Thumbs Down: Like many of the skits just before midnight in episodes of “Saturday Night Live,” things took an unfunny turn at the end of the Badgers’ late-night duel in the desert last weekend with Arizona State. In the final seconds, with the Badgers trying to set up for what would have been a game-winning field goal attempt, UW quarterback Joel Stave took a knee and downed the ball with 14 seconds to play. An ASU player, thinking that Stave had fumbled, pounced on the loose ball and stayed on top of it, as players often do in an attempt to run out the clock. But all of this was happening with the clock still running, and time expired without the Badgers being allowed to spike the ball to stop the clock, giving ASU a 32-30 victory. In announcing a reprimand of its officiating crew, the Pac-12 Conference said Monday that “neither the referee nor anyone on his crew moved with appropriate urgency to clearly communicate that the ball was to be spotted so play could resume promptly.” Another September, another Wisconsin-based football team on the stinky end of final-play officiating. Meanwhile, Jen Bielema, wife of former UW (and current Arkansas) coach Bret Bielema, took to Twitter to declare that the controversial ending was a matter of “#Karma.” We’re sorry, Mrs. Bielema, was that somebody else’s husband who abandoned his team before the Rose Bowl last December?
Thumbs Up: Representing herself, and Racine County, with pride. Paula Mae Kuiper went from Miss Racine to Miss Madison/Capital City to Miss Wisconsin and, on Sunday night, to the top 12 in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. Not bad for a young woman who’s only been competing in pageants for three years. A Case High School graduate, Kuiper is a biology major at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; she plans to be either a pediatrician or a geriatrician; she said her pageant platform, “Breaking the Age Barrier,” was inspired by her grandmother. Kuiper’s cousin, AmyJo McClure, said Sunday night she hoped Kuiper would remember “how extremely proud of her we are.” AmyJo, you’re not alone.
Thumbs Up: Racine County ranks third on a state list no one wants to be atop: sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers, behind only Kenosha and Brown counties. “I was surprised,” said Samantha Perry, project manager at the Racine/Kenosha Community Action Agency. More than surprised or even shocked, Perry said, she was spurred to action. Those numbers, she said, reinforced the “urgency, intensity of focus” in educating young adults before they make a mistake. Changing those statistics has become the target of community action, and starting this week, leaders with the Personal Responsibility Education Program are reaching out to parents. The PREP program, overseen by the YMCA and Racine-Kenosha Community Action Agency and funded by a $470,000 grant from the Medical College of Wisconsin, focuses on sexual health and dating violence, as well as financial literacy, career opportunities and college readiness. The idea of reaching out to parents is to “try to begin to get some traction on this and try to see what action we can collectively take to reduce the problem,” Perry said. We want our teenagers making informed decisions, with their health and their futures foremost in mind.
Thumbs Up: The future’s in good hands. Last week in this space, we applauded a gesture by four children and their mother, Holly Hess, in baking cookies for local police and firefighters on Sept. 11 in recognition of their bravery and service. Up the road in Milwaukee County, a sixth-grader at Greenfield Middle School, Max Siepert, attempted to make an anonymous donation of $10.03 — his savings — to the Greenfield Police Department. Max told WITI-TV he donated because “in social studies class we learned about 9/11 and all the great things the police and fire department did.” Greenfield Assistant Chief Paul Schlecht told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the donation boosted morale for officers and that the department sought to identify the boy to thank him. If our future is in the hands of Max Siepert and the Hess kids, we’re going to be all right.