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The Tentacle


November 28, 2003

Be Thankful For What You Have - and Give Back

Derek Shackelford

The reality of professional sports’ impact on our culture is an understatement. Pro Sports play a large role in our everyday living.

Take for instance television. Every night of the week some sort of sports entertainment can be found on our television stations. Now we even have 24 hour sports programming, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News, Fox Sports, etc, etc.

Any sports enthusiast can find the sport of their choice on any night of the week, ranging from professional football to ice-skating.

Why the obsession with sports? That is anyone’s guess. Something inside of us longs to be a champion. From scoring the winning touchdown, scoring the winning goal, to making the last basket, something deep inside of us longs to be the hero.

Even as we enter into the daily workforce, there is a proclivity to be the best. If we do not cut the mustard, we are fired and replaced, dished and dismissed, regulated to beating the street to find another gig.

As we gather around the table during this Thanksgiving season, let’s pause to be thankful for our blessings that surround us.

Keep in mind the luxuries and benefits we have.

Most of the world cannot imagine living in a country with an abundance, but, then again, many in this country cannot imagine that either. In a country with so much wealth and prosperity, there are so many people without health insurance, without employment, and without a roof over their heads.

As we gather around on Thanksgiving to be grateful, let us be ever so mindful to remember there is work to be done. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said it best: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We need to stand for justice and no one is free until we are all free.

Which brings me back to professional sports, particularly basketball. Superstar Alonzo Mourning, who played his college ball at Georgetown, had to retire recently due to a kidney ailment. He needs a kidney transplant.

No matter how much money we make, no matter our social status, or where we live, it doesn’t exempt us from life. Mr. Mourning has arguably done more charity work than any professional athlete playing today. He has given his time, talent, and resources to many worthy causes to help many people. He clearly knows to “whom much is given, much is required.”

I had the privilege of playing against him about 11 years ago. He was a fierce competitor and a delightful person to talk to off the court.

Mr. Mourning has given so much to the game of basketball and to his respective communities, now it is time for someone to give to him.



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