Two random thoughts

Sitting here in Spain, about to go to bed. First, two thoughts:

A. I know this isn’t exactly original, but few (non-tragic) things strike me as sad as the lives of ex-famous athletes. I’ve felt this for a long time. Is actually a major reason I wouldn’t want my kids to become jocks. As great as the life can be, the fall is hell, times 100,000. The endless efforts to recapture the buzz. The fading reminders of who you once were. The autograph shows at the Holiday Inn. Specifically, tonight I looked up Jackie Stiles, the former women’s basketball star who I profiled for ESPN.com a couple of years ago. Was curious what she was up to, found her website. She’s running basketball camps, which is certainly great. But there’s the calendar section, which is completely blank. (As is mine. But when you write books, there’s always a two-year gap between stuff going on. But I’m writing—that’s what going on). And there’s also the sports broadcasting section, which basically says, “Here’s something Jackie would love to do! So call her!” Not that anything’s wrong with that—there isn’t. But this is J-Styles—the Sheryl Swoopes of her day! I don’t want her begging for radio work because, well, I don’t know. I just don’t (That said, her site has a recipe for low-fat cheese cake. Not sure why, but it does).

Worst of all, here’s what’s posted under News Articles: 2010:

adsflkj asd;flj

asd f;aklsdj f;alsd

a sdf;lkasj df;lak df

asdf lkajsd f;ad

;laksjd f;lakjd

I’m not sure what that means. But it ain’t great. And I want it to be great. Because i love Jackie Stiles. Just like I love New Edition, whose site hasn’t been updated since 2004. But hanging on to celebrity is hard. Harder than hard. And when it slips, well, it can get ugly.

B. Speaking of celebrity, I have finally memorized all the words to the rap in TLC’s Waterfalls. Recently spent several days driving through Mississippi and Louisiana, listening to a remake of the song over and over. Never filly understood what the late Lisa Lopes was saying—finally figured it out. On long walks, I’ve been asking the family, “Anyone wanna hear the Waterfalls rap?” Guaranteed collective NOOOOO!

2 thoughts on “Two random thoughts”

  1. Do you want your kids to not become jocks, or just not to become celebrities? Or even further, just not to get into the mindset of being a celebrity?

    I think I get what you mean. But I’m a former jock — and I was that, to the hilt, a jock, and still enjoy wholeheartedly indulging my jockness from time to time, in the form of basketball and softball and whatnot. I know you run and play basketball too. I’m not personally offended when you say you don’t want your kids to become jocks, or when you bemoan the plight of ex-athletes. But as someone who’s been around the game as much as you have, it seems somewhat narrow minded.

    Sports teach so much, because they force us to learn. The problem with these jocks you are bemoaning, I would wager to guess, has to do with much, much more than their mere….jockness. It has to do with their balance. Their perspective on life.

    For every woeful ex-athlete, there is a happy, healthily-minded person walking around. Probably more. Athletics, jockhood, certain have their pitfalls. But they also have their peaks, glorious high points. Their impact is like everything else’s in life — dependent upon how one approaches it, what perspective one takes.

    Some moments, I really, really miss the glory days. I miss being a sought-after baseball recruit. I miss the struggle to improve, and the rewards of improving, and the attention those rewards brought me. My career flamed out in an inglorious display of ineptitude, but that was because of an overwhelming and crippling fear, fear that paralyzed me, leaving me unable to perform. So now I write, the former, sore-kneed ex-catcher, while my younger brother has become a professional pitcher. I wanted to catch him, or compete against him, for decades. Apparently, that didn’t happen.

    But because of that fear that destroyed my career, I am now, as you once described me, “dogged as all hell.” I don’t know all I need to know about writing, about my career. But I know enough about fear, and what it can do to me, and what it can rob from me.

    So yeah, the fall was hell. Years of hell. Some days, I relive it. But the fall made me who I am, because I let it.

    So it’s not about fame or avoiding fame, or athletics or avoiding athletics. It’s about perspective, and courage, and, yeah, faith. And I’m not even talking about faith in God. That’s really important to me, but I’m talking here about faith in myself.

    Sports show us what faith in ourselves can do, and what losing it can destroy. So yeah, the falls are hell, but what happens after can be, if we let it, a taste of Heaven.

  2. ….to be a has been than never was. Not sure if a dessert recipe is any less sad than being about to admit the ability to recite a rap to a song 15 years old.

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