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Realizing sports are not everything, but they're close

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By John Herndon

There comes a time when you realize it is time to say words you never thought possible: Sports aren't everything.

You say the words, then kick yourself and pinch yourself. Just making sure you are still alive, you know.

You even stand in front of a mirror, deliberately enunciating the words, then checking your pulse for good measure.

"Sports aren't everything. Sports are not everything."

Of course, down deep you are crossing your fingers and say something like "at least after the Super Bowl." Then the qualifier morphs into "after the Final Four" or "after Opening Day in Cincinnati."

Sports are NOT everything, but I have to admit that my trusty laptop balked when those words hit the screen.

That's hard for someone who has been around the block, who has seen over 1,000 high school basketball games, approximately 250 football contests and a whole slew of everything else, to admit. But it's true.

And you really know that reality when you are lying on a hospital gurney waiting for routine knee surgery when a doctor asks the question, "Can you postpone the knee surgery?"

While I am trying to decide if this is someone trying to play a cruel joke, he asked, "When did you have a heart attack?"

"Well, I hadn't, but keep asking me questions like that and I might oblige."

The cardiologist continued.

"An EKG indicates you might have had a heart attack, so I think you need to postpone the knee surgery and get that taken care of."

As long as I am ready to go by the district tournament, no problem.

A few days later, I went back to the doctor for a heart catheterization, from which I had a good report (if I had had one, there was no damage), a sigh of relief and a newfound revelation.

New, even for someone that has been on the job for 23 years, with a couple of one-year hiatuses, as I have. Not many stay around local sports for a weekly newspaper that long.

My Landmark colleagues Tom Bystrek at The Springfield Sun (27 years) and Mickey Patterson at The Oldham Era (22 years) are about the only ones I know of.

Even those guys, two of the best in Kentucky, gave some gentle needling. Patterson e-mailed, "John, I always knew you were a tough old bird" and Bystrek mentioned the AARP in another.

Somehow, I think they need to be banished to cover curling or cross-country skiing for comments like that, but I digress.

The big thing about doing this job is having fun. Confucius was to have said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."

I am not sure about that but I can tell you that sometimes, the wake-up calls serve to remind us about our own limitations and you make the decisions about what is really important in life.

Like nearly all of my classmates in the Anderson County High School Class of 1976, I hit the big 5-0 this year. Sunday, to be exact.

It's supposed to be a milestone. It's when Bystrek's friends at the AARP will start trying to sell me something every day.

It's also when my son, who says I already walk like Walter Brennan - hence, the knee surgery - starts counting more and more gray hairs. I am going to enjoy the day, sit back, relax and watch the Patriots win the Super Bowl again.

Sports really aren't everything.

But, like life, they are definitely good.