My daughter ran in the Hollidaysburg YMCA July 4 race, and it brought back memories.
Back in the mid-1990s, I woke up on the 4th of July, had a cup of coffee and jumped into my car and headed for Altoona and the 15K race through town.
This year's July 4th was a remake of that 4th. It was a blister of heat.
I actually had thoughts that year of not driving the 40 miles from Bedford and just surrendering my entrance fee. But then the thought of quitting was a violation of every jogger's creed.
This self argument caused me to be running late for the 8 a.m. start. I actually missed the starter's gun and had to chase the "race," not a good runner's plan. I remember that chase caused me dearly in the last few miles of the event.
However, any distance race a jogger finishes, they consider that a victory. As I saw a chance of winning first in my age group, over 60, I attempted to sprint (crawl) to the finish line. Not a good idea. I was dehydrated and woozy.
But at the awards presentation afterward, sure enough, I heard my name announced as the over 60 winner. This is what every jogger dreams of and that and, of course, his name is in the Altoona Mirror on the following day.
What's the sense of it all if you have no bragging rights? Except the following day's Mirror listed every winner by age group except, you guessed it, the over 60 plodders.
Hey, I only could not prove I was a winner, I couldn't even prove I ran and finished.
Incensed, I picked up the phone and dialed the Mirror's sports desk. Here I spoke to a young man and with a demeaning attitude told him of this tragedy. He met and understood my anger and instantly disarmed my verbal attack with his professionalism.
He did something that I never thought a newspaper would do for such a trivial mishap. He told me he would print a correction in the following day's edition. And he did. I truly hope and believe he had a successful career in journalism. He made my day with the following day's correction:
"John Coyle placed first in the 60-and-over category in the 15-kilometer race at the July 4 race held by the Altoona Family YMCA."
I cut out the "overlook," had it laminated and still carry it in my wallet.
P.S. I was the only over 60 runner in the classic.
Soccer ref 'embarrassed'
I enjoy Tom Schmitt's column, and I am responding to some of the points he made.
I am a soccer referee with more than 20 years experience. It is a very challenging role and responsibility to allow the match to flow with minimal interruption from us.
I am embarrassed and ashamed by the behavior of these elite, professional players in the World Cup. They complain inordinately and openly dissent many of the referee's decisions. This is a law violation known as dissension.
I show little tolerance for these violations and verbally warn all coaches and players during pregame inspections.
When it occurs during the match, I typically issue a caution (yellow card). When it is blatant or repetitive, I issue a sendoff (red card).
And I am aghast at the amount of hysterics displayed when players think they are fouled by an opponent. Players need to be immediately carded/cautioned.
All of the above diminishes the spirit of the beautiful game. Soccer's spirit consists of fair play, safe play and enjoyment of the play.
Richard G. Kensinger