Uncategorized

COLLEGE SPORTS RUBICON (97)

A fellow coach once suggested, “…the NCAA should be limited to 10 rules, and if they add one they have to eliminate one.”  In fact there is nothing simple about the rules, nor their enforcement.   Each year there are numerous attempts at control.  Some are major { like Title nine-equality for women, or Proposition 42-academic minimums, etc.).  None today rivals the $2000 “stipend” proposal that is currently pending.

James Michener observed that “America is the only country in the world that charges higher education with entertaining the public.”  The conflicts between money and idealism in education create a conundrum.   History tells us football and men’s basketball make the money.   The others want to play too.  Now what?

Only the big five conferences get tne NCAA stipend greenlight.  What happens to the borderline big timers not in those conferences?  How about the “mid majors” and small Division One schools?  NCAA D11?  JUCOS?  NAIA?

Each school will have some big decisions.  Nobody  seems to have any clear vision.  Is the paste out of the tube?  Is this a moment of opportunity, one that gives pause to higher education as a chance for reason?

My hope is that a code similar to the Doctor’s Hippocratic Oath ( “First, do no harm”) is at the top of the list.  Public school law says the teacher (coach) acts as the child’s parent (in loco parentis). 

Here are a few common sense suggestions if indeed reform is imminent:

1.  I  had 3 close friends who had big league potential as baseball pitchers.  All injured their arms due to overuse.  A coach should not ask a youngster to over pitch.   Pitch counts are a  rule that have saved some arms.

2.  College baseball plays too many games.  56 that balloons into 70.  Stop it.

3. Before football facemasks were required, 1 player is 3 suffered a dental injury.  After facemasks rule? 1 in 3800.  Good rule for eaters.

4.  Football has got to change the frequency of concussions.  Or lawyers will break anyone who charges to see the game.

5.  Women’s and girl’s soccer must create rules and training  that drastically reduce anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries.

There needs to be a lot of review.  Sports in America are way too important to be prostituted.  There are serious flaws, but the good vastly outweighs the bad.  Arthur Ashe stood firmly for equal academic standards for collegiate athletic eligibility.  He contended the capable will “…rise to the standard required.”  There is so much education in the proper use of sports, but if we give to the “thugs”, they eliminate the capable kids who can improve themselves, their families, and our country.   It is not racial.  Bad blacks eliminate good blacks.  Keep the right youngsters in our uniforms.

Standard
Uncategorized

FEDERER AND ” THE HACKALOOSKI” (96)

The forehand Roger Federer hit on the second match point in the US OPEN quarter finals was stunning. About like a golfer hitting a 3 iron 225 yards into an 8 ounce paper cup. For the Masters title! This man is a gift, in any number of ways. Tennis and life!
Number 25 of my articles, Hackalooski, defines a poor golfer telling a good golfer how to play. Article 9 (Tennis Tactics: The Circle Stinger) suggests that Nadal’s ripping, left-handed, topspin forehand, hit from within the “circle”, gave him a play that even the world’s greatest player couldn’t withstand. Both Rafa and Roger knew that this “laser”, relentlessly hammered at even a great backhand, is deadly.
Mickey Lolich was a great Detroit pitcher. When asked why his yearly win/loss records changed drastically for the better (from about 18/17 to like 24/6) he replied “…I learned how to win when I didn’t have my BEST STUFF”. There are days when singles tennis players are like “singular” pitchers. This appeared to be true with FED in both the quarters and semis. Admirably, when asked to explain his remarkable improved recent play, he did not excuse his earlier play as affected by a back injury. He could have.
With the greatest respect for this man, I do have a HACKALOOSKI. One hears all kinds of theories on “big points”, “break points”, etc. As a college coach one of the “points” I stressed were “ahead points” “The hardest time to play is when you are ahead”. College kids had the flaw of poor focus, particularly on 40-15 and 30-love points. The same is true of being up a break. Killer instinct sounds evil, but not in tennis. When college doubles changed to an 8-game pro set, we all watched in amazement at game leads of 7 to 4 and 6 to 3, that were frittered away.
HERE IS THE HARD PART. I think Fed plays these situations and points somewhat loosely. If there are statistics available on his playing of
these points, I would bet his percentages would be less on these points.
Particularly in tight matches.
The game is evolving. In earlier articles I have noted some observations: The JOKER’S great groundstrokes can keep Rafa out of his “circle”, 2. Dropshots are more and more common and successful (but not against Monfils), and 3. There were all kinds of 2014 US OPEN matches that exhibited the evolving ability of men and women to hit quality groundstrokes with wide open pace, on or near the line. Kei Nishikori against Warinka and Djokivic. Nuff said!

Standard
Uncategorized

A DYLAN QUESTION (95)

As recently as September 5, or three days ago, Bob Dylan has repeated his recent tour set lists with very little variety. This marks a major change from a history of choices from the one thousand or more songs he has cryptically chosen from show to show. There has even been a betting line on what the set lists would include. It is fully understandable that having to cope with all the lyrics, magnificent as they are, has caused this change. Any answers?

Standard
Uncategorized

RAIN CHECK (94)

Long time golf pro, Grover Bullin of the Wilson ( N.C.) Country Club, had a pat answer when asked about the weather: “If it rains it’ll be a dry rain.”
Part of joining the ever present “old geezers” golf group at any club is listening to tales of geezers past. Or passed. This one comes from STAR HILL down on our coast in North Carolina. It was “…told for the truth.”
Two “super seniors” played almost daily together. They rarely spoke. Both had senior health problems. One had narrowly escaped earlier cardiac failure.
The guys in the pro shop swore they made no comment about the steady rain as they paid up and headed to the tee.
One of the two recounted the scene later. After a few holes the two hit tee shots in opposite directions. As he approached his next shot the witness said he heard a harrowing sound from his playing partner. When turned he saw him clutch his chest and fall to the turf. The stricken player was barely audible, yet trying to speak. Putting his good ear close to victim’s mouth, the survivor swore he heard the final words: “You can have my rain check”.

Standard
Uncategorized

WIMBLEDON (AN OBSERVATION)- (93)

Several earlier blog articles have their origins in observations of play at Wimbledon. THE CIRCLE STINGER ( 9 ) suggested how Nadal used a “stinger” that proved troublesome for Federer. THE NEXT LEVEL OF TENNIS ( 10 ) concludes that Djokovic’s super ability to hit deep balls in either corner made Nadal’s “stinger” less effective. MOVING ALONG (37) extols the virtues of the drop shot in big time men and women’s tennis. And the speculation that more and more great players will use “all four corners”, as well learning how to defend against drop-shots. Allow me to notice the accuracy of these contentions.
This year (2014) called on THE JOKER once again for an area of improvement. But first, go back with me to an early 1970’s clinic at the USTA’S Teacher/Coach held in conjunction with the U.S.OPEN TOURNAMENT. The clinic topic was a question: “Which is the more important shot for men’s singles at Wimbledon, serve or service return?” The two clinicians were Jack Kramer and Don Budge. High Cotten for tennis commentary. Long clinic short; both “legends” agreed, for several reasons the return was more important. CERTAIN VOLLEYS BEAR STRIKING RESEMBLANCES TO CERTAIN SERVICE RETURNS.
A all levels, most volleys are underspin. Common volley instruction advises one to “block the volley”, or to “punch” them. I prefer the term “touch and tighten”. Remember there are a variety of volleys (forehands, backhands. low ones differ from high ones, two overheads are most often hit out of the air, and the instinct, or “belly-button volley”, for examples). And they can vary in length.
There is an old baseball saying that applies here : “Never say never in baseball”. Still here are a couple of principles that apply to volleys : 1. The harder they hit it, the easier you swing”. 2. And while “an approach shot is an elongated volley”, some balls hit at you at the net allow for very little “swinging”, or “blocking”, or “punching”. Maybe one should just get it in the perfect “volley-spot” and touch it away from your opponent. I think good volleys are made with a little tightening in the hands.
Back to Wimbledon. In the semi-finals against Dimitrov, it seemed to me “THE JOKER” used a very similar touch and tighten technique while returning certain well hit serves. On many returns (at crucial times and very effectively) he concentrated on movement, more than stroking the ball. Having watched Novak play a lot, I felt that in this match he upped the percentage of “touch and tighten” service returns. That so, Novak?
CONCLUSION: “TOUCH AND TIGHTEN” works on certain well hit passing shots AND service returns. Good tool for your tennis bag.

Standard
philosophy

looking for lizards (92)

With only one grandchild I don’t get as much time to comment, as some other grandparents.    Andre Parham lives in Boulder, Colorado.  His Father, Tee  Parham, hooked us up with SKYPE ( now FACETIME).   Andre thought we “”…lived in the box.”    They visit our beach home in  the summer mostly.   At age 5  Andre and I “skyped”  about his interest in golf.  Lots of golf plans for his summer visit.  I  cut down an old putter to meticulously fit a five year old beginner.  Golf pro, Harvey Penick,  advised starting young golfers “…from the cup back.”   As  I waited at the putting green for Andre,  I placed about a dozen balls in a circle, up close to the cup ( so he could “…experience immediate success”).   After helping him line up,  I watched him putt the first ball.  IN!    However he then spied an  inch worm near the next ball.  He put down the putter and watched “inchy” do his thing.    He asked if we could take the worm back with us?   Sure.  I picked up the “shag” balls and his putter, so we could “…take him back to the ocean with us.”

Dr. Jo Watts Williams, “MATRIARCH EMERITUS”,  Elon  University,  said kids today  (as always)  need time to “…look for lizards.”

Coach Ron Smarr and wife, Becky invited us to play golf in Georgetown, S.C.   The old municipal course (  Wedgefield Plantation ) is a treasure.   The endearing feature that attracted me was the tons of beautiful old LIVE OAKS trees.   My wife caught me staring at the trees,  trance-like:  “… what are you thinking?” she puzzled.  ” Tuddy ( Sterling, now) Webster and I  would have climbed everyone of these trees daily”.

I  don’t see kids climbing trees today.  Maybe TARZAN movies encouraged us to climb and yell.  Famous  Physcial Educator,  Jesse Feiring Williams,  said climbing was one of mankind’s natural activities.

Tuddy and I roamed the banks of  the recently befouled Dan River.  I never pass an empty grassy lot that I don’t speculate that it would be a good field for our pick-up football games.

Tuddy and I  aren’t climbing many trees now days.  He is struggling with health issues.   But we fell out of enough trees to toughen up.

FROM BOB DYLAN’S “NETTIE MOORE”:

” I loved you then,  and ever shall.  But there’s no one left to tell.  The world has gone black before my eyes.”

 

PS.  Otis Ritter was the best tree climber I EVER  witnessed.  By far.

 

 

 

 

Standard
Uncategorized

NORTH CAROLINA SPORTS ( 91)

Being a sports fan and a life-long North Carolinian, my induction into the N.C. Sports Hall of  Fame was a true “life-time high-light”.   My picture is next to Micahel Jordan.  I keep waiting for someone to ask me “…who is that guy next to you in the Hall of Fame?   Anyway it is cut, I am proud to be among these familiar legends,  some I happen to know.  One support that aided my selection was revealed later to me.   Senator Sandy Sands and his wife, Jenny, became FRIENDS  as “tennis parents”.  Our son, Dan Parham, and Andy Sands, were in the same age group.  And among the best players.  They played often.   Senator  Sands, as a member of the NC Sports Hall of Fame selection committee, told that group this, about  of one of their matches.   Andy twisted his ankle pretty badly.  I had taped a zillion ankles, so we took some time out while I taped my son’s opponent.  I asked Dan recently if he remembered the match, or who won,  as I, frankly, had forgotten it.   Dan, too, had forgotten.  Thanks, Senator.  Those were fun days with your family.

Here are some of the legends  I grew up admiring:  “Choo Choo” Justice,  Dickie Hemric,  “Bones” McKinney, “Peahead” Walker, Jim Beatty, Dave Sime, “Meadowlark” Lemon, Arnold Palmer, Richard Petty,  Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Leon Brogden, David T. and MJ.  Sam Jones,  Jerry Richardson,  and other greats.

And some  I was fortunate to know:   Alan White, Jerry Steele, Dave Odom, Jack Jensen,  Dean  Smith, Charlie Adams, Mary Garber, Jack McKeon,  Jim Mills,  “Big House” Gaines, Walt Rabb, Dr. Leroy Walker, Lou Pucillo,  Terry Holland, Herb Appenzeller, Woody Durham, Danny Talbot… .  Some Wilson, N.C.  BROTHERS:   This year—the Godfather–Lee Gliarmis, and Carlester Crumpler, Bill Brooks, Tom and Bill Davis, Coach Harvey Reid.

Marshall Happer is to be inducted in May.  Great Choice.  Allen Morris, “BO” Roddey, Whit Cobb, and North Carolina’s TENNIS  MATRIARCH,  Mildred Southern, represent N.C. tennis’ great history.

Not everybody, but a gym full of the best.

The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in Raleigh, N.C. museum of sports treasure.  Visit it.  AND SUPPORT IT.

Standard