Last Dance

The NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament begins today with 48 games to be played through Sunday. There once was time I was fascinated by what some see as ‘the best four days on the sports calendar.’ From working the games during my TV career, to later going to Las Vegas a couple of times with friends, to most recently having several TVs going in our living room, I was all in. I’d watch throughout the year, study the matchups and always submit a bracket. Heck… last year I won a pool for the first time.

Yet this season I watched exactly one basketball game: last Saturday’s Big 12 tournament championship final won by my alma mater. What changed? A few things.

First, Kathy and I are working through a list of shows we missed during their first runs, now airing on the various streaming services. I enjoyed Lucifer, Chuck and Billions. We also watch new offerings: Ghosts, So Help Me Todd and, as of this week, the final season of Ted Lasso.

Second, I’m playing a lot of golf for the first time in 30 years… and being on the course at the end of the day – right up until sunset – is relaxing and peaceful.

Third, the antics surrounding the game are out of hand. Bill Self is accused of multiple violations at Kansas? Meh. He cut down the nets a year ago. Chris Beard gets fired at Texas for allegedly assaulting his fiancé in December. No worries. He took a new job this week at Ole Miss. Alabama’s star player and potential NBA lottery pick plays a role in a teammate murdering a young mother sitting in a car. So. He hasn’t missed a game, and two fans supported him by wearing insensitive shirts to last week’s SEC tournament. 

Despite that, like millions of people, I expect to take in a bunch of basketball over the next two weeks leading up to the Final Four here in Houston. Only this time, unlike 2011 and 2016, we won’t be attending those games in person. Unless, of course, a buddy calls at the last minute and offers us tickets. Then, I might just follow the crowd and be a fan again. 


Oh, Hi, Oh

Forty years ago I interviewed Jack Nicklaus at the Colonial golf tournament following the third round during which he took the lead. I was a month shy of turning 22 years old… and at the end of the line of veteran local TV reporters lined up to speak with him.

When my turn came, the Golden Bear extended his hand and said, “Hi… Jack Nicklaus.” I stammered my name. He graciously answered four easy questions and made me feel like a seasoned journalist.

The next day, he won the tournament… and there I was waiting again to speak to the world’s greatest golfer… who, at age 42, had just won for the first time in two years. He looked me in the eye and said, “Hello, David, nice to see you.”

I’m still impressed that the Ohio State legend remembered my name 24 hours later… and always have realized it had nothing to do with me. It was his amazing ability for recall. In 1995, I met his youngest son, Michael, and shared my experience. “Yes, that’s my dad,” he said. “Years ago, he learned a technique and uses it every day.” Something like: look them in the eye, shake hands, repeat the name three times, envision a friend with the same name, connect them to your friend.

These memories came rushing back recently when a ’30 Something’ client told me he was dating a woman… and needed to ask me a question about relationships. “I met her in a bar,” he said. “It was loud. She texted me her phone number and a few days later I texted back and asked if she wanted to meet for a drink.” The story continued: they went out… they hit it off… they started dating… it’s been two months.

“What do you want to ask me?”

“I was so focused on her when we met,” he said, “that I didn’t hear her name… and now I’m not sure how to ask her. What should I do?”

Coaches stay away from giving advice. Clients work with us to explore possibilities, decide actions to take, and commit to follow through. So I asked a few questions, he reflected, and came up with a plan.

Then, at the end of the session, I said, “Can I tell you a story?”


Off Sides

To paraphrase legendary 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney: Why is it people so often take something fun and try to tear it apart?

Great restaurant? “Yes, but the towels in the restroom were paper.”

Great car? “Maybe, but the radio only has eight speakers.”

Great movie? “Well, I mean, keep in mind, it was just a Disney film.”

Which brings us to the surprise television hit Ted Lasso. (If you haven’t seen it: Apple TV+… and worth every penny of the $5 monthly fee.)

Having received 20 Emmy nominations for its first season, including all six of the main characters, expectations were high for year two. Personally, we’ve enjoyed each of the episodes released thus far. Lots of critics, however, are dismissing it as ‘lacking a cohesive concept,’ ‘having a premise that makes no sense,’ and ‘not unwatchably bad but isn’t really much of anything.”

Perhaps those who write these reviews for a living would prefer to watch yet another season of some CSI offshoot, one more hospital show, or ‘America’s Got the Masked Bachelorette Race with the Stars.’ I’d rather spend my time with a cast of characters who approach life’s challenges with freshness and joy. (And the football – aka soccer –  is pretty good.)  

To quote legendary coach, Ted Lasso: “If you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together.”


Season Returns

Snow covering rolling hills. Flowers blooming in green fields. Sun shining brightly on sand. Leaves falling from maple trees.

Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. What’s your favorite time of the year?

Mine lasts longer than those… starting the first weekend in September and ending right around 11 p.m. on the second Monday in January. Just thinking about it brings back so much.

Vivid memories of my younger years. The Big Shootout. Whoa Nellie. Woody vs. Bo.

My first career. Pony Express. Liberty Bowls. Midnight Yell Practice.

Wonderful moments. The Play. Hail Flutie. VY in the Rose Bowl (twice).

Today officially begins a new college football season… my 54th as a diehard fan.

There used to be one game broadcast each week – and a team could only be televised a few times each year. Now there are games on most every night Wednesday through Saturday… and sometimes, following three hours of College Game Day, I have three TV’s going plus a couple more clashes streaming on my iPad and iPhone.

Unless of course, I’m in the stadium. Which is where I’ll be at exactly 3:30 p.m. CDT today… following our regular tailgate meal. Look for me. I’m in burnt orange.


Powerful Note

Powerful Note

For the ninth year in a row, I returned to my television roots this month and produced the general sessions and awards celebration for a franchising company. The keynote speaker was Alan Stein, Jr., who works with NBA and college athletes. Here are the highlights of his 60-minute talk – delivered without a single PowerPoint slide!

Full Commitment: Alan asked Kobe Bryant to put him through his typical workout. Kobe: “Sure, we start at 4.” Alan: “I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.”  Kobe: “4 a.m.” Alan arrived 15 minutes early to make a strong impression. Kobe was already dripping with sweat, having spent 90 minutes warming up. “Kobe wasn’t the greatest player of his era just because of talent. He outworked everyone and never got bored with the basics.”

Strong Habits: Forty-two percent of everything we do is auto-pilot. “We do things either ‘because of’ or ‘in spite of’ our habits.”

Flexibility: “If you’re not agile, you’re fragile.”

WIN: “What’s Important Now.” Stay in the present moment, let go of what just happened and refocus on what’s next. “Always choose a response that moves forward and improves a situation.”

Motivation: Steve Nash was a two-time MVP – and while an exciting offensive player, those skills might not be his greatest contributions to his teams. The Hall of Famer led the League multiple times in ‘emotional deposits’ – high fives, fist bumps, pats on the backside. “Those are just as important to success as scoring and assists.”

Leadership: Put 10 rubber bands on your wrist each morning. Every time you compliment a team member, move one to the other hand. At the end of every day, all of them should have switched positions.

Developing Trust: “It’s not about me. It’s about you… and how I make you feel.” Alan said he met legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski for a few minutes at a practice. Several days later an envelope arrived at his home. It was a thank you note from Coach K. Toward the end of his talk, Alan took a note card out of his jacket and said, “This is that note. It made a tremendous impact on my life.”

When the session finished, Alan handed me a pair of basketball-themed dress socks and a note card: “David: Thank you so much for your amazing help and support… and for being so awesome to work with! Let these socks remind you to ‘be where your feet are’ and live in the present moment. I appreciate you.” That felt really good.

Later I told him that our son had played high school basketball and watched many of his videos. Alan asked for his address. Within a week, Kyle received a similar pair of socks, a hand-written note card and a copy of Alan’s book.