Isn’t it amusing how perception is viewed locally compared to nationally regarding the Ohio State Buckeyes?  After the NCAA finally issued its report concerning the transgressions involving former coach Jim Tressel and tattoo-gate, the Columbus Dispatch ran a front-page above the fold headline that read “Hammered” in large bold red letters.  The caption below read, “NCAA rocks Ohio State football with postseason ban, other penalties.”  Yet, every pundit on ESPN television commented that Ohio State should be thankful they got off relatively easy compared to other schools such as the University of Southern California, which received a two-year bowl game ban and a loss of thirty scholarships over the Reggie Bush infractions.

The sad part about all the penalties assessed against Ohio State is that Coach Tressel was penalized far greater than the university by receiving a five-year, show-cause sentence along with a five regular season game and a bowl game suspension should he be fortunate enough to be hired by another university.  Considering he was fired from a dream job earning four million dollars a year, the former coach received the brunt of the penalties hand down by the NCAA.  Granted, Coach Tressel lied in his attempt to cover up the misconduct of his players, but it is hard to believe that no one else in the athletic department was aware, or should have been aware of any of all the alleged illegal activities going on with the football team the past few years.

Not only has the Ohio State football team become a national embarrassment this past year, but the athletic department and the university president as well.  Ohio State should have never been allowed to play in last year’s Sugar Bowl, and if Director of Athletics Gene Smith had any foresight, he should have self-imposed a bowl ban this year, considering all the suspensions, interim head coach and every other distraction facing this year’s 6-6 team.  Coach Tressel should not have been the only person fired during this entire ordeal.

Steven H. Spring
OSU, Class of ‘87


The Corporate Naming Rights Of America

As the collegiate football bowl season got underway this past weekend with the Gildan New Mexico, Famous Idaho Potato and R & L  Carriers New Orleans bowl games, it never ceases to amaze me how far this nation’s institutes of higher learning and our country have deteriorated in integrity in their pursuit of the almighty corporate dollar.  The N.C.A.A. long ago sold its soul to the television networks at the expense of its student-athletes.  Collegiate football and basketball games are now routinely scheduled nearly every day of the week with starting times at late as 10:00 p.m. on school nights.

As a nation, we are no longer concerned with excellence, but instead we award mediocrity.  With a grand total of thirty-five bowl games, more than half of the one hundred and twenty Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision teams are eligible for post-season play.  Of the seventy teams playing in bowl games this year, one team is playing despite a losing (6-7) record, thirteen teams have six losses, fifteen teams have five losses, fourteen teams have four losses and eleven teams have three losses.  On the other end of the record, there are only ten teams with just two losses, five teams with one loss and one team undefeated.  Every year, there are always several teams playing in a bowl game despite its university having fired their head coach for either not winning enough games or other legal or amoral reasons.

In the days gone by, the only football teams playing in bowl games were conference champions and the games had exotic sounding names, such as the Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar, Fiesta or Gator Bowls.  This year, these games are now called the Rose Bowl Presented By Vizio, Discover Orange, AT&T Cotton, Allstate Sugar and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowls.  In addition to these absurdly sounding names, other more minor bowl games have even more ridiculous names such as the AdvoCare V100 Independence, Bridgepoint Education Holiday, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces, New ERA Pinstripe, Franklin American Mortgage Music City, Meineke Car Care Of Texas, Ticket City,, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg, Little Caesars Pizza, Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman, Belk, San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia and BBVA Compass bowl games.  I must admit that my favorite is the Gator Bowl not only because of its dreadful name but because it features my alma mater, Ohio State (6-6) versus Florida (6-6), as this game is a matchup of Coach Urban Meyer’s new team playing his former team.  We have even trivialized America’s national championship game by naming it the Allstate BCS National Championship game.

To make matters even more comical, instant replays are now shown to viewers courteous of so and so corporation, the first down line semi-imposed on the screen is provided by such and such conglomerate and half-time stats are bought to us by whomever.  I find it ludicrous that Allstate Insurance proudly boasts constantly how they have contributed $2.5 million to student-athlete scholarships during the past twenty-five years because they are allowed to have their logo prominently displayed on the netting behind the goalposts.  Compared to how much free advertising Allstate has received not only every time this netting is raised during games but also every time the announcers talk about it, the money it has donated is trivial by comparison.  Allstate should have donated $2.5 billion to the scholarship fund to offset the free advertising they receive every time there is a field goal or extra point attempt.

Ohio State University found the lure of money too great eleven years ago when it built a new basketball arena by naming its state of the art arena the Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.  Instead of rightfully naming the arena after their beloved basketball coach, Fred Taylor, who coached the Buckeyes for eighteen years (1959-1976), winning the university’s only basketball national championship in 1960, OSU elected to name its arena after a discount clothing and furniture chain of stores.  When Ohio State announced the name of its arena, I wrote university president E. Gordon Gee to express my displeasure with their choice of names.  I opined that I seriously doubt if any university leaders had or would frequent these stores, as they mainly serve lower-income patrons.  I do not understand why a university would allow some corporation to place its name on an arena as if they paid to build it, but for a fraction of the total cost.

To make matters even worse, Ohio State sold personal seat licenses when the arena was built which in effect gave the best seats to those who could afford to buy them and placed students high up in the upper bowl of the arena.  This basically created a dead arena, in that it gets really loud once or twice a season.  There was more fan support for the Buckeye basketball team in a road game at South Carolina on Saturday than what is the norm in Value City Arena.  Every time I watch a home Buckeye basketball game, with those two big green Value City logos at mid-court staring at me as a constant reminder, I cannot help but think the thought that Ohio State sold its soul to the almighty dollar at the expense of its dignity.

Steven H. Spring
OSU, Class of ‘87


Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act

The following is a copy of my letter to Mr. Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission regarding their ruling Tuesday regulating the volume level of television commercials.

December 15, 2011

Chairman Julius Genachowski
The Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C.  20554

Dear Chairman Genachowski,

Thank you for passing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.  I have written the Federal Communications Commission several times over the years complaining about the high volume level of television commercials.  I know the standard response from the television networks is that commercials are no louder than the show in which they air, however, being involved in various forms of both music and video recording for many years; I understand how you get around that requirement.  All you have to do is find the peak volume of a particular show then record and air the entire commercial at that peak volume.

It does not take a sound engineer to realize that commercials are much louder than the program a viewer is watching.  All it requires is normal hearing.  When you consider that there are electronic gadgets on the market to level the volume of commercials to the televised program being watched, no further proof is warranted.  One complaint I do have is why did the Federal Communications Commission gave the television industry one year to comply?  Why does it take the networks that long to conform to this new regulation?

While I am writing, let me raise another issue I have with television commercials, that being the vast number of them.  The number of commercials per hour by the television networks has doubled since the late 1950s and early ‘60s, back when television was free.  Watching these old shows on DVD, a one-hour show contained fifty-two minutes of actual programming, leaving only eight minutes for commercials.  Nowadays, one-hour shows contain only forty-four minutes of programming, doubling the commercial time to sixteen minutes.  I have noticed that some newer half hour shows are actually only twenty minutes long, which represents a whopping one hundred and fifty percent increase in the number of commercials aired every hour during the past fifty years.

A decade ago, ABC’s John Stossel had a documentary entitled Hype in which he investigated the effect that hype by the television industry has on people.  One segment showed a group of kindergarten age children sitting in front of a wall of different colored blocks and on each block was a letter of the alphabet, each of a different font.  Just by looking at a single letter of the alphabet written with a particular font, these young children all knew exactly what product they represented.  For example, when the letter “g” was pointed out, the kids all screamed Kellogg’s.  Needless to say, I was very disturbed by what I saw.

When you consider how the networks now throw in pop-up ads during a show, product placements or how they now reduce the size of closing credits in order to show even more commercials, we are being inundated with advertising.  I watch a lot of twenty-four hour news channels, mainly MSNBC, and it seems that they have commercial breaks every five minutes.  Sports are another prime example of how more commercials are infiltrating our lives.  In the old days, football games lasted three hours and basketball games were two hours long.  A typical football game now is three and a half hours long while basketball games are two and a half hours.  The games themselves have not gotten any longer; it is because of all the commercials.  Both sports even have actual stoppage of play just for commercials.

Children today spend more time sitting in front of a TV or computer screen than they do in school, all the while becoming hypnotized by the seemingly never-ending commercials.  Television can be a great thing, but it is brainwashing our children with its hype and mass commercialization of all things.  I can see the day coming when I no longer watch television except for DVDs because of the excessive number of commercials.


Steven H. Spring


The Twelve Days Of A Capitalist’s Christmas

On the twelfth day before Christmas,
Waiting all night just to shop before the break of dawn.
Lord there must be a better way,
Thank goodness, Black Friday doesn’t come every day.

On the eleventh day before Christmas,
There is no time to stop, its shop, shop, shop all day.
Look out, I think that woman over there,
Is about to attack us with her deadly pepper spray.

On the tenth day before Christmas,
The malls are all packed, but there is no time to moan or groan.
Fortunately for me, money no longer is a problem,
Thank goodness for all those four hundred percent interest charging payday loans.

On the ninth day before Christmas,
I really do love that 80-inch HD flat screen TV.
I just hope and pray to God,
That Best Buy will finance it for me.

On the eighth day before Christmas,
They’re all gonna be sold out I fear.
But Junior really does needs,
A new Xbox 360 this year.

On the seventh day before Christmas,
Lights are all hung and ornaments are scattered about the yard.
The credit cards are all at their max,
Oh my Lord, did I forget to mail the Christmas cards?

On the sixth day before Christmas,
Was it an iPhone, iMac, iPod or an iPad?
If I get it wrong, I pray that my precious little Mary,
Won’t be too, too mad.

On the fifth day before Christmas,
There is one toy that I have yet to find.
It’s a cute little blonde haired Barbie doll baby,
I think I just might have enough cash to pay, maybe.

On the fourth day before Christmas,
Thank God the shopping is almost done I shout out with glee.
I no longer can eat or sleep because,
I am stressed out far more than any human being should be.

On the third day before Christmas,
I really would like a brand new washer and dryer from Home Depot.
I just hope and pray that the family car,
Doesn’t get repo’d.

On the second day before Christmas,
All the shopping is finally done.
I am as broke as anyone can or should be,
But why isn’t there a government bailout for working class people like me?

On the day before Christmas,
I am all out of cash.
We were supposed to go to Grandma’s for dinner,
However, we couldn’t afford the gas!

Copyright 2011 SHSmusicGroup
Steven H. Spring

Cincinnati-Xavier Basketball Riot

The riot that broke out at the end of the Cincinnati-Xavier basketball game should be reason enough for the NCAA to finally crackdown on trash talking in all sports.  Civility and sportsmanship has long since been abandoned in not only in American sports but in our society as a whole.  Xavier All-American guard Tu Holloway was quoted as stating after the game that “We’ve got a whole bunch of gangsters in our locker room.”  Is this really the image the NCAA and our universities want to project to the youth of America?

This type of boorish attitude has probably been around for a very long time, as I am old enough to remember watching the beating and hospitalization of several Ohio State basketball players by the Minnesota Golden Gophers on February 7, 1972, but it was glorified by the Miami Hurricanes football team during the 1980s, when that program relished its image as gangsters and hooligans when it wore combat fatigues on the way to the 1987 Fiesta Bowl.

Sad as this brawl was, this type of brutal behavior is probably more reflective of the violent culture of America.  Be it this nation’s warmongering military-industrial complex down to all those shoot ‘em in the head to receive bonus points video games (which were first developed by the military to train its soldiers for combat) parents give their children for Christmas, America has become a very sadistic nation.  The brawl in Cincinnati is just the latest example of a society gone wild.

Steven H. Spring

The Wisdom Of Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich, the current leading Republican candidate for the nomination to challenge President Obama in next year’s presidential election, has a plan on how to teach this nation’s underprivileged young people a very important life lesson.  It seems Mr. Gingrich wants to fire all but one head custodian at our public schools and replace them with poor children in an attempt to teach them proper work ethics.

I guess the significant life lesson to be learned is that if you are unfortunate enough to be born to low income parents, you will be cleaning up sh*t from rich folk all your life!

Steven H. Spring

How The F#@K Is It That Martha Stewart Went To Jail?

Last Thursday night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart introduced a new segment entitled “How The F#@K Is It That Martha Stewart Went To Jail?” in which he reported that Bloomberg News broke the story about the Federal Reserve’s secret program to loan the banking industry $7.7 trillion during the height of the financial crisis through something called the Discount Window.  To make matters worse, the Federal Reserve charged the banks only 0.01 percent interest on this money, which was then leant back to the government, a deal from which the banks made $13 billion.  Stewart further stated that the Federal Reserve kept this information from both the Department of Treasury and Congress.  Many politicians are still in an uproar over the $700 billion TARP bailout of the financial community, imagine the uproar if they only had known the entire true story.

I have long opined that The Daily Show is the funniest show on television.  It is said that young people get their news from Jon Stewart, which might be a good place to do so as this was the first I have heard of such a story.  As a life-long news junkie, I watch a lot of twenty-four hour news channels, mostly MSNBC, however, never once have I heard any of their newscasters speak of such a transaction or seen an article in my newspaper.  What makes this story such a disgrace is that the banking industry caused a near fatal collapse of the world market with their devious home loan practices, conflicts of interest within the too big to fail institutions and financial instruments so complicated that experts have a hard time explaining them, yet when they were bailed out by our government, instead of helping people re-finance their underwater home loans, they kept this money in house and gave themselves record bonuses.  Once again, the titans of the banking industry are awarded all the profits, while our government assumes all the risks.

Back to the title of Mr. Stewart’s new segment, how is it that Martha Stewart went to jail over some minor insider trading secrets and the people responsible for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression not only got off scot-free, but were awarded with record bonuses and a nearly interest free $7.7 trillion loan all the while families are losing their homes.  Those responsible should be held accountable.  Yet, not only have not one person been charged with a crime, but no new regulation has been passed to prevent such a financial disaster from occurring again.  This is a travesty and a disgrace to every American!

Steven H. Spring