|The Write Space and Time|
Nov. 15, 2011 -- "Actually, nobody owes you crap." That's what the bumper sticker on the otherwise nondescript Geo Prism in front of me read. I laughed out loud. Then I became enamored with the idea of the person driving the car. I wondered how old he or she was. I wondered if the bumper sticker was on the car when the driver bought it. I wondered if it was even the driver's car or if it was borrowed from a throwback hippie aunt. I wondered if the driver participated in picket lines or sat 'in' at the capitol, or if he was just an ordinary middle age parent of two who simply wanted to voice reason to a messed up world.
Mostly I just wanted to pull up beside the guy and say I agree.
I don't know much about the NBA lockout. Actually I know very, very little. But I have to be honest, I thought about those owners and pros when I read the back of the Geo Prism. I also--by virtue of my profession--immediately thought of players who think that if they come to practice they should play in games. That's a crazy notion that gets passed around in sports like the plague. But neither of those `you owe me' scenarios stayed with me for very long. What did stick with me was Aaron Rodgers.
You know the guy. Remember, he was Brett Farve's stunt double. I read an article about him not long ago and I was tempted to buy a Cheesehead when I finished it. Rodgers is the guy who was booed by fans when he took the field for his first start-- for no other reason than that he wasn't Brett Farve. He was the guy the Packers drafted quietly in the 24th slot of the first round. The guy who roamed the sideline for three years knowing he was never even going in until "The Great One" retired.
And I don't think Aaron Rodgers has ever thought anyone owed him crap.
I don't know that. Never met the guy and probably never will. But I really like his way. I liked his demeanor when he led the Packers to the Super Bowl. I like his discipline and decision-making in the pocket. And I am fundamentally drawn to any guy who takes as much pride in scout team snaps as he does a first and goal on Sunday afternoon.
Unfortunately, these days the Aaron Rodgers of the world are few and far between. We live in a time where people want to get paid for showing up. And often they do. Forget how they perform while they're there. Employers owe this and teachers owe that and the government owes everybody everything.
But you know what? That Geo Prism was right. And athletics, in the simplest way, reflects that. An athlete on a team doesn't get to play in games because he participates in practice; he gets to play in games because when he participates in practice he plays better than the other guys. It's really not very complicated.
Guys who spend their time worrying about doing things right rarely have time to worry about what they're owed. Huge expectations of self leave little room for expectations of the world. And uncommon commitment leads to uncommon achievement. Sometimes it even leads to Disneyland. Just ask Aaron Rodgers.