Category Archives: Sports

Purple flowers, U.S. Open 1


2 September 2017
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
New York, New York


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The Until We Meet Again Tour – 2-5 September 2016

The Until We Meet Again Tour played the US Open from Friday evening through Monday night, an exhausting and invigorating schedule. A number of friends and family members sat in during the appearance. The heart of the group was Sean and Eric. Great tennis was viewed. Good times were shared. The renovations at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center were impressive. The new Grandstand became a favorite. It was good to see some matches in Louis Armstrong Stadium. Much food was consumed. The hamburgers came highly recommended and lived up to their billing.


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The Until We Meet Again Tour – 25 August 2016, part 2

An effort to take the Until We Meet Again Tour to Governors Island in honor of the centennial of the National Parks failed because of timing. A trip to the Brooklyn Museum ensued. An exhibit of approximately 230 photographs related to sports, Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present, proved inspiring and enjoyable.


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Arthur Ashe statue

We were in Richmond for Eric’s graduation from Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary. It seemed a moment to view the statue to Arthur Ashe – athlete, author, educator, witness, activist, justice-seeker, and hero of mine for how he played and how he lived and how he faced death.

“The best way to judge a life is to ask yourself, “Did I make the best use of the time I had?”
Arthur Ashe

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4 June 2016
Richmond, VA

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Purple flowers, U.S. Tennis Center 2

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6 September 2015
U.S. Tennis Center
Flushing, New York

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Purple flowers, U.S. Tennis Center 1

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6 September 2015
U.S. Tennis Center
Flushing, New York

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Dean Smith, healer

“John, you should never be proud of doing the right thing. You should just do the right thing.”
Dean Smith, quoted in an article by John Feinstein

With North Carolina alumni, college basketball fans, and people around the world, I join in mourning the death of Dean Smith. And I give thanks for his life and witness.

I am not a big fan of basketball. When living in Iowa, I attended the high school games because they played a key role in the life of the community. My wife follows Duke, her alma mater, faithfully; so I follow enough to talk with her intelligently. My sons follow the Cleveland Cavaliers, pretty faithfully; and again, I follow enough to hold my own in conversations.

I recognize Dean Smith’s amazing work as a basketball coach, even if I fail to understand the intricacies of his contributions.

Covenant 08 24 10 Ghost RanchI mourn  Dean Smith, the human being. The child of God. The healer.

Margaret Aymer preached at the Riverside Church today. What I took from her sermon is that Jesus came to bring healing. Healing. Not a cure. Healing of dis-ease. Healing by Jesus involved recovery from physical symptoms, but it also involved restoration to community and renewal for ministry working to transform systems of oppression, violation, and exploitation. Jesus frees, invites, challenges, dares those who would follow him to do likewise.

Dean Smith did. His work on a basketball court is legend. His work as a teacher helped see that his players graduated. His style built lasting relationships with athletes at North Carolina and coaches and athletes and supporters of opposing teams. As my wife posted, “Even though we still sing “to hell with Carolina,” Dean Smith deserves all respect. Condolences from a Blue Devil to all Tar Heels.”

That would have been enough. But there was more. Much, much more.

Dean Smith worked for healing as he challenged the systems that wounded and oppressed his sisters and brothers. He put himself on the line for racial integration and justice in basketball and society beginning when he was a student in high school. He opposed the war in Vietnam and Iraq and supported a nuclear freeze. He supported the rights of the LGBTQ community. And he opposed the death penalty.

As Rick Reilly wrote, twelve years ago:

In a state that gave us Jesse Helms, Smith’s is a rare voice speaking out against the madness of a war in Iraq and the hypocrisy of the death penalty. It’s a spiritual thing for him. “One doesn’t kill,” he once said. “I heard that in church.”

Though he served in the Air Force, Smith was proud to see two of his daughters march in Washington against this war. “This is not a just war,” he contends. “I certainly hope we don’t go. This would be horrible.”

In a state that sends thousands of Marines to the Middle East, that’s a big target to paint on your shirt. But Smith has never scared easily. Speaking out against the death penalty, he once pointed at the governor of North Carolina and declared, “You’re a murderer. And I’m a murderer. The death penalty makes us all murderers.”

Dean Smith was many things. Son. Teammate. Husband. Father. Coach. Teacher. Innovator. Opponent. Friend. I give thanks for all of these.

But mostly, I give thanks that Dean Smith was a healer.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty, Sports