Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Political Death of Sports in America

This morning I posted a brief article about how I’m finished with the Eagles after this White House affair. I’m done with players putting themselves above the fans who pay their salaries. We don’t ask for much…be nice if we see you out in public. Represent our city well. STAND for the anthem, just like we all do. And when you get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the president and have him honor OUR CITY…you go. Even if you have to hold your nose…you go.
After posting that article, I’ve been lambasted by Philly fans and told “bye” about a thousand times.
Because I disagree politically.
Is that how you REALLY feel? Do you REALLY want only fans who agree with you politically? Do you really want people who were born in Philly, grew up there, and hold it in their hearts as home, no matter where they live, to stop being fans of our team because they don’t vote as you vote, or support what you support? Is that REALLY how you feel? When I support Philly causes, and send money for Philly charities, you want me to stop doing that because I don't line up with you across the board? Is that really what you want. Do you want to only go to games at the Linc where the people surrounding you all share the same thinking, the same voting, the same ideology? Really? You're okay with sports descending into that level? Because I'm not. Sports gives us a small window -maybe a few hours-- where we cannot have to think about those things...because we think about those things almost non-stop. We can cheer for one common team and one common love for our city. Now even THAT is compromised. You're okay with that? Because I'm not. I might care how you vote or who you support every other day of the week, but when I go to an Eagles game or a Phillies Game or a Flyers game I don't care about that stuff. The Linc holds what...55000? You seriously think every one of them holds YOUR ideology? Or Chris Long's? Or Malcom Jenkins'? Does it bother you that not every single seat is filled by a Trump hating liberal? Or is that the one place and the one time when those things don't matter? Because that's what it is to me. You're good with taking that away too?
And I'M intolerant??

Goodbye Eagles...

Sports used to unite us. They used to be the one place where we could forget the unrest and turbulence of the world and just cheer for our boys, and our town. There wasn't a Republican section or a Democrat section or a liberal section or a conservative section. Just Home vs Visitor. Home. MY team. MY town. The stadium was hallowed, and other than church, it was maybe the only place you could cheer and get raucous and wildly passionate and nobody cared who you voted for or where you stood. Those things are important, but they are also heavy and wearisome. You need a place where you don't have to think about those things for a while. A place where you can feel good after a win, or find camaraderie after a loss, and nobody cared which party you were registered to or where you stood on an issue. They cared about which color jersey you cheered for, not what color your skin is. They argued about who was the better QB...not who was the better president. Now...we can't even have that anymore. Making millions of dollars isn't enough. Adulation isn't enough. A dream life isn't enough. You have to steal a moment that fans have waited to have for an entire lifetime. The same fans who make that life of yours possible. You don't get it. You don't care that you don't get it. You've lost a true fan and a true voice, and, tragically, you've distanced yourself from someone who really understands what used to be so great about sports. Goodbye Eagles...

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Father's Birthday wish for his daughter...

Today is my daughter’s 20th birthday.
20 years ago, at exactly 10pm, Morgan Wray Daliessio entered this world and entered my heart.
To be honest, she’d already made herself quite at home where my heart is concerned long before she was born. I loved her from the first sonogram. Whatever momentary disappointment my Italian heritage demanded at not having a son as my firstborn, was overwhelmed by the immense love I felt for her when I saw that grainy image.
In hindsight, God -knowing I would only have one child—gave me a princess, so that I would always be a king.
Several years ago, she decided she didn’t like her given name, “Morgan” and took to calling herself Daisy. At first, I choked on that. I loved her name and didn’t understand why she didn’t. But honestly, if that’s all the trouble she gives me in this life, then I’m fine. And besides…if you know my daughter, you know how well the name Daisy fits her.
She brightens the dull landscape by simply being there. She is quiet, thoughtful, and possesses a simple beauty that makes you take notice, even though you’ve seen her before. Just like a daisy.
She possesses an artist’s eye and turns what she sees into drawings so wonderful that you scratch your head at her talent.
She loves to cook and experiments in the kitchen with great success. She is a loving friend, a caring daughter, and a godly, Jesus-loving, believer.
But more than anything, she can sing.
She has loved music since her earliest days. When she was very little, maybe a year old or so, she loved music. She sang along with everything she heard. She went through a phase where she was mesmerized by Shania Twain videos. She would be toddling along in the living room and if a Shania video came on, she’d plop down (literally…as just-learning-to-walk babies are prone to do) in front of the TV and sit there unmoving until the song was over. Then she’d go back to whatever she was doing.
She began composing little songs when she was three or four, and now…she is a music major here at Liberty and possesses one of the most clean, emotional, beautiful voices I have ever heard.
Most of my friends chalk it up to a just dad being proud when I boast about her…until they hear her sing. Then they understand that I’m not just a proud dad. She’s the real deal. You feel her heartbeat when she sings. The sadness she’s experienced over the years, when her mom and I divorced, when her mom remarried, when her mom’s new husband was an abusive monster. She’s lost two beloved surrogate grandparents over the years, and more than a few friendships. She moved to a town she had never seen before at age sixteen -a time in life when uprooting and moving to a place unknown is particularly difficult—and dealt with the sadness by singing. Singing opens doors for her. Singing is her safe place, and the medium through which she expresses her soul. 
This is her most recent composition. She is singing ALL the parts here and playing guitar:
Daisy: "Lovers like Flowers"
I was 33 when she was born. Back then it looked like life was going well. We hadn’t planned children so early in our marriage. In fact, I like to kid that “We were practicing birth control like religion.” But God had other plans and so sixteen months after we wed, we became parents. The night she was born, I was overwhelmed by how much I loved her.
Without limit.
I held her in her little “Classic Pooh” receiving blanket and told her “I love you Morgan” at least a thousand times between 10pm when she entered this world, and 1pm when the nurses chased me out and made me go home.
Every time I spoke those words, my heart healed just a little bit. I’d never heard those words from my own father. I’d wondered what it might be like to have heard them through the years, and somehow, saying them to my own daughter was a tiny glimpse. She changed my life when she was born.

About 25 years ago, my dear friend Rick Elias wrote this song for his son Taylor on his first birthday. I lost the cassette Rick had given me with the song on it and he’s never released it. These are all the words I can recall:

“Oh, the happiest day I have ever known was the day you took your first breath.
And to watch you grow in the warmth of the sun,
Is the only other wish, I could ever have.
But if cold night winds should begin to howl and if trouble should come your way.
Remember these words I’m telling you now.
And all your days I pray you’ll call His name.

Rain will fall, as it surely must
On the heads of the wicked
And the just.
God forbid that rain turn your dreams to rust
And all your days I pray you’ll call His name.

On that bittersweet day many years from now when you take your first steps on your own
Remember these words I’m telling you now
As much as I’ve loved you
There is One who loves you more
But if cold night winds should begin to howl and if trouble should come your way
May the warmth of the sun. comfort and guide you
May those cold dark winds stay forever behind you
If you lose your way…know that God will find you
And all your days I pray you’ll call His name.”

Rain has fallen on her dreams. Rain in the form of a broken family, a frighteningly abusive man in her life, a daddy who lost everything, including his home and the life he provided her. Yet she soldiered on and has begun to come out the other side.
I protected her as best I could, and while her dreams have been dented…they will not turn to rust.
She is the focal point of this life I lead. The one heart I trust on this Earth. The reason I pray. The reason I work. The reason I believe. The reason I refuse to give up.
I would set my own dreams on fire to light the path for hers to come true. I would breath my final breath into her lungs and watch her live on at my expense and my final action would be to smile…my final words “I love you.”
The teen years are over. Just like that. She is an adult now.
But in my heart, she is -and will always be-- the little girl who once filled out a questionnaire about her daddy for a Pre-K Father’s Day project. In her eyes, I was 10 feet tall. I liked to watch the news and “race cars.” She liked to watch me chop food when I cook. And when they asked her what is the one thing her daddy always says to her, she said “My daddy always says “He loves me.”
That she grew into adulthood never wondering whether her daddy loved her, is all the trophy I need.
Buon compleanno Daisy! Il vostro papĂ  vi ama molto.
(Happy Birthday Daisy. Your Daddy loves you very much.)