For a few decades now I've usually written a column near Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as a New Year's offering. It's harder each time to come up with something new but some deep thinking yesterday (Dec. 30th) helped a little.
The hope that will top the list for 2021 will be an easy one so we'll save that for last.
Some people I know say they are sure they won't keep their resolutions so they don't bother with the pretense. Others make futile tries, and a few follow through on their attempts at changing what are sometimes long-standing behaviors.
Quite a few years ago a columnist for the Washington Post wrote,"The silly season is upon us when people feel compelled to remake themselves with New Year's resolutions." That may be a cynical outlook but it might also be candid, or at least relatively accurate.
I see nothing wrong with making resolutions, even if you know they will be difficult to keep. After all, what's more important — your happiness or what other people think about your resolutions? There's hardly a soul alive who hasn't resolved at one time or another, if even for a few days, to do something about excess weight.
That probably ranks right up there with the most-often-made resolutions such as quitting smoking, getting out of debt, cutting back on the consumption of alcohol, or perhaps planning to spend more time with family members.
So why do we make these yearly resolutions? One self-appointed expert I read wrote that "to make a New Year's resolution is also to recognize the undeniable reality that rewarding careers and romances do not just happen automatically — that to get what we want in our lives, we must consciously choose and achieve the right goals." You could say that in fewer words but the idea might be on the mark.
For starters, how about giving up bottled water? In 2015, one source said Americans were drinking an average of five bottles of bottled water a week. The same source reported two years ago that Mexico led the world rankings with 72.4% of its people making use of bottled water. The U.S. was listed fourth with 42.3%. Meanwhile, a glass of tap water costs fractions of a penny per glass, making bottled water, one source says, nearly 2,000 times more expensive than tap water.
OK, I get it. Statistics like that don't sit well with those who sell bottled water. And maybe using bottled water is not a big deal. But you get the idea. It's a simple thing and the idea has some merit.
Fast-food chains report that orders paid for with a credit card are 50 percent higher than those paid for by check or cash. Is that worth it for you?
Then there's that weight thing. I'm going to make an attempt again, for the umpteenth year in a row. I'm usually good for two, or sometimes three, months and then I fall back, using the remaining months of the year undoing the good I have done. I still think it's worth trying.
I have a couple hopes for next year. Four years ago I wrote that Donald Trump deserved to have a chance to be a good president. And he did deserve that chance. But he didn't deliver. I still think if he hadn't ever tweeted, he might have been re-elected. But, since the November election, he's been about as un-presidential as anyone can be. Talk about fake news! We've got fewer than three weeks now to be rid of his frequent and sometimes mind-numbing shenanigans. That's comforting.
There is hope that Joe Biden can deliver being a leader. There are many across the nation, I'm sure, who voted for Biden more as a vote against Trump rather than a vote for Biden. They'll be watching Biden closely. So far he's saying and doing things the right way but he's not in office yet. The jury is out and close to half of the nation's voters are members of that jury. Let's hope Biden can deliver.
The biggest hope, of course, is that the vaccines that have been developed will eventually rid us of the coronavirus, despite the pace of vaccinations being much slower than expected on this, the last day of the year. All of us are tired of living the way we have the past 10 months, whether or not you agree with measures taken, or not taken, by governors and legislators. There is no easy answer, or perfect way, to react. But we are tired of not seeing our extended families and friends. I feel especially bad for those who were or are seniors in high school, last school year and now in this one, because they've missed out on some things that normally are a part of a final year in high school. It doesn't seem fair, even in a chaotic year such as 2021.
All we can do at this point is hope things turn around relatively soon. Some believe that where there's a will, there's a way. The trouble is, there's no magic formula. But as a new year begins, do things the right way, let's stick together, and hope and pray, if that's your thing, that 2021 will be a much better year. I'm going a toast to 2021 tonight and hope for better things!
Vikings are done for, Gophers offer hope for '21
After the free fall by the Minnesota Vikings — three straight losses, a 2-4 record after getting into playoff position with a 6-6 record — there's little to be said about a team that has had, to say the least, a disappointing season. In this case, statistics don't lie. The defense gave up 583 yards, the most ever against the Vikings, in the 52-33 loss to New Orleans last Friday. The 264 rushing yards by the Saints was the most ever given up by Minnesota. New Orleans did not have to punt once in the game and the week before the Bears had to punt only once. The Saints had 20 plays of eight yards or more..
If those stats don't convince you, here's one for the ages. Going into Sunday's game there had been only eight teams in NFL history with a runner posting 1,500 yards or more in the same season as a quarterback throwing 30 or more touchdown passes. The Vikings became the ninth such team last Friday when Dalvin Cook finished the game with 1,557 yards rushing and Kirk Cousins threw three touchdown passes to give him 32 for the season. Here's the clinker in this story: Those eight other teams had at least 10 wins in their season. The Vikings have six.
Cousins, by the way, has thrown three touchdown passes in six of the last 10 games and, criticized for not running out of the pocket enough, has 97 yards in 14 carries (6.9 average) the past four games. All of that has come while getting hit more than any other NFL quarterback as the offensive line has struggled mightily.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota men's basketball team, three days apart, knocked off two Top 25 teams with good pedigrees, beating No. 4-ranked Iowa 102-95 in overtime after trailing by 7 points with only 44 seconds left in regulation, and then dominating No. 17 Michigan State here on Monday, 81-56. There are nine Big Ten teams ranked in the Top 25, Minnesota making its way into the rankings at No.21.
You can argue that Michigan State, even with a lopsided win over always-tough Duke earlier in the season, isn't as good as it usually is, although Coach Tom Izzo has a way of having his teams play their best at the end of the season. And you might argue that Iowa is overrated, and that Minnesota doesn't deserve its ranking despite a 9-1 record.
But beating those two teams, even with both games at Williams Arena, is quite a feat. This is written Thursday morning before a game at Wisconsin this afternoon against No. 6-ranked Wisconsin, the Badgers a 7 1/2-point favorite. It won't be a surprise if Wisconsin wins but it was a surprise, after a 27-point shellacking by No.15 Illinois earlier, for the Gophers to beat Iowa and Michigan State, In fact, after the surprise win over Iowa, and a surprise loss by Michigan State at home to Wisconsin before the Minnesota game, most figured Michigan State would come to Williams Arena ready to play and that Minnesota might be thinking about the win over Iowa. Instead, MSU was shackled by the Gopher defense, even though Minnesota had eight more turnovers than the Spartans. The Gophers have been a poor rebounding team, even during their relatively easy non-conference schedule, but they dominated Michigan State in that category.
Minnesota has eight straight games against ranked teams, including Ohio State (No. 25) on Sunday. Is the Big Ten as strong a conference as some say? Maybe not. But there are lots of good teams and even those in the lower half of the conference can beat any conference team on a given night. The next game after Ohio State is with Michigan, the only Big Ten team undefeated in conference play. It will be an interesting season. My expectations, perhaps unfairly, have gone up for the Gophers. These next three games should tell us a lot.
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
Jan.12,1961 — Bob Nick had 17 points and Dean Hansen 12 in a 42-41 overtime win at Cambridge.
Jan. 13, 1966 — Princeton (1-4) lost 62-60 to Milaca as Steve Cartwright had 17 points, Gary Rosen 16, Dave Duncan 11 and Art Skarohlid 10.
Jan. 13, 1971 — Mike Barg scored 19 points and Pete Metcalf 16 in a 73-49 win over Milaca . . . Gary Lemke, Mike Jenson and Steve Henchen had pins in a 35-11 win over the Cambridge wrestling team.
Jan. 14, 1976 — .Dan Johnson of Princeton was named to the all-area football team by the St. Cloud Daily Times. He had a 211-yard game against Sauk Rapids . . . Laurie Peterson scored 16 points and Barb Northway 10 as Princeton beat Cambridge 36-33.
Jan. 8, 1981 — .Goalie Brian Peterson made 47 saves in a 3-2 win over Brady (a St. Paul high school) and Jason Boser had two goals and an assist . . . Paul Lind had 27 points and Steve Cartwright 22 as undefeated Credit Union won 121-33 in a city basketball league game.
Jan. 9 1986 — .Dan Voce had three goals and Todd Seifert two in a 9-1 win over Pine City.
Jan. 10, 1991 — Troy Anderson had seven three-pointers and 26 points in a 68-62 loss at St. Cloud Tech. Troy Kinney had eight assists . . . Princeton forfeited at eight weights in a 69-5 wrestling loss to Milaca.
Jan. 11, 1996 — Erin Gunderson scored 13 points and Tina Hurni had 10 points and 10 rebounds in a 48-40 win over Milaca . . . Chad Olson scored 21 points and Todd Jackson 16 in a 72-42 win over Champlin Park.
Jan. 4, 2001 — The boys hockey team went 1-1-1 in a tournament at Hermantown, beating Proctor 3-2, tying Mesabi East 2-2 and losing 4-3 to Duluth Denfeld as Kevin Englund scored four goals in the three games . . . The boys basketball team lost three games at Tartan in a holiday tournament, the closest game being a 73-67 loss to Spring Lake Park in which David Myers had 24 points, Dane Larsen 18, and Eric Strandberg 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Jan. 5, 2006 — The boys hockey team (6-5, 2-1 in the M8) placed third for the third year in a row at a tournament in Rochester, beating Mankato East 4-2, losing 5-2 to Rochester Lourdes, and beating Spring Lake Park 3-1. Ryan McElhone led in scoring at that point in the season with 24 points (11 goals) and Bryan Osmondson was next at 23 (7 goals) . . . The boys basketball team lost 90-82 to Skutt Catholic of Omaha, Neb., in the Simley tournament and beat St. Paul Academy 110-39. Scott Roehl had 20 points and 13 rebounds against Skutt, and 22 points in the SPA game . . . Ian McVey, a 2000 PHS grad, was playing professionally in the country of Jordan, averaging about 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Jan. 6, 2011 — The boys basketball team beat Milaca 74-47 at the Princeton holiday tournament after losing 64-62 to Big Lake as Jake Wood had 22 points, Joss Jondahl 18, and Domenic Fraboni and John Jedneak 13 apiece . . . The girls basketball team beat St. Cloud Cathedral 60-48 at the Sartell tournament but lost 72-58 to Sartell in the title game. Mariah Clarin had 54 points, 26 rebounds and 12 blocked shots in the two games.
Jan. 7, 1016 — The boys hockey team beat Simley 7-3 for third place in the open class of the Schwan's Cup at Blaine as Tyler McAlpine scored two goals. The team beat Minnehaha Academy 2-1 and lost 2-1 to Greenway . . . The boys basketball team lost 62-52 to Grand Rapids during the holiday break and then lost 64-48 to Anoka as Ben Jungroth scored 38 points in the two games.
(Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the area for the past 53 years.)