Monday, July 28, 2008

The 2008 Summer Olympics

The World Summer Olympics will be starting on August 8th this year which is next week. I can’t believe another 4 years have gone by. As you grow older the years start to really go by quickly. When the next Summer Olympics take place, it will be 2012. I will be approaching the “hill” as I will be turning 38 years old. All of my kids will be in grade school, and hopefully our country has pulled itself out of the economic “rut” we are currently in.
Anyway, back to the Olympics…

This year’s Olympics will be in Beijing, China. It should be a great event to watch. I have always enjoyed watching the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics. It signifies the opening of 16 days of the world’s top athletes competing to gain the title of the best in the world at that particular sport. It is fun to watch the athletes from the United States and other countries walk into the stadium of the opening ceremonies and see the excitement on their faces. It is also fun to see some of the smaller countries being able to participate and send their athletes and have them be part of such a large spectacle.

The Olympics exist for the athletes to share with the world their talents and show their many years of hard work and determination. One of the things I love most about the Olympics is to hear the stories of those athletes who have risen up to overcome different circumstances to be part of the greatest athletic event in the world and strive to take home that Gold medal. Who can forget Carl Lewis in track and field, Mary Lou Retton with her pair of 10’s in gymnastics in ‘84, the “Dream Team” basketball team’s dominance in ’92, Greg Louganis and the more recent star Michael Phelps in swimming, and countless other US athletes that have received medals for their respective sports.

My personal favorites are the basketball games, swimming races, gymnastics, and the track and field races. No matter what events you enjoy and what athletes or countries that you are cheering for, the Olympics will be exciting and a joy to watch and will be 16 packed days of awesome stories, awesome finishes, painful endings, and countless medal ceremonies where the athlete can enjoy his/her few minutes of fame.
Enjoy this year’s Summer Olympics because it won’t be back for another 4 years and you will be that much older, too.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

High School Hero

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the Hoyt family- a story of a father with a son who was disabled from birth who made his son’s life joyful and happy by taking him along on his marathons and triathlons. Today I am writing about another disabled young man who had his own dreams come true. His name is Jason McElway.

Jason lives in Rochester, New York and was the team manager for the local high school basketball team. Jason suffers from autism. On the final game of the basketball season the coach asked Jason to suit up for the game. The coach didn’t know if Jason would be able to play or not but wanted to at least have him be part of the team for the last game. Jason ended up playing in the final few minutes of that game and had his dreams come true. I have posted the video of this amazing story below. Scroll down to see it.

I get goose bumps and shivers every time I watch this clip about Jason. The part that is most exciting for me to watch is his classmates and team’s reaction of him going in to play and every time he makes another shot. It is neat to think that these kids had such a great love for this young man and wanted to see him succeed. In a world where many kids are putting down others and making fun of children it gives me hope and joy to watch a story where the high school kids are cheering for someone who has a disability.

I hope that as we go through life we can be sure to watch for others in need and give them those opportunities to succeed. It might be fun to be successful at things but it is far more enjoyable to watch someone like Jason be successful at something he loves. I hope that we can teach our children to love and respect others and to be like the kids at Jason’s high school. We can start by being a good example and also watch for those little teaching moments.

Jason’s dream were made true not just because his coach gave him a chance to play in the basketball game, but also because he had the team, the coach, and the whole school cheering him on. What a difference it would make if we could all follow their lead and make every child’s dream come true. We could start by making our own family feel loved and giving them opportunities to succeed and to make their dreams come true. It may not be as dramatic as Jason’s experience, but we could start by cheering for those who surround us and help them to be the best they can be.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Football Training Camp

July is the month known for the 4th of July, 24th of July, hot weather, and…football training camp. I know it seems early to be talking about football, but for us die hard football fans talking football is a year round hobby. It all starts with the NFL draft in late April and then comes the mini camps in May and June. Then the real training starts in late July.

Training camp is a very hard and demanding time for the players. They have 2-a-day practices on the hot field; they learn and perfect the plays not only on the field, but also in the film room and the class room. The players move in together to eat and breathe football 24/7. (If you asked my wife, she would tell you that I eat and breathe football 24/7 all the time).

I am a huge football fan. I am also a dedicated Green Bay Packers fan. I love to watch football, talk football, and read about football. I love to read articles about training camp each year. All of the players come in to Green Bay to practice together and make themselves better as a team. I served a mission in Green Bay and was able to attend a training camp practice. You would think it was a live game by the amount of fans that would show up for these training sessions. People would line the fences and cheer and yell and act like it was a playoff game. I love this time of year because there is so much hope and optimism for the coming season. It is fun to listen to fans talk with each other about players, strategies, coaches, and anything football related. The amount of time and money that fans spend on football is astounding. When you factor in players and coaches salaries, game tickets, concessions, apparel, trading cards, fantasy football leagues, etc—it is easy to see why this is truly America’s favorite sport.

My anticipation for this year is already starting to build. The training camps are opening soon, the fantasy football leagues are starting to form, the football fields are being groomed and prepared for that day when the players take the field, and both the fans and players alike are full of hope that this season will be the one where their teams go on to win the Super Bowl.

(Of course we all know that the Packers will be the team this year to take home that honor.)

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bowling, not yard work

Summertime has finally arrived. This is most kid’s favorite time of year. No school. The days are longer and hotter. They can go to the pool, sleep in, play with their friends. For most men this is not our favorite time of year. Football has ended, the NBA Finals are wrapping up, there is yard work to do, and the kids are driving their Mom crazy so we husbands have to find creative ways to make them feel better, (like actually listening). What is a man to do during the summer to avoid losing his mind?

Football and Basketball may be over, but the one sport that will continue all year long and comes on every Saturday afternoon is……Bowling. Okay, I don’t know for sure if it still comes on every Saturday afternoon or not, but I do remember as a 10 year old kid watching this “sport” on late Saturday afternoons when my chores and yard work were done and it was too hot to go outside. I am sure many of us will recall those afternoons when the Pro-Bowling tour would come on ABC and we would be glued to the TV for the next 2 hours watching a bunch of guys in argyle sweaters and bell bottoms throw a ball down an alley to see if they would be able to knock down the pins or not. Here is a link that plays the music when it came on ABC.

I can still remember the tension in the announcer’s voice when the bowler was trying to pickup the spare to win the game—the excitement in the crowd when the bowler got the spare or the feelings of disappointment when he failed. Okay, it must have been pretty difficult to make bowling sound exciting, but as a 10 year old boy on a boring Saturday afternoon this was a lot of fun.

I was amazed when I googled the Pro Bowlers tour that in the Wikipedia it said “Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Pro Bowlers Tour typically outdrew college football and college basketball in the ratings.” In today’s sports world I don’t even know if they even have a Pro Bowlers Tour anymore and even if they did, it would be nowhere near the ratings that college football and college basketball get. It is hard to believe that back in the day, the guy wearing argyle throwing the ball down the alley beat out watching the helmet-wearing quarterback throw a successful 50 yard touchdown pass to his wide receiver with 10 seconds left in the game.

I don’t think you will have too many kids watching sports on Saturday afternoons in this modern world. They have their iphones, laptops, X boxes, cell phones, text messages, but maybe some of us older than 30 would enjoy watching some good old fashioned bowling rather than doing more yard work this Summer.

(When does the first day of football start again?)

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