Life lessons from sports require paying attention

November 1, 2013

Jacked and chilled - The soccer game down to Dagsboro Oct. 29 between Cape and Indian River on the Indians' Senior Night was fast-paced absurd, according to Cape coach Gary Montalto.  The first question I asked him after Cape’s 80 minutes of hell 2-1 victory was,  “How about that Cape crowd?” to which he responded, ”Man, aren’t they something?” The entire one-side-sits-all bleachers section at John Clayton Stadium was filled with families and friends with a longtime direct connection to soccer. Cape‘s Occupy Dagsboro activists were at the far end and far out, maybe one third of the crowd. From the moment the onfield official made a call that went the other way, fans were on him like last year's winter jacket. The guy slipped and fell backward on the slick grass, and the crowd came together to laugh out loud. And it just kept up, but there was no escalation. The Indian River fans did not respond in kind and they didn’t send their administrators with walkie-talkies to stare down the Cape crowd the way some schools - OK, one does every time Cape plays and beats them at anything.

Five big wins - Tracking Cape sports beginning with Oct. 24: The field hockey team beat undefeated Polytech 4-0, followed by an emotion-packed Friday night 21-6 football win at Sussex Tech. Sussex Tech played at Cape on Monday in a battle of undefeated JV football teams and Cape won 22-20 as the Ravens were stopped on a two-point conversion with no time left on the slow-moving, onfield “The Day the Earth Stood Still” official clock. Tuesday night at Indian River, Cape soccer stung the Indians 2-1. Then on Wednesday, Beacon hockey won at Selbyville 1-0 in a battle of unbeaten teams. Five great wins for Cape kids, and yes, I know other teams won as well, but big as I am - I can block out the sun - I can't be two places at once.

Points counter points - There should be a godfather of sports (and it should be me) who - after state tournaments are seeded by a points formula which is so fair it's robotic and extracts the human elements - has the power to move pieces on the the board so the best two teams in the state aren’t in the same bracket and two teams from the same conference don’t meet in the first round. Upstate records from Blue Hen and Independent mostly play each other, and some fat records are suspect, just like a fat person hovering over a box of doughnuts. Why do you think Cape football, hockey, and boys' and girls' lacrosse go out of state to find games?

Discipline - A quote I learned from coach George Glenn, “Discipline is what you do for somebody, not what you do to somebody.“ Chirping on the field of play, talking trash, selling wolf tickets is just never cool, but it’s an in-house issue. The best way to get the attention of a high school athlete whose onfield demeanor is out of bounds is to bring the person to the sidelines and keep him or her there. Otherwise it's enabling in its purest form and the athlete will eventually pay the price, as the world always comes to balance to stay in orbit.

Pogo power - Walt Kelly, the cartoonist and inventor of the comic strip Pogo, who died 40 years ago, is credited with some great quotes including, “Looking back on things, the view always improves," "God is not dead, he is merely unemployed," and “We have met the enemy and he is us.” I was touched by the Indian River soccer Senior Night on Tuesday and realized how much high school athletes and teammates and their families are the same. In sports, without an “enemy” there is no joy of victory or total despondency in defeat. Indian River senior goalie Sam Cannon, the last senior introduced, kissed his father, then all the families and players gathered around. Sam’s dad is on lockdown in the power chair, slowed to a stop by ALS. I admit it was a moment that made me cry, and I don’t even know the people, but really I think I do. What’s the Al Jarreau song? "We’re In This Love Together.”

Snippets - I wanted the Red Sox to win the World Series, and now I want them and reporter Erin Andrews to just go away. The game on Monday night outdrew Monday Night Football. Fans are getting bored with bad teams, instant replays, holding on kick returns and irrefutable evidence to overturn the call on the field. To quote from the NFL Advanced Placement Grammar Handbook for color commentators, “Where’d the game go at?” Go on now, git!

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