Friday, February 15, 2013

On Turning 40

I turn 40 tomorrow today, so I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on the past decade.

A couple of weeks ago, I went through an exercise where I tried to list out the most life-defining things that happened -- for better and worse. I’m not saying that is the best way to think about it -- it puts too much weight on the singular happenings and not enough on mundane day-to-day enjoyment of life. Still, it makes the past 10 years more tangible.

Obviously, there are big “life” things like getting married, having kids, my siblings having kids, buying/selling a house, major surgeries, etc.

Then there are the professional things: I was already a month into the Quickie when I turned 30, so I didn’t count that. But I did count the run itself and all the fun things that I got access to because of it -- going on TV, spinning off this blog, getting to write elsewhere (remember when I spent that season as Deadspin’s college football columnist?) Joining a high-flying start-up. Starting my own company, obviously, then seeing it through its acquisition.

(Did meeting Tim Tebow make the list? What do you think?)

The one thing I found hardest to qualify was the dramatic shift in who I was friends with from 30 til 40. 2003 was pre-blog (let alone pre-social media) and almost all of my friends came from a pool of college, business school and work colleagues. Ten years later, I interact way more often with a far broader set of people, almost entirely virtually -- that’s not for everyone, but I have found it richly rewarding, especially given that a family puts strains on your time.

The other piece of this list was an exercise related to “What I Wish I Had Gotten Accomplished But Didn’t.” I will guarantee you that things like “Write a book” or “Run NYC marathon” were on my list heading into my 30s and, despite that, remain there today. (Although it was interesting to see what kind of proxies I came up with over my 30s -- for example, I actually wrote three separate formal book proposals over the decade and I jumped into the Chicago Marathon to run alongside my sister for 10 miles.)

The two  affirming things about the “Didn’t get done” list are that (1) it's a pretty short list, which I think is a good sign, and (2) it’s not like it ruined my past decade to not get it done. Meanwhile, virtually everything on the list (from the practical to the largely fantastical) is still doable. And if everything in life demands some trade-offs, I’ll take where I am right now over any other options I could have had.

I still remember entering my 30s and how excited I was for it, because it meant that instead of being past my prime for my 20s, I was a fresh thirtysomething, with a whole decade ahead of me to accomplish things that might matter to me. (Clearly, on the day before my 30th birthday, I had zero conception of the joy of having one kid, let alone three.)

Now that I am about to enter my 40s -- and what I honestly think will be my best decade yet -- it is with a way different frame of reference than 10 years ago: Wildly different priorities (family/kids first, obviously) and a greater appreciation for the process over the outcome, but with no less of a zest to be in the middle of things that are interesting to me than any 30-something or 20-something version of me.

The last decade has been wonderful and I have been extraordinarily lucky, on almost every front. It’s not the worst thing in the world to hope the next 10 years bring just as much happiness with my life as the last 10 years just did.

-- D.S.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2/14 (Pistorius WTF?!) Quickie

If the Manti Te'o story -- fake girlfriend, fake death, Te'o as victim -- hasn't reached its end-point yet (and I'd argue it did at least two weeks ago), it's over now.

Because this Oscar Pistorius story -- real girlfriend, real death, Pistorius himself the shooter -- should have everyone snapped back to attention.

That Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend doesn't seem to be in any dispute. The only question is whether it was an accident or murder (as South African police seem to want to argue).

There is no good outcome here -- it's not like proving it was an accident makes it any less of a tragedy. Even then, there will always be people who think he did it intentionally.

And so Valentine's Day -- typically a day we celebrate around here with tributes to our current favorite athletes we "love" -- becomes, this year at least, a sad, utterly shocking day in sports.

More, with the typical awkward segue from "serious" story to the less-so:

*Nerlens Noel tears ACL: As discussed earlier this week, he instantly becomes the poster player for why the NBA's age-limit is atrocious.

*Duke beats UNC: Duke is as good a choice as any to be No. 1, although it's not like beating UNC is a big deal this season (blah blah "rivalry" blah blah.) The trend to watch here is Duke going small, which is all well and good, but you wonder how that works against longer teams like Florida or Michigan or Miami.

*Every time Butler loses, I cringe, because I'm inclined to take them to go pretty far on my bracket, but losses like that erode my confidence (I should have more faith in Brad Stevens to turn losses into highly valuable "teachable moments.")

*Happy Valentine's Day, to those of you who "celebrate" it. For the rest of us? Eh.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

02/13 (Where Were We?) Quickie

The injury to Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel -- at worst, a Top 3 pick in next year's NBA draft (at least before last night) -- affirms a tenet around here:

It was cruelly unnecessary and didn't have to happen. Noel would have been a Top 5 pick in last year's draft, but the NBA age limit forced him to college for a year.

The NBA's age limit is, among other things: Arbitrary, anti-competitive, irrational, not in the best interests of the game and certainly not in the best interests of the kid.

As it looks like the NBA has no interest in changing the rule, if I was a one-and-done college player with huge NBA potential, I would skip college anyway and spend the year before the draft working out with the NBA trainers that these kids end up hiring the day after the college season ends anyway.

The real opportunity here is to create a non-profit company, bundle the Top 10 NBA prospects from each high school graduating class, and give them each $500K and a year-long training program featuring the best NBA development coaching staff in the world. I guarantee you that these kids would be more NBA-prepped than any college player -- the college hoops system still revolves around coaches with an overriding incentive to win games, not maximize the professional preparation of each player on their roster.

The only obligation to my non-profit is that over the five-year life of their first NBA deal, they have to "pay forward" $250K -- $50K a year, which is very little, relatively -- into the program to help the next class moving up, plus 1% of the value of their first NBA free-agent deal, also going directly into the program for funding. Between that and corporate sponsorship, the program is self-sustaining.

Now, we see the worst example yet of how awful this rule is: The presumptive No. 1 pick of the draft -- and a clear-cut Top 5 pick a year ago, had he been "eligible" -- hurt in every possible way by a system that forces him to play college basketball for a year before he can enter the NBA.

If I was a one-and-done college player -- or a high school player looking ahead -- I would be very very troubled by what happened to Noel last night. Here is to his full recovery and a long, productive NBA career.

-- D.S.