Category Archives: Sports

Blessings galore from transforming heartwork

Awaking with the opportunity to serve my world is a daily blessing that I aim to maximize even though it’s easy to limit my focus to the daily grind of work, kids, and home and miss on the opportunity to serve my world beyond myself and my home.  Yesterday, Saturday, April 26, 2014 was filled with countless blessings that had me in a seemingly constant state of reflection and sobriety.

My day started with leaving my house before 7am to take my 17 year old son to Loaves and Fishes where he’s regularly volunteered feeding the homeless on Saturdays since the end of 2011.  After returning home and handling a few errands, I was on my way to the Sacramento County Juvenile Detention Facility, where I spent over four hours with young men who are in the maximum security units as well as a couple other units.  I left there and met a friend for an early dinner that led to a phenomenal conversation about race, gender, and privilege in American society and our workforce.

After dinner, I was so thankful, energetic, and encouraged.  At this point, thinking my day would be “lightened,” I sat with my laptop to get caught up on work and wound up watching the movie Fruitvale Station while doing so.  “Lightened” didn’t happen and the movie stirred so many of the same emotions that were already awakened earlier in my day.  In the backdrop of this day was the news surrounding the comments of the Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy who’s comments were quickly overshadowed by the alleged comments of NBA team owner, Donald Sterling.  The movie accompanied with the recent national headlines combined to remind me of how the naiveté of so many (all races) would find themselves surprised by such events or in denial of how such comments from these individuals and fate such as in the movie are direct descendents of institutional discrimination, abused unearned privilege, and mental slavery.

I’m thankful for my many failures over the years to productively recognize and address the descendants of institutional discrimination, abused unearned privilege, and my own mental slavery that have resulted in me learning from those failures to now be in a position to personally help others who consciously and unconsciously struggle with those same poisons.  Yesterday was a blunt reminder of the pain, consequence, and inequality that endures in the lives of so many as a result and how I’m obliged to serve my world in contributing where possible to conquer these sources of division and hate.

I love the human race.

The Privilege of Not having to Cut Ties

It would take something connected to privilege to pull me out of a long run of not posting anything on my blog.  That could be a discussion in itself.

Not being able to sleep after going to my own bed following bedtime with my sons, I took a look at my Twitter feed to see what was being chatted about.  There I found a conversation my favorite sports columnists, Joe Davidson @SacBee_JoeD was having with a few others.  Ashamed how disconnected I am to sports nowadays but seemingly Desean Jackson previously of the Philadelphia Eagles was recently cut by the team and there’s speculation and/or conflict as to whether that occurred because of his “ties” to gang affiliation.  Below is the bulk of that conversation.
Twitter Conversation

In reading the conversation, the quotes “Needs to cut ties…, associate carefully…, and careful who you associate” stood out the most for me.  They harken me to my personal situation and a reality that I know is common amongst most I grew up with.  Some background.  I was reared with two siblings by a single mom in subsidized housing projects in Columbia, SC which was frequented by crime, drugs, and violence more than police.  Just as the latter two quotes from Joe are good things to consider in life and I use as guides for my children, those quotes were also frequently used during my childhood by adults and teachers as a reminder of how we as young Black children were perceived and the likelihood of being considered guilty by association had very serious consequences.  Getting any form of a “record” with the police usually meant that they had the right to interrogate, stop, visit, etc. you and your family whenever they chose regardless whether there was any known connection you might have to what they wanted.

What stands out for me is using those words in connection with an adult who was just “fired.”  To be clear, I do not know the full circumstance of why Desean Jackson was cut and after doing some reading it appears most are speculating on the “final” reason for him being cut as there are claims of locker room issues, relationship with coach among other things.  Lots of allegations that aren’t really important to me as all professional athletes (except for those in college carrying a fake “amateur” tag) are overpaid anyway.  Yes I said it.  I also believe those upset about athletes getting overpaid should do something like turn off the TV, don’t go to games, don’t buy jerseys, don’t read the Sports section, etc. and the pay of athletes will change really fast.  I digress and I’m not upset about them getting overpaid- I think it’s great.

Back to the point.  Aside from the connotation of the word “ties” which is also bothering, why should I as an adult have to “associate carefully” or be “careful who I associate with” in context of childhood friends whom I remain in contact with and support in their legal pursuits?  Being Black the statistics show that I am VERY likely to be associated with family members and friends who have a “record” with the criminal justice system.  I don’t like it, but it’s the case.  Please note that I did not say these individuals are criminals of which I’m glad to discuss or debate as I believe criminals are equally common amongst all races and unfortunately some behaviors are criminalized within our society and justice system that make it more likely for racial minorities to have a “record.”  I respect the perception of association and understand the potential negative connotation that comes with who you associate with.  I equally hold adults responsible for the assumptions they make based on the filters they use when viewing others.  In summary, the realities of our justice system make it quite privileged to not be Black if you want to maintain life-long close friendships with childhood friends who don’t have any legal issues.  I don’t blame me or Desean Jackson for that.

So what does cutting ties mean for an adult in this situation?  Don’t talk to those “bad” friends anymore?  Don’t visit friends in jail?  Don’t give money to help with personal situations of your “questionable” friends?  Don’t let them be a part of your “entourage” when you’re taken across the country as a professional athlete to live amongst people you don’t know and trust?  I don’t know what Joe means by when he says “needs to cut ties.”  What I do know, is that we supposedly live in a place where innocent until proven guilty is the law of the land.  I also respect the right of an employer (Eagles or anyone else) to make staffing decisions based on whatever they feel is in their best interest and within the legal rights they have.

And whatever those legal rights are, I don’t think it’s appropriate for Joe or anyone else to suggest that one cut ties with people they’ve spent much of their life being closest to.  Cutting ties seems more appropriate for people 1. in a popularity contest (Obama and the minister, Republicans and the Tea Party, etc.)  2. who are seeking to overcome some past public issue (banks and Bernie Madoff or Allen Stafford, campaign donors and Rick Renzi, Tom Delay or Rod Blagojevich) or 3. with groups that counter your political or religious beliefs.  For me, many of the ties cut with my childhood friends that were running around the projects with me were because of distance (me moving away for college, military, and to work) and inability to communicate as they were hard to reach while in the military or struggling in the criminal justice system.  And if those friends struggling with the justice system reached out today, I would love to hear from them, spend time with them, and want to know how I can truly help them (legally).  And that’s not the business of my employer or anyone else.

So, I’d much rather be a positive nudge in the lives of my childhood friends and receive the reality and humility that they can bring to me unlike anyone else.  They know all the embarrassing moments, most of the firsts, the close calls, etc. that I had to learn from to be who I am today.  In my community, I saw them more than I saw my mom who was doing the best she could which left her frequently unavailable (physically and emotionally).  Don’t get it twisted- I have the greatest mom in the world!  And her commitment to her children proved that for me.  In the same, my mom set the agenda for rearing and my community mostly handled the task.  I’m far from perfect and very appreciative of what I’ve been able to accomplish in helping others in our beautiful world and there’s no way that I would “cut ties” with any family member or childhood friend who’s doing what they can and know how without expecting me to contribute toward anything illegal.  To suggest that Desean Jackson or any other athlete seems misguided.

Build friends, love them, and keep them.

Fan Experience at Sacramento Kings New Arena

Long Live The Kings is Here To Stay and a new arena is on the way. With that, I’m done with my rhyming and completely excited about the opportunity for the new Kings ownership to provide an amazing basketball and downtown Sacramento experience to fans and the community. Below, I’ve taken a stab at my first dozen fan-facing ideas that I’d like to be considered for leveraging technology to enhance the fan experience at the new arena. I’d love to hear back on ideas above beyond these or how the Sacramento Kings faithful will rate these. And yes, these are currently listed in my order of preference. These ideas are my own, not tested or vetted with any company or group. Though, I’m keenly aware of a company (one of TIBCO’s largest partners) that can facilitate making this all a reality.

Note the list doesn’t list the need for lots of monitors, wifi, where monitors need to be posted, what needs to be on monitors, etc. which I considered a given but don’t let that stop you from re-emphasizing.  I also have a list of to-dos and to-adds for the app of which the top ones are included below.  But there are clearly more.

My Top Dozen for a Savvy Technology Fan Experience

1. Tickets and parking pass barcode via phone
-make it easy like at an airport and less paper
2. Pre-order and pay for food via smartphone/app before walking to concessions
-include in app with appropriate rules/conditions
3. Location-based awareness of walking arena vendors in app
-where vendors are in arena, what they’re selling available via app, and means to identify interest
4. Game-time candids
-photos/videos of sections and suites throughout the gamethat can be searched online using ticket number
5. Suite attendees/guests listed on arena camera/board
-option for every Suite Holder to include names of companies or people in suite via TicketMaster or App
6. Tweetboards in arena and concession stands
-display tweets occurring during game
7. Enable pledges to Kingscares charity of the game
-encourage charities to drive attendance
8. SoMe of the game
-award to fans with most/highest quality SoMe posts during game / Make @Kings top NBA trender
9. Downloadable videos/photos of arena camera during game
-readily available to capture experience of game
10. Best of the game uploadable photos from the crowd
-monitored post-game and made available for others to see at Kings.com
11. Easy access to post-game downtown locations and events
-in-game videos, app updates, etc. of where to go post-game (sell ads)
12. Team and Game Gear Promotions
-targeted promotions during games and ability for fans to pre-order specific items

Hype of the Sacramento Valleydictorians

This post stands as my first attempt to build publicity, appreciation, and greater interest in the individuals who will build our world’s economy, be leaders of our free world, contribute to advancements in medicine, agriculture, science, technology, and so many other great things we’ve yet to imagine. I’m doing this because it’s action I can take toward DOING something good versus contributing to ongoing TALK about the discrepancy in attention and focus placed on athletics versus academics within our society. To be clear, I agree that’s an unfortunate discrepancy and I’m also a very strong contributor. So this isn’t to place blame, but to spur action.

I believe sport or competition is a critical component of a person’s development within our society and I couldn’t imagine personal success for myself had I not had the experiences from participating in several sports during my childhood. I also believe that a strong majority of the adults within the United States do our children an injustice via the overwhelming promotion of athletics over academics and the lack of drive for academic excellence. Additionally, I believe the opposite- having students be high academic achievers who are inept in social settings and have very limited communication skills is not much better and possibly worse.

I believe the leaders of our future are individuals who have demonstrated obvious leadership skills, prepared self for academic success, shown savvy in working across cultural and socio-economic boundaries, committed to personal accountability and improvement, demonstrated the ability to work well with others in stressful situations, and have exhibited a commitment to society via their time and effort. I also believe students living up to this should be highly publicized, discussed, ranked, and sought than those who simply do well in a popular sport i.e. football, basketball, baseball, track, tennis, swimming, golf, etc. with very few other accomplishments. Thus, I’ve put together a base set of criteria that when combined serve as leading indicators of my ideas of leaders of the future.

My hope is that local publications (newspapers, magazines, TV, etc.), school administrators, parents and the community will participate and raise the awareness of these young leaders with the outcome being recognition of the Sacramento Valleydictorians. I welcome questions, challenge, and suggestions on the criteria and hope to initiate with a focus on high school seniors graduating in the Class of 2013. I also welcome discussion on the importance of this above and beyond the singular focus on sports.

Though the results will develop over time, I foresee this effort leading to local media highlighting the Valleydictorians throughout the school year more than they do athletes. Maybe a story discussing the challenge the student is having with choosing colleges and how colleges are pursuing them. Or maybe highlighting the likely pay that these students stand to accumulate over their careers versus that of an average professional athlete over their career. Essentially, let’s make sure we’re driving the needed focus whereas younger students will aspire to do what they do because of the attention and notoriety given. My assumption is that these students will garner far more college scholarships then those highlighted in sports and be more likely to have an enduring legacy for advancement of the local area.

Please distribute to others. Feel free to suggest students and submit data points to sacramentovalleydictorians@gmail.com .

Data Points used in Criteria
1. Academic Club
2. ACT Score/SAT Score
3. Class Rank of Class Population
4. Club/Team where Titled Leader
5. Individual Sport
6. Ongoing Volunteering Activity
7. School poplulation eligible for free or reduced-price lunch
8. School-wide Leadership Role
9. School API
10. Team Sport