2013 Elite Series West Point Lake Battle West Point Lake - LaGrange, GA, May 2 - 5, 2013

A change of Pace

“…a willingness to grow…”

In 30 years of interviewing everyone from those living in castles to those living under bridges, and all the folks in between, I have come to learn this,

it is the person we don’t know, that we can learn the most from.

We are the chroniclers of Win, Place, and Show.

Come in last, come in 10th, and our pens will be pointed elsewhere.

But what of the athletes, persons, we don’t know.

What of the athlete, John Stephen Akhwari.  But maybe even more importantly, what of the news producer, one of us, who sent a crew out to interview, not the first Olympic marathon runner entering the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City…but the LAST runner in the race.

John Stephen Akhwari from Tanzania.

During the marathon Akhwari fell, dislocated his knee and badly bruised his shoulder.  The winner of the race finished in around 2 hours and 20 mins…Akhwari ran into an almost empty stadium over an hour later.

It is from those you don’t know, that you can learn the most, especially from an unknown runner who came in last.  When asked why he still ran, still competed in the marathon he replied:

“My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race, they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race."

And that is why Jimmy, I write about sports.

And that is what we are missing if we only cover, Win, Place, and Show.

“…I'm finally understanding…”

For the most part, I’ve found, that the athletes understand this better than we, who cover them, do.

I asked Cliff who it was that he looked up to in this business and he told me pretty much, all who have come before him, “I admire the anglers, the workers, who created this platform for me.  I have tremendous respect for what they did, and what it has done for me.”

I wrote that down, and just waited, it is answers to questions you’ve never asked that tell you the most about the person, and so I waited to see if, or what Cliff would say next.

He sat on the deck of his boat fiddling with a lure, turning thoughts over in his mind as he turned the lure over in his hand, and then he said, “…sure done a lot for me, and know it is my job, our job, to do a lot for those who will come after us, to leave them a successful platform, as was left for us.”

Unless you know Cliff personally, don’t expect much small talk at events, his passion for the business of tournament fishing, his amazing hyper focus on every little detail concerned with competing, pretty much make shooting the breeze impossible, “I always think of this quote db, ‘If you say something that means nothing, it’s just noise.”

It is NOT being aloof.

It is NOT being unsociable.

It is the consummate desire to compete at the highest level of the sport.

“…there's so much I could know…”

What is it that we ask of others, to be like us, to be like we want them to be, or to be unlike us, not us, but themselves.

It is in the difference, where lies the understanding.

It is in the difference, where lies the learning.

Relish the fact that we live on a big green rock floating in space that ALLOWS difference.

If we all were the same, acted the same, the same, there would be no need for sports.

There would only be…same.

No need, for questions.

No place, for new.

And that’s, the Change of Pace.

Something new, something different, and the burden is not on Cliff, but on us.

Us, to have a passion, for tolerance.

Us, to have a passion for, understanding.

Understanding, and tolerance for,

the unknown.


Bob Seger