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Friday, April 12, 2019

An Idea for NFL Realignment

Recently, college football has undergone conference realignment, and I don't like it. Previously, conferences had been arranged mostly based upon geographical location. Now, with the push toward bigger conferences and the "Power 5", we've got teams from completely different parts of the country matched together in conferences. For example, Maryland moved from the ACC to the Big 10, and Texas A and M has moved from the Big 12 to the SEC. West Virginia in the Big 12 doesn't work for me, either. It makes no sense.

The NFL has a similar problem with teams playing in divisions outside their geographic region. So, it got me to thinking about how I might realign NFL divisions to fix the issue if it were up to me. In doing so, I used the graphic below, which shows the location of the 32 NFL teams, as a guide.

Source: Sport League Maps - NFL

I've been percolating today's article in my head for some time. With the NFL Draft 2 weeks away, now seems like as good a time as any to unveil it. It's a departure from my usual writing. I simply did it for fun out of my love for the game of football. I'm sure some will take issue with it, and that's ok, because it's only my opinion as to how I might do it. I'm sure others have ideas as well.

I had a few goals in mind. In order of priority, they were:
  1. Group teams together in 4s by geographic proximity.
  2. Group teams in the same state into same division when possible.
  3. Keep teams in same conference when possible.
  4. Keep teams in same division within same conference when possible.
Even with these goals in mind, when I finished this project, 10 teams, or 31.3% of the NFL changed divisions. Of those, 8, or 25% of the NFL, also changed conferences. I will confess - the fans of some teams, the Dallas Cowboys come to mind, will not like "The Sheepdog's Proposed NFL Realignment". The only division to emerge unscathed with no changes is the NFC North - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, and Minnesota stay put.

Now, why do this:
  1. To facilitate local rivalries. 
  2. To make it easier for fans to attend more of their favorite team's games, because they are played closer to their home.
  3. To reduce team travel time. Doing so would enable players to spend more time with their families and allow for more healing, recovery, and physical therapy time regarding injuries between games.
  4. To reduce team travel costs.
Now, with the intro out of the way, here's the proposal. 

AFC East

I grouped the 4 teams from the upper Northeast part of the U.S. here, including all 3 New York teams. So, it becomes New England, Buffalo, N.Y. Jets, and the new edition - the N.Y. Giants. 

AFC North

The division almost emerged unscathed. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland remain. The one change is moving Indianapolis here from the AFC South, because they just don't belong in the South. Tennessee fans will be happy since Andrew Luck has had their number - beating them like 12 straight times. I thought about moving Philadelphia here in order to have both Pennsylvania teams together, but it worked better to leave them in the NFC East. So, where did Baltimore go? Hang on. I'll get there. 

AFC South

I've got a feeling that here's where some of the screams and eye rolls are gonna happen. Tennessee and Houston stayed here, but there are 2 new members in this division - Dallas and New Orleans. Sorry Cowboys fans, but they do not belong in the NFC East based upon geography. New Orleans belongs in a South division, but I had to move them to the AFC to make the realignment work. Look on the bright side, Saints fans - at least your team won't get punked by my Bucs in the Superdome in the opener anymore.

AFC West

This division is the one spread the farthest apart and will require the longest travel times for divisional games. It was mostly untouched with Denver, Kansas City, and Oakland / Las Vegas staying, but I did go a little old school by returning Seattle to this division where it played from 1977-2001. Where did the LA Chargers go? Let's just say they will be playing in California a lot more. 

NFC East

This division would look significantly different under my realignment proposal. Washington and Philadelphia remain. Dallas and N.Y. Giants are gone with Baltimore and Carolina moving into their spots. Washington and Baltimore fit perfectly here, since both teams are based in the state of Maryland. Carolina was a bit of a plug. I could have left them in the NFC South, but they just fit better here due to being based near the East coast. 

Since I've already addressed the NFC North not changing, I'll move on to the NFC South.

NFC South

I made some significant changes here, too. Tampa and Atlanta stayed, but I've grouped all 3 Florida teams here now. So, joining the division are Jacksonville and Miami. You are welcome, Dolphins fans. No more twice-a-year floggings at the hands of Coach Billicheat and Pretty Boy Brady. Fans of Florida's NFL teams would now be able to see their team play multiple times each year without ever leaving the state.

NFC West

With my proposal, division could be known as the "NFC California Division". With Oakland slated to leave for Las Vegas in 2020, I would move the LA Chargers here. The division would then contain Arizona and also the other 2 California teams - LA Rams and San Francisco. One could even call this group the "NFC Southwest Division", since it would have 4 teams from the most Southwest corner of the U.S. This group would also be great for instate NFL fans of the 3 California teams - they would be within driving distance of at least 6 of their teams' 8 division games every year.

Remember the graphic showing the location of all 32 NFL teams I showed earlier? Here it is again in a finished version showing the groupings.



Summary

So, NFL fans, there you have it. My proposed NFL division realignment based upon one thing and one thing only - geography. Take it with a grain of salt, because as I said - it's just a proposal as to what I would do if I was the one making the decision. Since I'll never be NFL Commissioner, It's basically fiction. However, if anyone would like to forward it on to Roger Goodell, I'd be much obliged. 

Is it football season yet?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Reality of Socialized Medicine and Medicare for All

We've heard talk lately about "Medicare for All" - the most recent proposal in which the federal government provides so-called "free" healthcare insurance to all Americans. It's just another version of socialized medicine modeled after Canada's. 

Courtesy: Wikipedia
Previously, I've posted about my dislike for socialized medicine and why I feel the way I do. The question now is, what is the reality of socialized medicine? A recent Forbes.com titled "What Socialized Medicine Looks Like" answers that question by sharing details about Canada's program. I hope you will read that entire article. However, below are some of the highlights:
  1. Primary care doctors in Canada provide fewer services than their counterparts in the U.S. forcing people to go to ERs more often. Average Canadian ER wait = 4 hours.
  2. Number of Canadian women to never have a mammogram = double the number of American women. Has led to the breast cancer mortality rate in Canada being 25% higher than U.S. rate.
  3. Less than 20% of Canadian men have ever been screened for prostrate cancer. 50% of American men have. Has led to Canadian prostate cancer mortality rate being 18% higher than the U.S.'s.
  4. Canadian adults who've had a colonoscopy = 10%. American adults = 30%. Canadian death rate from colorectal cancer is 13% higher than U.S.
  5. Americans are more likely to get treatment for kidney failure (i.e. dialysis or transplant) than those in countries with socialized medicine - 5 times more likely if under 85 years old and 9 times more likely if over 85. People who do not get such treatment will DIE.
  6. Average Canadian wait time after referral from primary care doctor until get to see specialist = 21 weeks (over 5 months).
  7. Average Canadian wait time for CT scan = 4 weeks.
  8. Average Canadian wait time for MRI = nearly 11 weeks (nearly 3 months).
  9. Average Canadian wait time for ultrasound = nearly 4 weeks. 
  10. At 21% of Canadian hospitals, a woman must wait over 3 weeks for a biopsy to confirm a possible breast cancer diagnosis. Only 1% of American hospitals have a wait time that long.
  11. At half of Canadian hospitals, a 65 year old must wait over 6 months for a hip replacement. No American hospitals have wait times that long.
Additionally, in Canada, the powerful and rich have more access to specialists and services, more choices, and shorter waiting times. In fact, the poor, non-elderly white population is 22% more likely than similarly situated Americans to be in poor health.

The Forbes.com article also tells of problems within Britain's socialized medicine program. However, I chose to focus on Canada here primarily because it is our next door neighbor.


Some Americans support socialized medicine. Generally, the ones who do are healthy. However, one day each of them could fall victim to illness, accident, or injury they never expected. If that day comes, that's also the time they will fall victim to the pitfalls of socialized medicine as it's generally the sick and weak who have their care rationed in order to save money, because socialized medicine plans are expensive to administer. The cost is also the main reason socialized medicine plans usually fail.

So, knowing what you now know, do you really want socialized medicine and / or "Medicare for All" in the U.S.? 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Living Donor Protection Act of 2019

Last month, I shared with my readers (here) about a new, proposed Kansas law that would ban discrimination against living donors by health and life insurance companies. At that time, I also called on Congress and President Trump to pass a similar Federal law.

I've since learned that such a law is in process. Known as the Living Donor Protection Act of 2019, the legislation is sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D- NY) and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). It's sponsors in the U.S. Senate are Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

The legislation will do 3 things:
  1. Life, disability, and long-term care insurance companies would be prohibited from charging higher premiums to, or denying or limiting coverage to living donors.
  2. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will be amended to include living donation as a serious health condition. Therefore, employee absences for living donation at both public and private employers will now be covered under that law. 
  3. U.S. Dept. of Human Services will be instructed to update all it's materials concerning organ donation to reflect the new requirement. DHS will also have to encourage people to be organ donors.
I found the actual text of this legislation here, and I see one problem with it - it does NOT address health insurance. Health insurance MUST be included as part of #1 above. If it's not, living donors will get hammered by the health insurance industry. You say, "But ObamaCare's pre-existing condition clause has that covered." What if ObamaCare was to get "repealed and replaced" at some point? What then. I'll tell you what - living donors will get screwed by health insurance providers claiming "pre-existing condition". Mark it down. It's a safe bet.

Here is all the information about the bill on the Congressional website. 

I'm glad this law has been proposed. It's way past time. It needs to be passed into law promptly, but with the amendment described above. Once properly amended, it should be a no-brainer, quick vote. All 535 members of Congress should be able to vote 'yes' and President Trump then sign it. This legislation transcends party lines and politics, because it's simply the right thing to do.

Read More: PRNnewswire.com article titled "American Kidney Fund Urges Congress to Make 2019 the Year Living Donor Protection Act Becomes Law" 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Heart Month Music Monday

February is designated as Heart Month each year. It is also the month I received my heart transplant of which I celebrated the 12th anniversary of last week. So, it is a special month for me.

Back in 2012, I posted a Music Monday series featuring Heart and a number of their most popular tunes. It was also in 2012 that Heart gave a special performance of "Stairway to Heaven" at the Kennedy Center Honors for Led Zeppelin. In my opinion, it was an unforgettable, legendary performance of one of rock 'n roll's iconic tunes by one of my favorite bands. It will be hard for anyone to ever top it.

I read somewhere after Heart's performance that usually the members of Led Zeppelin do not like it when their music is performed by other bands. However, in this case, they really enjoyed it. I think that is evident in the video.

If you have not scene it, today's your chance. It is embedded below or can be viewed by clicking here. Enjoy. I sure did.
 
Heart "Stairway to Heaven" (Live) from Hamilton Post Production on Vimeo.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Kansas Law Would Prevent Discrimination Against Living Donors

The Kansas legislature is currently considering a bill that would ban any type of insurance industry discrimination against living donors. Simply put, it would prevent insurance companies from charging living donors higher premiums on life, health, disability, or long-term care policies.

The legislation would also prevent insurance companies from denying living donors coverage or canceling their policy just for being a living donor. Studies have shown that approximately 1/4 of living donors endure such discrimination, and, in my opinion, it's just as wrong as discrimination based upon race, national origin, etc. 

When someone decides to give of themselves in order to save the life of another, they should be encouraged for doing so instead of receiving a form of punishment by way of financial hardship from the insurance industry. I doubt that Kansas is the only state where this law is needed. 

Therefore, I'm calling on Congress and President Trump to put an end to such discrimination once and for all by passing a federal law banning discrimination against the heroes in this country who have chosen to give the gift of life through living donation. Washington is in the news all the time with Trump and Congress arguing and bickering over things that aren't a matter of life and death while this discrimination and the needless dying of Americans on the waiting list for life-saving organ transplants continues.

In fact, Sue Herndon, who in 2009 donated a kidney to a friend, stated it best when she testified that, "Everything we do to help encourage living donation saves lives." She is 100% correct. 

Read More: cjonline.com article titled "Kidney Donor Asks Kansas Legislators to Block Insurance Discrimination"

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Holiday Gift of Life

Marilyn Walto of Dalton, MA suffered from an autoimmune disease known as Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) since the 1980s. PBC is a progressive, chronic disease which destroys the liver's bile ducts. It can cause swelling in the feet and legs, abdominal pain, and other issues.

By Nephron - Wikipedia
Back in the summer, Marilyn's health suddenly deteriorated necessitating a life-saving liver transplant. After her daughter posted on Facebook about her mom's need, scores of willing people, including family members and friends, came forward offering to be a living donor. Unfortunately, none of them were able to do so, either due to pre-existing health conditions or simply because they were not a match.

Then, on Thanksgiving Eve, Marilyn received the call that a liver match was available. She received a transplant and is now doing great. In fact, she just celebrated her 68th birthday.

Marilyn's story tells of how organ donation provides people with hope and the opportunity to reach milestones they never would have otherwise. It saves lives, including mine nearly 12 years ago. 

If you have not registered as an organ and tissue donor, please do so as about 20 Americans will die today waiting due to a lack of registered donors. To register in the state where you live, please visit the Donate Life America website by clicking here

Read More: www.BershireEagle.com article titled "With Her Family, A Mom Celebrates A Birthday She Never Thought She'd See"

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Sheepdog On Twitter

After announcing about 2 weeks ago that The Sheepdog's Facebook page would be going away (here), I began thinking about other ways to make my blog posts more conveniently accessible to my readers, since that had been my goal with the Facebook page.

Courtesy: Wikipedia
After some research and input from friends, and in keeping with that goal, a few days ago I set up a Twitter page for this blog. It can be found by searching Twitter for "The Second Chance Sheepdog" or at Twitter handle "@2ChanceSheepdog".

I hope the new Twitter feed becomes a useful tool for my readers. My blog posts will be shared there along with other things I run across involving organ and tissue donation, sports, music, and my other interests. Thank you all for your continued support of this blog.