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.

immigrant_technology_jobs

 

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

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Be Wary of NFL Even If Kaepernick Is Signed

IMG_5027
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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Trolling the Buckeyes cause I Roll with the Tide

RollTideinOSU

Yeah, that’s me on the campus of the Ohio State University in front of “the Shoe” with my Alabama crimson Tide t-shirt on. Why? Cause that’s how my petty is set up. This was no accident. Oh no. I intentionally wore my Bama tee to troll OSU fans. All in good fun though. Buckeyes have the bragging rights since they defeated the Tide in the 2015 Sugar Bowl of the first College Football Playoff series.

TideBuckeye2

As I was there in the Horseshoe taking my pics, I was greeted with a die-hard Buckeye fan who very appropriately told me to get out of there with my t-shirt. That’s us flipping each other the bird just like we should. Nothing like sports to bring people together just to flip each other off. Just good ole rivalry fun.

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