Monday, December 19, 2011

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I have thought long and hard about what I want for Christmas this year. I’ve been pretty good and I hope you take that into account when you look at my list.

First – please make the lockouts stop! First the NFL over the summer, then the NBA this fall... I can’t take the stress!

The NFL locked players out, postponed training camp and cancelled a couple preseason games … but they were smart enough to end the lockout before any regular season games were cancelled. The NBA, on the other hand, cancelled about a month of games and turned off a lot of fans in the process.

The worst part of the lockouts is that of course both sides waited until the very last minute to negotiate, when both leagues knew they were coming for years. Because of that, the looming lockouts put a dark cloud over the previous seasons. And I’m sorry but millionaires fighting billionaires? The world has a lot bigger problems to worry about.

Santa, I hope athletes, players and commissioners in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL have learned their lesson from these two lockouts and work to prevent them from happening rather than waiting to negotiate until the final hour. But I am not naïve and realize that they probably haven’t learned a thing.

My second wish is for safety changes in IndyCar.

Twelve laps into the IndyCar season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a horrific crash unfolded that enveloped 15 cars, killing Dan Wheldon, winner of the 2011 Indianapolis 500. His car launched into the air, then slammed against the catch fence – cockpit first. He was 33.

The sadness of this accident is undeniable, the young husband and father of two loses his life after finally getting to the top of his profession. The sad part of the accident is that no one was shocked that it happened.

One journalist covering the race wrote: “Conditions in the race were such that everybody kind of expected that there was going to be at least one or two really big crashes."

During practice runs, drivers expressed concern about the track, where cars could reach speeds of 225 m.p.h. One driver, Oriol Servia, said: "We all had a bad feeling about this place, in particular just because of the high banking and how easy it was to go flat [to the floor with the accelerator].”

Ironically, Wheldon was racing for team owner Sam Schmidt, a former Indy driver whose career was cut short in a horrific crash that left him a quadriplegic.

Santa, please talk to IndyCar officials and make them take a look at these tragedies and do everything in their power to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, that no other children lose their father, no wife loses her husband. Remind them that safety of the drivers should come above all else – speed is exciting, but not worth the loss of life.

My final wish is for college football to chill out with the conference changes. So many schools changed allegiance this year, I don’t know who is now where or what the conferences are called – Pac-10 or Pac-12? Shouldn’t the Big 10 and Big 12 swap names?

Missouri and Texas A&M moved to the SEC; Texas Christian to the Big East – wait no, make that the Big 12; Pittsburgh and Syracuse left the Big East for the ACC;  Boise State and San Diego State join the Big East (yes, you heard that right, the Big “East”) … it’s all enough to make my head spin. Now the Big 12 will have 10 schools; the Big 10 will have 12 schools; and with Houston, Southern Methodist, San Diego State and Boise State joining the conference, less than half of the football teams in the Big East will be East Coast schools.

I hope I got all of the changes right… but if not, you’ll have to excuse me – it’s too confusing to keep straight.  Santa, please talk to all of the university deans and conference commissioners and politely ask them to chill out – we fans can’t keep up!

Well Santa, that’s all I have. Oh, and of course heath, wealth and happiness for myself, my family and my friends.

Merry Christmas!

Jen H., Savannah, GA

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