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 ...