The NBA or the NFL? Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

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The NBA or the NFL? 

Right now, it’s hard to tell which sport is hot and which one is not. Both the NFL and the NBA are intriguing and exciting, heart pounding and foot stomping. Ever since Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook split up, the NBA has been hotter than all get out. And on the other side of the ball, the Giants just beat the Cowboys, my pick to win this year’s Super Bowl.

So who’s hotter? The NBA or the NFL? While each compete for high ratings and the top ranking, we get to sit and watch.

Penn State Beat Ohio State? Wait, What?

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Talk about an upset!

What once looked like a comfortable victory quickly turned into a stunning 24-21 defeat for Ohio State on Saturday night when Penn State scored 17 unanswered points over the last quarter and a half.

Penn State’s thriller of a win against the No. 2 team in the land came down to a blocked field goal. Ohio States’ field goal attempt  to extend the lead turned into a devastatingly, disastrous play that lost the game. Nittany Lions defensive back Marcus Allen shot into a gap and jumped to block Tyler Durbin’s 45-yard field goal try, and Grant Haley scooped it up and ran 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 4:27 left in the game.

And the play that turned into the game-winning touchdown for Penn State started out with Ohio State being in a bit of a hurry. With a 21-17 lead with less than five minutes to play, OSU looked like it rushed kicker Tyler Durbin onto the field to attempt a career-long 45-yard field goal. Then the bottom fell out for Ohio State.

Conversely, on this same play, the Heaven’s opened up for Penn State. So it just goes to show ya, miscues and misfortune for one can actually be a miracle for another. And that’s just what happened in Happy Valley this past weekend when Penn State’s  newest heroes  Marcus Allen and Grant Haley blocked the kick and then recovered it and ran 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown

The blocked field goal attempt was the second special teams collapse in the fourth quarter by the Buckeyes. With 11:42 to play, Cam Brown blocked a Cameron Johnston punt and the Nittany Lions turned that into a field goal that cut Ohio State’s lead to 21-17. And the rest is history.

So just remember. It’s never over. Never. Keep playing and keep plugging and keep pressing and keep persisting until you break through and your break through comes.

Plenty of Shame in Ryan Lochte’s Game

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Ryan Lochte is swimming in hot water; or deep water; or muddy water; take your pick. Whichever metaphor you chose, each and every one is apropos. Lochte is an Olympic gold medal winner, but he will be remembered for much more than the medals he’s won.

We all know from childhood that lying is bad all by and in and of itself. But lying to the POLICE is something else altogether; and lying to the police in a FOREIGN COUNTRY has got to take the cake.   My word.

Here’s what we’ve heard:

“According to The Associated Press, Brazilian officials claim that some or at least one of four US Olympic swimmers in Rio broke down a gas station bathroom door, vandalized the bathroom, and later falsely told local officials they were robbed at gunpoint. Under this scenario, the swimmers could be charged with filing a false police report and/or vandalism. In Brazil, each offense is punishable by one to six months in jail and/or a fine or probation. But jail time is rarely served for such crimes in Brazil, and a public apology or donation to a charity could help lessen any penalties levied.

The four swimmers involved in the incident are Americans Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz. Lochte, 32, is the highest-profile swimmer in the group. He competed in his fourth Olympics in Rio, and has six gold medals, three silver and three bronze over his career.”

It’s all so sad. It’s all so privileged and it’s all so entitled. These young athletes obviously felt like they were above the law and above the fray. And what happened? They end up giving the Rio Games a blow below the belt and in turn must bow beneath their dignity public vandalism and then by lying to the law.

Lochte apparently skipped town and got out of dodge before his teammates got taken off of a plane on the tarmac and were interviewed by the local police. Boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Let’s hope that Lochte and the other lads learn a real big lesson from all of this.

It’s not funny and it’s not frivolous. It was foolish and it was fractious. To be sure, the incident should not be trivialized. But it should not be overblown either. Bringing shame to your game and to your team and to your Country during the Olympics is a black eye that Mr. Lochte is going to have to wear for a while. And he’s going to have to allow time and truth to heal this haymaker he’s hurled that has landed, largely on himself.

Simone Biles: “Dreams DO Come True”

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Yes they do. They absolutely do.

A dream is “a condition or achievement that is longed for; an aspiration.” Another meaning of dream is that it is “a wild fancy or unrealistic hope.” Polar opposite meanings of the same word; either meaning can take you to the top or drag you to the bottom. So which one applies to you? Which definition of dream do you choose? Do you envision your “series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep” as an achievement that is long for or a wild fancy or unrealistic hope?

For Simone Biles, the answer is simple and profound: she has achieved her dream, and it’s not an “unrealistic hope” or a “wild fancy.” Dreams of achievement and accomplishment and joy and jubilee come straight from heaven, and for Simone Biles, the fulfillment of her dream is another illustrious example for us all.

Samone was already considered the world’s greatest female gymnast before even competing in the 2016 Olympics. And she excelled to new heights when she emphatically confirmed her stellar standing on Thursday by winning the women’s individual all-around gold medal at the Rio Games.

Wearing a stars-and-stripes leotard, Biles, 19, joined Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin and Gabby Douglas as American all-around winners.

After winning the all-around at the Olympic trials, she was named to the 2016 Olympic women’s gymnastics team. She led the U.S. team to win gold in a wonderful way, and overcame overwhelming odds to beat the world’s best at the historic 2016 Olympics in Rio, a city living a dream as well.

Born on March 14, 1997, in Columbus, Ohio, gymnast Simone Biles has emerged as a champion in her sport. She and her sister, Adria, were raised by their grandfather Ron and grandmother Nellie, after their mother’s struggle with a substance abuse problem.

Ron and Nellie eventually officially adopted the two girls, and Biles calls her grandmother “Mom.” Nellie has been a constant source of support through Biles’s rise in the world of competitive athletics; as the gymnast told CNN, “She encourages me and never lets me feel down about something for too long.”

Biles is a part of the 2016 USA Olympic Gymnastics Team dubbed “The Final Five” because after this year, the team will only be comprised of four members. The Final Five are the third American women’s gymnastics team to win gold, following team victories in 1996 and 2012. After taking the team gold, Biles tweeted “dreams DO come true” and a photo of the U.S. team on the medal podium.

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Yes dreams do come true, so let’s you and me make ours come true too.

Why Aren’t You Watching The Olympics?

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I asked someone at work why she wasn’t watching the Olympics. She said “I was busy; and besides, the ratings are down.” The ratings are down? You mean you watch because other people watch, and you don’t watch because other people don’t watch? Really? Sounds like a millennial following a trend and not their own inner compass.

Michael Phelps won his record 19th Gold Medal when he helped the USA men’s 4×100 relay team win. With the win, Phelps extends his record to a whopping 23 Olympic medals.  That’s something to get all revved up about, despite Phelps personal problems (but more on that in another blog). And the expressions on the faces of Phelps and teammate Caeleb Dressel are priceless; the looks of elation are worth the price of admission all by themselves.

And “Pure happiness” radiated from Katie Ledecky as the 19-year-old USA freestyle phenom gazed at the scoreboard and contemplated her latest feat: 400m free Olympic gold in world record time. We’ll have to write more about Ledecky later, too.

Now I had long gone to bed when these races were being run and being won, but I am very much tied and emotionally “all in” to the Olympics. It’s the spirit of the games and the esprit de corps and the essence and the quintessence that I love. You can’t duplicate or replicate this energy and inertial by not watching and not caring. I mean, com’ on man! (and woman).

The sum and substance of the Olympic Games lies at the center and is found in the soul of the of the term “team.” Teams must pull together and push together and row together and run together, literally and figuratively, in order to achieve success. And the crux and core of team sports is captured in every Olympics and it is no less on display in Rio this year.  With all of the turmoil and turbulence surrounding these games, it is no wonder that the push and pull to exceed is even more palpable.

So, let’s get back up, let’s dust ourselves off and let’s turn on the tube and watch these Olympic Games! You’ll be glad you did. You’ll thank me later, but you can thank me now.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016: “Let the Games Begin”

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How big a deal are the Olympics?  Big. Big, big. Big, big, big. Big deal. The Olympics are a really big deal. Under the best of civil circumstances, it’s no small feat to pull them off, and Brazil has had her fair share of challenges. Yet and still Brazil is getting these Olympics off the ground. That’s why I’m pulling for this impoverished and embattled nation and praying for them to win and win big. 

Many countries coming together under the banner of peace and harmony and goodwill is a genuinely good thing.  A manifold diversity of nationalities and ethnicities and cultures and customs gathering together at all is not a bad thing. So here’s to a safe, sensational, marvelous and memorable fortnight of games.

Harmony is of God. Peace and accord and unity and agreement under the banner of sports and sportsmanship can’t be bad; in fact it’s a very good thing. And so even if “religion” or faith is not a central theme or principal premise of the games, they are part and parcel of the Olympic spirit.

Amidst and amongst the multiple countries and the myriad of contestants, each and every athlete has the chance and the challenge of becoming a champion and winning gold. And winning, as we all know, is spiritual. Yes participating is an honor, but “you play to win the game. Hello!” Right? (Thanks Herman Edwards).

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post wrote a poignant article about the games being in Rio. Here’s a sampling of what she said:

The Games have stressed a city already under stress; you can see that in the stoic faces waiting for the groaning city buses that aren’t permitted in the dedicated lanes and the angry protests that followed the torch. But by the eve of the Opening Ceremonies, it also was plain what a grand if teetering metropolis this is, with its eras stacked one top of another: imperial, colonial, belle epoque and modern.

This fact gives the Rio Games an atmosphere unlike any before: there is a mixed undercurrent here, a skeptical pride, a political roil and above all a juxtaposition of gorgeousness and want, existing side by side. These are an especially striated, bifurcated Olympics.

But I agree with this line from Sally; “Bringing the Olympics here was not a mistake despite the unfinished buildings and exposed pipes and sewer water.” Every athlete has a right to have a chance, and so do countries and nations. And this is Brazil’s chance.

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This is the first Olympics in South America, the second poorest continent on the globe, behind Africa. And it is Biblical and spiritual that the poor and the lowly and the modest and the common man amongst us deserves to be raised up and built up and brought up to where they belong.

And this is the spiritual side of the Olympics.

“Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee”

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Muhammad Ali, a.k.a. “The Greatest,” taught us how to be great. He could only teach what he knew, and he knew greatness.  He knew how to be grand and how to be grandiose; he knew how to be extravagant and how to be exaggerent; and he especially knew how to be over-the-top and under the table, all at once at the same time. Ali was one of a kind and in a class all by himself. That’s why he was loved and loathed, reviled and revered, and shunned and wooed the world over.

In the 1960’s, Ali was known for being a captivating and a controversial and a popular and a polarizing figure both inside and outside the boxing ring. He was one of the most recognized sports figures of all time, crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC.

Ali was iconic and an icon, a legend and legendary, a trend setter and a trailblazer.  Ali did what no other athlete, and a black athlete at that, did before. He stood up for his rights as he stared down the draft. He made many friends and made many more enemies, all in the same breath.  He did his fighting in and out of the ring. And along the way, he taught us some things he didn’t intend or set out to. Ali taught us how to take a hit, and why not to.

Ali is said to have ushered in the “Golden Era” of boxing.  Along the way, he won the Heavyweight Championship of the World three times as he fought and defeated some of the best boxers ever to enter then ring. Ali defeated the likes of Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, and Leon Spinks.  He also fought to defeat racism and classicism, poverty and paucity, inequity and inequality, imbalance and injustice, just to name a few.

Ali was impressive “on and off the court” and in and out of the ring. He was lush and lavish, most times gaudy and garish, oft times loud and lurid and showy and brassy and crude and what we thought was rude. But Ali was truthful and candid and straight and frank, especially about himself and the times he lived in.

Ali could “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” His style of fighting was new and novel and different and divisive. During his career, he was criticized and ridiculed and jeered and sneered and derided and disparaged from day one. Yet and still he managed to reach the top of his craft three times, and stayed at the top of the charts and was first in the hearts of millions of fans the world over.

So how did he do it?

Ali remained true. He was who he was and he didn’t try to please or appease just to “get a vote.” He made many decisions I’m sure he’d like to take back; but then again, he wouldn’t be Ali if he didn’t do what he did or say what he said. This is the lesson that Ali taught us.

So don’t be afraid to be different and to make a difference, even if it costs you a few friends or your championship belt. Dare to be distinct. Dare to be divergent. Dare to be diverse from the crowd. We are made to be our own snowflake. So, if God made you uniquely you, why are you trying to fit in?  If you don’t fit, it’s because God made you NOT to fit, but to be a stand up and to stand out and to make a difference where there needs to be change and modification and alteration and transformation.

Thank you, Muhammad Ali, for teaching us the trade secrets of success in sports and in life.

 

Here are some the other things Ali taught us, in quotes:

It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.

I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.

A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.

Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.