Thursday, July 16, 2009

With Feeling, One More Time

You cannot, it seems, turn six inches in any particular direction on any particular day without hearing or reading a story about the youth of America and their intertwined relationship with the impending demise of the Republic. Whether you are a member of that "suspect class" or, like yours truly, once were (what seems more and more like an insanely long time ago) you have undoubtedly heard it. It is an inevitable by-product of the human condition it seems - to hearken back to the good old days - regardless of whether they were or not.

This evening under the lights at Kean University two groups of high school football players (OK, they are all members of their school's class of '09), one from Union County and one from Middlesex County shall strap on their equipment one more time - and for some of them it may be the final time - and play a game. These young men - and the young women who comprise the cheerleading squads for their respective sides - are coming together not simply for the love of the game. Rather they gather tonight to help raise money for two institutions that specialize in helping those less gifted than those who shall play this evening.

Tonight is the Snapple Bowl XVI - an event whose principal purpose is to raise money for the Children's Specialized Hospital in Mountainside and The Lakeview School for Cerebral Palsy in Edison. Over the course of this game's first fifteen years, it has raised $250,000 for those two institutions. Two institutions who do good work - the type of work that as a parent you hope like hell your child never needs to be the beneficiary of. Margaret and I had the pleasure of hearing our Suzanne talk ceaselessly about all of the great work that is done at Lakeview during the couple of years that she was there - first as part of an academic internship during her time as an undergraduate student at Seton Hall and thereafter when she worked at the school after graduation.

It is fashionable one supposes to roll one's eyes, shake one's head and utter a line including the words "I do not understand young people today" and a "Harumph" at the mere sight of someone under a certain age. I do every time I see a story about Lindsay Lohan on television or in the newspaper. But it is far too easy - and far too shortsighted - to lump "kids today" into a one size fits all category and impose the sins of the few onto the many.

Whether it is a universal truth that with age comes wisdom I know not since while I am undeniably the oldest I have ever been I know not whether I am indeed wiser than I was half a lifetime ago - in spite of the rather low lying baseline from which I launched. The group of young folks who shall be playing and cheering tonight strike this crusty old bastard as being long on wisdom and rich in heart as well. Tonight they shall play not simply for the love of the game. Rather they shall play for the love of those who they may barely know or know not at all. They play for those who cannot so that those who cannot may have a shot at a bit better life tomorrow than they woke up to this morning. They play for all of the right reasons.

No doubt about it, the kids are alright.


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