The Old Man Olympics

Several times over the past few weeks, I’ve done a kayak/bike ride combo. I lock up my bike near my kayak destination (#1 below), then drive upriver, launch my kayak (#2), paddle down the river about 4 miles, lock up my kayak and pedal back to get my car. (Actually, it’s my son’s SUV, because his has a roof rack and plenty of room to stow the bike.)

The fact that the starting and ending points are near breweries is merely coincidental.

The launch point and the destination are both along the same bike path, so I don’t have to dodge cars on my bike ride. And the bike path extends far beyond the kayak launch point, so I can tack on more bike miles if I want. It’s a nice way to spend a weekend morning.

I also bought a $20 waterproof speaker, so the past couple of kayak rides, I’ve been able to listen to music as I paddle along.

If you count the steps I take hauling the kayak to/from the river, it’s basically the same as the Ironman Triathlon. Or the old man equivalent.

Ballers just want to have fun.

If you were a basketball player and you were on a team that won 25 games and made the Sweet 16 your freshman year, and a team that went 6-14 in conference your sophomore year, which would be more fun? The answer is the latter team, at least if your my wife’s cousin’s daughter. (OK, “first cousin once removed” if you must insist on the proper terminology. Who are you anyway… Emily Post?)

Meggie Burgess transferred from Christopher Newport, a school in Virginia that is a perennial D3 powerhouse. Her old squad is ranked #22 in the country, won their conference tourney last night and is headed back to the NCAA tournament with an impressive 23-4 record. But those victories aren’t very fulfilling if you rarely see playing time, and Meggie had the fewest minutes played of anyone on last year’s 25-win team.

“I was sitting on the bench last year saying, ‘I hate this. I don’t know if I want to do this. I don’t know if I want to play anymore.’”

from this Carroll County Times article

She transferred to McDaniel, a D3 school closer to her Maryland home. The team was in rebuild mode, with a brand new coach, but Meggie finally got a chance to contribute, playing in 21 games and averaging 2.5 points and 2 rebounds a game, including a 13-point/3-rebound/2-assist effort in their final game. The WNBA probably won’t come calling anytime soon, but that’s not the point. It’s feeling like you’re contributing to the overall squad.

“Just coming here and being on this team and playing well during practice, and actually getting to participate during practice, was more energizing and more motivating in itself.”

Same article as above.
Photo: David Sinclair

Transferring isn’t always the best option… sometimes you have to work through adversity. That’s not just how sports work, that’s how life works. But in Meggie’s case, she was able to go from a virtual non-entity to a valued member of a team. And that sense of purpose is really rewarding… in sports as well as in life.

“Meggie has grown, I think, more than anybody else in the last couple months… Coming from a situation at Christopher Newport where she wasn’t really in the playing rotation, and then coming here and being able to get minutes and be a contributing factor is huge.”

McDaniel women’s basketball coach Christin Gowan, in the same article.

Besides, Meggie’s new team is called the Green Terror… that’s way cooler than being on a team called the Captains.

The full article from the Carroll County Times is here.

Photo: David Sinclair

Award-winning moments from the 70s

You can keep your Survivor and your Bachelor. The Masked Singer can stay masked forever for all I care. Because way back before reality shows made celebrities out of ordinary people, there was a reality show that turned celebrities into pseudo-athletes. And it was pure television gold. Feast your eyes upon the glory that is… Battle of the Network Stars!

  • Howard Cosell at his bloviating best
  • Robert Urich at his jerky worst
  • Mr. Kotter kicking butt
  • Epstein loving Mr. Kotter kicking butt
  • Richie Cunningham and Laverne together
  • Farrah and Wonder Woman together
  • Kojak, baby!
  • 50% of the “athletes” smoking heaters
  • Schneider from One Day at a Time
  • The original Richard Hatch
  • Bruce Jenner when he was Bruce Jenner
  • “hullabaloo”

Truly a wonderful way to spend nine and a half minutes. Aw, who am I kidding? I watched that sucker three times, just trying to luxuriate in the glorious 70s-ness of it all.

Most of these folks have left us, but Gabe Kaplan is still around. (All that running kept him in shape… or maybe it was the lack of smoking.) I think he should lead the U.S. delegation in the opening ceremonies of this year’s Olympics.

The Joker gets serious

While most of America was watching Hour 88 of the Super Bowl pregame hypefest, Novak Djokovic was capturing his 17th Grand Slam title in the Land Down Under (which might have to change its nickname to the Land That’s On Fire).

I’m happy for “The Joker”… and not just because he’s my doppelgänger. (OK, he’s 23 years younger, much more athletic and much better looking… but if you squint you might see a slight resemblance.)

Djokovic or Dubbatrubba? You decide! Photo: Getty images

Djokovic’s career has overlapped with the heyday of both Roger Federer (20 Grand Slams) and Rafael Nadal (18) and he probably doesn’t get nearly the acclaim he deserves. Slowly yet steadily, he’s been gaining ground on both in overall titles and Grand Slams. He’s six years younger than Federer, and a year younger than Nadal. Before his career is over, he just might be the all-time leader in Grand Slams.

Photo: Getty Images

Novak also seems like a good dude. After the Australian Open final, he wore a jacket with Kobe Bryant’s initials and NBA numbers on it, and in his victory speech he offered some heartfelt words about what really matters in life.

“This is a reminder to all of us that we should stick together, now more than ever, being with our families, stay close with the people that love you. Of course, we are part of a professional sport. We compete and try our best, but obviously there are more important things in life. It’s important to be conscious and humble about things that are happening around you.”

Sounds like a winner to me.

Photo: Getty Images



Mack’s a class act

Chris Mack left his job as Xavier’s men’s basketball coach a couple of seasons ago, to take over as head coach at Louisville. Many Xavier fans still hold a grudge. I never did, as noted in this blog post of mine.

His tweet a couple of days ago is well worth sharing.

“…how lucky we are to breathe, how lucky we are to have problems, how lucky we are to have one another….”

It’s worth noting that Chris Mack played and was an assistant coach under the tutelage of Skip Prosser, at Xavier and Wake Forest. Skip knew that life was about more than sports (as noted in this blog post).

“Coaching isn’t wins and losses,” Prosser said. “It’s teaching. That’s the reason I got into coaching and the reason I’ve stayed in coaching. I hope that I remain in the business of education.”

Like Kobe Bryant, Skip Prosser left this world too soon, dying of a heart attack in 2007. It’s clear from Chris Mack’s Twitter post that Skip’s life lessons live on.

He used to say, ‘Never delay gratitude.’ That was one of his favorite sayings.

NBA all-star Chris Paul, in this 2017 article

Thanks for sharing, Chris Mack. Thanks for sharing, Skip. Pass it on.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Photo: Patrick Semansky

That’s Dwayne Haskins, the rookie quarterback for the Washington Redskins. The dude with the $14 million contract. He’s celebrating his first win as a starter by taking a selfie with fans. Actually, in the photo above, he’s celebrating his first presumed win. There were still two ticks left on the clock. The Redskins had just intercepted the ball. All they had to do was take a knee… but Haskins was too busy taking a selfie to trot out onto the field for the final play.

The Redskins interim coach (yes, it’s been a bad season) couldn’t track down Haskins. (Maybe he should’ve checked Instagram.) So he had to scramble and send the backup QB onto the field to seal the victory.

After the game, Haskins admitted that he thought the clock ran out on the interception. So maybe we should just chalk it up to the exuberance of youth. But seriously, it was only a three-point game at the time. Keep your head in the game until the game is officially over.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maybe I’m overthinking it. After all, with just a few seconds left, what could possibly go wrong?

To me, Haskins sideline antics are a symptom of a larger problem in the selfish/selfie world. Instead of being on the field with his teammates to celebrate his first ever win as an NFL starter, Haskins was hamming it up for the camera… “pics or it didn’t happen.”

I see it all the time at concerts too – people (of all ages, this isn’t an “OK Boomer” rant) whipping out their cell phones to capture video of a band’s biggest hit. Here’s an idea: keep your damn phone in your pants and experience that moment with your own eyeballs! Those memories will be much better than some shaky video footage with distorted audio.

But don’t just take it from me, take it from an expert on living life to the fullest:

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