When No. 1 son apologizes for not answering his dorm room phone faster because "I was too engrossed in studying for my midterms," you take the statement as a plus.
At least he admitted midterms were on his mind.
And knowing my son, I'll give him an 8 for sincerity -- a high score from this tough grader.
Grading things in everyday life can be a fun way to pass the time.
If you're stuck in traffic, mentally give a score for the paint job on that Chevy pickup. Add or deduct points for flames because, hey, you're the judge.
Driving Ninth Street in Modesto? Award points for every pothole you hit, and perhaps every 100 points or so you could reward yourself with an alignment check.
The same grading scale can apply to sports, local and national, and events of the last week have prompted me to reach for a blank report card.
DID MILT REALLY SAY THAT? -- An announcement last week about the restructuring of the athletic department and the addition of women's tennis prompted the following statement from Cal State Stanislaus Athletic Director Milt Richards:
"We have more support for athletics now than we did nine years ago."
Nine years ago, Stanislaus was in its first year as a scholarship-based athletic program, which it entered with no money to award. Richards was still two months away from being named the school's AD, just in case you thought "nine" was a number he pulled out of his hat.
Let's look closer at the real numbers. Stanislaus awarded $329,167 in athletic scholarships in the 2002-03 school year. Last year, the school awarded $278,750 in athletic aid, a 15 percent decrease in four years. Meanwhile, student fees at CSU campuses have risen 94 percent since 2002.
And now the Warriors are adding women's tennis -- not because of demand, but because Stanislaus continues to live in Title IX purgatory. The student body is 65.7 percent female, but only 55.6 percent of Warrior athletes are female. The 10 additional female athletic opportunities will help ease those ratios while taking up some of that "support" of which Richards spoke.
The grade: Richards gets a 10 for selective accuracy, a zero for perspective.
STERN ROLLS THE DICE -- NBA Commissioner David Stern promised a thorough look at all rules and procedures regarding his league's referees following Tim Donaghy's admission of betting on games in which he officiated.
His first step? Relax the rule prohibiting officials from entering casinos (as long as they stay out of the NBA portion of the sportsbook).
This might seem like a confusing move, one in line with combating prostitution by legalizing it, but it was the only move Stern could make after discovering more than 50 percent of his referees recently visited a casino.
Stern still wants an NBA franchise in Las Vegas, even after the 72-hour Bacchanalian festival that was the league's all-star game in February. Had he punished those casino-going referees, he would have sent a message to Las Vegas that the casino lifestyle doesn't fit the image the NBA is trying to maintain, when in fact the NBA is the Vegas of pro sports leagues.
The grade: While Stern is in a no-win situation regarding the entire officials' scandal, his honesty in admitting some NBA rules are outdated earns this decision a 9.
JUST ANOTHER TOURNAMENT -- The bracket has been posted on the school's Web site, so it's official -- the 70th Modesto Junior College basketball tournament is an eight-team event.
That's right, MJC is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the longest-running sporting event in the city by making it just another eight-team, all-Northern California community college tournament.
In past years, when it became difficult to fill the 16-team field, MJC would grab a junior varsity team from a four-year school. And in those years in which the event tipped off with 11, 12 or 13 teams, there was a promise that the school was trying to restore the event to its 16-team glory.
There is a money issue. Teams coming from the south part of the state want to have hotel rooms paid and waiting if they're coming this far. In addition, a 16-team event takes four or five long days to complete, which apparently was more effort than MJC wanted to make.
The grade: For ignoring history, MJC earns a 2.
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.