Saturday, December 31, 2016

One lousy year

So here goes 2016 exiting stage left, and the temptation is to run after it and put your hands in its back. No year with its cruel resume should be allowed to leave the premises unassisted. There should be a good hard shove in the process somewhere, preferably into the path of a speeding Humvee.

It is not just that 2016 took Prince and Princess Leia and the Star Voyager, John Glenn, from us. That's just in the wider world. In the sports world ...

Well. It's an awful year that takes Muhammad Ali from us, and then Gordie Howe one week later. And then Arnold Palmer. And, closer to home, Eugene Parker and Bob Chase.

In different ways they put a quiet Midwestern city on the map, took it in national in a way perhaps no one else ever has. Parker was the Concordia grad whose work as a player representative, out of an office in tiny Roanoke, changed the very structure of labor relations with the National Football League. And Chase, of course, was the very voice of winter, taking a minor-league hockey team in Fort Wayne, Indiana -- and Fort Wayne, Indiana, itself -- all over North America via WOWO radio.

If not the face, he was the voice of both his sport and his community, an ambassador for both without peer. As was Eugene Parker, whose moral center and the way he applied it to his work made him admired and loved not only by his clients, but even by those with whom he negotiated so toughly.

In their own way, in their own worlds, he and Chase were as much icons as Ali or Gordie or Arnie. 2016 was a hard year for icons because of all of them, and because of Prince and Princess Leia and the Star Voyager and Merle Haggard and all of the many others, too.

And so out you go, 2016. Don't trip and fall in front of that Humvee.

On second thought, please do.

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