The Problem With The Terps

January 29, 2009

For the past four years, my own school’s prestigious basketball program has toiled in mediocrity (and missed the tournament the year before I arrived here, too).  Mind you, this was a team that, when I was a freshman, was three years removed from a national championship and one year removed from a conference championship.  However, as my years here have gone on, the team has gotten worse and worse, and the situation has finally reached a boiling point with fans, players, coaches and the athletic department.  I usually do not like to comment on big things like sports or politics (even though they are my passion) because there are way too many critics and professionals who could do it a lot better than I can (and are paid accordingly), but the situation at the University of Maryland needs to be commented on by a fan.

As a freshman, I was pretty excited to come to a school like the University of Maryland that was rich in tradition and lively fans.  That year we reached a ranking of number twelve before our best player became academically ineligible and we were left on the outside looking in for the NCAA tournament.  I thought that year was a fluke and bad luck just hit the team.  Despite our bad luck, us fans continued to pack the Comcast Center and cheered with pride.

This pride and packed houses continued for the next two years, where we made the tournament my sophomore year and collapsed and did not make the tournament my junior year.  My junior year was when things truly started to go downhill.  At the end of the year, the Terrapins completely collapsed and lost very winnable conference games.  In addition, they were in position before the stretch run to make the tournament despite losses to American and Ohio.  By the end of the year, the fans had lost interest and the team was not playing to the kind of crowds they used to.  I hoped that this would not carry over to the next year.

Over the offseason this past spring, there was some very turbulent times.  We lost our top two recruits (and now there is finger pointing over this).  We were ranked anywhere from eighth to twelth in the ACC preseason rankings.  People were calling our coach, Gary Williams, over the hill and out of the loop.  Well, the Terps answered the challenge early on, however they were playing to an empty house.  Now, despite the start, the team is not playing well and the fans that were so loyal a couple years ago are no longer around.

This disappearance of loyal fans includes myself.  I am sick of mediocre basketball.  As Stephen A. Smith commented in an article a couple days ago, it is our job as fans to keep the team in check and to make sure they are playing their hardest.  And in my opinion, the Terps look flat and not polished and giving a half-assed effort.  How can they expect fans to want to watch this kind of basketball?  In addition, nobody on this team is likable.  The Terps do not have a marketable star or anyone the student section can relate to.

Many are calling for Coach Williams’ head, but in my opinion the Athletic Department should give him one more year to prove himself–one more year of fantastic Gary Williams circa 1998-2004 basketball.  This will give him one last chance to prove he can recruit (which he has failed to do for a couple years now.  Here’s a suggestion, Coach: we are in a great area for recruiting.  Go to these blue chip basketball players and say, “You have a chance to be the reason why the Maryland basketball program is saved.”  Simple as that.  Sure, you will probably lose half of the recruits to Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, etc., but I’m sure there are recruits out there who would love the added ego boost with saving a program on their resume.

As for the fans, I think you should stay loyal, but I don’t blame you if you stay away from the stadium until the team gets better.  Terps fans were used to a certain quality of play.  And now, it’s gone.  So I don’t blame you. 

For me personally, it’s hard to take three hours of my day to go to a game where I know I am going to watch a subpar basketball team play subpar basketball.  Tuesday’s game against Boston College was a perfect example.  We completely fell apart in a perfect sample of subpar basketball.  I got angry, and taking Stephen A. Smith’s advice, I yelled at the players, and was actually warned by staff to be quiet.  I was annoyed and disappointed.  I didn’t want to see this team play anymore.  It didn’t help that a day after this horrific showing, the backlash against Coach Williams became national news and became quite controversial.  All of this really betrayed me as a fan.  I guess it makes it easier to leave College Park in May, but as a I diehard sports fan who lives and dies with his teams, this just hurts.

The Final Chapter of Childhood

January 27, 2009

Well, my eighth and final semester of college is underway, and although it doesn’t feel like a normal semester (I’m not taking classes and doing a full-time internship), the realization that this is the last one has hit me pretty hard.  I definitely have some mixed emotions during this time.  Yes, it’s quite an accomplishment to finish college, and I should be happy about it, but I’m also extremely upset that I am leaving this fantasy world I have created for the real world (or another fantasy world in law school).  It’s quite an interesting situation.

I have always been for moving on and having new experiences.  At the end of high school, I was not upset at all.  I felt that I had a great four years but I was in need of a change and new experience.  I felt the same thing after I had worked as a counselor and as an intern at my internship on the Hill: I loved the experience, but I didn’t want to overstay my welcome.  But, graduating college is different.  I feel like, as opposed to everything in the past, that I am just starting to fit into my niche I have carved here.  Unfortunately, just as I am starting to become one hundred percent comfortable, I have to leave.  It just sucks.

Another feeling I have is a feeling of defeat.  “Defeat?” you ask.  Let me explain.  After every semester, I, as well as many others, answer many questions with the same answer, “I’ll get it done next semester.”  So, you keep pushing things off and for things that you want to get done, but don’t, you make yourself feel better about it by saying this.   I see this all the time: new hobbies and skills I want to teach myself, trying to get with a girl I like, etc., etc.  Unfortunately, if I don’t man up or have any self discipline and complete these tasks this semester, I have no other option and am therefore defeated.

Because of this feeling, my goal for this semester is to leave no loose ends–have an ending to this story (think the complete opposite of the way the Sopranos ended).  I want to make sure I complete everything I set out to do four years ago in three short months.  Will it happen?  Probably not, but I will try.


January 26, 2009

Thank you to everyone who read my last entry.  I got the most hits on this site in a single day ever… and it was a lot.  Seriously, a lot (a shitload, if you will).  It was more visits than people I can name.  I really appreciate everyone who reads my blog (although it would be nice if you commented so I know who you are), and I hope you continue to visit and enjoy my writing (and life described in the writing).  Thanks.

The Post Everyone Has Waited For: My Work for the Inauguration of Barack Obama

January 25, 2009

Yes, it’s true, for one week I worked for a major television network to set up and cover the inauguration of our fourty-fourth President.  Let me just say how lucky I truly am to have experienced something so amazing and so up close.  I have a permanent smile over an experience that I never and will never take for granted.  It was a once in a lifetime experience, and as a close family member said, my life has peaked at the age of twenty-one.  I have a couple thoughts, stories, etc. that I will tell in no organized way whatsoever.

I started working the Thursday before inauguration.  I took a red eye straight from Orlando, Florida to Washington, D.C. so I could get my credentials in time (trust me, Capitol Police and Secret Service did not take anything lightly whatsoever).  The first time I walked through security to the trailers on the west side of the Capitol Building, the Capitol Policeman, Tom, asked me my name.  Turns out this guy was one of the nicest and friendliest people I have ever met.  And, he never forgot my name from there.

Later that day, I walked to the front of the Capitol Building to see the stage for the first time.  And let me tell you, it was absolutely breathtaking.  Nobody was on the stage except for me and it kind of felt surreal–I knew something amazing was going to happen here in a couple of days but it didn’t seem real and it hadn’t hit me yet.

On Friday, I got the opportunity to go up to the roof of the Capitol to bring up some materials for the camera man.  Looking out from this view was maybe the most amazing view I have ever seen.  Period.  It didn’t hurt that it was a perfect day outside (minus the temperature being in the teens), so visibility was amazing.  At that point, the magnitude of the event still had not hit me, but the realization of how lucky I was and how only a few people ever had got to experience what I was feeling at that moment on the roof.  That day I also got to visit the anchor’s desk and that was also pretty cool.

The next day, Saturday, I got to return to the inside of the Capitol Building, where I had worked as an intern for 8 months in the year 2007.  It was pretty cool being back and it kind of felt like a full circle type thing.  Two years ago, I started my journey as a young Government and Politics major into the world of politics and actually getting involved, and here I was, two years later, working for the inauguration for a historic presidency.  Pretty cool feeling. 

The next day, a couple of interns and I were in the right place at the right time because right after they practiced an official run-through of the inauguration, we sneaked out and took pictures on the platform where Mr. Obama would stand.   However, the greatness of this event still hadn’t hit me, until Monday.

Monday was pure insanity.  D.C. was packed.  You couldn’t move on the Metro, or even on the streets, especially since the road was closed.  At around 8am that day, the lines outside of the House Office Buildings were gigantic, as everyone had to pick up their tickets for the event.  It finally had hit me–this thing was going to be huge.  Walking around the city, I found it impossible to move, and even more impossible to drive in (trust me, we learned the hard way after a four hour round trip to the D.C. Bureau which should have taken 45 minutes at most).

That day, I also was surprised to find out that I would be going to the South Inaugural Ball.  I was lucky, as I knew somebody who worked at the Obama offices.  If this girl is reading this, let me tell you, I adore you.  Although I had a feeling you were the coolest girl I knew before getting me tickets (it was between you and Hillary Clinton), it is now definite that you are the coolest girl I know (besides Hillary has only disappointed me over the past year, and you haven’t).  I can’t say enough great things about this girl.  Anyway, I scrambled last second to get a tuxedo and boy, was I lucky.

The next day was game day.  It took me three hours to get from my apartment, through the Metro station (which was crazy), through security, through Secret Service and finally to our trailer.  It was pretty awesome though that throughout the packed Metro ride everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was chanting “O-BAM-A.”  It was pretty awesome.  Also, everyone in D.C. throughout the week was incredibly nice and friendly.  Everyone talked, laughed and shared stories.  This included me.  Typically on the Metro, I listen to my iPod and mind my own business, but this week I talked to others (mostly tourists) and even gave out my phone number if they had any questions about the city or any problems.  Anyway, I finally got in to work and was ready to go.

Our boss told us to go out to the stage to take pictures, etc. because for the actual ceremony we would be in the trailer (we were all pretty disappointed).  However, on the stage, we had the opportunity to meet and take pictures with most of the following: Denzel Washington, Oprah (she was crying already when I met her), Maria Menoudos (I think that’s her name from Access Hollywood… really hot but pretty crappy attitude), Tobey McGuire (the guy was pretty nice and willing to take pictures with everyone), Oprah’s friend Gayle (also friendly, but probably because she was happy someone noticed her), Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Terrell Owens, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many others.  It was pretty cool that these people were not the main attractions and most didn’t even pay huge amounts of attention to them.

We went to the trailer after a couple hours on the stage where we overlooked the crowd on the mall (which was packed by 6am).  It was pretty overwhelming to see two million people in front of me.  I was really taken aback.  Anyway, we went back to the trailer, and my boss, who is a very close family friend who I have known my entire life (whose daughters, now grown, babysat me and my brother), said to me that I had to deliver something to a camera man on the balustrade (the deck right over the entrance onto the main stage and overlooking the former Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, Senators, Congressmen, VIPs, the Biden Family, the Obama family, etc., etc., etc.  He also told the other interns to go deliver the same thing to the cameramen on the press bleachers.  He handed us all passes for the areas we were to go, and said he wanted them back after we delivered the papers to the cameramen.

So, I went to the balustrade and saw the most amazing view of the crowd completely filled in just about a half hour before the event.  The crowd was abuzz with Obama chants and this air of excitement.  It was pretty cool.  Anyway, I delivered what I had to deliver, took my pictures and went back down.  As I re-entered the trailer, my boss said to me to go back… AND STAY THERE!!!

As I stationed myself on the balustrade, I stood, for the most part, with no one in front of me and I had a clear view of the stage.  It was one of the most emotional and overwhelming things of my life.  I was shaking for the first half hour and during President Obama’s speech, it dawned on me that I was one of the luckiest people in the world at that moment.  For a man who doesn’t cry or get very emotional, a tear came into my eye and I became very choked up over the whole thing.  I also didn’t realize that I was completely freezing, but it didn’t matter.  I was literally fifty feet away from President Obama giving his speech.  It was completely awesome.  It made the long hours, early mornings, and other things worth it.

I really didn’t have time to digest everything because immediately from work (which I got out early from) I went to the tuxedo place on Independence Avenue and changed into my tux on the spot.  I immediately went back to College Park to pick up my date and went to the DC Armory.  This event was pretty cool and probably would have been the coolest event ever, but the inauguration slightly overshadowed it.  It was pretty awesome to hear President Obama and Vice President Biden speak (with Biden, of course, getting over excited about nothing, but that’s just him, and why we all love him).  By the end of the night I had been up 24 hours straight and pretty exhausted.

I slept for an hour and woke up the next morning to go back to work to finish up.  It was a quick day, as I pretty much just delivered some gifts to some Capitol staffers on behalf of the network.  I got to walk through the Capitol Building and reminisce on my times there throughout the past two years and then went to the stands on the steps of the Capitol where yesterday’s ceremony took place.  I sat there for a good twenty minutes just reflected for a little on what had happened in the past forty hours of my life.  I realized how lucky I was and how I wished every one of my friends and family could have experienced what I had experienced.  I will continue to say how lucky I am, and this experience will probably take awhile for it to settle in for me completely.  My fellow interns were amazing and my bosses were incredible.  I just can’t believe I got to do something so cool and I am incredibly thankful to all who made it possible.

Mike’s Adventures in Disney World

January 24, 2009

Disney World was quite an interesting and fun time and throughout my week there, it became very apparent that there are some main themes day in and day out.  Here they are:

Disney is great no matter how old you are.  At this point in my life (and for the past several years), I have gone to theme parks for big roller coasters and bigger thrills.  I typically wait on hours of lines to go rides with huge drops, high speeds and big loops.  But in Disney World, this isn’t the case.  In fact, we wait on lines with very little thrills.  We waited on lines for “It’s a Small World” and “Peter Pan”–lines I wouldn’t ever think of waiting on in normal amusement parks.  However, this is Disney World and in fact, it was exciting to go on these rides.  These rides are apart of my parent’s childhood, my childhood, and my children’s childhood.  Also, it gives you a good feeling during and after the ride.  Actually, it was very exciting to go on these rides and I enjoyed them more than the roller coasters in the different parks.  Overall, all of these rides are so well done that the are incredibly enjoyable.  I think it was also incredibly enjoyable because I got to experience these rides with my family, which was pretty cool.

Everyone is so much happier in Disney World.  Regardless of where we were in these parks, everyone was just nicer.  For instance, when I was at Epcot and we went to the America part of the park (Epcot is made of different countries), an Americana acapella group sang.  First off, I would normally walk away because acapella kind of sucks, but I couldn’t.  It was apart of the Disney experience.  Second, as they sang the Star Spangled Banner (beautifully, I might add), two foreigners did not stand up for it.  As everyone cleared out after the song, a man said that he worked hard to be in this country and if we weren’t in Disney he would have said something.  It is incredible how everyone just wants to enjoy themselves in these parks and also wants everyone else to have a good time with them.  Maybe if we put the Arabs and Israelis in these parks for a week, we wouldn’t have a conflict in Gaza.  Just a thought.

There are a lot of MILFS in these parks.  Let’s think of the logic here: many young kids are here, so there must be young mothers.  I didn’t notice the attractive girls in their twenties as much as I did the mothers in their thirties, and boy, there were a lot of them.  For this, Disney, I applaud you.  This brings me to a small Mike theory about MILFs.  MILFs are much better than normal hot girls my age.  Why you ask?  Because they are much rarer than hot 21-year-olds.  It’s just a fact.  Even the hottest 21-year-old can become ugly when older.  Some don’t age well, others get knocked up and can’t get that washboard stomach again.  It just happens.  Then, there are those rare gems who stay hot.  So, a MILF is a lot more impressive than a hot 21-year-old (not that I’m saying being hot and 21 is bad).

Wild, Wild Weekend (wicky-wild-wild)

January 7, 2009

First, let me clear the air: yes, the title of this post is a play on words of my least favorite Will Smith movie and most favorite Will Smith song.  But, more importantly, the title needs some explanation.  Over the next week(ish) I will probably have the craziest (wildest, if you will) week and I want to brag.  It’s my blog, I could do and say whatever I want so back off.  If you’re looking for a more insightful piece (like my past entries) you’re out of luck.  You’re not going to find it here.  I just want to brag.

When I decided to go to school in the Washington, D.C. area, I knew that through family friends, I would have the opportunity to work the 2008 Presidential Inaugeration on Capitol Hill.  It was something that I have been looking forward to for years.

Over the summer, my family decided that we need to go on a family vacation before I enter the real world.  We had it planned perfectly: go on vacation, then be back in time for the inauguration. 

So my parents made the plans: we would be going to Disney World.  I was pretty excited about it.  Disney World is great, no matter what age you are.  Everyone has grown up with Disney and has a great appreciation for it.  My family hadn’t been there since I was in fifth grade (eleven years ago), so I was absolutely looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, our perfect plans hit a little bump in the road yesterday.  NBC needed me in Washington by the Thursday before elections, but we weren’t coming home until Friday.  This created a major situation.  I really wanted to go to Disney, but the inauguration was something I was looking forward to for years now.  Furthermore, with the election of Barack Obama, Washington is going to be a zoo and I really wanted to be apart of history.  Lastly, I had told everyone I knew (pretty much) that I was working the inaugeration, so it would be quite embarrassing to not end up working it (people may think I was lying/think I was all talk).

So we had quite a connundrum on our hands.  I was devastated that I probably couldn’t go.  Not even playing Madden on a 50 inch HDTV could cure my woes last night.  However, my parents are thinkers.  They knew how much I wanted to go.  So, today they booked me a flight a day earlier than the rest of the family so I could get back to D.C. and get clearance to work. 

I am incredibly grateful to my family for letting me have this amazing opportunity.  More importantly, over the next week, I will have an amazing time in Disney and then in D.C.

New Years: The Sequel

January 5, 2009

As promised, the following is what I did on New Years 2008.  As I stated previously, pretty much my past New Years have sucked.  So, my solution was to go into New Years not having any expectations.  Because of this, my night was a success.  And because of this success, I will most likely have expectations next year, which will result in me having a miserable New Years 2009.

One of the pieces of advice I followed from my past post was to surround myself with “good friends and cheap drinks.”  Well, I followed one-half of this.  I had never had a New Years with a group of my closest friends since about 2004, so I made an effort to surround myself with friends.  This year, I traveled down to school, where I finally got to spend New Years with my closest friends.  We started our night early in Washington, D.C. at a friend of a friend’s apartment.  However, instead of drinking cheap drinks we were provided with a nice food spread and very, very expensive drinks (and very, very is an understatement).  We then topped our night off in Adams Morgan in D.C.

Throughout the night, I had no expectations.  I did not form an opinion on whether the pregame at a friend of a friend’s place would be good or bad or whether the bar in Adams Morgan would be good or bad.  I just let the night take me wherever.  I think it gave me a more positive outlook on the entire night from the start and did not allow my preconceived notions cloud the night in negativity.  Overall, it was a pretty successful couple of days and I am glad that in my last New Years in my childhood, we went out with a bang.

After this glorious night and the following hours of sleeping off the large amounts of drinking that went on, I sat down and reflected on the past year and what the future holds.  The first thought that came to mind is that, essentially, this is the last six months of my childhood.  I have one more semester of undergraduate college left and after May, all my friends and I go our separate ways in the real world (I’m sure I will have a full post on this coming up in the next few weeks).  I also began to think about my New Year’s resolutions for the coming year and here is what I came up with.

My first resolution is to eliminate the words “hate” and “awkward.”  In today’s society, and personally, we use these words too much.  I know I use the word “hate” way too much.  It is a very strong word and I throw it around lightly when talking about, well, things that don’t deserved to be hated.  For instance, in one of my past posts I said I “hated Christmas.”  Truth be told, I don’t hate it.  I just dislike it.  Hate is a strong word that should be saved for people who have done terrible things or terrible events that have occurred.  For instance, it is okay to hate Hitler and the Nazis, but not okay to hate something or someone who, in the grand scheme of life, is just not that important.

Awkward is another word I hate… er… dislike, and this is why I want to eliminate it from my vocabulary.  People my age use awkward for everything–anything that makes someone feel slightly uncomfortable.  I can’t stand it when people, girls especially, call a situation awkward.  It effectively has become a word that is completely not descriptive of anything.

I have also come up with a couple other New Year’s resolutions that I hope to keep.  Looking past the obvious ten pounds everyone hopes to lose (except for assholes who think they are too skinny) and finding that girl of your dreams, I really hope to treat people with more respect.  In general, I think I have done a pretty good job of this so far, but I really hope to eliminate the trash talking that most of us do, and to, more importantly, within respecting people, not take my loved ones and friends for granted.  Life is too short and some people could be gone tomorrow.  This is why we must not take for granted the time we have with people.  This goes for my college friends and also family members.  With my college friends, we have to make the next six months the best of our lives before we have to work or go to graduate school, and leave everything out on the court (as my past coaches would tell me)–in other words, complete the final chapter of our childhood and not leave anything up for debate (well now I definitely have material for a future post).  For my family, I feel like the best way to do this is to always be appreciative and not get mad at stupid things (and no, I am not writing this just because I found out my mother and brother read my blog).  I know this resolution is a daunting task for all of us, but hopefully 2009 will be a great year with completed resolutions.