Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Love Language, Reading More Sports and Spirituality

I have what I believe is a good habit: I read articles only to send or give them away. If you are my friend, colleague, student, athlete, brother or sister, cousin, teacher, teammate...I don't know where the list stops, you have at some point in time been the recipient of an article I think you should read. I wish I could say I read books and journals for lunch. I would like to read Vanity Faire, The New Yorker and maybe Golf Digest on a weekly basis, but the truth of the matter is if I get through Sports Illustrated's Letters to the Editor, that's a good week. And those responses often prompt me to go back and read what I missed.

My not so filthy habit has however divided my world into a category of two types of people: those kindred spirits who love what I send and those who well...have other things going on. For those who you who fall into category A, and you know who you are, you rock. Thank you for following up with me to discuss ideas or stories. I am grateful, more than you might realize for the unexpected times when you share an article you think I will enjoy with me. So much so that when I read the words of David Dark, the author of "In the Age of Trump, Can Mr. Rogers Help us Manage Our Anger" in the May 1, 2017 issue of America magazine, I felt affirmed and understood. His words jumped out at me, as he wrote
Urging upon people a love of liberating arts (a liberal arts education) is my full-time song and dance, and I really do think of thoughtfulness as a living community in which I myself am initiated anew whenever someone introduces me to another thoughtful person by way of a link, a reading recommendation or a video. "You should check this out" is my love language. We get to set out the table of intellectual hospitality to one another in countless ways all day long. The survival of the species, I know from my own experience, depends on it.
Thank you Double D for helping me name my love language. Stories, essays, personal narratives color my days and electrify my dreams. And, to share them with another person builds relationship and community.
Spring break afforded me with more time to read. Hence, love is in the air...or rather, in an email or article to you. I'm so grateful as I encountered some creative, moving, thoughtful and interesting articles, all of which relate to my passion—and yours—of Sport and Spirituality. I have told a good number of people "You should check this out" but I read so many, I wanted to put them in one place, for the reading pleasure of anyone who stumbles this way. I hope you will enjoy.

Where My 'Zags At? by Nigel Williams-Goss. The Players' Tribune
Shared by a former and much-loved student, how is now at Gonzaga. Williams-Goss' reflection is so colorful and interesting, that I have since shared it with countless others ('Zag alumni, basketball players, etc). One student remarked, "I pretty much love anything on The Player's Tribune." Though I understand that he would, this piece is exceptional for it captures the spirituality of a team, the power of a coach in leadership and what losing as well as knowing your own history can teach all of us. Stella!

The Great Super Bowl Jersey Caper by Robert Klemko and Jenny Vrentas. Sports Illustrated 
This piece serves as reason 22 that I do not read fiction. I'm sure that you have heard the mystery...no, oddity? that is Tom Brady's jersey being stolen...for the second time after the Super Bowl. Why? How? Here's the story.
The Give and Go, by Brian Doyle '78. Notre Dame Magazine
I feel the same way about Brian Doyle as I do about Sports Illustrated's Steve Rushin. Both authors are tremendously creative; when I read their writing, the engine that is my brain is forced to go Mach 30 (is that a legitimate speed?). Their words are often like Red Bull for the brain and yet, they always find a way to land the plane with a resonate truth.

The reason I enjoyed this article is that it serves as a necessary reminder of what we also get to do as coaches...and teachers.

You Can't Give In by Chris Ballard. Sports Illustrated
I have long been wanting...meaning to write about Monty Williams as he was the only Notre Dame alum active in the NBA in recent years. That is until Jerian Grant and Patrick Connaughton made the jump! When Williams' wife Ingrid died in a car accident in February 2016, I immediately thought that the new assistant coach is a modern day Job: a good and righteous man who has been tested by God.

At times, I had to put down this article because of its tragic beauty and I know I was not the only one. As written in SI's "Inbox," Mike Campbell of Madison, TN shared "It took me two days to read Chris Ballard's story on Monty Williams in its entirety because I had to stop to cry so often. Your magazine has told many wonderful stories of human interest and compassion, but never one as strong and compelling as this one." Amen.

Seeking Signs of a Catholic Revival in France: by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry. America Magazine
  • Religion is playing an unexpectedly large role in this spring's presidential election
France and Catholicism have a long-standing, rich and colorful history. The number of saints to have been born in a country that at one point in time held the Vatican redux (Avignon) is notable. Not only are these French saints numerous, their impact has been quite significant. Frogs like St. Vincent de Paul,  founded religious communities that have been of outstanding service to the church. But this nation that redefines my understanding of what liberal means is often described as a place where churches are....completely empty. Indeed, the only narrative I have heard in my 40 years is that Catholicism is on life support. To my surprise and delight, that is not exactly true, as the opening paragraph states....
A few years ago, I started to realize something. Whenever I was less than five minutes early for Mass, I had to go to the overflow room, and I would typically have to step over people sitting on the floor to get there. The church was filled to the gills every Sunday, with young families and children most of the time. But we had a compelling priest, and we were in one of the poshest areas in Paris, 
I spoke to a French teacher at school about this. I paid more attention to their election as a result of this phenomenon, also known as "Zombie Catholicism." Read more! 
Rod Dreher's Monastic Vision: by Joshua Rothman. The New Yorker 
  • An orthodox Christian says his side has lost the culture wars—and argues for a "strategic retreat"
Spiritual readers and writers love Walker Percy for his ability to capture a sense of place. Rothman's piece requires the reader to "deep dive" into two places, both of which are rich in culture and personalities that make it so.

There are a few others that are worth mentioning—like Michael Bamberger's article on the elusive 62. No one has shot under 63 in one of golf's major. Every sport has its glass ceiling, waiting to be broken. My book, "Pray and Practice with Purpose: A Playbook for the Spiritual Development of Athletes" is yet another, but I find when I have too much to read, I seldom get through what I should....unless of course, the material is something you have given to me. Thank you and I look forward to hearing those lovely words "You should check this out." I will.  

Photo Credits
Love Language
Monty Williams

Tom Brady

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