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Sports in Kentucky

24 reasons to deck halls


 

 

In no particular order here are 24 reasons to deck the halls with boughs of holly and remember to pay it forward.

1. The long list of genuine heroes. The very best wearing the uniform, protecting our rights to travel where we please, worship as we please, criticize our leaders, contest our government’s policies and choose names for our teddy bears.

2. Christmas day is 24 hours nearer the time our GIs come home from war zones.

3. The USA. Iraqis think about car bombs, Somalians think about food, Israelis think about rocket attacks, and Americans think about 32 bowl games, and recliner time, a sandwich tray and the wife gone shopping.

4. Gratitude. I am grateful for perception to recognize, even if Rich Rodriquez, Petrino, Nick Saban and members of the media herd do not, that success is less about money, stature and titles than about having enough to smell the rain, hear a finch song and enjoy life’s home place. Too many college coaches betray far more than a signed form when they break a contract. They become charlatans in the eyes of young men who bought into pep talks and battle cries and calls for loyalty and devotion to a school team.

Rodriquez abandoning West Virginia players for a new job virtually on the eve of the Fiesta Bowl rates ahead of Saban’s leaving Miami and Petrino sneaking out of Atlanta.

5. Gift? USA Today gave voice to University of Maryland chancellor Brit Kirwan to expound on college sports’ coaching carousel. ” … one of the most unsettling and disturbing things I’ve witnessed in my career … to see how we’ve sort of lost our soul over this madness with intercollegiate athletics – the rate of expenditures, the lengths institutions will go to hire coaches, what they’re paid, (and) the way they conduct the process.” Kirwan finds it uncomfortable and embarrassing. He should.

6. Gift. The Mitchell Report was a a cautionary reminder to millions of Americans who pour $$$ into Major League Baseball coffers. Warning to parents with kids who want to be like Barry, or Sammy or Andy and others who cheated playing a child’s game.

7. Blessing. We have Bobby Petrino to kick around again. Rich Rodriquez too. And, Dick Vitale has doctors orders to be quiet for two months.

8. We have seen Baseball’s Christmas-time profiteer and he is Jose Canseco who has made us forget Jim Bouton’s exposé, Ball Four.

9. Gift? We still have David Halberstam in hardback.

10. We have feel-good stories to keep us optimistic and hopeful. Consider Billy Begley. A Webster County High graduate with no college basketball scholarship offers, he chased his dream anyway. Today, Begley is a fifth-year senior and team captain at Mississippi State. He’s an SEC All-Academic selection. Four times.

11. Gift? Tubby Smith is recharged and in revival, directing tall kids in baggy pants to put a ball through a hole to cheering, adoring fans in a place in the midwest called The Barn.

12. Reality check at Christmas. Our state’s distinguished Mr. Basketball fraternity lost a member last week. Micahel Redd, Mr. Basketball 1963, Redd joins Mike Silliman (1962) and Pat Doyle (1959) at another level.

13. Gratitude for pocketful of platinum memories left to us by native sons Charlie Tyra, Ralph Beard and Tommy Kron. Louisville’s first basketball All- American, Tyra in the 50s was simply fabulous. Point men for Kentucky’s Fabulous Five (Beard) and Rupp’s Runts (Kron), helped make the game fun.

14. Gifts? Andre Woodson and Brian Brohm. Extraordinary young leaders who entertained grown-ups and gave kids reason to want for Christmas, jersey numbers 3 and 12.

15. Personalities. Rick Pitino and Bob Knight. When Da Coach talks he’s still prime time and Zen Master at double-talk. A month ago, Pitino said Earl Clark would go to the NBA at season’s end. Last week Pitino said Clark will stay at UofLand hailed his father and mother for “true parenting at its best.”

Knight. Who else on planet College Hoops is more interesting than Stormin’ Bob who would be General Patton?

16. Gifts? Appalachian State and Gardner Webb. Michigan and Kentucky fans will get over it, but the consummate little guy(s) had one Nirvana day which players will cherish all their lives and tell their tale to grandchildren ad nauseum.

17. We are thankful for examples set by those who took the hard road to prosperity and will treasure it more – Kelenna Azubuike and Chuck Hayes earning an NBA roster spot by way of developmental league and free agency.

18. Freedom to fly kites. (See motion picture, The Kite Runner)

19. Our young ladies may dress in short pants and sleeveless shirts and play sports in public without condemnation from a preacher (mullah) and threat of 40 lashes.

20. Gifts? We still have smiling icons among us – John Wooden, Lou Carnesecca, Bill Curry, Denny Crum, Joe. B. Hall and Bill Keightley.

21. Gifts? The internet. We check daily on our personal Climb the Ladder Clubbers: Travis Ford, John Pelphrey, Darrin Horn and Kevin Willard.

22. Celebrate Christmases past. We miss those who made us laugh … hyperbole from Rick Reilly who moved to television. We miss Jim Murray’s metaphoric spin, Mike Barry understatement and Mike Lupica sarcasm.

23. Kentucky basketball fans. We are betting Big Blue loyalists will stop rumor-mongering and stay Billy Clyde’s execution at least until he: A. Signs a contract, or B. Says, “Told you I know what I’m doing, Or, says, “Lemme outa here!”

24. Blessing. My sister, brother and I cherish the continued presence of our silver-haired Mom. Still bright-eyed and of immensely good cheer at 88.

And so it goes.

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