Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Real Life vs. Fun and Games

This past weekend was chock full of rivalry games in college football.  Alabama and Auburn played the "Iron Bowl".  Oregon and Oregon State played the "Civil War".  Mississippi and Mississippi State played the "Egg Bowl".  

Ohio State played Michigan.  The rivalry game between these two historical foes needs no sobriquet.  It is simply what it is:  Wolverines vs. Buckeyes. Maize and blue vs. Crimson and cream.  Bo Schembechler vs. Woody Hayes.  It is simply "The Game".  

The 2014 football season was one of bitter disappointment for the men of Michigan.  Their defeat at the hands of Brutus Buckeye's charges on Saturday afternoon was the seventh of their twelve-game campaign.  It heralded the end of the tenure of Brady Hoke as U of M's head coach.   Yesterday he was fired.  

Two events, however, surrounding this year's annual resumption of hostilities served to remind one and all - including those with skin in the game in this rivalry - that irrespective of the lofty perch upon which one places college football, it too simply is what it is, which is an entertainment.  

The day before Thanksgiving, Kosta Karageorge - a senior defensive lineman on the Ohio State football team, disappeared.  He sent a text message to his mother in which he apologized to her if he had in fact ever embarrassed her with his behavior, which apparently included occasional bouts of confusion possibly attributable to concussions.   Sadly, for Kosta's mom, Susan, and for the rest of his family, there would be no happy ending to his story.  On Sunday, his body was found in a dumpster and preliminary reports indicated - for reasons that are likely impossible for many (if not all) of us to comprehend - that he had taken his own life.  He was just twenty-two years young.  

On the field on Saturday, in "the heat of battle" (to use an overused sports broadcaster turn of phrase), Michigan's senior quarterback Devin Gardner did something so simple and so humane that it was extraordinary.  Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett - thrust into the starting role way back when in September when the team's starting quarterback Braxton Miller was lost to a season-ending injury - was badly injured in the latter stages of the game.  As he was prone on the turf being tended to by the OSU medical staff (he suffered a season-ending right ankle fracture), Michigan's #98 - Gardner - came to him, knelt down next to him and comforted him.  An image that serves to remind us all that "adversary" and "enemy" are not synonyms.  

The final score of a college football game is never more important than real life...

...even though, much like real life, the outcome may be one that breaks our heart.  


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