Tag Archives: Tom Konchalski

Why Australians won’t let kids blow out birthday candles. A great documentary short about an NYC hoops legend. And MJ at 50: A terrific read


I love Australians. I’ve truly never met a person from there who isn’t fun and awesome and super-cool. (Disclosure: I’ve only really known like 4 Australians, so my sample size is small).

Anyway, I love the Aussies. But I’ve finally found a reason to dislike them: Their ridiculous school health officials.

Two weeks ago the No Fun Police decided to ban kids from blowing out birthday candles at school. Why? They said it’s to prevent the spread of germs.

“Children love to blow out their candles while their friends are singing ‘Happy birthday,’” a document released by Aussie officials said. “To prevent the spread of germs when the child blows out the candles, parents should either provide a separate cupcake, with a candle if they wish, for the birthday child and [either] enough cupcakes for all the other children … [or] a large cake that can be cut and shared.”

Are you freaking kidding me? Yes, there may be some germs spread when a kid blows out the candles. There are also germs spread every time a kid wipes his nose and rubs it on his desk (which happens all the time in elementary schools), and when a kid hits another kid, and when two kids are playing together and one gets dirt all over the other one.

There are germs in the world, people, you can’t avoid them! So let a kid blow out some freaking candles, will you please?

Ugh. The sissy-fication of the world continues.

**There may not be a human being alive who’s seen more New  York City high school basketball than Tom Konchalski.
When I used to work for the basketball magazine SLAM and talk to players from NYC, they spoke of Konchalski in reverential terms; just being mentioned in his regular newsletter meant they were on the radar and on track to get a college scholarship.

Konchalski is a scout, one of the most trusted in the nation, and for reasons I can’t quite fathom, he’s suddenly getting a lot of national publicity. He doesn’t own a cell phone, an answering machine, or use email. He is a dinosaur and yet still is highly trusted and deemed important by every college basketball coach in the country.

ESPN’s Grantland site, which I love, did a four-minute mini-documentary on Konchalski, and it’s terrific. Watch it above, and appreciate one man’s single-minded dedication that has helped thousands of kids attain college scholarships.


**Finally, there was a ton of publicity last week about Michael Jordan turning 50 years old. Because it’s mid-February and ESPN and others are desperate to fill the supposed void in the calendar (hey folks, ever hear of college hoops and NHL hockey? Talk about them!), the Greatest of All Time’s 50th was a huge event.

I avoided just about all of the Jordan love-fest, but I kept hearing how great ESPN writer extraordinaire Wright Thompson’s profile of MJ was. Turns out it was even better. Thompson got some terrific access to Jordan, and I came away thinking that A, he’s still as competitive as ever, and B, he might be able to score 20 a game right now, just because he would will himself to score.

Read Thompson’s story here; it’s well worth the time.