What If We Knew For Real?

Since my dad passed last month, I have revisited the issue about what happens after we die. I have asked a few people about their beliefs and I posted my own thoughts here as well.

I wish we knew for sure.

I have wondered why we don’t? Wouldn’t it be better if we did? If we knew for sure what happens on the other side I think people would act differently. So why don’t we?

It’s funny how adamant people are about their beliefs. Some folks are borderline militant about it. I have to ask the question if they have been to the afterlife and come back. The truth is they no one REALLY knows with absolute certainty. You can’t base it on scientific facts because there is no evidence of life after death. Sure, there are numerous accounts where people have died and came back to tell about their experience but there isn’t much consistency in their stories. Science often explains them away.

Honestly I think it’s a bit unfair that we don’t know. So now all we are left with is faith that there is something there.

Faith. That makes it hard. Especially when you need to know for sure. Faith is a belief.

I still would like to know for real.

What if someone that has passed could come back to tell us? That would be irrefutable proof wouldn’t it? Maybe. Maybe not. Humans are so fickle and unpredictable so there is no guarantee that anything would make us believe – even a visit from someone that has come back from the dead.

This is the great unknown. Yes I know what the Bible says about it and what every other religion or non-religions say about it. We are left with not knowing and most of the time not even thinking about it. We are all headed there but we aren’t wanting it to get here anytime soon.

I still believe what I believe about it but I have no proof. None. That’s what stinks about this.

Instead of dwelling on it, we should make our lives count. We should make a positive impact on the people around us. Since there is absolutely nothing we can do about the end and whatever happens after that, we have right now.

We all have to find our own way.

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When Your Team Loses

sad-sports-fan-609x419I am sitting here at my computer on another Friday night.  Tonight there are no high school football games for me to stream.  The season is over.  It came to a bitter end on Tuesday night when my team lost the state championship game in overtime 47-41 after rallying from a 35-7 deficit in the third quarter.

I hate to admit it but I take these losses hard.  I know I shouldn’t take it so personally but that’s just how I am.  It’s never fun when your team loses.  Believe me, I have endured many painful losses from the teams I have supported over the years.  Winning is fun.  Losing is not.

After my team lost Tuesday night, I was physically and emotionally spent.  I was in a fog for a couple of days.  It’s silly, I know, but a person feels what they feel.  Since Tuesday, I have reflected on some of the most bitter loses from my sports teams.

  1. (Football) Super Bowl LI:  New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28 – Up to this game I had been a Falcons’ fan most of my life.  The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in this game.  I have not really recovered from this game and have not followed the Falcons much since then.   I can’t remember taking a loss as bad as this one.  This one hurt BAD.
  2. (Baseball) 1991 World Series:  Minnesota Twins defeated Atlanta Braves 4 games to 3 – Georgia had some serious Braves’ fever and we all endured the late nights and close games during Atlanta’s incredible run.  Game 7 of the 1991 World Series when Gene Larkin’s single in the 10th inning still remains etched into my pain.
  3. (Football) 2018 College Football National Championship Game:  Alabama Crimson Tide 26, Georgia Bulldogs 23 – This one is still difficult to talk about.  Georgia finally made it the championship game and led the game at halftime 13-0 but I think we all knew that it wasn’t over.  Alabama came back and won it in overtime.
  4. (Hockey) 2017 Stanley Cup Final:  Pittsburgh Penguins defeated Nashville Predators 4 games to 2 – The city of Nashville was rocking as the Predators’ treated us to an incredible run as the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and took us on a ride to the Stanley Cup final.  Game six was a scoreless tie until Patric Hornqvist scored with 1:35 left in the game. Nashville challenged for goaltender interference, but the on-ice ruling was upheld. Carl Hagelin added an empty net goal with 15 seconds remaining.
  5. (Hockey) 2018 Western Conference Second Round:  Winnipeg Jets defeated Nashville Predators 4 games to 3 – The Predators had the best regular season in the NHL and was poised to bring the Cup to the Music City but were dispatched by the Winnipeg Jets.  My wife and I watched every game of the season.  I didn’t want to hear about winning the “President’s Trophy” or division championship.  It didn’t mean much without winning the Cup.  I have just now been able to get back into the Predators.
  6. (Football) 1999 Georgia High School Association State Football Semifinal:  Lowndes Vikings 31, Northside Warner Robins Eagles 28 – Although Northside was the rival of my team, we were all supporting them in their hopes to win their first state championship.  In the state semifinals which were played at the Georgia Dome, the Eagles jumped out and dominated Lowndes 28-3 in the first half.  The Vikings rallied and handed Northside a bitter defeat.  I think we were all in shock.
  7. (Football) November 10, 1989:  Northside Warner Robins 7, Warner Robins 6 – Warner Robins was ranked #1 in the nation when they played their cross-town rivals in the regular season finale.  Warner Robins scored late but missed the extra point which could have tied the game.  I was at this game and remember rolling around on the ground in disbelief when the extra point went awry.

I could give you three more but it’s too painful.  Let’s just leave it at these.  These are the ones which stick out in my mind and still stir up that bile in my stomach when I recall those memories.  These were truly the agonies of defeat for a sports fan.  Yes, these did hurt and it took me a few days to recover but life goes on and I always seem to find myself back to following them again (except for the Falcons, sorry but that just pushed me over the edge).

Of course none of these bitter losses really affected my life much.  Even when they have won championships the thrill and excitement doesn’t last either.  It usually isn’t long before it’s time for another season to begin and you’re right back where you were before.  I know people who are the fair-weathered fans who support their teams when they are winning.  I’m always amazed at how many Dallas Cowboys fans are around when they are winning and seemingly hard to find when they are having losing seasons.  No, I’m not going to be one to only jump on the bandwagons of winning teams.  That’s no fun either.

Tuesday night is added to my list of being disappointed by my teams but last night I was in Bridgestone Arena watching the Nashville Predators once again and was back into feeling it again.  The energy and excitement is addictive.  It’s hard to give up.  My wife reminded me that sports is a distraction that we need sometimes.  A break from work and daily routines of our lives.

Which fans have suffered the most seasons without a championship?

  1. Arizona Cardinals (70 seasons)
  2. Cleveland Indians (70 seasons)
  3. Sacramento Kings (67 seasons)
  4. Detroit Lions (60 seasons)
  5. Atlanta Hawks (60 seasons)
  6. Texas Rangers (57 seasons)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (56 seasons)
  8. Tennessee Titans (56 seasons)
  9. Los Angeles Chargers (54 seasons)
  10. Cleveland Browns (53 seasons)
  11. Buffalo Bills (52 seasons)
  12. Atlanta Falcons (52 seasons)
  13. Toronto Maple Leafs (51 seasons)
  14. St. Louis Blues (51 seasons)
  15. Phoenix Suns (50 seasons)
  16. Cincinnati Bengals (50 seasons)

There’s always next season…..

 

GHSA State Championship Games: It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

santaToday is an exciting day for me.

No need to panic and check your calendar.  It isn’t Christmas Day yet.

Today is the day of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) football state championship games.  After the games were delayed due to the Atlanta United Major League Soccer (MLS) team hosting (and winning) the MLS Cup on Saturday, the state football championships will finally kickoff today at the Mercedes Benz Dome.

There are three teams playing today that I have an interest in.  The first one is Warner Robins who will be playing Bainbridge for the Class 5A title, Clinch County will play Irwin County for the Class 1A Public School championship and Northside Warner Robins facing Lee County for the Class 6A crown.  (Of all seasons for both Warner Robins and Northside to play for the title and they are in different classifications!  If you’ve ever attended a Warner Robins-Northside game, you would know what that would be like.)

I know to most people out there this doesn’t mean much to you but for anyone that knows me, this is a pretty big deal.  I am a huge Georgia high school football fan.  Even though I live in Nashville, Tennessee now, thanks to modern technology I can still keep connected to my teams through the SportsMic Radio website/app, Score Atlanta website, Georgia High School Football Daily emails as well as the legendary Tommy Palmer with his podcasts and high school football scoreboard show on Friday nights.

So why Georgia high school football?  How did this obsession get started for me?

My dad was a graduate of Clinch County High School and had played football for the Panthers during his day.  On November 11, 1975 he took me to my first football game at Waycross Memorial Stadium in Waycross, Georgia where Clinch County played Charlton County for the Region 2B title.  It was a cold night but shivering in the cold I was excited as I watched Charlton County edge Clinch County 6-0 in a defensive battle.   During the 1976 season we attended a few more games including the last regular season game when Clinch County played Jeff Davis.  Jeff Davis scored early to take a 6-0 lead and held onto that lead most of the game until the Panthers scored late in the game and made the extra point to win an exciting 7-6 game.

High school football was about the only entertainment I was allowed to participate in since my dad was a preacher and our church had some ridiculous rules against attending professional ball games.  I’m not sure why we never attended any college games but I was okay with being able to go to high school games.

When I started high school in Villa Rica, Georgia, dad would drop me off at the game and pick me up when the game was over.  I loved going to those games.  I remember the night that the football team beat Darlington 20-14 in overtime and then won the next two games to make the playoffs and dethroned the two-time defending state champions East Rome Gladiators in the playoffs.  I tried to play for the football team but my physical abilities were limited so when we moved before my junior year to Savannah, Georgia, I decided to stick to being a fan.  I finished my high school at Tompkins High School in Savannah, Georgia.  I never attended any of their games in person but I would listen on the radio on Friday nights.  Tompkins did pretty well in 1980 (my junior year) with Coach Joseph Turner who was a legend and coaching in his last season.  The team upset heavily favored Coffee County 24-21 in the region playoffs.  During my senior season, Tompkins wasn’t so good.  With a new coach, they dropped to last place.  I began tuning into Savannah Christian games on the radio.  The Raiders played in a strange private school league called the SEAIS which I believe was Southeastern Association of Independent Schools.  The most exciting game was when Savannah Christian scored on the last play of the game against Pinewood Christian and later went on to win the championship over Southland Academy.

My Georgia high school football was put on hold when I joined the United States Air Force (USAF).  In my first season without high school football, I was stationed in Abilene, Texas.  I attended my only game in the home opener for Cooper High School.  Although high school football is huge in Texas, it just wasn’t the same for me.  I had Georgia high school football flowing through my veins.  I spent the next season shivering in the cold at Thule AB, Greenland with my next assignment to be Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia.  A co-worker had been stationed at Robins and told me all about the Warner Robins football team winning national championships in 1976 and 1981 so I was looking forward to getting back to Georgia in 1984.

On November 30, 1984 I finally returned to attend my first football game when Warner Robins hosted the Valdosta Wildcats in the state quarterfinals.  Valdosta shutout Warner Robins that rainy night 28-0 but I was back.  From 1985 to 1991 I attended most of the Warner Robins’ home games and even had season tickets during many of those seasons.  When I got a job with the Macon Telegraph, I had to “work” on Friday nights at other games.  I had a chance to report on a variety of teams in our area although I have to admit that I had a hard time getting into the private school games.  I was excited when I was assigned a Warner Robins game, although I couldn’t show it.  I will tell you that I was scared to death to have to interview Warner Robins’ Coach Robert Davis but he was always nice to me and gave me some good quotes.  When the balance of power shifted to Northside, I would support them in the playoffs when Warner Robins was eliminated.  They had some exciting games too and it was good to see them finally win their first state title in 2006 after so many heartbreaking losses.

clinch_dad
Dad and I watching the 2010 State Championship Game

My dad was the reason I have followed these games over the years.  He passed away last month and before he passed we talked about his Clinch County Panthers and who they were playing in the playoffs.  It is special to me that the last game we attended together was the 2010 State Championship game at the Georgia Dome on December 12, 2010 when the Panthers defeated Savannah Christian 24-14.  That was a special memory and the last Georgia high school football game I attended in person.

Yes, it’s “just” high school football and the players are 16-17 years old playing a game but it has been a large part of my life.  On Friday nights I head back to my room to open my SportsMic app and play on my Bluetooth speakers.  That’s my thing.  Always has been.

Today, it will be a little different.  I will be at work but I will tune into the games and shoo off anyone that wants to bother me.  If the technology works right, I’ll watch the games online from Georgia Public Broadcasting and then turn the volume down to listen to Warner Robins and Northside on SportsMic.

I have come a long way since that first football game on a cold night keeping warm with my tiny hands wrapped around my hot chocolate in Waycross in 1975 but in many ways I haven’t.  I still love the excitement of the game.   Thanks dad for passing this on to me.

Moments of Integrity

C.S. Lewis once said that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one with watching.

Even returning your shopping cart.

It is amazing how something so small can have a ripple effect on others.

I was sitting in the the car at a grocery store while my wife went in to get a few things. I sat there watching what was going on around me to pass the time. A man with two children pushed his shopping cart to his vehicle parked in front of me. After he loaded his children and groceries into his truck he pushed his shopping cart to the side into the vacant parking spot next to him instead of returning it to the shopping cart return just two more feet away. Just two minutes after he left, another person pulled into the parking space where the cart was. The driver couldn’t see the cart and hit it with his vehicle. He stopped, got out and angrily push the cart back to its return. He stomped back to his vehicle and continued parking. He got out, glared at me and walked to the store.

Who knows how the one lone act of not returning the shopping cart may have had a domino effect on the moods of people affected by it. The man who hit the cart was now in a bad mood – or may have already been in a bad mood.

I thought about that for a moment. Something like that can affect so many others. What if that man went home and had road rage on the way home or fought with his wife when he got home. All because of that shopping cart.

We all like to get credit for our good deeds but sometimes the things that we don’t think people see have a deeper affect on others. It is never wrong to do the right thing, even if no one sees it. You will never know the impact you can have on someone’s life and not even know it. What if us doing the right thing ended up saving a life?

One day I was walking to the elevator in my building when the woman already on the elevator made no effort to hold the door for me. In frustration, I walked up to the doors as they were closing and said “That’s not niiiice!” I laugh about it but it was a moment that just a few seconds and a little effort would have been all that woman needed.

What kind of ripples are we creating?

I think we would all be surprised if we could see the things you and I have done ever so small acts or deeds which affected so many others without us knowing.

In Matthew 22 when Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, He said the first was to love God with all your heart, mind and soul He then said the second was to love your neighbor as yourself. When we read that we often think our “neighbor” means people in our own little circle of family or friends but it could also mean people we may never meet. In this world when people are so fixated on the screens on their smartphones, our influence reaches much further than the hundreds of friends on Facebook.

I’m always making the statement: “Why can’t people just do what they are supposed to do?” I mostly make this statement when I am behind the wheel and driving but I say this at other times too when the selfishness of others ripples into my own life. Can’t people just do the right thing?

Let us all try to do our part in having integrity. Yes, even something as small and seemingly insignificant as returning the shopping cart to the corral.

XFL Announces Teams For 2020 Kickoff

Presentation1It appears that the resurrection of the XFL is coming in February 2020 as XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck announced the cities planned for the new league.  Only two cities (New York and Los Angeles) will return from the previous edition of the XFL which played in 2001.

The new cities and stadiums will be:

  • Dallas (Globe Life Park)
  • Houston (TDECU Stadium)
  • Los Angeles (StubHub Center)
  • New York (MetLife Stadium)
  • St. Louis (The Dome at America’s Center)
  • Seattle (CenturyLink Field)
  • Tampa Bay (Raymond James Stadium)
  • Washington, DC (Audi Field)

The new XFL plans to be more fan-friendly with fast-paced games, family-friendly environment as well as several ways to view games.

The league will play a 10-game schedule with two semifinal playoff games and a championship game.

Another league, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) kicks off in February 2019 so it will be interesting to see which league will survive.  At this time, neither league has teams in both leagues.

The previous version of the league consisted of Orlando Rage, New York-New Jersey Hitmen, Chicago Enforcers, Los Angeles Extreme, Las Vegas Outlaws, Memphis Maniax, Birmingham Thunderbolts and San Francisco Demons.  As with the original league, Vin McMahon will also be involved in the XFL reboot but is promoting a “kinder and gentler” league when it takes the field in 2020.

Suggested nicknames for the new teams include:

  • Dallas – Wranglers, Outlaws, Desperados
  • Houston – Outlaws, Roughriders, Stallions
  • Los Angeles – Extreme, Stars, Condors
  • New York – Hitmen, Heroes
  • St. Louis – Steamers, Stallions
  • Seattle – Enforcers, Kraken
  • Tampa Bay – Krewe, Thunderbolts, Tritons, Bandits
  • Washington – Warriors, Stars

Philadelphia has registered a domain for an XFL team and may be a future location if the league succeeds and looks to expand.

Johnny Maziel who failed with the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) and recently played with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League (CFL) tops the list of players who might be interested in playing for the Dallas XFL franchise.

So will the XFL work?  I think it CAN work but only if it can survive the competition with the AAF which will already have a head start on them.  I think both leagues can co-exist as long as they establish themselves and don’t put franchises in cities with other leagues.  I still think that outdoor football in the winter/spring is a hard sell but still should appeal to football fans more than arena football.

Mistletoe And The Workplace

mistletoeWhat is  your first thought when you see mistletoe?

Harmless decoration or inappropriate for the workplace?

I’m having some issues with this right now.  It is my feeling that mistletoe should not be displayed in the office.

In this time where sexual misconduct on the job has been a problem you would think employers would have some common sense about this.  I have no problems with decorations or trying to celebrate the holidays but some things I think could be left out.  Management should circulate a memo to remind employees to celebrate in a joyful but professional and respectful manner.  This message needs to be clear and consistent with the conduct which is appropriate for the workplace.

So what’s the harm with mistletoe?

Answer this question: If it is hanging over the cubicle at someone’s desk, what does it mean?  Unfortunately mistletoe has become a symbol for kissing and that “harmless” kiss could be harmful to reputations as well as pushing the boundaries.   And we all know that there is someone always out there who will do it.   I have seen too many people treat the workplace as if they are repeating their high school or college days.

Two years ago, the high-profile Chief Executive Officer of a company kicked off the holidays by hanging mistletoe from the front of his pants belt.  He was reported to the human resources department but people were initially hesitant our of fear of retaliation or being a Grinch.  The CEO’s response was that he was only kidding and everybody knew it.

I often make the statement:  “Can’t people just act right anymore?”

The sad answer is “no”.  Some people ignore rules, policies and common decency in exchange for a good time or excuse for bad behavior.

Maybe I am being to sensitive about mistletoe but I think the workplace should be about work.  Do your job.  How hard is that?  Have some integrity.  Is that too much to ask?

In the early years of my career I worked in an office which allowed people to dress up for Halloween.  There were no rules or policy about it and you can imagine how that went.  Some folks kept pushing the boundaries until management was forced to eliminate it altogether.  It is sad that today you have to spell out everything for employees in the absence of common sense and decency in the workplace.  The larger problem is that supervisors ignore the problem or refuse to enforce their own policies.

Hanging up mistletoe over your desk or in the workplace is only inviting the opportunity for inappropriate behavior.  Then when the office is slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit then you will wish you had been more proactive in these things.  Yes, even something as harmless as mistletoe.  Even with all the sexual harassment training, employers are assuming that they are covered and everybody got the memo with regard to their actions but you are still seeing claims of sexual harassment being filed.

With 52% of women in the workplace having experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace, Christmas can create even more of a threat with workplace parties and events within the office.  So do we need more reason to condone unwanted behavior?  A mistletoe hanging overhead in the workplace might give some the idea that they can get a “freebie” without it being unwanted while women will feel obligated to compile because of a harmless holiday tradition.

Remove the mistletoe in the office.  It’s stupid to allow an opening for sexual harassment over a harmless plant hanging over the heads of employees.

 

 

Alliance of American Football Release Uniforms and Helmets

When asked about his team wearing different color pants for a football game, an old high school football coach said, “The color of the pants don’t matter.  The pants aren’t going to tackle anybody or score touchdowns, it’s the players wearing the pants who will win or lose the game.”

He was right about that.  They don’t make a difference in playing the game but it’s nice to look good doing it.

The Alliance of American Football (AAF) is the newest professional football and they will kick off their first season the week after the Super Bowl in Atlanta (GA), Birmingham (AL), Memphis (TN), Orlando (FL), Phoenix (AZ), Salt Lake (UT), San Antonio (TX), and San Diego (CA).  Last week the league released the uniform and helmet designs of each team.  Here’s how I would rank them:

#8 – Atlanta Legends

atlanta

Boring.  I think they could have done better.  I still have issues with the name.  Not that it doesn’t fit Atlanta in some way but it wasn’t very creative and neither are the uniforms/helmet.  The helmet will have a crown which could be a reference to Martin Luther King, Jr.  The colors will be purple and gold with the letters “ATL” up each side of the jersey in gold.  Maybe it will work and if they can do better than the Falcons I don’t think it will really matter.

#7 – Birmingham Iron

birmingham

Boring #2.  The Iron’s colors are black, dark grey and light grey.  They were inspired by the three elements needed to make steel – iron ore, coal and flux.   Not sure what flux is.  With no logo on the black helmet it is much like the non-logo side of a Pittsburgh Steeler’s helmet.  And that name – Iron – singular.  I’m not a fan of singular nicknames for sports teams.

#6 – San Antonio Commanders

san_antonioI like the name but there is a lot of red in their team colors.  The colors are a combination of red, silver and maroon.  The sword is a nice touch and identifies with the Alamo.  San Antonio is a city in need a professional football team that will stay.  San Antonians have been dealt with teams in the World Football League (WFL), United States Football League (USFL), Arena Football League (AFL) and even the Canadian Football League (CFL).  Hopefully this one will stick.

#5 – San Diego Fleet

san diegoAgain with the singular nickname but with the strong navy influence, I guess this name works.  It is expected that jilted Charger fans might come aboard.  The colors are grey, dark grey and gold in a military style design.  The helmet includes a battleship which is pretty fitting with the player’s number on the other side of the helmet.

#4 – Arizona Hotshots

arizonaNot a fan of the name but the uniforms identify them with designs based upon the United States Forest Service firefighters.  Their jersey is gold with an orange collar and green sleeves.  The helmet is gold with a green face mask.  The primary logo features two crossed fire axes on a shield.  I don’t think it will be hard to distinguish this team as an Arizona-based team.

#3 – Memphis Express

MemphisI was unsure where to place this one on my list.  I really like the uniform and design but it’s hard for me to identify this with Memphis.  I suppose the name is derived from Federal Express which is based there.  The helmet is a gradient from blue to read with a jet ascending from back to front.  The jersey is blue with red sleeves and collar.

#2 – Salt Lake Stallions

salt lakeThis is one of the team’s that I think got it right with the name, logo and colors.  The only thing that puzzles me is the helmet logo.  The logo looks more like wings rather than a horses’ mane which I assume is what they were thinking.  The jersey is silver with a light blue collar and sleeves, darker royal blue for the player numbers.  Not bad.

#1 – Orlando Apollos

orlandoThis is my favorite of the eight teams.  I think they got it right with the name and designs.  Orlando is another city which has been through several failed leagues and franchises.  Maybe this one will make it.  The team colors are orange, blue and white.  The helmet features a logo of Apollo ready to shoot his arrow inside of a faint hint of the letter “O”.

So now we need to wait to see which players will wear these uniforms and helmets.