GARY D. GADDY
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Thursday, March 5, 2009
Spittin' distance down Tobacco Road

THE FORMULA FOR A RIVALRY is quite simple:  The intensity of rivalry is multiplicative, combining the inverse of distance times density times elevation times frequency.  This equation explains why the basketball teams of Duke University and the University of North Carolina are such great rivals.

Let us decompose the rivalry equation into its constituent elements:  Rvlr = 1/dist * dens * elev * freq

First, geography determines intensity: The physically closer the rivals, the greater the rivalry.  Duke and UNC are just spittin' distance down Tobacco Road from each other.  If you listen to the various TV commentators, Duke and UNC are seven, eight or ten miles apart, but according to the Maps of Google, they are 11.2 miles by car, 9.8 as the crow flies.

Or, to use a measure of sociological and psychological distance, as Mike Krzyzewski once said, "We use the same dry cleaners." 

In their general geographic area, Chapel Hill-Durham, fan density is very high -- almost everyone is a fan of one team or the other.  If you are a foreigner to these lands, from say El Salvador, Sierra Leone or New Jersey, pick an allegiance.  Otherwise both sides will detest you, you coward!  (That’s why I respected the guy in the turban on the risers at Cameron almost as much as I love the young woman in the Carolina blue headscarf in the end zone at the Dean Dome.  My kind of people.)

Other great rivalries, such as the Big Five in basketball in Philly (Penn, Temple, Saint Joe's, Villanova and La Salle) are all in one city but the density of the fan base is divided and diluted by many other loyalties including the NBA's 76ers.

The mutual elevation of our rivalry is dizzyingly high, especially in men's basketball.  According to Wikipedia, for the last 123 meetings either Duke or UNC has been ranked in the AP Top 25.  The last time neither was ranked by any major poll: February 25, 1955.

For women, lately, it has been about as good.  Since 1992 UNC has been ranked in one poll or the other every year but two, won a NCAA championship and made three Final Four appearances, finishing in the top five the last four seasons.  Meanwhile, since 1992 Duke made four Final Four appearances, two in the championship game while recording an NCAA-record seven-straight 30-win seasons.

As to frequency, both the men and women, in basketball, have played twice a year, at minimum, for decades, often playing again in the ACC tournament, and meeting soon, I hope, in the NCAA’s as well.

As a result of these combined forces the Duke/UNC rivalry is so intense that I calculate that the center of the college basketball universe lies somewhere near I-40 not far from 15-501.  There oughta be a monument or plaque or something there, don't you think?

***
How not to insult your rival

Speaking of spittin' distance, while attending last Sunday’s Duke-UNC women's basketball regular-season finale in Cameron Closed-to-the-Elements Stadium, an avid Duke fan was sitting just across the aisle from me.  (How avid, you might ask.  Well, he had his own scorecard and was making his own boxscore.  That avid.)

At one point he screamed, "Sylvia, sit down!!!"  (UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell was at the time standing to protest another bad call by a chubby little official.)  This is proper fan behavior.  I do it all the time.

But then Mr. Scorekeeper, as Hatchell, attired in a classic black pantsuit, signaled a play to her team with a Churchill-esque, two-hand signal in which she raised two-fingers in a "V for Victory" fashion, yelled, "She looks like Nixon."  This is not proper.

For a fan of the Devils, conjuring up the ghost of Richard Nixon is not proper -- as I helpfully whispered to the more sedate Duke fans sitting behind me.  (I said nothing to Avid Fan as he had a sharpened pencil in his hand and I have spent time in the Duke University Medical Center emergency room on a weekend.  It was not a pleasurable experience.)

Here's why it's not proper.  Like my lovely and talented wife Sandra, Richard Milhous Nixon graduated from Duke University School of Law.  Unlike my wife, the experience molded him forever.

In my wife's case, it did not taint her.  Case in point:  She will stand in Cameron or Wallace Wade wearing beautiful sky-blue attire and cheer for her beloved Tar Heels.  Conclusive datum:  Since graduating from Duke -- in the same law school class as the very annoying former Duke basketball player Quin Snyder -- Sandra has taken up banjo pickin'.

As to Mr. Nixon's case, I will allow him to speak for himself: "And I always remember that whatever I have done in the past, or may do in the future, Duke University is responsible one way or the other."  As I said, Nixon is not really someone, I would think, you want to be bringing up if you are a Duke fan.

 

Gary D. Gaddy lives in Orange County, 4.2 miles from the center of the college basketball universe

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday March 5, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:48 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:20 PM EDT
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Thursday, February 26, 2009
Neutered Dictionary's release postponed

CHAPEL HILL -- The University of North Carolina Press announced today that the scheduled release of "The Roy Williams Dictionary of Neutered Synonyms:  Inexplicit Interjections, Adjectives, Adverbs and Gerunds" has been pushed back until late summer while the work undergoes a major revision.

Recent events have inspired UNC head men's basketball coach Williams to add a new appendix to the planned volume, "Expletives Undeleted: An Unabridged Compendium of Excited Utterances."

In a release to the media, UNC Press described the origin of the proposed work: "Besides being one of the best coaches in college basketball, the erudite Roy Williams is also an acknowledged expert on the use of euphemisms in the Southern American dialect.  Williams received his bachelor's degree at the University of North Carolina in education, and then gained a master of arts in teaching.  But his primary academic interest is in the linguistics of vernacular language, a subject which Williams is not only an avid student but a polished practitioner."

UNC Press further indicates that "The Williams Dictionary goes beyond being a comprehensive collection of euphemistic terms, also providing an innovative scheme for classifying neutered terms."

Some summary selections from an early review copy of The Williams Dictionary give insight into the Williams system as well as the format of the work.

The Rear End Collective Noun Class.  Major terms: butt, can, hiney, back end, tail end and rear end.  Typical usage: "We sure didn't play our rear end off."

The Dang Adjective Group.  Major terms: durn, dern, darn and dang, as well as their derivatives such as dagnabbit, galldurn and doggone.  Typical usage: "We played right galldurn well."

The Heck Noun and Adjective Group.  Major terms: heckuva, helluva and heck.  Typical usage: "It's a heck of an ACC race. So we've got to play a whole heck of a lot better.  This sure has been one heck of an interview."

The Freakin' Adjective Group. Major terms: friggin', frickin' and freakin'.  Typical usage: "You may not think so but I think it's one big freakin' deal."

Book trade insiders say that most of the major revisions to the work will be made in the Freakin' Group.

The delay by UNC University Press is not unexpected as UNC Press had been hesitant to publish another book by a men's basketball coach since the release in 1990, to notably thin sales, of Dean Smith's Jokester's Jokebook.

The working title of the revised Williams book is said to be The Roy Williams Dictionary of Neutered Synonyms -- Now with Actual Obscenities!  The expanded edition will include a special preface by Duke Coach Michael Krzyzewski entitled "*&^%$*(*!!: A Typographical Introduction to Non-Euphemisms."

***

Carrboro High renamed

CHAPEL HILL -- In what supporters are calling "an effort to move toward post-partisan politics,"  the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Board of Education voted five to one on Wednesday night to rename Carrboro High School as George W. Bush High School.

The school board was quick to assert that their action was not a response to the recent renaming of the former Ludlum Elementary School in the Hempstead Union Free School District on Long Island, New York, to Barack Obama Elementary School.

"Naming schools after presidents is not a new idea.  We used to have a Lincoln School in Chapel Hill, I would like to point out.  He was an unpopular Republican too, you know?" said Board Chair Eloise Strictly.

"While we don't necessarily agree, as some have argued, that naming a school after President Obama essentially at the moment he took office is premature, we are sure that it is not too late to honor just ex-President Bush.  We only wish we could have done this sooner.  January 20th at 12:01 pm would have been perfect,” said Strictly

"After watching even just a few days of the Obama presidency, we are beginning to appreciate how difficult a job the president has," said Strictly.  "In a way, this naming of Carrboro High to George W. Bush High School is a means of making up for the constant criticism that was aimed at him.  I hope he accepts it in the spirit it was made," added Strictly.

The one dissenting vote came from Board Vice Chair Mark Kenney who thought that Bush/Cheney High School "would make a bolder statement" and would recognize more clearly the unique co-presidency of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney.

 

Gary D. Gaddy is married to a fourth-career banjo picker from the foothills of the Brushy Mountain region who translates Roy for him, when necessary.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 26, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:54 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:03 AM EST
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Thursday, February 19, 2009
Extending love to those in pain

AS A CHRISTIAN IT IS MY DUTY to aid the afflicted, to comfort those suffering hardship and to extend loving care to those in pain.  So, in this season of need, I am thinking, this would have to be Duke fans.

My Tar Heels and I have not been doing a good job of that lately.

And I have an awkward habit of making friends with those who bleed dark blue -- which this past week would be pretty close to literally true for every fan of the Blue Devils.

Sandra and I were in the Dean Dome to see the Lady Tar Heels play their Blue Devil counterparts a week ago Monday.  We were sitting right behind the Duke bench and right in front of the Duke visitors section.  A couple of days after the game, I played doubles with my regular Thursday night tennis group, the Choir Boys (so called because in the original foursome one of the players could only play on Thursday night since that was his wife's night for choir practice).

One of the Choir Boy regulars, "Doc" I’ll call him, who is a Duke graduate, Duke employee and Duke men's and women's basketball season ticket holder, asked me if those were our regular seats.  Unbeknownst to us, he and his wife had been sitting behind us.

The next while consisted of me rummaging through my mind, asking what I might have said or done they might have observed. "I wonder if they heard me yell, 'Abby, shoot, you're open!'," I mused.  (Duke guard Abby Waner was about one for ten at the time, and has an odd habit of shooting from farther and farther away from the basket the worse she is shooting.)

I am also pretty sure that they couldn't hear me when I asked some Tar Heel fans sitting behind us -- after the Devils had lost their halftime lead and their fans their volume: "What happened to the Devil fans?  Did they all suddenly get laryngitis?"  (After trailing by two at the half, the Lady Heels won by 15 points.)

Then, a week ago Wednesday, I made a tactical error, going to a 7:10 pm movie in downtown Durham on the night of The Game.  And in doing so, I ended up observing the Gentlemen Tar Heels against the Devils from Durham in the second worst place on planet earth (including Tierra del Fuego), Satisfaction, the bar in Brightleaf Square where Coach K holds his weekly radio show. 

I tried to be inconspicuous, but in that den of dark and dismal blue, my movie-viewing friend Terry and I were pretty obvious as we wore a more pleasant shade of blue.  So I made small talk with an apparent Duke fan next to us; and I tried not to hop up and down too much when the Heels scored.

I told my erstwhile Duke fan friend at halftime, I thought that the Heels would lead before the game was over, even though they trailed by eight.  I also found out why he seemed so civil:  he was a Navy guy on a fellowship at Duke, not really of the Devil, just visiting.

Before the game was over the few, maybe 10, Carolina blue fans ended up in a little cluster.  Among us was a twenty-something woman wearing a replica of Tyler Hansbrough's jersey.  I later told her, "I soon as I saw you, I knew I was in love."  (Don't worry.  My wife understands this is purely play-tonic.)

After the game was over with the Tar Heels scoring 101 points and winning by 14, the light blue crew sang "Hark the Sound," led by a Carolina-grad son who was there with his life-long-Duke-fan father.

At that point a Duke clad twenty-something woman came over to tell us all how she had watched Duke-Carolina games in Chapel Hill and had "never acted like you are doing" -- then added she was “embarrassed by our behavior.”

As best I could observe, "our behavior" consisted of cheering (and singing) for our team.  At the time I said nothing to her, remembering the words of the Air Force chaplain who was the guest speaker at our church a few weeks ago:  "Don't criticize someone else until you've walked a mile in their shoes -- because then you'll be a mile away -- and they won't have any shoes."

Now safely back in Orange County, I realize that if she had the chance to lecture the Cameron Crazies on fan decorum -- or spelling – she surely would have pointed out to them that "D-U-I" is not a really the best serenade for M-V-P candidate Ty Lawson -- unless they really want him to demonstrate his driving skills.

Gary D. Gaddy attended grad school at UNC from just before Al Wood's senior season until just after Michael Jordan's sophomore year.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 19, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:24 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:02 AM EST
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Thursday, February 12, 2009
A pop quiz for my quizzical readers

PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS ASKING ME, "What do you do?"  Well, people, I'm not paid to take your pop quizzes.

One good thing about being a Local Voices writer is that I can give quizzes, and if you, dear readers, wish to remain my dear readers, have to take them.  (You must admit, I am more decent about this than the Educational Testing Service, at least I don't charge you to be tested.  In that way, my quizzes are less like the Graduate Record Exam and more like the STD tests at the Free Clinic.)

First, let me note that people, in general, say that they hate quizzes, tests and exams and such.  For example, don't ever expect your teenager to get up one Saturday morning saying, "Oh boy!  Today I get to take the College Boards!"  If she does, please call 911 immediately.  She has probably overdosed on something.

And if you are a teacher don’t expect unexpected testing will be without consequences – to you.  In my experience, nothing will lower your students' teacher-evaluation scores of you faster (including being a really, really bad teacher) than giving regular "pop quizzes."

But, as previously noted, you don't get to evaluate me.  So, here's my pop quiz for you.  Take it or leave it.

1)  Speaking of pop (that is, music of general appeal to teenagers; a bland watered-down version of rock 'n' roll with more rhythm and harmony and an greater emphasis on romantic love), since Alanis Morissette’s hit song "Ironic," which is supposedly about how ironic life is, gives examples of irony which aren't ironic, would that make the song:  a) Ironic b) Un-ironic c) Moronic d) One of my favorite songs.

2)  Define "pop out," as in the statement, "When the shirtless UNC student saw Ashley Judd standing in the Smith Center bleachers next to him, his eyes popped out."  a) Protrude b) Bulge out c) Bug out d) Come out e) All of the above.

3)  Where you grew up, what did they call sweetened, carbonated drinks?  a) Soda b) Coke c) Pop d) Dope. Your answer tells where you are from. If you said Coke, the South; if you said pop, the Northcentral; and if you said soda, the Northeast, or California or, oddly, the greater St. Louis area.  If you said you called them dopes, you are from a southern town such as Danville, Virginia, where dope wagons traveled through the textile mill bringing snacks and drinks -- pronounced "dranks."  (Click on the map at popvssoda.com for a more spatial view of the pop versus soda world.)

4)  What is the problem with the following logical proposition?  "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"  a) The premise b) The inference  c) The conclusion  d) The absence of a fixed time frame e) The woodchuck.

According to New York State wildlife expert Richard Thomas (in an article in the prestigious Wall Street Journal), a woodchuck, also known as a groundhog, could chuck around 35 cubic feet of dirt in the course of digging a burrow.  Thomas reasoned that if a woodchuck could chuck wood, that is, toss it, he would chuck an amount equal to 700 pounds – in the period in which a woodchuck can dig a burrow.

5)  While we're on the topic of groundhogs, in the bluegrass classic "Groundhog," groundhogs are also referred to as whistle-pigs.  Why?

Answer -- according to the Animal Diversity Web, an online database of animal natural history, distribution, classification, and conservation biology at the University of Michigan -- "woodchucks (Marmota monax) are very vocal mammals, hence the name whistle-pig.  When alarmed, a woodchuck gives a loud, shrill whistle.  Teeth grinding and chattering are common when woodchucks are cornered.  Woodchucks have also been heard to bark, squeal, and whistle when fighting with other woodchucks."

6)  Next a sub-quiz quiz, The Official Roy Williams Sports Quiz, in which you mix and match occupations with the appropriate sportsman's name.  Occupation: I) Safety for the Dallas Cowboys II) Wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys III) Men's basketball coach for UNC.  Name: a) Roy Williams  b) Roy Williams c) Roy Williams.  (Answer key, I-c, II-b, III-a)

7)  Finally, if this is a rhetorical question, do you have to answer it?  a) Yes, but then it wouldn't be rhetorical so I guess the answer would be:  b) No, but then it would be rhetorical so I guess the answer is a) Yes, I guess.

Gary D. Gaddy actually got very good scores, by some methods of accounting, on his SATs and GREs, and passed this pop quiz with flying colors.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 12, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 5:21 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 12, 2009 5:29 PM EST
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Thursday, February 5, 2009
I saw (or heard) it on the sidelines

MY WIFE AND I  have really nice season tickets for the UNC women's home games.  So good, sometimes we can't see the game.  Like when the opposing coach stands up to yell at his team.  Yep, seats that good.

Unfortunately, that means at times I can hear what he (or she, but mostly he) is saying.

For example, University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma yelling something at one of his players that I will not repeat, so loud that sitting behind him, 30 feet away, I could hear it clearly over the crowd noise -- and I'm about half-deaf.

My thought is that if there is anything a player can do which will make the coach scream that he wants God to do that, that coach really doesn't deserve to have players, much less ones as good as he gets.  His team was handily ahead at the time.  I can't even imagine what he says when they are behind.

But now I remember.  When UNC’s women played UConn in Storrs in 2005 and UNC was blowing them out of their own gym (77-54 final) -- after Auriemma literally quit coaching, something I have never seen any coach at any level do -- he was still yelling: "I don't even know why I recruited you." 

Why would anyone accept a scholarship offer from this jerk?  And why would anyone be fan of a team coached by him?  Lots of wins, I guess.  Personally, I'll take Dean, Roy or Sylvia -- any day.

Butterball at the RBC

Not that I would tell a land-grant university to look a gift horse in the mouth (that would be under the purview of the policy makers in their veterinary school), nor should I, I suppose, tell NC State to refuse any agriculturally related cooperative partner, but Butterball doesn't really seem like the best corporate sponsor for a Wolfpack team that leads the conference in turnover margin.

It's a double double

The Paris twins, now there's a double double.  The daughters of William "Bubba" Paris, who played offensive tackle in the NFL, both play basketball for the Oklahoma Sooners.  As you might expect, they's big girls.  Ashley is good; her sister Courtney is great -- with one of the most unapproachable records in all of sport.

Courtney just had her streak of double doubles, that is, consecutive games with ten or more points and ten or more rebounds, end.

Before I tell you her record, let me give you an idea of how incredible it is.  UNC's National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough had 35 career double doubles in his first three years at UNC.  Not in a row.  Total. 

The second place streak among women is held by Anne Donovan.  She has 19.  UNC's remarkable Billy "The Kangaroo Kid" Cunningham has the longest streak among the men with 40.   Courtney Paris' streak was halted at, you count 'em, 112.

They're not booing

Don’t be confused it your team does something good and the fans start booing.  Listen closely:  They're not booing they're saying . . . . Well, it depends on which game you're watching.

For example, this season, while watching the Tar Heels, they weren’t booing, they were saying Bruce, for hard-hitting outside linebacker Bruce Carter.  In seasons past, they weren’t booing they were saying Spoon for Brandon Spoon the hard-hitting middle linebacker from Burlington.

If it’s the Panthers, it’s Hoov for longtime fan-favorite hard-hitting fullback Brad Hoover, or Moose (or perhaps Muhs) for the once and current, and hard-hitting, wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad.

Top 10 Reasons

I said I wasn’t going to the 2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament.  My brother-in-law asked simply, "Why not?"  I gave him these 10 reasons:

10.  Costs money -- way too much money.
9.   Don't care at all for Hotlanta.
8.   Far too far to be a nice drive.
7.   A bit too close to fly in an airliner and really save any time.
6.   Don't even want to imagine the conversation that starts,
    "Well, we could fly down with your brother Lee in his little airplane."
5.   Too many games that I couldn't care less about.
4.   Might end up a hotel with Duke or State fans.
3.   Would like to conserve my energy for the NCAA tournament.
2.   Ol’ Roy don't care if we win it; I don't care neither.

And the Number One reason I don't want to go to the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament:
    I never want to watch a basketball game in a football stadium ever again -- ever.

 

Gary D. Gaddy plans on attending the 2009 ACC Women's Tournament because it's a pleasant drive to a nice basketball arena with good seats for cheap prices, and Sylvia cares, the team cares and so does columnist Gaddy.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 5, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:56 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 11:19 PM EDT
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Thursday, January 29, 2009
The long and the shorts of it

ONCE, WHILE WATCHING A UNC MEN'S BASKETBALL GAME circa 1996, I wondered if we would ever see basketball "shorts" any larger than those worn by Serge Zwikker who stood 7-foot-3-inches tall.  Since his "shorts" were the size of a small planet, I figured about then that they would soon start shrinking.

(By the way, according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Serge currently plays in the Apex, N.C. Parks and Recreation Adult Men's Basketball League and participates in triathlons in North Carolina in the "Clydesdale division.")

But I was watching a game the other night and realized, the shorts, well, they haven't receded yet.

I can understand.  Not shorts the size of circus tents.  Not oversized culottes for men.  I still don't understand those.  But non-short shorts do seem like a reasonable proposition.

All you have to do is go to ESPN Classic and watch the replay of the 1983 national championship game (which is pretty much on continually -- no doubt to gall NC State fans with glories passed on by)  and you will agree.  Those shorts were too short.  It's embarrassing to look at them much less to wear them.  Nothing could be any more frightening.  OK, there may be one exception.

 

A brief history of the unitard

From The Washington Post, January 7th, 1989:  "When North Carolina State's Wolfpack steps onto the basketball court today in Raleigh, N.C., in a nationally televised game against Temple, fashion history will be made.  Coach Jim Valvano's team will be attired in basketball's first skin-tight, one-piece uniforms. The unitard debut, however, may not be as thrilling as it sounds. Those sexy suits will be covered by little shorts."

"To be frank," Valvano said, "it seemed a bit too revealing."  (Google Google Images “unitard” if you don’t believe Coach V.)

From GoPack.com, a listing under "NC State Men's Basketball History of Success" (from which I conclude that GoPack thinks the unitard was a success):  January 7, 1989 -- Always looking forward, Wolfpack head coach Jim Valvano unveils the uniform trend of the future, the unitard.

The unitard is a one-piece, skin-tight uniform, but the Wolfpack players opt to wear the new uniform under the traditional basketball shorts.

GoPack says the team dropped “the new look” after just two games.  My memory is that they dropped them at halftime of one game.

Anyway, my pet theory is that Woollen Gym, or at least their famous shorts, are to blame for short short lengthening.  It is my take that Michael Jordan got this whole shorts growing unshort phenomenon going.  But why?  Perhaps so he could wear his Woollen Gym gym shorts underneath them.  Why he did that, God only knows, so you'll have to ask Michael.

Until you get that opportunity, this exchange, from the critically acclaimed Looney Tunes cartoon Space Jam, however, may help.

[Michael Jordan needs someone to get his basketball gear]

Michael Jordan: Don't forget my North Carolina shorts.

Daffy Duck: Your shorts?  From college?

Michael Jordan: I wore them under my Chicago Bulls uniform every game.

Looney Tunes characters in unison: Eeewwww!

Michael Jordan: I washed them after every game!

Looney Tunes characters in unison: Yeah, okay.

Michael Jordan: I did!

And, by all reports, he did.  And from there shorts inflation is simple: everyone wanted to "Be like Mike."  Although they could not all steal handsome gray gym shorts from Woollen to wear under their regulation shorts, they could wear shorts so large it looked like they had.

 

Oh-for-Eternity Streak continues

It's my favorite men's basketball game of the year -- in the years in which it is played.  (Don’t get me started!)  The game is Clemson in Chapel Hill.  The Oh-for-Eternity streak.  They haven't won here ever.  Ever.

Anytime a Tar Heel fan starts to say something derogatory about Matt Dougherty, I tell them two things.  He recruited the players that won the 2005 National Championship -- and kept the Oh-for-Eternity streak going.

But on Wednesday night, I thought, briefly, this could be the year. The signs were ominous as number one Wake Forest lost at home to an unranked team, and the worst team in America, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, ended its nation-leading 51-game losing streak.

I'm not liking the night's vibe.  I thought, "Eternity could be coming to an end."  But not to worry, it didn’t.

In a local newspaper, which shall remain nameless, a sportswriter, who shall remain nameless, speaking of the streak, said it was "31 losses in Carmichael and 23 and counting in the Smith Center."  Well, 31 and 23 do add up to 54 but . . . .  The first time the two met in Chapel Hill was in the old "Tin Can" in 1926.   Carolina played its home games from 1938 until 1965 in Woollen Gymnasium.


Gary D. Gaddy once almost played in a pickup game against Michael Jordan in Woollen Gym, the home court of UNC's 1957 national championship team.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 29, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:36 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011 4:43 PM EST
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Thursday, January 22, 2009
Dean Smith to coach Obama's team

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Hall of Fame basketball coach Dean E. Smith announced today that he is coming out of his decade-long retirement to coach basketball again.  Smith will be taking the top job with the White House basketball team. 

The White House team, the 1600s, which plays in the top level of the Governmental Operations Federal Intra-Governmental Intramural and Recreational League, features President Barack Obama at shooting guard.

Smith, who will turn 77 next month and was the University of North Carolina head men's basketball coach for 36 years before his retirement in 1997, said that he was looking forward to coaching Obama.

"He's a cagey player," said Democrat House Whip Jim Clyburn of Obama.  "You watch him; all he does is drive to his left.  Then when you think you have him figured out, he's spinning to his right.  Pretty clever.  The better you scout the dude, the less likely you are to be able to defend him," said Clyburn.

Many observers have noted that Obama does seem more natural going to his left.  "Well, duh," said former Republican House Leader Newt Gingrich.  "He's a lefty.  Which way would you expect him to go?"

Smith said that he sees All-American potential in Obama.  Noting that although their bodies and their styles of play were quite distinct, Smith said he could see parallels between Obama and former Tar Heel great James Worthy -- quickness for one.

"Sometimes James would quickly fake one way, then quickly fake the other, then come back to where he started -- and get fouled because the defender was still on the first fake.  Obama does that a lot.  It's effective -- if you can make the free throws, which James didn't always do," said Smith.

Observers say Smith may have been enticed back into coaching by Obama’s larger vision for basketball in the public sphere.  They say Obama’s plan for the White House team is more than simply using it as an escape from the pressures of being a world leader and getting a little aerobic exercise.  Obama is said to be planning to begin by using basketball contests as substitutes for legislative battles.

"For a man who went to work between the swearing-in ceremony and sitting on the inaugural parade reviewing stand, this is the perfect way to re-capture the lost work time that would have accrued during his exercise period," said House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Obama's scheme is to use basketball contests as "championships" of the kind described in the Old Testament story of David and Goliath, where the teams are champions for their side and the basketball games will stand as surrogates for legislative contests.

As Goliath is quoted as saying, as he challenged the Israelites to send their best man forward to a mano-a-mano contest, "If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall you be our servants, and serve us."

This “champions” plan may explain why Obama insiders appear to have been angling to get former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, a basketball All-American who stands six foot five inches tall, appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's unexpired term as New York's junior senator.  Caroline Kennedy is 5' 6'' -- in heels.

The White House 1600s could use some help.  Currently 1-2 in non-conference, pre-season play, the 1600s lost in blow-outs to Rod Blagojevich's Illinois Sleaze team and, in their season opener, to a New Mexico team, the Ex-Govs, led by Bill Richardson.  (Insiders say the disparity in foul calls in both games have led some to suspect that the game officials were paid off.) 

The White House's only win came over the Senate Republicans, when the 1600s shut down the Old Right's offense altogether during their match up in the quadrennial Confirmation Classic.

When Smith, the author of the classic basketball text, Multiple Offense and Defense, was asked if he planned a "bi-partisan" approach during his new stint as coach, his response was quick, and accompanied by one of his classic referee-melting scowls.  "Not as long as Krzyzewski is a registered Republican," said Smith.

Asked if he thought this model for resolving conflicts could be broadened to include international affairs, for example our disputes with the Russian Federation, Smith said that would only be possible “if we get different officials, scorers and timekeepers than we had in the Munich Olympics in 1972.”

Smith's announcement ended the rumors that had been swirling about that University of North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour was set to replace current UNC head coach Roy Williams "with a veteran coach."

 

Gary D. Gaddy, who, at age 10 or so, was injured before his first Optimist League game and used it as an excuse to drop off the team, and briefly considered going out for his high school's JV team, remembers going to his left only once in more than twenty-five years of pickup games in UNC's Woollen Gym.  It worked.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 22, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:39 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 7:11 AM EST
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Thursday, January 15, 2009
Brightest guy in the room

HERB SENDEK IS MAKING ME LOOK GOOD.  I said, when he was run out of town on a rail three years ago by the ever-thoughtful Wolfpack Nation, "In four or five years, Arizona State's basketball team will be better than NC State's."  (At the time ASU was one of the poorer major conference basketball programs in America.)

Well, according to the pollsters, whose job it is to figure these things out, ol' Herb (who is actually a young 45) has done it already.  In the latest AP poll, Sendek's Arizona State University Sun Devils rank 16 and in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll they rank 15.  NC State received no votes.

In 2006 when Sendek left NC State for Arizona State he was well known as a coach who had run an impeccable program, whose players graduated, whose teams had averaged 21 victories and had posted five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in his last five seasons.

So, why did Sendek leave?  Because many State fans wanted him gone.  Why were State fans so upset with him?  Mainly because he couldn't beat Mike Krzyzewski or Roy Williams.  Well, guess what?  Neither can anyone else.  Heck, they can't even beat each other.  Williams and Krzyzewski are five and five versus each other since Williams came to UNC.  These are two of the top ten coaches in the history of the game, the whole history of the game -- including Naismith.

What did State fans want Sendek to be?  Someone other than who he was -- most likely Jim Valvano.  In many respects, Herb Sendek was the anti-Valvano -- and that's not all bad.

We, including me, have many fond memories of Jim Valvano.  He was clever, engaging and one of the best off-the-cuff comedians you would ever want to meet.  I felt about him like one of my fellow UNC grad students, J. Walker Smith, who told me once the reason he stayed in school at UNC for his master's and Ph.D. was for Tar Heel basketball tickets.  He said, "Know what I hate most about Valvano?  He's so hard to hate!"

You had to like the guy -- for his post-game press conferences if nothing else.

Valvano also fought a courageous and inspiring battle against cancer – and left pretty much all of college basketball fighting it with him.

But Valvano could overreach and did.  He didn't run an impeccable program, bringing in, among others, the likes of Chris Washburn who was an embarrassment to his university.  And his coaching record, while good, wasn't on par with Williams or Krzyzewski either.

True, Sendek can come across like a sedated accountant.  In fact, if he were any more boring in his presentation, he would be Dean Smith.  Yep, that boring.  But, it pays to pay attention sometimes.  Like ol' Dean, Herb had very interesting and clear insights on the game of basketball -- but no Italian in his manner to spice up the presentation of them.

Meanwhile, Sendek was one of the smartest guys ever to coach a game involving a bouncing ball.  My evidence?  Sendek graduated summa cum laude, with a 3.95 GPA, from Carnegie-Mellon University. 

And Sendek is not just book smart -- though he is that.  One impartial witness “put it this way." Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said of Sendek: "I've been in league meetings with Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski, and Herb was the brightest guy in the room."

And now he's lighting up the Arizona desert.

 

****
Hatchell shoots for 300th loss

CHAPEL HILL -- In the wake of the celebrations of her 800th victory as a women's basketball coach, Sylvia Hatchell has moved on to a new goal: 300 losses.  It may not be as easy as it sounds.

In the last four-and-one-half seasons, Hatchell's Lady Tar Heels have gone 130-13.  "The way I figure it, a loss must be ten times as tough to get as a win," basketball commentator Caroline Pack notes.  If Hatchell's teams continue winning at the rate they have over the last several seasons, it will take her nine years to get from 274 to the 300 loss milestone.  

What can Hatchell do to speed the time it takes to get to the magic 300?  TV analyst Debra D'Antonello observes that "the last thing that Hatchell tried, which any coach could tell you would cost you games, which is to stop caring about turnovers, has blown up in her face."

Said D'Antonello, "In the last few years Hatchell's teams have had more turnovers than Carter has little pills -- and they are winning even more."

The experts speculated on why Hatchell wasn't setting a more easily attainable goal, like say 275 or 280 losses. "I don't know really.  It just seems like big round numbers make better targets," Pack said.


Gary D. Gaddy has one win and no losses on his coaching resume

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 15, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:30 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 8:17 AM EST
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Thursday, January 8, 2009
Local writer treated for imperfection

 

Due to an unexpected hospitalization, the Local Voices column usually appearing in this space will not appear this week.  The Chapel Hill Herald editorial staff hopes that its readers be will understanding during this difficult time and bear with us until the column returns.  The following news story may help clarify the nature of Dr. Gaddy's absence, the prognosis for his recovery and the timing of his return.

GARY D. GADDY, the Chapel Hill Herald's leading Thursday columnist, has been hospitalized since Sunday evening in the University of North Carolina Hospitals' Infectious Disease Treatment Unit.  Gaddy, 58, has what one UNC doctor called one of the worst cases of imperfection infection that he has seen in 21 years of medical practice.

The imperfection disorder, which is caused by the virus T.H. imperfectiviridae, is a seasonal illness which breeds among crowds in large indoor spectating venues.  It is usually not fatal.

Dr. Bernard T. Fingleton, a noted psychopathologist, who spent two decades at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, said he thought that Gaddy's distress may have been enhanced by the fact that he deliberately delayed his direct exposure to the imperfection virus while dining out with friends.  Imperfectiviridae infections, it seems, are a cross between physical retroviruses and computer viruses and thus can be transmitted electronically.

"It's not, however, a virtual disease.  It's real.  Just ask anybody who has suffered a bout of it.  It sucks the life right out of you," said Fingleton.

Fingleton said the last time he saw anything like this outbreak was April 1, 1991.  That epidemic was at the time termed the Runless Rebless Syndrome.  "It seemed like a bad April Fool's joke -- but it wasn't," said Fingleton.

"Until full recovery is achieved, it is hard to see how anyone could make a single chuckle-worthy joke much less produce a humor-filled column," said Neil Offen, past editor of the Chapel Hill Herald.

Still, this is not one of those "it only hurts when I laugh kind of syndromes," according to Dr. Fingleton.  "You can't laugh after a serious imperfection infection, certainly not anyone who had been previously exposed to the precursor perfection expectation virus (T.H.-b perfectusexpectusviridae)."

The expectation virus, say researchers, lowers the body's natural immune system defenses so that it becomes more susceptible to imperfectiviridae infections.

Around 7:30 pm on Sunday the hospital's emergency room was flooded with walk-in patients with imperfectus.  "Many of individuals said that they were sitting on top of the world when, in a period of two hours, the world collapsed out from under them," reported Jan Bonnet, a receptionist at UNC Hospitals.

"The refrain we heard was almost universal," said Liza Botts, an emergency-room nurse.  "They'd say, 'Just a couple of hours ago, I felt perfect.  Now this,'" she said.  Botts described treating cheerleaders with their hair-ribbons untied, other students with smeared facepaint, several older males with their shirt-tails hanging out.  "They were a mess," Botts said.

Although Gaddy was by far the most notable individual person to fall to the disorder, he was hardly the only one.

One other newsworthy individual who was treated, but cannot be mentioned by name due to the federal health privacy regulations, was described variously by sources as a local attorney, a former United States senator, a former candidate for vice president and a former candidate for president.

A source familiar with this individual said that in her years of acquaintance she had never seen him in a state like this before.  "I swear his hair was mussed," said Diane Cling, a secretary at the UNC School of Law.

The outbreak seems to be localized as Duke University Medical Center in Durham has not reported any significant up tick in imperfection infection cases.  Duke physician Ganji Gupta said he has seen a few but "many more cases of free-form euphoria than imperfectus."

After talking to colleagues at UNC, Gupta said, "I don't think we have seen anything like what they are seeing there at UNC here at Duke since December 2000."

Dr. Graeme Greene, an epidemiologist affiliated with Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, says that they will be on the watch for an outbreak in Winston-Salem next weekend.

Gaddy's wife, who received only a half dose of exposure to the imperfection infection, was treated and released after several hours.  Doctors said that she will likely not suffer long-term consequence of significance -- as long as she plays her generally cheery banjo only in minor keys until late March or early April when the possibility of re-infection within this annual cycle disappears.

A family spokesperson said that Dr. Gaddy is requesting that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the RoyHasToGo.com website and that in lieu of cards or other condolences individuals should post appropriate comments on the website's Bash-Roy Blog.

 
Gary D. Gaddy hopes to return to writing his regular humor column sometime during 2009.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 8, 2009.

Copyright 2009 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:29 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 8:37 PM EST
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Thursday, January 1, 2009
Irony of ironies: An ironic column

AS A WRITER  I USE WORDS ALL THE TIME.  In fact, even when I wasn't a writer I used words all the time.  As a professor of journalism I was paid to correct the errors in the words of students who aspired to become journalists whose profession's role is, at least in part, to correct the errors of others.  I’m still kind of in that habit.

So, my recommendation is that most people stop using the words irony, ironic and ironically.  At the least, they should until they learn how to use them un-ironically.

I say this because the word irony and its derivatives are probably used incorrectly more often than they are used correctly.  This even though it is an erudite term that you would think would only be used by the erudite.

And I’m not the only one who sees irony being contorted on a daily basis.  The Urban Dictionary says that irony is "one of the most misused words in the entire English language."   Irony is a subtle concept.  Obviously most people don't get it.

What is irony?  According to Wikipedia,  “irony (from the ancient Greek eironeía, meaning hypocrisy, deception, or feigned ignorance) is a literary or rhetorical device, in which there is an incongruity or discordance between what one says or does, and what one means or what is generally understood.  Irony is a mode of expression that calls attention to discrepancy between two levels of knowledge.  In fiction, it is a demonstration of the distance between the character's knowledge and that of the audience."

Most current uses of the term irony merely reference odd coincidence or something simply unfortunate.

For example, nothing described in Alanis Morissette’s hit song "Ironic," which is supposed about how ironic life is, is in fact ironic.  Isn't that ironic?  "A black fly in your Chardonnay" isn't ironic.  As an example of irony, it is not ironic; it's moronic.

Now here's some more irony.  Irony Central (ironycentral.com) says "Any humor inadvertently contained in these pages is brought to you by the concept of irony. To us crazy kids, saying the opposite of what we really mean or think, i.e. irony, is funny."

As one observer noted of this passage, "Ironically, that site’s editor apparently believes you can achieve irony by merely stating the opposite of what you believe -- even if you tell the reader that you are doing exactly that."

Further, from the www.answerbag.com, voted as the "best example" of irony was that the first video ever played on MTV was "Video killed the radio star."  This is could be, maybe, mildly ironic.  It is really mostly an un-coincidence since an MTV programmer made a deliberate decision to run that "ironic" video.

(Now if DJ Casey Kasem was killed in the filming of the "Video killed the radio star" video, now that would be ironic.)

Another real-life example of actual irony, cited on www.answerbag.com, is this: "Online pop-ups offering to help you get rid of online pop-ups."

Journalist Jon Winokur gave this exhibit of irony in an article that ran in the Los Angeles Times Sunday, February 11, 2007, entitled "You call that irony?"  A 2001 Father’s Day tribute on ESPN featured “How Sweet It Is (to be Loved by You),” performed by Marvin Gaye, who was shot and killed by his father in 1984.

I suggest it would be ironic if the Center for Handicap Accessibility had no wheelchair ramp.

Another example of situational irony, from the website examples-help.org.uk, comes from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

But first, a Coleridge quiz:  Finish this familiar quatrain: "Water, water, every where, / And all the boards did shrink; / Water, water, every where . . ."  Think for a moment before you read further.

If you said, "And not a drop to drink," you, like 95% of the people to whom I have given this quiz, are wrong.  (Only two people got it right, my mother, who is one of the smartest people I ever met, and someone else, whose name at this moment I cannot remember.)

Anyway, the actual line from Coleridge is this: "Nor any drop to drink."

But, back to the task at hand, the situation of Coleridge's mariners is ironic because they are surrounded by water -- but dying of thirst.

But irony isn't dead.  In the New York Times Andy Newman in the article "Irony Is Dead. Again. Yeah, Right" notes that word irony has been steadily disappearing from New York daily newspapers for a decade. Between 2000 to 2008, appearances of the word “irony” and its cognates tumbled 56 percent.

But he notes: "The analysis may have its flaws.  For one thing, the search algorithm also, ironically, picked up phrases like 'end of irony.'  More significantly, no self-respecting ironist actually uses the word “ironic,” except, perhaps, ironically."


Ironist Gary D. Gaddy, ironically, writes ironic columns every once in a while.

A version of this article appeared in the January 1, 2009 editon of the Chapel Hill Herald.

Copyright  2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:00 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, June 6, 2009 6:09 PM EDT
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Friday, December 26, 2008
Learning the Goldsmith Variations

FRED GOLDSMITH, you may or may not remember, was the head football coach at Duke from 1994 to 1998.   We commemorate this month the 10th anniversary of his firing. 

Goldsmith was the 1994 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year for NCAA Division I football -- for coaching football at Duke!  At a Duke home basketball game in 1994, Coach Goldsmith was introduced to a roaring ovation that was far louder than anything the Duke men's team or its coach received that day.

But that ray of football light quickly dipped below the dimming horizon, as in just a few short years, the once-heralded Goldsmith was dispatched to outer darkness -- out of football altogether until 2001 when he became the head coach at Franklin High School in Macon County, North Carolina.

Duke football has not always been synonymous with the term loser.  During the 21 seasons from 1945 to 1965, Duke had a winning record 17 times, went to 13 bowls (and that was back when bowl bids weren't handed out like popcorn to every team with a non-losing record).

But Duke has had but one winning season since 1990 -- the 1994 campaign under Goldsmith.  It was part of his undoing.

What lessons can be learned from the Fred Goldsmith years?   The most important Goldsmith Variation is this:  If you are a coach, don't over-accomplish early.  If you're going to win -- don't do it right off the bat.  The general principle is to not get ahead early "in the game" in any sport at all unless you're going to win from then on out.

Consider this: An early big lead in a game which turns into a loss is a termed "a choke."  Conversely, with the same final score, an early big deficit followed by a very good second half is a "great comeback" that fell just short.

Likewise, a big early lead in the conference schedule followed by poor results is "a collapse."  Conversely, with the same final overall conference record, a poor early result followed by success later in the year is "saving a season."  (See the NC State football team in 2008.)

Finally, great early success in a coaching career at a particular school, followed by mediocre results, is a "failure to move the program forward."  Conversely, with the same final overall coaching record, with early mediocrity followed by success later is "building a program." (Compare Fred Goldsmith who started 8-1 to Mack Brown who started 2-20.)

Among the Goldsmith Variations is the more general Principle of Recency.  That is: “What have you done for me lately?” The only game result that really counts is the latest one.  If you don't believe that, consider a coach who wins almost every game in whatever sport, whatever level, makes it to the championship game year after year but loses it.  He is not a winner.  He's a goat, who "can't win the big one."  He's a loser.

If you don't believe that fans could be so narrow minded and short sighted, consider the Minnesota Vikings who went to three Super Bowls in four years, or the Buffalo Bills who went to four in a row, but lost them all.  They are considered not "almost great" teams.  They were not called very good teams who happened to meet better.  They are called losers.

So, have our local coaches learned from Goldsmith?  Yes, but some better than others. 

Jim Grobe of Wake got off to a poor start, that is a good one, by going 6-5 and 7-6, but before it was too late lowered expectations by going 4-7, 4-7 and 5-7.  Then Wake went 11-3, 9-4 and then 8-5, which is good except now he's going downhill.

Butch Davis at UNC went 4-8 in his first season, then went 8-4, which is good except that this year he started 6-1, which is good -- which is bad -- since he after that he went 3-3.

NCSU's Tom O'Brien this season went 6-6 after going 5-7 last, which is mediocre but since he started 2-6 then went 4-0 to end this season, the fans are really happy.

Duke's David Cutcliffe didn't get the kinks worked out quickly starting 3-1 (in danger of committing a basic Goldsmith) but then righted himself going 1-7 for the rest of the season..  He was thinking ahead.  Going 4-8 this season, he can go 6-6 next year and look like a world beater.

So how have our "Big Four" coaches done overall?   Let us use the only meaningful measuring stick that there is in major college athletics: dollars.  In the last two years three of the four have received raises and/or contract extensions -- and the fourth, Tom O'Brien, will be receiving one shortly, I will wager.

But the real question is this, "Did Fred Goldsmith learn?"  You decide.  Hired in 2006 as head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne College, his Bears finished 2-9, but as school website says "the future bodes well."

Gary D. Gaddy would like wish Christmas blessings on all of his readers, even those who root for the wrong teams.

A version of this article appeared in the December 25, 2008 editon of the Chapel Hill Herald.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 5:05 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:31 AM EST
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Thursday, December 18, 2008
Toilet paper and other crises

AS A ONE-TIME SCHOLAR of mass communication, I say that the daily papers (and other news media) may be part of our current economic crisis.  Their own economic troubles aside -- and daily newspapers are in a major crisis themselves right now only partly related to general economic conditions -- the mass media are part of our economic woes.

As the news media continually beat the drum of a potentially deepening recession, they not only inform us of the current state of things, they also help shape some of those very same conditions they cover.

I'll start with the paradox of thrift, an economic proposition made by economist John Maynard Keynes.  The paradox of thrift says that if consumers start saving more money during times of recession, then aggregate demand will fall (and with it the economy as a whole which will in turn lower total savings by the population, thus the paradox).

So, says Keynes, saving in lean times will make things worse for the economy as a whole.  Saving, which is good for the economy in good times, thus becomes detrimental hoarding in bad times.

Further, falling consumer confidence is not only an indicator of an incipient recession; it is one of the causes.  When consumers are worried about a coming gloomy economy, they act as if it has already come and in doing so make it happen.

So, what do the media have to do with a recession?  In emphasizing, focusing on and even exaggerating the economic threats ahead, the media are part of the problem, battering the consumer confidence that can be a bulwark against a downward spiral.

Don't think the media have such power?  A simple, silly example will show, in one very limited arena, how one particular media figure with a few words caused a miniature economic crisis, one you may or may not remember:  The great toilet paper shortage of 1973.

This little economic footnote started entirely in the media.  On December 19, 1973, Johnny Carson told a joke for that evening's show about a new commodity shortage about to hit America.  (That being the era of nationwide gasoline shortages, precipitated by the OPEC oil embargo, the subject was topical.)

Carson made this not-very-funny joke in his monologue: "You know what's disappearing from the supermarket shelves?  Toilet paper.  There's an acute shortage of toilet paper in the United States."  What happened next was the real joke.

While Carson’s bit was intended to be humorous -- there was no toilet paper shortage -- some of the estimated 20 million people watching Carson’s show that night took him seriously, ran out the next morning and bought as much toilet paper as they could carry.  By noon that day, stores all across America were out of stock.  Some even tried to ration this now precious commodity but to no avail.

A few nights later, Carson apologized to his viewers, explaining that there was no shortage.  But, by this time, he was well-intentioned but wrong as his comedy had morphed into prophecy.  As other consumers had noticed the empty toilet paper shelves, they panicked and bought even more.  It took three weeks before the shelves were fully stocked again -- and our long national nightmare was over.

Well, a toilet paper shortage is a joke -- but a recession made worse isn’t.

A little more personal example comes from the late 1970s, when my grandmother was in her eighties.  She lived in fear of violent crime.  She kept a starter pistol, which shoots blanks, in her nightstand next to her bed.  Why?  Because her TV news came from Charlotte, which at the time was reputed to have a higher per capita murder rate than the then very violent New York City.  What that had to do with safety in the little town of Maiden an hour's drive away, I think, was very little.  But her fear was real -- and as dangerous as her pistol was phony.

Now I can’t say that media’s fear-filled coverage of the economy has been extremely misleading -- because neither I nor anyone else knows what the future holds for the economy.  Nobody knows how bad this recession will be.  What I do know is that it will be worse than it would have been if the media weren't so relentlessly focused on every bad report.

But I am not the first to notice this.  "This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."  This was Franklin Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in 1932.

As sage an observation now as it was then.

 

Gary D. Gaddy has a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

A version of this article appeared in the December 18, 2008 editon of the Chapel Hill Herald.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:26 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 9:18 PM EST
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Thursday, December 11, 2008
Finally, Dorrance wins "The Big One"

FINALLY, UNC WOMEN'S SOCCER COACH Anson Dorrance got his team into a game that counted, a big game, and a game where his team wasn't favored -- then won it.  About time, I'd say.

OK, I know what you Pollyannas are saying:  But didn't his teams win 18 NCAA national championships before last Sunday's upset victory over Notre Dame?  Well, of course they did -- but please note that almost all of those teams were favored.  Who can't coach a win against an underdog?

Finally, a Dorrance-led UNC squad has beaten a team that has beaten them.  Year after year UNC wins national championships -- but only after beating teams they have already beaten.  In 30 years of varsity play, all under Dorrance, UNC is 672-33-2. With teams like that it doesn't take much coaching, coach.  Just send'em out saying, "Whatever you did last time, do it again."

I will admit, because the record shows it is so, that Dorrance's teams can win and have won -- when they were picked to win.  But who couldn't do that?  Many careful and scientific post-hoc studies of competitive sports show that the better team always wins.

You don't have to be a great coach to "lead" your great team to victory over a mediocre one.  You can just stand there with your arms crossed -- like Dorrance usually does.  Dorrance has described himself as a "women's soccer cheerleader."  With that placid arm-crossed pose, I'll tell you he's not much of one.

Sorry, Dorrance but most of your championships don't really amount to much.  Who couldn't win with Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Tisha Venturini Cindy Parlow, Cat Reddick, Heather O'Reilly and now Casey Nogueira?  Just trot'em out on the field and say, "Go get'em, girls!"  That's about all you have to do.

OK, so Dorrance has "coached" UNC to 20 national championships -- if you include the one from the AIAW, whatever that is, that UNC won back before the NCAA realized women could play soccer.  Real coaching, by a real coach, doesn't consist of leading a team of winners to a win.  Like what else were they going to do?  Real coaching consists of taking losers and eaking out a totally improbable victory with completely improbable plays. 

The late Jim Valvano won playing Chuck Nevitt.  Now that takes talent -- not from Chuck Nevitt, mind you -- unless you count being seven-foot-five-inches tall as talent.  While Nevitt was with the Detroit Pistons, the last minutes of Detroit blow-outs were termed "Nevitt Time."  Sports Illustrated nicknamed him "The Human Victory Cigar."  In nine NBA seasons, Nevitt played for a total of 826 minutes, which equates to less than 18 complete NBA games.

(But Nevitt may be the ultimate example of being in the right place at the right time.  Besides being a member of the NC State 1983 NCAA championship team, Nevitt was on the Los Angeles Lakers 1985 NBA championship roster.)

Meanwhile, Dorrance won a national championship this year on what he himself called "world-class finishes" by Casey Nogueira.  The NFL's legendary Lou "The Toe" Groza didn't have a foot like Nogueira -- much less two of them.  Casey's game-tying goal came off her right foot, while her game-winning goal came off her left.

"On the greatest platform we have, which is the national championship final, she (Nogueira) scored two of the most phenomenal goals I've ever seen," said Dorrance after the game.  So what was Dorrance doing at the time?  Watching, obviously.  Winning on two "phenomenal goals" doesn't amount to much, if you ask me.  Jim Valvano won a national championship on an air ball.  Now that's coaching!

I would like to say that Dorrance's greatest victory finally came in a game against a rival and maybe now he will see the foolishness of being "without peer year after year."  (Not that fans like me are about to put up with our beloved Tar Heels losing twice in a row to another team again like we did to Notre Dame.)

But to tell the truth, Dorrance, you haven't even done a good job creating a rivalry.  Sounds pretty rivalrous that UNC and Notre Dame are 4-4-2 all time in games other than national championship finals, doesn't it?   But, after Sunday, UNC is 5-0 in championship games.  What kind of rivalry is that?

Just stick to being dominant, Anson.  Face it; it's the only thing you're really good at.

 

Gary D. Gaddy always roots for the underdog to pull off an upset -- except when his team is favored.

A version of this article appeared in the December 11, 2008 editon of the Chapel Hill Herald.   

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:09 AM EST
Updated: Friday, February 18, 2011 11:03 AM EST
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Thursday, December 4, 2008
My most favoritest home game

MY LOVELY AND SPORTS-LOVING WIFE Sandra and I go to almost every UNC home football game.  We often sit in the Pope box because, well, we need to.  Don't get me wrong the "free" food's OK (if you like hotdogs).  The overhead fans are nice (in August.).  The heaters are useful in November (when they remember to turn them on).  And the shelter from the rain is something that allows you to observe without actually participating in the weather.  All in all it's like watching at home on big screen TV.

We get to sit on the other side of the stadium in the open air with actual fans sometimes.  We like it better.  The roar of the facepaint and the smell of the crowd simply seem more authentic.  But the games where we sit over in the plebian seats, those are not our favorite home game either.

Our most favoritest home games would be the ones Duke University is kind enough to host every two years.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think they are being that nice.  If they were they wouldn't have started charging so much for tickets, or having us park over a mile and a half away.  (And, I know this for sure, my wife would never have guests over with our bathrooms looking like theirs do.)

The first “at Duke” game Sandra and I attended together was while she was still a student at Duke Law School.  (Don’t believe my Tar-Heel-born, Tar-Heel-bred wife could ever attend such a place?  Well, she has a sweat shirt to prove it.)  We sat on the "Duke" side of the stadium.  She tried to act decorously that first game.  At one point she turned and asked me, "How do they know we're Carolina fans?"  My response:  "Maybe because you jumped up and whooped on our last touchdown?"

It’s not particularly dangerous being a Carolina fan in Wallace Wade.  There are way too many of us and they are way too beat down. (Cameron, the Indoor Stadium, is another story altogether.  And Carter-Finley?  You may want to up the payout on your life insurance before buying your tickets if you plan on wearing Carolina Blue there.)

But back to Duke/UNC.  For the last fifteen years all the games, pretty much, have been the same game.  The Devils are motivated, despite their record coming into the game -- because it's "a one game season" or "this will be their bowl game."  Every year it has been an opportunity for the Boys in Dismal Blue to spend the summer not thinking about the 10 or 11 loses and instead to reflect on the glorious upset of the Heels.

The Tar Heels are motivated too.  A loss means humiliation, almost every year, because Duke is, well, Duke.  A loss to Duke means a dark blue cloud will hang over the team until September.

The games are always hard fought.  Pride is on the line and pride seems to motivate.  (If you don't believe me, wait until next year when the Tar Heels play the Wolfpack of NC State who took their heads off this year in Kenan Stadium, stunning everyone in attendance including the Pack players themselves.)

Here’s the way the Duke/UNC football games go.  Duke starts strong, takes the lead, battles all the way, and is in position to win right up to the last play.  Only one problem for Duke, it doesn't happen.

One year it’s a missed field goal.  One year it’s a blocked extra point.  One year it is a Carolina field goal as time expires.  This year, with a first and ten at the Carolina twenty with less than a minute to go, the game ended with Carolina intercepting a pass on fourth down with 16 seconds left – and all in a cold, dreary rain.

Boy, was it fun!

(But the days of poor Duke are about done.  As long as David Cutcliffe is the coach, Duke will be no one’s cake walk.  Trust me on this.)

****

While I am without a doubt a fan, don’t let me overestimate myself.  I am no Randolph Few.  Mr. Few was the last surviving son of William Preston Few, the first President of Duke University.  Mr. Few, who was born October 6, 1920, died on October 14, 2008 – which was about the only thing that would keep him from a Duke home game.

Few was a rare breed, a loyal and devoted fan of Duke sports, and not just a basketball fan but a fervent football fan as well. The only games he missed in Wallace Wade Stadium were during World War II and two more games due to poor health.  Last week's game in would have been his 80th Duke-Carolina football game.

Fans of any color will miss him.

Gary D. Gaddy once played Randolph Few in tennis when Few was older than 75 and Gaddy was less than 45.  Few kicked his butt.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday December 4, 2008.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy

 

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:00 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, December 7, 2008 9:26 PM EST
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Thursday, November 27, 2008
Ending spousal abuse: A memoir

I HATE TO ADMIT THIS, especially in so public a forum, but I think others like me, if there are any, could benefit from my honesty.  For over ten years my wife beat me on a regular basis.

I can't say I shouldn't have seen it coming.  On our first date, she beat me badly.  Like many who find themselves in this situation, I said I wouldn't let it happen again.  And then for the next ten years while I tried to stop her, I couldn't.  Finally, I received professional help.  The lesson I got giving me a two-handed backhand really helped a lot.

You see, I met my wife on a tennis court. (Actually in the parking lot on the way to the tennis court, but that kinda clutters up the story, don't you think?)  Not being a smart woman -- in some particular ways -- she beat the tar out of me on the court that morning.  I didn't win a single game.  (I later realized she was going easy on me.)  She didn't even appear to realize that no man worthy of the name, having been humiliated like that by a woman on a first date, would even consider seeing her again.

We went on our second date that afternoon.  (We went to one half of a high school play, with my teenage son -- for the record, which it must be -- the lamest second date in all of the history of dating.)

Sandra said soon after our first tennis match that she thought that I would be beating her "in a year."  Wrong again.  It was almost 10 years before I beat her in anything other than a match that was obviously an unsustainable fluke.

I finally did catch up after a decade -- but that only so far as to be able to compete with her -- not dominate her like any self-respecting man would want to do after 10 years of ego-degrading humiliations.

I will admit she has had a good attitude about my closing the gap on her.  Here's the way she puts it.  If she wins, she wins.  If I win, it means her doubles partner is getting better. So, she says, she can't lose.  (My wife is the master of many things but she is the queen of the rationalization.)

I just want to give fair public warning to my lovely and talented wife:  Get the rationalizer up and running because I am coming by you like Jimmy Johnson driving the Lowe's # 48 car.  I am about to get my two-handed backhand back.

(You are probably wondering where it went.  Answer: I lost it playing basketball.  While blocking a shot with my left hand, I injured my left shoulder.  The worst part of this injury -- beyond even losing use of my left arm for my two-handed tennis backhand?  I put my hand on top of the ball as the man I was guarding went up to make a lay up, and I got picked up off the floor, tearing my rotator cuff -- and the sucker made the shot anyway.)

Last time I got any tennis instruction, after one lesson, I learned a passable two-handed backhand.  Actually, it took less than one lesson.  Fewer than 20 minutes into the 45-minute session, my backhand was the best it had ever been.

So, with one highly instructive lesson from any one of the many fine instructors in the McDonald Group at the Hollow Rock Racquet and Swim Club, you'll be be stickin' to pickin' on your banjo instead of pickin’ on my backhand, sweetie.

Square my body to the ball.  Racquet back.  Brush up the back of the ball.  Up and over.  Whomp!  And follow through.  Here it comes, darling.  Your day is finally done.

 

Gary D. Gaddy is good loser -- too good, his wife sometimes thinks.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday November 27, 2008.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:38 AM EST
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Thursday, November 20, 2008
Losers -- in the Losers' Bracket

MY WIFE IS A LOSER.  Or at least she is since she met me.  (Which may explain why we have grocery bags full of tennis trophies in our basement, very few of which have a date of 1994 or beyond.  This may be explained, in part, by the fact that her high school boyfriend, and sometime tennis partner, was at one time ranked in tennis in the state of Florida, while her current husband, and sometime tennis partner, is at times rank in tennis in the state of North Carolina.

Here's the current story on our dearth of up-to-date tennis trophies.  Sandra and I entered the Hollow Rock Club Championship last Saturday.  There were to be two divisions:  3.5 and below, and 4.0 and above.  Since the both of us, according to the United States Tennis Association (which ought to know), are benchmark 3.5 players, we entered the 3.5 and below division -- with aspirations to win.  That is, we hoped to show ourselves to be the top of the bottom, that is, right in the middle.  Since I am, as previously demonstrated in this space, "Hollow Rock's Most Mediocre Player," I felt confident that I could uphold my part of the bargain.

Then our hopes collapsed along with the divisions.  Due to low turnout, the two divisions were smushed into one.  This was not good.  We would be competing with actual tennis players.

I formulated a new hope: my next column would be entitled "Winners -- in the Losers' Bracket!"  This journey would begin with a competitive match against a better team -- which we would lose -- sending us into the losers' bracket, where we win against a series of measly teams who couldn't even make it out of the first round.

We prepared, as any dedicated tennis team would, by going on a diet, starting the night before, then heading out in the morning to Reno Sharpe's Store in the greater Goldston area of southwest Chatham County to a bluegrass jam.  (If you don't believe me, go to YouTube and search for "Reno Sharpe" to see a jerky video of "I Wonder Where You Are Tonight," which Sandra recorded while I was putting our instruments in the car.  Since this is a country song, and we aren't pictured in the video, what it will prove, I don't know -- but we were there.)

We returned to Hollow Rock just in time for the tournament, as our first-round opponents were announced.  "Oh, no, not Molly and Noah's dad!"

Molly Beachum, despite being cute, athletic and politically correct, is mistake prone -- making at least one unforced error every year.  Noah's dad is, well, Noah's dad.  In 2007 Noah Constantine was, for example, the runner-up in the age 11 and under division of the North Carolina Junior State Closed Championships.  How good is his dad?  Mark says he can still beat Noah.

Our fears were well founded.  First set, 6-0, Constantine and Beachum.  Then, our nefarious strategy took hold -- they went to sleep.  Next thing you know our wind-blown lobs were dropping in and it was 5-5 -- and they were sweating more than we were.  But reality snuck back on the court and we lost 7-5.  We were in the vaunted losers' bracket.

Our next-round opponents were the Irish Terry O'Regan and the English Jenny Rousseau.  As usual it took me a while to figure out that Jenny was left-handed.  (You would think it would be sign enough when she hit the first ball in warm-ups with the racquet in her left hand.  Not for me.)

Early on Mr. O'Regan made some unforced errors and got ticked off at himself.  Being the opportunists that we are, we took his discontent with his game as a personal affront, stayed motivated and won 6-1 and 6-3.

So, to the championship match, in the losers' bracket, pitted against Sue Long and Steve Kennedy.  Sue is steady, trading shots with you until you make a mistake.  Steve is more of winners-or-losers kind of player.  Give him a shot to work with and he blasts it, and either he wins or he loses.  Usually he wins.

The match started evenly, especially because Steve was making more than his usual share of errors.  Then things turned.  Steve's regular partner, Johanna, showed up to watch the match.  Just as you would expect, he started focusing better and we started losing more.  We lost the first set 4-6.  Then opportunity rang -- in the form of Johanna's cell phone.  She walked off to take the call.  Steve quickly lapsed again into double-faults and unforced errors.

We were on our way to winning the second set and into third-set tiebreaker, when Johanna showed back up.  It was over for us, 4-6 again.  So, there we were:  losers -- in the losers' bracket.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, part of five league championship tennis teams in the past five seasons, has no trophies to show for any of them

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday November 20, 2008.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:57 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 9:04 AM EST
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Thursday, November 13, 2008
Satan goes out at the "top of his game"

DURHAM -- Satan announced today that he is stepping down immediately as the primary force for evil in this world.  No word has been given on any of his possible replacements.

Satan, or Beelzebub as he is sometimes known, moved easily among the large crowd of media representatives congregated in Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke University.  In a style reminiscent of TV host Phil Donohue, Satan made a few opening remarks then continued by taking questions and speaking off the cuff.

Satan, wearing a crisply pressed, solid black Lord & Taylor's suit, began with prepared remarks but quickly dropped them.  "I want to cut right to the chase," he began.  "I am out and I am not coming back."

"I know that will disappoint many -- but that is the way it is.  Get used to it," he continued.  "I feel like I have fomented all of the division and hatred that any one being could foment in one lifetime.

"I do not want to be one of those who hangs around and hangs around until even my former supporters are trying to push me out," he said.  "I always thought that Jim Brown [Editor's note: Brown is the football Hall of Fame fullback who played for the Cleveland Browns] who went out when he was still the best player in football -- did it the classy way.

"Another reason I feel like now would be a good time is that I have, I feel, done such a good job in grooming others to carry on my work, my legacy, I like to call it, that I feel like I can just sit back and watch them finish.

"I am especially happy with what I have done with religion.  My work in Islam has been superb, in my opinion. Anytime you can get mothers sending out their own children to be blown up in God's name, as the Devil you have to feel good about yourself.

"I have put nuclear weapons in the hands of nuts. I have inspired a world filled with so much greed it makes me jealous.  Countries filled with fat people sit next to countries filled with starving people.  Does anybody really think I can do any better than this?  I am not a modest being, as you may have noticed, and even I do not.

"In my opinion, the political season has been very good this year for me. When you can get one purported Christian calling another purported Christian 'godless,' you know things are going your way.  But do not get me wrong when I called these folks 'purported' Christians; rare is the one who calls himself a Christian and is worthy of the name. 

"Listen, I know Jesus Christ.  I have talked to Jesus face to face.  Jesus has been my personal enemy.  And these people are no Jesus Christs."

Stepping into the crowd, Satan continued. "I want to speak directly to those in the news media as I know many of you are distraught at the prospect of working without me.  I know most of you will miss me when I am gone.  I know I have been one of your more reliable newsmakers for a long time.  And do not think that I have not appreciated your bias toward bad news. I always liked a detailed story on a bloody coup, gruesome mass murder or genocide as much as the next guy.

"Still, I promise I am not the only force for evil on earth.  Trust me on this.  If you do not, check out the Internet where every perversity known to humanity is available to every eight-year old 24-7.  Pretty slick."

When asked about his retirement plans, Satan, pausing, became meditative. "Well, I am going to Hell, obviously. But let me say this about that. Hell gets a very bad rap. Granted the weather is not great; it’s almost as bad as Fayetteville in August.  But as far as evil goes, Hell is hardly any different from any world-class city I have been in -- which is my point here today.  Not much more left for me to do, do you think?"

With that statement, Satan walked down from the podium toward the home locker room, disappearing into a dark cloud of smoke.

Aileen Nodeus, spokesperson for the Godless Americans Political Action Committee, said she had mixed emotions about Satan's announcement.  "Right from the top, Godless Americans don't like acknowledging Satan's existence, since that seems to imply a god.  But let's take things like they are: We don't need this Satan guy anymore than we need a god.  And stuff Satan claims as 'his work,' like evicting God from the public schools, guess what, I never saw single one of his amicus briefs -- that was our work."

 

Gary D. Gaddy, who never thought he was a big fan of Satan, used to do some pretty decent work on his behalf.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday November 13, 2008.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 1:27 PM EST
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Thursday, November 6, 2008
Bad blood: A blue blood feud

I HATE TO OPEN OLD WOUNDS -- but, hey, we are heading fast into basketball season -- and I always was bad about picking at a scab.

When two of the blue bloods of college basketball meet we expect blood on the floor figuratively, but not literally.  In recent memory there has been a lot of bad blood between the Duke and North Carolina men's basketball teams, but mostly that has just been a figure of speech.

But not always.  "Don't make Eric bleed."  That was my advice to Tar Heel opponents in the 1990 to 1994 era.   Eric Montross was a very nice player when he played for Carolina -- too nice.  Eric still is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet.  (For a point of reference, he's in the Hubert-Davis class.)

But as Duke should have learned: “Don't make Eric bleed.”  Eric was nice player when not hemorrhaging; a great player when he was.  Montross scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots while bleeding from two different cuts on his head in a UNC victory over Duke in 1993.  (You may remember the famous picture with a trickle of blood running down his forehead.)

How does such bad blood arise?  Certainly not coaching, per se. As two good Christian men, Dean Smith, an oxymoronic liberal Baptist, and Mike Krzyzewski, a consistently profane Catholic, certainly loved each other with a deep and abiding godly love -- but, boy, they sure didn't like each other.  I swear their blood would turn to ice as they went to make their perfunctory courtesy handshake after each game.  During the Bill Guthridge years there was something of a warming, but then Matt Doherty arrived, followed by Roy Williams, and the blood pressure has risen.

Which brings us to somewhat fresher blood.  Whatever Duke guard Gerald Henderson did in year-before-last's regular season finale, and I say as the one man in America who replayed the slo-mo Tivo of the slo-mo video of Henderson's end-of-game foul on Tyler Hansbrough more times than the rest of America replayed Janet Jackson's Superbowl wardrobe malfunction, it was not premeditated assault.  It wasn’t basketball either.

At the very least it was reckless endangerment.  When viewed as a digital slow-motion of video slow motion, Henderson appears to be attempting the ever-popular "hard foul," by the use of a sometimes legal football play, the forearm shiver. He was not trying to block a shot.  He had his eyes closed at the moment of contact.

The officials, in my view, got it right.  "A flagrant foul for combative and confrontational action" is what it was, and as such is treated the same as a punch, as it should be.  The ejection also brought an automatic suspension for Henderson for Duke's next game under NCAA rules.

By all reports, Gerald Henderson is a nice and decent person.  But, then again, so is Wake Forest's Chris Paul -- but that didn't make his literal low blow on NC State's Julius Hodge any less painful.

Henderson's post-game comments didn't help clear the bloodied waters any.  "Guys got caught up in the air and I just came down on him," Henderson said. "I was not intentionally trying to hurt anybody. Obviously, it was a foul. I was not trying to hurt or hit the kid," said Henderson.  So far, so good.

But then rather than giving an immediate apology to Hansbrough, Henderson had to add: "I've seen blood before and it's a physical game."  My thought: he may well see it again -- and I was sure that it was to be a physical game.  (Historical footnote:  The next game was a gentlemanly affair in which "Psycho T" Hansbrough did not kill "G" Henderson -- or even maim him.)

Some might note that television commentator Billy Packer instantly and adamantly disagreed with my assessment.  I respond, as would most of those who have involuntarily listened to Packer-headed broadcasts: more evidence for my view.  On the rare occasion when Packer agrees with one of my astute observations, I immediately reassess my view.  I invariably determine I was wrong.

***

And speaking of blue blood boiling, if Barack Obama did not carry on Tuesday North Carolina (this article was submitted before the election results were in), and he did not win the electoral college because of that, I can pinpoint the massive strategic blunder that cost him the presidency.  It was sending actress Ashley Judd, the world's number one Kentucky Wildcat basketball fan (just watch her dance during timeouts at Kentucky home games), to electioneer for the Obama-Biden ticket.  Judd is the only person that I know who that could instantly unite Duke and UNC fans against whatever they were for.

Regardless of the winners (if we know yet), they are in my prayers -- because they are going to need them.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, who himself bleeds Carolina Blue, once made another player bleed during a pickup basketball game in UNC's historic Woollen Gym – unfortunately it was his own teammate.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday November 6, 2008.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 1:10 PM EST
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Thursday, October 30, 2008
The Good News for (American) Football Fans

TO REACH THOSE who have become too far removed from the language, culture and ethos of the ancient Middle East, a new translation of the Holy Bible tailored for the academic community, is being released today by the University of North Carolina Press.

Some of the delightful new takes on the Holy Word in "Good News for (American) Football Fans" include The Lineman's Prayer, The Parable of the Unjust Referee, The Revelation of the Final Booth Replay and this reader’s favorite: The Head Coach's Prayer.

Here is just sample of the great passages in this refreshing new perspective from the world’s most popular book.

***

Blessed are you when you travel to an opponent's home stadium.  When Wahoos try to cleverly insult you, when Wolfpackers crudely talk smack to you, when Demon Deacons falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of your Tar Heel apparel, rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in beautiful Kenan Stadium, for in the same way they persecuted the followers of Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice who went before you.

Do not throw flags, or you too will be flagged.  For in the same way you call for penalties on others, so will penalties be called on you.  And so  the down and distance you demand, it too will be walked out against you.

Consider the ball fallen loose on the field; doesn't the Head Coach consider it worth more than many in bags on the sideline?

***

Play 23 (The Lineman's Prayer)

The LORD is my position coach, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in the endzone;
       He leads me to a Big Fogg® Misting System,
       when the August suicide drills are complete.
He teaches me proper blocking schemes.
       He guides me in paths of penalty-free play
       for His reputation's sake.
Even though I walk
       through Clemson's Death Valley,
       I will fear no cut blocks,
       for the training staff they are with me;
       Your ankle wraps and Your knee braces,
       they comfort me.
You prepare a training table before me,
       even on the road.
       You provide bread when I am carbo-loading;
       the Gatorade® overflows.
Surely weight gain and increased flexibility will follow me
       all the days of my life,
       and I will dwell in the weight room of the LORD
       forever.

***

Oh, fans, why do you look at the little sticker on your opponent's face and pay no attention to the facepaint on your own?  How can you say to an opposing fan, 'Let me take the sticker off your cheek,' when your whole body is painted blue? You fool, first take the Ram's head off your own head, and then you will see clearly to remove the little devil from your opponent's forehead.

Then the Head Coach said to his players: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear -- the Educational Foundation will provide for you all.  And isn't life is more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Behold the players of the National Football League, even those of Cincinnati's Bengals: They do not block or tackle, and though many don't have guaranteed contracts; their franchise feeds them.  And how much more valuable are you Tar Heels to the Ram's Club than the Bungles to their owners!

Do not give to the Hokkie fan what is sacred; sell not your 40-yard-line tickets to the Wolfpack backer. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces, or, at the very least, lean over you and say vulgar things.

Who of you by worrying can add a timeout to a game?  If you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the two-minute drill when the whistle for the fourth quarter hasn't yet blown?

***

The Head Coach's Prayer

This, then, is how you should pray:
"Our Head Coach which is in the Coaches' Box,
May Your name be in the Hall of Fame,
May Your dynasty come,
Your plays be run
On the playing field as they are in Your scrimmages.
Give us this day Your scouting report.
Forgive us our holding penalties,
Even as we break the holds of those that hold against us.
And let us not be tempted by hard snap counts,
But deliver us from the blitzers,
For You are always Coach of the Year
And may Your contract extension be forever."

 

Gary D. Gaddy never prayed harder than when a free kick was coming down in his direction during his very brief stint as a JV football player at George Washington High School in the fall of 1966.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday October 30, 2008.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy

 

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, November 2, 2008 6:27 PM EDT
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Thursday, October 23, 2008
Price gouging for fun and profit

THE OTHER DAY, while perversely listening to Air America, conservative little me, I tried to think of something they and I could agree on.  My thought: price gouging; now that's something we certainly could all agree on -- except for maybe me.  I'm for it.  It's called free enterprise.

As for price gouging, actually, I would say there is really no such thing -- only something maligned as that.  Unless "price gouging" includes a loaded gun or its functional equivalent (e.g., the power of government), no one makes anyone else pay an inflated price for anything.  I do not see how any market transaction which occurs without compulsion can be said to be one party “gouging” another.

Still, price gouging -- charging unreasonably excessive prices in times of crisis --violates North Carolina General Statute 75-38, which comes into effect when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared by the governor.

On September 12, North Carolina’s law against price gouging was triggered by the declaration of an abnormal market disruption due to Hurricane Ike.

So, North Carolina has in effect a price-gouging law -- and right now has the highest prices for gasoline in the lower 48 states.  North Carolina has a price-gouging law -- and had gasoline shortages as a result of Hurricane Ike, which hit Galveston on September 12, that lasted at least until as late as October 9.

How did we end up with both shortages and "high" (in quotes) prices for a commodity that was not generally scarce?  I have an answer.  (And it's not price gouging.)

The first answer is, of course, Hurricane Ike which shut down oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico -- meaning for a while very little gasoline was sent into pipelines serving the East Coast.

My next answer is the anti-price-gouging law.

Prices, especially price-gouging prices, are both signals and motivators.  When shortages come, and prices are allowed to freely rise, they will signal need and provide the impetus for greed to meet need.  And it works.

But here's what happens when sellers are not allowed to "gouge" consumers at a time when supply is constricted:  the consumers, when they see the possibility of shortages, act in their own self interest.  In case of gasoline, they fill up their tanks, even when their tanks are only half empty.  With little real cost to the consumer, why shouldn't they?

And what happens is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Even if no real shortage was coming, it will now.  And if there were real supply problems, as there were following Hurricane Ike, the shortages are magnified and extended – and prices drops that were to come, come later and slower.

“Economically, the way you get people to buy less is to have the price go up," said Michael Walden, an economics professor at N.C. State University, in an article in the Winston-Salem Journal on September 12.

"You can appeal to them, and say, 'Please buy less,' but most people will buy more," said Walden.  Further, according to Walden, it is not good business for retailers to let their tanks run dry. "Retailers want to have gas available," he said. "They want to be able to stay open."  A closed gas station doesn’t make money.

So, what happened?  Weeks after Hurricane Ike disrupted oil production, a gasoline shortage continued in parts of North Carolina. Asheville city officials closed offices, the civic center and all parks and recreation centers because of the shortage.  Even the local community college was closed for several days.

Further, the cost to the community was likely quite substantial in its impact on business, especially tourism.

The immutable law of supply and demand may be opposed only at great peril to those who attempt to revoke it

With anti-price-gouging laws in effect, the market mechanism of price and profit were not harnessed.  The individual entrepreneur, say an independent gasoline truck driver, perhaps several states away, who reads of the crisis and who could bring a tanker full to the area to profit from our crisis, will not act.

The typical gasoline tanker truck holds about 9000 gallons.  Think about this, if a trucker could make an extra dollar a gallon, he could make $9000 for a single tank full.  How far would he be willing to drive?  From Missouri, from Massachusetts, from California?

Shortages are the Siamese twins of price controls.  Free markets bring resources to needs; price and profit are the mechanisms.  Ironically, high prices often bring low prices.

What would happen if too many greedy truckers bring gasoline here to exploit us poor North Carolinians?  We would have a glut.  And the price would fall below even what it was before the shortage.  And, just like my Air America friends hoped, the greedy guys would lose money.  It’s a nice system, ain’t it?

North Carolina should try it sometime.

 

Gary D. Gaddy is not a economist -- but does read the British publication named "The Economist" every week, which periodical strangely calls itself a "newspaper" but comes in magazine format.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday October 23, 2008.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:17 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 7:35 PM EDT
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