Mike Cope's blog

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Rick Reilly recently wrote (in SI) about a 55-year-old man coming to him to say that his daughter is dying of a brain tumor. She is a sports fanatic. What should she do to enjoy her final year. Reilly thought about it and here's what he says: If I had only next year to live, I'd do whatever it took to see, one last time, Michael Vick's happy feet, Allen Iverson's XL heart and Ichiro's bionic arm throwing out some poor slob at third who didn't even think he'd have to slide. I'd chase goose bumps coast to coast. I'd make sure I saw Tiger Woods windmill a driver. I'd go to the Kentucky Derby paddock and watch the parade of thoroughbreds, dropping my Starbucks when I see how huge they are. I'd beg, cheat and bribe my way onto the Super Bowl field, so I could be there when the F-18s polish off the national anthem with a flyover that turns your spine into marmalade. I'd go to Fenway and sit above the Green Monster, see Mia Hamm before she starts having tiny Olympians and go to a UCLA game to shake the 93-year-old hand of the wisest man in the land, John Wooden. I'd see the Palio in Siena, hotwire a Ferrari and drive the Amalfi coast road, and see how long I could sprint behind Lance Armstrong as he melted another Alp. I'd read Ball Four a few dozen times more, watch Slap Shot again, listen to Vin Scully call one last game on my transistor while I hooked up a steady IV of Dodger Dogs. I'd get to Augusta and watch the par-3 tournament on the prettiest swatch of golf in the world. And on Sunday I'd watch the last group go through Amen Corner and then whip the seven-iron out of my pants leg and play number 12 right quick. So you go to jail. When they hear your story, you'll be out by 9 p.m. I'd want a few laughs, so I'd go to Logan Airport the day after the Boston Marathon and watch the poor runners walk backward up staircases because their calves are so sore. I'd sit with the Cameron Crazies to see them dangle a Big Mac in front of a visiting Jabba the Center. I'd pay $10,000 to enter the World Series of Poker just to sit next to Amarillo Slim and hear his hilarious whoppers. I know what I'd stop doing. I'd stop wasting time worrying about my 401(k) or what the Madman and Coach think on SportsBlab 1090 or NFL receivers who make cell calls to their egos. I'd try to become part of sports as it weaves through the fabric of life. I'd go an hour late to the starting line at the Iditarod just to hear the sorrowful howling of the sled dogs left behind. I'd see if John Madden would let me hitch a ride. I'd walk into physics class, sign out my kid and his buddies and go play Wiffle ball. Now that's physics. I'd write some letters, not caring if I got a response. I'd thank Derek Jeter for playing so hard, Pete Sampras for playing so well and Kevin Garnett for never showing up in the sports section, which my daughter reads, with two Girl Scouts and a bottle of X. I'd find Bill Buckner and forgive him, Steve Bartman and hug him, Rasheed Wallace and slap him. I'd blow off the annual jersey exchange that pro sports has become and get to where the passion is -- the colleges, the high schools, the jayvee basketball game. I'd go to Midnight Yell Practice at Texas A&M with the 30,000 other wackos who like to be hoarse for kickoff. I'd call Bobby Bowden on his listed phone number and talk trick plays. I'd go to Senior Day at Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse, where the floor gets covered with carnations and the jerseys with tears. I'd catch the milk run on Ajax, at Vail, in powder you could lose Doug Flutie in. I'd hit the best tailgate in America -- a Kansas City Chiefs game -- and try to become the first man to drown in Gates Bar-B-Que sauce. I'd play 72 at Oregon's Bandon Dunes, where the cliffs and the waves and the Scotch make you want to chain yourself to the starter's hut on check-out day. I'd relish friends and catch up on bliss and bake in all the tastes I've acquired. I'd wallow and dawdle and completely ignore my cholesterol. I'd spend my last year reminding myself why I loved it all so much in the first 45. And I'd die happy, knowing it was going to take the embalmers two hours to bend the grin off my face.

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