I have already been introduced as Danny Allen and the world already knows that I am depressed. But I dispute that point. I believe that I just shy away from showing emotion. I mean, I have emotions, I just bottle them up inside. I have no reason to be depressed; I have lived a good life. I have climbed the highest mountains of New England, seen the first black president be inaugurated from seats given to me by an Arkansas senator, won a State Championship, gotten into college, been waved to by the greatest living pitcher, and even met Jim Kirwan.
If you ask Jim how we met, he'll tell you we met in Mr. Eastman's Advanced Algebra H class, and he would be correct. But truth be told, I didn't really talk to him in that class. I would have to say that it was the following summer that we first were social together and it wasn't until our senior year that our friendship blossomed over the miles run during our turbulent cross country season. It was during this season that I developed my thick skin and strong breast bone. Over the course of our many miles run, I was afforded the opportunity to do a lot of self reflection and naturally, my thoughts wandered to inspiration, role models, and heroes.
I tried to label what inspired me, who my heroes were, and if I had any role models to look up to. Now I could've taken the easy way out and said that my parents were my heroes because they taught me the right way to act, sacrificed so I could have a better life, and all that other stuff. But this isn't The Wonder Years, so I began to think about musicians to look up to but that was but a fleeting thought. So I turned to my bread and butter, sports. I've been playing and watching sports since I was very young. Unfortunately, I peaked athletically as a 6 year old in Tee-Ball when I caught a pop-up at third base. Honestly, I shouldn't even been at third base because lefties don't make good third basemen as they always have to throw across their bodies.
Some people make their role models their favorite players. For me, that begins and ends with Drew Bledsoe and Nomar Garciaparra. You may remember Drew Bledsoe leading the Patriots from behind in the 2001 AFC Championship Game in Heinze Field after sitting out since Week 2 after suffering a ruptured blood vessel in his chest after a dirty, dirty hit from Mo Lewis. And Nomar. Nomar brought more joy to the citizens of New England for his unparalleled hard work and results. Unfortunately, he was driven out of town by a new ownership group and I have yet to like a Red Sox shortstop since. Around this time, Nike began to slowly push its Olympic athletes in preparation of the Beijing Olympics the following summer. One such athlete, Michael Phelps, received an inordinate amount of attention, and rightfully so. He was, in a word, amphibious. Michael Phelps was hailed as the next Mark Spitz and sure enough, he delivered. So that settled it, my role model and my hero would be the American Dream reincarnate, Michael Phelps.
Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. He has broken more world records than anyone in any sport. He is as celebrated as any American athlete ever. He's a better swimmer on his worst days than I'll ever be. He's even been named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. One thing he is not, however, is someone to look up to. In 2004, Michael Phelps was charged with driving under the influence. He was 19. I'm 19. I have way less gold medals, but I also have way less DUI convictions. He called it, "An isolated incident," and the public agreed. That was 2004. 2008 rolled around and Phelps went off to Beijing and won all his gold medals with his mother cheering him all the way. It was quite a story and the sponsorships poured in for him. The man had an unbelievable Olympics.
Unfortunately, the unbelievable events continued for him. Photos surfaced of Phelps ripping a bong down at a University of South Carolina frat house. Like the winner Phelps is, he used a Roor, which is also known as the Bentley of bongs. He lost a ton of money for this from his sponsorship deals being terminated and he was suspended by the governing body of swimming. Now if I had been in this man's shoes, I would have flown low under the radar. Instead, Phelps and his coach, the almighty Bob Bowman, complained about swimming records being broken in the new Jaked suits were tainted, similar to steroids in baseball (a rant for another day). Phelps and Coach Bowman threatened to boycott until the suits were banned. To be fair, they will be banned beginning in 2010, but as of now they are fair game.
I, personally, can not stand these petty arguments. Through out the history of sport, technologies have improved to the point where the creators of the original sports would be confused by what they see today. Take running for instance, the origin of all sport. Running has been around as long humanity has existed. The first running event could be argued as the Marathon, which goes back to the Ancient Greeks when Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, ran 26.2 miles to tell the result of the battle of Marathon and collapsed. Now this is a drastic example, but a point can be taken just the same: Running has evolved. Our poor friend Pheidippides would not have dropped dead in modern times as he would have been properly hydrated, wearing lightweight, moisture wicking clothing, and running shoes. Essentially, the point is that all things adapt or they die, sports included. Michael Phelps should embrace the changes in his sport in the hopes that it will be relevant more often than every four years.
If I could go back to my senior year of high school, I would look up Pheidippides far sooner than I would Michael Phelps, for the former was far more of a hero than the latter. Pheidippides died for a cause. There is nothing in the world that I feel so strongly about that I could die for. Pheidippides has courage that we can only hope to approach, never mind achieve
Now is the part of the blog where the cheery song lyric that I must present is presented. All of Rubin's cards were marked in advance. The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance. The judge made Rubin's witnesses drunkards from the slums. To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum. And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger. No one doubted that he pulled the trigger. And though they could not produce the gun,The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed and the all-white jury agreed.
This is the song "Hurricane" by Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan is pretty awesome. He did what he wanted and didn't care what other people thought. He partook in a lot of artistic give and take with The Beatles, highlighted when he plugged in his guitar for the first time at the Newport Folk Festival.
And this my friends, is not a goodbye, but a see you later.
Daniel J. Allen