Thoughts regarding sports and mentoring.
Caution: Severe Tennessee Titan, Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Cubs, and Scott Stallings bias.

The Taunting Two-Step

December 2nd, 2015 | Comments Off on The Taunting Two-Step

When is a touchdown dance more than a dance? Cam Newton is only the latest example in the age-old dance of celebration vs. taunting.

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 18: Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 570176333 ORIG FILE ID: 493267298

The Carolina Panthers are the last undefeated team still dancing and Cam Newton, the front runner for NFL MVP, is a big reason why. Over the last week Newton became the subject of scrutiny after a Music City mother sent a letter that the Charlotte Observer opportunistically published scolding Newton’s Elvis-esque gyrations.

Then came the response.

A response to the response.

And finally a response to the response of the response.

If you are trying to remember the steps to this media montage – it’s racism, the objectification of women, and celebratory limits of franchise players, cha, cha, cha.

The steps for settling the dance between celebrating and taunting are much simpler.

In hopes of creating clarity and not stifling the moves of our favorite sporting entertainers, here are some quick pointers for players and fans.

Celebrating…

… is brief during play.
… directed at teammates or your fans.
… is proportional to the value of the moment.
… is from the pure emotion of joy and satisfaction.
… is rarely misinterpreted by opposing players or penalized by the officials.

Taunting…

… is excessive in length during play.
… is directed at opponent or their fans.
… is disproportionate to the value of the moment.
… is from the raw emotion of arrogance and anger.
… is often interpreted by opposing players as disrespectful or penalized by officials.

This is hardly comprehensive or complete, but it could help in spotting some of the differences on any field of play in which you are watching or playing.

In the case of Cam Newton, dancing is no problem… unless an opposing player takes offense. Then attempt to defuse the situation, or just avoid directing an emphatic pelvic thrust in his direction.

Hit the Quan or even Whip / Nae Nae.

Just remember your mother, my mother, and apparently everyone else’ mother is watching – so when in doubt, make it about giving away footballs to kids and not all this other nonsense. That’s the most entertaining and rewarding celebration.

The Lead Block challenges players and fans to honor their opponents, on and off the court. To find out more about how you can become a part, click HERE.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Aaron

July 30th, 2015 | Comments Off on Aaron

I will always remember the first time I met Aaron.

Aaron Catholic

It was the second week of an already promising season. And although his team was off to a rough start at 0-1 with another difficult opponent looming, they were still the prohibitive favorites to win another state title.

Winning is something that comes easy to Aaron, his charisma and intelligence are matched only by his ability to turn seemingly impossible plays into effortless displays of athleticism on the field.

Today was different. Today Aaron was going to lose.

Milling about practices is a regular activity as a mentor with The Lead Block, supporting a current player or discovering a student in search of their destiny.

Looking

Murmurs from the players and coaches are what I noticed first, then the reason came into view. A school administrator, still adorned in suit and tie, walked purposefully and solemnly towards the head coach.

The whispered gossip was enough to piece together that Aaron was in trouble.

After a quick exchange between administrator and coach, Aaron was motioned to join the impromptu meeting. A simple September practice faded to silence.

With a labored nod, Aaron turned and trotted towards the locker room.

His season was over.

The entire team had just witnessed Aaron’s expulsion from school.

A few weeks later, Aaron and I met briefly for lunch to discuss his future. And he agreed that mentoring was something he would be interested in trying out.

34 mentoring appointments, 8 tutoring sessions, a raised ACT score, and college scholarship offer later, Aaron changed his destiny.

Aaron told me over lunch today (the day I wrote this post) that he did not know what to think of a complete stranger calling him up, offering to meet for lunch, and talk about his future. He was not looking for a mentor.

But, we were looking for him.

BenDariusKevin

Partner with us (CLICK HERE) so The Lead Block can find 5 more Aarons on fields, courts, and in classrooms all over Knoxville.

By the way, Aaron did end up returning to play his senior year and led his team to what would ultimately be the first of three consecutive state titles.  That May, he graduated high school on-time and is currently working towards finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Tennessee.

Aaron plans to start his own business later this year, purchasing homes in Knoxville, fixing them up, and renting them out to families that need affordable housing.

“Those breakfast talks are the best foundation I could have right now.” – Aaron

Remember, it is Aaron that deserves all the credit.  Because at The Lead Block, we will always be about the players scoring their destiny.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beginnings End

March 5th, 2012 | Comments Off on Beginnings End

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” – Dan Wilson

Like sports, life is a culmination of seasons.  Some are winning seasons – a birth, a wedding, a new job – worthy of celebrating and commemorating. Some are losing seasons – a funeral, a divorce, unemployment – of pain worthy of mourning.

Days, like games in these seasons are summed up in moments, decisions, and actions that ultimately determine our success or failure. Whether we win or lose.

Some of those pivotal moments are beyond our control, some of those critical decisions are not ours to make, and some of those actions are not our own.

Still. Each of us control how we respond to these moments, decisions, & actions.

Handling defeat is difficult.

Then again, so is handling victory.

However, I would argue that finishing well is the most challenging.

To me, finishing well is the disciplined commitment to a combination of humility, heart, and hustle that is unaffected by any predictable outcome. Simply put, finishing well is pure, neither blemished in defeat nor seduced by victory.

Too often athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, and students finish poorly for fear of failure. While others lose focus of the end, celebrating victories not yet earned.

Field goals are missed.

Putts lip out.

Upsets are possible.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”      -Apostle Paul

Sometimes finishing well provides the opportunity to salvage or a steal a win.

And sometimes not.

But even in defeat, finishing well is never wasted. A game can never be replayed nor a day relived. Giving all that you have today is truly the only way to prepare for tomorrow. So finish well and leave the rest to destiny.

The Lead Block challenges players, coaches, and fans to always finish well. To find out how you can help us finish well this year in mentoring goals, click ABOUT.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Always Bittersweet

February 9th, 2012 | Comments Off on Always Bittersweet

How do you deal with a bitter loss suffered by you or your favorite team?

Quickly I brought the ball past half court and checked the clock one last time. Down a point with 10 seconds left, the time was now. Ducking into the lane, I scanned for an open teammate underneath the basket. No luck, only the lane was open.

The final shot of the game would be mine to make or miss.

As I jumped and released the ball, a nearby defender swept my arms down and the ball fell helplessly short as the buzzer and an official’s whistle sounded simultaneously. Clearly a foul occurred, but what happened next changed everything.

The foul was ruled a non-shooting foul.

So while our team was in the bonus, now I would only get a 1-and-1 instead of 2 guaranteed free throws. Despite my coach’s protestations, the official sent both teams to their respective benches and called for me to shoot my untimed free throw.

The fate of an entire game was my burden.

As I started my pre-shot routine, my mind filled with the 3 possible outcomes.
1. Make the first free throw, get a second free throw, make it and be the hero.
2. Make the first free throw, miss the second, and play overtime.
3. Miss the first free throw and be the goat.

As I released the ball, I knew the moment it left my hand that I had missed it and could only watch as it hit the left edge of the rim and ricocheted to the right.

Game over.

Watching the other team (our arch rivals) celebrate, I turned to face my teammates and felt shame. It is the only time in my entire sporting career that my emotions got the better of me. And to this day it is the most vivid loss I can remember.

Like death is a part of life.
Losing is a part of winning.
One cannot exist without the other.

So, how do you deal with a bitter loss?

Do you blame the officials for a missed call or two?
Second-guess the coach’s game plan or decisions?
Verbally berate or assault an opposing fan?

Our passions tempt us to forget that every loss is bittersweet.

In victory, no one struggles with this paradox. We celebrate together unashamedly, in the full knowledge that half the people present just experienced a crushing defeat.

No one needs a helpful guide in how to celebrate a championship or hallowed rivalry victory. We already know how to do that. What players, coaches, and fans need is a simple guide in how to handle a difficult loss. And it is easier than you might think.

The key to mourning a loss is the same as celebrating a victory.

You weep, embrace your teammates, and fans. And eventually, you move on.

Like winning, losing is always bittersweet…

The Lead Block encourages players, coaches, and fans to mourn losses like they celebrate wins. To find out how you can become an encourager, click ABOUT.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,