We all need a shove

Groundhog day is generally one of the most inconsequential days of the year for people in the south like me and really for most folks. After all, Punxsutawney Phil is only right 40 percent of the time. Really, all I think of on Feb. 2 is the 1993 comedy film by the same name, in which Bill Murray portrays a disgruntled weather reporter who ends up reliving this day for — well God knows how long. Phil Connors isn’t a bad guy, but he’s self-centered enough to the point where he cannot appreciate the hidden nuggets around him. He needs a shove to be happy, and getting stuck on Groundhog Day is the form that this takes. As the film progresses, he learns piano, ice sculpting and numerous other achievements that no one would have thought possible just a few days before (or no days before).

Unfortunately divine intervention alone probably isn’t enough to save most of us who fall into those same patterns. UNC’s mens basketball team could have used that kind of message Monday night after they let the University of Virginia walk all over them in the second half, just as they did in the game Saturday against Louisville after being up 18. They’re not a bad team, but they need a shove in the right direction if they want to have any chance of getting past the Sweet 16.

And then there are the leaders of that fine institution. The ones that continue to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on public relations to hide an athletics/academics scandal that has resulted in the tarnishing of the university’s reputation, countless firings and everything that has yet to come. During that time, UNC has received a number of shoves, namely from the press and from former learning specialist Mary Willingham, who has just published a book with history professor Jay Smith called Cheated that goes into detail about these events. Another shove came on Jan. 22 when former athletes Rashanda McCants and Devon Ramsay announced they were filing a lawsuit against the university after discovering via the Wainstein Report that the paper class system went back two decades.

The Groundhog Day phenomenon could be used to describe the Super Bowl every year, too. For a few hours, virtually everyone (except this guy) is glued to the TV watching dozens of commercials and a bunch of men between the ages of 18 and 40 throw around a little pigskin that you hope has been inflated properly. It is a great day for the television networks, the food and beverage industries and the celebrities that participate in the Super Bowl. People wait for game day with almost the same anticipation of Christmas. Imagine what a shove it would be if the Super Bowl didn’t happen one year.

I have also been one that needs a shove from time to time. Online dating seemed out of the question for me at one point, but after some encouragement from a few people, and the noticeable observation that finding a woman the old fashioned way wasn’t leading me anywhere, I turned to JDate for a little help. Without a doubt, I can say I’m substantially happier since. I’m still single, but every day is different. I don’t wake up to “I got you babe” every morning, wondering whether I’m going to meet Mrs. Right.

So who is it that normally gives the shove? Whoever cares would be the short answer. In my case it was family and friends. And in the case of UNC it has mostly been the media, which makes me happy. As reporters our job is to hold people’s feet to the fire, especially when it comes to large institutions. That’s something I take great pride in, as someone who has been on both ends of shoves. It might be the only way to eliminate the inner Bill Murray that all of us have to some extent. There are a lot of people out there who have no idea what they’re doing is having an impact on the masses, and someone has to be bold enough to give the shove or nothing will change. Shoves aren’t meant to hurt people. They are meant to wake people up. !

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