Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 73 - It's Never the Great Ones

I've been blessed in my life to have not one but three teachers that have made a difference in my life.  Not only are they good at what they do, they are role models who show their students that they care about them.  After twenty-five years I searched out two of my college professors recently.  Dr. Takei was the most influential.  He taught Philosophy and Logic classes at the university I attended.  He started the class stating, "You will use what I teach you in this class every day for the rest of your life.  You will use it when you are arguing with your wife or husband and you will say, Dr. Takei, 'You were right!'"  Dr. Takei, you were right!  He taught us how to break arguments down into smaller segments and how to decide the validity of these arguments.  Here is an easy example to follow:

Sentence A: We go to the movies every Friday
Sentence B: It rains every Friday
Sentence C:  It will rain this Friday when we go to the movies

The premise goes, if any statement is false in the the argument then the point of the argument may be false as a result.  Sentence A is presumed True, Sentence B is False (every is the false adjective here,) so therefore Sentence C is False.  Politicians do this often.  State a sequence of sentences of which one is false.  Because the other sentences are true, people believe all of the sentences and thus the point of the argument.  This is why fact checking is the right thing to do. Trust and Verify. I do this often at

The second professor was Dr. Girven who I have kept in contact with throughout the years.  He asked me to come and speak to one of his sociology classes a few years back.  It was an honor.  I was a leader in the Multiracial Movement to petition the OMB to allow multiracial adults to properly self-identify on government forms and the census.  He asked me to come and speak about my experience of being a speaker at the First Multiracial March on Washington. During college I worked at McDonalds and he periodically brought his eight children in with him to buy them ice cream.  I thought it was a modern day marvel when he came because his children were all different ethnicities and races. Either he had eight different wives, he babysat to supplement his college wages or his children were adopted.  Most of us correctly concluded the latter.  He was very soft spoken and taught us to not just "tolerate" differences in people who look different than ourselves but to do the right thing and "accept" them.  In Dr. Girven's case, he took one additional step by also loving them.

The concept that somebody can be changed simply by being who they are in addition to being good at what they do is powerful.  When I contacted these two professors after twenty years, I was just another student to them.  They love hearing from students and how they made a difference in our lives. I let them know how much I appreciated their classes and how it had made a difference in my life.  I also looked up my basketball coach from high school and contacted him.  Coach Gregg was surprised to hear from me and that I had become a basketball referee.  I told him the story of how I fell in love with the game of basketball while playing for him so much that I wanted to continue to be part of the game. So after trying my hand at coaching, I became a basketball official.  He replied, "Well it's never the great ones who stay with it."  Offended I thought, does that mean that the great teachers weren't great students?

He was right, I wasn't great when I was in high school but I was good.  That's true of most officials.  There are exceptions but most of us just love the game.  We have to.  The hardships that officiating puts on us and our families, the low wages at levels below Division 1, and the thick skin required in order to take the verbal abuse are not for the "stars" of the game.  The stars have lived hearing the accolades from all their friends and families.  They don't stick with it because there are no accolades in this avocation.

When I officiate at Disney Wide World of Sports, many of the table crew are from local high schools who have graduated and still play on the local college basketball teams.  When I step on the court, they tell me they know me.  They tell me how they remember a call I made and how they either loved me (some of them tell me I am their "favorite" referee) and others tell me they were mad because I called a foul on them at the end of a close game. Now they have to be "part" of my crew and work with me as most people don't realize the clock operator and score keeper are an extension of the officiating crew. So whether they were for or against me, they must work with me as they have become a part of my team. I usually think about this until the jump ball.  We don't realize we make a difference by just being who we are, by continuing to be a part of the game of basketball and being good at what we do.  (People sometimes forget we are the necessary evil.) Whether we want to be or not, we are role models on and off the court.

With literally hundreds of thousands of young people who watch us, it's nice to receive positive feedback.  We hear the negative instantly and constantly. I wonder how my professors felt when I contacted them after so many years.  After coaching my 0-10 season, I received a letter from my twelve-year old player who had Fragile-X .  She stated how much playing basketball meant to her and thanked me for being her coach.  She told me that she wanted to coach when she grew up. After I read the letter, I cried.  Its not the great ones who stay with it.

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.  ~Michael Jordan

Even when I'm old and gray, I won't be able to play it, but I'll still love the game. ~Michael Jordan

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