4 posts categorized "Sports" Feed

Wring every ounce out of your talent and opportunity. Thoughts on the Last Dance Documentary

Recently, my dad and I have been having a phone conversation about the documentary on ESPN regarding Michael Jordan. If you haven't seen it, it's called the last dance. This was the name Phil Jackson gave his plan for the final season together. A little hug, the general manager of the team at the time.

My dad asked what did it matter that Michael Jordan was perhaps the greatest basketball player ever to play.  He wasn't trying to deny Michael's greatness; he was just asking what it meant in the light of the world around us. Winning Blog Post

I do have a warning if you decide to watch the documentary. There are two versions. A TV -14 version and a TV-MA version. As you might imagine, the TV-MA version has quite a bit more colorful language than the TV -14 version.

The show does an excellent job of showing just how hard Jordan worked and how hard he pushed his teammates. One of the questions raised in the show is was Jordan too hard on his teammates. Was he too mean? And then, my dad asked why I thought Jordan didn't see the same success as an owner that he saw as a player.

I'll leave that last question for another day. But, I do want to address the value that I think Jordan and athletes like him can bring to our lives.

I will admit that I am a Jordan fanboy. I remember watching him do things that just seemed impossible. My high school basketball coach and history teacher would come over to our house, and we would all sit in the living room and watch him play. Often, in the playoffs, this was painful for me as a Knicks fan, and yet, I loved to watch him play

I think one of the most amazing things that Jordan teaches us is the importance of wringing every ounce of possibility out of our talents and opportunities. One of the things that he seems to have done was to elevate himself and those around him to put everything into winning. To leave the entirety of their talents in the game. To risk loss by giving everything to win.

So often today, we seem to want the glory without the work. That is probably not a new affliction for humanity.

Jordan did something that we may never see again. Like most successful people, his detractors, and those who hate him. In the documentary, since I heard it. He states, "Winning has a price. Leadership has a price."  He always seemed willing to pay that price.

Jordan, the player, is an example of someone who took every opportunity to get better at his craft. He worked tirelessly to improve his game. One of the controversial things that he did was leave basketball to play baseball.  Because of media constraints, he ended up playing at a level higher than new players would normally begin playing. He started the season with a 15 game hitting streak. Then, he had a long hitless streak. Like many minor-league players, he couldn't hit the breaking ball.

So what did Jordan do? Well, he came to the stadium before anyone else and did batting practice. Then he did normal practice with his teammates. Then he stayed and did more personal batting practice off of a machine that only threw breaking balls. Then he would go to normal practice with his teammates for the game. Then he would do another 90 minutes of personal batting practice.  That was his work ethic.

If watching an athlete perform at the highest level inspires us to have a work ethic like that, then I believe sports are improving society. I think inspiration like that is worthy and noble of our attention.

And, like all heroes, Jordan can be a cautionary tale. His life directly contradicts our desire for all or nothing thinking. He's not all good or all bad. He's human. He has flaws. Some of his greatest strengths throughout his life have also caused some of his most significant heartaches. And that is probably true for many of us.

I, for one, am glad that I lived within the time he played. I loved to watch him play, and I've enjoyed this documentary. I may even re-watch some episodes. Like most older men, I believe that the era of my youth was purer and more enjoyable than today's era. But that is probably for another day.

I do want to ask you a question that I have been pondering regarding my own life since watching this documentary. How much of your talent are you using? How much of your opportunities are you engaging in? What are you doing to develop your mental toughness and your physical ability? Perhaps the greatest gift that Jordan gives us: he allows us to look in the mirror and measure ourselves. To realize that our actual competition is not the other people in our industry. Our actual competition is to be better today than we were yesterday.

Our greatest opportunities will often come with the greatest possibility of failure. May we engage those opportunities with courage. May we welcome all who come as competition and simultaneously want to beat them.

May we elevate ourselves and those around us to greatness. And may we define greatness as the ability to put everything we have into whatever endeavor it is that we're doing.

May we have the self-awareness to know the things that we are good at and the things that we are not good at doing.

May we have the awareness to recognize opportunity when it comes knocking, and in those times when Opportunity finds itself stuck behind a door that does not want to budge may we lower our shoulder and open that door.

May we have the integrity to know that success without hard work is fraudulent.

May we have the audacity to believe that we can always work harder even after we've given our best.

May you, my friend, find success this day.

May you find inspiration.

May you find the courage to do the dreams that scare you.

May you find peace.

 

 

 


What do we do with Ray Rice, Domestic Violence and how do we talk to our kids?

Yesterday, I was interviewed by a local news agency regarding domestic violence and hero worship. You can see the interview below.
By now, you've probably seen the video of Ray Rice knocking his then fiance out. It's a violent and disturbing video.

800px-Ray_Rice

Perhaps more disturbing to me is how we handle the reality of domestic violence in our society.

First, let's look at some numbers that honestly cause my stomach to tighten in knots.


    •    1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
    •    Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
    •    Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
    •    Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
    •    Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.
    •    Every year, more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes.
    •    Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%).
    •    A 2005 Michigan study found that children exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including becoming sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches, and being more tired and lethargic.
    •    A 2003 study found that children are more likely to intervene when they witness severe violence against a parent – which can place a child at great risk for injury or even death (All numbers from here).

Those numbers disturb me. With those numbers, it is probably safe to assume that someone you know, someone your children goes to school with, maybe multiple someones is the victim of domestic violence.


Someone is going to sleep tonight afraid of the person sleeping next to them.
I think one of our biggest problems is that for too many people, domestic violence is something that is just in the background of life. It's not actually something we engage or try to change.

I'm on record as loving Facebook. Yesterday, Facebook was disturbing to me. So many people wanted to defend what Ray Rice did and some went so far as to say that he shouldn't lose his job.
One person even said that they (the Ravens) are playing the hated Steelers this week and that "lot's of men have hit their women and still had a job."
I think another problem highlighted by this incident with Ray Rice is that we tend to excuse the worst of behaviors from our sports heroes. I am afraid we do this in too many high schools and colleges.
We want to feel like winners. Badly.
In order to feel like a winner, we want to pretend that these athletes exist purely on the field.
But they don't.
And this not so subtle message of it's OK to beat your woman if you're on my sports team tells our kids there are some poeple who have a different set of rules.
We need to explain to our kids that domestic violence is never OK. It's never Ok to hurt someone because they have made us mad.


Winning isn't the only thing.


There are many things that are way more important than winning. If your team loses because a key person isn't on it because he's been suspended for beating his wife/girlfriend/fiance, then so be it.
Winning a sports game just isn't that important.


Lastly, we need to stop villifying Janay Rice and all victims of domestic violence. I don't know what she said in that elevator. I don't know the current situation but she seems to believe it was a one time event.


She has the right to do whatever she wants to do with her life in regards to this situation, even if you or I think it's wrong. We need to treat her with respect.


We tend to go to extremes with our responses to the victims. Too often, we imply that they must have done something to deserve it (Stephen A. Smith, anyone?) or we call them gold diggers and other derogatory names because we don't understand why they are choosing to stay.
I do not believe that any person should stay with a person who is abusing them and men get abused as well, but I have to give each person the dignity afforded to every human being to make their own choices.


Domestic violence is real. It is tearing at our society and it needs to be addressed.

To watch my interview, click here.


Friday book review: Lefty: An American Odyssy

**This book review is a review of a book I did for the Amazon Vine program. It is also part of my Friday book review series. If you have a book that you would like to me review, drop a comment below and I'll add it to my list**

When you stand outside something, you never really know what it looks like from the inside. This book offers people one insider’s account of what baseball looks like from the halls of one of one the most hallowed teams.

 

Recounting stories from the field and off the field this book recounts in great detail the baseball story and life odyssey of Vernon "Lefty" Gomez.  He started playing when he was 14 and went from so poor that he couldn’t buy his own glove to being one of the most recognized pitchers on one of the most recognized teams.  

 

Perhaps, the best part of this book though is that it helps to remove the cover of “hero worship” we put on our athletes as Americans. This book has an upbeat tone and the lead author is Lefty’s daughter. She presents a real account of the life of a human who had the ability to throw a baseball and entertain with it. He wasn’t perfect. He did some really dumb things and had some fights with his wife that were pretty severe. In other words, he’s just like most of the people who worshipped him. He was flawed.

 

If you enjoy baseball and biographies, you should buy this book. It will be a great summer read for that demographic.

You can buy the bok by clicking the picture above or by clicking here.


Mississippi player kicked off team after wearing pink cleats - Prep Rally - High School  - Yahoo! Sports

As Sheppard explains in the video above, courtesy of WLBT.com, coaches ridiculed the kicker for wearing the shoes during the prior game, but he showed up for the team's Monday practice wearing the pink cleats regardless. Now the senior, who relied on academic credit from playing football to help fulfill graduation requirements, might not receive his diploma on time.

via rivals.yahoo.com

What do you think? Coach or kid out of control?