LaKo’s Lesson of the Month (1.17)

2017 is still in its infancy, so you have plenty of time to take your shot this year. Live a life with no regrets.

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LaKo’s Lesson of the Month (12/16)


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The DNC needed a Dak Prescott

dnc-dak-prescottOne of the bright spots of this NFL season has been Dallas Cowboys’ rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. Not only is he a good player, leading the Cowboys to an 8-1 season thus far, he’s just a likable guy. It has “it”. So much so that non-Cowboy fans like myself are jumping on the bandwagon. 

After having such an inspirational movement getting Barack Obama elected in 2008 and again in 2012, the DNC needed to have a “Dak Prescott” candidate. Someone that was relatively unknown yet more than capable of doing the job with some governmental experience and capable of inspiring the citizenry to come together for a common cause. That’s what Barack Obama did in 2008. Although he had some experience as a Senator, he wasn’t a lifelong politician with the baggage that accompanies. He was still considered an outsider.

What I’ve noticed on both sides of the aisle is that people want a cause they can get behind. They want to be inspired and feel like they are a part of something greater than themselves. That’s what our President-Elect did for a large portion of the country. It’s just unfortunate that he tapped into their pain without good intentions. 

hrc-to-dcBut, back to the DNC who ultimately ended up with Hillary Clinton as their presidential nominee. Even without the email troubles, she was a step backwards. It’s like the Dallas Cowboys putting Prescott, who is having a phenomenal season, on the bench because Tony Romo is ready to come back from his injury. Sure, Romo is a great player just as Hillary is more than qualified. But, it wouldn’t make sense to put Romo in the game when Dak is winning. 

The DNC tapped into a winning formula in 2008, but then lost sight of the bigger picture. Instead of adjusting that formula for needed improvements, they through it out the window and went back to the old ways to try to make history again. Since we had just elected the first African American president, it seems they just wanted to now elect the first woman president. On Tuesday of this week, Tony Romo held a press conference and graciously became the backup quarterback for Dak Prescott. That ‘s exactly what Hillary should have done two years ago.

Remember that play when Romo fumbled the snap for the three-point field goal attempt and the Cowboys were knocked out of the playoffs. That’s what Hillary’s loss feels like. Only this isn’t a game. Lives are at stake. So let’s hope the DNC gets with Keith Ellison to give us a Dak in the next election.

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LaKo’s Lesson of the Day (1)

Kareem & Wooden

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Oh, say can you see


Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light
that Kaepernick may be right, in exercising his right
to protest.

Many are questioning Colin Kaepernick’s patriotism because he has chosen to sit during the national anthem. Kaepernick, a quarterback for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, refuses to stand during the national anthem and pay homage to the flag because of the senseless killings of people of color by the police. Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

As you may have gathered from the name of my blog, LaKo’s Lessons From Sports, I do believe that there are lessons from sports that can apply to certain aspects of our individual lives as well as the general culture. “Commenting on the relevance of studying the intersection of sport and other social institutions, one sociologist notes that ‘there exist numerous institutional interconnections amount the basic institutions of a society, and changes in one sphere reverberate into others because of their systemic connections.’” – p. 11, Sports Law & Regulation: Cases Materials & Problems, Third Edition, 2013.

Football, collegiate (NCAA) as well as professional (NFL), is the biggest sport in this country. In 2015, the NFL’s revenue was $13 billion. So, anything that affects the bottom line in football or even have a potential impact on that bottom line, will draw media attention, praises or condemnation from fans. But, will it influence policy in anyway?


Let’s take a look down memory lane. When the football team at the University of Missouri joined the protest against campus racism, the university president was fired, I mean resigned. Would that happen if the swim team protested? Not likely. Jackie Robinson’s integration of Major League Baseball was as much a contribution to the Civil Rights Movement as Rosa Parks not getting up on the bus. Would Barack Obama be the President of the United States had not Tony Dungy became the first African American NFL coach to win the Super Bowl? Again, not likely. And, that’s because sports, in particular football, has the power to change the hearts and minds of those who would otherwise remain removed from the issues. Some “argue that a systemic entwinement between sport and politics arises because sport as a social institution typically reinforces societal values, including those of a political nature. Consequently, sport ‘serves as a preserver and a legitimator of the existing order.’” – p. 17, Sports Law & Regulation: Cases Materials & Problems, Third Edition, 2013.

This is why this is such a big deal. The biggest stage of sports in the U.S. is being used to give a voice to the voiceless. While Kaepernick is just one player and not even the most popular player in the NFL, his message is getting attention because it’s the NFL. Imagine what would happen if Cam Newton of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers decided to protest North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2. Change would come and come quickly.

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Leaders Take Care of Good Employees, Managers Don’t


If a guy underperforms, you get rid of him. If a guy overperforms, you take care of  him.” – Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers

I cannot agree more with this quote from Antonio Brown. When I was in management, I was fortunate enough to have a very great, over-performing squad who made me look like a genius. I’m not sure they figured it out, but they could’ve gotten away with just about anything as long as they were performing. Constant tardiness, missed meetings, etc. But, here’s the thing, the rub, over-performers/high achievers usually have an internal code that will keep them from taking advantage or abusing their privileges. Another reason why management should take care of their over-performers. Now, I did have a couple of rotten apples, didn’t think they had to work under-performers. And, you know what? They couldn’t get away with anything. If they were late, I was clocking them. Missed one or two deadlines, and we were discussing it with possible HR involvement.

If you’re a fan of the NBA, then you’re familiar with Phil Jackson. Phil was the type of coach that trusted his players to sort things out on the court. He didn’t call a timeout the second his team faced an uphill climb like many coaches will do. He gave them a chance to right the ship, trusting that his team was properly prepared. This is how you treat over-performers. Hands-off. The only time I can recall when Phil Jackson didn’t take this approach was during the NBA Finals when his Lakers faced off against the Detroit Pistons. Sensing that his team had lost their over-performing ways, Phil was up pacing, coaching from the bench and calling timeouts like I’ve never seen him do before or after. That’s the delicate balancing act that leaders must achieve. That is, know when to step in when over-performers fall off their high-achieving ways, but back off when they are achieving.


The other reason you want to take care of your high-performers is that others are watching. If you can be an advocate for your team, taking care of the over-achievers, this will encourage the other team members to buy-in. This aspirational goal becomes the culture of the organization. This makes employees feel valued which increases morale and derails turnover, saving your organization money in the end. In the case of Antonio Brown, some may argue that this is just the business side of the NFL. But, there is a glaring double-standard here. Players are expected to be loyal to the organization. Remember the outcry when LeBron James left the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat? How dare he be so disloyal to his home team! Yet, it is ok for NFL owners to nickel and dime their over-performing players. Since it is a business, players should be expected to go for what’s most important to them. LeBron left because he wanted a championship. The question for Antonio is do you want to play somewhere where you’re most likely to win a Super Bowl, or is the appeal of more zeros on your contract more important? Do you cause them hoes ain’t loyal. 

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School Integration comes to Cleveland, Miss: Let Football Heal the Community

On May 14, 2016, more than 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, the junior high and high schools in Cleveland, MS were ordered to integrate to end segregation of the public schools. Without going into logistics or whether or not this should happen, I want to focus on the emotional toll that this may have.


I’m a graduate of East Side High School (Trojans).  I celebrated my 25th class reunion in 2014 and on May 19, 2016, my mom will celebrate her 50th class reunion. That’s two generations. For some families, there are three to four generations that have graduated from East Side. That’s what makes homecoming so special. We proudly say that we are Trojans for life. I didn’t realize how special it was until my 25th reunion when my classmate/friend, Sheila H. said she brought one of her new friends to the reunion so she could see how special it was and how we relate to each other. The LOVE is REAL even if we don’t like each other. I guess she didn’t have that experience at her high school. I assumed everyone did.


Being a Trojan is a big part of the identity of the community. It is who we are. Many of us have graduated from several colleges and universities, but we remain Trojans first. That’s what’s in our hearts. Until reading the article and video that implied that graduates of East Side had received a less than education, the thought had never occurred to me. Many of my classmates are very well educated with professions such as nurses, teaching faculty, engineers, lawyers, psychologists and on and on. So, I take issue with that. We received a great education at East Side with teachers, in some cases classmates of our parents, who cared about us.


But if this merger will actually happen, I hope that the transition can go smoothly. I believe that sports can play a major part in the success of this merger. Just as Jackie Robinson’s integration of professional baseball played a major role in the civil rights movement in this country, sports, in particular, football, can unify both communities. This is the south, so football is like a second religion. With the merger, Cleveland can be a powerhouse team. Hopefully, a new mascot will be chosen so that no one feels slighted that they now have to take on the name of a crosstown rival. When Art Modell took his Cleveland Browns team to Baltimore to become the Ravens, he left the records and legacy intact for the next Cleveland Browns team.  The same should be done here in a way that maintains the legacy of both the East Side Trojans and the Cleveland Wildcats.


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