The entire population of Chapel Hill, NC breathed a collective sigh of relief this afternoon when golden-boy, national player of the year, and Communication Studies major, Tyler Hansbrough announced that he will return for his senior season this afternoon. While sophomores Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington will be testing their marketability in this year’s draft (hopefully with terrible results), I feel confident that Hansbrough’s return will spawn another (hopefully more successful) appearance in next year’s final four, where the likes of Kevin Love and the rest of this year’s elite players won’t be. And let’s face it (if any of you NBA scouts are reading), Lawson’s durability was a serious question this year with two moderate ankle injuries. While he showed flashes of brilliance, he needs at least another year in college to prove he has the exceptional talent to make up for his lack of NBA point-guard height. Similarly, Wayne Ellington’s much talked about jump shot was off and on this year, scorching Clemson for more than 30 and completely anemic in Carolina’s home loss to Duke (which I had the misfortune of witnessing first-hand). We all know this kid, with a jumper that makes JJ Reddick’s look forced and exceptional length and leaping ability for a two-guard, has a future in the NBA, but another year or two and championship run at the college level would give him the big-game, big-shot deadliness that would make him a more valuable asset at the next level.
Understandably, when the opportunity to make millions of dollars presents itself in your teen years, it’s difficult not to gravitate toward that decision—the importance of getting a “good education” aside. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the return on investment by spending another year in college will make the difference between a lousy few millions that will barely support the extravagant whims of young men, their friends, hangers-on, posses, families, baby mommas, and charities of choice and tens of millions that gets one restaurant chains and shoe deals that will pay for unimaginable extravagance for the rest of one’s life.
It’s hard to believe that it was an entire year ago today when I, my Alma Matter, and much of the nation were devastated by a troubled young man with a gun. It’s even harder for me to believe that there are individuals in this country and particularly in my community that are staunchly committed, not only to their right to own and carry a firearm, but to hoard an arsenal quickly and easily with as little state intervention as possible. It’s hard to believe that people are still looking to blame the school, the department, the parents for what happened last year. The continued prevalence of these kinds of events (that happen much more than the press allows most to realize in areas predominantly populated by the poor and people of color) should be an indication to us all that this is a cultural sickness that we all bear, not an oversight on the part of a few individuals. We all have a part in creating and sustaining the culture of violence in this country and the only way to outgrow it, is as a community.
Today, a group of friends and I attended a short ceremony of remembrance for the 33 slain at Virginia Tech last year and three students who have lost their lives to gun violence in the triangle area. The event was also a peaceful protest. Attendees participated in a lie-in, each of our prostrate bodies symbolizing a life needlessly lost because Americans are unwilling as a community to lay down arms. Anger and sarcasm often inform my opinions on gun legislation, but as I think about this afternoon, laying on the absurdly green grass on a quad of my idyllic college campus, I thought back to how many times I’d thoughtlessly done the same while I was a student at Virginia Tech. I think about how I have not seen my old stomping grounds in years, how the drillfield that I crossed most mornings now features a permanent reminder of the events that transpired last April. I still can’t imagine what the impact, the weight, the sounds, the sights, the smells of 33 dead would have been like inserted into my memorable and meaningful undergraduate career. So, for today I will save my jokes about Redcoats not coming anymore and fundamentalist armies in the Midwest. My heart goes out to every Hokie on the planet.
Tomorrow… you gun nuts are fair game.
I’d like to take this time to officially welcome in baby new year 2008!
Okay, so it happens to be mid-April and I have certainly been guilty of some blog neglect for the last six or more months. But I feel like I deserve some consideration here, life has been one big box of rancid chocolates (and I don’t really like the good ones anyway). But enough excuses. Since this blog is one of the only ways I remain in contact with the world outside of graduate school, I will make sure to keep this sucker up to date…ish. Beyond the blog neglect, 2008 hasn’t been too shabby. I’ve managed to drop 33 pounds, which is easily my life’s biggest achievement (at least right now) and frankly I can’t remember what else it is that I have been doing or paying attention to.
Miraculously, the spring semester of school is almost over. Even as I sit and contentedly gaze back over the year of challenges and accomplishments, I am reminded of the first thing I am asked whenever anyone realizes that I am a student. “How much longer do you have?” That question makes this year seem a bit like a flash in the pan, but I will obstinately be as proud of it as I can.
On another note, the college basketball season was a thriller. Being back in a place where people give a shit about sports is fantastic – though I now have another season of emotional instability to manage every year. Our teams dropped out of the NCAA tournament earlier than I would have hoped (and I still get a little pain in my chest when I remember the image of Erlana Larkins crying). Still I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am excited to renew my season tickets to UNC women’s basketball as soon as possible and add a few more men’s games on the schedule if the ticket lottery gods are kind to me next year. Go Heels!
So for real, I will write more often, but not now…