So Long, Coach Richt

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Mark Richt isn’t the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs anymore. I figured that I would say that someday. I hoped that I would say it after he announced his retirement while hoisting a national championship trophy. It didn’t work out that way.

Mark Richt inherited a very below average Georgia team. For years, the recruiting classes were great. But, for years, the teams were not. So the powers that be decided that it was time for a change. And that change came in the person of the young assistant coach from Florida State.

Richt’s impact was almost immediate. The words hobnailed boot are etched into the ears of Georgia fans because of Georgia’s win over Tennessee. The inexplicable string of losses to Georgia Tech came to an end. And eventually, there were SEC championships and a few national championship near misses. But, for all of his accomplishments, Coach Richt couldn’t win the game that mattered most. And that, in the eyes of many Georgia fans, meant that 15 years was long enough.

Richt was done in by the same thing that ruins almost every other coaching tenure. Unmet expectations. If you’re unfamiliar with the expectations that Georgia fans have for their head football coach before every season, here they are.

  1. Win the SEC Championship game.
  2. Win the National Championship game.
  3. Find some kid who looks just like Herschel Walker. Only faster. And bigger. And who shoots lasers out of his eyes at Auburn fans while galloping to the end zone for the seventh time in one game.
  4. Cure cancer.

Mark Richt failed miserably at meeting those expectations.

Here’s the part where I’m supposed to say that Richt exceeded expectations when it came to caring for and developing young men during some of the most important years of their lives. Sadly, most people don’t care about that sort of thing. They say that Richt would make a better chaplain than he does a coach. They say that supporting the man who brought the Dawgs to new levels is the equivalent of settling for mediocrity. In short, they say, “We want to be Alabama.”

And we probably will.

Sure, there’s a chance that our next coach could be the second coming of Nick Saban and have Georgia competing for a national title every year. But it’s more likely that we’ll become the Alabama of the late 90s. You know, the Alabama teams that only real Alabama fans cheered for. The teams that went through coach after coach in an effort to replace the Bear, even if it meant breaking rules. So yeah, we could end up being a lot like Alabama.

Roll Tide roll!

I was content with us just being Georgia. Maybe that makes me a mediocre kind of guy. Fine. I can live with that. Sure, I’d love to see Georgia win it all a few times a decade. But I don’t want Georgia to win so that I can find personal validation through a team.

Coach Mark Richt is the only Georgia coach that my kids have ever known. When I told them Sunday afternoon that he had been fired, they were confused.

“Why? He only lost three games!”

I didn’t know what to say to that so I just told them that some people expect you to win it all every year and are quick to get rid of you when you don’t. Welcome to the world of sports business/politics/organized crime, my sons.

Most of the experts are saying that Kirby Smart will be the Bulldog’s new coach. No matter who it is, I’ll still be cheering for the Dawgs. But it won’t be the same.

It won’t be the same because Mark Richt was more than just some loud mouth trying to convince injured young men that they weren’t really hurt just so they could add another win to his resume. He was a coach who cared an awful lot about winning. But he cared even more about the young men he was coaching.

Men like all-world running backs named Todd Gurley who called Richt, “The greatest coach of all time” when he found out about the firing.

Men like kicker Marshall Morgan who were reminded by Richt that one kick doesn’t make a life right before one of the biggest kicks of his life.

Men like walk on Chad Gloer who, when on the verge of being kicked out of school for missing too many classes, got a call from the head coach himself every morning at 8 just to make sure that there would be no sleeping in.

And even for the men who he didn’t coach. Men like Devon Gales who was seriously injured while playing against Georgia this season and was treated like he was part of the Georgia Bulldog family. Here’s what he had to say about Coach Richt being fired. “I am saddened to hear about Coach Richt’s firing. He is a wonderful coach, mentor, and man of God. He and the staff understand that football is about more than just winning, it’s about shaping, molding and influencing the lives of young men.”

There are an awful lot of folks in our state who have yet to learn that lesson.

Early on in Mark Richt’s time at Georgia, several players were starting to fight on the field. Bulldog safety Sean Jones saw it from the sidelines and headed onto the field to help his teammates. But Mark Richt cut him off. Standing in front of the NFL-bound defensive star, Richt simply held up his hand like a traffic cop. There was no screaming, cussing, hopping around or any of the other things that out of control coaches do to try to control their players. I’m not sure if he even spoke a word. But Sean Jones turned around and went back to the sidelines.

Sean Jones now helps Coach Richt with placing former Bulldog players with employers.

Losing a few more games isn’t what worries me the most about Mark Richt not being the coach of the Bulldogs anymore. The thing that really gets me is that maybe there won’t be an extended hand like the one that Sean Jones saw that one night. Maybe there won’t be a caring voice on the other end of the phone like there was when a suicidal former player called Richt for help.

A lot of coaches have won national titles.

But not a lot of coaches have done the really hard work that Coach Richt has done of molding young athletes into men of character and integrity.

And there is absolutely nothing mediocre about that.

 

More Than Just A Coach

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When I was younger, I spent some time covering high school sports for local TV stations. The experience taught me something about coaches. Coaches are influencers. When all of the plays are over and the screaming is done, one of the few things that remains is the influence that a coach has on his players. A coach has just as much, if not more, influence over the life of a young man as a pastor does.

Walking up and down sidelines with a camera in one hand and a microphone in the other, I saw that play out in a couple of ways.

Some coaches are scoundrels. They treat their players like slaves who exist for nothing more than that coach’s job security. No racist remark, no amount of verbal or even physical abuse is off limits for these types of coaches on their way to a bigger paycheck or a better job.

Still, the influence of these coaches is powerful. And it’s usually not very pretty. It produces a culture of win at all cost athletes who are coddled into their young adult years and hit their 30s with nothing more than an arrest record and a few boring stories about that touchdown in that one game in a time that has long since been forgotten by everyone else.

But there are other coaches. These are the coaches who have integrity. They pile kids who would otherwise have to walk home after practice into the back of their trucks. They support their players by showing up at events that have nothing to do with football because they know that there is more to life than a game. Sure, they push their players to excel but they also remind them that everyone will play their last game someday and it’s what goes on in those days that far outweighs any touchdown or championship season. In some cases, coaches like this change the culture, not just of their team but of the entire community that they represent.

Mark Richt, the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, is one of those coaches.

Everyone agrees that Richt is a nice guy. For some, it’s that niceness that will keep Georgia from ever winning a national championship.

I say, so what.

I was five years old the last time Georgia won a national title in football. Since that time, there have been many teams who have won multiple championships. Some of them have won with players that Mark Richt kicked off of his team. Georgia has come close a few times in the Richt era. But the ultimate victory was always just out of reach.

In 1982 and 1983, I cried when Georgia lost their bowl games to Pitt and Penn State. For the better part of three decades now, I’ve been saying, “We’ll get ’em next year.” Next year hasn’t come yet.

On Saturday, Georgia will play Alabama. Even though Georgia looks stronger, most people are saying that Alabama will win. And if they do, people will blame it on Mark Richt having too much character for his own good. Some will call for his job.

I still remember the last time Georgia played Alabama. It was in the SEC Championship Game in 2012. The victor was a lock for winning the national championship against a very overrated Notre Dame team. Georgia had no business winning that game. But they almost did.

Almost.

When the final whistle had blown, my six-year-old son cried. I thought about watching Georgia lose when I was his age. And then I almost cried too.

Almost.

I want my sons to be around winners. I want them to be shaped as men, husbands, fathers, leaders and athletes in a culture of winning. But that’s kind of hard to do when their dad cheers for the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Falcons. So I give them some breathing room. In the NFL, they cheer for whoever won the Super Bowl the previous year. In the NBA, they like LeBron’s team. I’m okay with that.

But Georgia is different.

I want them to cheer for Georgia.

Mark Richt is the reason why.

He may not have any national championship rings from his time at Georgia but he’s still a winner. He’s a winner because, imperfect as he is, integrity means something to him. He’s a winner because he sees the guys on his team, and even the ones on other teams, as men in training rather than mere athletes fighting for his job security. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Georgia win it all but there’s something more important than that.

Influence.

Positive, godly influence.

Mark Richt has that and it makes me proud of the Georgia Bulldogs.

But that’s all pie in the sky, right? Who cares what happens to these kids after they leave school? That’s the mentality of the typical college football fan. They get all worked up every year in February when an 18-year-old, they otherwise would not care about, decides where he wants to play college football. But when he is gone or if he doesn’t quite measure up like they wanted him to, he’s nothing more than sports memorabilia. Use him while you can and then forget about him. It seems as though many college football fans are a lot like some of those scoundrel coaches I met over the years, minus the influence.

But Mark Richt is different.

I’m thankful that he’s at Georgia and I’m honored to watch him with my sons. No matter what the scoreboard or a drunken fan on the Internet says after the game, we are all watching more than just a coach.

We are watching an influencer.

We are watching a winner.

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Football Is Back!

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Another football season is officially upon us. You can already tell it in Atlanta, Georgia where last night there was a perfect storm of traffic all because of the arrival of America’s favorite pastime. Thousands of Falcons fans had traffic blocked for miles as they headed to and from the Dome to see their team find new and creative ways to embarrass themselves. In an effort to avoid all of that, many commuters chose to walk but it just didn’t work out as planned. The 13 Georgia Tech fans who went to see their team, ahem, play last night had sidewalks all jammed up with their Segway scooters. It was not a pretty sight. Thankfully, they were all able to make a detour to DragonCon where they had their pictures taken with that guy from Sharknado and Reggie Ball.

That’s why I prefer to watch the games at home. Just me, my wife and my kids. My young kids. My young kids who like to ask billions of questions. Here are a few that I’m sure to hear from them as the season wears on.

“Dad, why are that man and woman in that commercial sitting in separate tubs and holding hands?”

“Dad, why do people cheer for Clemson?”

“Dad, how is it possible for New York City to have two professional football teams and really not have any professional football teams?”

“Dad, do they give you free tuition at Florida if you wear jean shorts?”

“Dad, why can’t teams from Alabama just pick one mascot and go with it?”

“Dad, why do so many of Florida State’s players wear those electronic things around their ankles?”

“Dad, what is DeVry doing in the Orange Bowl?”

“Dad, is this ESPN or the Oprah channel?”

“Dad, why are Georgia Tech’s games played on the Oprah channel?”

“Dad, Notre Dame is 1 and 7. Why are they on TV and ranked number 3 in the country?”

“Dad, why is Ohio State playing against my soccer team this week?”

“Dad, shouldn’t they make the team that finishes in last place have to go to Washington D.C. and just send the champions to Disney World?”

If you need me over the next few days, I’ll be preparing my answers to these very important questions. In the meantime, enjoy the season, don’t throw anything and try not to laugh too hard and that dude in the yellow wig riding on the Segway. He can’t help it.

Oh, and Go Dawgs!

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The Monday Morning Quarterback

There’s an unwritten rule about family conflict. You don’t let other people say honest painful truths to your family. Only you are allowed to say honest painful truths to your family.

This week’s edition of the Monday Morning Quarterback is written in that spirit. I am a Georgia Bulldog fan. They are my family, if you will. So that gives me the right to say a few honest, painful truths to the Bulldog Nation. Here goes.

If Georgia Bulldog fans devoted half as much energy to holding the federal government accountable as they do to trying to get Mark Richt fired, the last four U.S. Presidents would be in jail right now.

Remember this, Bulldog fans. Georgia was an average football team before Mark Richt showed up. The only thing that kept them from being below average was the fact that they somehow managed to recruit really good players. Really good players that played on 7 win teams in college and went on to win Super Bowls on their way to the Hall of Fame.

Several years ago, I watched an AFC Championship Game that looked like a UGA scrimmage. Players on both sidelines had formerly worn the red and black. And some of them were about to play in the Super Bowl. One of the commentators even wondered aloud how such talented players didn’t play on more successful teams in college.

I’m not trying to put down Georgia. I’m a fan, remember. All that I’m trying to do is bring Dawg fans back to reality. Take away the few years that Herschel Walker was terrorizing college defenses and Georgia is on level with Ole Miss. We are not Alabama. We never have been. Maybe one day we will be. But for now, we do more harm than good when we finish every year acting like our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness has been stolen just because we have to play Nebraska in the Outback Bowl again.

Sometimes winning takes time. Especially if you do it without giving Corvettes and cocaine to new recruits. But all of the Georgia fans who are demanding Mark Richt’s head don’t care about that. They just want a championship. Well sure, they care about the, ahem, student athletes too. Just as long as those student athletes play for Georgia. And as long as those student athletes don’t approach them on the street once their playing days are over.

Just be honest, angry Dawg fans. You don’t care about the players. You don’t even care about the University. If you did, you would be thrilled to see the continuity that we have enjoyed and the improvement that we have seen. But what you really care about is yourself and being able to tell the Georgia Tech fan in the cubicle next to you that you won a national title more recently than he did. You. As if you were in on any of the planning or the plays.

I hate losing. Obviously you do too.

But settle down.

Take a nap.

Hug your wife.

Play with your kids.

And leave Mark Richt alone. He’s better than anything we’ve ever had in Athens.

But if you must get angry and stir things up, please allow me to point your attention to that big white house in Washington D.C.

Go Dawgs!

The Monday Morning Quarterback

It’s time once again for me to ramble on and on about football. I like to call it The Monday Morning Quarterback.

NCAA

Does anyone remember the name of that Georgia Bulldog running back that future Heisman Trophy winner Nick Chubb is replacing? Thomas Gurlhammer? Todd Graily? Ted Nugent? Let me know if you figure it out.

Chubb’s Bulldogs had a strong showing against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday. Early on in the game, one of the announcers said the following.

“Arkansas has to stick with what got them here.”

At the time, Arkansas was getting beat, 17-6 and hadn’t won an SEC game since the Clinton administration. Thankfully, the Razorbacks stuck with what got them there. Georgia won the game 45 to 32.

Even still, some drunken Georgia fan is sitting at some bar in Athens talking about how Mark Richt and Mike Bobo should be fired.

NFL

The Atlanta Falcons also stuck with what got them there. That’s another way of saying that they played like a middle school team and made everyone in Georgia consider giving up professional football for Conference USA women’s volleyball.

But all hope is not lost for the Falcons. They play in the NFC South which happens to be the worst division in the history of sports. Here’s a look at the current standings.

1. The Carolina Panthers

2. The New Orleans Saints

3. The Atlanta Falcons

4. The 1983 Montreal Expos

Quick Hits

If Steve Smith was playing checkers with a five-year-old, Steve Smith would find a way to get into a fight. And Steve Smith would win.

I was hoping that there was a way that both teams could lose the Florida State/Notre Dame game. I think that it may have happened. By winning with Jameis Winston at quarterback, Florida State will lose in the long run after the school has to vacate all of their wins once Winston is found guilty of selling his merchandise, terrorizing young co-eds and the Kennedy assassination.

By the end of the week, the Florida Gators will fire Will Muschamp and replace him with Super Creepy Rob Lowe.

Dear Hardee’s, 

Stop using porn to sell your food. I know, I’m probably being a little loose with the word porn. But I’m also being a bit loose with the word food. Seriously, how are you still in business? Please go away before I send Steve Smith looking for you.

Thanks!

Until next time, happy footballing!

The Monday Morning Quarterback

We begin this week’s edition of the Monday Morning Quarterback with breaking news.

The NFL season has been cancelled. Due to the fact that they are now 5 and 1, the NFL, in conjunction with ESPN, has decided to give the Dallas Cowboys a spot in this season’s Super Bowl. The remaining games of the season will be scrimmages. Next week, the Cowboy’s game against the Giants will be the game of the week. On every network. Even HGTV. The NFL, ESPN and the United Nations are still working together to determine Dallas’ opponent in the Super Bowl. So far, the Yankees and Notre Dame are believed to be the frontrunners. I’ll keep you posted.

The next time one of my fellow Georgia fans starts talking to you about how Mark Richt should be fired, wait for him to sober up and show him a replay of Saturday’s game against Missouri. The Bulldogs were playing without Todd Gurley and they still managed to shut out a top 25 SEC opponent while scoring nearly 40 points. Saturday’s game was probably Richt’s finest accomplishment as a coach.

In case you didn’t know, Todd Gurley was suspended for selling some of his football gear. Early reports indicate that he got somewhere around $400 for his troubles. $400! I blame all of this on Todd Gurley. It’s his fault for going to a school that takes those kinds of things seriously. Had he just decided to play college football in the state of Florida or at Auburn, he’d still be playing today. Heck, he’d probably even get an extra sticker on his helmet for providing the team with extra money to cover court costs for the quarterback.

Dear Cialis,

Enough with the commercials already. Some of us are trying to watch the game with our five-year-olds and don’t really feel as though now is the time to explain the dysfunctions your product aims to treat to our little ones. 

Sincerely,

Football Dads Everywhere

Ohio State is starting to scare me. They got beat early in the year and I thought that we wouldn’t be hearing much more out of them. But thanks to a streak of games against Elon, North Dakota Tech and Dumptruck County Industrial School for Boys the Buckeyes are starting to move back up in the top 25. Ohio State is sort of like Mitt Romney. They’ve been beaten already and despite being bad for America, they just won’t go away.

Georgia Tech lost a tough one to Duke. Tech fans shouldn’t feel bad about this one. I mean, it is Duke. There is no shame in losing to one of the more storied programs in college basketball history. Hang on a second, my wife is trying to tell me something.

It appears that I was mistaken. Georgia Tech lost to Duke in a football game. Wait just a minute. Duke has a football team? When did this happen? Georgia Tech should be ashamed of themselves.

Until next week, happy footballing!

A Theology of Losing

We’ve had a rough stretch at our house.

It was looking so good there for a while, like maybe things would be different this time.  And then Andrelton Simmons was called out because of a peculiar interpretation of Major League Baseball’s infield fly rule.  Well, that and the fact that the Braves, like they do every other post season, forgot about the importance of hitting and pitching.

So much for enjoying a Braves World Series win with my sons.

They handle losses differently.  My youngest son always asks who won.  In this case, when I said the Cardinals, he announced his undying support for the Cardinals.  My oldest son takes it hard.  To him, a loss is a personal insult.  I use theology to help him cope.

“Son, even if the Braves lose, Jesus is still Lord.”

The Lordship of Jesus Christ is proclaimed a lot in our house.  This approach seems to be helping but he also likes to look at things from another perspective.

“Yeah, and at least we still have the Georgia Bulldogs to cheer for.”

Fast forward to a cold night in December.  The Georgia Bulldogs were yards away from beating the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide and earning a spot in the national title game.  With no timeouts and just seconds left on the clock, Aaron Murray completed a pass a few feet from the goal line.  As the Bulldogs hurried to the line to run another play, the clock ran out.

Alabama won.

That’s when my youngest son pledged his undying support to the Crimson Tide.

My oldest son wanted to cry.

I wanted to join him.

Instead, I told him that Jesus is still Lord.

“Yeah dad, and at least we still have the Falcons to cheer for.”

Fast forward to a cold Sunday afternoon in January.  The Falcons were down by four points and just a few yards away from the end zone.  A score here would send them to only the second Super Bowl in team history.  On fourth down, with just a minute or so left in the game, a Matt Ryan pass fell harmlessly to the ground, effectively ending the game for the Falcons.

My youngest son then pledged his undying support to the San Francisco 49ers.

My oldest son was upset but not as much as I expected him to be.  He was getting used to losing.  But I still told him that Jesus is Lord.

“Yeah, and dad, we still have the Atlanta Hawks to cheer for.”

He’s got a lot to learn.

It’s a good thing that Jesus will always be Lord.

Fire Mark Richt!

Mark Richt has been the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs football team for 12 seasons.

Before his arrival in Athens it had been nearly 20 years since the Bulldogs were relevant.  Richt came up from Florida State and brought their culture of winning with him.  And he’s done it the right way.  Richt has a reputation as a class act that somehow manages to put his faith in Christ and his obligations to his family ahead of his profession.

Those kind of priorities have probably cost the Bulldogs a few wins, maybe even a national title.

And that’s why, for almost every year that he’s been the coach at Georgia, Mark Richt has been on the hot seat.  For some, “Fire Mark Richt!” has become the new “Go Dawgs!”

Some fans have wanted him gone because he’s too nice.

Some don’t like him because he can’t seem to win the big game.

Some fans don’t like seeing other, seemingly less talented teams, win national titles while Georgia hasn’t won one since the 1980-81 season.

This weekend, Mark Richt will coach the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC championship game.  It will be the Bulldog’s second appearance in two years.  They’ve won this game twice under Richt’s leadership.  Before he came along the joke was that SEC officials decided to put the championship game in Atlanta because they wouldn’t have to worry about Georgia ever making it to the game and having an unfair home field advantage.

The game this Saturday is probably the most important game involving the Georgia Bulldogs in the past two decades.  If they win they will go to the national title game to play an undefeated Notre Dame team.

If they lose, a small but vocal group of fans will reignite the Fire Mark Richt campaign.

These are fans that have not learned from the experiences of their rivals to the north and the southwest.

Phil Fulmer was a long time successful coach at the University of Tennessee.  He won a lot of games with Peyton Manning as his quarterback and even won a national title the year after Manning left for the NFL.  But the game had passed him by, or so the fans thought.  They let Fulmer go and replaced him with a hotshot NFL coach named Lane Kiffin.  After a year on the job, Kiffin left for the greener pastures of the University of Southern California.  He was replaced by Derrek Dooley who was fired just a few days ago after one of Tennessee’s worst seasons.  Phil Fulmer has never been so appreciated in Knoxville.

Auburn University rests just over the Georgia/Alabama border and in the shadow of the mighty Crimson Tide.  When it came time for them to fire their coach a few years ago they chose a surprising replacement.  Gene Chizik had experienced little success as a head coach and the Auburn fans were not happy.  They quickly changed their tune when Chizik led the team to an undefeated national championship season in 2010.  But a mere two years later, Auburn was 3 and 9 with 0 conference wins and an embarrassing 49 – 0 loss to that bitter instate rival whose shadow seems to always be looming over them.

Tennessee and Auburn force us to grapple with a very difficult question, one that goes beyond sports.  If you sacrifice everything to win it all, have you really won anything at all?

Georgia doesn’t stand much of a chance to win against Alabama this Saturday, at least according to the experts.  Alabama is very good and they have been very good for a while.  But they play the game for a reason.

My two boys and I will be watching from the comfort of our home.  Three Georgia fans enjoying the biggest game of the season.

But when Alabama jumps out to an early lead, say 21-3 in the first quarter, there will only be one Georgia fan in our house.

“Dad, who’s winning?”

“Alabama is right now.”

“Roll Tide!”

And then I’ll teach them the importance of sticking by your team, even when they aren’t playing so well.  This is a lesson that I hope they will learn and carry with them throughout their lives as husbands, fathers and leaders.  Leaders stay the course, even when the ones you are leading are calling for your head.  Fans jump ship when things get tough and get back on when things are looking better.  Fan is, after all, short for fanatic.

I’d rather my sons grow up to be leaders than fanatics.

And win or lose, I’m thankful that the three of us have an example like Mark Richt.

The Sportin’ Socialists

I’m trying to teach my sons how to lose.  My parenting philosophy on this is that the best way for them to learn how to lose is to, well, lose.  But this is becoming more and more difficult in a society that refuses to allow such a thing.

It goes back to when I was a kid.  I played little league baseball for the Rex Indians and the Rex Dodgers.  We were terrible but I got two trophies for my troubles.  My little league football team was the Jonesboro Yellow Jackets.  As you might expect from a team with a yellow jacket as a mascot, we too were terrible.  That didn’t stop us from getting a trophy.

Now that I’m a parent, things have gotten worse.  I took my sons to a community Easter egg hunt a few years ago.  Once all of the eggs were found, the kids had to turn their eggs back in so that they could be evenly distributed amongst all of the other kids.  Had I have known this beforehand, I would have made my kids sit on the curb until distribution time.  Egg hunting can be exhausting, you know.

This generation has been called the trophy generation.  Generations before got a trophy for winning.  This one gets one for showing up.  And all of those extra trophies do more than sit on a shelf.  They produce a generation of entitlement with what Tim Elmore calls, “an overinflated idea of their own importance.”

This all came to a head last weekend when a few teams didn’t get their chance to win.  Things got off to a bad start on Friday night in Atlanta when an umpire made a terrible call that helped the Cardinals and hurt the Braves in their one game playoff.  The Atlanta fans went nuts.  The game had to be stopped for half an hour so that all of the trash that fans threw on the field could be cleaned up.  I’m sure that Atlanta’s Chamber of Commerce was proud.

The next night the Georgia Bulldogs played a huge game against the South Carolina Gamecocks.  Both teams were undefeated and ranked in the top ten.  It had all of the makings of a classic matchup.  The only problem is that the Georgia Bulldogs apparently thought that the game was sometime next month.  South Carolina jumped out to a quick 21 to 0 lead and held on to win 35 to 7.

After the game, Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray came home to find that a few Bulldog fans had egged his house.  The next morning Murray discovered that his dad had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  Murray called it the worst 12 hour stretch of his life.

And then there was Sunday.  The Kansas City Chief’s struggling quarterback, Matt Cassel, was knocked out of the game after receiving a concussion.  As he was laying on the field, fans of his team were cheering, not to inspire him to get up but because they were happy that he wasn’t likely to finish the game.  As he walked off the field, fans continued to cheer and shout the name of the backup quarterback, Brady Quinn.

For the record, the Braves have spent the last two decades finding ways to lose games in October, even without bad calls from umpires.  And the Georgia Bulldogs always have high expectations before each football season.  Always.  And they always forget to show up to a game or two.  Or six.  Finally, the Chiefs have not had a good quarterback since Joe Montana made a pit stop there on his way to retirement.

But that’s not enough for fans who have been brought up in a culture where everyone gets a turn to win a championship.  It doesn’t take too long in the real world to finally realize that the Braves, Bulldogs and Chiefs rarely get their turn.  But for fans who have grown up believing that winning is a right, losing is on the same level as theft.  Therefore, throw stuff on the field, egg the quarterback’s house and cheer when he gets a concussion.

By the way, these entitled fans get to vote too and don’t think that our nation’s politicians haven’t figured out the best way to pander to their trophy lust.

My sons are going to compete against individuals and teams that are better than they are.  I’m trying to teach them that they can still win.  Sometimes effort and technique beats strength and talent.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  And that hurts.

But winning really isn’t everything.  Sure it’s fun but it doesn’t mold boys into men.

Maybe that’s why stadiums are filled, not with men, but with boys.  Boys who like to throw things and cheer at the wrong time.  Boys who are now grown up but never really grew up.

Boys who never learned how to lose.