As I read about the badminton teams dumping games to gain a seating advantage so as to better their chances to win gold medals, I said to myself, okay, what's new? Why are we exorcised over these pithy failures in human nature, while all around us the big dogs of finance and industry cut corners, lie, cheat, and manipulate the systems to increase their bottom line? The Olympic Committee will ban the badminton players, as they should, and change the badminton rules to avoid further temptations, as they should, but I doubt the cheaters, those denizens of high finance responsible for our current economic depression will ever be brought to justice. The Olympics are a four year blip on our moral and ethical screen. So if it does our hearts good to see these badminton teams lose their opportunities for gold, well, hurrah for small justices.
I watched the U.S. men's basketball team whack Nigeria, and thought back to my years beginning in the summer of 1963, coaching in West Africa. During those summers some of the African players showed up to practice without shoes. On my first trip I traveled with John Havlick and Casey Jones, two wonderful travel companions. On my second trip Siugo Green of the St. Louis Hawks (now Atlanta) was my traveling companion. On subsequent trips to Africa I traveled by myself. Back then, I counted myself lucky if I found one player per country who might have been able to make an American college Division I team, and I stress the word, might. So, despite the shellacking the Nigerians endured at the hands (or should I say three pointers) of the NBA's finest, I felt a great deal of pride over the great progress these countries have made over the last fifty years, so many of West Africa's finest playing at American colleges and in the NBA.
When Rebecca Soni turned her lovely face to the camera after winning a gold medal in the 200 meter breast stroke, breaking her own world record, I thought to her beginnings as a swimmer and of my own daughter, Megan, who possessed a natural talent for swimming, and of a poem by Phillip Booth.
First Lesson by Phillip Booth
Lie back, daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's-float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.