The Smartest Guy in the Locker Room

Princeton’s freshman quarterback, the 193rd ranked recruit in the country, Brevin White.

When asked why he passed on scholarship offers to Power 5 schools, including Arizona State, Oregon State, Tennessee and Utah, he said, “I want to have a roommate that’s smarter than me.

The WSJ tells White’s story here. In short, he wants a career in the NFL and on Wall Street. He’s watched an increasing number of Ivy players find their way to the NFL and is confident he can do it too.

What a great quote. The irony is, by saying he wants a roommate that’s smarter than him, he’s instantly the smartest guy in the dorm and locker room.

My dad always told me to get better at tennis, hit with people better than you. The same principle, surround yourself by people more knowledgeable and/or skilled, applies to any context in which a person is striving for self-improvement.

To what degree are you surrounded by smarter, more skilled people?download.jpg

 

 

Here’s an Idea—A Weekly Sports SparkNote

SparkNotes motto is “When your teachers and books don’t make sense, we do.” SparkNotes provides written and video summaries of To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and every other book commonly read in U.S. high schools. Why read the whole book when someone else will do it for you?

No, this isn’t a philosophical discussion on whether SparkNotes is symbolic of national decline. It’s an embracing of the idea of delegating work to others. And of appearing smarter than you actually are.

Imagine how bitchin your life would be if every Monday morning a Sports SparkNote was waiting for you in your email inbox. Think of all the people who could benefit personally or professionally from being in the “sports know”, but aren’t about to take time from their weekend to follow athletic events firsthand? Sometimes I amaze myself. Brilliant, huh? My best idea since half-off, recycled, afternoon newspaper redelivery. Any venture capitalists want to front me?

Imagine the value of a weekly Sports SparkNote to the middle aged mom whose teenage son or daughter thinks she’s hopelessly out of touch because she doesn’t know who Dwight Howard or Lionel Messi is? Or imagine the value to an employee who wants to bond with his or her more sports-minded colleagues Monday morning at the water cooler. Or imagine the value to any man or woman with a sports-centered partner normally forced to fly solo.

Yes, close readers, that was a not so subtle reference to the Good Wife who knows just enough about sports to be dangerous. In hindsight, I should have kept track of her most epic sports faux paus for your reading pleasure. Here’s a sample drop in the bucket, “How are the Sonics doing this year?” Let’s just say I’m comping her a free newsletter.

Here’s a sample issue, in two different sizes, for the investors among you with especially deep pockets. Remember, Instagram was only worth $30m a few months ago. Don’t pass up on this opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

April 9, 2012—Full-meal deal.

• Dwight Howard, a star National Basketball Association (NBA or “The Association”) player for the Orlando Magic said he wanted the team to fire his coach. Then when the coach confirmed that had happened, Howard denied it. This after Howard spent the whole season saying he wanted to be traded, then changed his mind, then said he wanted to be traded, then changed his mind right before the trading deadline. Then he went out and scored 22 points, grabbed 20 boards (rebounds) and all was forgiven. When this story comes up, throw this out there, “Is it a coincidence that most of the NBA drama comes from knuckleheads who skipped college?” Then slowly moonwalk away from the water cooler, and silently thank “Sports SparkNotes” for your enhanced status.

• In the National Football League (NFL), Gregg Williams, the former New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator has been indefinitely suspended by the league as a result of paying his players under the table to injure opposing players. The scandal is termed “Bounty Gate”. An audio tape was released of one of Williams’ pre-game “pep talks” which shocked even the most fanatical NFL acolytes. He used lots of naughty words and repeatedly implored his players to go after the knees and heads of opposing players. This is especially problematic right now since the NFL is catching up to the science that shows repeated concussions seriously compromise players long-term well being. Some claim the NFL has known that for awhile, but is only serious about protecting players now because an increasing number of retired players with cognitive problems are suing the league. Water cooler one liner, “Guys like Williams give new meaning to the No Fun League.”

• Late last week, 51 year-old Bobby Petrino, the very successful University of Arkansas football coach crashed his motorcycle. He then told the “U” he was riding alone only to find out later a 25 year-old woman who he hired to oversee recruiting paperwork was also with him. She was engaged to another employee in the athletic department who has apparently broken it off. Now she’s in seclusion. No word yet what the coach’s wife or four kids think of his indiscretion. Smart-ass water cooler quip, “When is it okay to cheat on your wife, lie to your Athletic Director, and become ‘Sports SparkNotes’ fodder? When you win 11 games. [update—Petrino has been canned]

• Bubba Watson, a lefty from the U. S. of A., who played his college golf at the University of Georgia, is the first professional golfer never to have taken a lesson. Sunday he won the Masters, the year’s first (of four) golf majors at Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia. Bubba hit a miraculous shot from out of the trees to win on the second sudden death playoff hole over Louis Oosthuizen from South Africa. Bubba recently bought the Dukes of Hazard car, The General Lee, for $110,000; and with his wife, just adopted a baby boy. Water cooler lines of choice: 1) “I hooked my wedge 40 yards once too, but I wasn’t trying.” 2) Nice weekend to be a Bulldog (Georgia’s mascot).

April 9, 2012—Low-fat alternative.

• A star National Basketball Association (NBA or “The Association”) player for the Orlando Magic said he wanted the team to fire his coach. Then when the coach confirmed that had happened, he denied it. Water cooler line—”Is it a coincidence that most of the NBA drama comes from knuckleheads who skipped college?”

• A former National Football League (NFL) coach has been indefinitely suspended by the league as a result of paying his players under the table to injure opposing players in what’s known as “Bounty Gate”. The NFL is catching up to the science that shows repeated concussions seriously compromise players long-term well being. Water cooler line, “That screed gives new meaning to the No Fun League.”

• The very successful University of Arkansas football coach crashed his motorcycle. Turns out a 25 year-old woman who he hired was also with him. No word yet what the coach’s wife or four kids think of his indiscretion. Water cooler rhetorical question, “When is it okay to cheat on your wife, lie to your Athletic Director, and become ‘Sports SparkNotes’ fodder? When you win 11 games.” [update—Petrino has been canned]

• Bubba Watson, who played his college golf at the University of Georgia, won the Masters, the year’s first (of four) golf majors at Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia. Bubba hit a miraculous shot from out of the trees to win a playoff. Water cooler lines of choice: 1) “I hooked my wedge 40 yards once too, but I wasn’t trying.” 2) Nice weekend to be a Bulldog (Georgia’s mascot).

Which of these weekly Sports SparkNotes, the “full meal deal” or the “low-fat alternative” would change your life more? And what’s a fair price for your changed life? You spend the weekend sleeping in, reading, hiking, cleaning the garage, working in the yard, dining with family and friends, watching non-sports related films, and I devote myself to your sports (and cultural) literacy. One dollar?

Montana Grizzlies Stand Pat

The University of Montana Grizzlies will stay in the Big Sky Conference and not move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, school president Royce Engstrom said Thursday.

“It was a complex decision with many pros and cons,” Engstrom said in a statement. “In the end, the better course is to stay with the conference we helped establish in 1963 and to continue building on its solid foundation.”

Engstrom said there were three keys to his decision — he wanted to maintain the cross-state football rivalry with Montana State; he wanted the Grizzlies to compete against institutions with similar academic missions; and he wanted to maintain the prestige and integrity the program has demonstrated.

Talk about enlightened leadership. Stories like this help me battle cynicism. In a day and age where the default is to constantly grow, continuously generate more money, and routinely increase one’s profile, the Grizz said, “We have a very good thing going and we don’t want to risk losing it.”

No doubt many Grizz alum and fans don’t see it the same way as me which makes his “no thank you” to the bright lights and big bucks of big time college football all the more remarkable.

Maybe Engstrom drew strength from this Emmylou Harris track.

I’ve felt adrift lately. Lost even. At times I wonder if some radical changes might help me feel less adrift, less lost. So far at least I’m following Engstrom’s and the Grizz’s example, looking within, finding lots to appreciate, and standing pat.

Sports Report

• USC is reportedly paying Kiffin $4m/year. Not sure whether that’s $750k a win or $1m.

• Another brilliant essay by the best sportswriter at work today. I’d like to think I coulda’ been a decent sportswriter, but I would hate to have to go mano y mano with this guy.

• Ran a half marathon Domingo with Dano, Katie, and Annie. Another beautiful morning in Paradise. I ran well and I’m supposed to credit Lance with an assist. I left the house on the mountain bike without any gel (liquid carbos). Lance and cutest daughter in the world rode by on mountain bikes, got comfortably ahead, and handed off one of their gels. Shortly afterwards, I started mowing down people. But since Lance said “Thank you though for showing me that I have at least 8 years of physical fitness left” as if I’m about to keel over, I don’t think I’ll give him the credit he otherwise deserves. He is going to tear up the mountain bike course on the Sky to Sea race in B’ham in a week and a half.

• A few questions which will only make sense if you read Simmon’s essay. What’s your “one word”, not as a baller, but as a person? Is that the word you’d use to describe yourself, the word others would use to describe you, or would the one word be the same for both? In other words, is their congruence between your self perception and other’s perceptions of you? For myself, I’m undecided between “deluded” and “balanced”.

• 1,095 peeps ran the Capital City Half Marathon. 391 M’s (36%) and 704 F’s (64%). Hypotheses?

Nearing the Finish, Pretty Dog Tired

Right After Finishing