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.


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, 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.



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

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Be Wary of NFL Even If Kaepernick Is Signed

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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