The movie, GENIUS , is the story of author, Thomas Wolfe and his editor,  Max Perkins of Shribner’s Publishing.

One scene’s set is a speak easy in Harlem.  Wolfe, exasperated at Perkins  lack of vices, finally tries music?

Wolfe:  What kind of music?

After a long pause and thought,   the famous editor ventures  “…well, I like FLOW GENTLY  SWEET AFTON!”  Of course the lyrics of this song are from a poem by  Robert Burns.  Known  widely almost hymn-like.  And done in somber fashion.

Wolfe responds by going to the band’s director, putting a bill in his hand as  requests the song.



My advice to the young ones who love sports like so many of us have is simple: “Just keep pecking away at it”, the core is solid. You have to sandpaper some. Young coaches particularly. And keep learning.
An example of this is a new book that I mentioned on the blog. THE SPORT GENE by Sports Illustrated David Epstein. Any young coach (and most old ones) will glean much from this painstaking look at where elite athletes come from. Nature or Nurture? Genes or hard work? Gladwell’s “ten thousand hours” or Grandpa? I have taken some “nuggets” the book (below) hoping to direct some to this fascinating new source of research and insight into the world of sport.
• Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali, Michael Phelps, Ursain Bolt, Steffi Graf, Veronica Campbell- Brown, Kenyan (“Kalajins” specifically and VERY interestingly) marathoners, Jamaican runners, pole-vaulters, and many more: HOW DID THEY DO IT? And an update; Kenyan finished in 5 of the top 7 spots in the Boston Marathon—2014. Our “American” winner was actually from a small country neighboring Ethiopia.
• What is the link between pain and emotion in “elite” athletes? How can they “play hurt”?
• Blacks and swimming?
• White men can’t jump? Or white men can’t reach? What makes J.J. Reddick unique in the NBA?
• Tiger Woods and practice with his father.
• Why train runners in Denver.
• Why did the “cattle thieves” have so many children?
Have I stirred your interest enough for you to search out THE SPORT GENE? Trust me on this one. PS: “Men are twice as likely to be left-handed.”
While I’m at it here’s another one worth checking out: DAVID AND GOLIATH by Malcolm Gladwell. This book of course was on the top of the bestseller list for a lengthy period of time. An admitted Gladwell fan (see OUTLIERS, THE TIPPING POINT, BLINK and others) I mention this multi-faceted book for number of reasons. First of all it is a good read with a lot of implications for a lot of areas. But I’m mentioning it here because of its connections and comments on sports. And families.


Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, DAVID AND GOLIATH has an interesting viewpoint regarding one’s choice of instituions for pursuing higher education. He suggests being a
” big fish in a little pond” yields better results than the other way around. Being in the top third of your class breeds esteem, whereas being in the lower third (albeit a third with fine students) often discourages those who are always looking up at those who out-perform them.
I don’t remember a lot said at some 45 commencement speeches I attended.   One statement I do remember was that the best way to become educated America was in good small colleges in America.   Gladwell further acknowledges that even at some of our very best schools, exceptions are made. And often these exceptions are given to athletes. And while many exceptions are given  “…thinking we are doing them a favor”, he suggests maybe the results are not the outcomes we would want.
Having been involved in college athletics for some forty plus years,  Gladwell makes one ask questions, since so many exceptions go to athletes. Are we putting these youngsters into situations they cannot they cannot function or feel positive in?
The real value of athletics lies in the lessons learned therein. Doesn’t the student have to be capable of, and willing to learn the lessons? Choosing the right school seems critical to marginal students and athletes.


UPHEAVAL by Jared Diamond deals with several different nations and crises they confront.  Chapter 9 deals with the USA and asks “What lies ahead for the US?  Strengths, and the biggest problem.”

*Wealth-Geography-Advantages of democracy-Other advantages-Political polarization-Why?  Other polarization.


Below are notes I took for myself as reminders from the text:


  1.  Wealth- size and resources.  2.  Military -10 Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.  France has the only other.  3. “Wedge shaped” geography and temperate zones for agriculture.  4.  Waterways —shipping by water 10-30 times cheaper.  Rivers plus great lakes.  Plus  Atlantic on one side, Pacific on other is unique, and with barrier islands also to protect us.  4.  Advantages of democracy (Churchill’s quote–worst form of government except for everything else tried.  Citizens can propose, and debate. (Vietnam, Germany/Hitler), Less civil violence.  5. Compromise.  6.  Federal govt. 50 states differ (turning right on red – Calif, assisted suicide, pot, tax rates, ) 7. Citizens control the military.  8.  Limited overt corruption, but covert is bad i.e. the influence of wall street, lobbyists, illegal contributions. 8. Public investment in education, technology, research (half of major top 10 scientific univ in U.S.), Infrastructure. inventions. 11. Immigration.  surprise!  1 of 3 nobel prize winners from U.S. are foreign  born.


“The first, and I feel the most ominous, of fundamental problems now threatening American democracy is our accelerating deteriorating of political COMPROMISE.”

2.  ELECTIONS:  Diamond quote:  “If a country has a constitution or laws specifying democratic government but the country’s citizens don’t or can’t vote, such a country doesn’t deserve to be called a democracy.”

3.  INEQUALITY:  Again, a quote from the book: “Sadly the problem is making itself worse; economic inequality has been increasing, and socio-economic mobility has been decreasing, in the U.S. over the course of recent decades.”

4.  INVESTMENT:  Education/more on prisons.  Declining performance of students.   Working two jobs.

“The result  is that the U.S. is losing its former competitive advantage that rested on an educated workforce, and on science and technology.”

Page 379

QUESTION:  When will the U.S. take its problems seriously?

ANSWER:  When powerful rich Americans begin to feel physically unsafe.





Jared Diamond’s new book (May 2019) dealS with crisis.  His chapter on his fears about the United States includes this sentence:

“The first, and I feel the most ominous, of fundamental problems now threatening American democracy is our accelerating deteriorating of political compromise.”