Thursday, February 23, 2006


Inspiration is an external force. By definition, it is something that acts upon us; causes in a reaction.I was reading a sheet someone printed out from a website. It was a recap of the events of the year 1976. As I read through the list, I realized that was some fun year, full of inspiration for lots of different people.

1976 was the year of Rocky. Everyone wanted to be Rocky. Everywhere you went, that theme song was blaring over some PA system, usually a lot more loudly than was good for us, in attempts to inspire a school basketball team, or some guy stepping into the ring in the Golden Gl0ves. Guys wanted to be Stallone! I wonder how many guys tried to run up those steps in Philly after coming out of the theatre.

1976 Winter Olympics gold medal winning skater Dorothy Hamill lit the fuse on a hairstyle craze, (oh bullshit, if you were a teenage girl in those years, you know you at least considered that haircut.) and inspired a whole bunch of little girls to try and achieve something. And told them that living a clean life sure pays off. who could argue with success?

The 1976 Summer Games saw what was probably the greatest Boxing Team ever assembled. Sugar Ray Leonard was on that team, as were the Brothers Spinks. In fact, all but one of those guys went on to become professional World Champions. That team was so hot, that few even noticed that the US Basketball team won the gold that year, too. In the year of our nation's bicentennial, we sure kicked ass, and felt good.

Even the Geeks had some inspiration that year, through the movie All the President's Men. We got a lesson in the power of the press, and it shed a whole new light on journalism. I'm sure a lot of our current journalists can look back at that influence as their inspiration.

Fast forward to 2006. What is there to inspire us? I can say that I have personal contact on a regular basis with at least 20 young people, say, between the ages of 6 and 18. None of that group has watched the Olympics broadcasts. None could name a true personal hero (as in they couldn't name one beyond what they thought was the "stock answers") and none seem to have anything acting as an inspiration.

We seem to have, all around us, people whose claim to fame is, "I do what I want, if you don't like it, kiss my ass". Any talent that brings them to the forefront is often dubious, at best. Old Bode Miller seems to have proven that "talking the talk" doesn't get it done, and you only get the rewards (celebrity) if you bring the goods. I guess "skiing while drunk" isn't something I want to inspire my kids. The two speed skaters, Davis and Hedrick, epitomized the new mindset in sports these days, with their attitudes and behavior during what is supposed to be the quintessential "sportsmanship" event. It's all about the talk, the controversy, and the noise. There is no "i" in team, but it's right there in "rich". Guess that's what it all boils down to.

Television shows seem to thrive on presenting people who prove that some folks will do anything for money. We applaud boorish behavior among idiots. We make these people rich, afford them celebrity status. And for what?

I'm very grateful to have seen the display of talent and hard work offered up by the young women on the US Figure Skating Team, as it was all about the true meaning of the Olympics: go out, give it your all, and be proud of the results, even if there are no medals for them.

But I miss being inspired. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places. I know someone might say that we get inspiration from within, but that's not true. Inspiration is an external force that acts upon us, so while that sounds nice and all, it's not accurate. We need to be inspired by someone else.

What do you think? What inspires you these days?