One Leg at a Time!
I stepped into the elevator and was greeted by a big guy who shouted "How about them Buckeyes?" I smiled and replied that they had a great postseason last year. He shot back, "Look at this", holding his neck chain with a gold emblem of a pair of football pants. I could have told him of my many ties to Ohio State, Woody Hayes, high school coach and teammates but he was transfixed on my trusty wind breaker (a semi-gag gift from AYF Operations Director Elizabeth and husband AJ Bray). I looked down to see what was his objection. There it was in plain sight, a big yellow MICHIGAN in bold print. As he stepped off, he shouted back to me, "Ohio State '82i Team". As the new group stepped on, a gentlemen overheard me ask my wife, "did you see that guys gold pants?", in reference to the historical gold pants he was wearing around his neck. The gentlemen, without a clue as to what had just transpired a few seconds ago, interrupted me, "Why don't you two just settle this back in your room." As we left the elevator, I explained to Faye the significance of the gold pants. A long time ago, Ohio State coach Francis Schmidt borrowed an old Texas saying to reassure his Ohio State team about the heavily favored Michigan. "Don't worry about them, they put their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else." After the victory, the excited alumni presented every member of the team with a Gold Pants charm. To this day, the alumni continue that tradition with every victory over Michigan.
I though to myself, symbols have held special meaning since prehistoric days. From the stick figures on the walls of cavemen to the neon lights on Broadway, symbols tell a story. The Incas in ancient Peru used the stones to represent the snake below (evil), the cougar (life on earth) and the condor (spiritual life). Dan Brown's novels on symbols and codes in the old world were fascinating. It is true, seeing a symbol can cause us to feel good, yet some very sad stories are recalled when a symbol jogs our memory. In our imperfect world, humans are the only creatures born physically helpless at birth, yet intelligent enough to learn many symbols. The Golden Arches, M & M's, even a purple dinosaur are quickly recognized by infants. Sports teams maximize the recognition of symbols better than most fortune 500 companies. NFL (and AYF) symbols stand out like beacons in the night. We all want to support our home town teams. Sadly, we are seeing symbols aid in the recruitment of organizations that promote hate and violence. Social media is blamed as the vehicle used for recruiting home grown terrorists. It is time to think of how freedom of speech can be balanced against extreme politically correct thinking. Race, religion, and even sex can barely be discussed without offending someone. Take down the Ten Commandments, remove the Star of David and change the National Anthem. Hey wait a minute! Let's all do our part by promoting the good in our country and home town teams. If social media is the new battle field, so be it. Let's become social media warriors! Use your best positive thinking, post great photos, encourage accomplishments and value great memories. Let's win this war for the minds of our children. Let's be brave and fight back. One need only visit Arlington Cemetery to see the endless graves of those who faught to keep us free. You will appreciate the past and be motivated toward the future. Above the fallen on the most famous of monuments, read the inscription "uncommon valor was a common virtue." Victory can be won if we work at it. Don't we all put our pants on one leg at a time?