The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 30, 2011

BILL EGGERT | 2011 produced plenty of highs, lows

Bill Eggert
For The Tribune-Democrat

— Back in 1970, Motown’s Temptations had a hit record with “Ball of Confusion,” referencing the world that year with all its issues and chaos.

The brilliance of the song lay in its ambiguity of position regarding the issues of the day; not so much taking sides, but just articulating the issues for folks to contemplate how to feel about said issues.

Lines like “Politicians say more taxes will solve everything …” and “Nobody is interested in learning but the teacher ...” still resonate in today’s society.

Glancing back at the year 2011 makes us wonder if there is any hope for our world to better itself.

While President Barack Obama has placed a few feathers in his cap (he ended the war in Iraq and Osama Bin Laden is dead), he has failed miserably here at home, adding to the polarization in politics and more importantly, failing to get the economy back on its feet.

Internationally the entire world seems in upheaval, with the Arab Spring, protests in Russia and Occupy Wall Street (and others) here at home.

While the Occupy movement may have initially had support as it spread throughout the country, the violence and petulance of the movement has engendered nothing but ridicule and scorn in its civil disobedience and lack of focus.

Speaking of ridicule and scorn, several celebrities have once again been guilty as adults misbehaving badly, as well as overexposure (in most cases figuratively).

Those we have heard of much too often: Lindsay Lohan (a major train wreck), Jane Lynch of “Glee” (spokeswoman of the world), Sarah Palin (and her various dramas), Alec Baldwin (and his anger management issue of the week), Charlie Sheen (and his, duh, “winning”) and anyone with the last name “Kardashian.” If there was ever an argument to stop the insanity of reality shows, the Kardashian family should end any discussion of prolonged suffering.

The year in sports started out hopefully, but has evolved into a never-ending, yearlong nightmare.

Our Steelers were once again in the Super Bowl, but sadly lost to their NFC twin, the Green Bay Packers, thanks to Rashard Mendenhall and another costly fumble. Mendenhall also fumbled in his tweet rant about Bin Laden’s death celebration.

The Pirates once again teased us for a brief moment this summer, but once again crashed and burned, like the Pitt Panthers’ season, which ended unbelievably with coach Todd Graham bailing out of Pitt to take the coaching job at Arizona State, then text messaging his Pitt players of his decision. Pitt Athletic Director Steve Pederson’s ineptitude in the hiring of coaches Dave Wannstedt through Graham leads one to believe Pederson needs to be replaced as well, but he may have just saved his job with the hiring of new coach Paul Chryst.

Of course, the biggest local sports story this year was the Penn State scandal involving Jerry Sandusky’s alleged off-field activities, the repercussions of which rocked the very foundation of Penn State.

The scandal has ended the careers of legendary head football coach Joe Paterno as well as the school’s president, Graham Spanier.

The firing of Paterno resulted in a riot in State College that night. The media spotlight continues to glare on the Penn State scandal and its fallout, with no end in sight in 2012.

Finally, 2011 was a year we said goodbye to many from all walks of life. Regis Philbin and Oprah Winfrey both said farewell to their television shows, as did pundit Andy Rooney, who died shortly after retiring. Others who passed this year: Betty Ford, Steve Jobs, Jack LaLanne and Clarence Clemons.

In cinema we lost Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Falk, James Arness, Jane Russell, Jackie Cooper and Henry Morgan, Col. Sherman T. Potter of “MASH.”

2011 was a year of highs and lows.

The lowest: Maybe the Casey Anthony story and trial.

The highest: Possibly the royal wedding between William and Kate. Maybe we all like to believe in happy endings.

Bill Eggert is a Johnstown native. You can read his blog at

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.