Monday, February 16, 2015

Community Standards

A final thought from yesterday.  If the players were adults, the coaches were adults, the refs were adults, and all the people in the stands were adults and the refs chose to ignore what was going on in the stands, I think I'd say, "So what."  However, with kids on the ice and in the stands, I think the refs ultimately have to uphold community standards.  Obviously, someone has to decide what community standards are.  And I'm not sure even the most well meaning set of parents would agree as I've heard some pretty strong language in front of kids on public transit over the years.  

However, without some agreement and some enforcement, youth sports parent craziness will only get worse. 

And if that happens I can't imagine what it will be like someday when I go to see any grandchildren we might end up with play some day.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Toast to the Hockey Tournament

I don't usually blog two days in a row any more.  But I had an experience at a hockey game early this evening and a 90 minute ride home that gave me a lot of time to contemplate.  that I need to get out.  And decompress.  

Earlier today I made a comment about hockey parents and their reputation.  Unfortunately, in the last game my son played in the tournament, I almost became one of "those" hockey parents.  There was a call that was debatable.  The call benefited my son's team.  At least one other parent was yelling at the referees in an overly loud way.  One of my son's teams's parents responded in a way that might be considered over the top.  Then I joined in the shouting to tell the parent on the other team he shouldn't be yelling at the refs anyway.  A woman associated with the other team told our side to "Shut the F*** up."  One of our parents got on her case for that.  None of that after the call on the ice should have happened.  At the end of the day, all of us associated with my son's team, including me, should leave calling out a rowdy parent to the referees.  And all parents, including me, should leave the officiating to the refs.

When all was said and done aside from this one issue, the kids on both the Baltimore Stars and the Wissahickon Warriors in the Squirt B2 division played an amazing two games in a day.  They faced each other in the last game of the division before the consolation and championship games this evening and they faced each other again in the consolation game.  In the first game the final score was 3-1.  In the consolation game the final score was 6-5.  My son's team lost the first game and won the second.  And aside from my son accidentally putting the puck in his own team's goal, the number of goals scored by each team at the end of two very competitive games would have been 7.  My son made the mistake of trying to turn to puck around in front of (rather than behind) his own goal and lost control and it drifted into the net.

So, the kids were evenly matched.  Even with our team at just half strength.

The kids on both teams played well.  My son's team came back after the loss in the morning to go up 5-0.  The other kids--to their credit--fought back hard to tie the game at 5-5.  My son redeemed himself after scoring the fourth goal for the other team by taking the puck all the way up the ice from his defensive position, going behind the net as he could not get a shot, and getting the assist on what turned out to be the game winning goal.

The kids from Wissahickon did not lose heart.  The just kept playing as hard as possible.  

The coaches on both teams taught their players to keep playing hard.  And maintained their composure regardless of what was happening in the stands.

The kids on both teams also played a clean game with very few penalties.

And the referees did a great job no matter how much a parent's complaints may have nearly led to an altercation.

The referees are human.  And we, in the stands, don't see what they see.  Ultimately, there will be mistakes and with enough games played some mistakes will favor a team and others will not.  

So, as I prepare for the last weekend of my son's time at the squirt level, I will redouble my efforts to only cheer in ways that acknowledge of encourage my son's team.  I will acknowledge good saves by the other goalie.  And I will leave worrying about inappropriate comments by parents to the referees.  That is their job--not mine.  

My job is to be a supportive parent who provides the resources, provides the encouragement, and helps my son get to the games in a sport he loves, my wife and I love, the coaches love, the referees love, and all the other parents love.  
And in the meantime, we should all remember, myself included, it is a game.  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Motivating Alone

As someone who used to be very much a loner and very much enjoyed concentrating on things by myself, it has been interesting to experience the past week.  I enjoyed a run with three friend for part of the way and two friends the entire way a week ago.  That was 6 miles with 4 of us and 13 with the remaining three. Not quite conversation the whole way, but certainly at a pace at which we could have had conversation the entire way.

Then, on Tuesday, there were five of us who showed up at the track.  Along with the five runners who showed up, we also had the officer who opens the track show up on time--which does not always happen.  Several of us noted how ironic that on the day of some of the worst weather on which we had bothered to show up, the officer was there on time.  The weather this past Tuesday was such that there was a thin coat of ice still covering the doors of my car even after a 20 minute drive to the track.  It had been easy enough to crack the ice on my windshield and remove it.  And the track remained covered with a thin layer of ice.  But the artificial surface was gritty enough that the track had enough traction so that at the easy pace at which we were running, no one fell.  One of the runners chose to do a harder workout that day and he remained uninjured.  The four of us who stayed together did not run in a single file line or even 2x2 but managed to stay in a line of four the entire time.  We called it "synchronized running."  And while it ended up being five easy miles rather than our usual run on the track, we all enjoyed the run in comparison with not doing anything.

When Thursday came, I did not have any takers for joining me on the track.  So, I went and ran a 4x800 alone.  It was a good workout time times ranging from 3:06 to 2:58 and getting faster each time.  That bodes well for a season of 5K's starting in April.  And while I enjoyed running my pace rather than the 3:25 pace we had planned for Tuesday, I missed the camaraderie that comes with being with other runners.

And on Friday it was so cold that I just ran an easy 6 miles at an 8 minute pace on the treadmill.  I have been running on the treadmill for years, even including one twenty miler on a treadmill back in 2012, but I did not enjoy the run.  I felt better after the run, but the tedium of 48 minutes on the treadmill that particular morning was noticeable.

What does this mean moving ahead?  Hopefully I won't completely lose interest in working out on my own.  However, I do expect that the social aspect of running, which I have already found to be important over the past four years of training starting with Charm City Run, will become even more important over time.  It will be interesting for me to see how this aspect of my running evolves with other aspects of my running life.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

And with your spirit...

Today, my long time running partner asked me to say a prayer for her friend.  I had heard about this friend's pregnancy over time as the friend was having some challenges.  In short, the mother to be had an emergency C-section to deliver twins early yesterday.  The baby boy was okay.  The baby girl died at 11:45 last night.  A terrible tragedy for the child and the family.  So, I said I would keep baby, the mother, and the family in my prayers.  

Later in the afternoon, we went to mass.  After the opening song the priest made a comment about the first reading being from the book of Job.  Job is one of the books of wisdom.  As Father Sam likes to point out these books are not meant as factual accounts but are useful stories to help understand what the ancient Jewish people were struggling with.  In Job, the struggle was with the concept of why terrible things happen to people who haven't done anything wrong.  This was the first amazingly relevant part of today's mass for me.  Clearly, the baby girl who passed away had not done anything wrong.  People of faith often struggle when something like this happens--and obviously this has been a problem for people of faith for millenia.

As mass continued, after the first verse we sang You Answered Me from Psalm 138 for the response.  The refrain talks about "Lord, on the day I called for help, You answered me..."  God is there.  God is healing.  God is forgiving.  And God can bring healing when horrible things happen to good people.

The Gospel was Mark 1:29-39, where Jesus healed the mother-in-law of Simon and then healed many others.  Another sign of a healing and loving God, although, as Father Sam pointed out, Jesus then went to reflect and pray as he realized that just being a "miracle worker" was not the intended role.  Third relevant thing to think about at today's mass as it was a very powerful example of healing.  

Next, the song during the preparation of the gifts was Your Great Name.  In this song, we hear about the lost finding their way, the condemned feeling no shame, and the weak finding their strength.  The term "my Healer" comes up again and again.  More amazing relevance.  

The song during the Eucharist, You Are focused on "Love unfailing, truth unchanging..." and "strength for those in need."  More direct relevance for my afternoon.  

Then, after Eucharist and prior to dismissing the congregation, Fr. Sam quoted two of the Beatitude including "Blessed are those who mourn..."  Father Sam had no idea of what issue I'd heard about earlier in the day.  

Father had challenged us at the start of the mass to continue to spend time thinking about what our baptisms mean.  What our commitment to our faith means.  He commented further than with no one paying attention to the rule to go to church at this point we are seeing only people who are really committed.  But that doesn't mean that everyone has it all figured out.  The people who come are the ones who are seeking to figure it out and then figure out how to live their lives in a way that reflects the Gospel that we preach and listen to.  To conclude this thought, Father Sam shared a thought with us that he had shared before: don't just listen to me on Sunday, watch my actions on Wednesday.  See if he lives out what he speaks about.

And to tie this all back to how it affects me, I had shared with my friend, who is not Catholic, that at the Catholic mass the priest will say "Peace be with you."  And over the past several years the congregation has not answered "And also with you," but instead, "And with your spirit."  Today, my friend's friend needs her spirit healed.  And, so, I pointed this out to my friend and she appreciated the thought a lot.  

For those of us with faith in the God Christians believe in, there is the opportunity to find healing in that faith.  And for me today, I was amazed at how the readings that are set years in advance helped me to see examples of that healing and examples of how I am asked to help live out that healing on a day when I wished for nothing more than healing thoughts for a friend of a friend experiencing the devastation of losing a child.  

Saying a prayer is only a small part of the healing process.  The friend of a friend is lucky to have our mutual friend as a listener and shoulder to cry on.  Perhaps that will be a way for her to begin to heal.

And for me, if I ever wonder whether there is a strong correlation between what I need and what I get at mass, this is one day that I will remember.  I get exactly what I need.  Sometimes I just need to work harder to understand it and realize it.  Today was a shining example.  I hope that my spirit, which is more at ease now than when I first heard about the tragedy for the friend of a friend, can help to heal and lift up others.    

Saturday, February 7, 2015

First Conversation

I have not had many experiences in life where my first conversation with someone was a one-on-one conversation that lasted almost and hour and seemed almost effortless.  

The only reason it didn't go on longer was that I had other things on my to do list.

The only real effort was keeping warm as we sat in the Whole Foods with my drinking drip coffee during the conversation.

But even though we were only e-introduced before the conversation it just goes to show how much having shared interests can lead to interesting conversations from the start.

Knowing people who overlap.  Having been places that overlap.  And both being running, Baltimore, public health, volunteering, and Back on My Feet enthusiasts.

It simply shows the importance of connections.  The connecting of dots that I do every day.  The connecting of dots between people.  All part of a larger pattern of how life fits together.  

And it was fun.

If you'd asked me two-thirds of a lifetime ago how important it is to get to know new people this way I would have simply said, "I don't know.  I don't think it is important." 

But today, the importance of others is more clear to me than ever.  I hope it is a lesson that the young man who spoke out in an after mass meeting of families last week at Church can learn some day.  He is not alone.  There are people like him.  There are people who like him.  There are people, in fact, who love him and care about him deeply.  And someday he will appreciate that he is not an island.  I surely appreciate that in ways now that in my teenage, pre-Confirmation angst I never would have recognized.