May Letters to Jim: Is the NFL Draft Over?

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Top illustration by Tim Forkes

Now that the NFL draft and all 947 mock drafts have come and gone, let’s look at what is really on the minds of some of the most intelligent people I know. Yes, it is time for another addition of fan mail.

Dear Jim,
With the recent Chauvin guilty verdicts handed down, does this change much about the police and their treatment of blacks? You once said each of these cases needs to be viewed separately and not as part of a larger problem. Do you still see them as separate cases or are they now part of a larger issue?
Someone Who Wants Change

Dear Someone,

The answer to both of those questions is yes.

Each incident involving police use of violence on any citizen must be viewed separately which adds to the frustration of people who want to see change. Imagine if you are accused of a crime that has become all too commonplace in society and you are considered guilty before having a trial because the public has grown tired of the crime.

Like it or not, every citizen is entitled to be treated as separate but equal under the law. This requires each crime, whether committed by a cop or average Joe, to be viewed on its own merits. What another person did to someone else before you has no bearing on your personal guilt or innocence for what you stand accused of.

However, white cops killing black citizens has no doubt become part of a much larger systemic problem and that problem needs both addressing and solving. Just as any other systemic problem, whether it be drug abuse, gang violence, school shootings, or low national test scores, it is vital to understand the larger picture and all of its factors if we are to solve what appears to be a black and white issue.

These issues are filled with a great deal of gray matter of varying shades, and it requires us to distinguish the differences rather than doing what we all too often do and that is looking for a one size fits all solution. There are no simple solutions that will fix what ails this nation when it comes to race or how the police deal with it.

Dear Jim,
The Olympics are just a few months away. Do you think it is wise to hold them given the nature of the pandemic and its ability to spread so easily? If you were an Olympic athlete, would you compete this summer?

Dear USA,

With billions of dollars at stake, Japan has decided to move forward with the games and there is nothing that can stop them, short of nations deciding to pull their athletes from the competition. Money rules and Japan has invested over 15 billion dollars and wants to recoup as much as they can. Don’t expect them to pull the plug this year.

Having said all that, I still do not believe it is wise to move forward with the games. All you must do is look at different sports that are taking place now and see how the pandemic is making their seasons difficult to complete over a six-month window. Imagine how COVID can ruin the Olympics and their two-week window of competition.

Do you want to follow the USWNT march toward a gold medal soccer showdown only to see them get pulled out due to some positive COVID tests? Do we make athletes get a vaccine to compete when other nations might not? Just think of all the athletes who will use COVID as an excuse for what is known as a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) so they can be allowed to use a drug normally banned in competition. None of these even factors in the presence of fans attending the venues and following safety protocols.

Then again, I am 62 and have lived through a few battles in life, some the result of my own youthful ignorance. Try telling a 22-year-old athlete with a limited window for competing in the Olympics it is in their best interest not to compete when a gold medal may be worth millions of dollars in endorsements. Athletes reach the level Olympians reach because in part, they see themselves as invincible. Nothing, no athlete, and no virus included, can stop them from achieving their own personal glory. Only government intervention will and if you are my age, you remember how popular that was when we boycotted the 1980 summer games in Russia.

Dear Jim,
How do you mistake a gun for a taser?
Pissed Off

Dear PO,

Considering I do not own either one, I can only surmise what has been stated by experts. A person either was never properly trained in the use of these weapons and panicked resulting in reaching for the wrong weapon, or they made a deliberate decision to reach for one while claiming they thought they grabbed the other.

In the case of a police officer killing a black man over a marginal traffic stop that appears more like profiling, my guess is the officer chose the latter over the former. Still, that officer is entitled to a separate but equal trial and a jury will be expected to wade through the mounds of evidence and smoke screens before determining guilt or innocence.

My gut says the more the defense tries to put the dead victim on trial, the greater the likelihood the accused knew what she was doing.

Dear Jim,
Should we be withdrawing troops from Afghanistan? Is this a wise move or are we just handing the country over to the Taliban?
Feeling Defeated

Dear Defeated,

I think 20 years is enough time for a nation as powerful as ours to be expected to win a war and meet their objectives. If we haven’t, then we have lost on several fronts.

First, it is lunacy to continue doing what we do there without any measurable results after two decades. Our military leaders seem to have no recall as to what we accomplished in Vietnam and have managed to induce enough fear in our political leaders and public to continue investing trillions of dollars and thousands of dead soldiers in a war that can’t be won. I applaud our president for recognizing this much and saying enough of this nonsense.

We have managed to turn our younger generation into thinking war is normal and fighting unseen enemies abroad is an acceptable solution to a problem all while our nation reels under school shootings and racial injustice. We can’t solve international problems if we are unwilling to solve our own issues at home.

One of the major goals of terrorists who were behind the 9/11 attacks was to destroy our nation. The average citizen was made to believe this meant invading our country which led to wars abroad, a massive increase in homeland security, and the eventual collapse of our economy in 2008. None of this required any further attacks on our nation after 9/11 and yet it resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs, their homes, and their self-respect.

It also coincided with a rise in overdoses, suicides, hate crimes, and political discord that resulted in us electing Donald Trump who tried destroying our political foundation, again, without a single enemy invading us.

Americans fight wars with weapons because it takes little thought. Our enemies fight us with a greater weapon, their minds, something too many of us surrendered long ago.

Dear Jim,
There has been a lot lately about the role of transgenders competing in sports and whether or not it is fair. You are a former coach, what are your thoughts?

Dear Confused,

I understand why you are confused. There is no simple or even fair solution to this problem. As it is now, there simply are not enough transgenders at any single high school or college to form a team of their own so those who want to compete in sports are having to go to court to petition to be allowed to play on existing school teams. To my knowledge, so far, in every case it has involved competing on a woman’s team and not a men’s team. This matters.

I come from a day and age where Dr. Rene Richards tried competing in tennis against female opponents who felt she had a distinct advantage over them because she was once a he. The argument was the higher testosterone level she had gave her a competitive advantage over other females.

I am not a doctor and can’t say for certainty whether this is true or not. However, because we seem to only see cases made public where transgender females want to compete against other women, it makes me think perhaps they do have an athletic advantage. If this is the case, is it fair they compete with such an advantage?

Caster Semenya, the South African middle-distance runner who competes against women, but who was born with XY chromosomes, has drawn a great deal of attention on the international level. She naturally has a much higher level of testosterone than her female counterparts and the results have no doubt helped her win some major events.

They have also resulted in her having to be tested to determine her sex, something none of her opponents have had to deal with. Semenya was born intersex cisgender and assigned female at birth and yet she has been banned from major competitions because some claim she has a distinct advantage over her female opponents.

So, what are my thoughts on all of this? First, no one in their right mind changes their sex for a competitive advantage and to think they do is ludicrous. However, how do you determine what is fair and what is advantageous? If an athlete like Semenya has much higher levels of testosterone and a competitive edge, it will no doubt result in her competitors having to decide whether to seek similar levels at the risk of cheating or competing against her at a disadvantage.

As a coach, you fight hard to gain any advantage you can over an opponent and scream the loudest when you face one with an advantage you don’t have. At the high school level, this results in some ugly claims, name calling, and controversial decisions. It makes me glad I no longer coach while at the same time wishing we could just go back and keep sports in perspective and make the experience as enjoyable as possible for our youth.

Dear Jim,

The corporate world seems to be stuck in the middle of a fight over voter suppression laws. Will they make a difference and help prevent more voter suppression by continuing to speak out against them?
Concerned About Suppression

Dear Concerned,

You must be a corporate exec and have every reason to be concerned because your primary concern is your profit margin. How do you support a party that wants to make voting more difficult knowing they are the party that bails you out at the expense of the average taxpayer?

Releasing a statement opposing voter suppression is not doing much for the cause. How far do you go to make sure all citizens can vote is what matters? Do you set up voter registration booths outside your stores? Do you contribute money to pay the cost of lawsuits aimed at striking down these new laws? Do you turn your parking lots into safe places for people to go vote on election day? And do you stop contributing gobs of money to GOP candidates and their causes and begin supporting candidates who believe in the rights of all people?

In other words, actions matter more than press releases.

Dear Jim,
Do you use emojis? If so, do you have a favorite?
Just Wondering

Dear JW,

I have one emoji I use quite frequently. However, I have yet to use it while texting, emailing, or even writing this column. I do, however, use it all the time while driving.

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Before I call it a month, I want to make sure to wish my oldest daughter, Frances, her first ever happy Mother’s Day. Frances blessed me with my first grandchild on April 22nd. Pops loves you both!