Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Not that Famous

I think that we all have some appreciation for the stereotype that star athletes are usually not very cool in person. Whether they don't think or talk the way that we expected them too, or even don't look so big up close, many a fan's experience with meeting stars is underwhelming.

Yesterday, I felt like I had a somewhat similar experience, although I want to explore it differently. Last night, one of the houses on Patterson Court sponsored a program for questions and perspective with some professional athletes. Although several football players were expected, only two showed up. Former lineman T.J. Washington and Panther CB Ken Lucas. I was down at the house with one of my friends who is a huge Ken Lucas fan.

People started asking questions that ranged from perspective on groupies to what happened with the field goal against Dallas. As people began asking more and more things about former players, new players, draft analysis, I realized that Ken wasn't trying to be protective in his answers. He gave his totally honest assessments on Keyshawn Johnson and the Falcon offensive attack as he best knew how. I was mostly amazed that every football fan in the room already knew everything he said.

OK, before I get pegged for supposedly labeling Ken Lucas as stupid or something, let me explain. I really believe that the sports' fan culture of the present day is at a level of knowledge and immersion that has never happened before. If you read ESPN.com a little bit, you can find out everything you need to know about every thing. Lucas admitted that he didn't find out that his former teammate Ricky Manning Jr. had been arrested until he was browsing the internet a long while later.

We assume that all of these athletes have all these secrets and tricks of the trade that they hide behind their helmet and witticisms. But there was no place more relaxed for an athlete than sitting in front of 20 college kids, most of them football players, talking about girls. Lucas revealed his side of the story and his perspective on most things. Unfortunately, I felt like the media beat him to it and told me that a while ago.

Sometimes I think it's scary that meeting your hero in the parking lot after the game doesn't mean that much anymore. Maybe I've just grown up. But maybe we know too much now. Maybe we are closer to the game than the people who play it. I do know that the media is all-powerful now. It possesses power over us in telling us what to believe and when to believe it. We are told what's important and we buy into it. Mel Kiper tells me more about the draft than Ken Lucas ever cared to know. Tom Jackson will break down the west coast defense like Lucas' defensive coordinator. But somehow, we the fan want to be out there. We want to know everything about the game and how to play it, no matter how out of shape we are. It doesn't matter whose fault this is, but it's certainly not going away anytime soon. And until then, I will nod my head at Ken Lucas and think "yeah, that's nice. Tell me something I don't know."

Monday, April 17, 2006


Perspective. An attribute often heralded amongst intellectuals who claim that a certain individual has the ability to see the “forest above the trees,” so to speak. Perspective. It is often something that Davidson students lack around this time of year, as finals, papers and summer plans breathe down their necks. We often judge toughness, intelligence, and ingenuity as more important than perspective merely because we assume that it is beyond our control. We assume that perspective is inherent in those who travel to third-world countries and who really understand what hardship is like. Perspective emanates from those who are well-read and well-traveled. Perspective flows from those who lose a loved one. Perspective cannot be achieved by ourselves in our current circumstances. We think that external properties force perspective upon us.
Over this Easter break, I have been reading Tuesdays with Morrie, a book by Mitch Albom about the death of an old sociology processor and perspective on life as he was eaten alive by Lou Gehrig’s disease. Reading many anecdotes filled with prophetic aphorisms about the need to love and stop worrying about work, I began to find myself jaded. I looked at my worldview and thought that I know that money is bad and people are good, but that somehow getting through tomorrow seemed altogether different. Life seemed to be about the next step in front of you and not worrying about everything else.
I was thinking this until I came upon another little moralistic truth of Morrie. He asks the author, Mitch, to look out the window. He describes the way that he notices nature because of its changing, and he therefore notices his life. Knowing that he only has months to live, the essence of life is constantly before Morrie, unlike those people around him who don’t have time to think about death. Morrie described how he’d traced the angle at which the sun always shines on this tree and the relative activity that the animals have been doing in preparation for the winter. He says that he has a fixed perspective from which to view the progression of life.
So often, we are able to go through months and years without a fixed perspective, as high school and college become things of the past and our work and families are always changing. This weekend, I returned to the house at the beach that I have been coming to for 20 years. In two decades, the degree of decay and rot on the old wood lookout become apparent. I notice how outdated many pictures seem that have occupied the same place for years. This house serves as a fixed reminder of what has come before, and what will come in the future. I realize that I have changed and will never return to what I was. The old bed now seems small to me. The once-beautiful painting is now faded. And yet the tide keeps coming in. I still feel the cold shock of the water on my feet that reacts with the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. I look north and south and realize that whatever I do to make a living will never compare to my identity at this place.
Unfortunately, it feels like perspective is still being forced upon me from the external. What if I hadn’t picked up Albom’s book? What if I didn’t come to this house? What if I were always sad? Perhaps, we will never be able to engender perspective completely independently. But then, that would deprive us of our purpose of living in a community of people. Let us not forget our affect on others in our rush to save our own lives in cash. Surely we can appreciate everything that everyone else has done for us.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It could have been anyone

Last night on Davidson campus, Josiah Cameron was found dead in his sleep with his door locked. Although he had a history of seizures, the final analysis of the cause of death has not been determined. Cameron was a freshman living on Fourth Richardson and was a member of the football team.

It is not often that the Davidson community is torn like this and everytime something happens, our immediate reaction is to realize how prone we are to things that happen in the real world. It seemed very appropriate that yesterday morning I was in a bible study talking about the nature of suffering in this world. Discussion began to focus on whether our suffering as Davidson students had any legitimacy in the context of the wider world. This morning, there is no doubt in my mind that there is no wider world. Every little part of this world, from the country clubs to the ghettos to the war-torn nations is a part of a world that is broken and is trying to find its way. Only two days before students head off for Easter break, the Davidson community will be faced with the decisions of providing support, memorializing Cameron and yet moving on. However, hopefully it is with a greater perspective.

These past two weeks, I have had numerous conversations with people who are so frustrated this time of year with all of the activities and obligations that got pushed into the home stretch. We expect a lot here from ourselves and from each other. Oftentimes we miss out on being able to love on another in our goals. I can't imagine what I would have done had it been my best friend who I blew off for dinner yesterday so I could finish this project. Or the person that sat next to me in class all semester that I never talked to. I couldn't imagine being a roommate who is never around for support and then comes in one night to find your roommate dead.

My prayers go out to the Cameron family, and more especially the Davidson family. May we grow in love and support for each other, so that so many people may not be lonely together anymore.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Basketball pictures

I have recently discovered the website of a professional student photographer who has been taking pictures at Davidson basketball games all season. Although you have to pay for them, many photos are worth the money. Check it out at


According to several news sources, Ohio U.'s Tim O'Shea looks to be the front-runner now in the job process at Seton Hall. After a fallout between Manhattan's Bobby Gonzalez and SH AD Quinlan, McKillop and O'Shea moved into the top spots. Although there has no been no official press release, Quinlan is rumored to announce O'Shea's hiring by Friday.

Monday, April 03, 2006


According to several news sources, including the Charlotte Observer, Davidson coach Bob McKillop is considered one of three finalists for the head coaching spot at Seton Hall. According to the New York Daily News, Manhattan's Bobby Gonzalez appears to be the front-runner after an extensive interview with Seton Hall AD Joe Quinlan at the Final Four this weekend. Coach McKillop was also interviewed along with Ohio University's Tim O'Shea. There will be more on this developing story as it becomes available.