Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Advice from Dan Fouts...Beat Your Rival

I got a chance to talk to NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts after his talk entitled "Quarterback Trauma: Injuries in the NFL" at the Commonwealth Club in August.  I was one of several attendees affiliated with his high school alma mater, St. Ignatius College Prep.  As a sports writer for the alumni magazine Genesis I asked him "What advice do you have for a student-athlete at SI?"  His response was short and sweet: "Beat SH."

I shared with my students that Fouts could have imparted a great many words of wisdom-- how to play through injury, how to work with demanding coaches but, no, his message directed against the cross town rival.  They loved it.

A rival--a true rival--is a special thing.  It is not to be taken for granted.  I should know, my high school(s), Carondelet (and De La Salle) never had one.  Even at Notre Dame, it was unclear to me who was our true nemesis.  Michigan?  USC?  During my tenure at ND, the once prominent "University of Spoiled Children" was didn't measure on our radar screen thanks to a "Decade of Dominance" by the Irish.  Boston College emerged as a new one after they ruined our undefeated season and continued to shatter many dreams in later years.... yet nothing compared to the Bruce Mahoney rivalry, 64 years in the making.

A rivalry signifies allegiance and loyalty.  Paradoxically, it divides as it unites.  Ideally, it makes one better, dig deeper, and stand taller.  The Broadway play "Magic-Bird" reveals how Earvin "Magic" Johnson needed Larry Bird and the Celtic needed the Laker.  At its best, a rival can help one understand and express his or her spirituality.

I look forward to what I will see at USF's War Memorial Gym tonight.  Thanks Dan!

Photo Credits
Dan Fouts
Magic Bird

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