Your Daily Reminder That Everybody Is Hurting

Yesterday morning, Tyler Hilinski, the projected starting quarterback for the Washington State Cougars football team, was found dead in his apartment, the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was just 21 years old.

This is a kid who was carried off the field on the shoulders of his peers just weeks ago, the hero of a triple-overtime comeback victory. On most college campuses, there is no bigger hero or star than the quarterback of a winning football team. No party is inaccessible, no club off limits. Every girl wants to date you, and every guy wants to be you.  To outsiders, it seems like the perfect life.

But for Tyler Hilinski, it was apparently anything but.

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Donald Trump Stared The NFL Directly In The Eye, And The NFL Blinked

One of the very best things about growing older (I turn 40 this month holy shit OMG OMG) is that one gains a bit of perspective.

When I was a child, the NFL was my obsession. I was a diehard Raiders fan, for no other reason than the Raiders were a particularly good team in the mid-80’s and Columbus, Ohio didn’t have an pro squad. I lived and died with each win and loss. I played John Madden and Joe Montana Football on the Sega Genesis with my best friend every day. I wore Raiders hats and Marcus Allen jerseys.

Of course, I then proceeded to grow up and stop worrying about the exploits of grown men who don’t know me, and I began to understand professional sports for what they are: entertainment. I still enjoy watching sports, but I view them the same way that many people view going to the movies—a nice way to kill a couple of hours with a healthy dose of escapism. It drives my friends and family crazy when they ask me who I’m rooting for and I say, “Nobody. I just like watching the games.”

It goes without saying that there are tens of millions of people who feel completely differently about professional sports, and, in particular, the National Football League. The NFL has dispatched all other pro sports with relative ease, thanks in no small part to fantasy games and betting, but also due to the physical nature of the game. Joe Sixpack feels a connection to NFL players—they work hard, just like he does. They go home dirty, bruised and bleeding, just like he does. And they love America, just like he does.

Whoops. Scratch that last bit.

When Colin Kaepernick, backup quarterback and the adopted son of two white parents, decided to protest police brutality against minorities by kneeling for the national anthem last season, I called him a troll. While statistics and data can always be cherry-picked to suit the needs of the editorialist, there is, at the very least, significant doubt about the validity of his point. Of course, the people who support #blacklivesmatter are nearly entirely the very same people who are saying that only police should have guns. I don’t get it either.

However, when a rather significant number of players began to join in the now-unemployed Kaepernick’s protest (which just proves that he’s unemployed because he’s a poor quarterback, and for no other reason), Donald Trump just couldn’t help himself—he had to comment.

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A Less-Than-Proud Moment And A Very Proud Moment, Courtesy of Youth Soccer

Soccer Saturday is, by far, my favorite day of the week. It’s not really even close.

My work schedule is such that I’m normally traveling out on Monday morning, working 16 hour days Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then flying home, dead tired, on Friday afternoon. Sunday is the day that I steel myself to do it all again. But Saturday? Saturday is the day where I either freeze in the cold, stand in the pouring rain, or endure third-degree sunburns to watch my son play soccer. Despite the always awful conditions, and the assault on my seasonal allergies, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than watching him play.

I’m a Soccer Dad, no doubt. I cheer loudly. I coach way too much from the sidelines. I pace and pace up and down the sideline during the games—I stopped bringing a chair years ago. I live and die with each play. My FitBit tells me that my heart rate more than doubles during the games. I know that my son cares immensely about winning and losing, and I know his day—no, his week is ruined if he doesn’t win.

This past weekend was almost like getting two-for-one, because we had a tournament! Over 150 top teams from Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, and Tennessee all came together in Georgetown, Kentucky, for the Stride tournament on Saturday and Sunday, and my son’s FC Kentucky Boys U9 squad was among them.

U9 is a little bit of a mix between kids who have been playing since they were 3 or 4 years old and live and breathe soccer (ex., my son, Kevin), and some kids who are still figuring out if this is something they want to do. Each kid is required to play a certain amount in each game, regardless if he’s a top player or not. U10 is where it gets super-duper serious, with more kids getting cut than making the squad, more intense travel, and no rules about the amount of playing time required.

But that doesn’t mean that U9 isn’t serious.

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Step On Up And Identify Yourself, Tournament Challenge winner

It all came down to the UNC-UK Elite Eight game. If UK had won, I would be writing this post as the winner of the Riverside Green challenge, sipping my tea bragging about my superior basketball knowledge. Instead, I finished fourth as UNC ended up not only winning that game but the entire tournament, making espn97517000 our annual winner. So, um, let us know who you are so I can give you your prize of your very own editorial column at Riverside Green. (And Lizzie, if it’s you, you already owe me a column.)

Colin Kaepernick Is Trolling All Of Us


In the latest edition of “Things That Should Absolutely Not Be News,” Colin Kaepernick, the former starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, has decided not to stand for the national anthem. This is only news because Kaepernick has about two more weeks before he’ll be sitting on his couch for the playing of the national anthem, having lost his starting job to none other than Blaine Gabbert. Prior to unseating Kaepernick in SF, Gabbert was formerly best known for being the worst quarterback in the league. So there’s that.

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This Just In: College Kids Like Sex (And So Does Rick Pitino)


All eyes in the world of sports this morning are focused keenly on the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where there appears to be a preponderance of evidence that the University of Louisville organized private sex shows for basketball recruits. It’s a scandalous, salacious story that half of the state is sick about, and the other half is gleefully gloating about. You see, in the Bluegrass, you are often defined by which of the state’s basketball powerhouses’ logo you have chosen to adorn your car. If you are a Kentucky fan, you simply cannot drive a red car. If you are a Louisville fan, you would never dream of wearing a blue shirt. Every single flight I take to Lexington has at least five people wearing UK logowear, and often it’s as much as half of the plane’s passengers that are so attired.

But, I digress. There is one figure that is even more polarizing within the context of this rivalry, and his name is Rick Pitino. For those of you who don’t live and breathe college basketball, or even those who do but do it outside the borders of Kentucky, you may not know that there is nobody who is simultaneously revered and reviled like Pitino is. He led Kentucky to an NCAA title in 1996 and a runner-up finish in 1997, and then fled for the greener pastures of the NBA, only to return to college coaching with his tail between his legs after massive failures in both Boston and New York.

When he returned, however, he returned to the one school that UK fans could never forgive him for choosing—their archenemy, Louisville. Even worse, he turned Louisville into a national power again, winning a title in 2013.

It looks like he may have done it using some less-than-wholesome methods, though. In less than an hour, ESPN will have a live interview with the former escort who alleges that the ‘Ville paid her around $10K to provide strippers and escorts to prospective players when they visited the campus. Pitino has, thus far, claimed ignorance of the entire situation. However, if the allegations prove to be true (and everybody says that she appears to be credible), then it’s hard to imagine that Pitino survives.

But is it really that hard to imagine?

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It Is Good To Once Again Be Among Friends

irish reunion 077

They can never take this from you, Mark. Never. You’ll always be a champion.”

It’s true what they say about time. Twenty years comes and goes in the blink of an eye. I could barely believe it when I got an invitation to return to my old high school for the twentieth anniversary of my state championship-winning football team. In the above picture, you’ll see nearly all of the young men and women who were seniors on that team and cheerleading squad, all of whom have gone on to have successful careers and families. Twenty years? How is that even possible?

Once I received the invitation, though, I never once doubted whether or not I would go. I wasn’t a star player, by any means. Just look at me, for God’s sake (I’m third from the right in the above picture—green shirt, green shoes). I’m not a large man. In fact, one of my colleagues at work told me that she didn’t really believe I had played high school football until she saw the pictures from the reunion on Facebook.

But there’s a certain bond that’s created when  you go through what we went through as a group. Mrs. Bark says it would make a great movie script, and I think it would except that it’s too damned perfect. The collective power of every screenwriter at Disney couldn’t come up a story that was as sappy and saccharine sweet as what actually happened to us. Let me give you the breakdown:

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