Category Archives: Emotion

The Voice of my Dad

I wrote most of this a few years ago. It seems much more important now (because of events I describe in my postscripts below), but I’m glad he could read it and appreciate it while he was still alive. 

What is my father’s voice? What does it sound and feel like? What does it say? What difference does it make? I’ve written about how radio broadcasts would help me mute the sound of his voice as he and my mother argued and how, at a metaphorical level, my father’s desires and voice loomed as large in my childhood as Wilt Chamberlain loomed in the Philadelphia Warriors offense. But in fishing out the memories of those feelings, I’ve also snagged some other memories, other stories, and other feelings. They don’t all literally involve his voice, but the most important one does. Read more

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Lebron

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My title promises the story of a reason.  Of reason.  But there will be no reasons here, and less Reason.  Consider it more a chronicle of an evening adrift on a roiling sea of inclinations, of aversions and attachments, of affections and affinities.

Sometimes, I think that the whole teeming, cacophonous universe of basketball culture lives all inside me as in a lane tightly packed with jostling big men –  arguing with itself, voicing feelings it finds reprehensible, formulating analyses it finds arcane and over thought, impressed with its own subtlety, appalled at its own ignorance. Read more

There is No GOAT and Why that “truth” Will Set You Free

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I approach teaching Cultures of Basketball with the hope I can make the course and each class meeting more than just a forum for the kind of discussion a fan might have in a dorm room or sports bar with Bill Simmons. On the one hand, I want the passionate energy that kind of discussion contains and, after all, I am a fan too. But then I also want that kind of discussion to be something that students can step out of, and look at with a critical eye; I want them to come to see what sort of broader cultural purposes – often collective and unconscious — are served by particular positions in that discussion and even by the topic itself. Because this is when actual learning, self-understanding, and growth occur.

Yesterday was “LeBron Day” in class and it generated a great opportunity for this sort of thing. For, inevitably, within minutes the topic was raised: Is LeBron James the Greatest of All Time (the common acronym for non-hoops-nerds is GOAT). This question quickly narrowed to a single comparison: “LeBron vs Michael” (as in Jordan), which is when things got really animated. Read more

How the Fab Five Saved John’s Life: A Reader’s Letter

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Only when the past ceases to trouble and anticipations of the future are not perturbing is a being wholly united with his environment and therefore fully alive.  ~ John Dewey (Professor of Philosophy, University of Michigan, 1884-1894)

A man I’ve never met or heard of, a stranger, wrote me a letter on Saturday morning.  It’s not the only one I got in response to my open letter to Chris Webber.  But this one, more than any other, stopped me absolutely cold in my tracks so simple, direct, and vivid was it in its declaration of why and how things like the Fab Five, their banners, and Michigan basketball matter.

They saved John Gorman’s life. Read more

Now what? Reflections on My Final Four

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Today is Tuesday. But it doesn’t feel like any Tuesday. I’ve been through something, though I’m not yet sure what it is. I’ve been through it with my wife and family and friends, with my students and colleagues, and — through this blog and social media — thousands of strangers. Read more

An Open Letter to Chris Webber: You Are Loved

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Dear Mr. Webber,

You don’t know me. And I don’t know you, though I know some of your close friends. So let me first introduce myself. In 1993, when your heart was broken in front of a national television audience, I was 27 years old and near the end of my first year as a professor at the University of Michigan. Read more

ICYMI: Why We Watch: Ray Allen, A Life (at The Classical)

Today, in case you missed it, you can find my writing at The Classical, which has graciously granted my space to pursue reflections — aided by Nietzsche, Henry Miller, and William Carlos Williams — on the arresting beauty and profound meaning of a Ray Allen jump shot.  But if you came from The Classical, why not poke around and see some of my other posts, like the one where I call for the University of Michigan’s President and Athletic Director to open up a public discussion about restoring the Fab Five’s banners and to stop the hypocrisy.  Or if you’re more in the mood for memoir, but still thinking about Ray Allen’s jumpshot – you can read here about how learning to shoot one was like losing my innocence.  Or just choose for yourself from the drop down “Categories” or “Archive” menus on the right.

On the other hand, if you’re headed to The Classical, I highly recommend perusing the rest of the “Why We Watch” series, which includes work by some very fine writers on some sometimes surprising players.

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