Hail to the King!

29 Mar

A Palmer Pilgrimage to Wake Forest last fall

I am celebrating The King from this month’s Arnold Palmer Invitational to next month’s Masters and beyond. Palmer, the global sports icon and my fellow Wake Forest Demon Deacon, passed away last fall at the age of 87. The new golf season reminds us that old traditions will be quite different this year without golf’s greatest ambassador.

  • “Can he play golf?”

The Wake Forest Athletics Director uttered this in 1947 when a Deacon recruit was encouraging him to offer another scholarship to a fresh-faced 18-year-old from Latrobe, Pa. That recruit would take Wake’s golf team and then a whole sport to a new level.

  • “This man was my favorite person. Not my favorite golfer, but my favorite person that I ever met.”

Country music singer and golfing enthusiast Vince Gill said this about the King. I don’t bite on too many marketing campaigns, but Mastercard aced it with #ArnieWould: Arnie would stop and sign every autograph, Arnie would found two hospitals for women and children, Arnie would become only the sixth athlete ever to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal…

  • “How he impacts other people is more important than any golf championship.”

A former patient at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies named her son Palmer after surviving a harrowing pregnancy thanks in large part to the Orlando hospital staff. The family was surprised, to say the least, when later little Palmer received a thankful letter from his legendary namesake. Arnie had the common touch, but was still bigger than life to many folks. More importantly, he believed in something bigger than self.


Source: Wake Forest magazine, NBC Sports


Scholarship of Engagement — Prof. Conrad Fink “Guest Blog” (Part I)

23 Mar


It’s been five years since my favorite professor and UGA legend Conrad Fink passed away. I recently rediscovered a Fall 1998 issue of the University of Georgia Research Report. (Not sure why I have it — I arrived in Athens for my graduate studies in 2001 — but I’m really glad I do.) Inside are Fink’s poignant and prescient remarks about academe’s obligation to engage the general public and major trends in higher education and communications that very few at the time had fully considered. Only Fink could make a research journal that engaging! In the tidy package are the timeless themes of caring, giving and sharing and how truly meaningful work must include those things.

Does the scholar truly have an obligation to relate learning to the general public? Let me ask you: Do scholars have a responsibility to shine light in dark corners? To help good triumph over evil? To assist reason in the eternal war against chaos?

Yes, scholars do have a responsibility to interact with the public — and I personally question that proposition no more than I would question whether I have a responsibility to dart into traffic and pull a child to safety. I question the proposition no more than I question whether a physician has a responsibility to heal.

And I don’t mean scholars should sit demurely on the sidelines, waiting to be asked to the dance. I favor aggressive scholarship of engagement, as it was termed by the late Ernest Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

But why do I feel so strongly about this?

It probably has something to do with my Methodist upbringing. I think that anyone — not just scholars, but anyone — who possesses something of value is obliged to share that in some way with humankind. Scholars are uniquely positioned to fulfill this moral obligation when they possess something of value: facts, revelations, insights, thoughtful reflection. Pull the child from the traffic, assist humankind’s search for truth and progress. Both are moral obligations and both require active effort by scholars that go beyond simply sharing with other scholars in the tight little world of academe.

To Be Continued

Houston, We Have a Problem

28 Feb

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including sports disappointment for me recently. Consider the following heartbreak in Houston, where I lived as a kid:

  • College Cup: Following a scoreless draw with defending champ Stanford in the mid-December NCAA soccer title match, my Wake Forest Demon Deacons had a penalty kick opportunity to take home the trophy, but were denied on two straight attempts as the Cardinal, which did not score a goal during the entire Final Four weekend, successfully defended its crown.
  • Super Bowl: Less than two months later in NRG Stadium in Houston, my Atlanta Falcons somehow relinquished a 28-3 second half lead to the hated Patriots to also lose in overtime. The emotional and psychic wounds from this debacle will hurt for a long, long time. My therapist says I’m doing a lot better though: down to only three to five Big Game what-ifs per day now.
  • NCAA Baseball: As if to confirm the horrid luck in Houston, my baseball Deacs were swept by the University of Houston Cougars to open their season a couple weeks after the Super Bowl.

There is a bright side at least: I’ve gotten five Texas magazine freelance assignments in that stretch. All work and no play make Brian a full boy?

Signs of the Time

23 Jan
My high school classmate Ed Helms posted: "No matter how you feel about this election, I hope we all unite behind hilarious wordplay? #WomensMarch"

My high school classmate Ed Helms posted: “No matter how you feel about this election, I hope we all unite behind hilarious wordplay?”

You may have heard that not everybody was celebrating the inauguration this past weekend of the man who bragged about sexual assault, mocked a handicapped person, publicly fat-shamed women and so on and so on. In an awe-inspiring display of strength and solidarity, the Women’s March on Saturday brought together millions across the globe in one purpose: the protection of women’s rights, safety and health.

And they had fun, too! Here’s my Top 10 list of the creative and meaningful signs that protesters made for the march:

10) Men of quality don’t fear equality.

9) Save Melania

8) I can’t believe I STILL have to protest this sh-t!

7) Super, Callous, Fascist, Racist, Extra Braggadocios

6) Does this ass [pic of new POTUS] make my sign look big?

5) I’ve seen better cabinets at IKEA… Keep your tiny hands out of their drawers.

4) My WWII vet grandfather didn’t vote for fascists, he shot them.

3) Make America think again.

2) Women are the Wall and Trump will pay for it.

1) Love Trumps Hate!

My No. 1 lady (middle) and her No. 1 sign in Atlanta on Saturday.

My No. 1 lady (middle) and her No. 1 sign in Atlanta on Saturday.

Let There Be Light

29 Dec

The only thing bad about leaving 2016…

Lots of weighty, worrisome things swirling around these days. Anyone in need of some lighter moments? Good — me, too!

  • A college schoolmate, who happened to be the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi, once asked a London local where Big Ben was located as she stood practically in the shadow of the landmark. The clever bloke pointed up at the famous clock tower and added, “By the way, you’re in London.”
  • At a wedding reception, another Sweetheart of Sigma Chi, aka my mother, requested a song while the song was playing! It was Def Leppard so she at least gets rock & roll credit.
  • Ever had a joke you told retold back to you? Within the course of an evening? That happened to my dad at Thanksgiving…
  • My Army cousin can’t read his own master’s thesis. It’s classified.


    …is 2017?

  • After finishing a strong night of partying in New Orleans, my aunt & uncle hailed a cab to return to their hotel. When the cabby heard their destination, he pointed across the street to said hotel. My aunt & uncle then exited out the other side of the car.
  • Believe it or not, on my honeymoon I was not allowed in a Sandals resort restaurant because I was wearing sandals. Now that’s some irony, Alanis!



Once More With Feeling

21 Nov

“I was telling people that you were going to die, Willy.”

It wasn’t exactly your normal breakfast talk. A physician fraternity brother offered this up during a trip to the ol’ alma mater earlier this month. The hustle and bustle of the diner, omelettes and orange juice, and his four kids stuffed into a booth with four adults offered quite a contrast to the weighty message.

Willy, my “little brother” from our fraternity days two decades past, is two years removed from a brutal bout with something called necrotizing pancreatitis. “This is a disease where your pancreas ‘eats’ itself which, in turn, affects the kidney, liver and various digestive processes,” he wrote shortly after his release from the hospital in November 2014. “The [South Dakota] hospital decided to fly me to Asheville to be closer to my mom because they were not sure that I would live through the summer. I went through 13 surgeries, dialysis and had a bout of psychosis where I saw things. I am now a Type 1 diabetic, I can’t walk well, and I have five tubes coming out of my lung, abdomen, and stomach. However, I am dealing with it all.”

Dealing with it all, he wrote so simply. Willy’s gentle, understated tone ran through my head and ran up against the horrifying reality of a struggle most of us can’t even begin to imagine…

Struggle was nowhere near my thoughts the rest of that gorgeous fall Saturday as he and I strolled around the sun-splashed Wake Forest campus, stopping at the chapel, the bookstore and the statue of Arnold Palmer, our fellow Demon Deacon and global golfing legend who passed away just weeks before.

Later that afternoon, before the football game between two of Willy’s alma maters — he’d gotten a degree from visiting Virginia as well — we checked out Wake’s Sports Hall of Fame, got some greasy grub from a favorite college dive and soaked up the tailgating energy.

When I drew blood handling a beer with a faulty bottle opener, Willy was giving himself an insulin shot. When the football contest was too close for comfort, I was stressed. Willy was less.

There I was thinking in my routine, short-term way: successful work week, enjoyable weekend, good trip… good game.

And there was Willy: “Relearning what it means to have a life is such a blessing.”

Top 5 Memories at Turner Field

30 Oct

Baseball is about to close down another season, and my Atlanta Braves closed down Turner Field (1997-2016) earlier this month. Time to reflect on so many great sights and sounds through the years at The Ted:

5. (TIE) I am blessed with so many great memories at the erstwhile home of the Braves that it’s hard to narrow them down. How ‘bout a triple play to start off? From a nice vantage point behind home plate, I got to see Mark McGwire pulverize a Greg Maddux pitch into the upper deck beyond left field. Thankfully, it was just a loud (the loudest?) foul ball. I was also in attendance for the introduction of the Hank Aaron Award in 1999 and Tim Hudson’s 200th career win in 2013.

4. The drama turned to delicious delirium on 10-10-10 when Eric Hinske yanked a pinch-hit homer over the right-field wall in the bottom of the 8th to give the Braves a 2-1 lead in Game 3 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, which had held the home team hitless through the first five innings. With a solo ticket in the upper deck, I can’t remember hugging and high-fiving so many complete strangers in my life (and I can’t —won’t — remember what occurred to my Braves the very next inning of that game, Bobby Cox’s second to last as Atlanta’s manager.)

brian meets hank aaron_011309

Thanks to Hank!

3. There was no game that 2009 day at Turner Field, but it is one I’ll never forget because I got to go one-on-one with Hank Aaron. This freelance writer, who interviewed the legend in his office overlooking left field, kept thinking that I should be paying for this amazing experience instead of the other way around.

2. May 2, 2012 is a day that will live in ecstasy for this Braves fan. All of the following happened just a few rows in front of me and three buddies, who were perfectly positioned in the Voice of the Braves’ seats: the Braves rallied from a 6-0 deficit against two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, including a grand slam by Brian McCann off the Philadelphia pitching ace; the home team rallied again, this time from four runs down in the 8th inning; and then soon-to-be Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, the ATL legend playing his final season, crushed a two-run, game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th to end an eight-game losing streak against the Phillies and cap off the absolute best non-playoff game I’ve ever attended.

1. It didn’t include any walk-off heroics or meeting a Braves legend, but it was so special. I’d never set foot on the baseball diamond until my sweet girl allowed me access on Girls Scouts Day at the park during the second to last home stand ever at Turner Field. We circled the field with her fellow scouts and then the Braves circled the wagons against the first-place Nationals. The win kept intact my daughter’s all-time undefeated streak at Turner Field (4-0) and started the team on a seven-game win streak and 12-2 finish to the final season there.