meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life: 2012-07-29

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.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bad Mittens & Remembrances of West Africa.

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.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Stars Earn Stripes

This morning I read on the Internet that NBC will produce a television show called Stars Earn Stripes co-hosted by retired General Westley Clark. On this show, celebrities will pair up with members of the armed services to compete at war-like tasks that include long range weapons fire.

Is NBC insane? Movies show graphic depictions of war. Video games are filled with simulations of war played nightly by hundreds of thousands of men and boys. Now were going to extol the virtues of war on television and call it sports. As an athlete I am deeply offended.

We are in the middle of the 2012 Olympics, dedicated to peaceful competition between athletes of all nations, and what do the nitwits at NBC come up with? War sports. Shame, and double shame on them.

If there is anyone out there as horrified as I am, please comment on my blog.

Here is a small poem I wrote about War wondering at some of the stupid games we played at as little boys.

The Origin of War    by Tom Meschery

I stepped forward into the long arc of the branch,
he had stripped of its leaves and meant to hurt,
because we were no longer ten and a dare at eleven
must be accepted no matter what, especially if it were doubled,
which it was. I took the blow on my chest but did not flinch.
Then it was my turn. I swung the branch
from side to side imagining his worst pain.
Walking home together, he screamed,
This is war! Tomorrow, one of my father's
two-by-fours. We'll see who'll cry, have the last laugh.
It started like a lot of games do, with a dare.
I should have known better.
In the end, what else could I do but surrender.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympics in Advertising

Okay, so I'm an unapologetic knee-jerk, 1960's/'70's liberal, but wouldn't it be wonderful and inspiring, and peaceful if once, just once, in the history of television, the American public could view the Olympic Games without a single commercial? Uninterrupted action, Yea!

This blog is not about dissing the corps that buy these games' supporting ads. because I understand the financial requirements needed to televise a huge production such as the Olympics. But, here's my suggestion to the corps: Forget the profits! Do the games pro-bono. In the long run, what do you really lose that you can't make up in any number of ways later? And please don't tell me that you're in such dire financial straights that loss of Olympic income will bust you.

Be it ever so humble, here's my rationale for a commercial free Olympics. First, I'm reasonably sure that there are no convincing stats out there that prove corporations' sales increase during or immediately after an Olympics Games. So, in terms of bottom line, are the companies getting their bang for their buck? I doubt it. Second, the corps that own the TV stations may or may not make a profit, iffy at best. Third, it looks to me that the only folks in econ-land improving their bottom-line are the advertising companies. Since I've always felt the advertising industry works on the principal of The Emperor's New Clothes, it wouldn't bother me if their bottom-line suffered through a brief Olympic Games diet.

The Olympic Games only last for a short period of time and then everybody, corps, television, advertisers, could get back to the business of making money, and we viewers, alas, would return to pressing our MUTE buttons during those pathetic beer commercials. But, oh, how pleasant it would be to look back on a glorious, a magnificent, an improbable dream-come-true, commercial-free Olympics.

Just the thought of it makes me shiver with excitement.

As the Olympics begin this week, did you know that in ancient Greece, the competing athletes would hire poets to write victory odes for them should they win?  And that poets attending the games would set up stalls from which they would declaim poems honoring the games?

Here's a funny poem about the Games, by Australian poet, Graeme King

I ran into the stadium, and heard the mighty roar;
the crowd was on is feet and going wild,
no sign of all the field, they were a mile behind and more.
I looked into the audience and smiled.

I ran the final lap and saw those five Olympic rings,
the flame was burning brightly in the sky,
the track was like a cloud, it felt as though I ran on wings,
the people cheered as I went running by.

I turned the final corner, one more straight to win the gold,
the finish line a hundred yards away.
Right from the start I'd grabbed the lead, and kept a stranglehold,
the others couldn't catch, not today.

The Marathon - a test of athlete's tolerance to pain,
so may hours of torture now was past,
I'd buried all the hurt down somewhere deep inside my brain,
and now I'd reap my just rewards at last.

I broke the tape, the world went mad, I couldn't hear a thing,
the cheering washed across me like a sea,
I'd done what I set out to do: a winner in Beijing,
the referee was beckoning to me.

H shook my hand and said, "I know this may sound rather mean,
the field and you was just like cheese and chalk;
if only you had looked behind, perhaps you may have seen
this was the Forty Kilometre WALK.