Where’s the “un-post” button…

Red Sea

I’d like to think I’m a cautious driver.   I’m also the best driver in the lower 48, just ask me.  My wife HATES me sitting in the front seat with her.  I am a terrible passenger…….terrible.  If I’m going to be injured in a car crash, I want it to be with me behind the wheel.  I’d rather be white knuckling the steering wheel than the “OH CRAP” handles.

My Papaw, a guy who was a bit eccentric (in a good way of course), used to tell all us Malray grandkids of driving age the same thing.  He would say, “always watch the driver in front of you, the one beside you, the one behind you, and the one you can’t see.”  That is some of the best advice I have ever received.  Not just for driving, but for life in general.  We really should be watching for out for each other, even the people we can’t see.

You Tennessee readers think I’m about to talk about Amendment 1…….

But I digress….

One of my college buddies used to say that credit card companies were owned by the devil.  He was right.  Within the first two months of starting UT Martin in the fall of 1993, I had three credit cards and $ 2,500 worth of free money.  I put everything on those stupid cards.  VCR’s, Five for Five Roast Beef sandwiches, curly fries, and large Dr. Peppers for 10 people at Arby’s, clothes, CD’s, shoes, Oakley sunglasses, pizzas, you name it.    I even bought half the baseball team snacks in Richmond, Kentucky in 1995.  Sure, they all gave me money to pay for it, but it never made it to Visa.  Little did I know that the bag of Cheetos was going to cost me approximately $ 75, per chip, six years later.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

But I digress……

The evil spawn of credit cards for this generation of college students are cell phones.  Texting, music, pictures, Vines, selfies, Instagram, Twitter, and uploading your Facebook page are all tied back to the cell phone.  You having a bad day?  Pull out your phone and update your Facebook status.  Did your team lose?  Tell us how stupid the manager is and how he needs to be fired, then hashtag it.  Want to introduce a new rap song and video?  Put that sucker on Vine and maybe Jay Z will see it.  Politics….we ALL want to know your views.  Because, after all, your viewpoint is right, and mine is wrong.  More importantly, I’m glad we can instantly talk trash to a politician or athlete  without any reservation or repercussions.

There are no filters anymore…and this from someone who needs one 35% of the time.

In my two stints as the Pike advisor, I saw a rapid decrease in overall decorum via text message.  It was amazing how fast a 19 year old would rip an adult via text message.  The sender of said text message would immediately receive a phone call which was rarely answered.

These smartphones are running the next generation’s lives.

All the proof you need is to drive down University Street and watch the students entering the crosswalk.  Most don’t even look anymore because they are on the phone.  Either texting, or listening to them.

Conflict resolution is a lost art too, and I blame the cell phone.  Teenagers and young adults go from “I Love you” to “I Hate you” in 140 characters or less.   A young girl’s life and reputation can hinge on the send button.

I also wish I could say it was contained to the under 25 crowd, but it isn’t.  Even adults have lost their way when it comes to solving problems via face to face interaction.  Firing off e-mails late on Sunday nights because your feelings are hurt, on-line customer reviews after one bad experience, and heat of the moment posts on Facebook and Twitter, have done more to damage adults reputations and relationships than multiple indiscretions.

A young adult can outlive their mistakes, it gets harder and harder the older we get, to outlive ours.

It has been said a drunk mans words are a sober mans thoughts.  Who would have ever thought social media and your cell phone would be more destructive than alcohol.

Remember that advice my Papaw gave me in the second paragraph?  How cool would it be if we just stopped for a minute and thought about all of the people around us, even the ones we can’t see????  Every time we look down at our phones, whether it be at dinner with our family, or driving down the road.  Every time we decide we’re going to vent on social medial about something that bothered us today.  Every time we hit “send” on a message we probably shouldn’t be sending.

Just stop and think about the unintended consequences.  Who am I hurting?  The loved one in front of me.  My friend beside me. My classmate or co-worker behind me.  Or most importantly, the person I can’t see.

Man, I just made myself feel uncomfortable………………


Changes in Latitude



I’m sorry for the delay in my weekly post.  I was in Nashville for an insurance convention from Sunday until yesterday afternoon.  If the insurance industry wants to dispel the myth that all agents are party animals, they might want to consider removing the Bloody Mary stands in the corners of the convention hall that were serving at 7 am on a Monday.

But I digress…….

Hey, so much for that call to action last week, huh?!??!?!?!  I watched the game finish at 11:40 pm, and the ole Skyhawks picked up a much needed victory!  But I was reminded very quickly just where we rank with the citizens, and employees, of Martin and the University as I sat in a local restaurant for lunch on Friday.  I listened as four people, two of which were UTM graduates/employees talk about how someone shouldn’t be rooting for the University of Texas because “they never even lived there.”  I found that rather interesting because said person is the kind of person I was talking about last week.  That person who never attended school in Knoxville, never applied, never been in Knoxville on a Monday, and didn’t show up to their alma mater’s game the night before.  To be honest, I’ve never even seen them at a UT Martin game.  I’ve just about come to the conclusion that this isn’t a battle worth fighting, and that it takes a higher order of thinking to buy into what I’m selling.

But I digress…..

So you’re sitting there saying, “Dang Hatler, you sure are grouchy today!”  Why yes, yes I am.  After all, today, October 15th, is National Grouch Day.  One thing I can’t stand is when you ask someone, “How’s it going?” and they respond with a sigh, and use some variation of “I’m ok”.  Listen, I get it.  Some days that is all we are is just “ok”, and that is a very appropriate answer.  Sometimes, we just need someone to listen to our story.  However, if that is ALWAYS your response, the reason you are just “ok” might be your crappy attitude.

It’s just like people who can’t let go of something, who ALWAYS try to make their plight the focal point of every……single…… conversation.  That is the height of narcissistic behavior……….and this comes from someone who is so arrogant they write a blog and expect people to read it.

Life is a team sport that requires a positive attitude and an enormous amount of individual effort.

I always loved those shirts we would print in my sporting good’s days that read “There is no “I” in “TEAM”” , and shirts that had a large TEAM and smaller “me” below.   The coach that ordered that shirt for their players, and actually lived it in his/her life, were the ones that were most successful.

A true team fights for the greater good, regardless of the obstacles.  On a team, each individual must give max effort to successfully accomplish their object.  Life is a team sport because it takes a group of highly functioning individuals the entirety of a season to complete their goals.  When one player is not pulling their weight, enduring hardships, or having trouble grasping team concepts, it is the job of the rest of the team to help.

Brandon Gray, the head football coach in Adamsville, Tennessee, was one of those coaches.  He printed thousands of shirts that read “FAMILY”  on the front.  He treats his team like a true family, and he lives it.  This is a guy who turned a basketball town into a football community in 18 months, and has two state championship game appearances to show for it.  He leads by example.

On a team, you must have good leaders.  Good leaders also have one attribute.  At some point in time, they were good followers.  I have rarely met anyone, with any level of success, that was unable to take marching orders.

Good leaders know that everyone has a seat on the bus, and puts them in the best position (seat) to be successful.

Good teammates understand that you try, with all of your ability, to complete the task laid before you, regardless of if you agree with the leaders philosophy or not.

Not being a grouch, and having a good, positive attitude helps us lead a life that is indicative of a true team effort.

Life is a team sport…….never let it be said that, when our game is over, that we ever put “me” above “TEAM”




First off let me say that I cannot thank all of you enough for the kind words, and encouragement, after the first installment of Hatler’s Hiccups.

Second, the Coach’s Poll was released this morning, and there is no way in Hades that Notre Dame is a top 5 team in the country.  Seriously. Just as Alabama has earned the right to be considered for a top 5 spot every  year, until beaten, the Irish have proven over the past 15 years that they DO NOT.  However, Notre Dame being viable is good for college football……

But I digress……..

Saturday was the best day of college football that I can remember. Aside from Katy Perry’s appearance on ESPN’s Gameday, it lived up to the hype.  She is a dingbat who has never even been to a college football game, and she’s the guest pickster?????  Even worse, she shows up in a Vine, shot-gunning a beer and crowd surfing…..stay classy Katy, stay classy….

But I digress…..

Like most folks in the state of Tennessee, I was excited about watching the Vols end their nine year skid against the Florida Gators. The checkerboard of Neyland Stadium was AWESOME! The support of the Vols by Lil Jon, and the renewed energy on Rocky Top is what this state has been waiting for.  They have done so since the unceremonious ouster of Phil Fulmer, and the night in which they donned the black jerseys on Halloween a few years back.

The 10-9 loss was disappointing, but I take comfort in the fact that the Florida Gator’s Program and Tennessee Vols were two ships, passing in the night. They may not have called the penalty as the play clock expired on the go ahead field goal, but Florida’s time in the sun has expired, and that is what is most important.

In regards to my affinity for the Vols, it was fostered by my father.  We didn’t have a TV in the Hatler home until I was 12.  My dad only required us to watch TV on two occasions.  The first of which was when any John Wayne movie was on, and the other was when the Vols graced the tube.  That only happened once a year when they played Alabama.  On those special seasons, we watched them battle the Irish too.
I know you’re asking, “Hatler, this installment is named “Disappointments” so why were you disappointed?”  I’ll tell you why. Take a look at that picture at the top of the post……take a good look. Most of you in Northwest Tennessee will recognize it. The picture was taken last week at Hardy Graham Stadium, at UT Martin,  against OVC foe Southeast Missouri.  Kick off was at 6 pm, and that’s all the folks that were at the game.

What is disappointing is that our stadium should have been 3/4 full. The Vols were in  Georgia that day, and their game had been over for roughly 3 hours before kick off of the Skyhawk game.

Comparatively speaking, the Vols and Skyhawks are pretty much the same programs over the past few years.   Obviously I’m not referring to the talent level, but more along the lines of where they rank amongst their peers.  In fact, I’ll submit that UT Martin has a better program, and on field product, over the past four seasons.

For those that don’t know, the Skyhawks have been a middle to top end program in the OVC since Coach Jason Simpson took over in 2006.  That year, UT Martin won the first OVC title in school history, and first conference title since 1988.  In 2008 we missed a field goal, at home, against Eastern Kentucky to win the crown.  In 2012, a one point defeat in overtime to Tennessee Tech cost us the crown.  Last year, we finished 7-5 and had an outside chance at an at large bid, if not for giving away a game against Tennessee State.  We also should have beaten Memphis, for the second straight season.

This year, just like the Vols, we are struggling. The problem, unlike the Vols, is that our graduates aren’t showing up for our games. Our community members aren’t showing up either……and this has/is not a new problem.

UTM is the # 1 resource in our region. The educational value has been ranked as the second best public university in the state, it is the safest campus in the state, and is the shining star in the UT system……but you wouldn’t know it by the amount of support at our football games.

We can’t get people to a game 10 to 20 miles from their home, for a 3 hour game, at the university from which they graduated…….. but those same folks can make a 350 mile trek to the other side of the  state for three days.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I get rooting for the Vols, and making that trip. In fact, I’d be a hypocrite to suggest I’ve never made it.

But this is what I know….economically we are in dire straits in our area.  The rural vs urban battle, and the state being divided into three distinct sections (West, Middle, and East), Northwest Tennessee is going to be the biggest loser if things don’t change.

The way to win that battle is to rally around our top ranked, state affiliated school.

I’m not asking anyone, mainly UT Martin alums, to abandon their love and support of the Vols.  I didn’t grow up here, and I chose to attend UT Martin for a variety of reasons.  I’ve also come to understand that UT Martin is only in the second generation of having our own identity.

All I’m suggesting is that just a smidgen of that checkerboard enthusiasm be applied to the area where we choose to live, where we choose to work, in the economy that we help maintain, and the university we chose to attend.

We play Tennessee Tech, at home, Thursday night, October 9th at 6:30.

I’ll see you there.

And always remember, IT’S A GREAT DAY TO BE A SKYHAWK!!!