A world without passion
That is not a bad thing, not bad at all. The only negative is pointing out to me how shallow my reserves of energy have become. Its always good to know your limitations, if only so you have a bar to realize when you've exceeded them - your limitations, I mean.
The week was devoted to football practice. We have our first game tonight.
The games are important to me and to the players. To me it is the only gauge to how well I've been teaching. Its attitude and physically grooming young men to exceed their self imposed limitations.
One thing I learned this week is that one of my British players has actually made an NFL squad. No one can really grasp the tremendous amount of work, the enormous hurdles that a Brit has to overcome to even get an invite to a training camp, that such a player would overcome so much and still be named to the practice squad, to be told he has value in the hard core world where nothing matters except victory, is pretty amazing and speaks legions about the young mans attitude, commitment and the path of his success.
The games are important to the players. I've been accused by opposing coaches of “molly coddling” and “mothering” my players. The truth is that I demand more of them physically than the vast majority of coaches. And to top it all off I demand from them mentally, emotionally. I demand they commit to their community and to society.
These kids came and picked up garbage along the side of the road because the city wouldn't do it.
Winning spells out to these kids that I may be right, not only in the vicious and violent things I ask of their bodies, but in the way I've demanded their humility, their patience and their understanding of the game and of life.
I teach them how to play the game to the best of their and my abilities. The game teaches all the rest.
Victory means to them that all of this has purpose, meaning. They stop wondering why they had to run twice as far as their teammates, they stop questioning why they have to step outside themselves and volunteer for the crappy jobs I present to them. They understand the drills that they “never had to do before.”
In the flush of victory they can see why it is important to beat their opponent into submission but to give him and hand up when he is down, to value him in defeat and to see him as equal to themselves.
When they leave the field they can see that all men are equal to them and that they are as big and as great as anyone else out there.
Otherwise I love the game so much I wish they could play without keeping score.
My idol has always been Eddie Robinson. Coach Robinson had a poster in his office. It was a black and white photo of an 8 or 9 year old in full kit running down the sidelines with a look of steely determination, at least as steely as an 8 year old can look. On the sidelines a man with a clip board smiles hugely, pleased for the kids success.
On it the words were - “He's not your father. He's not your brother. He's as important as that but he's your coach.”
I remember that always.
We lost. My kids played well but its a team sport. There's a lot to learn there too.
On Thursday I had to speak in front of the City Council. For those of you who knew me when I used to make extempore speeches in Parliament and such, back when, “in a room full of potentates, kings and rulers, he blew in like a strong wind and made them all look and feel shabby.” I'm not like that anymore, as if anyone ever actually was.
The Council meeting was only 7 guys, one of them the mayor. And the major issue I was there to talk to them about was child safety. Which is what I'm always talking about I guess but in this section it was only about traffic and children.
After my breif speech and question and answer bit I thought it was a waste of my time.
Today walking to the bus stop I saw a crew putting up a stop light where I wanted a stop sign. On the bus to work I saw another crew putting up a stop sign where i wanted one.
I guess it wasn't such a waste of time after all.
Next week I'm taking a vacation. For one thing, its my birthday. My puppy and I will celebrate by taking a walk, I think.
I'm using the time off to look for work and to make sure I get paid for some of the vacation time I've accrued.
My puppy I'm taking the time off becasue I don't get to spend enough time with her.
She has a point.
Tomorrow my friend Patrick debuts his new band at some club or other. I'm going to go see him.
Life feels good. I'm getting a chance to live it.