For more than 40 years, Charlotte sports columnist Ron Green has written a column on Thanksgiving Day about what he’s grateful for, both in and out of the sports world.
Readers are looking forward to it. They quoted lines from it. It was a beloved Charlotte Observer tradition. Ron Green’s Thanksgiving column will be waiting for you at the front of the sports page Thursday morning, before football and food appear, and it will make you happy.
Ron is now retired, and I spoke to him on the phone earlier this month. He said he was 93 and “doing well”. He and his wife, Beth, still live in Charlotte. His voice sounded strong.
In 2021, I started the tradition of honoring Ron by writing my own Thanksgiving column in the same format. The idea was to be a good cover band, playing someone else’s famous tune and singing in my own words.
“I was just checking with you if it was appropriate to write that again,” I said to Ron when we spoke last week.
Do it, Ron said. “And enjoy it.”
So it goes here. First of all, thanks to Ron and his family – it’s such an honor to know you all. And now, the rest of the list.
I am grateful for:
High school coaches. Sport has a positive impact on millions of teens every year. The purity of competition, the joy of a player who accomplishes something for the first time, the lessons learned from defeat. None of this is possible without trainers who put in hundreds of hours for little or no pay.
– Radio stations that don’t switch to a full Christmas music format the day after Halloween.
– My family and yours in all their messy glory.
▪ All 15 men and women who sat down with me for in-depth interviews with Sports Legends of the Carolinas.
This was my favorite work-related project of 2022 and it really was one of the favorites of my career, as visual journalist Jeff Sinner and I crossed the Carolinas to talk to people about their journeys to iconic status.
Those interviews became a series of stories and a podcast, and readers and listeners have embraced them.
So thanks to everyone involved in that series and especially the Legends who, in many cases, gave me hours of their time. In order of appearance in the series: Muggsy Bogues, Dale Earnhardt Jr. And Danny Ford, Jake Delhomme, Davis Love III, Charlie Scott, Wesley Walls, Dawn Staley, Bob McKillop, Judy Rose, Phil Ford, Jay Bilas, Charlotte Smith, Roy Williams, and Steve Curry.
– “Good night, Moon.” The beloved children’s book turns 75 this year and has helped generations of children sleep peacefully.
Comb, brush, bowl full of mush. And a quiet old lady was whispering, “Shut up.”
I was talking about this book recently with Dale Jr. , whom his two girls love.
“This book has magic in it, doesn’t it?” said Dale Jr. “Something just clicks, and they want that story over and over again.”
– Dave Tepper (concert promoter’s version).
Yeah, yeah, you might remember that Tepper and I got into a little verbal fight at his press conference when he discussed Matt Rule’s firing. The Panthers and Charlotte FC owner is one of the most controversial figures in town these days, and for good reason.
But hey, it’s Thanksgiving, and I’ll give Tepper credit for that: He and his team have brought concerts to Bank of America Stadium that never came here before. I took my 18 year old son, who actually likes some music that I do, to Billy Joel’s concert in April. It was my son’s first musical experience, and a night we will always remember.
– Faith. Feasts. Fourth-and-goal is played, when the offense gathers for another attempt and the stadium shakes with anticipation.
– Title IX – Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its founding this year – and the development of women’s sports. As the parent of a 15-year-old daughter who loves soccer, I have some skin in the game and know there is still a long way to go.
Sports competitions. Among the best: UNC-Duke. Clemson South Carolina. Shelby Crest. Providence Day – Charlotte Christian.
Pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top.
– Charlotte FC, who racked up an impressive 74,479 in its first NFL game and has continued to liven Charlotte’s sports scene ever since.
– Pets. We feel lucky to have something of Noah’s Ark in our home this Thanksgiving weekend, as our two kids in their 20s are joined by two teenagers, our dogs, and our two cats. These four furry friends are giving us all kinds of trouble (especially one of them, a Beagle-Boxer mix named Fern who always wears a guilty expression for good reason). But man, are they worth it.
– The World Cup, one of the great sporting events I’ve never been to but I’ve included it on my must-have list.
My wife, Elise. We met on the escalator, between the second and third floors of the old Charlotte Observer building that has now been demolished and replaced, in the great Charlotte tradition of tearing down old things and putting in new ones.
Four Kids and 25 Years Later, to borrow a line from what Ron Green once wrote about his marriage to Beth, we’re what they call a stable franchise.
– Driving to Bonn in the fall on Saturday Football, when the trees look like they were painted by Monet and the pitch is filled with black and gold.
– The ACC Football Championship, played every year in Charlotte, just like it should be. This year’s Clemson-UNC tilt on December 3, featuring local products Drake Maye for UNC and Will Shipley for Clemson, is supposed to be a lot of fun.
Youth sports officials. We have a huge lack of governance in many corners of the sporting world. All you have to do is attend one sporting event to understand why: Officials are routinely berated, sometimes worse, by parents, coaches, and even players.
And they make so little money that it takes such a dedicated person to do the job. Next time you are at a match, please say to the referees afterward: “Thank you.”
Old family stories we’ve heard before, told at the Thanksgiving dinner table about people who died, brought back to us.
Those who serve others, on Thanksgiving and other days, try to unite our divided world.
Sondra and Chancellor Adams, two of my favorite people. Counselor Lee Adams, son of Sherika Adams and Ray Carruth, was supposed to die the night he was born. Instead, he turned 23 earlier this month.
– Christmas lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway, on the streets of McAdnville and outside all of the Carolinas that light up their homes for the enjoyment of others.
Libraries, libraries, and record stores. I am still amazed every time I enter.
– The feel of a printed newspaper in your hand, with a cup of hot coffee next to it.
I know more people are now getting most of their news online rather than in print. I do that too. But there’s just something about having an actual newspaper in your hands—folding it to reach a crossword puzzle, whipping out a recipe or a story about a local kid, even getting a little ink on your fingers—that can’t be replicated.
Anyway, thanks to all of our subscribers, both digital and print, for letting me work here for nearly 30 years and hopefully for many more to come.
Citing a country song he loves, Roy Williams said in the “Sports Legends” interview that he found something he loves, called it “work” and has been doing it for decades.
I feel exactly the same way.
Brag today. Enjoy your family and food. hug some people. Get a second piece of pie. Throwing a soccer ball. Take a nap.
We wish you a happy Thanksgiving!
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