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Sunday, April 20, 2003 ISSUE #270
 

April 20, 2003               Rifle team unloaded

MORGANTOWN, West Va.: All I know is what I read or see as I wander around the country. This is the home of West Virginia University, and the only news folks are talking about here is their decision to eliminate a bunch of men's sports teams: track, tennis, gymnastics, cross country and rifle.

The one that got everybody riled up is the rifle team. They're cutting the team even though it's almost half women. WVU has produced more college championships and All-American shooters than anyone except maybe Army and Navy. West Virginia giving up a rifle team is like Kentucky quitting basketball or Oklahoma dropping football.

Marksmanship is such an important curriculum item that high schools in this state take off a week every November so students can devote their full time to it. For some folks this is called deer season, but for the rifle team coaches its recruiting season. They trail the most promising kids through the woods for four years and offer scholarships to the best shots. The ones that don't get scholarships still get to keep the meat and join the NRA. This is the only state where more deer are shot than hit by an automobile.

The football team mascot is the old Mountaineer with his muzzle-loading rifle. Starting next season he may have to give up his gun for a sling shot.

I think football is the solution for all these colleges that are cutting teams. They all say they have to cut men's teams in order to afford more women's sports. Well, if football is what brings in the dough, they should play women's football. Then as soon as the women draw a crowd every Saturday like the men do, then colleges can have more teams, for men and women.

Iraq has settled down quite a bit. Combat has moved from the battlefield to a conference room, and it's mainly Muslims vs. Muslims. While it might seem odd to us, now that Saddam is gone, you know, why would they want to fight and argue among themselves. Well, it's human nature. In Ireland we got Christians vs. Christians, and in Ohio it's Republicans vs. Republicans, so why would we expect Iraq to be any different.

President Bush doesn't think the UN can finish with North Korea in time to help us rebuild Iraq, so he has called on Bechtel and Haliburton. He figures they can do the job faster, and in the long run will cost us less than the UN would. Besides if the UN really wanted to work with us they would have replaced Secretary General Kofi Annan with Dick Cheney.

I want to pay tribute to Australia this week. They helped us out in Iraq, like the British. They celebrate ANZAC Day every April 25, along with New Zealand, and this year they have another reason to feel proud of their soldiers. G'day mates.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

"There are old guys down there who have an old Squirrel Rifle laying up over the door on some deer horns, and if they shoot at you and don't hit you in the eye, why, they call it a miss." WA #45, October 21, 1923

"Annie Oakley was the acknowledged headliner for years and years of the great Buffalo Bill Show, the best known woman in the World at one time, as when she was with the show it toured everywhere. She was not only the greatest rifle shot for a woman that ever lived, but I doubt if her character could be matched outside of some Saint." WA #206, November 21, 1926


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