This morning's sporting page carried a short announcement that Shaquille O'Neil has received an EdD doctorate in education, a 54 credit hours degree specifically in the area of Organizational Learning and Leadership. Shaq completed his undergraduate degree at LSU and later earned an MBA. Right on! As an NBA player who devoted his post basketball life to education, I applaud Shaq's interest in higher learning. I remember somewhere hearing that Shaq is also an honorary sheriff, and was considering going into law enforcement. Although his 7 foot body and huge bulk might have helped to lower the crime rate in Florida, I'm delighted Shaq chose to go forward in education.
However, I was sorry to read that the big man is not going to use that advanced degree and his expertise to improve the lives of our young people, that is, to actually go into the field of education and join teachers and administrators in the trenches. These days young people need models desperately, and well educated professional athletes are a group of men and women who could provide such models. Can you imagine the impact Shaq would have if he taught in a high school where there were lots of at-risk type students? Imagine O'Neil walking down the halls towering over the students, all of them looking up at him, probably smiling, laughing, and joking with him. Consider what a leg up he would have dispensing advice to students who need to hear sound advice. Shaq and any other retired pro athlete would have to take monumental pay cuts, but certainly guys like Shaq don't need more money. It's time for the great stars to give back to the communities that nurtured and idolized them. It's time for them to get into the hands-on business of helping youth. Having foundations are worthy efforts, but not enough.
When I was a teen in San Francisco my buddies and I used to play a lot of pool. I've always believed playing pool helped me with depth perception, which in turn helped me shooting baskets. But I might have been rationalizing because I enjoyed hanging out in pool halls, leaning on cue sticks, acting tough, and occasionaly sneaking a cigarette and a slug of beer with adults who didn't care that I was underage.
Here's a poem for Pool and my short life in pool halls.
Pool is a Godless Sport by James Haug
I like the articulate crack
the cue ball makes
on impact, how it drops
what it's after and backspins back,
the chalk skids
on its bald surface, blue
and hard as water
or your eyes, keen straight
down the line of the poolstick,
how the clogged air of lies
and smoke clears as you circle
the table, the next shot
plump on the rail, a duck.
You're on a roll, playing
collisions of intent and dumb luck.
We don't talk as I gather
a new game in the rack;
no one's put down quarters.
We could shoot hours here.
The bartender yawns and looks on,
pinball bangs a free ball.
We play off the angles, combinations,
the felt before each break
fresh as a promise,
and let the rolling goemetry
plot our next move.
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.