Thursday, June 9, 2011

NBA Needs an Image Makeover

More than ever before or for that matter any other sports league the NBA is without question a “players” league, with owners and league executives along for the ride. Anyone who disagrees with that is fooling themselves. David stern and his owners have to regain control of their league. I’m a huge supporter of equal opportunity for all and if you allow the players to have full control over the league then the smaller market franchises such as Oklahoma City, Golden State, Utah and to a certain degree Detroit they’ll all be left for dead and parity will be absent from the NBA. We’ve seen the effective nature of a franchise tag in the NFL. While I will freely admit that the players will in all likelihood initially oppose the mere thought of that concept for the good of the game this is a move that must be made in order to reinstate the value of competitive balance back into the NBA.

The art of freedom of choice is always a notion I’m willing to accept and promote, by no means am I'm suggesting that owners deserve complete control over the product. Players deserve to have the ability to explore all of their options to and deserve the right to control their own careers. All I’m simply asking for is a fair and equal opportunity for all to succeed.

Summers such as the “Decision” in 2010 should only be seen in moderation and not excess. There has never been more of a discrepancy in NBA attendance numbers than now.

Yes the NBA playoff ratings are high but the state of the league is broken because the players have complete control and the theory of competitive equality has gone by the waste side. Players are what make the engine of any sports league run I get that and without them well you can fill in the blank here.

I’m not asking for a total overhaul of a player’s right to choose. However, what I am asking for is the reinstitution of competitive equality.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Realizing my Fate

Realizing my Fate
By Kevin McShan

Life is full of unexpected curve balls, which arise at the most inopportune of times. However, I’ve been confronting challenges and unexpected curve balls all my life.
Dating back to infancy when I first arrived, freshly minted out of my mother’s womb, and ready to explore the world and everything it had to offer, I’ve always been the last line of defence, counted out and left for dead.

Meeting challenges and exceeding expectations wasn’t always a walk in the park. There were chinks in the armour and bumps along the road. To say my life hasn’t always been a bed of roses wouldn’t in the slightest be the most astounding of declarations this century. During my childhood I constantly rode an emotional rollercoaster, wondering why I was so profoundly different from everyone else who surrounded me on a daily basis. I would frequently isolate myself in a room, distant from any human contact or interruption to wallow in my personally erected pool of self pity and despair.

As a child, I would often appear timid and frightened to communicate my thoughts or emotions, always remaining cognizant of the outsider view of my life and their predetermined opinions of my future. I couldn’t shake the vivid images of the heckling laughs, the damming images of the peculiar glances and the cruel insensitive remarks which individuals would whisper in the ears of the closest observer. The remarks which everyone thought they had so cleverly crafted to disguise them from my line of vision.

Not realizing every last word was engraved in my mind, bringing me to tears.

I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to have a reason to shout, enough is enough! What did I ever do to deserve such an unpredictable and unstable journey the one we call life? I wasn’t prepared to accept who I was, I thought of ending my existence just to make the world seem simpler and less consuming for those who endured my bouts of self-deprecating despair.

For my parents my emotional status had almost certainly become unbearable. They attempted to bestow every last positive cliché possible in an attempt to help me accept my fate. In their eyes I was simply just another child full of dreams and aspirations. In my own eyes I was an outcast, not sure of my calling in life or the purpose of my existence.
It wasn’t until recently, my senior year in high school to be precise, that I fully embraced who I was and what I stood for. Building a sense of confidence and conviction I never thought could ever be attainable during my adolescence; I came out of my shell, sprinted to the top of the mountain and fully accepted who I was. I arrived at a place of happiness which allowed me to breed supreme confidence and instilling the mantra in my head just because I’m different doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Growing into the man I am today, compared to the boy I was back in my adolescence, took time and commitment to not concern myself with the opinion of the outsider, but rather what I wanted out of life. For the majority of my early years I was actively searching for the answer I had been grasping at straws to obtain.

I was my own individual, I had gifts to give, lessons to teach and knowledge to lend to a world of people who had regularly disregarded every opinion accept their own, when it came to associating with those who live life through a different lens than the rest of society.

I was finally ready to grow and communicate fully with a world which I felt was apprehensive in accepting the fact that in the world times had changed and everyone was on an equal playing field. I was a member of society; I had an opinion which counted for something. I have often been admired for my undeniable display of courage and personal determination to succeed. In my later years, I have often been referred to as a role model, as a shining example of how to live your life in the most challenging of times. My unyielding desire to succeed has often been appreciated by my closest adversaries and friends.

Sometimes life deals you a deck of cards where you’re not always going to have the upper hand. Isak Dinesen, a famed Danish writer once said the following about the challenges we encounter in life. It’s a motto I attempt to emulate every day, every minute and every second of my life, especially in the darkest of times.

“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.” Isak Dinesen.

My name is Kevin McShan and I have cerebral palsy and embrace the challenges and rewards of being different and unique. Why wallow in self pity when I have so much to give? Life is too short to wonder what if, why me or worry about what others think. Live in the moment and accept your fate. After all, the tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. The whole moral of this tale can be captured in the immortal words of Gandhi who once said:

“Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
It’s a lesson we should all take a few minutes to learn, wouldn't you agree?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Making the most out of life

Making the most out of life
By Karen Fallon
Rivertown Times

For Kevin every day is a challenge…one that he meets head-on with passion and determination.
When it comes to mobility, Kevin depends solely on his wheelchair – he has no use in his legs.
His dexterity is also limited. However, it never seems to restrict him from meeting the goals he sets for himself.

Ask Kevin before any class begins: “How are you today?” and the answer was always the same.

“Just peachy,” he will say. “It’s good to be alive.”
And he means what he says.
Kevin’s goal is to become a working journalist.

Over the past two years he has proven that he has not only the ability to become a journalist, but he also has the determination and drive to be up there with the best.

Even with his physical restrictions, Kevin earned an “A” in all three courses he took with me. And when I say earned
I mean just that. He was always in class. He was attentive, asked questions, worked outside of class hours on projects
and often pushed the others into following through with their responsibilities when doing group work.

Next month Kevin will graduate from St. Clair College as a converged journalist. By converged I mean that he is not only
a print journalist, but that he can also function in the other mediums of radio, TV, and the web. He is also proficient
in the art of pagination and design.

As a teacher in the Print Journalism and New Media program at St. Clair College’s Center for the Arts, over the past
fifteen years I have had the opportunity to witness first-hand the drive and determination of several students who haverisen above their various disabilities to achieve their diploma in journalism.

One student who springs to mind is blind. He came into the program four years ago when following his dream of becoming a

As a teacher whose instruction revolves around desktop publishing programs, I had to amend my course to accommodate this student.

And although the courses were tweaked it was no less difficult for him, just a little different.
As with Kevin this student met the challenges he faced head-on and also went on to graduate from the program.

What I have found as a teacher is that those students with disabilities coming into the program tend to work harder andbe more focused on the task at hand than most to achieve their dream.

They are, in fact, an example to us all. We could all take a page out of Kevin’s book and others like him and face each day as a blessing.

On occasion it is easy for most of us to wallow in self-pity when things are not going our way. However, most peoplehave a lot to be thankful for and after all as Kevin said: “It is good to be alive.”

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Own the Podium Campaign Missed the Mark

Canada entered the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with a pledge to “Own the Podium” by winning more medals than any other at all costs, and wound up eating its words and then some.

Canada began Own the Podium in 2004 to guarantee its athletes performed better than any other country, in the medal standings in Vancouver. The program funded research in a variety of areas, from studies of sweeping techniques in curling to the use of wind tunnels for testing cross-country skiers and speed-skaters.

The Canadian Olympic Committee requested $22 million from the federal government in additional funding each year, in anticipation of decreased monetary support from corporate sponsors for future games not on Canadian soil. The request is separate from the $47 million Canada already invests in elite training each year.

Canadians like winning as much as anyone however, Canadian Olympic officials seemed to miss the mark with this operation.

We acknowledge this campaign was ambitious and our Olympic officials should be applauded for having such supreme confidence in our hometown athletes and their abilities, however, one must remember the intended purpose of this crusade. The goal was never to set a mandatory target for medals. The objective here was simply to finish first atop the medal standings.

In the eyes of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canada needed to aim high and capture the imagination and support of the Canadian public.

Chris Rudge, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, conceded the expectations of this promotion may have been slightly too high.

"There's going to be a lot of questions asked about Own The Podium," Rudge acknowledged. "We will eviscerate this program in every detail when we're finished. It's painful to go into the autopsy while the patient is still alive and kicking,” Rudge said.

While there were some positive individual achievements during these games such as freestyle skiing gold medalist Alexandre Bilodeau the first Canadian to win gold on Canadian soil. We also must remember taking on such a enormous venture such as owning the podium at the Olympic games takes time and won’t happen overnight.

As Gold-medal speedskater Christine Nesbitt pointed out, it took a decade after the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary for Canada's speedskating team to begin winning medals on the international stage.

“Own The Podium hasn't been around for 10 years and it's going to take time I think and I think it's going to pay off for me in the end," Nesbitt said.

Naturally, our goal at the Olympics should’ve been to win. What other goal should we have had? It should also be our goal in everything we do. The fact that our standard operating procedure as Canadians is to settle for mediocrity is at the centre of our core national problem.

While other nations such as South Korea are leading the pack when it comes to generating interest, innovation and excellence while Canadians are left competing to be second best.

South Koreans were able to build an international auto industry, they’ve also created Samsung, an international corporate powerhouse. Canada needs to reach a point where our nation is competing to win on every level all the time rather than 2 ½ weeks every four years at the Olympics.

Our problem isn’t with our country’s patriotism or passion its with our national approach. The own the podium campaign had the right idea but its fundamental premise was flawed.

Without New CBA Smaller Market Teams May Struggle to Survive

For the first time since 1993 the NFL is entering a season without a salary cap, which could have damaging ramifications on the competitive balance throughout the league.

Thanks to a one-year loop hole in the expiring collective bargaining agreement, which is set to expire at the end of the 2010 season, smaller market teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills are forced to pinch pennies in order to survive.

Labour peace has existed in the NFL since 1987 which was the year of the league’s last work stoppage. With no salary cap in place this year it means, the higher revenue teams such as the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots will be free to far outspend lower-revenue clubs such as Jacksonville and Buffalo as they try and improve their teams for the upcoming season.

In 2009, the cap was $128 million and the floor which is the minimum amount of money each team is required to spend was $111 million.

In 2008 the NFL owners opted out of the CBA citing revenue sharing and operating cost as the two main reasons why the current agreement is no longer economically feasible. The deal was scheduled to run through the 2012 season. The players receive approximately 60 per cent of the revenues used to determine the salary cap.

All 32 teams continue to split ticket and television revenues, however, they do not share money generated from things such as luxury seating, naming rights, parking and concession sales.

According to Forbes Magazine, the NFL is an $8 billion a year industry, the average gross income of each team currently stands at $31 million. This translates to $99200000 in revenue for the entire league.

Player costs including bonuses and benefits escalated by about four per cent, to an average of $135 million per team in 2009 according to Forbes. While the 2008 season represented the NFL's third most profitable year ever in league history. Operating income which is earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) jumped 31 per cent, to an average of $32 million.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have been battling the threat of loosing their franchise for many years to larger media markets such as Los Angeles as the NFL looks to place a team in that market for the first time since Dec. 24 1994. The Jaguars are a major source of revenue for their city and creating and maintaining some national interest in the team from the media and fans will go along way to ensure the team stays in Jacksonville according to John Peyton the mayor of the city of Jacksonville.

“In terms of national image, philanthropic support and community pride, no other entity has contributed more than the Jaguars. The Jaguars are a $200 million plus revenue and culture generating business that brings jobs, revenue, national exposure and tourism to our city,” said Peyton.

The city of Jacksonville ranks 47th on the Neilson TV Households media list, the team also struggled to attract fans last season. According to the fan attendance statistics released by the NFL Jacksonville ranked 30th in the league attracting an average of 49,651 fans per game, for the entire season the Jaguars had a total of 397,214 fans attend all eight home games in 2009.

The Jacksonville Jaguars had trouble attracting fans last season they ranked 30th in the league averaging a total of 49,651 fans per game in 2009. They’ve been battling the threat of loosing their franchise for many years to larger media markets such as Los Angeles as the NFL looks to place a team in that market for the first time since Dec. 24 1994. File photo.

Peyton says the Jaguars presence in the community is extremely important when trying to attract new businesses to the area and sustaining economic growth and development in the local economy.

“They employ about 170 people full-time, and support more than 2,500 at the stadium on game day. When looking to relocate, companies like Fidelity, Bridgestone and Deutsche Bank took into consideration the future of our city and the quality of life that we offer here. Having the Jaguars is a very important part of our economic development package,” said Peyton.

District two city councillor, Bill Bishop, says NFL football will be a part of the community in Jacksonville for many years to come do to strong fan support.

“I believe the future is good for NFL football in Jacksonville. Jacksonville is a very big football town and given enough time, the Jaguars will become an integral part of our culture. People's memories are short,” Bishop said.

Bishop believes the Jaguars must continue to build a strong fan base, in order to experience long term and sustainable success.

“The team needs to cultivate a native fan base. I believe that means the next generation of football fans that grew up with the Jaguars. The current population of ticket purchasing fans is populated by those whose allegiance was, and to a great degree, may still be with a team from another location,” said Bishop.

District three city councillor, Richard Clark, says the community is starting to embrace the Jaguars.
“I believe the city is rallying around the Jaguar’s ticket effort, and we will see a new era of Jaguar fans,” Clark said.

Since free agency and the salary cap were established 17 years ago, 22 of the NFL's 32 franchises have participated in the Super Bowl.

Peyton says he’s confident the team will remain in Jacksonville.

“I am confident that the Jaguars will stay in Jacksonville, and that Wayne Weaver is committed to our city. He and his wife, Delores, have made their home in Jacksonville and contribute tremendously to our community,” he said.