Friday, November 18, 2011

Giving Thanks

Next week is Thanksgiving. While the holiday is best known for its plethora of food, the Macy's Parade, and being a day of rest before Black Friday, it's also a time that most of us stop to give thanks for the goodness in our lives.

In the wake of the Penn State and now possibly Syracuse scandals, the absurdity of the importance we place on sports in our lives has never been more at the forefront. However, sports are still one of the most popular forms of entertainment we have. Whether we use them as means of escapism, fulfilling vicarious dreams, or just as a way to feel camaraderie with our fellow peers, the simple truth is.....sports DO matter.

So with that in mind, I'd like to take the opportunity to give thanks to some of the sports-related tidbits in my life:


Maybe it's the girl in me, but nothing tugs at my heartstrings more than to see unexpected tenderness from big burly athletes. MLB players with their kids during the All-Star game? Forget it.

But what really gets me on a week to week basis is the tradition of the Shepherd Rams football team petting Zan the Ram as they run on the field. Coach Monte Cater, always the last out of the locker room, never fails to take a moment to give the woolly guy a pat on the head. And that never fails to make me smile.


On the flip side of the previous thanks-inducing moment, I'm thankful that Bruce Irvin came into our lives at WVU. Let's face it, we like bruisers on our football team. Guys who aren't afraid to go out and hurt somebody. And maybe themselves in the process.

Hello, Owen Schmitt hitting himself in the head with a helmet anyone?

That's why, on any given Saturday, it's a welcome sight to see Bruce Irvin taking down quarterbacks, receivers, and basically anyone on the other team he can get his hands on. He's a scary dude, and he knows it. And honestly, that's what I love about him.


I know, I know, a lot of people think this is one of the more barbaric traditions in sports. But fighting in hockey is as natural as breathing. Why? I don't know. Maybe because they're wearing skates. Maybe because it's cold. Maybe Canadians are more testosterone-ly fueled than normal dudes. It just is. Thank goodness.


I'm thankful for this one for two reasons. One, I had no idea how to Dougie until former WVU basketball player John Flowers brought it to my attention. I liked the song. I knew there was a dance. I just didn't know what it was.

However, I think this was the moment that really put Flowers on every one's radar. Sure, we had seen the videos he made during WVU's 2010 run to the Final Four. But this video put him in FRONT of the camera. And, let's be real, kinda made him a legend.


This may have some of you going "Huh?" right about now, but hear me out. Having a heated rivalry makes things fun. Legendary Jack Fleming, whose historic call of the Penn State game I posted in my Halloween piece, is famous for his "Hating Pitt" anecdote.

Beano Cook, a long-time "Pitt Man", told the tale in a Post-Gazette feature:

"Jack Fleming's house was above the old stadium," Cook said. "He told me, when he was a child, Pitt would come out on the field, and he would sit on his mother's lap. His mother would point down at them. And his mother would say, 'Son, that's Pitt. You hate Pitt now. You hate Pitt tomorrow. You hate Pitt until the day you die. After that, you will hate Pitt for eternity.'"

Hating Pitt gives us purpose. It gives us motivation. And if nothing else, it gives us a great slogan.


Finally, I'm thankful that in my family, sports is a means of spending time together. Every other Saturday in the fall, we trudge up to Morgantown for a game. Every New Years since 2000, we travel to whatever city WVU is playing a bowl game in. Any time Shepherd has a home basketball game in the winter, you can find us sitting on the bleachers behind the team bench. It's not abnormal for us to hit up a Suns game in the spring/summer. I'm blessed that I live so close to my family to begin with. But the fact that we get to share in an activity we all enjoy on a regular's pretty much one of the best things life has to offer.

So sports fans, what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Are you planning on watching football next Thursday? Let me know!


*On a side note, I'll be heading down to Florida next week to spend the holiday with my family in the sun and sand. Ergo, no posts. I know you'll miss me. I'll surely miss you. See ya on the flip side!


Images provided by Shepherd University, fauxbruceirvin, jasonfeldman.files, and jedword.


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