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Sunday February 5 2023
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Locked Up

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As Uncle Nick said, “Alice, people will do anything.”

The latest installment was found in an Associated Press story headlined “Competitive lock-picking growing in U.S. popularity.”

Hosting weeknight television in the form of NightTalk on PCNC this summer, I admit to being on the lookout for accounts useful in my “Opening Statement” at each broadcast's outset.

And as the guy who's heading up the “Ellis Cannon Academy In Sports Media and Broadcasting,” launching this fall at the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, with an objective of educating future sports broadcasters, I'm up for learning about education.

But this one takes the cake – there's actually something growing in the United States called competitive lock-picking, and it's being described as a “sport.”

If competitive lock-picking is a sport, golf just became the equivalent of anything Sidney Crosby or Hines Ward do professionally.

This is the part of the AP account we particularly enjoyed, describing “competitive lock-picker” Schuyler Towne:

“Towne, 26, is not a burglar. He's a lock-picking instructor and part of a growing competitive movement called “locksport” that involves learning the theory of locks, analyzing the devices and figuring out ways to quickly defeat the systems without destroying them.”

It was the part about “instructor” and “movement” that got to me.

Presumably, you're thinking like me—and law enforcement—that this may not be good. Count James Pasco of the National Fraternal Order of Police as being in our group. Mr. Pasco allows that “you run the absolute risk of educating criminals who might be inclined to pick locks for illegal purposes, you know.”

Yeah, Jim, we know.

Part of me understands how this happens (see Uncle Nick above), if for no other reason than despite me not having a moment to spare as new chapters of my professional life unfold—keep an ear open, there's more coming—people have too much time on their hands. But when there's a United States chapter of The Open Organization of Lock-pickers—that would be TOOOL—and when I somehow missed the “2006 Hackers on Planet Earth” conference and that there are said to be 60,000 members belonging to an online club, Lock-picking 101, well, then maybe I need to re-evaluate these growing professional opportunities.

Because if this “sport” is about to find it's way to coverage in the Pittsburgh Sports Report, someone ought to just tell me right now so I can chuck it all.

The enthusiasts claim they oppose using their skills for mischievous purposes and, in fact, observe a “code of responsible disclosure”—Mommy, make it stop—so as to provide manufacturers information they uncover on a lock's weaknesses. Good.

Still, I'll go with another pearl of wisdom from the late Uncle Nick: “Nuts, Alice, nuts.”

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