Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Purdue: A Spirit Unbroken

My heart sank when I heard of the shooting at Purdue University that took the life of a Boilermaker in another senseless act of violence.

These incidents have become far too common.

Yet, when it hits so close to home, there is a different level of emotion.

Purdue was my home for almost three years.  I worked there as a reporter at WBAA Public Radio.  The shooting occurred within walking distance of my old office.  I have spent countless hours covering stories and events in the Electrical Engineering building where the shooting happened.

That part of campus is legendary.  A statue of one of the world’s greatest icons, Neil Armstrong, sits there.

It’s an area of elite learning, a place where dreams transform into opportunities.  Students who study there leave ready to build the future of this country.

So, to have some monster come in and try to tear down the fabric and peace of the University and a place I used to call home is maddening.  It’s gut wrenching.

But, there is something I learned during my time at Purdue - Boilermakers are a family.  That doesn't mean it’s perfect, but there is a unique sense of unity in West Lafayette that is hard to match.

Gold and Black is worn as a badge of pride.

Generations of Boilermakers wake up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings in the fall before football games to honor a tradition of costumes, merriment. 

Go to a basketball game at Mackey Arena. For opposing fans, it is brutal.  You don’t want to mess with a fired up Paint Crew.  It is deafeningly loud.  They want you to know very clearly, this is their house and it is not to be disturbed.

That’s a microcosm of the University and around noon, Tuesday, someone tried to disrupt the house.

Purdue is a place you grow to love.  I have.

I am technically not a Boilermaker.  I didn't attend Purdue, but was embraced by the University and
community through my work at WBAA which is housed in Elliot Hall of Music.

I have amazing friends who still live in West Lafayette.  I met my girlfriend there and have experienced some of the greatest memories of my life on campus.

A cloud may hang over campus temporarily.  The shooting has left Boilermakers, and the nation, with heavy hearts. 

The life lost and the mental and emotional scars can't be replaced and repaired.

But, when you hurt one member of the Purdue family, you hurt them all.  The tragedy will only create a stronger, more united Boilermaker nation. 

You can’t break the Purdue spirit.  You can’t break Purdue’s heart.

Boilermakers can’t be derailed.

Boiler Up, Hammer Down.  Hail Purdue!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sherman's Rant Isn't The Problem, Judgment Is

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

After a 14-month hiatus - in part because of a new job, dog, and nervous break downs of Michigan State’s tear jerking, joyous Rose Bowl season - I have decided to FINALLLLLLY make my return back to the blogosphere.  Or is it blogoworld? It’s been awhile, so I don’t know what the kids are into these days.

Oh wait, yes I do.  It’s this stupid dance...

....and I want no part of it. (Seriously, what is this?!)

But, you know what I do want a part of? This Richard Sherman debate.
To recap, the Seahawks cornerback made the game winning play in the NFC Championship game that helped secure the franchise’s second trip to the Super Bowl.  He then went all Pete Weber on Erin Andrews during a post game rant that can be described as epic, among other adjectives.

The fall out has sparked a national debate, issues in Syria and South Sudan be damned.  AMERICA IS LOCKED IN ON RICHARD SHERMAN.

Here’s the deal.

Richard Sherman is not a thug.  He is not an example of society’s greater deterioration.  He is simply an athlete who was fired up after the biggest play of his career and was given a platform to go absolutely insane.  Ill advised, maybe.  The end of civilization, as it’s being made out to be by some, hardly.

It’s easy for people to look at his post game rant and label him as villain.  That argument doesn't require true thought.

Richard Sherman has beef with Michael Crabtree.  He legitimately doesn't like him, went and outplayed him, and then let him know about it.

The greatest athletes of all-time are also some of the biggest smack talkers.  Muhammad Ali.  Michael Jordan. Usain Bolt. Nolan Ryan. Willie Beamen.

Talking smack is part of their persona.  It helps them get into the heads of their opponents and, at the same time, is used to fuel their own play.

I've covered hundreds of sporting events from grade school level to the pros.  Everyone jaws.  Go to a high school basketball game.  At times it sounds no different than being court side watching Kevin Garnett in the fourth quarter.

Athletes talk smack.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it comes across as stupid, sometimes it’s just hilarious.

Talking smack isn’t just designated to on the playing field, either.  We all do it.  My friends and I talk smack to each other daily.  We say stuff to each other on an hourly basis that would probably get us labeled as certifiably insane.  I love them like brothers, but that doesn't mean I’m not going to mercilessly ridicule them for something they did or said that was moronic. 

And we are probably no different than the rest of society.

For those arguing that Richard Sherman should set an example for our youth on how to handle winning and respect others, here’s this…

…before lofting that stone of judgment from the comforts of your couch and behind the protection of your computer screen, ask yourself…did Richard Sherman really do something so absurd?  Don’t I do the same almost every day?

If the answers are no -  1. You are a liar.  And,  2. You are a liar, can throw the stone, but will then be a liar
who committed assault.

We are a society of gossiping.  Tabloids are billion dollar industries.  Twitter.  Facebook. The water cooler at work.  The text you sent your friend about that time you saw so-and-so at the bar with that not so good looking date. 

That is all smack talk.  It happens happens every. Single. Day.

The average person doesn't do it on national TV, but nonetheless, it's smack talk.
If you want to label Richard Sherman – who is working on Masters Degree from Stanford, may I add - as a thug or degenerate or loser, go for it.  But, the next time you talk smack about someone else, more than likely behind their back, make sure you pick up that stone and hit yourself over the head with it.

Maybe it’ll knock some sense into you.

It feels good to be back.