Friday, July 31, 2015

Listmaking as a Way to Sports Discovery

Renown American authors Kim Kardashian-West and Nicole "Snookie" Polizzi confirmed what we already know: anyone can write a book. Perhaps Kardashian's collection of "selfie-photography" contained in "Selfish" should be referred to as something other than a book. I thought books required reading, no? But, a recent find at a thrift store, List Your Self: Listmaking as the Way to Self-Discovery" caught my attention in the same way that Snookie's "Baby Bumps: From Party Girl to Proud Mama and all the Messy Milestones Along the Way" attracted those that love reality TV. 

Perhaps you would rather have blood drawn than own a book about making lists. Perhaps you feel fully human, fully alive ;-) when you create a list and complete it. It seems as though there are no means between the extremes. Folks reside in the pro or con list camp, no? Where are you? 

Let's face it, lists are everywhere. Bucket lists, Top 100 lists, the proverbial To-Do list and more. However, the authors, Ilene Segalove and Paul Bob Velick got me thinking of lists as

something other than what I scratch down on a scrap of paper, or  the offering of multiple apps. That's because Segalove created lists in multiple categories: Yourself, Daily Life, Men and Women, Health, Business, Change, Greater Truths, Growing Up and Suddenly. In the introduction, she made a compelling reason for engaging such lists. She writes. 
For some reason, we love to ignore who or what we really are. But being truly human and liking it requires self-knowledge. It gives our experience resonance. It lends a vibe, an echo, a wholeness, personal investigation and new discoveries. It opens up the cracks and lets loose the bits and piece of ourselves we haven't met....yet. List Your Self unlocks the door to your personal identity.  
Whoa...unlocking my personal identity? Hmm... She continues, 
At first, the idea of jotting down a list seems almost too mundane, just another task to get done. But once you start, you'll suddenly discover an inventory of personal secrets, fears and desires that flow out effortlessly and surprise you. There you are, big as life, in list form. 
Listmaking is journaling at its best. Why? It gives you the chance to complete a task. When you journal, you make entry after entry. There's no closure in sight. But with list making List Your Self has an ending. There are no wrong answers. And every time you finish a list, you finish a huge thought, pull up a memory and diver into or put to rest a major psychological story. 
The archaic root of "list" means "to listen to." To what? Eavsdrop on yourself. All day long, you are busy whispering all kinds o things to yourself. Grab that on-going dialogue and put it in a list. Do some personal eavesdropping. You'll be glad you did.
But there's one category that they forgot. Sports and Spirituality. So...I've created my own. Have fun with these prompts...err lists. No need to cross anything off from them

List Your Self: Sports and Spirituality Style

  • List the 10 Athletes you would like to meet the most.
  • The sports you wish you could master.
  • The sports you learned as a child.
  • The athletes or coaches you think have made the greatest impact on the world.
  • ....who have had the worst impact.
  • List your athletic rituals.
  • List any rituals you have as a sports fan (something you always do when watching your favorite team).
  • List the sports you play, the athletic venus your visit when you want to get away.
  • List the sports stories or moments that make you cry.
  • List your athletic talents.
  • List your athletic daydreams.
  • List all the things you'd like to say to your favorite coach.
  • List all the ways you tried to make your teammates happy.
  • List the athletic memories you'd like to forget.
  • List all the sports you can't live without.
  • List the sports movies you've seen that were really worth two hours of your life.
  • List all the nice things you've ever seen a professional athlete do for a fan.
Photo Credits
Soccer List
Blackhawks

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Beyond Little Surfer Girl: Time to Recognize Big Wave Surfer Girls

Over the 4th of July weekend, I made a pilgrimage to Hawthorne, California—the childhood home of the Beach Boys. I wanted to see the birth place of a band that produced what Rolling Stone considers to be the second greatest Rock album of all time: "Pet Sounds." It should be duly noted that magical record shaped what is believed to be the number one Rock n Roll album, "Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band." But I digress...

I encountered a town that was at one point in time, the portrait of middle class America. Living in San Francisco, the notion of that demographic is increasingly hard to find. But the Hawthorne where Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson went to high school, cruised around eating at the local Foster's Freeze was just that. Public parks, modest homes, and a whole lot of nothing special is now known for some of the greatest harmonies on an LP.

Hawthorne is less than 10 miles from the closest beach. Yet among the three Wilson

brothers, their cousin Mike Love (who is the uncle of NBA star Kevin Love) and Al Jardin, only one was a surfer—Dennis. He claimed that their music—hits like Surfin', Surf's Up, and Surfin' Safari didn't resonate with most surfers. But it captured the imagination of everyone else. The California myth was born. I'd like to think it is alive today.

One need not travel to Southern California to learn more about this mythos. The film "Love & Mercy" as written by Rotten Tomatoes "presents an unconventional portrait of Brian Wilson, the mercurial singer, songwriter and leader of The Beach Boys. Set against the era defining catalog of Wilson's music, the film intimately examines the personal voyage and ultimate salvation of the icon whose success came at extraordinary personal cost."


It is not exactly "Fun, Fun, Fun." Wilson's personal story is heavy, but I love learning the "story inside the story." That's right. If you scratch the surface on most great bands and musicians, you will learn more about other music, their influences, history and more. The Beach Boys are no different. Brian Wilson, the lead singer and songwriter is a true musical genius. He heard Revolver, the Beatle's seventh studio album and it made way for the integration of sounds and instruments that defines songs like "God Only Knows," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," and "Caroline, No."
Two Female Mavs
But even before that masterpiece, the Beach Boys had a string of hits. And one that I've always loved is "Surfer Girl" (a small part of me wishes I am the girl they sing about). Once I tell you the song that influenced this song, you'll never hear it the same way. Perhaps it's because Hawthorne is also in Orange County, the birthplace of Disneyland that Wilson would have encountered this Disney hit, but yes "When You Wish Upon a Star" (from Pinnochio) is what gave way to this lovely rock Diddy.

If the Beach Boys were to write a song for surfer girls in Northern California, my hope is that they would honor the Big Wave Surfer Girls. The Mavericks, an event held every winter just off the coast of Half Moon Bay (a town but 15 miles south of SF) now hosts a new event to giver female surfers a chance to shine. I'm sorry it took me a trip to Huntington Beach and back before I honored Surfer Girls. Stay stoked ladies and promote awesomeness.

And thanks Mikey for joining me on the journey: Hawthorne—>Lucy's—>Lucky Strike gym

Photo Credits
Big Wave Surfer
Surfer Girl

Friday, July 24, 2015

Jackie Joyner Kersee: Know the Why

With her 21st Grand Slam victory at Wimbledon, and one win away from capturing her first Grand Slam, many people consider Serena Williams to be the best female athlete in the world today. I do not disagree.

Is she the greatest female athlete of all time? That is to be determined. As much as I would love to see Serena play post in basketball—nah, she'd want to run the show as the point guard—her one and only sport has been tennis. And more power to her. She had dominated in game that doesn't offer many role models that look like her—and I mean that far beyond her race (which is significant). 

But the greatest female athlete of the 20th century excelled at basketball, the 100 m hurdles, High jump, Shot put, 200 m, Long jump, Javelin throw and 800 m. Jackie Joyner Kersee was voted No. 23 among North American athletes of the 20th century by SportsCentury's distinguished panel. Sports Illustrated for Women magazine voted her the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th century, just ahead of Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Babe excelled at golf, basketball and track and field. 
Williams has four Olympic gold medals of her own. I would love to see her compete in the hepathalon. Heck, I would love to play a round of golf with her. She may emerge as the greatest female athlete of the 21st Century, but time will tell. In the meantime, this is all I can offer: I know why Jackie Joyner Kersee is a six-time Olympic Gold medalist.

At a fundraiser I attended for "Third Box" in June, she challenged the audience to know the why behind an institution, an organization, a cause, a belief and a way of being. 

She said, "Knowing the why is more important than knowing how. Those that know the why beat those that know how."

I guess she knows a little bit about beating others, too.

How did she compete? How did she play basketball? How does she give back to her community? Those are easy questions to answer. But to Joyner-Kersee, the why is what's important. 

Why did she compete? Why did she play basketball? Why does she give back to her community center. I know why.

J-K grew up in East St. Louis. Much like the words of Nathaniel in John's Gospel, most people would ask "What good can come from East St. Louis." Fortunately, we have a wonderful answer in Jackie.

Thanks to a community center, she had a chance to participate in athletics. But sports wasn't the only resource this center provided. She met a librarian who helped her check out books. That library was also connected to a center for seniors. She volunteered at  the senior center and found that their presence was a gift. Why? because she didn't have grandparents. The elders she met and got to know passed on wisdom about the why of life. "In short," she said, "I was always surrounded by support."

Ultimately this support led her to UCLA where she earned a scholarship for women's basketball.

Jackie shared that her mother and father were married as teens. They lost their first child, who Mary, her mother, delivered at just 14 years of age. She had Jackie when she was 16. There was a lot of love in their home, but a lot of strife, disappointment, and struggle that underscored daily living.

She said "the struggle is NOT the problem, not having a third box is the problem. My mom did not have a third box. I hope you will support this organization because they know the why of it all."

And in her final remarks, she said "Always remember where you came from. Thank you. Good night."

To me, Joyner-Kersee wanted the audience to know and remember literally and metaphorically where we come from—it can't help but include the why. The elders of East St. Louis, the librarian, those who organized sports at her community center, her parents all reveal why Jackie Joyner-Kersee became a different kind of statistic out of East St. Louis.


You can't read about Serena Williams without some reference and of where she came from. The role of her father and her mother, her sister Venus are inextricably linked with the why. Will she surpass Steffi Graf who holds 22 Grand Slam titles or Margaret Smith Court with 24 to become women's tennis greatest? Will she earn another 2 Gold Medals in Rio in 2016 to tie Jackie Joyner-Kersee? 

If she does, I would love to be a fly on the wall for a conversation between those two women and more thoughts on the why. 
Other Articles on Serena: Game, Set, Match: Serena, 32 Years in the Making

Photo Credits
JJK
Serena
JJK Long Jump
Serena: TBD

Monday, July 20, 2015

All You Need to Know about the 2015 British Open: Thanks, Help, Wow

Most sports fans wanted to know one thing about this year's British Open. Would Jordan Spieth earn a third major championship? Although some nasty weather changed the conversation, if you were able to tune in for today's final round you may have been asking "Who's Marc Leishman?" or "Wait, where did Phil Mickelson hit the ball on the 17th hole?" or "When will Jordan birdie again?" However as far as I'm concerned there's only one question worth answering about the 2015 Open. "What did Zach Johnson say?"
Killer 25 foot putt to put Johnson to 15 under for the tie. "I had a good read." Wish we always did, bud.
Tom Rinaldi, one of my favorite analysts allowed Johnson to paint a perfect picture. Indeed less is more. He met him off the green and simply said: How do you describe it?

Johnson replied,
I can’t. I’m at a loss for words. You don’t want to see a tournament end on a miss. Louis is a champion…and a friend. 
But I'm grateful, humbled. I’m thankful, I’m honored. 
This is the birth place of the game. I felt great. I was patient. I had some scripture running through my head. 
I thank the Lord. I thank my friends. I thank my family. I’m in awe right now.  
It’s a beautiful game.
One of my favorite spiritual authors is Anne Lamott. In her newest book "Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers" she writes.  
I do not know much about God and prayer but I have come to believe, over the last twenty-five years, that there’s something to be said about keeping prayer simple. "Help. Thanks. Wow."
Sounds a whole lot like what Johnson said. Congratulations to man who "gets to play golf for a living." A beautiful person for a beautiful game.
Johnson joins the luckiest golfers in the world. A victor at the Masters & The Open

Photo Credits
Great putt
St. Andrews

Friday, July 17, 2015

1 Hero, 3 Thoughts on the 2015 ESPYs

A friend's wife died two weeks ago after a long battle against breast cancer. What solace can words possibly offer in the wake of loss? I found some, probably more for me than for him in the message given at the 2014 ESPYs by the late Stuart Scott. He said,
When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live. So live, live, fight like hell. And when you get too tired, down, rest and let someone else fight for you.
Stuart Scott was the 2014 recipient of the Jimmy V Award, also called the "Jim Valvano Award for Perseverance." He died of stomach cancer but five months later.

To me, Coach V put the ESPY awards ceremony on the map; he was the first recipient of the Arthur Ashe award. His speech was so moving—he urged people "Don't give up, don't ever give up" —and his legacy so powerful that ESPN created another ESPY in his honor. 

As written on Wikiepdia, the "ESPY Award (short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award) is an accolade presented by ESPN to recognize individual and team athletic achievement and other sports-related performance during the year preceding a given annual ceremony." ESPY might now be part of your lexicon. Perhaps it is something you made a point to watch. Why? The 2015 honoree of the Arthur Ashe award is Caitlyn Jenner. 

I wondered if she would offer any words of wisdom and truth that I would share with my students...if those words would be used to comfort someone in need in the years to come. I found something different. This year's ESPY awards offered me three insights and a better understanding of the word hero. This is what I found...
1. The Notion of Hero
People have deemed Caitlyn Jenner a hero, a term I believe we need to revisit and re-examine at different phases in our lives. There's a reason children are drawn to superheroes—they possess exaggerated qualities of strength, power and courage. As we mature, we find heroes in everyday people and places. And while these people may have a "courage," a word that is synonymous with being a hero, I think there is one virtue that is more important: "selflessness." Putting others before ourselves works against our nature. Most people don't. I don't. It's hard but it's not impossible. We need examples of those who do so to inspire us to do the same. Courage without selflessness is ego.

It bothers me that Jenner said in the profile video before her speech that "I was tired of living for other people." I doubt those are words that Jesus or Mother Teresa ever said. Ever.

2. Time is Not on Our Side.
In "Catholicism" Richard McBrien writes about the "rate of change." It's poignant context for the understanding of theology. After all, theology is faith seeking understanding. And that is always applied to the human person and condition today. Vatican II called the Church to read the signs of the times. The times are so quickly changing...that can be tough.


Despite the fast paced world we live in, I still hold that a person does not become a hero overnight. A singular event may mark a turning point on a person's life. It may signify a new chapter. But I think a hero builds (and leaves) a legacy. The fruit of their labor speaks for itself....and does so over time.
If in ten to fifteen years time, Jenner is publicly advocating for the trans community, educating the public about challenges and responses, building curriculum and more, then that title may be well deserved. But to deem a person a hero for a very public decision that was made but a year ago (although some may claim the inability to make that decision has been due to outside pressures for decades), does not resonate with my belief.

The Real Hero of the 2015 ESPYs

My parents called me at 11:30 pm on the night of the ESPYs. I was so worried something had happened at home. Instead, they wanted to know if I had seen the profile of Danielle Green. "You have to show her speech in 
Sports and Spirituality"  To me, she is the real hero of the 2015 ESPYs awards.

As written for ESPN, Green — a Notre Dame graduate, former Division I women's basketball player, wounded warrior, veterans' counselor, joyful mother, forgiving daughter —is the 2015 recipient of the Pat Tillman award. They forgot to mention that at the age of 35, she became a widow.

The profile video tells the story that unfortunately isn't all that unfamiliar. Green grew up in Chicago without her father in her life. When her family fell on hard times, her mother turned to drugs. Green wanted to be different. Heroes often do.

She committed her focus and abilities toward basketball and won a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame when she played from 1995-2000 under Coach Muffet McGraw, who she considers to be "my first drill sergeant."  
Perhaps basketball taught her something about being selfless. As a guard, she has to have the vision to see where others are on the court in order to achieve a common goal.

After graduation, Green wanted to do more. She found another goal; she enlisted in the US Army and served in Iraq where she lost her left arm. A natural lefty she had to learn to write and work with her other hand. When this happened she said "I felt guilty that I couldn't finish my deployment."

Upon returning home, Green returned to school and earned her Masters in Psychology. Today she works with fellow combat veterans as they deal with PTSD and more.

Green life continues to be an unfolding gift. She had the courage to be different but it only led to gift upon gift. Her speech challenged us to find, passion, purpose and to become fully human. We find these things in giving to others, our country and our God. 

I don't know that I have ever been more proud of a fellow alumnae than when I watched Danielle Green accept the Pat Tillman award. She left me with tears and the desire in my heart to do more. Perhaps you found that in listening to Caitlyn Jenner. That's for you to decide. It's what heroes were made for...

Photo Credits

ESPY

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mid-Summer Classic Reading: Sports & Spirituality Style

Traditionally the All-Star break brings a lull to the sports media cycle. While this year's home run derby was actually worth talking about, SportsCenter's reel is running thin. No ball scores to relay, Wimbledon is complete and we are in the holding pattern for The British Open, as it begins on Thursday. The best the NBA can offer is its D-league and with summer temperatures in full swing, it's hard to think about Fall and Football. I have to admit, ESPN knows what it's doing by hosting the ESPY awards on the final night of the break offered by the mid-summer classic. And with this year's honoree, Caitlyn Jenner, the buzz is real. I'd like to think that I will pass, (although I probably won't). If that's your plan I'd like to offer three articles worth reading to keep your own sports and spirituality reel running strong.
1. The Dunk Project by Michael McKnight

I love that the author and narrator Michael McKnight decided to undertake a nonsensical yet impressive and alluring physical goal. It's one that many utter as a benchmark of respect—the slam dunk. McKnight integrates history of the game and this physical feat, a game plan for what this will task of him and why. I love that he's 43 years old and going for it. I love the personal inventory he takes to reach this goal. He writes,

The things I had going for me: an understanding spouse; a modicum of leaping ability; proximity to one of the world’s best training centers; and, again, an understanding spouse.
And I love that he has a great sense of humor about it all. He says,
Because a Snap Back wasn’t always available, local residents may have spotted a sweaty forty­something man rubbing Vaseline on his hands in the corner of their child’s favorite playground last year. Sometimes he wore a weight vest that made him look like a jihadist. What I’m saying is, Thanks for not calling the cops.
Hey Mike, there's a man who looks like a jihadist at my gym too. I don't think he's trying to dunk though.

This piece is lengthy, but you will appreciate the Dunk that much more and I bet you will start thinking about a non-sensical yet impressive goal you too can strive for.


2. Blue Skies Ahead by James Keane


I wish I could tell you I will read Pope Francis' new encyclical "Laudato Si," but I know myself and the best I can offer for the good of my students and as someone who is committed to on-going education in my Catholic faith, is that I will read the executive summary. My parish provided a handy "Beyond the Headlines" brochure and it is also offering small group sharing, Intentional Seeks: Care for Creation. I'll see what I can do. I have to admit, however James Keane's article "Blue Skies Ahead" certainly wet my appetite. 
Keane, an Angelino (what a great term. I hate LA but I can still admit folks from the second largest city in the US have a good name) was at the 1988 World Series. The last of the Dodgers' World Series titles comes by way of something that even Hollywood couldn't script. How? Why? The backdrop would never be used on the silver screen. He writes,
The smog is so thick and viscous that the city seems to exist at the bottom of a bowl of broth. Everything is some shade of brown. The image would not be out of place in a shock-doc about China’s callous disregard for the environment and for human health or in a dystopian film about a future when we all wear masks.
Fortunately, today is a different story. He explains how. We ought to know why. Pope Francis would urge us to do more.

3. Guided by the Rule of St. Benedict by Kevin Coyne (see page 24)

I don't know what is more strange: that I receive Seton Hall University's alumni magazine or that I read it. My friend the late Msgr Jim Sheehan died of colon cancer four years ago. Jim was in residence at the Cathedral in Newark, NJ which is affiliated with Archdiocese's seminary—set on the SHU campus. I think I made a donation in his memory. That gift has proven to be a gift...and that is by way of the story "Guided by the Rule of St. Benedict" by Kevin Coyne.

Folks may know of St. Benedict's Prep in Newark because of their outstanding basketball program or the school's history through the race riots on the '60s but this article is worth reading because of their simple yet effective philosophy.
this is a movie I'm excited to watch.
Among the vows that Benedictines take is a vow of stability. “It’s the exact opposite of most religious congregations,” Father Leahy said. “We make a commitment to a place.”

In a world that is transient as well as ever-changing, it's remarkable to me that the Benedictine way is to put down roots. Given the population they serve, this is that much more important.  
The 12-acre campus straddles both sides of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard — the former High Street — and includes a 60-room dorm that is home to students whose own homes are plagued by too many risks.
Wow.

Hospitality is a virtue that precedes the reputation of the Order of St. Benedict. This school affirms that truth.

Every magazine I read offers "summer reading recommendations." They are books for taking to the beach or sitting poolside. I thought I would offer three articles instead to a) inspire b) care for creation and c) consider practicing virtues like stability and hospitality in our own communities. Enjoy!

Photo Credits
Dunk Project: from the article
Kirk Gibson

Monday, July 13, 2015

Best Podcast Ever: The All Star Game

At the conclusion of our bi-weekly "Hour of Power" class, I said "Steve, you are the best partner ever!." A couple of guys heard what I said and repeated it, no fewer than eight times. Best partner EVER—huh Steve? I left the gym to echoes of "ever" (multiple exclamation points implied). They didn't get the joke...

Have you noticed how many people say and write "Best insert your variable here EVER!" High school kids in particular are fond of this phrase. However, if it's the best ever, that leaves little room for improvement or comparison. That's why teenagers say it. #drama.

And I love that 4 SF Giants made the team, to be managed by Bruce Bochy!
All of that being said, on the eve of the Major League Baseball All-Star game, I would like to recommend what must be the best podcast ever. Listen here.

Michaela Murphy, the narrator is also the author and the main character in her story. This jewel was given to me by a former student, Sarah. I will never forget the e-mail I received from her about it. She wrote:

I recently started listening to the podcast "The Moth" again, and it reminded me of you - although I usually prefer fiction, you said that you prefer non-fiction to fiction because the stories are so good that fiction is unnecessary. If you haven't listened to the moth before, it's a recording of open mic nights that occur around the country where people prepare and tell a story. The one I heard last night was about family and baseball, and reminded me strongly of sports and spirituality class (moments of grace, flow, incredible story). 
It's a wonderful story because it takes us back to another time....before cell phones, TSA pre-check, and when it might have been a little safer to take a ride from a stranger (maybe not). It reminds us that when we let people in, instead of closing them out, anything is possible.

Theologically, it speaks to me about the Catholic principle of Communion. That is, as Richard McBrien writes "Our way to God and God's way to us is communal. Even when the divine-human encounter is most personal and individual, it is still communal. We comprise a community of faith." 

Murphy's story is one she can tell because of her aunt, who was a Catholic sister. She traveled to Cleveland, OH for the 1981 All Star Game because in the wake of their father's death, her younger brother finds joy in baseball. They get to Cleveland's Municipal Stadium because of one Roy Firestone, who in turn attends the game because of Michaela and her brother. Perhaps it was the Communion of Saints—which includes her dad—that it all came to be. Give it a listen and enjoy.

More over "Serial," based on the strong number of responses from my own students, it might just be the best podcast ever. Enjoy tomorrow night's game. Pulling for the NL. 

Photo Credits
Cincinnati
Listen here.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Two Thoughts on the 2015 US Open

With my cousin Jodi. I hope she stays with playing golf!
I'm sure her husband agrees!
Now that the sand and gravel has settled and young golfers have coined a new term—to miss a three foot putt is to "Dustin Johnson," I would like to offer two thoughts on the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay. 

I feel very fortunate; I was able to attend the 115th US Open for three straight days with four different family members. The weather was spectacular and the backdrop was stunning. I've heard the complaints by the media and about the media, most notably about Joe Buck and Greg Norman.The non-existent greens made for tough play and so did the links style course. Welcome to the game of golf people. However with this posting, I would like to offer two different takes.

1. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods played in what was his 19th career US Open. Woods did not make the cut as he finished 16 over par through Friday; he shot 10 over the day before. In his press conference he sprinkled some humor on a poor performance by stating "the bright side is, at least I kicked Rickie's butt today."

If you were at the Open for the practice rounds or the first two days of competition, you knew where Woods was at all times. All you had to do was look for the huge crowd that surrounded the golfer on the range and at every single hole he played. Actually, three holes were not accessible to spectators, but I wouldn't be surprised if his fans found a way to get there.

with my Uncle Jay at the Open. He might be a bigger
ND fan than me. No need to referee at the Open!

At one point, I caught a glimpse of him walking, eyes cast toward the ground as he moved to the next hole. The only reason I saw him is because I was trying to walk toward another hole only to be caught in a traffic jam of people on Tiger's tail. 

Frustrated...incredulous...I asked myself "What are people doing? Why are they following a golfer whose game is far from someone worthy of this type of adulation?" My sports fan defense mechanism kicked in "Don't they know there are so many other golfers worth watching?" To his defense Woods reclaimed the top ranking in the world in March 2013; he has not won a major since 2008

Dumbstruck, I turned to my Uncle Jay, a Woods fan and asked him to shed some light upon this strange phenomena.


There is but one tree on the course
He said "Anne, Woods did things in this game that no golfer had ever done before or since. We are all just hoping for one more glimpse of that. Isn't that part of sports? Isn't that why we hope and believe every fall the Irish have a shot at another National Championship? We want to be a witness...again. Right?"

I got it. I get it. And his point couldn't have been more poignant. Woods' world ranking is so high, (right now he is 226 in the world) he didn't qualify for the US Open. However, anyone who wins the Open has an automatic bid for 10 years following their victory. And the last time Woods won the title was in 2008. He did so by nailing a 50 foot putt at Torrey Pines against Rocco Mediate. The two golfers dueled it out for 18 holes on US Open Monday. That 50 foot putt is all the evidence I needed. He did do great things...and everyone wants to know if he will again.

2. House of Hospitality.
My aunt, uncle and cousins live but a mile from Chambers Bay, a public golf course in University Place, WA. They had weekly passes and their home was a revolving door of fans and shuttle service to the tourney. 

Another uncle quipped that "all of a sudden, everyone is a golf fan." He's right. Hosting the US Open changes your entire experience of watching the sport and the event. You can't help but feel a sense of ownership and pride for being featured throughout the country over Father's Day weekend. My club, the Olympic Club in San Francisco hosted the Open for the 5th time in 2012 and I'm still talking about it. 
Look at these two dad who played at Olympic on Father's Day. A great way to celebrate their NBA championship.
The USGA is keenly aware that bringing golf to the people is good for the sport. And this was the first time the Open was played in the Pacific Northwest. Considering that Chambers Bay belongs to King County, that many more people were able to consider themselves to be at the center of the golf world and become fans in the process!

Going to a major or any other golf tournament isn't like attending a football, basketball or baseball game. The stadium is much different. The arena has limited viewing. And the scoreboard is silent. But I love being a part of the energy and excitement that is the US Open. It confirms that one of the secrets in life is who you walk with on the journey. for Beside a fairway is a good place to do that. Thank you to Amy, Jay, Jodi and CW. Until Pebble Beach in 2019!!!

Photo Credits
All good...internal photos!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Rory McIlroy Offers One of Three Life Lessons from Golf

Make no mistake about it. Golf, like many sports affords many life lessons. Here are but three that you will understand whether or not you chase a 1.8" ball around the greens. 

1. Injuries Are Part of the Game...or...err...part of life.

The Open: Golf::Wimbledon:tennis. The analogy is a good one—as both tournaments played in Great Britain are considered to be the most prestigious of the four majors. And for the first time in 61 years, the defending champion will not be on hand to reclaim his title. Why? Rory McIlroy, the number one golfer in the world, announced today that a ruptured ligament will keep him from playing. 

Whether or not you are a McIlroy fan, this is a bummer because right now, the number two golfer in the world, Jordan Spieth has won the first two majors. Last year, McIlroy captured two of his own. It would be very exciting to see these two compete against one another at St. Andrews. But, McIlroy  injured his ankle while playing soccer with friends back home in Northern Ireland.


No Jeff Kent comments about acquiring an injury from washing one's truck (It's largely understood that Kent was on his motorcycle, attempting to do stunts). As written on ESPN "He was hopeful that he would recover in time for The Open, but decided two days later it was not worth risking a full recovery."

Injuries are part of the game. The physical demands that athletes put upon their bodies is tremendous. Ligaments tear, bones brake, and bruises run deep. Time, rest, rehab and PT are a necessary yet alternative form of training. And yet, sometimes injuries just happen in life. Bad luck, bad hits, bad breaks. We are all human and prone to fatigue, illness and injury. 

For McIlroy, this was just bad timing. He was probably home before heading to the Scottish Open. A natural competitor, he probably has one speed, and that speed took his ankle down. Sad to see it, but hoping this puts him in a good space to defend his title at the PGA Championship in Whistling Straights. 

Let Golfers Play Through
We arrived at Rita's Water Ice in Philly as a group of ten. Of this San Francisco bunch, all but one person—me—had any idea of what water ice is all about. Two women entered at the same time and had a long and unfortunate wait. I should have perceived the delay we would hand them. As golfers know, this was an opportunity to let them play through. 

As a golfer, I hate waiting too long; it can kill momentum. I am also not a fan of being rushed by the golfers behind me. Letting someone play through is the right thing to do. And according to the rules, the group in front should make the offer. The group behind should not ask.

But it can also be tricky. Sometimes there is already a delay on the course. Or maybe you speed of play is appropriate. My advice: use prudence—make the wise decision…maybe even the generous one.  People are usually glad you ask and I've been impressed with how folks respond. "No, we are having a great time together, don't worry about it." or "Thank you so much, that's much appreciated." 


Maybe those women at Rita's enjoyed the extra time together. Regardless, at the end of the purchase: 8 students and 2 adults, I apologized for not letting them play through.


Sometimes it's not about being "politically correct"...it's about being correct.
On Monday, my friend David and I joined two grumpy old men for a round of 18. They wanted to know if we would all play from the same tees. They looked at me and I said "no problem, I will play white." They acted impressed.
Throughout the round, they referenced the fact that I wasn't hitting from the women's tees. At long last, I said "isn't the correct term the forward tees?" Someone came to my defense and said "that's right." Another chimed in by saying that "where he grew up there is no time for terms that are P.C." 

My response? Sometimes it's not about being politically correct, it's about respect. Other times, it's about being correct. Technically, anyone can play from the forward tees, but a some golfers shouldn't. The tips exist for a reason: when you drive the ball 330 yards off the tee, you should play from a different tee box. Counterpoint: new golfers should play from the forward tees to keep the pace of play appropriate to their level of the game. Even seniors can benefit from playing from the forward tees. We think of them as women's tees, but I know a lot of women who play green/white combo or with their playing partner as they see fit. That's correct!

The list of life lessons from golf and other sports is long. These are the three I have thought about in the past two weeks. Send me yours!

Photos Credits
PC Cartoon

Play Through