The winners and the losers

Published: Saturday, April 6 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Loser: This hasn't been a good couple of weeks for Rutgers University. First the basketball coach, Mike Rice, was fired after ESPN aired a video of him berating and physically abusing players during practice, including throwing basketballs at their heads from close range. Then the athletic director lost his job, most likely because he failed to fire Rice when first shown the video in November. There are lessons galore here, from the fact that abusive coaching is ineffective (Rice had a losing record) to the lesson that administrators need to take evidence of abuse seriously. Leaders need to learn to ask themselves how certain behaviors would be perceived if everyone could see them because, chances are in this age, everyone will.

Loser: The National Park Service has been embroiled in a strange dispute with churches in the Vancouver, Wash., area. A press release from the Liberty Institute this week said the annual All Church Picnic put on by the Fort Vancouver National and Detour Ministries had to be moved from the Pearson Air Museum because the Park Service kept imposing rules that were difficult to follow. The institute's director called the burdens a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of free religious worship. We wish the Park Service would explain its actions.

Winner: Utahns can breathe a bit easier now that the elusive Mountain Man has been arrested and charged. For years, Troy Knapp terrorized cabin owners in Southern and Central Utah, breaking in and stealing supplies, including weapons. He had apparently mastered survival skills, allowing him to survive in rugged conditions. His arrest came after he allegedly fired on a Department of Public Safety helicopter near Ferron Reservoir. Now he faces numerous charges in several counties and the prospect of learning to survive in a different, more enclosed environment.

Winner: The cell phone turned 40 this week. Some may not see this as a cause to celebrate. The phone has led to a rise in distracted behavior, causing numerous accidents. It has added to what many would consider a rising level of rudeness in society. Phones didn't used to ring incessantly in restaurants, at church or even at funerals. People didn't used to excuse themselves while entertaining friends in order to talk to someone else on a cell phone. And it once was considered odd to see a perfectly normal person speaking out loud to no one in particular, all because of a cleverly hidden Bluetooth device. But the cell phone has helped people stay connected with loved ones; it has reduced the costs of long-distance calls; it has redefined the uses for a phone; it helped usher in the age of video calling; and it has put a camera in every pocket. Every new gadget raises issues about proper or polite usage. All in all, the cell phone has been a boon to the world.

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