May All Your Wishes Come True

As a youngster I had a lot of faith in Kris Kringle. It made perfect sense to me that something magical had to be at work in order for an ole boy from Columbia, Mississippi to reel in a good number of the things he wanted and even more of what he needed each year at Christmas. And while I never got that Steve Vai signature Ibanez guitar with the monkey grip as a teenager, I got some asking to do.

In light of recent events involving fist fights in the stands in Hawaii, a player suspension for academic issues in Baton Rouge and more issues at Ohio State, I long for a similar time when the players I cheered for were.....well worth cheering for.

Perhaps the naivete of youth is a good thing especially for those pure at heart, but let us not confuse the innocence of youth with the lack of maturity that appears to be en vouge these days. The accountability of a team is perhaps the most positive of peer pressures. Knowing that your actions, good or bad, have an effect on others is a life's lesson worth learning early in one's existence.

I have had the pleasure of working with young people and sports for most of my adult life. It is a blessing that I cherish and a responsibility that I take very seriously.

Outside of being called "Daddy", I count "Coach" as the greatest of titles.

In my way of thinking, a life without sports is really no life at all.

Our teams give us something to believe in far beyond our everyday lives and give us a feeling of kinship with thousands we will never meet.

Our teams give us brotherhood. They give us community.

Their exploits allow us to escape from our own mundane problems and take part in a collective joy that no other medium can provide.

When our teams lose, we suffer with them. When we win, the victory is a joint possession we all claim a share of.

After all "We did it.....!"

Perhaps the greatest pain we as fans suffer is when a player or coach runs out of bounds and disappoints us in one form or another.

It almost comes across like a betrayal.

"How could they do this to us after all we've done for them?"

While that passion can often lead to irrational thoughts or behavior, I admire the sense of ownership loyal fans take when these sort of things happen.

I am not qualified to sit in judgment of these players, coaches or administrators in times of crisis, but that rarely slows me down.

So rather than sit here casting blame, I just want to share a wish list of my own in hopes that there is a little magic left over here at at the last minute on Christmas Eve.

As my daddy always told me, "If you're wishing, you might as well wish big."

My wish is that those athletes who elect to put their own feelings, actions, ambitions and attitude above the needs of the team wake up with a stocking full of coal and a hot dose of reality that reminds them that they have the rest of their lives to be regular, but only a few years to be part of something most people only dream of.

I wish that die hard fans of all schools and sports at all levels will learn that we all live in glass houses and that bad news is cyclical. As life has taught me when it comes to all things good or bad, at some point they too shall pass.

I wish the sports world had a few more Chandler Rogers types who keep God and family first and then play the game without a trace of ego.

And Santa while we're talking about Chandler, throw in a scholarship offer or two for him as a favor to me because he certainly deserves it even if I don't.

I can vouch for him, sir. He's been a good boy just like his mama and daddy always hoped he would be.

Please throw in some perspective for fans of all schools and make them understand that those offers from small schools they turn their noses up at mean everything to the kid who has no offers.

Also deliver a little respect for others because we fans may not have been willing to pick all of the kids who sign on to wear our school colors, but those same kids did pick us after all.

They deserve our respect, love and most of all our cheers.

Above all things on my list, I want this one the most.

Forgiveness.

I want people to know that at the end of it all we are all somebody's child and that everybody has some one who loves them beyond measure.

Help us to be slow to judge and quick to praise.

We know we are doing to be disappointed in people, places and things from time to time because that is simply how life goes when you depend on the human element, but help all involved move on quickly when we come up short of what we strive to be.

Santa I can't promise you the milk and cookies the kids left by the fireplace will still be there when you arrive tonight, but I hope you don't hold it against me when making your final deliveries of the Holiday season.


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