November 23, 2010

Golf @ The Golden Gate



The Lincoln Park Golf Club.

Posted by jez at 10:26 PM

October 16, 2010

Another Gorgeous Madison Weekend!







Posted by James Zellmer at 9:43 PM

September 26, 2010

What was the last great football team that played the sport for love and camaraderie, not money or fame?…

John Michaud
It's late afternoon on a football Sunday in the Northeast, circa 1976. Outside, the sun is setting. Soon your mother will call you up for dinner. But, before then, you want more football. You flip over to NBC and there, in West Coast sunshine, is a team wearing silver and black, playing with a kind of controlled recklessness. Their logo features a pair of crossed swords and a man with an eyepatch; their coach is a shambling, wild-haired guy; their quarterback is nicknamed Snake; and their owner looks like he carries a stiletto in his jacket. You watch them play and before you know it, you've fallen in love with this team. Before you know it, you've abandoned your Redskins or Eagles or Jets. You're now an Oakland Raiders fan. If any of the above resonates for you, then you will want to read Peter Richmond's new book, “Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden's Oakland Raiders,” which has just been published by Harper. Richmond, who is the author of numerous books on sports (as well as a Shouts & Murmurs piece about Ken Griffey, Jr. published in The New Yorker), kindly agreed to answer a few questions by e-mail.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:40 PM

September 11, 2010

Football Saturday Style













Posted by James Zellmer at 9:16 PM

February 14, 2010

Huge Waves at Mavericks Injure Spectators

Demian Bulwa:
The Super Bowl of Surfing lived up to its legend Saturday, and then some. The waves at Mavericks were so massive - the biggest in the history of surf contests, some said - that they caused collateral damage on the sidelines.

Long before South African Chris Bertish tamed a pair of monster swells to win the $50,000 first prize at the seventh Mavericks Surf Contest north of Half Moon Bay, a series of waves crashed into some of the thousands of fans who had flocked to the beach to try to see the action.

Just after 9 a.m. near Pillar Point, 13 people were injured and at least 40 people were knocked off their feet, officials said. Many of them had been standing on a short concrete wall and were thrown into rocks or mud by a surge of water.

A stage set up for an award ceremony toppled, while sound equipment meant for a beach broadcast was swamped.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:32 PM

August 3, 2009

All City Swim 2009 VR Scene

Shorewood Hills Pool - Madison

Posted by jez at 8:13 PM

May 12, 2009

How David Beats Goliath

Malcolm Gladwell:
When Vivek Ranadivé decided to coach his daughter Anjali's basketball team, he settled on two principles. The first was that he would never raise his voice. This was National Junior Basketball—the Little League of basketball. The team was made up mostly of twelve-year-olds, and twelve-year-olds, he knew from experience, did not respond well to shouting. He would conduct business on the basketball court, he decided, the same way he conducted business at his software firm. He would speak calmly and softly, and convince the girls of the wisdom of his approach with appeals to reason and common sense.

The second principle was more important. Ranadivé was puzzled by the way Americans played basketball. He is from Mumbai. He grew up with cricket and soccer. He would never forget the first time he saw a basketball game. He thought it was mindless. Team A would score and then immediately retreat to its own end of the court. Team B would inbound the ball and dribble it into Team A's end, where Team A was patiently waiting. Then the process would reverse itself. A basketball court was ninety-four feet long. But most of the time a team defended only about twenty-four feet of that, conceding the other seventy feet. Occasionally, teams would play a full-court press—that is, they would contest their opponent's attempt to advance the ball up the court. But they would do it for only a few minutes at a time. It was as if there were a kind of conspiracy in the basketball world about the way the game ought to be played, and Ranadivé thought that that conspiracy had the effect of widening the gap between good teams and weak teams. Good teams, after all, had players who were tall and could dribble and shoot well; they could crisply execute their carefully prepared plays in their opponent's end. Why, then, did weak teams play in a way that made it easy for good teams to do the very things that made them so good?
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:38 AM

February 7, 2009

Chuck Taylor

Joanne Von Alroth:
Charles Hollis "Chuck" Taylor looked down at his shoes and saw opportunity.

His Spaulding basketball sneakers were killing his feet.

Tired of the pain, the player hobbled into Converse Rubber Co. in 1921 and told owner Marquis Converse what he wanted — a sneaker with a higher ankle and a patch for better support, and a rubber sole with treads that made for a better grip for faster running and breaks.

Converse agreed to cobble one together. The upgraded All-Star shoe was born.

Over the next half-century, Taylor almost single-handedly established the Converse All-Star as the most popular athletic shoe ever.

Known as Chucks in tribute to Taylor, the shoes sold 750 million pairs before Converse was bought by Nike in 2003.

Taylor didn't just build a brand. He also changed the face of basketball through integration, boosted the careers of some of the game's most legendary coaches and helped make roundball one of the most popular sports in the world, notes Abraham Aamidor, author of "Chuck Taylor: Converse All Star."
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:26 AM

January 16, 2009

Faces (and hats) in the Crowd



A prominent Gopher basketball fan at last night's Wisconsin-Minnesota basketball game, which turned into a tough, overtime loss. [Buy this print]

Marcus Landry blocks Ralph Sampson III's shot (Sampson is a 6'11" freshman while Landry is a 6'7" Senior). [Buy this print]



Marcus Landry defending an inbound pass during the waning moments of overtime.


Bo Ryan working the referees [Buy this print]. More photos to come.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:55 AM

January 4, 2009

A Tough Weekend for UW Men's Hockey



The Badger men's hockey team dropped two to Northern Michigan. Derek Stepan (above) had a very nifty shorthanded goal Friday night.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:28 PM

December 30, 2008

A Short Video: Wisconsin Men's Hockey vs. Lake Superior State


Wisconsin Men's Hockey vs Lake Superior State from Jim Zellmer. Sunday evening's Badger Hockey Showdown championship between the Wisconsin Men's hockey team and the Lake Superior State Lakers produced an interesting outcome: a shootout after an inconclusive overtime.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:25 PM

October 27, 2008

Wisconsin Hockey vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers



A tough weekend series for Bucky; a Friday evening tie (2-2) and a Saturday 5-1 loss.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:45 PM

October 26, 2008

Wisconsin vs. Illinois: A Working Face in the Crowd



The Badgers topped Illinois 27-17.

Posted by jez at 8:14 AM

October 13, 2008

Photo Moment: Wisconsin vs. Penn State



Smiles could only be found on Penn State fans' faces during Saturday evening's 48-7 victory over Wisconsin at Camp Randall.

A fan was tasered nearby.

Posted by jez at 11:38 AM

September 22, 2008

Yankee Stadium VR Scene

Thanks to Pete for emailing Vincent LaForet's very nice scene, not that I'm a Yankee fan.

Posted by jez at 10:02 AM

August 26, 2008

Beijing's Ghost Town



Zach Honig:

About ten hours after the end of last night's closing ceremony, I headed to the Olympic Green, completely unsure of what I'd find when I got there. I hadn't heard much about when the Green will open to the ticketless public, or if it would stay open until the Paralympics -- so I knew it would either be packed to the brim, or completely deserted. I arrived to find the latter.

When I approached the Olympic subway line, the streets packed with tourists and scalpers just yesterday were now empty, and only one of dozens of security checkpoints to access the subway was open -- and there wasn't even anyone in line. Unsure if my accreditation card would still be valid, I approached the checkpoint to find a guard waving me through. Two of the guards were even taking a nap -- it was obvious that I was their first customer for quite some time.

Posted by jez at 8:46 AM

August 22, 2008

The Diver's View

A beautiful vr scene from the diving platform in Beijing, host of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Posted by jez at 8:41 AM

June 23, 2008

Chicago White Sox vs the Cubs: Capturing the "Spirit of the Weekend"



Walking around Chicago this weekend, I observed no shortage of White Sox and Cubs paraphernalia (the two teams played one another at Wrigley Field). This couple certainly expressed the spirit of the weekend.

Posted by jez at 8:59 AM

January 20, 2008

Ubiquitous Packer Paraphernalia


>
This photo was snapped at an early morning swim meet this weekend.

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:13 PM

January 19, 2008

All Roads Still Lead to Lombardi



Dave Anderson:

All you need to know about Green Bay is that Lambeau Field is on Lombardi Avenue.

Even the numerals in the Packers’ address, 1265 Lombardi Avenue, are significant — 12 for the franchise’s record number of N.F.L. championships, 6 when Curly Lambeau was the coach, 5 when Vince Lombardi was the coach. The 1996 team won the other title in Super Bowl XXXI with Mike Holmgren as the coach (he later defected to Seattle) and Brett Favre at quarterback (he is still the face of the franchise). But Lambeau and Lombardi remain its cornerstones.

Lambeau, a star tailback at Green Bay East High School who left Notre Dame after a year, organized the original Packers team at a meeting in the dingy Press-Gazette newspaper offices in 1919 when a local meatpacking company put up $500 for uniforms and pro football was a small-town sport.

Lombardi, a New Yorker originally out of Sheepshead Bay, St. Francis Prep and Fordham before coaching at St. Cecilia’s in Englewood, N.J., at Army under Red Blaik and the Giants’ offense for five seasons (including the 1956 championship team), gilded Green Bay with a major league mystique.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:47 PM

January 16, 2008

A History of the Packers vs. Giants

Bill Pennington:

It was the day before New Year’s Eve, and New Yorkers were leaving the city in droves. Not to escape Times Square celebrations, but to watch the N.F.L. championship game.

Roughly 45 years ago, on Dec. 30, 1962, the Yankee Stadium championship rematch between the Giants and the Green Bay Packers was blacked out on local television sets. Enterprising fans fled to southern New Jersey, searching for the broadcast from Philadelphia, or to the north to receive the signal from Hartford.

Those who succeeded watched a pivotal piece of American sports history. The N.F.L. might have first grabbed the public’s attention in the late 1950s, but it needed celebrity, personality and recurring characters for its Sunday gridiron theater.

The 1961 and 1962 N.F.L. championship games, each ending with a Green Bay victory over the Giants, had it all. Born on those afternoons was pro football’s first televised dynasty with Vince Lombardi as king, Paul Hornung as prince and Bart Starr as trusted knight. And although the Giants were twice defeated, by 37-0 in 1961 and by 16-7 the next year, they were the franchise that brought an eminence to the clashes. The Giants were established N.F.L. royalty, having played for the championship three times in the previous five years. They would play for it again in 1963.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 13, 2008

Surfing at Mavericks



Demian Bulwa:

Thousands of big-wave surfing fans straggled onto a small beach north of Half Moon Bay on Saturday morning to watch - or try to watch - the greatest surfers in the world battle the worst that the Pacific Ocean can throw at them.

Watching the fabled Maverick's contest from the beach seemed nearly as challenging as riding the waves themselves, as close-in breakers blocked the view of the waves that the competitors were riding about a half-mile offshore.

But the fans, many of them tugging on beers as they scrambled for position before sunrise, didn't care.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:10 PM

January 12, 2008

The Green Bay Packer's "Reclusive" Ted Thompson

Russell Adams:

In a year when New England Patriots executives are being hailed as football geniuses for engineering an undefeated season, Ted Thompson, the reclusive general manager of the Green Bay Packers, has achieved something equally remarkable.

Before this season, fans were calling for Mr. Thompson's head. While the Packers had won just 12 of their last 32 games, he did not seem to care. No matter how loudly the fans complained, Mr. Thompson, who avoids publicity and rarely explains himself, continued sending away popular veterans and replacing them with untested college players, some of whom weren't highly regarded by other NFL teams.

This year, led by a core of players that helped make Mr. Thompson a pariah, the Packers won 13 games and made the playoffs. What's more, the players he's brought into the league during his career are having an exceptional year -- as the playoffs resume Saturday, nearly 10% of the active players on the remaining eight teams were signed out of college by Mr. Thompson.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

December 14, 2007

Pre Steroid Era Brewer Logo?

brewers_pre_steroid.jpg

I saw a young man wearing a classic Brewers baseball cap earlier today. It occurred to me that this is the "pre steriod era" logo.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:59 PM

November 10, 2007

Pomp, Circumstance & Hockey: Wisconsin Badgers vs. North Dakota Fighting Sioux

uwhockey110907zmetro.jpg

uwhockey110907zmetrob.jpg

uwhockey110907zmetroc.jpgDetails of the Badgers 4-0 win available here. North Dakota had an amazing 43 shots on goal, including 25 in the third period. A tremendous, fast paced game. One of the best I've seen.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:51 PM

September 22, 2007

Moonrise over Camp Randall: Wisconsin Badgers 17, Iowa Hawkeyes 13



Posted by James Zellmer at 11:24 PM

August 24, 2007

An Evening with the Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field





A few observations after my first Packer game in 24 years:

  • Lambeau Field, like all modern sports facilities is designed to extract the maximum amount of cash from visitors. $8.50 burgers and $5.50 pizza slices.
  • Bottled water ($3) is delivered with the caps removed because "people are throwing them on the field".
  • The game was fun to watch, despite the outcome.
  • People watching was nearly as interesting as the game.
Many photos, here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:31 PM

August 3, 2007

All City Swim 2007 Photos





Many more photos here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:29 AM

February 17, 2007

Declining Demand for Luxury Sports Suites?

Russell Adams:
It was like watching an era of sports history being erased. In early December, construction workers sawed through the multiple layers of drywall and metal studs separating a row of skyboxes at the Seattle Mariners' Safeco Field. They tore up the suites' beech-hardwood floors and carted away their oriental rugs and leather furniture. By the end of the week, the eight skyboxes were gone.

In a reversal that strikes at a cornerstone of pro-sports finances -- and of the way corporate America entertains -- teams around the country are ripping out luxury suites. These perches have been used to justify billions of dollars in stadium construction over the past two decades. But in many cities, they are losing luster with surprising speed, partly the result of factors that couldn't have predicted five or 10 years ago, from changes in tax laws to scandal-driven reforms on corporate entertaining.

"At GM, you can't even buy them a cup of coffee anymore," says Lin Cummins, the marketing chief at automotive supplier Arvin Meritor in Troy, Mich, which has let the leases expire for its suites in four different sports.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:37 AM

February 10, 2007

Cheeseheads' Taste of Chester

Frank Fitzpatrick pens a Philly view of UW basketball coach Bo Ryan (Ryan is from Philadelphia):
Ryan peddled the cards until he got the camera. Forty-nine years later, the big picture hasn't changed much. He's still fighting and selling relentlessly.

"You've got to sell," he said, "because a lot of times you're a perfect stranger trying to convince somebody to do something they might not want to do. If I wasn't a coach, I'd probably be a salesman. I've got to have that competition."

Now Ryan sells Badger basketball - to recruits, to his players, to boosters, to the media, to the nation. With that slick exterior abetted by street smarts, he has transformed Wisconsin, once an off-the-rack program, into one of the hottest items on college basketball's shelf.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:10 PM

February 4, 2007

Kirkwood Jumps the Shark?

Kathryn Reed:
Those who skied Kirkwood 20 or more years ago found a typical day lodge with a cafeteria and slow lifts. It was the mountain people came for. They still come for it, only now they don't have to make the 40-mile trek into South Lake Tahoe to spend the night.

Off Highway 88 where Alpine, Amador and El Dorado counties meet, the Kirkwood Valley is growing up. Whether it grows with grace will be decided in the next few years.

Even with all the hammering and sawing, Kirkwood remains laid-back -- and growth has come relatively slowly. Ten years ago, the first phase of the village opened with 19 condominiums. The resort installed its first high-speed quad chairlift in 2001, with its second in operation last ski season. Dining choices are still sparse, but more diverse. Pretentiousness is unheard of. The 2000 Census tallies Kirkwood's population at 96 and Tim Cohee, president of Kirkwood Mountain Realty, says full-time residents still number fewer than 100.
I was one of those people who skied Kirkwood years ago. A Squaw Valley ski visit always included Jaguars and Mercedes-Benz (Oh Lord, Won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz), while a fun outing to Kirkwood found the Jeep / 4-Runner crowd enjoying the mountain. It is nice to stay on the mountain, but miles of condos in the valley certainly changes the alpine views.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:11 PM

January 28, 2007

Michael Lewis on the Hidden Economics of Baseball and Football

Russ Roberts:
Michael Lewis talks about the economics of sports--the financial and decision-making side of baseball and football--using the insights from his bestselling books on baseball and football: Moneyball and The Blind Side. Along the way he discusses the implications of Moneyball for the movie business and other industries, the peculiar ways that Moneyball influenced the strategies of baseball teams, the corruption of college football, and the challenge and tragedy of kids who live on the streets with little education or prospects for success.
audio.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:23 PM

January 11, 2007

A Chat With UW's Kammron Taylor

Pat Borzi:
“Kamm had been a star since fifth grade,” Kerek said. “From what I gathered, Coach Ryan got after him really hard. He was just not used to that in a basketball context, having the coach cuss at you, having other point guards on the floor better than you.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:09 PM

December 24, 2006

Surfer Survives Two Shark Attacks

Jim Doyle:
Royce Fraley has surfed the unforgiving, storm-swelled waves of Northern California for three decades, and also -- by chance -- explored the hunting habits and appetites of great white sharks.

But this holiday season he's spending time ashore in Guerneville with his wife and their two young children. He hasn't been surfing since his latest brush with fate. Two weeks ago, he became one of the world's few surfers to have survived two separate shark attacks -- the latest incident involving a shark that pulled him at least 15 feet below the surface.

"I'm not chomping at the bit to get back into the water," Fraley, 43, told The Chronicle. "I had an offer to go surfing with a buddy last Sunday, and I declined. I'm definitely taking a break and enjoying my family. ... If my feet were dangling down, I might not even have a leg or be here today. It's made me more respectful of my life and my family."
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:52 AM

December 2, 2006

Baseball & Innovation

Bob Sutton:
Jeff Angus over at Management by Baseball sent me an intriguing update about Billy Bean's approach to Moneyball. Bean is famous in the baseball world for developing quantitative techniques to help identify players that are underpaid by market standards and for developing a system that enables such "bargain" players to contribute to overall team performance. There are many signs that the system works, for example, Oakland's cost per win in 2005 was $450,000 in salary, while the New York Yankees paid 1.4 million. The 2006 payrolls (when Oakland had a better season than the Yankees) were about 60 million for the A's and about 200 million for the Yankees. Bean and his staff do impressive analysis to make decisions that gain them cost advantages and increase their odds of success. For example, they stay away for star players that are coming out of high school and prefer college graduates because only 5% of baseball players drafted straight out of high school are in the major leagues in three years, while 17% of college graduates that are drafted make it to the majors.
Beane watching is worthwhile...
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:10 PM

November 4, 2006

"The Only Thing"




The Madison Rep's New Play Festival: The Only Thing by Eric Simonson, based on David Maraniss' excellent "When Pride Still Mattered".

Simonson's approach to Lombardi is clever and interesting. There's another reading Saturday evening, 11/11/2006 @ 7:00p.m. GO!
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:18 PM

October 31, 2006

NCAA: Rein in Sports Spending

Howard Fendrich:
In a task-force report released Monday by NCAA president Myles Brand, Division I schools were encouraged to rein in spending on sports - but there aren't any requirements everyone must adhere to or punishments if they don't.

"In the case of academic reform, we had a hammer - namely, by teams not conforming, we could take away scholarships and, if that failed, we could keep them out of the Final Four and postseason. That's heavy duty. That's a sledgehammer," Brand said after speaking at the National Press Club. "The fact is, we don't have that for fiscal responsibility in intercollegiate athletics."

The task force of about 50 school presidents and chancellors was formed in January 2005, and the report's release comes as the NCAA is preparing its response to an Oct. 3 letter from Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Thomas asked the NCAA to justify its tax-exempt status and sought a reply by the end of October; the NCAA received a two-week extension.
I've gone to a variety of sporting events around the country over the past 25 years. It is interesting to observe the explosion in sponsorships, luxury boxes and facilities around college athletics.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:35 AM

October 8, 2006

Another Camp Randall Wide Angle Photo: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Northwestern Wildcats

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:16 AM

October 7, 2006

Wisconsin Badgers vs Northwestern Wildcats Football Photos




Luke Swan makes a great catch for an early touchdown [this photo shows Swan hauling the pigskin in].

The Wisconsin Northwestern Football series has been interesting over the years, with some rough losses mixed in with a few blowouts. Today, however, the Badgers had their way, despite a fumble or two; 41-9.

Many more photos here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:55 PM

Miller Park Economics, or Your Tax Dollars at Work

Tom Haudricourt and Don Walker:
In the three years after moving into Miller Park in 2001, the Milwaukee Brewers made a yearly economic impact of $327.3 million on the five-county area that was taxed to build the ballpark, according to a study by the Institute for Survey and Policy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The director of the UWM Center for Economic Development offered a different view, saying the study was a "standard nonsensical sports study that inflates the impact of spending on baseball."

The study, which local public relations firm Mueller Communications Inc. commissioned on behalf of Major League Baseball and the Brewers, was completed in January 2005. It is to be made public for the first time Monday, when baseball Commissioner Bud Selig addresses a meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee at Miller Park.
Much more on Miller Park and Bud Selig here. The mosting interesting link is a June, 2004 article in the Washington Post of all places where Bud Selig's hardball tactics were discussed and we learned that former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson won't set foot in the place. Clearly, the opportunity to place the park downtown was a major miss.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:29 AM

September 24, 2006

Alt Badger Broadcast

"Bielema is the only undeafeated Big 10 coach in conference play" is the sort of useful commentary one will hear listening to the Badger football squad on WSUM (Student radio) rather than the commercial options. Obviously, Michigan took care of that distinction handily Saturday.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:25 PM

September 16, 2006

Gorgeous Saturday Afternoon - For a Rather Slow UW Football Game



The Badgers shut out San Diego State: 14-0.



Many more photos here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:30 PM

September 15, 2006

Dancing on the Packers Grave

Queueing up for a flight through Chicago recently, I stood behind three well dressed Bear fans. It was a rather long queue - about 30 minutes. The fans reveled in last Sunday's shutout and hatched plans to obtain tickets, flights and lodging for February 4, 2007 in Miami - site of the 2007 Super Bowl.

Hubris.

Perhaps premature..... They also mentioned that the Bears were the last team to shut out the Packers in 1991....

For many, Sundays are now wide open. One wonders if the Pack will fall to the depths of the Bart Starr and Forrest Gregg era?
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:32 AM

September 9, 2006

2006 Badger Attire


This gentleman mentioned that he was married at Camp Randall 15 years ago today (Saturday). The shoes were "custom made" by Port Washington's Allen Edmonds (via John Stollenwerk). Quite a change from my red and white bib overalls of some years ago.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:58 PM

August 26, 2006

Longhorns in Madison


More photos here. More about this weekend's volleyball tournament.

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:47 PM

August 20, 2006

Rethinking Moneyball

Jeff Passan:
Another Jason Giambi.

Mark Teahen was called that once. During the preparation for the 2002 draft, the Oakland Athletics' scouting director, Eric Kubota, said if there were someone in the class who could develop like Giambi – from a big, strong singles hitter into a powerful corner infielder – it was Teahen. And this is public knowledge only because the A’s opened their doors that year to author Michael Lewis, who chronicled Oakland’s methods in the seminal book “Moneyball.”

“I’d like to say I’m past all of it,” Teahen said, “but it’s always going to be with me. It’s always going to be with all of us.”
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:27 PM

July 30, 2006

UW Football PR heats up

Interesting: Both the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal ran features today on new UW Football coach Bret Bielema.

I recently saw well tanned UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez and Bret (also well tanned) riding around in Barry's two seat convertible on a gorgeous Madison evening. Would have been a great photograph - had I been carrying a camera....
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:37 AM

May 18, 2006

A Speedy Visit to the "Honda Powered" Indy 500

I recently had an opportunity to briefly visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (home of the Memorial Day weekend Indy 500 [satellite view]) while the teams were practicing. A surprisingly large crowd was on hand to watch the drivers, mechanics and managers test their vehicles, systems and methods. Many, but not all teams had quite a number of computer operators keeping an eye on all aspects of their cars.

Silence.
There's not much of that at the Speedway, but when it does occur - only a split second - it is jarring.

Danica Patrick easily grabbed most of the crowd's attention. A group of fans and photographers never left her team's side. More photos here.

You did read that right. Honda powers all of the cars in this year's race. Evidently Honda has dominated recently and the teams coalesced on their engine this year.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:21 PM

April 17, 2006

Low Payroll and High Hopes for the Brewers

Murray Chass likes the Brewers chances:
TOM HICKS and Mark Attanasio have conducted business deals with each other, but it is a deal Hicks did on his own for which Attanasio owes Hicks a large thank-you. Hicks, the Texas Rangers' owner, fired Doug Melvin as his general manager in 2001, three and a half years after Hicks bought the team. Melvin became the general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers in September 2002 and was in that position when Attanasio bought the Brewers in January 2005.

While Hicks's Rangers continue to flail and founder in a sea of uncertain leadership, Attanasio's Brewers are headed in the right direction. After a franchise-record 12 consecutive losing seasons, the Brewers last year won as many games as they lost. This season, they won their first five games before losing three of four.

"We're more settled and we have more stability than we've had in the past," Melvin said. "We know our players better. Two, three years ago, we weren't sure. I think we have a club that has a chance to grow on the fans. I feel we have enough experience to contend."
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:12 PM

April 16, 2006

Mets and Brewers Photo Set

Dave posted photos from Saturday's Mets / Brewers game (8-2 Brewers).
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:02 PM

April 8, 2006

The Mishap at Mammoth

Bob Lefsetz:
My inbox and voice mail are filling up with questions/concerns re the tragic accident at Mammoth Mountain today.

With 79" of new snow, the ski patrol had to do a great deal of maintenance work to make the hill safe for skiing. In clearing up the Face of 3, a group of ski patrollers went to adjust a fence around a volcano vent on the far side of the slope. The ground collapsed and they were trapped and the latest report is three people died. It is not clear whether the fall killed them or the lack of oxygen or the volcanic gases.

It was very strange. One started to hear whispering. And then the upper lifts were running but they wouldn’t let anybody board. And then they stopped the upper lifts completely.

Different stories were circulated. One, that the snow just collapsed. Two, that by covering up the vent previously, the gases found a new exit and a larger area was rendered unstable.
Usha Lee McFarling notes the risks for those who work and play atop one of the nations largest active volcanic systems. Steve Hymon and Amanda Covarrubias have more.

Mammoth has had 638 inches (!) of snow this year. The lifts will be open until July 4th!

Mammoth Mountain
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:21 AM

March 18, 2006

A Delightful Few Days Skiing at Wisconsin's Whitecap Mountains

A March visit to Whitecap Mountain

Spring break 2006 presented an opportunity to check out a ski area that was within a reasonable distance (avoid flights) and promised a decent amount of snow. I surfed the web last week seeking such a destination and found Whitecap, a resort that Ski Magazine has posted favorable words on the years. Those reviews, along with a very attractive package ($199 per person for 3 nights, 3 day lift tickets, 2 dinners, 3 breakfast meals, rentals and a one hour daily group lesson) sealed the deal.

Whitecap is an easy four hour drive north from Madison. We arrived just as crews were clearing snow from last weekend's 20 to 30" storm - creating great midwest conditions for our visit. Whitecap's founder: Dave (an amazingly active guy), mentioned in between bulldozing snow, grooming trails, cleaning rooms, helping with the lifts and feeding wood to lodge fireplaces that a number of cars were stuck during the storm (see photo) and the resort lost power for a short period of time.

Our package include a room in the Whitecap Lodge. This facility provides very convenient ski in/ski out access, nearby parking, a large hot tub and indoor heated pool. The only downside to the lodging was the smoking rooms nearby (be sure to request non-smoking if that is important to you). Perhaps living in Madison has made it far too uncommon to encounter a smoking facility. I was surprised at the number of smoker skiers. The rooms had plenty of hot water for a decent shower. Some include a kitchenette while others feature a microwave and small refrigerator.

Skiing
Whitecap's 43 trails provide a great deal of variety, from wide, well groomed slopes for beginners to some quite challenging (viewed from a chair lift) double black diamonds. The requisite bunny hill is available for newby's. They also offer a tiny slope with a "magic carpet" for those just starting out. The other extreme, at least from a view perspective is the double chairlift that goes up Eagles Nest Mountain and continues, if you'd like, over a valley to the top of Thunder Mountain.

There was never a wait at the chairlifts and whitecap provides plenty of terrain to keep one busy for several days.

Links & Commentary
Go Ski's discussion board has some useful comments.

Bill Semion took a look at Whitecap's new trails a few months ago.

I've posted some additional photos below.

Dave takes pride in his family oriented destination, as well he should. There's also a golf course for summer fun.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:50 AM

March 6, 2006

Taos Ski Valley


Lisa Reed:
I'm here for the famous Taos ridge, which offers some of the most difficult, unspoiled terrain in any ski area in the country. The ridge is double-black-diamond terrain accessible only by foot; to get there, skiers must take lift No. 2 to its highest point, take off their skis and hike up a steep trail to the top. Because of the hiking and the double black diamonds, skiing the ridge has a hard-core cachet.

Not that I'm all that great a skier. But Taos's "learn to ski better week" is about to change that, with a immersion program at its much-praised ski school. When you sign up for the "learn to ski better" program, you are assigned to a group at your level (there are many levels; "expert" alone has 10 different gradations, with the highest one being professional, and then ski every morning, Sunday to Friday. You're on your own in the afternoon to practice what you've learned.

I came here last January to learn to ski better, and to ski terrain that was fun and challenging for me. Here is what I was not here to do: ski tedious blue runs just to keep a friend company; squabble about whether to stop for lunch; spend two hours looking for my missing nephew. These things tend to happen when you ski with friends and family. Inevitably, people have different skill levels. Last time I was at Taos, I went with five friends and family members. We skied together the first hour of the first day and then broke apart. No two of us were at the same level.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:44 PM

March 5, 2006

A Pleasant Saturday Morning at Tyrol Basin

I've been avoiding trips to local ski areas from many years. The AA tag on my ski bag tells the story. The last time the bag was used was a flight from Albuquerque to Dallas - our last pre-children ski trip. The ski bag, along with my boot bag made the journey from Dallas to Madison in 1993.

Living in a four season climate, my recreation thoughts have generally drifted toward warm weather vacations. However, and perhaps giving in to the inevitable, I put my fun but evidently outmoded skis (purchased at Denver's Gart Brothers during my days there) in the car and made the short drive to Tyrol Basin early Saturday morning.

A glorious, sunny day, there were perhaps 15 cars in the lot as we walked toward the ticket office. The temperature and conditions were quite good, with only a bit of ice detected here and there.

Moments later, standing on top of the basin, I enjoyed the view and thought that it was quite pleasant to be within an hour's drive of this place.

While checking out the basin's runs - all except the moguls, my thoughts turned to:

  • Training:
    I saw two (surprising) examples of skiers evidently losing control and requiring ski patrol assistance. Years ago, when I learned to ski in a more serious way (via a Swiss instructor at Loveland), he advised that I take a lesson at the beginning of each ski season. I think this is correct - and I spent a bit of time on Tyrol's bunny hill last weekend, regaining my alpine perspective.
  • The Road Not Taken:
    Like Frost, I prefer the less travelled and popular routes. Tyrol makes it easy to turn right off the main lift and ski down toward another lift, where very few people where skiing (moguls - not for me, but the black and blue runs were enjoyable). I chose this route quite a few times and very much enjoyed the views, serenity and a rather quiet late morning outing.
  • Safety:
    There's quite a bit more safety enhancements than I recall. A large, orange plastic fence now greets the skier as she turns off the triple chair. An out of control skier will be caught in this, rather than careening down the hill.
  • The rise of snowboarding:
    Just starting to take off when I last skied, snowboarding is big time, today. I can see the friction between traditional alpine downhillers and snowboarders.
  • Variety:
    Snowboarders, downhillers and telemark skiers mingled reasonably well at Tyrol. It's great to see a few telemark folks sliding downhill.
Finally, my eldest added these notes:
You are weird skiing is odd and my lower back is sore!!!!! Overall it was a fun experience, and I would love to go more often next year!!! Thank you Nora for teaching me!!
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:01 PM

March 4, 2006

Gladwell: Lazy Centers

Malcolm Gladwell:
David Sally, a behavioral economist at Dartmouth, responds to the discussion I had with Bill Simmons yesterday on the tendency of NBA players to so dramatically over-perform in the last year of their contract:

With regard to the contract year phenomenon, we can go a little further--we can predict that the likelihood of the post-contract dip is positively correlated with the height of the player. Why is that? Again, the answer lies in the environment-individual link. The seven foot guy has heard that he should be a basketball player since he was eight years old or even younger. He's been pushed his whole career onto the grade school team, onto the varsity, into Division I, and then the NBA draft. He is much less likely than the six foot guy to ever have made a committed choice. He may never had to exert anything approaching his maximum effort level until his contract year. As a result, he has either no idea how to persevere or no intrinsic motivation. So, Simmons' rule is actually too blunt: it seems he should be able to draft contract-signing point guards and two guards for his fantasy team, but never centers or fours. Small forwards--we'd have to do the empirical study.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:14 PM

January 27, 2006

A Homecoming for Bart Starr

Allen Barra:
For the man who will stride to midfield for the coin toss before the Super Bowl next weekend, it will be something of a homecoming.

Bart Starr, one of football's greatest quarterbacks and the most important player of the Green Bay Packers dynasty in the 1960s, stepped away from the game and the public eye in 1988 after a family tragedy. Kickoff of Super Bowl XL will see his public reunion with the National Football League. And after the game he'll be presenting the Lombardi Trophy, named after his old coach, the man with whom he won five NFL championships and two Super Bowls.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:02 PM

January 2, 2006

Warren Miller Ski Film Clips

Warren Miller's ski film trailers are well worth checking out.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:33 PM

December 24, 2005

Leadership/Decision Making: Coach Leach Goes Deep, Very Deep

Michael Lewis:
The 49ers had not bothered to interview college coaches for the head-coaching job in part because its front-office analysis found that most of the college coaches hired in the past 20 years to run N.F.L. teams had failed. But in Schwartz's view, college coaches tended to fail in the N.F.L. mainly because the pros hired the famous coaches from the old-money schools, on the premise that those who won the most games were the best coaches. But was this smart? Notre Dame might have a good football team, but how much of its success came from the desire of every Catholic in the country to play for Notre Dame?

Looking for fresh coaching talent, Schwartz analyzed the offensive and defensive statistics of what he called the "midlevel schools" in search of any that had enjoyed success out of proportion to their stature. On offense, Texas Tech's numbers leapt out as positively freakish: a midlevel school, playing against the toughest football schools in the country, with the nation's highest scoring offense. Mike Leach had become the Texas Tech head coach before the 2000 season, and from that moment its quarterbacks were transformed into superstars. In Leach's first three seasons, he played a quarterback, Kliff Kingsbury, who wound up passing for more yards than all but three quarterbacks in the history of major college football. When Kingsbury graduated (he is now with the New York Jets), he was replaced by a fifth-year senior named B.J. Symons, who threw 52 touchdown passes and set a single-season college record for passing yards (5,833). The next year, Symons graduated and was succeeded by another senior - like Symons, a fifth-year senior, meaning he had sat out a season. The new quarterback, who had seldom played at Tech before then, was Sonny Cumbie, and Cumbie's 4,742 passing yards in 2004 was the sixth-best year in N.C.A.A. history.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:04 PM

December 16, 2005

Sport Photos: Wisconsin Badger Basketball vs UW-M Panthers

Alando Tucker
Coach Bo Ryan
I enjoyed Thursday evening's UW - UW-M basketball game at the Kohl Center (the Badgers won 74-68). These photos represent my simple attempt to capture a bit of the event. Enjoy. (My favorites are the two shown above).
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:19 PM

November 4, 2005

Paterno on Alvarez

This weekend's Penn State - Wisconsin game should be entertaining. Long Time Penn State coach Joe Paterno prepares with a few comments on outgoing UW Coach Barry Alvarez:

I think Barry has been a great coach. I am sorry to see him get out of coaching. He was a big, fat kid down there in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. We turned him down and he never forgot that. Every time I talk to him he reminds me of it. Barry is a great guy. He will be a great athletic director as he has been a great football coach. You hate to see guys like that get out of coaching, but everybody has their life to live and the whole bit. Barry and his wife are good friends and, obviously, he has been a good coach. He kicked our ears in most of the time. That part I won’t miss.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:02 PM

October 29, 2005

Friday Night Hockey and Halloween

Walking toward the Kohl Center Friday evening (Hockey: UW defeated Alaska-Anchorage 6-1), I chanced across a number of costumed students, out of state cars dropping off students armed with sleeping bags and several parties well underway. I mentioned to one of the students that I recall that the Halloween party was historically Saturday night. The response was simply a roll of the eyes and "it starts now...". Jesse posted some photos from Friday evening's crowd.

One little known benefit of Friday's UW win: Culvers offers free ice cream with your tickets when the Badgers score 5 or more goals. We swapped four tickets for four cups of ice cream later that evening.

Kristian Knutsen is also covering these events
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:55 PM

September 24, 2005

Wisconsin vs. Michigan

Jason Joyce:

Other things to watch: Will Brian Calhoun, who has been stellar in UW’s first three games, run well against Michigan’s bigger, tougher and more experienced defense? And will the UW offense unveil the rumored wrinkles that allegedly include splitting Calhoun out wide at receiver on some plays? Will John Stocco continue in the tradition of UW quarterbacks that do just enough to win, but never quite enough to earn respect, let alone love, from Badger fans? And will the kicking game, a sore spot for Wisconsin in recent years, continue to perform ably in a game that might be determined by special teams?
The Michigan Daily forecasts a Wolverine victory 28-24.

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:41 PM

September 19, 2005

Vikings to Announce a New Stadium Deal

Brandt Williams:
On Tuesday officials from the Minnesota Vikings and Anoka County will formally announce that they have reached an agreement for a new football stadium. The $675 million, retractable-roof stadium would be built on a 700-acre site in Blaine. The total cost of the project, with roads and other infrastructure, could be as much as $790 million. The Vikings are expected to contribute up to $280 million with the rest of the funding to come from Anoka County and state taxpayers.
I wonder if any NFC North team actually needs a new stadium, given the dreadful outlook this fall. Perhaps they will all finish 3-13? Beyond that, I'm sure we can use this money in much better ways, than by subsidizing the rich.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:15 PM

September 11, 2005

2005 Ironman Wisconsin - Madison Video Clips


Photos here
2.4 Mile Swim, Start [17MB]

2.4 Mile Swim, Start 2nd Loop [9MB]

2.4 Mile Swim Ends, Remove Wetsuits [3.5MB]

2.4 Mile Swim, Stepping out of Lake Monona [17MB]

2.4 Mile Swim, Scenes [12MB]

2.4 Mile Swim, Scenes II [5MB]
Thanks to Omaha's Paul Johnson for shooting this video while I snapped still photographs.

UPDATE: One additional video clip - the cycling segment [9MB]
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:32 PM

Madison's Ironman Wisconsin is Underway


Hundreds of
photos here. Results here. UPDATE Cycling photos here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:48 PM

August 29, 2005

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Bowling Green

Saturday's opener looks like a tough match for the home team. Bowling Green's quarterback passed for over 4,000 yards last year with only 4 interceptions. Pete Thamel disects Bowling Green's "devastating" spread offense:

Now, the offenses Meyer and Brandon will run will be conceptually similar but vastly different. Brandon's quarterback, Omar Jacobs, had a more productive year than Smith last season, passing for 4,002 yards while throwing 41 touchdown passes and only 4 interceptions.

Jacobs, a junior, landed at Bowling Green after a quarterback backed out on his commitment 10 days before signing day. Meyer called every quarterbacks coach he knew to see if there were any unsigned quarterbacks. He got a tip from a coach at Kansas State on a towering quarterback with an unorthodox throwing motion in South Florida - Jacobs.

Mullen was recruiting in Michigan and drove to Notre Dame, where Meyer used to be an assistant, to watch film of Jacobs. The next night, Meyer was in Jacobs's living room making a pitch for Bowling Green. Jacobs bit, and four years later is considered a Heisman Trophy contender.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

August 25, 2005

ATC on Armstrong's 1999 Tour Blood Test

All Things Considered:

The French daily sports newspaper L'Equipe reported Tuesday that six urine samples taken from U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France have recently tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug EPO, or erithropoietin. Armstrong won the Tour de France in 1999, the first of a record seven straight titles. Melissa Block talks to Charles Pelkey of the magazine Velo News.
audio

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:03 AM

August 17, 2005

All city 2005 Video Clips

We've started posting video clips from the recent 2005 All City Swim Meet here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:15 AM

August 16, 2005

Favre Yearns for Quiet

Larry Weisman:
He recently had the windows of his truck tinted a dark shade to secure perhaps a little anonymity on the roads in this football-mad city of 100,000. Any Packers player is recognizable here. Favre? Anywhere, anytime.

"When I stop at a light, I don't stop beside a car in the next lane," he says. "If there's two cars, I'll pull up between them. I notice where I'm going to park. I envision what's going to happen if I park there or here. People say, 'It's terrible you have to live like that.' But it's not. I love playing football. Some people live for being known, for sitting and being seen, but I always joke that I'm going to be like Don Meredith and suddenly be gone."
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:50 AM

August 13, 2005

Oakland A's in First Place - Brewers are Not

Bob Sherwin:

Yet other teams have smart players with skill and vision. Tampa Bay has had several first-round draft choices over the years. Texas is loaded with young talent, as are Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and others. But those teams do not get off the ground, while Oakland soars.
Oakland General Manager Billy Beane continues to make it happen. Milwaukee, while, perhaps slowly improving, just is not in the same league, despite a similar small payroll.
Michael Lewis's Moneyball is a must read for this interested in just how the A's have been very competitive while the Brewers have not...

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

August 10, 2005

Crime, Punishment and Sports

Frank Deford:
Baseball star Rafael Palmiero Thursday wraps up his 10-day suspension for steroids. Athletes in other sports -- also charged with doping -- such as cyclist Tyler Hamilton and 10th-ranked tennis player Guillermo Canas are facing suspensions in increments of years, not days
audio
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:12 AM

August 6, 2005

Chinese Basketball Team to Play Ryan Coached Team at the Fieldhouse

WisPolitics:

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) China Council and the Milwaukee Bucks today announced that the professional Chinese Basketball Association's Beijing Ducks will play a free exhibition game at the University of Wisconsin Field House during the team's 12-day trip to Wisconsin. The Ducks will take on Madison-area college stars and aspiring professionals - coached by University of Wisconsin men's basketball coach Bo Ryan - at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11.

The exhibition game is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

"The Beijing Ducks' visit to Wisconsin marks the first time a professional Chinese basketball team has come to the United States, and we are excited and honored that they will be using the University of Wisconsin's facilities during their trip," UW assistant coach Greg Gard said. "This should be a fun game for both the players and the spectators. We hope many people will come out and take advantage of this great opportunity to see top-level basketball at no cost."

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

August 1, 2005

Green Bay Packers: Titletown Team in Turmoil?


Clifton Brown:

So despite the team's problems, the fans were full of optimism on Friday, driving down Lombardi Avenue, or passing Holmgren Way, or watching practice on the Ray Nitschke Field, or in front of the Don Hutson Center. All seemed well in Green Bay because the Packers were back in town.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

May 29, 2005

2005 Mad City Marathon Photos


Hundreds of photos here.

Today's Mad City Marathon enjoyed perfect weather, unlike last year's deluge (Quicktime Video). Quite a few iPods this year.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:54 PM

April 23, 2005

NFL/Packer Draft Coverage

There seems to be quite a bit of draft action online. The NFL summarizes the draft here. Packer draft information here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:24 PM

April 18, 2005

Lots of Soccer at Reddan This Weekend


Teams from Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis and in between participated in this weekend's spring soccer tournament at Reddan.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:05 AM

April 2, 2005

Bud Selig vs Fay Vincent

Murray Chass takes an interesting look at the ongoing feud between former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent and ex-Milwaukee Brewer Owner and current Commissioner Bud Selig.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

March 29, 2005

More on Carolina & the UW Badgers

Gary Shelton:

Both versions of the Tar Heels were on display Sunday afternoon when North Carolina held off an outmanned Wisconsin team 88-82. North Carolina was so dazzling offensively it resembled an NBA team; unfortunately, it was so detached on defense, it did the same. The Tar Heels were so nonchalant, they left Wisconsin - Wisconsin - looking like Phi Slamma Jamma.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:03 AM

March 28, 2005

Wisconsin Badgers vs. North Carolina Roundup

Follow the conversation on Sunday's Wisconsin Badger's loss to UNC:

  • Ivan Carter: There were moments during Sunday's crisply played game when it appeared Williams and his players would be sharing only disappointment. Wisconsin (25-9) played a terrific game, shooting 49.2 percent from the field and making 11 of 24 three-point attempts and 11 of 13 free throws.
  • Joe LaPoint: The primary victim of all this was Mike Wilkinson, a Wisconsin forward matched against May at each end of the floor.

    "He's almost unstoppable and even knocked down some jump shots today," Wilkinson said. "He just played amazingly all over the floor. He did a good job on the boards, everything. He's just all over."

    May said before the game that Rashad McCants had said of Wilkinson: "There's no way he'll be able to guard you. He's too little."

  • Technorati

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

March 26, 2005

Winning Ugly - Wisconsin Badgers vs. N.C. State

The first half was rather difficult to watch. Someone mentioned that the game reminded him of the Bennett era game vs. Southwest Missouri State. Commentary around the country:
  • Ivan Carter:
    If James Naismith had been around to witness Wisconsin's 65-56 region semifinal victory over North Carolina State on Friday night, he might have wished he had invented something other than basketball.
  • Joe LaPointe
    Explaining his team's strategy for coping with Hodge, Ryan said: "You show respect, and then you play. Make him go right a little bit. Make him go left a little bit. I really liked our help defense. We kept him from getting to the rim."
  • Herb Sendek Remarks
  • Roger Van Der Horst
    This was supposed to have been a renaissance for college basketball in the Triangle, and for a week it was just that, a time when once again all three of its major men's basketball teams -- Duke, N.C. State and North Carolina -- were playing deep into the NCAA Tournament. For Duke and State, those sweet few days ended with a thud Friday night, courtesy of two methodical, strong, defensive-minded Big Ten teams.
  • Google News (lots of links)
Meanwhile, Ed Cone is pleased that one ACC team survived. Rather unusual for 3 Big Ten teams to make it this far, with only UNC left from the ACC.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:04 AM

March 22, 2005

Wisconsin Badgers vs. N.C. State: NCAA Sweet Sixteen Basketball

All the links you'll need to follow the conversation regarding Friday evenings tilt between the University of Wisconsin (UW) Badgers and NC State. alltheweb | Clusty | Google | MSN | Teoma | Yahoo
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:01 PM

March 17, 2005

WIAA March Madness: Wishoops Boys Basketball Tourney Blog Coverage

wishoops.net is running a blog covering this weekends WIAA Boys Basketball Tournament. Check it out.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:35 PM

March 2, 2005

March Madness: WIAA Boys Basketball Tournament

Pearl and Nick (www.wishoops.net) have started their WIAA Boys Basketball tournament coverage with some predictions. Check it out.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:10 AM

February 22, 2005

Backcountry Ski Risks

Back Country Skiing has huge risks, as Carrie Sturrock explains.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:53 AM

February 9, 2005

All is well in the Green Bay Packer Nation :)

One of my coworkers predicts a Packer Super Bowl victory this year, while today's Doonesbury features a quote from current President, Bob Harlan:

"Just another typical diehard cheesehead. I hear from them all the time." -- Green Bay Packers president Bob Harlan, on 8-year-old David Witthoft, who's worn his Brett Favre jersey for over 400 days straight

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 20, 2005

Coaching in Wisconsin - Worth it?

Coaching in Wisconsin - Worth it?
Pearly Kiley - wishoops.net [PDF Version 103K]
"With all this talent, why arent we winning more games?"

"My kid averaged 20 points in summer league, why isnt he playing more?"

"Why are we walking the ball up the floor all the time?"

"I wish we had the old coach back."

These unfounded sentiments were also a major reason why over 80 coaches
chose to resign, were relieved of duty or retired since last season.

There are coaches who point to AAU basketball and all its dramatically improving impact. Some blame school administrators for showing more allegiance to parents than them in disputes over individual roles and playing time. Still others say it takes too much time and impossible patience to deal with the increasingly overzealous parent.

At the high school level, the rewards arent tangible, said former Waupaca coach Tim Locum, who resigned after last season and is currently an assistant coach at UW-Oshkosh.

There is no shoe deal, radio show, big contract, national TV exposure or endorsements. What keeps a coach going is the joy of watching young men mature, the pat on the back from an AD, a thank you from a parent. Instances such as those have continued to slowly dwindle, if not disappear altogether. And what is left is over 80 Wisconsin Boys Varsity positions turning over in one year almost 20% of the schools!

Are parents and fans simply out of control?

I point to my hometown of Cuba City as an example, where longtime coach Jerry Petitgoue has won 654 games and is the all-time leader in coaching wins in Wisconsin history.

If two weeks from now they held a referendum on the boys basketball job, and whether he should keep his job or be fired, I believe that vote would actually be very close. What does this say about the state of high school athletics in Wisconsin?

(Im not sure its an altogether new thing, though. Hollywood captured the idea perfectly in Hoosiers; George, Milan Highs interim coach before coach Norman Dale, summed it up perfectly:

"Look mister, there's two kinds of dumb ... the guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and the guy who does the same thing in my living room. The first one don't matter, and the second one you're kinda forced to deal with."

How much money do we think George would be spending on his kid to play AAU basketball nowadays? How crazy would he have gotten when, after spending all this money, his kid wasnt playing significant minutes or getting scholarship offers? The issue today is that parents handle the problems much more subtly and administrations arent near as loyal as principal Cletus.

In the 1950s parents simply bought a basketball, in some cases a hoop, and kids became great players the old fashioned way, by working on their fundamentals and developing a jump shot -- yes, a jump shot (Jimmy Chitwood made 98% of his shots!). The point is, too many parents are spending too much money nowadays, and when results dont materialize, they cast their blame on the easiest and most visible target.

Its human nature for parents to see the best in their own kids, said Cuba City coach and Executive Director of the WBCA Jerry Petitgoue.

Kids are starting to play competitively in third and fourth grade nowadays and most of the time its parents that are coaching. With this, parents start thinking they know the game as well as the high school coach and therein lies the problem.

All you have to do is sit in the crowd at any basketball game and youre guaranteed to learn more about the game from some parents and fans than youd learn if you were listening to John Wooden himself.

Dont think so? Just go to your local pub and theyll tell ya.

Wisconsin Rapids coach Dan Witter was forewarned well before he got into coaching.

An administrator who was also a former coach warned me that most of my friends that have kids will likely stop talking to me if I dont play, or cut, their kid, and as a coach you have to go into it knowing your not going to be friends with everyone and your going to upset some people.

Sound fun yet?


The Time Issue


In many castes, coaches have families of their own. How can they be expected to do all the work that goes into coaching in todays climate?

As a head coach, Locum said, taking a deep breath, you are expected to know the game, teach it to your players, relate to their adolescent minds and emotions, scout and break down your opponents, come early, stay late, watch film, track your players academic and behavioral progress, fund raise to get the extras everyone else has, help and inspire your youth coaches and programs, make sure the high school assistants are prepared, and oh yeah.win most if not all of your games."

Despite all these factors, most coaches truly enjoy their job, work hard, and want the best for the kids they coach. Problems arise when you factor in everything coaches simply dont have enough time to do, while still doing the job the way they think it should be done.

"With the changing role of today's family, it is not uncommon for both spouses to work, WIAA Associate Director Deb Hauser said. Thus, the pressures and expectations at home require both parents to provide time for household duties. Many young coaches will try coaching for a short time, feel the pressures from parents and fans, and opt to spend more time with their own families instead.

We all know that anyone who coaches at the high school doesn't do it for the money but rather for the love of the game. Thus, the transition back to spending time with one's own family has become the more popular choice."


Choosing between your children and spouse and dealing with what some of these coaches do is simple, isnt it?

Whats easy is criticizing an overworked and underpaid coach, getting pleasure from Monday morning quarterbacking every move he or she makes. This is becoming the reality for more and more coaches, who rarely get the great gratitude and respect from their communities that they deserve.


New game, new era

Then again, how can we expect kids to listen to a coach trying to teach them fundamentals of the game? Consider the influences on todays players: Michael Jordan and the glorification of the slam dunk, AAUs run-and-gun style, ESPN SportsCenter, and the And 1 Tour.

Kids are no longer dedicated and willing to sacrifice to be the best they can be, said Oshkosh North coach Frank Schade. They simply have too many other outside influences and interests.

A daily look at WisHoops offers confirmation. Threads on how to jump higher, the states best dunker, peoples favorite player on the AND 1 Tour. These posts are fun, but they are also strong statement about this generation of basketball players.

Im still waiting for someone to ask how to shoot better, the best way to work on your ball skills, or how to best position yourself to become a better rebounder.

A big problem is that kids are playing over 50 games in the spring and summer nowadays and think thats good enough. Many are becoming more interested in playing during the summer with their AAU team and less in playing with their high school team during the school year, posing several problems for high school coaches.

Whats a high school coach to do when they rightfully bench a kid for lack of hustle or insubordination, only to have an AAU coach swoop in after the game, consoling and assuring the player that things will be different when summer rolls around.

While most AAU coaches support their high school counterparts 100 percent, there are some out there who undermine the authority of the high school coach. Worse, yet, they can potentially damage the attitude and work ethic of the player, which hurts them greatly if they continue to play at college level where things dont come so easily.

The bottom line is that while some parents and AAU coaches are busy enabling kids that arent working as hard as they should be, the people getting hurt ever more are the varsity coaches.


Wheres the support from the top?

If you hire a coach that wins games, treats all kids equally, and has respect from fellow coaches, thats all you ask for. Isnt it?

You would certainly think so, but what happened at Cedarburg High School this offseason tells a different story.

A few months after the season ended, Cedarburg coach Ben Siebert received a letter from school board President Jack Dobson. The letter indicated that the school was seeking a new coach but gave no reason as to why, saying only that the move wasnt inspired by the teams prior performance.

The letter asked Siebert to attend a school board meeting, where they would vote on whether or not to retain him as the head coach. The meeting took place behind closed doors, despite requests by Coach Siebert and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to open it to the public.

Coach Siebert read a prepared statement, which received not a single word response from anyone on the board. Three and a half hours later, Siebert was told he would not be returning.

The shadowy decision left him piecing together a complex puzzle without a picture.

The school boards position was that it retained the right to look for a new coach if it was an attempt to improve the high quality of service the district provided to its students.

Which begs the question: what, exactly, was it about Sieberts performance what wasnt high quality?

Siebert had a zero tolerance policy when it came to violating the rules, and when three of his players admitted their involvement in conduct against the athletic code they were dismissed from the team. The violations took place when the team and coaches stayed at the home of one of Sieberts relative in Sheboygan while participating in a Christmas tournament in 2003.

Two families filed a lawsuit against the school following Sieberts decision, citing their sons emotional distress that came from being thrown off the team. The parents alleged a lack of supervision on the part of the coaches, but Siebert and others have refuted that claim.

Keep in mind, though, that both sets of parents signed contracts before the season agreeing to the zero tolerance policy. In addition, the school has since adopted a new policy that it sees as much stricter than the one formerly in place.

One can only assume that Cedarburgs new coach will think twice before enforcing these new rules, lest he face a similar fate as Siebert.

"What he brings to high school basketball is great respect," fellow North Shore Conference coach Paul Hepp told the Journal Sentinel in June about Siebert. "His players are always very respectful, and they play the game the way that it's supposed to be played. I think he's a great all-around coach and gets the most out of them and their potential, year in and year out."

Oh, and then theres Sieberts performance on the court: he coached his players to a 56-33 record in a tough North Shore conference before being dismissed.

Schools boards and administrators are asking for a revolving door of coaches if they continue this process. Precedents are being set for how to easily remove coaches, and this trend will only continue to hurt the game.


What can coaches do?

There are no definite answers to these problems. That said, here are a few words of caution and advice to anyone considering a high school coaching position.

Get support before taking job

Potential coaches need to demand backing from the administration when interviewing for jobs. Otherwise, they should simply walk away and say no thank you. Without the full support of Superintendent, Principal, and School Board, you simply wont survive in todays climate in most cities.

Have thicker skin and ignore the criticism.

If you work hard and can hit the pillow each night knowing you did your best, nothing any parent or fan should get under your skin. As one coach once said, If I stay out of the bars I never hear a negative word about me.

Pretty good advice I think.

Communicate and have a dialogue with parents.

If youre truthful with parents before the season starts and let them know what you want from their son/daughter, I think it can help alleviate potential problems. If you appear to care and show them you want the best for their child, I think they will show you respect you deserve. The worst thing you can do is give them more ammo to use by ignoring them and showing them disrespect; after all, you are coaching their child and you have to expect them to see things differently and be blinded by emotion sometimes.

Have fun coaching.

Some coaches never seem to be enjoying themselves, and I think that translates to kids not having fun playing the game. Basketball is a great game and should be played and coached with enthusiasm. Sixteen- and 17-year-old kids dont like it when everything is negative and often take that negativity home with them, opening up the potential for parents to blame the coach.

Continue your hard work and youll be successful.

The greatest coach of all-time, John Wooden, defines success better than
anyone:

Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

Furthermore, only one person can ultimately judge the level of your success you. Think about that for a moment.

I believe that is what true success is all about. Anything stemming from that success is simply a by-product, whether it be the score, the trophy, a national championship, fame, or fortune. They are all by-products of success, rather than success itself, indicators that you perhaps succeeded in the more important contest.

That real contest, of course, is striving to reach your personal best, and that is totally under your control.

When you achieve that, you have achieved success. Period! You are a winner and only you fully know if you won.

A great place to end I think.

David Bernhardt raised some related issues (kids & sports) recently at www.schoolinfosystem.org

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 11, 2005

Alvarez: Badger's "Overachieved" Laughable?

Andy Baggot takes the longtime UW Football Coach and Current Athletic Director to task:

Way to insult our intelligence.

Way to lower the bar.

Interesting how things change. I remember when Vic Feuerherd was "forbidden" to write about the Badgers after evidently asking some questions... I believe Vic was exiled to cover the Brewers. Glad to see some questions for our $1.5M+ per year football coach/AD.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 9, 2005

Packers Vikings Playoff Game

Coverage, highlights and lowlights today's Packer-Viking Game:

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:34 PM

January 8, 2005

The Milwaukee Brewers: Are they viable?


I mentioned the Milwaukee Brewers to a group of local business folks recently.

Their reaction, more or less "don't bother" speaks volumes about the size of the mountain the new ownership group led by ex Global Crossing Director Mark Attanasio faces.

Dale Hofman takes a look at a few other financial challenges facing the brew crew. Uphill, for sure...

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 3, 2005

Badgers vs Bulldogs: Post Mortem

There's now shortage of discussion online regarding Saturday's Badger loss in the Outback bowl to the Georgia Bulldogs. Michael Hunt, I think, captures the essence. Many links here. Keep clicking.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:49 AM

December 31, 2004

Wisconsin Badgers vs Georgia Bulldogs

Follow these links for up to the minute Outback Bowl coverage (I'm not optimistic with respect to the Badger's chances). Team Sites: Wisconsin Badgers | Georgia Bulldogs

alltheweb | Clusty | Google News | MSN Search | Teoma | Yahoo Search

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

December 25, 2004

Packer Viking Game Views


Yesterday's exciting Packer-Viking game generated no shortage of commentary around the web. Check out these links:

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:04 AM

December 24, 2004

Snowkiting


Paul McHugh on skiing's next frontier:

Kites may do for winter sports what they're already accomplishing for windsurfing. Six years ago, big U-shaped kites were a rare sight at windsurfing spots. Conventional triangular sails attached to masts and boards dominated the scene. Now, at Bay Area sites like Crissy Field, Coyote Point and even rough offshore spots like Waddell and Scott Creek, it's easy to see kites bobbing in the sky while riders on small, twin-tip boards skip nimbly over the waves.

According to longtime snowkiter Ken Lucas, utilizing wind power with a kite on snow may wind up even more popular than on water.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

December 16, 2004

DC Politicians Display Smarts in Their Baseball Stadium Deal

Interesting contrast to the Miller Park scheme hatched in Milwaukee & Madison some years ago, DC Common Council Chairman Linda Cropp has added some reality to the District's deal with Major League Baseball:

At the John A. Wilson Building, anxiety over the future of baseball in Washington was evident all day. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) pronounced during his morning news conference that the deal was "in great, great jeopardy." Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D), the architect of the legislative amendment that required private funding, said she was "looking to reduce the cost and risk for the District."

"I keep hearing that we had a deal with baseball," Cropp said. "Well, I have had a 30-year-plus deal with the citizens of this city. That deal trumps any other consideration with Major League Baseball."

David Nakamura and Thomas Heath

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:44 AM

December 11, 2004

David Bernhardt: Clear Thinking on the Role of Sports in Society

David Bernhardt offers some rather clear thinking on sports & society, in light of the recent Detroit NBA fight, steroids and the NHL strike:

What are our expectations of these athletes and our own son and daughters? Hopefully, it is to watch them compete, have fun and perform to the best of their natural ability. When society begins to focus on winning at all costs, we see where the fun leaves the sport, performance enhancement cheating begins and frustration of continual expectation boil over in an unexpected violence. In addition, the rapid firing of college coaches from an upstanding university where the student-athletes were students first and athletes second, makes one again question the values of the institutions of higher learning.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:21 AM

December 5, 2004

Badger Women's Volleyball advances to NCAA Regionals


Great fun watching the University of Wisconsin Women's Volleyball stage an impressive first period rally to beat Notre Dame 36-34, 30-16 and 30-16 Saturday night at the Field House.

The Badgers advance to the NCAA Regional semifinals played at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis., Friday evening. Wisconsin will take on third-seeded Hawaii Women's Volleyball (30-0) with the winner moving on to play either Texas Women's Volleyball (26-4) or Stanford Women's Volleyball (26-6) in the regional final. For ticket information, call 1-800-895-0071.

I smile at the thought of Hawaii, Texas and Stanford joining the UW in Green Bay (Resch Center) next weekend :)

You can follow the NCAA finals here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:34 AM

December 4, 2004

Baseball's Steriod Problem: Comments around the Internet

Unsurprisingly, there's no shortage of comments on this week's steriod use disclosures by Jason Giambi and a sort of disclosure by Barry Bonds (from grand jury testimony). I've compiled quite a few links: Alltheweb | Clusty | Google News | Teoma | Yahoo Search

Michael Hunt pens a refreshing column taking baseball, Bud Selig and the MLB player's union to task for not addressing the problem. Nice to see a more realistic approach from the journal-sentinel after their strange Miller Park cheerleading.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:13 AM

December 3, 2004

Barry Bonds Grand Jury Testimony

Lance Williams, Mark Fainaru-Wada for the 2nd day reveal grand jury testimony in the BALCO case. This time, it's Barry Bonds:

Barry Bonds told a federal grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream supplied by the Burlingame laboratory now enmeshed in a sports doping scandal, but he said he never thought they were steroids, The Chronicle has learned.

Federal prosecutors charge that the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, known as BALCO, distributed undetectable steroids to elite athletes in the form of a clear substance that was taken orally and a cream that was rubbed onto the body.

It will be interesting to see how Milwaukee based commissioner Bud Selig deals with this.....

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:39 AM

Giambi & Steroids

Mark Fainaru-Wada, Lance Williams break the steriod testimony of ex Athletics and current NY Yankee slugger Jason Giambi's grand jury testimony that he injected himself with human growth hormone in 2003 and had earlier started using steroids.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 25, 2004

Brett Favre on Life's Challenges

Brett Farve on his wife Deanna's view of life during a personally challenging time (breast cancer):

My wife said one time, See life through the front windshield, not the rearview mirror, said Favre. I thought that was a great comment. You deal with things that are in front of you, and you cant really worry about whats happening behind you. So thats kind of what we do.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:01 PM

November 21, 2004

Bowl Bound Badgers......

Less than two hours after the Badgers drubbing at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Wisconsin Alumni Association sent this email promoting bowl packages.

The football Badgers just finished a first-class season!

And while a bowl destination is still up in the air, one thing's for sure: the Wisconsin Alumni Association will take you there!

As the UW's official tour carrier, only the Wisconsin Alumni Association can promise:.......

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 14, 2004

Wisconsin Badgers vs Michigan State Post Mortem

There's plenty to discuss in yesterday's big loss in Lansing. Google News Michael Hunt State News (MSU's Student Paper) Badger Herald Daily Cardinal Teddy Greinstein Dave Dye

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:54 AM

November 13, 2004

US Collegiate National Wakeboarding Championships


Check out these great photos!

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:03 PM

November 1, 2004

360 Degree View of Packers Redskins

Sunday's all important Packers Redskins game (at least from an electoral perspective) generated a great deal of commentary around the internet. Check out these links: Michael Wilbon Mark Schlabach AP Snopes

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

October 9, 2004

UW Badgers vs. Ohio State Scoring Video Clips

UW vs. Ohio State Scoring Clips:

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:44 PM

October 6, 2004

Recent Rental Cars

I've rented a variety of cars recently. Car magazine does a nice job of rating autos using their "Good, Bad & Ugly" approach. Here goes:

  • The Good

    Mazda6. Excellent handling, mileage, four cylinder engine overworked, turning radius not great (reminds me of the soon to be retired Taurus's poor turning)

    Toyota Camry Machine like, excellent quality, could use some style.

    Nissan Altima Points for some style, decent handling, V-6 reasonably fun
  • The Bad:

    2004 Toyota Avalon Terrible handling... difficult to read dashboard

    2004 Ford Mustang. I assume the 2005 will be much, much better
  • The ugly

    Ford Expedition Hard to see the point, very big, poor mileage, essentially a very expensive pickup truck.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:20 AM

September 28, 2004

Brewers Reality Distortion Field?

Tom Haudricourt and Don Walker:

Attanasio not playing to lose

Ex-partner thinks he'll increase payroll

???
The article contained not one word from the new owner, former Drexel Burnham Lambert employee and Global Crossing Director Mark Attanasio.

Michael Hunt is a bit more suspicous....

Keep in mind that the Milwuaukee Journal-Sentinel was a major partisan cheerleader during the Miller Park fiasco......

Finally, I take a look at my web site activity logs periodically. This deal could have been called for Attanasio some time ago, based on the inbound searches/visits with arguments such as "Brewers and Attanasio" from the likes of Salomon, Inc., Cowen & Company, SAC Capital Advisors and other financial firms. Anyone interested in the those who play on Wall Street should read Michael Lewis's classic primer: Liar's poker.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:45 AM

September 13, 2004

Lean, Green Money Machine

Dale Buss explains how the Packers have thrived, despite their small market.

For the past two years, the Packers have ranked 10th out of the league's 32 clubs in overall revenue, up 10 spots from 2001. After a $295 million expansion and renovation completed last year, Lambeau has become a lucrative year-round attraction. And the Packers' cash kitty now exceeds $84 million, seemingly on the way to a $107 million goal that would give it a year's operating costs in reserve.

The NFL's financial structure, which distributes TV and licensing revenue evenly to all teams, has created a level playing field for the Packers. Fans snap up every ticket to home games, and the waiting list for a Lambeau Field season pass is still more than 63,000 names long for a 72,500-seat stadium. More than 105,000 Packer backers responded when the team sold nonvoting shares for $200 apiece in the late '90s. "When we play on Sundays, the people in the stands aren't just fans, but shareholders," says Robert Harlan, a 33-year team executive who has been president since 1989.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:12 AM

September 12, 2004

Brewers likely sold to out of state buyer(s)?


Don Walker explains:

A Los Angeles-based investor has emerged as a potential new owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, bringing to three the number of individuals or groups seriously looking at buying the team.

Two sources with knowledge of the sale said Mark L. Attanasio, a partner in the investment firm Trust Company of the West, is looking at making a bid for the team.

Attanasio is an ex-Drexel Burnham Lambert banker (Michael Milken's firm). He was also on the board of Global Crossing.

The Brewers are a tough deal all around. It will be interesting to see if these folks can make money (if a deal happens).

A final word: despite many misgivings about the Seligs (particularily the entire Miller Park unpleasantness), there would be no major league baseball in Milwaukee without Bud.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

September 11, 2004

Mayor Dave's Pool Report

Mayor Dave talks about the City's Swimming Pool Plans (Real Video).

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

August 27, 2004

High Tech Sports Doping

Tavis Smily:

Omar Wasow talks about the illegal methods to enhance performance, and how athletes try to fool drug tests.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:04 AM

August 18, 2004

Press Corps Wretched Behavior - Athens!

John Crumpacker on bad press behavior in Athens.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:32 PM

Community Pools - Minnesota


Tim Post:

For years the old neighborhood pool was the best place to cool off on hot summer days. But across the region, cities have had to close those old pools because of expensive repairs and declining attendance. In a day of air conditioners and cable TV, pools don't serve as community gathering places much anymore. But now city leaders are trying to attract a new generation of swimmers and splashers with more exciting pools.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:46 AM

August 17, 2004

WSJ on Bud Selig

The Wisconsin State Journal Editorial page says that it's time for a new baseball commissioner. No doubt, he should have left long ago. Additional background.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:58 PM

Big "O" on American Basketball

NPR's Robert Siegel talks with NBA legend Oscar Robertson about the future of American basketball and if individual skill, rather than team cooperation, is detrimental to the sport

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:09 AM

August 15, 2004

NBC's Olympic Armageddon

I haven't watched much of NBC's Olympic coverage, but the few minutes I've seen have been awful:

  • Opening Ceremony sophmoric dialogue between Katie Couric and Bob Costas (this discussion, in a nutshell, tells us all what the old media types think about the general public). The BBC provides some useful photos of the ceremony here. Russell Beattie responds to Costas/Couric's antics (very rough language, but some useful comments/links on this blog post)
  • Sunday morning, rather than broadcasting events (Wimbledon is broadcast live on weekend mornings), NBC is talking about feta on their Sunday Today show. Truly embarrasing.
  • Here are some useful sites: BBC | France2
I left a voice mail for NBC Chairman Bob Wright on Friday expressing my substantial disappointment in their Olympic coverage plans (including a complete devoid of thought internet strategy). NBC is owned by conglomerate GE.

Joshua Brauer offers up some suggestions for NBC.... (via scripting news)

UPDATE: Ann Harrison on the futility of NBC's internet censorship (live internet video streams are available in other countries).

"Ultimately it will fail," said Len Sassaman, a privacy-technology researcher. Once the American Internet viewing public realizes that U.K. Web surfers are watching better Olympic coverage than they are allowed to see after forking over their credit card, said Sassaman, they will look for better ways to access those images. "Bandwidth has gotten a lot cheaper over the years, so it is not so far-fetched to think that someone will set up proxy servers in Britain that would do this."

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:53 AM

August 8, 2004

K-12 Sports: the essence in this video clip

This weekend's All City Swim Meet's final event had a very exciting last heat. Watch the excitement in this 12.5MB Quicktime Movie. Check out the results, photos and many more video clips here and here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:14 PM

August 7, 2004

All City Swim Coverage

News, Links, Live Internet Video Stream, Results and Archives.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:21 AM

Olympics Online - Just not in the US!

How ironic, given that Madison's All City Swim Meet is available via internet video stream, that Non US internet users will be able to watch the olympics online, via streaming video; while captive American sports fans are stuck with cable/broadcast TV.... Anick Jesdanun summarizes the money and politics behind this absurdity (I'd be happy to pay for a real time video stream).

After conducting trials involving about 100,000 homes during the past two games, the International Olympic Committee is permitting more than a dozen broadcasters to show video of the Aug. 13-29 Olympics online.

But the footage will be highly restricted to protect lucrative broadcast contracts, which are sold by territory -- $793 million paid by NBC alone. Web sites must employ technology to block viewers from outside their home countries, so U.S. Web surfers won't benefit from the BBC's live coverage. They'll have to settle for highlights posted after NBC broadcasts, which are already largely tape-delayed.

On top of that, U.S. viewers must verify their identity using a credit card from Visa -- an NBC advertiser -- though they will not be charged.

Not a Visa cardholder? You're out of luck.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:35 AM

August 5, 2004

All City Swim: Results, Photos & Videos

Madison's All City Swim is underway. The site features results, photos, videos along with a look at past all city events (including those held at B.B. Clarke Beach!).

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:57 PM

August 3, 2004

2004 All City Swim Site

All City Swim, with nearly 2000 participants is being held at Fitchburg's Seminole Pool later this week (Thursday to Saturday). This year's event includes some interesting features:

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:46 AM

July 27, 2004

Strategic Biking: Tour de France

Stephanie Tuel writes:

The 18th stage was an excellent example of game theory at work. Lance Armstrong and the peloton were a few minutes back of a breakaway group of 6 riders (none of whom were a threat to the top of the overall standings since all were over 1 hour behind). Reading the various news reports and between the lines it appears that Armstrong's team, US Postal, was doing all the work at the front of the peloton and the team of the closest competitors, T-Mobile, were loafing. (The crucial strategic variable in bicycling appears to be the effect of wind resistance, especially on the flat and on downhills--whoever is at the front has to work harder, and whoever is following can choose to conserve energy or share the effort.)

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:04 AM

July 21, 2004

Le Tour De France Daily Videos

OLNTV has a very useful daily Tour de France site, with video clips here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:26 PM

July 17, 2004

Local Sports Site wishoops.net makes a splash

Jason Kiley of wishoops.net reported Friday that Madison Memorial basketball player Wesley Matthews will attend Marquette. This is interesting in several ways:

  • Local TV Station Channel 3 credited this site as the source for their Friday evening report
  • Jon Masson, Wisconsin State Journal Sports columnist referred only to a "A state basketball Web site" in his article on the subject. If the subject is worth an article, it is certainly right to link to the site!
  • The site provides a substantial amount of content, far more than the old media types. I wish them well!
  • Interestingly, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is silent on the matter this Saturday morning.
This article, and the old media's handling is a great example of what Jeff Jarvis refers to as the disintermediation of authority. Advertising revenues will follow over time. The Economist covered this recently (subscription required).

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:15 AM

July 14, 2004

100 Black Men of Madison Golf Event

Johnny Winston emailed:

Please feel free to share this information with all interested persons or
parties -

100 Black Men of Madison, Inc. Golf Outing

On Monday July 26, 2004 The 100 Black Men of Madison, Inc., cordially
invites the public to participate in their 4th Annual Golf Outing at
Cherokee Country Club located at 5000 North Sherman Avenue.

Registration begins at 11:00 a.m. with a shotgun scramble at 12 noon. The
$125 fee includes 18 holes of golf, motorized cart, dinner, prizes and a lot
of fun!

The 100 Black Men of Madison is a non-profit, tax exempt organization.
Participation in this event helps the 100 Black Men of Madison to fund the
organizations charitable activities in the Dane County area for
underprivileged youth. A free youth golf clinic will be presented to all
registered youth from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Walk ups are welcome the day of the event. For more information and to sign
up, please contact Derrick Smith at 608-831-0525.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:24 PM

July 5, 2004

NBA View from Dallas

Dallas Maverick Billionaire owner Mark Cuban maintains a blog here. Interesting reading, including recent stories on their decision not to re-sign Steve Nash and make the way for UW's Devin Harris. Cuban more or less communicates with the traditional media via his blog. This blog is certainly an example of where we're we're heading.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:59 PM

June 26, 2004

Selig & Publicly Funded Stadiums

Fascinating article by Steve Fainaru on Bud Selig's Miller Park hardball tactics (with some interesting comments from former governor Tommy Thompson):

The soaring brick ballpark on the outskirts of this city took the lives of three ironworkers. It cost a Republican state senator his job and set back taxpayers a sum equal to the Milwaukee County parks budget projected over the next decade. It nearly exhausted the political capital of the former governor, Tommy G. Thompson, who championed the stadium to keep Wisconsin "major league." But Thompson won't set foot in the place. Last year, when the ballpark's tenants, the Milwaukee Brewers, invited Thompson to Opening Day, he declined. He did it to protest Brewers owner and Commissioner of Baseball Allan H. (Bud) Selig, who, Thompson said in an interview, provided misleading financial information to get the stadium built, then broke promises to use the increased revenue to make the Brewers competitive.

"There were just so many misleadings and mischaracterizations," said Thompson, now Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration.

I've not set foot in Miller Park, and don't plan to. Then, there's this quote from the deputy editor of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on their predicament (the newspaper's parent company's Chairman was a lobbyist for the stadium!):
Inside the newspapers, reporters and editorial writers felt constrained. "We were totally compromised at that point," said Sue Ryon, deputy editor of the Milwaukee Journal's editorial page, then the lead editorial writer on the stadium issue. "We had no credibility. Anything we said, it was, 'Well, who can believe them? Look at the position they're in?' We felt as a newspaper, as an editorial board, handcuffed, and that was pretty much from the beginning."
Two useful links: Field of Schemes | Doug Pappas site

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:09 PM

May 30, 2004

A Wet Madison Marathon

The 2004 Mad City Marathon..... was wet:


I summarized the event via a Quicktime Movie with 250+ images and the music of Sigur Ros... (28MB) Well worth it!

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:34 PM

May 17, 2004

Will Alvarez get Tegen Treatment?

A refreshing column from Tom Oates on long time UW women's track coach Peter Tegen. Oates' essential point is that Alvarez's record the past few years has not been great, therefore will he get the same treatment as Tegen?

Several years ago, I recall reading a Doug Moe column that mentioned that WSJ sportswriter Vic Feuerherd was "forbidden" from writing about the Badgers. (I seem to recall that Feuerherd was exiled to cover the Brewers....). I'm glad to see the WSJ take a more proactive position (which they should!).

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:58 AM

May 6, 2004

Baseball's Web of Greed

Scott Ostler takes on baseball's plans to put advertising on the bases....

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:31 AM

May 3, 2004

Surfers not put off by sharks


Matt Sedensky writes about surfers & sharks (I remember discussing this issue with abalone divers when I lived in California....).

KAHANA, Hawaii Sam George can't believe the audacity of surfers who seem to return to the water as soon as the blood of a shark attack dissipates even though he's one of them.

"Once the blood cleared and the paramedics got off the beach, I'm as silly as the rest," said George, San Clemente-based editor of Surfer magazine.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:06 AM

March 28, 2004

High School Sports: Coach Fitz's Management Theory

Michael Lewis pens a fascinating article on Billy Fitzgerald, the longtime baseball coach at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans. Fitgerald has coached many exemplary student/athletes. Recently, some of them got together to fund the school's gym renovation in his name.

Lewis's article explores the friction between a coach trying to get the most out of student/athlete's and parents who want to protect their children.

''The parents' willingness to intercede on the kids' behalf, to take the kids' side, to protect the kid, in a not healthy way -- there's much more of that each year,'' he said. ''It's true in sports, it's true in the classroom. And it's only going to get worse.'' - Scott McLeod, Newman's headmaster.

Since then McLeod had been like a man in an earthquake straddling a fissure. On one side he had this coach about whom former players cared intensely; on the other side he had these newly organized and outraged parents of current players. When I asked him why he didn't simply ignore the parents, he said, quickly, that he couldn't do that: the parents were his customers. (''They pay a hefty tuition,'' he said. ''They think that entitles them to a say.'') But when I asked him if he'd ever thought about firing Coach Fitz, he had to think hard about it. ''The parents want so much for their kids to have success as they define it,'' he said. ''They want them to get into the best schools and go on to the best jobs. And so if they see their kid fail -- if he's only on the J.V., or the coach is yelling at him -- somehow the school is responsible for that.'' And while he didn't see how he could ever ''fire a legend,'' he did see how he could change him. Several times in his tenure he had done something his predecessors had never done: summon Fitz to his office and insist that he ''modify'' his behavior. ''And to his credit,'' the headmaster said, ''he did that.''

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:08 PM

March 18, 2004

WIAA Boys Basketball Tourney - Video/Scores

Wishoops.net has excellent coverage of this weekends WIAA boys basketball tournament (box scores and video clips).

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:27 PM

March 14, 2004

More money doesn't always pay off....

"Are we going to be replaced by a computer or what?" one veteran baseball scout told The Los Angeles Times last week.

Selena Roberts has a timely look at Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A's. Beane has made the Oakland A's winners, despite a very low payroll and competitors with piles of cash (money is not the secret to success).

But what the swipes reveal is how threatening an alternate view is to baseball's theology.

It's a threat to inept owners and/or a certain baseball commissioner who have used their small-market woes as habitual excuses for futility. It's a threat to Yankeesque teams who spend millions to assemble constellations only to be increasingly grounded by teams of cohesive humans. It's a threat to romanticized scouts whose legends are built on a 5 percent success rate.

"Everyone thought they had it figured out a long time ago," said Scott Hatteberg, the A's first baseman. "Now you have these young guys coming in to mess with it."

San Francisco's Commonwealth Club has an interesting interview with Beane and writer Michael Lewis regarding last year's excellent book, Moneyball.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:43 PM

March 13, 2004

WIAA Girls Basketball Tournamet

I've posted some photos from the division 4 (Prairie School vs. South Shore) and 2 (Luxemburg-Casco vs. Richland Center) WIAA Girls Basketball Tournament Finals.

Great fun!

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:35 PM