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Friday, May 25, 2007
Updated: June 5, 4:02 PM ET
Page 2's ultimate commencement address

By Mike Philbrick
Page 2

Tired of the same old commencement speakers quoting presidents, poets or even just themselves?

At Page 2 University (where "Why bloggers hate us" and "Every two years Page 2 was better two years ago" are popular classes), we have Rocky Balboa, Norman Dale, Carl Spackler, Roy Hobbs and Eddie Felson speaking at our commencement.

Indeed, how would it sound if you spoke to the young minds of the world using only what you've heard in sports movies?

You're about to find out.


I came here tonight, and I didn't know what to expect. I don't know what to say, really. We're way past big speech time, let's all gather round. I'm not much for giving inspirational addresses.

I have only come up with two hard incontrovertible facts: There is a God, and I'm not Him. There's a force in the universe that makes things happen. All you have to do is get in touch with it. Stop thinking. Let things happen and you're gonna eat lightning and you're gonna crap thunder. You're gonna become a very dangerous person. Eye of the tiger. Now that's class.

It's not enough. Rely on your gift alone and you're gonna fail. You gotta develop yourself. The secret is confidence and concentration. You got them, you don't need much else. Take your time. Be patient. Be patient.

When it comes to books, I'm not really that smart. Shinto philosophy teaches you to accept life as a seasonal occupation. The Zen philosopher, Basho, once wrote: A flute with no holes is not a flute, and bees and dogs can smell fear. You're becoming one with fear. People have to live their own lives. Nobody can live it for you. This is where it all happens.

You just got lesson No. 1: Don't think you're going to live forever. Take a lesson from the dead. Everybody'd be nice to you if they knew you were dying. I don't know, nobody likes to think about it. I don't like to think about it. But if you don't, you might go through life thinking you've got plenty of time and you put off the really important stuff until later. Pretty soon, before you know it -- there's no more time left. You've blown it. It goes fast. Don't sleep. Don't waste a second of it. Because before you know it -- it's done. Nothing but babies and memories ... you hear me? Babies and memories. Don't get caught watching the paint dry. That's right. Or in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre: "Au revoir, gopher."

I would like to relieve you of the fears and anxieties which are so inherently symptomatic of a losing team. You can get through college half-assed. ... You can get through life half-assed. But I'll guarantee you wake up after a few years thinking you're a winner, but you're not. You're really a loser. All the arguing in the world can't change the decision of the umpire. What are you trying to prove? What's it prove? You're nothing but a small-time Charlie. I do know this: A foul is not a foul unless the referee blows the whistle. So I've got that going for me ... which is nice.

It's time to put away childish things. Show me the money and winner take all. Every sucker for himself. You gotta look to the future. You can't build on what you don't got. No time to waste. Now, the golden years are behind you. Nothing's ever gonna be the same again. Well, I've got news for you, you wanna dance, you gotta pay the band. All of us, we dig our own holes. You gotta go for all the answers. There is no tomorrow.

Right about now your bladder feels like an overstuffed vacuum cleaner bag, and your butt is kind of like an about-to-explode bratwurst. It's only your life. Don't make a joke of your life. Exhausted? Good. Get used to it. From now on it's gonna be more of the same. Stay in school and use your brain. Be a doctor, be a lawyer, carry a leather briefcase. Forget about sports as a profession. Sports make you grunt and smell. See, be a thinker, not a stinker. For it is money they have and peace they lack. It's OK to think about what you want to do until it was time to start doing what you were meant to do. You know, like anything can be great. Anything can be great. I don't care. Bricklaying can be great. The world needs ditchdiggers, too.

It's a good day to think about responsibility. People who confuse brains and luck can get in a whole lot of trouble. Seeing through the game is not the same as winning the game. A breakthrough. Breakdown? Breakthrough. I have to laugh, because I've often asked myself, my foe, my enemy, is an animal. In order to conquer him, I have to go the distance.

I'm talking about wanting things in life. I'm talking about having dreams. And all that starts right here. Having dreams is what makes life tolerable. You don't have dreams, you don't have anything. Let them play! You hear me?

Can you be perfect? Are you afraid to try? What's can't? There ain't no can't. Why don't you just step up and play the hero? Anything worth doing is worth doing right. We're always looking for excuses. Let's pretend ... we're real human beings. We analyze, we theorize, prosthetize, sometimes we even sympathize, but we never, never rationalize. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small, I mean, one half a step too late, or too early, and you don't quite make it, one half a second too slow or too fast you don't quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. In this life, you don't have to prove nothing to nobody but yourself. If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential to be the best that you can be, that's heroic. Let's be heroes.

Buckle up my friend. You're about to embark on a great adventure. I want you to put each other in your hearts forever -- because forever is about to happen here in just a few minutes. That's all it is. Now, what are you gonna do? I guess there's only one thing left to do.

Hey, I don't have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I've failed as much as I've succeeded. But I love my wife. I love my life. And I wish you, my kind of successes.

This is your time. Now go out there and take it ... and no one can ever take it away.

Victoire! Victoire! USA! USA! USA!


Didn't recognize all those quotes? Think they're made up? Well, after carefully watching 34 movies (totalling 65 hours and 24 minutes), I can assure you they're for real.

Here's a breakdown of where every quote came from:

I came here tonight, and I didn't know what to expect.1 I don't know what to say, really.2 We're way past big speech time,3 let's all gather round. I'm not much for giving inspirational addresses.4

I have only come up with two hard incontrovertible facts: There is a God, and I'm not Him.5 There's a force in the universe that makes things happen. All you have to do is get in touch with it. Stop thinking. Let things happen and6 you're gonna eat lightning and you're gonna crap thunder. You're gonna become a very dangerous person.7 Eye of the tiger.8 Now that's class.9

It's not enough. Rely on your gift alone and you're gonna fail. You gotta develop yourself. The secret is confidence and concentration. You got them, you don't need much else.10 Take your time. Be patient. Be patient.11

When it comes to books, I'm not really that smart.12 Shinto philosophy teaches you to accept life as a seasonal occupation.13 The Zen philosopher, Basho, once wrote: A flute with no holes is not a flute, and14 bees and dogs can smell fear.15 You're becoming one with fear.16 People have to live their own lives. Nobody can live it for you.17 This is where it all happens.18

You just got lesson No. 1: Don't think19 you're going to live forever.20 Take a lesson from the dead.21 Everybody'd be nice to you if they knew you were dying.22 I don't know, nobody likes to think about it. I don't like to think about it. But if you don't, you might go through life thinking you've got plenty of time and you put off the really important stuff until later. Pretty soon, before you know it -- there's no more time left. You've blown it.23 It goes fast. Don't sleep. Don't waste a second of it. Because before you know it -- it's done. Nothing but babies and memories ... you hear me? Babies and memories.24 Don't get caught watching the paint dry.25 That's right. Or in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre: "Au revoir, gopher."26

I would like to relieve you of the fears and anxieties which are so inherently symptomatic of a losing team.27 You can get through college half-assed. ... You can get through life half-assed. But I'll guarantee28 you wake up after a few years thinking you're a winner, but you're not. You're really a loser.29 All the arguing in the world can't change the decision of the umpire.30 What are you trying to prove? What's it prove?31 You're nothing but a small-time Charlie.32 I do know this: A foul is not a foul unless the referee blows the whistle.33 So I've got that going for me ... which is nice.34

It's time to put away childish things.35 Show me the money36 and winner take all.37 Every sucker for himself.38 You gotta look to the future. You can't build on what you don't got.39 No time to waste.40 Now, the golden years are behind you.41 Nothing's ever gonna be the same again.42 Well, I've got news for you43, you wanna dance, you gotta pay the band.44 All of us, we dig our own holes.45 You gotta go for all the answers.46 There is no tomorrow.47

Right about now your bladder feels like an overstuffed vacuum cleaner bag, and your butt is kind of like an about-to-explode bratwurst.48 It's only your life.49 Don't make a joke of your life.50 Exhausted? Good. Get used to it. From now on it's gonna be more of the same.51 Stay in school and use your brain. Be a doctor, be a lawyer, carry a leather briefcase. Forget about sports as a profession. Sports make you grunt and smell. See, be a thinker, not a stinker.52 For it is money they have and peace they lack.53 It's OK to think about what you want to do until it was time to start doing what you were meant to do.54 You know, like anything can be great. Anything can be great. I don't care. Bricklaying can be great.55 The world needs ditchdiggers, too.56

It's a good day to think about responsibility.57 People who confuse brains and luck can get in a whole lot of trouble. Seeing through the game is not the same as winning the game.58 A breakthrough. Breakdown? Breakthrough.59 I have to laugh, because I've often asked myself, my foe, my enemy, is an animal. In order to conquer him, I have to60 go the distance.61

I'm talking about wanting things in life. I'm talking about having dreams. And all that starts right here.62 Having dreams is what makes life tolerable.63 You don't have dreams, you don't have anything.64 Let them play!65 You hear me?66

Can you be perfect?67 Are you afraid to try?68 What's can't? There ain't no can't.69 Why don't you just step up and play the hero?70 Anything worth doing is worth doing right.71 We're always looking for excuses.72 Let's pretend ... we're real human beings.73 We analyze, we theorize, prosthetize, sometimes we even sympathize, but we never, never rationalize.74 Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small, I mean, one half a step too late, or too early, and you don't quite make it, one half a second too slow or too fast you don't quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us.75 In this life, you don't have to prove nothing to nobody but yourself.76 If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential to be the best that you can be77, that's heroic. Let's be heroes.78

Buckle up my friend. You're about to embark on a great adventure.79 I want you to put each other in your hearts forever -- because forever is about to happen here in just a few minutes.80 That's all it is. Now, what are you gonna do?81 I guess there's only one thing left to do.82

Hey, I don't have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I've failed as much as I've succeeded. But I love my wife. I love my life. And I wish you, my kind of successes.83

This is your time. Now go out there and take it84 ... and no one can ever take it away.85

Victoire! Victoire!86 USA! USA! USA!87

FOOTNOTES

1 Rocky Balboa, Rocky IV

2 Tony D'Amato, Any Given Sunday

3 Norman Dale, Hoosiers

4 Lou Brown, Major League

5 Father Cavanaugh, Rudy

6 Ty Webb, Caddyshack

7 Mickey Goldmill, Rocky

8 Apollo Creed, Rocky III

9 Rocky Balboa, Rocky II

10 Ed Hobbs, The Natural

11 Norman Dale, Hoosiers

12 Henry Steele, One on One

13 David Sommers, American Flyers

14 Ty Webb, Caddyshack

15 Ray Boyd, Jerry Maguire

16 Hitchhiker, American Flyers

17 Lou Gehrig, Pride of the Yankees

18 Cletus, Hoosiers

19 Crash Davis, Bull Durham

20 Buck Weaver, Eight Men Out

21 Herman Boone, Remember The Titans

22 Bruce Pearson, Bang The Drum Slowly

23 Louden Swain, Vision Quest

24 Brian, Friday Night Lights

25 Shooter Flatch, Hoosiers

26 Carl Spackler, Caddyshack

27 Dr. Knobb, The Natural

28 Pete Bell, Blue Chips

29 Rocky Balboa, Rocky III

30 Lou Gehrig, Pride of the Yankees

31 Joey La Motta, Raging Bull

32 Eddie Felson, The Hustler

33 Lavada McRae, Blue Chips

34 Carl Spackler, Caddyshack

35 Phil Elliott, North Dallas Forty

36 Rod Tidwell, Jerry Maguire

37 Roy Hobbs, The Natural

38 Ned Braden, Slap Shot

39 Gus Sands, The Natural

40 Apollo Creed, Rocky III

41 Joe McGrath, Slap Shot

42 Kuch, Vision Quest

43 Terrence Mann, Field of Dreams

44 Rocky Balboa, Rocky

45 Gary Gaines, Friday Night Lights

46 Kuch, Vision Quest

47 Apollo Creed, Rocky III

48 Ernie McCracken, Kingpin

49 Jake Taylor, Major League

50 Dorothy Boyd, Jerry Maguire

51 Raymond Stoller, Breaking Away

52 Apollo Creed, Rocky

53 Terrence Mann, Field of Dreams

54 Jim Morris Sr., The Rookie

55 Eddie Felson, The Hustler

56 Judge Elihu Smails, Caddyshack

57 Gary Gaines, Friday Night Lights

58 Conrad Hunter, North Dallas Forty

59 Jerry Maguire, Jerry Maguire

60 Carl Spackler, Caddyshack

61 The Voice, Field of Dreams

62 Jimmy Morris, The Rookie

63 Pete, Rudy

64 Jimmy Morris, The Rookie

65 Mike Leak, The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training

66 Jake La Motta, Raging Bull

67 Gary Gaines, Friday Night Lights

68 Pyrie, Victory

69 Mickey Goldmill, Rocky II

70 Jules Harbor, Varsity Blues

71 Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own

72 Marcus Sommers, American Flyers

73 Ty Webb, Caddyshack

74 Dennis Conrad, American Flyers

75 Tony D'Amato, Any Given Sunday

76 Fortune, Rudy

77 Norman Dale, Hoosiers

78 Jonathon Moxon, Varsity Blues

79 Roy Munson, Kingpin

80 Gary Gaines, Friday Night Lights

81 Tony D'Amato, Any Given Sunday

82 Jake Taylor, Major League

83 Dicky Fox, Jerry Maguire

84 Herb Brooks, Miracle

85 Jonathon Moxon, Varsity Blues

86 Crowd, Victory

87 Crowd, Miracle

 

Mike Philbrick is an editor for Page 2. You can reach him at michael.w.philbrick@espn3.com