Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No Pain, No Gain

My first day of school started in beyond excruciating, pain. All day it felt like I had a blunt, iron-rod piercing my chest and spine. However, I spent my nine-hour day on campus smiling, attending all my classes and generally taking care of business as usual. That night I spent hours trying to catch my breath and fall asleep. Around 5 a.m., I sprang out of bed to puke up some of the foulest, swamp water looking, bile I had ever seen. Determined to make it to day two (or the first day of Tuesday, Thursday classes) I threw myself into a steamy bath and tried mentally psyching myself up for class at 11. After countless futile attempts to alleviate the pain, at 10:30 I threw in the towel; fading in and out of consciousness I had a friend take me to the emergency room. I listened all day, to nurses and doctors asking why I’d waited so long to get checked out, as they poked me with needles and performed numerous tests. Later, diagnosed with “unspecified abdominal pain and vomiting” I thought what a waste of two school days that pain had caused. I had to wonder, how often do we ignore mental and physical pain in order to reach our goals?

          In 1972, Muhammad Ali fought Ken Norton and suffered a broken jaw from a killer hook. Despite his better judgment, Ali decided to keep fighting. The 12-round bout was decided by split decision in favor of Norton, costing Ali the heavyweight title belt and giving him his second loss ever.

          First game of the 1988 World Series, Kirk Gibson sat in the clubhouse getting treatment on his sprained hamstring and knee. It was assumed he would not be playing since he wasn’t even on the bench. But come the 9th inning, the Dodgers were down 4-3 with two outs and Dennis Eckersley on the mound. So the injured Gibson was called to pinch-hit. After two gross looking swings and misses, on a 3-2 count, Gibson hits a walk off home run to end the game. His hobble around the bases has become probably the most replayed baseball clip ever. Amazingly, he was so hurt that this was his only time at bat for the entire World Series.

          During the 1996 Olympics, the gymnastics gold medal was up in the air for the US and Russia. On her first vault, Kerri Strug landed awkwardly on her ankle, suffering a third-degree lateral sprain and tendon damage. Struggling to attempt her second try, Strug surprisingly stuck the final vault, guaranteeing the US gold. Then was carried off by her creepy mustachioed coach.

          Everyone knew Tiger was hurting during the 2008 US Open. The pain wiped across his face with every stroke. It was painful to watch and probably more painful to actually experience. But he came back to force a sudden death playoff with Rocco Mediate after sinking a now legendary 12-foot birdie putt. He went for par on the sudden-death hole and won his 14th major. Two days later, it was revealed that Woods had a torn ACL and two stress fractures in his tibia and was going to miss the rest of the year after knee surgery. A torn ACL knocks the average NFL player out of the game immediately. Woods won a goddamn major championship with those injuries. (The number of sanchas Woods played-through-the-pain with we’ll probably never know.)

          Determination can be a powerful anesthesia, however sometimes it’s ok to admit when it’s too much. When it comes to an education, the important thing is surviving for another season.

They've Got Spirit, How 'Bout You?

Can you imagine waiting in line, through the wee hours of the morning, just to score a pair of new sneakers at 5 a.m.? I recently read a story about a man that was stabbed seven times while he was waiting in line to get a pair of Nike Air Jordan XI Concord sneakers. Now while I think that’s just the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard of lately, I can’t help but think back on all the crazy things I thought were worth waiting for all night. *cough* Harry Potter *cough*. At what point do we get sucked into total obsession over athletic endorsements and how exactly can that celebrity endorsed cool factor be applied to Corpus Christi athletes?

Corpus definitely has the potential to pack arenas, after the hordes of people I witnessed on Black Friday I’m sure of that, but that still doesn’t seem to be enough to pack the stands at sporting events. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a Hooks’ game and been allowed to choose a better seat because What-A-Burger Field was basically deserted. So then what exactly are Corpus teams missing? There are a lot of excuses like, tickets are too pricey, Corpus teams are boring to watch, or my favorite “I just didn’t know anything was happening.” Honestly though, I think the only thing Corpus teams are missing is support. Unfortunately support only comes during successful seasons and successful seasons only come from supporters cheering, for all they are worth until their voices go hoarse. It’s a vicious cycle.

          Excited to start the new school year right, a friend 
and I attended the Islanders

women’s basketball game against UTSA on the 11th hoping to get tastes of that school spirit energy; you know the kind that has you rooting on the edge of your seat at each basket. What we got was a scattered group of students with really only about a third of them making any effort to root the team on. For the most part though, the "cheering" was more drunken slurs at the opposing team if anything. I think I saw more support for Shaun White’s clothing line at Target recently. Fans support the Flying Tomato because he’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and can work a half-pipe as easily as he would a snow covered mountain. On the other hand, take Lebron James- the man hasn’t won one ring since he was drafted to the NBA in 2003 yet he has billboards dedicated to him, a Nike clothing line and millions of fans worldwide. In James’ case winning doesn’t appear to be everything.

But what all of these sports celebrities have in common is the connection to their fans and community. Some of them achieve this by touring the state and motivating the youth, others endorse items that give the common-man something to come together over and some win games with such grace and modesty that it’s impossible to ignore. Though it’s been a rough season for just about all my favorite Texas teams I think they still have what it takes to turn things around and ignite the interest they have been thirsting for. We really just need a few hometown heroes to remind us why we fell in love with the game.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

This week's column

Don’t Call it a Come Back

Taking breaks is always necessary: winter break, spring break, timeouts. Even my Wii asks me to put the controller down regularly, but in a city where there is plenty of time to stop and smell the roses (or in Corpus’ case, a hibiscus) how do we make the most of our breaks, and in the end, will it help us or hurt us?
            Tiger Woods ended 2011 with his first win in two years. Woods claimed the past season slump was due to leg injuries and not enough practice. There has not been enough time for people to forget about his nine affairs to remember. In fact Woods’ only chance at redemption may lie in his performance in the Abu Dhabi Championship and whether he aces Rory Mcllory, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer right out of first place. I could certainly over look Woods’ personal flops as long as his professional game was back in swing; Golf really isn’t the same with out him.
            I can think of plenty of times where taking a break from personal issues helped me rebuild my studies and myself better than before. Of course sometimes taking breaks from school can be a different story. Sometimes you find yourself taking a semester off, to experience the world, only to come back and realize how much work you now need to get done. Other times you have a winter break that you wish would never end, because the thought of agonizing over grades and tests seems like too much.
            Another prime example of needing to take a break would be long time Packers’ quarterback Brett Favre. Since 2002 Favre was running through the retirement rumor mill, skipping summer training camps then coming back and extending his NFL records. It wasn’t until Favre was traded to the Jets in 2008, cut from the roster, picked up by the Vikings, and sustained numerous injuries did he realize the time for retirement had come.
            I once dated a football player at a rival school who took a season off from football for surgery and then returned to help the team with one of the best seasons of his career (they beat my school that year). As humans we need water breaks, lunch breaks and mental health days. As students we live for happy hours and summer breaks. Aren’t we are all looking for a break from something? Careful though, sometimes we pull a Michael Jordan and take a break only to realize we were right where we needed to be all along. 

It begins with a girl, and her city...

              Recently I was promoted at work to Sports Editor *loud applause* yes yes thank you thank you. I really couldn't have done it with out the love and support of my fans, friends and family. Included in the promotion, along with pay raise, working hours and boasting rights, was the honor of writing my very own column. So for all my beloved friends far and abroad, I will be posting my weekly columns; have no fear as I will still be posting unfiltered raw goods about my sparkling city.