Sports booster moms run banquets, capture the memories
Booster Moms of the Western World - Sports banquets with programs, scrapbooks, trophies and gifts happen because the moms are in charge. It's the same reason Thanksgiving and Christmas happen. My stock answer when someone asks me, “Are you ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas?” is “I don’t get ready, I just show up.” I have the same approach to speaking at banquets; the more you prepare, the greater the chance of messing up. Thanks to the boys’ lacrosse booster moms for inviting me. As weird as it may sound – or not – that is the first time in 42 years of Cape varsity lacrosse I was invited to the microphone.
No comparison - Anytime a sports pundit says, “There’s no comparison,” just look out, because the comparisons are getting ready to roll off the press or off the tongues of some flap-jawed analyst. I want to play as well. I’d like to compare and contrast sports that don’t fit together. Early July, we get a break from the NBA and NFL, but it’s more fun to watch the Tour de France, Wimbledon tennis and Major League Baseball all on the same day. The top 50-rated players in men’s tennis are among the most elite athletes in the world. Those guys handle more chances in one five-set match than a baseball shortstop handles in a week. There’s no comparison, except that a baseball is hard and can kill you or break a bone in your body. And if you hit a baseball out of the park, you get to trot around the bases. The professional bike riders are best appreciated when they stand next to normal people. They are lean machines with incredible endurance, and they are out-of-their-mind risk takers.
Rules of engagement - I like tourists at the beach in the summertime. I like talking to them. I don't care if they get stuck in intersections after the light has changed. Sunday morning on the Rehoboth Boardwalk, I was taking photos of the Dave Reynolds Biathlon. And then this happened. Two women on a Rehoboth Boardwalk bench vacationing from New York, one middle-aged, the other her mom, were watching the biathlon. They asked me, "Who is Dave Reynolds?" I told them Dave's story and showed them Dave's people, and honestly, they had tears in their eyes. Don't judge tourists coming to our Sesame Street by the Sea Village, just open the door and let them in – it's called hospitality. You may learn something about yourself.
Storied career as emcee - I am the MC Hamburger of Cape sports banquets; retire the trophy, no one will ever catch me. Friday night, it was the boys’ lacrosse banquet at Irish Eyes’ upper room. I was freewheeling Fredman. I told the assemblage of athletes and parents that I had 40 years of lacrosse stories, but not to worry, I would stop before I crossed over into the new millennium. Most of my stories are funny, but humor is born out of forays into the dark side. The Greeks understood it as the comedy-tragedy dichotomy. Americans are more “make me laugh because I sure don’t feel like crying.” How many coaches have used the sports cliché “We teach life lessons”? And some do, but most have no clue how to connect to kids with lessons that last a lifetime.
Shirt represent - Last week, I wore a black T-shirt with no advertising on the back; on the front in gold letters it read, “Field Hockey,” with the Appalachian State Mountaineers logo in the center. Cape’s Sam Connors sent the shirt my way as a gift for covering her career and a reminder to track her college season, because there’s nothing like being recognized in your hometown. Gramps guy in a black field hockey shirt is straight-up bad, but no one has asked me if I played there. When I wear my Miami Dolphins shirt, sometimes a stranger will ask, “You a Dolphins fan?” I answer, “Actually, I'm Larry Csonka, here on vacation,” and I walk away the same age and size as “The Csonk” with the same flexibility when hoisting myself into my 4Runner.
Snippets - The question has been presented to me: “Do you think Cape should retire the jerseys of certain once-in-a-generation athletes?” The first three names that come are James “Jimmy” Allen, Purnell Ayers and John Bishop of the undefeated 1975 Cape basketball team. My position – and I have no vote, but I do have my own column – is any retired jersey should be displayed as retired but kept in circulation and given to a player to wear as a way of honoring the past. Susan and I are flying to Las Vegas this weekend for the wedding of my great-niece Jackie. The last time I was in Las Vegas was in 1974, a pizza joint on Gay Street in West Chester, Pa. I may end up emceeing a show while I’m out there. I will come back with stories – that is money in the bank. Go on now, git!