Can Johnny Come Out and Play

When I was a youngster, kids in my neighborhood used to knock on my door and ask my mother if I could come out and play.  Most of the time she was willing to get my rambunctious body as far away from her breakables as possible and gladly granted the request.  I gladly sprinted out of the house and spent the entire day playing football, basketball, tackle the man with the ball, or whatever the game was to be played.

Even though I was kinda small, when it came time to pick teams it didn’t take long for me to be chosen.  Most of the time I did the pickin. But even when my gang played with my brother’s buddies, which were two or three years older, I was drafted pretty quickly.  Fortunately for me, I had developed a reputation for being a “tough little nut” and I usually could hold my own with whomever the competition was against.

I loved it when the game was “tackle the man with ball”.  I certainly enjoyed my turn with the ball in my hands, but tight boundary lines from the front yard prevented me getting loose too often. I just needed a little more space, then I’d be hard to catch.  I’d later find out a 100 X 53 yard football field was more to my liking. Having the ball in my hands was a really good thing. But on those hot, dry, windy, west Texas summer days, it was the tackling part that got my blood flowing.  I played the game as if we had full pads on and loved every minute, always disappointed when the game was called and everyone went home.  On my trip home, kicking rocks in the in the street as I went along, I’d usually realize I had been given a bloody nose or lip, always a few scrapes and abrasions on my elbows and knees, and every now and then a finger would be sticking out the wrong way.  No problem, my brother had taught me how to press on the knuckle and it would pop back in place.  I wore the blood on my t-shirts as a badge of honor.

As I got older and began to play for my school, I learned that no matter what the level of competition, I could play.  It didn’t matter what the sport, if it had a ball in it, I could play it.  My style of play was always hard and 100%.  It also meant that because I loved playing so much, I could let my hidden personality out and my style of play became a little flashy, somewhat showy. Not that that was my intention, but because I had so much fun playing and competing, it just came out that way.  I guess I didn’t realize how spectators were seeing me. I always seemed to be the one player the fans from the other team always picked out and expressed their opinion about me.  Usually not in a very “Christian” manner.  I guess I was the Charles Barkley of my time.

This was especially true on the basketball court, where fans were  a lot closer to the action and could be seen and heard from easily.  ”Stop that little HOTDOG!”  ”Knock that COCKY kid’s head off!”  ”Kill that little jerk!”  ”Somebody just stop him!”  One time, I was the focus of a riot that broke out after one of my games…and which we incidentally won.  The entire stands emptied out on to the court and it was my family and me against the home team and their crowd.  Not sure if we won the riot though.

Johnny Manziel! “Johnny Football”, is a guy I can relate to.   Every time Johnny kicked off, tipped off, teed off, or led off, someone from the other side didn’t like or appreciate his style of play.  They thought the kid was cocky, arrogant, flashy, and a spoiled brat.  He is the hated one, the resented one, the one to blame, the one to pick on, the one to root against.  My own small way, I can empathize with him. Johnny, like me, is someone that just loves to play.  When you love it that much, you just have fun and let it go. You don’t think about what it looks like, or how your opponent reacts to you, or how fans are screaming at you. You just play!

Manziel is a first round draft pick.  The haters will tell you all their reasons he will fail.  He’s too small, he’ll get injured, he’s too spoiled, he has too much fun etc… These are the people that will never see him as successful. They will never afford him a chance to be good.  They have already made up their minds. Most of them “hate cuz they can’t relate”.  I just made that up…. but it seems to fit in this case.

They themselves have likely never loved anything or have been as passionate about anything in their life. So relating to a guy who lets it all go when he plays is a foreign concept to them. And if your team is on the other sideline, you really hate him.

I remember those euphoric feelings of being in the middle of the game, and the excitement and energy running through my veins.  It’s better than any drug on the market. I think Johnny Football plays with that same rush of excitement. And when he plays…..it just comes out.

What we all need to do is simply walk up to Johnny’s front door, knock, and ask…. Can Johnny come out and play?  Because if Mom says yes,….. then we are in for the time of our lives.

Going Out in a Blaze of Glory

Jon Bon Jovi’s hit song, “Blaze of Glory” reminds me of the current climate of the college football head coaching carousel.   Each year major college football, as well as all levels of football, start thinking about making coaching changes.  Lose a big game and the student body starts yelling for your head.  Lose to an FCS school and the alumni and boosters (money people) start calling for a change.  String together a couple of disappointing seasons…..speed dial Mayflower again.

Bo Polini at Nebraska and Mack Brown of Texas are leading the D-I charge this year.  In the case at Nebraska, Coach Polini certainly isn’t helping by publicly cursing the fans and alumni.  In Coach Brown’s case…..they just need a win. Coming out of the National Title game in 2010, a three year record of 18-16 is not up to par for Longhorn nation. No one knows that more than Brown.  Throw in a not so stellar record against rival Oklahoma, including a few embarrassing national TV whippings, and add the overnight sensation from the Longhorn step child, Texas A&M, and you’ve got a formula for “adios” and “sayonara”.

It is my sense from being in the coaching profession myself, that coaches, especially high profile coaches, are pompous, arrogant, egotistical, and conceited. And yet It is with these characteristics firmly grasped in hand that allow these unique people to build and sustain their football empires. Each possess a belief in themselves and their ability to succeed which drives them to brazenly achieve the goal. The end result is all that matters.  It is while chasing the “end result” with this passion that rules can be blurred, ignored, or even blatantly broken.

These characteristics are also why sometimes these great men and their careers end, as Bon Jovi sings, “In a Blaze of Glory”.  They are blinded by their passion, their desires, and their egos.  While they could never be as accomplished without these traits, they are consumed by them and will usually lead to an inferno at the end.  It may be Bo Polini who can not control his temper and language whereas he publicly ridicules the very fan base and alumni base that sustains his program. “Never bite the hand that feeds you”, Bo! Or it may be Mack Brown who simply can not let it go. After all, who can blame a guy who sacrificed so much to build the University of Texas into a national brand again. I sure can’t.

But each are just selfish enough and therefore blinded into believing they, and only they, can lead these empires. Only they are worthy of such proclaim.  But history tells us that time moves on and everyone is replaceable. They replaced Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, John Wooden, Bear Bryant, and Bud Wilkinson.  Someone came after Darrell Royal at Texas and someone followed Tom Osborne at Nebraska. It is not a question of if, but when.

The fan’s side of things will always read like this…

“You are such a good friend that if we were on a sinking ship and there was only one life jacket….
I’d miss you heaps and think of you often.”

In other words, a fan’s perspective will always be, “what have you done for me lately”.  For coaches, it might be apropos for them to listen to the words of a great American poet and lyricist, Jon Bon Jovi.

Where there is a Santa Claus there is Fun

My Dad’s father, we called him Granddaddy, died when I was only seven years old.  I do not have many memories of him. My most vivid memory was seeing my Mother console my Dad as he sobbed uncontrollably kneeling at the headstone of my grandfather. The earth was still fresh on the grave and the gray November skies were cloudy and cool as we had stopped by the cemetery on our way home out of town from the funeral.  My Dad’s hands were covering his face and his body was trembling. The tears came freely. It hurt me to see my Dad in so much pain. The scene is embedded permanently in my head. I can’t recall seeing my Dad cry like that ever again.

My granddaddy was a butcher by trade, but his passion was music.  He learned to sing and play the guitar by listening to Jimmy Rogers records.  The country western singing giant was a valuable influence on my Granddaddy.  His singing style and his ability to yodel were passed on through those records. I guess Granddady was pretty good too because he ended up with a local radio show, and became known as Zeke, the Singing Butcher. Unfortunately for me, I don’t ever remember hearing Zeke sing or play.

My Dad has told me that my Granddaddy was a lot of fun to be around.  Where ever he went or who ever he was around, he knew how to have fun.  I can remember only one such time.  It occurred on a family visit to see him and my grandmother during Christmas.

If you were anything like me, when I was a kid on Christmas Eve, the excitement and anticipation were practically unbearable.  We were 500 miles away from home on this visit and I was more than a little worried that Santa would not know where to find me.  My parents tried to convince me that our forwarding address was sent in advance to the North Pole and there was nothing to worry about.  I guess the concerned look on my face offered a grand opportunity for my Granddaddy to have some fun with his grandkids .

So he announced to us that he would get proof that the one and only Santa had indeed visited the house that Christmas night. But we would have to get in bed and go to sleep really fast.  I was skeptical of his proclamation, but wanted to believe it bad enough that I accepted his challenge and went right to bed.  My brother and I were sharing a room that night and our bed was under a window.  We kept looking out of the window, desperately searching the sky and spotting the red light that we imagined being Rudolph leading the sleigh to our door. We finally lost the battle to stay conscience and fell asleep. The night went by fast.  We were up on Christmas morning by 6:30 AM.  We were there to verify the proof.

My parents and grandparents were already at the breakfast table when I arrived on the scene and eagerly asked if Granddaddy had gotten the proof.  He said he had and directed me to the coffee table in the living room. There on the coffee table was a half drunk glass of milk and some cookie crumbs in the platter.  I was instructed to look under the magazine.  As I lifted a corner of the magazine and peered under it, I saw a patch of gray hair. After a confused glance at my Granddaddy, he told me this story.

As Santa came in and started setting out the presents, Granddaddy hid in the closet and watched.  When Santa had finished his work, he quickly went to the front door…….This obviously explained how Santa got in, as the house my grandparents lived in did not have a fire place….one mystery solved.  He went on to explain, that as Santa arrived at the front door, he grabbed him by the arm.  A Struggled ensued. My eyes must have been filled with horror imagining my Granddaddy and Santa Clause in a tussle.  Granddaddy was armed with a pair of scissors and was intent on getting some of that beard.  Santa had broken free and was just about to get out the front door when Granddaddy reached out and got a hold of a little piece of his beard…..he quickly snipped off a small thatch of hair…..the evidence was there on the coffee table.

I quickly glanced down at the thatch of hair.  The hair was gray, the same color as my grandmother’s wigs.  I looked back at my Granddadddy and asked, “why is it gray”?  Without batting an eye, he quickly added that Santa’s beard was really gray underneath all the white….that made sense. So I looked back at the clump of hair and the half drunk glass of milk and cookie crumbs…..a smile creased my face.  My Granddaddy had proven that all those presents were delivered by the one and only Santa Claus.

Like my Dad said, Granddaddy sure knew how to have fun!  And fabricate a good story too.

 

A Real Working Man

I recently spent some time with my parents.  While visiting them we reminisced about the times we visited my grandparents in Arkansas when I was just a kid.  My grandfather owned and operated a service station for many years.  For most of those years he opened the station at 6:00 AM and closed it at 9:00 PM, Monday through Saturday.

When we visited my grandparents, I liked to put on a service station cap, stuff a red oil rag in my back pocket and help pump the gas and clean the windshields for his customers.  It was important to leave the red rag hanging out about half way so everyone could see it. The cap and the rag made me feel like an authentic gas station man.  Each visit when my family first arrived at the station I would sprint over to the cabinet where the rags and caps were kept and get suited up for the days work. I’m not sure how long I lasted “working”, but I can guarantee it wasn’t as long as I remembered. Eventually, I could be found playing with the hose in the car wash bay, splashing around in the flat tire tub, or searching the grounds for lose change so I could get a grape drink out of the coke machine.  Sometimes I would even run downtown to check out the latest toys at the Woolworth.  Never the less, when I was dressed in the cap and rag I felt like a working man.

Though pumping gas and washing windshields was my primary duties, as I got older I graduated to checking the oil under the hood of a car while the gas was pumping. This was really cool because I finally got to use the cool rag that had been stuffed in my back pocket but I’d never needed. I liked being able to tell the lady in my youthful, slow, southern accent, “your oil is fine maam”.  Occasionally we would assist with an oil change, help wash a car, or some other minor car repair.  I particularly liked to operate the hydraulic lift to hoist the cars on the rack for an oil change. It amazed me how easily these huge car were lifted off and then placed softly back on the ground.

One time, I decided I wanted to go with my grandfather to open the station at 6:00 AM.  This particular morning he took me with him to his favorite diner just around the corner from his station to eat breakfast. But this meant waking up at 4:30 in the morning in order to eat at 5:00 so we could open at six.  We ate fried eggs and bacon and he showed me how to sop up the yoke with the toast. Bacon and eggs were his favorite breakfast…. and now mine too.  But 4:30 is pretty early for a little fellow and sometime around mid-morning the affects of getting up before the roosters even crow took it’s toll.  That day you wouldn’t find me pumping gas, playing in the wash bay, or any where else.  I sacked out on top of the extra fridge he had in the back corner of the lobby of the service station.  Regrettably, that was the only time I took that early morning adventure with my grandfather.

Later in life, as I began my professional working career, getting up early and working late, I began to experience what work really was about. I was working 16 hour days 7 days per week and feeling exhausted.  One hundred work hours for the week was common. But as I suffered through the grind of the work weeks, it was then I began to understand the kind of worker my grandfather had been. He too worked those same kind of hours.  Yet he never took anytime off, never took a vacation, never took an afternoon off, and did year in and year out.

My grandfather was not a formerly educated man.  He was forced to leave home, barely a teenager, to escape an abusive home. When he left home, he left his formal education behind as well.  But he didn’t need to a formal education to be successful.  What he had is an unparalleled work ethic and a strong motivation to survive.  He utilized these traits to own a successful business and provide for his family.  As a kid, watching my grandfather operate his station, it never occurred to me how much he sacrificed to provide that living for his family.  But today, I recognize just what a “real working man” looks like.  Yep, he looks just like my Grandfather.

Football: College or Pro

Fall is right around the corner.  The temperature will begin to drop, the leaves will change, and oh yeah, football season is peering around that corner too.  Many football fans are getting excited about the upcoming NFL season.  After all, it is the most popular sport in the United States isn’t it.  Loyal fans are consumed with learning their new team rosters and gearing up with new team colors. Some fans will devote as much as 20% of their annual income on season tickets, which doesn’t include parking, concessions, pennants, or their favorite player jersey’s. Yet you can bet they are dutifully preparing for being in their seats come kickoff.

When I was a kid, my favorite team was the Dallas Cowboys.  Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Drew Pearson, Robert Newhouse,Tom Raferty, Billy Joe Dupree, Golden Richards, Rayfield Wright, and that Doomsday defense were always on my mind. Add the unique stadium (a hole in the roof, for it is said, so God can watch His team play), the Super Bowls, the America’s team label, and the come from behind winning….what else could a young kid ask.

Growing up, a friend of mine who lived down the street loved the Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins. That provided a great opportunity to spar with someone during football season.  He and I played on the same little league football team and on the weekend’s we would run to the “Tooten Totem” convenient store just a few blocks away and buy all the bubble gum football cards we could afford. We would pay for the cards and eagerly rip open the packaging. I’d get all the Cowboy players and he’d get the Raider and Dolphin cards. I kept all the Steeler players too, just cause I hated them so much. Over time, my friend and I collected quite a set of pro-football collectors cards and I still have my cards today.

But today I prefer college football over professional football.  Player unions, money, contract hold outs, free agency, off-the-field scandals, player and owner egos, rule committees, and a pass happy league where the rules are tilted too heavily toward the offense has soured me on pro football. Geez, they don’t even have a band or a fight song.

The innocence of a young kid who only sees the excitement of the game and the glamor that comes with playing in the league is lost and gone.  While the coverage and attention is still compelling, it has lost my allegiance and support. I understand that some of my criticism are just a part of the business of operating a professional sports league.  Perhaps it’s just that, the “BUSINESS” of professional sports that has tainted my appraisal of pro football.

So today, I tune into college football. I prefer the pageantry of a Saturday afternoon.  I love the bands marching on the field and passionately playing their school’s fight song. I love the vibrant colors and the exuberant and vivaciously packed stadiums. I love the rivalries, where fans and their teams love to hate their opponent. Their fanatical perception, (or more likely misconceptions) of the hated rival spawn some very comical and bizarre behavior. But mostly, I appreciate that players play the game because they love it.  I love that players still possess a certain innocence. The same kind of innocence I had as a kid loving the Dallas Cowboys. Sure, college players may have dreams and aspirations of playing in the NFL. But there is still a purity in the college game that spills out each sunny Saturday afternoon.

I hope the NCAA never eliminates the school band because it makes too much noise or that it takes up too many paying customer seats. I never want to hear of a college player holding out of fall camp because they don’t like the coach’s practice schedule or there’s too much contact during weekly practices.  College football should always be played with a variety of offensive and defensive philosophies. I love it that Alabama, with their pro-style defense, has to prepare for and play Georgia Tech and their wishbone offense. I love seeing the different philosophies and styles competing against one another. I hope the words, “college offense” or “college defense” (as opposed to a “pro-style) are ever uttered in college football.

So strike up the band, get out your favorite team’s car flag, hang it on your window, and get down to the stadium. There is nothing like singing your school song with 100,000 jazzed up fans after a hard fought Saturday afternoon victory.

 

Priceless

Not long ago a television ad appeared promoting USGA.  You may recall one of the commercials where a 10 year old boy is playing golf at dusk or dawn, I can’t remember which.  The important thing is that he was playing golf when there was no one else using the course.  The kid just seems to be all by himself and having a good time playing golf. The ad shows the boy teeing off, lugging his clubs to the ball, struggling to get the huge bag off and on his shoulder, then hitting it again.  The boy chases down each ball struck and eventually putts out each hole played.

Then the boy reaches the tee box of a par 3 hole.  He lines up his shot, addresses the ball, and strikes the ball crisply. The ball flies pure and straight.  The boys strains to follow his golf ball, saluting the sun as he tracks it’s flight. The ball lands softly on the green and rolls into the hole for a hole in one.  The boy excitedly rushes to the green with his oversized golf bag slung over his shoulder.  He arrives at the green, peers into the hole and finds his golf ball nestled cozily in the bottom of the cup. As the boy takes the ball out of the hole he begins to search for someone who may have seen his spectacular feat. The boy’s face goes blank when he can’t find anyone. Just then, a golf pro drives up in a golf cart and exclaims, “Nice Shot”!  The blank stare gives way to a huge smile.  Then a tight shot of the boys face reveals sheer joy and excitement again!  The ad concludes with the golf pro and the boy having a coke together in the pro shop…..”priceless”.

I have just spent two “PRICELESS” weeks with my two grandsons. When these guys meet you at the door, they don’t just say hello…no no… they really greet you. Loudly and enthusiastically they shout out your name, “Coach, Coach, Coach”, overjoyed and elated to see you again. Jumping into your arms they wrap their arms and legs around you squeezing your neck tight. A few hugs and kisses later and they are off and running.  There is no pretension in their greeting, simply pure excitement. Nothing can compare to those greetings.

Seeing these two little guys brings memories of that USGA commercial.  It describes perfectly that no amount of money can buy some things. Yeah…..”Priceless”, is the word.

Who’s that on the 18th Green update- Update

Nineteen year old professional golfer, Jordan Spieth, won his first PGA event on Sunday at the John Deere Classic.  Spieth won the tournament on the 5th playoff hole against Zach Johnson and David Hearn. Spieth becomes the 1st teenage since 1931 to win a PGA event.  With the victory, Jordan now has full membership into the PGA and is now eligible for Rookie of the Year honors.  He also qualifies for FedexCup standings and is currently in 11th place.

Congratulation Jordan, and best of luck playing Muirfild at the British Open this week.  And thank you for making me look good by winning before your 20th birthday. I’m sure it’s the first of many.

The Dontes Format for The College Football Playoffs

 

In my last post, I criticized The College Football Playoffs for utilizing rankings and polls to pick their champions, or at least who gets to play for the championship.  Since I am willing to offer criticism, I should then be willing to offer a solution. Here’s mine.

First, some pre-solution thoughts.  In a perfect world, I’d eliminate polls, rankings, and selection committee’s altogether, at least as far as which teams get to play in the tournament.  Polls and rankings are great for fans and gives us something to talk about and debate. But I’d like to see a program earn their spot on the field rather than it be granted by reputation or perception. With that said, I’m not sure it’s possible, given the present system, to eliminate polls totally. More on that later.

A little background. Conference realignment is currently fluid and subject to change. The Dontes Format can only take into consideration the present alignment. What may be logical for the coming year, may not be feasible in the future. For the 2013 season there are 11 Div 1A football conferences including grouping Independents together as a conference. There are 6 major bowls if you include the Chick Fila Bowl in Atlanta. Other major bowls are Fiesta, Orange, Sugar, Cotton, and of course Rose. These 6 bowls would rotate and host quarter final and semifinal bowl games, with the championship game being bid similar to the Super Bowl selections. Bowl season starts the 3rd week of December and goes through the 2nd week of January.  With my Format, that wouldn’t have to change. Conference Championship games are played on 2nd weekend of December with the playoffs starting the third weekend.

The two teams playing in the championship game could be playing as many as 16 games, but more likely only 15 games.  Professional and high school football teams do that now, so I don’t see that as a problem.  Bowl qualified teams not in the playoffs will utilize the present bowl system. Of course the big obstacle here is ESPN and the other television network contracts. I’ve tried to take TV into consideration but without having intimate knowledge of negotiating these contracts, networks hold the key to making any system work.

The Dontes proposal is a 12 team playoff format. With the Dontes Format, ALL Division IA football conferences and ALL Division IA football teams have a shot at getting into the tournament.  My playoff bracket has 10 conference champions, one independent, and one wildcard. The wildcard is necessary due to only having 11conferences.  This is also where I couldn’t figure out how to totally eliminate polls and rankings from the process. Independent rankings are required as long as we have independents. Or should I dare say, as long as we have Notre Dame in the picture. If we evolve to a 12 conference system, the wildcard could be eliminated. But for now, the wildcard spot can be utilized for a conference that has an exceptional high ranking team that does not win the conference title. For instance, if you had two undefeated teams, perhaps ranked 1 and 2 in the polls, the loser could take the final wildcard spot.  This spot or an additional wildcard spot could also be used if no independent team ranked high enough to warrant a tournament seeding.

Now for the details. Conference Champions from the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 12, and ACC would automatically advance to the quarterfinal round of play (beginning the 4th weekend of December). If an independent is ranked high enough, say undefeated and in the top 5, they could capture a automatic seeding in the quarterfinals. Otherwise, the highest ranked conference champions from the remaining MWC, AAC, MAC, USA, and SUN Belt conferences would take the 6th spot in the quarterfinals.  The final 4 conference championship teams would play Regional games starting the third weekend in December. The two winners advance to fill the 7th and 8th places in the quarterfinals. Geographically located bowl games would be rotated and utilized for these Regional games to optimize generating revenue.

The Dontes Format allows every DIA football team that begins a fall camp in August the chance to play for the National Championship. All you have to do is win your conference.  No one can be eliminated based on the polls, rankings, perception, bias, or geographic location. If you are an independent, join a conference or take your chances with the current selection process.

Now, no one can be weighed, measured, and be found wanting. And that would be refreshing don’t you think!

Dontes CFP Format

Look out, The College Football Playoffs are Coming

I love the Olympics. One thing that makes the Olympics more exciting is that everyone gets a shot at competing.  If you are good enough and make it through qualifying, they let you in the arena.  They can’t keep you out of the competition because your country practices communism or if it happens to favor free enterprise.  They can’t keep you out because your country only has 36,000 citizens like in Liechtenstein. Or keep you out for having too many citizens as in China’s 1.3 billion people. They can’t even keep you out because your country has the strangest looking flag I’ve ever seen, like they do in the “Isle of Man”. Despite it all, If you’re good enough, you get to compete.

My favorite events are the ones where they shoot a gun, the athletes take off, and someone finishes first, second, or third. Or an event when the winner is determined by measuring something.  The winner jumped higher, threw it further, or perhaps hit the most bulls-eyes.  My least favorite events are the those that have judges. The more a panel of judges settle the outcome, the less I like it. One judge says it’s a 9.2, another judge says 8.4, and yet another says it was a perfect 10. This scoring system is simply a person’s opinion, albeit an educated opinion. But an opinion nonetheless. A person’s opinion should not determine the outcome and bias (we all have them) should not decide the champion. In some cases a sport can only operate within a judging system. But thankfully, most sports don’t need them.

College football has always violated my primary principles when determining what makes a great competition. And please don’t confuse competition with sport. You can have a great competition without it being a great sport, and vise versa. Not allowing competitors to compete based on an opinion and using judges to determine who gets to compete are major violations of great competitions.

Years ago Penn State finished their 1968, 1969, and 1973 football season undefeated. Only to be snubbed by the judges (AP writers). They never got the chance to compete for the champion’s title. How about Utah in 2004 and 2008?  Or Boise State in 2006 and TCU in 2011. They were each “judged out” of the competition.  Why where these teams not given the chance to compete or to be crowned national champions?  Because they were not invited and the invitations were based on the judge’s worthiness.

In the movie, A Knight’s Tale, Heath Ledger grows up a squire.  Ledger’s father decides to allow him to be raised by a Knight in order to have the opportunity to, “change his stars”. The cast system simply wouldn’t allow a peasant to ascend outside of their class of people. In time, William (Ledger) gets the opportunity to compete in medieval jousting events and begins to do well. He makes a name for himself in jousting and begins masquerading as a Knight.  At the Royal Championships, where only authentic Knights were allowed to compete, Sir William’s identity is found out by his nemesis, Count Adhemar. After knocking William off his horse and flat on his back, Adhemar stands over him and mocks him, “You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.  In what world could you ever beat me”.

This championship setup for college football was allowed to exist only because the fans loved the sport so much they would never stop watching the games on TV or buying their season tickets. And of course, there was a ton of money being made for these Royalty Institutions, those judged worthy of such favor. College football wasn’t in need of a judgement system determining their winner, but that was the system of choice. It’s not like football was synchronized swimming or rhythmic gymnastics. Football had a clock with time on it.  When the time ran out, one team has more points than the other. If not, they played on until one team had more points.

The fans demanded change in the system, and they got it. The Bowl Championship Series (BCS). What they really got was more judging. Perhaps this BCS system would have helped Penn State out back in the 60′s and 70′s a time or two.  But it sure didn’t help Utah, Boise, or TCU.  We just got more judging. And they were being weighed and measured and found wanting.

Now we have the college football playoffs coming soon.  They even came up with a very creative name for it….The College Football Playoffs.  The top 4 ranked teams will get to have a two game playoff to determine the champion.  Guess who determines the four WORTHY teams ….THE JUDGES!!!! YUCK!

 

Wolves, Water, Sun, and Grandkids

We just spent a couple of days with our daughter’s family and our youngest son at a place called Great Wolf Lodge.  It had an extraordinary hotel with an indoor and outdoor water park at our disposal that you accessed from the bottom floor of the hotel.  This was a place that celebrated the wolf. And keeping with that theme, the park had wave pools, wade pools, swimming pools, a lazy river that wasn’t that lazy, and three or four hot tubs. Add a four story tree house with a 1000 gallon bucket of water that dumps out from the top of the tree every 5 minutes, and more water slides than you can ride in a couple of days. Throw in an arcade, an ice cream shop, an everything is pink nail salon for kids, story time with Wiley, Oliver, and Violet life size wolf characters, the ultimate breakfast buffet, the warm sun, and a great family, and it all adds up to a terrific time and a ton of memories.

The best part of visiting places like Great Wolf Lodge is the excuse it provides to gather in one place and be with the people you love and who matter most.  We often get caught up in our day to day routines that we forget about the things in this life that should matter most.  Escape the trappings of career, leave the burdens of work, and reenergize your soul. It is a critical component of a rich and full life. The more often I invest in these brief but dynamic moments of time, the greater my quality of life.

So if you are looking for the “excuse”…..all you need is some wolves, a 1,000 gallon bucket of water, tubes and slides, lots of sun, and of course the kids and grandkids. Now devote some time and invest in those memories.