Seems like an awfully long time ago that I was immersed in the HoF discussion, a discussion that in turn became a cheating, steroids, defamation of character, refzervers discussion. There was a time when I planned to respond to some of the comments that were made to the last two posts, but that time has passed. At one point I even envisioned going back and reviewing the tapes of all the National Finals I’ve played in to gather statistics on fouls made or called, upheld or overturned, and their potential impact on the outcome of the game had they not been made, called, upheld or overturned, but that point has also passed (and, truth be told, was probably beside the point to begin with). At some point toward the end of the discussion, someone (perhaps Phil) indicated that he was bored with it, and I replied “Amen.” I was bored with it. I still am.
Among my friends here in New York, “boring” and “bored” are words we use all the time to describe things we simply have no interest in as well as things we have lost interest in. It works best with a Brooklyn accent, but when someone suggests taking the ferry to Governor’s Island to see an outdoor art installation, there’s a good chance the reply will be “I’m bored with it.” At the extreme, when a thing has completely lost whatever interest it might ever have possessed, we no longer say we’re “bored.” At that point, with a fitting air of finality, we say the thing “died.”
Several weeks after my last HoF post to my blog, I was contacted by an old school player from Boston (coincidentally enough, the “rippee” from my confessional blog post that Henry Thorne found so damning). Having recently enjoyed a random connection with Pat King during a family ski weekend, he had been made aware my HoF candidacy and thoroughly brought up to speed on the entire debate. He reached out to me for two reasons. The first was to tell me that as the rippee, he found the story laughable and would give me his HoF vote any day. The other was to fill me in on an idea he had been kicking around.
The idea was The Spirit Ride, an event that has since passed (but if you’re interested there’s always next year). In his email he suggested that, like Tiger Woods signing more autographs and being more accessible to the press and spectators as a means of repairing his tarnished image, perhaps participating in the Spirit Ride would be just what I needed to gain acceptance into the HoF. Sadly, we’ll never know if he had something there. I already had two “can’t miss” events on my schedule that conflicted with the ride, so I missed out on this once a year chance to repair my damaged reputation with an eye toward finally gaining acceptance into the group of the greatest players our little sport has ever known. Quel dommage.
A little over a month later I received another email, this one from Joe Seidler, with the subject heading, “Don’t you want to be on this list of Ultimate Stars of the 80’s?” The list was a partial listing of Spirit Ride riders, and the point of the email was to generate interest and increase participation. Looking over the list I saw many names I recognized, mostly from back in the day when I first started playing the game. Finally, two days later, I received another email asking me to sponsor a rider, suggesting that even though I wouldn’t be able to make it in person, perhaps having my name on the list of donors might do the trick.
Maybe I was having a bad day. Maybe I hadn’t eaten enough fruits and vegetables, but whatever the reason, the whole thing started to bother me.
This is not the first time that, in the course of the HoF debate, I have been compared to Tiger Woods, a man whose respect for women in general and his wife in particular seems to have been pretty much non-existent. Does my having played an over-aggressive style of ultimate really rise to such a level of betrayal as that? In looking over the list of riders I see a few Hall of Famers as well as current and former voting members of the UPA HoF subcommittee. Do they also believe that my behavior on the field brings me to the level of Tiger Woods? Do they also think that if I participated in the ride or made a significant enough donation to the cause it might make me a candidate more worthy of induction into the HoF?
Damn! If only I hadn’t had those scheduling conflicts, this whole debacle might soon be mercifully ended.
Sadly, however, it was not to be. But what was so important that it would prevent me from repairing my damaged reputation and enhancing my standing in the ultimate community (and perhaps finally securing my elusive HoF inclusion) by participating in the Spirit Ride?
On Friday, June 11th, the day before the Spirit Ride, I was in Benson, North Carolina. I flew down to attend graduation ceremonies for the West Johnston High School Class of 2010. This was the last class of students that I taught, and in keeping a promise I made when I quit teaching, I have seen every one of my former students graduate. I also attended the Senior Brunch at school that morning, signing yearbooks and posing for photos. That night, following the ceremony, I attended two graduation parties, and at one of them had the pleasure of the company of the class Valedictorian and Salutatorian, both former students of mine. We chatted well into the night, and while at some point the challenge of keeping up with the hyper-energetic banter of super smart teenagers about to embark on their life’s voyage got a little tiring, I was never “bored.” With full rides to William & Mary and Duke awaiting them, they are surely destined for great things. It would be hard to overstate how proud I am of them.
On the morning of Saturday, June 12th, the day of the ride, I flew back to New York, popped in briefly at home to shower, shave and change, and headed north to the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown to attend The Celebration of Opportunity Gala and Awards Dinner hosted by the Cerebral Palsy Association. For my work with the Hudson Valley Chapter, I was honored to receive the Distinguished Professional Services Award. My work there includes development of a program designed to build universally accessible parks and play spaces where children and adults who experience disabilities can participate in age and skill appropriate recreation and competition side-by-side with their able-bodied peers. It’s an exciting project from which I derive many rewards, and I mean no disrespect or lack of appreciation when I say that the award I received that evening is least among them.
Now, sitting at home, enjoying my first quiet weekend alone in my apartment in some time, I am writing for what I hope will be the last time on the subject of the HoF. I’m not sure that I would have done the Spirit Ride had I been free, and I have no way of knowing that my participation or my sponsorship of a rider would have repaired my damaged reputation enough to make a difference. But honestly, who cares?
This summer I am playing in Westchester Summer League for the first time in 12 years, and I am enjoying myself thoroughly. After the games we retire to the parking lot for the classic mill, and though I only recognize a few of the faces, the feelings of community are extremely familiar. Last week I was approached by someone I hadn’t seen in many years, and after a few “How long has it been” pleasantries, he asked the question:
“Kenny, what’s the deal with the Hall of Fame?”
“The Hall of Fame died.”