It Really is HOW You Play the Game….

Let me begin with this:  I don’t have an athletic bone in my body.  So, for many, I have absolutely no cred when it comes to talking about sports of any kind.  That’s okay, I don’t mind talking about it anyway 🙂  In fact, it’s not so much the sports aspect that caught my eye this weekend…it’s more the human reaction to it.  Look, they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can pretty much get the gist of it by reading a chapter.  Satire, mystery, fiction, inspiration…you get the point.  And if the old adage also holds true—“you only get one chance to make a first impression”…then we all might want to check ourselves before, well…you know.


Flashback photo…Raising little Kansas Jayhawk fans.

So, here goes nothing.  Like most people, I’m a sports fan.  My favorite team in this great, big, wonderful world is the Kansas Jayhawks (for a myriad of reasons, but we’ll save that for later date.)  But I also  enjoy many different types of sports and follow several other teams as well.  In my community, circle of friends and in my family for that matter there’s a wide variety of sports fans.  Some of us live for football, hockey, and tennis.  Others can’t get enough NBA, golf and volleyball.  Personally, I’m a college basketball and baseball fan and thanks to my  kiddos, I have a great appreciation for soccer.  Different strokes  for different folks.  Amen, right?  Still, one of the things that always strikes me about some fans is their (my) deep, die-hard passion for our sport of choice.  We not only follow our designated tribe, but we support it with our time, energy and often, our money.  No judgement here…I’m right with you.

Where things get tricky, though, is when we start to dis each other and personally belittle our perceived opponents.  I can hear the groans and comments already…“this is why girls shouldn’t watch sports, you’re ruining the industry, this is how the game is played, if you don’t like it–don’t watch it.”  I hear you and I understand.  But it still begs the question, do we really accomplish anything when we put down our foes?  What does it prove?  Especially, if we’re on the winning end.  I’m asking….  It seems that anytime you give your heart over to something…there’s going to be passion and intensity.  Just like any relationship there will be huge highs and deep lows in fanhood.  And since our teams foster a family like comradery…things can get personal fast.  And not only do they get personal, but they can also get ugly.

This morning everyone is talking about the NFC Championship game and some of the post game antics.  It was a hard-fought game.  Can we agree on that?  Depending upon who you were rooting for (and for the sake of disclosure I will tell you that my team lost), you were either right there with this (now notorious) cornerback, Richard Sherman, or you’ve reactively thrown your support behind a man who many describe as THE  All-American quarterback, Peyton Manning.  It doesn’t take but a second to scroll through any number of social media outlets to see the reactions and commentary.  It’s been less than 24 hours since the hoopla aired, and arguments have been made on both sides.  Some have tried to rationalize and excuse the behavior by calling on player intensity and testosterone.  Others have written him off as classless and a thug.  We’re all entitled to our opinion, it’s how we choose to express it that matters.  In fact, I’ve been sort of surprised to see which side fans, sports gurus and radio personalities have signed on to.  It’s also been equally interesting to see where my own circle of friends stand on these events.

Personally, my heart hurts for Richard Sherman.  I saw his post game interview live like many other football fans.  His moment on national television, the replay of his butt slap, choking gestures and trash talk against Michael Crabtree were truly baffling to me.  Here was a man who had just demonstrated that he’s at the top of his game.  He played a key role in his team moving on to the Super Bowl.  I think the whole world expected him to be excited and amped up (and does it really matter who started it?) but using his airtime to disrespect an opponent…well it doesn’t add up, especially now that countless reports have come out about Sherman’s educational accolades, his communications degree from Stanford and blog writing/interviewing abilities.  In a world where image is everything and first impressions are lasting impressions,  Richard Sherman just cast himself as a football villain and in the hearts of many that role will last a lifetime.  Football players often live and die in the moment.  Whether it’s a consequence of personality or just the nature of the athletes who play the game, he has just categorized himself in a less than ideal light and he may spend his career (and life) trying to undo the damage of a few seconds on national television.

Unfortunately, fanhood means that we’ll never know the hearts and minds of those sports figures we idolize, but let this be a lesson to all of us.  The way you play the game…your game, my game…will be noted.  The world keeps records, it profiles and categorizes, and is not always gracious in forgiving our wrongdoings.  How much more important does it become for each of us to live our lives more thoughtfully.  Our words and actions are and will be judged.  That’s a fact.  If you don’t care, more power to you.  Still most of us, if we truly examine our hearts, want to know that we have lived life well.  As a sports fan, as part of a sports family and as a human being I want to live a life without regret.  We all have our moments…where we wish we had done things, said things, differently.  We can make amends and there are roads to reconciliation and redemption.  Thank God for that.  But wouldn’t it be better if we could just be better people?  If what spills out in our words and actions really reflect our heart wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t look and sound like self-centered, entitled, thoughtless, rude men and women?

I don’t mind telling you that I won’t be rooting for the Seahawks on Super Bowl Sunday.  In the same breath I can tell you that I also won’t be cheering on the Broncos either (I’m a Chiefs fan, and therefore diametrically opposed, you understand.)  Chances are, however, that as sports fans we’ll be checking in on the game, rating the commercials, and eating more than we should.  I’m going to keep Michael Sherman in my prayers and hope that he and all the other athletes on the field play their hearts out, take in and savor their moment in the national spotlight and finally, make good choices…because the whole world is watching (and I’m trying to raise sports fans.)

You have to learn the rules of the game.  And then you have to play better than anyone else.  –Albert Einstein

10 Things You Don’t Know About Me (A Response to the Facebook Numbers Post)

Every once in a while Often, I wish that Facebook had a dislike button. I would use it. I honestly consider myself to be a nice person, but when those little posts roll around asking you to “like if…” I just want to throw something at the computer cringe . I believe this sort of thing to be some form of Facebook spam.  So whenever I see posts asking me to make comments starting with a certain letter of the alphabet or tell a story about the day we met, or for heaven’s sake that “giraffe” thing, etc…I start looking for my imaginary dislike button.   I think on some level I don’t care for these posts because I am private person and something of a control freak, and I don’t want anyone telling me how, what or why I should play along.  But, wouldn’t you just know it, it wasn’t long before I found myself enjoying these messages like everyone else.  Laughing at the quips left behind, chuckling at what a friend or family member said, the inside jokes and (I know) hold your horses…it actually became somewhat fun!  Okay, so it’s a thirty-something sort of fun, but if you’re a part of that club you know we’ll take just about any kind of fun that rolls our way 🙂

The only thing was… I wanted more.  Naturally curious, I wanted explanations to the comments I didn’t understand.  I wanted to be in the know.  And again, I didn’t want anyone to tell me what to do (as in assign me a number)….and so, drum roll please:  I decided to disclose 10 Things You Don’t Know About Me, on my own terms and with explanations.  Here it goes….

Tom Brokaw1.  As an adolescent, I had a huge crush on Tom Brokaw.

Okay, so he’s not everyone’s teenage dream, but he was mine.  So smart, knowledgable and trustworthy.  With a sweet midwestern charm and perfect hair.  He could pull off a taupe suit like no other man I know.  Sure, I was obsessed with Joey McIntyre of the New Kids on the Block and Mark Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris) from Save by the Bell, but so were all my friends.  I thought, however, I just might have a chance with Tom.  I later found out he was married to a former beauty queen!  #hopesdashed

2.  I’m a picky eater, but if my Mom is making Mexican food…I will eat right up to that point just before vomiting.

Who doesn’t think their Mom is the best cook EVER?!  My Mom is a boss in the kitchen and makes the tastiest Mexican food in the world.  As a kid, I would protest and boycott all kinds of food.  I practically lived on grilled cheese (and not the good kind–I had to make mine in the toaster!)  But when Mom made Mexican food I could actually keep up with my brothers in the packing it in department.  Now that I live away from home, I have to make the most of my visits which means eating tostadas (my ABSOLUTE favorite) to the point of nauseousness.

3.  I HAVE to sleep on the side of the bed closest to the bathroom.  ALWAYS, no exceptions.

Without going into a lot of explanation, I have a sadder bladder.  It’s not a fun thing and stress makes it worse.  So whether home or away, near the bathroom I must stay 🙂

4.  I am obsessive about cutting up the plastic ring things that hold together soda, sports drinks, etc.

I went on this crazy save the Earth kind of thing when I was in junior high.  I was pretty fanatical about chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), saving the environment, ozone and climate everything.  In some ways, I was actually before my time.  I’m not sure what started this zaniness, but it might have something to do with Earth Day being so near my birthday.  So here’s where those little plastic ring things come in…I remember seeing a video where the human race was polluting the environment so badly, that tiny, sweet little ducks and birds were getting their heads caught in those rings and dying.  (Think of that one penguin in Happy Feet!)  Absolute sadness.  Always cut the plastic ring things into microscopic pieces.  Have to.

1186_save_us_save_earth5.  I walk out of movies.

Most people figure they pay good money to see a movie and even if it’s bad, they’re going to plant themselves on that seat clear through the end.  Not me.  If it’s trash–I’m out.  If it’s violent–see you later.  If children are being hurt–goodbye.  This doesn’t just apply to movies in the theatre, I’ll walk out on a DVD any day of the week.  I once walked out of a Christian movie–and I’m a Christian.  I can be perfectly happy in a movie theatre lobby.

6.  I can’t stand the song She Drives Me Crazy by the Fine Young Cannibals.

This wretched song came out in the late 80s and was completely overplayed.  I CANNOT stand it.  I hate the video even more.  I’m not sure exactly what has caused such a vile reaction to this particular piece of music, but like it I won’t.  The only thing I like about this song is that when it comes on Pandora or my iTunes radio station, I can actually click thumbs down or (my favorite) select the NEVER PLAY THIS AGAIN option.

7.  I learned how to do the “Twist” from Chubby Checker himself!

As a reporter, I had the opportunity to have many wonderful adventures–and meet some pretty cool people.  The one person I’ll never forget is Chubby Checker.  I’m a huge fan of oldies music and I just adore the “Twist.”  Chubby was performing at a venue in southeast Missouri and agreed to be interviewed to promote his concert.  He personally taught me how to do the “Twist.”  The trick, he said, is to pretend like your stomping out a cigarette with your foot and drying off your rear end while holding a towel.  That, my friends, is the “Twist!”

8.  I have never ridden on a motorcycle.

Many moons ago there was a young man who I as smitten with who rode a motorcycle.  I sooooo wanted to ride on the back!  I thought it would be just about the coolest thing in the world.  In reality, I had just watched the movie Grease 2 way too many times and wanted a “cool rider” of my own.  However, when I had the chance–when the motorcycle and the guy were right there in front of me (offering me a ride no less) I couldn’t do it.  I actually said, “My Mom said I can’t ride on a motorcycle.”  Lost many cool points that day, but (as my Mom would put it) I am still alive and with all my own skin on.  Today, as a mother, I would actually pull my kid off a motorcycle if I had to.  #uncoolmomsrule

9. I once yelled at a guy for trying to offer me drugs.

While at a college party (in a town that was not Lawrence, mind you) a young man sauntered up to me reeking of marijuana and sporting some extremely over-sized clothing.  He started making small talk with my friend and I and in less the two minutes decided we were worthy of retreating with him into a dark alley in order to share a joint.  Maybe it was the fact that I won a SADD contest as a kid, I’m not sure, but something kicked into hyperdrive with his offer.  I am against substance abuse of any kind and this gent had completely offended my honor.  I said (at the top of my lungs), “Do I LOOK like I do drugs to you?” and proceeded to yell at him.  It was one of those screaming rants similar to that of Ralphie on the movie A Christmas Story…I got started and I just couldn’t stop.  Poor kid just slithered away.  Maybe that was an over-the-top reaction, but I take this say no to drugs thing pretty seriously.

10. I want to be a writer, as in real book author, when I grow up.

When I was a kid I used to tell stories to my brothers and sister at bedtime.  I could tell stories that would go late into the night.  We would laugh and laugh with plot changes and strange twists.  The crazier the story, the better.  I also wanted to be a teacher when I was very young (decided kids are too much work), and then wanted to be a lawyer for about a week (couldn’t stand the thought of defending someone who I knew was guilty.)  Next, I wanted to be an author.  The dream seemed too big…so I set my sights on becoming a journalist instead!  I have yet to write a book, but the urge is still there.  And maybe, just maybe when I grow up–I’ll do something about it!

It’s funny (figuratively and literally) what we find out about each other when we simply “play” the game.  Thank you Facebook friends for sharing and for indulging me in “my version” of the game as well.

The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.  Wayne Dyer