Great stuff, Seth, and for a great cause. thanks for sharing.
Text of Go Blue Bowl Kickoff Speech: "Michigan is This'
This April 4 will be the first Go Blue Bowl, an event to benefit Marlin Jackson's Fight for Life Foundation. It's a flag football tournament with teams of 10 sponsored by local businesses and coached by Marlin, Jason Avant, Jerome Jackson, Donovan Warren, Chris Perry, Cato June, Tim Massaquoi, Marcus Ray, Jeremy Gallon, Roy Manning, Brandon Williams, and Jamar Adams (so far).
On Monday Brian and I were invited to attend the kickoff event and I was asked to give a speech to explain why we're behind this. I figured I might as well share that as a diary, where those who care to read it can, and the overwhelming majority who don't need only put up with a handful of picas in the diary bar for a few days.
Michigan is This
I was part of that famous class of 1998. Together we won a BCS bowl, 2 Big Ten championships, and twice beat THE university that thinks you need to put an article before a proper noun. The reason you probably don't remember me is Coach Carr here never offered me a scholarship, on account of the fact I was born without any football talent.
I'm just a big fan. As you have probably realized since graduating, being a fan means you are profoundly affected by things you have no control over whatsoever. And because This is Michigan™ [audience adds the 'forgodsakes'] those things aren't just the football things, but also the scholarship things, and the community things.
As your loved ones have probably, carefully, asked when the Michigan things have threatened your control of your sanity: "Why does it matter so much?"
It's our particular weirdness to think we need a real answer to this. Everyone who went here, played here, or roots there [points toward a photo of the stadium] believes in this exceptionalism, this idea that being "acceptable" in any of these facets is never good enough. We can't all possibly excel at such a level all the time. It is an ideal, and that ideal is what we espouse when we reverentially say "Michigan."
We're here supporting the Fight for Life Foundation and Marlin Jackson because he is the embodiment of that ideal, excelling as an athlete, as a scholar, and in what he does to give back to his community.
When I was first checking out his foundation I thought "wow, Marlin Jackson, remember his first interception on the 7 yard line against Western when he was still wearing number 20 where he went up and we were all like "finally!"…
Yeah so the second thing was I showed this to my wife does this for a living—she's a child psychologist who works with at-risk children—and she was very impressed, said this is what these kids need and what a lot of their schools have increasingly been unable to provide.
They need access to art, and challenges to their creativity and analysis skills, to develop critical thinking. They need assistance to catch up to classmates in their studies, else all that other school is wasted in futility. They need opportunities to function in a team setting, to develop an appreciation for society and their own value to it.
These aren't just things; the scholars in child psychology say that after food and shelter they're the most important things.
Marlin saw that this is what these kids need to succeed as teammates, in the classroom, and as members of their communities, via his own experiences, and from the expertise of some of the top educational thinkers around Indianapolis whom he's brought in to develop his programming. He was put in a position to provide this because he made himself an exceptional athlete. And he knew he had to, because he went to Michigan, and THIS is what we're all about.
We can't always affect this, that, or the other thing. But with Marlin's leadership we can be contributors to the making-the-world-a-better-place-things, that is, the things that make THIS matter.
Came here to say this as well. Thanks Seth!
and in the community
...I see what you did there.
I am also a member of the infamous, or more than famous, class of 1998. This speech perfectly conveys the pride I have as an alum and employee. Great work and thanks for sharing!
Seth, when you see Marlin next please tell him Ryan says hi. I should probably just call him but I hate bothering him, he's a busy dude with the foundation and little Camden.
I had to stop volunteering my time because of family issues, but I am so proud of Marlin, FFLF, and the time I was able to spend helping the foundation.
Thank you guys so much for being down to help out the foundation from the moment we reached out to you. I was so thankful then and I'm especially thankful for your continued involvement. Marlin has such a wonderful foundation and you are awesome for taking such an active role in supporting Fight For Life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
So, Wolverine Chemist, since you seem to have been involved with FFLF, what specifically can you tell us about them? Their website is down at the moment, though I have been able to pull it up in the past. (And the facebook page hasn't had a post in almost 3 years.) When I have been able to look at the website, I still couldn't really tell what FFLF does other than help develop underprivileged children. The website shows very few pictures of kids or their parents (but there are a lot of pictures of Marlin.)
When there are so many NP and NFP organizations vying for dollars and attention, I like to have a better idea of what the thing is about, how it performs, how much leverage they have with the philanthropic community at large beyond their own resources, etc. Not to mention, it doesn't hurt to provide a link to their financials on their website, for instance, but it's not there.
Can you shed any light on this?
That's a very good speech Seth. Thanks for posting it.
does a great job of expressing passion and sentiment for Michigan without crossing over into schmaltz. Extremely well done.
Great speech, great cause.