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.

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Best Red – No Love Lost

April 28th, 2015 | Comments Off on Best Red – No Love Lost

Short takes on relevant sports and character issues.

scuffleThe NBA playoffs are here and not disappointing, delivering highlights and some of the best basketball from most of the best teams. Unfortunately, in two of the more lopsided playoff series, physicality is getting out of hand.

 

1. No Love Lost

love
Thankfully the the Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets series only experienced small, chippy moments from its Game 4 – Boston vs. Cleveland, on the other hand, was completely out of control. One ejection, two technical fouls, two unnecessary and unwarranted injuries, and three games lost to suspension.

NBA officials on and off the court are not to blame. The lowered standards of coaches and players are the real culprit. When respect for each other and the game take a backseat to “competitiveness,” “pride,” and other sports lingo masking players and coaches’ poor sportsmanship in losing efforts, the results are as ridiculous as burning down a CVS.

 

2. Riot Mom

riot mom
The tragic story of Freddie Gray and the subsequent Baltimore riots created an unexpected and interesting twist on Monday, when a mother of a young, masked rioter publicly reprimanded her son in front of the entire nation.

Mentors, coaches, teachers, and community leaders can never take the place of an involved parent.  If you are a contributing member of society, call your mother or father today and thank them. If you are not, you better hope your mother does not find out and humiliate you on national television.

 

3. Respect and Authority

Suspect Dies Baltimore
The increasing public displays of disrespect for officials in sports is a prophetic warning for a culture moving in the same direction. Consider how the world’s diminishing respect for authority will culminate in more and larger displays of violence like Ferguson to Baltimore.

It starts with a parent at the ballpark screaming obscenities at a little league umpire or dressing down a teacher for grading too harshly at a parent-teacher conference.

It continues with professional athletes using homophobic slurs towards the commissioner of their league and a congressmen shouting disrespectfully at the office of the President of the United States.

We can choose respect for each other and the authorities placed over us – especially when they make mistakes. Only then will we be in any position to affect change over the true injustices that are happening all around us.

 

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Respectworthy

January 21st, 2014 | Comments Off on Respectworthy

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman ruffled a few feathers with the post game press conference screamed round the world.

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Is there anything wrong with Sherman’s passion?

Not really. Players that make big plays on big stages in big moments should be allowed to celebrate those moments appropriately with their teammates and fans.

Still, it would be wise for the NFL and every sporting league to consider adding a buffering time after competition for players and coaches to reflect before responding to questions. Fans and media alike can still drink in the raw emotions, after the adrenaline is drained.

Is Sherman ‘classless’, ‘a thug’, or ‘a human piece of garbage’?

Not exactly. Hardly. And obviously not, although I do enjoy the quite ironic description.

Apparently, the high road is closed in more places than just Seattle.

Did Sherman miss an opportunity?

Sure.

It is clear after watching, reading, and observing Sherman on the football field that respect is a hot button issue for him. Respect for his game, his character, his education, his accomplishments. Disrespect him and be prepared for the business end of his bravado.

For the record, I do respect all of the above. He is a first team Pro Bowl talent who passionately volunteers and generously gives to charities in his community, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Stanford University, and is what I consider a genuine success story.

Still, Richard missed an opportunity to demonstrate transcendent character on Sunday. Showing others the respect they have refused you is both noble and inspiring. Any observer would recognize that posture of humility and grace as a position held by someone of power, worthy of emulation and respect.

The fundamental misunderstanding of respect is its origins. The giver creates respect, as the result of observing someone worthy of the gift.

Unlike a Kaepernick pass fluttering back to earth, respect is not something to be snatched out of air in a show of superior strength, intelligence, or chest thumping.

Respect can only be given.

So, the real question is…

Is Sherman worthy? And are you?

Encouraging coaches and players to give and earn respect is what The Lead Block is all about. To find out more about how you can become a part, click HERE.

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Hope of Hernandez

July 2nd, 2013 | Comments Off on Hope of Hernandez

Fatherlessness in America claims a new victim. Sadly, Aaron Hernandez’s tragic story is not unique or even unexpected. Where did it all go wrong?

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Fatherlessness is responsible for…

63% of youth suicides (5 times the average)
71% of high school dropouts (9 times the average)
75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers (10 times the average)
80%
of rapists with anger problems (14 times the average)
85%
of youths in prison (20 times the average)

(courtesy of Sabrina and TheFatherlessGeneration.com)

Unlike the statistics listed above, Aaron Hernandez grew up in a home with both of his parents, Dennis and Terri Hernandez. In high school, Aaron displayed his immense talents garnering national attention as a top tight end prospect.

And as late as 2006, he was still planning to attend the University of Connecticut, following in the footsteps of his father. Then, everything changed.

During a hernia operation, Dennis Hernandez suddenly and unexpectedly died as a result of complications from the surgery. Aaron was just 16. Terri Hernandez said,

“He would rebel. It was very, very hard, and he was very, very angry. He wasn’t the same kid, the way he spoke to me. The shock of losing his dad, there was so much anger.” (courtesy of USA Today Sports 2009)

:: It is important to note at this point, that I personally believe Aaron Hernandez deserves his day in court, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and that if he is found responsible for murder, that he should be held accountable. ::

Fatherlessness can alter the destiny of a child.

Aaron enrolled in the University of Florida in 2007, fleeing Connecticut and his troubles in hopes of finding himself or perhaps a fresh start. Instead, he found more trouble, including a juvenile arrest and several failed drug tests.

In 2009, then Florida coach Urban Meyer seemed to affect change in Aaron’s life. Meyer’s limited mentoring uncovered a clear understanding of the fundamental absence from the talented tight ends’ life.

“When your guy, your idol, your soul is taken from you, how do you deal with that? I just think there’s a part of his life that was not there. He needed discipline; he needed someone to talk to.” (courtesy of USA Today Sports 2009)

Unfortunately, mentoring is something that most coaches are not equipped to handle, nor are they hired or expected to maintain after players graduate.

Now 5 years removed from his time with Meyer, the 23 year old Hernandez is quickly sinking to the unreachable and murky depths of the fatherlessness life.

Becoming just another father that will not be around to watch over and protect his 7 month old daughter.

Fatherlessness does have one weakness.

Other adults showing up, offering the disciplines of life and someone who will listen.

Be a part of preventing fatherlessness.

Mentor a young man or woman today. They can be a neighbor, a teammate or classmate of one of your children, a child of a single-parent coworker, or any number of children that are a part of organizations like Boys & Girls Club of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters, or the Mentoring Project.

The Lead Block has been showing up for players and coaches since 2011. To find out more about how you can become a part, click HERE.

 

 

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Best Red – Believe

May 26th, 2013 | Comments Off on Best Red – Believe

Best Red shares the best sports articles or inspiring videos of the week.

theblock

1. The Block
Courtesy of CBS Sports and Roy Hibbert

Defense in any sport is a precious and sadly fleeting commodity. In the NBA, a growing fear of posterization has led many players to not take the risk this Pacer did.

2. People are Awesome
Courtesy of YouTube and Andreas Norholt

Visual proof that anything is possible.

3. High School Training Ground
Courtesy of TED and Malcolm London

“Young poet, educator and talented activist Malcolm London performs his stirring poem about life on the front lines of high school.” Words cannot describe his words.

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Shake It Off

June 14th, 2012 | Comments Off on Shake It Off

There is a growing trend of athletes not shaking hands or congratulating an opponent following a tough loss.

Bill Belichick walked off the field before Super Bowl XLII was officially over.

A young Lebron James exited the 2009 NBA Eastern Finals sans fist bumps.

The British Olympic Association is encouraging its athletes to not shake hands in the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics.

And now Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are joining in on an ugly fad of not acknowledging an opponent following a tough loss.

Following one particular game (during the ceremonial sportsmanlike handshake line), I childishly told each player that they were bags of garbage and played like garbage.

Inevitably, word got back to my father (one of my coaches), who made himself very clear. Not only was I going to apologize to the opposing team, but if ever did something like that again, my sporting career would be over.

When you fail to honor an opponent, you fail to honor the game itself. And a game without honor is a game not worth playing, much less winning.

Aside from accidentally motivating your opponent to play better, risking further humiliation during the post-game handshake was a great deterrent to trash talking an opponent before or during a game. Who would risk eating their prideful banter in the grinning face of their victorious opponent?

If this petulant behavior continues, expect severe insults to increase, on-court confrontations to escalate, and respect amongst competitors to diminish.

Don’t believe me?  Ask Mr. Garnett how his peers feel about him.

The easiest way to practice for honoring your opponent at the end of the game, is to honor your opponent throughout the game.

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

 

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Weekly Block – For Starters

March 21st, 2012 | Comments Off on Weekly Block – For Starters

The Weekly Block covers what matters in sports to me. And maybe you too.

1. Scott Stallings (8:45am Tee Time on Thursday – Arnold Palmer Invitational)

Stallings missed the cut last Friday at the tournament that started it all (Transitions) last year. But, he did finish each round and looks to be on the road to recovery.

2. Memphis Grizzlies (25-19) (2nd in WC Southwest)

In a surprising and potentially exciting free agency move, the Grizzlies signed talented and troubled scoring guard Gilbert Arenas to back up Mike Conley.

3. Nashville Predators (42-23-7, 92 pts) (2nd in WC-Central)

Copy and paste the Grizz move for the Predators, who are looking to give a fresh start to Alex Radulov, who walked away from Nashville in 2008 for the KHL.

4. Tennessee Titans (Late Start)

The Manning Sweepstakes cost the Titans shots at Mario Williams, John Abraham, and an opportunity to resign Jason Jones. Still, a late start is better than no start.

5. Chicago Cubs (Rough Start)

The Cubs preseason is off to a rough start. The pitching rotation and top of the batting order are both unsettled and in a state of flux. Looks like a rebuild year.

 

The Lead Block added a new player this week and is looking for new mentor sponsors to join. To find out more and how you can become a part, click HERE.

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#100 – Manning vs. Tebow

March 14th, 2012 | Comments Off on #100 – Manning vs. Tebow

After ten months, The Lead Block mentoring movement is impacting the lives of players at the high school and college level with  6 athletic programs.

Here are the readers’ top picks from the 100 blog posts along the way.

10. More than a Handshake
The Lions and 49ers each had great seasons, but the most interesting occurrence for each team was this post-game exchange between their young head coaches.

9. Everything You Hate About Pro Athletes
Athletic stereotypes are difficult to overcome, especially for professional athletes. One of The Lead Block‘s goals is to help players overcome these misconceptions.

8. Sure Bet
Arian Foster (@ArianFoster) demonstrates good humor during the NFL Lockout, EA delivers a top-notch commercial, and Michael Jordan wins a golf bet with a fan.

7. Field of Dreams 2
Another Best Red in the Top 10 (should bring this back), complete with the most clutch golf shot I have ever seen, the human homerun, and the sports video of 2011.

6. Pursuit of Perfection
Nobody is perfect. However, one NFL quarterback achieved perfection in his career. Tom Brady’s career is a testimony to the rewards of a commitment to excellence.

5. Join The Lead Block
The Lead Block would not be possible without a community of supporters and partners. By the way, becoming a partner might be easier than you think.

4. Putter Slinging
Scott Stallings trot around the 18th hole at the Greenbrier Classic, leading to his putter fling in jubilation is one of the best live sports moments of 2011.

3. Lead Blocking
This updated and in-depth description of the personal mentoring offered by The Lead Block is the best page to share with friends and family who are interested.

2. Scott Stallings is a Champ
One of the best final round comebacks of 2011, Scott forever stamped his name on the Greenbrier Trophy. I am already looking forward to seeing him at The Masters.

1. The Thing About Tim Tebow
Tebow-mania may be so 2011, if John Elway and the Denver Broncos mange to land the biggest free agent signing in my lifetime. Only Peyton could unseat Tebow.

 

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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.

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Weak or Wounded?

January 27th, 2012 | Comments Off on Weak or Wounded?

Athletes are at-risk for serious depression after their sporting careers end.
“… athletes of different races, different faiths, different ages, different troubles.”

-Pablo S. Torre

A recent string of athlete suicides is calling attention to a trend of depression and mental illness lurking beneath the waters of competitive sports. And the cost is high.

Kenny McKinley. Tom Cavanagh. Dave Duerson. Claudia Heill.

Thomas Emma. Hideki Irabu. Speedy Peterson.

And now, Phillip “Tookie” Stanford.

Each of their lives were tragically cut short and each by their own hand.

The true killer is a poor appreciation for humility in sports culture, which makes it difficult for struggling athletes to ask for help regarding non-physical wounds.

There’s a physical prejudice in sports. When it’s a broken bone, the teams will do everything in their power to make sure it’s OK. When it’s a broken soul, it’s like a weakness.” – Ricky Williams (NFL Runningback)

If you or an athlete you know is struggling with adapting to life after their sporting career, there is no need to walk though this transition by yourself.

Humility is not weakness. And asking for help could just save your life.

The Lead Block provides players with weekly support, encouragement, and can serve as an early detector for players suffering with depression. To find out how you or your organization can become a part or receive assistance, click ABOUT.

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