A Sporting Event, a Real “Sporting” Event

This is a sports story. i feel obligated to write the first sentence as i was taught by JB Leftwich at Castle Heights Military Academy long, long ago. The gospel was “Why, What, When, Where, and How in twenty-five words or less. All that followed was to explain or complement that first sentence. The same dictate ruled all “news” stories in good newspapers. Alas, no longer.

This law of the sports pages land of long ago faded into oblivion amidst the new journalism that wishes to prick your interest, show off writing skills, dazzle you with cute ideas that only vaguely relate to what happened, report something bad outside the field of play, and sometimes, rarely in comparison to the bad, report something good about a player or coach. i’ve actually read sports articles on sporting events that didn’t give the score until the fifth or sixth paragraph.

Even though this is more a sports editorial than a news story, i thought it appropriate to begin with the old timey way, the good ole days in the golden age of sports, which has morphed into the dollar, dollar, dollar age of sport.

But not for the past five days.

When i learned Vanderbilt had run away with the Indiana regional and would be playing at La Costa. i bought a six-day pass. i am not embarrassed to report i am a Vandy fan, regardless of the sport. The reason is i have always rooted for Vandy, growing up in Lebanon, about 30 miles from campus. i was equally a fan of Tennessee back in those days until at a Vandy-UT game in Knoxville, Vol fans pelted me and my Vanderbilt friends with paper cups, coke cans and sprayed us with beer and liquor. They did this while i wore my Navy service dress blue Lieutenant Junior Grade uniform. i would still root for the Vols as i have many friends who are ardent Orange fans, but i can never quite put that incident behind. Nowadays, i root for Vandy in all sports because i was acquainted with the late David Williams, former Vice-Chancellor of Athletics and his successor, the marvelous Candice Lee, and i know, without a doubt this private university is facing an uphill battle in the SEC but keep trying and always focus on, as David coined, “Doing it the right way, the Vandy way.”

To be honest, i don’t follow anywhere near as much sports as i did a score of years (that’s sort of a bad pun) ago. i watch teams i root for when possible. Pro basketball looks more like a street pick-up game in Chicago than the game i knew. College is getting close to as bad. Pro football games are interminable and technicalities and officiating (bad descriptive term), good and bad, determine the outcomes. College games are just as bad already. Scheduling, commercials, and coaches have become more important than the teams or the players. i love Vanderbilt baseball, but college baseball is also now trying to emulate the major leagues.

Money, money, money everywhere.

Three of the past five days, i have been in a sports world that felt right. i was planning to go all six days. When i approached La Costa on Friday, it began to rain against the weather guessers’ predictions, and i had not taken my rain gear. i may be stupid but i ‘m not that stupid. An eighty-year old does not need to be wandering around in the rain for six or seven hours soaked. Not good. i turned around and took the hour drive back home in the Southwest corner.

i would have attended Monday, but i had a better offer. Maureen and i played 18 at the Bonita Golf Club, one of my favorite places. Today, i was back in a land of sports reverie. That’s “sports,” not fanatic, money chasing.

My three days at the tournament were, in today’s term, awesome. It was sports. The weather, not what folks who visit here expect, was perfect: cool, marine layer cloudiness, perfect for walking. The crazies haven’t caught on yet, so the crowds were not crowds. Few enough people to see all of the action on the course. During my three days, i heard school supporters yell (politely congratulating their team) when they won. Nearly all of the recognition was applause, quiet, controlled, appreciative applause. And thank goodness, there was not one idiot the entire time show off by insanely yelling “in the hole,” thinking he was cool.

Fans of the teams talked to each other, no animosity. As the players walked the fairways, they talked to each other with conviviality. It was appreciating the game, the players, and respecting the game, and the event. i was lucky to have met a bunch of good folks. i met Ms Tuttle (i apologize for forgetting her first name) and then her husband Tom and their daughter-in-law (again apologies). The Tuttles live in Naples, Florida. Their grandson, Cole Sherwood, just graduated from Vanderbilt, and was one of the keystone players on this team, as well as a nice young man

My claim to fame this week was on the 18th Saturday, when Cole’s tee shot went into the hazard. With a marshal assisting, he took his drop. The North Carolina coach had parked his cart on the cart path and walked across the fairway to coach his player. The cart was in Cole’s line for his shot. i went to the cart and moved it out of the way, now claiming i had helped (legally) Cole.

It was sport. It captured the essence of what college sports should be. Friendly competition, emphasis on competition, as it should be. i’m sure, somewhere, money is involved, especially in the big, bad sports nutty universities where fans throw their money at athletes, thinking somehow it makes their school and themselves the best (and now the NIL and recent NCAA rulings have made an awful mess of college sports even worse). But for three days, i saw true college-athletes playing a sport.

Now it took an effort. i covered 300-plus miles in four round trips, an hour each way four times. i walked about 26 miles. i loved every minute of it, except for this morning’s drive in the San Diego commute.

Now, for all of my Vanderbilt friends: the NCAA men and women’s golf championships will be held at La Costa in the Southwest corner for the next two years and possibly two more years. i’m pretty sure Vandy will be here for several, if not all of those. i would like to experience this again with you.

Go Vandy…You are doing it the right way, the Vandy way.

2 thoughts on “A Sporting Event, a Real “Sporting” Event

  1. This is just beautiful! And it was wonderful to see you out on the course. Thank you for your support—it means more than you know. ANCHOR DOWN!

    1. Thank you. For all you have done for me and what you continue to do with Vanderbilt. i am proud to say i know you and consider you a friend.

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