THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

Sunday speed

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Well, the weekend flew by and I’m figuring today will be no exception to that rule so I’m starting this early in the hope of having time to do something of substance between the chores and working for the man tonight. I’ve written some of my feelings about sports and me. And below that the countdown to retirement. And of course some Random Thoughts.

Now there is a creative way to get a child to use a toothbrush. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sports and Me

Sports is losing its appeal to me. Greedy owners, gambling, and some athletes’ attitudes and choices/examples all conspire to make it a less enjoyable experience. Not to mention the very wild interpretation of officiating from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of quality people in sports for the right reasons. Most athletes do some wonderful things for those less fortunate and some set a great example of human beings.

But what had been standards for decades have fallen apart. My example is college sports and conferences. What once were great rivalries and regional sources of pride are all gone. Add that to college athletes moving from school to school year to year is like watching pro teams that change the pieces more than they stay the same.

Gone are the days when college kids committed to a University, developed as players and people, and stayed the 4 years. I think back to the National Championship team of Maryland in 2001-2002. 3 of the starters were seniors, 1 junior and one sophomore rounded out the starting lineup. The first 4 guys off the bench were all seniors or juniors. In other words, EXPERIENCE – 4 players from that team went to the Pro’s.

Now if you see talent they are going pro in the first year or two. A lot of them are busts in that move. And then if you stick in college for a year or two you go to a better opportunity or more visible one at another school.

But let’s move on to something that my perception of has changed greatly. Pro and College Football are modern-day gladiators, leaving pieces of themselves in arenas around the country. Strength Speed and Techniques have changed the dynamic. The game hasn’t changed, the bodies within the field have. The 6-foot 180 lb lineman has been replaced by the 6’5″ 310+ lb behemoth of a man. Most kickers are bigger than most past position players. And fast, so fast that many still stare in awe each week at bursts of speeds by various players.

I hate to say this, but it’s only a matter of time before someone isn’t revived on a nationally televised broadcast. Then there is the brain. As someone who has had several concussions, I worry greatly about my future and the mental effects of them. I understand the love of a game no matter what it is. I also know that they are smart enough to be worried about those effects and some are probably thinking about playing fewer years.

It’s not just greedy owners or players. Fans have also changed. Passion has been replaced by fanaticism. Mix in some booze and gambling and loss of a normal perspective and you have some dangerous situations when you mix two opposing teams.

Worrying about point spreads or the over/under or parlays or whatever gambling terms I’m not familiar with, change the way fans view, act, and react at games. We have already seen several examples of fans being upset at a player who didn’t score enough for their bet. This was true for the local Washington basketball team in this article earlier this year.

Sports also changed from the common man to the elitist perk. Going to any major college or pro sporting event is something the common man has to think about the money involved. But corporations and the well-to-do buy-up seats like I pour gravy over stuffing later this week. And if you find seats in the upper areas they still want the arm, leg, and firstborn to attend.

The NCAA has been a failure. I love the change Major League Baseball made to speed up the game this past year and it has increased my viewing and interest. To me, baseball hasn’t forgotten the fans as much as other sports.

Sports is big business, just like gambling is big business. Now that they have merged it’s all money.

I will always enjoy playing any sport. I will always enjoy watching a sport be it the kids in the local little league, my Maryland Terps basketball team, the Yankees and Orioles going head to head, or maybe a Green Bay Packers game with my son someday.

I just feel bad for the youth because they don’t have my perspective on what I feel is being lost in modern sports. The true meaning of the joy of competition. I bet if people put in more time on their jumper, they would have a lot more fun instead of their faces in a smartphone making bets.


About 3-4 years ago I started a little countdown. I had grown frustrated with the direction in our area and to keep my focus and still have a goal I could look forward to I started counting down the weeks till retirement. Little post-it notes that I would keep a countdown till what I thought would be my retirement date. Week by week I’d tick off a number. It was my little reward at the end of each week for working hard regardless of the circumstances around me.

Well, about 2 1/2 years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home for the remainder of my career. I can’t tell you how that has made the last of my work time much more pleasant. Having to commute to the middle of Washington DC isn’t a good experience. And after doing that drive for over two decades of almost a hundred-mile round trip it was such a load off my personal life that the job was OK again.

I lost track of the number of weeks. That was till a few weeks ago when the company decided that date for me. A bit earlier than I thought but I’m fine with it now. Things are working out and I will be off for the New Year holiday instead of working. And I’ll be off all future holidays if all goes well and every other day for that matter.

But the weeks are down now to a single-digit number. And that is a good feeling indeed.

There are a few people I will miss. Ones I’ve shared many years, trials, and experiences with. Many have retired before me that I have missed a long time. Of course, I will miss the action. If I didn’t enjoy the chaos and pressures of working in the daily publishing business I would have left it decades ago.

I will miss the news cycle and seeing information and images come in before they are published. I will miss keeping up with technology. I will miss the smell of ink and paper when I go to the plant. I will miss the activity and electricity on election nights. I will miss being part of The Miracle on 15th Street.

Which leads me to a sudden realization. I didn’t start out with this plan. I worked hard for many opportunities and had others come along. I’ve worked in many capacities within my industry and learned many wonderful things. I’ve been blessed working with a lot of very good people along the way. Yeah, some assholes also, but luckily they were far outnumbered by good people. I like to laugh and found a great number of people who also liked humor. You had to have humor in high-stress environments.

And as I enter the final weeks I’m glad I made the decisions along the way I did. Were they always the right ones? I did pass a few management opportunities. Also some other technical ones. Only the ones I did make count and I’m very happy with the work I’ve done along the way.

I’m so glad that the relationships along the way have remained so strong and active. And that is a blessing. I hope others can feel fulfilled in their jobs when they reach the end of them. Especially my own children.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I admire a child’s creativity and freedom of expression.
  • A snowball still tastes great in 50-degree weather. Only 3-4 more weeks before they close for the season. Then I get to Jones for 3 months till they open again and signs of spring arrive to rescue me from the cold.
  • Be something special to your children and grandchildren.
  • Too many of us are just out for ourselves. That is a sad thing to say.
  • Being around children gives me hope. Most young people give me hope. It’s the adults that panic the crap out of me.

Author: Mike Hartley

With a lifetime and a half in the Newspaper industry I'm preparing for my retirement career as an Artist, Writer, Photographer and Video content provider. I'm a proud father of two wonderful children and I'm still married to the first girl I fell in love with and probably only one that would have me.

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