The wisdom of ‘Sportscenter’

Mac McPhail Contributing columnist

September 15, 2013

“He’s listed as day to day, but aren’t we all.”

The above is one of my favorite lines from that deep, philosophical television series, ESPN’s “Sportscenter.” And it’s a line I’ve been thinking about recently. For the sport uneducated, “Sportscenter” is ESPN’s daily sports wrap-up program. The program anchors report all the scores, highlights and sports news.

One of the many things reported will be the status of injured players. If a player was not seriously hurt, he might be able to play the next day or very soon, depending on how fast he improves. To explain this uncertain status, the sports desk anchor would say that the player “is listed day to day.” Eventually one of the anchors, trying to be witty, added “but aren’t we all.” And a deep, profound, philosophical, theological statement was born.

“He’s listed as day to day, but aren’t we all.”

Why am I thinking about this day to day stuff? Well, attending the funerals of cousins you used to play with when you were young will get you thinking that way. I have done that several times over the past few years. The passing of my father a couple of years ago also made me realize that things you count on, like your father being there, can be gone in a moment.

Sitting in the stadium at a ECU football game the other night brought home the fragility of life to me once again. We were winning, but Terri could tell I just wasn’t into it. You see, for many years, Dale Denning and I had season tickets together. Without Dale around to give his “expert analysis” and to complain about the officiating, it just wasn’t the same. Thinking about the suddenness of his passing last year once again reminded me that we’re all “day to day.”

Let’s face it. Most of us don’t think that today or tomorrow could be our last day here on earth. And that’s good. It sure would be a depressing, scary place if we thought that way. But the truth is, today or tomorrow could be that day. In other words, we’re all day to day.

When you are young you think you are bulletproof. I flipped a car three times when I was sixteen and was able to walk away. It made me think about life for a couple of days, but soon I was back to being a teenager, as a couple of more speeding tickets over the next three years would show.

As a teenager and young adult, death seems so far away. That’s why it’s such a jolt when another young person, classmate, or friend is killed in a car wreck or is terminally ill. Besides, death should be the property of “old” people. As you get older, you get busy with family and career. It may sound cold but death becomes an intrusion. You have to get off work to go a funeral. It’s an intrusion you just as soon not think about or deal with.

Then, cousins and friends start passing away. You really don’t think you are old, but you realize you are getting older. OK, you get the Senior discount whenever possible. When you hear that sixty is now the new forty, you laugh because you don’t know anyone approaching forty with the aches and pains you have. And you begin to realize something your parents, if they are still alive, already know too well. It is day to day. And there is no guarantee of tomorrow. So, if life is just day to day, what do you do?

First, make the most out of this day. In the Bible, Psalm 118:24 states, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” God has given us today. Let’s enjoy it, thank Him for it and make the most of it.

Second, realize that while you may be “day to day,” you may still have many more days. Are you prepared physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually for the long haul? Are you going to be able to “rejoice and be glad in it,” if the days become long and difficult?

Finally, are you prepared for what happens after that final day? And only you can answer that question. Are you saying I need to live like I could die today or thirty years from now? You got it. It’s a matter of preparation and decision.

Who knew such insight could be gained from watching “Sportscenter?” Now I have to ponder the true meaning of, “They can’t stop him, they can only hope to contain him.”