Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 01, 2017
A couple of thoughts tonight.

First, though, it has been a long week.

About a month ago, my dad, who lives in Eugene and some of you have met at tailgates came to Portland and said he needed to meet up 'important.' His health has been deteriorating for some time and the doctors had told him he was probably at the 12-18 months range as a prognosis.

Well, then about 10 days ago, he called and said that the doctor had changed his prognosis to significantly more bleak - weeks not months - consequently, my family and I have been working to find ways for everyone to visit. As the only one who lives close, I have been spending my free time driving to Eugene and back every weekend.

My younger brother and his family flew into town last weekend and we had a big family reunion dinner at Mazzi's - he even asked for our mother, from whom he has been divorced for 45 years, to join us.

Needless to say, been quite busy trying to line up some home health care for him (he is too stubbornly independent to leave his apartment) and get down to help him run errands, etc. Mostly, he has everything worked out and he is doing his part, getting rid of unnecessary paperwork, etc.

Anyway, this is all to say, I am around, lurking. I am still doing the legwork and getting as much information as I can, but I have not been as active here.

In Flock Talk Tomorrow, I borrow some quotes from several sources just looking at the concept of football and how it helps draw together a society - and sometimes how it can tear us apart from inside. Pride and passion can be insidious if we allow them to become so.


We loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night – from the tombstone of two anonymous astronomers

As we enter the slow season in college football – a season that is much like the dusk – with the sunrise of 2017 just a few short 9or long) months away, the dog days of summer will be whittled away by some as the coaches begin to formulate their schedule for the season. This will be the first season in which the Duck fans will not have much idea what lay in front of them.

There are always questions in college football. Seniors graduate, freshmen enroll, underclassmen develop, but those questions have not been so violently loud in quite some time for Oregon. Those questions this year, however, will center on what exactly the new staff can do to overcome the deficiencies exposed like a festering open wound in 2016. Recruiting misses, developmental flaws, and a badly bruised team psyche all led to this point.

Dale took a look at one reality yesterday pointing out that the receiving corps has a lot of talent, yet very little on-field experience. That is likely to be true at a lot of positions in the 2017 season. There will, of course, be areas of strength, like running back, offensive line and quarterback. Outside of those positions, however, there will be questions everywhere. The bigger question will be just how this team blends together under new ‘management’ and whether those players who were unable to get the ship righted last season will provide new leadership.

All of the talent in the world cannot overcome dysfunction and a lack of unified purpose. 

It was said by Johannes Kepler that “we do not ask for what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing. Similarly we ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens.” What does that say about the need for humans to interact through shared passions? We are the birds. We sing because that is our purpose. As fall approaches, the shared passions of men and women all across the nation will commence with barbecues, drinks and football. It is in those moments that we can shine our best and those moments which we can cherish.

There will be success and failures on the field. Wins. Losses. Commitments. Decommitments. All are likely to occur between now and next February. But those moments of passion under the lights of stadiums will define us far more than any loss. Those players will find their place, they will play with heart and soul. The coaches will make mistakes, and they will do some things right. 

The known is finite, the unknown infinite – T.H. Huxley
Here is my thoughts on this - football is sport; entertainment. Sometimes we take this very seriously; there is a lot of money involved and we care about the sport in a way that can be, at times, unnatural. We dig deep into the lives of teenagers looking to take some pride in something bigger than ourselves. I like this - except when it goes wrong.

Football can be something bigger than ourselves; it can be something worth finding pride and passion, so long as that something bigger is about more than wins and losses and as long as that something bigger is not filled with anger and vitriol at an on-field loss. I don't get paid for the team to win; nor is that the reason I purchase tickets.

I played the sport through college. I find it an incredibly beautiful sport and one which can bring great value teaching leadership, team work and some valuable life lessons about adversity and fears. I try to remember that there is a bigger purpose to the game than one moment defined by an outcome. There were millions of moments leading up to that one. When I was a player, I wanted to win. That is my competitive nature. As a fan, I love when the team is winning.

I guess the ultimate reality of life's lone predictable consequence is making me look at the game through a new lens. My dad is where I get the love of athletics. He was the one that introduced me to baseball - a sport in which my career path was destined until I divorced my first wife and abandoned that career to stay close to my young children.

It is that longer lens of the infinite and unknown which makes me reconsider a game I have always loved.

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