Soft balls versus hard balls.

History does repeat itself.

I was asked today for a formal media response to the NFL “investigation” into the New England Patriots deflated balls news story. Here was my response:

“In a world where people are suffering and dying from disease, famine, crime, war, and countless atrocities, the NFL and the media should be ashamed of themselves for making this headline news. #peace #blessingstoall”

Then I had a flashback to 1967. I was a citizen of three nations – Leafs Nation, Packers Nation, and Cardinals Nation. The Leafs had just won another Stanley Cup. The Packers won the first Super Bowl. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. Clean sweep. Triple Crown for a rabid 10 year-old sports fan. There’s more. The 1967 Packer season changed my life. Packer great Jerry Kramer wrote the classic book Instant Replay, a behind the scenes look at the 1967 Packer season led by head coach Vince Lombardi. It was the first book I ever bought. The book introduced me to my calling – football coach. I’ve read Instant Replay 23 times…23 times! Just to remind myself why I coach football when I question my sanity about why I coach football.

Books change lives. Every book I have read has changed my life one way or another. Even the books that were unreadable. Reading is exactly the same as working out. Like painful books, painful workouts make you grow. Instant Replay was a blessing in my life, Nothing just happens. One of the few benefits of Facebook was my introduction to Jerry Kramer. I sent him a Facebook message informing him that his book change thousands of my players’ lives. He answered the message, unlike many people who believe they are too important and too busy to answer common-folk.

But 1967 changed another part of my life. I saw my future. Every time I changed the channel to a Leafs game or an NFL game or a major league baseball game, I heard my father say the same thing – “Hanno intenzione di pagare????” Actually, that’s the Google translation of proper Italian for, “ARE THEY GOING TO PAY YOU??????” There is no Google translation for uneducated immigrant dialect that explains what he said verbatim.

“ARE THEY GOING TO PAY YOU??????” was on a loop. Like when your iPOD moves to that arrow symbol on its own that gets stuck on repeat, the 21st century equivalent of the broken record. God rest his soul, but my father hated sports. Not just a dislike, not just a mild contempt…full-fledged hatred.  At first I thought it was because of a generation gap - my father was old enough to be my grandfather. I was part of a new apocalyptic generation, the 1960’s equivalent of Millennials today, who were believed to be ushering in the end of the world. But his hatred for sports went deeper. Sports didn’t fit into his worldview. His worldview had been shaped by poverty, war, and depression. He didn’t see the value of investing heart and soul into something that pays one way only.

When I started coaching football for free, it got worse. “Hanno intenzione di pagare?” over and over. With more added to it. If you Google, ”Che tipo di stronzo avrebbe lavorato gratuitamente per insegnare alla gente a distruggere a vicenda senza motivo cazzo” you get “What kind of an asshole would work for free to teach people to smash into each other for no F’n reason?” I tuned it out because I felt a mixture of sorrow and frustration for his closed-mindedness about a sport that transformed countless student-athletes, live, before my eyes.

But, history does repeat itself. How the hell can anyone take a sport seriously that believes an ounce of air in your balls, one way or the other, is worthy of headlines? I understand rules. There would be anarchy without rules. But soft balls or hard balls is not news. Making soft balls headline news is disgraceful. Its’ disrespectful to the news that truly matters in real-life.

Two years ago, I lost my mind and agreed to coach someone else’s team other than mine. At the first team meeting, I told the team, “I love my team but I don’t love the sport so don’t ask me to talk about football. I don’t give a shit about football on TV. I don’t watch it. I will talk to you about anything else but not about watching football on TV.” A guy in the front office nearly passed out. “HE’S KIDDING. HE’S KIDDING.” He took it personally, like I insulted his family.

I won’t care about the NFL or its soft balls until it cares about my team, the team I coach – Niagara X-men. I won’t follow the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks or the Green Bay Packers or the Indianapolis Colts until they follow my team. I won’t invest anything into any NFL team until they invest the same into my players. Their hard balls or soft balls don’t matter to me. I believe in social graces – reciprocity of love. When the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks or the Green Bay Packers or the Indianapolis Colts love my team, I will love them back. Otherwise, I have officially adopted my father’s mentality about pro sports. I no longer care about the Leafs, the Cardinals, or the Packers. I have resigned from their nations and joined the Niagara X-men nation.

But some addictions are hard to break. I admit it – I check the sports pages every day. No exception. Followed by that period of self-loathing after you do what you swear never to do again. The other day, a customer at my gym asked me, “Who are you pulling for in the Super Bowl?” I said, “The team that goes for it on every 4th down, the team that goes for two on every convert, the team that passes more than it runs, the team that kicks more onside kickoffs that deep kickoffs, the team that runs a warp-speed no-huddle until the last second of the game, the team that doesn’t play scared and try to kill the clock.”


Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., Level 3 NCCP (Nat’l Coaching Certification Program)

Head coach – Niagara X-men football

Owner – X Fitness Inc.


Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. His website, blog, Youtube channel, and list of books are at:

His books include:

4th & hell: seasons 1-5, Soul of a Lifter, SWAT Offense, SWAT Defense, X Fitness Workout System, and a 3 business book series called Soul of an Entrepreneur

He also has written 20 editions of 6 law enforcement academic textbooks. A new 8-volume interrogation book series will be released in 2014. And just released, a new children’s book called “BE FIT – DON’T QUIT.” His latest book on human potential called “Hashtag Peace” is at the editing stage. He just finished another book called “Lifter’s High.” Both will be released soon.


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