Serving the Youth

A cool part of my job centers on the fact that I get to do interesting things that are not necessarily always completely focused on the Griz. Because of my background as DJ for Montana athletics, I get hired to do similar type work for other functions. I have DJ’d numerous cheerleading competitions, social events, University of Montana academic rallies, Tim Tebow’s stop in Missoula, and various other events and situations. Just a few weeks ago I got to help with an engagement proposal at midfield inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium. However, this past week I got to work an event that topped all the other non-Griz things I have done.

On Friday night, the Missoula Youth Football (MYF) league held its championship games under the lights in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. MYF is the Missoula version of Pop Warner football. In its inaugural season, the league produced strong numbers for kids participating in its two divisions, third/fourth grades and fifth/sixth grades. After a hard fought season, two teams from both divisions faced off to become the first champions of the newly formed league.

At first, I didn’t think I would get the opportunity to help with the championship games. I had been hired to do music for the Missoula Mayhem fights that night. Late Friday afternoon while I was testing equipment for the event, one of the employees of the Adams Center came over and notified me that the Missoula Mayhem organization would bring its own DJ to the fights and that my services would not be needed. I immediately became ecstatic as I am not an ultimate fighting fan and was not looking forward to the evening by any means. Suddenly, my Friday night had opened wide up and I planned to finish my prep for the Griz football game the following day and then go home and relax the rest of the evening.

With only about five minutes separating me from a non-eventful, relaxing evening at home, I heard Christie call my name from her office. I went to see what she wanted. Christie had already volunteered to help with the MYF championship games. She was going to run sponsor ads up on Griz Vision. She also planned to download a National Anthem clip to play prior to the start of both championship games. However, she could not seem to be able to download the certain clip which was way she called me into her office. Not knowing a solution to the problem either, I told her that I would just go up into the press box with her and set up my equipment and play the anthem. It would take just a few minutes to go up into the box, play the song, and then get out of there and head home. That was my initial plan anyway.

The awards ceremony for the third/fourth grade game. Lots of fans came out to watch.


Christie and I practically ran up to the press box as we were running late. We climbed the stairs and entered the control room and as I looked out the windows and onto the field, I knew I would not just be sticking around for the anthem.

A large crowd of around 1,500 to 2,000 people had gathered in the west stands of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Although still light out, the stadium lights were turned on. Our inflatable Griz helmet that serves as the entrance for our own football team was erected. I got audio set up and was told that the teams would soon run out of the tunnel and onto the field. I immediately cued up the entrance song that we use for the Griz and hit play. As “Bring ‘Em Out” blared over the house speakers, the third and fourth graders ran out onto the field, waving their arms up and down in the motion for the crowd to get loud. The sight of how small the young kids looked in the large stadium immediately brought a smile to my face. Here they were playing in their own little Super Bowl inside the best stadium in Montana. Right then, Christie and I knew we were going to give them the best experience possible.

Treating the MYF championship game just like an actual Griz game, Christie and I pulled out all the stops. All the “TOUCHDOWN”, “FIRST DOWN,” “TURNOVER.” etc prompts were used on Griz Vision. Signature clips such as Godzilla and the Animal House “You Make Me Want to Shout” scene were shown during both championship games. The songs synonymous with Griz games including “We Like to Party” and “Cotton Eyed Joe” echoed through the stadium as fans danced along. Griz football color man and MYF board member Scott Gurnsey served as the PA announcer and did an amazing job recognizing the kids. Joining the three of us in the control room included a scoreboard operator, a cameraman, and then two of our hard-working marketing interns.

Christie and I up in the box on Friday evening. We had a great time.

Instead of leaving work at 6 p.m., I knew I would be there until 10 p.m. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Christie and I were having such a good time running our usual gameday production in a non-stressful environment. Darkness finally overtook the stadium and our brand new lights illuminated the field and the youngsters playing on it, making for a great scene. Watching the young kids playing football and reacting to everything that was going on was pretty special. A couple times Christie and I mentioned how these kids would remember playing in this game for the rest of their lives. To know that we had a part in shaping it definitely brought some satisfaction.

In the third and fourth grade championship, the Alamo Rent-A-Car Ravens defeated the Mountain West Bank Chargers. In the fifth and sixth grade game, the Sleep City Steelers became champions by defeating the Lifestyle Fitness Falcons. As “We Are the Champions” filled the stadium as the Steelers received their trophies during the awards ceremony under the bright lights to conclude the evening, I realized that not only the kids would remember this night for a while but I would too. Needless to say, I was very happy I did not leave work early that night. Don’t Blink.


I had a great day today. I got some work done that I had not looked forward to doing, progress was made for this Saturday’s Military Appreciation football game, I saw some of my favorite people stop by the office, and basketball season arrived as I worked the Griz and Lady Griz scrimmages this evening. Because the day went so well, I pretty much forgot about the fact that I witnessed three of my top pet peeves in the laziness category. As “pretty much” does not mean “completely,” these examples of sloth are still in my head. On the bright side, it does bring up an interesting topic to blog about. In no particular order, here are three acts of laziness that drive me crazy.

Not Returning Shopping Carts to the Racks

This evening at around 10pm I arrived at Wal-Mart and it looked like a UFO must have hovered over the parking lot and abducted 20 different people because I saw at least 20 different shopping carts left in the most random and inconvenient spots around the area.

How hard is it to return your cart to inside the store or to a designated cart rack after you unload your groceries into your car? I really don’t know how much of an inconvenience it can be for a person to walk an extra 30 feet. As you will soon see throughout this post, my biggest problem with laziness is it puts the person committing the act before everyone else. Thus, laziness equals selfishness in my book, something that I detest. Nothing is more irritating than looking all over for a parking spot and then finally coming up upon one that is empty only to see the second you are about to pull in that something actually is parked there…a shopping cart. It is almost like stumbling upon a land mine. Idle shopping carts just don’t pose a threat to finding a parking spot, they pose a threat to the safety of your car. I get nervous going inside a store, especially Wal-Mart, after I park my vehicle. The possibility of someone’s non-returned shopping cart colliding with my car is not far-fetched at all. People love to push their cart away from their vehicle after loading, completely unaware and unconcerned about where the cart might travel. Non-human forces also make carts ruin paint jobs on cars. All it takes is a little bit of wind or a slope of some kind to introduce a lone cart to the side of a vehicle.

Even if your unreturned cart never harms a car or takes a parking spot away from someone, please just have some respect for employees who must pick up and return the cart you left out in the Siberia portion of the lot. Or think about fellow customers who could have used it if brought back properly. Return what you use.

Not Racking Weights

In the middle of my workout today I needed to transition into the incline press. Although one incline bench was vacant, the weight stacked on the bar suggested otherwise. I had to ask the nice girl working on the regular bench right by the bench I wanted to use if she had seen anyone there recently. She responded by telling me that someone was last there ten minutes ago and he had since left the gym.

This is not just an issue that I experienced today. This is an issue that I experience five days out of the week when I go workout. Although everyone who has ever spent five minutes in a gym should know that it is proper etiquette to rack your weights at the completion of an exercise, I am always astonished at the inconsideration many show towards others and simply leave their machines/benches fully loaded. First off, an unracked piece of equipment gives off the illusion that it is currently in use. This initial assessment deters many people from walking any closer to the exercise that they wanted to complete. For others it leads to them looking around the gym trying to see if they can spot anyone who looks like they might still be working in on the equipment. It then leads to the awkward situation of approaching a stranger who is by the equipment you want to use and asking him/her if they know if anyone is still on it.

Besides giving off the impression of a machine in use, not racking weights places a burden on the person who wants to use it next. During a workout, we should exert energy while doing the actual lift…not by removing weights. I always feel bad for the dude who thinks he is the next Arnold Swarzenager who grunts and shouts while struggling to do one rep at 315 pounds and then leaves it fully loaded for some poor girl to come and take all six of the 45 pound weights off herself so she can use the equipment at her desired weight.

Not racking your weights just shows a great amount of disrespect. It sends the message that you don’t care about anyone else in the gym and that racking weights is below you. But mostly it is just lazy. There is nothing hard about completing your sets, ripping off the collars, and then racking the weights in their respective spots. Take the thirty extra seconds and make the piece of equipment welcoming for the next person…and don’t forget to wipe it down either!

Soliciting Mass Texts

After I finished my workout I looked at my phone to see that I had a group text message from a person who I am not relatively close to. When I opened it up, I shook my head. The text asked for donations to a good cause that this person was participating in early in November. Good cause, bad method.

If you want or need something, don’t send out a mass text. You are asking others to sacrifice a little bit for you, so please sacrifice a little bit of your time and personally contact each person individually. Simply adding a bunch of names to a text and blanketing them all by pressing the “send” button is lazy and impersonal. For many people, like me, it is a complete turnoff and a deal breaker. Getting the generic text message is bad enough, getting all the random replies from people included in the group message is even worse.

I am not saying all mass texts are bad because they aren’t. Invitations, directions, and significant news (baby born, someone passed away) can be effectively communicated via group texts. However, if you are requesting something from someone, please show the decency to personally reach out to him/her.


Many people say it is the little things that count. I tend to agree. In a world where it is so easy to cut corners and take the lazy way out, it is good to hold ourselves to a higher standard and do things the way they are supposed to be done. Bring your cart back inside the store, rack your weights, and don’t send out soliciting text messages! Don’t Blink.

Part of the National Discussion: Griz Social Media

I learned in third grade that I qualified as a concrete sequential person and as I have grown up, I have changed very little. I am very practical, organized (besides my office desk), and structured. I am a guy who goes by the numbers. You tell me something can’t be quantified and I will devise a way to do so, It is just my nature.

People like me put a lot of stock in rankings. We like to see lists of where people, organizations, things, teams, etc. stack up. It is a very clear and bottom line type way of assessing information. Some of the rankings I have paid especially close attention to throughout my life: Best in class (high school and college), FCS and FBS top 25, New York Times Best Seller list, Billboard top 100, world population year-by-year breakdown, world’s richest people, and then about five different sports statistical rankings that I follow religiously. Besides the best in class category as I am not in school anymore, these rankings captivate my interest as I check each one at least once a week, many of them much more than that. They are in an exclusive club in my mind’s hierarchy of importance, a level that is very difficult to get inside.

It is time to add one more.

In yet another example of how important social media is in intercollegiate athletics, a system now exists that ranks the top 200 schools according to their social media prowess. Using Facebook followers, Twitter followers, and Facebook interaction info, the Sports Fan Graph statistically assigns universities a ranking. Because I am in charge of social media for Grizzly Athletics at The University of Montana, I naturally took great interest in the poll once I heard of its existence. Although I knew in advance that we log the highest amount of people under the umbrella of our social media accounts in our conference, I had no idea how we stacked up on the whole FCS level, let alone the whole national level. It just so happens that we do quite well.

The Sports Fan Graph has The University of Montana ranked #53 in the country when it comes to social media. When it comes to all Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools, Montana is #1. Currently we rank higher than schools such as Arizona, Baylor, Boise State, Gonzaga, Stanford, and Washington State. We beat out Baylor, Boise State, Georgetown, Hawaii, Maryland, NC State, Nevada, and Connecticut. Conferences are included in the top 200 as well and the Griz rank above the Pac-12, Big East, and Mountain West just to name a few.

For the Griz to hold the #53 spot in the nation for social media is pretty significant. For a college with a much lower enrollment compared to other schools while also located in a state that is very densely populated, to beat out some of the “bigger names” so to speak is cool. But please don’t think I am using this platform to brag. We have our spot on the Sports Graph because of the fans of Griz Nation. Grizzly fans can’t get enough of their team and will support them in every way possible whether it be sitting in the stands, purchasing Griz gear, or following along on Twitter and Facebook. I invite anyone to surf onto any of our athletic Facebook pages and see that high volume of engagement, interaction, and passion that is generated by some of the best fans in the country.

Do what my shirt says and please FOLLOW THE GRIZ! (@UMGRIZZLIES).

Besides tracking the poll just to see where we rank, I love looking at the elite schools topping the list. Ohio State has always been known for ruling the social media world in intercollegiate athletics so it was no surprise when the Sports Graph confirmed them as #1. I marvel at the school’s Facebook following… 1,294,077 likes! Florida (#2) and Texas (#3) join the Buckeyes as the only other NCAA schools to top seven digits. I can’t begin to explain my envy for those types of numbers. How cool would it be to serve as the administrator of one of those pages and sit at your computer typing out a message knowing that you are about to hit over 1,000,000 people? Talk about power at your fingertips! I found it interesting that two basketball schools, North Carolina (#5) and Kentucky (#6), made the top ten. Even though they are powerhouse programs, I would have hypothesized that football powers would have occupied all of the top spots. Alabama claims the #4 spot with Oregon at #7, Wisconsin at #8, Oklahoma at #9, and Iowa at #10. If you look further down through the top 25 spots, you will see a list that pretty much resembles a football or basketball top 25 poll.

Thank you so much to the Sports Graph for making a tool for nerds like me. No matter if it is head-to-head competition, attendance figures, sports information content, merchandise sales, or social media, Montana always loves to see where it matches up on a national level. Although I have said this time and time again on this blog and although I know some people hate hearing it, let me repeat myself again: Social media is here to stay. Don’t Blink.

Mission Impossible: Finding an iPhone 5 Charger

A few weeks ago I upgraded from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5. Although similar in many aspects to the previous model, some cool differences do exist: With the iPhone5 you have a bigger screen, internet browsing is faster, you can snap pictures while capturing video, you can take sweet panaromic shots, and the battery lasts longer. These improvements definitely enhances the newest Apple product and helps to continue the impressive trend of the company’s products continually getting better with each new released model. However, with the iPhone 5 there is one difference that while beneficial for the company, is very detrimental to the consumer…

The iPhone 5 requires a charger that is different from all previous models. Discontinuing something we probably all took for granted, if you purchase an iPhone 5 you will no longer be able to use the charger that you used before for your iPhone, iPod, and iPad. The new charger is equipped with a much different and smaller connector. Although a few different reasons have been given for why Apple has made this move, the most common one I have heard is that the company is trying to protect against knockoff Chinese companies capitalizing off of Apple’s success by duplicating chargers and selling them for much less. This problem has gone on for a long time now and has reached a point where you could buy chargers online for a couple bucks.

Now whereas a lot of people have gotten extremely angry that Apple would issue a new charger and help combat against the millions of dollars they were losing, I personally don’t blame them one bit. How can you blame a company for trying to protect its product? Sure it sucks to have to pay for the original product rather than a dramatically reduced priced imitator but if it was your business you would do the same thing. However, if you are going to take the knockoff brands out of business, you need to make sure that the original product is readily available. This is definitely not the case with the new iPhone 5 charger. Let me explain.

I carry my phone charger everywhere I go. For whatever reason (most likely my constant texting, Tweeting, and Instagramming) , the battery life on my charger can’t even get me through the day. Consequently, I am always plugging in my charger at the most random spots. Last Thursday while in North Dakota I realized my charger was not in my pocket. After backtracking in my head all the places I had been that day, I came to grips that my charger was gone. It is one thing to not have your phone while at home, but it is a whole other thing not to have it while traveling. I felt stranded.

Feeling some relief that I could just go to the nearby Verizon store to pick a new one up, I calmly walked into the store thinking that I would soon be catching up on what I had missed while my phone was dead. Wrong. The two guys working in the store told me that Apple had made it a mission not to distribute mass numbers of the iPhone 5 chargers and that their location would not be getting any for a long time. I got the exact same story from the across the street AT&T store. Knowing that I just had to suck it up I figured that I would wisely conserve the energy of my phone once I got the chance to borrow someone else’s charger. When the football team arrived I used the charger of one of our assistant coaches. The charge lasted me up until we got into Missoula on Saturday night.

Sunday morning I scoured Missoula looking for an iPhone 5 charger. Same story from the stores I visited…Apple had not released them to their locations yet. I sent out Facebook posts and Tweets asking my friends with iPhone 5’s if they would kindly lend me their charger so I could get my phone functioning. Although it entailed me driving out of the way to pick up the charger and then driving out of the way to return it later that night, a friend of mine answered the call. However, knowing that I could not function like this much longer, I knew I had to do something.

In a last resort type of deal, I called my mom in Spokane and asked her if she could visit the Apple store in Spokane to see if they had any iPhone 5 chargers in stock. My kind mother went all the way to the downtown location to check for me and lo and behold, she managed to grab the last one off the shelf. She sent off the charger in today’s mail and I am eagerly expecting it to arrive in my mailbox on Wednesday.

I believe Apple needs to distribute iPhone 5 chargers to every store that carries such accessories. While I can see past them changing the charger, I can’t accept them limiting its availability. For many, the iPhone 5 is a big investment. Without a charger, the device is absolutely useless. I don’t know the exact motives for restricting the sale of these things but I do know that people will always lose them. It is easy to do. Many of us are more than willing to immediately shell out the cash to purchase a replacement charger. You would think Apple would be willing to accommodate our power needs in exchange for our money. I really hope iPhone 5 chargers hit the shelves in mass quantities very soon.

Although very tough at times with my phone dead, it has also been a good exercise in patience and self-control. I have learned to just tell myself that my phone is currently unavailable and I should stop grabbing for it because it is not going to do anything for me. I have also found a level of peace with not feeling the pressure to constantly check my device and return text after text. But who am I kidding, it kills me when my phone is dead and my little piece of brilliant technology can be of no help to me. I can’t wait for Wednesday to come.

So if you are reading this and wondering why I might not be getting back to you as quickly as normal, you now know the reason. For those of you who are still lucky enough to have your iPhone 5 charger in your possession make sure to count your blessings and guard that cord with your life. Hope your week is off to a great start! Don’t Blink.

Grand Forks Recap

Yesterday night at around 9:30pm, our charter plane landed on Montana soil and I walked off the plane and strolled right over to my car in the parking lot and drove back to my place, happy to be back in Missoula. Not to say that I did not enjoy the past few days in Grand Forks, North Dakota, because I genuinely did, I just knew that living there probably would not be my first choice.

Hanging out in the Alerus Center this past weekend in Grand Forks, ND.

Jimmy (co-worker and travel partner) and I arrived in North Dakota on Wednesday night. After flying to Minneapolis first, we boarded a plane that took us 300 miles northwest to Grand Forks. After gathering our luggage, we walked outside into the cold, rainy night, a preview of the weather to come over the next few days.

Well, I guess I should say that the cold and rain we experienced on Wednesday prepared us mostly for the weather to come. I say mostly because come Thursday, Friday, and even a little on Saturday we got well acquainted with the unforgiving North Dakota winds. Because the state, and especially Grand Forks, lacks mountain ranges and big structures in general, wind has free reign over the landscape. Thursday was particularly brutal as winds gusted to 50 miles per hour. Jimmy and I had a tough time walking straight as we struggled moving back and forth between our rental car and the various places we were meeting people in. During one humorous part of the day, Jimmy and I had to focus complete concentration and a 100% effort into placing bags onto a luggage cart because the gusts attempted to snatch the plastic sacks out of our hands and into the cold air. With persistence and stellar grips, we managed to transport all bags safely inside the hotel.

Besides the weather, it was cool to visit North Dakota and see another part of the country. I would be lying if I said Grand Forks was glamorous but who cares? It was nice to drive around in a place with very little traffic. Before we left on the trip, the oddball news about the dude who sold his McDonald’s jug of Michael Jordan BBQ sauce went national. In the story it talked about how the guy has since sold his McDonald’s restaurants and now owns a mini franchise with six restaurants all called Space Aliens Grill. It just so happens that one of those resides in Grand Forks and we drove by it probably ten times during our time there.

Of course we were in North Dakota on business and the athletic facilities we got to enter because of the purpose of the trip probably equated for one of the highlights of our time in the “Peace Garden” state. First we got to look around the Alerus Center, the arena where the University of North Dakota plays its home football games. As the arena is literally connected to the hotel we stayed in, it was a two minute walk from our hotel lobby to the turf of the field. With a capacity of 12,000 and with seating on just two sides, it was a very unique facility. The concourses were gorgeous, the suites nice, the locker rooms respectable, and the playing surface in beautiful condition. Although coming up short on Saturday put a bad taste in my mouth about the facility in general, I must say that building is more than adequate. However, the real shining gem in Grand Forks is the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the home of the North Dakota hockey team. We visited “The Ralph” on Friday to pick up our allotment of tickets and were thoroughly impressed. The floors and walls of the facility are made out of granite. The hall of fame section puts an exclamation point on all what the storied program has accomplished. Sculptures and other memorials line the whole place. Although we didn’t even get to see the ice, I knew we were in a special place.

A look at the Alerus Center from the press box on the day of the game.


Jimmy and I walking into the Ralph Englstad Arena.

Midday on Friday we had completed all work that needed to get done before the team arrived so Jimmy and I had a quick lunch at a pizza place called Rhombus Guys. In an old three-story building in downtown Grand Forks, we were treated to some of the tastiest pizza I have ever consumed. Although the menu contained numerous unique and exotic different types of pizza, we went with the T-Rex pie, a pizza covered in every meat you can think of. The size of the pizza itself was huge and yes, each slice was cut in the shape of a rhombus.

Our football team arrived in Grand Forks at around 6pm on Friday evening. The hotel we stayed in was called the Canad Inn, a very nice place to spend your time in Grand Forks. Containing a giant waterpark and three different restaurants, anyone traveling for pleasure would have more than enough to do without even leaving the facility. The hotel staff and other people staying there treated us great and I can report that I slept great every night I was there.

On Saturday, the game atmosphere inside the Alerus Center was a little different than anything I have experienced before. Not to say it was bad by any means, it is just different playing football indoors, especially the way that the arena is set up. Prior to kickoff they turned the lights off in the facility and had the band perform (it was a “Blackout” theme). Again, I had never seen anything quite like it but it was pretty cool. As usual, we brought along a very large Montana cheering contingent that cheered loudly and proudly throughout the whole game. In the end, North Dakota scored in the final minute to defeat the Griz, 40-34.

Lots of Griz faithful made the trip to Grand Forks.

Thankfully I was able to take the team charter back home to Missoula, enabling me to have a nice relaxing Sunday in town. This upcoming Saturday our team is at home again as we take on Idaho State on Military Appreciation Day. Going on these trips makes me so very thankful and proud of the gameday experience we offer in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. I can’t wait for this Saturday to come and for the Griz to get back into the win column. Thanks Grand Forks for the hospitality, it was nice to visit your town. Don’t Blink.

Next Stop: North Dakota!

It is time to hit the road again on another Griz football adventure. This week finds Jimmy and I heading off to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where we will start making preparations for Montana to kickoff against the University of North Dakota inside the Alerus Center this Saturday.

I am excited for this week’s trip as I have never touched the soil of North Dakota before. Thursday and Friday call for temperatures in the high forties with a good chance of rain and plenty of wind. However, it is supposed to be gorgeous for gameday as Saturday’s forecast predicts sunny skies and temperatures in the high fifties. Not that it matters though, North Dakota plays its home games in an arena.

We fly out of Missoula at 2:30pm today and have a layover in Minneapolis. We are due at the Grand Forks airport at around 11pm central time tonight. Should be another great experience. As per usual, I will be taking a break from social media over the next few days. See you all on Sunday and GO GRIZ! Don’t Blink.

My Advice Regarding Advice Columns

As a daily newspaper reader and an avid magazine fan, I run into these features whenever I pick one or the other up. Right up front I will say I think they are stupid and repetitive but at the same time I must admit that I still always read them. Think of it in the same way that most of us feel about the Macarena (hate the song, still will move to the beat). What I want to talk about tonight is the standard, cliché advice column.

First magazine I ever read was Highlights. As a seven or eight year old, I would tear through the hundreds of issues we had at my house skimming through the various sections of jokes, riddles, Goofus and Gallant, and the hidden picture feature before I finally got to the end of the magazine and to the very remedial advice column. Usually in two sentences, some young reader who supposedly drafted the question and sent it in all by himself/herself would ask the author of the column for help on some problem. Usually it would be something as dumb as “My parents want me to do my homework but I don’t want to. What should I tell them?” or “There is a girl I think I like. Is this weird?” The author would then respond in a very grandmother-like tone an obvious answer to the very obvious question. Stupid.

I started reading the newspaper when I was ten years old. As someone who read it from front to back, I inevitably encountered the advice column each morning. Back in the day in my hometown paper, we were treated to the “life-saving” advice of Ann Landers. At first I thought it was pretty cool, the questions asked seemed much more grown up and sophisticated than what I was getting in my Highlights magazines. But although the questions were more grown up, it didn’t take much to realize that the answers were not that hard to come up with. Even as a ten year old boy, I knew the correct answer to tell the married mother of three who asked if it was okay to secretly carry on an affair with the next door neighbor. As I read more and more of Ann Landers’ column, I realized something else: Many of the questions seemed to recycle themselves over and over. While the occasional off the wall, crazy queries made print from time to time, almost everything else was predictable: I am sweet, cute, successful, and thirty-two years old but still single, what is wrong with me? My adult son is forty years old and he still lives at my house, should I continue to let him stay here? I cheated on my wife and I have an overwhelming guilt, how do I get over this? My child’s little league coach thinks winning is everything, should I say something to him? I think my co-worker has an eating disorder, should I get her help? My mother-in-law is extremely rude, should I confront her? etc. etc. Questions like these seemed to re-enter the fray every other week. Then something happened; Ann Landers died.

When Landers died, my paper was hell-bent on filling her space with another advice columnist. In a move that brought loads of excitement to me at the breakfast table each morning, the paper ran four different advice columns over four weeks. Each column had a one week trial and whichever one got the greatest reader response would be installed as the permanent column. Some of the columns featured a little bit more of an edgy feel to them while others stayed more true to the Landers’ formula. But while styles and column photos differed, the same no-brainer questions were asked and even after just one week, content seemed to be repeating itself. If I remember correctly, my paper ended up running two advice columns that switched out every other day. The first one was, ironically, Annie’s Mailbox, a column identical to the Ann Landers column except for the subtle name change and the fact that the author was now one of Ann’s daughters. The second column was called Ask Carolyn and it dealt with the same BS as well, just maybe with a larger emphasis on relationships.

As I grew up more, started to read more papers, and became a bit more intuned with the world, I started to see advice columns for what they really were: Regurgitated common sense Q&A meant to fill up space and appease people with way too much time on their hands who might kid themselves into finding the information helpful.

I have thought to myself for a long time: How cool would it be to have an occupation as Advice Columnist? You pick out three to four questions a day, think for about five seconds on the appropriate way to answer, and send it off to the editor. I think I could handle that…hell, I might get really crazy and answer five questions each day. Not trying to disrespect the hard-working advice columnists out there, but I just don’t see much to it. I do wonder if these people in this unique occupation take their job seriously or if they kind of have an idea that they might be getting a pretty decent deal.

I am at the point where all what I do when I read the advice columns is read the questions. I don’t even care about the answers. Hate to say it, but I am much more interested in the problems that people are having rather than the generic, obvious answers. If and only if the question is somewhat unique, I haven’t heard it a thousand times before, and the advice could go a few different ways then will I have my eyes cross from the italics and down to the text that is typed out after the big A.

Speaking of the people asking the questions, I do sometimes wonder if they actually exist. I could totally see the editor of the column simply making up stuff and then having the author answer it. I mean, you really do have to be desperate to actually write in. By writing in, you are pretty much saying that 1. You can’t figure out the problem by yourself and 2. You don’t have someone close to you, someone who has your best interests at heart, who can answer your dilemma for you. Also, when people have issues, it is usually a time sensitive deal. Who would want to wait out the time for a letter to get to a national syndicated advice column office, have it sit in a mail cart with numerous other letters, and then have the tiny chance that the letter might actually even make print? By the time all of those things run their course, that problem of yours will most likely be way in the past.

Like newspapers in general, I feel advice columns are just losing their purpose. Now more connected than ever with more resources than ever, there is no need to depend on a nice old lady to answer our problems. Then again, I don’t think we ever needed them in the first place. Advice columns are gimmicky and sketchy. We have friends and family for a reason and we also have our own brains. Let’s use any of the combination of the three to answer life’s questions before we defer to Dear Abby. Don’t Blink.

Notre Dame

Okay, now I know many of you are going to accuse me of jumping on the bandwagon and acting like all the other moronic fans who once kicked this team while they were down but you have to trust me. I have liked this team my whole life and while not a hardcore fan by any means, I am ecstatic by an undefeated record through 6 games and a #5 ranking in the BCS rankings. I am talking of course about the Notre Dame football team.

When it comes to intercollegiate athletics, I only bleed two colors: Maroon and Silver. I am a diehard Montana Grizzly and no other school can come close to matching the passion, pride, and love I have for UM. However, as Montana does play in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), I do take the liberty to choose a FBS team to root for as well. Every Saturday while I am engaged in either working our home games or standing on the sidelines at our away games, I make it a point to take a look at how the Fighting Irish are doing. If the Griz game that week doesn’t overlap with the Irish game, you can bet that I am watching it live on television.

Although I referred to the Notre Dame bandwagon fans above, everyone knows that there are millions of people who will never cheer for the school. Ever. By a large margin, Notre Dame is the most hated team in NCAA football. I would almost venture to say that they are the most hated team in all of sports, beating out the Yankees and Cowboys. I get a couple of the reasons why people hate the Irish so much. I will readily admit that more than once, Notre Dame has been overrated. They have showed up in pre-season polls that they had no business being in, received too much time on college football countdown shows, and gone to bowls they shouldn’t have. I also understand that people dislike Notre Dame because of the elitist type persona that the school takes on. No one likes someone who walks around thinking they are better than everyone. That gets annoying.

What I don’t understand is why people hate Notre Dame for utilizing its resources, mainly money, in smart ways. I hear so much whining and grumbling about Notre Dame getting every single one of its games broadcast on national television. Why be angry at that? Any other institution in the nation would do the exact same thing if they were able to. Don’t fault Notre Dame for making great decisions and developing a superb program that has made it the cash cow it is today. They have earned their wealth and may do anything they please with it. In fact, kudos to them for utilizing it in smart ways, especially by way of entering into the homes of millions of Americans each Saturday.

I don’t like Notre Dame simply because I am a lifelong practicing Catholic. Sure, it does add a little to my support for the team but there is so much more. Notre Dame does things the right way. They instill tough academic and moral standards that ensure that not everyone gets in. I can’t begin to express my respect for an institution that will put stringent academic marks and values ahead of pure athletic talent. I listened to Colin Cowherd say for three years straight how Notre Dame would never be competitive again because of its selective admissions process. However, to this day I still remember the sign that was plastered up in my middle school locker room: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Notre Dame has developed its reputation off of a blue collar work ethic that fits right in with the South Bend area where the institution is located. They don’t practice in tropical and warm places like the California and Florida powerhouse schools. Rather, they gut it out in miserable, cold weather pretty much for the entire season. What’s not to like?

I would be lying if I didn’t say that another main reason why I like Notre Dame is because of the tradition. There is nothing more appealing to me than the pageantry, imagery, and presentation of Notre Dame football. From Touchdown Jesus to the best fight song in college football to the legends that have played and coached for the Fighting Irish, Saturdays inside Notre Dame Stadium are sacred. Nothing beats the basic grass field, the 80,000 fans decked out in Kelly green, or the red haired student Leprachaun prancing around the student section. Football at Notre Dame is pure.

I also root for Notre Dame just because they are good for college football. The Fighting Irish hold a special place in the landscape and tradition of the sport. When Notre Dame is doing well, it brings way more people into the game, both backers and haters. You know in the MLB post season how there is kind of an empty feeling when the Yankees aren’t playing in it? Many get the exact same feeling when the Fighting Irish aren’t in the top 25 or playing in a bowl game. While the Irish generate a lot of money for themselves, they also generate a lot of money for the NCAA. When Notre Dame is doing well, everyone is doing well.

Finally, I think I just like Notre Dame so much because so many other people loathe them. Although I have a couple teams who I usually root against, Notre Dame haters take it to a whole new level where they spend way too much time and energy wishing for the whole program to implode. Personally, I like seeing these people who hate so much not get what they want. It is kind of gratifying.

Good luck to Notre Dame the rest of the year. A tough schedule already played thus far will just continue to get tougher as the season moves on. However, if the Leprechaun continues to “shake down the thunder from the sky”, Notre Dame might find itself playing for a national championship. We shall see. Don’t Blink.

Putting a Sporting Loss Into Perspective

Between the ages of 10-13, my day went according to how my favorite team did. I had that special childhood passion for the teams I cherished and the players I idolized. Back then, my level of fandom for the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Washington State football/basketball teams, Gonzaga basketball, and the high school I would end up attending was at an obsession level. I knew the names of all the players/coaches, I knew all the key stats, and I knew pretty much every obscure fact that related to the team….I was a walking media guide. With so much love and time invested into these teams along with my youthful immaturity, I took losses (and believe me there were a lot of them ) pretty hard.

I was the kid who would yell at referees through the television. I would throw a fit when something did not go my team’s way. I would cheer loudly with every touchdown or three-pointer that my team converted on. My parents would literally get telephone calls from neighbors asking if everything was okay because of all the commotion they were hearing….”Yep,” my parents would answer, “Brent is just watching the game. We are very sorry.” My mom would then come down and tell me to shut up. So after all the energy I exerted into the game, when the final whistle blew, I either felt amazing if my team won or I felt like crying if my team lost. If the latter happened, I moped for the rest of the day. If it was a night game, I went to bed sad. Having my emotions dictated through something that I could not control and through something that should not carry as much weight as I let it proved to be kind of an instable way to live. How did I manage to overcome this type of roller-coaster living?…

I grew up.

I must say that I am a little embarrassed that I ever suffered from the sports-obsessed result syndrome that I obviously displayed. However, I do feel fortunate that I ended up growing out of it. I credit perspective as the main reason for my triumph over my silly obsession. More on this in a little bit

Unfortunately, some people who suffered from the same thing I did in my childhood never really grew out of it while others never experienced it in their youth and simply developed it as adults. Whatever the case may be, obsessing over whether your team wins or loses and then letting it drive the rest of your day is like sucking your thumb: Not encouraged or preferred but accepted as a child, disturbing and weird as an adult.

It doesn’t matter the level of play, many adults become enraged and irrational when their favorite team loses. It could be their kid’s team, their alma matter, or their favorite pro club. When the game ends, some fans can’t accept and move on with the final result. People who should know better go off the deep end feeling like something they were entitled to (a win) has been snatched away from them. Things then start to get ugly as these people whine, cry, and moan about everything that led to the loss. They re-visit, analyze, and contemplate everything that happened in the game…they can’t let it go. They let negative energy completely engulf them and unleash it on everyone they come into contact with whether it be in a bar, outside the stadium, or through message boards/social media. They take out their anger on others, they assign blame to whoever they feel is responsible for costing them the win they felt was owed to them. In the ultimate display of hypocrisy, many of these fans will even call out and chastise the players and coaches of the team that they supposedly love so much.

It is at this point, say six hours after the game, when these “fans” are still sulking around as they re-watch the highlights and continue to get worked up over an event that is now in the past that I just want to grab one of them by the shoulders, look them square in the eye, and say:

Hey man, tough game today. I really thought we were going to pull it out. Sure it stings a little, but don’t you think that instead of letting the loss continue to eat away at you and make you snap at your family and assign blame to the people you should support the most right now (coaches and players) that you should maybe see the bigger picture? You and I are way too lucky to let something as trivial as a three hour sporting event turn us into sniveling little kids.

We are living in the best and most secure nation in the world. In fact, we are part of the only 4% on this planet to live in the United States of America. If not for the freedoms and liberties we enjoy living here, it is possible that we would not even have the opportunity to play sports. Or, for people like you and me who have seen our sub-par playing days pass us by, watch sports. We get to do what we want, when we want. We get to choose our career, choose our religion, choose how we spend our money, choose what we say, choose who we date, choose how we live. We are extremely spoiled.

We have our families, we have our shelter, we have our food and drink. We wake up every morning knowing that we are protected. We can walk down the street without fear of getting shot or having an explosive device blow up in our face. We are in the midst of a Presidential election. Yes, we get the opportunity to vote for the leader of our great nation. Talk about an important competition right there! Perhaps we should focus more on the winner and loser of that race rather than the game from today.

We are isolated from the terrible people on this earth. Luckily, we don’t live in one of many countries where leaders slaughter their own people. We don’t live in a place where drug lords rule the streets and don’t think twice about killing innocent men and women. The evil people who hurt others on our own soil are held accountable and thrown into prison. Think about it, these are the people who really deserve our scorn and anger…not a referee, not a coach, and definitely not a player.

I know the result was not what you wanted today but how cool was it that you got to watch that game? In an organized fashion, two teams came together and played. They poured their hearts out onto the field as they tried to win the competition. Coaches who invest thousands of hours into their athletes did everything they could to give their team the edge. If you were in the stadium today, you got to cheer on your team with *enter the amount of people who were at your competition* other fans in a safe venue. Instead of working in the office, attending a doctor’s appointment, or pulling weeds, you got to go watch a game! If you watched it on television, you got the privilege of something that billions of other people around the world don’t have: the luxury of watching a live sporting event broadcast right into your comfortable home. Again, the result was not what you wanted but you got the treat of enjoying a game! If only others were so lucky.

I feel your disappointment man, I used to get too wrapped up into my team winning as well. But we need to grow up and we need to put things into perspective. We are two of the luckiest dudes in the world and we are not doing our part in honoring the majority of the people on earth who have actual serious problems. Instead of going to bed angry that our team lost, let’s go to bed thankful that our team was even able to play. The sun will come out tomorrow and we will continue to live our blessed lives. Don’t Blink.

Who I Want To Be In 50 Years

Last year I met a man who has an unbelievable passion and love for the athletic program that I work for. I quickly realized that this guy would do anything that I asked him, would bend over backward to complete any favor I threw his way.

This man also has a personality that goes unmatched by anyone else. He is a guy who you would love to have a drink with or who you would want to have entertain a group of your friends. Although considered in our society as elderly and although he has the gray hair and wrinkles to go along with the definition, if you spent two minutes with the man you would immediately see past it all. The guy does not stop living life, does not stop going full speed, does not stop laughing and joking around.

Tonight I had the pleasure of working with him again. As always, I was blown away. The way he treated all of us involved in the task we were working on made me just so thankful to be around a person of his character. I can’t overstate this man’s optimism and energy. He goes 100 miles per hour, building everyone up on the way. The guy looks and acts like a cartoon character to a degree but it only adds to his appeal.

If there is something this man loves more than the Montana Grizzlies it is just people in general. He not only believes in treating everyone with love and respect, he practices it. He is the perfect example of how human beings were probably intended to be.

I could go on and on but I rather just state real fast a few things that went through my head at the end of the night when I thought about this special man. First off, in my job I get to work with some amazing people in the Montana community who will go out of their way to help me. Secondly, I have the power to rub off on others by being either positive or negative. Act negatively and I can bring a lot of people down, act positively and I can build a lot of people up. Lastly, I want to do all I can to have the amazing outlook on life that this older man has. When I am his age, if I can somehow manage to have at least half of the life outlook that he has, my golden years should be pretty enjoyable. Don’t Blink.