Role Models That Matter
What could be better than waking up every morning not seeing your name in obituary columns? There are certainly many answers to that, but being a bit nosey there's a lot to learn from the notices.
It's a relief on many days that political and community affairs of all sorts can take a back seat for a while and read about people who truly made differences.
As a news junkie and longtime practitioner of fact-gathering, good and bad, the sports business has grown by leaps and bounds to the point it seems that the physical bodies have matured faster than the brains of many athletes. You gotta laugh at times at the utter stupidity of the modern players.
They appear to have no dignity and think showing their unruly and unkind conduct without any shame is okay.
First, a former Washington football player was interviewed recently on an area news station and described a former quarterback using a “Q-word.” He was fired. This ex-player attended Oklahoma State University for four years and admitted to being functionally illiterate – he could not read or write. Let's don't talk about role models here.
Then there is the babble coming from Florida where the Miami team is in shambles because of hazing and name-calling in the locker room. The alleged victim has left the team and the "hazer" has been suspended.
Grown men, mind you. Put upon? Honestly, should be embarrassing and the mental midgets are the focus of all conversation by sportswriters.
These two instances certainly can't reflect on most of the participants, mostly well-educated. But let's not bring up role models here either.
Frederick, the state of Maryland and Commonwealth of Virginia have lots of positive athletes of past and present. I frequently mention the late Frederick baseball star Charlie Keller, horseman, University of Maryland graduate and New York Yankees star.
Maryland's sports stars are legion, of course. It's a joy to mention players like the Baltimore Orioles' homegrown Cal Ripken, Jr., Brooks Robinson and the Colts' Art Donovan.
Just last week, the "ace-of-them-all", Clarence (Ace) Parker of Portsmouth, Va., died at age 101. He was a Duke University All-American football star, a National Football League two-way player, good amateur golfer and businessman. He was the oldest member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
His obituary in The New York Times was headlined, "Ace Parker, Pro Football Hall of Famer From Leather-Helmet Days, Dies at 101." No face mask, no sticky stuff to help catch passes and 60-minute playing time.
There was no swagger and bragging by "Ace." I met him covering Virginia golf tournaments. A reminder of the times when dignity and professionalism was a big deal. Mr. Parker often was paired with the late Chandler Harper, the 1950 PGA champion and seven-time tour winner. He died in 1992 at age 90 in Portsmouth.
The thing about sports is they do allow us time to forget the trials and tribulations of local, state and national battles, disagreements and other foolishnesses that keep people worried, concerned and unnecessary anxiousness.
It's always been my thought that all young journalists – newspapermen and newspaperwomen – should begin their careers in sports departments. They learn quickly how to report the facts, know the difference between facts and frou-frou (foolishness) and how to meet the up-and-comers.
There's no difference covering the courts, the politicians, the government, music or the gossip which today seems to replace real news with egomania.
Why do broadcast editors think it's smart to flood airwaves with retired sports figures? Do listeners want to hear opinions of those who can't speak in simple sentences, those who can barely read or write, or those who can talk only in slang?
It's encouraging that school children in Frederick County and those learning at Frederick Community College, Hood College, Maryland School for the Deaf and Mount St. Mary's aren't passed over without learning to read and write. They still use pen and pencil augmented by all sorts of the latest technology.
Well, I made it another day. For what it’s worth, my good doctor says another quarter-century is more than probable.