Monday, October 23, 2017

Sports Philosopher: Find Your Power

Sports Philosopher: Find Your Power: Touchdown! Music to his ears.           It doesn’t matter what the medium or method this story was brought about, the fact that a playe...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sports Philosopher: You Are Who You Want to Be. Video.

Sports Philosopher: You Are Who You Want to Be. Video.: You can't be who you want to be unless you invest time in yourself. You have the talent, and intelligence in you, now go do it. You can ...

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Commish! A Fantasy Football Story

Like any football Sunday, millions of football experts are adjusting their lineups to catch a glimpse of pseudo GM prowess and glory. Our league had, what we felt as, one of the best and dedicated Commissioners, Doug Gardner, in the greater fantasy football community. We chose the +ESPN Fantasy Football league and we started the inaugural season in 2009. Our first draft included around 6 participants. Participants instead of players would be the better descriptor in this instance. Our league got as big as 11 or 12 and contained friends from the midwest, northwest, and the southeast.
Most Underrated Cable Show


In our first season I claimed the championship and we wanted to name the trophy so we started to debate. I felt, like the NFL's Lombardi Trophy, it should be named after me. However, if you remember the events of 2009, the gentlemen (Used loosely.) decided on "The Bulletproof Tiger". We all wish the heralded and lauded golfer the best and hope he makes a comeback.
The Bulletproof Tiger

The commish's story, for me, dates back to the early part of the millennium. The commish went by many names. In our league he went by a few choice names that would make most people blush. I called him Dougie Fresh. I lived in the Carolinas and he lived in Michigan. For my 10th high school reunion, I came home and stayed with my brother and his wife in Grand Rapids, MI. I met Dougie for the first time. He provided my brother with needed friendship and upon being introduced to him I gave him a big hug because he was a good person to my brother and I will never forget; nor, be able to repay that reward. Upon my nephew's birth, Dougie served as a pseudo uncle and caregiver to my only nephew. That will never be forgotten.

Dougie Fresh was a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs. Being a Cleveland Indian's fan, seeing the Cubs win was a little hard but more bittersweet. However, as I mentioned, Dougie was a huge Chicago sports team follower and diehard Cubbies fan. I grew up 2 hours away from Chicago and listened to Harry Caray on most days on WGN. I have to admit I was emotional seeing the Cub faithful in Wrigley staying after the game and singing in unison. I'm sure Dougie Fresh, like me, got a little misty. 


In the Friendly Confines
Chicago serves as a very special place for me and my wife. She is a southerner through and through and me as a yankee (midwesterner) served as a northern guide through the beautiful city that is Chicago. She ordered a tea with a side of grits one morning and was brought ice tea without sugar and a look of bewilderment as to the order of grits. (It's not unsweetened tea, Lee. It's iced tea. You don't take the sugar out, you add it after it is brewed.)  

Regardless of that incident, the proud southerner fell in love with the city. After deep dish pizza at Gino's East, a taste of the Chicago Dog, a ferry ride from Shed's Aquarium and up the Chicago River and more sites, how could she not fall in love with the city. I didn't mention that the Michigan Avenue shoppes and eateries may have been a factor. 
Announcer Harry Caray Immortalized 

As a child, I felt that the friendly confines of Wrigley field was on my bucket list. She accompanied me to my first game at Wrigley even though I lived within driving distance growing up. We had seats got close to Ferris Bueller seats. I took a photo down the tragic area down the left field foul territory. (Can we welcome this guy back yet?) 

As a further bonus, we went back for the cross town showdown vs. the White Sox 2 years later. It was free t-shirt day honoring our boys in blue, the police officers. It was the first day Aroldis Chapman in relief took the mound on the day he was traded from the Yankees. The crowd stood as he was ready to pitch to the first batter. He hurled over 100mph, struck out the first two, and the last Sox hitter was able to close his eyes and touch the ball on a slow grounder to first to end the game. It was a day a pitcher hit a home run, there was a 2-run shot, and a Grand Slam. I made my stepson a Chicago Dog. However, the important aspect of the visit was my stepson, my wife, and I being able to see the Cubs the year they won the world series 108 years after the last. I thought of Dougie Fresh that day.
Crowd standing in the Background as Aroldis hurls.

Our fantasy football league provided a way to talk and chat every weekend for 17 weeks of the year. We video chatted, live chatted on ESPN's platform and got together a few times. This season, I took the trophy for a second time, and Dougie shipped the "Bulletproof Tiger" to my house from Michigan to the Carolinas. It was the last correspondence I would have with Doug.

Recently Dougie, our beloved commish, had a cyst discovered in his back. He went into surgery. Unfortunately, he lapsed into a coma. He was unable to come out of it and we lost our commish, our leader, and our friend. Unaware, my brother texted me one morning, and whatever I was doing immediately ceased; and, mine, as well the rest of our crew's heart sank into the lowest part of our being. It was a soul sucking, punch in the gut that losing Adrian Peterson in mid season can never eclipse.

I know; as friends, we all loved Doug, and we all have thought about the fact that we could have done more for him or gave him sounder advice about his health and wellbeing. It will help me remember to give to people and be relentless in the belief of what is good and helpful to our friends and others because you never know what a person is feeling. Or more importantly, if you will see them again.

Does it give me solace that he got to see the Cubs win one before he went. Not really, what would give me solace is having our Commish back. I'm sure the trophy will be renamed in his honor and the debate about continuing ended in the unanimous decision to continue in his honor. I recognize the fact that the loss of a friend trumps the importance of a Fantasy Football league. There is no comparison. However, I feel it will always help us remember the guy who only had a little in material possessions, but still gave relentlessly in spirit and love. 


RIP Peace Dougie
G.C.O.A.T. You get first pick every year.

Sports Philosopher: The Commish! A Fantasy Football Story

Sports Philosopher: The Commish! A Fantasy Football Story: Like any football Sunday, millions of football experts are adjusting their lineups to catch a glimpse of pseudo GM prowess and glory. Our le...

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sample the Long Awaited Album Release: Time

My cousin +Daniel Powers Jr is have a huge album release, Time, after years of being a music scene cult hero. It was evident at an early age Dan was not going to be a New York Yankee so he pondered a music career. He built is own thriving small business by constructing his own music school in the NYC.
Here is sample of his upcoming album.

Song: Rescue


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sports Philosopher: Coach's Quotes February 29th

Sports Philosopher: Coach's Quotes February 29th: Thank you Latino Fox News A quick way for any player to make himself better is to think about what he himself doesn't...

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sports Philosopher: A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball

Sports Philosopher: A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball:      As I matriculated through my teens, the need to make money was apparent. I needed a new Centipede game for my Atari console. As a 14 ye...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sports Philosopher: The More the Better

Sports Philosopher: The More the Better: The Bad Boys battle Jordan and the Bulls "Any time Detroit scores more than a hundred points and holds the other team ...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sports Philosopher: Common Acts

Sports Philosopher: Common Acts: Click Here to View Good Character Video       This wrestler, a high school student, believes what I believe. The philosophy that comm...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sports Philosopher: The Commish! A Fantasy Football Story

Sports Philosopher: The Commish! A Fantasy Football Story: Like any football Sunday, millions of football experts are adjusting their lineups to catch a glimpse of pseudo GM prowess and glory. Our le...

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The IM East

     Michigan State University, on the banks of the Red Cedar, holds a dear spot in my heart. I attended the university as a freshman before I transferred to a small college to play basketball. I was asked to play on my friends intramural basketball team. We rolled through the season at the top of the league and entered into the single elimination tournament. The campus at MSU has an estimated 40,000 student enrollment in a given year. Therefore, the bracket was too large to post so we didn't know how far we were progressing.

     We came to the IM West to play a game in the tournament and found out it was a final 4 game. It was against last year's winner and we played well. When we won, the tradition at the MSU intramural league was that the championship was played in the old Jenison Fieldhouse where Magic Johnson, Greg Kelser, and Scotty Skiles used to play before the Breslin Center was built. However, we
played the finals in IM West.

     You may be asking why this article is called IM East. Mainly, it was because after the championship, I was invited out to the IM East which was across the street from my MSU dorm called Holmes Hall. As I walked into the gym to meet my friend there were some other people warming up in the gym. Two players that I  recognized were Steve Smith, NBA All-Star, and Ken Redfield. They were getting ready to play 5 on 5. I watched the first game and the duo lost to guys that were from other colleges around the area.
     I watched Redfield dribble against pressure. He was low to the ground with a wide base. There would be no way for a defender to get threw him to get the ball without contact. He was extremely strong. It was what seperated me from big Division I basketball. I was 30 to 40 pounds lighter with similar skill but less experience.

     I had next and I was guarding Steve Smith. He drove baseline on the right side. I cut him of outside the lane on the low block. He put his elbow into my chest and I stood my ground. Then he showed the pump fake and lowered the shoulder into the chest. He paused to see my reaction but I stood still again. He made sure he froze me and rose to shoot the ball and knocked it down form 10 feet.
I wasn't in their class of athlete and it made the decision to transfer rather than try to walk on much easier. I felt that I walked away from MSU without giving it the college try by not trying to walk on but my road in life was not going to be traditional.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sports Philosopher: Sundays with Art

Sports Philosopher: Sundays with Art:      In the course of human events people will come in and out of our lives. Disney has gained ownership of the phrase "circle of life&...

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sports Philosopher: World Series of Yogi Quote

Sports Philosopher: World Series of Yogi Quote: "I think the Little League is wonderful. It keeps the kids out of the house." -Yogi Berra           My oldest stepson was ...

Sports Philosopher: Tell 'em Bill Murray

Sports Philosopher: Tell 'em Bill Murray: “If you make every game a life and death proposition, you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.” - Dean Smith...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sports Philosopher: Buy Lavar Ball?!?

Sports Philosopher: Buy Lavar Ball?!?:      First, here is the facts of this man's story. He has a son, Lonzo Ball, that is a potential NBA Draft pick and has the chance to ma...

Sports Philosopher: Jadeveon Clowney's Youth Jersey Retirement Show

Sports Philosopher: Jadeveon Clowney's Youth Jersey Retirement Show: Jadeveon Clowney's Sylvia Circle Demons Youth Football Jersey Retirement Sports Philosopher Show. (First aired in 2014 - Director&#...

Jadeveon Clowney's Youth Jersey Retirement Show



Jadeveon Clowney's Sylvia Circle Demons Youth Football Jersey Retirement Sports Philosopher Show. (First aired in 2014 - Director's Cut. The less of me the better.)
+NFL +ESPN

Jadeveon Clowney All-Pro

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Best Skills Camp

Camps Near Charlotte, NC
in Fort Mill, SC
Contact Chris Thomas at christhomas@upymca.org
or call 803-548-8020 ext. 225


Camps Near Charlotte, NC happening in Fort Mill, SC Contact Chris Thomas at:

christhomas@upymca.org 

or call:

803-548-8020 ext. 225

Monday, May 22, 2017

Buy Lavar Ball?!?

     First, here is the facts of this man's story. He has a son, Lonzo Ball, that is a potential NBA Draft pick and has the chance to make millions. Lavar went on talk shows and made statements that brought attention from many people in the sports world and in other interest areas. Some of the attention has been controversial and became a deeper story when he announced his own shoe line that would retail at over an estimated $300 for his new company.
Big Baller Brand Shoes

     Well...this article is about the pros and cons of what Mr. Ball brings to the table. Everyone brings pros and cons to the table. There are no exceptions in life simply due to the fact that there is always; a, yin and yang, right and wrong, dark and light, good and evil etc... However, I'm going to give the reader license to decipher what is a pro and con of Mr. Ball's journey. I'm not going to dictate what that is to the individual reader. I believe in the philosophy of individual thought with the goal of unity.

     Lavar Ball's entrance into the public eye may have hinged upon the success of his son's athletic career. Shouldn't family help family get stronger? Hasn't the original family model fit all people into roles based on what the family needs? Lavar's son is probably going to make 7 figures playing in the NBA, but that's his son's money. Lavar is trying to make his money, to make his family stronger, is that wrong? Are we jealous as a society for his spot in the limelight, and potential to breakthrough as a shoe maker? Is that wrong, Honey Boo Boo?

Lavar Ball & son Lonzo Ball
     The method of his vault into the headlines and discussions on sports talk shows may have put some people off. In fact, that was expressed by opinions in most social media outlets. I tend to think 10 years from now and the impact of this gentleman's pursuit of happiness. Will the manner in which he started his company be the lasting point or will his legacy continue with the growth of his company brand. Do most people know how Nike started? I'm not going to equate Lavar Ball with Nike, but isn't that a good goal to have? Doesn't everyone have to start somewhere? Maybe this is his dream. Didn't he do what he could to seize his moment and this has led to the general population's attention and some discontent.

     Lavar is my contemporary; and, like him, I feel sometimes like I want to leave behind a legacy or pursue what I want to do instead of what I have to do to survive. Kudos to you; Lavar, from my end, for that fact.

     Finally, the thought that there would be no one out there that would buy what this man is putting down can be narrow focused and egocentric in my philosophy. There are many other aspects to this debate that I will leave on the table for further thought and discussion.

So, what is your philosophy on this issue, if it is?

Sports Philosopher: A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball

Sports Philosopher: A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball:      As I matriculated through my teens, the need to make money was apparent. I needed a new Centipede game for my Atari console. As a 14 ye...

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sports Philosopher: Gonna Leave a Mark: An Injury Story

Sports Philosopher: Gonna Leave a Mark: An Injury Story: It was early in Spring of 2008, and my compadres and I were preparing for the Panthers' Flag Football Tournament. The guys I played with...

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sports Philosopher: The Biggest Little Adjustment

Sports Philosopher: The Biggest Little Adjustment:      Basketball players in high school or college can get into a steady role in their programs. Usually it is because of a skill or attribut...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sports Philosopher: The Biggest Little Adjustment

Sports Philosopher: The Biggest Little Adjustment:      Basketball players in high school or college can get into a steady role in their programs. Usually it is because of a skill or attribut...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

How to Acquire Basketball IQ

      The Coach's Award, the son of coach, a high basketball IQ are accolades and monikers that are used to define some players. As a coach you love having these kind of players, but not too many because sometimes too many coaches spoil the soup and you have to have some guys that are just unconscious or just 'go' without any caution. However, as I watch young players matriculate the one thing that I read in their body language and eyes when they are told that a good player has to have a high basketball IQ is one of desperation and/or depression. Also, they get a little self conscious due to being scrutinized.
Website Credit

     In my playing days I used to think to myself about ways to raise the level of this intangible item. The tangibles are obvious; like strength, fundamentals, and others that may be trainable, but what's the best way to coach the enigma that is Basketball IQ? I've listened to the old guard of coaching. Bobby Knight, Pete Caril, John Thompson (80s) and more talk about the mental aspect of the game. I learned a lot about practice techniques, but what I want to speak to is how do they get it when they are not with you as a coach. Here are 5 things I've found that works and one "never fail".

1. Have them become a student of the game by watching games and listening to experts calling the game. Even better have a parent that grew up with the game sit and talk them through game situations. In other words: The what, why, and how things happen at certain times of the game." 

The What: What just happened?
The Why: Why did the coach make that decision?
The How: How can they come back or keep the lead at each phase?
     What games should they watch or on what level? Well, I tend to lean towards the college/high school game as a good learning tool for young players. Do not ignore the NBA because nothing is as entertaining as watching professionals do their thing. I consider the NBA something they can learn from but it is more entertainment value and they go until June. March Madness ends the college and high school games.

2. The experts that call college games are varied in what you will hear. At 5 years old I was learning the game next to my dad on the couch when the experts where Al Mcquire, Dick Vitale, Tommy Heinsohn, and even Dick Stockton but I am mentioning mostly color commentators. Today you have some good ones for the college game: Dan Dakich, Jay Bilas, Clark Kellog, Bill Raftery (who also makes the list of guys I would like to be at an Irish Pub with) and Doris Burke to name a few. A recent favorite that I came across is former Final Four Illini member Stephen Bardo. (Dick Vitale is still around, baby!) These commentators really have a knack of including ways that kids can learn the game while watching the college game.
Nike Basketball Link

4. Don't stick to the Duke vs. Kansas, Kentucky vs. North Carolina blue blood games. Throw in a LIU-Brooklyn vs. Stetson, a Fordham vs. St. Bonaventure, a Marquette vs. Dayton once in a while. When Dakich does a game he will even go out on to the floor during a time out, others do this too, and teach the game and provide examples of game situations. He played Division I and coached as well so he has a passion for teaching. Bilas does too (I've watched him in action at the Bilas Camps at Queens University).

5. What you will see in a kid that does this, even once a week, is developing a
passion but also will get used to coach speak and the flow and decisions to be made.

     Lastly, developing a basketball IQ at an early age really helps kids understand the flow of a game. They pick up rules and nuances. The biggest thing I picked up from my dad and experts is how important time and score is in a game. Also, during elementary through Junior Varsity, or close to Junior Varsity, coaches should not have a high emphasis on win loss records but winning should still be the goal and the emphasis should be on skill development. Participation awards are not what I prefer. As kids grow up basketball is not or shouldn't be the only sport they play. As they get older they may still be doing 3 sports so time for skill work will decrease in the offseason.

     The "No Fail": If your kids have guts and you trust the venue, have them walk out with a ball to a court. Pick out a spot where 2 to 3 40 to 50 year old basketball people are shooting around. If the kids can talk them into playing 2 on 2, 3 on 3 or other competition against them this helps every time. Make sure you mix the teams because the old timers will be teaching your kids the pick and roll, give and go, box outs, man to man defense, help defense, switching on picks and they will do it like grumpy old dudes so it's hilarious. Coaches will recognize these fundamentals early in tryouts. I did this a lot at an inner city outdoor park when I was a kid. I was lucky though, those old guys were really interested in teaching while playing. They knew they could win but they wanted us to succeed and gain confidence while playing. Whoever those old guys where with the cotton knee braces with the hole in the patella at MLK Park in Grand Rapids (the 616) I'd love the chance to thank them. Of course, as I mention in the article entitled "The Biggest Little Adjustment" my Dad was the primary which made me lucky. They didn't care what I looked like. They saw a kid that needed an applied version of the enigma that is the "Basketball IQ".

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Biggest Little Adjustment

     Basketball players in high school or college can get into a steady role in their programs. Usually it is because of a skill or attribute that a player brings to the table. It may start as soon as their freshman or sophomore year. As a player, I was mostly given the role of a shooter and the biggest little adjustment came from my dad.
     Growing up, my family lived in a modest home in Michigan. Our neighbors spent money on landscaping and lawn services to spruce up their places. My father, who grew up in the greater New York city area, invested his money in a 20x30 asphalt basketball court with a cemented pole and hoop.
Sault Ste. Marie Macker (Bro in Purple)

     My dad played basketball, of course, growing up and would be seen for hours in the summertime shooting in the park. He told me he didn't really work on ball handling because in games he would just catch and shoot from anywhere. In his first year at the University of Dayton, he attempted to walk on to a Final Four team that lost to a John Wooden UCLA dynasty team. The summer near the tryout my father cut his toes off under a lawn mower. He still attempted to try out and was the last 5 to be cut out of a group of walk ons. The team didn't take any walk ons that year.
     Hall of Fame Coach Don Donaher came to my father and asked why he didn't mention his foot injury after the coach saw him taking off his Chuck Taylors. My dad looked at him and said, "Would it have made any difference?!?", with an inflection that most New Yorkers are known for.
Dad circa 1980
      In my senior season I was averaging in the high teens and I was on the scouting reports for opponents. During the middle of the season my shot was not falling consistently. My father had a flight out each week to the West Coast for his job, and would take the red eye in to see my games. One day, he took me into the company's gym and watched me shoot a couple of shots. He mentioned two or three things that were little adjustments which I could implement without changing my shot in form.
     Later that week, I put up 25 points in the first half in a 32 minute game. I ended the game with 30 and really have not harkened back as to the reason. My dad is known for the sarcastic northeastern jabs and we tend to go back and forth so melodramatic moments rarely occur. However, I can take my players aside every now and then, just like my dad did for me, and make little adjustments that usually pay off for the kids I coach.
     At 6'2 and the youngest of two sons, I am still the shortest of the males in my family. My dad recently got taller 3 weeks ago with a bilateral knee replacement at the age of 71. He is already out blowing leaves in his yard which exemplifies the toughness that has served as an example for me time and time again. I didn't need Sylvester Stallone and a pump up speech I just watched my dad work over my lifetime. My favorite dadism, among others was, "This is the first day of the rest of your life."
Brother in the Scrubs at the Woodstock of Bball
I get a chance to thank him for all of the big little adjustments he has allowed me in my lifetime, even though he won't accept the sappiness. Also, Happy Birthday Pop! and soon you will be hitting 'em straight again on the fairway.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sports Philosopher: Gonna Leave a Mark: An Injury Story

Sports Philosopher: Gonna Leave a Mark: An Injury Story: It was early in Spring of 2008, and my compadres and I were preparing for the Panthers' Flag Football Tournament. The guys I played with...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball

     As I matriculated through my teens, the need to make money was apparent. I needed a new Centipede game for my Atari console. As a 14 year old, my entrepreneurial neighbor, and one of my best childhood friends, decided to take an exam to be graded as a caddy for Blythewood Country Club in Rockford, Michigan.


     To work at 14, I had to have my school sign off on a work permit to work underage. He made the A Caddy list on the exam, and I made the B Caddy list. It meant he made 2 dollars more a round and got preference when golfers had their tee times. 







Here was the Sunday and Saturday schedule for me and him:
  • 5AM: We would hop on our bikes and make the 30 minute ride to the Country Club. 
  • 5:30-5:45: We would get on the Caddy list by signing in at the starter shack. We would then go to the Caddyshack with all of the other caddies. This is before the days of the entertaining smart phones and YouTube. 
  • 10AM: I would get to carry 18 holes.
  • 3:30PM: Walk off the course after 18 holes carrying a 20 pound bag for 5 hours.
  • 4:00: Receive 10 dollars that included a 2 dollar tip for my trouble.
  • 4:30: Hand in the chit/ticket to the starter and get the cash.
  • 5:00 to 5:30: Arrive at home after the bike ride on my Schwinn ten-speed. (It took longer getting home because East Beltline was a major road that had a large incline going back. Going was a downhill ride in 60 degree breezes which felt like 45 degrees going down the 1/2 mile downhill ride. My hands would turn purple.)
     What made it interesting was occasionally there was a 60 something year old caddy that would drive up in his old Cadillac and wait a few minutes for his clients. I was immediately interested in his stories and experience. It was more interesting than hearing other grouchy kids complain about their situations. He would talk about how the world really works and how he makes a living as a caddy. We would make small talk, and then he would grab two bags, sling them both on his shoulders, and he would walk up to the first tee. His best advice to me; was, and I am quoting as close as I can remember, 

"Sometimes, young man, you have to thrive to stay alive, but no matter how high you go, stay humble and most strife can be eliminated in your life."

     Seeing him walk away, at his age, with those two old leather bags that weighed more than the bags I had to carry made my burden a little less daunting mentally. I carried a bag for a judge a few times. He wore all purple, he had a
purple bag, and he had purple head covers. One day, around the 5 hole, I notice that one of the head covers was missing. I informed his honer, and told him I would be back. At that moment, I sprinted in the wrong direction dodging coming shrapnel from bad shots. I did realize the danger, I wasn't that ignorant. 600 yards of sprinting later I found the purple head cover. After 700 more yards, doing my best Usain Bolt impersonation, I reached the foursome who had pressed ahead. 



     From 10AM until 3PM I would get dragged along a course with gentleman who wanted to take as long as possible. Probably because of their long work weeks I assumed. I tried to make it as enjoyable as possible even during the hunting for balls under tall grass and swamp like terrain. Charlie Hustle was the term used by the Club's Golf Pro who was in charge of the Caddies. 

     The average day in the life as a 14 year old caddy included a 5AM departure from home and a 5:30PM arrival time. It amounted to 12.5 hours and 10 dollars for the day. Less than a dollar an hour. I would get 8 dollars as the minimum, and the members would usually tip around 2 dollars for my trouble. As I shot hoops in our backyard at the end of the day, I couldn't raise my arm over my shoulder. It would be limited due to the bag that was slung over my shoulder.
     The best experience I had was caddying for the open tournament the club held at the end of the season. I had a young gentleman in his late 20s or early 30s. He didn't make the money that the other clients had. He was a working man. I recall his name, Mr. Vanderlaan. It ended up in a tie and needed to go extra holes to decide the tournament. The rule for this tournament was to play a nine hole playoff. It was already 5 o'clock. He was so positive, and accommodating. He even bought me a burger and chips at the turn. I regret now that I turned down the playoff because I would be late for dinner and my Mom's unbelievable cooking. He paid me the best fee I received in my short two month career as a caddy, 20 dollars. It could have been more if he won first. 

     I never found out if he came out on top. Probably because I didn't want to know how much cash I squandered for Italian food which in retrospect is probably more valuable to me now. My mother is up for sainthood on cooking alone. Add in the love and caring she should be a shoe in.
   
     As I sit here with two stepsons and a host of students and basketball players in the last 20 years, I can only wonder how much my standards have caused a different perspective on work ethic with which they may not be accustom. I almost feel sorry for them. 

     This experience causes me great pleasure when I golf still today or watch Caddyshack. Now, when I golf with my long time friend and a shot goes awry, I turn to him and often ask where that ball went, and he replies quit wittily, 

"In the lumbar yard, Danny." 





Sports Philosopher: A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball

Sports Philosopher: A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball:      As I matriculated through my teens, the need to make money was apparent. I needed a new Centipede game for my Atari console. As a 14 ye...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Best Season

          A few years ago, after 16 years as a volunteer basketball coach, before I was hired by a high school; I thought I would take a year off to expedite my late in life career change into education. A neighbor approached me and said that the local community church had a need for a volunteer basketball coach, of course.
          As I walked into the first practice, I met the kids in the classroom to get introductions out of the way. One young man caught my attention. He caught my attention not because of his basketball abilities, but it was his situation that sustained my interest. These were high school seniors and this boy's father had coached him for the past several years. I didn't know the community that well, but from what I understood his dad was a good linebacker for the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame. On its own, that fact was not extremely significant, but in the previous summer the boy's father lost his battle to cancer. So his dad didn't choose to stop coaching his son, it was not possible.
          At the first practice I posed the question as to the name of the team. There were a few answers but not from the boy. We couldn't agree for the next two practices. During the end of an intense third practice, as in every practice, I gathered the group of pumped up players and came together close inside the jump ball circle with arms raised to count down from three and exclaim our team unity.

I simply said, "On three we say our team name."

One player asked what it was and I simply stated, "We're the Irish...On three..."

To see the boy walk off with his buddies with a grin bigger than his face is something that stirs emotion when I think back on that season. We barely won a game, but I looked forward to watching the tremendous heart that team played with every game, and felt extreme pride every time we walked off the court. Yes we lost more than we won, but those guys played with the attitude and heart that champions should play with every day.
          Bless you boys, may the road rise to meet you, and may those Irish eyes smile upon you every day young man.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sports Philosopher: A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball

Sports Philosopher: A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball:      As I matriculated through my teens, the need to make money was apparent. I needed a new Centipede game for my Atari console. As a 14 ye...

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sports Philosopher: Gonna Leave a Mark: An Injury Story

Sports Philosopher: Gonna Leave a Mark: An Injury Story: It was early in Spring of 2008, and my compadres and I were preparing for the Panthers' Flag Football Tournament. The guys I played with...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Gonna Leave a Mark: An Injury Story

It was early in Spring of 2008, and my compadres and I were preparing for the Panthers' Flag Football Tournament. The guys I played with were part of a tailgate that I attended for Carolina Panther games.
Needless to say, I was 10 years past my athletic days, and years of a stagnant lifestyle showed a top heavy, mid thirties weekend warrior. Basically, I was out of shape for competition.
I was at the Defensive Back position and my man caught a short 5 yard out. I came up to make the tackle. As I ran up, I made a stop and felt an odd twinge. During the twinge I small click sound came with the pain. I laid on the ground and my right knee just felt off center. No one was hip to my plight as I laid with my legs straight while sitting up.
As I surveyed my right knee the knee joint looked off center. I grabbed my right lower leg and pulled it away from the upper leg trying to separate the lower leg from the upper leg to reset the knee joint. I wasn't writhing in pain so I thought it was a sprain. However, the out of line look to my knee prior to manually reseting it left me a little inquisitive as to the nature of the injury. 
Refusing to believe I had lost ambulatory independence I stood up and walked off the field trying to regain normal gait. After the practice was finished I even went to the local pub to get a bite to eat with my teammates. I decided to wait a couple weeks to see if the swelling and the pain would subside. Needless to say I, after the two weeks I decided to set an appointment with a orthopedic specialist. He decided to schedule an MRI and found that I had a full tear of my ACL.
I decided not to reattach the ligament and go about life as normal taking a regular regimen of Ibuprofen. A couple years later, I started to get back into shape. The weight started to come off and I felt really good. At the playground, I was able to rise above the rim again and there was a pickup game at Carmel Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC on 51 at 6AM that I decided to join.
On a routine layup, after the ball was stolen from my man, the knee took a right turn as I was running straight. I couldn't tell the angle of improper direction it took but the other players said it was really gross. It happened again, and this time I went into shock. One of the big men started to lay on top of me because I got extremely cold. When I tore the ACL, it wasn't that painful. However, the two injuries playing at the church cause me to crawl into the fetal position screaming in pain.
Eventually, I crawled home, called in to work, and rested. Needless to say, I stopped playing. Four years later, I had found that the ACL had gotten hard and was poking into my meniscus. Also, the meniscus both medial and lateral, were tearing because of it.
This year, I am finally going to repair the knee. I go under soon and I actually looking forward to alleviating 10 years of hobbling and buckling in pain just walking down the sidelines as I coach basketball.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sports Philosopher: A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball

Sports Philosopher: A Caddyshack Life, Be the Ball:      As I matriculated through my teens, the need to make money was apparent. I needed a new Centipede game for my Atari console. As a 14 ye...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sports Philosopher: Sundays with Art

Sports Philosopher: Sundays with Art:      In the course of human events people will come in and out of our lives. Disney has gained ownership of the phrase "circle of life&...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sundays with Art - Revisted

     In the course of human events, people will come in and out of our lives. Disney has gained ownership of the phrase "circle of life" which can be a sorrowful part of the human experience when the cycle ends for loved ones, and this story is about a close call. One of the happiest events for some is watching football with friends and family. During the first 5 years that I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, I spent my Sundays with Art and his family watching the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.
     Art's son was my roommate in the area of the city called 4th Ward. It was a 10
minute walk and over the years our tailgate grew very large. The tailgate became known as the Tailgate Union. I traded a golf bag for an old grill from a neighbor and we named it "Sparky". The grill hung in there for a couple of years until the tailgate went big time and got the industrial grade meat sizzler.
     My roommate's family had acquired 6 season tickets since the inception of the Panthers inaugural season in 1995 where they played in Death Valley on the campus of Clemson University. For 8 Sundays a year I was able to sit next to Art. Art was never a man of many words but his conversations were precise and offered quick information. I appreciated this more than he knew.
     Usually, as the Panthers played he would lose the ability to create conversation because at times he would become internally disgusted and refused to say what he was thinking. The other moments that called for celebration, Art seemed to be in a state of relief rather than in an ecstatic state. He is a former military man and his other son is now a Naval Commander. The tickets were originally bought to include his son and wife but like his father he has been moved from station to station. I guess you could call me the pseudoson.
     The seats were in the upper bowl in the corner of the end zone and everyone in our section over the years started to become family and even exchanged Christmas cards. Sundays with Art was sacred to me and my friend. Except for "third down guy', who started to annoy us after a while, there was peace and solidarity in our area mixed with excitement and the occasional disappointment. Art and I sat through a 1-15 season and a season where the Panthers went 8-0 at home.

     My biological father knew my roommate very well. My father, Art, my roommate and I went to play golf together on occasion. I was by far the worst of the foursome. They invited me to Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Dinner and the occasional cook out. I was a 20 something at the time and well in to the night life of a single bachelor living uptown. Therefore, Sundays with Art provided a level of serenity and family. Art's wife, was very; loving, caring and God fearing. There was a small feeling of shame when we would show up at kickoff still having the feeling of the night hunting for willing female companions at the local pubs. Also, when the Tailgate Union ramped up there was a hint of us already being lathered up, or lost in the sauce. However, looking up into the blue Carolina sky on Sundays was a site to behold. There wasn't a church that could help me appreciate the wonders that laid before me. I would sit back and enjoy the time that would take me away from the normality of everyday life. I am now, more than ever, thankful that I had that time with Art on Sundays.

   The most memorable Sunday came after the return of the NFL after 9/11. I have two grandfathers who have passed, but both were WWII veterans. One, a POW in Germany for 12 months, and the other was stationed on a ship in the South Pacific. When the flag was laid out and all of the stadiums were singing
the National Anthem synchronously, I became openly emotional. The emotion started as sorrow, then elation and pride when the anthem finished with the roar of the crowd and the fly over. The moment rang deep due to the fact that I stood with Art, who was former military, and having a father who was born in Manhattan. Also, I have family living near the site and worked occasionally in the towers.
     Sitting next to Art's wife one sunny afternoon, I notice when I was talking to her she wasn't responding. She started to quickly nod her head without speaking. I mentioned to Art that I felt there was something wrong. He left the game and we later found out she had a tumor pressing on the part of the brain responsible for speech. She pulled through like a champ because not only was she loving and caring, she was also tough as nails.
     As stated in the opening, the circle of life has an end that brings life. Right now Art is fighting for his life after suffering a massive heart attack. I was alerted by a text while I was teaching class on a Friday morning by my long time friend, that his father was in critical condition. He has been texting me updates on a daily basis. Art will not go down without a fight and getting back to those seats in Section 524 might not be a reality even if there is a recovery.
     As I sat there during those years, I never really thought that Sundays with Art would ever come to an end. I can never go back to the time of conversations, laughter and the sarcastic quips we used to throw at each other from time to time. Engrained in my mind is the bright Carolina sunshine reflecting off of Art's white Panther polo shirt and seeing him smile as he sat next to me in those seats. There are some memories that become burned into your mind, that is one I don't care to lose.            
     His son has told me that Art is not alert enough to receive visitors and my fear is that the sun drenched memory of Art on those Sundays may be altered by the struggling visage of my Sunday buddy. However, if my friend were to text me at any moment that he is able to receive guests I would be there at a moments notice on any given day, not just Sunday.

You Belong There, Just not Soon
*Special Update: Since writing this article in February of 2017, I regretfully report that Art passed away in February 2018. Surviving his major heart attack gave him one more season and one more Christmas with his family. On opening day of the upcoming season, the Carolina Panthers play the Dallas Cowboys at home
     I went to dinner with his son last week with my wife and I asked if he had 2 tickets available for the opener. He said he had 2 tickets but only one was up for sale. No more questions needed to be asked. We then simply raised our glasses at Alexander Michaels restaurant in the neighborhood where Sundays with Art began.
God Speed My Friend



Friday, February 10, 2017

Sports Philosopher: My Teammate, My Friend, Forever

Sports Philosopher: My Teammate, My Friend, Forever: We started playing against each other in the third grade. For almost a decade in duration we competed against each other on the basketball c...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

My Teammate, My Friend, Forever

Sports Philosopher: My Teammate, My Friend, Forever: We started playing against each other in the third grade. For almost a decade in duration we competed against each other on the basketball c...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sports Philosopher: Exploit This

Sports Philosopher: Exploit This: "I knew I was dog meat. Luckily, I'm the high-priced dog meat that everybody wants. I'm the good-quality dog meat. I'm the ...