Eclecticity: Dan Shafer's Web Log : Where author, poet, sports fanatic, spiritual teacher, and dabbler in things Pythonesque and Revolution(ary) Dan Shafer holds forth on various topics of interest primarily to him
Updated: 11/13/02; 1:47:32 PM.


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Friday, March 29, 2002

NCAA: In Decline, On the Way Out?

The National Crooked Athletics Association may be on the way to reform or extinction as a result of two major news events of the past week.

First, the University of Michigan basketball scandal exploded onto the national scene with a series of shockwaves centering on illegal gambling, loans, bribes and payoffs to players on the Wolverines' fabled Fab Five Freshman squad of 1992. Seems that, among other things, Chris Webber received the astonishing sum of $280,000 in "loans" while he was in high school and college. This is the most serious in an alarmingly long and scary list of rules violations committed by the U-M hoops program in the 90's. Former Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham called that once-fabulous era "a disgrace."

The question now is how the NCAA will respond. It conducted its own weak-kneed investigation earlier and substantiated just three minor violations. Now it will re-examine the issue. But there can be little doubt of the veracity of the majority of the new, more serious charges. Webber has all but acknowledged them with a shrug and a "no big deal" attitude.

If the NCAA doesn't respond swifly and severely, its days as the governing body of college sports are -- and should be -- over. At a minimum, Michigan must take down the championship banners from the tainted years, repay all of the money the school made from tournament play in those years, and probably be fined as well. More importantly, the NCAA must -- unequivocally -- suspend the Michigan basketall program from post-season play for a minimum of five years.

I attended U-M in the early 1960's. I am not proud today.

The other news event: the formation of a new organization called the Collegiate Athletes Coalition. This group aims to get college athletes health coverage and better scholarships, among other things. Did you know, e.g., that if a player gets hurt while participating in "voluntary" workouts (which the coach emphasizes are crucial in making the squad), his medical costs aren't covered and he could lose his scholarship?

Weird, eh?
12:16:42 PM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Good Day for SF Bay Area Fans

The San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's are getting ready to open the 2002 baseball season. I can hardly wait! Baseball is my all-time favorite sport (which ages me, I with it). Quite a number of prognosticators are saying both teams could win their divisions. The Sporting News this week picked the Giants to win the NL West. That would be quite a feat! The A's probably can't out-do the Mariners in the AL West but they should finish a strong second and grab the wild card.

Meanwhile, the Niners and the Raiders gained some real favor with the NFL TV schedulrs. The Niners have three -- count 'em, three! -- Monday Night Football appearances and the Raiders have two. Both teams also have late-season Saturday prime time dates.

The Niners open the season on Thursday (first time ever), Sept. 5 at the Meadowlands against the NY Giants, another prime-time blockbuster. Not bad for a rebuilding team. (Some folks think both the Niners and the Raiders will go deep in the playoffs this season, too. I'm reserving judgement.)
11:37:13 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

The Web Is , Too, Fun!

Last week, I got a call from a New York Times reporter who wanted to interview me about the Web from my perspective as a long-time user. She was also looking for my old friend Glenn Davis. Well, I had a family emergency and didn't manage the interview, but Lisa Guernsey did reach Glenn and a few other follks and wrote a piece essentially saying "The Web isn't fun any more."

Here's the article she wrote.

It's probably just as well she didn't catch up with me. I'd have spoiled her story. See, I think the Web is fun. It's just not the quirky kind of fun she and Glenn seemed to identify as being the primary raison d'etre of the Web. I'm probably just weird (very little doubt of that, actually) but I never did find it "fun" to watch a coffee pot or a fish tank.

From the beginning, I've seen the Web as a sort of knowledge-adventure game. Finding cool ideas, insights, factoids, and other infotrinkets has been a passion of mine. It still is.

In reacting to her piece, Dave Winer of Scripting News fame wrote, in part: "Glenn Davis says that the gee-whiz hello-world days are over. It's true it was fun (for a few minutes) to watch a fish tank on a webcam. But that was not the promise or purpose of the Web. Maybe Davis thought that's what it was. If so, he missed the point. It's about publishing without the middlemen."

Exactly. But I continue to advocate -- even agitate for -- a clearer understanding of this new-era publishing model with a shift to a far more collaborative approach.

Radio makes it possible for virtually anyone to publish on the Web. Now we just need to make it more feasible for people who don't want to publish their own sites to become participants and collaborators with those who do wish to do so. If you have a Web log, I encourage you to find a way to open it to discussion from your readers, most of whom probably don't have Web logs and never will. If you don't have a Web log, get Radio and start one! It's not that hard!

Do you agree? Or am I missing something here? Join a discussion about this topic on my personal Web site.
10:50:45 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Why I Think Microsoft Has a PR Problem

I was a couple of days behind reading Dave Winer's Scripting News but when I got back and spotted his link to Tommy Williams' piece about working at Microsoft, I had to follow the link.

Check it out. He's removed the story at his wife's request.

That's cool (it's his Weblog), but I found it interesting that my very first reaction was to disbelieve this guy -- whom I've never met and have no reason to judge at all! -- and assume it was a Microsoft edict. And I haven't even read the original article! This kind of mistrust that Microsoft has engendered, whether the perception is accurate or not, is the company's most massive problem at the moment. It will reach a Tipping Point if it's not checked. And the company doesn't seem to care. Yet.
9:19:38 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

© Copyright 2002 Dan Shafer.

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