This has not exactly been a world-beating stretch of shooting in terms of raw numbers — 4,400 in the last four days — but the quality of activity surrounding the project has made up for the lack of quantity.
The 900 that came in the rain on June 12 were significant in that: a) Mason rebounded the last 100; and b) the total took us over the 300,000 mark. The video below includes a fabulous introduction by Mason on the low-res Panasonic, followed by the last few up to 300,000 on the Flip high definition.
One more milestone down, and the 1 million thing is seeming more realistic all the time.
The next day, Sunday, June 13, was exciting in that the Newport Booster Club had asked a few weeks ago if I would speak at the end-of-the-year spring sports banquet. At the time, I was thrilled. In the days leading up to June 13, I was excited. And when the day actually rolled around, I was just plain sick to my stomach. Then my old pal Bobby Bates, the varsity baseball coach, my former next-door neighbor, original sports idol and Fireball legend, introduced me, and it all seemed fine.
I spoke a little about the project, and about sports being about so much more than the score for all of us, about how it teaches us personal integrity, self-esteem and, with a particular nod to Bobby’s older brother, perseverance. Here’s what I said from there …
When we played Fireball at the Bates house, the most important thing wasn’t watching Bobby’s home runs fly deep into the woods (although I did a lot of that). It was about Bobby’s older brother, the late Bill Bates, who never wanted an ounce of help getting up after the times he fell because of his battle with muscular dystrophy. From Bill, I learned that if you believe in “I can” than, in fact, you can. Today, a baseball field that many of you and I have played on is named in honor of Bill Bates, with “I can” emblazoned on a memorial plaque.
Please give a round of applause to honor the spirit of Bill and his message of “I can.”
Personal integrity. Self-esteem. Perseverance. There is so much that sports teaches us, and so many sports metaphors that have become part of our daily routine – “I’m ready to punt” when we’re just about to give up; “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” when we’re counseling someone to be in it for the long haul; “a level playing field” to describe ground rules that are fair; “on the ropes” when someone is in a difficult situation.
There are lots of great sports metaphors out there. But here’s the one I want to talk about tonight: Plus-minus.
For those of you who aren’t necessarily hockey fans, here’s what the plus-minus statistic is: When you’re on the ice and your team scores, you get a plus 1. When you’re on the ice and the other team scores, it’s a minus 1. Add them all up, and that’s your plus-minus. It’s a great stat, and one that really answers the most critical question: Was the team better or worse when I was one the ice?
Think about that for a second. Kind of gets right to the heart of it, doesn’t it?
Was the team better or worse when I was on the ice?
It doesn’t have to be about the ice, though, does it? It doesn’t have to be about hockey. It doesn’t have to be about sports at all.
How about simply … Did I make things better? Today, with my actions and interactions, did I make the world around me a little bit better, or a little bit worse? What was my plus-minus?
You’re going to leave here tonight, and you’re going to do things. Same for tomorrow. You’re going to get up, perform your morning ritual, and between then and bed you’re going to be doing things. Many of those things are going to leave a mark, on the world around you or with specific people.
Each action. Each interaction. A plus, or a minus. And at the end of the day, you’ll be able to ask yourself, and you will know, what was today’s plus-minus? Did I end up on the plus side? Did I make things better?
They don’t have to be big things. A smile or a wave when you might otherwise turn the other way. A held door when you might otherwise just breeze on through. A word of encouragement, a “like” on Facebook, a phone call to a grandparent. All little things, but all plusses.
Or they can be bigger things. As I look around the room today, I know that I’m looking not just at a bunch of athletes, but a lot of student leaders as well. The people in this room are the ones who this community expects excellent things from, not just on the fields and courts, but in the world around us, too.
So you want an idea for something bigger for your plus-minus ledger? Stick up for people. I know a skinny little kid who was walking home from Richards School to his house on Cheney Street, oh, about 35 years ago or so, when one of the school bullies motioned him across the street and into the woods, then told the skinny kid he was going to give him a beating.
Then comes this other voice: “No, you’re not.” And it was all over. It’s kind of funny now, but it was a big deal then, and the skinny kid didn’t have too much trouble after that.
So if I haven’t said it lately … Thanks Bobby.
It’s not easy being that person, the one to stick your nose in when it’s easier to walk on by, the one to tell a group of friends to back off when they’ve found a weaker target, the one to risk losing the reputation of being “cool” in order to do the right thing.
No, it’s not easy, but it’s how we make things better. Please, when the situation presents itself, try to do something a little bolder than just looking the other way. Stick up for someone.
So if you remember one thing from my part in tonight’s festivities, let it be this: Plus-minus. I challenge you, when you wake up tomorrow morning, and the morning after that, and the morning after that, to ask yourself a question, and know that I’ll be asking it too: Can I make things better today?
Can I make things better today?
I think I know what Bill Bates would say:
It was an excellent event, with the only problem being that preparing for it had taken most of my attention for the day, so there was still shooting to do … and still a Celtics game to watch. We got home at around 9, started watching the rest of NBA Finals Game 5, an incredible Celtics win, shooting a few here and there during commercials … then went out at around 11 and got to finishing up. Just before midnight, we had 1,000 in the books.
Next morning, same thing: 1,000.
This morning, finally got back to the full-blown routine, waking up for a 5 a.m. start and dropping in 1,500 by 7.
And today, The Beautiful Heth and I firmed up plans to be in Bethesda, Md. on June 24 for the opening of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a brain injury and PTSD hospital funded by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. We’ll be making the 10-hour drive down and back, and it will be thrilling to see the results of the IFHF’s amazing work.
We’re now 217 days into the project, and we’ve just now dropped below the 1,410-per-day average. The good news, though, is that we’re still well above the 1,370 daily average that we need to maintain.
All together, that’s 303,507 down, 696,493 to go to 1 million made foul shots.