Tag Archives: football

Purple, not flowers, footballs

IMG-7939

1 August 2018
Asheville, North Carolina

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Farewell Aaron

Steelers logo, 1963–present

Image via Wikipedia

Change remains the order of the day within the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

They released Aaron Smith yesterday.

However, this differs from the release of Hines Ward.

Don’t get me wrong, I will miss Aaron Smith. He is a class act and a fine player.

But injuries have taken his toll and limited his playing time over the past few years.

When a neck injury landed him on the injured reserve list this year, it seemed to mark the end. I grieved then – not only for his athletic ability – but for the grace with which his wife and Smith are handling the illness of one of their sons.

It is sad to see Aaron go. It is good to see him go and not risk further injury. There is more to life than football – he has shown us that already. Now it is time for him to live that.

Thank you Aaron Smith. Godspeed.

See you along the Trail.

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Farewell Hines

Hines Ward blocks for Rashard Mendenhall

Image via Wikipedia

The NFL will not be the same. Of course the NFL is never the same. It continues to change and evolve as do we all.

And it appeared that this change was coming for some time.

But the Steelers released Hines Ward yesterday. And I am sad.

I give thanks for all the years – all the smiles – all the thrills.

I wish Hines well. And I hope he does not come back to haunt us too badly.

See you along the Trail.

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It is a game

I took this on 8 July 2011
in Rocky Mountain National Park.
It seemed an incongruous place
to see a football.

Yet tonight, while looking through old pictures,
it seems a metaphor
for how tangled athletics can become,
particularly at major colleges.

Amidst a tangled, overgrown culture
that can emphasize winning
demand sports generate income, and
tolerate alcohol abuse, exploitation of women, homophobia;

amidst a tangled, overgrown culture
where athletes can receive preferential treatment
that may included academic assistance (and more) or
a bending of disciplinary processes;

amidst a tangled, overgrown culture
where athletes may receive scholarships and
leave school without actually learning anything;

amidst a tangled, overgrown culture,
it  becomes too easy to forget,
to fail to see,
that at its heart,

it is a game.

22 November 2011
Shire on the Hudson

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A strange Saturday afternoon

I am a Penn State fan. I grew up in western Pennsylvania. The decision to go for a two-point conversion twice in the 1969 Orange Bowl played a pivotal role in sealing my allegiance.

This week, learning of allegations of the abuse of children by a Penn State assistant coach and the systemic and individual failures that included failure to report, cover-up, and a willingness to accept doing the legal thing rather than the decent, moral, right thing, has been hard for me.

Thinking of the children, my mind recoils, my heart sags, my gut aches, my spirit weeps.

Watching the Nebraska and Penn State game today brought little relief.

This was probably the strangest experience I have ever had watching a football game. It was certainly the deepest anguish I have ever felt watching a football game. Hours later, I continue to process a maelstrom of feelings and thoughts.

I grieve at the reports of the abuse and violation of children. I pray the children will receive the support they need and that the children may experience healing as fully as is possible.

I hope that the investigation into the allegations will be thorough and transparent.

I agree with the announcer who cited the incongruity of observing a moment of silence to mark a situation in which silence played a key role. But I don’t know what I would have suggested in it stead.

I recognize that the accused perpetrator may be innocent – that seems unlikely, highly unlikely given the number and detailed nature of the allegations. And I view that as absolutely no defense for anyone – rather it is yet one more reason that the situation should have been reported and investigated long ago.

I ponder power, its corrosive effects, and its abuse.

I ponder the culture of college football in general and the culture of college football at Penn State in particular. How did that make possible, enable, contribute to any abuse and to the cover-up and failure to report? I ponder if the culture can be sufficiently reformed. It has been suggested that Penn State should abolish its football program at least for a few years. Would that help?

I am glad that Joe Paterno was fired. I wish he had resigned. I seek to sort out who else I believe ought to resign or be shown the door.

I am utterly appalled at riots by students in support of Paterno.

I understand that many have a deep attachment to Penn State football; but some of the signs and public displays at the stadium made me queasy.

I wonder about our tendency to place people and institutions on pedestals. I wonder about the willingness of people and institutions to allow themselves to be place on pedestals and to revel in that.

I have a general approach to life that none of us is defined by one event or incident whether that be good or bad or indifferent. I struggle to see how that applies in this situation.

I wonder what I would have done had I been in situation to know, to act, to respond. I hope I know, but I am reminded (on a regular basis) that all of us – all of us – all of us – do things we should not do and fail to do things we should do (sin and fall short of the glory of God in theological terms). I relive moments that I have fallen short of what I should have done or should have left undone. And I wonder.

I think of children who have been abused and whose stories have never been told. I think of children who are being abused and whose stories remain unknown. I wonder how these situations can be prevented.

I wonder if any of this makes any sense.

I wonder what I have missed.

I wonder.

See you along the Trail.

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