True athletes walk the walk and don’t need to talk

January 1, 2013

The trap - A real athlete always tells and lives the truth and has a spiritual sense of self in the broader sense of belonging to a series of teams, including the fellowship of man. The athlete doesn’t believe in entitlement to recreational drugs and occasional drunken escapes with teammates. But to many dogs of athletic wars, good times are associated with self-deception: alcohol intoxication and getting messed up with teammates. The party hearty behavior is considered a rite of passage. Why play the game if there is no party afterward? Soon, for some, the game gets in the way of the celebration of inebriation. I have seen hungover and glossed over so-called athletes heading toward the game-day arena of competition. Teammates who do the right thing should not cover for these clowns. I know I resent writing about them because they cheapen us all. Standing up and being a truthful, committed-to-excellence person is the standard for the true athlete. Everyone else is just playing games.

Group therapy - Imagine taking over an AA or NA meeting and saying, “I have never been where you are, but let me have 30 minutes of your time."  Maybe you’re a guest speaker at a Parents Without Partners group session, but you’ve been married for 40 years. No, you don’t get the floor unless you’ve been there! And that is why I can speak to the dangers of being a competitive athlete who loved the camaraderie of teammates, and if there was a post-game party I was there deep inside the circle of major party players. Those personalities were attracted to me, and it was my destiny that we found each other. I considered writing a book, “Laughing Your Way to Failure,” with myself as the major character. I would tell humorous stories in class as a teacher that would have students rolling on the rug. It was Shawn Sukumar, a top student and now a lawyer, who looked at me befuddled once and asked, “What’s the moral of the story? Many of your stories, they just end. What was the point? You’re the only teacher I know who will tell a story where you’re not the hero, in fact, at times, you’re the antihero.” I just always thought if real guys don’t tell real stories, no one will profit from them. Not everyone has my sense of humor to cover up stupidity. Last year I got an email from Shawn Sukumar: “I get it. I get the moral of the story.”

Boys' teams - The male athletes of Cape have been secure enough in their own identities to come out and cheer for the girls’ teams. And it’s unfair to compare all the state titles won by girls to the lack of titles during the same time frame for boys. Making a living in football and boys' soccer is a tough ticket. Cape has put up back-to-back 8-2 football seasons, and looking back two years, all games lost were winnable. That is a tremendous run, and it’s expected to continue for the 2013 season. The soccer team over the two-year leadership of Gary Montalto has been a combined 22-5-3 with two state tournament appearances. A strong 9-3-2 junior varsity squad and some stellar travel soccer eighth-graders should keep the varsity squad at double-digit wins. Boys' lax always carried high expectations; the team was 10-5 in 2012 and lost in the second round of the state tournament 8-6 to Tower Hill. The boys have won five state titles, the last coming in 2008.

Snippets - On Jan. 1, the Lewes Polar Bears will jump into the ocean at 1 p.m at Cape Henlopen State Park on the beach in front of the bathhouse. There will be a sign-in table if you want to see your name in the Gazette, not in the police report section. I am recovering from a ruptured quad muscle followed by ruptured quad tendon and surgery, all on the same leg. Dr. Wilson Choy (my orthopedic go-to guy - get your own) has not advised me not to go in. I’m afraid to ask him, afraid he may say, “Go ahead, I always enjoy your stories when you’re sedated.”

I sat on a recumbent bike at Club Fitness watching nine televisions, listening to music on my iPod and texting on my iPhone.  I was flanked by seniors over 70 who were relentlessly killing it on the bike at level 10; I felt like such a slacker.

New Year's Day for this Big German Boy means pork and sauerkraut and mounds of mashed potatoes and football all day long. Enjoy your diet and stationary bike rides to nowhere. Go on now, git!

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