Slow and steady wins the race, blessed with a smile on the face

Operation Enduring Freedom commenced Oct. 7, 2001
September 10, 2021

Blessed - Kathleen Gallagher, 63, passed me last Saturday at the Summer’s End 5K. She was running a 15:37 pace. Kathleen said: “I’m inspired by the person behind me.” A minute later, 36-year-old Trey Jacuson of Seaford came by, a definite Lineman for Life body type. Trey is a former defensive tackle for West Virginia University. Greatest smile and a shirt that simply read, “Blessed.” I always stay to the very end of the race. It's my personal code to show admiration and appreciation. That's where the best stories are. People who are tough, people who have overcome obstacles and are survivors.      

Operation Enduring Freedom - I was in the Baltimore Ravens press box Oct. 7, 2001. The national anthem was performed, then Lee Greenwood sang, “Proud to be an American.” The Jumbotrons across the NFL all showed American planes flying over Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom had begun and it was coordinated with the 1 p.m. kickoffs in stadiums across America. I said out loud, “You cannot understand American culture without understanding how we relate to sports.” Now, 20 years later, the Americans flew the Afghan coop while back home in college and pro football stadiums, fans are doing the “Jump Around” and chasing live mascots while high school bands sing “Hey Baby.”     

Entropy - It’s the concept that nature and all systems constructed by man are beginning to break down the moment they are created. I wrote about this a bunch of years ago while I was in my earlier stages of breaking down. Part of it was incorporated by the crisis teams of the Delaware State Police. It’s tough out there; all things cannot be controlled. There is no such thing as a 100 percent safe situation. I only mention this in a sports column because I am a school and society sportswriting anthropologist. Sports has always been a second-guesser respite and comfort station, but now with social media, there are just so many critics of everything who pile on after the whistle. 

Cleaning up the pile - Football used to be a game where everyone was “live” until the whistle blew. And so if you were standing around counting your change, some head hunter with less sense than pain threshold might come from a long distance and knock you into a redshirt year. That skill was always held in high regard by teammates. But now that is no longer considered fun and will always be flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. But of course it’s unsportsmanlike; that’s the whole point. 

Zombie Jamboree -  A calypso song goes, “Back to back, belly to belly, don’t give a damn cause I've done that already.” But head-to-head or leading with the head or crown of the helmet is called targeting, and if verified upon review, it’s a 15-yard penalty and the player is ejected. A football official doesn’t have the authority to set aside a rule, and these calls are legit. The question is, why are young men playing football flying around so aggressively with evil intent? It cannot be explained by touting the chemical mixture of adrenaline and testosterone. There is something else going on, perhaps something in the diet. I just know it’s not normal.  

Snippets - Emily Ritter, former Sussex Tech and Rider distance star, will be teaching at Beacon Middle School and will be assistant to cross country coach Michelle Beyer-Gillen. College athletics remain weird, with many players into their sixth year and with all the transfers. And then there’s the transfer portal where if a college athlete goes to his school compliance office and asks to be placed in the transfer portal database, the compliance office has to comply. Coaches of college sports have access to the portal and can recruit anyone who's in there. It makes as much sense as Draft Kings and paying scholarship players beyond their free education. It’s a bit of a sucker’s game. Maybe it is more wise to earn academic money and then earn a degree that leads to an actual job. Cape cross country has a total of 56 runners – 33 boys and 23 girls on the roster. Cross country is a popular sport in the state of Delaware, with mostly big meets having separate races for varsity B and JV runners. The DIAA board  is meeting Thursday. Check the Gazette online Friday for any impactful policies related to COVID that may have been enacted. Go on now, git!  

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