Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

Coach As Father Figure

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Coaching in today’s world is more difficult than in any other era. It’s mostly because of social media and how “public” the coach’s job is. Then again, that could be true about any employment position. Coaching is just more visible and people care more about it, i.e. its results.

Mike Krzyzewski is catching heat for the actions of Grayson Allen, one of his players. Last season, Allen had a couple incidents in which he tripped opponents. Video replay, another invention which makes jobs harder than they used to be, makes any excuse indefensible. Up until  a couple days ago, most fans forgot about Allen’s, ahem, missteps, possibly because it’s a new year, possibly because Duke has been without some key freshmen and Allen has been carrying the Blue Devils, possibly because of some other reason.

Fast forward to their last game and an all too familiar scene of Allen tripping an opposing player. Only this time his reactions following the transgression magnified his problem. He was seen yelling on the court and exhibiting disturbing behavior on the bench. Something, obviously, needed to be done. Duke’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski, who’s dealt with nearly every situation a head coach could during his illustrious career, had no lack of assistance in this case. Commentators, writers, studio hosts – both radio and television – even fans, had no reservations about “helping” Coach K deal with such a volatile situation.

As he has done so many times before when facing criticism, Krzyzewski listened and then, basically, said he was perfectly capable of dealing with it, without help from anyone else. He claimed to know Allen better than anyone, certainly better than anyone who was chiming in with an opinion about what needed to be done. He is as protective of his players as any coach in college.

As this story was making front page news, another well-respected coach got in the news for acting in a different manner toward a few of the players he coached. George Karl, whose last coaching gig was with the Sacramento Kings, is coming out with a book and must have gotten advice from his publisher that revealing some juicy tidbits would pump up sales.

He made some inflammatory remarks about players, most notably Carmelo Anthony, a superstar he coached when both were part of the Denver Nuggets organization. Why, other than to help sales, he felt the need to make such remarks about guys he coached so long ago is unknown at this time. While there were critical remarks about Anthony’s game, the most hurtful comment was about Anthony and fellow teammate Kenyon Martin. “Kenyon and Carmelo carried two big burdens: all that money and no father to show them how to act like a man.”

One writer came out and said the line was taken out of context but let’s put aside that part of the story. Karl speaks often about his college coach, Dean Smith, as being a (second) father figure to him. It’s been said a college coach is a father figure to is players, especially for the many players who grew up without one. Mike Krzyzewski is praised by his players as, if not a father figure, a guiding light in their lives. Of course the major difference between a college coach (high school coach too) and a professional coach is just that. Pros shouldn’t need father figures; they’re getting paid and are on their own, earning boatloads of money.

Yet, in this one instance, let’s put some pieces together. George Karl was an adult, coaching Carmelo Anthony who, when he began his professional career with the Denver Nuggets, was 19 years old. Karl had not only a father but, when he was the same age as his superstar, Dean Smith in his life. Didn’t Karl have any sympathy for a 19-year-old who grew up without a father? Didn’t he feel any responsibility in helping this young kid with issues beyond offense and defense? Was he, with his background so diametrically opposed from his rookie’s, so callous to feel he was only supposed to provide Xs and Os help to him? Did it never occur to him that if he were to show even a smidgen of the concern and subsequent advice he received from his mentor, it might make the team better, i.e. if not to improve the kid’s life, make the team more formidable? Whatever else, Karl missed a chance to make an impact on the life of a youngster (independent of whether he was a “professional” athlete or not).

With all the opinions on what Mike Krzyzewski should do and what George Karl didn’t, there is one item I have yet to hear from all these people who have answers after the fact. It’s a topic I brought up with a few coaching friends of mine a couple weeks ago, regarding a subject – a teaching point – that had taken place earlier this football season – the actions of Colin Kaepernick. My opinion was well-received by my colleagues, yet something I haven’t heard discussed to date. How do you feel about it?

“Any coach who hasn’t had a discussion with his (or her) players about the Kaepernick situation should be fired.”


A Lighter Look at Sexual Harassment

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Early in my coaching stop at USC, a co-worker in the athletics department called me over. “Hey, congratulations. You came in third. And you even got a first place vote.” When my brow furrowed, she realized I had no idea what she was talking about.

“Every year,” she explained, “the females in the department conduct an anonymous secret ballot on which male coach they’d want to be stranded with on a desert island.” You came in third this year and even got a first place vote.” I was doubly surprised. First, because I’d been with the Trojans for three years and had never heard of such a poll  and second, because I came in third – with a first on somebody’s ballot. Nothing like a little boost to the ego – but I simply smiled, thanked her for the “good” news and went back to my office. There certainly was no feeling of being offended, although I did realize there might have been someone who would have taken offense. Please believe me when I say I would have felt the same way if I’d found out about the ladies’ poll – and she told me that I hadn’t received a single nomination.

A month or so later our athletics department held a mandatory sexual harassment seminar. All personnel members filed into the meeting room. I happened to be seated next to John Robinson, our legendary football coach. Being a wise guy (not to generalize, but something that comes easy – or at least easier – to somebody from New Jersey), I began the meeting by asking the female presenter, a retired military officer, “Is harass was one word or two?” Maybe because of the mischievous look in my eye, maybe because of the muffled laughter coming from many of my colleagues, maybe because she would have rather kept to her script, she only gave me a stern look. To let her know it was just a funny line, I apologized to the group – each of whom knew my comment was meant as a bit of levity. Truthfully, the little joke was regarding the word, not the topic – which is I realize is anything but. JR turned to me and, barely audible, said, “You are crazy.”

The woman was about 45 minutes into her presentation, which included video examples of what was and what was not considered sexual harassment, when I raised my hand. She shot me a glance – with somewhat of a jaundiced eye – and asked if I had a question. The people present wondered if I would be foolish enough to joke at this time.

I began, “Here’s a fictitious situation I’d like to ask you. If the men in the department conducted a secret survey, asking the male colleagues to rank first, second and third which female department employee they’d like to be stranded with on an desert island, would that be considered sexual harassment – even if the women never found out about it?”

The lady almost jumped with excitement (or relief) and exclaimed, “Yes! That is an perfect example of sexual harassment.” As she continued, I was glancing around the room. The females were sinking lower and lower in the seats, some absolutely glaring at me, a couple others shooting me a shocked look. Was I really going to expose their little scheme? The speaker finally ended her comments, praising me for giving such a vivid illustration.

“Uh, OK, thanks. I just wondered about that situation.” The women sat up straighter, yet some continued with the evil eye.

My point was not to belittle a serious issue we all know occurs in the workplace – and most everywhere else. It’s my belief that 99% of the people who sexually harass others are fully aware of their actions - and that there is no place for such behavior. However, I truly believe the PC police have become a tad overly sensitive on this subject.

The school district in which I worked after returning to public school education (following 30 years in the world of college basketball) was (and remains) such a place. Allow me to share a brief story.

During one of my freshman algebra classes, with an administrator in attendance to (allegedly) evaluate me, I asked the kids if anybody had an answer to a certain problem. No hands went up. I said, “Oh, c’mon, somebody has got to know this one.”

A shy, bright, little girl seated a couple rows from me, sheepishly raised her hand and said, “Is it x=15?”

I walked over to her and touched her on the elbow, saying, “One.” Then, touched her forearm a couple inches lower and said, “Two.” A couple inches lower, “Three” and, finally, touched her wrist, saying, “Four.” I looked her in the eye, smiled and said, “Thank you, Emily. I know can always count on you.” The class laughed and we moved on. In about 10 minutes, the bell rang and the students were off to their next class.

Shortly after the kids left, the administrator came up to me and made a remark that I’m absolutely certain was meant to be a vital learning experience for me. “Jack, I completely understand why you did it but, in the future, you might want to reconsider touching your students.”

I just looked at the administrator. My response was, “You just sat and observed me teaching and that is your first comment? Nothing about whether or not I was connecting with the kids, or if my explanation of the material was effective, or if they seemed interested?” I actually did consider the next line and said it anyway:

“Do they actually pay you to do this?”

Anyone Who Complains About Newton’s “Suspension” Should Not Be Allowed to Be a Parent

Monday, December 5th, 2016

A pretty safe assumption last night was that any fan watching the Seahawks-Panthers game was shocked when Cam Newton stayed on the sideline for Carolina’s first possession. After much scurrying around (whew, lucky the network has sideline reporters), it was reported Newton was benched for a disciplinary reason: that the Panthers have a team rule that players are required to wear a tie when entering the arena – and Cam wasn’t wearing one (verified by pregame photos). To make matters worse, backup QB Derek Anderson threw a pass that was picked off and, eventually, turned into a Seahawks’ field goal.

Speculation ran rampant. “It couldn’t have been just for a tie. No one would be foolish enough to make such a petty move.” It’s bad enough the Panthers came into the game at 4-8, played in last year’s Super Bowl and Cam Newton is the reigning NFL MVP. But fans are fickle (there’s a candidate for understatement of the year) and, if given a chance, will voice displeasure at the drop of a tie hat. “If they were fighting for a playoff spot, that never would have happened,” could be heard at sports bars throughout America (and especially in North Carolina).

Naturally, that would come from a somewhat sensible supporter. “Rivera should be fired for suspending Cam. That one play cost the Panthers the game – or at the very least, got them down and put them in an early, unnecessary hole” would be a comment from someone several rungs below the fanatic ladder.

Now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look at it. If Newton violated a team rule, what’s wrong with punishing him for one play! Next, the pass should have been caught. OK, the receiver deflected it, allowing for an easy interception. Seattle did capitalize but only for a field goal. It wasn’t like it was a horrendous throw, resulting in a pick-6. Newton was back on the field following the kickoff, so it must have been predetermined and not a surprise to the Carolina organization.

With all the criticism today regarding parents being fearful of disciplining their children, the action Rivera took should be applauded. When an NFL player is held accountable, whether it was truly for a dress code violation or something more serious, the action taken should be applauded.

Anybody who’s upset that Cam Newton was suspended for one play – in a game the Panthers lost by 33 points - should have their parenting license revoked. If they don’t have children, they should reconsider if they plan on it. Especially at 4-8, it would have been easy to look the other way (assuming it was due to not wearing a tie). Independent of what caused the move, this country won’t fold due to lack of discipline. More because of the opposite.

Or as Clara Barton said:

“The surest test of discipline is its absence.”

How in the World Can Anyone Deny that Football Might Not Cause Head Injuries?

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

It took me a long time but last weekend I finally got around to watching the movie Concussion. One of my nine Division I basketball stops (my first full-time gig) was at Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh. It was during the 1976-77 season – right during the heart of the Steelers’ dynasty. I didn’t know Mike Webster but, like everybody in the ‘Burgh, we all felt we knew all the guys who played for the World Champs. So, when Webster’s tragic story became public, to all of us who were fans of the Steelers, it was like one of our family members was suffering.

While an argument could be made for “Iron Mike” as the best NFL center, his legacy has become that of the poster child for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). One poignant moment from the movie was when the audience was told approximately how many violent hits to the head Webster had endured throughout his football career. As more and more former players were discovered as having contracted CTE, it became all too apparent that, although football is such great entertainment for so many of us, playing it certainly takes a toll on the players’ bodies -and especially to their heads.

Recently, a survey was taken regarding football and one of the questions was “Are head injuries a serious problem in football?” 5.7% of the respondents answered no. My first thought wasn’t that such an overwhelming percentage realized how serious the issue was. It was incredulity that 5.7% actually believed it wasn’t true.

Then I saw the following quote on a story in the November 17 issue of Yardbarker. It was from Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. “I recently I had a CAT scan done . . . under an assumed name,” the Cowboy’s top man said. “Afterward, the radiologist said, ‘I noticed your age. The reason I came down – and here he called me by my assumed name; he didn’t know who I was – was that you have the brain of a 40-year-old.’ My other doctors were in the room; so was my wife. I’ve got some witnesses. The point is, I was a fullback and a pulling guard. I used my head all the time, and I played football a long time. And that had no impact.”

And that alone is proof enough for Jones that there is no link between football and brain injury. So much for research.

All I could think of was:

“Lord, help us all.”

Leaders Have Different Styles

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

If a poll was taken asking Americans who the greatest leader ever is/was, it’s relatively obvious there would be no conclusive winner. However, should one prerequisite be that the person had to have been a coach, there’s a good chance John Wooden would lead be the leading vote getter. On a personal note, my two years as a graduate assistant at Washington State (1973-75) coincided with Coach Wooden’s last two years at UCLA.

Many people tell stories of how Coach Wooden never forgot people he met and how gracious and warm a person he was. I happen to be living proof of that. It was universally known that, not only did Coach Wooden attend every UCLA home game after he retired, but exactly where he sat. Since his seat was directly in line from the visiting team’s bench to its locker room, I always made it a point, during my four year stay at USC (1991-95), to stop by and “pay my respects” to the greatest college basketball coach – and, arguably, the greatest coach of any sport – of all-time.

The first couple times the conversation was identical. “Coach, I’m Jack Fertig. Just wanted to say hello.”

“Oh, I know who you are, Jack,” was his reply on each occasion. Actually, there was an incident in 1974 when one of the Bruins’ players misplaced his national championship ring and thought he’d left it in the locker room at the Performing Arts Center on our campus at WSU. Possibly because I was the only single coach on our staff, I happened to be the only coach left at the arena after the game. I was asked by the UCLA staff to check with our custodians. After an exhaustive search, we couldn’t find it anywhere. When I got to my apartment later that night, I got a call from one of their coaches, apologizing for the inconvenience, that the kid had left the ring at the hotel.

Whether or not he actually remembered a 25-year-old grad assistant or not, it was a pretty special feeling. The next two years, I tested him by simply saying, “Good to see you again, Coach,” as I shook his hand.

Incredible as it may sound, he responded both times with, “Nice to see you, too, Jack.”

What Coach Wooden accomplished at UCLA is unparalleled. Because of the way the NCAA Tournament is run today, e.g. 68 teams, multiple teams from conferences, teams not assigned by region only, no coach will ever approach his record (10 NCAA Championships in 12 years). Yet, it wasn’t not only his coaching prowess that defined the Wizard of Westwood. Consider that he won the Player of the Year award (1932) as well as numerous Coach of the Year awards and was inducted into the Hall of Fame as both a player (1960) and a coach (1973).

Many of his leadership ideas have been published in the books detailing his life and coaching career. The following is a list from Wooden’s Wisdom – Personal Coaching and Mentoring from one of America’s Greatest Teacher/Coaches (Vol 5, Issue 262) – an email I receive every week or so from Craig Impelman, one of Coach Wooden’s sons-in-law. It mainly applies to ending practices and conversations.

  1. You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time.
  2. Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.
  3. Listen if you want to be heard.
  4. What is right is more important than who is right.
  5. End on a positive note.

It doesn’t take an expert analyst to notice the difference between Coach Wooden’s style and that of our newly elected president. Yet, Coach Wooden understood the team was infinitely more important than the individual and that the only way to achieve goals was through teamwork. It’s unfortunate that, as a country, we haven’t been able to put aside differences – as vast as they may be – for the betterment of the country. In the past it was the Republicans doing what they could to ensure Democratic failure. Now, it’s like it’s the Dems chance to undermine their “opponents.” President-elect Trump’s campaign message was the polar opposite of Coach Wooden’s strategy, although much of what he’s done since winning the election has been in direct contrast to his previous rhetoric.

I don’t claim to have known John Wooden any more than anyone else but one thing I learned from, and about, him was little can be accomplished without teamwork. To borrow one of his many phrases, the attitude the people of our nation need to adopt is:

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

A Solution for Explaining Playing Time to Parents

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Anyone who has ever coached has found that teaching skills to players and making in-game decisions is easy compared to one facet of the job he or she most likely didn’t consider when they originally entered the profession – parents.

30 years of coaching in college basketball and never getting a head coaching position was a major disappointment in my life and not just because it was one of greatest goals. Not being the top man meant I never got a break from being one of the prime targets for disgruntled players, fans, boosters, alumni, administrators and parents. The people in those groups feel much more at ease bringing their problems to an assistant because, well, it’s just too uncomfortable to confront the head coach and, besides, who better than to discuss with, i.e. complain to, than the guy who has the head honcho’s ear.

Actually, once such situation that occurred after my first year as associate head coach at the University of Toledo (spring of 1988) led to an epiphany. We’d inherited a 6’11” senior from the previous staff – a nice enough kid but as long as he was on inches, he was about that short on talent. He came into my office and, although his eligibility had run out, wanted to talk about playing time. It was evident he just wanted to get something off his mind that had bothered him the entire season, probably his entire career.

Possibly because he had nothing to lose, he came right to the point. “Coach,” he began, “I gotta ask you a question. I realize I’m not the greatest player in the world but was I really that bad that I couldn’t even get five minutes a game. I mean, three minutes in the first half and a couple in the second? Would I have hurt the team that much?”

Since we’d just completed a rebuilding year and our record was below .500, he felt he had an excellent point. In fact, he might have. That’s when it hit me. Distribution of points is something players see through their own eyes and parents think about only as it applies to their kids. Especially the ones who are at the end of the bench.

The following year every player we had on the team was from either Ohio, Michigan or Indiana. One tradition our head coach instituted prior to each season was a fall dinner for the team and their families. It just so happened every guy was represented with a family member. What our graduated center said to me months before had resonated so deeply, I asked my boss if I could have five minutes of the program. I was extremely grateful when he okayed my request.

When I got up, I had a manager hand out one small, blank piece of paper to each player’s family. I said, “Would only one family member (father, mother, step parent, sibling), doesn’t matter who, write down a number on that piece of paper. Please do not write your name or the player’s name. Just jot down the number of minutes per game you think your boy should play this season. For those who are unfamiliar, there are a total of 40 minutes in each game (not including overtime).”

Some wrote on the paper immediately, other families (some of them with the player) collaborated. I asked them to fold the paper in half and the manager collected them. As the manager totaled up the “requested” minutes, I wrote on the grease board behind the head table:

5 players times 40 minutes/game = 200 minutes of playing time

When the manager finished, I asked him to write on the board what the total amount was. “415” was the number he wrote. Later, he told me six of the papers had the number 40 on them – and some of the others weren’t that much lower.

While there was a reaction in the room because of such a disparity, it was relatively minor. I scanned the crowd, focusing on the parents, and pointed to the 415 and said, “This is our problem as a coaching staff.” Then, even though it probably did little to defuse any future problems, I pointed to the 200 and said:

“This is yours.”



Carroll Avoids Defending Another Controversial Decision vs. Pats

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Enough politics, back to sports.

Everybody remembers Pete Carroll’s pass call at the end of Super Bowl LXIX, eschewing a hand off to Marshawn Lynch, the seeing Russell Wilson’s pass intercepted at the goal line. Coaches get paid large dollars to make those decisions and Carroll is one who doesn’t mind taking a gamble and the subsequent heat that comes along when one backfires (which he did – and to this day – still does). Even if it means (possibly) out thinking himself and losing the chance to win back-to-back titles, Pete remains his own guy.

Last night he once again decided to go against more conventional strategy when his guys scored a late touchdown. The score put them up seven, meaning an extra point – while not as “automatic” as it was before the NFL moved the kick back, still, far easier to convert – would force New England to get into the end zone and convert a two-point play – just to send the game into overtime.

Carroll decided his club go for two. True, if they converted, the lead would be nine and, for all intents and purposes, the game would be over. But, if they weren’t successful – which they weren’t – a touchdown and an extra point would send the game into overtime. It didn’t seem like the wiser of the two moves at the time.

Both teams’ offenses were playing better than their defenses. It wasn’t like the Patriots were worn down or shorthanded. While I don’t have one of those percentage of success charts that coaching staffs carry into games – the ones that, mathematically depending on the score, tell coaches whether to go for one or two when leading by a certain amount at a certain time in the game – but I can’t imagine that with so little clock remaining, going for two in that situation would be the more prudent choice.

Sure enough, the Pats got the ball to the two-yard line and most people in attendance and watching were thinking they were in for extra football. Alas, the Seattle’s defense tightened and New England turned it over on downs.

Controversy averted. Once again, the old adage came into play:

“A good coaching move is one that works.”

Pulling Together Beats What We’ve Been Doing

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

So, the election ended and, lo and behold, the long shot pulled off a stunning victory. In what’s becoming more the trend than the exception, more than half the people in the country voted against both of the top two candidates, i.e. while the second place finisher (Hillary Clinton, in case you just returned from an early practice trip to Mars and hadn’t heard) lost the electoral vote, she pulled in more of the popular vote (the Dems have to stop using that strategy). However, because of goofball candidates gobbling up votes (if you think that’s an offensive statement, go to On Demand, assuming you’re a Comcast subscriber, and watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - Season 3, Episode 26), Clinton’s camp also fell short of 50% of the ballots cast. This means that had either of the main characters in this reality show of an election won, more than half the country opposed them. Some mandate for an incoming prez.

The initial reaction has been disappointing. Clinton’s supporters are so shocked, they did what so many people in the same situation want to do. Revolt. Too many of these folks have already moved from stage one of grief to stage two – denial to anger. For the most part, Hillary Clinton’s backers were considered intelligent, at least educated – and I believe they are. It’s just that, when the person, or team, you’re pulling for is such an overwhelming favorite – and they lose – well, grief follows.

If only they would stop and think about a couple of topics. The first is – what would their reaction have been if, as expected, Clinton had won – and Trump’s supporters started protesting? Wouldn’t their feelings be, “Hey, our candidate won fair and square. It’s over. Deal with it and let’s move on!” Hopefully, they will get to stage five, acceptance, sooner rather than later. For the sake of the country, if nothing else.

The other core thought should be that Clinton did not lose because of the latest charges regarding her emails (which, by the way, the FBI cleared her of prior to Election Day). Consider all the outrageous statements he made that any sane person felt would have ended his chances almost before they began? Saturday Night Live skits in which “she” would ask, “Can we vote now?” because of his bullying rhetoric, such as attacking Gold Star parents, mocking a disabled man, insulting entire groups of people, i.e. voters, and, topping it off by objectifying women with such language that you’d think any woman – or man who had a wife, daughter, heck even a mother, would find deplorable. Then, just as the FBI’s 11th hour probe, a number of women came forth and accused Trump of sexual assault late in the campaign. Pause and take a breath, do you people still believe the FBI director was the major reason your candidate lost?

People voted more against the old for … change. Ironically, that’s exactly the platform our outgoing president campaigned on eight years ago. But the Republicans wouldn’t give him a chance. Why? Being black didn’t help. When people heard, immediately after the election, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell say, “My number one goal is to make sure he’s a one-term president,” race had to have been, at least, a part of it.

“No, Mitch, you’re number one goal is, or certainly ought to be, to represent the constituents of Kentucky.” Give the guy a chance! McConnell’s remark would be tantamount to a player who was a member of the school’s search committee for a new head coach, hearing the new hire was someone he did not want. After the press conference in which it was announced the coach signed a four-year contract, what would be the school’s and its boosters’ reactions be if the player publicly stated, “My number one goal is to make sure he doesn’t get renewed.”

People will claim that many of the changes President Obama wanted to enact would negatively impact the nation. Usually what that means is that the changes would negatively impact them. Really, when it comes down to it, don’t people vote for things that “follow their own personal agenda?” Maybe it’s a fatalistic approach but I’m not sure there exist that many magnanimous people out there. No president will ever be able to satisfy all the people and, as has always been the case, the loudest voices belong to the “anti’s.”

The prevailing position by many of those in the know is that the absurdities Trump spouted off during the campaign were said for one reason: to win! When asked about what they liked about candidate Trump, the average voter on the street would say, “He says things people think but don’t have the courage to say.” The message that rings loud and clear is, 0utside of not having a likeability or trust factor, is that there is a large segment of society that is tired about how politically correct the United States has become. Yet, when the rubber meets the road (as I blogged last Wednesday), there’s no way Trump can possibly put in place the borderline insane ideas he made during the race.

Since we’ve tried it the other way, i.e. divisive, why not try to unite? At my age I’m much more concerned about future generations than my own. Let’s make the best decisions for decades to come. Unfortunately, as a nation, we’re growing further and further apart. Our national motto seems to have been:

“I like hitting my head against the wall because it feels so good when I stop.”


Time to Panic?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

As this blog is being written, the fat lady has yet to sing. However, it’s not difficult to hear her warming up her vocal chords. To many, “President-elect Trump” is frightening. Throughout last evening, television pundits (other than those on Fox) went from confident to condescending to deer-in-the-headlights stunned.

When any team I was a member of – whether as a player or, more often, a coach – anytime we’d lose, we realized – as brutally hard as it was – that we had to look inward. Sure, initially, referees were blamed, “what ifs” were bandied about, record performances (or even a shot) by an opponent who had never done well (or anything) throughout the season (or his career) were used as excuses. Yet, because the result was an L, it was mandatory for us to figure out what we could have/should have done and what changes needed to be made.

So what does the mirror say to the Dems? The message that resonates loud and clear, when you lose to such a presumed underdog, is maybe it’s because people dislike what you’ve done and what you stand for, even more than they like the person running against you. You won on the theme of “change.” Maybe people want more change. Saying x number of jobs have been created during your administration means nothing to the guy who’s unemployed. His unemployment rate is 100%. Or the folks who are underemployed, e.g. have a job but not the one all that training and education was supposed to ensure them. The work force is going to vote the way most people do – for whoever is going to make their lives better. Sure, we all talk about team first but, when it comes right down to it, especially if your and your family’s lives aren’t so good, you tend to roll the dice.

Undoubtedly because this victory was so unlikely, people who were Clinton supporters are worried – to the point of freaking out. (Note: if Clinton somehow pulled a Truman, the following advice should still apply). Are we doomed as a nation? Will a racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic, foul mouthed, egomaniacal bully outsider take down our country?

Not to worry. No one person is bigger than the team – this team being the USA. Do people really think Trump is going to deport all the people he claimed he would? Does anyone believe a wall is going up anytime soon? Does anyone really believe Trump is going to appoint a special prosecutor (although I have no knowledge of the law, it’s my understanding the president isn’t even allowed to do so) to “lock her up?”

No, none of that is going to happen. What has occurred is the nation has spoken and has emphatically said, “We don’t trust politicians.”

John C. Maxwell is a favorite author of mine (and millions of others). The last book of his I read was entitled, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. While he doesn’t need my endorsement, everybody should read this book. Believe me, you will be a better person for it.

In my opinion, the Democrats didn’t lose to Donald Trump.

“They lost because they failed to connect.”

I’m Back & Doing What I’m Told

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Don’t know how often I’ll be blogging – back issues have made sitting at a computer for an extended period of time nearly impossible. I took close to a two month hiatus, yet my site is still receiving hits on a daily basis. Apparently, there are some people who enjoy reading what I have to say/what my opinions are, so I’m returning. For a while anyway.

As far as the other part of the title of this post, the “doing what I’m told” refers today’s election. There are a plethora of important issues on the ballot – in addition to the presidential race – so every vote is vital. Overshadowing all of this is the one in four years that we are electing a “leader of the free world.”

There have been debates and television ads. In my opinion (and, seemingly, that of many others) the debates were more embarrassing than informative. In a previous blog I mentioned my proposal on how to improve the debates. While I truly believe my outlandish idea would make the debates infinitely more informative, and certainly much less of a mockery, I did nothing beyond simply blogging about it. To inform those who didn’t read it, or remind those who did, my plan was that each candidate was wired and, as soon as he or she 1) went off topic or, 2) more so, in this year’s case, when either mentioned, i.e. criticized the other’s name or plan (both efforts to deflect from answering the actual question), the moderator pushed a button which would send an electric shock to the speaker. Yeah, similar to a dog collar that’s used to correct your pet’s misbehavior. Although I didn’t put a clock on it but I’d wager that if this plan was implemented this year, each debate would have lasted about ten minutes!

Alas, those who had the ability to put this strategy into effect either decided against it or, more likely, weren’t alerted to it. Whenever I decide to vote, I take in as much information as I can and listen to the candidates’ philosophies. So, for this presidential election I’m “doing as told.” Yesterday’s TV ads – the ones each candidate could air and felt would have the greatest influence on us – by both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – shared the identical message: here are reasons for you not to vote for my opponent. A couple guys running for Congress in California waged identical campaigns, each calling the other a criminal.

I’m someone who pays attention. I’m going to take in the information. Therefore, I will be voting for candidates running for other offices and will be placing a “yes” or “no” for other items on the ballot but, in good conscience refuse to have anything to do with placing any of those four “flawed” candidates into office. The message I got was loud and clear. DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS PERSON! Sure, I’ve heard from many people that “it’s my constitutional right to vote.” To that statement, my response is:

“It’s just as much my constitutional right not to vote.”