Birthright Sport

With all the recent talk about birthright citizenship, one that has bearings on infant baptism, I am at a loss about basketball. Is it Canadian, Presbyterian, or American? It depends on how we categorize the game’s creator.

But do you know that the inventor of basketball was a Presbyterian?

His name was James Naismith. Born in Canada on November 6, 1861 in a town no longer in existence, James and his four brothers and sisters grew up in difficult circumstances. His Scotch parents had emigrated from Scotland to Canada, but died after a few years in their new country, leaving James and his brothers and sisters to be reared by a strict uncle. They moved a few times, with James always being involved in sports, like rugby, soccer, football, lacrosse and gymnastics. He would graduate from McGill University in Montreal as well as earning a diploma from the Presbyterian seminary in Montreal in 1890. While never did he become ordained, he did minister in the pulpits of Canadian Presbyterian Churches.

It was while he was working at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts that James Naismith was given the task by his employer to “come up with” an indoor game which would help the youths of the district to mature into young adults. The assignment, which was given a fourteen day limit, resulted in what we know as basketball.

Granted the ten rules which he wrote down were changed as the new sport developed. For example, the first basket at either end was a peach basket! When the soccer ball, which was first used, would be shot into it, it stayed there until someone climber a ladder at either end of the court to remove it. Time was lost in that exercise until a net and a “basketball” was used.

James and his wife moved to the United States and became citizens. Eventually, he was hired by the University of Kansas to be its basketball coach. Interestingly, he had more losses than wins in the university at Lawrence, Kansas. But others, including some he had trained, became more proficient in the sport, and today . . . it is found the world over.

Here’s the problem. Naismith invented the game when he was 30 years old. He did not become a citizen of the U.S. until he was 55.

That means basketball started on U.S. soil — good news for the birthright folks. But the man inventing the game was still Canadian.

If citizenship matters, basketball is Canadian.

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What’s The Matter with Los Angeles?

Thomas Frank asked what was the matter with Kansas. Why did lower-middle class whites vote for the GOP when the Republicans did little for such voters economically. The interests of Kansans economically were supposed to be much more Democrat than Republican. But conservatives in the GOP used social issues — abortion, marriage, etc. — to attract support.

Frank’s argument makes me wonder the same about the Hollywood stars who live in the greater Los Angeles area. Simply on economic grounds, why would people worth millions vote for a party that wants to raise taxes on them?

Then there is the art-makes-viewers-more-humane-and-empathetic argument. Don’t actors in Hollywood play all sorts of American character types, from people who vote for Republicans to business owners, cops (how many cop shows and movies are there?!?), angry white men, and Christian nationalists? If art is supposed to help us see how others see the world, why are Hollywood actors like Meryl Streep so clueless about how so many Americans other than movie stars live?

Not to mention that in the aftermath of Debbie Reynolds’ and Carrie Fisher’s death, the missus and I watched Meryl Streep give a very fine performance in Postcards from the Edge (foul language trigger warning). She plays a Hollywood star who is a drug addict and whose life is hardly stable? If you play that kind of character — and I imagine Hollywood has more people like this than among the rest of the millionaire demographic — do you really get on a soapbox and instruct the rest of the country about how insensitive and vicious regular Americans are (with a straight face)? Don’t you perhaps remember that Hollywood types have their own clay feet (even if outfitted in Prada)?

One last anomaly. Meryl Streep has far more in common with Donald Trump than Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz. Streep and Trump are both loaded, live lives becoming the rich and famous, cultivate celebrity, and are not overly concerned about abortion, gays, or sex outside marriage. Trump is one of Streep’s tribe.

And now the press can see how hollow and shallow Trump’s way of life is:

Trump understands one thing. In business, on TV and in conducting a presidential campaign, all that matters is making the news. He was famous and infamous, but most of all he was a media tsunami. He was not to be avoided. Fame is Donald Trump’s drug of choice. Being famous gives a person an automatic market value, a faux-virtue that comes from virtual supremacy.

Didn’t they understand that when Katy Perry and Beyonce were headlining for either Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton?