"Introduction to the Dawn of Athleticism."
by Banch Morgan
The eerie hum of a blue2017 Ford Mustang can be heard, as it pulls into the lot. Anyone would takethat moment to enjoy a little revving of the strong engine under the hood.However, it wasn't one of those days. As he calls it, "That kind ofday."
It's never easy, getting around acampus, however today was a special one. Construction blocked off several keyareas, forcing more detours, and more selective four letter lingo in response.Regardless, he's here now.
While shutting the car off, he peersout at the building. Hillside Auditorium. In roughly 20 minutes, 800 peoplewill pack this building. Sure, tickets ran cheap, at a whopping 5 dollars, freeif you're a medical student or faculty member. It wasn't about money, anyways.
As the door pops open, he exits.Sporting a charcoal grey suit, Banch Morgan has arrived in Razorback Country.The air felt different, possibly due in part to the hectic Air Conditioningthat his car was belting out. Regardless, He adjusted his sunglasses and closedthe door behind him.
Walking towards the door, Banchglances down at his hand, and the manila folder that carries most of hisspeech. Some of it is improvised, but with his track record, he’d forget someimperative things before he even began.
He peeks his head into theauditorium, noticing the full venue. This was more than him, this was thestudents, the faculty, and an opportunity. The speaker notices the guest, andbegins.
“Good morning. This is a historicday for us at the University of Arkansas. This University is a place that isalways on the brink of something terrific. We strive to bring the best to thestudents, and today, we bring something more. Who I have here today, is a manwho is world traveled. He’s been star of live production, television, film, andradio. He is the founder of APOLLO Dynamics, one of the world’s largestcommunication companies. All in all, if you ask him what he does, and has done,he’s a professional wrestler. A man, who embodies the American dream. Born intoa military family, built himself out of their shadows to become a celebrity,and left the business when he knew it was time. No drugs, no tragedy, BanchMorgan, everybody.”
That’s quite an introduction. Thedoor swings open, as Banch enters the auditorium. He’s met with a tremendousapplause, and gives the audience a respectful wave. After finding time to shakethe speaker’s hand, Banch is handed the microphone, as the crowd begins to cooldown. He removes his sunglasses, and tucks them into his collar, before gettingready to speak.
“Fitzgerald couldn’t have summarizedthat story any better. Thank you.”
They both smile before the speakertakes a seat.
“Ten years ago, it feels likeforever, yet it feels like yesterday. Just eight days short of my 20thbirthday, I earned my degree in Business Administration. So, like any otheraspiring entrepreneur, I walked away, and wrestled. I left the idea ofeducation, and chose to wear spandex, and fight men, of whom were also wearingspandex. Then, I learned the truest form of business. Know what it is? You.”
Banch clears his throat, beforecontinuing.
“Professional wrestling was neverabout beating others up. I could have walked out there, and played paddy cakewith somebody. I could have had a dance contest. It wasn’t about what I did toshow how rough, and tough I am, I was a salesman. I sold an experience tothousands, every single night. No other wrestler has the balls to say that toyou. They carry the same attitude that has been outdated since the end of theStone Age. Big strong man, big strong woman, I am stronger than you. Most ofthose people, be it friends of mine, well wishers, or simply enemies, arestruggling to walk every day. They have surgery at least once a year for a bodypart that is falling apart. I made a vow to myself that it I wasn’t going to bethat guy. Was it fun to hit a few people? Yeah, it was. Just like how it wasfun to look at into your eyes when I stood on the ropes, and watched all ofyou. Now, one of those times I stood too long, and some wise guy threw me offand I landed right on my head. That was concussion number.. Four? I think itwas.”
Some laughter emerges, however somein the crowd are empathetic towards Banch.
“Show of hands, I always love doingthis. Who here, has hit their head?”
Everybody raises their hands.
“Wow, impressive. Keep those handsup, if you fell to the floor, and hit your head.”
A few hands drop down.
“Lucky you. Keep your hands up, ifyou hit your head while falling on ice?”
Some hands drop, however it’s still pretty strong.
“Car accidents? Who cracked theirhead open in a car accident?”
More hands drop, some remainhowever.
“How about a baseball bat to thehead? Full force.”
Two hands remain.
“How about struck by lightning?”
Only one hand remains.
“Really? Damn, kudos to you on beinghere. I was hoping nobody was left. Did you, good ma’am get struck by lightningwhile touching the ground, and shouting about how you’re going to St. Louistomorrow to win back the title?”
Hand remains up, the Lady did all that.
“You should be up here then. Aconcussion is a bruised brain, people. Sure, swelling, and mild bruisingdiminishes over time, but there is effects always of those concussions. I’vehad nine of them. The first few were small. The third one kept me out of actionfor two weeks. Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth, I kept going. Seventh, Eighth, I hadto go Japan that month. No rest for the wicked. Yet, it was Number Nine. I’llpaint a picture here for you.”
Banch removes his coat, and rollshis sleeves up.
“Here I am, fresh off #8. WorldHeavyweight Championship of PROJECT Wrestling against the Ukraine Train, AndrejJankovic. In front of how many people? 100,000? No? 50,000? No? How about10,000? No. My last match was in front of 496 people. Less than the people whoare in this room today. Jankovic, big guy, strong, right? He picks me upliterally deadlifting me, and throws me on the back of my head. My bell wasrung, but that wasn’t enough. No, he grabbed me again, picked me up,deadlifting me all the way, and threw me finally onto the top of my head. One,two, three. Match was done. Career was done, I didn’t want to do it anymore.”
The audience sounds horrified asthey continue listening.
“I stepped backstage, and I satthere. My neck was iced, and I couldn’t look up. All I could see were these bigass boots, belonging to a 6’11” violent, hard nosed, MMA trained bad ass namedJankovic. He ended my career. I finally poised myself up enough to even look athim, and I saw tears. I was hurt, and he was hurt that I was hurt. He drove meto the emergency room, and he called every week for six months. We still talk,he’s figuring this facebook thing out, I guess. No matter what you sell inlife, you’re going to get hurt, somehow. Whether it’s your body, your emotions,your pocket book, whatever. This, today, about our athletes.”
A small applause comes for theathletes.
“I could tell all of you a lie, andsay that concussions aren’t on the rise. They are. Why? We give them the newestequipment, we give them attention when they get hit. Why are concussions highernow after the regulations? I’ll tell you right now, why that is. Athletes willnot learn how to handle themselves on the field, on the court, on the ice, orin the ring until they know how to do something properly. What is that? How todo clean hits, and be good at them. That’s why I’m here today.”
Some chatter begins. Banch grabs abottle of water, and takes a swig before continuing.
“I’m here, to tell everybody. Youhave received a grant. This wasn’t just my doing, obviously, however we havebegun a foundation that is authorized to provide you all with a 145 milliondollar grant. I had to pull several strings, and possibly call in some favorsfrom my Dad’s buddies in Washington. However, What we have agreed on, and theboard has authorized, is a brand new, state of the art, athletics facility. It’scalled Athletes United.”
More chatter, followed by cheers.
“The only way, ladies and gentlemen,we will ever take care of our athletes, is if we teach them how do be REALAthletes. Taking care of yourself, taking care of others. Over 200 Universityof Arkansas alumni will be here. Dozens of which you can find in NFL, NBA, MLB, everywhere. Hell, I have a couple friendsfrom Europe, we’ll bring them on too. I know most of you were wondering whathuge building was outside. Now, you know. Welcome to the future of the ArkansasRazorbacks.”
The audience erupts in cheers, nowentering a standing ovation. Banch crouches down, shaking the hands of severalof the audience members before exiting the auditorium. The future of sports ishere.