Tag Archives: hockey

You Can’t Put A Price On Dreams

by Rob Loeber

What would you do for a dream?  How far would you go to achieve a lifelong goal?

Those are the questions thousands of athletes ask themselves every single day.  From Alaska to Maine and all points in between, minor league and semi-pro players are making enormous sacrifices to stay on the field, rink, or court.

It must be love for $400 a week. (courtesy urbantulsa.com)

This recession has hit America hard over the last few years, but economic struggles are nothing new for the players who toil in obscurity and put their bodies on the line for very little reward.

The Tulsa Talons play in the Arena Football League and the average Talons’ player takes home $400 per week.  That adds up to $7200 for a complete 18-game season.  These are men with college degrees.  Most of them have families but most of them don’t have second jobs because of the time required for practice, travel, and games.

What would you do for a dream?  Would you walk away from the cushy desk job and the 401k package to throw yourself full-speed at another human being for 400 bucks?

I asked one Talons player why he does it.  “I love football,” he told me.  “I can’t imagine giving this up.”

The Talons players have almost no chance of ever making an NFL roster, but out there on the practice field they were smiling and laughing throughout every drill and after every play.  They looked joyful.  They looked like kids.  How many of us can say our jobs make us feel like kids again?

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Call Me Commish

Acting as Commissioner of a professional sports league cannot be an easy job.  It requires business savvy, knowledge of the law, negotiating skills, and the ability to wade through piles of criticism while maintaining a tough, confident appearance.  Most of the job responsibilities aren’t glamorous, and the hours are long.  Commissioners are rarely praised and often vilified.  For the most part, I think the four Commissioners, David Stern (NBA), Roger Goodell (NFL), Bud Selig (MLB), and Gary Bettman (NHL), do a pretty decent job.  But every fan wonders what it would be like to be in charge.  We’d all love to take the ownership reigns of our favorite team for a week, but how does one attempt to change an entire league?  Well, like this for starters.

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Is anyone else tired of talking about the same players and the same teams over and over? (courtesy bumpshack.com)

The first thing I’d address as NBA Commissioner is what I like to call the “redundancy factor.”  The league’s biggest problem is that 75 percent of its teams are almost irrelevant.  This is a league that revolves around seven or eight franchises at the most.  The conversation, the media, and the telecasts, focus on these so-called elite teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Mavericks, Heat, and Magic.  The rest of the league is barely worth talking about and that has to change.  The gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” has to close for the NBA to become an all-around better product, because when only a few teams have an actual shot to win a title before the season even starts, then why is the regular season interesting?  Where’s the drama?  Right now, we’re all just biding our time until the playoffs start.  In my mind, the best way to solve this problem is contraction.  I know it’s a dirty word, but it’s time.  Too many small market teams (Milwaukee, Utah, Sacramento) acquire star players only to see them bolt in a couple years for one of the big cities.  The teams that can hold onto stars are eventually forced to trade them away because the players have too much power (i.e. Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams).  Getting rid of six teams would help bring the league back into a better competitive balance.  Talent wouldn’t be spread so thin, and increased parity is the result.  In other words, a more interesting, compelling NBA than what we have right now.  It gives me no pleasure to do it, but I’m taking the ax to these teams:

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The Gifts That Keep On Giving

It’s Christmas Eve, but it’s not too late.  There’s still time to pick up a few things for your kids.  And no, I’m not talking about the Wii controller, the latest Xbox game, the flatscreen TV, or the new laptop.  I’m talking about the gifts that will make memories for years; the gifts your kids will really appreciate when they get older.

Memory Makers

My best presents weren’t the Legos or the Gameboy or the sweatshirt.  As I look back on my childhood Christmases, my favorite gifts were the ones that forced me outside.  I remember the Nerf football, spongy and shining out of the box, that survived hundreds of sessions of pick-up football in the cul-de-sac until finally it was nothing more than a bare block of foam.  It’s paint gone from all those incompletions scraping off the asphalt, it’s shape altered by the times the neighbor’s dog got a hold of it.

I remember the hockey sticks for my brother and the goalie pads for me.  Gifts that turned our driveway into an imaginary rink.  Gifts that transformed my brother into the overtime goal scorer, and me into the netminder who preserved a shutout with his spectacular glove save.  Believe it or not, that hockey gear is still in my parents’ garage, and still gets use from time to time.  Simple gifts that gave me my favorite times with my brother and inspired in me a love of hockey that I still possess today.

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