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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Patricia Sue Head (Summitt), 1952-2016

You could read thirty of these, and it wouldn't be enough. I probably ranked as a casual fan, albeit one who understood something of the context. Sports at its best is a big giant human interest story, and there were few as interesting and as human as Pat Summitt.

I hope you get sick of the stories and remembrances, because then you will begin to understand. An icon, right under your nose. I really need Bob Costas to do a piece; some say he's melodramatic. I say he understands why sports matters.

I can remember when the Lady Vols blew a 16-point second half lead against Baylor one year, with another trip to the Final Four on the line. Even in the determined jubilation of Baylor, it was in their eyes: We just beat the greatest coach of all time. Kim Mulkey wasn't apologetic for winning, but she wanted to be. And this is the power of the legend: she knew she'd better look that way.

The great Peyton Manning released a statement. Two-time Super Bowl champion, and arguably the greatest quarterback ever, had to say something. Because even football legends in the making are second fiddle to the Lady Vols and Summitt at Tennessee.

When the legendary Geno Auriemma becomes a sports footnote himself, and takes his place as the greatest, his supporters will have one irrefutable argument: He won more than Summitt.

She believed no one was bigger than the game of basketball, and thus, in a rare spell of justice, became bigger than the game of basketball. That might get an eye-roll from her now, but she'd get over it, screaming at one of her athletes to rebound, and get back on defense.

Please Call Me "Aggressively Moderate," Thank You

Left? Right? Who cares? It's the general inability of anyone to speak or think in anything besides tribalistic terms that makes those descriptors pointless. I'd defiantly own "mushy moderate," but, you don't actually know what you mean by "conservative." No one does. We have to do a monumental thing: we have to re-build ethics and re-establish virtue, and then establish the positive good of government as such. There is no point in talking about "limited government" if one doesn't know what government is for. And if someone believes in anarchy, they should just say that. There are precious few actual Communists to make common cause against.

Other foolish people think that every solution that begins with government at some level spending money must be offered by people who don't understand "economics." Well, I may not. But it strikes me in the same way as the people who dodge metaphysical questions by saying, "Because, science."

Food for thought.

Thanks, Coach

Right now, Pat Summitt is fighting for her life. I expect to get the sad news any day. She's the greatest coach in college basketball history. Most people don't know, because women's college basketball was a punchline, until she made it relevant to the sports world. Geno Auriemma has 11 national championships, all since 1995, but when he goes down as the greatest ever, it will be noted that he had to eclipse Pat Summitt to do it.

I can remember when I started counting each win. I remember when I figured out that the average record of a Lady Vols team in 38 years was 28-6. I remember when I thought I would never see this again.

She won't remember, but we should.

The greatest teams, players, and coaches don't win on skill; they win on fear. The very best make you think you as the opponent will choke, and then you do. Pat Summitt's stare could melt lead. She's finally facing an opponent who won't crack. Alzheimer's, and his pal, Death. Still, if we are but a breath, Pat Summitt is a tornado.

They only lost 208 games in 38 years. It'd be impressive even if they played Cupcake State every week. Wrong. About half the time, they played one of the 25 best teams in the country. The hardest schedule in the sport. And they came out national champions 8 times.

I've barely watched a game since she left. I wish we could fix it somehow. I wish we had the luxury of Geno and Pat disliking each other.

She's 64, not 94. That makes it harder. To be taken piece by piece is a cruel fate for someone who made history. I will remember, as an act of defiance. She'd like that.