Archive for the ‘Wayne Gretzky’ Category

prostarsAccording to Jorge Luis Borges, there are only four stories to tell: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, a struggle for power and a voyage. These same stories are rewritten ad infinitum. With all due respect to the Argentinian literary master, his list is incomplete in its blatant exclusion of the classic narrative revolving around three crime-fighting superstar athletes working together to help children and protect the environment. Of course, I’m referring to Pro Stars, the Saturday morning cartoon that aired on NBC from September 14 to December 7, 1991.

The cartoon, featuring animated versions of Wayne Gretzky, Bo Jackson and Michael Jordan, was the zenith of athletes misrepresented as heroes. It lasted for 13 episodes, including a finale clip show. Yes, a clip show recapping the adventures of an animated series. Consider the poor man’s version of Alphabits breakfast cereal that was created as a synergistic commercial tie-in, and the cartoon becomes a time capsule for everything that was wrong with the early nineties, minus the Parker Lewis Can’t Lose button downs.

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Andre Dawson Tim RainesIt happened about a week ago. I was walking to the subway after work when I spotted a former co-worker coming toward me on the sidewalk. I was friendly with this person when we worked together. We went out for drinks a couple of times. We liked/hated the same people around the office. We shared common stories about our past. We got along well. So, of course, upon seeing this person walking in my general direction, I crossed the street at the first opportunity presented to me in order to avoid any and all contact.

Of all the luxuries afforded professional athletes, the time-honored tradition of dodging former co-workers is rendered almost impossible by the close-knit world of highly competitive sports. Pro sports leagues are small ponds full of the most elite fish in the world, most of whom have grown up together from the time that they were guppies, participating in the same activities designed for elite performers. By the time they reach their peak, their pool has been decided with only the smallest portion of annual restocking and retirement.

Athletes are bound to come across former teammates from time to time and be expected to compete against them. This, much like our own exchanges with those to whom we were once forced to associate, can be difficult. Unfortunately for professional athletes, there aren’t any streets to cross or stores to duck into as a means of avoiding a former colleague on their respective fields of play. Instead, awkward confrontations are inevitable.

Here are a number of simple steps athletes can take to keep awkwardness at a minimum, and spin a potentially negative situation into a positive outcome.

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