Saturday, June 05, 2010

Remembering John Wooden

I wasn't around to experience any of those great UCLA teams. Up until the last few years my only exposure to John Wooden came through second hand lessons taught by coaches and teachers. Up until a couple of years ago, I only knew that he was the most decorated coach of all time and that he had inspired legions of followers and practitioners of his teachings.

And than the news of his sickness and death came....the depth of my understanding of this man changed profoundly.

As I read the papers and heard the news I was inundated with stories and praise. This man was truly loved. He truly left his mark. And as more and more stories and anecdotes emerged, I realized one thing. They all dealt with his character. Sure there were references to his great success in winning games. But the majority of the time was spent on how he selflessly taught those around them how to work harder and become better people.

The athletes and coaches of our era are probably the best we've ever seen. Science and money have insured that by making athletics a very lucrative business. But behind all of the muscle and ego, there isn't much depth of character. The principles that we know are appropriate- team work, cooperation, effort- have been replaced with actions that are convenient such as greed, selfishness, and cheating. I can only imagine how Mr. Wooden felt during these last years as he watched this unfold in his beloved arena of sport. He proved that you can win the right way....only it was much harder then winning the convenient way. That is why he is so unique and singular.

Mr. Wooden, you thrived before my time. But your life and legacy is so very important to the people of my time. He was a throw back to the core principles that made us great. Maybe your passing will remind us that we've gone astray and that, to become great again, we need to look beyond ourselves.

3/23/17- A fitting end in Venice

That'll cost you 100 Euros I guess it makes sense to spend the last chapter of our Italian journey in the town most commonly associ...