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California Ugly


I played a variety of sports growing up, from little league, on the playground, in fields between houses, parks in big cities, cage courts on city streets, the beach in California and in between those named locations, in the Detroit, NY, Chicago, farm country YMCAs, the Shore, college campus big 10 and Sec. In the process, I played a lot of pick up sports, often when I knew no one else in the game, or maybe one person that brought me to the team on occasion. I have a book of knowledge built by such experience and that led me to come up with the title of this thought piece, creating the term and telling why I think it helps explain Tom Brady, maybe even to himself a bit.

Everywhere that I played, regardless of the sport, a level of toughness had to be learned, even if it was innate to a person. They had to know how to apply what they were in a manner that was best for them. Surely, if you are the biggest, your choice is to do what you want and enforce it with brute strength. Not every place had one such guy, but you would see them a lot. Usually, though, you had to find how toughness was accepted on the ground of play in the moment, maybe from within or maybe as influenced by the outside. It appears to me that Brady may be reflecting how toughness is set forth in CA, with a great deal of Northern California more than So Cal.

Here is the thing, though, that is true of any game, region, city: fine tuning aside, the person has to be honest to be accepted as the path keeps rolling out in their vicinity. I am not going to set out the bullet points of California Ugly, as they are just there and can be beyond itemization. Here is what goes with the ugly in every location at which I have found myself. You enforce the rules of the game, always right up to the line where you could be chastised for a bad application of a rule. You must be honest in the application to yourself in order to demand the same from others.
I will give you an example: in a basketball game at a court of Jefferson, not far from the environment in which Jalen Rose was raised. I was at a court I had played on, as a clear outsider, for about 4 weeks, let’s say age 23 or 24. I stopped a guy as he came down the lane, beating him to the spot he needed by a clear time, blocking the ball and knocking him down. He squared off and I asked why. Then I added, “that is the way we play here.” The other guys on both teams nodded and voiced their agreement and the situation was over.

Why? Because I played Detroit Ugly, honestly. I had all validity by getting him face on and getting the ball both, so I had the high ground in the application of standards set in Detroit. That changed across the country, but it held up well if there was a discussion. Some places would accept getting a guy from behind, but not in Detroit.

That is the Ugly that Tom Brady exercises, adapted to the level/means of demonstration practiced in Northern California, then honed with his experiences at Michigan when he was shown a further Paradigm by an honest coach and honest system to which he had to adapt. It was probably the first forced adaption in his life, but the people at Michigan were familiar with the transitions from all over the country, now the world, such that there was coaching that was applied, even his specialized and acknowledged “head” coach there. I would guess that his “original” toughness was based largely upon ripping people verbally, but that is pure imagination, and may be my prejudicial application of Country Club Ugly, since that is almost always verbal. That can never work at the highest level of football, basketball, soccer, etc. and he either always practiced or learned that the team had to know that he would accept pain for advancement of his way. Payback, though honest, would be a bitch though for every lesson that was delivered in a manner such that it seemed there was a request for behavioral response, though not immediate.

I am just telling the public so they can enjoy it on a new level, maybe accepting a bit better, his paradigm, California Ugly. Of course, a lot has been reinforced by Boston Ugly, but that is a whole nother can of worms.

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