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Buddies charging the field is the best 10 minutes of sports year

Jimmy McDowell, Ginger Shaud and Cody Smith at the 2011 Blue-Gold All-Star Game. DAVE FREDERICK PHOTO
June 16, 2017

Reach out - The 10 minutes before the Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game, where Buddies charge the field to find their players, is the best 10 minutes of the sports year. Grown men cry, and you have to be a hard-hearted woman not to sob. One year I saw two handsome men of color in crimson from Glasgow, looking for their buddy, a little white person about 11 years old. Finally the kid rolled up in his chair pushed by his dad. It was a moment of contrasts, then the Buddy got up from his chair and powered toward his players who knelt down and caught him as he fell into their arms. Somebody slap me! I can’t handle that! Pregame Saturday starts at 5 p.m., with the game at 6 p.m., at the University of Delaware.      

Guys I know - I have often thrown up my hands in exasperation watching and listening to members of Congress on television arguing back and forth or spinning a position on an issue that defies logic or common sense. “Who are these people? I don’t know these people, Darby,” but my dog only responds to the word truck or words that sound like truck. But those men playing softball on a ballfield in Alexandria at 7 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, I know those guys. And after the trauma of being shot at, their interviews revealed a human side we haven’t been seeing. Republicans getting ready for the annual softball game versus the Democrats. An early-morning practice. Yes, I sure as heck know those guys. Sportsmanship is something that seems to be missing from our political discourse. “The true sportsman never loses because of their respect for the game and their opponents.” Like most, I struggle to get there, because I want to win and want my team to win. America is our team and, in a weird way, the assault with a rifle by a rogue psycho at an early-morning softball practice in Alexandria brought us closer together.

Same old song - Turn on any daytime sports program - you have to be retired or unemployed - and within 30 seconds you will hear the name LeBron James and soon after Kevin Durant followed by tired talk and comparisons of players and teams, and who was better from what era. The NBA has become a serial soap opera. Just follow the bouncing ball. I even heard Wilt Chamberlain’s numbers criticized, pundits saying he posted them when half the league were 6-foot-7 white guys. And the NBA sense of history never gets past the 1980s, but I go back way before that to the era of a two-hand set shot. Players who were freakishly good and some of them were white, but who’s counting? How about the championship 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers coached by Billy Cunningham with a record of 65-17? How about a starting five of Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones? Actually, Mark Iavaroni started because Bobby Jones was sixth man. There is a mural in North Philly with those six players three stories high. And there are more stories out there besides LeBron and KD.  

Snippets - The Beach Blast girls’ lacrosse tournament is scheduled for June 23-25 at Cape Henlopen High School. Fields behind the Lewes School on Savannah Road are also used. A total of 10 fields in use, and more than 100 teams come to this tournament. It is way bigger than Slam Dunk and generates more money and has greater economic impact. Cape football will open the season at Cape May Saturday, Sept. 9, before hosting Suitland and Northeast out of Maryland. Cape girls’ lacrosse will host Archmere Academy Saturday, April 14, 2018. The Auks may post the biggest threat to Cape for a 10th straight state title. Field hockey plays at Delmar Thursday, Sept. 21, an early-season “what’s up?” game for both programs. Hopefully a summer of travel ball also includes travel brain; I guess a legitimate question is, “Do travel ballers have time to read books?” Want to scare a teenager? Just say the word, essay! The Father’s Day 5K set for 7 a.m., Sunday on Wilmington Avenue is always a great race with lots of family stuff embedded. Sonja Friend won a couple of USLA two-mile run national championships while a member of the Rehoboth Beach Patrol. In 2017, Sonja is the top-ranked runner in the world (45-49) in the 800, 1,500, mile and 3K. She will run in the USATF Masters Outdoor Nationals in Baton Rouge, La., July 12-16. In the summer of 2007, Andrew Rogan and Robert Campbell ran a marathon barefoot totally on the beach from Fenwick Island to Lewes Beach, and I was there to capture the finish. There is something satisfying about craziness and pushing oneself to physical exhaustion. I like the idea that if you get hot you can get wet. And you know the Delaware beaches are a series of social groupings; it’s kind of funny when a man walks onto a sandbar and says, “I must be in the wrong joke.” Go on now, git! 

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