Hearing Prime Minister John Key speak yesterday to the Parachute Festival crowd made me think that Murray Deaker should come one year to speak and stir things up.
Murray Deaker is a Kiwi icon and well-known sports commentator. I grew up in Orewa and Murray was one of my dad's drinking mates. I remember Murray, back in those days, as loud, opininated, and drunk. Three decades later, he is no longer drunk. In fact, he has become the best crusader that the NZ Temperance Movement never had.
A few weeks ago I read Deak's book "Just An Opinion". I liked it!. NZ Herald liked it also.
In the first few chapters, Deaker complains, whinges, calls out sportsmen who have done wrong to NZ and generally throws a verbal fit, thus showing the potential arsehole side of his personality that lurks beneath the surface, awaiting less-than-worthy sportspeople to let their country down by chasing foreign fame or wealth. But as the book progresses, he softens to confess his wasted years of drunkness and bravely plummets the depths of depression-related consequences on his marriage and career, shedding light on why he hasnt gone back to drinking. The depression years take up a large chunk of his story and, in fact, is what gives backbone to the book. He describes with painful rawness the moment when he reached the end of his emotional resources and cried out to God for help.
I thought the best part of the book was the chapter on Sponsors and how 'Deak' relates to them, treats them like best mates, honors his commitment to their brands, and overacheives in the area of social accounting. I highly recommend any non-profit leader to read that chapter.
By the end of the book, Deaker has rounded off his assessment of who he is as an honest human being, professional ball-kicker, commited husband, loyal citizen, depression-overcomer, temperance champion and worthy partner in the world of sports broadcasting where he makes a living by being a professional big-mouth and larger-than-life personality. He is a great person and it's an honor knowing him, at least for an earlier part of his life. And it would be great to hear him address 25,000 mostly-Christian people at Parachute.
UPDATE [March]: I talked to Murray on the phone yesterday - He's doing well.