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i didn’t realize it until my wife pointed it out to me, but there are some strange things all michiganders tend to do. for example, whenever i meet a michigan native out here in california, we always do the “make your hand into the mitten-shape of michigan and point out where you’re from” ritual. we’ve even had some of our college students test it out on their out-of-state friends, always with the same result…

it also took my wife’s outside perspective to show me how strange it is that many michiganders are stuck in a 1984 timewarp. this has nothing to do with orwell’s 1984. no, ’84 was the magical year our beloved (and since beleaguered) tigers won the world series. gibby, trammell, “looouuuuu…”, morris, petry, lopez… many restaurants in southeastern michigan still proudly display newspaper clippings and other ’84 memorabilia as if it were yesterday.

that’s why this season has been particularly painful for me. i don’t mean to be a defeatist – i know that tonight was only one loss and they can still win this series against the mighty yankees, but i don’t want to get my hopes up. the tigers started the season so strong… and then trailed off… and then, despite being called flukes by baseball pundits, led their division for most of the season…. until the very last day, that is. a five game losing streak against the woeful blue jays and royals put the tigers (and me) into their current predicament.

in other news, i have a new article up over at relevant.

i love when npr covers sports. it’s kind of fun to get a non-meathead-type perspective on sports from time to time (whenever i can tear myself away from sportscenter). they had a piece the other day about a new rule for high school football in connecticut. the rule basically states that if the margin of victory in a game is more than fifty points, then the coach of the winning team will be suspended for the following game – presumably for displaying unsportsmanlike conduct for running up the score on a weaker opponent.

i’m not sure that legislating sportsmanship will actually teach it – but, given the current climate of youth sports in america today, it’s probably good that people are at least thinking about it. after all, you’ve got “adults” who are bribing their own players to bean a disabled teammate, intentionally walking a player in a pony league baseball championship game in order to get to the next player – a nine-year old brain cancer survivor, and rushing the field to assault a 13-year old during a football game. all of these incidents involved adults who were supposed to be coaching the teams.

regarding the connecticut football mercy rule, i’ve heard people argue that losing develops character, that kids should learn to take the good with the bad, that life isn’t always fair, etc. and i agree to a certain extent. however, while these are important life lessons (like this important life lesson from tlc displayed on the left side, “the all you can eat buffet is not a challenge”), i think it’s also important for the adults involved in these sports to maintain some perspective. namely, that no matter how seriously folks around town take their football, baseball, etc., that these are still games. sure, kids need to learn that losing is a part of life, but they also need to hear – and see – that winning isn’t everything.

certainly, a level of competition can make a game more fun. i don’t think a game of kickball would be much fun without keeping score (although it might be – you never know!) but i’m not sure i’d want my daughter playing on a team where the coach took the game too seriously.

this is odd.

now, how to build up a nice conspiracy theory linking these two ;)

primetime aired this program the other day about how mean teenagers can be – their meanness often amplified by use of the internet. i was definitely interested in watching – i’m a youth pastor, after all. beyond that, as well, my daughter has started attending preschool a couple of days a week and i know part of the socialization process involves learning how to deal with difficult kids. a couple of days ago, our family went to the park and another little girl tried to push my daughter off one of the rides – right in front of her mom, who did nothing to stop her. yikes.

anyhoo, my wife and i decided, despite our interest, not to watch the program. we realized that it probably would only serve to get me angry – without anything particularly constructive coming out of it.

it’s sort of like some of the blogs i read. perhaps you’ve read them. one in particular features a blustery christian leader ranting about whatever wimpy people or issues happen to get his goat. i’ve heard from many people that this person has some great insights – but i can’t get past the bluster. most of the time i find myself wondering why he cares so much about some of these issues, when many of them clearly fall outside of his sphere. i’m sure he would say something about how jesus reserved his harshest criticism for religious leaders and how he is the upholder of the banner of truth, or something like that. but all of his macho posturing sounds a lot like those suburban gangs who feel like they have something to prove, so they go over the top in their aggression and violence.

i must admit, sometimes i like to get angry. there’s something strangely satisfying about stomping around in a self-righteous rage – especially when i can make someone else the enemy, the fall guy for all my own insecurities and shortcomings. but this is not who i want to be.

i think i’ll avoid some of these blogs for awhile. i won’t call it a fast, though. it’s more like common sense, trying to avoid something that is sure to put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day.

in july, our family went to see the sound of music at the hollywood bowl. other than the very drunk people behind us who kept making “general lee” and “luke duke” comments (john schneider played captain von trapp, and was “bo duke” anyhoo), it was a great time! under my daughter’s strict orders, the sound of music soundtrack has pretty much been streaming 24/7 around here since. so in honor of (or submission to) tsom, here a few of my favorite things from the past couple of weeks…

this past sunday, our family went to the getty museum for a children’s concert. charity and the jam band led a fun-filled hour of songs, complete with a “mushpot” (the kids’ equivalent of a moshpit, they helpfully explained) of kids in the front, dancing the afternoon away. the band performed on a pretty steep hillside, so after about ten minutes, there was a puddle of kids smushed up in a grinning, dancing bunch to stage-left. though i couldn’t have pictured it pre-fatherhood, i enjoy many of daughter’s favorite bands. i find myself humming “we are the dinosaurs” or the theme from jack’s big music show at the most random times.

while i couldn’t play my way out of a paper bag in counterstrike (the first-person perspective makes me dizzy, leaving me an easy target for my students to pick off – with a little too much joy, i might add), i have found a different way to burn through hours on end. guitar hero, thou art my new donkey konga. although she is unfamiliar with such standards as “cowboys from hell” by pantera, or “unsung” by helmet, my wife torches me every time we play. and that’s how i know it’s true love.

though they haven’t released an album since 1989, and even though i haven’t been much for concerts these days, i went to see gorilla biscuits in anaheim a couple of weeks ago. it was like being in middle school again, learning to skate on that gigantic christian hosoi hammerhead deck. and apparently, plenty of other old fogies agreed. the sold old crowd relived the glory days of new york hardcore as we moshed, stage-dived and grinned the night away. see for yourself!

and i can’t leave out one of my everyday favorites – talking with my daughter. we were driving the other day, talking about how God created the world and she said to me, “jesus is pretty cool, right?” one day, about ten years from now, when she asks me to drop her off at the corner so her friends don’t see me, i will remind her of how much fun we had talking :)