The state of sick hockey? (5×8 – 2/25/14)

There’s been plenty of hating against the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team in the wake of the egg they laid in Sochi. But these two videos, one released four days ago and one over the weekend, are still a pretty neat celebration.

Here endeth today’s good feelings about the state of hockey.

In an op-ed in the Star Tribune, Dale Vaillancourt of Burnsville says the state of youth hockey is “sick.”

I visited the youth hockey website in my town to check on fees and sign-up dates. There, I found the names and numbers of a few of the age-level coaches. After placing a few calls, I reached a “team secretary,” the wife of a coach. That was the first red flag.

I asked her about the schedule, and she said she did not recognize my son’s name. I told her it would be his first year, and I was met with a long pause.

“Well, if he’s never played before, he’ll have to be on a “C” team,” she said, and gave me the number to that team secretary.

When I reached the “C” secretary, she nicely listed the practice, game and tournament schedule, along with dates of supplementary camps as well as strength and conditioning training times offered at the rink. Turns out that for 9- and 10-year-olds, practice is four to five days per week, with one to two games each week, and five to six full weekends of tournaments — some in town and some involving statewide travel.

Digesting that, I asked what time the practices would be. She was necessarily vague, because there are no set times … it could be 6 a.m. or 4 p.m. or even 9 p.m. On school days. Ice time is a scarce commodity, so teams take what they are given.

There is no room in Minnesota, he suggests, for the kid who wants to do something in the winter in addition to a little hockey. You’re either all in, or all out.

More sports: Why The Olympics Left Me Cold (WBUR).

The Legislature begins its full-time part-time work today and it’s beginning to sound as if medical marijuana won’t be much of a priority in the session.

Too bad, says Brent Olson out in Clinton, who writes the Independently Speaking column, reprinted here by permission:

We know a little girl named Greta – nice little girl, about seven. She has severe epilepsy and has been having seizures since she was five months old – a lot of them. We’re talking 15 or so a day, to the point that it has seriously interfered with her ability to walk, talk, or even feed herself.

Her parents have tried everything.


Doctors and drugs beyond counting – even brain surgery when Greta was five.

Take a moment to think about that. Think about being so desperate to help your child that when she was five, you would agree to her having brain surgery that might even not help.

And it didn’t.

Greta has a terrific family – two older sisters who are swell and a father who is a very fine man who I’ve known since he was a baby. He actually rents some of our farmland. When we decided to stop farming, he’s one of the people I offered it to, because I liked how he farmed and I liked how he lived his life. Greta’s mother? Well, people who know her will read this, so I might as well tell the truth. Her mom can be kind of a pain in the neck.

Of course, the United States Marines can be kind of a pain in the neck, too, but that doesn’t stop the president from dialing their number when something goes south.

Maria, to my knowledge, never served in the Marine Corps, but she can bring a little of that into most conversations, and where her family is concerned, she is relentless.

This story should have a happy ending, or at least a hopeful middle, because the family has finally found a medication that helps with the seizures.

Unfortunately, the medicine is a variety of medicinal marijuana called “Charlotte’s Web,” named after the little girl who first tried it. That little girl went from 60 seizures a day to none. But, as it turns out, Minnesota is not one of the twenty states where medicinal marijuana is legal. So, to save their daughter, Mark and Maria broke up their family. Greta and Maria moved 800 miles away to Colorado, where Charlotte’s Web is available, with a prescription. They bought a house and established residency. She’s telecommuting to her job as a nurse back in Minnesota, but Mark’s a farmer.

It’s damn tough to move a farm, and the money from farming is largely responsible for making all the rest of their efforts possible. To save their child, they split up their family.

The Botker’s are in a cruel trap. Many conservative folks oppose legalizing medical marijuana, because they think we have enough ways to get messed up in our society. And I can’t really argue with that.

Oh, wait, yes I can. You don’t get high from Charlotte’s Web. You don’t smoke it, and it’s developed to be very low in the component of marijuana that provides a high. It’s a drug – the way morphine is a drug. No one is talking about banning morphine, because heroin is such a problem…even though they both come from poppies. There are endless other examples.

On the other hand, some of the more liberal folks aren’t throwing their full weight behind legalizing medical marijuana, because they want the “fun” stuff legal, too, and they think that if they can tie the whole shebang together, they just might get that done.

Both sides have their agendas and Greta, a girl with a great smile and too many problems, is stuck right in the middle.

I very seldom take a strong position on anything, other than an occasional plea for common sense and getting along. I think of myself as a guy who sits pretty close to the middle on a lot of issues and being in the middle means, almost by definition, that you give some weight to both sides.

But this, this right here, is wrong. It’s just plain wrong. The governor should hear, our senators should hear, and something should be done – now. Apply the same rules to medical marijuana that are placed on any other drug. Trust the doctors to prescribe it appropriately and ruthlessly punish the people who abuse the privilege. I’m fine with all that.

Maria told me once that she and Mark had decided to live a life without regrets with Greta, that they would do everything they could do to help her.

That attitude is beyond admirable. It just shouldn’t be necessary.

“I thought it was just a given. You call 911 and 911 answers,” a north Minneapolis woman who saw a man lying in the street tells WCCO.

Another person says the phone rang and rang as she watched a burglar steal a snowblower next door.

Why isn’t anyone answering 911?

In its investigation, WCCO blames a new training program.

It had to get to this sooner or later. Broadcasters are playing the “we may shut down free TV” card in their fight against Aereo, which streams TV stations for a monthly fee.

In a filing with the Supreme Court, which hears the case soon, the broadcasters hinted they may just shut down TV.


Bonus: We’re pretty tired of war. We’re not tired of watching reunions. This one happened at Albright College in Pennsylvania.

Should voluntary water regulations for farmers be made mandatory?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Transportation issues and the Legislature.

Second hour: Painkiller addiction.

Third hour: Lots of us are afraid to fail – both in our personal and professional lives. But Megan McArdle wants you to know that it’s ok to fail. In fact, it’s GOOD to fail. If we navigate our failings correctly, McArdle argues in The Up Side of Down, we can learn to identify mistakes early on and turn them into successes.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – American RadioWorks documentary: “Say it Loud Plain. Say it Loud.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – A look at the future of the U.S. military.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Minnesota lawmakers this year will again consider banning the antibacterial agent triclosan from consumer products. The chemical has been found in Minnesota waters, and environmental groups are concerned about harmful dioxins it could produce. Public health advocates say soap with triclosan is no better than regular soap for hand washing, and several companies have already announced they will phase out the chemical from consumer products. Minnesota could be the first state to ban triclosan, but the cleaning products industry is expected to push back. MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar will report.

The cause of two deadly Minneapolis fires remains a mystery. Investigators are still trying to figure out what led to the New Years Day explosion that killed three people in a Cedar-Riverside apartment building, and they were unable to determine what caused the fire that killed five children in a North Minneapolis duplex this month. Nationally, nearly one in five fire investigations ends up “undetermined.” MPR’s Curtis Gilbert will have the update.

Before ALS takes your life, the disease takes your voice. That’s when patients turn to synthetic speech through a computer. But now there’s a way to customize it with your own, natural voice before it’s too late. NPR will report on voice banking.