Please RT: There is no right way to do a wrong thing #LetGarrettPlay

I figure if Alex from Target can trend, then I am giving this a try. #LetGarrettPlay

The story: Garrett is a 9 year old that plays organized youth hockey. In last weekend's game he was called for intending to injure someone, ejected from the game, and suspended another game.

The video evidence clearly refutes this. At 51:00 of this video you’ll see that another player initiated the contact and in fact Garrett (in green) was trying to avoid contact. We have attempted to appeal this ruling and have the suspension lifted. We have even escalated to USA Hockey. Those in a position of authority agree it was a bad call (“egregious” is what someone called it). At the same time all have said the same thing: “we can’t do anything to reverse the suspension. Sorry.”

So we are left in a dumbfounding situation where a 9 year old is being disciplined when he did nothing wrong. At some point those in charge have forgotten that youth sports is about the kids and having fun, instead of rules and red tape.

Thanks for reading, and much appreciated if you tweet this if you agree that USA Hockey should #LetGarrettPlay After all, there is no right way to do a wrong thing.


Changes, they are a comin'

I'll start with my prediction I made a year ago: in 10 years youth tackle football won't exist at pre-high school ages. As a coach in two sports (hockey and football) that are high risk of concussions, I've been in the trenches with parents, coaches, and leagues with increasing concern about putting kids in harm's way and risking long-term impact of head injuries. It's been noted that Pee Wee football registration has dropped due to concerns of concussions. I'm in this group. A few years back it was expected my youngest and his peers would start Pee Wee football in second grade. Instead (my son is in third grade) they are still playing flag football, and we have no plans to put him in tackle. Apparently others feel the same, as participation in flag football is up about 33% across the east side (Seattle east suburbs) this spring.

And the NFL is not done with its lawsuits. From a business perspective, the NFL can view concussion settlements as a cost of doing business and they can still be profitable. But can the NCAA? Sure the major schools can afford it, but what about the dozens of schools that already lose money on football and college athletics? So hard choices will be made in the college ranks.

Will high schools be able to afford the insurance down the road? I don't know. I don't know the economics of high school sports (other than Bellevue High School pays their HS coach upwards of $160k/yr - wow). But, I can't see how it will be possible under the high school level for any organization to be solvent. So many kids. So much recklessness. We have head-to-head collisions and concussions in flag football and hockey, and that's with kids trying to avoid contact. Insurance is so high in youth hockey that it severely limits organizing hockey games outside of an organization that has anything short of 16 hours of coach training a year.

Think I'm crazy about the sport disappearing? It's already starting. In Texas of all places.


Three years of cord cut

It's been three years since we ditched our DirecTV in favor of streamed content via Netflix and Hulu Plus. In fact it's been so long that DirecTV stopped mailing us their weekly "please, please, please come back!" brochures. I don't miss a thing. Really. Football? NFL Rewind, which due to time constraints I like better than watching on Sunday. NHL? That's what NHL Gamecenter LIVE is for. Or hockeystreams.com. College Football? ESPN on Xbox One. TV Shows? Hulu Plus. Crappy Movies? Netflix. Good movies? Buy them off Amazon Instant Video. News? Really? Does anyone take the news seriously anymore?


Another career change

Jeez, no blog posts in two and a half years? Maybe I should thank twitter :) In one of my many "my wife told me so's," I left Amazon last week to pursue an opportunity at Seattle's hottest IPO, zulily. I'm really excited to get in at the ground floor of a company that already has a proven formula. Suffice it to say I learned a big life lesson (be careful taking a job for just the money) in going back to Amazon. I'm putting that behind me and looking forward to building a team that will deliver personalized experiences for zulily's website and mobile apps. I start next Monday - woot!


Heading back to Amazon

After talking with a team at Amazon for the past several months, I finally make the move tomorrow back to Amazon to take on a new challenge. I'm excited. While Microsoft was good to me in many ways - including working a dream gig in the Xbox org - I realized I missed Amazon's high expectations of its employees, its relentless focus on the customer, and it's data-driven approach to making decisions. While I worked hard to instill such values at Microsoft, my successes were few and far between. I'm excited to be heading back. I left three and a half years ago due to work/life balance, my biggest challenge will be ensuring I can have a life outside of work and still be successful at Amazon. Even a bigger challenge given our kids schedule is 10x more busy now than it was then. Wishing myself luck, I think I'm going to need it.


I heart my Roku

I have seen the future of TV.

Last year as ESPN was launched on Xbox and Hulu picked up more and more shows, I did some research to figure out how to stream content to my tv. What started as looking at software packages to route content through my laptop and to the tv, ended up in me finding a Roku HD Streaming Player and ordering one for $60. It's a small device that connects to your home network via wifi, has HDMI output, and provides a UX to browse online "apps" or "channels" to watch content. Channels include Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Video on Demand. You can also subscribe to channels such as NHL, MLB, and UFC (and if you're paying a subscription you'll actually get to view the content :) ).

Another perk is that Roku supports a plethora of media and photo sharing sites. So I can stream Pandora through my TV, and it also has a SmugMug plugin so I can view my photos and videos straight from my SmugMug account. It also has support for Picaso, Facebook photos, Flickr, and other photo sites.

Six months ago Amy and I decided to dump Directv (and the $1000+ we flush to them every year) and use Roku exclusively. Haven't regretted it once. It's enabled us to discover shows we wouldn't have found otherwise, and we've used the savings to fund NHL and UFC content. We were able to watch March Madness and the NHL playoffs. For sports on ESPN, we switch over to the Xbox. Admittedly, I will be SOL come NFL season since NFL Sunday Ticket isn't an option.

A few friends have made the switch as well with the same results: no regrets.

Why do I think this is the future?

  1. No more "record show" mentality. All content is on demand.
  2. Because of that, trying out new content is easy. All shows are at your fingertips.
  3. High quality. I had assumed that quality would suffer streaming. In fact, Amy can watch Roku and I can game online over Xbox Live and neither one of us can tell that the other is online.
  4. Innovation. One cool thing about Roku is that the number of channels are limitless. And there's plenty of independent content providers and developers building apps and content.

The downside is finding content across apps. I watch to watch Harry Potter. Is that in Netflix? Amazon VOD? Another video service? Don't know until you search in each one. Awaiting the aggregator to come up with cross-app search. You know, like Google, eBay, and Amazon did in their respective spaces.

Beyond Roku, we're Hulu Plus subscribers. Love watching TV on my Roku, iPhone, iPad, or Xbox. And it being smart enough to know if I start watching something on my iPhone and I stop, it will pick it up on the next device I fire up HuluPlus on.


Garrett's last football game

Finally got some good video of Garrett playing football during his last game today. Throwing an interception, taking it the length of the field to the house, pulling a flag on fourth down, and a great catch... only to watch him fumble :)

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Garrett throws a pick six to his friend Riley

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Garrett takes it to the house

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Garrett's big fourth down stop

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Garrett with a sweet catch and a fumble