John Grindrod: Lost opportunities and the regrets that never die

By John Grindrod - Guest Columnist

Over time, there is much that we who are aging have in common — from the aches and pains that settle in, to the “cheaters” we need to prop on the bridges of our noses to read small print, to the regrets we accumulate.

Of those regrets, and I have several certainly of a far more serious nature, from what I have done and what I have failed to do, as the prayer goes, there are also those that come from lost opportunities to make time for something that would have been special.

So, in an effort leave my more meaningful regrets buried far deeper than I would want my drill bit to probe, let’s keep them superficial, shall we?

When it comes to my lifetime of paying far more attention to sports than, say, the great philosophers and poets would have, I’ve accumulated lost-opportunity regrets. I thought of that recently when I saw my pal Dave Busick at the K of C during my shift. Dave told me that I had waited too long to respond to his prodding of the past three years or so that I should cash in on an opportunity to see a game at the new version of Yankee Stadium, using a ticket that his namesake, Dave, Junior, an engineer who lived in mid-town Manhattan, could have obtained, thanks to the contacts available to the young engineer.

Each time Dave, Senior, mentioned it, I wanted to make time for it, I really did! Sadly, however, I never did. Now, David the Younger has relocated to New Jersey in a job shift, no longer in the Yankee ticket loop.

That reminded me of a couple of other sports-related regrets, times when I simply didn’t jump when I needed to jump to create an experience that could have been pretty special. One opportunity, like my Yankee Stadium one, had a two-or-three year long shelf life, while another was a one-time opportunity to see an event that’s on many a sports lover’s list.

In the first of these two, the opportunity presented itself when a former student of mine during my English-teaching days got a job in the offices of the Chicago Bulls during that golden Michael Jordan era. It was a position she held for, as I recall, at least a couple of years. There was a free-ticket connection there, one several of my old teaching colleagues tapped into, and I certainly could have made the regional trip easily and found my way to the will-call window at the United Center on Madison Street to see the iconic team and arguably the greatest basketball player to ever lace them up in person instead of on TV.

However, somehow, I could never seem to get my nose out from the stacks of essays and tests that needed grading long enough actually to make the time necessary to seize the experience.

The other lost opportunity was a one-timer to see what most sports fans would see as a bucket-list event long before people were even aware of what the term meant. In the early 1980s, I had a friend who was a journalist, one who’d risen to an editor’s perch at the Detroit Free Press. As such, he had several passes to the 1982 Super Bowl, one that year which would be played in Pontiac at the Silverdome, just 24 miles from Detroit and no more than three hours from my home in the 1100 block of West Wayne. You’ll recall, perhaps, it was the same building last month that didn’t go down without a fight when the first detonation failed to bring the former home of the Lions and Pistons down. The game on which I passed was historic in that it was the first time the Super Bowl would be played in a cold-weather city.

The game featured future Hall of Famer Joe Montana and his San Francisco 49ers, a team about to go on a run that would put them in the conversation as the sport’s greatest franchise. Montana and mates held off the Cincinnati Bengals that day for the first of the franchise’s five SB wins over the next several years. And, where was I during that thrilling 26-21 49er win? The answer is NOT in the Silverdome!

To be honest, I don’t remember what I thought was more important than attending the biggest game of the year. I’ve asked my bro-in-law, John Whittaker, numerous times, who also had the opportunity to avoid this regret. I blame him for not cajoling me and shaming me into going, I think, just as he blames me. Instead, all we have are regretful shakes of our heads every time one of us broaches the subject.

There you have it folks, my biggest sports-related “Why-didn’t-I-make-time-for-that?” moments, ones that fit neatly into the three major American sports-baseball, basketball and football.

Perhaps it would have been wise for me to remember, as many have said, that I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I never took the time to do.

By John Grindrod

Guest Columnist

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at

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