Sunday, January 3, 2016

Pep Talk: "Rose Bowl Reminder"

Your knucklehead scribe is often chastised, lovingly I sense, about the frequent “sports” theme running through these weekly musings. Guilty as charged. In defense, sports are great metaphors to life. 

But it was from a pure sports standpoint that I recently watched Stanford tangle with Iowa in the 2016 Rose Bowl. The draw was Cardinal standout, and Colorado native, Christian McCaffrey. The super sophomore is amazing with the football in his hands.

But that’s not what this Pep Talk is about.

While enjoying McCaffrey’s big day in Stanford’s easy win, there were many beautiful shots of the picturesque setting at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. Considering the game was a blowout, ESPN was doing what it could to keep viewers entertained. Each time the cameras delivered panoramic views, my mind kept wandering back to a personal experience outside that stadium.

Long ago, as the “Buff Guy” for KCNC-TV in Denver, I was at the historic site covering the CU Buffs against UCLA. Despite it being many miles from campus, the Bruins use the Rose Bowl as their home field. I had extra passes to the game. Before kickoff, outside the stadium, I bumped into a Buff fan looking for a ticket and offered one up. No big deal.

Little did I know the harvest reaped years later from that random act of kindness. It’s a favorite story to share with audiences about never growing weary of doing good for others for the benefits WE receive.

Fast forward about four years. I’m breathless, freezing and bewildered. I’m in Kansas City for a speaking gig and standing inside a Country Club Plaza Starbucks contemplating next steps. I’m trying to figure out how to make the return trip to a nearby hotel where wife and two smart-aleck doormen were expecting early morning coffee and pastries. “Where you going dressed like that?” was the ignored question and warning as I ventured, inadequately dressed, into the arctic-like conditions. I’ve never run a faster three blocks in my life.

But what to do? The return trip involved transporting cargo. Sprinting while carrying a tray of hot coffee is foolish, but walking in 35 below zero wind chill temperatures is even dumber. But luck, or something else, was present that day. Inside Starbucks, a smiling gentleman approached and said hello.

It was the dude, Robert Thompson, who received the free pass into the Rose Bowl many years before. He had just moved to Kansas City from Denver. What are the odds of such a reunion years later in a faraway land? Thompson gave me a ride back to the hotel with this parting shot: “I got to watch the game from the press box. THANKS!”

I get it, the Rose Bowl usually means sports memories. But the beautiful venue will forever be a timeless reminder to the value of good works. We do reap a harvest. It’s the law of circulation warming our hearts despite life’s cold uncertainties!

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