Letters to Jim: Athletes and More Athletes Plus Presidents

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March has arrived and it appears I have fans wondering why I did not give deserving attention to the Los Angeles Rams for winning the Super Bowl. This surprises me greatly since I thought my fans had higher standards than following a team from L.A. Anyway, let’s see what they have to say and cross our fingers they don’t write back in the future.

Dear Jim,
You hardly made mention of the Rams Super Bowl title. As a Rams fan, I believe you are jealous they beat your Niners in the NFC title game. Why can’t you give recognition to Matt Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and their coach Sean McVay for the great job they did?
Proud of my Rams

Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay (Claudia Gestro)

The Rams won a Super Bowl game that I had little interest in the outcome. They deserved to win because their defense played a terrific game and overcame the mistakes of Matt Stafford. If I were to award an MVP for the game, I would have given it to the entire defensive front line that consistently pressured Joe Burrow.

The Rams were able to do what Cincinnati wasn’t: they overcame significant injuries and still found ways to step up when it mattered most. The Bengals had their chances to put away the Rams in the fourth quarter and the Ram defense came up big. Cooper Kupp was then unstoppable on offense, allowing L.A. to pull out a victory.

I hope that is enough recognition. I still think the Rams suck and always will. However, they deserve to be called Champions.

Dear Jim,
Can you explain why a 15-year-old Russian skater is allowed to skate in the Olympics after a failed drug test and America’s top sprinter is not after smoking some weed? What’s the point of drug testing when applying the rules are arbitrary.
Sick of Testing

Dear Sick,

Perhaps if the American sprinter in question had said she accidentally inhaled grandma’s marijuana she would have been allowed to compete. In fact, if she just said she smoked a joint but did not inhale it, she might become POTUS.

I do not believe a 15-year-old skater from Russia knew she was taking a banned substance, let alone one that is for a heart condition. I do, however, believe her coaches and the team training her knew full well what they were giving her, and she was a tool used to bring positive attention to a nation led by an old man who will never be the great conqueror he dreams of becoming.

Keep in mind, she hails from Russia, a nation whose sports doping has been so horrific they have been banned as a nation from international competitions. But as the saying goes, “If you are not cheating, you’re not trying.”

Dear Jim,
Do you think the Rams stadium was necessary? It seems they could play at the Rose Bowl or LA Coliseum rather than build a new stadium. It just seems unnecessary.
SoFi Hater

SoFi Stadium Rams display (Claudia Gestro)

Dear Hater,

Stan Kroenke, the Rams owner, has built a wonderful stadium and went about it the right way. He purchased the aging Hollywood Park racetrack and then set about building SoFi with his own money. Most NFL owners want the public to pay the cost of most if not all for a new stadium. Kroenke managed to avoid this while making great use of an aging place. On top of that, he has managed to offset some of that cost by renting the stadium to the Homeless Chargers.

It is impossible to build a new NFL size stadium without there being negatives. Yes, there were thousands of people, many of whom were homeless, who were displaced by the new stadium. Businesses were lost as well, and it is easy to claim this was an example of gentrification However, all this would have happened even if taxpayers paid some of the cost of construction.

The real problem is in 20 years, when SoFi is just another stadium, Kroenke will likely expect taxpayers to flip the bill for improvements or he will threaten to move the team. Kroenke has a real estate gem in SoFi. He can level it anytime and build luxury homes and move his team if he is not getting what he wants from taxpayers.

Go enjoy SoFi and the Rams for the time being. The Rams have called Cleveland, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and St. Louis home before coming back to L.A. Don’t be shocked if someday they call Austin, San Diego, or Oakland home.

Dear Jim,
Now that mask mandates are ending, have you any thoughts about what is in store for our future regarding the pandemic? Do you think it is over or can we expect more outbreaks like Delta and Omicron?
Hoping This Is Over

Dear Hoping,

COVID-19 precautions in the Los Angeles area will be lifted (Claudia Gestro)

As much as we all hope the pandemic is over, I think we would be wise to not get our hopes up too much. This virus will still mutate, and we can expect outbreaks in the future. How powerful or dangerous they are remains to be seen. We still do not know how well our vaccinations and boosters will work in protecting us from future variants or whether we will need future boosters or annual ones like we get with flu vaccines.

Another thing to keep in mind, not all portions of our country are equal in terms of being vaccinated or seeing how to protect citizens when we have outbreaks. It is possible some parts of the nation get hit harder in the future because they have a lower vaccination rate.

Besides our own country, we also need to keep in mind there are dozens of nations who lack the medical infrastructure to get their people vaccinated. Other cultures are leery of vaccinations in general. These nations may be the source of future outbreaks that spread beyond their borders. Consequently, it would be wise to know the vaccination status of nations you decide to travel to.

The important thing to keep in mind is the importance of electing people who have the health and wellbeing of citizens in mind when making decisions like mask mandates. They may be a pain for some to accept, but they certainly are implemented with our health in mind and that is better than a government run by people who refuse to accept the advice of experts who are paid to keep us healthy.

Dear Jim,
I know you hate L.A. sports teams. However, if you had to pick between going to see the 49ers play the Rams at SoFi or the Celtics play the Lakers in downtown LA., which would you select?
L.A. Fans Are Tops

Dear Tops,

The Crypto.com Arena (Claudia Gestro)

I will go with what’s behind door number three and hope it involves staying at home. I have no desire to attend live sporting events anymore. Part of this is my general distaste for large crowds, not to mention a bigger distaste for driving in traffic, paying for parking and all that other stuff involved with going to a game. Besides, if I watch a game at home, I can go to the bathroom without fear of being beaten into a coma which is the real L.A. game experience.

Dear Jim,
What’s one thing about growing older no one ever told you about? It’s easy to see pictures of old people and realize we all become frail in our old age. What is something we don’t see?
Young and Worried

Dear Young,

Seniors enjoy going to Torrey Pines State Beach (Tim Forkes)

The one thing no one ever told me about as we get older is how irrelevant we become. The world passes us by, or so it seems. Our opinions are not sought because younger people think what we know is no longer of use. What younger people do not see is that while technology may have passed us up, we still possess the wisdom of having been younger and having lived through similar situations.

Companies want to get rid of us and replace us with younger workers who are more up to date and cheaper to employ. However, their youth inevitably results in mistakes that are not all that different from what older people have made when starting out. Rather than booting us to the curb, companies would be wise to ease us out while we mentor our replacements.

Old People can enjoy the Santa Monica Pier (Tim Forkes)

But it goes beyond employment. Our opinions are not sought in many other areas. Take television, for instance. The 18 to 48 age group has long been considered the ruling force behind advertising on TV. This results in programming designed to capture that audience even though older folks enjoy watching their share of television. However, because seniors are ignored, television has been left scrambling now that younger people are turning away from it for other entertainment sources.

I remember how much I enjoyed driving out to pick up my grandmother to bring her out to my parents’ place to stay for a week or two. She had an amazing perspective to offer me at a crucial time in my life. She was born in 1899 and lived through so much. Talking with her allowed me to realize that while the times have changed, many of the problems and challenges we face are no different than the ones faced by those a generation or two earlier.

Dear Jim,
Who has been the greatest and worst president in your life and why?
Just Wondering

President Obama (Douglas Christian)

Dear JW,

There is no doubt Donald Trump was the worst president since I was born and quite possibly the worst ever. I cannot name a single accomplishment he made that will stand the test of time as being great for the nation. I am also unable to come up with anything positive about him as a person.

As for the greatest, that is much harder. I can think of great things each president in my life has done before Trump while also being able to point out significant flaws. As time passes, I have also been able to understand the challenges they faced better and realize just how difficult it was to be president during their time. Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter each had significant detractors and yet I can look at their time in office and see how they managed to accomplish great things.

Reagan often ends up near the top of the list of our greatest presidents. However, Iran-Contra was a huge blemish on his presidency. His successor, George H.W. Bush, did a wonderful job in defeating Saddam Hussein, but is unfortunately remembered for failing to deliver on no new taxes. Bill Clinton was hugely popular despite being impeached. George W. Bush went from great popularity following the attacks of 9/11 to being viewed as one of the worst presidents ever. Finally, Obama brought a wonderful message of hope for Americans but in the end left a nation so badly divided it turned to Trump.

In the end, I would select Obama as the greatest president in my life. He entered office during a horrible financial crisis, had to navigate the challenges of a war he inherited, and had to deal with a Congress that showed some of the ugliest qualities we thought were no longer an issue resulting in an increasing level of race-based hate. In the end, he never lowered himself to their standards and showed us all how we can accomplish a lot of good if we look past color and see one another as our brothers and sisters.

Dear Jim,
Are men or women the smarter gender? I need a full proof explanation.
In An Argument

Claudia Gestro at Super Bowl LVI She’s very smart (Claudia Gestro)

Dear IAA,

Women are smarter than men. Just look at our prison system. Far more men end up in prison than women do, and you have to do a lot of stupid stuff to end up there.

Dear Jim,
After watching the Olympics and seeing how poorly Mikaela Shiffrin performed, I wonder whether we place too much pressure on athletes and end up causing them more harm than good. What are your thoughts?
Concerned Sports Fan

There are some good comparisons to make between how Mikaela Shiffrin’s Olympic performances turned out and those of Simone Biles last summer. I said then and will repeat: perhaps everyone, the competitors, and fans, would be better off if we let performances make stars of athletes before we label them as such prior to the games.

I also can’t help but wonder what role gender plays in all of this. American advertisers prefer females over males, and it seems we make a bigger deal about female athletes heading into the games than we do with males. It seems unless you are Michael Phelps, the corporate world has more interest in who the next cute, athletic, and gold medal winning female will be.

Odell Beckham, Jr and Von Miller of the L.A. Rams (Claudia Gestro)

Race also makes a difference to the corporate world. I could not help but notice from the moment of the opening kickoff in the Super Bowl, it seemed predetermined that the MVP was going to be white. The storylines the announcers pushed were about Matt Stafford, Joe Burrow, and Cooper Kupp, while the reality was until he was injured, the controversial Odell Beckham, Jr. was destroying the Bengals. When he went down, it was Aaron Donald and Von Miller taking over the game. In the end, the white, Kupp, was awarded the MVP.

In the athletic world, the pressure is immense if you are female and of color to profit outside your sport. We are more forgiving when a white athlete comes up short or is crushed under the weight of expectation and quicker to move on when it is someone of color.

Aaron Donald of the L.A. Rams (Claudia Gestro)

To me, the Olympics are a perfect example of what black America has been trying to get white America to recognize. The obstacles of race and the obstacles of gender are nowhere near equal in the predominantly white and male run corporate world that determines the narratives we get sucked into believing.

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Okay, that’s it for another month. You have enough time to enjoy the most out of St. Patty’s day and recover from your hangover to still write to me for April’s fan mail. Be safe and be kind to others. You never know if that little old lady is packing heat.