Friday, January 23, 2009

A milestone in East Meadow

Kudos to AHA member Azfar Khan of East Meadow, who scored his 1000th point this week. Khan is the leading scorer for the boys basketball team, whose efforts this season have not been reflected in the win column. Despite that, Khan continues to lead by example. Newsday's Kimberly Martin captured the moment in a well-written feature piece this week.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Islanders on the power play

It seems my post after the Rangers-Islanders game this week regarding the enthusiasm Islanders players displayed in the face of outside pressures was spot-on. Newsday's Jim Baumbach reports today that owner Charles Wang is making veiled threats to move the team if Nassau County doesn't give him the approval he seeks to build out Nassau's "Hub" with his Lighthouse Project.
I, for one, hate this tactic.
The Yankees built their new stadium on the backs on state taxpayers by receiving tax-exempt bonds to finance the construction. So did the Mets. So, while our taxes go up, and ticket prices go up, the Steinbrenners and Wilpons (and Wangs) of the world -- already rich beyond most people's dreams -- sit back and rake in mountains of more money while we get squeezed even tighter. Have you seen the ticket prices the Mets have set for seats in Citi Field this year? I'd rather take my family on vacation than sit through games against Colorado and Houston this year. And let's not forget the personal seat licenses the Giants and Jets are looking to extract from us because their estimates of how much a new stadium would cost were ineptly low.
We talk a lot about fair play, and civility, and sportsmanship, and rightfully demand that our athletes possess those qualities. Don't we as fans have the right to expect the same kind of behavior out of team owners? We've supported their teams with our hard-earned dollars for years -- we buy the jerseys and hats, go to the games, pay for the privilege of parking miles from the stadium -- and the payback for that loyalty is the threat of a move if we don't give them even more??
We can at least be thankful that the East Meadow football team can't move to Massapequa because that district might allocate more resources for athletics, or that the Duke University basketball team won't play its home games at North Carolina State University because that gym holds thousands more fans and generates more revenue. But you get the feeling they would if they could, don't you?

Two student good one bad

Two events, one good and one bad, took place this past college football season that I found interesting because both relate to what Athletes Helping Athletes represents, sportsmanship/civility and the importance of student in student-athlete. One concerned Rudy Carpenter, the star quarterback of Arizona State University -- considered the Sun Devils' best-ever signal caller. The other is Myron Rolle, starting free safety for the Florida State University Seminoles.

Carpenter represents the bad because he was tossed from a sporting event by the officials. The ejection, strangely enough, did not take place on the football field, but rather at a girl’s basketball game Carpenter attended with his girlfriend to cheer on her sister. He violated our Fair Play Agreement when he and his group got on the officials so much they really had no choice but to force Carpenter and company to leave the arena.

Other than being ejected, no further action was taken against Carpenter either by his school or law enforcement, and while he later denied any wrongdoing, it most likely had an effect four nights later when the senior was to play his final game against archrival University of Arizona Wildcats, whom he had defeated three years in a row. Carpenter and the Sun Devils lost.

We travel across the country to find the good -- Myron Rolle, the perfect example of an athlete who is both a student and an athlete. His coach, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, said following a game against the Miami Hurricanes that he had just witnessed the finest performance by a safety he had seen in his 25-year career.

Of Bahamian descent, Rolle, who was raised in New Jersey, graduated with a pre-med degree from Florida State in just 2 ½ years and now joins former President Bill Clinton and former senator and basketball great Bill Bradley as a Rhodes Scholar.

On the afternoon Rolle had to be in Birmingham, Ala., for the Rhodes Scholarship interview, his team was scheduled to play that night in College Park, Maryland against the Maryland Terrapins. Because the NCAA wisely bent their rules, Rolle was permitted to fly by private jet to College Park, arriving in time for the second quarter, where he was mobbed by his teammates who had learned he was awarded the scholarship.

A shoo-in to be drafted by an NFL team, Rolle decided to put a pro football career on hold and journey to Oxford, England to study medical anthropology.

Without question, Myron Rolle has put student in student-athlete! We cannot forget, though, that he is a star athlete, and we congratulate him.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rangers 2, Islanders 1

One of the great rivalries in all of hockey resumed at the Nassau Coliseum last night, with "YOUR FIRST PLACE NEW YORK RANGERS" scoring a thrilling 2-1 victory over the LAST PLACE New York Islanders. The beauty of this series is that regardless of how the teams are faring in the standings, they always play these cross-town games with passion and fire. And the crowd certainly lends a playoff-type atmosphere to the proceedings, even in January. It must be galling to Islanders fans, though, to look around and see more Rangers jerseys than Islanders sweaters in the stands, but I guess it'll be that way until Islanders management commits to putting a winning team on the ice. (But that won't happen until Nassau County officials commit to owner Charles Wang's plans to rebuild the "Hub" with a new arena and a surrounding village.)
With all that swirling around the team -- and despite having the fewest points of any team in the league -- it was good to see that the players still brought their 'A' game to the rink, and competed to the best of their abilities. And, unlike the Detroit Lions, the Islanders even manage to win a game every now and again.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Big Blues?

The New York Giants were "Eli-minated" (thanks to Newsday's headline writers) from the NFL playoffs yesterday. Today, the "experts" in print and on the radio have been having a field day dissecting "what went wrong" with the Giants.
I ask you.. did something go wrong with the Giants? Isn't a 12-4 season, the NFC East championship and a berth in the playoffs a succesful season? I'm sure the fans in Detroit, or Oakland -- or those that root for the OTHER New York football team -- would think so.
Look, I'm not naive. I understand that in today's world, winning is the highest priority. But aren't there positives that the Giants can take out of their season. The 11-1 start? The way they overcame the losses of Michael Strahan, Osi Umeniyora and then Plaxico Burress to stay together as a team and win 12 games? The way they became just the fifth team in NFL HISTORY to have not one but two running backs gain more than 1,000 yards in the same season?
I'm sure that after the bitterness of yesterday's loss subsides a bit, the players will reflect on this season and see there are many positives upon which to build for NEXT season, and the next chance to win a Super Bowl title.
Is anything less than a championship a failure? ARE there any positives the Giants can take away from this season? Has sports become "all or nothing?" What do YOU think?