Maiden Voyage … Starbury’s in play …

Starbury_1Friday morning I donned my new kicks and set out to see just how my new Starbury’s would measure up with my Nike’s. Historically I am hard on shoes. In the days when I was playing several times a week, I needed a new pair each year. Over the years I learned Nike offered a shoe friendlier to those will lower arches. I wondered just how these new shoes would affect my feet. I battle something like tendinitis, there is a fancier name  for it, in my heels. Nike’s for basketball and Crocs for all other occasions meant less pain for me. Until I met "Starbury."

The guys were impressed with their looks. At least one fellow had read my blog who plays each week and was curious. I like light shoes. These new treads fit the bill. The fit was comfortable. They are cut a bit higher than my Nike’s which may help with my ankles. Years of twisting them makes them susceptible each time I hit the floor. (I am certain my brothers would be more inclined to describe my malady as a matter of age but this I would flatly deny.)

After our hour long series of early morning games (5:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m.) my feet felt fine. I played well. I teased the guys that it must be the shoes. I remember the old shoe commercials touting the ability to run faster and jump higher.  I may have increased my speed one tenth of a second and my vertical by a quarter inch!

Saturday I laced them back up for our first league game. We did not win but it had nothing to do with shoes. More to do with fundamentals. Some of us will be practicing our layups all week in preparation for play this coming Saturday. The real test would be how quickly the feet would rebound in the new shoes. Everything was just fine. I am ready to go today, if necessary.

My endorsement of the Starbury will not likely have much impact on shoe sales for Mr. Marbury. I still contend the best buy on the market today is at Steve and Barry’s in Crossroads Mall where you can get your own pair of Starbury’s for just a little more than $16 (includes tax). Not only do you get a good shoe but you avoid the sticker shock normally accompanying the most popular shoes. The money you may have spent could go to any number of great causes. Not too late to get yours for Christmas.

The power of the media …

Just finished watching OU dispatch Nebraska. Jason White gave a Heisman like performance. The analysts on FSN should remain on a cable-styled regional telecast. Repeatedly making comments no doubt intended to make a dominant performance interestsing. The cut-aways at half-time and at the end of the game featured even more media bias than last year when everythnig was done to make the Heisman a race with Fitzgerald, then hoping to sway BCS voters away from OU. Now they are at it again. Despite showing that OU has the 10th toughest schedule in the country and that USC and Auburn rank well below, the talk is that Auburn will leap-frog OU in the standings. Last time I looked Georgia had one loss, ranked 8th nationally. Texas has only one loss – shut out by OU- and is ranked either 6th or 5th depending on who you talk to. Beating an undefeated team should be of greater value than beating a “once-beaten already.” Add to these thoughts the fact that the winning percentage of the oppenents of the top three in the country should have OU ranked first – strength of schedule, winning percentage of opponents and oh, yes, an undefeated record, Big 12 South champs (undoubtedly a feat few other teams couuld have achieved).

This team will have to grow up …

Kelvin Sampson chose these words to describe his feelings after being thrashed in Stillwater. Let me just say, there are not many who escape Gallagher-Iba unscathed. Away from home, the Cowboys were ambushed by the Red Raiders just a few days ago. This time the Cowboys played the part of the bully and beat up on the Sooners. I did not get to see the game – the score was frightening enough.

The description of the situation by Sampson left me thinking. Teams need to grow up?! Certainly. Anyone who has ever played a team sport understands it takes time to develop “chemistry.” And, it does not come simply by way of intense practices. Chemistry comes with repeated challenges – handling adversity and success in game environs. Still a young team, the Sooners will have time to grow up. I pray the armchair players don’t start talking about inserting recruits or alums after these two losses! Pardon the brief digression.

The illustration is important – those who come to gather as a local church too need time to develop and grow, to become. Often people approach a given congregation feeling it possesses all of the things desirable and has avoided anything undesirable. Illusions are usually exposed quickly. Seeking to fit in, understanding the particular environment and grasping the vision as understood by the church takes time – and patience.

Those words also came from Coach Sampson’s mouth – “I’m going to have to be patient.” Expectations often relegate pateince to some ancient discipline not often practiced. We would do well to develop patience in our excursions into community expressed in the life of the church. Sometimes our expectatoins represent preferential positions rather than healthy communal contributions. We long for a patient friend who takes the time and expends the energy to know “me” but often withhold a simliar expression when others need it.

To say a team needs to grow up is not a bad thing. To say a church needs to grow up is not a bad thing. Both Peter and Paul suggest the value of growing up in Christ!

Keeping the game in perspective …

Nathan and Jason listen to WWLS the Sports Animal. I now listen in a bit every day. I am a glutton to hear the latest illogic by despairing Sooner fans. Last week the cry went out as to why Stoops did not insert Paul Thompson at quarterback to see if his “mobility” would offset the charging LSU defensive linemen. Again, we grasp.

The sports jockeys insisted you don’t put a greenhorn in the fight of your life. You go with the one who brung ya’. Mark and the gang were desperate to bring some sensibility to the conversation by offering some perspectives being grossly overlooked. Perspective will help White overcome two bad games.

Local news stations ran stories on the friendship between Jason and Brian. It is a beautiful thing. I will never forget Brian’s face as he was telling me Jason stopped by with the Heisman in tow, let him touch it and brought gifts from his trip to the Big Apple.

There is another story not often told, and there are likely others. A couple of years ago I lost a little friend. His dad, mom and sister found it meaningful that Jason would come by and visit. He took my friends sister out for some fresh air and a change of scenery. He may never know what that meant and continues to mean to that family. They sit in the stands and cheer him on. They cheer him on because they know him – not because he is a supersart. They cheer him on because he is a real person who has faced adversity himself and been there when others have. I don’t want to make Jason out to be Mother Teresa or something. Just want it recorded somewhere, Jason will live long after the game because he has some perspective on life and adversity. Sure hope others would exercise a little perspective. Maybe they need a little adversity.

Weighing in on White …

There is little doubt I am a Sooner fan. I may not be of the frothing variety, but with an OU alum for a father, we grew up wearing crimson and cream. We love our football OU style. Like most, I came away from Sooner footbal in December and January wondering what happened. Now every armchair wanna-be finds the nearest phone and demonstrates some of the most horrendous logic. You may be able to speculate on someone’s inability at proper logic and then they open their mouths and remove all doubt.

We could learn a bit here. I once heard it said better to be judged on the averages rather than the extremes. Jason White may not throw over 300 yards every game and include 4 touchdowns, but he certainly will not consistently throw as few as 100 yards, two interceptions and no TD’s. Looking at the averages for Jason’s performances still leaves him a Heisman candidate. I am glad one sermon does not make a preacher and I am equally glad one poor sermon does not make one a poor preacher.

Barry Tramel wrote a good piece on White that lends some lucidity to the cacaphony of absuridity filling the radio airwaves and filling inboxes. He looks to history and a recent movie hit to draw some interesting comparisons and offer some insight into the human spirit. I agree with his conclusion.