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.

humility as viewed through the lens of football

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God.
A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course,
as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”

C.S. Lewis

What is humility?
And why does it matter?

Here are several definitions I found online:

A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

A disposition to be humble; a lack of false pride

Freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble

I really like the last definition…

The first definition has a bit of a ring of self-martyrdom to it.
The second one seems to be left to one’s birth personality leanings…
meaning you’re either born with it or not.

But that last one…
that last one speaks of ‘a freedom from’…

There is a great sense of release in that notion for sure.

For there’s almost a sense of ‘a lifting’ or ‘a removing of’
along with a ‘healing from’.

For to be free of something is liberating…it means you are no longer bound,
as in nothing is binding.
And there is certainly tremendous gratitude found in that!

So it seems that no matter how one slices it, humility is a lacking of arrogance
and false pride….it is also very low key.
All of which is both freeing and liberating…

Humble people tend to be low key and quiet.
They tend to shy away from the limelight…as in they have no use for such.
They prefer to stay quiet in the background.

They don’t tout themselves as this or that but rather yield to the others around them.
They eschew the spotlight…or really any sort of attention for that matter.

This notion of humility has come to the front of my thoughts recently
in part because Atlanta’s news has been all abuzz all weekend over the former
NFL football player Colin Kaepernick’s very much publicized staged workout in town…

From all outward appearances, this seems to be a staged last-ditch effort by a
young man and “his people” to draw the attention of the League’s teams,
owners and coaches to the fact that he is still very much ready to play…
playing for anyone who might ask.
He wants everyone to know he’s still viable and marketable.

But is he really?
And is this the true impetus behind this latest media-driven public spectacle?
Is he sincere?

I can’t remember a single player ever going to such extreme efforts
to get teams to reconsider him as a potential player.

And if this media spectacle wasn’t surreal enough, at the last minute,
Kaepernick changed the location just prior to the scheduled event leading
to confusion rather than the simplicity of simply showcasing his physical talents.

Was it just another issue of who is and who is not in control?

There are plenty of disappointed players out there who have been cut,
let go or who have gone undrafted for a myriad of reasons…

Professional sports are a fickled business.
As cutthroat comes to mind.

There are tons of players who continue working out, attending open practices, etc,
all in hopes of getting just one more shot.

Even big-name players such as Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel obviously come to mind—
Two very different players who were let go and yet did not want to be let go.

Tebow never seemed to get a fair shake…of which I suspect his
very open Christian faith might have had a lot to do with that…
And Manziel, well he simply burned his bridges with his continued drug use and
bad-boy behavior.

Bad-boy behavior becomes a liability in a business dominated by fans.
As in the fans are the ultimate bosses.
When fans pay to come and support a team…money flows.
When fans don’t pay to come and opt not to support a team, the money stops.
Ratings drop, players, opt to leave, as a team then becomes toxic.

No money, no revenue…
No revenue, no pay for salaries.
Maybe if salaries weren’t in the millions, this might not be such a problem.
Liabilities don’t generate revenue.
Arrogant players tend to become liabilities.

Former Steelers and Raiders player Antonio Brown comes to mind.

I just can’t seem to recall any player who has ever created their own media circus
in an attempt to force the hand of the League with the ‘hire me or else’ tactic other
than Colin Kaepernick.

I never cared for Johnny Manziel, even when he was a college player,
all because of his blatant self-destructive arrogance.

He quickly found out that the League didn’t care for it either.
The Canadian League gave him a chance but he still wants back in the NFL.

Tebow, well, he remains a bit of an anomaly regarding his playing.
Once he figured out his football days were seemingly over, as no one really wanted
to give him a real chance, he opted for baseball…
but he didn’t seem to fare any better there.

So yes, there are tons of former players, well known as well as unknown,
who would love to be able to afford their own personal very public media-hyped workouts
in an attempt to strong-arm a League,
but either they can’t or more importantly, won’t.

And maybe humility has something to do with some of that.

Some might argue that tooting one’s own horn is a must in professional sports.

Yet when you’re a sports figure who uses your job (because that’s just what it is, a job)
as a platform for your own personal political views and personal agendas…well then
that is a case of exploitation…
exploiting your work platform for your own personal desires…
Forcing a captive audience, the fans, to endure your selfish antics.

You are no longer a team player but rather a self-centered individual
allowing your on-field antics rather than performance to become an extension to a soapbox
for something so much other than what you are there for…
for athleticism and finesse on a playing field.

A humbled person might see such and reconsider how best to promote a personal agenda…
An arrogant person, on the other hand, is so self-absorbed that they have quickly lost touch.

We see this constantly with our politicians as well as with our entertainers…
just as we now see such in our professional athletes.
No area of our lives seems free of hubris.

It would be so nice to have some places in our lives that remain a-political.
Places of quiet that remain low key.
Places where we can just enjoy a game for the game’s sake… or a concert or even a simple
trip to the mall without being victimized by those who push their envelopes in our faces.

Our souls are so thirsty for the humble.

We hunger for places where there are no spotlights, no news media,
no glaring social media blitzes.
No one screaming “look at me”–

Arrogance and self-absorption dominate our lives.
Yet we readily feed into this very trend every time we feel the need to post our latest images
of ourselves doing whatever it is we do, thinking the world needs to see what we do.
The question however is, does the world really care or is it rather ourselves who are
the ones who care?

It would behoove us to seek the humble, the quiet and the lowly.
Our souls are in dire need of such.
For our souls are parched and need refreshing…

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles
himself will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11 ESV

selfishness and self-preservation vs selflessness and the love of the game

“It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second.
This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up.
Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it’.”

Audrey Hepburn


(UGA kicker Rodrigo Blankenship)

Anyone who knows me, knows I love college football!

I’d say it was simply because of an innate love that was passed down to me from the sports-loving
genes of my dad…
but since I’m adopted…it must simply be from the gene pool of another.

But that’s the thing, my dad loved college football.

He lived and breathed for New Year’s day…that holy day of all things football.
I’ve written about this love affair of his before.

Back in the dark ages, back to the time of my youth…those early heady days of the 1960’s…
it was a time before things like a picture within a picture, split screens, Hulu, red zones…
or even color TV for that matter…were a thing.

My dad would haul every TV in our house into the den so he could
have all three major networks playing simultaneously…just so he wouldn’t
miss the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl or the Sugar Bowl…
or any other bowl game that was airing.

I obviously inherited that love by osmosis I suppose.

And as I’ve settled in to enjoy this year’s bowl season, I must confess, I have a few issues.

Issues such as the way the powers that be have set up this playoff mishmash.

The top 1, 2, 3 and 4 teams that are all vying for the top prize are sitting pretty
while other very deserving teams are left out of the coveted top 4 positions.
Cinderellas with no invitation to the ball.

And on top of that wouldn’t you know it…those powers that be also wrote in a little clause for this
playoff business that it can’t be revisited for discussion for at least 12 years.

Really?
Geeeees….

I just don’t find it fair for those undefeated teams who are passed over–think Central Florida…
teams unable to have any sort of chance to participate in a playoff with the argument being that they don’t
play the same caliber of teams as say those top seeds.

But I’m thinking that if you are a Division 1 team…
then should not all Division 1 teams have an equal opportunity for the coveted trophy of
National Champion?

You’re not Division 1 for nothing right?
Be they a Notre Dame, a Central Florida, a Boise State or an Alabama.

But such decisions were not left to me to decide.
And no one ever said life was fair.

There is, however, another more troubling issue that leaves me particularly unsettled this bowl season.
Something that boils down to a fine line between selfish self-preservation and that of selflessness
along with the simple love of the game.

The trouble is with the current mindset of those players who are currently draft-eligible and who
have decided to opt out of their perspective team’s bowl games.
Opting out and deciding not to play— preferring rather to sit out the game lest they get hurt and mess
up their chances for a nice high draft position.

This little predicament is leaving their coaches and teammates scrambling to fill in the
gaps before a major televised ball game.

Do bowl games even matter?

Well they matter to rankings and they matter to monies earned by schools for ticket sales
and they matter for future recruiting.
Plus they matter for the bragging rights of being a top alfa dog for a year.

Many of these kids who are going to school are on scholarships…
having earned a coveted “paid for” position on the team.
They, in turn, for the most part, have free food, free books and free tuition for their
wanting to play football.

But of course, it is their option and choice to go to a school to play.
And they usually opt to go to the school who offers them the most buck for their bang.
Hard work and talent leads them to this choice.

(now there are other sports and other scholarships, but I am focusing on football only)

The NFL, however, dangles bigger carrots in front of the faces of these kids
than whatever a college could dare offer.

Thus a kid can and at times is encouraged to “quit” school, in order to enter the draft.
“Oh you can always go back and earn a degree later, but you can only play at the top of your
game for a limited time” rings the argument.

According to the NFL official rules,
“To be eligible for the draft, players must have been out of high school for at least three years
and must have used up their college eligibility before the start of the next college football season.
Underclassmen and players who have graduated before using all their college eligibility may request the
league’s approval to enter the draft early.

Players are draft-eligible only in the year after the end of their college eligibility.

We are actually seeing sophomores who are eligible for the draft, forgoing the thought of finishing
playing four or five years for their school while earning a degree…all just to play for the NFL.

While the thoughts of “fame and fortune” dancing enticingly around the heads of these young men.

There are those who try to justify this phenomenon.
They argue the notion of hundreds of thousands, and in some cases, millions of dollars,
being the greatest incentive as to why so many of these “impoverished” or struggling kids want
to move on.

Money talks.

Yet the respected retired coach of the Colts and now a football commentator, Tony Dungy, in his book
Quiet Strength notes the high percentage of NFL players who eventually end up divorced, broke or both.
Noting that all that glitters is not necessarily gold nor does it last.

Yet many argue that a large number of these kids come from broken homes or impoverished homes,
and are living on the edge of either succumbing to and falling through the cracks to things like
gangs and trouble if they aren’t given such wonderful financial incentives.
While very few seem to be singing the praises of rising above the negative by earning a degree and
finding success outside of sports.

Like Coach Dungy, I don’t buy the empty arguments of the hurry up and join the glamour of the
NFL mentality and I don’t fall for the money carrot argument.

Oh I get it and I see it but I don’t find it a viable argument…
that being that this is their only ticket out of a life considered less than.

I personally think a college degree will help a great deal more with forging a life that is content
and fulfilled verses that of a draft pick.

However, the draft pick promises the big bucks fast while the degree and the eventual job
will be a slower building to that long sense of security.

I think it is a poor precedence allowing players to opt out of playing for their school’s respective
bowl game just so they don’t get hurt and mess up jockeying for a draft position.

We are doing kids such a huge disservice when we cut them slack from the responsibility they
have to their school, to their team and to their teammates when we “allow” them the “right” of opting out
of a commitment because the money carrot has dangled early and most brightly.

Case in point Michigan had about 4 or 5 kids sitting out their bowl game against Florida.
The Gators won and I’m not complaining as I like to see fellow SEC schools win but
I feel that those boys who opted to sit out their final game of the year,
a game that was an honor as their team had won the right to play in a bowl game,
yet, in turn, they let down their fans, their coaches and their teammates…
for selfish and self-preserving reasons.

One player, however, a young man who is also draft eligible, and who needs surgery following the
season before participating in the draft, stated that he was indeed disappointed by his teammate’s
decision to sit out and that he would have to be dead not to play the final game for
his school and team.

Now that is a young man who has a love of the game and a sense of responsibility to and
for his team, his coaches and his school.
He has a team mentality.

And maybe that’s what’s missing.

We are no longer teaching responsibility or duty or honor, or even sportsmanship or what it
means to be a part of a team, a part of something bigger than ourselves…

We see this at the college level, at the high school level and now, sadly, at the
little league level.
It’s called the trickle down effect.

We have allowed our sports to become bigger than the various games themselves.
And in turn, we have lost those team building qualities that instill in both
young men and women the meaning of selflessness and that there are things greater in life
then that of the individual.
As in it takes a team to win a game, not merely one player.

Just another reason as to why I hate those end zone theatrics.
There is no room for showboats on a team full of individuals who work together to make those
successful moments for the team as a whole.

Rodrigo Blankenship is a kicker for the University of Georgia who was a walk-on and redshirt
freshman.
After his first year with stats that would make veteran kickers envious, 26 for 26 kicks,
he was informed that he would not be receiving a scholarship.
He might be offered one the following year but that was by no means a guarantee.

Most kids and their families would consider transferring over such news.
Transferring to a school that would give a scholarship as the family could certainly use the
assistance.

To have worked as hard as he had worked helping aid the team week after week in consecutive
wins throughout the season,
yet to be denied monetary assistant when those all around him had long been given their
scholarships, was news hard to swallow.
Yet Blankenship loved his team and his school.
He wanted to stay, despite the snub by the School’s Athletic Association.

“In 2017, when Blankenship was a redshirt sophomore, he hit a 30-yard field goal with 3:34
remaining to give Georgia a 20-19 lead against Notre Dame.
The Bulldogs won the game by that score, and the post-game locker room scene included Blankenship
proudly announcing to his team, upon a prompt from Smart,
“I’m on scholarship,” followed by a roar of celebration.

(Red and Black)

There are thankfully all sorts of stories like Rodrigo’s…
stories of selfless players who persevere without the rewards of glamour or money
but the sad fact remains that there are currently a good many players across this country
who are sitting out of bowl games because they are putting personal gain above that of their teams
and schools…and that speaks volumes as to what our culture and our Sporting Associations are teaching
our youth and to where we place our values.

We will be whatever we teach our young…be that good or be that bad.

I’ll go back to watching football now, but I’m afraid it will have one more grey cloud
hovering over its legacy.

Go Dawgs!

Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:4

Cancer sucks…and the resilience of one dedicated fan

You beat cancer by how you live,
why you live and in the manner in which you live.

Stuart Scott

Every now and then you hear a story that reaches deep down and touches
something in your soul.
It reminds you of what is truly important.
It reminds you that life is fleeting and very fragile.
It reminds you about resilience.
It reminds you that what is happening in our country, in our culture…
those things that we are doing and saying to and about one another are things that
truly don’t matter.

This is a story about a college, Perdue University to be exact, and about one of its students…
or maybe it’s a story about all of its students…

Perdue is a University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
The student body and the athletes are known as the Boilermakers.

In 1889, Purdue played Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana,
and won the game 18-4. Students from the college and citizens of Crawfordsville began
calling the Purdue players “a great big burly gang of corn-huskers”, “grangers”,
“pumpkin-shuckers”, “railsplitters”, “blacksmiths,” “cornfield sailors”, and “foundry hands”.
The Purdue students experienced hands-on education at the university, including the maintenance
of a fully operational steam locomotive.

Purdue defeated Wabash College again in 1891, 44–0.
An account of the game in the Crawfordsville Daily Argus News of October 26, 1891 was headlined,
“Slaughter of Innocents: Wabash Snowed Completely Under by the Burly Boiler Makers from Purdue”.
Purdue became known as the boilermakers the next year.
(Wikipedia)

We all have our sports teams that we love—teams that we follow with unabandon and yes,
teams we truly even adore.

We follow.
We cheer.
We scream.
We cry.
We support.
We become one on gameday.
We are the 12th man…we are the fans.

Some of us are bigger fans than others…for all sorts of reasons.
And sometimes being a fan spurs us on to will ourselves to literally live another day.

Or so it seems…

His name is Tyler Trent and as of this past week, he was a sophomore at the Perdue University.
Tyler is all of 20 years old.

Tyler had to withdraw from classes earlier this term because Tyler has terminal cancer.

Tyler has become an inspiration to his fellow Boilermakers because he epitomizes the
concept of what it means to be not only a super fan but Tyler epitomize what it is
to be a fighter.

The chant “Cancer sucks” has become the rallying cry of the student body this year…
the chant before each kickoff is no longer the traditional IU (their arch rival) sucks,
but rather the rallying cry is Cancer Sucks
because it does.

Tyler is under hospice care.
Yet he wanted desperately to attend the big Ohio St Game Saturday evening…
but things throughout the week weren’t looking good.
Tyler was really really sick.
His body failing.
His doctors said there was no way that he’d make the game…
no one was certain Tyler would be alive for the game.

Perdue has an almost spilt win/loss season thus far this season
Perdue’s match with Ohio State was not to be in Perdue’s favor.
Perdue was not supposed to be any sort of match for the number 2 ranked Ohio State.
It was to be a pushover game for the Buckeyes as their sites are resting on dethroning
the number 1 Alabama Crimson Tide.
Perdue was just another team on the path to the dethroning of a more worthy opponent…
Heck, Perdue isn’t even ranked, no big deal right?!!

But…

Miracles of all sorts do happen…

Here is a link to the story from the Indystar regarding the big win and
how Tyler got to the big game.

https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/columnists/gregg-doyel/2018/10/20/doyel-tyler-trent-inspires-purdue-football-upset-ohio-state/1700078002/

Our prayers are with all of those who, like Tyler, are suffering due to illness and disease…
(as well as for Natalie who is close to my heart here in cookieland
as well as for my college roommate Carol)

Holy Spirit, drive away from me all forms of sickness and disease.
restore strength to my body and joy to my spirit,
so that in my renewed health,
I may bless and serve you,
now and forevermore.

Author Unknown

what was that about animal or angel…

“I see clearly with the interior eye,
that the sweet God loves with a pure love the creature that He has created,
and has a hatred for nothing but sin, which is more opposed to Him
than can be thought or imagined.”

St. Catherine of Genoa


(image courtesy a UK internet news outlet)

Yesterday we took a brief look at what it is that separates man from beast…

That being the conscious conscience–

Our ability to make a conscious choice to believe…in say, that Jesus Christ was and
is who He said He was…as He remains to this day—that being the Son of God…

So a conscious conscience separates us.

Otherwise, we’re pretty much alike as in that we are born of both male and female, we
eat, sleep, play, seek shelter, have similar bodily functions…

And yet we possess a higher order of thinking—a conscious conscience.

We can choose to follow something rather than said following being simply an innate
reaction or some sort of imprinting.
We can follow literally or we can follow figuratively and consciously…or, choose not to…

It’s no secret that I love football—
that being American football and not the soccer version of futbol.

And we can whittle that down even further in that I prefer college ball…
but I will always take what I can get.

So needless to say, I joined the rest of this football and commercial loving Nation,
all who gathered either in person or around a thousand and more televisions in order
to watch the big game Sunday night…the Super Bowl.

I am neither Eagle fan nor Patriot fan…and despite being from Atlanta and having the
Falcons being my team by proxy…Green Bay is actually MY team of heart…

And as to why that is—is beyond my soul.. but I bet it goes back to childhood or the adoption…
just saying.

So in such a competition as a Super Bowl, one usually opts to pull for one team or the other…
and as I am tired of the Patriot Dynasty constantly winning and Coach Belichick’s
sloppy sideline apparel along with his monotone one-word press conference interviews,
add in a constant dour demeanor, I thought we should give Philly a go.

And so perhaps in hindsight, I was wrong in that notion.

Following the Eagles routing over the Patriots Sunday night, Philadelphia,
that city of brotherly love, broke out into insanity…

And not mind you the type of joyful, happy, triumphant, euphoria of insanity witnessed
at the moment of a victory…such as in the…
“Hey, Nick Foles, what are you going to do now that you’ve won the Super Bowl???…
with that joy-filled, confetti swirling answer being a triumphant “I’m going to Disney World”

But rather this victory swirled down into the insanity of hate, destruction, violence,
and lawlessness.

More like, dare we say it, animals…

Add to the fact that the image I found today was from a UK news site,
as in the world watched how badly “we” behaved.

And I say ‘we’ because ‘we’ are, for all intent purposes, Americans…
As in I just happen to be from Georgia, and the game just happened to be played in Minnesota
and it just happened to be a game between New England and Philidelphia players—
so “we” are all, when the dust settles, in this together…as Americans.

Sigh.

I for one find the behavior seen in Philidelphia, bottom of the barrel, awful.

However, the questions remains…are these “fans” going to be held accountable?

Maybe some were arrested.

Yet I’m pretty certain many more slipped into the dark
of night over those who actually were arrested for “disorderly” conduct—
throw in a little looting and destruction of private property to that citation.

Whose cars were those flipped over and torched?
Or what about sending those regular citizens who were caught in the middle of the madness,
sending law-abiding folks who just happened to be in downtown businesses and hotels,
into some sort of panic attack, so afraid they would become victims of the animal mob?

Not a pretty picture to say the least.

And so I think about all of this ugly Americaness of ours…these seemingly selfish,
self-centered acts of consciousness…decisions made which are,
when all pretense is stripped away, acts of the demonic-
As in the very lesson, we learned yesterday, that being it’s man’s choice when
he leans toward anger, hate, violence lawlessness, sinfulness..in other words, acts of evilness,
of which has its impetus in the demonic and certainly not the angelic or saintly…

And just as we have the conscious conscience of choice to be more like the animals—
we also have the conscious conscience to choose that of the angelic, the saintly and that
of love.

May we choose love….

Once again, another life lesson brought to us by a mere game.

“Love is a strong force — a great good in every way; it alone can make our burdens light,
and alone it bears in equal balance what is pleasing and displeasing.
It carries a burden and does not feel it; it makes all that is bitter taste sweet…
Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing higher, nothing stronger, nothing larger,
nothing more joyful, nothing fuller, nothing better in heaven or on earth;
for love is born of God and can find its rest only in God above all He has created.
Such lovers fly high, run swiftly and rejoice.
Their souls are free; they give all for all and have all in all.
For they rest in One supreme Goodness above all things,
from Whom all other good flows and proceeds. They look not only at the gifts,
but at the Giver, Who is above all gifts.”

Thomas à Kempis

ideologues verses heros

“In a room where
people unanimously maintain
a conspiracy of silence,
one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.”

Czesław Miłosz


(image of Alejandro Villanueva, the lone Steeler player who opted to stand and
acknowledge the National Anthem prior to the Steeler / Bear game / courtesy Miami Herald)

This was not the post I intended to write today.
This was not the post I wanted to write today…
but this is the post that I felt necessary to write today.

Alejandro Villanueva is a professional football player who plays left tackle for
the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He is also a former US Army veteran.
Add to those facts that he was the only player…. the only player…
let that resonate in your head for a minute…the only player who emerged from
the shadows of the Steelers locker room to stand for Sunday’s pregame
National Anthem.

Coach Mike Tomlin had decided to keep his players in the locker during the National
Anthem so as not to join in the latest political ruckus.
But what message did Tomlin send by hiding in the locker room…?

And if you’re wondering why any of this is of any significance to a football game,
well then you have most likely missed out on the latest minutia brouhaha percolating
to the surface between America’s favorite pastime…
that being her sporting events, verses the President of the United States.

Now let that little notion sink in…slowly.
Professional sports verses, not an opposing team, but rather the
President of the United States of America.

Really.

For there seems to be a war of words escalating beyond average comprehension.

Yet tomorrow morning’s headlines won’t consist of Alejandro Villanueva’s image
and name…
And you most likely won’t be reading the columns of sportswriters touting the
story of a lone act of patriotism….

You won’t see the National news explaining what’s wrong with grown men being paid
millions of dollars to simply play games yet who insist on using their various playing
fields to make political commentary….
their choosing to be ideologues rather than what they’re paid to do, and that is to simply play ball.

No you won’t see or hear any of that.

What you will see are the images of player after player locked arm in arm, across the league, kneeling in disrespectful protest.
You will hear the angry defiant words spewed from the mouths of players, coaches
and even the Commissioner himself, Roger Goodell.

You will hear NBA greats like LaBron James calling the President of the
United States of America a “bum”.
You will read how Stephen Curry has said that it once was an honor to visit the
White House…that was until Trump got in……

All of this latest mess coming on the heels of a speech delivered Friday evening in Alabama, when President Trump responded to the the current trend of professional
football players who are opting not to stand for the National Anthem,
preferring rather to kneel or raise a defiant fist….
his comments were swiftly met with some rather harsh criticism.

A now never ending tit for tat stemming from the poor decision made last season by Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick opted to use his very public platform as the QB of the San Francisco 49ers
to express his thoughts that the National Anthem was not an anthem of equality.

Oh really?

Trump told the crowded arena Friday night that such behavior is a “total disrespect
of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for.”
He went on to say that those “Sons of a Bitch” who persist with such defiance
should be fired.

I happen to agree with the President.

However do I think the President of the United States needs to jump in this fray?

I don’t know.
But when we have blatant disrespect for our very National Anthem, who better then the
President to say, “hey wait a minute, something is wrong here….”

But at the same time I am now absolutely sick over our professional athletes using
their various sport as one more link in an increasingly brittle chain of
toxic politics.

I don’t watch football or any other sport because I want to deal with politics
or because I want to be reminded that our country is swirling down the tubes of
self absorption, ignorance and hate.

I watch sports to forget all of that.

I quit watching long ago any other sort of entertainment because it all had
become nothing but overtly violent, immoral and political while reeking of utter disrespect.

When I was still in the classroom, I can remember a growing sneering mantra offered
by one too many a defiant high school kid who butted heads with a teacher or administrator…
“I don’t give respect unless I get respect.”

Oh Really?

Here were kids claiming that if a teacher got on to them for their behavior
that they in turn could respond with vehemence and defiance.
A gross lack of respect for an adult who in the mind of the student had actually “disrespected” them and therefore deserved no respect–a twisted thought process.
And sadly many a parent and even a growing number of administrators
found themselves, albeit for some begrudgingly, in agreement.

The writing was then on the wall….the inmates were running the asylum.
And where might these inmates be getting their life examples….??

It takes little men to stay back in a locker room trying to avoid a glaring issue.
It takes little men, who make millions of dollars for simply playing games, to act like
disrespectful selfish and childish ideologues.
But it takes a real man who will go the journey alone in order to stand up for what
is right when no one else will….

—we call those kinds of men, heroes……

Honour all men.
Love the brotherhood.
Fear God.
Honour the king.

1 Peter 2:17

I marvel

“When we try to pick out anything by itself,
we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

John Muir

nervous-system-diseases
(medical chart of the human nervous system)

Sitting in the Orthopedic’s examining room, my eyes immediately gravitated to
one of those medical illustrations charts of the spine hanging a bit skewed on the
wall opposite of my gaze.

As a former art teacher, I always take notice of those medical charts in whatever
doctor’s office I may find myself.
I had several students who ventured into the field of medical illustration.
A fascinating field for those who are gifted artistically and love attention
to detail.

We had our own life-size skeletal model in the classroom, along with a vast array of animal skulls and bones…all of which were featured in many a student’s masterpiece.

So with this time I found on my hands as I sat in that little room with its skewed spinal illustration,
as I waited between x-rays and exam, my mind naturally went to wandering….

Perhaps we should be reminded that all living beings are made up of systems…

With there being 11 recognized systems within the human body:

The skeletal system
The nervous system
The circulatory system
The respiratory system
The digestive system
The excretory system
The endocrine system
The immune system
The muscular system
The reproductive system
The integumentary system

The intricacies within these systems…of how they work in tandem and
make a living being just that, living…
is nothing short of miraculous.

Detail and the mastery of placement, per each function,
is beyond comprehension.

As the pain in my hip and leg continued vying for my weary attention,
my thoughts marveled at the way the full nervous systems,
which is currently giving me fits, operates.

With the very image, such as the picture above,
being nothing less than a roadmap of life,
such is the visual imagery of the very act of living,
along with all of its intertwined responses…is simply amazing

Most of these systems go unnoticed and greatly under appreciated…
that is until there’s a problem

Ask any couple desperately trying to conceive a child and they can
most likely tell you first hand, in minute detail,
how the reproductive system can have a malfunction for either sex.

These mostly forgotten systems become front and center when there is a glitch
or something goes haywire or some outside force causes havoc…

Ask anyone who has been in an accident, fallen, or played a sport.
A system one day forgotten and taken for granted is suddenly forced
in full sight when there’s something gone awry.

So as I sat, waiting for someone to come into the exam room
in order to dig a little deeper into two systems whose warning lights are flashing,
I couldn’t help but ponder over all that goes into making us, us…

It escapes me as to how anyone can look at these interwoven systems and networks,
coursing in, out and around our bodies, and not see the hand of God…

You just can’t tell me all of these systems, with their interworking and interplays…
just happened to evolve into non duplicable entities…..

Try as hard as man does to indeed duplicate it all—he will always fall short.

Because buried deep in the center of all these systems resides a very piece of the Divine, Himself…

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139: 13-16