Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Senator Ted Cruz's Sporting Analogy About the Republican Leadership

Ted Cruz on the GOP Surrender Caucus

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a blistering hour long speech on the Senate floor pertaining to procedural votes which set the stage for passing a "Clean" C.R. (Continuing Resolution).

To illustrate how Republican Congressional Leadership is acting like the Surrender Caucus in allowing full funding for President Obama's unwise and extra-constitutional actions with Obamacare, Executive Amnesty and the Iran Nuke Deal, Senator Cruz resorted to a football analogy. 

Senator Cruz has not endeared himself with his colleagues for calling them out on show votes which are meaningless but letting government growth legislation pass without objection. But if Cruz can successfully convey this Congressional Kabuki show to primary voters, he may score with frustrated populists, Tea Party Conservatives and RON Paulesque "conservatarians".  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

R.I.P. Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra on Funerals

Yogi Berra, renowned major league baseball player and master of malapropisms, died on September 22, 2015 the age of 90. Notwithstanding his waggish wisdom about funerals, assuredly Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra was not forgotten as his kith and kin marked his departure from the mortal coil.

  Yogi Berra funeral

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Viking Mascot Ragnar Cut from Field After Daring Danegeld Demand

After representing the Minnesota Vikings since 1994 by entertaining fans at home games, Joe Juranitch found himself at home on game day.  However, his forlorn Facebook posting was more than a bit disingenuous.  The human mascot who used to ride a purple motorcycle to lead the Vikings out on the field was cut because his danegeld was too outrageous. 

Danegeld was a tribute payment  by the English and French from the nineth to eleventh century AD to prevent marauding by Vikings.  In Juranitch's case, he wanted a 2100% increase.  Last year, "Ragnar" was paid $1,500 a game.  In Juranitch's renegotiation, he wanted a cool $20,000 a GAME with a 10 year contract. This avaricious offer killed the golden goose.

That would have meant that over the period of the contract, Juranitch would be paid $1.6 million (or $2 million if it included preseason) for being on the sidelines for 90 games.  Nice work if you can get it.  

Well, the Vikings already had a kid friendly mascot Viktor the Viking. And the team might want to watch their expenses as they are footing $551 million of the $1.061 billion U.S. Bank stadium which will be ready in 2016.

There is a fan based petition drive with 10,000 people in order to reinstate Ragnar to his former place on the sidelines. But I suspect that "Ragnar" will have more time to snowtube during his free weekends in Minnesocold. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembering Red Bandanas and Teamwork

Welles Remy Crowther on Teams 

 While there is nothing new about Welles Remy Crowther's aphorism from his high school yearbook, the way that he put the maxim into action in his life was remarkable.

Welles Crowther was a lacrosse player in secondary school in Nyack New York and later for Boston College's varsity team.  Crowther was associated with always wearing a red bandanna, a penchant he acquired as a child.   Due to his smaller stature, Crowther was physically overmatched by his competitors, but made it up with enthusiasm and teamwork.

Off the field, Crowther also embodied the heart of a servant.  Crowther joined the volunteer Fire Department at age 16.  Even after landing a job as a equities trader, Crowther expressed an interest in changing careers to join the New York City Police. In fact, a partially completed application to the NYFD was eventually found in Crowther's apartment

On September 11, 2001, a 24 year old Welles Crowther was at his office on the 104th Floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center when the first airplane struck the other building.  That horrible event prompted him to put his professional pursuits aside and channel teamwork.  Crowther was on the 78th floor Sky Lobby of the South Tower when the second plane struck.

Crowther striped to a t-shirt and wore a red bandanna to cover his nose and mouth. Crowther immediately acted as an impromptu team leader to rally the walking wounded to a functioning stairwell.  Survivor Judy Wein remembers hearing: "Anyone who can walk, get up and walk now. Anyone who can perhaps help others, find someone who needs help and then head down." Crowther was seen carrying a woman on his back. He  led them down to the 61st floor where they were met by First Responders who got them to a functioning elevator on the 40th floor and the rest of the team escaped the towering inferno.

After escorting people down 16 flights of stairs, Crowther ascended the stairwell again to help more "team mates". Crowther's group of First Responders had the "Jaws of Life" and were prepared to lift debris to help trapped victims. According to survivors,   Crowther's remains were found with other firemen who were on the 78th floor Sky Lobby when the South Tower collapsed.  Crowther's courage and teamwork may have saved a dozen lives.

Crowther's story might have been lost in the alluvia of fragmented memories of 9/11. But six months after the atrocity, the New York Times published an account from a survivor who remembered a detail about a mysterious man with a red handkerchief organizing a makeshift triage.  This red bandanna memory gave Crowther's grieving parents some solace about their son, simultaneously  providing closure and confirmation of  their son's solid character.

In 2006, Welles Crowther was posthumously named an honorary New York Fire Fighter for being a 9/11 Angel. Boston College sponsors an annual Red Bandanna Run for the Welles Crowther Trust. The American Heroes Channel will soon award an Inaugral "Red Bandanna Award"  for exemplifying the American spirit during a nationally televised Boston College football game on September 18th.

So often, sports can become base, reduced to a boxscore, vexing whether the home team will make the playoffs or speculating about the latest New England Patriots scandal.  But sports can be much more than those pedestrian pastimes.

As we reflect on the anniversary of 9/11, Welles Crowther's exemplary life shows the deep values that can be derived by sports. Welles Crowther's dedication to teamwork was cultivated by coaching on the field but was inculcated into his life.  Crowther not only thought of others at a tragic time, but was conditioned to rally and help "team mates" at a test match of life.

While the cynical may smirk at the truism that "There is no 'I' in team",  Welles put that principle into practice sacrificing his life for the sake of others.  Those are the virtues which make sports meaningful.

h/t: ESPN