When Less is More: reducing the work week cause it’s time

NBA82When I was younger, I used to watch every basketball and football game that came on TV. I only discovered tennis after the NBA Finals in the 80s; let’s just say after a Laker’s victory, because I was suffering from sports withdrawal. This was before cable and ESPN, so it is not as if I saw every game. Back then, it was mostly on weekends and then those were based on your region of residence. However, the older I get and the more games I am able to watch, I just think there are just too many games played for most professional sports. Moreover, this is not just because I am getting older and do not have much time because of responsibilities. I think about the toll this has on the player’s body.

Richard Sherman, in an article for the Player’s Tribune talked about the process of getting ready to play on Sundays in the NFL and how Thursday night games interrupts that process. Remember when the NFL was just on Sundays and Mondays. Yeah, the good old days. Then there was talk of extending the season going from 16 to 18 games. With CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy), concussions, and the dismal quality of life for retired football players, you would think that oh maybe fewer games could extend the quality of life for players. I’m no doctor, but that seems like a reasonable idea that may work. The same goes for the NBA with 82 games and an everlasting playoff series. Why can’t they just play one game per round in the playoffs? Greed of course.

work 10 to 4I was reading this article about how the workplace is killing us. Just as the professional seasons should be shorter, so should our workweek. For the last ten years, I have been saying that the full time workweek should be 30 hours. Forty hours a week may have worked during the industrial revolution when people lived near family and worked close to home. However, in today’s world, working 40 hours a week is for the birds. I cannot remember a month when I have worked 40 hours a week for each week in a month. Even if you do not take a day off, there is always one day when there is a doctor’s appointment, an errand that has to be run during the day or something else where you have to take 2-3 hours off. In my case, 2-3 hours is usually used to take a nap after my daughter gets on the bus for school. Most of us are exhausted.

No 8 HoursProfessor Nuria Chinchilla [of IESE Business School] describes the damage happening at work as “social pollution.”

              The work hours that companies are demanding of their employees are causing
              the breakup of marriages, burdens on raising children, and general disruption to
             family life. And the family unit is an important source of social support.

Whereas professional athletes suffer from arthritis, memory loss, back pain, the workforce suffers from “diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome…overeating, underexercising, substance abuse,” Burnout is also a real issue. Remember when commentators and tennis legends like Chris Evert and John McEnroe kept stating that Serena and Venus Williams should play a fuller tennis schedule. Well, it is probably good that they did not because playing selectively has extended their careers to an age when most retire. Working a full-time schedule of 10am to 4pm Monday through Friday would do wonders to enhance the quality of life for so many of us. Let’s make this happen ASAP!!

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The Importance of Team: the lesson from LeBron

Frustrated-Lebron
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are once again facing the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. It looks like the Cavaliers will be swept by the Warriors who lead the series 3-0. This is in spite of LeBron James being the best player on the planet right now nearly averaging a triple double every game. (Noticed I said “right now.” We can argue the best of all time later who happens to be Earvin “Magic” Johnson by the way.)

warriors sweep

This is a good lesson for youth players who only think about their individual statistics. If I were a coach and had a player hot-dogging it, this would be the example I would use. LeBron being the best player in the world and still cannot win the NBA Championship shows the importance of team. The Warriors have a better team. It is that simple.

FinalsRecord
Some will point to this series and last year’s finals lost to justify why LeBron should not be considered the Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T.). He is one of the few greats who have more losses in the finals than wins. But, what most overlook about the other players on the list of greats is their teammates. As great as they were, they did not do it alone. Jordan had Pippen and Grant; Magic had Jabbar, Worthy, and Cooper; Kobe and Shaq had each other plus Rodman, and Horry; and Bird had Parrish and McHale. Even the casual basketball fan could name those players, but would be hard-pressed to name LeBron’s current teammates. There are a lot of Hall of Famers who never won it all. Their individual accomplishments got them to the Hall, but being a champion requires a great team working together. Find your squad.

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Why I Hate the Jordan v. LeBron Debate

 

D6CD47E0-160F-4B52-8C6F-7A5BFD335788In one of my sports group on Facebook, the theme of most days is who is the NBA greatest of all time, the GOAT: Michael Jordan or LeBron James. Most in the group seem to be Jordanites, but there are a few for King James. I was never a fan of Jordan and blame him for indirectly ruining the game of basketball (I’ll explain that later.) They throw up stats like Jordan has more NBA Championships (6) than LeBron. Never mind that the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also has 6 NBA Championships and bests Jordan in several categories.

 

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They’ll criticize LeBron for going to Miami, not having the killer instinct and other nonsense. For the record, I think James is better than Jordan. I think folks forget that basketball is a team game. When folks argue so hard about Jordan’s individual stats – usually the number of points he scored, I think they indirectly prove my point. He was a good individual player, but not a team player. He was a selfish player. LeBron is criticized for being a team player playing a team game. Go figure. Because Jordan was less than a team player, and yes, a highlight reel, others tried to follow in his footsteps. Every player after was trying to be like Mike, a hotdogging, ball hog.

As with other team sports, it’s really not fair to try to select the Greatest of All Time because no one you choose would have played All. The. Time. You really have to look at the era in which they played. Rules change and no one is even playing under the same rules. There are a host of other nuances. You have to look at the field of competition along with teammates. The coach and the offensive scheme. When we say Serena Williams is the GOAT of tennis, that can’t be challenged. Tennis is an individual sport and she has the most Grand Slam wins and counting (girl, come through with this U.S. Open title in September).

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But, the real reason, I hate the Jordan v. LeBron debate for the basketball’s greatest of all time, is that everyone should know that Irving Magic Johnson is actually the Greatest Of All Time. Who was a better team player in the team sport of basketball? Yes, he played with a bunch of Hall of Famers, but that doesn’t negate his greatness.  In fact, some of his teammates are Hall of Famers because of the excellent team play of Magic Johnson. Plus, he played every position. I rest my case. Of course, this is all subjective. I’m a Laker’s fan who prefers a certain style of play. So, maybe I hate the Jordan v. LeBron debate because Magic isn’t included.

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LaKo’s Lesson of the Month: Just Start


“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

This quote was shared with me because I was noticeably overwhelmed with the many things on my many to-do lists. Have you ever had so much to do that you end up doing nothing? Well, that was I. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Am I?

As stated by Arthur Ashe, three time grand slam champion, start where you are. Don’t wait to get everything in place before you begin. Just start already. Use what you have. You’re working on getting your body summer ready but are lacking the latest J’s or Yeezy’s? Use the sneakers you do have and start walking. Walk in your jeans or jorts if you have to. Do what you can. You may want to give back to your community but are temporarily experiencing a cash flow problem. Give the gift of time instead. Start by volunteering for one hour a month. Or, give money if you don’t have any time. Last year I started giving $10 a month to a different social justice organization. That’s just a couple of coffees from Starbucks. That’s not a lot, but the joy I get from contributing to causes I believe in is priceless.

What have you been waiting to do?

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Winter Olympics So Black

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County, South Korea has more athletes of African descent than ever before with 13 athletes hailing from 8 African countries. The last time that I watched the Winter Olympics or any winter sport was probably when Debbie Thomas was a figure skater. And, the only thing I know about South Korea is that’s where talented artists SHINee and Rain are from.

First, there are the Nigerian bobsledders, Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga, who apparently saw the Cool Runnings movie and said, “hmmm, that’s a good idea, we should give it a try.” Most athletes spend their entire lives perfecting their sport for a chance at the Olympics. These ladies, although Olympic athletes in track and field, picked up the sport only three years ago. Though they were all born in the USA, they are representing their parents homeland of Nigeria. The USA also has a bobsled team with Elana Meyers Taylor, Kehri Jones, and Aja Evans.

Next, there’s Jason Greenway who is the first African American on the USA hockey team. Another first includes Maame Biney becoming the first African American woman to qualify for the short track speedskating team. Erin Jackson qualified for long track speedskating after only four months of starting the sport. Can we say #BlackGirlMagic ? Finishing out the USA lineup is Shani Davis returning as a long track speedskater, having previously earned two gold medals. #BlackBoyExcellence

I don’t know much about who’s the favorite in any of the Winter Olympics events, but like Issa Rae, “I’m rooting for everyone black” cause #WinterOlympicsSoBlack.

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The Official Black Panther Playlist

Many athletes have a musical playlist that gets them pumping before the big game. If you’re like me, you have quite a few playlists that you use to get your mind right for work. Not that we need a playlist to get us excited about the Black Panther movie, we are more than hyped. But, to make sure you head into the theaters with the right mind set, here’s the official playlist for Black Panther as you head to the sold out theaters.

James Brown – Gonna Have a Funky Good Time – Hope the theaters have shook insurance cause it’s about to be rocking in there.

Sister Sledge – We Are Family – This movie is like a reunion of the African Diaspora, one big global happy family, yes we are.

Stevie Wonder – Livin’ for the (Chi) City (with Common) – This song just screams black life and this remix by Amerigo Gazaway is everything.

Sheila E – Yes We Can Can – Obama said it and here’s more proof. If you don’t walk out of this movie thinking Yes We Can about stuff in your life, there’s no hope for you. I like how they added the extra Can at the end for good measure. That’s so black. And to make it more black, Angela Davis is featured.

Funkadelic – One Nation – One nation under a groove and that nation is Wakanda.

James Brown – Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud – No commentary necessary. And shout out to Chadwick for his excellent performance as JB.

DJ Khaled – All I Do Is Win Remix – If this ain’t winning I don’t know what is.

Migos – Bad and Boujee – This will be the only time I admit to being Boujee cause I know I won’t be alone.

PJ Morton – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright – This gospel-tinged, hand clapping, foot stomping song represents the spiritual experience we’re gonna have. Anytime something negative happens, we’ll think about this movie and start singing, everything’s gonna be alright.

Angie Stone – Brotha – ’cause the brothas will feel celebrated like never before as the hero and not the thug.

Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman – Just from the clip of seeing the sista warrior snatch off her wig and handle business, I’m feeling like I got superpowers.

Shalamar – A Night to Remember – I’ve never been this excited to see a movie. It’s reminiscent of waiting for a Michael Jackson video to drop. It will be a night to remember.

Beyoncé- Run the World – Who run the world? Girls! and they are called Dora Milaje, the Wakandan female warriors.

The Jacksons – Can You Feel It – Have you seen this video? Doesn’t it just make you feel royal? On top of the world?

Park Hyo Shin – Beautiful Day – Yes it is a beautiful day to see that much black excellence on film and behind the scenes.

Steel Pulse – Worth His Weight in Gold – That’s the official title of the song in reference to Marcus Garvey, but we call it, Rally round the Flag, rally round the red, gold, black and green. Have you gotten your African attire ready?

Gil-Scott Heron – The Revolution will not be televised – We know what you meant brotha, but times have changed. The revolution has been televised and it’s called Black Panther. Get yo popcorn family.

Additions:

Prince – Purple Rain– of course this is an obvious choice by Purple Royalty. Since his death, it’s not always easy listening to his music which is why it wasn’t on the original list. If they play this at the end of the movie, I envision hands swaying with lighters or more likely these days the flashlight from a smartphone.

Solange –F.U.B.U. – For Us By Us – cause representation matters.

Black Panther family, what other songs would you add to this list? Add it to the list on Spotify.

Wakanda Forever! (I think I’m gonna sign all my work emails with this.)

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LaKo’s Lesson of the Month: New Beginnings

7732B37E-5688-42EA-8513-AB27F0E20E23.pngAt first glance, new beginnings seems like something more appropriate for January when every one is making new year’s resolutions of all the changes they wish to make. Actually, if I had thought of it then, I would have made it the lesson of the month for January. I actually tried writing something that was in line with the new year theme, but it was even too corny for me. Here’s hoping that this is not so corny.

New beginnings has been heavily on my mind since I’m coming to the end of my studies in my graduate program. While any new chapter can be exciting, it can also be scary for the very same reason – the unknown. As I was looking for inspiration, Kyrie Irving came to mind. Last year, Kyrie was in the NBA Finals playing with Lebron James as the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Golden State Warriors for the title. I won’t get into the reasons he decided to leave the Cavaliers for the Boston Celtics, let’s just focus on the leaving part. That was mighty brave and courageous. I’m not suggesting that Kyrie isn’t a good enough player on his own to have success elsewhere. He is a good player. But he was playing with a GREAT player in Lebron who will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the all-time greats. So, a certain level of comfortableness was probably there for Kyrie. You know what to expect when you’re playing with most of the same players. But, going to a new team is like being the new kid in school trying to find your tribe.

The lesson for this month is to embrace your new beginnings. Will you experience some fear? Probably. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Who knows, you could be like Kyrie, soaring on a new team where the team of old struggles to find it’s way even with a future hall of famer.

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The Tide will ROLL or the Dawgs will Bark

DE4CFB31-768A-411D-8C7E-C3C5174551A8It is two days before the college football’s National Championship showdown between A and G. Or as I like to call it, the National Title SEC Bowl game. Being a true fan I decided to sport my Bama hoodie today. And since I live and work in Atlanta, I was appropriately chided for doing so – by my chiropractor, a coworker, and two strangers I encountered throughout the day. But the chiding was all in fun. The trash talk is a big part of sports and even brings folks together. Even though we disagree, we agree on our Love for the game. In this era of pettiness to the 100th power, it’s nice to communicate differences without someone acting like a petulant toddler.

8EF7AE0C-7F2E-48C0-BFAA-D86E60E211F7Either way, the football dominance of the SEC will be on full display. Who am I kidding trying to take the high road? I’m team petty, so ROLL TIDE!! Georgia fans, please tell me the absurd reasons you think the Dawgs will win.

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LaKo’s Lesson of the Month: Vision

Charlie Ward VisionProverbs 29:18 (KJV) states, Where there is no vision, the people perish.” If you’ve been feeling as if you are dying bit by bit each day, this may be the root cause. The nation is being led by someone without a clear vision. What was true one day, is false the next. Or more accurately, what was false but said to be true one day is denied the next. With a vision comes the responsibility of having a clear grasp of the issues and setting goals to make the vision a reality. In a recent interview with a friendly interviewer, *45 clearly shows that he doesn’t have even an elementary level of knowledge on issues that he is responsible for (See: Trump’s interview is both funny and terrifying. ) 

You may have disagreed with the agendas and policies of previous presidents, but what wasn’t lacking was a vision. You knew what their policy focus would be and how they hoped to achieved those policies. For those in the White House that’s what we call a “platform”. And if you are weary about the lack of vision coming from the White House, you may be equally frustrated with the lack of vision to counteract that nonsense. The Democratic party, our only real option in a two-party system, is still struggling to define its platform. Instead there just seems to be reactions to *45’s tweets instead of proactive pursuit on a policy agenda. Democrats still can’t agree on why they lost the presidential election that was nine months ago. Nine months.  trek facepalm

This happens in the workplace as well. With a change in leadership comes the inevitable plan of the new leader to erase or undo goals instituted by the previous leader. Even when those goals are still beneficial to the organization, they are tossed aside. In a matter of months, employees have no idea why they are doing what they are doing. Exhaustion and low morale creep in. Why? I believe we have a very human need (Maslow’s hierarchy) to follow a clear vision in order to be fulfilled in what we do.

maslows-hierarchy-of-needs
People are protesting in the streets in pursuit to have these needs met. Unfortunately, there are group protests at extreme odds with each other. Employees forge similar protests in the form of tardiness, silence, and decrease in productivity. If you find yourself in a workplace without a vision, develop a personal vision that you can accomplish within the confines of the organization. Set out a new plan for your career goals. As a Heisman Trophy winner, Charlie Ward had visions of having a professional career in the NFL. When that vision did not become a reality, he forged a new vision and had a career as a professional athlete in the NBA. Be like Charlie Ward.

 

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Jerry’s ‘boys: Is low morale looming for Dallas?

Jerry Jones Kneeling

In a new study on low morale of academic librariansKaetrena Kendrick states that “low morale experiences were often triggered by an unexpected negative event or a relationship that developed in an unexpected and negative manner. (p.6)” With Jerry Jones adamant pronouncement that all his players will stand for the national anthem, I surmise that this may lead to low morale with his players. Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against unarmed black and brown women and men. During a campaign rally in Alabama, President *45 said that NFL owners should fire the SOB’s that kneel during the anthem.

Cowboys anthem

What did Jerry Jones do at the next game? He was on the field kneeling with his players before the anthem then standing and locking arms with them. Keep in mind that he’s usually not on the field during the playing of the national anthem.  So, Jerry will take a knee to be defiant because no billionaire wants to be told what to do by another so-called billionaire (can’t say for sure that*45 is a billionaire because we still haven’t seen his taxes). But, when it comes to standing or kneeling against police brutality, he has threatened to bench any player who does kneel. In other words, to hell with what happens in the black community, I control these black bodies who incidentally are the majority of the team and his Big 3 – DakDez, and ZekeHe doesn’t care that these players may have had encounters with police or run the risk of having these encounters a la Michael BennettTheir lives are on the line daily, off and on the field, just by the nature of their skin color. shaun king kneeling 2

In Kendrick’s study, participants “noted that the unexpected nature of the trigger event played a role in their immediate responses…. Blindsided/betrayal, shock, and anger (including its iterations, e.g., irritation, annoyance) were significant emotions that respondents felt during and immediately after their trigger events.” I know we often lose sight of athletes as human beings with feelings as if becoming millionaires strips you of any emotional response, but I wonder if this event or stance by Jerry will trigger low morale among players. Because players want to avoid Jerry’s “shit list,”  we may not see a noticeable response on the field or even during any upcoming interviews. I think this will be something that will fester and simmer underneath the surface. Where it may come up is in negotiating contracts. Current players may opt out at the end of their contracts and pursue free agency. Free agents from other teams may choose not to sign even if the money is right. This may not be Houston, but Dallas, we have a problem.  

 

*45 – asterisk because of possible interference from the Russians in the presidential elections – waiting on Mueller. 

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LaKo’s Lesson of the Month: Preparation

Ali and preparation

It’s all about preparation. Even the smallest result or outcome requires preparation and planning. If you just want to watch a movie on Netflix, preparation includes having an account which means having the means to pay for an account which requires having a job or sponsor. Those small steps can often be overlooked, but they shouldn’t be.

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Long before Lebron James or Steph Curry hits the game winning shot, they have made that shot a thousand times in practice. Even if you’re not looking to achieve athletic prowess, take the time to come up with your game plan. One of the reasons I started this blog was to become a better writer because writing was always one of my weaker subjects in school. Writing was scarier than a math or science class. And guess what? While I’m no where near being a writer in the league with Toni Morrison (who is anyway?), I am a better writing me.

Try following these steps so you can dance under those lights of your own accomplishment:

  1. Set an end goal. What do you ultimately want to accomplish?
  2. List the practical steps needed to achieve this goal. Does it require learning a new skill and if so how are you going to acquire this skill? Does it require doing volunteer work or attending a workshop? Is there someone you can talk with or interview for help.
  3. For each practical step, set a realistic time frame for achieving that step. This should consider balancing current responsibilities.
  4. Complete one step before moving to the next.
  5. Because life happens, revisit and adjust the time frame and steps as needed.
  6. Celebrate and commemorate your accomplishment. Dance under those lights.

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Why Athletes Shouldn’t Stick to Sports 

Hold on to your hats cause for some of you the next sentence will be shocking. Professional athletes are not only real people, human beings, but in most cases they are citizens of the United States. I know, take a moment to absorb that factoid. As such, when the Constitution starts with, ” We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union . . . ,” they are a part of “We the people.”

What happens to the general society also impacts their lives in spite of them being celebrities and wealthy. Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem last season to protest police brutality. He stated:

 “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that
                  oppresses black people and people of color,”  Kaepernick told Steve
                  Wyche of NFL Media in August 2016. 

                 “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part
                  to look the other way,” he continued. “There are bodies in the street
                  and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” 

Michael Bennett ProfEarlier this month, Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks was held at gun point by Las Vegas police for being a big black dude running away from heard gun shots. On the streets, he didn’t have his celebrity and status. He very well could have been the next Alton Sterling or Philando Castile. It’s understandable to any reasonable person why he and others would use their platform to address a life or death issue that affects them and those they love.

DungyObamaChange in this country comes very slowly. The Civil War ended in 1865, yet, civil rights laws weren’t passed until the 1960s. Yes, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott played a significant role. But, the groundwork that came before was laid by Jackie Robinson when he integrated Major League Baseball in 1947. Not sure if we would have had the Brown vs. Board of Education decision that integrated public schools without the integration of sports. Additionally, the groundwork for Barack Obama becoming the first black president was laid by Tony Dungy becoming the first black head coach in the NFL to win a Super Bowl. Progress in sports seems to make progress in society more digestible.

The other reason that NFL players in particular should feel free to use their platform for social change is the physical sacrifices they make to play a game that brings in billions for NFL owners. An autopsy revealed that Aaron Hernandez, former player for the New England Patriots who was serving time for a murder conviction, had the most severe form of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease, for someone his age. He was 27 years old and played his last game when he was 23 years old.

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New Stadiums For a Few Or Medicare For All

“The idea that sports is a catalyst for economic development just doesn’t hold water.” —Robert Baade, sports economist

Medicare For All

On September 13, 2017, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont along with 16 other Democrats introduced a Medicare For All Healthcare Bill. The United States remains as the lone Super Power, but ironically one of the only industrialized nations without universal healthcare. For all of our technological advancements and innovations and military prowess, we still refuse to recognize healthcare and education as rights that should be guaranteed to all citizens.

When then First Lady Hillary Clinton tried to get a healthcare bill passed in the early to mid-90s, I naively thought this would easily pass and become law. It seemed a no brainer to take care of your citizens who support industries that keep the economy moving. When President Barack Obama introduced the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, I again thought the time has come for us, “We the people.” No way would this be a partisan issue. Boy was I wrong.

Total Federal SpendingSince 2002 there has been a boom in renovations for sport stadiums and the building of new stadiums. Even though these teams are owned by billionaires it is “We the people” who foot the bill for the stadiums by way of municipal bonds. Keep in mind that the NFL earns billions of dollars yearly and does not pay taxes.  In spite of this, “We the people” seem gitty to foot the bill for it. Yet, we don’t want to pay for healthcare. Something that would benefit all. In some cases, having minimal healthcare is a matter of life and death. Take a look at this sampling of the millions of dollars taxpayers have spent on new stadiums and renovations:

Phillips Arena, Atlanta
Team: Atlanta Hawks
Renovated: 2018
Cost: $193 million
Cost to taxpayers: $143 million

Three facilities: Progressive Field, FirstEnergy Stadium and Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Team: Cleveland Indians, Browns and Cavaliers
Renovated: 2015 and 2016
Cost: $210 million
Cost to taxpayers: $90 million

Soldier Field in Chicago
Team: Chicago Bears
Renovated: 2003
Cost: $587 million
Cost to taxpayers: $387 million
 Jason Notte. Even sports stadium ‘facelifts’ cost taxpayers millions, Marketwatch.com. July 2017.

Contrary to popular belief, new stadiums for sports teams are not the economic trampoline or stimulus that we make them out to be. The economic impact is temporary. For instance, the proposed stadium for the Los Angeles Rams will cost $3 billion and create 22,000 construction jobs. Once construction of the stadium is complete, those jobs are gone. The next argument is that people will spend money at nearby restaurants, pay for parking, and other local vendors and this improves the local economy. Yet, when surveyed, 86% of economists are opposed to taxpayers subsiding new stadiums. “In a 2017 poll, 83 percent of the economists surveyed agreed that ‘Providing state and local subsidies to build stadiums for professional sports teams is likely to cost the relevant taxpayers more than any local economic benefits that are generated.’” Scott A. Wolla, “The Economics of Subsidizing Sports Stadiums,” Page One Economics, May 2017.

Taxes and ExpendituresEconomists suggest that we should look at the opportunity cost. That is, when you spend money on one product, this takes the place of something else that could have/would have been bought. In other words, if you only have $50 of discretionary funds, you have limited options. You can either go to a ball game or to a museum. Most cannot fund both activities on a regular basis. So, while a new stadium is stimulating that segment of the economy, it is taking money away from another segment.

So, why are “We the people” willing to pay for sports stadiums and not healthcare or education for all? Some of the blame lies in our pull yourself up by your bootstraps philosophy. We believe if you work hard, you should be able to afford to care for yourself. That philosophy fails to acknowledge that stagnant income wage growth has not kept up with the real cost of living. There’s also a stigma of shame that we have given to those receiving any kind of government benefit.

I almost hate to bring up slavery, but it is at the root of a lot of what ails this country. In this regard, “We the people” don’t want to pay for healthcare or Medicare for all because we don’t want everyone, i.e. blacks and other minorities to get it as well.  This is why racism is considered a mental illness. We would rather pay for a stadium that most of us cannot attend because we can’t afford to buy a ticket instead of investing in ourselves in the form of healthcare and education.

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Select Competition: We like competition except in the real world

CompetitionIn the U.S., we love sports. Sports is all about competition. It can be argued that we love sports more than we love God. Football is the national pastime as well as foremost religion. The one thing you can count on in bringing different factions together in this country is sports. Enemies in every other aspect of life are suddenly friends or frenemies simply because they both wear Carolina blue, gold and garnet, and on and on. For some, the outcome of a sporting event may determine their mood for the rest of the week or how “friendly” they will be with their significant other.

Michael Bennett Prof

So then, why doesn’t this transfer to all areas of our lives? Racism is a form of unfair competition. Yet, we don’t seem to be in any hurry to rid ourselves of it. Banning Muslims, deporting immigrants and ending DACA are also forms of unfair competition in that they seek to remove these groups from the competition. Most whites, especially in areas hardest hit by a changing economy, don’t come into enough contact with these groups to hate so strongly. Some Americans seem to be as selective in their love of competition as they are in their display of patriotism. It’s ok to stand for the national anthem, but don’t dare kneel during the anthem to protest. I’ll cheer for a bunch of black players on Sunday, but I don’t want to hear him speak on social justice even after he’s been profiled.

Kamala Harris Immigrant Tweet

What are these white males who dared to march in Charlottesville with their tiki torches chanting “We will not be replaced” so afraid of? Losing. It’s that simple. It must be troubling to see so many “others” winning when the deck is stacked against them.How dare Barack Obama be an educated black man and then president? How dare Oprah have her own network? How dare Ilhan Omar become the first Somali-Muslim American legislator? I find it telling that there is such strong resistance to leveling the playing field. It explains the cheating behavior of a Tom Brady (inflate-gate) and a Lance Armstrong. Men at the top of their sport insisting on cheating. I guess that’s the real American way.

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See also: The First White President by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Be Wary of NFL Even If Kaepernick Is Signed

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In this week’s saga of Colin Kaepernick who peacefully and quietly took a knee during the national anthem, the Ravens considered signing him since their starting QB, Flacco is injured. Even if Kaepernick is signed it doesn’t mean that the league is not blackballing him and that we shouldn’t boycott the NFL if that’s your position.

Kaepernick headlines

Nothing is more important to the NFL than the shield and profits – one in the same actually. Right now, Kaepernick is dominating the headlines. So, league owners aren’t above signing him just to shut down the noise. Owners have previously colluded against a player when it’s in the best interest of the league.

Case in point – Bubba Smith. Most of you may know him from his movie career, but he was slated to be one of the best defensive ends/tackles before he was injured at the hands of the league. You see, Bubba Smith of the Baltimore Colts, sustained a career ending injury on the field. In Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle, Bill Curry details the scene.

 We were playing the Steelers in an exhibition game. Late in the fourth quarter, Colts safety Rick Volk picked off a Terry Bradshaw pass and headed up the sideline on our side of the field. Bubba was running at full speed trying to block for Rick…. As they reached the side line in front of our bench, some guys went down ahead of him and Bubba had to leap over them, straight at the marker and the man holding it.

In these situations, the sideline officials are instructed to pick up the pole, which is stuck firmly into the ground, and back-pedal out of the way of players whose momentum might bring them out of bounds. In this care, the guy froze, maintaining a death grip on the pole that he’d driven hard into the turf.

In one of the most horrible injuries I have ever seen, Bubba crashed into the implanted pole, his weight and momentum driving his leg against it with such force that his knee counter-hinged, ripping loose every ligament that held the joint together. (292)

To us laymen, the NFL is clearly at fault here and Bubba Smith should have been compensated for the ending of his career as a result of the injury.

But, what did the NFL do?

Bubba Smith was traded to the Raiders with a salary THREE times his pre-injury salary. Why?  Curry speculates that “should Bubba ever sue on the grounds that the injury ruined his career, the NFL could point out that his highest salary came after the injury.” (300) So, no negligence by the league, right? (Gives side-eye).

So, even if Kaepernick is signed, I will keep my reservations about the NFL intact until I see that he is given a fair chance to be successful and this isn’t the latest example of league owners colluding with each other.

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Failure is *45’s Trademark

IMG_5014So much for all that winning that *45 was going to bring to the federal government. In the wee hours of the morning, the replacement bill for Obamacare was defeated. AGAIN for the third time. You can add Muslim travel ban, keeping jobs in America (Ford, Carrier), and Transgender Ban in military (only a matter of time) to that losing streak. But, for those of us familiar with this so-called president’s history, we are not at all surprised.

In 1983 the USFL (United States Football League) started as a football league to play in the spring to satisfy the country’s unquenched thirst for football. The owners were expected to take losses for a few years to build the league. Profits were not expected in the early years, but with slow growth, it was thought that the league could be on par with the NFL in about eight years.

Unfortunately for the USFL, *45 become owner of the New Jersey Generals. The plan set out by John Bassett, owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits, was quickly eroded as *45 brought with him his brand of wanting to do everything on a grand scale to fulfill his narcissistic insecurities and illusions of grandeur. *45 eroded the league just as he is doing with our country. Overpromising with no clear plan or intent to deliver. He brought in athletes at exorbitant salaries that led to a bidding war. He went after athletes who would have been 1st round draft picks of the NFL forcing the NFL into bidding wars. He convinced the other owners that they needed the spectacular – “the wall” of today. And, of course it was going to be easy like healthcare.

He convinced the owners to go against the business plan that was essential to the league – football in spring. He wanted to compete directly with the NFL or force a merger. How did he convince other owners to go along with this? Bullying, suing, leveraging the press. Wait, that sounds familiar.

The common thread here is that this grifter can convince people to go against their own interests because of promises based on no substance at all. If it was not so dire for our country, impacting all of our lives, you could almost admire this skill. No one can sell bullshit like he can. If only he would use his skill for good. You know like convincing himself that resigning is the best way to make America great again.

*45 – asterisk because Hillary did win the popular vote without Russian collusion.

 

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Vick to Kaep: “You betta cut it.”

I must have awakened Michael Vick by mentioning him in my last post. Unfortunately, I wish he would have stayed asleep or at least quiet. Vick is catching volcano lava heat for suggesting that Kaepernick should cut his hair to change his image in order to get back in the good graces of the NFL owners. That strategy worked for Vick because he was returning to the NFL from prison, as a convicted felon for a crime that most think he should never be forgiven for. I was a strong supporter of Vick and hoped that he got another chance to play in the NFL. On principle though I was a bit miffed that Vick got more time for cruelty to dogs than most get for murdering people of color or even abusing another human being. And, we all know that there are an endless number of domestic abusers who go unpunished and suffer no time off the gridiron for their abusive ways.

Kaepernick peacefully took a knee to protest MURDER! That is, the unjustified murders committed by police on black and brown bodies – SANDRA BLAND, PHILANDO CASTILE, ALTON STERLING, to name a few of which there are too many and counting. For the conservative holy rollers let me remind you of one of the Ten Commandments – THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT MURDER. I mention that commandment because folks seem to be really religious until….
A lot has already been said of Vick’s comments. Some have permanently revoked Vick’s invite to the cookout (I agree with this), called him a sellout, etc. For me, it’s just another sign that we still aren’t judged by the content of our character. We don’t value people of substance. We just want them to look the part. As a black woman with “dreadlocks” this is of significant concern because regardless of the number of degrees I have or my skill set, I know that my career goals may eventually be decided on looking the part. Or, confirming the standard opinion instead of providing a diversity of thought. I’m not saying that I should be allowed to wear sweats when the dress code clearly requires business attire. I’m speaking of fairness of actually using the list of job qualifications to make a decision. Kaepernick is a quarterback. His hair is not a qualification. His stance on police brutality is not a qualification. The only qualification that should be considered is his production on the field in comparison to the likes of Mark Sanchez (Bears), Geno Smith (Giants), Austin Davis (Seahawks ) and several more  who have been signed as quarterbacks. Until you can justify their signings, don’t pretend that this is about football, let alone hair.

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Obama, we’re sorry

obama-presidential-legacy-collapsingTo my forever president, Barack Hussein Obama, on behalf of this country, these United States of America, and the well over 65 million that voted for Hillary Clinton, WE ARE SO SORRY. PLEASE ACCEPT OUR APOLOGY. The current level of activism for the #RESISTANCE keeps me hopeful of avoiding total destruction under the current administration, but it also makes me wonder what could have been. What could this country had accomplished if there was this current level of engagement?Maybe we could have stomped out the Super-Obstructionist McConnell’s evil plan and forced the Senate to vote on your justice appointee, Merrick Garland. Maybe we wouldn’t have to look at the passive aggressive and smug Speakerless Ryan (speakerless cause he ain’t said shit worth hearing) admit to his agenda of destroying health care options for 23 million citizens. Citizens that you fought so hard for to have health insurance. In some cases, for the first time. Instead of fighting so hard to keep what you put in place, if WE had done our due diligence and fulfilled our citizen obligations, maybe at this point in time WE would instead be implementing upgrades to strengthen the ACA/Obamacare that would stay in place regardless of who won the last election. appleemoji-550x280

But, alas, that is not our current fate. Because WE didn’t give you the support that you needed, we are left running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Tirelessly and exhaustingly fighting for crumbs. Each day, or each tweet brings a new issue that WE have to address. We can’t fight for improvements because what is proposed by what Auntie Maxine calls the Kremlin Klan is so dangerous and unChrist-like, that we have to try to just maintain the status quo.

Since this is a sports blog, let me bring it back to sports. Michael Vick was probably one of the most exciting players to ever play football. Certainly one of the most exciting quarterbacks. Vick was an enormous talent, but after being banned from the NFL and sent to prison for dog-fighting , appleemoji-550x280Vick admitted that he hadn’t fulfilled his full potential because he didn’t work as hard as he should have. He just relied on his natural abilities which were pretty damn good by the way. If he had had the work ethic of a Peyton Manning or Kobe Bryant to match his natural abilities, just imagine how much better he would have been. We may be talking about him as a potential hall of fame quarterback. But, just like Vick, we had the talent in the intelligence, compassion, and steady hand of Barack Obama in the oval and we squandered it. We squandered it to a bunch of white male welfare kings. It’s welfare to get paid to do nothing. No one but elected officials can go on national TV and confidently say that they refuse to do their jobs and still get paid.

So to you, POTUS 44, I apologize. I apologize for leaving you hanging. I apologize for not calling my senators weekly like I do now, at least until I need a mental and emotional break. If I could turn back time (wait, did I just quote Cher. Desperate times) I would do it so differently and I know others would to. Until I find that DeLorean, accept our apology. WE’RE SORRY!!

 

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Game Changing Management – The Bill Walsh Way

BillWalshWhile interviewing for a management position in libraries, I was asked the typical question of how did I see myself as a manager or how would I manage. My ingenious response was that I wanted to be like Bill Walsh. I had to quickly clarify because we had a Bill Walsh in the library (not that he would be a bad example). I wanted to be like Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers. I described him as a risk taker, an innovator, and a true visionary/leader.

He was a risk-taker because in 1985 he drafted Jerry Rice as a wide-receiver from the little known school in Itta Bena, MS – Mississippi Valley State University. Now, we may know Jerry Rice as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), but then it was, “who is this guy?.” If you had the opportunity to make a hiring choice without the assistance of a search committee, would you have the courage to make an unconventional choice? He was an innovator by refining what is called the West Coast Offense. In this scheme, he used short passes as most teams would use the run. He used the pass to set-up the run. Even 20 years later, most teams run some version of this offense.

He was also an innovator in how he managed players. “A sports psychologist who later studied Walsh’s methods described them as ‘creating a positive learning environment.’ Their assumption was that ‘playing ‘correctly’ because of fear of reprisal does not describe an ideal performance state (Harris 2008, 80).’” Walsh didn’t yell at players like so many other coaches did at the time. They worked to change the behavior through positive reinforcement.

He was a visionary because he was holding coaching camps for minority coaches before the NFL enacted the Rooney Rule which “mandates that teams must interview one minority candidate for each head coaching vacancy (Corbett 2009).” Five minority coaches can trace their coaching roots back to Bill Walsh with two being winners of the Super Bowl (a total of eight head coaches with roots to Bill Walsh have won the Super Bowl). It is no coincidence that both exhibited Walsh’s calm exterior.

 

Figure 1: Bill Walsh Coaching Tree (Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Walsh_Coaching_Tree3.png, Accessed July 28, 2012 )

BillWalshTree

Bill Walsh’s Coaching Tree and minority coaches legacy

Having a coaching tree like Walsh should be every manager’s goal. How are you grooming your reports to succeed and surpass you? Or, are you afraid that with too much coaching, your reports will one day take your job.

Corbett, Jim. 2009. “Dungy: Rooney Rule opened up pipeline.” USA Today, February 2.

Harris, David. 2008. The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL
Dynasty. New York: Random House.

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