Wednesday, November 21, 2007

hello again

Well folks:
It's been son long, I bet you all thought I had abandoned you. Well, that's not the case.
As I sit here getting set for not only Thanksgiving, but my (swallowing hard) 38th birthday over the weekend -- God, where have the years gone -- a few thoughts came to my head in response to some things that have made the sports pages here and nationally.

-- Belated congratulations to the Ulster men's soccer team for making the NJCAA final. It's been nearly 30 years since George Vizvary has reached the national title game, and although his team fell just short or its ultimate goal, George has to be proud of his guys.
-- Speaking of the NJCAAs, I think my feet have finally thawed out after spending two of the coldest days I can remember covering the games in Herkimer. I don't want to say it was freezing there, but wearing my winter jacket over two sweatshirts over a t-shirt, along with sweat pants under regular pants and four pairs of socks, and I still froze. Crazy!
-- Also belated congratulations to both the Red Hook volleyball team that reached the state final as well as the Pine Plains field hockey team that made it to the state final four. Great job ladies!
-- The same goes to the multitude of runners and swimmers that made states. As my big boss would say, kudos to you all!
-- Now didn't I tell you guys all summer long there was no chance Alex Rodriguez would leave the Yankees. Just call me a prophet -- or lucky.
-- Barry Bonds indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice? It took them that long for that? Maybe it's a witch hunt. Maybe it's not. But I'm pretty tired of the whole thing and wish it would just get resolved one way or another -- and quickly.
-- So, a month ago, the sky was falling on the Yankees. No Joe Torre. No A-Rod. Posada's leaving. Rivera's leaving. Pettitte's leaving. Funny how a couple of weeks changes perspectives.
-- We're so quick to rush to judgement when it comes to sports. Now everyone is down on the Mets. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think Omar Minaya is done wheeling and dealing considering it's still November.
-- Did the Jets beat the mighty Steelers, or was that just pure fantasy?
-- Did I read Jon Kitna say the Lions are better than the Giants? What's he drinking?
-- Nice job by James Dolan, Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury with the Knicks. This terrible trio has taken a once proud franchise and made it into a laughing stock.
-- Not like the Nets are doing a whole lot better these days.
-- A nice start by both the Rangers and Islanders. I expect the Devils, despite a slow start, to make a run as well. It's too early and they're too good not to.
Finally, as you all sit down and enjoy your holiday, be thankful for all life have given you.
For me, personally, I'm thankful most for my family and friends both near and far. I love all you guys.
So, to everyone out there, have a great Thanksgiving and I'll be talking to you again after taking a little time off for some warmth in sunny Florida.
Take care and God bless.

Friday, November 9, 2007

You can't have it both ways

Hey folks:
I had a long discussion with my good friend, Joe from Newburgh, this afternoon about Pine Bush volleyball.
Now Pine Bush volleyball normally wouldn't be something on either one of our radars, but given the situation surrounding the team the past couple of days, the topic was the center of our conversation.
For those of you unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, Pine Bush recently played Horseheads in a state Class AA regional match and lost in five games. Horseheads has a boy that plays on the girls volleyball team and -- from what I read -- that incensed the Pine Bush volleyball community.
According to Title IX, which decades ago gave female athletes the right to participate in male sports when there was no female equivalent, Horseheads was not breaking any rules. And the state backed up those claims.
Now, before I get into where I stand on this, let me make one thing clear -- I AM TOTALLY, COMPLETELY, 100 PERCENT IN FAVOR OF TITLE IX.
That said, I have absolutely no problem with Horseheads playing a boy on the team. Currently, there is no boys equivalent and if you're going to allow girls to wrestle, play football or, in the old days (pre-1990s), play boys soccer, the same should go for boys.
While we SHOULD applaud girls for having the dedication to particpate in boys sports, we also SHOULDN'T condemn a boy when the situation is reversed. Is the state supposed to say to this boy, "I know you want to play volleyball, but since there are no boys volleyball teams, you're out of luck?"
It wasn't fair when we said that to girls back in the day and it's not fair to say it to this boy now.
What troubles me -- on a few levels -- is the Pine Bush coach making such an issue about it.
-- First, I believe she gave her team an excuse to lose.
Reading the story about the match, the coach gave the impression her team might have been intimidated by the boy. The day of the match, there was a story about this Horseheads boy where the coach, AD and a couple of the players basically said it was unfair for this boy to be playing. I believe if you put that sort of spin in your kids heads you're already setting them up to lose.
-- Second, I read the boys was something like 5-foot-8, 140 pounds.
That doesn't seem so intimidating to me. Heck, Red Hook's Sabrina Eggink is taller than that and probably equally -- if not more -- intimidating at the net. And I can think of many other girls playing volleyball or girls basketball in the area who would dwarf that 5-8 mark.
-- Third, Pine Bush lost in five games and this boy was credited with seven blocks.
You guys ever see a Red Hook boxscore, or a Rhinebeck boxscore. Seven in five games doesn't overwhelm me. I'm sure he did other things that were equally as productive, but I was half expecting to read the story and see the boy with 25, 30 blocks!
-- Finally, and I saved this for last, in a previous tournament, Pine Bush beat Horseheads with the boy on the team.
Pine Bush was good enough to beat Horseheads once and pushed them to five games this time. It seems like, even with this boy, these teams are pretty-much evenly matched.
Now, understand this, I wasn't there. I'm going by the stories I've read. But in the end, the boy was allowed to be there and had the right to do so.
Title IX has opened countless opportunities for girls to succeed in sports where back in the day they weren't allowed to compete in. In this case, the rule worked to help a boy do the same.
I'm sure many of you might disagree, but -- speaking as an outsider to the specific case -- I simply see no problem in that.
Until next time, take care and God bless.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Enjoying the day

Hey gang:
It's always fun for me when I get the opportunity to actually get out and cover an event.
I had such an opportunity earlier today when I went to Ulster County Community College to cover it's men's soccer match against Springfield Tech. The Senators dominated the Rams and earned a berth in the national junior college semifinals this weekend.
It had been quite some time since I had the chance to cover a soccer game at Ulster. In fact, I believe the last soccer game at Ulster I covered was more than 10 years ago, when Ulster won a regional title to advance to nationals.
While many things at the college have changed, one thing remains a constant -- Ulster coach George Vizvary. George was there long before I covered the team as a writer for the campus paper and he seemingly never changes.
It's fun to try to imitate his thick Hungarian accent and re-create the countless sayings he has given over the years -- many of which aren't suitable for publication.
George is a colorful, quote machine and after a six-year absence, he will take those quotes to Herkimer Community College and nationals.
George Vizvary and nationals -- sounds like it'll be a fun time in Herkimer.
Until next time, take care and God bless.