The rug you’re standing on gets yanked – do you falter and fall?

Sports life lessons mantra pressed into reality check
May 22, 2020

Pulling the rug - Pets and throw rugs account for most unplanned orthopedic surgeries. College athletic  departments under orders from boards of directors sometimes pull rugs from underneath entire programs. The rug is not actually pulled, more metaphorically yanked. Temple axed seven programs in December 2013. All the athletes on campus were called to a mass meeting; no one knew what was coming but they quickly figured it out. Anna Frederick was a freshman scholarshipped lacrosse player sitting in that sea of faces. Young, accomplished college students at the top of their games were getting a dose of a reality they didn’t even know was in play. Gone were baseball, softball, men’s crew, men’s gymnastics, men’s indoor and outdoor track, and women’s rowing. Crew came back when some rich alumnus volunteered to fund it. In 2011, the University of  Delaware reclassified men’s cross country and men’s outdoor track and field as club teams. Furman University, a Division I school in South Carolina, announced May 19 it was dropping men’s lacrosse and varsity baseball, citing financial hardships incurred as a result of the pandemic. Tucker Brown of Rehoboth, son of Doug and Diane Brown and a Worcester Prep grad, was a sophomore on the Paladins lacrosse squad. Regan Lingo, daughter of Ann and Derek of Rehoboth, is a junior lacrosse player at Furman. Sophie Brennan and Meg Lingo out of Worcester are both former lacrosse players at Furman. We all know that  academics is more important than athletics, but it’s also interesting how many decide, “I ain’t staying here.”  

Help me raise money - I won’t donate money toward a marathon run in a faraway place by a local person who lives in my village. You want to go to Australia to run a marathon while raising money for leukemia, well, that's a noble undertaking and good luck with that, but for me I’d rather find a local family dealing with the disease and give the money straight to them. The pandemic and plunging stock market have made fundraising monies and college endowment monies start to disappear like Charmin off the back of a parked Walmart truck. I think a series of “let us race, get out of our face” distance runs could raise all kinds of money to give away to groups that really need it.

Challenging nature - Humans have always been pushing themselves up mountains, sailing through raging seas, rushing into wildfires, trekking across deserts and frozen continents. I see all this stuff as falling into the athletic realm. Some people have a game-day approach to life, often throwing common sense and themselves to the side of the road. Last Tuesday there were small-craft warnings at sea and high-profile vehicle warnings on bridges. The sea gets angry and all crafts become small – don't even bother measuring; you're tossed like a cherry tomato in a garden salad. I watched the pilot launch leave the dock in the canal in Lewes to deliver the pilot to a ship beyond the Ice Breakers. Don’t think for a minute that ain’t dangerous, but at least the pilot gets to climb up a wet ladder once he gets out there. And I saw two Army helicopters eggbeating their way to the open bay in 40-knot winds. What could possibly go wrong? Sports teach us not to be overconfident or overly cautious. It's a tough call but when I’m faced with it, I go sit in my truck. 

Players’ coach - The term usually refers to a coach who puts his players above all else, so why isn’t every coach a players’ coach? Because some are cocky, others are lazy, some are abusive, some never give praise or credit, and others just don’t have a clue. Designating a person “coach” gives that person inside access and a level of control over something an athlete cares deeply about, and often their self-identity is wrapped up in their role on a team. And so why don’t “we” continue to coach our coaches and monitor their behavior? The reason is, that type of interference is considered taboo in the business. The assumption is, “Everyone is doing a good job employing their own style,” except that is never 100 percent true. I’m running around this issue like punishment laps after practice. 

Snippets - Coach Jim Alderman, living on the west coast of Florida, rang the bell after his final chemo treatment following exotic surgery. “I’m looking to put some meat back on these bones,'' said Lineman for Life “Boney James.” No doubt, never doubt, without a doubt, Jim will return to cruiser weight. Why not offer an academic/athletic redshirt to all athletes who were “pandemicked” during the 2019-20 school year? Everyone repeats the year without penalty, unless they don’t want to. Relating running to aging: No matter how hard we train, we just slow down, so we get crazier and run farther and swear we love it except, as Junior sang, “The [running] hangovers hurt more than they used to.”  Runners, take your marks. Ready, set – go on now, git.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter