I had a few bones I wanted to pick this week.

I’ll still pick at those in a little bit. I still want to get that off my chest.

But after hearing about the tragic plane crash that claimed the life of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and eight others, none of that needs to be at the top of my column.

I admit I haven’t followed Bryant’s career as closely as I probably should have. I do know he was a man who held multiple NBA records, was a five-time NBA champion – all for the Los Angeles Lakers – and was a man who defined hard work and dedication to something near and dear to his heart.

The tributes have been flowing in the three days since the tragic events of this past weekend, and there’s probably not much else I can really add.

However, as many have also pointed out, Bryant’s death reminds us that death can come at any time and that tomorrow is never promised. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 reminds us of just that: “For you are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

For me, the lesson is this: Please think of your loved ones today and tell them you love them. Tomorrow you might not have that chance.

A few things on my mind I’d like to get off my chest:

  • When it comes to the Iowa high school football landscape, it’s beginning to sound like an old Bob Dylan song.

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

I made a prediction a few months ago that the 2020s will bring change that seems to change just like the winds change direction.

And after months of speculation that things might not change at least for the 2020-2021 cycle ... now, well, who knows?

Last week, the Iowa High School Athletic Association announced they were putting off release of new football districts until Feb. 5, when the Board of Control is to get a recommendation.

Already, someone on Twitter – a radio announcer from eastern Iowa – speculated that this may indeed be a sign that significant changes are coming, and for this year.

Whatever they are, I still cannot see how the model proposed by some coaches by itself will really make the promised improvements to the teams that have struggled. To get to the UNI-Dome, teams in Class 4A (or whatever class they’re placed in, if there is a “Super Class”) are still have to get past West Des Moines Valley and West Des Moines Dowling, and “elite” class or not, the Tigers and Maroons will still be prohibitive favorites for a state title.

I get the IHSAA wants to make a decision they believe will be the most beneficial for all schools fielding a football team, and they need to put thought into it and do what’s right for the athletes. But why not wait until the 2022-2023 cycle to implement what could be a monumental, fundamental change to football classification, how schedules are determined and who plays who, and so forth ... and give this whole issue really thoughtful consideration?

Anyway, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. One thing is for certain: There’s no agreement yet on what model will be in place for 2020-2021.

  • Why did not Derek Jeter get a fully unanimous vote into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

I get that the lone wolf who did not vote to enshrine the former New York Yankees’ great this year probably has his reasons and, just like the election process we’ll be going through in a few short months, he need not explain.

But how one can overlook Jeter’s line? Fourteen-time All-Star, five-time World Series champion, holder of at least seven statistical Yankees’ records, awards that could take forever to list ... and doing it all without using steroids.

Was it because this voter thought others deserved enshrinement before him, or should wait a little bit longer? Was it because this voter honestly thought that Jeter wasn’t good enough? Was this voter, knowing the likelihood for a unanimous vote being very good, just being a jerk as some have speculated?

I get there is no special prize for being named unanimously to the Hall, and that all but one of the others who made baseball the sport that it is – from Babe Ruth on down the line – never got in by unanimous vote.

But again, how you can overlook one of baseball’s greatest players in the past 25 years, and how he contributed to one of the sport’s most storied franchises is certainly a head-scratcher to say the least.

It was a wonder that the University of Kansas player who was suspended indefinitely for his role in the brawl against Kansas State didn’t have to be carried off by security and police, kicking and screaming.

I get that he just made a big defensive play and was trying to gain a psychological edge by staring his opponent down. In the NBA certainly, and even in college (and more rarely, in high school), you’ll get that.

But in a game that already was a blowout and was basically over, just get the game over with and stop with the psychological games. I know it takes self-control, and that obviously was lost in a game that was decided well before the second half of the second half.

Sadly, high school isn’t immune.

Last week, there was a game in Delaware where a fight broke out and only three players per team were left to play out the final 12 minutes of the game.

Again, this is a case of emotions running high in what’s supposed to be a game.

Back in my neck of the woods, the Quad Cities, there was a fight (after an emotional play) and two players were suspended when the fists flew.

In the game of life, there’s times to stand up for what you believe in, and times to back down and not get so emotional. Otherwise, it could lead to a situation that you don’t want.

Anger management counseling, stern talking-to’s by the coach ... none of that should have to be the result of a basketball game.

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to or phone (712) 243-2624.