I’ve got to complain to my phone company again. Just a moment.
“Phone company? I passed my “Sports Guy will Give Commencement Speeches” card to three hot schools and not ONE call. What are the chances they all called at once and jammed up the system?”
Oh no! I’m that guy!!
So I’m asking what’s wrong? Why no calls? I write a column about the
weird and unusual, about the wild and wooly things in sports and no
school calls. My card even says “Do your graduates want to hear about
the wild doings in sports and how your school has prepared them to
avoid the pitfalls? I can deliver.”
It’s not like sports figures and sports writers aren’t giving
commencement speeches every year. Campuses are crawling with
them. John Feinstein at Radford University this year. Scott Van
Pelt from ESPN at Wisconsin. Steve Rushin from Sports Illustrated at
Marquette. Even Tommy Lasorda has now given his eighth commencement and
every time he tells students he never set foot in a college classroom
and says things like “Look at me. I can afford $ 1000 an hour hookers
and I never cracked a textbook. Think what you guys with your education
At least I graduated from a good school with a business degree and a
journalism minor. And it’s not like I’m trying for the top schools
right off the bat. I’ve been striking out at community colleges and
even high school G.E.D. programs. In the meantime Yogi Berra was the
2007 speaker at St. Louis University. Berra didn’t even graduate high
school. Make that didn’t even attend high school. Of course his speech
was peppered with Berra-isms. Things like: “Before I speak, I have
something I’d like to say” or “It is wonderful to be in St. Louis and
visit the old neighborhood. I haven’t been back since the last time I
was here. Everything looks the same, only different. Of course, things
in the past are never what they used to be.”
Hey! They’re taking advice from a high school dropout. I’m a college
graduate and I could give them Sillyisms. I could tell them to “never
look a gift horse in the rear… unless they’re an equine proctologist.”
I could tell them to stay away from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay area
because the smog will erase their memories and then explain how Barry
Bonds couldn’t remember taking steroids nor OJ remember offing his wife
nor M.C. Hammer remembering all his money falling through his parachute
pants. I’ve got tons of advice, sports related, that apply to today’s
I won’t be like Bill Cosby who gets $ 50,000 and an honorary doctorate
to tell the graduates “Your parents don’t want you home. They’ve rented
out your room.” I’ll shoot it to them square: “Your parents DO want you
home, but only after you can come back with enough money to take care
of them.” And I won’t be charging anywhere near $ 50,000.
I won’t be like Joe Torre, who in 2006, told students “The world is
loaded with setbacks and potholes so do whatever it takes to get
through it.” I’ll be more direct with the students in Oklahoma City.
I’ll say “Yes, the world is full of potholes. Have you seen the
streets? Get better shocks.”
I won’t be like Picabo Street, the former skier, who gave her speech in
the hospital wing at the University of Colorado med school. I’ll be the
one on the loudspeaker interrupting her with “Picaboo. I.C.U. Picaboo!
So I’m asking where are my commencement speaking engagements?