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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Hopeless

October 29th, 2014 | Comments Off on Hopeless

The Department of Education estimates that 1.2 million students are homeless.

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Let that sink in.

This is the highest figure in the history of the United States.  Of those 1.2 million, Sports Illustrated extrapolates that 100,000 of those students are student athletes.

 

“By age 12, 83% of homeless students have been exposed to at least one serious violent event”

“A 2011 study of homeless youth in Salt Lake City found that 84% had experienced physical and/or sexual abuse as minors”

“Homeless children go hungry twice as often as other children and are five times more likely suffer gastrointestinal problems”

“Only 51% of homeless high school students tested nationwide met or exceeded state proficiency standards in math [and only] 49% met or exceeded proficiency in reading [in 2012-13]”  ::Sports Illustrated, 2014::

 

If that does not motivate you to do something, stop reading.

High school and college athletics are a genuine passion of mine, but they are just games. For The Lead Block, it is really about the student athletes.

Mentoring, challenging, and paving the way for the homeless, hopeless, under performing, abused and hungry student athletes to leverage their gifts on and off the field to create a future they will want to live in.

We work with players whose fathers, uncles, and brothers are serving terms in prison. Players whose breakfast mentoring appointments will provide the only breakfast the player will eat all week. Players who, only until recently, had no aspirations of attending college.

We are making a difference.

One player at a time.

We are looking to add 5 more players in January of 2015.  And we are asking for you to join us and sponsor a player today.

 

Call (865-896-9666) or email (Drew@TheLeadBlock.com) us today and make a difference in the life of a student.

:: Sponsors receive monthly player updates, a Lead Block Nike Dri-fit shirt, and a chance for 2 sideline passes to the TSSAA Football State Championships ::

 

 

 

 

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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?

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 12.41.28 PM

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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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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Weekly Block – Don’t Call it a Comeback

March 11th, 2012 | Comments Off on Weekly Block – Don’t Call it a Comeback

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

1. Scott Stallings

Finally some good news for Stallings’ 2012 season.

Also, be sure to check out the new look on Scott’s website (click on his name).

2. Memphis Grizzlies (23-16) (2nd in WC Southwest)

It is hard to find a team in the NBA with a better comeback resume than the Grizzlies in 2012. Still, the Nuggets, Clippers, Rockets, and the Lakers (twice) await in March.

3. Nashville Predators (40-21-7, 87 pts) (3rd in WC-Central)

It is likely that few of the Predators’ trade deadline acquisitions will come back after this season. Regardless, Nashville is equipped for another deep playoff run into April.

4. Webb School Spartans (Boys Basketball) (19-15)

The Spartans come back fell short of the state semi-finals, falling 39-37 to Donelson Christian Academy. Knoxville News-Sentinel and PrepXtra writer Jesse Smithey believes next year’s team could be even better. And he is not the only one.

Congratulations are in order for the Lady Spartans, who captured their 3rd State Championship in school history, with guard Molly Melton claiming tournament MVP.

5. Oak Ridge Wildcats (Boys Basketball) (23-6)

West High School shocked the Wildcats with a late come back in the opening round, ousting the Wildcats, and ending their championship hopes before they ever started.

 

To find out more about The Lead Block and how you can become a part, click HERE.

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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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Weekly Block – Prep Work

January 23rd, 2012 | Comments Off on Weekly Block – Prep Work

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

1. Memphis Grizzlies (9-6) (1st in WC Southwest)

The Grizz sit atop the Spurs, Mavericks, and Rockets heading into this week. And while there is plenty of work to be done, this streak was without Zach Randolph.

2. Nashville Predators (28-16-4, 60pts) (4th in WC-Central)

The Predators seem prepared to make another deep postseason push this year, winning 7 of their last 8 and 10 of the last 12. Still, they have some work to do.

3. Scott Stallings (Withdrew from Humana Challenge)

Stallings suffered an early setback to 2012, when an intercostal muscle injury forced him to withdraw on Saturday. Fortunately, he spent the offseason preparing for this.

4. Webb School Spartans (Boys Basketball) (14-5)

Not even steady rain could chase away Webb students, parents and faculty from a cookout on Friday. The varsity squad will finally get some well earned home games.

5. Oak Ridge Wildcats (Boys Basketball) (17-3)

Despite a disappointing loss to Karns, the Wildcats are poised to be a favorite in the state tournament. But, execution and hustle will dictate how high this team will fly.

 

This year, the Weekly Block will add highlights of character and updates from partner schools of The Lead Block. Find out how you can become a part HERE.

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Weekly Block – New Season

January 4th, 2012 | Comments Off on Weekly Block – New Season

The Weekly Block covers anything that matters in sports to me. And maybe you, too.

1. Memphis Grizzlies (2-3) (3rd in WC Southwest)

More scary than a slow start, is the prospect of losing Zach Randolph for the season. With Darrell Arthur already gone, the Grizz added Hamed Haddadi to fill the void.

2. Nashville Predators (21-14-4, 46pts) (4th in WC-Central)

The Preds are 7-3 in the last 10 games, including winners of 3 straight. The recent loss of defenseman Shea Weber has apparently boosted offensive performance.

3. Scott Stallings (Hyundai Tournament of Champions)

This weekend officially kicks-off the 2012 PGA season in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii. I am genuinely looking forward to seeing what Scott will accomplish this season on tour.

4. Tennessee Titans (9-7) (Finished 2nd in AFC South)

This season is disappointing for several reasons. No playoff berth despite a weakened division, only a 20th overall pick to show for it, and looming uncertainty.

5. Final Block (New Season, Same Goal)

Last season, The Lead Block established mentoring relationships with 5 players. And so far, has invested more than 100 hours in these players and their futures.

Those players have received tutoring, discovered personal values, narrowed college choices, and identified scholarships or grants to pursue a secondary-education.

This year, The Lead Block will impact twice as many students through adding a second school. Find out how you can become a part and join HERE.

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Sex, Lies, and Coaching

January 3rd, 2012 | Comments Off on Sex, Lies, and Coaching

Like it not, coaches cannot prepare young players for life after the game is over.

A common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportional amount of time on “X’s and O’s” as compared to time spent learning about people.” -Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

This is not an indictment of the noble profession of coaching or an article meant to belittle the sacrifice of those that devote their lives to guiding young athletes.

Because I do believe the influence of good coaches frequently extends beyond the arena of sports and leaving lasting impressions on players entrusted to their care.

But at the end of the day, too few coaches are impacting too few players.

The scarcity of impacted players is further complicated by the crushing demands athletic programs and fan bases place on coaches. Lying, cheating, stealing, and predatory behavior are only symptoms of this ugly and insidious force at work.

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” – John Wooden

Even the great Coach Wooden acknowledged that time on the court does little to prepare players for life off the court. Sadly, preparing a winning game plan and executing it on the court determines the legacy of a coach. Not moments like this

Coaches that do not win, will not be coaches for long. Little else matters.

Again, this is not an indictment of the marvel that is competitive sports. However, there is a serious problem if young players and experienced coaches alike are continuously victimized by this system without any hope of guidance or support.

This is for whom The Lead Block was founded.

Too many, for too long have profited from the exploitation of young players.

And innocent others have suffered in silence, while fearful coaches did nothing.

This is why The Lead Block exists.

Imagine a movement that paves the way for young players to score their destiny, through mentoring, secondary-education preparation, and career discovery to develop a plan that equips and empowers each player to succeed, on or off the field.

This is what The Lead Block can do this year.

Imagine an entire generation of young players equipped to become influential forces for good in their homes, their schools, and in their communities. Imagine a culture amongst coaches empowered to impact the character of their players.

You can be a part of The Lead Block. And HERE is how…

 

Happy New Year and see you on the field!
dreWells

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