Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Love Basketball!

If you know me very well, you know I am a big sports fan. I especially love basketball. In fact, a few years after my accident, a Division II coach told my dad he had a scholarship waiting for me. I had been at his camp for a week the summer between my eighth and ninth grade years. And, as they say now, "He liked my game." Basketball would have given me a free college education.

I follow Tubby Smith and the Golden Gophers religiously, and have had season tickets for more than three decades. A cold Saturday afternoon in February in Williams Arena, or as it's affectionately known around here as The Barn, gets really hot when it starts rockin' during a close Big Ten game. My courtside seats don't hurt either! It's great fun and those nineteen games every year get me through these Minnesota winters! It ranks right up there just a couple of steps behind my passion for speaking.

In fact, my tickets came last week and the Gophers first game is Thursday night. Bring on another season of college basketball!

In 1986, one of my all-time favorite movies came out. Hoosiers was a great basketball story about tiny Hickory, Indiana winning the state high school basketball championship in classic David versus Goliath fashion.

Dennis Hopper was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of "Shooter." If you have seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about. If you have not seen it, and like sports movies with a great story line, and many life lessons, you should go rent it. You will not be disappointed.

CNN is reporting that Dennis Hopper has prostate cancer. You can read the article by clicking here. He has made a lot of great movies like, Easy Rider, Apolcalype Now and Speed, to name just three. He often plays the bad guy, but my favorite Dennis Hopper movie will always be Hoosiers. I hope he has a speedy recovery, and can return to his passion once again.

I believe the reason I have such an affinity for this movie is because my dad coached in Minnesota's own version of Hickory: Edgerton, from 1963-1966. Edgerton had won the Minnesota State Championship in 1960 by beating Chisholm, Richfield and Austin in The Barn. All three of those schools had more students in their high schools than Edgerton had people.

Edgerton's population was about 1,000, and there were only 96 students in the high school! And, the community was very passionate about their high school basketball team! I was only in the third through fifth grades when we lived there, but being the basketball coach's son had it's perks! I definitely got the basketball fever of this tiny, tightly-knit, farming community in Southwest Minnesota.

When I am speaking and mention we lived in Edgerton, I will often have an older adult come up afterward and want to talk about their memories of that magical year. Many times, these longtime, avid fans can still name the starting five players!

Last year, the book Edgerton - A Basketball Legend was released and they devoted a chapter to the years following the Championship in which they talk about my dad and his tenure coaching the Flying Dutchmen. By the way, Edgerton has a very Dutch influence! You can visit the book's website by clicking here.

They are going to honor the team this year at the Minnesota State High School Basketball Tournaments as it is the 50th Anniversary of their championship. I'm looking forward to that!

As always, I welcome your comments.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Joe Paterno Is Amazing!

If you follow college football at all, you know the name Joe Paterno. He's been coaching at Penn State for sixty years! He's been the head coach since 1966. I started getting Sports Illustrated as a bonus gift for selling a certain number of subscriptions to the Des Moines Register when I delivered it in 1968. I have been a subscriber ever since.

In this week's edition, Joe Posnanski wrote a great article on Joe Pa. People have been calling Coach Paterno Joe Pa for many years. They could just as well be calling him Joe Grandpa since he is now 82! He is 82, has his Nittany Lions at 7-1 and still going strong. He is the winningest coach in NCAA Division 1 history and has something in common with my coach, Milt Osterberg.

They both coached players who broke their necks trying to make a tackle. In 2000, Penn State was not having a good year, and in the fifth game, freshman cornerback Adam Taliaferro dove in to tackle an Ohio State player. He was paralyzed and doctors told them the young man would never walk again. Fortunately, for Taliaferro, his spinal cord was only bruised and eventually he walked again, even leading his team onto the field before a game two years later.

Both coaches shared something else. They changed. Paterno's son, Jay, who is also one of Paterno's assistant coaches, was quoted in the article as saying there were only two times he ever saw his father cry. Jay Paterno stated, "The first time I ever saw my father cry was when his mother died. Then there was the time Adam got hurt."

I didn't write this post to talk about this accident. I posted it so you can read this excellent article about a coach who has committed his life to turning his players into college graduates and fine young men. He has one of the best graduation rates in the country. He has been offered other jobs for more money and has always turned them down. Whatever you feel about him, he has done a great deal of good for Penn State.

Everyone might not agree with me as far as respecting Joe Pa and what he has, and is continuing to do at Penn State, but I have a deeper appreciation for Coach Paterno and what he does for his student/athletes and PSU. You can read the article by clicking here.

I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Here's A Quiz For You

What do you know about our world today? I have always said this blog was about teaching and lifelong learning. If you are a longtime subscriber, you know my subject matter is all over the board. I like it that way. But, I try to teach something with every post.

My life and my speeches are like that. I have often been told I don't have a focus. Well, I respectfully disagree. I believe my focus is on creative problem-solving and critical thinking. If you have ever seen my website or heard me speak, you know I base my speeches on the premise, "The problem isn't the issue, the issue is how you deal with the problem."

That is also the way I approach my life. Somewhere along the way since that night they drilled those two holes in my head, I have developed a problem-solving process to deal with a myriad of other problems. The philosophy I developed a long time ago was if I could lie on that Stryker frame for six weeks and get turned every two hours to avoid any pressure sores, I could handle just about any problem I need to address. People tell me it's about my attitude!

Here is a picture of Nurse Ratched turning me shortly after my accident:

Notice the forty pounds of sand hanging at the head of the bed. The bags were hyperextending my neck so the Crutchfield tongs in my skull were putting traction on my cervical spine, thus immobilizing it and aligning the vertebrae. I grew three inches in those six weeks! See there: I lost my focus again! This post is about a global quiz and I go and make it about me. Shame on me!

Back to the quiz:

I don't claim to know it all, and never will. When I only answered six out of ten questions correctly, I realized I am not as aware of urgent global issues as I would like to think I am.

Take this Global Quiz from the Clinton Foundation by clicking here, and if you are willing to share your results, please do. Who knows, you may learn something? I know I did.

If you are a teacher and want to use this quiz in your classroom, please do. I am sure President Clinton would approve. Also, feel free to share it with your friends. I think that is the whole purpose.



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dude Perfect Shooting Stars

I have never posted two days in a row; but I saw this story last night on the CBS Evening News and want to share this humorous video with you. Basketball is my favorite sport, especially college basketball. So, when Steve Hartman did this piece last night on the Dude Perfect college students from Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, I just had to share it.

By the way, he is one of my favorite journalists, and has what I believe can only be described as one of the most fun jobs a journalist could have. If you have ever seen any of his ASSIGNMENT: America pieces, you know what I mean.

This story combines basketball, creative problem-solving and critical thinking to show some amazing results. Enjoy!

Watch CBS News Videos Online

I like their creative thinking in coming up with new trick shots; and the fact they are another example of how
creative young people can be.

I look forward to your comments.



Monday, October 12, 2009

Autism Is Worse Than We Thought

Until the last few years, it was thought autism spectrum disorders, including autism, Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder or more commonly referred to as PDD-NOS were fairly rare. In the the 1990's, it was thought to affect only about 1 child in every 2,000 children.

Until a recent study by the National Institutes of Health, those numbers had increased to about 1 in every 150 youth. Now, NIH, believes those numbers to be more like 1 out of every 100 children has some sort of an autism spectrum disorder.

According to an Op-Ed piece by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, "Almost every American I talk to about this issue knows at least one family that is affected by autism."

You can read her entire editorial by clicking here. There are several links in her editorial that will take you to other interesting sources of information tregarding these alarming numbers.

Ms. Sebelius ends her piece with this statement, "Like public health challenges such as polio in the 1950s and HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, we must address the rising prevalence and complex needs of people with autism. We still have more questions than answers. But with additional funding and a new coordinated national strategy, we are working harder and more closely together to find those answers than ever before."

Do you know someone with an autism spectrum disorder? If you do, and are willing to share how that has affected both the individual's and his/her family's lives, please do.

I look forward to your comments.



Tuesday, October 6, 2009


That was fun! If you're not a Minnesota Twins, or even a baseball fan, this post will still have a fun picture I hope you will enjoy.

As a lifelong Twins fan, I got to go to the 1991 World Series games at the Metrodome, but I had to give my Game 7 tickets to a friend because I had a speaking engagement in Eveleth the next day. So, I had to watch Jack Morris pitch the best pitched game in World Series history from my hotel room in Eveleth. At least I got to see Kirby Puckett win Game 6.
That was fun too!

But tonight, the Dome just was not done! It was magical! It was like the '87 and '91 World Series were back! It does not want to give up the Twins! I thought it was fun! Baseball is fun. I am constantly amazed at what Abner Doubleday invented more than one hundred years ago!

The fact he put the bases ninety feet apart, the pitching rubber sixty feet-six inches from home plate, and put it on a mound, four balls, three strikes,
three outs, all the rules that dictate the game were foreseen in the nineteenth century! I find that amazing! Think how different the game would be if he would have made the game last ten innings, or had allowed for free substitution, or made the rule a batter gets four strikes? As it is, he invented a perfect game! At least, that is my opinion.

Watching the managers make their changes tonight was fun to see. If you are a student of the game, would you have made some of Ron Gardenhire or Jim Leyland's decisions?

Anyway, the Twins now get to play the dreaded Yankees. And, most importantly, the Metrodome gets at least one more game!

Now, here's the photo I have been saving to share. A friend sent me this a few weeks ago and I was hoping to find a way to use it. As Forest Gump would say, "Stupid is as stupid does."

I wonder what old Abner would say about the current style of wearing baseball caps with the built-in sun visor on the back of the head?


Any comments?