Sep

29

ScottIn high school, I had scholarship feelers to play Div. II college football. I could run a 4.5 forty and high jump 6'8". I thought I was on top of the world. Then I got sick with a horrible case of mononucleosis and almost died. My playing days were over. At the time I was devastated.

Now my oldest son wants to play football. I will not let him. Why? Because as devastating as it was to get sick and have to give up football (the best I ever ran a 40 after that was in the high 4's, and I couldn't jump anything like I used too), as an adult I've come to view it as a blessing in disguise.

To this day, my knees, ankles and back ache to the point of being almost debillitating at times. I get headaches and my memory doesn't work as well as it used to. As a corollary to this, I also suffered several concussions while playing sports. I was knocked silly numerous times and was knocked out cold more than a handful of times.

Then today I see this article on MSN about the danger of concussions and wonder if there isn't a connection.

Looking back, I wish I had never played football. Yes, basketball pounded my joints and I'm sure baseball and track did their fair share of damage, but I don't think they cumulatively added up to the pounding I experienced playing football. Yet I love to watch the game to this day and look forward to playing at our annual Thanksgiving morning touch football game every year with the guys from church (of course, I can hardly walk for the next two or three days afterward).

The human body eventually wears down and doesn't recover from the constant beatings that we get in life, unlike the markets which will shake off the bad things that happen and eventually move forward. At least I hope so.

Anton Allostrat agrees:

My football career closely parallels Scott’s except I ended as a college sophomore with a complete knee reconstruction. Protecting a loved one from near-certain long-term physical damage, which is the likely outcome when humans repetitively and intentionally collide, is the responsible and caring parental responsibility. The key is to give the prospective athlete other choices, minimal-contact sports that have a much lower injury rate. When addressing this issue with my son, no matter how clear my descriptions of the long term consequences on the human body, I’m sure he couldn’t completely comprehend what it is like to feel the effects of cumulative injuries in a middle-aged body.

Matt Johnson replies:

With all due respect, I feel like you're taking your issues and dumping them on your son. Not letting someone do something, or not do something, is like holding onto a losing position because "the economics haven't changed." Go with it, don't fight it, support your son in his adventures and he'll love you for it.

Craig Bowles adds:

I agree with Matt. I still look back thankfully at the bonds made and pushing beyond the simple limits in many of our heads. The most important thing is to learn technique early. My father always called it putting a shoulder on somebody. Hitting with the head is crazy and nothing like the feeling of a good solid shoulder lick. Maybe you should make sure the coaches know how to coach blocking and tackling. I wouldn't want my kid playing for a lot of coaches. That would just ruin a kids confidence. My fifth-grade coach was the best one and fortunately taught the solid basics.

Mark Candon reminisces:

Flag FI played soccer in college, but later tore up my knee in 1980 playing of all things, flag football.What the heck was I doing playing flag football? Perhaps having the most fun I ever had in any sport. Violence is a beautiful thing when you are doing the hitting. I’ve always liked contact, and football gives it to you in spades. There’s nothing like it. Why do you think all these people play football?

Yeah, it’s years later and I should probably be getting a new knee, but the rest of my body has been in better shape since 1980 because I’ve had to work out to keep the knee strong. I wish it had never happened, but I never for a moment regarded it as a terrible thing.

In sports, you have the chance to be the master of that world between the lines. In football, it comes in that long instant after the snap of the ball. A savage, athletic, and beautiful moment. I loved it. Believe me, I’ve had moments in other sports, but football’s the ultimate for adrenaline. You’re playing defense, it’s fourth and inches, and you’re amped. You can’t wait for the snap, because you’re going to drive that guy opposite you into forever.

Steve Leslie reflects:

I am reminded of a short little story.

In the jungle, A gazelle wakes up in the morning and begins running. For the gazelle knows that if it does not start running then it will be eaten by the lion. The lion wakes up and starts running. The lion knows that if it does not start running, it will not catch the gazelle. The moral of the story is that whether you are a lion or a gazelle, if you want to survive the day, you had better hit the ground running.

Thomas Edison once said most of success in life is showing up for work every day.

Vince Lombardi said "The good L_rd gave you a body that can withstand nearly anything, it is your mind you have to convince."

Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of creating our own rules. Many times the odds are stacked heavily against us. But remember in the end, life is one long statistical game eventually the breaks even out. It is a journey and not a destination therefore we never arrive. It is like the horizon, you never reach it.

Take cheer for we all feel the pain of life. You are not in this alone. Some times this provides small solace. But then again solace is sometimes all we have.

Reid Wientge writes:

My doctor in high school, Dr. Campbell, recommended not playing football. He was quiet and convincing. I had been to a different doctor numerous times for pain and swollen hands — I played both defensive end and fullback and so could not wrap my hands. You see, my doctor had served in Vietnam prior to private practice. I am certain that he could not bear to see young men injure, scar and permanently damage their bodies.

Doug Johnston offers:

I played football in HS and at a Div I college program. I do believe that your HS experience is more exception than rule. HS football is fun and gives a boy/teenager many valuable life lessons in an environment of teamwork and fun. Football in HS is not brutal. Let him be a kid and enjoy his decision. If he were to be offered an opportunity to play in college — run away! College football is a big business and the payout of a scholarship is not nearly fair value for the "student-athlete."

Aug

2

 I read The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius recently. Here are some statements I found interesting, with possible applications to trading.

"Make for thyself a definition or description of the thing which is presented to thee, so as to see distinctly what kind of a thing it is in its substance, in its nudity, in its complete entirety, and tell thyself its proper name, and the names of the things of which it has been compounded, and into which it will be resolved. For nothing is so productive of elevation of mind as to be able to examine methodically and truly every object which is presented to thee in life, and always to look at things so as to see at the same time what kind of universe this is, and what kind of use everything performs in it, and what value everything has with reference to the whole, and what with reference to man …" Accurate observation and description are important aspects of the scientific method.

"As physicians have always their instruments and knives ready for cases which suddenly require their skill, so do thou have principles ready for the understanding of things divine and human …" You never know what the market might throw at you, so be prepared to act at all times. Similarly:

"The art of life is more like the wrestler's art than the dancer's, in respect of this, that it should stand ready and firm to meet onsets which are sudden and unexpected."

"A man should always have these two tools in readiness: the one, to do only whatever the reason of the ruling and legislating faculty may suggest for the use of men; the other, to change thy opinion, if there is any one at hand who sets thee right and moves thee from any opinion. But this change of opinion must proceed only from a certain persuasion, as of what is just or of common advantage, and the like, not because it appears pleasant or brings reputation." Don't get married to your position if circumstances change.

"How much trouble he avoids who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only to what he does himself, that it may be just and pure … " Avoid tips. Or as Bacon said, "If you look at [somebody else's] prices or selections first, the line you come up with will be a sort of scrambling of his line and your line. Almost invariably, it will combine the weakest features of both."

"Occupy thyself with few things, says the philosopher, if thou wouldst be tranquil. But consider if it would not be better to say, 'Do what is necessary, and whatever the reason of the animal which is naturally social requires, and as it requires'. For this brings not only the tranquility which comes from doing well, but also that which comes from doing few things. For the greatest part of what we say and do being unnecessary, if a man takes this away, he will have more leisure and less uneasiness. Accordingly on every occasion a man should ask himself, 'Is this one of the unnecessary things?' Now a man should take away not only unnecessary acts but also unnecessary thoughts, for thus superfluous acts will not follow after." Focus on the few inputs that have the greatest impact on results. Specialize in a niche and get really good at it rather than trading soybeans one day, copper the next day, and bonds the following week.

"Always run to the short way; and the short way is the natural: accordingly say and do everything in conformity with the soundest reason. For such a purpose frees a man from trouble, and warfare, and all artifice and ostentatious display." Eighteen centuries before Zipf, a principle of least effort.

"I was once a fortunate man, but I lost it, I know not how"–a common lament among speculators. "But fortunate means that a man has assigned to himself a good fortune; and a good fortune is good disposition of the soul, good emotions, good actions."

"In the gymnastic exercises suppose that a man has torn thee with his nails, and by dashing against thy head has inflicted a wound. Well, we neither show any signs of vexation, nor are we offended, nor do we suspect him afterward as a treacherous fellow; and yet we are on our guard against him, not however as an enemy, nor yet with suspicion, but we quietly get out of his way. Something like this let thy behavior be in all the other parts of life; let us overlook many things in those who are like antagonists in the gymnasium. For it is in our power, as I said, to get out of the way, and to have no suspicion nor hatred." It is pointless to get angry with the market, but one must always be wary of the market.

"Frequently consider the connection of all things in the universe and their relation to one another. For in a manner all things are implicated with one another, and all in this way are friendly to one another; for one thing comes in order after another …" This is one of the major themes of the Daily Speculations website.

"Nature which governs the whole will soon change all things which thou seest, and out of their substance will make other things, and again other things from the substance of them, in order that the world may be ever new." The creative destruction of layoffs and bankruptcies frees resources from unproductive uses and perpetually renews the economy.

"But we ought to inquire, what kind of soul it was that Socrates possessed, and if he was able to be content with being just towards men and pious towards the gods, neither idly vexed on account of men's villainy, nor yet making himself a slave to any man's ignorance, nor receiving as strange anything that fell to his share out of the universal, nor enduring it as intolerable …" Don't waste energy on unproductive emotions.

Mark Candon adds:

Marcus Aurelius applies not only to the markets. I'm going to use it for this weekend's two-ball, best-ball golf tournament.

In selecting a partner, I've got a young man who is a terrific ball-striker with a tendency to beat himself. He plays much better with an older partner who will get in his face and tell him to pick a line, swing smooth, and accept the consequences of the shot.

Sometimes he gets so pessimistic that all I can do is try to string together enough pars to get his birdie-hunting head back in the game.

He needs a confidence boost before every four-foot putt. Ironically, if he doesn't have a couple of four-foot second putts in a round, he hasn't been aggressive enough on his first putts.

He never misses those four-footers if I encourage him beforehand. Oh, to be young again, fearless with the flat stick, and decisive on the read. 

Apr

3

 My high school baseball coach in Vermont a few decades back had been a catcher in the Yankee organization. I was the catcher and our pickoff play at second base came from the Yankees. This play worked a dozen times in high school and Legion ball. I can't remember it ever failing.

The shortstop would signal to me (by rubbing his hand across the letters) whenever he thought we could pick off the runner leading off second base. Instead of giving a regular pitch sign, before the next pitch I'd put a fist down, then rub my left thigh so the pitcher would know the play was on and it was the shortstop covering.

The pitcher would never even look at the runner, just stare intently at home. And before he'd go into the stretch I'd make a fist with my right hand. After the stretch, just before the delivery, at the instant the shortstop broke for second, I would open my fist and the pitcher would whirl and throw to second. The timing was perfect and there was no counting involved. So the play was called by two guys most runners worry less about and was executed by the guy who looked the most unconcerned.

I can't say I've been able to use this for anything else in life or investing, but I still use our Legion coach's "indicator" sign (a tug on the earlobe) whenever I want to let my wife know we're leaving the party early.

Archives

Resources & Links

Search