Thursday, July 30, 2015

DePaul Basketball Taking a Road Trip to France

Well, my favorite college basketball team is heading France next month. Wish that I could go along with them, or catch a game or two during a trip out there.

However, I am glad for them that they will get this unique opportunity to take a road trip to a beautiful country to see some of the sites there. Three other college basketball teams will be making similar trips to other European nations.

I am not sure why they are doing this, but personally, I think it is a great thing! I remember many years ago, American baseball superstar (now discredited after revelations that he had taken steroids) Mark McGwire was given a mouthpiece to talk about an impending trip to Japan that his team, the St. Louis Cardinals, would be taking. He was opposed, and when asked why, he said, basically, that it was just stupid, and did not make sense.

You know, I think that most people, given an opportunity to do so, would jump on a chance to get an all expenses paid trip to Japan for business, especially if that business is a professional sport. I certainly would. But McGwire discredited himself and came off (to me, at least) sounding like a big, dumb redneck. Like the prototypical ugly American, frankly. It was such a shame that he was such a famous personality, and received much media attention with his comments.

Sometimes, there are more legitimate reasons for being opposed to such a trip. When the Giants were invited to participate in an exhibition road trip to somewhere in Europe (London, I believe), he turned it down, but his reasoning made a lot more sense to me then it did with McGwire's reason did. Parcells kept a tight schedule and liked routine. He felt that such a trip would be exhausting for his team, and that this would have an impact on their play in the next game, throwing off their workout and practice schedule. I can see that, although admittedly as a fan, I would have loved to have seen the Giants play in Europe (this would have been back around either 1990 or 1991). Since then, the Giants actually have played in London, in 2007 (the season that they would wind up beating the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl).

Personally, I like that kind of interaction. There are so many misunderstandings between cultures, and too many stupid stereotypes that persist. Too many people want to insist on keeping their minds closed. But sports can often bridge those divides, and bring cultures together in a positive way. One of the aspects of professional tennis that I enjoy, personally, is that international feel. It just seems great when you have international sports figures getting together, competing, and often managing to speak in other tongues than their own. Look at Roger Federer, who speaks four languages fluently, or Novak Djokovic, who speaks seven languages!

I have seen some international soccer/football games as well, and I enjoy watching teams from other nations compete here. It is a thrill, and to me, it definitely adds something. I welcome it. That is what the spirit of the Olympics used to be about, before it became all about money and corruption (the same thing can likely be said about FIFA these days as well, unfortunately).

But when teams travel abroad to compete in foreign nations, I think it is the best that sports often has to offer, and I welcome it!

So, I wish the best to DePaul, and hope that the players and coaches given this opportunity enjoy themselves, and gain some experiences worth remembering while there. Here, specifically, is what is on the itinerary for DePaul while in France:

DePaul is preparing for its trip by taking a "Life and Times of Vincent de Paul" class before heading to Paris.  The team will be following the footsteps of the university's namesake who was a French priest.  The first game will be played in Caen.  Included in the itinerary is a stop at the Normandy Beaches.  The second game will be played in Paris where the Blue Demons will stay for four days before a final stop at the French Riviera with two games and sightseeing in Nice and Monaco.

Here is the related article (from which I took the above quoted paragraph) about the four American college basketball teams preparing to take the overseas trip to Europe next month:

Creighton, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette Take European Tours 7/28/2015

1 comment:

  1. The serendipity of all this is actually pretty cool. Things have come full circle for De Paul University and for you as well: these young players and the coaching staff will discover the country from which their school's namesake hailed, which also happens to be the land in which your earliest childhood memories occurred. I do have a minor gripe with the author of that piece, however: no mention of the names of the teams De Paul will be playing there - I mean, come on! As for your comments about what the Olympics used to be, while they're spot on, I'd say the same can essentially be applied to the world of professional (and for that matter NCAA Division I) sports in general. While it would be naive to think that there was ever a time when athletes didn't care about money, something's wrong when it reaches a point wherein that's all they care about. I've even heard about ridiculous incidents wherein players only show up for practice if and when it suits them, show no respect for their coaches, etc. While I obviously love watching sports, that's one side of it that lots of people could do without, myself included.