There's an interesting story in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch about air travel in college athletics. The main story is that Mizzou plays Okie State today in Stillwater, but the side story is about the two airplane tragedies that have affected the Cowboy athletic programs.
When the Mizzou men's basketball team traveled to Oklahoma State in 2009 and 2011, MU guard Kim English stopped in the lobby of Gallagher-Iba Arena at the memorial for the 10 members of the OSU traveling party who died in a charter plane crash on Jan. 27, 2001, in Colorado.
"It's right there when you walk in. I guess I've picked up something different reading it every time," said English, who traveled Tuesday with the Tigers to Stillwater for today's 6:30 p.m. game against the Cowboys. "I always go over there and read and say a prayer (for the families).
"I just couldn't imagine that. I mean, we fly planes so much."
Unfathomably, OSU suffered a similarly traumatic incident two months ago when women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna were among the four killed in a single-engine plane crash in Arkansas as it carried them home from a recruiting trip.
The article goes on to mention how the Mizzou athletic department goes about selecting bids for contracts for airplane travel. Not surprisingly, safety is a major concern.
That got me to thinking about a wonderful story of how one of rock's legendary bands ensured that their shows were set up properly - and safely. Van Halen's contracts would spell out any and everything that had to occur before they would go on stage. Not surprisingly, since these contracts covered everything but the kitchen sink, it would be nearly impossible to make sure all the i's and lower-case j's were dotted. So they came up with a smart way to make sure everything was followed to a tee.
In their contracts, they buried a rider in that said that the band would be provided with a jar of M&M's with all the brown ones removed. The thinking was that if the contract were read thoroughly, the M&M's would be provided sans the brown ones. If that was done properly, so, likely, would everything else. So rather than checking to see if everything was taken care of, they simply looked for the jar of M&M's. If there were brown ones inside, they'd have everything checked top-to-bottom
When you think about it, that's a nearly costless way to check for quality control. So much for the dumb musician stereotype.
Which brings me back to airplane travel. The last thing any of us says when we go to a concert is "Golly, I might die." But that thought isn't far from many minds when we board an airplane to hurtle hundreds of miles an hour thousands of feet in the sky. Safety is one of the utmost concerns. Even so, are there any examples of brown M&M-type riders that can be quickly checked as a signal that the whole contract has been followed?