Category Archives: Life

Reason Absent

 

Charlottesville is a hot shitty mess.   And it’s been a long time in coming.

My thoughts, bullet list style:

  • America is not a racist nation
  • White nationalists are racist assholes
  • Black nationalists are racist assholes
  • The first amendment matters
  • The sixth commandment matters
  • Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist
  • If you are a racist, you likely voted for Trump
  • The Civil War was fought over slavery
  • Many MANY Confederate soldiers and officers were noble honorable warriors
  • Removing Confederate statues does not carry moral worth

 

My heart breaks as Charlottesville unfolds.  So much pain, so much tragedy, so much misplaced … misplaced ‘righteousness’.

Such bullshit.

What is it about human nature that we always see the ‘other’ in the other?  Why is it that we can’t see the common?  See that each of us, almost all of us, wants the same thing?  We wanna love, deeply, and then fall ever deeper in love.  We want a home safe from danger, to live with the front door unlocked, and wake up to sunshine and birds in the yard.

I have never known a neighbor that didn’t want their kids to play in the street, to go to a good school, then a good college and then a good job.  Marriage and kids of their own are next.  We all want that picket fence.  Why do we need to hate?  And hurt?  And be so afraid?

When did we all become so afraid?

Why are we so afraid of the way each lives his life?  Why do we care if he reads Asimov?  Or he reads Othello?  Or she plays chess or he Pokemon?  How can it determine the content if he enjoys listening to this style of music or she enjoys studying this war; this artist or this general?  How can that matter so SO much?

As I watch the news and listen to the radio and read the papers I am inundated.  Inundated with the horror, the rage, the vile nature of the worst example of us.

This is not us – this is not who we are.

Reject it.  Simply reject the premise and make your own way; shit, continue on the glorious noble way that you’ve already forged.  Do it with honor, do it boldly, do it with the same compassion and love that drove you to that place to begin with.

Because the alternative is simply impossible.  It is impossible to live in the world envisioned by those who perpetuate the divide.

For just one fuckin’ second, consider how we are the same and stop focusing on how we’re different.

Doing Minnesota Proud

Young man haulin’ the mail!

Derek Onserio, a senior at Providence Academy in Plymouth, was accepted to eight Ivy Laegue schools. Onserio has four siblings, two of which also attend Ivy League schools. He is the son of Kenyan immigrants.

You go boy!

The Anti Tea Party

 

My biggest concern about Trump is that he mimics Obama and trounces the constitution, expands the scope of the Federal government and inches ever closer to a “too big to fail” executive.

My second biggest concern about Trump is the pendulum – the swing back to a liberal majority.

Perhaps I’m wrong in fear number two:

But what made the tea party successful, according to Theda Skocpol, a Harvard professor whose field studies of the tea party movement became a 2011 book, was a particular climate on the political right. “We thought of the tea party as a set of several intersecting forces that were leveraging each other and helping to build each other’s clout to change and use the Republican Party,” she said. Self-organizing grass-roots groups, top-down professional advocacy and money groups, such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, along with right-wing media, swirled together to make the movement a success, according to Skocpol. It remains to be seen if the climate on the left will prove to be hospitable for the growth of a similarly effective movement.

Personally, my belief is that the Left is made up of fringe groups – each with their complaint.  It might be the environment, or women’s rights, racism, the poor or refugees.  Almost always the group is made up of people who themselves are not injured, but instead are people *representing* the injured.

Further, these groups don’t advocate policy that would require themselves OR the aggrieved to bear responsibility for the work to be done to fix the problem.  THAT responsibility falls on someone else, usually the rich, the white or the man.

As such, because they don’t feel it their responsibility, combined with the fact that it is not them impacted, they will never dig deep enough to do the work.

I shouldn’t fear the professional ‘outrager’, but I admit to some lost sleep.

Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings

I’m from Minnesota.  And my heritage is, in some part, Nordic.  And I love the Vikings.

I love watching them play, I love watching my son watching them play.  I love me throwing to Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Ahmad Rashad, Sydney Rice and Dirtball Darrin in my back yard.

I love watching him spike the ball when he gets both feet down in the corner to score 6 as time runs out in Green Bay.  Love it.

And I rarely consider what the image of the Viking means; or even what it means to BE a Viking.  Like, a real Viking back in the day.  I don’t consider how they waged war, or how they treated enemies conquered.  I don’t know if they perished by the sword, the disease or famine.  I don’t know much.

But when I do consider why the team decided to go with the name “Vikings” I suspect it’s because they realized that there was a history of Nordic nature in Minnesota.  Many people originate from Sweden or Norway or Denmark in Minnesota.  And – and this is important – they wanted to celebrate that condition of character that stood out as desirable in combat.  Or competition.

I find it … cool that my football team is named after a nation of gifted warriors who were courageous and feared in battle.

And it would seem as if I am among a 90% majority:

Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker.

As Dan Snyder pointed out:

The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride

 

 

When the Other is a Hater

Persecuted

Someone can disagree with you and simultaneously not be a hater, a bigot, fearful of anything or anyone or be a racist and love the sound of a baby’s laughter, raise honeybees and dedicate his life to increasing the general goodness around her.

Proof

Alison Krauss is not simply proof that God exists – she is proof that He loves us.

Youth Coaching

Soccer Ball

I do a little bit  of youth coaching – some basketball and most recently soccer.

This got me:

For anyone who has ever coached youth sports of any kind, from pee-wee to middle school, and even high school sports in some cases………I have a deep question that has been floating in my mind in recent days. Just give me minute to circle around to it.

My youngest daughter wrapped up her high school soccer career tonight.  The days leading up to it flooded me with memories of all her games past, both far and near.  Thoughts of different leagues, cities, coaches, teammates, hotel rooms, victory, defeat.  Reflections of how she changed over the years as a player, a competitor, and a person.  Wondering how and why things have played out exactly as they have.  Thinking about influences both good and bad that could have or would have made things better or worse if they’d been different.

And I started thinking about the kids that I have coached as my kids have grown up, from youth soccer to travel soccer, Upward basketball to middle school basketball.  And I just can’t help wondering……

If all coaches could see into the future, to that very day when a kid puts away the cleats or the hi-tops for the last time and walks away from a game………would they choose to coach individual kids differently than they presently do?

Every kid walks away from their chosen sport someday…….then what?

Effective youth coaching is psychiatry and it is parenting.  Each player is unique, and they have specific needs that team sports can bring them.

Many coaches fail to fill those needs because they falsely assume they are training the next state champs.  They fail to see each child beyond that day when the sports equipment goes in the yard sale or the closet.

Shouldn’t the journey of sports teach these things and more to prepare kids for life beyond sports?

  1.  Standard of excellence
  2.  Work ethic
  3.  To believe in themselves
  4.  To trust others
  5.  The value of encouragement
  6.  To know they aren’t the center of the universe
  7.  To know that success does not come overnight (or in one practice)
  8.  To lose with dignity
  9.  To accept temporary failures without blaming others, and to realize these failures aren’t permanent
  10.  To be pushed to their physical limit, time and time again
  11.  To love and to be loved
  12.  To sacrifice for others
  13.  To respect authority and rules
  14.  Teamwork/unselfishness
  15.  To never give up

These things still matter when the cheering stops.

The cheering stopped for Maddie tonight.  Her team lost in the regional semi-finals.  In a game where she and her teammates truly “left it on the field”, the score was tied at the end of 80 minutes of regulation.  Two 5-minute overtimes later, the score was still tied.  Penalty kicks would now decide the match.

Maddie stood over the ball, ready to attempt her shot with her team facing a nearly hopeless 3-1 deficit.

If she missed this shot, the game was over.  The season was over.

Sitting on my knees beside my wife, I simply mumbled, “Maddie needs to be to one to take this shot.”

Not because it could be the game winner………because it would be the shot that would seal the loss if she missed.

I don’t know what kind of reaction or look Kristy gave me, but I went on to say, “Maddie needs to be the one to take this shot, because I know she can handle missing the shot to end the game.  She can handle it.  That’s my daughter!”

And my voice cracked at the enormity of what I was saying in a trailing voice……..”that is OUR daughter”.

She missed.  Game over.  Season over.  High school career over for her and her senior teammates.

Maddie played her heart out.  And I was so proud of her.  But when those words came out of my mouth, “that’s our daughter” it hit me so clearly.  I was not proud of her effort or her performance.

I was proud of who she has become.

She met her mother and me after the game with head held high.  That’s our daughter.

Do your best.  Have fun.  Train and play to win.  In the end it’s just a game.  The end came tonight.  I’m thankful for all those who have prepared her in the right ways to go beyond this “end”.

If you’re coaching your 1st game or your 1000th, take an occasional peek toward the end.  Winning is a by-product of doing all things the right way.  Some lessons can’t be cast aside for the sake of early wins or just because you ARE winning games.

And while your players are dreaming of making that dramatic game-winning shot, you better spend some time preparing their toughness and character……for missing it.

It’s Over

Go

A computer has just beaten a Go champion:

On Wednesday, in a research paper released in Nature, Google earned its own position in the history books, with the announcement that its subsidiary DeepMind has built a system capable of beating the best human players in the world at the east Asian board game Go.

There are more possible moves than there are atoms in the universe.  It’s only a matter of time before the machines terminate the human race.

Happy New Year

From me to you – best in 2016!

The Game of Football

Football

I found this in the Tar Heel Archives and running it today.

The game of football has been my favorite go to sport since I was a kid – and I wanted to play as long as I can remember.

But I sucked.

Part of it might have been that I wasn’t good but part of THAT is that I wasn’t willing to trade getting tackled for scoring touchdowns.  I like to think, in part, that I traded my mind for my body.

That said – I can’t let my son play the game; the trade off isn’t worth it.  And earlier this year a legend of the game agreed with me:

Football great Mike Ditka says that, if he had an 8-year-old son right now, he wouldn’t let him play football. He made the remarks in an episode of HBO’s Real Sports, which will air tonight.

The Chicago Tribune has the exchange:

Ditka: “If you had an 8-year-old kid now, would you tell him you want him to play football?”

Gumbel: “I wouldn’t. Would you?”

Ditka: “Nope. That’s sad. I wouldn’t. And my whole life was football. I think the risk is worse than the reward. I really do.”

The HBO piece will focus on drug use by the 1985 Chicago bears.

There have been numerous stories about the 1985 Chicago Bears, but none quite like this.

The upcoming edition of “Real Sports” (9 p.m. Tuesday, HBO) will feature a report by Bryant Gumbel that chronicles the players on that team using excessive painkillers and narcotics to overcome injuries and get back on the field. The report says that contributed to many of the former Bears players being severely debilitated nearly 30 years later.

Former Bears coach Mike Ditka even said if he had a young son today, he wouldn’t allow him to play football. Gumbel calls the ’85 Bears football’s “ultimate cautionary tale.”

Last May, former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, defensive end Richard Dent and offensive tackle Keith Van Horne were among a group of retired players who accused the league in a lawsuit of supplying them with powerful painkillers and other drugs that kept them in the game but led to serious complications later in life. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of more than 500 former players.