Duck Break Down

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June 8, 2010 by David Gillaspie


Those two words together, break and down, don’t bode well.

Break down.  There it is.

If those words ever suggested anything positive wouldn’t it be break up? 

When is the last time ‘break up’ made anyone’s day?

The Beatles broke up.  It didn’t start with Sgt. Pepper but it seemed that way.

More closely, the Beatles turned from their image of matching suits and ties and Beatle boots with their Revolver album.

Here’s the most desired band in the world, four wooly characters doing a kind of Charlie Chaplin schtick by the looks of video from their early tours.

That was their act, and we liked it.  You could buy a Beatle wig, Beatle boots, everything you’d need to be a Beatle. 

Then it all changed.  The Beatles went against their market.  They could still be touring as Beatles in a Herman’s Hermits sort of way. 

Instead, they changed; a lot.

Here were four guys all suited up, doing the kind of song and dance that drove Kurt Cobain to his grizzly end. 

And they stopped.

Instead of mop-tops, they became hair freaks.

Not ‘Big Hair’ like the Eighties’ bands, but authentic ‘Long Hairs’ in the best sixties sense; like guys who lived on a commune and just rolled out of bed.  You can still find people who look like old Beatles under a bridge in West Eugene.

Freedom is the difference between the fat-faced John Lennon of the Ed Sullivan Show-era and the huge-haired man in a white tuxedo leaping from spot to spot.

It’s hard to see the post-Beatle John Lennon without his sidekick.  Except now, instead of three pals, he had Yoko Ono.

Yoko and John; John and Yoko.

What’s that mean?  Let’s start with change.

Lennon/McCartney became Lennon and McCartney.  From greatest songwriters in history to activists and rock stars.  Was their break up good for them?  It’s hard to find a good answer after John was shot to death in New York City.

A break up always leaves someone out, always leaves scars for that person to deal with.  Most of the time the person dealing with the scars is the person who comes along after a break up.  Then it gets messy.

So why not stick with break down?  You can break down the elements of a break up; break down the stages of the Beatles’ break up (start with Yoko in the studio not playing an instrument, just distracting the band.)

Go to Tom Petty singing Break Down, or Mariah Carey, or Jack Johnson.  All different songs, all different beats, but the same two words, Break Down.

If you move away from music, and psychology, what does break down offer?


Break down film.  Break down moves.

If your sport is in danger, break it down. 

Take amateur wrestling for example.  How do you break down the elements of its success and failure?

The success is easy.  Watch two toddlers with one toy between them and you’ll find the beginnings of a wrestling match.  Both kids want the rattle, one more than the other.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or girl, one will take the toy and try to keep it.

Fast forward to grade school kids and you find athletes interested in attacking each other in a recreational fashion.  Teach them some technique and turn them loose on a mat and you’ve got some wrestling going on.  You don’t need a toy to encourage them.

High schoolers want to know how tough they are, and more important, how tough the tough-acting kids are.  Get them all on a mat and you’ll find out more than you wanted to know.

After that it starts getting murky.  A college wrestler might be on scholarship.  Is it still about sport, or about money?  The sport is the same, but now you’ve got career people who need to get paid.  You’ve got Athletic Department politics that need massaging.  If the money is not right and the egos get stepped on, bad things happen. 

You can be the greatest wrestler ever and still lose your college wrestling program.  When that happens a layer of identity gets stripped away.  You can’t wear school colors.  You can’t support other teams.  You are left out in the cold with nowhere to go even if the college agrees to honor your scholarship for the remaining years in college.

At least you know it’s not about money when that happens, not your money anyway. 

Once you see huge sums of money floating through the news, money directed toward every sport but yours, you break it down.

If your school is University of Oregon then you’ve read about the millions and millions spent on Track and Field where the Pac 10 championships drew 2300 fans;  You read about the Jaqua Academic Center called a ‘vanity building’ in the school paper; You see the new basketball arena rising up; You hear of plans to expand football training facilities.

While you break down the money spent and the rewards anticipated, you see the decline in your sport.  More and more wrestling programs find their way to the chopping block.  Some schools make the funding issue seem authentic.  

When a mythical school, Northeast Southwest Directional College located on an abandoned Army base, drops wrestling because of money problems, you get it.

But University of Oregon?  The Ducks?  How could that happen?

Break it down.  Give Yoko a call.  She knows how it works.


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