Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Fastforwarding to the past

George Foster - September 1st, 2008
This must be my mid-life crisis. I continually hear how men my age and younger often experience a mid-life crisis after being married with children for decades. My married life has only spanned three years, so my youth-based fantasy can hardly be blamed on family fatigue.
You see, for the past couple of years, I have dreamed of playing rugby one more time. My life revolved around playing rugby for about six years in the early 1970s. As a member of the Detroit and Michigan State rugby football clubs at various times, it was the most memorable time of my life. During the fall and spring, two nights per week were spent practicing, while Saturdays were set aside for games at locations around the Midwest.
American football was actually derived from rugby. Having been seriously involved in both as organized sports, my opinion is that playing rugby is much more fun. I think of rugby as a combination of football and soccer. When you view rugby for the first time, each team’s 15 players seem to be playing something akin to football in soccer uniforms.
The camaraderie among the players is a big attraction for those hooked on rugby. They come in many sizes, from all walks of life, and of different ages. Some of the most exuberant players come from other countries where rugby is actually the national sport, such as in New Zealand. In the 1970s, my rugby teammates were my best friends.
Wild post-game parties attended by players of both teams - who had fought each other ferociously only hours previously - is one of the universal characteristics of rugby. Salty rugby songs of European and Australian origin are usually sung in unison as the night wears on.
The only problem with my desire to play rugby one more time was I hadn’t played in eons and couldn’t claim to be in good physical shape necessary for 90 minutes of mayhem. There was no thought of playing a full-speed game; only the hope of playing in one of the so-called Old Boy games. At 35 and older, the Old Boys have modified rules to help the alumni survive an entire game.
When the Blues (based in Traverse City) offered to use me in a game against the Detroit Old Boys in the recent Cherry Pit Rugby Tournament, I jumped at the chance. Hooray, my old mouthpiece and rugby shorts still fit. Of course, I don’t think the Blues realized I was 20 years older than some of their “old boys” and hadn’t laced up a pair of rugby boots in over 33 years.
After a short pre-game warm-up, I was already breathing heavily. My image of playing a casual game was quickly short-circuited when the referee announced we would not be playing Old Boys rules; the game would be expected to be very competitive. Then, I noticed that the Detroit team had many huge, athletic players who appeared younger than 35. Had Detroit noticed the success of the Chinese gymnasts who allegedly lied about their ages and sneaked some young-bloods into this game?
Around the time of the opening kickoff, a downpour of rain soaked everyone and continued for most of the game. Maybe it a sign from above that I should be home sleeping in. Oh well, no going back now.
I had expected the Old Boys to be a group of out-of-shape graybeards leaning on each other. Instead, both teams were very serious, hustling everywhere, sometimes trampling me when I got in the way. I ran around for a few minutes with the rest until it suddenly became clear I wasn’t the player I was in 1975. I was gassed for virtually the rest of the game. The score wasn’t even close as the Detroit Old Boys beat us decisively. My body remained stiff and sore for a week with the usual gashes and bruises.
In other words, I HAD A GREAT TIME. Rugby scrumming, rucking, and lineouts were still familiar after all these years - no problem. Once I got used to the speed of the game, I didn’t embarrass myself too much and actually was involved in a few tackles. Despite my early fatigue, it is undeniable that I had a great physical workout. When is the next game scheduled, lads?
Many thanks to the Grand Traverse Rugby Club (better know as the Blues) for showing me a good time and helping to fulfill a dream. The Blues are Northern Michigan’s rugby team and offers four different squads: the men’s team, alumni (Old Boys), under 19 boys, and under 19 girls teams. Rugby experience is not required for new players. For more information, log on to www.tcrugby.com or call Coach Tony Dell’Acqua at 231-499-7901.

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