Sunday, December 18, 2016

Wacky Wakeyleaks

A week or so into this, I'm still trying to wrap my head around a Wake Forest radio sports analyst attempting — and apparently somewhat succeeding — in forwarding details of the Deacons' football game plans to several opposing teams.


C'mon. A leak? Wake Forest football? Those two concepts don't seem to go together.

It's not as if the Deacons are a traditional national football power (they are 432-633-33 overall in their history, and 6-4 in a mere 10 bowl appearances). The team is 6-6 this year and will play in the Military Bowl against Temple in a few days. The interesting thing here is that Wake Forest actually won enough games to be bowl eligible. It doesn't happen often, and when it does, it's generally cause for celebration.

And yet, the Atlantic Coast Conference is all in a dither (and rightfully so) after it's been revealed that former Wake Forest football player and assistant coach (and Wake Forest radio sports analyst before he was fired) Tommy Elrod allegedly provided team information to opponents Louisville, Virginia Tech and (say it ain't so) Army.

Apparently, Elrod did this over a three-year span. Holy moley.

To me, the real curiosity in this whole episode is that the benefiting schools involved (so far) didn't exactly jump off fieldhouse roofs to report Elrod's betrayal of his alma mater. To me, that's worse than the leak itself. It displays a serious lack of moral integrity (if not a lack of sportsmanship). And that should be troubling in a world of sports gambling, multi-million dollar booster- and corporate-endorsed sports programs and larger-than-life coaching contracts.

The ACC is so appalled that it's fined Louisville and Virginia Tech $25,000 each. Really? $25,000? I hope that doesn't break those schools' bank accounts. I guess this slap is meant to be an immediate, mostly cosmetic punishment, pending further investigation. Like from the NCAA.

Army, by the way, is not an ACC member (at least, I don't think so. I can't keep up with super conferences anymore. Things change...), so it hasn't been fined. But they are self-investigating their involvement in this sorry tale. That's something, I guess.

So far, the teams benefiting from Elrod's perfidy have been notified by Wake Forest that it's own investigation may or may not implicate those schools' involvement. I suppose it's for the best if you don't get a Christmas card from Wake Forest this year. You know. Season's greetings.

I also find it interesting that Wake Forest still became bowl eligible despite being compromised by the leaks. As one Deacon fan suggested, after all this, maybe the team is really better than its 6-6 record would indicate.

In a different sense, it's clear the team is already better than the ones who accepted Elrod's leaks.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Window shopping

I guess I'm still in voting mode.

The other night my wife and I walked to Uptown Lexington (we live just a few blocks away and it was a crisp night for walking) with the idea of looking at the Christmas window dressings that grace the shopping district.

In her hand, Kim held an official Uptown Lexington ballot to vote on the window display we liked the best.

Oh, my. It was an easier decision to vote for president of the United States.

Which display would you choose?
Now, I'm not going to go through each merchant's display, and I'm not going to tell you for whom we voted, but I have to say, this is a pretty nice little promotion by the 50 or so participating shop owners to bring people into the district.

Coupled with the lighted trees on Main Street, the mostly creative shop window displays make Uptown look incredibly festive.

This is a good thing. As I get older, and further away from my childhood, the Christmas season itself seems less magical.

I mean, I outgrew Santa Claus at least a couple years ago. Necessary diets limit the number of Christmas cookies I should eat (I can't remember the last time I had a real tollhouse cookie, and Kim hasn't baked a Moravian sugar cake in years). And I swear I'm going to strangle the next singing chipmunk I hear.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still moved by the Christmas message, especially when I'm tearing up in a meaningful candlelight service. Maybe it's just that I've become jaded over the years knowing that the Christmas message is usually just a distant memory by Dec. 26.

Anyway, I think the window displays help me unjade some of that cynicism. So as we walked through town, I marveled at the lighted wine bottles pyramided like Christmas trees at Sophie's Cork & Ale; I oooohhed at the tandem bicycle at Lanier's, and I awwwwed at Snapshot the cat resting in her basket (don't tap the window, Kim) at Travels Unlimited.

I chuckled at the neat Lexington-opoly display at High Rock Outfitters and laughed out loud at the vase-making Santa at Missions Pottery. I truly enjoyed the beautiful simplicity of The Travel Center, Conrad and Hinkle, and the Davidson County Museum.

The Candy Factory and The Backyard Retreat are always special. Those two businesses constantly provide us with wonderful windows all year long, always seasonal, always creative. They could put big city windows to shame.

So Kim and I finished our window inspection. We went to the Square, where we marked our ballot and dropped it in the "mailbox" there for tallying.

It was a good feeling. It was fun. It felt a whole lot like Christmas.