For The Kids

February 19, 2010

Our President has called on each of us to serve our communities.  In that spirit, I think it’s important to recognize one of the most unique and successful entirely student-run efforts in history – the Penn State Dance Marathon.

I am a Penn State graduate, class of 2006.  As much as I am a Penn State alumnus, perhaps it’s more important  to me that I’m a Dance Marathon (or “THON”) alumnus.  I know that when people think Penn State, the first things they think about are football, Joe Paterno, and white helmets.  But Penn State has one of the most wonderful and selfless events in the world taking place on its campus, and has acted as a model for dozens of other school’s programs around the world.

THON is year long fundraising drive that culminates in a 46 hour no sitting and no sleeping marathon to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund, which raises money to help families struggling with pediatric cancer.  Since it began in 1977, THON has raised over $60 million to help families in need.  In the process, it has shifted sites on campus, beginning with the small gymnasium in the White Building.  But as the popularity of volunteering, dancing, and observing began to increase, the venue had to move to the near 8000 seat Rec Hall, the old basketball and current volleyball arena.

Now, THON is so popular on campus with students, parents, and faculty that Rec Hall became far too crowded.  So my year, we said goodbye at Rec Hall’s final dance by raising a record $4,214,748.18!  Of course, when THON moved to the 16,000 seat Bryce Jordan Center world class arena in 2007, they raised over $5 million.  Last year, even as the economy spiraled downward, THON raised over $7 million. Can they break the elusive $8 million mark?

But the big questions remain – how is THON so popular on campus? And why no sleeping and no sitting for 46 hours?

15,000 students participate each year because THON gives us hope.  It gives us courage and strength knowing that these little kids, as young as a year old, can struggle against a disease that’s larger than they are and come out on top.  15,000 students per year take time out of their busy schedules of classes, relationships, parties and sports to come together and run everything from the website and the live webcast, to the pre-THON galas and hospital visits, to the events that occur to entertain the dancers and kids during THON itself.

Being a THON dancer is special.  Only 700 are selected to dance, and almost no one ever stops.  But why?

At first, everyone wants to dance for themselves, even if they say otherwise. They want to see if they can do the impossible.  They want to stand out amongst their peers.  Then, around hour 8, your feet begin to swell.  By hour 16, your legs begin to burn.  By hour 24, your back aches, your knees are buckling, and you’re leaning on your friends and family for support in the final day ahead.  You just keep dancing.

By hour 36, you’re so tired and drained that the pain in your body has made you essentially numb.  And then you look around at the 3 year old boy sporting a bald head from months or years of chemotherapy.  He’s running around at 11 PM with a squirt gun, having the time of his life with his “big friends.”  He smiles, maybe for the first time in months.  And you smile and hold your head up higher.  Because all this time, you thought THON was about you.  But at that moment, you’re quite aware that it was never about you to begin with.

THON is for the kids.  It’s for kids that deal with that kind of pain on a round the clock daily basis.  What’s 46 or 48 hours to us?  They’re braver and bolder than we’ll ever be.  That’s why we dance.  When we find a cure, we’ll dance for joy.  Until then, we dance for life.

The truth is, there’s nothing more important for me to write about than this.  Please take a minute out of your day and check out the website and the history of Penn State Dance Marathon.  Donate if you can spare it, or check out your local university’s own dance marathon.  I know for certain that they exist at Florida, Iowa, Rutgers and NC State.

FTK,

Adam


Gator Bait

January 29, 2010

Any general manager of an NFL team who uses a first round pick on Tim Tebow should be immediately fired.

There.  I said it.  And I’m not ashamed of it.

Sports Illustrated‘s Don Banks, author of the “Inside the NFL” column, has Tim Tebow locked in with the Arizona Cardinals at selection 26

“This one is pure projection on my behalf, but hear me out: Tebow’s rough week at the Senior Bowl notwithstanding, it’s only going to take one team to fall in love with him to make him a low first-rounder. Why the Cardinals? If Kurt Warner retires Friday as expected, does anyone think Arizona has 100 percent confidence in Matt Leinart at this point? And we already know Ken Whisenhunt doesn’t mind playing two QBs in the same game, because he did it with Warner and Leinart in 2007. As rough as things were for the Cardinals defense in the playoffs, that side of the ball probably should get first-round attention. But for now, we’re sliding our Tebow chips to Arizona’s square.”

Kurt Warner has retired today as of 2 P.M.  Matt Leinart is most likely not the answer at quarterback for Coach Whisenhunt and staff, according to ESPN’s NFC West blogger Mike Sando.  The Cardinals have had incredible success the past two years with Warner at quarterback.  They will not be selecting high enough in the first round to take either of the two consensus top pro prospects, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma (shoulder injury inspection notwithstanding) or Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame.  With that in mind, why not take a chance on perhaps the best college football player in modern history?

How about these reasons?

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On Reason and Humanity

January 27, 2010

Sounding reasonable doesn’t make you reasonable. Being “logical” doesn’t make you humane. And being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian doesn’t make you anything but craven for attention.

Former NBA basketball player (and I use that term rather loosely) Paul Shirley recently penned a long and elegantly written statement on the plight of the Haitian people. Unfortunately for Mr. Shirley, “long” and “elegant” are not synonyms for “knowledgeable” and “insightful.”  If nothing else, it would have behooved Mr. Shirley to have done some research into his assumptions before foisting his nonsense on the rest of us.

The bitingly humorous take on Mr. Shirley’s work has already been done (and done extremely well) by the Kissing Suzy Kolber blog.  I will, as I’m sure you’ve guessed already, be taking a wholly different approach (albeit rather long) to the matter.  For the record, I do not and could not disagree with respect to the idea that money donated to the Haitian disaster relief effort should be distributed and utilized in a way that rebuilds the impoverished nation with an eye toward protection from major natural disasters such as last week’s earthquake that has claimed at least 150,000 lives. That is, I believe, generally incontestable. Dialogue is important, especially when the amount of money that has been donated is inevitably billions of dollars.  We need to be sure that relief goes both directly to people and insures against future catastrophe.

That being said, while Mr. Shirley’s piece may make some academically and philosophically interesting points about self-sufficiency and aid, it is also fundamentally wrong in several respects, which undermines his credibility on the subject.

Take, for example, his comments on the homeless at the beginning of the post:

“I haven’t donated to the Haitian relief effort for the same reason that I don’t give money to homeless men on the street. Based on past experiences, I don’t think the guy with the sign that reads “Need You’re Help” is going to do anything constructive with the dollar I might give him.”

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Reflections on Cynicism

January 27, 2010

“I ask this particularly of the young people who watch. Please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

Conan O’Brien, 1/22/10

As a full-throated supporter and card carrying member of Team Conan, I wholeheartedly endorse this sentiment (with many thanks from Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post).

Today officially marks my 26th birthday.  26 is somewhat strange. It’s not a particularly noteworthy number.  I’ve been able to drive a car (17), vote (18), and drink (21) for more than several years now.  25 is a milestone birthday, one of those that you’ll theoretically look back on one day when your kids ask you what your 20s were like.  It was a good year.

26 is rather unremarkable to most people, but I’ve put some thought into it throughout the past several days.  On reflection, it turns out that 26 is a crossroads for me.  It means the end of my formal education, the beginning of my career, and a commitment to the city that I spent an entire childhood admiring.  For me, 26 is the end of some things and the beginning of many more.

Professionally and scholastically, I have been remarkably blessed. I have spent three years of my life at an institution that has provided unparalleled guidance and support.  I have been the beneficiary of brilliant professors whose instruction has given me the tools to succeed not only in the legal industry, but in any line of work.  And I have worked hard enough and been lucky enough to land a job in a difficult economy in a growing field of the law.

I realize the opportunity that I have been given in September could be ripped away from me at any time.  Economies collapse, jobs are lost, relationships don’t always go smoothly.  Mr. O’Brien certainly understands that better than anyone.  “I’ve had more good fortune than anyone I know,” he said.  “And if our next gig is doing a show in a 7-11 parking lot, we’ll find a way to make it fun.”

Being in the right place at the right time with the right type of luck can get you everything you’ve ever wanted, but it can all be taken away in an instant.  No one in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get.  But I’ve worked hard, and I’ve been kind.  I believe in the good in people, and I believe that amazing things will happen.  It only took an embattled comedian for me to be able to put it into words.


A post-mortem (AFC Championship Edition)

January 25, 2010

New York was strikingly quiet at about 6 PM yesterday when the final seconds ticked off the game clock.  Mark Sanchez was still slinging passes down the field in a blatant attempt to pad stats and please the fans who thought the Jets were a sure bet to cover as 8.5 point underdogs, but it was clear – this game was over.  The clock reading 00:00 was merely a formality.

In retrospect, that the J-E-T-S would go on to lose this game was obvious at about with two minutes and eleven seconds left in the first half.  That’s when, after the Jets forced a turnover and took a totally improbable 17-6 lead, the real Peyton Manning took the field.

Peyton Manning has engineered drives in the last two minutes of the half this year and come away with 77 points.  For some perspective, writes Paul Kuharsky for ESPN.com, that’s as many points as the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, and St. Louis Rams have scored in a half this season.  That statistic isn’t just a league leader – it’s flat out exceptional.  When the pressure’s on, Peyton Manning delivers.  So color me as less than surprised when he picks apart the best defense in the league on a drive that took less than a full minute.  58 seconds after getting the ball, Austin Collie was in the end zone, the dome was shaking, and a Jets fan sitting on the couch could only sigh as they ran a few meaningless plays to get them into the half. Deflated barely does justice to the feeling of watching Peyton Manning have his way with your team.

Still, even coming out of the half, you had to feel relatively good as a Jets fan. Up by 4 on the road in the AFC Championship game with the best defense in football and a running game that exhausted opposing defenses.  A few long drives, playing field position and another score could’ve locked this game up.  That good feeling was put to rest when Shonn Greene, one of three breakout stars this post-season for the Jets and the team’s most dominant rusher, went out with a rib injury.  Thomas Jones is a solid runner who had an excellent year (1402 yards, 14 TD), but he’s been shy of contact during the playoffs and has a tendency to dance instead of just hitting the hole.  Greene gets yards after contact and is a pure North-South runner, which is exactly what was needed in the second half in order to keep drives alive.  With only a semi-healthy Jones, the Jets rushed for a paltry 86 yards (averaging only 3.0 yards per carry) and couldn’t sustain drives against a team that suddenly developed a killer instinct with the last drive in first half.

But there are no excuses, really. The Colts were the better team in the regular season and the better team now because they have the best player in football lining up under center. There’s a reason why QB17 is terrific – when the chips are in and everything is on the line, Peyton Manning drops the hammer.  It wasn’t a skill that he was born with, but one he developed over time. If Mark Sanchez can be 50% of the QB that Manning is right now, he’ll have had a heck of a career.

Jets fans have a lot to look forward to now. They have a rookie running back who has looked like the league’s next breakout rusher, a rookie head coach who instills confidence in his team with every word and enjoys the spotlight afforded to him by New York, and a rookie QB who is so excited to play the game that he looks like Shelley Duncan in the Yankee dugout.  They have the league’s best defensive player and a defensive team that lacks a pass rushing star but plays well together.  The Colts had too many weapons today, but the core of the Jets makes the future look bright.  Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts on a fine regular season and AFC Championship.  The game against New Orleans in Miami in two weeks should be exceptional.


Welcome to the Wonderful World of Us

January 21, 2010

Helllllllllllllllllllllloooooooooo Cleveland!

(and New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, or wherever you happen to be right at this very instant).

Welcome to 2Guys, a JD, and a Blog.  I’m just one of your hosts, and I’d like to think that this should be pretty fun experience all around.

I’m Adam Collyer.  A 26-year-old third year law student from New York.  Penn State graduate, Jersey born and raised, sports, politics and pop culture enthusiast, and (theoretically) all-around good guy.  I set up this space after my co-host and I thought it’d be a great idea to create a podcast called Two Guys, a JD and a Podcast.  It’s evolved into what you see right now.

I’d like to think of this blog as sort of a general store with a specialty section on sports.  Keith and I combined are well-versed in basically every popular domestic sport you can find (apologies to the WNBA).  Together, we’re pretty well versed in the NFL and Major League Baseball.  We diverge at the NBA (Keith) and college basketball (me).  Primarily, my sports interest focuses on college football, specifically the Football Bowl Subdivision or “big time” college football.  And in the interests of full disclosure, I’m clearly biased in my thinking toward Penn State, the Yankees and the New York Jets.

So come on in, take a look around, and hopefully we’ll be able to offer a unique perspective that you can’t find elsewhere.  Failing that, at least a perspective that’s entertaining.  Thanks for reading.


Hello world!

January 14, 2010

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