Friday, September 30, 2011

too much too soon?

This week, my husband and I attended our first Edmonton Oilers hockey game of the year. It was only a pre-season game, but it still gave us glimpse at what this year's team might look like.

And I have to say - I am cautiously optimistic.

The goal of the team, this year, is to make it to the Playoffs (which we have only done twice in the last 8 years), and I think we just might have a chance (though I do say that at the start of every season).

We have a core of gritty veterans showing the ropes to a group of promising young upstarts; it was watching these new NHL hopefuls skate around the ice to the (already near-crazed) roar of the crowd that got me thinking...are these kids ready for what's about to happen to them?

I know that kids that are involved in any kind of sport dream of one day making the pros, they imagine scoring the winning goal in a clutch game, they can hear the fans cheering, they plan on how they will spend their money.

But when it actually happens, how can they be ready?

In Edmonton, the expectations of the fans, the media, and the city are immense. Especially since the team has been doing so poorly for so many years - all eyes are on these kids to save, not only the team, but all of us.

How is it possible to prepare yourself for that kind of pressure?

These kids are just that - kids. They are in their late teens and early 20s and come into this club with no experience in the NHL. And just like that, thousands of fans pin all of our unrequited hopes and dreams of the past years square onto their backs, egged on by the never ending chatter of the media.

Last year, our #1 draft pick, Taylor Hall, took 8 games to score his first NHL goal. 8 games. And for those 8 games the city of Edmonton held its collective breath.

Maybe he wasn't ready. Maybe we should have drafted the centre instead. Maybe we should change up his line-mates.

The mood in the city got darker, and the criticisms got harsher and people started getting twitchy. And then, 8 games into the season, he scored his first goal and everyone breathed a sigh of relief, celebrated and he was the hero once again. And then the cycle started over again until he scored his second goal. And his third...

He was 19.

And now its starting over again with our new #1 draft pick this year - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This kid is only 18, and by the cheer of the crowd at the game when he was introduced, much is expected of him.

The initial "talk" was that he was too young, that he wasn't quite skilled/tough/fast enough to play in the NHL this year. The plan was that he would take another year to prepare for the pros. But the performance we saw on Tuesday night - he scored a goal and got 2 assists on a line with Hall and our other hope-for-the-future, Jordan Eberle - its looking more likely that he will join the Oilers at the start of the season.

I hope he's ready.

But, then again, Wayne Gretzky was only 17 when he started with the Oilers, and I guess he turned out alright.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Second place sucks...

Finishing in second place is supposed to suck. There is a new commercial for the Samsung Galaxy phone that talks about just that. Here is what it says:

Nobody ever set their sights on second place. Who aspires to be almost remembered? There's a reason there are no giant foam fingers that say "We're number 3". No one wants to tell an average joke, make an underwhelming entrance, go out with a whimper. No one ever stood in front of a mirror with a hairbrush pretending to be the tambourine player. And there are definitely more kids dressed as Batman, than Robin. We all aspire…

So let’s talk about second place finishers... The US lost in the final of the Woman’s World Cup, and yet, they were cheered by the 8 fans that actually attend their games and they got go to movie premieres and appear on the Letterman show. I wonder what would have gotten if they actually won the tournament…a ride on the final space shuttle mission?

It just seems odd to me that they were so revered after finishing second. No person or team is ever given that kind of treatment for NOT winning. No one remembers who wins the silver medal…well maybe except for, um, what’s his name from um, that country…the guy that Michael Phelps beat by a fingernail in the Olympics? Yeah, I didn’t think you would know who that was. And I have $1,000 bucks that says you have no idea what his name was, but he was famous for a day when the underwater pictures came out showing Phelps fingertips touching .01 seconds ahead of him.

What if the 1980 US hockey team didn’t win the gold medal after beating Russia? Think it would have been such a big deal? In fact, most people don’t even know that beating the Russians didn’t win the US the gold medal. If they had lost the final game against Finland it was mathematically possible for the US team to finish 4th…with no medal at all. I think it became the top sports moment of twentieth century because they wound up with the gold medal. But if they had finished 4th…with no medal…no Mike Eruzione waving the whole team on the medal stand…think anyone would remember them then?

Can you name the last 5 Super Bowl and World Series winners? You probably can if you think hard enough. Packers, Saints, Steelers, Giants, Colts. Baseball is Giants, Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox and Cardinals. How about who they beat? Patriots losing to the Giants is easy because of the perfect season, Tyree’s catch…and, you know, the Giants actually winning…but the others are Steelers, Colts, Cardinals and Bears. Baseball…doubt anyone can get all these right…Rangers, Phillies, Rays, Rockies, and Tigers. I don’t even know if Derek Jeter would know.

Seems like the only time we care about someone in second place is when they are chasing the first place person. Roger Maris was hated and booed when he was about to break Babe Ruth’s record, yet we cheered on Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. We watched with fascination when Cal Ripken was chasing Lou Gehrig for most consecutive games played. Jack Nicklaus holds the golf record for most major tournaments won and there are various calculations and theories of whether Tiger Woods will or can break that record.

So I guess the old saying is true…winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

Oh…and the swimmer guy was Milorad Cavic from Serbia. Now go win a bar bet with that info.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To Pay or Not To Pay

I told myself I was going to report these facts to you in an unbiased fashion.  I was going to take a very politically correct, journalistic (<---Is that a word?) approach to this up and coming hot topic.  Take a seat breastfeeding/formula debaters, I have a new epidemic that you are sure to form your own solid opinion on.

To pay or not to pay your children to perform in sports.

If there was audio on this blog, imagine Foster the People's Pumped Up Kicks blaring and then coming to a record screeching halt.

What do I mean, Pay your children to perform in sports?  I mean, you make a deal with your kids or negotiate what it will take for Billy Bob to hit a homerun.  For Sally Sue to score a goal.  For Frankie Wayne to sack the quarterback. For Betty Louellen to birdie her badmitton.

See where I am going with this?  Incentivising (<---Another made up word ala SurferWife) your kids to perform to your standards.  I suppose the argument for this goes something like, "Children respond well to incentive and positive reinforcement and what they want is $20 per goal or the $400 Lego Deathstar for an out of the park homerun."

Ok, I did my part reporting the positives of this epidemic.  Now, please allow me my opinions on the adverse effects of this reward system:

Hey dad who never played football or possibly played too much football (<---Think Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite--the middle aged man who keeps reliving his glory days), I have a memo for you.  It's now your child's time to shine and learn to love the sport the way you did.  Instead of enticing Laura Bob to get a hole in one with a handful of Washingtons, remind her why she has chosen to play this sport.

I don't know, maybe encourage her to want to perform for the simple satisfaction of accomplishing something great.  Instill a sense of self pride and capability to achieve these great feats.

Because you know what bribing a child does, in my not so humble opinion?  It produces a nasty sense of entitlement. "Look daddy, I kicked a ball.  What material item do I get now? Because damn it, daddy, I demand to receive a physical item every time I do something well."

My son has not received a single material item from me for his above average accomplishments on any field he has played on, thus far. You know what he does get though?  An insane amount of pride in his parents' eyes.  Very heartfelt congratulations, high fives and cheerleading from the stands.  Maybe he gets to choose dinner or grab a slurpee for an entire game well played.  But he will never, EVER hear his mother say, "Well, son, you sacked the quarterback twice and that's worth $10 a pop, you had 6 tackles, at $5 a piece and you scored a touchdown which is worth $25, so hang on let me pull out my wallet here and.....

You know what else you wont see or hear?  My kid running off the field screaming, "YEAH!  YOU OWE ME $75, MOM!  DID EVERYONE HEAR THAT?  BECAUSE I DID THE STUFF MY MOM WANTED ME TO DO, SHE HAS TO PAY ME $75."

You WILL hear his excited voice ask me if I saw a certain tackle or a great run for X amount of yards to which he gets back, "You bet I did, Buddy!  If you would have seen my reactions in the stands, you would have cringed with embarrassment, honey.  See?  That hard work you put in at practice this week, really paid off.  I'm so super proud of you, son!!"

Are the kids who get paid by their parents a better player than my son?  Not even a little bit.  He's not a starting pitcher in baseball because I pay him per strikeout.  He's not a starter on both defense and offense in football because he's earning money from me.  He's earning his own bragging rights because he loves the sport and wants to perform to his own expectations.  Funny, but I prefer teaching self pride over entitlement.  Go ahead and call me crazypants, it wont be the first time.

I will now step down from this bedazzled soap box.  I also use this same sparkly box to loudly support my son from at all of his games.  I can afford to add the extra sparkle because I'm not draining my wallet after each game.

Do you pay your kids for their accomplishments on the field or in their game?  If so, I sincerely want to hear about it.  Maybe I am missing a really crucial component here and you can enlighten me.  Truly, I want to hear every one's opinion on this topic.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Conference Realignment - So Long Big East

With the recent announcement of Pitt and Syracuse moving from the Big East to the ACC, everyone's asking my opinion on the realignment. Honestly? I'm annoyed, angry and nostalgic. I'm tired of reading opinions from "experts" who didn't attend either school.  Unless you're personally connected to the teams, or league, you won't understand the emotional aspect.

When I left for Syracuse I knew very little about college basketball, outside of the Pac-10 teams I grew up with. I was an un-jaded, at the time, NBA fan, passionately defending my Kings to the east coasters.  Then winter/multiple feet of snow arrived, introducing me to the concept of drinking to stay warm and Big East basketball.  I fell in love. Not with the drinking (more of a love-hate-love), but with a completely new (to me) style of basketball

Now they'll be playing in a league where shoot-outs are more common than any kind of aggressive defense. Yay (sarcasm font needed).  Will we have to change our style to compete? We won a national championship with our zone, but how will that work for an entire season in a league that loves the three?

For me, Cuse is to the Big East as UNC is to the ACC (Georgetown = Duke, heh). Would Duke or UNC ever leave the ACC? Ha!  As a founding member of the Big East, how can Syracuse even consider leaving?  It's been a week, and I'm still trying to understand the politics of basing a decision on football when the school hasn't been a contender in the sport for decades. Take a poll of non-alumni Cuse fans and ask them if they're a fan of football or basketball, I'm 99.9999% confident basketball would win out.

Second to Syracuse, I consider myself a Big East fan. Now I'm torn. At least I have this season of rivalry games and the Big East Tourney to enjoy.  Who knows when Cuse will be playing in the Garden for a conference tournament again.  I'm not sure I trust the ACC in saying they'd consider MSG for a future tournament location. They're a southern-centric conference, and Syracuse doesn't belong.

I'll miss seeing this!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Whatever happened to sportsmanship?

After Serena Williams' latest tirade on the court at the US Open, it got me thinking.

Whatever happened to sportsmanship and etiquette?

We all have our bad days, whether we take it out on Road Rage or our computer, we still try to maintain some sense of decorum.  Some of us are just born firecrackers.  I get it.  I am probably one of those firecracker people myself. 

But, really?   If we all acted that way when our emotions ran high, we would be up a creek.  We can't act that way when our boss dumps on us, or when the bank messes up our transaction.  We are expected to be polite and nice and (hopefully) receive that in return.  Now, I know that customer service is not always wine and roses.  But we are talking about professional athletes here.  And am I wrong for holding them to a slightly higher standard?  I don't think so. 

Who was it that said, it wasn't his job to be a role model.  If he was, then fine.  But that wasn't his problem, it was the kids' choice to look up to him.  Did I get that right?  Or t least the jist of it.  Um, hello.  You are in the spotlight, dude.  You got it whether you like it or not. 

A quick image search of "sportsmanship" yielded this:
This is true.


Remember this one, when they carried the hurt player across home plate for the WINNING run.  Because it was the right thing to do.

I just think this is funny! 

Johnson and Luiken hug it out. 

'Nuff Said

That was MY Gatorade!

This is how it should be. 

But you know, I remember going through these lines and I saw scores of high schoolers for years going through these lines.  Did they know what it meant?  Was it explained to them?  Were they doing it out of obligation, because the coach made them? 

I hope the young america sees plenty of examples of how to be GOOD sports.  There are plenty of examples of how to be a BAD sport out there.  It's ok to voice your opinion.  But I was always taught to call a ref sir or ma'am, state your complaint, then move along.  I want to teach my kids that competing is a privelage and one that should be honored. 
At the end of the day, when we all go home, we are just people.  Pro or Amateur.  Adult or Child.  Beer League or Travel Team.  Everyone deserves respect. 

I'm not sure Serena's fine will make any *real* impact on her behavior. 
Maybe she needs her mom for that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tailgating Thursday!

I have way too much on my mind lately. Today marks exactly 1 month until I say "I do!" to my awesome guy and I couldn't be more excited! As you can imagine there isn't much else on my mind. Morning, Noon and Midnight my brain is in full bridal mode... it's exhausting. Football is actually my one refuge from the topic of glitz, glamour and centerpieces. Don't get me wrong planning this event has been amazing but having a couple hours, 2 days on the weekend to be a "normal sports loving girl" is awesome. Other than watching actual games I haven't had time to watch a stitch of ESPN or know about anything happening in the sports world other than scores, or BCS / NCAA standings when Mike tells me about them each Monday morning for the SEC. If not for him I'd be rather lost in a swirl of bridal registrations and pinterest boards. [I'm obsessed!].

Let's get down to business and why I am writing this entry. While I haven't been to many tailgating sessions that involve sports [mostly concerts] it's hard for me to speak from experience. That being said, I know one of the most important aspects of a great tailgate isn't just the company you keep but the food you eat! I've been to exactly one sports oriented tailgating session in my life and that was the opening season game for Alabama in 2010. That was all it took. I was hooked and dying to go back to Tuscaloosa again as soon as I could. It's been over a year but Mike and I have plans to make that happen as soon as we are back and rested from our wedding and honeymoon. Since we were traveling and new to tailgating we weren't able to bring food to the tailgate party we were invited too, and instead brought booze and some snack food in bags. In hindsight I now know and see how you can bring food and hook it up for your fellow party friends. I am looking forward to being able to participate in making food this season. Since there is one main duty bestowed upon me for game day I thought I'd share that with you. I'm in charge of the food for most game days here at home unless it requires a grill, then it's Mike's job to cook it, and mine to prep it. Who's says you can't tailgate at your house, right? We tend to make weekends of football, mostly Saturday's an event. We invite a few friends over to watch the game, cook something delicious, stuff our faces and scream at the tv. All American grand fun! And there's beer too, golden right?

Since we treat every game as a reason to tailgate in our own home, I wanted to share with you all my easiest, fail proof recipe that I get the most requests to make again and to share the recipe for. This recipe is prepared in the oven but it can just as easily be all transfered into a slow cooker, melted and kept warm if you're on location doing actual tailgating and/or want to set it and forget it until your guests arrive.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
  • 2-3 chicken breasts (fresh, uncooked or you can use rotisserie chicken as well)
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Ranch dressing (or Blue Cheese, your choice!)
  • 3/4 cup pepper sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot®) OR 3/4 cup of your favorite Buffalo Wing Sauce, I often use Moore's Wing Sauce for this recipe, it's not as hot but just as tasty.
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (you can also mix in mozzarella as well)
  • DIPPERS: Tortilla Chips, Celery Sticks, Carrot Sticks (or ones cut into "chip" shapes), and the best thing I've discovered recently Chicken Biscuit Crackers! ZOMG! SO good! I can't believe I had never discovered these sooner but I'm glad I didn't. I ate a whole box almost by myself the last time I purchased them! EEP!
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put whole chicken breasts in a heavy pot and fill pot with water (just enough to cover the chicken breasts). I usually add some Weber's Kickin' Chicken spice to this, I'm obsessed with this stuff and use it on just about everything that I make with chicken. You can also add hot sauce to the pot if desired.
  3. Bring pot of water to a boil and let breasts cook for approximately 20 minutes. You will want to test them to be sure they are cooked through by cutting small slice in the breast. If it's still pink, boil for a little longer. (SKIP ALL THIS IF YOU ARE USING AN ALREADY COOKED BIRD).
  4. Pull breasts from pot once cooked and allow them to rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes.
  5. In mixing bowl combine softened cream cheese, your hot sauce/buffalo sauce and ranch dressing until creamy and well blended. Mix in half of your cheese mixture as well. (At this point you'll want to do a shot of the wing sauce, trust me, do it. I won't judge you because I do the same, every, single, time!)
  6. Once chicken has cooled take 2 forks and tear the meat up into small pieces. This will give you pulled chicken and make it easier to incorporated the meat into the dip, as well as give more meat per scoop for each guest.
  7. Mix the meat and the cheese mixture together and spread into an oven safe, greased casserole dish.
  8. Cover mixture with the remaining shredded cheese.
  9. Bake mixture until warm and bubbly - the top of the cheese will become a little brown, approximately 20 minutes.
  10. Serve straight out of the baking dish with the above mentioned dippers and enjoy.
Note: This recipe is great the next day if you have left overs - it warms  up perfectly in the microwave. And for some of you college readers, it's great cold too. Just like pizza.


For more Tailgate recipes feel free to visit the archives of my other blog for game day treats! As always I hope you all have a great weekend! Mine will be filled with wedding stuff, engagement session photos and hopefully time to sit and ENJOY some football!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Is it wrong to promote sports over cheerleading?

My niece (also known as "the Little Bug") is about to turn three. My brother and I were both incredibly diverse in the sports that we played growing up. Heck, I even did 10 years of dance. However, I was never a cheerleader. My mother was, and sometimes I think she still wishes she was one. Not that it's a bad thing. I never wanted to be a cheerleader. I wasn't ever really friends with the cheerleaders, because I was normally on the court or field.

So, here's my question: is it wrong to promote being on the court over being on the sideline with pom poms? My niece's little friend (aka my brother's best friend's little girl) is always decked out in a cheerleader uniform for games. I don't know that they're pushing her to be a cheerleader, but it seems that way to me. Again, not that it's a bad thing. I'm just not comfortable with it.

I know that if they choose to be a cheerleader, it's fine as long as they love it. But, I don't want that to be her only option. I want my niece to try everything. Make sure that she'd rather be on the sidelines.

I'm lucky that my SIL wasn't a cheerleader and was always on the court too. Maybe lucky isn't the right world. Maybe I just have a very negative connotation of cheerleaders. I don't find there is much use to them. However, many will disagree with me. You can still truly love sports and be a cheerleader, I know that. Maybe I'm just asking for a personality trait, which you can't choose for someone.

But really, is it wrong to think that way? I just want my niece to have the confidence I learned from sports. To be able to keep up with the boys when talking about sports. To enjoy that part. Because I love it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From the Field - Warrior Dash

This chick got her ass off the sidelines and onto the field last weekend. Literally. I ran around in a big field.

I was a willing participant in the Warrior Dash that took place in Twin Lakes, WI.
Warrior Dash - Upper Midwest

I ran with this bunch of hooligans. 

I'm in the pink top.
This was us before the race. We may look a little strange, but we're clean.

This is us after the race. Still weird (that's my youngest Bro-in-Law in the sequined tube top), and definitely not clean.

Not familiar with the Warrior Dash? According to their website it's a "mud-crawling, fire-leaping extreme run from hell." Well, now, that's a little much. Yes, we crawled through the mud and leaped over fire (in addition to 9 other obstacles), but it wasn't that extreme and it certainly wasn't from hell. I mean, I finished, and I'm way out of shape. Like, the gym and I aren't even on speaking terms right now.

BUT, was it fun? Oh, hells yeah! Even though everyone but my husband left me in the dust I had a blast! My time was 34 minutes. The other two women I ran with, who were in the age bracket above me finished in 30 minutes. Can I be them when I grow up??! They rocked it. Next year I better bring my A game.

In all honesty, the obstacles weren't that hard. If you want to try this event, I say go for it! You can walk between obstacles if you want; it's not about your time, it's about the experience. (But I will be in better shape next year so I can keep up with everyone).
So there you have it, proof that I don't just sit on the sidelines and run my mouth.

I'll leave you with my scary face and a high five:

Special thanks to my 10 year old niece for her awesome camera skills and my god-daughter for accepting my muddy high five! Love those girls!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Problem with Multiple Fantasy Football Teams and Stuff

Four Fantasy teams in four different leagues sounds great, right?


Instead of winning every game, every week, I find myself rooting for opponents and myself at the same time. OR against myself and opponents at different times.


My opponents in one league, have the same players as me in a different league.

In Week 1 of the FTS league, I had the 2nd highest points total and LOST to Ally (while she's in Paris most likely paying more attention to her husband than football, as she should, since it's his R&R). At the same time, thanks to Ally's QB, the greasy-haired-like-Steve-Nash-but-sort-of-cuter-I-guess-barf, Tom Brady, I won my work league with his 2 TD passes to Wes Welker.

This week, in the FTS league, I'm playing Cathy.  LeSean McCoy had a killer game which allowed me to win, but also allowed my mom, with the same player, to come from behind and beat me in the family/friends league. My points still keep me in the top, and I can't hate on my mom (she's a HUGE reason I love sports after all, AND she's me mom...hello!), but COME ON.

I don't know how I feel about being so torn, week after week. I want to win, but I want my opponents to lose. Why can't I have both?

Unrelated, but to the announcers who called Tony Romo's play yesterday vs. the Niners "the stuff that Legends are made of?" Shame on you! SHAME! Legends around the NFL are spitting on you.  If they're not, I mentally am, from the vomit you made curdle up in my throat. Yeah, I went there, but it's Tony ROMO. The same guy who you were saying blew it last week. Let's all remember he was playing the Niners, with the coach who MUST be vying for the #1 pick in the Andrew Luck Lottery after his ridiculous call to keep the 3 points instead of the yardage while burning time off the clock. For those of you who were watching Emmy's Red Carpet coverage on Fox (when did they start airing real awards shows?) instead of the game, you missed the worst coach-call of the season so far!

In other news, I couldn't be happier that Kyle Chandler (Coach!) and the writers were FINALLY recognized for Friday Night Lights. So much so, I can almost forgive the complete lack of recognition for Connie Britton and the show for Best Drama...almost.

Clear Eyes. Full Hear. Can't Lose.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Slow and steady wins the race...

Back in 2005, my friend Allison...who was a completely healthy woman in her early 30s...was diagnosed with a rare kind of cancer called Hairy Cell Leukemia. Luckily, this type of cancer is highly treatable, but the chemo is really harsh and it kicked Allison's ass. Almost overnight, my healthy, vibrant friend lost almost 20 pounds and was bed ridden. She had constant bone pain in her legs that lasted weeks and she would go through bouts of rigor...where she would shake for hours.

Watching her lie in that hospital bed, unable to eat or sit up or brush her own teeth was completely unbelievable to me. I knew she'd be alright eventually, but it was hard to

What was even more unbelievable to me was that six months after she was released from the hospital, I was standing at the finish line of the San Diego marathon waiting for her to cross. When she came into sight it was a huge relief that she was OK and she had made it...but also there was a feeling of awe for how amazing my friend was. She refused to let anything...including cancer...keep her from reaching her goal.

At that moment I was inspired to follow in Allison's footsteps...literally. When we got home from San Diego I signed up to run the Phoenix marathon.

You have to understand something about me...I hate running. I don't like to run unless someone is chasing me...and even then, I really have to weigh my options. I've never experienced a runner's high and I don't understand what people mean when they say they've had a "great run". I've never had even a mildly pleasant run...never mind a great one. Running hurts my shins and my knees and I cannot seem to manage to do it and look graceful at the same time.

To give you a good idea of how unlikely it was that I'd ever run a marathon...when I told my dad that I was going to run a marathon, he laughed hysterically for ten minutes.

But I was determined. I signed up with Team in Training...a charity that raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society...and they provide you with tons of resources to get you ready to run your race.

From August 2006 to January 2007 I went to two training sessions per week with a coach and did several training sessions on my own. I ran hills in Central Park...I ran sprints around the NYC Reservoir...I did long distance runs along the Hudson River. I also had meetings with a nutritionist and sport medicine doctors. I got a cortisone shot in my knee and one in my hip. I went through two pairs of sneakers. I limped for about three weeks. In the end, I had to drop from the full marathon to the half because of all my injuries and how much time I had to spend recovering from them.

The morning of the marathon, I woke up at 4AM, got dressed, ate a peanut butter sandwich and headed out to the starting line. It was 30 degrees and freezing...the coldest morning in Phoenix in 10 years. As I waited to start running I kept asking myself why I was doing this? What was I thinking? I seriously considered getting back on the bus and going back to the hotel.

But I didn't. Instead I ran (and walked at times) 13.1 miles. As my running partner and I reached the end of the course, our coach met us and ran us into the finish, ringing a cow bell and cheering for us. The finish line came into view...along with my mom, who was standing there cheering us on...and I knew I'd done it. I'd actually finished the race.

My time was bad that I've completely blocked it out of my mind. But I didn't care. When I started my training I couldn't even run a quarter mile without becoming totally winded and needing to stop...and five months later I was able to complete a 13.1 mile half marathon. And in the process, I managed to raise $4,000 for a wonderful organization.

If you are considering taking on a challenge like this I really encourage you to give it a shot. Because you can do it. It was a lot of work...but it was also extremely rewarding. And if I was able to make it through the training and the race, anyone can.

Stay Classy, San Diego. I'm begging you.

Let's talk about San Diego today.  More specifically let's talk about San Diego and it's sports teams.  Even more specifically?  San Diego. The Chargers and Padres.  And their fans. Or lack thereof.

I love San Diego.  Anyone who knows me or chats with me online knows this after about .0001 seconds.  I am the first to say how narcissistic I am about my town and how I could use a lesson in humility when it comes to San Diego.  But really, folks.  It wasn't dubbed America's Finest City for nothing. We have beautiful year round weather, beaches and landscaping.  We have endless activities, we are family friendly and are a great vacation destination.

The general population of people you meet in San Diego are friendly, laid back, and simply take a moment to enjoy the scenery around them.  You wont typically hear horns blaring, people yelling or feel a general tension in the air to instantly raise your blood pressure.  We love our outdoor activities and have a strong sense of a healthy lifestyle.  This place?  Screams SurferWife.

Image taken from Google

Maybe it's this laid back lifestyle and abundance of activities to do on a given day, but where San Diego lacks, in my honest and not so humble opinion?  In it's professional sports fandom.  I will be the first to say it's not easy being a fan of the San Diego teams.  There has been a lot of heartbreak.  The Chargers are like that super hot boyfriend that promises you the world and when you want to cash in on it together as a couple, he never shows up.  

And the Padres?  They are sort of like that red headed step child you never rely on to perform.  He's clearly not the son who's gonna pay for that house on the bluff you want to live in when you retire.  Sure, there have been glimpses of a champion here and there but nothing to sink your teeth into. 

Let me state for the record that when I speak of San Diego Fans, I am whole heartedly including myself and giving myself a severe scolding here.    

Petco Park

We kinda suck, San Diego.

Every time I go to a Padres game the stadium is never full.  And even worse?  Whenever I go, the opposing team has more fans than the Padres do. Are you shitting me?  This is ridiculous and embarrassing.  Here we have this beautiful new stadium in the heart of the gaslamp and we have Giants fans, and Phillies fans, and Rockies fans running rampant through it.  Why in the hell would the Padres want to perform for us when at a home game the opposing team gets more love?  Is that inspiring to them? 

Let's now speak of the big tacky elephant sitting in the middle of this blog post. The Chargers and the constant threat of them fleeing town for *close your eyes* Los Angeles.

Let me state for the record that this would be the biggest sucker punch to our hearts, San Diego.  The Chargers, once upon a time were the LA Chargers and let's be real for a moment.  That was stupid.  They were stupid.  Everything about it was stupid.  Los Angeles is not a good look on a San Diegan.

And before all of you sparkly LA people start yelling at me, I am so allowed to say this because *close your eyes again* I was born in LA.  I am a Los Angeles Native. My little naked SurferWife butt was nearly born on Mulholland Drive one fateful night in the back of a creeper, white, molester van.  So yes, I AM in fact, entitled to have strong opinions about both cities.

Back to the Chargers now.  Stop thinking about my naked butt.  We San Diegans that claim to be Chargers fans?  We are all up in arms and shocked and appalled that the Chargers may leave.  But people, how come every single week there is threat of a black out to The Charger game because we can't sell enough seats to our home games?  Really?  Every week, the news stations, radio stations and every media outlet has to beg our town to buy tickets to our beloved Chargers?

Are you kidding me?  If I had to beg you B-Holes to support me like a big lameass I'd hit the pavement, too.  Especially if the enemy promised me new fancy digs and faithful fans.

What Los Angeles wants, Los Angeles gets.  It's the land of entitlement and if we can't support and defend our beloved pro sports teams, they will take one of them.  And rightfully so.

Let's get our shit together San Diego, we seem to forget that we have more greatness than just our weather, citizens and tourism.  We have The Padres and we have The Chargers.  Instead of just talking about how lame it would be if they left, let's actually take some action and support.  Go buy your tickets now, folks.

You don't want the wrath of SurferWife on you.  Trust.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why Sports Matter More After 9/11

I love sports.  I always have, pretty much. 

I don't simply love the game, I love what the whole thing represents.  Or, could represent.

I love the good side of it all.
I love how when you are sad, you can watch a game of whatever sport and feel better.
I love how when something awesome happens, hundreds, thousands, even millions of people are all happy, cheering and give each other high fives all at the same time.
I love how when a tragedy happens, whether it's to a single family, person, a community, or a country, an athletic event can provide that common thread needed to distract, support, and help move on.  Even if for only a brief amount of time.  
Sporting events are one of the few places where, more often than not, people from all backgrounds and ages can come together for a common purpose - to cheer on their team and to jeer the common opponent.  After 9/11, we all had a common opponent again, not necessarily a physical one, but a mental one.  Our opponent was fear.  We all had to re-learn how to move forward and regain some "normalcy" in our day to day lives.  Attending, watching, following our beloved sports was one way how we, as Americans, could do that. 

I wasn't in California on September 11, 2001, I was in Michigan in graduate school at Michigan State University.   I remember where I was, where I was standing, the shock I felt, the fear for loved ones.  I remember calling and volunteering my services as an EMT, and knowing if they called back, my mom would be pissed being her only daughter and all, but I had to do it.  I had to at least try to help.  I had to try to serve my country. 
A week later, after almost non-stop news and reporting and talk about the attacks and their aftermath, I was so freaking thankful for a baseball game, a football game, hell, I would have taken a game of cricket at that point.  ANYTHING to get away from those images. 

The Mets marked the return of pro sports in New York on September 21, 2001 at Shea Stadium against the Atlanta Braves.  What was more important to them, the game or just being there?  How many people did they know personally effected by the tragedy?  Did they want to be there, or were they there for those in attendance?

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Roger Clemens was the starting pitcher for the Yankee's return to the Bronx on September 25, 2001 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  Those officers deserve every bit of recognition for their service during the disaster.  How emotional were the players that day?  How humbled was Roger Clemens having the honor to shake their hand? 

Ezra Shaw/Allsport/Getty Images

How important was it for American to cheer for those sports?  To be able to stand and sing our National Anthem? 

Kansas City hosted the New York Giants on September 23, 2001 with an emotional speech from Paul Tagliabue at the opening.  Kansas City lost, but I'm not sure they cared.  Between the fans, players, coaches, and owners, the KC Chiefs community raised $451,413.88 to aid the families effected by the disaster - that day.

Then, 10 years later... Sunday, September 11, 2011, opening day of the NFL Regular Season.

The Jets' Mark Sanchez, LaDainian Tomlinson among others carry flags while entering the field.

AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams

Before the Tigers game at Comerica Park in Farmington Hills, MI...

AP Photo/Duane Burleson

Fans at the Houston Texans Game show their patriotism...

AP Photo/Eric Gay

 And, of course, the San Diego Chargers... people look skyward as the tradition Osprey aircraft flyover passes by.  Believe me, this is an amazing sight!

AP Photo/Denis Poroy

To all the service men and women, fire personnel, police and other law enforcement officers, we are all in your debt.  
For what you did that day and what you have done for the 10 years since that disaster and will continue to do to protect us, thank you... And no, we won't ever forget.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gearing Up!

Today I thought might talk about the opening game for Alabama vs. Kent State, did you know Alabama's coach Nick Saban went to Kent State? Now you do, and knowing is half the battle. I say I thought I might talk about it because originally my fiance and I were planning on heading to Tuscaloosa [2 hour drive] to catch the action. However we didn't go, so that blew that idea. We had free tickets offered to us - I'm sure you are thinking what stopped you, Kell? Well the fact that we are getting married in less than two months is the biggest reason. We have a lot we still have to worry about purchasing and handling before the big day and didn't want to come up short. We have an entire season to go to games, and only one chance to make our wedding and event to remember. And let's be honest, sure it would cost us the price of gas to get there that's not too bad it's the fun times we have when we are there that add up. Beer isn't cheap, and neither are tasty game day treats. I wouldn't want to go all the way to T-Town and NOT enjoy myself.

That being said I figured I'd discuss something that has stuck out to me for a few years now since I started watching college ball and pro ball. I want to talk uniforms. Long gone are the days when I would choose a team based on it's color scheme. And by team I mean Nascar driver or team I'd choose to win a Super Bowl when I wasn't actually into either team that made it that year but still wanted to watch the big game... for the commercials. And that my friends is the ONLY reason you would have ever found me rooting for the Tennessee Titans... [it was a dull Super Bowl and they were new, flashy and sporting "Carolina Blue"].

NFL always has flashy gear, aside from a few teams that still seem fairly true to some of their classic garb [New York Jets & Washington Redskins I'm looking at you and approving!] I feel the leauge is all about big, bright colors AND making money. And with good reason, they have to pay those players some how right? I would like to also address that I know the Browns and the Cowboys are also very classic, but of them I do not approve... sorry folks, I just don't. MOVING ON! ** Note: My opinions do not reflect the opinions of the other ladies here at From the Sidelines. They are my opinions alone. 

What made me start to think about uniforms was witnessing the Maryland vs. Miami game the other night on TV. I'm a Maryland girl born and raised! I never followed Terp football when I was younger. A) I wasn't really that into college ball and B) I went to Towson University which is a smaller, less well known school in Maryland right outside of Baltimore. Something felt off for me to be rooting for another college's football team while going to a different one, who's team was less than impressive. It's my own personal hang up, and I'm working on it. That being said I really wanted to watch this game. Call it my roots, call it being bored with everything else on TV, call it getting homesick from time to time. Call it what you will but it's starting to get to the point where watching ANY football game can be fun for me, provided I have some type of vested interest in at least one of the teams. Or that I have a vested interest in seeing a certain team lose the game. Yeah, I do that.

When we turned on the MD vs. MIA game I was SHOCKED when I witnessed the Terps new gear. Did you see that stuff? I'm sure 90% of you are going to say "UGH, Kelly those outfits were SO gross!" To which I will not agree with you at all, not even 1% agree. I loved those uniforms 100%. Most people here in Alabama gave me crap for the flashy and ugly helmets. They didn't "GET" them. Half and half was a horrible choice but half red and half gold and black? WTF? Then I enlightened them by explaining that it was the Maryland State Flag cut in half, on their helmets, their legs, their arms and their feet. Being a Maryland girl who often times longs for home, you can see why this thrilled me. I have a Maryland state flag hanging in my office at the house. I love the design of the flag and the colors together. I guess this is where I can state... "It's a Maryland thing, you wouldn't understand." or the ever fun... "Crab Cakes and Football - that's how Maryland does it!" Or however that goes in Wedding Crashers.

Call it what you will, I call it AWESOME • via abc news
From what the announcers told me while watching the game, this is one of about 30 different uniform choices for this season for the Terps. Turns out the big man at Under Armor is an alumni to the college and has donated this gear to the University of Maryland's football team. SWEEEEEET! I guess Oregon can't do all the boasting now since Nike's head honcho supplies them with their tight new gear for every game. I'm not a fan of Oregon but I do really love their matte black/gray helmets up against that bright green and yellow.  All the flash aside I do think it's a bit unfair that so many teams don't get this choice of new gear simply because CEO's of companies didn't go to their school. Nike will often times offer up new gear to schools but I'm not sure if it's "GIVEN" or made and purchased.

Let's talk classic. While I loved Maryland's new gear and look forward to seeing it evolve this season, there is something to be said for the teams that try to stick as closely to their roots and original style as possible. When I think of classic college uniforms I think of two universities, Alabama and Penn State. While both of their uniforms have changed over the years [Alabama has added the words ALABAMA to their jersey's and I'm sure Penn State has changed, I'm just not positive about what the change has been] - they maintain a look and feel of old school, classic uniforms. When I watch a game between these two teams, as I will this weekend, I get a sense of feeling like my father might have watched this games many years ago. I've always liked and admired Penn State and good ole Joe Paterno! And now that I'm a newly converted Alabama Crimson Tide fan [if you consider new 4+ years], I also have a huge spot in my heart for Paul Bear Bryant. Did you know that he coached 1 season at Maryland? Maybe my roots are more connected to Alabama from Maryland than I thought.

BAMA Modern Gear with a Classic Look • via google
PSU, also Modern Gear with a Classic Look • via google
I love the simplicity of both uniforms and while there have been lots of updates since day one on the schools logos and mascots, their uniforms have held the test of time. Alabama is very cautious about new uniform changes, almost as if they fear that The Bear will roll over in his grave and come back to haunt them.  Last year for one single game they showed off a new uniform complete with houndstooth numbers, a tribute to the late, great Paul Bear Bryant and his game day fedoras. The team mates were also given special gloves as well. 

Alabama One Time Jersey • via
When I said the uniform had houndstooth on it I mean it was super faint, almost non-existent. You can barely make it out unless you were looking for it. They are not ones to stray from tradition, and I'm shocked to see the cheerleaders in newer gear this year. Maybe it's the old South, maybe it's traditional ways or maybe, just maybe it's the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. I'm sure that Joe Pa has a handled on what his boys will wear each year, maybe after he retires [rue the day!!!] someone might make changes, but I have a feeling out of respect for him, his memory and his legacy they will treat the teams wardrobe with the same respect they do at Alabama.

I also love that most teams have a bit of superstition with their gear. The Steelers are the first to come to mind, again because they are my team. Most people wonder why they only have a logo on one side of their helmet. It turns out the year that they introduced the helmets with the logo, they only put it on one side to "test" it out on the fans and the field. That season was a monumental season for the team and owners decided that rather than mess with a good thing, they'd keep the logo on one side and it's been that way every since. See trivia, fun right?

If you had to choose a favorite uniform, professional or college - who's would you say was the best?

I stand by my feeling that I love classic gear, and Alabama and Penn State have that. Not just because they are two of my favorite teams but because it's classy, classic and timeless. That beings said some fun new flavor is always welcome so I look forward to Maryland's fashion show this season... let's just hope with the new gear, and the new coach they can keep it a winning season! I'm behind you Terps, better late than never, right?

As always, this weekend... I've got two big games Alabama vs. Penn State and Steelers vs. the Baltimore Ravens!!! So I'm going to sign off with a heated ROLL TIDE ROLL AND GO STEELERS!!!!