Ahead in the Count

2008 to the Good Guys

written by Brendan Sullivan

Over the years, I’ve come to realize one of the inherent challenges in youth coaching: we are trying to teach boys and girls whose behavior is constantly influenced by professional heroes and role models who often times don’t act as if they realize the responsibility they shoulder.

From the perspective of those of us on the front lines of the sports world, – chalk up 2008 for the good guys.

Giants Cowboys Football

The sporting year began with a Super Bowl upset by classy Eli Manning and his New York Football Giants over an arrogant and allegedly unethical Patriots squad who, despite their golden boy, supermodel-bowling quarterback, can’t escape the image of their grumpy, disheveled win-at-all-costs genius coach and a recently-spoiled swarm of semi-tolerable chowderhead fans.

Major League Baseball and the NBA followed suit. The scrappy Phillies, led by uber-gamers Chase Utley and Shane Victorino, along with 45-year old southpaw Jamie Moyer, once again outpaced the overpaid Mets and their fuel-on-fire bullpen down the stretch in the National League East to make the playoffs and then made a post-season run that began with a dismantling of the Manny-come-lately Dodgers and their towel-waving, front-running, come-to-be-seen LA chump fans who don’t know the difference between a sac fly and a screenplay. Even the young Devil Rays and Joe Maddon (who helps combat the dead-on stereotype of the brain-dead baseball “lifer”) couldn’t slow the Phillies roll. The best part: A-Rod and the boys watched all of October from home – though only one of them from Madonna’s lair.

I’d rather watch elephants mate than an NBA regular season game. The average effort displayed by NBA players during a Tuesday evening tilt in January is an absolute joke, considering what superior athletes they are and how much they’re paid to play H.O.R.S.E. to periodic arena blasts of hip-hop music every few nights. When I released my categorical denial of the existence of NBA in June, it was great to see a Finals matchup of the league’s oldest and best rivaly: the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Of particular interest to those of us on this blog and others fighting the tides of win-at-all costs coaching at the youth level in this country, was the fact that the series featured two head coaches, Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers, who are adamant supporters and spokesman of the Positive Coaching Alliance. They combined to write this editorial in the San Jose Mercury News on the eve of Game One.

If I could remember who was last man standing in the NHL without resorting to Google, I’m sure I could research further to name a couple classy and hard-working toothless Canadians who hoisted the Stanley Cup at the end of an interminable playoff season sometime in May/June. What a year!

For me, the best story from the year in sports came from an unlikely place – unless you are a Pacific Northwest Division II softball junkie like I am. In a late season matchup with Central Washington University that had postseason implications, Western Oregon’s Sara Tucholsky is injured rounding the bases after a homerun. Central Washingon’s players set a standard for sportsmanship that will forever be hard to match.

A couple additional notes to close 2008:

For My Money the Biggest Buffoon in Professional Sports (and also most popular athlete in DC – see point above about clueless role models):

72916081NO009_Arenas

Gilbert Arenas, sidelined Washington Wizards star, engaged to Laura Govan, mom of his two kids:

“You want your money in a ring, or you want your money in the wedding? Woman’s gonna choose a ring.”

“I’ve done kicked her out of my house almost every weekend, yet she’s still here and she still believes in me”

Read more garbage on Gil’s blog.

And the First Annual Just When You Thought You Had Already Hit Bottom Award

(From this point forward the “Mitch-Slap of the Year Award”). See it here.

New Year’s Resolution #87: Blog once per week.

Happy New Year

December 28, 2008 - Posted by | written by Brendan Sullivan

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