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.

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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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