To The Point 8-9-12

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ALL SORTS OF INTERESTING thoughts as I, like many of you, watch sports I’ve never heard of from the Olympics:

Did you know that American Olympic athletes who win medals have to pay taxes on their value? I was stunned to hear that, but apparently the government sees winning an Olympic medal like winning a car on a game show, you won something of value, so you have to pay taxes based on that value.

Now, a Congressman from Florida is working feverishly to correct this issue, but doesn’t this all seem stupid to you, too?

The U.S. Olympic organizing committee says that when an athlete earns a medal, they receive “monetary compensation” for that, so that money can be used to help pay the taxes.

For athletes like Michael Phelps, who are already earning millions in endorsement deals, the taxes are probably no big deal, but what about swimmer Missy Franklin?

She’s still in high school and wants to maintain her amateur status so she can swim for her high school swim team (Can you imagine being on a high school team and showing up to find a world record holding Olympic medalist in your event?).

If she accepts the money from the USOC to pay for the taxes, then she’s no longer an amateur. If she doesn’t accept the money, then her parents or someone is going to have to come up with a load of cash to pay the taxes.

Perhaps she shouldn’t have done so well. Fewer medals, less taxes.

Or how about Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas? It was just announced that her mother has had to declare bankruptcy. Think she’s got the money to pay those taxes? What this will do is force a teenager into a profession solely for the purpose of money.

Gabby Douglas doesn’t have time to go back and be a kid, she’s got bills to pay.

It just seems a little misguided to me…

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You may or may not know the name George Will, but he is a nationally-recognized political commentator who also happens to be crazy about sports.

The other day he provided some interesting statistics on football and the human body – at least I find them interesting.

George Will’s point is that the game of football is outgrowing the capacity of the human body to withstand it. He said that in 1980, there were three players in the NFL who weighed more than 300 pounds. Last year, there were three players who weighed more than 350 pounds, and 352 players who weighed more than 300 pounds.

His point? As athletes get bigger and faster and stronger, thanks in part to advances in physical training, the human body is reaching a point where it will no longer be able to withstand the punishment of the game.

He said that a 300 pound lineman running in a 20-yard space on a field and hitting a ball carrier is like the person being hit by a car. At that impact, the brain “bounces” around inside the skull, and concussion results. We are already seeing the results of numerous concussions on retired athletes, and George Will’s premise is that if something isn’t done soon to better protect players and in particular head trauma, a disaster is going to take place.

A couple of years ago quarterback Carson Palmer said that he thought he would see the day that a player was killed on the field due to a viscous hit, and many people laughed. If George Will is right, someone better lead the way and make some changes,

And soon.

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On September 11th, 2001, we all stood horrified at the attacks on America. We wondered where terrorists would strike next, and if anyone anywhere in the country was safe from outside threats.

Just over a decade later, we are much safer from an outside threat, but we should be much more concerned about the danger from within.

We shouldn’t worry about someone from the outside shooting us, we’re destroying ourselves from within.

The recent shootings at the movie theater in Colorado and the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin; as well as the guilty plea this week from the man who shot Representative Gabby Giffords and others in Arizona go to show that as much as taking our shoes off in airport security and other measures are keeping the outside threat out – there’s very little we can do as a country about the threat inside.

We are slowly but surely becoming a nation of intolerance, rather than the “great melting pot” that brought people from all over the world together and made this country great.

We now not only look for differences, when we find them, we exploit them to our advantage.

It’s not about what we do right, it’s about what someone else does wrong.

When’s the last time you saw an ad for one of the candidates for President that wasn’t consumed with how bad the other guy is? It’s not like they want us to vote for them as much as they don’t want us to vote for the other person.

There seems to be no gray in our country today.

Get asked a question, give an answer, and suddenly it’s national news and picketers are asking those who share their beliefs to “wage war” economically on a business.

We are a nation – a great nation – that was founded on the common knowledge that we are all different. It used to be something that our nation embraced, but now it is a banner of ignorance and hatred that certain groups want to wave like a flag in order to rally other ignorant people to their cause.

It’s no wonder that we are self-destructing from within.

I don’t have the answer, but I’m sure all of the bias commentators who want you to believe that they are providing accurate information don’t have answers, either.

What has to happen is that we need to be a people, a community, that begins to celebrate tolerance and diversity and idealism, and not a country that draws lines and builds fences and has no use for any other opinion other than their own.

That’s not to say that you have to compromise your rights and beliefs, but before we are quick to discard the beliefs of others, we should at least listen to them. If we don’t agree, then we should be able to disagree without being disagreeable.

As a people we should demand the disclosure of information that has a direct impact on our lives, and stop worrying about things that don’t really make a difference in the long term.

I mean, are you really going to base your decision on whether or not to vote for Mitt Romney on whether or not he releases tax returns? Does his income really impact your day to day life?

After nearly five years, can we put to rest whether or not Barack Obama was born in this country? I mean, he’s nearly finished a four-year term as President, can we get past this already? Don’t we have bigger issues to address with our government?

At the end of the day, we are all different and we are all unique and we all have a voice. As a nation, we need to be better listeners in spite of all the noise blasted our way.