Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Cynic Vs. The Optimist

Though TigerBlog has been known to be a tad cynical at times, he's trying to embrace a more optimistic side these days.

It's not always easy.

Today he offers a mix of the cynical and the optimistic, courtesy of the world of sports.

Let's start out with the cynical side.

There was this little tidbit, about the thoughts of some of the current players on a team that is considering signing Richie Incognito, the former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman who was at the center of the Jonathan Martin bullying situation a year ago:
Both quarterback Josh McCown and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said Monday that there wouldn't be a problem in the locker room if Incognito is signed.
"I don't care. As long as he can help us win, that's all I'm concerned about. If there's a problem, then we'll deal with it accordingly," McCoy said. "But as long as he's doing what he's supposed to be doing in the building, then I'm not concerned about anything else."

So what does that mean? That they could care less about the bullying, only about the blocking. Cynical.

Then there was Jerry Jones, one of the big egomaniacs on this planet. The owner of the Cowboys was talking about Josh Brent and how he hoped how Brent spent some of the off-season helped him in terms of discipline.

And what did Brent do this off-season? He went to jail. 

Perhaps you remember Brent from the story in 2012 when he was driving drunk and killed teammate and friend Jerry Brown. And what did Jones say about the matter?

As only outspoken owner Jerry Jones could put it, he hopes Josh Brent can be a better football player when he returns to the Dallas Cowboys because of the time spent in jail for the drunken-driving death of teammate Jerry Brown.
"When you on Monday are given a roll of toilet paper and it's got to last you until next Monday, that's a lesson of discipline," Jones said Tuesday in an interview with 105.3 The Fan. "That's a lesson of life. That's what happened to Josh. "When you have someone next door to you that grabs your plate of food and you weigh 340 pounds but you don't mess with him -- he just looks at you, because you know that guy doesn't care if you live or die -- that's a life experience. I think there's a chance that Josh Brent may come out here and have a perspective that none of us have seen before, especially from Josh."

Was that not enough? It gets way, way worse:
"He's had that [life-changing] experience," Jones said. "He deserved that, and some people think he deserved more, but the point is he has been through some eye-opening days. We could really benefit from that as a football team.
"In a totally and completely different way -- and I'm going to make sure everybody understands it is a completely different way, if you understand what I'm saying, Chad Hennings joined the Dallas Cowboys and he had actually flown in Desert Storm single-pilot jets. Had actually had a crash in single-pilot jets. Chad Hennings had developed a discipline and developed a work ethic that made him a man among boys, and he was a major contributor technically [and] physically but, boy, was he a contributor being an example of work ethic and an appreciation for the job you've got.
"It's a shame that all athletes to some degree can't have some of these life experiences and really have an appreciation for what a great opportunity it is to play in the National Football League. But Josh has had that, I think."

What the? So he compares killing someone in a drunk-driving accident with flying jets in combat for the military, essentially saying that the two provide the same kind of "life experiences." And it's a shame that all athletes can't have these "life experiences?"

Is he insane? Seriously? Is there something actually wrong with him?


Then there is the case of USC defensive back Josh Shaw, who suffered two serious ankle injuries from jumping from a second-story hotel balcony to save his seven-year-old nephew from drowning in a pool. For one day, he was hailed as a great hero, and a great USC hero at that, after he acted in the "Trojan Way."

And now? Well, it turns out that it might not exactly be true.

In fairness to Shaw, nothing has been established yet. But hey, why would it turn out to be true? Why wouldn't it be just another charade, designed to make someone feel good about people, only to have it yanked away at the end?

TigerBlog hopes that it turns out that the first story is true. It's just that he'll believe it when he sees it.

Cynical. Very cynical.

And then there was the report about Michael Sam, the first openly-gay player in the NFL, and his shower habits in the lockerroom. Great. Just what this story needed.


On the other hand ...

There is the story of Louis Marx Jr. from the Princeton Class of 1953, who has endowed foreign travel for the men's and women's tennis teams. Every four years (it's an NCAA rule that these trips can be no more frequent than every fourth year), Princeton's men's and women's teams can make a foreign trip courtesy of Marx.

The men's team went to South Africa in June. The women's team is currently finishing its trip to Sweden, Denmark and Spain.

The gift from Marx has enabled nearly a quarter-century's worth of Princeton tennis players to make an international trip. TigerBlog has been on two - both with men's lacrosse - and he can attest first-hand what a great experience it is for the athletes. It's something they will never forget, and it's a huge part of their Princeton athletic careers.

Optimistic. Very much so.

Then there is the preseason national field hockey poll. Princeton is ranked seventh.

A year ago, Princeton reached the NCAA quarterfinals. Two years ago, Princeton won it all, for the first NCAA field hockey title in program history.

This year, Princeton finds itself seventh - as it chases its 20th Ivy League title in 21 years. The Tigers trail Maryland, North Carolina, UConn, Duke, Syracuse and Virginia. That's five ACC teams and the defending champ (UConn).

It's easy to take for granted the overwhelming success of Princeton field hockey, or any Princeton team for that matter. Every now and then it's worth taking a step back and seeing the schools that Princeton competes against year after year, and with such stunning results.


Then there's Corey Okubo. He'll be a freshman at Princeton this year - just as soon as he returns from the Junior Pan-Pacific Games in Hawaii.

Okubo most recently finished 10th in the 400 IM and 12th in the 200 fly at the U.S. Senior National Championships and from winning 200 fly at the Junior National Championships. Again, it's easy to take for granted that national-caliber athletes like Okubo choose Princeton to compete in college, knowing full well that they do so with an eye on a top education and a top athletic experience.

And they've been doing this for decades and decades.


Lastly, there is Cosmo Iacavazzi, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and one of the great football players Princeton has ever had. It's been 50 years since he led the Tigers to a perfect season in 1964.

There he was yesterday, talking to this Princeton team after one of its first practices before a season in which the team is the preseason favorite to win the Ivy League title, which it did a year ago as well.

It's about more than wins at Princeton, though. It's about the loyalty and lifelong relationships that are formed as Princeton athletes, and that is on display clearly when someone like Iacavazzi comes back to talk to the current players.


And the moral of all of this?

You're better off reading than


Anonymous said...

Easy to forget that Maryland is now in the Big Ten, so the field hockey opponents you mention are actually four (4) ACC teams and one Big Ten team (ranked No. 1).

Princeton OAC said...

It's going to take awhile before TigerBlog associates Maryland with the Big 10.