to be a better American ... because he's just a coach. A football coach, and really nothing more.

Saban is a great coach, who's built an absolute dynasty at the University of Alabama, but that's pretty much where his impact on the world ends. He's a coach. And, when football really is boiled down, it's entertainment for the masses. There's plenty of life lessons involved for the athletes involved, and those get passed on to fans - often in the form of movies. But, when society hits a social minefield such as the one we're engulfed in now, coaches of pretty much every sport at every level are pretty much required to ... shut up.

"You're a coach, so just coach."

And, that's what he does for more than $11 million per year. Anyone else in his shoes might do precisely the same thing, as you're not required to do more.

Yet, especially when there's mention of the "Tea Party" that infiltrated the U.S. Elections in 2010 and beyond, it's not hard to wonder how the nation will become "great again" if people don't make it happen, especially people who have the ability to influence a community for a greater purpose. That Tea Party was involved in causing colonists to break away from British rule in the 1750s into the 1780s. They did it at considerable peril, too.

Saban's considerable peril is just monetary.

As I think about what Nick could do for America, there's a path that's not actually all that perilous that would help the nation greatly. All he has to do is share with the world what he teaches his players about life, and then examine the world through those lessons.

How much respect can you give someone for calling you names in public? Like "Little Marco," or "Lyin' Ted"? Our elected leaders don't seem to be able to touch a subject like that because they seem to have lost the ability to be good Americans themselves, and instead are just Republicans or Democrats.

What all our elected Republicans and Democrats need is a return to basic logic, such as legislative acts should be well planned and thought out for the good of the country, not just won or lost on behalf of a particular party. The media would immediately turn that statement toward Republicans in Congress for their repeated actions of "just win, baby" so we can say we won. That would make Nick a liberal or a Democrat-sympathiser, which would be the peril involved because Alabama fans, according to one study done in 2012, are the most Republican-leaning fans in the nation - pro or college.

Why would Nick tell Congress to act better? Because it's a great thing to do, and it's a great time to do it, too. Remind our public leaders that there's a nation they need to take care of, and it's more than just two parties with differing views.

That's the kind of thing that would make him more than just a coach, more than just an entertainer. That would make him a great American.

 

 

 

Can the NFL Stand Up To Bullying?

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 12:06pm
Cliff Pfenning
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If there's anything somewhat progressive coming out of the social battle involving NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem of their games, it's the attention and potential it might have to create a national, even international, revolution against history's greatest evil - bullying.

Addressing the issue of bullying is the key for players taking a knee - almost all of whom are black - to get their issue the greater attention it deserves, and the President and America's elected officials can be the starting point for progress.

Bullying is a tremendous issue in America's government, and if elected officials won't address it, maybe paid athletes can because they have voices that are regularly more well heard than those of elected officials. And, society tends to react more readily to those athlete's voices.

Kneeling at football games is the flash point so far, one made much more of an issue by the President because he he is using it as a way to divide America into those who see it as dishonoring the nation and it's troops, and those who support it as a way to address the social issue of black people, primarily men, being shot by police simply for being black.

Where the movement of kneeling is missing out is it's lack of greater focus. The issue has divided teams, in fact, into those who kneel - almost all of them black, and those who don't - basically all the white players. The larger issue is bullying, which the President is showcasing his significant ability to accomplish. Bullying is the key to the social issue that turns into deadly shootings, and it's separating America powered by the President.

There's no better way to address the issue of bullying than by focusing on the President, and his elected followers.

The President has focused attention on kneeling because it dishonors the flag and America's military in the process. So, kneeling is about a lack of honor.

Now, let's go to the President, and his commitment to honoring America's military and the flag through his actions.

This past week, the President responded to comments that he hadn't remembered the name of a fallen soldier when talking to his widow by telling the media, and therefore world, that he did use that soldier's name many times because someone had written it on a chart and put it in front of him to read off. Then, he promoted he remembered the soldier's name because he has a good memory, and then pointed to his head to, apparently, remind everyone that's where his memory is located. This was not a way to promote honor or integrity as the ultimate leader of the U.S. Armed Forces.

These types of press conferences, of course, are repeated enough that 24-hour news channels have increased their ratings significantly in the past two years. Late night talk-show hosts have an endless supply of material. How this is allowed to continue is the issue players need to direct the public's attention toward. It's allowed to continue through the evil called bullying. They don't need to attack the President, either, just challenge the main group allowing itself to be bullied - Republican Senators and Representatives.

Start with Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. You might remember them better as "Lyin" Ted and "Little" Marco from the 2016 campaign after the President came up with these playground names for them. He has never apologized for using those names, and they have not called for him to apologize, either. To apologize, we all know from the President's past, is to show a sign of weakness.

So, he continues to create playground names for individuals on an international level.

The President insults members of his own party regularly, members of his own cabinet regularly, international leaders. And when his plans don't work out right, he blames Congress for not doing it's job. It's their fault. This would be like a coach addressing the world after a loss and saying his players sucked. He/she had the perfect game plan, the players just sucked. Imagine practice the next day.

"Lyin" Ted and "Little" Marco have the ability to do something about this uncontrolled bully, though - they can vote him out of office using the 25th Amendment. Do they have the character to kneel on the White House lawn, demand an apology and address the evil of bullying?

Do the members of Congress, and this is primarily those who are in the Republican Party, have the character to address why they say nothing when the President comes up with these names as though he were a bully on a playground?

What about the President's wife? She made bullying a point to combat upon reaching the White House? That campaign does not seem to exist.

Bullying is a key to Capitalism, so it's not an easy issue to tackle. And being a bully basically involves someone or a group telling someone to do something regardless of what it means to that person or group simply because they/it tells it to. Harrassment? Force? There doesn't need to be any logic involved, any thought of compassion to those involved, just the outcome. People with political or social power don't want that to change, either, so they don't make any kind of issue out of it.

"Do it because I tell you to. And don't complain."

How white police officers have abused their power is a key to the issue black players want addressed. But, it has turned into a black vs. white issue. "Black Lives Matter." And, now "White Lives Matter." The President has done some passionate work to move this issue of black vs. white forward ... through bullying. Bullying isn't an issue of color, though, it's a societal issue and one that black and white football players, heck all athletes, can address at the National Anthem.

Stand Up To Bullying. Take a knee before the anthem, then stand up for the anthem to promote the campaign.

England already has a Stand Up To Bullying Day. The U.S.has a campaign, but it hasn't gotten beyond Massachusetts.

Black players in the NFL have the world's attention, but it's largely being lost as an issue that only relates to people of one color and the issue of honoring America's military by kneeling during a song. They need to move the issue from kneeling to the evil of bullying and make that the issue. They need their teammates of all color to join them. Take a knee before the anthem, then stand for the anthem and make that a social campaign. Stand Uo To Bullying.

How do you think the President would respond to this campaign? Black players taking a knee on the sideline, then standing up for the national anthem? Where's the dishonor there? What if their white teammates did that, too? White players stood up to bullying because it's an issue that affects white people, too.

A worldwide revolution can start from this campaign and challenge injustice on just about every issue. Congress? Why is it that as soon as someone gets elected and arrives on Capitol Hill, they immediately fall in line? Every issue is Us vs. Them. Democrat vs. Republican. Liberal vs. Conservative. Obamacare? It has to be repealed and replaced because it's broken. It's falling apart and was never a good idea in the first place, in spite of all the people who did achieve affordable health care. Millions of people. But, it's a terrible system that should never have been approved. That's a bully speaking.

An effective politician might say, "if it's broken, fix it."

If your car were damaged and struggling to run, would you just keep driving until it stopped and leave it on the side of the road to go get a new one? Or would you stop at a repair shop and work on making it run better? Especially if you knew the problem was simply a lack of gasoline.

The bullying that involved sacrificing Obamacare has gone so far that Republican leadership wouldn't even tell the nation what it was working on before voting on it. "It's going to be great because we tell you it's going to be great." That sounded like someone making a degree from Yale or Harvard look quite valuable. And making the framers of the Constitution quite proud. Lots of honor there.

This kind of bullying - "repeal and replace because I tell you to" - is making Yale, Harvard, Cornell, The Ohio State, Penn State, every college for that matter that's got a degree on a wall of an elected official, look terrible. America has no strength to think for itself, especially these days.

Stand Up To Bullying by getting Congressmen and women to think for themselves, using logic and compromise to better the nation, not just the people who voted for them. And not just people of one color.

Then, we're off.

Obamacare. There's a single-payer health care system in America's future, and if Obamacare is going to be fixed, this is the fix it needs. Capitalism and health care just don't mix for much of the public - the part that's old and/or sick.

How about the Military Industrial Complex? That's a biig one, but ... wow an issue. For starters, why does the U.S. have such a large military? And, apparently getting larger. We're not getting invaded. We can play police for the world, but does that need so many aircraft carriers and nuclear submaries? And, why is Russia our enemy, by the way? Heck, what is Communism? I think it's a nation run by one person, or a ruling party, that severely restricts the freedoms of its citizens to keep them under control. "Do it because we tell you to." Sound familiar?

Communism might be a bad way to run a nation, but Russia isn't invading the U.S., and really has never been close to invading our territory and putting Communism in place. So, why did the world need all those thousands of nuclear missiles? Why do we need them now? The answer is Capitalism and the need to keep factories and ports building the elements that power the military. Without wars and enemies, there's not need for tanks and fighter aircraft.

Of course, the companies that produce tanks and aircraft could be reformed to produce ... better roadways or spacecraft, renewable energy sources etc. Capitalism can survive a changing military direction.

Education. When I watch sports, there's an endless supply of commercials relating to the military. Either join up, or get insurance or health care or great loans because you were in the military. There's nothing wrong with any of those, but I often think what if they had the same commercials for ... teachers? Become a teacher, or get great health care and access to loans because you are or were a teacher. Education should be a much greater focus for the nation.

Gerrymandering. This is one of the main reasons elected officials get re-elected so often and regularly feel the need to just ... get re-elected by voters in their party rather than work together between political parties for a better nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give the Dodgers a chance

Mon, 02/20/2017 - 11:39pm
Cliff Pfenning
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When you reflect on all the pro teams from the five major leagues across the US: NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL and even Major League Soccer, what's the top brand name for fans across the nation and even worldwide?

The New England Patriots might be No. 1 in terms of Super Bowls won in the past decade, but does anyone in Greece know who they are?

The New York Yankess, due to their long history of success, have to be one of the top teams. The Dallas Cowboys, due to their success during the television age and cheerleaders, are a top consideration, too. Red Sox, Cubs, Packers, Lakers, Knicks, Celtics ... even the Browns - the Sportsland, Oregon episode connects with those topics.

I would love the Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers to be up there.

LISTEN NOW

Timbers? Portland's soccer franchise has to be one of the top US brands in the sport because of its fans, but it's got a long ways to go to be an international brand. That's something that comes with straying into the international scene, and the Timbers haven't really done that other than host an English team now and then. So, does the Timbers Army even want to be known in Scotland, or Sweden or Germany?

And, why are the upcoming tournaments for college and high school basketball players so long and short at the same time?

Good stuff to listen to on the Sportland podcast.

 

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