Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just when you thought I wasn't paying attention

“Are you listening?”
I’ve noticed that the other half of my spousal team often seems to think I miss a lot, probably because I don’t always hear what she’s saying or see what she’s seeing. But while she no doubt thinks I oughta have my eyes and ears (and head) examined, I take shelter in the fact that it’s a gender-based thing that’s out of my control. The hearing part is just selective deafness that prevents me from catching chore assignments and criticism as to my mode of dress or social deportment, while the seeing thing is simply Male Pattern Blindness, a chronic malady that strikes virtually every man once he gets married.
But I am paying attention, sometimes, at least. And as I’ve recently collected a few observations and revelations, it seems only fair to share.

•See how they run.
I gained a renewed respect for a brand of high school athlete last weekend when I covered the Sherrard IHSA Regional Cross County championships. 139 participants bravely. determinedly and spectacularly charged through wet, cold conditions in a sport that seems somehow foreign and way too tough to those of us who generally run only when chased by large, furry animals with big teeth.
Even the coaches log some miles, as they run from spot to spot on the course to cheer on their runners.
Heck, I got a little winded just watching them.
But in a day and time when some adults feel all kids are lacking in ambition, energy, drive and focus, it’s great to see just the opposite in these special athletes.
Kudos to all those kids who run hard to win...or just run hard to run.

•That’s how the ball bounces
Speaking of sports, I was covering a volleyball match the other evening when something occurred to me. Why is it that volleyball is the only sport where the ball can ricochet off the gym ceiling or rattle around in the girders and heating ducts up there and still be considered “live” and playable? I’m not objecting, mind you, as it’s pretty interesting to watch the girls maneuver themselves to be ready for the darn thing when it comes back down. In fact, I’d like to see that rule extended to a few other sports. Imagine how much more exciting basketball would be if you could bounce a pass off the ceiling or an air conditioner. And think about a football pass play that includes a rebound off the score board or goal post. It sort of reminds me of when my kids and friends used to play a brand of front-yard baseball that featured a huge hard maple and a giant fir tree as essential parts of the in-play field. A ball that got stuck in the branches could still be coaxed out, either by the wind or another thrown object, then caught for an out.
Sure made it interesting.
Just saying.

*Ditto on those political ads
Regarding another field of play, the political arena, Star Courier Associate Editor Mike Berry hit the nail squarely on the head in his column last week when he decried the negative brand of political advertising we’ve been subjected to recently. It’s not just a local thing, as opponent-bashing was in full swing in all the states we visited recently. Back in my days as an advertising agency guy, my company handled campaigns for a couple of U.S. Congressmen and several local and regional candidates. We consistently--and successfully--put a positive, truthful, informative spin on things, with ads that touted the accomplishments and ideas of our candidates, while all but ignoring the person on the other side of the fence.
So what happened?
I spent an hour watching the morning news segment today, and unfortunately, the vast majority of the on-air advertising was political. I should have kept track of the number of negative ads that were filled with misleading, out-of-context “facts,” but didn’t think of it before the number was too vast to recall. I can, however, tell you how many problem-solving, truly factual and informative messages there were:
Zero. Nada. Zip.
Are we really that dumb?
Are they?

•By the way, you can blame me
For those wondering about the period of high winds we’ve experienced this week, blame me. I recently raked and piled leaves. Twice.

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