I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend yesterday in a lengthy phone chat. He has been a reader of these rants ever since they went online but we had not spoken directly in about the last year-and-a-half as he has been dealing with long-term lingering effects of a COVID infection. Those problems have limited his mobility and his ability to do lots of things you and I might consider “normal activities”, so he says he has lots of time to engage in sedentary activities. One of the things he challenged me on was to try to comment on the “minor sports” more often; he said there is lots of both good and bad stuff happening in that world. He offered to send me some links that would prove his assertion; now that I have chased down those links, he is right. So, today’s rant will be about “minor sports”.
Let me begin on a high note… Gary Martin is a high school senior in Warminster, PA; running in the Pennsylvania Catholic League Championship track meet, Martin broke the record for the fastest mile run by a high school student at 3:57:98. In addition to the fact that Martin did something no one else has ever done, this achievement is noteworthy because of the record he broke and who set it.
- The previous record – – 3:58:3 – – has been on the books since 1965.
- The person who set that record was Jim Ryun.
As I adjust my “old codger cap” here, let me tell folks who have not reached their golden years that Jim Ryun was a major figure in men’s track and field for almost ten years in a time when track and field was a much bigger deal than it is today. Ryun made it to 3 Olympic Finals and was a silver medalist in the 1500-meter competition. At one point or another , Ryun held 6 world records at distances from 880 yards to 1 mile. Gary Martin just broke a 57-year-old record set by Jim Ryun and Martin now says that he hopes to compete in the Olympics somewhere down the road.
Congratulations and bonne chance to Gary Martin …
Now, let me turn to another situation that is more controversial and less wholesome. Once again, it involves high school sports and probably the best way to set the scene here is to quote the opening paragraph of a report on Cleveland.com:
“A Lake Catholic high school boys lacrosse player with a swastika on his calf participated Monday evening in a match between Orange and Lake Catholic, prompting outrage and questions about how he was permitted to play while displaying the image.”
Officials at both schools immediately issued statements condemning racism and antisemitism and assured everyone that investigations were underway to find out how all this happened. Excuse me … There is a picture attached to that report at Cleveland.com showing the image of a swastika on the calf of the lacrosse player. Take my word for this; if you go to “Google-Images” and you search for “Lacrosse Players on the field” you will find hundreds of photos where the players are wearing short pants – or short skirts in the case of women’s lacrosse. So, my question is not just how or why that imagery came to be on the right calf of a Lake Catholic boys’ lacrosse player; my question is:
- How was that not noticed and removed before the game started?
- According to reports, the image was “wiped off during a huddle” as the game progressed; so, how did that escape scrutiny until that point?
And just for the record, I do not wish to hear even a whisper that erasing that image and possibly punishing anyone and everyone who were involved in this incident constitutes an abrogation of “free expression”. Take that argument to the Supreme Court for a decision; in the court of common decency, that is a violation.
Moving on … Once again, I think the best way to set the stage for you regarding this event is to quote the first two paragraphs of a report from the Channel 3 website in Philadelphia:
“We’re learning new details about what led up to a shooting in the stands at a football field near Temple University where children were out practicing. On Monday, police revealed the suspect is a coach for a youth football team in Philly.
“Cellphone video captured the moments a man opens fire and hits two other men in the stands of a football field as 7-year-old children were having a rec football practice.”
The alleged shooter was a coach for recreation football and one of the victims was also identified as a coach. Supposedly, they were “arguing over a woman” and that led to the shooting incident. [Aside: At the time of the report, both victims were hospitalized and in stable condition.]
No children were hurt in all of this – albeit they witnessed the event and its aftermath. I have no expertise on child counseling, but it is difficult to imagine that being proximal to something like this would be beneficial to childhood development. The alleged shooter was a recreation football coach; the report did not say what age group he worked with, but obviously recreation football in that neighborhood involves kids as young as 7 years old. Coaches are supposed to be “leaders” and “molders of character” for young football players. Might I suggest that the alleged shooter here should get a failing grade in those two categories?
Finally, since I began today with Gary Martin’s record run in the mile, let me close with this observation about jogging from Mike Ryoko:
“It’s unusual for people to run around city streets unless they are thieves or victims. It makes people nervous to see someone running. I know that when I see someone running on my street, my instincts tell me to let the dog out after him.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………