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SPORTS SMART, THE WINNING DIFFERENCE

How Smart Is Too Smart?

Russell Wilson look-alike Neil deGrasse Tyson shows how catch a ball, or meteor. via businessinsder.com

Russell Wilson look-alike Neil deGrasse Tyson shows how catch a ball, or meteor. via businessinsder.com

Being smart is one thing. No one is responsible for their IQ. It’s either in the family gene pool or you’re a freak of nature.

Using your smarts is the biggest challenge. How do you channel that mental energy into something more constructive than solving Rubik’s Cube blindfolded?

Should you take your big brain into sports instead of working on big problems? World peace, world hunger, and climate change solutions need you.

Why sports? One man answered the question before the first College Football Playoffs final between Ohio State and THE Oregon Ducks.

Who is that man?

Eagles and former Ducks head coach Chip Kelly.

Coach Kelly is a man smart enough to find an offensive scheme to fit both college and NFL football.

He did it with smart moves. As a result he gets asked questions about the importance of smart people in football.

In the condensed version of his TV interview Kelly said the most important asset he looks for in coaches and players is being smart.

Smart coaches understand complicated offenses. How to explain it, implement it, and fix it at halftime. Kelly and his crew of smart coaches at the University of Oregon posted a 46-7 record before he left for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Does 46-7 show intelligence when it doesn’t include a national championship? It’s a similar question successful people ask smart people: “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?”

It’s the question the man replacing Kelly gets to answer.

Mark Helfrich is a smart man. Rumor has it that Kelly wouldn’t leave the Ducks until he was sure Helfrich was the next man up in the head coach chair.

In general any college student graduating with a hard science degree is smart. Helfrich was set to take his biology degree to medical school to become an orthopedic surgeon.

Part of the legend is he chose coaching over doctoring. No one says he was in the middle of a hip replacement when coaching called. He didn’t show up on the sidelines in his bloody scrubs.

Is he the smartest coach in college football? Maybe. Smart enough to not let circumstances eat his lunch. Smart enough to let his work, his team, do the talking.

Smart enough to avoid every chance in front of every TV camera to explain everything that went wrong against Ohio State.

Instead he let viewers figure it out. Smart Oregon got hammered by Ohio State power. Or Ohio State spiritualism. Urban Meyer, named after a pope, took a Tebow knee after the game.

Meyer’s prayer for a third string quarterback and a re-awakened running back were answered in a 42-20 final that included an in-your-face last touchdown run.

Included in his prayers must be a request for his players to walk the straight and narrow path of good citizenship.

From wiki: “Meyer has been criticized by some commentators because 31 of his players were arrested during his nearly six years as the Gators’ coach.”

With a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in sports administration, Meyer is one of the smart guys coaching college football. But smart enough to avoid another player like Aaron Hernandez?

From rollingstone.com: “Since 2007, he’s been charged with, or linked to, the shootings of six people in four incidents. Three of the victims were gruesomely murdered. One survivor, a former friend named Alexander Bradley, has had multiple operations and lost his right eye. The other two survivors were shot in their car outside a Gainesville, Florida, bar after an altercation involving Hernandez and two of his teammates his freshman year at the University of Florida.”

How do smart coaches work with PCP smoking, gun toting, multiple murderers?

Start by getting smarter. Do it by consulting people who understand down and distance, time and space.

Stephen Hawking from brainyquote.com: “I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”

Coach Hawking would give the best pep talk before a game against an unbeaten opponent.

Before the Florida State Rose Bowl: “Sure they haven’t lost a game in two years. Sure they have one of the best quarterbacks to ever play. They’re not playing one of their ACC patsies. They’re playing us, and we  believe we can win.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson from brainyquote.com: I try to show the public that chemistry, biology, physics, astrophysics is life. It is not some separate subject that you have to be pulled into a corner to be taught about.”

These two men, call them giants of science, could be the answer to smart sports.

Who wouldn’t want to hear Hawking talking smack after an unlikely victory, or Tyson breaking down defensive strategy.

Let the learning begin.

About David Gillaspie
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