Sunday, October 31, 2010


Katie and I just got home from Oberlin where we saw Guided By Voices play on their "classic lineup" tour. Normally, when we see a show at Oberlin, the room is filled with students, about a quarter of which are young enough to theoretically be our children. Today, the crowd was filled with people who made us feel young, all there to see a band full of guys old enough to be our dad.


The most interesting part of the night was the fact that the opening band (whose name I still don't know) played in Halloween costumes. Real costumes, not "look I'm wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses at night" type costumes. Surprisingly, that made it more difficult than I care to admit in deciding whether I liked them. I'm pretty sure that, whether we like it or not, visuals play a large role in creating an opinion about a live band you know nothing about.

Is the keyboardist female? Does the singer look like a tool? Is the bassist a 15-year old burnout?

Today I learned that these questions are indeed important.

And I learned that you can move a lot of cans of Bud Light at a GBV show when they are $2 a pop.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The kids are alright

It was neat to see so many junior riders at this weekend's UCI3 Cyclocross festival in Cincinnati. Even the ones who kicked my ass.

It was also neat to see adults taking some very young racers around the course during warmup and showing them the ropes.

I do have to admit, though, that my initial reaction to some of this "coaching" was lukewarm when it appeared that the adults involved started getting a bit serious about matters. Then I saw some really young kids riding some really expensive wheels, a topic thoroughly discussed on some recent Facebook threads.

I then compared those scenes with the kid warming up behind me on Sunday (who looked to be about 10 years old) who was yelling and carrying on the whole time because he was having so much fun just riding his (non-$2000 wheeled) bike around the course. That, my friend, is what it is all about.

I am not sure why I have such a reactionary aversion to parents and role models who take their children's bike racing so seriously. Is it any different than a parent who really gets into their kid's little league and hits ground balls to the kid who plays shortstop? Or the parent who regularly practices shots at her soccer playing, goal tending daughter?

Maybe I am a bit sensitive to this topic because so many people take the fun out of their children's sports by taking it so seriously. Or maybe because I remember being told in 4th grade football by Coach Marconi that he was going to bash our heads into the brick wall if we didn't hit the sled harder during a 90 degree practice.

This sport is pretty great, and there are already enough barriers to entry for young riders, such as affording a safe and race worthy bike. Let's encourage the kids, but not scare them away.

And, for God's sake, a 12 year old probably does not need $2000 wheels. And a $3750 cross bike is not a mid-level cross bike. Nor is a $1999 frame.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


I went to this lecture yesterday at Case's law school because it seemed interesting and, let's be honest, I needed the CLE credit.

Mr. Murray, a bioethicist, is also the Chair of the Ethical Issues Review Panel for the World Anti-Doping Agency ("WADA").

The most surprising part of the evening was nothing that he said, but the reactions of some of the audience members who seemed angered and mystified that athletes "cheat" when competing.

Of all of the mysteries surrounding doping in sports (how it is done, how often, how do they avoid detection, etc.), one thing is not (or should not be) a mystery: why they do it.

Large percentages of people in major metropolitan areas allow the outcome of a Sunday sports contest to dictate their mood on Monday. We revere our professional sports heroes. Outstanding high school athletes are treated like gods in communities large and small. Winning is everything. Don't you remember, it's you vs. second place.

Oh yea, and some of these people (many of whom are otherwise totally unemployable) end up making millions of dollars playing sports for a living.

I'm not sure what's more offensive, cheating athletes or the fact that people are still shocked when they find out people do this.