Grantland Rice

I read a very funny albeit snarky piece a few years ago at the (click the link to read for yourself) Everyday Should be Saturday website that was making fun of the difference in sports journalism now and what it once was.  In today’s environment, sports writing is more political than it is about sports.  ESPN is falling faster than the odds of the Jaguars Grantland Ricewinning the Super Bowl.  Why?  Because we turn to sports to not have to deal with politics.  What is funny is that the millennials who might agree politically with the commentators, don’t pay cable bills, they stream if they want to watch.  FOR FREE.  It is old guys like me who can afford to pay the cable bill, and still think that is the way one watches sports on TV but don’t want to hear the social justice warrior crap.  So these sports pundits go out and alienate the bill-paying clientele like me, and now must deal with  a shrinking market share and thus face layoffs.  Here they think they are smarter than the rest of us, but don’t get economics 101;  I just don’t get it.

Back to Grantland Rice, a real gem to dig out of the dustbin, if you know what that is, and re-discover his beautiful writing style.  He was born in a different era, a hardscrabble agrarian lifestyle that made one tough, persistent, and patient.  I have pasted a couple of his poems here for you to enjoy.  We have read his account of the Notre Dame vs. Army football game, “the four horsemen” piece referenced in the article I linked to above.  He wrote about life as well, and what it means and holds.  Take a look for yourself.

The Vanished Country by Grantland Rice

Back in the Vanished Country

There’s a cabin in the lane,

Across the yellow sunshine

And the silver of the rain;

A cabin, summer-shaded,

Where the maples whispered low

Dream stories of the southwind

That a fellow used to know;

And it’s queer that, turning gray,

Still a fellow looks away

To a dream he knows has vanished

Down the Path of Yesterday.


Back in the Vanished Country

There’s an old-time swinging gate

Through the early dusk of summer

Where a girl had come to wait;

And her hair was like the sundrift

From the heart of summer skies

While the blue of God’s wide heaven

Crowned the splendor of her eyes;

And it’s queer that turning gray,

Still a fellow looks away

To a dream he knows has vanished

Down the Path of Yesterday.


Back in the Vanished Country

There’s a dream that used to be,

Of Fame within the City

And a name beyond the sea;

A dream of laurel wreathings

That came singing through the night

The story of the glory

Of the victor in the fight;

And it’s queer that, worn and gray,

Still a fellow looks away

To a dream he knows has vanished

Down the Path of Yesterday.


Two Sides Of War (All Wars)

“All wars are planned by older men
In council rooms apart,
Who call for greater armament
And map the battle chart.
But out along the shattered field
Where golden dreams turn gray,
How very young the faces were
Where all the dead men lay.
Portly and solemn in their pride,
The elders cast their vote
For this or that, or something else,
That sounds the martial note.

But where their sightless eyes stare out
Beyond life’s vanished toys,
I’ve noticed nearly all the dead
Were hardly more than boys.”

Grantland Rice was renown in his day.  Today I bet only a small handful of sports fans would know him.  They could be prompted to remember him by the last couplet in his poem Alumnus Football; “…For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name—He marks—not that you won or lost—but how you played the game.”  Or Casey’s Revenge when the mighty Casey struck out.   Grantland Rice was somebody who felt that sports wasn’t just an outlet, an escape if you will, but a reflection of man’s character and metaphor for his struggle in life.  He wrote about golf, horse racing, boxing, baseball he covered all the sports.  It was his unique perspective and softness of language that separated him from his peers.  I wonder if any of the smarter-than-the-rest-of-us knucklehead sports writers could pen a poem with any intellectual depth whatsoever.  If you have an extra minute read some of Grantland Rice’s writings, columns, and poems you could be a better person for having done so.

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