Quick Roundup 542

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Fix College Football

The Wall Street Journal publishes a piece that makes a point related to a recent post I made here regarding the cultivation of athletic talent, while also improving upon a sentiment of mine regarding college football:

There's no governing authority that can make unilateral decisions for all of college football -- in fact, that's another part of the problem. But what if there were? Is there a model anywhere in the sports world for a system that could erase some of the chronic problems with college football without killing the golden goose?

In a word, yes. It's the English Premier League.

The EPL, which is the world's richest and most prominent professional soccer league, consists of 20 teams. At the end of the season, however, the three worst teams are demoted, or "relegated," to another, less-prestigious division of professional soccer -- the Football League Championship.
Is it not interesting that, along with all the media attention given lately to a sport emotionalistically derided as "anti-American" and even "socialist" by a certain type of conservative, there are worthwhile lessons about capitalism to be had for Americans?

Waste Breeds Waste

How does a central planner deal with such debacles as entire warehouses of food spoiling?
Much of the wasted food, including powdered milk and meat, was found last month in the buildup to legislative elections in September. The scandal is humiliating for Chavez, who accuses wealthy elites of fueling inflation and causing shortages of products such as meat, sugar and milk by hoarding food. [minor format edits]
Obviously, by replacing it with more food looted from what's left of the private sector.

And this is happening with the government controlling only about a quarter of the distribution system for staple foods.

Racism Far from Dead

(Although it doesn't exactly thrive anymore where the left would have you believe.)

Helen Thomas on why she said of the Israelis, "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine." (HT: Instapundit)
I'm from [sic] Arab descent.
Italian soccer fans, chanting in about a professional player raised in Italy by Italian parents and possessing Italian citizenship, but of African descent:
A Negro cannot be an Italian.
You will note that the former comes from the lips of a leftist journalist and the latter from crowds in a nation practically deified for its cultural superiority by the left.

The second quote comes from a thought-provoking couple of posts by Steven and Harrison Stark on worse-than-predicted World Cup performances in the first African tourney by nations known for having problems with racist crowds at home. (Unsurprisingly, this has sometimes been accompanied by behavior one could call insensitive at best by some teams.)

The Starks note that many among these crowds are, "supporters of the right-wing political parties that have sprung up across the continent." Given the leftist canard that racism is practically the same as non-leftism, how does one explain its existence across the political spectrum? I'll yield to Ayn Rand on this one:
Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage--the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.
You will note of Helen Thomas and her European-right-wing siblings-in-spirit that they excuse their bigotry on biological grounds. [Clarification: Anti-Jewish or anti-semitic bigotry is probably better described as tribalism than as racism, although it remains a form of collectivism.] Furthermore, racism exists across the political "spectrum" because left vs. right is for the most part a false dichotomy between two anti-individualistic fractions of the body politic.

And what about the following statistic noted by the Starks of the underperforming teams? (Records given are in win-loss-tie format.)
Predicted result for matches so far: 5-2-0
Actual result for matches so far: 1-3-3 [minor edits for format and uniform presentation]
To the extent that this isn't (also) due to other factors, I'd attribute it to simple cowardice, which is the flip side of bullying.

USA 2, Slovenia 2

I love the fact that the Yanks look capable of beating anyone at times, but hate the fact that they seem to need their backs to be against the wall to show it. In Friday's game, I switched off the television after they fell behind 2-0, including yet another early goal caused by sloppy defense. But then, remembering I had packing to do for a short trip, flipped it back on and was rewarded with an electrifying second-half comeback. A perfectly valid goal was negated by an utterly brainless (and unsatisfactorily-explained) call by the referee.

That said, I wholly agree that this team and its coach deserve part of the blame for not actually winning:
Bad things happen to teams that fall behind often enough, far enough. The back line lost shape early, gave up way too much space on those first two goals. Upfield, Robbie Findley and Francisco Torres were utterly lost, and are now unlikely to reappear at this World Cup.

Even the stars of the previous England match were imperfect. Tim Howard was screened by Oguchi Onyewu on the first goal, a beauty by Valter Birsa in the 13th minute. The second goal was a numbers game, caused by late track-backers and miscalculations from Onyewu and Jay DeMerit. [minor format edits]
If either early lapse hadn't occurred, Team USA would be basking in a 2-1 win and sitting atop its first-round group.

I had heard that before the game, Coach Bradley specifically addressed the need to keep from falling behind early. He also started out with a more defensive formation, which he shifted away from when the need to score became dire. I think he's taking the wrong approach, psychologically, to put so much focus on the monkey that seems to be riding this team's back.

He should just start off on offense.

What's the worst that could happen? We spot our opponent an early goal?

At least other results ensure that a win sends the USA to the next round.

-- CAV


: Added a clarification.


madmax said...

Gus, regarding soccer, a few points.

1) I wonder if the bad performance can be attributed to the Vuvuzela. It is so distracting that I can't but believe that it is a factor in the games.

1b) That the Vuvuzela is even allowed is because the South Africans are afraid of their black population. The whole phenomenon is due to multiculturalism and Leftism.

2) I know that many Americans on the Right (like Tracinski) make rationalistic arguments that soccer is an inferior game. But I do think that soccer is being used by the Left in an insidious way. The Left is forcing soccer down the throats of Americans when in fact most Americas just don't care for the sport. I think it is an attempt to erase American distinctiveness and force the "one-world" vision that many Leftists have. To a Leftist, Europe has socialized medicine, hate-speech laws, intense dedication to environmentalism, and soccer. Therefore we should have them all too.

Regarding racism and Ayn Rand's definition, she writes this:

It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage... This I see as undeniable. But the next part...

...the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry... With this I fear that she may be going up against science. As I understand it, heredity plays a big role in intelligence and it might even play a big role in temperament and personality. Now character is a different thing than personality but Rand's definition of racism entirely dismisses biology which is something she is often criticized for.

Lastly, Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors. Ultimately this is right, but there are circumstances in life where you don't have time to collect a wide range of data about a person and you need to make a judgment quickly.

If you are in a bad section of town and three black hoodlems are walking toward you, you need to make a decision and you will have no choice but to make it based on the past actions of people of similar race and socio-economic standing. With the crime data being what it is, and black on white crime being what it is, it would be a preventative measure well worth taking to avoid the three black hoodlems. If you choose to walk to the other side of the street (and I do this frequently) to avoid passing the three black hoodlems, would that make you a racist? I would say no but Rand's definition leaves open the possibility that Objectivism would say yes.

My end point on this is that there is more to be said regarding racism then Ayn Rand's essay on the subject. I do think that an Objectivist scholar will have to tackle this subject one day and with it the evolutionary arguments that abound for racial differences. The race realist movement is growing. I think it unavoidable that Objectivism will have to confront it head on at some point in the future.



Gus Van Horn said...


(1) RE: vuvuzelas, I understand that the players on the field mostly manage to ignore them, although at times, the loudness can make it hard to communicate verbally.

(2) How, exactly, is soccer being forced on anyone? Yes, I can see some leftists wanting to use soccer that way, but you can always change channels, if you don't enjoy the game. Insofar as it might be pushed by government agencies, I don't see this any more than other sports, and it isn't the government's job to promote any sport.

(3) A few points on racism:

Neither intelligence nor temperament being affected (or limited or determined) by genetics necessarily contradicts the idea that man has free will, which is the prerequisite for morality and, as cognitive self-regulation, is what still determines what a man makes of himself. There are people with genius intellect who don't amount to anything and people of below average intelligence who go on to become highly productive and successful.

Regarding having to make snap judgments on little or no information, that is not the same thing as making a moral judgment, which requires lots of information and can take years to get right, even with care. Between giving someone the benefit of the doubt and reducing your chances of getting mugged to nil, what will promote your life in most cases? What rational man could begrudge you playing it safe, if he looks like a hoodlem to you and so you avoid him, knowing nothing else?


madmax said...

Regarding having to make snap judgments on little or no information, that is not the same thing as making a moral judgment, which requires lots of information and can take years to get right, even with care.

That is an excellent point. One which I did not consider. A moral judgment is entirely different in kind. The judgment I was thinking of was a type of provisional and situational one necessarily made in the context of limited information. There's that epistemology thingy again. Thanks for pointing that out.


Gus Van Horn said...

You're welcome. That's also a point that racists on both "ends" of the political spectrum have a lot invested in evading/obscuring.