About BTiell Sports Reports

Dr. Bonnie Tiell writes a monthly column for the Tiffin Advertiser Tribune Sports Department (http://www.advertiser-tribune.com/). This blog archives each column and dates back to the 2008 Olympic Academic Experience in Beijing, China. Check out the Blog Archives to read more. Check out info about the TU Olympic Academic Experience at http://www.tuolympics.blogspot.com/ and contact Dr. Tiell at btiell@tiffin.edu

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Remember Purple Day a couple of years ago? The Tiffin community pulled together to raise more than $12,000 in support of the Bluffton University baseball team which tragically lost five players when the team's charter bus crashed over an Atlanta overpass. Driving to Atlanta a couple of weeks ago for the NCAA convention brought back emotional reminders of that catastrophic spring day which hit so close to home for so many college athletic teams across the country.

There are no visible markers along I-75 or Spaghetti Junction to bring attention to the exact site of the horrible accident. But the NCAA did remember, especially as it celebrated its 104th annual convention in the city that left Bluffton devastated.

The 2007 Bluffton baseball team received the Inspiration Award at the NCAA Convention on Jan. 15 Bluffton baseball coach James Grandey returned to Atlanta to be recognized alongside Doug Flutie, Tim Tebow, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and a dozen others who received accolades during the NCAA "Celebrity" honors banquet.Yes, the NCAA definitely knows how to draw attention.

How fitting the date which also commemorated the true birthday of former Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, called Atlanta her home for decades until her death in 2006. Since her husband's assassination in 1968, she continued to inspire others with the message so eloquently spoken over 40 years ago:"I have a Dream."

Bluffton's baseball coach had but one dream after the crash, which broke almost every bone in his face. His dream was for his remaining players to graduate. The NCAA honored members of that team for its inspiration to fulfill Grandey's' dream. All but one player on that fatal trip has graduated, which is an amazing feat given the physical and mental hurdles so many endured after falling out of the bus, being trapped, or being partially crushed.

The celebratory mood at the convention was somewhat subdued as it came on the heels of learning that a 21-year old basketball player at Southern Indiana University, Jeron Lewis, died the previous night after he collapsed with four minutes to go in a game at Kentucky Wesleyan College. It takes courage beyond inspiration to deal with such an unthinkable catastrophe. Certainly the people of Haiti will need inspiration and courage to rebuild after the devastating earthquake this month. Certainly Southern Indiana will need inspiration to endure the rest of the season. Perhaps Bluffton's inspirational story is but a small testament to how time heals.

It can be said that the NCAA has dealt with tragedies with the same grace and dignity it has celebrated countless feats of athleticism and academic excellence. Atlanta's convention was another outlet for scores of tributes to Myles Brand, the NCAA president who lost his battle with cancer months ago. Beyond the fanfare, the NCAA convention is a prime outlet to nurture professional networks and reap the benefits of diverse educational programs while supporting or voting down endless (and mindless) legislation. This year's hot controversy was over the scholarship limits for the emerging sport of sand volleyball. Can you visualize bikini-clad Tiffin or Heidelberg players diving in the sand at the Hedges-Boyer courts during the cold Ohio temps in mid-March?

One truth about the NCAA - it knows little moderation and definitely isn't shy in its efforts to be beyond impressive at every turn. The membership- driven organization with a staff of more than 300 is prolific for its over-the-top commercialized branding demonstration. In these economic times when frugalness is a buzz word and legislation is doing its part to curtail travel-related expenses, the NCAA convention seems to be pretty much removed from fiscal restraints. Attendance in Atlanta was, once again, superb. Two of the premier downtown hotels within walking distance of the CNN Center, Olympic Centennial Park, and the Georgia Dome played host to the 3,000-plus visitors. Certainly, the fanfare will continue as the NCAA secures only the best venues for future sites in San Antonio, Indianapolis, and Washington, D.C.

In a few weeks, many, many more than 3,000 will be attending the Winter Olympics in Vancouver [British Columbia] Canada hoping for another Miracle on Ice for their home country. Actually, the Winter Games host more than 5,500 athletes, coaches, and officials from more than 80 countries - well less than half of the field of the summer Olympics which will next be held in London.

Pull up your fashion snuggie, stay warm, and stay tuned next month for updates on the Vancouver Olympics featuring Shaun White, Apollo Anton Ohno, and MAYBE the Jamaican bobsled team

No comments:

Post a Comment