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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Carpe diem: Seize the football

A message to all of the high school football players: “carpe diem.”
Loosely translated, that means seize the day.
At least I think it does.
I’m a sports writer, not a linguist.
I’m 56 years old and that puts me just a dive play shy of the Paleozoic Era.
I played high school football.
We wore tortoise shells for helmets.
Our cups were fashioned from clams.
All right, not really.  But it was a long time ago.
My buddy, Tom, was one of my teammates.
Our final season was in the fall of 1971. That June, we graduated and off we went. I headed to college and Tom joined the Army.
Figuring the war in Vietnam was still raging, I figured I was heading in the right direction.
Tom got lucky. He went to Germany.
But it was in Europe during some sort of maneuvers when a troop carrier overturned. Tom was killed.
My dad told me when I was home for spring break.
You never figured something like that was going to happen.
Killed in Vietnam, sure. But in an accident in Germany? Who would’ve figured?
So carpe diem. Seize the day.
Appreciate things even if your team loses more than it wins.
Appreciate your name in the program and on the lips of the public address announcer.
Appreciate the coaches, the cheerleaders, the marching band and your parents.
Appreciate the Friday Night Lights because eventually they get turned off.
Things come to an end.
I don’t even know where they buried Tom.
I was never much for mourning.
Not when I was younger anyway.
These days, I pay more attention.
I think it’s because I am older.
Mortality is no longer just a theoretical.
I have cancer.
I am doing great, but that sort of diagnosis makes your ears perk up.
You don’t just shrug.
You think about things.
Carpe diem.
I’m telling that to the football players and all of the other high school athletes.
I’m reminding myself of the same thing.
Everybody have a good season.
Everybody appreciate what you have.
I went to college. Tom went to Germany.
He also went from the sports pages to the obituaries.
He was just 19 years old.
You never know.


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