Something Awesome in a Time of Distress

Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

I’m going to have to apologize in advance everybody, but I’m going to have to break character a little bit here.

My wife and I have had a few people reach out to us the past couple of days to make sure we’re ok, since we live in the DC/Maryland/Virginia Metro area (DMV).  For those of you those who did reach out or were concerned, thank you for reaching out, and just so everybody knows, we are completely fine.  In fact, as we were preoccupied with newborn tasks through the day, we didn’t even know that anything was happening last Wednesday until we received text messages from friends and family.  And luckily for us, though we live relatively close to the capitol/mall area in DC (I often run through there at least once a week on one of my runs), protests, riots, and the such never seem to spill out into our neighborhood.  That was the same with the riots that spurred from the George Floyd protests, for when all the other neighborhoods around us were boarded up, ours was surprisingly untouched.  Or, in the words of the great Buzz McAllister, we live on the most boring street in the DMV, where nothing even remotely dangerous, will ever happened.  Period!

That being said, I’ve struggled on how to respond to what happened occurred this last week and whether I should use the Grizzly Chadams as a means to respond.  After all, this blog has always been used as an outlet for me, an escape from the stresses of the world, and hopefully in the process of all that, I’m able to put a smile on a few faces with some lighthearted humor and occasional sentimental words.  But I’ve questioned, as I often did over the summer when other sorts of craziness was happening, whether or not it was appropriate to proceed in such a manner.  Besides, how do you address something like this?  I don’t like what happened at the Capitol at all.  I don’t think any reasonable American does, and I really don’t like how 4 Americans lost their lives over this.  Yet, I can’t lie to myself and say I didn’t share the sentiment of most of those who were protesting (key word, most, not all).  After all, it’s our elected officials who have been the source of much of the misery that’s been imposed on us over the last few months, years, decades—however long you want to go back (there are plenty of examples).  And possibly the saddest part about the whole thing is that, yet again, those up on Capitol Hill received a convenient excuse to demagogue and ignore the inconvenient problems their elected to address, all at the expense of the American people.

The more I wrestled with the chaos surrounding the country and my bleak outlook on it, the more I struggled internally to write, for it’s hard even for old Grizzly Chadams to keep it going at times, as if it’s my duty to give people answers that I don’t have, and aren’t qualified to provide.  But then, as I was lying in bed last night, festering about the spirit of the age, up popped a much-needed Instagram notification, “stoolpresidente is live with aaronrodgers12.”  As curiosity struck and I clicked on it, sending me to a split Screen of my boy Aaron Rodgers and Dave Portnoy, or “El Presidente” of Barstool Sports.  The conversation was relatively quick and simple, yet effective, and the result was something that lifted my spirits, as if it were a small glimmer of light that could possibly guide us out of the darkness.  It was something worth sharing.

Can somebody say, MVP of the World?

For those of you not familiar with Barstool, to put it simply, it’s a sports news website that’s a bit unorthodox from the mainstream.  With their “Smokescreen of the day” posts and unregulated use of curse words in their articles, it’s definitely not something you would promote in the church bulletin.  Yet, there’s an honest, unfiltered approach to the site that attracts visitors.  It’s genuine, relatable, and you get a feeling the writers aren’t some elite ESPN analysts, but regular sports fans you would see at your local sports bar (hence the name, Barstool Sports), simply talking and writing about the things they’re passionate about.  And Judging by his “emergency press conferences” of which he rants about topics near and dear to him such as his disdain for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, it’s easy to see that Founder Dave Portnoy lives with that passion day in and day out.  One of his more recent rants revolved around the Coronavirus policies, how it’s been affecting small business, and how the government isn’t doing its part to help those businesses they forced to shut down or restrict due to the pandemic.

Eventually, he decided it was up to him to do something, putting his money where his mouth was and setting up the fund to help these small businesses on the precipice of shutting down for good provide enough money to stay afloat.  And since then, many have gotten involved, the most recent being Aaron Rodgers yesterday with his pledge of $500,000, of which I watched in real time.  To see the conversation, click here.

As a Packer fan, I swelled with pride upon seeing this.  Then, I was humbled.  2020 was a tough year, one that forced us to cancel our honeymoon, prevented me from attending the funeral of one of my greatest childhood mentors, and hasn’t allowed my family to meet my newborn son.  And by the looks of it, 2021 isn’t going to get better anytime soon.  Yet, we still had our blessings.  We were still employed and still receiving paychecks while others were forced to, by no fault of their own, watch their savings accounts drain just go keep their businesses afloat.  And despite the misfortunes we had felt, ours were miniscule compared to those.

So, when I woke up this morning, I logged onto my computer and donated $1,000 dollars myself to the fund.

I don’t say this to brag about my contribution, for if it came down to it, I could always give more.  But when I looked at a company like Barstool, imagine that it doesn’t have a lot in common with a lot of the businesses it helps, or even the people that are contributing to the fund.  Hell, I’m sure there’s a lot of people that are on the opposite side of the aisle from me that have contributed as well.  But that’s what’s great about it.  Barstool, El Presidente, and others saw the struggles of these entrepreneurs.  They saw a need, and instead of waiting around, complaining and waiting for somebody to do something about it, they stepped up and took it upon themselves to act.  They are making differences in people’s lives, not in a week, not in a month, but today, and to me, that’s a beautiful thing… beautiful and inspiring.

We often look to others, whether it be our friends, neighbors, bosses, congress, the president, or even the government as a whole to fix the problems in our lives.  Occasionally, they come through, but it’s usually not in the way we’d expect, and more often than not, we get let down time and time again.  So, maybe the answer isn’t with them.  Maybe it’s with us?  Maybe it’s us taking action instead of waiting for others to act.  Maybe that’s what Mr. El Presidinte finally realized when he started the Barstool Sports Fund.

And maybe we can do the same.

So, If you’re reading this, and if you’re in a position that you can help, then I would encourage you to act and make a donation, although if your hearts not in it, action doesn’t have to be in a donation to the Barstool Sports Fund (though I believe it’s a great cause for these times, and you can find the link to contribute here).  It can be for a good charity of your choice, or in the direct support of a local business in your city. Or we can volunteer our time and resources to needs in our communities, much like my mom did when she joined Embrace Grace, a group that provides assistance to single mother’s.

The point is, there are endless ways we can make an impact, so let’s challenge not just our friends and neighbors, but ourselves to act, and maybe we can find it within ourselves make a difference in our communities.

I hope in the future, I can continue the tradition of silliness that Grizzly Chadams is accustomed to, such as talking about my love for McRibs or the pristine conditions of the bathrooms in Jimmy John’s.  But we live in trying times, and unfortunately, more trials and tribulations may be on the horizon, possibly worse than what we’ve seen already.  Admittedly I don’t know the answers to the problems we face today, and I won’t pretend otherwise.  But based on the feeling I got from watching the Bad Man make that pledge last night, I would say things like the Barstool Sports fund are good places to start looking.  And if we look hard enough, we kind find more of those small glimmers of light, a piece of hope to give us inspiration, to give us the will to act, and to help us find our way out of the dark place we find ourselves in.

Let’s start with seeking out the truth, let’s seek out those glimmers of light, and let’s take it upon ourselves to act.