Graciousness the upside of good sportsmanship
Good graciousness - The Cape wrestling win at Sussex Tech was in the books 45-21, and I rose up like a fully baked Nic-o-boli in a pizza oven. I watched the ritual handshake line. I saw Tech coach Scott Layfield give an extra hug to Carson Kammerer and Mikey Frederick, congratulating them on big wins. Afterward, Scott came over to me and said, “Cape came over here and kicked our butts,” adding, “Your grandson wrestled great. He’s a tough kid.” And then with the house lights up, a Ravens dad said to me, “Your son Dave is the greatest principal out there, and I mean it. He is absolutely the best.” I later saw the man with grappler Trey Hatfield, who won by decision. I asked Dave, “Did the Hatfield kid go to Beacon?” “No, Woodbridge,” Dave said. “His dad is Sean Hatfield, a Delaware State Police detective. Great guy.” We’re all just muppets in the village moving about and bumping into one another, so just try to be a good guy.
Halls of Fame - I am in a couple, and I think there are too many of them. Sports halls of fame are everywhere. They have become a thing, like high school athletes signing letters of intent or voluntary commitment papers, which I’ll never sign because there are no voluntary de-comittiment letters. Some sports fans that I know and respect think Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And perhaps someday they will be, but to date, most of the Baseball Writers of America haven’t voted no, they just haven’t voted yes. I don’t think I would vote for Bonds or Clemens because of the steroid cloud over their size 8 heads, but I’d certainly listen to arguments from them about the importance of their legacy. Roy Halladay got in after dying while flying high, having the equivalent of “a drug combination similar to a speedball,” according to forensic pathologist Burr Hartman as told to USA Today back on Jan. 20, 2018. “I only get high when I fly” sounds like a country song, but when fans argue, “No Bonds and Clemens, then no Halladay,” the arguments start to wander into the high weeds. Upon reflection, I’m glad I don’t have a vote.
Strength training - Off-season lifting is a must for competitive athletics. It’s bolstered by sound nutrition. And it begins in high school. Strength maintenance during the season should be part of all programs, but let’s be honest, mostly it is not, and that often hides in plain sight because if you are good enough to get on the field, then you have a certain god-given natural strength. The ultimate responsibility to maintain strength and fitness rests with the athlete. And nowhere is it recommended to get drunk and high on weekends with your teammates.
Community kids - My grandson Davey is The Inclusion Kid; just last night he was sitting with the cheerleaders at the wrestling match saying hello to the wrestlers: “Hey, Billy,” He loves Billy Ott, and they all say hello to him. Beau Smith is another local Inclusion Kid. Remember the Nike campaign “Bo Knows”? Beau makes us laugh. We all expect him to be the happy warrior who is just happy to be out in the world among family and friends and his loyal dog Flounder. Beau is tougher than you and me and all of us. Beau deals with pain. He handles it, so “we” don’t see it. He is currently in the hospital and wants to come home. Keep Beau in your thoughts.
Snippets - If anyone knows of an athlete competing for a college team this spring, please give me a heads-up so I can add them to my tracker list. And the same goes for young athletes who turned into coaches, or who left coaching, for that matter. There is obviously a lot of talk about government funding and what’s a good use of taxpayers’ money. We middle-class people pay a lot of taxes over a lifetime, but honestly, I never thought much about how it is spent. I look at it more like rent I pay to live in this country. But I cover more fundraising races than anyone in history, and I’m pretty sure runners pay hefty entry fees because they like to run, not because they are looking to donate to worthy causes. A race for breast cancer in Philly was changed to a walk because not enough people wanted to endure a 5K. They are OK with the donation and raising awareness, but they just don’t want to pretend they are runners.
Go on now, git!