Friday, September 19, 2014

NFL Off-Field Violence

News reports and comments by many who fancy themselves qualified to advance an opinion have painted the National Football League as a haven for thugs and criminals. I started crunching some numbers seeking to learn whether that image is deserved.

The first thing I learned is that a whole lot of people, from  media pundits to social scholars, have been busy recording and  playing with NFL crime statistics for a long time. There was no need for me to do much original work.  A simple computer search for "NFL arrest records" produced all sorts of numbers and analyses. Following are what I believe to be the more significant items:

*Precisely 687 NFL players have been arrested (not convicted, mind you) since January 1, 2000, most for assaults. The annual number has been declining since 2006, an indication that the league has made some progress in efforts to improve its image, primarily through educational programs for players.

*Including all players under contract, about 1,800 are available each year to be arrested. Considering the typical pro football career lasts a bit less than three years and doing the math with the 13-year arrest total, I get an arrest rate slightly higher than 1 percent.

*Some number crunchers, probably more skilled than the geezer, say the arrest rate for assaults in the NFL is two percent. Assuming that to be close to the actual rate, it is less than half the national rate (based on FBI statistics). It also is far less than the National Basketball Association rate (5.1 percent). Basketball supposedly is a "non-contact sport." That's a laugher. However, the NFL rate is slightly below the 2.1 percent rate for major league baseball; baseball actually is basically a non-contact sport, and thus we might mistakenly think players are less violent types than the gridiron heroes.

*Considering the analyses that appear most legitimate and trying to mix in some common sense, it seems fair to conclude that criminal activity by NFL players is well below that for comparable groups in the general population--young males, including a large number of blacks.
 
Far more good guys than bad.
Obviously, media attention magnifies the NFL situation. We are not treated to national television reports whenever a factory worker or shoe salesman hits his wife or "whoops" his kids. Nevertheless,  it is true that professional athletes in America long have been held up as role models for our youth. Therefore it seems proper that they should be held to a higher standard of conduct. They are employees of their team owners, and in many U.S. states employers concerned with the firm's image are legally able to fire employees for any conduct they consider detrimental, except in situations where a union agreement exists.

The NFL players have a strong union, and agreements are in place covering all the teams. Therefore, it is not possible for owners acting individually or through the league office to summarily fire a player for misbehaving. I believe the NFL owners in concert with the union should move quickly to establish clear policy pertaining to domestic violence. Much of the problem in pro football is the helter-skelter nature of the discipline. Badly needed is a well-defined action plan that is easily understood and applied without a whole lot of exceptions.

After some poor moves, what the Minnesota Vikings finally did in the case of star player Adrian Peterson, who admitted to doing violence to his four-year-old son after being arrested, should serve as a model. Suspend the player with pay from all team participation until the criminal justice system has run its course. If the player is found not guilty, reinstate him. If he is found guilty, suspend him for a year without pay added to any jail time he serves, which should be a sufficient penalty, but one that gives the player some opportunity to resurrect his career.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Outsmarted by a Phone

About eight years ago as a daylight savings time change approached,  a fellow Forest Service retiree told me of his tactic to remove any doubts about which way to reset his clocks. He bought two cheapo watches--one set on standard time, the other on daylight savings time. He merely switched them on change days and used his wristwatch as a guide to reset all other timing devices in his household.

I already owned a cheap wristwatch. I found a duplicate at Walmart on sale for $5.00 (sometimes that place is worth visiting). Ever since, I have kept one on standby in a dresser drawer until it was
So they're two minutes off. Who cares now that they're obsolete?
restored to service when we gained or lost an hour moving from standard to daylight time, or vice versa.

The switcheroo worked equally well moving between eastern time at our Michigan home and central time in often-visited Wisconsin. My son and I took that trip this summer. I decided to brag a little and made a show of trading watches as we were about half way across Lake Michigan on a ferry.  Lee said, "Oh, but time changes aren't any problem."

"How so?" I asked.

"My smart phone automatically makes the adjustment. I just tap the time ap."

Time and technology once again have marched on. One of my favorite schemes has been rendered obsolete.  Anybody want to buy two watches used only about half a year each throughout their lifetimes?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

It's That Time Again


'Tis the season when footballs and banners of avid team followers fill the air.

Some who pass our home wonder why my Packers flag flies only intermittently. That's because ancient family tradition dictates the flag is unfurled only after a victory. The first game of the season is tonight. At dawn's early light tomorrow my flag may, or may not, be there.

At the moment, a very few leaves in our Lake Doster area have begun to turn color. Mom Nature is more consistent than the Packers--all the  leaves will change and fall to the ground in a few weeks. You can depend on it.