THUMBS DOWN: The Minnesota State High School League officials did the right thing by taking Columbia Heights star Zach Lofton off the boys all-tournament team after he skipped the post-game handshake after his team lost to Orono in the Class 3A championship game Saturday. Lofton's actions - he left the court after the final buzzer - goes against everything the state high school league works to foster: good sportsmanship. They even give out banners for it. It's one thing for professional athletes to act like this - we've pretty much come to expect it and there's no way to change it - but high schoolers can't be allowed to get away with it. If Lofton thinks losing a basketball game is the worst thing in life, he's ill-prepared to handle the real losses that come throughout the course of one's life. The MSHSL sent a message to Lofton and hopefully taught him a valuable lesson about losing. No, Zach, you didn't have your best game and it's no fun to lose, but you need to learn how to handle it with class and maturity. Hopefully by the time you're in college you'll be more equipped to pass the test. Lofton is probably a good kid at heart and has a bright future in hoops ahead of him, but he should know that even though people tend to remember the winners more than the losers, they remember the bad losers more, only for unflattering reasons.
THUMBS UP: A few thousand bucks might not make much of a dent in a $14.2 trillion budget, but this thumbs up isn't about a number - it's about an act. U.S. Rep Tim Walz, a southern Minnesota Democrat and former teacher, donated $2,196 of his salary in each fiscal quarter last year back to the government for debt reduction. He was one of two members of Congress to do so - Alabama Republican Spencer Bachus was the other. Walz said it was the right thing to do. Too bad other members of Congress don't feel the same way. We hold state and national politicians to pretty high standards and they're often openly criticized, but whether or not you agree with Walz's views you can't argue that his donation is a truly refreshing act.
Smoking ban goes too far
THUMBS DOWN: While we support smoking bans in public buildings and even on public property, Hennepin County's new smoking ban is over-the-top and much too intrusive. Commissioners there voted 6-1 this week to ban smoking anywhere on county property - including inside private vehicles. The existing law prohibits smoking within 45 feet of building entrances but that will extend to personal vehicles as of July 1. Not only will the expanded ban be nearly impossible to police, it's another sign of government officials trying to control too much. One of the driving forces behind smoking bans is secondhand smoke, which has proved deadly, but it's highly unlikely that someone smoking in their car will affect anyone. They might smell bad and their teeth might turn yellow, but their secondhand smoke will only hurt those who are sitting inside with the smoker.