Wednesday, February 4, 2015

    Today was Signing Day in the USA for high school athletes to formally commit to colleges and universities. For a great many it is the only way they can afford post-secondary education. For everyone it is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication, with more to come. For about 1% of the signers, it is a step on the way to professional sports.

     But what about the vast majority who will one day have to stop playing for whatever reason? John Updike's "Ex-Basketball Player" explores that dismal post-glory existence. Poor Flick Webb has nothing on which he can fall back; as a result he is doomed to have his best years behind him.

     In high school I read Updike's "Couples", which was a magnet for teenagers interested in adult antics. When on my seminary internship in Reading, Pennsylvania, I started reading the "Rabbit" novels. Updike was born in nearby Shillington and captures the time and places perfectly. I regret that he never won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

     Enjoy the poem!

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