About My Pain

I trained for my own pain
believing it would be relieved in success,
such so to override the pain it took to get there,
yet never realizing that I trained for my own pain.

I am who I am. And it will be what it will be,
but I can’t see beyond the misery.
I made the me I am, for the dream of who I am,
yet unaware that I trained for my own pain.
The pain is freely given for those on this road, need no tarots for this is no
mystery.

Simply and shamelessly gullibly ignorantly oblivious to my training for for my own pain.
Not enough paint can paint the painting to my pain.
Can’t point the finger knowing I was the master of my slavery.

I trained for my pain to become a slave–unknowingly.
I’m the me I am that created the slave I am,
unnoticing the grave I’m digging for where I’ll lay one day.

Not sure how I didn’t realize that I was training for my own pain, yet a pain I didn’t train for, but no less adore.

Sports as a Reflection of Culture: Be Multifaceted

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(Leonardo da Vinci)

I can only accurately speak to football and basketball, but it’s clear that the best athletes in their respective sports are multifaceted. Drawing a comparison to the rest of the world, it seems that the most successful or well-known people have a myriad of skills, that are very effective.

If you are a sports fan and end up watching highlights via the various media outlets, you may be familiar with LeBron James, Miguel Cabrera, Robert Griffin III (Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson), etc, to name just a few. These athletes are threats in multiple ways. And they are considered some of the best in their respective sports, or at least at their position. If they aren’t right now, they will be. LeBron James can shoot, pass, rebound, and defend. Miguel Cabrera is an excellent hitter who won the first Triple Crown in many years, for being a high percentage hitter, home-run hitter, and hit to enable others to score (they are highly correlated in my opinion, but still). Robert Griffin and the new age of Quarterbacks, can run with the ball very well and pass the ball with accuracy. Although there will always be a place for a Peyton Manning or a Tom Brady who are incredibly cerebral and accurate passers, there seems to be an infatuation with these hybrid football players. These athletes do several things very well, making them the most effective or valuable.

Drawing the comparison to the non-sports world, I posit that the most success people and corporations do many things very well. Most people who find themselves financially successful aren’t people who just work wonderfully at their job or within their career. They take on other ventures. They seek opportunities in real property; play the financial markets; find other means of income via board membership; all while spending money wisely.

President Barack Obama is an educator, writer and politician, some aspects complimenting the others. A person I just heard about named Randal Pinkett, seems to have never taken a break. And, Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder are successful because they have their hands on as much as they can, while shouldering and shuttering much risk. Steve Jobs had more than Apple. He was an essentially part of Pixar.

Wal-Mart is an easy corporation to point to that is a one stop shop. You can go there and get clothes, food, entertainment items, household needs, and far more. This isn’t a secret, but the best athletes are a reflection of that, now. Specialist are becoming obsolete. Why play a 3-point shooter, when you can play a 3-point shooter that can rebound and defend? Why go to the liquor store, when you can go to Wal-Mart to get your liquor and mixers, and sunglasses and Advil?

Athletes in their triple or quadruple-threat-ness, mimic corporations who have cornered several markets, or people who have embarked on championing several fields. This may be the reemergence of a Renaissance era, where you must do a multitude of things in order to stand out. Maybe that has always been the case, but our athletes are reflecting that idea right now.

Success isn’t only defined by fame or money. But, if you are a good friend, spouse, or parent, it is likely because you are more than just humorous, affectionate, providing, good at lending an ear or advice. It’s probably a combination of those things.

FuckyeahLebronJames

LeBron James is a better physical athlete than Michael Jordan and a better basketball player. If you’ve seen Bad Teacher you will know the argument I will make. LeBron is a better rebounder and passer, and he can more effectively guard several positions.

Derrick Rose didn’t do to LeBron yet, what Iverson did to Jordan. Who cares!? Yeah. Ok. But, as the game advances we have a better understanding of things. Iverson shocked Jordan’s system. Jordan didn’t know what to do. Iverson’s style of play was foreign to Jordan the same way Jordan was foreign to Craig Ehlo, Dell Curry, Stacey Augmon, or Joe Dumars, to name a few.

Conversely, LeBron has seen Jordan, Bird, Iverson, Nash, Kobe, Magic etc. so he’s prepared for anything. And scoring wise, Durant is and will be better than Jordan. We as humans just get better. People 6’9 and 6’11 respectively shouldn’t be able to do better than what 6’0 guards, or even 6’6 guards did traditionally. Shit has changed. Hey Grandpa! It’s a new world. There are greater minds than Plato and writers than Shakespeare like Stephen Hawking or Stephen King.

Saying Jordan is better than LeBron, Kobe, or Durant is like saying the first iPhone, which was phenomenal and changed the cell phone industry or smart phone industry is better than the iPhone 3G or 4. I won’t say LeBron is the 5s. But, hold your breath because there will be a dude to play basketball that’s better than all of them in the coming years.

Jordan like the first iPhone, changed everything and there was nothing on the market to compete with it or him–at the time. LeBron is in a different era with Androids and Windows smart phones like Carmelo, Dirk, Wade, Kobe, Durant, Westbrook, Rose, Paul George, etc. Other people have great ass skill too, who learned from Jordan like other companies like HTC learned from the iPhone. Just think. There are people like James White, who couldn’t makes waves in the League, but are better leapers than Jordan. See, Gerald Green too.

PlayStation 3 was better than PS2 the same way XBOX 360 was better than XBOX. Atari was great until Sega and Nintendo dropped. The Lamborghini Countach was one of the best automotive achievements until something better came along. See the trend?

People like technological advancements, get better as time passes. And for every video game system advancement, or enhancement in information technology, or decrease in size of devices, there are unknowns or less popularized advancements, but advancements nonetheless. There are great minds and stories and basketball players that you will never hear of; but that doesn’t mean they didn’t or don’t exist; and that they weren’t better than your or your dad’s favorite player. Making it to the masses is an issue of opportunity, luck, and skill.

Mentioning that Jordan won more championships or that he never lost in the finals is a flawed argument. LeBron got to the finals way before Jordan ever did, although he lost. If you mention Jordan’s accomplishments also mention how Jordan lost or failed a bunch of times before he made it to his maximum level. People make excuses for him, when he lost to the Magic in the playoffs because he came back from playing baseball.

Stop clinging to the past like Americans cling to the 2nd amendment as a rationale for why people should have automatic weapons and laser guns and shit. It’s a new day. FuckyeahLeBronJames!

I’ll stop dick riding when you do!

Pete Carroll is an Example…

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With the recent Seahawks’ win, and other wins under Coach Carroll, I do believe Pete Carroll is an example of a successful coach. He is also an example of what most coaches, who have coached football at the NCAA level are like, not so much in his behavior or skill level, but with his tactics. And, by tactics, I mean the fact that people have to get their hands a little dirty. This should not take anything away from his success at the Pro or College level. The idea that his hands could be considered a little dirty is based on the regulations of the NCAA, but regardless of his recruiting techniques Carroll knows football; and is still carrying on with a youthful exuberance and love of the game, at 62. What this should call attention to is the NCAA.

Johnny Manziel, may have profited from his autograph this summer (not like he needs the money). And, after NCAA investigations were complete, he served a team administered one-half game suspension. But–current NFL wide out–AJ Green was suspended by the NCAA, for four games, for selling his jersey for $1,000 to an alleged agent, after his junior year in college. All the money he made for UGA? He can’t profit too. Oh! My boy Dez Bryant lost his entire senior season and the money from a dropped stock in the NFL pro draft, for lying about hanging around a former prominent athlete. It’s really not a surprise that the treatment of one rich white kid, who won the Heisman is juxtaposed to two black kids, who are now millionaires, but god’s grace. There appears to be an arbitrary enforcement mechanism. And looking to these examples Racial issues are still alive and well if NCAA sports are any indicator.

So why does this matter when talking about Coach Pete Carroll? Because he coached Reggie Bush, who–while at USC–under Carroll’s tutelage, was accused of taking money. Reggie was then stripped of his Heisman Trophy. USC would also deal with sanctions. And, what was Carroll’s role? what punishment does he deserve? But, good thing for Coach Carroll he got out of there and landed a position with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. But, the idea that USC and Reggie Bush have to give up wins and a trophy is ridiculous. Hopefully while on the level playing field that is the NFL, it will show that USC was deserving of those wins and Bush entitled to his trophy.

We have an NCAA which implements rules and regulations for players, schools, and coaches alike, but it seems for the most part that it’s the players who get in the trouble, spawning from a multitude of reasons. The coaches and schools find themselves in violation when attempting to recruit the best players. It’s clear the rules have to get broken to have a modicum of success. Moreover, the lack of guidance from the coaches and schools hurts players when players start to look like goldmines, based on their stellar college performances.

Sadly, not everyone is going to be rich from playing a sport–including those who make it to the highest NCAA level. Sadly, those players who don’t “make it,” are left with nothing to show for it financially. Money matters. You can argue that players have the chance to earn a free degree, but in this economy, it’s next to worthless, especially when considering the majors for the degrees earned, if earned. The compromise of blood, sweat, tears, and a lack of a balanced college life is not repaid with a free education. The NCAA is running a plantation especially when it comes to sports like football and basketball.

Pete Carroll knows the devil that is the NCAA and the difficultly associated with being a successful head coach at that level. He had to do dirt to hit pay dirt enough times to where his teams could win, which enables him to look good. And, now with Coach Carroll at the NFL level, where the playing field is level, as far as talent is concerned–for the most part–it’s clear to see that talent acquisition is only a part of the puzzle. Pete Carroll is showing that it’s what you do with the talent.

The money used to entice young talent to attend a school does not make a team win, no more than buying a drink for a girl at a bar will get a man laid. It helps. It helps. But, there is way more involved in order to have a team win or have a man get laid. The NCAA should appreciate that fact when handing out violations, while NOT amending their rules for this current age of collegiate athletics. The NCAA stripping Bush of his Heisman is still a bullshit decision. Reggie didn’t play better because he got a couple hundred dollars. Fuck that chump change! Think about it this way: that money was nothing compared to the money Reggie Bush helped the NCAA, ESPN, the then PAC-10, and USC make during his tenure. Not to mention what all players help networks and their schools to earn for playing a sport. Reggie was trying to get NFL money, not a few hundred bucks so he could help mitigate the cost of living, or to get it while the getting is good because nothing is promise in a gladiator sport like that.

Basically, Pete Carroll is exposing the NCAA for their weak ass policies, with his winning in the NFL. Hopefully Chip Kelly and Jim Harbough can keep the show going. Pete Carroll is going to win no matter where he is because he has the tools from his knowledge of the game, not money from…whatever resource to pay players (if they are getting paid, because not all do). Face it: College Sports are not amateur sports. College athletics are a billion dollar business made off the backs of young people, without the allowance of paying the talent. It’s so hypocritical, it’s sickening. And not to mention criminal, in that schools have arranged price-fixing, so not to pay players (see antitrust laws). Just stop with the bullshit NCAA and schools protecting their profit margins. Way to go Coach Carroll, you’re exposing the NCAA.

Also!! The Lack of Diversity in leadership in NCAA athletics…:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg35220/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg35220.pdf

The Roses: Jamar Board b.k.a Silent Assassin

I wish we all could’ve given Jamar the flowers while he could still smell them. But, it could be that he did. I met and knew Jamar from playing basketball, on Sundays, at Maret High School in Northwest, DC—about 13 or 14 years ago. One of the first things about his game that stood out was how hard he dribbled the basketball. It was like he was pounding it. And, it was unique. If I recall correctly, he said to Daniel Lamont, who is a basketball mentor to many, that he did that to scare or intimidate defenders. Jamar’s savvy ability to handle the basketball was in fact frightening to defenders as time passed. He was extremely difficult to guard because of that, and guarding him only got harder as his game matured. Although some would say that he lacked great physical gifts such as being objectively fast, tall, or a high leaper, his uncanny knack for shooting and lightening fast hand-speed made him the dangerous player that is finally being recognized, and more so in death. As his legend will continue to grow, he will have the respect he always wanted. And the flawless game he was working so hard for.Jamar Board

How is it that someone becomes a Streetball legend? (I think it is more than fair to say that Jamar Board is a Streetball legend, which puts him in the same category of greatness as Pee Wee Kirkland, Kurt Smith, Earl Manigault (The G.O.A.T), Joe “The Destroyer,” Baby Shack, Greg “the Wizard” Jones, Skip to My lou, and so many more.) Those who saw him play can recount his memorable highlights. But how is it that you can drop 75 points in a game (video proof)–anywhere on god’s green earth–and not have had the opportunity to do it on a more globally respected platform? His cousin, friend, and fellow basketball athlete, Bobby Maze said his chance was right around the corner.

Obviously, it could be politics, timing or luck, academics, ability to work with others, staying out of trouble, or simply the ridiculous amount of others trying to “make it” as a basketball player. It’s hard (an understatement) to stand out. Mind you, he was putting up legit numbers everywhere he played. Jamar lead a semi-pro league in scoring. His ability is documented and well verified. Another argument is that one needs to be on the usual platform where NBA talent is scouted, such as the best NCAA colleges.

I’m not going to hype Jamar by telling you he jumped over the moon before finally coming down to dunk or literally shook a defender so hard his shoe soles stayed on the court, while he drove by and finger rolled. No. But, I am telling you that he got buckets by consistently making shots. He made points in a various manner, from getting in the lane, to knocking down jumpers from anywhere. And, if he chose to, he could make sure that his teammates got easy buckets too.

Please know that Jamar was a phenomenal basketball talent. He just never got his break, like so many others. But, Jamar is distinct from the rest because of his undeniable skill set. One of his several college coaches mentioned in an article that he once witnessed Jamar make 99 of 100 three-pointers in a shooting session. And, I’m sure the one he missed was crazier than the 99 he made. To put that into perspective, most people who shoot 40% in a game are considered good shooters, and when practicing, making 80% of the shots you take without defense is considered outstanding. (You can google his stats from his various colleges.)

Those who watched Silent Assassin saw a legend in the making. It wasn’t in a one high flying act, but rather continued excellence. Another story is that Jamar made about 238 of 250 three-pointers. A rough estimate. That kind of focus, conditioning, and consistency is unreal. Not to mention being in the gym long enough to take that many shots. And you can be sure those weren’t his only shots of the day. He was a basketball savant. That was his “trick.” He had a determination and work ethic that was unmatched while being tailored for his game, which is only proven in his body of work. One can only assume his incredible confidence on the court came from knowing he was more prepared than his competition. Jamar relished every opportunity to prove it.

But it was the hours, sweat, tears, and sacrifice to attain his peak performance level that goes without enough appreciation. When everyone else was sleeping…he was working. But what does that even mean? It literally means, he would work on his ball handling into the wee hours of the morning, when his peers were likely eating dinner, doing homework, watching television, and—of course—sleeping. He was working on his game at odd hours on the playground or in a 24-hour gym at times when most others would be preparing for the next day with sleep. (Please note: this kind of hard work requires a sacrifice to other facets of life [addressed in the following].)

Jamar didn’t need a coach to motivate him or even a gym to workout. He would dribble for hours in his basement, after rearranging the furniture and other items in order to do so. He would also dribble with a less than inflated ball interspersed with dribbling a normal ball or dribbling them simultaneously. He too had created one of those odds methods to attain handles. Jason Williams dribbled with gloves and hand-weights, or like Kyrie Irving who dribbled the ball while it was inside of a plastic bag. Or Jamar would dribble while doing dumbbell curls with the opposite hand. I’m giving away his trade secrets, here. I hope you basketball players use them.

jamar boardMore to his sacrificing is when people were taking breaks to lay down in bed, Jamar was doing ab work or whatever else, as I’m told by one of his good friends. This was a work ethic gained over time. His dedication required sacrificing time to other facets of life, in hopes that once basketball took him far enough, those things would be replenished in the future. But, he was clearly locked-in on the present. Who knew if he could even see beyond or why he was going so hard after a certain point. Who is willing to do that and to what extent? We all sacrifice, but damn! Isn’t what Jamar was doing required to be special? If that is the case, I know a lot of people would rather be normal. Board was on another level, which resulted in his game being on another level than most.

Jamar–without question–was one of the best shooters I’ve seen, which advanced not only his game, but the concept of basketball. It changes everything as a defender who has to guard a person as they cross half court. This made Jamar quicker and faster than most perceived him to be. The hard thing when being so tremendously skilled is that you have to pass to teammates. That’s a problem only he, Jordan, Kevin Durant, and Kobe really know—others merely think it. Why pass the ball? And, in this dog eat dog basketball world, why pass to a player on your team to take yourself out of the spotlight, or to share the shine, we as players work so hard to get–as we can only dream?

The only reason Jamar did not revolutionize basketball is because he didn’t have a large enough stage. Jamar’s ability to shoot from many feet behind any three-point arch changes the concept of how to play basketball offensively and defensively. So people who feared being embarrassed took the low road and just wouldn’t make a defensive effort. Get fried either way!

Jamar Board’s death is saddening not only because he is/was someone’s son, father, friend, significant other, brother, etc. but also because he is yet another young African-American male whose talent—and such a great talent—was taken from this earth far too soon. I am only referring to basketball as it pertains to Jamar, although this is symbolic of a bigger issue.

This opens that proverbial door to the bewilderment that comes from knowing so many future great people of the black community have forever been lost due to firearms. There’s no telling how Jamar could affect basketball in the coming years. And with that, what he could do with that influence.

Please cherish your gifts, and understand that without an obvious or glaring indication of greatness, there can be greatness. In other words, the person with an atypical body type, learning ability, or skill set can be the next phase in evolution of a particular field. The evolution occurs out of necessity to survive, which can potentially reach unseen heights of greatness within that particular venue. Jamar was only on the precipice of doing that in my opinion. I have much respect for your game, Jamar Board. Peace

An Ex-Athlete’s Delight

Wake up with the pain of a prior day’s work recalled as your feet shockingly touch the floor.
Resent waking up…well, the process.
Love waking up to carry out your night’s dreams in today.
Begrudgingly start your routine of push ups, sit ups, squats, toe raises….
Willing to do whatever to get that advantage on your competition–wherever they reside.
Gotta make it.
You wake quick, to get to the next step.
But, the daily grind wears on your mind,
takes a physical toll on your body, and thrashes at your soul.
Being an athlete has it rewards in the fleeting moments they come, but it’s all work, but some say its tons of fun.
Essentially, athletes keep playing for the chance at “the glory.”
“Thank God if I make it.”
Blame him for having another plan for me if I don’t.
“It can’t be me. I work too hard. Sweat too much.”
Why do I even do this? I’m tall? I’m strong? I’m fast? I’m quick?
My friends, family and expectations?
Is this love or lust?
I know I can have minions to keep feeding my overgrown ego that i wouldn’t have otherwise.
It’s only because my name appears in the paper; or, my image flies across YouTube;
or, your HDTV.
Do I do it for the day I hit the Shine of a Spotlight?
Do I do it for the day I can really get paid?
Do I do it so that my good looks are profitable
or bad ones and skin color become irrelevant?…
I love the game.
It defines me.
I enjoy winning.
The losing is motivating.
I see God, and the good in both.
I spend all my free time in a gym,
with or without people.
It’s my religion.
Sorry, God! (I think).
I sacrifice:
Academics, love life, social experience, other life joys, jobs and money.
I’m different for my ability to sacrifice.
But, I’m not honored or given my due unless I win and keep winning.
So how can I really appreciate a loss?
Fans can love or hate you for what they can’t do.
Future employers can love to gloat about your past accomplishments, while longing for the day to berate you….”I’m your coach, now!”
What it is to work for love and passion–neither can be replaced by money or trophies.
It’s great to have it all, but better to have your sport.
You grow to love the pain, agony, triumph,
and defeat, and saddened when you’re liberated from it all when…
On the one day it stops.
Death over dishonor?
I gave so much to the game and now it’s gone.
With it, my youth and spirit.
How to care beyond something you have given more than half your life to?
How to carry burdens of burned friendships in pursuit of a bigger dream?
I love the clicks in my knees, toes, elbows and neck.
It’s what I have left from days achieving without having
to look at old stat sheets, clippings, or trophies.
Artists at their finest is an athlete.
Those you’ve never heard of and those we all adore.
We all have this in common: a lot of pain and love and muscle memory.

Nobody’s Perfect: The NFL and its Officiating

Stop whining about the NFL replacement referees.  Should the owners cave to end the strike? Sure. But, the replacement referees have been set-up to be scapegoats since the NFL season started. These refs are under a microscope while lacking confidence. Plus, they have not been granted a grace period to acclimate to the NFL level of play given they do not have prior NFL experience. Are they bad or terrible? Yeah. But, they were the best available—sadly.

The last play of the Seahawks-Packers game resulted in an interception. But, as it is, Russell Wilson and Seattle has come away with a victory that is now in the books. The Bears, Lions (even though they lost this weekend), and Vikings are happy. The players and coaches are entering games with a mindset to argue calls knowing that calls will be missed which is exacerbating the officiating problem. But, as much as players are whining about the replacement referees, is as much as players complain about the normal refs at most levels of athletics. Yes, NFL football should be above the rest since it is as a professional league, but the Referee Lockout is altering things, currently.

The media is just as responsible for the officiating problem as the NFL since the media has created a welcoming platform for the criticism, with the ongoing dispute. The refs have to feel the pressure, which is affecting their performance. Social media isn’t helpful either. Not to mention when the sports pundits open their mouths, they are spewing gasoline on the fire with their policy suggestions for the NFL and fans. Like, don’t say the fans should take a stand. Who knows what that will lead to. The complaining is already out-of-hand. Shut up, and let the players play football and officials officiate. Ray Lewis complained about the calls after the Eagles game, but didn’t thank the refs for getting the call right to beat the Patriots. (I hope the Ravens win it all by the way.)

The NBA had to implement rules to prevent post-game discussion of officiating. The talking matters. Maybe the NFL should do the same. Maybe there is such a rule. But, those rules came prior to this replacement ref debacle, which proves that refs have always been bad and to blame for “blowing it.” Players and coaches are always going to complain about calls no matter if there are Footlocker employees calling the plays or certified professional-level officials. What the NFL should do is amend the rules for replacement refs to allow more calls to be challenged and allow for overturning of certain calls via “the booth” given the issues.

One great thing is being shown with the issues resulting from having replacement refs: the NFL is the best professional league on the planet. That being based on how much the fans love the game. With the officiating problem, it’s only drawing more people to the TV.  The controversy is great, but it must be fixed soon.

Americans love their football.  Each of the seemingly too few, sixteen football games matter for all the thirty-two teams.  Great team and individual stories make the NFL enjoyable. Not every superstar comes from a top college program, and not every team needs a superstar to win. The NFL gives fans something to cheer for, at the same time it gives fans something to prepare for each week: a football watching party, and fantasy league, among other things.

Plus, the players and coaches leave it on the line every game because they have such a limited number of games to prove their worth. The tenacity shown, and difficulty to achieve greatness makes it all the more rewarding when successful. Additionally, the wealth in the NFL is spread around the league. People support their teams.There are multiple contenders every year. It would be great to predict the playoff teams and eventual Superbowl champion, but it can’t reasonably be done, which makes watching so beautiful. Football is such a pure, yet raw sport that is lovable even with the head and bodily injury problems that exist during and post-playing career for players. No matter what, players are excited to put their uniforms on and play football every game.

Currently, the games are being altered in this atmosphere of bad officiating, but teams know that they shouldn’t be in a position where officials can make game deciding calls. It’s a tough position for everyone involved. “Fair exchange; no robbery.” Nobody or thing is perfect and the NFL won’t be when the normal officials return.

Is this from this season or any other?

Sports are a Reflection the Culture: Women Keep Winning

After witnessing the USA women dominate the Olympics by being responsible for 29 of the 46 gold medals earned by the US, and 58 of the total medals earned by the US, it is time to pay homage to a change in gender responsibilities that have occurred in America. The success of the female Olympic athletes should not come as a surprise given the female Olympians out numbered the males 268 to 261 for the USA. Nor should it be a surprise that women are excelling in sports the way they are because women are out performing men across the board. Looking to academics, women are attending college and graduating in higher rates and raw numbers than men. It only makes sense that more women are becoming collegiate athletes, and thusly, Olympic athletes. Not only that, but women are out numbering men in the workforce due to their academic success. Open your eyes! This didn’t happen overnight. This has been the trend for years. And please do not feel shocked or surprised that women are excelling after seizing once denied opportunities.

The advancement of women is not only expected, but it is natural too. Women have been subjugated in this country for years. When faced with bias based on gender, women have had to be that much better to be considered equal. Their standard has been pushed, which pushes their minds and bodies to farther limits. The hard work women have displayed is being realized in droves. Ladies take a bow or boast.

The proverbial doors are opening for women everywhere and women are taking full advantage of that by conquering in their respective field. Whether it’s medicine, the practice of law, engineering, business, or sports, the fact that Olympian women have excelled as they did in the 2012 London Olympics in the 40th year since Title IX is great symbolism for what people are capable of if given a fair opportunity to succeed. It’s inspiring.

Sports are only reflecting the cultural changes that have occurred over the years with more women joining the workforce and becoming more influential through politics, media, arts, and the aforementioned professional fields. The United States of America may be the world’s pioneer for tearing down gender restrictions, which has given American women an advantage over other countries. Women’s excellence in the Olympics and their respective sports is a testament to their achievements that have been occurring on a smaller, less publicized scale. The realization of their determination in the form of Olympic medals is a direct result of having an opportunity in athletics, which had been previously denied for no intelligible reason. From Hilary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Nancy Pelosi to Rebecca Soni, Alyson Felix, Katie Ledecky and the entire teams of women’s gymnastics, soccer, basketball, etc. women are showing out.

There will soon be a female President of the United States of America. This will not be because there isn’t a formidable male candidate, but because the female candidate will be the clear, better choice for the job.  It will resemble the way President Barrack Obama in 2008 had to be many times better than his opponents in order to be considered, then later won.  Instead of being surprised by or jealous of the excellence of women; the country should salute, thank, and congratulate our fellow Americans because they are keeping America as world power.

The NCAA must enhance Protection of Student-Athletes

The alarming rate of conference realignment of many NCAA Division-I schools is indicative of the professional atmosphere that has existed in collegiate athletics for years. With these changes, can the NCAA amend a few of their regulations concerning the rights of the athletes? The school administrators and Coaches have all the lobbying power. As the schools profit greatly from the athletic departments, the student-athletes do not receive a benefit comparable to the money the schools they play for profit.

Student-athletes should be able to transfer laterally without having to sit-out a year. Additionally, players should have the ability to identify a coach for wrongdoing without fear of retaliation.  Players should have a united voice in the form of a union. Lastly, the NCAA should license coaches.

These young adults are athletes first and students second. Just think about the time spent training for and playing their sport versus how much time they spend in class or having time to study. Some athletes are forced to red-shirt for a yearin order to put on weight and muscle. This is not an attempt to incite the discussion that collegiate students should be paid, but rather to suggest that the students should have better treatment during their tenure.

Too often student-athletes are not advocated for. Awareness of the issues they face go unmentioned. Student-athletes are confronted with over-exhaustion from grueling hours, deal with abusive coaching personalities, and face stress of quality performance under fear of ramifications, while carrying the weight to represent the institution properly. There are a multitude of nuanced issues the athletes face, just like everyone else. For example, an athlete’s love of a sport is stripped away by the business like culture that bombards them upon entering a college campus. These athletes are sacrificing a normal collegiate experience, which is not offset by an unguaranteed four-year “ride” that does not pay the students back with a dream job in the real world. The system needs to evolve to consider the needs of the players more.

No Players’ Union for student-athletes exist, and the NCAA does not address the athletes’ problems adequately given there is no substantial forum for their voice. Yet, the NCAA is a professional-like climate. The coaches and athletic directors have all the lobbying power with the NCAA. Even if a coach elects a student-athlete representative, who knows if that athlete is adequately taking into account the various issues their peers face. Players are on a quick revolving door, and by the time players realize the inequities, they are too preoccupied with their next step or jaded enough not to raise the issues. The culture does not support the players. Maybe the NCAA should make room for such a union that various professional leagues have.

Moreover, four-year scholarships can be taken away for cause or rescinded when players are dismissed at the discretion of a coach or school administrator. Coaches find ways to manipulate the system to have players exit their program to free up available scholarships to get new talent. Other times, athletes are unhappy in their current academic institution—for whatever reason—and decide to leave for the sake of their happiness. If such a student wants to transfer laterally they would have to sit-out a year, which deters a comparable institution from wanting to accept such a player on scholarship because the delayed gratification of that player’s skill on the field or court may not be worth the wait. Why would a coach want an encumbered student athlete, when coaches can easily recruit a high school or Junior College athlete?

Thus, a student who makes a decision to attend a school, which then does not materialize as they imagined to be happy, then has to make another tough decision to leave or stay while taking in personal considerations. Plus, players have a finite amount of time to play in college, which only adds to the complexity that exists procedurally when asserting their rights. Additionally, if a student does assert their rights, it leads to interpersonal strains that adversely affect their immediate future because the rules do not allow students to act autonomously.

The athletes who make the engine run on profitable sports are given the short-end of the stick too often. Reggie Bush should still have his Heisman Trophy, and the Ohio State football players shouldn’t have been investigated and penalized the way they were. Those are just two high-profile examples of how the system is flawed.

Players are also adversely affected as a direct result of coaches who are quickly expendable if they do not win. Schools need to win in order to take home bigger dollars and keep paying fans happy. Thus, coaches are very hard on, and demanding of players—not always a bad thing—but the line is oftentimes blurred. Basically, the rules need to protect the players more from coaches, who have short careers too, who push and tinker with NCAA limits.

America is built on capitalism, and college sports are not exempt—nor should they be. But, there should be regulations in place to protect the student- athletes. These are kids from 17 to 22 years of age, on average, that make a sacrifice that free tuition does not always or adequately cover.

Given the extraordinary amount of attention on athletics during college to play at the highest level possible, players are devoid of other essential skills like being self-sufficient. The system is broken as far as producing well-rounded people. Many student-athletes have their administrative work addressed for them and never learn to take care of themselves until it hits them—hard—after leaving college. Players are coddled until they aren’t; and that rude awakening creates for more than a difficult adjustment. Student-Athletes get blind-sided by reality when they don’t have coaches dictating their schedule and other people catering to their needs.

The student-athletes are the human capital, which the conference commissioners and administrators profit, as well as the individual institutions. Is it too much to ask that the players have the right to transfer to a school without having to sit-out a year to a lateral school? Or, to make sure they will always have an education paid for as long as the player decides to be a member on a school team that will have them once they have signed a letter of intent to a particular institution? How about players having the freedom to chose a particular major like engineering that can enhance their future without being concerned about their class schedule not working with the practice schedule.

Allowing a player to transfer without fear of losing what was promised is tantamount to the Amnesty Clause used in the NBA, which allows a team to rid themselves of a contract (like a scholarship) for salary cap purposes, but that contract is still to be paid by the releasing team once that player is waived. Given the NCAA is very much like a professional league, maybe some of the professional tools should be in effect. There would need to be some conditions set, but these students should be protected, while incentivizing coaches to want to keep players they bring on as freshmen.

Coaches do oust players and lead players to feel like they do not have any recourse. Given the time sensitive nature involved in college athletics and academics, it is very hard to spend meaningful time in a battle when obtaining a degree and finishing one’s athletic eligibility. One problem that currently exists is, once players find out they need to look for and apply to another school, it could be too late given the time-sensitive nature of admissions offices. This would force a player to make yet another concession when finding a new school.

It is also necessary to protect players because student-athletes pick a school based on the recruitment by a coach of that player—not the programs the school offers. Therefore, if and when the relationship takes a turn for the worst, the student should not be greatly disadvantage, while the coach is unconcerned.

Additionally, coaching is a profession that is unregulated by a commission or licensing board, which allows them free reign. Too many coaches need to be monitored and the NCAA doesn’t always do a great job of it. Just think about Pete Carroll and Kelvin Sampson who found solace in the NFL and NBA respectively. They each left a mess behind that resulted in penalizing the programs and ultimately the players. Looking at the Penn State case, the coaches and administrators left that institution in ruins that the next generation now has to suffer with. That does not make sense. The people that are dealing with the Penn State punishment are not those deserving of it. Punish those who did wrong, not the next people that take their place.

Another issue is that players with legitimate gripes are too scared to speak up for fear of backlash. Therefore, there should be whistleblower protection for players like those that are statutorily set in Employment law. Playing a college sport is every much like being employed, with the coach being the employer.

Moreover Coaches need to be licensed by the NCAA just like teachers, doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, and trainers who attend the players by their respective professions. The coaching profession affects young folks just as critically as the aforementioned. So why aren’t coaches licensed? If they were, maybe they would behave better knowing that their accountability is sanctioned. Many of the NCAA regulations are geared towards the coaches, who have a voice with the NCAA and relationships with NCAA representatives, but players are not spoken for, and if they are, they are certainly underrepresented.

When assessing the huge amount of profit made from collegiate athletics based on the human capital of young people who have a naïve perspective, there should be regulatory or statutory change that protects these players better than such are, currently. This is not only for the student-athlete’s future, it’s for the protection of athletic departments and schools that may continue to conduct themselves in a less than proper manner. Initially, those act go undiscovered, but they tend to be revealed later.

Sports as a Reflection of Our Cultural: Questing for a Perfect Fit Over all Else

Every man and woman has the right to pursue happiness. Young people have made the decision to be happy over anything else. Yeahh…people are doing what they have to, but when a better opportunity comes along, they aren’t thinking twice before chasing it or getting closer to their dreams. This is especially happening with sports. Basically, being happy outweighs loyalty and respect.

Looking to the NFL, there is a mechanism that can allow a team to restrict the movement of a soon to be unrestricted free agent. It’s called a Franchise Tag. Owners had to manipulate loyalty/respect because they know those are values of the past. The tag is necessary in times where being an immediate champion or having the largest paycheck imaginable is more important than sticking-it-out and showing a great willingness to overcome all odds. The great thing about it is: owners and coaches now have to admit how important a player is, as opposed to using an athlete’s love of the game as a weapon to make them be loyal through scare tactics. The Franchise Tag is a reaction to the LeBrons of the world. In fact, it is a reaction to the prevailing view people have, who do not want to invest or pay dues for a day that may not prove to be as gratifying as dreamed.

As seen in basketball, the transferring from high school to high school, college to college, and reclassification is all in an effort to be happy now—or soon enough. (Reclassification is where a student will “stay-back” in order to join a different talent pool. In other words, a player will fail certain classes—on purpose—in order to stand out in the next coming class.) Reclassifying may seem unbelievable to some, but the stigmatism of being considered stupid or a failure is being removed from society given people understand there is a strategy behind it; a strategy people are respecting so far as it can make a person happy… if only eventually. All coaches love jumping ship for a better position or payday by the way. It’s a coach’s American Dream.

Young athletes know there is an expiration date on playing their sport of choice. These athletes are not only doing all they can to extend their time, but they are also maximizing the time they spend. This is done by getting as much playing time, winning as many championships, or getting as much money as possible, while they can, depending upon the level and mindset of the player.

Our culture is valuing being happy over sucking-it-up just to get by, presumably that is the reason the divorce rate is so high. Maybe it’s just the ever-increasing, not-really-religious population. But I digress. Also, no one wants to work for an entity for 35 years only to not really be able to enjoy life during retirement due to being old. So, recent college or professional school graduates believe they deserve their dream job. This is just like a player who has the options to decide to transfer from a school, sign with a better team, or seek the biggest payday. There are many reasons for that.

One good thing that has come from the economic downturn is that people aren’t going to just keep slaving away for another’s benefit to only be shunned when times get tough or a worker ages. It’s funny how acceptable it is to cut a player for being old and under preforming compared to their history, but when it happens in the workplace, people are outraged and file discrimination suits.

People do not want to hate their alarm clocks or look up in twenty years wondering where their life has gone and question the value of what they got in return for the time spent. It really makes perfect sense that people are willing to bounce around with the intent to find a perfect fit to make them happy, as opposed to just bearing life. People want more. Not wanting more is a problem.