Paint And Second Chances

by Rich on September 25, 2017

I am so lucky that cellphones with cameras didn’t exist thirty years ago. Neither did Facebook or Instagram. I dodged a technological bullet. Because brothers and sisters I am here to tell you, I did some really, really stupid stuff. I mean next level lunacy. Just flat out dumb. And guess what? So did you. We all did. It’s called growing up. And thankfully we survived. Not everyone is so lucky.

Every year, on virtually every college sports team, there is at least one player that does something stupid and against the rules and gets kicked off the team. Sometimes these players have broken a serious law. Sometimes that have done horrible things to other people. I’m not talking about those incidents. No, I’m talking about the players that make some of the same stupid, juvenile mistakes that you and I made as we transitioned from adolescence into adulthood. The underage drinking, the experimentation with drugs, the association with people who demonstrate questionable and inadequate decision making skills. We’ve all been there. And they are there now.

And I hate it for them, because these days a lot of these mistakes and poor choices are caught on camera and documented for all eternity via social media. When I deliberately ran over a bucket of white paint in the middle of the street and then backed up and spun out in the resulting puddle, spraying a neighboring fraternity’s parking lot with a snow-like mist, it became a legendary tale told at alumni tailgate parties. Today, that would go viral and I would probably be kicked out of school (full disclosure: this DID actually happen. My brothers and I spent hours with soap and sponges conducting the world’s largest midnight car-wash). Imagine if you hit your Twitter feed to find that the star player on your favorite team had done that? Off the team. For good. And there it would be…preserved for all electronic eternity.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that what happens to these players isn’t appropriate. In many cases, coaches have done all they can within the confines of the team framework to help them grow into responsible adults. And often getting kicked off the team is the kick in the pants these young people need to compel them to get serious about life. That may sound cliche’, but getting kicked out of college was one of the best things that ever happened to me (I’m not being even a little sarcastic). I did something stupid. I got caught. I did something else stupid. They asked me to leave. So I joined the Navy, met my best friend in the world, got focused, grew up, and went back to college. On my terms and for the right reasons. I’m one hundred percent a better man for that.

I bring all this up for two reasons. First, as a reminder to all of us on the outside looking in to maybe pump the breaks on all the judgemental attitudes. Does is seem like a waste when a Four Star athlete on a full ride gets kicked off the team for smoking pot? Sure. How many opportunities have you wasted in your life? I’ve lost count, personally. And I don’t think I’m alone.

The other reason is to tell those kids something important my uncle once told me: those mistakes don’t define you unless you allow them to. You create your future. No one else. Pick up, dust off, learn and move on.

It’s called growing up, and we’ve all been there.

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Reality Sets In Weekend

by Rich on September 18, 2017

Week number three is in the books for the 2017 college football season, and that means it’s time for teams, coaches, and administrators to cinch up their collective belts and take a good, long, hard look in the mirror. We are now a quarter of the way through the season. All of the naive dreams and childish hopes of the preseason are a distant memory. Welcome to Reality Sets In Weekend (RSIW).

Here’s the thing…week one, game one, no matter who you play, is basically a no win situation, no matter the outcome. No one knows who anyone is during week one. The defending national champion, even with all their star starters back, will still be a different team than they were at the end of the previous season. And the small directional school that only won two games by mistake last year, may have undergone an off-season religious epiphany and now be this year’s giant slayer, a la Appalachian State, circa 2007. Nobody knows. So a win or loss at this point tells you virtually nothing.

Week two get’s you closer, but it’s still a guessing game. Just like in week one, no one really knows who anyone else is. Sure, a coach may know that his field goal kicker has a case of the willies and that the band still has work to do on that one Trans-Am Fiery Eagle formation at halftime, but other than that? It’s all still up in the air.

But here at RSIW, coaches have 3 full games worth of film to evaluate and study. Hopefully, at least one of those games was against a halfway decent team. So, the rust has been sandblasted off, and what is left is the bare metal. Is it shiny and strong? Or is it pitted with corrosion, held together with bad joints that look like a freshman in shop class put it together for his first solo project with the arc welder? How is that new coordinator working out? Did the new running back pan out like expected? Are the sideline apparel combinations meeting expectations? These are all questions that coaches begin to get answered at RSIW.

And it’s not just the coaches. Teams begin to get a feel for the kind of season they will have. Will it be one filled with magic and memories of last minute comebacks? Will it be assured dominance over all comers? Will it be a toss up every time they take the field? Or will it be one of those forgettable seasons where the best moments occur on Mondays, when the team has an off day from practice? RSIW is when teams begin to get a feel for what is left in store for their seasons.

Administrators start making and receiving phone calls and emails at RSIW. Donors, boosters, Board of Trustee members, and old college roommates begin lobby for either a new head coach or a contract extension and bowl tickets. RSIW is when administrators and athletic directors need to boost their mobile data plans to unlimited magnum plus. And then prepare for the overage charge.

Fans, who, for the most part, do their best to avoid any semblance of reality, have their greatest hopes or fears confirmed, depending on their outlook on life and football during week number three. Throw in the towel? Or double down on a bowl trip? That’s what fans begin to decide a quarter of the way through the season.

It’s glorious and heartbreaking. It’s football.

Welcome to Reality Sets In Weekend.

 

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Routine Football

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I Hear Voices

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Winter…er… Football Is Coming

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The Open

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There’s something romantic about the game of golf. I don’t mean candlelight dinners and Valentine’s Day romance. I mean the history of the game. The players, the courses, the traditions…there is a certain amount of nostalgia built into the game that creates a certain…well, romance. This weekend is The Open. The Brits hate it when […]

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