COACH ‘EM UP AND LOVE ‘EM

An article from the Washington Post by Chuck Culpepper, “Across college football, ‘I love you’ becomes audible” caught my eye. It featured an exchange, among others, which took place between Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Deshaun Watson after the 2016 National Championship loss to Alabama. As Dabo finished answering a question he turned to Watson and said, “I love you.” Watson returned the love with a back at you “Love you too” to Swinney. There is a great deal to love about these men if you are a Clemson fan.

Football has certainly changed from the days of Frank Howard, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and Darrell Royal. The major change is reflected in Royal’s quote, “When you throw a pass three things can happen to it, and two of them are bad.” I would say today’s coaches have totally ignored that pearl of wisdom and have proven the one good thing that can happen is a whole bunch of points are being scored. Another change I doubt any of these “old school” coaches would have ever uttered, is a statement like “I love you” to a player. Old school coaches simply would not or COULD NOT say it.

It is only recently men have been free to express feelings of love for other men…in a manly kind of way. See, I have trouble even talking about it. I can’t even give more than a “love ya Man” to my brother and I feel terrible I am so repressed. Coaches kissing their players on the cheek or giving out hugs, until recently, were restricted to the women’s side of athletics. Displays of affection have now found there way over to the men’s side of the bench and I say GREAT! Until this era the best a player might hope for would be a slap on the butt or a noogie.

I’m sure Frank, Woody, Bo and Darrell all loved their players and for the most part I’m sure their players knew it…maybe. I guess I should add my name to the list. I can’t remember ever coming out and saying “I love you” to a team. Maybe late in my career. You ask a bunch of kids to sweat and bleed for you but you are too repressed to let them know you care about them as young men by saying it. Shame on me.

Once after a particular tough loss, I asked South Carolina high school hall of fame coach Mike Anthony what I should do. His wisdom was simple, “Nothing you can do except coach ’em up and love ’em.” Wise words…wish I had listened. Soooooooo, to all my former players, sorry I’m late doing this…I LOVE YOU and while I’m at it, THANK YOU.

To all of you new coaches or coach want to bes, don’t be afraid to “coach ’em up and love ’em.”

The complete article by Chuck Culpepper can be accessed from the following link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/colleges/across-college-football-i-love-you-becomes-audible/2016/11/23/e2d61f4c-a90d-11e6-8fc0-7be8f848c492_story.html

For more of Don Miller’s unique views of life, humor and Southern stories of a bygone time, try http://goo.gl/lomuQf

WINNERS AND LOSERS…but not really

I’ve seen so much written and spoken, negatively, about the Rio Olympics and admit to falling into the same negativity with the Zika virus, dead body parts found in beach sand, fecal matter in ocean water, the hidden favelas, participants robbed at gun point and, on a lighter note, how much side boob or butt crack some of our beach volley ball players might be showing. No I was not negative about our volley ball players and MORE than JUST appreciated the buff female forms in bikinis, stretching and diving athletically for their sport. I really don’t understand why people involved in high levels of athletics are not supposed to look good doing it, male or female, without coming under so much public scrutiny. Originally weren’t the first Olympics performed au naturale? Here’s to the good old days…oh wait…they were male only? Let’s just forget that idea. I was also negative about how much the Olympics actually pulled the world’s people together and wondered if any of us were burning with the fire of the Olympic flame as we ridiculed “outspoken” people wearing hijabs or failing to put their hands over their hearts.

In my first attempt at writing badly, Winning was Never the Only Thing, I attempted to convey the idea that sports was more about the people who participated in athletic endeavors than the act of winning itself. Whether it was winning a game or losing an event, paramount was recognizing that even the losers put forth great effort…and display a “winning” effort. No I don’t believe everyone should get a trophy but everyone should be recognized for the effort that they put in to “winning or losing” and just not for the winning. Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, Michael Phelps and the rest of the medal winners should be praised for their accomplishments but what embodies the Olympic Spirit, and winning in general, for me, was exemplified when Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand became tangled with each other in the five thousand meters. After Hamblin went down, D’Agostino tripped over her and also fell to the ground. Though the US runner’s leg was badly injured, the runners helped each other to their feet, and Hamblin cheered on the American as she stumbled, in obvious pain with an Olympics’ ending knee injury, to the finish line…in last place. After finishing, both runners embraced in what ABC’s WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS would have called “the agony of defeat.” I would call it displaying a “gold medal” attitude despite the fact I could hardly see the display due to the tears in my eyes. On the same day, Haitian hurdler Jeffery Julmis face planted on the first hurdle in the one-tens losing any chance of a medal. Instead of staying down in humiliation, Julmis untangled himself and completed the race to finish last…because finishing must be important.

Are there really any losers in the Olympics? I’m not sure we could call the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team “world class” but they did qualify and later had a movie made about them. The same year Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, Great Britain’s “heroic loser” finishing last in the seventy and ninety-meter ski jumps but also had a movie made about his efforts. How can “losing” be important enough to have a movie made about it? More to the point I ask “Is Carrie Walsh a loser for not winning the gold in 2016…after two golds in previous Olympics?” The same could be asked about Gabby Douglas, who won an individual gold in 2012 but didn’t in 2016. I think the answer is no…and would add all the non-medal finishers to my list, BUT NO THEY DON’T GET TROPHIES FOR PARTICIPATING.

I am proud of what the United States has done and the legends we have been made but I am also proud of the losers too. To make the Olympics is a major accomplishment and all of the athletes deserve our heart-felt applause if they display the “Spirit of the Olympics.” Despite the comments of a certain US soccer goalie and the failure of an Egyptian to shake an Israeli’s hand, most participants have kept their “humility” in both victory and in defeat despite the inappropriate saying “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” Show me a good loser and I’ll show you an Olympian.

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