More Jackson County Opinions...

NOVEMBER 20, 2002

By:Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
November 20, 2002

OK, so I’m full of stuff
A faithful reader said I was confusing her. Said she didn’t know where I stand. Wanted to know if I am Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, pro-life or pro-choice, for church or against church, saved or unsaved, blah, blah, blah. She said I zig-zig more than Zig-Zag Zell. “You are so full of stuff,” she charged.
“What exactly do you believe?” she wanted to know. She sounded desperate.
I wish I could help her. But I am confused myself.
Unlike—or like—many of you, I don’t have a clue. Oh, I know what I believe—right now. But tomorrow—I don’t know. Some things may happen tonight that will change how I see things.
One thing for sure: tonight will change me. I’ll be another day older tomorrow—if I make it through the night. And so will you, dear friend. Change, change—the constancy of change.
Oh, you have your act together. You know exactly where you stand, what you believe, what you would die for. You’ve heard your call, answered it, and you aren’t about to stray. (The only call I have right now is how to come up with the next sentence.)
You are in control. You are on the straight and narrow, and that’s where you’ll be until the Lord calls you home.
Has it ever occurred to you, dear friend, that you may be in a rut?
Whatever you are on or in, get off or out of it and see what new possibilities, opportunities, calling and blessings await you around the corner. Be on the lookout for stuff, too. Be open, real and vulnerable. Change. Grow.
I make no apologies for that tirade. I’ve told you many times that I’m a frustrated preacher. Preach back at me.
While you are working on your sermon, I want to quote one of my favorite columnists. His name is Leonard Pitts. He writes for The Miami Herald, and his pieces appear in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesdays. A few weeks ago, he wrote:
“The world has never seen control freaks like us. We make best sellers out of self-help books that purport to help us put our emotional and financial houses in order. We line up to buy the latest gadget that promises to save time and simplify chores. We put the world in an electronic box that sits on a desk. We seek uniformity, predictability, security.
“But guess what? Stuff still happens.”
Amen, Leonard!
I am now going to get back to my tirade.
The problem is, some people have trouble accepting the reality of stuff, and reality doesn’t give a .... Excuse me, reality doesn’t care. It goes right on being reality. Like Leonard said, stuff happens.
And no matter how hard or how long you act like it didn’t happen, it happened. Stuff hangs on.
It hangs on until you begin to doubt. It makes you wonder if your call was a wrong number. It knocks you off the straight and narrow. And it will get you out of your rut—if you will let it.
That’s good. So be encouraged: Anything that makes you realize you haven’t arrived yet is a blessing. Life is a journey, always something to look forward to around the next bend in the road. And what you find there causes you to take a new look at what you believe and how strongly you believe it. That’s good.
I don’t envy the person who knows for sure, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that what he believes about everything is the way it is. He knows, period. It just may be that he knows a lot of things that are not so.
The best laid plans of mice and men—even committed, dedicated, very knowledgeable men—still manage to go astray.
Columnist Pitts wonders when or if human beings will ever realize that they can’t guarantee their own destinies. (Before you get on Mr. Pitt’s case, think. Is he talking about destiny down here, or up there?)
He continues: “Life is Alzheimer’s, it’s heart attack, it’s mental illness, it’s uncertainty and it is suffering.
“Yet it is also, in the very same instant, laughter that makes your head swim, and faith that makes your heart soar. It is triumph, hope, pleasure...and love and happiness as well.
“To live is to be surprised...and shocked. You wake up in the morning to find out what happens next.”
Amen again, Leonard!
I’ll close this epistle (epistle?) with a quote from a writer closer to home and heart. His stuff appears in my columns from time to time. He has enriched my own stuff file more than he’ll ever know.
“My parallel reading to newspapers includes some of my mom’s ‘stuff’: a lot about Truth, God, Joy, Love,” said Tom Bryan in a recent note.
He added: “I place my bet that your summation of your church, liberal, conservative dilemma somewhat lands thereabouts.”
On that note, Tom drew an arrow from “thereabouts” to “Love.”
Thanks, Tom. I hope you are right. I believe you are. If our stuff doesn’t land somewhere thereabouts, we are as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
Virgil Adams is former editor and owner of The Jackson Herald.

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By: Zach Mitcham
The Jackson Herald
November 20, 2002

The ‘ESPN-ization’ of sports
I will not spike the ball. (So 80s).
I will not flap my arms like a chicken or other dirty bird. (So 1998).
I will not do as Earl Campbell did years ago, which was run parallel to the goal line to seek out another defender to pummel before scoring six. (Which was actually pretty cool).
I will not pull a pen out of my sock to autograph the football before handing the pigskin to my agent in the stands. (Already been done).
No, when I’m about to score my first NFL touchdown, I will slow down at the five-yard line, long enough to pull a cell phone from a special pocket. I will then pretend to order a pizza, only to have a delivery guy waiting on me with an enormous pepperoni pizza at the back of the end zone. Once there, my teammates and I will enjoy the meal to the dismay of our opponents.
Once I have applied the napkin to my mouth, I will remove my shirt and pads, showing off an enormous ad stenciled on the skin of my back — the way pro fighters do these days for casinos. But my ad will be for Dominos or Pizza Hut, or some other chain.
Don’t be surprised if you see someone actually do this.
O.K., not me, but somebody.
Yes, there’s an obvious “ESPN-ization” — granted, it’s an atrocious attempt at coining a word — of the sports world where a big dunk gets a “booyah” and a layup gets ignored, where a pass is only special if it’s behind the back, where you are cool if you do something gaudy enough to raise a fuss, like pull a pen out of your sock to sign a football after a touchdown as Terrell Owens recently did.
Now, I enjoy ESPN. And the highlight reels are wonderful for sports fans like me. But they do seem to have an effect on behavior on fields and courts. A sort of “What can I do to make Sportscenter?”
Too often the answer doesn’t stop with just doing something spectacular. It requires a brilliant play followed by a spectacle of how proud a player is of his dominance.
Of course, the braggadocio element is nothing new in sports.
There’s always been smack talk, posturing and a general desire to show up the other guy.
But today’s big-time sports culture has gone beyond that. There is a market like never before for self-aggrandizing behavior.
I generally laugh at the goofy posturing after a monster dunk or a touchdown, equating it with the foolish trash talk one pro wrestler offers another.
Other times, I’m irritated, particularly if it’s a team I’m rooting for. I think: Yes, beautiful play. But you already had our attention. Why do you have to act so desperately to hold on to the attention? It cheapens what you did.
Of course, there has been a push in college football to curtail self-congratulatory nonsense in recent years. Referees have started calling more celebration penalties, which is good, except they’ve gone overboard at times, punishing genuine elation over a great play, instead of limiting penalties to spotlight-seeking individuals.
Hopefully, more sports figures will learn to recognize the truth, that cool is quiet confidence, not a loud “look at me” and that success is not limited to an appearance on “Plays of the Week.” It’s more often the silent thing that helped someone else shine.
Some guys — i.e. Herschel Walker — gain a reputation for handing the ball back to the referee after a touchdown, for acting like they’ve “been there before.”
Unfortunately, the Terrell Owens style of rub-it-in-your-face theatrics will surely continue.
And don’t be surprised when that cell phone call to the pizza man finds its way into an NFL game.
It’s gaudy enough to work.
And, hey, I have sure hands. I can catch a pass. I like pizza.
It’s the 6.2 speed in the 40. That’s the trouble.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.
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