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Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘pc’

The Big East Without Football: An Update

This post was originally written 3/10 13. Fascinating how this has turned out.

“Yesterday’s Providence College/UConn game marked the effective end of the Big East Conference. What brought about its demise? Success. Money. The promise of more money. And a profound lack of historical perspective on the part of schools like UConn that have failed to remember from whence they came, and how they’ve come to their present state.

Once upon a time UConn was a sleepy little state college lying in a sleepy little cowtown in Nowhere, CT. UConn had no athletic history to speak of; it played its games against the likes of UVM, UNH, URI. UMass and UMaine. Heck, the athletics in that group couldn’t even sustain football across the board–UVM dropped the sport in 1974. Not a lot has changed at the other schools. The campuses have grown a bit, enrollment has expanded a bit, but the athletic programs maintain their status as a pleasant diversion accompanying the educational process.

But UConn? Noooo, not UConn. You see Dave Gavitt invited UConn to join the Big East Conference in 1974 and the world tilted. Millions and millions of dollars have poured into Storrs and the campus is virtually unrecognizable to graduates of my era. Enrollment, building, and the endowment have soared. UConn is now a “football school” and it departs the Big East, leaving the largely Catholic “basketball schools” behind as it chases ever more wealth. Success has been found.

End of story, right? Little school makes big time. All is right in the world. Right? Hmmm…I dunno. You see, it’s basketball that has driven this success, and it was basketball that created the Big East. It was basketball and the Big East that made Storrs big enough to find on the map. Basketball, and a bunch of originally like-minded “Basketball Schools” that brought measures of success and wealth to every school in the conference, albeit not equally.

What’s been lost? Tradition. History. The “kindredship” of a group of schools that were of a different ilk, or more accurately different ilks when we compare them with “Football Schools”. The Big East was a kind of special, the first grouping of schools assembled in the pursuit of athletics based NOT on football. There’s a certain absence of something like gratitude in the dissolution of the Big East in the pursuit of football riches. It feels almost like UConn has lost its institutional sense of its own identity.

Will UConn find those riches as it chases wealth for wealth’s sake, forsaking history, tradition, and a sense of who and what it has been? Tune in, I guess. There will be lessons to be learned by other institutions that have grown and become successful within an ecosystem of like-minded institutions with a common tradition and history. Are the presumably greater riches to be found in leaving behind the history, tradition, and culture greater than the wealth to be found in the history, tradition and culture?

Tune in.”


Lo and behold things haven’t turned out all that well for the schools that chased the football dollars. No sign of UConn in this year’s March Madness. Ditto Syracuse. Look carefully, though, and you’ll find defending champion Villanova along with tiny littles Seton Hall and Providence.

At least for now the score reads History/Tradition/Culture 1, football riches 0.

#IDon’tCare: A Cranky Old Dude Examines Micro-Issues

Micro-aggressions and micro-insults have created a world awash in micro-constituencies that demand macro attention. That is, the micro-constituencies demand that you pay attention to them. Each one has a public presence that approximates the visibility of a 2016 presidential candidate’s public exposure. They’re everywhere, and they are deeply offended to begin with, and then borderline apoplectic if you don’t pay attention to them. It’s all so tedious, so very tiresome. It’s as if you are not even given the option not to care.

That’s a problem, because by and large, I really don’t. Care, that is.

It doesn’t really matter what the issue is, really. What’s got me in high dungeon today was a huge article on the tragic experiences of “non-Moms”. That’s the name of their group. Non-Moms. Not that it’s tragic that they are not Moms mind you. Oh no, not that at all. Heck, we are probably wired to be uber sympathetic to non-Moms who desperately wish to be Moms. Nope, this group is browned off that folks’ first reaction is sympathetic, and they are demanding that you not only stop doing that, but that you listen to them air how your sympathy is wrecking the great life they have because they’ve chosen not to be a Mom. More than that, it is their inalienable right to have you forced to hear their beef. There’s a website and a Twitter feed and a PR agent placing articles on this most terrible thing being foisted on this unfortunate, micro-oppressed group.

I. Don’t. Care.

The spoken demand is that you pay attention to something you’ve neither caused nor have the ability to fix. Listen, please don’t think I really have a problem with this particular group or their particular issue. I’m not really meaning to pick on them because of their beef; it could have been literally dozens of examples shoved in my face as I read the morning papers. That’s the point, the shoving in my face part. Why do I even have to know these things exist if I am not guilty of even the contemplation of the heinous micro-aggressions at issue? The only thing I’m guilty of is not caring.

There are some real, certifiable big issue things going on in our world today. Things that are so substantial and so real that every one of us candy-ass First Worlders need to think about them. Like, you know, the shortage of feather-friendly sunblock for all those penguins at risk for global-warming associated skin cancer. It’s just getting harder and harder to plow through the barrage of noise coming from aggrievements that even 10 years ago would not have risen to the level of dinner table discussion among loved ones. “Oh honey, I’m so sorry that your hairdresser was complaining about how her daughter wasn’t pregnant again. Pass the Ranch, please.”

It’s time to assert the right not to care. I have no idea where to draw the line of societal magnitude necessary to care about any particular issue, but I have an idea that I can figure it out for myself. The alternative is total capitulation to the whole micro-issue demand thing. Maybe that’s the ticket. Maybe I’m actually going about this entirely wrong, acting like a cranky old man out of touch with the importance of having everyone know how tough someone else has it. Perhaps it’s time I get in line. Maybe it’s time to demand my slice of your attention, to join the legion of the offended.

Coming soon to FB, Twitter, Instagram, and every MSM outlet there is: #IDon’tCare. Don’t even THINK about not paying attention to us.


Sunday musings 8/30/15

Sunday musingsā€¦

1) Summer rain. Out my back window I look our upon two guys riding jet skis in the rain.

They might get wet.

2) PC. My alma mater, in what seems to be a trend, is calling the students beginning their college journey “First Years” instead of “Freshmen”. WTF.

I am now officially part of a small but hopefully growing rebellion against ludicrous speech.

3) Easy. Easy? No, it isn’t easy. It’s never easy. Simple, perhaps, but never easy.

Trust me.

4) Victory. “You know, in the old, old days there was no World Series, no real championship. For most teams, the idea of winning was finished by July. So what was there to care about? Each series, each game. Day by day. The rest of it, the big dream [of victory] was not their business. It’s a better way to live.” -Cubs fan.

A number of folks in the CrossFit community have recently weighed in with thoughts on the essential tension between training and competing. Some have a standing of sorts, and others just have a keyboard. It’s a topic I’ve pondered and one I’ve certainly discussed, here and elsewhere.

As is so often the case I’ve struggled to find a fitting vocabulary, one with terms that more adequately express both the issue and my viewpoint. Freddy Comacho, Master’s athlete and OG with chops, recently offered his take and in so doing shared with all of us a very nice diad: training v. testing. My anonymous Cubs fan above (a vet, incidentally), adds a little poetry to Freddy’s prose.

One of Coach’s many strokes of brilliance is the concept of measurement. You know, observable, measurable, repeatable. We measure our results pretty much every day. For most of us, indeed for most of the rest of the exercise and athletic world, measurement is the stuff of competition. We keep score so that we can declare a winner. Winning begets a champion.

Herein lies a fundamental misunderstanding of Coach’s creation: measurement in itself does not necessarily denote competition. At least not one in which we make a conscious decision to push on to some sort of concrete thing we might call “ultimate victory”. The training/testing conceptualization is very helpful.

If I give you notice that you will participate in a task, one in which all of the variables are known to you beforehand, a reasonable person will go about preparing for that task by mastering the specific skills necessary (practice), and acquiring capacity in the specific areas of fitness required to express those skills (training). A very nice example of a program set up to accomplish this is CrossFit Football. All of the domains in the competition are known beforehand, and the fitness program is targeted at those to the effective exclusion of others. A classic marathon program is another very good example.

A training program without metrics is one that is unlikely to succeed. Measuring in training allows one to assess micro-trends of the program. One accepts discomfort in training, but at the same time one is mindful of the need to avoid true injury while doing so. Testing, on the other hand, is different. By definition testing requires the exploration of limits. The limit of strength or endurance. The point at which technique fails for whatever reason. Testing identifies the macro-trend: am I/is my program succeeding? One must necessarily push beyond discomfort, push on to some version of victory.

It’s here where the wisdom of my Cubs fan is evident. One must be ever mindful of our place in the standings. There are meaningful games to be played for all of us, even those “playing” on a team that has been mathematically eliminated by July 4th. “Each series, each game. Day by day.” This is us. For the most part we are the people Coach was thinking about when he went all mad scientist on fitness. Freddy (and Chyna) can indeed dream “the big dream”, but for the rest of us it’s really “[d]ay by day”.

We measure, as Coach has taught us, because it improves our training. We should be looking for a trend toward IWCABTMD in the measurement of our training, but in doing so we should be testing our limits, pushing to those points closer to failure, a bit more infrequently and more cautiously perhaps. We have much to gain by focusing on the daily training, caring about each at bat or each game rather than the overall standings or a championship. To be in the game, to choose to be measured, to care about each individual game no matter where you stand is a concrete victory itself.

My Cubs fan, the Iraq war vet: “It’s a better way to live.”

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at August 30, 2015 7:05 AM