Big Ten is Basketball Country

Big TenDon’t look now but the Big Ten is slowly becoming a basketball conference. The conference which has long been associated with Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, 3 yards and a cloud of dust, is slowly regaining its foothold as a basketball conference. True the football teams, even the much vaunted, Ohio State and Michigan, have come up woefully short on the National stage, but the resurgence is due to the influx of coaching and player talent that has slowly been coming into the conference over the last few years.

Purdue, Michigan State, and Wisconsin look to lead the conference this year in the National spotlight with Purdue coming into the year ranked as high as 5th (Sports Illustrated). Purdue is coming off a surprise year in which they came one game away from winning the Big Ten crown with a team full of Freshman and Sophomores. They are the front runners and have even been mentioned as a possible Final Four team.

Big Ten GameBut it’s not only the Boilers who are looking at big things, Wisconsin has one of the most underrated coaches in all of college in Bo Ryan, and Michigan State, under the leadership of Coach Izzo, is again loaded with talent and grit.

The future of the Big Ten looks bright. IU, despite the the growing pains they will suffer this year, can look forward to a proven winner in Coach Crean, and a top rated 2009-’10 recruiting class, as can the folks in Iowa who stole Todd Lickliter away from Butler where he consistently built winning programs that competed with the BCS conference teams.

It’s an exciting time to be a Big Ten basketball fan, because, well as the commercials say, this is Big Ten Country!

Playing Not to Lose

Lessons In SportAs I was watching football this weekend I ran across two maddening occurrences, which sadly has become too much of a trend.  Saturday I was watching the LSU/Alabama game, Bama had the ball late in the fourth quarter driving for the game winning score. Instead of taking a shot at the end zone Coach Saban made the conservative call, ran the ball and attempted a field goal…which was blocked. Bama, fortunately went on to win the game in OT.

Sunday I was watching the Packers/Vikings game.  Late in the game Green Bay was driving, down by one, trying to win the game. The Packers got within field goal range – 52 yards out – and proceeded to run the ball into the middle of the line twice and then forced a bad pass on third down. The Packers tried a long field goal…and missed it.

Gentlemen Of The GameNow, I understand sometimes you have to go with a safe play every now and again, but what I don’t understand is why, why, do coaches continue to put the game in the hands of a kicker? ESPECIALLY in college, where kickers are about as steady as a swinging bridge. No coach, at least that I can ever remember has ever been fired for winning. The Packer game really is maddening to me, why would you not  try to get closer than 52 yards out? In both cases there was plenty of time to at least try to get it further down the field, or in the case of Alabama to try and go for the TD.

I know it’s easy to “Monday Morning QB”. If the coach goes for the TD and something happens, like an INT, the media will jump on him and ask what he was thinking passing that late in the game. Screw it.  As the great Herm Edwards said. “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME”.

Coaches need to un-clinch and just go for it. Play to win…I guarantee the fans want to see a QB, RB, or a wide receiver making a play to win or lose the game rather than putting it in the hands of a player who’s on the field maybe 5-6 times a game.

Should Girls Play Ball?

Women Playing Ball?A Bloomington girl is suing the Indiana High School Athletic Association so she can play baseball for her high school team. Logan Young has been playing baseball since she was little and now wants to play at the high school level. Because the school also offers softball the Athletic Association is contending that she is not allowed to try out for the baseball team. Her attorney’s are arguing that under Title IX she should be allowed to try out for baseball.

According to Title IX organizations cannot deny or discriminate, based on sex, any activity receiving Federal funding, so it would appear on the surface that the high school IS discriminating. However many of the Title IX cases have been about schools not providing an equal alternative for girls. Hence the reason for many high school and college athletic programs cutting men’s sports to add women’s sports. And according to Wikipedia (bolding is mine):

With respect to athletic programs, the Dept. of Education evaluates the following factors in determining whether equal treatment exists:[7]

(1) Whether the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes; (2) The provision of equipment and supplies; (3) Scheduling of games and practice time; (4) Travel and per diem allowance; (5) Opportunity to receive coaching and academic tutoring; (6) Assignment and compensation of coaches and tutors; (7) Provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities; (8) Provision of medical and training facilities and services; (9) Provision of housing and dining facilities and services; (10) Publicity. Unequal aggregate expenditures for members of each sex or unequal expenditures for male and female teams if a recipient operates or sponsors separate teams will not constitute noncompliance with this section, but the Assistant Secretary [of Education for Civil Rights] may consider the failure to provide necessary funds for teams for one sex in assessing equality of opportunity for members of each sex.

The real question here is, should a girl be able to play with the boys? I don’t agree that this is a Title IX issue. The girls are given equal access to sports and are provided the opportunity to participate.

Woman Does Play Ball!I am torn, because as a father who hopes to one day have a little girl, I would hope that if she wanted to play hockey, football, baseball, etc, that she would have that opportunity. I think that it is important that we give girls any and all opportunities to play and participate in sports. I also believe though, that we are too quick to legislate to the minority through legal action. Too many times lawsuits are a first step and not a last resort. I have to believe that there is an answer beyond a lawsuit, the school and the parents should be able to come together and find a suitable solution.

It will be interesting to see what happens in this case, because it could in essence redefine the meaning AND intent of Title IX.

What do you think? Is the school discriminating, and should Logan be allowed to play ball?