Sunday, May 25, 2014

Team States (follow-up)

It was a long, warm day.


Belladonna matched her seed in discus, and she was happy about that.

Track athletes compete as a team based on the number of points collected.  A first place finish is awarded a certain number of points, a second place is awarded fewer points, third place still fewer....and so on.  Also, events that require multiple athletes, like relay races where a baton is passed, are awarded more points for each "place".

The ability to sprinkle the most developed athletes around to perform well on the relays without completely giving away the single events is a combination of coaching, math and luck.

Belladonna matching her seed in discus added points for the Eaton Rapids team.  Our other two women also placed, one above her seed and the other below her seed.  It was a good day for Eaton Rapids in discus.

Shot put

Belladonna finished below her seed in shot put.  While she cared, she was not crushed.  Even if she had finished at her seed she would not have added any points to the Eaton Rapids team total.

Our highest seeded woman shot putter matched her seed and placed second with a throw of more than 41 feet.

The top place in both discus and shot was taken by the same woman from Zeeland East.  She is an incredible athlete.  She looks like a 32 year old yoga or dance instructor, well muscled but still giving the overall impression of slenderness and flexibility.  She was constantly stretching during the event.  And, boy-golly, she can throw those weights.

As a team

As a team, Eaton Rapids women finished below expectation but it was for the right reasons.

Springtime and Dumb Decisions

If you read the papers enough you will notice an up-tick in teen mortality every spring.  In Michigan, the up-tick starts about 8 weeks before school is dismissed.

Winter is relaxing it's steely grip.  Seniors are thinking about freedom and become heady, thinking about the future.  The weather is about perfect for bonfires and other outside activities where adult supervision is a bit easier to avoid. Dumb decisions are easy to make.  Most of the time those dumb decisions do not result in a driver performing vehicular origami.  But sometimes it does.

Athletes occasionally do dumb things, just like everybody else. Procedures and policies are followed and the athletes get to sit out a few competitions so they can think about consequences.  Watching your team struggle because you are not allowed on the playing field is often the best disciple.  Not only does it discipline the athlete but it sends a message to the entire team:  "Yes, we are our brothers keeper, on the field and off."

Everybody in

Boot, a book written by Daniel Da Cruz is about Marine boot camp.  There is a section where he sketches out how the Marine Corp institutionalizes the seemingly incompatible goals of absolute personal responsibility and of absolute team orientation.

The Marine Corp deals nearly all rewards and discipline at the unit level.  The marksmanship award is not given to an individual, it is given to the platoon and EVERYBODY in the platoon gets ice cream.  The Marine Corp does not attempt to play God and figure out which person broke the mirror in the shower house.  EVERYBODY in the platoon gets to enjoy the healthful and mind clearing benefits of a seven mile, midnight run.  The mirror rarely breaks a second time, but if it does get broken again then EVERYBODY in the platoon gets to enjoy the peacefulness and serenity of a ten mile, midnight run.

The mirror in the shower room is never broken a third time.  There are 49 sets of eyes watching the cretin who broke it the first two times.  If he should start to exercise poor judgement a third time, the floor becomes slippery and he falls down...perhaps multiple times.

I once frequented a business called The Irish Pub.  They had incredibly fast service.  I asked a waitress how they managed that.  She told me they pooled tips and split them evenly at the end of the shift.  They followed a "who ever is closest" rule while serving.  I asked what happened if they got a waitress who did not pull her own weight.  I got a wink, "We talk to her in the parking lot after work.  Sometimes she does not come back and the owner has no choice but to fire her."

Editorializing and other drivel

One of the historically significant accomplishments of our country is that we have one justice system for every citizen.  Yes, there were egregious injustices to African Americans, Native Americans and women.  But, by and large, we at least made a show of holding millionaires to the same laws and penalties as we held paupers.  That was a new and unifying idea.

Benching star high school and college players not only upholds that ideal, it communicates it to the next generation.

It also communicates to parents that their kid can safely go to that school because rules apply to all of the students.  Misbehavior will not be dismissed with a "boys will be boys" even if the player is an athlete critical to the schools performance.  That "star" cannot get away with date-rape, or assault, or theft, or vandalism any one of dozens of other anti-social behaviors that would compel me to move my student.

It sets the tone.


  1. Sadly, justice is no longer equal... If you're one of the 'special' ones, you get a slap on the wrist, and go your merry way... Navy had the same rules in boot too!

    1. I think America is splitting in two. There is the America where we are raising our kids using a proven recipe and we hold ourselves accountable using a formula that has been around for +2000 years. Then there is the America that is not just passively drifting toward third world status...they are racing toward it.

      They are also using a proven formula. A formula of envy, and greed and gamemanship. The race toward New Hatii will be complete when the America of 1950s Americans is no longer able to pay


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