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of the few schools that could probably make football independence work in the way Notre Dame does.I look forwar

There was a time, almost 10 years ago, when it was my job to follow Michael Phelps around the country -- and around the world -- documenting his every move. Jerseys From China . I studied his facial expressions, scribbled down his splits during every race and frequently lingered on the pool deck for more than an hour after his races were over, hoping he would eventually wander over and share a few snippets of insight that I could relay to readers.I felt like I knew him then, as well as anyone who covered swimming, which was also to say, barely at all.Writing about him as he grew up in the public eye, stumbles and all, was complicated. What he did in the pool, on his best nights, was surreal. I frequently sat down in front of my laptop after watching him break a world record and felt like no words in my head could do it justice. He pushed the limits of human potential, and to witness that, again and again, was one of the great blessings of my career.He also often seemed more like a corporation than a person. He lived in a bubble, a bubble he both needed and resented. He rarely looked people in the eye when he answered questions. He rarely spoke frankly about anything. For promotional purposes, he decided that he needed to be bland and polite every time the cameras were on. When they were off, he could be surly, indifferent and immature. Other than his coach, Bob Bowman, he didnt have many people in his life who could be brutally honest with him, and it showed. (I once asked Bowman if he felt like a father figure in Phelps life, considering Phelps went months and years without speaking to his father, Fred. Bowman explained that their relationship was far more complicated than that.)Phelps was trying to figure out who he was -- like so many of us as we transition from our teens to our 20s -- but he had to do it with the world watching. At times, that was suffocating. He shared the same anecdotes, over and over, that he thought were symbolic of his growth.?Once you heard them a few times, you understood that he was essentially reading a script people wanted to hear.I was the hometown newspaper reporter assigned to shadow him in the years leading up to Beijing, and though we got along fairly well, we grew weary of seeing one anothers faces. I once flew across the country to hang out with him before an award show, lured by the promise of an hour-long one-on-one interview, only to have it end after four minutes. I looked at my digital recorder in horror as he was whisked away by his handlers. There were no apologies. Phelps made it clear, in that moment and many others, who held all the power in our dynamic.Greatness requires a certain amount of selfishness. I understood that and never held it against him. The reality of who he was and who he is now has always been more complicated than most people understand. I watched him treat people poorly, listened to other swimmers gripe about him in private and mulled over how much any of it mattered. (Some of the complaints were jealousy; some were legitimate.) As Walt Whitman said, we all contain multitudes. I also saw Phelps act friendly, generous and human.This was especially true with kids. He had a bottomless supply of patience at swim meets for all the kids who wanted pictures, autographs, hugs or high-fives. A lot of interactions with people, he tolerated or?faked. With kids, it always seemed genuine. It was as if he knew, on a subconscious level, that his own childhood had been given away in exchange for his sports destiny, and when he saw kids just learning how to swim the butterfly, he longed for that innocence. One of the first times I thought he was genuinely curious about my life was after my daughter was born in 2009. I mentioned it in passing, little more than small talk, and he wanted to hear more. He urged me to enroll her in swim lessons as soon as possible.I thought about all of this on Saturday while watching Phelps win gold in the 4x100-meter medley relay, the race he insists will be his last. Sports narratives are always cleaner than reality. Its easy to say he has found peace, that hes sober, that hes content leaving the sport the right way. I so want this to be true, because if it is, its a hopeful story. Its a much better ending than seeing him get another DUI at 4 a.m. or watching him gamble, all alone, at the local casino because hes still struggling for a purpose outside the pool. With Olympians, we frequently make the mistake of trying to cast them as reflections of our best selves. That only magnifies their mistakes when they make them, as if theyve let the whole country down. Its unfair, but that arrangement seems to be inescapable.I dont know how Phelps will handle retirement. I didnt think he was finished after London, despite his insistence that it was over, but I do think its over now. Countless obstacles exist, however, just beyond the horizon. I hope he finds something else to chase, something to fulfill him.It might be family. It warmed my heart to see Phelps and his fiancée, Nicole Johnson, holding their son, Boomer, in Rio this week. I once asked him about Nicole, who was an off-and-on presence in his life even prior to Beijing. In a rare moment of candor, without using her name, he said any girl who required anything of him beyond the bare minimum wasnt going to last in his life. He was the person he wanted to be, he had goals he was going to pursue, and he saw no need to change. It was an interesting window into a 23-year-olds view of love and relationships. To see him now, striving to be an equal partner and parent while juggling one last athletic challenge, is a beautiful coda to his swimming career.Now, he likely faces the biggest challenge of his life. He has to figure out who he is and what hes capable of without the water. I think hell succeed, but maturity and sobriety are an endless journey, a fidelity to an idea, not a finish line you cross and never struggle with again. Every four years, Phelps gave us some incredible memories, and while there were certainly rewards, he also paid a price along the way.Root for the second act of his life to be just as rewarding as the first. China Jerseys Cheap .ca. Hey Kerry, big fan of yours, just finished reading your book. I think that we all saw the Canucks/Flames line brawl just after puck drop. It was obvious that something was about to happen, even to the referees because the fourth lines were on to start. Wholesale Jerseys 2020 .5 seconds to play in the game, Kevin Love never stopped believing that they would come out of there with a win. . Scott won the Australian PGA last week in his first event in Australia since winning the U.S. Masters in April. American Matt Kuchar, ahead by two strokes with four to play and even with Scott with one to go, double-bogeyed the 18th after taking two shots to get out of a bunker. The 10 schools that make up the Big 12 are bound together by a deal committing their television rights to the conference through the 2024-25 school year.That grant of rights ends with the expiration of the conferences $2.6 billion television contract with Fox and ESPN. The question hanging over the Big 12 has always been: When that TV deal runs out, will the conference end, too? Will Texas and Oklahoma, the conferences flagship programs, remain satisfied with being the Big 12s big dogs, or will they seek potentially sweeter deals elsewhere.Expansion wasnt going to change that, so the Big 12 declined on Monday to add two schools from a group of 11 that included BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and Connecticut. The conferences leaders then tried their best to put forth a unified front and positive outlook for the future.No ones looking to walk away from this conference, said Oklahoma President David Boren, the chairman of the Big 12s board of directors. Any feelings to the contrary is just mistaken. They dont understand the strong commitment that we all have to it.Claiming commitment is nice. A legally binding contract is better, but until the Big 12 starts negotiating another television deal or a revision to the current one, locking up the conference beyond 2025 is not a discussion that is taking place, Boren said.When the appropriate proposal is on the table, well be able to go to the open market at the appropriate time and I think negotiate very successfully, Boren said. I think the product of that will be cooperation from all of our schools.The Big 12 still has much to figure out in the near- and long-term.First up, the 10-team conference with a nine-game round-robin schedule must decide how to best implement a football championship game, which returns in 2017. Almost all available solutions are square-peg, round-hole conundrums, but the conference thinks it needs the game to better its chances at the College Football Playoff and raise more revenue.The addition of the conference title game gives the Big 12 an opportunity to open discussions with Fox and ESPN and increase the annual payout from the networks by about $25 million per year.Boren and Commissioner Bob Bowlsby declined to address reports that ESPN and Fox are willing to consider extending the rights contract and buyout a clause that called for a large increase in rights fees if the conference expands.A Big 12 cable network is not on the horizon. As Boren said, the market has spoken and it has said no. But cable is not what it used to be and having a network does not necessarily mean putting games on television.I still wish and hope someday, who knows which form of technology it will take, we will perhaps someday have a branded conference network of some kind, Boren said.The Big 112 paid out $30. China NFL Jerseys. 2 million to each of its members this year, a record amount and third most among Power Five conferences. Still, long-term projections have the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference pulling away in the revenue race from the Big 12, Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference in the coming years.Bowlsby said figuring new ways to generate more is one of the conferences top priorities.But I dont know that theres anybody thats demonstrated a direct correlation between the amount of money spent and the number of championships that you win, Bowlsby said. I guess it would be fair to say that wed not like to get 10 or 15 years henceforth and find out if there was a delta, there isnt any way we could fix it and it would make a difference in how competitive we were. But we reside in very fertile recruiting grounds. We have great coaches. We have great venues and great traditions. I think were always going to be concerned about revenue.Revenue is not necessarily a problem for Texas or Oklahoma. According to USA Today, Texas brought in more than $183 million last year, second most in FBS among public schools. Oklahoma was eighth at $134 million.Texas and its Longhorn Network have been a source of tension in the Big 12 and helped drive some schools away. Despite the Longhorns recent struggles on the football field, there is not a conference in the country that would not open their doors to Texas. The Pac-12 already tried to lure the Longhorns away unsuccessfully once. Texas is one of the few schools that could probably make football independence work in the way Notre Dame does.I look forward to working with Commissioner Bowlsby, chairman Boren and the other conference members to make the Big 12 even stronger in the years to come, Texas President Greg Fenves said in a statement.Oklahoma doesnt quite have Texas star power, but the Sooners would not have much problem finding a home, either. Sooners fans have made it known they are ready for a change and it was Boren that helped make the Big 12 seem unstable by pushing the need for expansion.On Monday, though, it was Boren touting the Big 12s unity and unanimity when it came to not expanding. ESPN reported Tuesday that those were agreed upon talking points.I think we all left the room feeling a much stronger sense of commitment to the conference, commitment to each other, that all of us are Big 12 people, were proud to be part of this conference, and we want to always be a member of this conference as far as were concerned, Boren said. We want to see it be all it can be.At least for eight more years.---Follow Ralph D. Russo Wholesale Jerseys 2018 Stitched Jerseys NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys Store Cheap Nike NFL JerseysJerseys NFL China NFL Jerseys Cheap ' ' '


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