College “Sports” Emilio DeGrazia

PRIVATIZE

“Have we gone insane?” is what a Minnesota cattle farmer probably not much interested in March Madness asked. His question was a reaction to the news that Jerry Kill, the University of Minnesota football coach, had his $1,2000,000 salary increased by an extra $2,100,000, plus perks, for guiding the Gophers to eight wins and five losses during the 2013 season. Maybe winning isn’t everything. It certainly isn’t for everyone.
No doubt Coach Kill is a nice enough guy and competent enough at what he does. And he didn’t complain about the salary bump he received. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer makes $4,600,000, plus perks, and he’s in the same league.
It’s hard to imagine anyone in his or her right mind seriously believing that the NCAA Division One big money sports––football, basketball, hockey––have anything but a tendril connection to a university’s higher education missions. There are several fine student-athletes who get excellent grades while working very hard at their sports. The graduation rate for athletes and non-athletes is comparable, though the amount of money it takes to get a student-athlete a degree is hidden in a murk of red ink. But it seems obvious that the hazards of football seem well out of line with what health educators teach, and that at the D-1 level students need to learn how to keep their classes from interfering with their serious sports jobs.
Student-athletes must suspect they’re part of an entertainment industry. Coach Kill was honest enough to fess up to it, and he left the impression that as a newcomer to the industry his new salary represents his fair market value.
But some of the people responsible for overseeing the numbers at D-1 higher educational institutions maybe need some refresher courses in elementary arithmetic. Only 23 of the 228 NCAA D-1 sports programs generated enough income to cover expenses in 2012, and 16 of the 23 winners received subsidies by way of student fees and university and state funds. The other 205 were losers, as were the donors and tax payers who picked up the tab. Losing seasons are a financial trend for most NCAA schools.
Meanwhile, the NCAA as an organization quietly showed a profit of $71,000,000 for 2012. Rather noisily state governments try to figure out how to pay their bills.
It’s time to turn these big-time sports teams into what they really are: Businesses. Because I’m addicted to thrift I think they should get off an unsustainable welfare system. Privatize them.
I’m not a spoil-sport. I know that millions love to cheer for the logos and colors on the laundry they love. Big time sports are major rituals that stimulate a deep need for community identity. As a kid in Michigan I grew up loving the Spartans and Wolverines, and I got my graduate degrees as a Buckeye at Ohio State, and when I married a Nebraska woman I learned to love Cornhuskers, and because I pay taxes in Wisconsin I have a Badger in me, and because my daughter is a student at the University of Iowa I’m a Hawkeye too. As a Minnesotan I’m a devout Gopher, for reasons I can’t fully explain. I want everyone to win.
A lot of people are not ready to give up big-time collegiate sports yet, even when they go home from a game losers again.
Turning big-time collegiate sports programs into for-profit enterprises should especially appeal to fiscal conservatives who have a passion to cut taxes and privatize the public schools.
Here’s my business plan: Turn the big-time intercollegiate sports over to private entrepreneurs willing to invest in new business ventures. Let entrepreneurs, rather than participating schools, run them as private for-profit businesses. They buy the naming, branding, and concessions rights from universities. They lease the cheerleaders and marching bands. They lease university facilities, or construct their own. They pay all travel and advertising expenses. They cut their own TV and bowl game deals. They hire the coaches and other managers. They pay the bills and enjoy the profits that come rolling in. Private investors could get involved, and maybe Wall Street too.
Could these new business enterprises––let’s call them clubs––still be considered intercollegiate sports? A few rules would give them permission to say yes. The players would be recruited from the pool of graduating high school student-athletes, as they are now. They would have five years to fulfill four years of service on the playing field. They would be required to establish student identity by taking at least one class at the university whose logo they wear during games.
Nothing much would change, except the ownership of teams, business plans, and bookkeeping responsibilities. Gopher fans could continue to cheer for players wearing Gopher uniforms, and everyone could continue to have a good time.
Currently there’s some talk about student-athletes unionizing. That’s an issue players could work out with management, maybe after some discussion about salaries for coaches and club executives. Clubs, as free enterprise businesses, could make millions, or not. And if not, owners could downsize or apply other lean strategies.
Already there are rumors about the University of Minnesota needing $190,000,000 for improved practice facilities. Experts feel that the UM will not be able to compete without the upgrades. They’re very probably right. Why would an eighteen year-old super athlete high school recruit want anything but the latest and best high-tech facilities? Why not go to Penn State instead?
Tim Dahlberg, sports writer for the AP, says, “That’s the way things are in big-time college athletics, where the rich are getting richer. Hard not to profit when the labor is free.” Hard not to profit when public university athletic programs are bailed out by student fees and tax dollars.
I’m with the cattle farmer from western Minnesota. Why play this game? “Have we gone insane?”
Four or five times a year I get a call from sweet-voiced students at my alma mater Ohio State. They want me to send OSU money because there’s never enough to go around. I plead with them to spread the word: For starters, I tell the voices on the line, cut the coaching salaries in half. Call me again after you begin there.=

Eagle buzzed by a seagull

Red Wing, MN at Colvill Park 3/26/2014

my distance from the eagle :-)

Gull Buzzes Eagle, Colvill Park, Red Wing

Gull buzzing an eagle at Colvill Park, Red Wing, MN 20140326 4pm

damn dog…

Of course we have Puppy Bowl X GIFs – SBNation.com

http://www.sbnation.com/2014/2/2/5371646/of-course-we-have-puppy-bowl-x-gifs/in/5134809

Orangutan, In Borneo, Spearfishing

things that make you go incandescent… from The Pump Handle

[[WHAT COULD GO WRONG… those pushing this
are evil fools…]

Reality check on USDAs claims about its plan to privatize poultry inspection

Posted by Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH of George Washington University School of Public Health & Health Services on January 28, 2014

Several recent newspaper editorials have gotten under USDAs skin. Editors at the Charlotte Observer, , Bellingham (WA) Herald and are skeptical that the USDAs plan to modernize the poultry slaughter inspection process is a wise move.

In Feds proposed shift in poultry rules troubling, the Charlotte Observers editorial board wrote this on January 20:

Warning horns should blast full force around the Obama administration approving a change in federal law to replace most federal inspectors on poultry processing lines with company workers who would watch for problems. Worker advocates concerns that such a change would be a risk to both food and worker safety have considerable merit. A 2008 Observer series about working conditions in the poultry industry highlighted the problems of allowing companies to self-report on injuries at their plants. Our series found employers failing to report injuries that they should, and workers afraid theyd be fired if they reported such injuries. This change could have both following the same pattern with troubling consequences for all of us.

On Janaury 24 in Dont let poultry-processing industry police itself, Bellinghams editors wrote:

Somewhere in that proposal is a joke about letting foxes guard henhouses. Well leave that to the Jon Stewarts of the world, but theres nothing funny about what the proposed changes could mean for American consumers. Many workers in the industry suffer from repetitive-motion conditions and other work-related injuries but often are reluctant to report them because they need the job so badly. Speeding up processing lines is likely to exacerbate that problem.

The acting Under Secretary for Food Safety, Brian Ronholm, quickly responded with a letter to the editor. Each of his statements appear below, broken up by my offering of a reality check.

Ronholm: The Observer falsely asserts that USDAs proposal to modernize poultry inspection would reduce federal oversight of food safety at the expense of consumers and workers.

Reality check: For the last several years, the Obama Administrations proposed budget for USDA would eliminate 800 poultry inspectors. How does that not reduce federal oversight of food safety?

Ronholm: A 15-year pilot program demonstrates that the proposal would enhance oversight, prevent at least 5,000 food-borne illnesses per year, and not adversely impact worker safety.

Reality check: In August 2013, the Government Accountability Office chastised USDA for asserting that its pilot project demonstrates its proposed changes will be more effective than the current system. GAO found that USDA didnt even collect and analyze its data to draw such a conclusion. GAO launched the same criticism at USDA in a 2001 report.

And,

Reality check: USDA ignores the evidence about the harsh and dangerous conditions experienced by poultry plant workers. Musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, plague poultry workers, and line speeds in the plants are a key contributor for these injuries. USDAs proposal will allow production line speeds to increase from 140 to 175 birds per minute.

Ronholm: It would require industry to prevent contamination and conduct testing at two points to ensure pathogens such as Salmonella are being controlled; currently there are no such requirements.

Reality check: USDAs plan is for the poultry industry to come up with its own standards for testing pathogens. The industry will even make the decision on how much salmonella is acceptable. On top of that because the standards will be voluntaryUSDA would have no authority to enforce them.

Ronholm: This enhanced inspection process would allow USDA inspectors to focus on critical food safety tasks that would result in lower prevalence of contamination and greater compliance with sanitation requirements.

Reality check: USDA still has not explained how this enhanced inspection process is going to occur. How many more sanitation checks will occur per eight hour shift? How many more samples will be taken for food borne pathogens? How many USDA inspectors will be assigned in each plant per shift to perform these additional tasks? Will USDA have the authority to take action against the plant for violating voluntary food safety and wholesomeness standards?

I know the views of newspaper editors may not sway the White House into telling the USDA to ditch its plan. But perhaps the Obama Administration will be convinced by such calls from the Congressional Black Caucus. The groups chair, Marcia Fudge (D-OH), made clear their position on USDAs plan. Quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Fudge said:

Most of the people who work in these plants are women, and they are primarily women of color. We care most about the health of the employees. Right now, it is bad. It will just get worse if they increase the line speed.

 

We only approve of 7% Buttefat Milk from Ayrshire-Highland Shorthorns

not that synthetic spawn-of-the-devil-tastes-like-sandpaper soyshit… so there !!

[Pictured: Ragnarsdottir, age 4 1/2, 1st Prize at
Skasketdalh’s Cow Contest 1987. She was a sweet girl]

Horses vs. Stuck Truck in PA Snowstorm 20140129

Interesting sight on the way to work in Central Pennsylvania.
Video by Joel Appleman, Susquehanna River Valley