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The Trojan Horse

Tricks, skullduggery sleight of hand — whatever you may choose to call it, as the old saying goes “all is fair in love and war.” Competitive combatants over the years have used all sorts of actions to gain an advantage, real or imagined, over their opponents. While such mind games may seem ‘all Greek to

Tricks, skullduggery sleight of hand — whatever you may choose to call it, as the old saying goes “all is fair in love and war.” Competitive combatants over the years have used all sorts of actions to gain an advantage, real or imagined, over their opponents. While such mind games may seem ‘all Greek to many’ — the old Greek Epeius may have been the impetus behind the actions seen emanating from many of today’s athletic contests.

You may not know the name, but it was Epeius, a Greek master carpenter, and pugilist, that skillfully built the Trojan Horse back in 1200 B.C. that turned out to be the deciding factor ending the ten-year Trojan War.

As the story goes, the wily Greeks pretended to desert the war and left the giant wooden horse outside the gates of the city of Troy. Despite warnings by some Troy leaders, the Trojans thought the horse was a parting gift for the gods and wheeled the giant ruse into the gates of their city. Believing the Greeks were gone and the war was over the Trojans partied well into the night. However, as they slept, Greek soldiers emerged from the belly of the Trojan Horse, opened the city gates and ushered the rest of their troops into the city. The Greeks then sacked, destroyed, and burned Troy.

Today’s cells phones, Twitter accounts, and Instagrams bear no resemblance to the Greek’s creation and certainly couldn’t have been detected coming through the Pitt Tunnel, but their actions may have contributed to the Steelers demise just as readily.
Jacksonville’s stunning 45-42 defeat in the AFC Divisional Playoffs came on the heels of some ‘Trojaninstic’ comments that didn’t sit too well with the visiting Jaguar invaders who were making a return trip to the Steel City. Apparently, the Jags’ convincing 30-9 October win over the Steelers failed to impress some members of the Black & Gold who took to social media — seemingly overlooking their playoff opponent.

Running back Le’veon Bell’s now infamous message included, “I love round 2’s [sic]. We’ll have round 2’s in back to back weeks,” in referencing what many assumed to be a rematch with the New England Patriots in the AFC title game.
Safety Mike Mitchell further belittled Jacksonville with his pre-game comments. “We can play [the Patriots] in Hell, we can play them in Haiti, we can play them in New England…we’re gonna win.”

Following Jacksonville’s victory, the Jags’ Twitter account offered a precise response, “You can play them on EA Madden NFL all offseason!”

It can be argued that trash-talking remarks should have no bearing on the outcome of athletic contests, especially on the professional level. But today’s social media makes it all too easy for someone to fire off comments that will initiate an inferno of emotions in the minds of disrespected opponents. While the climate of today’s sporting culture isn’t what it used to be, ‘Trojan Horses’ have been around for a long time.

South Williamsport’s longtime football coach Rod Morgans was well adept at motivating his troops with a ‘little Greek flair.’ One morning on the day of a game with then archrival Montoursville, Mountaineer players arrived at their locker room only to find the place decorated with pink balloons and crepe paper. In the teenaged players’ minds ‘Montoursville must have done it!’ While Morgans never blamed the Warriors, he did nothing to dissuade what was the growing sentiment among his players.

Convinced they had been disrespected, South Williamsport took the field and dismantled the Warriors on a memorable Saturday afternoon.

Another South Williamsport coach employed a bit of trickery that almost resulted in a monumental upset of a talented Williamsport Millionaire basketball squad.

In an attempt to slow down Williamsport’s high-powered fast break offense, Larry Manikowski replaced the nets in the South Williamsport gym with brand new one’s that he heavily starched before the game. Following each made basket the ball would slowly find its way through the bottom of the net allowing the Mounties some valuable seconds to reassemble their defensive troops. The exciting game went into overtime, which the Millionaires won only after a Williamsport player mistakenly attempted a shot at South’s basket that narrowly missed going in.

Games are won and lost on the playing field and gymnasiums. Despite coaches’ constant reminders to the contrary, all too many players like to ‘pop off’ about what they are going to do before they do it. “Actions do speak louder than words.” It might be apropos to remember that giant wooden Trojan Horse had nothing to say before it acted.

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