the dangling carrots

Individual commitment to a group effort–
that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work,
a civilization work.”

Vince Lombardi

I watch a lot of college football, as most of you already know.

I am known to watch pro-football, but the love is not there like it is for
college ball…
It just happens to be football and I like football.

Maybe this love comes from the fact that my husband played college football.

Maybe this love can be traced back to my having gone to a college where the name Herschel
was the most important name on campus…or more like the most important name in the
entire state of Georgia…
that is unless, of course, you were a GA Tech sort of person.

In my 4.75 years at that college, I never missed a home football game.
I also went to a few away games along with a bowl game or two.
And the name Dooley will always be the name of ‘my’ coach…much
like “the Bear” will always be the name for many in our neighboring state.

But maybe, just maybe, this love goes back to my having grown up in a household
where football was about the only thing ever watched every Saturday and Sunday.

Back in the day, when most bowl games were all played on New’s Day
and there were but three major networks showing the handful of games,
my dad would move three televisions into the den in order
to see all the games airing simultaneously.
It was that serious.

But no matter the origin, the love is in my blood.

So last year about this same time, I wrote a post of both lamentation and discontent.

I wrote about my dismay and even anger over football players “opting out” of playing
in their school’s bowl game.
Opting out due to the fear of getting hurt, or some other excuse,
as they declared their intention to leave school for the NFL draft.
Playing in the bowl game might mess up that chance of going pro.

Never mind that they might never be picked or picked up as some sort
of free agent…

Some players are leaving early, only after a year or two of playing college ball–
forget about getting a degree—the carrot is calling.

At least some are actually graduating seniors…which is what makes sense.
It’s all about a progression—school, work, study, play, degree then a job or the
elusive dream of professional sports.

I wish the NFL would quit dangling the money carrot to these kids the minute
they seem to step foot on the playing fields of their campuses of choice—

Just as I wish colleges would quit dangling scholarship carrots to kids as young
as the 7th grade–making promises to a 12-year-old kid if they’ll, in turn, give a
little verbal sort of promise of their own.

However back to what has truly stoked my ire…

Between injuries and those opting not to play, there was something like 13 Georgia
players not participating in the bowl game.
So when the game started New Year’s night, it was as if an entirely new and
different Bulldog team was taking the field…
much like an opening game of a new season.
There were some familiar old faces but there were also many new faces…
No one could really say what the team would be like as it was to be a new rhythm with
many unknowns.

The outcome was a success but that’s not really the issue.
A win is always a good thing but doing the thing that should truly be done is really
the most important thing.

We can’t help an injury roster.
We can’t help the list of ineligible players due to failed courses or poor grades.
We can, however, do something about kids deserting…or so I’d like to think.

The thing is these kids are a part of a team.
Each member being a connecting piece to a whole.
We always hear that it isn’t about the individual but rather about the team as a whole.
Yet we are seeing more and more about those who prefer being an individual when
the carrots start dangling.

I think those opting to leave school after only a year or two of play, say
the sophomore year, for the NFL, is self-indulgent and overzealous.
But to ditch a bowl game because of wanting to keep oneself in prime condition
for the draft is, in a word or two, selfish and self-serving.

Firstly, most often these players were given a scholarship to come play.
Secondly, these players worked day in and day out with a team—a team they often
refer to as “brothers”—where others helped each individual to become that shining star
they hoped to become.

Quarterbacks throw.
Receivers catch.
Linemen block.
Tackles tackle
Kickers kick.

Each individual doing what they do to ensure that the whole can become successful.

And so after all of the investment, the time, the work, the sweat, the pain, the
ticking off of one win after another…the climbing of the mountain to become
bowl eligible, an achievement that once meant something—only to suddenly announce
a “no thank you” is, in my opinion, a sad demonstration of this really being
all about me—as in the individual and not the team.

Forget those “brothers” of yours as you leave them behind when they truly need you.
Forget those coaches who invested their time in making you the best you could be.
Forget the school that helped to pay for your going to school.
Forget all those opportunities given you…
Because you’re leaving all of that behind for nothing more than an elusive carrot.

I fear we might be witnessing a reality where things such as bowl games,
which were once the long-sought-after goal of a season, lessening as they become
just another game while the dangling carrots of a Draft grow more tantalizing.

So yes, our sports and sadly our players are out of hand.
The importance of such is now deeply skewed.
The notion that all of this is just a mere game and it’s simply supposed to be fun
left us long ago.
That was when the carrots started dangling.

fall of the legends

Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness and they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy, or they become legends.
One Stab–Legends of the Fall

“History has its truth, and so has legend. Legendary truth is of another nature than historical truth. Legendary truth is invention whose result is reality. Furthermore, history and legend have the same goal; to depict eternal man beneath momentary man.”
― Victor Hugo

IMG_0758
( Schönbrunn Palace Gardens / Vienna, Austria / Julie Cook 2012)

Each day, another individual who lives in our limelight, bites the dust. . .

A well known major network news anchor embellishes his in-field reporting (aka tells lies).

Another older well known and long married nationally syndicated news story reporter has been carrying on a tawdry and torrid, and now very public, affair with a much younger married woman.

A revered married and highly decorated Army General is accused of disclosing highly classified information to his biographer who also happened to be his key love interest.

Another news anchor fails to disclose his political contributions to a high profile presidential candidate which now clouds his “non biased” honest reporting.

A beloved actor and comedian is suddenly accused of a litany of sexual assaults spanning the past 30 years.

The hottest new NFL quarterback hopeful, who was living the life of the fast and furious, has spent the past 6 months of the off season cleaning up in re-hab.

Many an up and coming national political figure has been discovered to be leading a dubious double life—

Plug in any name from any state or any county and it would all sadly fit. . .

It seems that each and every day we read, we hear, we watch as another national and / or local “famous” figure falls quickly from grace.

And it’s not always a famous individual. . .

Atlanta is coming off of an unprecedented, and very nationally embarrassing, public trial of a myriad of its city school system educators who cheated on their students National Standardized tests.
Teachers going to jail for cheating.
The very people who stress to their students the importance of honesty.

It’s pretty obvious that we are living in a world that is less than keen on taking the high road.
Perhaps we’ve become a low road kind of people.
As in low is easy, cheesy and sleazy.

Morality seems to have hit the road long ago. . .moving on without leaving a forwarding address.
The current mindset is simply one of no remorse— but rather remorse comes only with being caught at whatever it was one was simply caught doing.

Mea culpas have become so common place that we have come to expect contrition as opposed to valor.

It sure seems as if man is a flawed and fractured creature.

One would think that we are a most hopeless lot.
That we are in such sorry shape that God has washed His hands of us and simply moved on. . .
And that would pretty much sum up what we deserve.
We’ve made our beds and are now destined to lie them.
Dante painted the picture rather vividly in 1337 with his 9 rings of hell. . .
Hell in a hand basket with no looking back.

And yet. . .

Within the dark days of our fallen ways, there remains a single ray of hope. . .

Grace.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:1-10