November is a transition time for sports. Baseball season is done and dusted, basketball is just getting started, and football season is rolling along.
More on that later. But first, speaking of transitions...
*This week's spotlight is on the great Special Olympic athlete Loretta Claiborne. Born partially blind and with a mild developmental disability, she was unable to walk or talk until the age of 4. Eventually, though, she began to run. And before she knew it, she had crossed the finish line of 25 marathons-- twice placing among the top 100 women in the Boston Marathon. She's carried the torch in the International Special Olympics, has won medals in dozens of its events, and also holds the current women's record in her age group for the 5000 meters (17 minutes). Today, Claiborne is a celebrated athlete who was honored in 1996 with ESPN's ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Her life is recounted in Walt Disney Productions' The Loretta Claiborne Story (originally broadcast on ABC-TV and now on videocassette) and in the biography In Her Stride published by WorldScapes. Considering all of Claiborne's achievements, these are just small steps in her life's mission to show that people with developmental and physical disabilities are equal to those without.
Claiborne was first introduced to Special Olympics by social worker Janet McFarland. She credits McFarland as well as her family, community, educators, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her own strong spirituality with giving her the confidence necessary to become a world-class runner. Running is not the only part of Claiborne's life. She holds a black belt in karate, communicates in four languages (including sign language), and holds honorary doctorate degrees from Quinnipiac College and Villanova University-- making her the first person with a developmental disabilty known to receive such honors (according to the Special Olympics organization).
However, Claiborne says the most rewarding part of her life has been her involvement with the Special Olympics and she wants to continue helping people with developmental and physical disabilities succeed. She advises them, "Find an opportunity and seize it. Be the best you can be, and never let anyone doubt you." Claiborne runs every day, often about 5 miles--even when she plans to go only three or four. She runs just for the joy of it-- the joy of the moment; it's how she lives her life. "I don't really look toward the future because you don't know what tomorrow will bring," she says. "You have to live your life for today."
*In a previous column, I was wrong about the Celtics; they now look better than I thought. They appear as if they have been playing together for years. Rajon Rondo is developing into a great point guard and they have a good mix of youth and experience. I hope they can keep it going.
*Now that the Patriots are on their bye week, I will give you my take on “Spy-gate” and “Running Up the Score-gate." Just recently, Don Shula-- the coach of the last undefeated team in the NFL, the 1972 Miami Dolphins-- has come out saying, “If the Patriots go undefeated, they should have an asterisk put on their record for spying on the New York Jets.” This has been dealt with; they were fined, all the evidence was destroyed, and they have not done it again. The Patriots have also shown that they don’t need to cheat to win. The second issue is that they have been accused of running up the score against their opponents. Folks, this is the National Football League that we are talking about here! Connecticut has a rule in “high school football” that teams can’t win by more than fifty points in a game--but this is NOT high school. If the Patriots are that good, why not do it? Sure, they could use their back-ups in the fourth quarter. But I think the Pats are sending a message to the rest of the teams in the league that they are that good. Bill Belichick is a very smart man and he does everything for a reason.
*How come the first two UCONN men’s basketball games were on ESPNU? If you don’t have Direct TV-- and a lot of us don’t--you couldn’t watch the games. If games are going to be shown on these satellite channels, why couldn’t they air simultaneously on a local channel that you don’t need cable for? I recall back in the 90’s that the NFL would put games on local TV whenever the Patriots played on ESPN. Why can’t college basketball do this?
That’s my take, I would like to hear yours.