SHIN SPLINTS REDUX – Marco, Mufasa and Ozzy

This new series is guest blogged by Doug Logan.

Doug Logan was the CEO for USATF from 2008 until September 2010.  He was also the CEO, President and Commissioner for Major League Soccer from 1995 to 1999.  To read more about his background and involvement in Track, Soccer, Rugby and the Music industry, read my Freelap Friday Five Interview.

This is his 8th article.  Click here for his entire series.

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SHIN SPLINTS REDUX

Marco, Mufasa and Ozzy

Be Prepared.

To a younger generation and their parents, Be Prepared is a song written by Tim Rice and Elton John for Disney’s “Lion King”. It is sung in the musical and film by Scar as he exhorts his minions to overthrow Mufasa, the King. To a whole other generation, Be Prepared is the motto of the Boy Scouts, as devised by Lord Baden-Powell in 1907. The founder of scouting encouraged his charges to be ready for anything in life by preparing mind and body for the challenges ahead.

This past week we saw an exquisite example of the pay-off of preparation. Asiana Flight 214, a relatively new Boeing 777, crashed upon landing at San Francisco International Airport, shearing off a section of its tail before slamming into the runway. It was ultimately engulfed by smoke then flames. Due to the extraordinary efforts of the skilled flight attendants, led by Lee Yoon-Hye, 305 out of the 307 passengers were saved and only a small percentage emerged with serious injury. The crew had to overcome the inflation of two rescue slides inside the cabin [they used axes to deflate them] and the acrid smoke that began filling the plane. Lee, aged 40 with 20 years experience, led the evacuation despite suffering a broken tail bone. She was the last person off the plane after checking to make sure all the passengers were out. Lee stated the next day, “I wasn’t thinking; I just let my training take over”.

I come from a generation that was challenged, in scouting and in the military, to be prepared for unexpected outcomes. My sons, to this day, razz me for conducting “mini fire drills” every time we checked into a hotel. I would walk them to the nearest exit and go over how to crawl out of the room in the event of a fire. We always have had a family “plan” that includes a rendezvous in the event of a major catastrophe.

Preparation for the unexpected also has its application in sports. I witnessed a unique example during the first MLS Cup, in Foxboro Stadium, on October 20, 1996. It rained over 7 inches that day yet 34,643 fans stood in the downpour to watch DC United take the LA Galaxy into sudden-death overtime. United won 3-2 on a header by Eddie Pope off an incredibly accurate cross out of a water puddle by Marco Antonio “El Diablo” Etcheverry, the brilliant Bolivian midfielder. After the match in the dressing room I asked Marco, in Spanish, how he was able to control the ball in the elements. He told me a story that when he was a youth player in Bolivia, his coaches at the Tahuichi Soccer Academy would have him practice kicking balls out of puddles that they would construct with buckets of water. Been there; done that.

In January of 1981 we inaugurated the Rockford MetroCentre, a 10,000 seat arena in northern Illinois. I was named the General Manager despite having no previous experience managing a sports/concert hall. I actually went through the mental exercise of trying to anticipate problems in advance and devising hypothetical solutions. Presenting rock-and-roll shows is a real challenge to preparedness.

On March 23, 1983 we promoted an Ozzy Osbourne date in his post Black Sabbath days. Unbeknown to me, Osbourne had been treated by a throat specialist the day before, a treatment that included an injection into the vocal cords. He was reportedly told to refrain from the consumption of alcohol, a prescription that conflicted with his beverages of choice. Once on stage he began to stagger and in one instance was singing the wrong lyrics to the song being played by his chums. He finally passed out in the darkness between songs.

We had the foresight of having EMTs in the hall and they got to him right away. They suspected he was having a cardiac episode and within minutes we evacuated him to a local hospital. Meanwhile, the 8,000 or so disaffected fans were throwing objects onto the stage and they were in a near frenzy. I immediately threw off my jacket and necktie and proceeded to the microphone. I was hit by a shoe, a flashlight battery and another unidentifiable object.

I began clapping my hands and rhythmically chanting “Oz-zy, Oz-zy”. I figured that if you are clapping you can’t throw anything. It worked; the bombardment stopped. After a minute or two I told them that their idol had gotten sick but that we had him under the care of the best physicians. My remarks were liberally salted with “f-bombs”. I then told the audience they had a choice. They could do what every adult in town expected them to do and trash the building and hurt one another. Those actions would diminish my ability to bring similar artists back to the community. Or, they could fool everyone and disperse in an orderly fashion and take care of one another. The choice was theirs.

Nobody got hurt; there was no damage to the building. Later, at the hospital I stood by while Bill Elson, Ozzy’s agent, talked to his wife, Sharon, who was in Birmingham, England, pregnant with their son Jack. I could hear her giving Bill hell for letting the man drink. Like he had that kind of power!

After the crowd was out of the building I was approached by a local journalist who congratulated me on my “extemporaneous” remarks and said how lucky we were. I thanked her very much.

The truth? Lucky? Yes! But I had rehearsed that speech several times before a mirror. I knew I would try to get the audience to clap; I knew I needed to remove “adult” clothing to establish credibility; I knew the words I wanted to say.

I was prepared.

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