Tag: U.S. Open

Former professional tennis player James Blake subjected to police brutality and racial profiling by NYPD

Tennis is my least favorite sport. Unlike many other sports that a lot of people consider boring, such as golf, curling, and baseball (three sports that I actually like, although my favorite sport is automobile racing), there’s virtually no strategy to tennis, and the scoring system used in tennis can be confusing for those not familiar with the sport.

However, that’s all beside the point.

The point of the matter is that police brutality is a serious problem in this country, and even professional athletes are victims of police brutality. The most recent example of this involves former professional tennis player James Blake, who is black, being slammed to the ground by a plainclothes New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer and four other NYPD officers after the officers mistook him for someone allegedly involved in an identity theft ring:

Blake was in New York City for the U.S. Open on Wednesday when, as reported by Wayne Coffey of the New York Daily News, a plainclothes NYPD officer charged at him, picked him up and slammed him to the ground, mistaking him for a suspect in an identity-theft ring that had been operating in the area.

The Connecticut native and former world No. 4, who retired from tennis at the U.S. Open two years ago, initially thought the officer was possibly an old friend “running at me to give me a big hug.”

Four other cops, all white, soon joined the first officer, handcuffing and detaining Blake for 15 minutes, despite the fact that he showed I.D. and cooperated immediately.

[…]

Blake, an African American who names Arthur Ashe as his idol, admits that racial profiling was probably involved, but was more immediately concerned by the brutal nature of the encounter. His left leg was bruised and his right elbow cut in the incident.

If James Blake were white, I’m almost certain that the NYPD would have not targeted him at all, and they certainly wouldn’t have slammed him to the ground and injured him. This is a disturbing example of police brutality and racial profiling, both of which are far too common in this country.

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My list of America’s top 10 state parks

While our national parks contain some of America’s most prized natural features, some of America’s most beautiful landscapes and historical landmarks are located in state parks. Sadly, our nation’s state parks are often unappreciated by the public and by politicians, as many states have severely cut, or even eliminated, public funding to state parks in recent years.

I’m going to list my ten most favorite state parks in the entire country. In order to qualify for consideration for this list, a “state park” is a park, forest, recreation area, historical site, or other type of area administered by a state government agency that is responsible for the operation of state parks.

#10: Bethpage State Park, New York

Bethpage State Park, located near Farmingdale, New York on Long Island, is not your typical state park. Instead of natural beauty, Bethpage consists of five 18-hole golf courses. Bethpage’s Black Course, one of the most difficult golf courses in the entire country, hosted the 102nd and 109th U.S. Open golf championships in 2002 and 2009, respectively. In addition to golf courses, Bethpage State Park also has a polo field.

#9: Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

Arkansas is home to the only publicly-accessible diamond-bearing site: Crater of Diamonds State Park, located in the Ouachita Mountains near Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Tourists can search for diamonds in 37.5-acre plowed field in the park.

#8: Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Located along the Illinois River near North Utica, Illinois, Starved Rock State Park is proof that Illinois has some impressive natural wonders. Outcroppings of soft sandstone provide some very impressive geography, including cliffs, canyons, and waterfalls.

#7: Custer State Park, South Dakota

Named after U.S. Army Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, who was killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, Custer State Park includes some of the majestic terrain of South Dakota’s Black Hills, the scenic Needles Highway, and a heard of free-roaming bison.

#6: Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona

While Arizona’s Superstition Mountains are located in a federally-administered national forest, you can get an impressive view of the mountains from nearby Lost Dutchman State Park. The park includes desert scenery and hiking trails that lead into the national forest. The park gets its name from the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

#5: Washington Monument State Park, Maryland

Believe it or not, there are actually three monuments to George Washington, our nation’s first president. The most famous Washington Monument is run by the federal government and located in Washington, D.C., and there’s also a Washington Monument in Baltimore, Maryland. However, a lesser-known Washington Monument is located west of Boonsboro, Maryland, in Washington Monument State Park. The Boonsboro Washington Monument is the oldest of the three, having been completed in 1827, The monument sits near the top of Monument Knob, one of many peaks on South Mountain, a long ridge that extends from Maryland into Pennsylvania.

#4: Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

Located at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada near Cantil, California, Red Rock Canyon State Park provides some of the most beautiful desert scenery you’ll find anywhere. Cliffs, buttes, and rock formations provide a spectacular landscape that has been featured in many movies.

#3: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Florida

Located near Key Largo in the Florida Keys is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, an underwater state park in Florida. Named after conservationist John Pennekamp, the park features coral reefs and associated marine wildlife.

#2: Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia

Located near Davis, West Virginia, Blackwater Falls State Park provides some of Appalachia’s most splendid scenery. The park gets its name from the 62-foot Blackwater Falls, where the tannic acid-darkened water of the Blackwater River flows into Blackwater Canyon.

#1: Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin

While Wisconsin Dells and Door County state parks are far more famous, Wisconsin’s Copper Falls State Park, located near Mellen in the northwestern part of the state, is what I consider to be Wisconsin’s most beautiful state park, and my favorite state park in the entire country. The Bad River and Tylers Forks, a tributary of the Bad River, flow over a series of waterfalls within the park. The park also includes Loon Lake, trails, a campground, and a ton of opportunities for recreation.

State parks provide this country with natural scenery, historical landmarks, and wonderful recreation opportunities. They deserve more funding and public support.

U.S. Open golf championship shaping up to be one of the most memorable in decades

Normally, I don’t watch golf tournaments, but I made an exception for this year’s U.S. Open championship, largely due to FOX heavily promoting their coverage of the tournament during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series automobile races that I watch on most weekends (NASCAR’s top series has an off week this week).

What those watching the U.S. Open have seen over the last three days has been one of the greatest first 54 holes of a major golf championship in history.

The biggest story of the tournament hasn’t been Tiger Woods missing the cut. The biggest story isn’t the difficulty and physical demands of the Chambers Bay golf course, where the tournament is being held this year. The biggest story isn’t Jordan Spieth trying to win the second leg of golf’s grand slam (winning The Masters, the U.S. Open, the (British) Open Championship, and the PGA Championship, the four major men’s golf tournaments, in the same year). The biggest story isn’t FOX covering a major golf tournament for the first time.

All of those stories I listed in the above paragraph are big stories of this tournament, but the biggest story of the tournament has been Jason Day, an Australian who is 10th-ranked professional golfer in the world, collapsing from benign positional vertigo on his final hole of the second round of the tournament, then coming back in the third round and shooting a round of 68 (2 under par) to tie Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Brendan Grace for the championship lead at 4 under par after 54 holes. Day’s third round performance was absolutely phenomenal, especially when one considers that Day was not physically well throughout his third round.

Tomorrow’s final round of the U.S. Open golf championship is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing final rounds of a major golf championship in a very long time. Should two or more players tie for the lead after all players are finished with their final round, an 18-hole playoff would be played by those tied for the lead on Monday.