Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

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.”

Is It Really an Advantage for a College Guy to Be the Olympic Basketball Coach?

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Two-and-a-half week hiatus. Headed Down Under to visit younger son, Alex, and watch him play for a couple weeks in Darwin, Australia. Plane tickets? Check. Place to stay? Thanks to time share (for once, with no hassles), check. Rental car (remember, they drive on the other side of the road)? Check. House sitter? Check. See you around September 12.

Sure the USA won the gold medal in men’s basketball for the past three Olympics – which is what the goal was after coming home bronzed in 2004 but, in this country, we need some controversy. Talk TV and radio wouldn’t exist without somebody bitching – about success as well as failure.

So was it an advantage for Mike Krzyzewski to coach the Olympic team for the past three Games? Of course. But, it wasn’t like he was begging for the job. Jerry Colangelo sought out Coach K for a reason. Looks like Jerry knew what he was doing. Could Colangelo have selected another coach who could have produced three golds? Maybe, maybe not and that’s a question we’ll never know. OK, probably, but let’s analyze the positives and negatives of being the Olympic coach.

Number one positive for a college coach is recruiting. “Hey, young fella, how would you like to play for our Olympic coach?” is a pretty nice entree into a prospect’s home. Something no other school can say. Of course, this is assuming THE USA WINS! Can you imagine what rival coaches would say if the we lost? Really, they wouldn’t have to say much because the talking heads would be slaughtering the poor guy enough for everybody. Some might consider coaching NBA players a plus but, then again, have they forgotten all that was said and written about the joys of having Boogie Cousins and Carmelo Anthony on a squad? Well, we could ask their coaches. Each can be found in the unemployment line.

How about the money and first class travel and accommodations that go along with being the head man? OK, not the money (although there’s certainly a book deal in the future – oh yeah, he’s already done that) but the perks? Check what Coach K makes from Duke, Nike, other endorsements. With what he’s pulling in, he could own his own plane and hotel if he wanted. And Rio? If he asked Micki where her dream vacay would be, does Rio even medal?

Mike Krzyzewski is no fool. He knew the recruiting advantage that he and Duke would get with the job. Just as he knew the pressure that came along with it. As well as the time commitment. Which was added to the pressure and time commitment his “regular” job brought.Duke’s freshman orientation starts today. Nice break from the grind. Don’t forget, it’s not like for the past 12 years he only thinks about his “part-time” job in the summer.

Some people may scoff when he speaks of the duty to his country and the honor he feels as its head coach. Yet, one thing that can be said for him is that, when it comes to patriotism, he has a decent track record of walking the walk. I always told my kids that college would be the best four years of their lives. Not so at West Point, or any of the military academies. Their goal isn’t to produce graduates like other schools. Their mission is to turn out leaders. So, as far as taking classes, hanging out at the student union in between them, going to parties and enjoying a great social life – which is what “normal” college kids experience – well, that doesn’t quite happen at the academies.

Early wake up calls, marching (double timing for plebes), being continuously screamed at (in the name of leadership or seeing who can handle it and who will crack under the pressure), falling asleep studying at your dorm desk at night? Heck, fours years of playing basketball for Bob Knight must have been considered recreation. Then, there’s the military commitment of five years after graduation. Anyone who knows Mike Krzyzewski, or has heard him speak, understands what West Point and this country mean to him. Does anybody think the underlying reason he accepted the job was for recruiting? He certainly knew the residual benefit he would get from being the Olympic head coach and rubbing elbows with the best of the best (except for this year). But don’t think for a minute this job was a cakewalk. This year’s pool play results – and the criticism that followed (“Is Coach K the right coach for this Olympic team?“) – would be enough to question why somebody would undertake such a thankless position.

So, for the guys who are espousing the unfairness of it all, rest assured it’s over. Gregg Popovich is the next coach and, if the rumors are true, Doc Rivers after that. Which means one thing:

“The critics will have to find something else to complain about.”

Women’s Basketball Ahead of Men

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

The title of this post is deceptive in that women’s basketball is only considered to be ahead of the men’s game – at the same point in history. Some important dates in the history of basketball are: 1891 – James Naismith invented the game; 1936 – men’s basketball introduced as an Olympic sport (1976 – women’s game becomes an Olympic sport); 1939 – first NCAA men’s championship (1972 – first AIAW women’s championship, 1982 – first NCAA women’s championship).

Notice the women’s game is between 35-40 years “younger” than the men’s version from a chronological standpoint. It’s my contention that the women’s game, due to “going to school” on the men, is more advanced than the men at a similar stage. Men’s hoops learned on the fly, e.g. the development of the jump shot, how to utilize a “big man,” introduction of zone defense and full court pressure, strategies involving the shot clock and three-point line, etc. These were brought into the men’s game and the players and coaches had to figure out the nuances – in terms of how to most effectively use (or disregard) them. Women had the benefit of seeing what the men had accomplished – and how they did it. This allowed them to avoid many of the mistakes men made – or make, and correct – them earlier. This holds true for all aspects of the contest, i.e. the women’s game – after, say, 20 years (1992) is played at a more sophisticated level than the men were after 20 years (1959).

This is not at all to say the distaff product is better in terms of, for example, dunking. There will always be a difference in what the bodies can physically do that will always make the games completely different. However, watch a video of a men’s game in 1970 and a women’s contest from 2003. See which one has more “trash talking” or outward displays of emotions – and you’ll see the profound influence the men have had on their female counterparts. The proliferation of female black players in the women’s game grew more rapidly also (a major reason, naturally, is they have had a much easier access to it). However, African-American girls have identified with the game much earlier and have had more role models than the men did.

Title IX was passed in 1972. At that time, the women’s coaches were almost always men. To make this point with my high school classes (between 2002-12), I would ask the girls in the class how many were involved in a sport. Never less than 25% – and often as many as 75% – of the hands would go up. I’d then tell them to ask their grandparents whether or not they participated in sports during their high school days. The next class period they would come to class and mention how shocked they were – not about their grandfathers bragging of their athletic exploits (all stories get better with age), but that none their grandmothers played. The family matriarchs had to explain to the girls that the reason they didn’t play was that sports were not offered to them.

One effect Title IX had was that the initial generation of girls’ coaches were males. This was because Title IX was passed in 1972, meaning the generation of girls growing up in that era were coached by men since the previous generation of women didn’t have a working knowledge of the sport, i.e. they had had no access to it.

Today, there is no debate about which game is more dominant on a global level. If they haven’t already caught up to the USA, the rest of the world is extremely close to catching us on the men’s side. The USA women, though, are virtually untouchable, having won six consecutive gold medals, including this year’s Olympics, by an average winning margin of a whopping 37.2 points. In addition, the women have won 49 consecutive contests. Which leads to the cheer overheard in many areas of the nation:

“You go, girl!”

Note to the Four USA Swimmers

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Apologies to readers who checked in and saw no new post. Had an early morning appointment at Stanford Pain Management and needed to get to bed early. Appointment was scheduled for 9:30 am, left my house a little before 6:00 am and, due to traffic and accidents, the three-hour trip turned into me not showing up until 9:35 am. Did have the foresight to call ahead and warn them of the situation because they’re always on time and expect patients to be too.

By now, the debacle created by Ryan Lochte and a few of his fellow swimmers is quite well known. The following are several useful quotes – and who they are credited to (with more to share) – for the boys:

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.” Walter Scott

“Always tell the truth; then there’s not much to keep track of.” Mark Twain

“Nothing good ever happens after midnight.” Nearly everyone who’s ever coached

“Better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone think you’re a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”

“While some people think being accountable is a hard thing to do, it’s still the right thing to do.” Bobby Unser

“The night air is poison.” Jerry Tarkanian

“Always tell the truth.  Then you’ll never have to remember what you said the last time.” Sam Rayburn

“Before you open your mouth to speak, make sure what you have to say is an improvement on the silence.” John Savage

“A good name is the most important thing you can achieve in this world.” Harry Kraft, father of Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots

“When you’re in a hole, the first thing you need to do is stop digging.” Will Rogers

“Ethics is about character and courage and how to meet the challenge when doing right will cost more than we want to pay.” Michael Josephson

“Crisis builds character; it also identifies it.” Many people, originator unknown

“Better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone think you’re a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln

“You thought you were a law unto yourself. Athletes get that way. All the adulation, the publicity, the hype. You get a false sense of your own importance. It’s called ‘How dare you turn me down?! Don’t you know who I am?!’ ” Jim Murray on Mike Tyson, LA Times, 7/3/97

“Becoming successful may mean you have to do things other people don’t do.  Being a responsible individual is one of them.” Bobby Unser

“Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.” John Wooden

“When you make a mistake: 1) admit it 2) correct it 3) learn from it 4) don’t dwell on it 5) don’t repeat it.” Bill Parcells

“What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your mouth.” Jewish proverb

And those are just a few. Maybe the most appropriate one is the quote uttered satirist Elbert Hubbard:

“Everyone is a damn fool for five minutes a day.  Wisdom consists of not exceeding that.”

 

 

 

 

The New Age of Criticism

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Issues with the computer freezing up. Trying to get a short blog in before it does again. Sure wish I knew more about these newfangled objects.

Last night I read an article which was highly critical of Mike Krzyzewski and what he’s done with this year’s Olympic basketball team. It was by a guy, , who quite obviously had a major issue with Coack K. The gist of the article is Mike’s not playing Draymond Green. Apparently, the writer is, or was, a beat writer for the Warriors and, most likely, developed a relationship with Green – a guy who’s always good for a powerful quote or two. The kind of player who, if left alone with a tape recorder going, will nearly author a story himself. The writer’s biggest problem then becomes editing.

With the last three games our squad has played, all wins – BUT close wins – now is the best time to question the coaching skills of Mike Krzyzewski. Since Coach K was named by Jerry Colangelo in 2005 as our country’s head coach, the USA men have compiled a 52-1 record. Some might think Mike should be lauded for taking the time and putting in the energy to do work in his “off season.” Note: I fully understand what Mike – and Duke – get out of the publicity, but it shouldn’t be overlooked how taxing it is to do all that needs to be done to continually face – and overcome – the challenges that go along with being the Olympic coach. For those who don’t, wait until a coach loses and you’ll immediately understand my point.

The current breed of writer is always looking to make a name for him (or her) self (but usually him). Imagine if the USA should fail to bring home the gold? Who wouldn’t want to be the first guy who warned he nation that Coach K screwed it up? Well, if you’re from my generation, the answer is “nobody.” But, today?  Nasty journalism has a cult following and all the spoils go with it – money, fame (the kind that appeals to that type of person), books, TV & movie appearances, you name it. I don’t think it’s completely a cynical attitude to say that journalism has changed and making a name for yourself, as opposed to accuracy, seems to be of greater importance business today.

In the early ’70s there was a self-help book entitled “I’m OK, You’re OK” which climbed its way up the New York Times bestseller list. Today, the title of that book would be:

“I’m OK, You’re Screwed Up.”

 

What If the Olympics Were Like Politics?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Imagine Michael Phelps in position to begin his race, or Usain Bolt in his blocks waiting for the starter’s pistol, or Simone Biles about to take off for a vault – and as they were about to start, rather than actually perform their event, they instead set their mouths in motion, spewing nasty comments about each of their opponents, saving the best quips (independent of whether or not they were true) for their closest competitor.

“Do you know how poorly my opponent swam in his last meet? He was a joke. Why is he even out here?”

“I’m the fastest person on earth and I don’t understand how anyone can think differently. How can anybody even consider giving that title to a person who has next to no (sprinting) experience?”

Isn’t it great that actual performance is how the winners are chosen?

Well, what about the events that aren’t measured – like gymnastics, diving and boxing? How awful would the Olympics be if the people who voted for the winner has to do so based on negative blather and insults?

“By now, it ought to be oh-so-obvious that no one can touch me in anything that has to do with gymnastics. To my opponents, I say to you, ‘Don’t even waste our time with your dumb ass routines.’ People know who the best is.”

“Did you see that last dive? Sad effort. The country should be frightened if the judges were to, somehow, choose my opponent over me. It’s readily apparent his lack of experience will doom the entire Olympic Games. Basically, he’s not trustworthy.”

Naturally, choosing a politician to lead our cities, states, country isn’t based on 10 seconds, several minutes or routines over a few days. Because of the competition among news sources (being first trumps – no pun intended – being right) and the irresponsibility and complete disregard for factual information on social media, combined with the general feeling of so many citizens that their lives, to use the most popular word in today’s vernacular, suck, the majority of information the public receives is of personal flaws of the politicians.

Is everybody in politics unfit for office? We can’t have grown so cynical to, deep down, believe that. There most likely are people who would enjoy serving who are qualified and have no skeletons but, in today’s world, political strategists will dig up (or make up) something to cast negativity on a candidate. Even with that, there are people who would run because they feel they can make a positive difference and can handle personal attacks. Yet, they choose not to run because they refuse to subject their families to such vile intrusions.

The Olympics is about realizing dreams, so maybe the motto for political elections ought to be:

“We can dream, can’t we?”

 

A New Type of Ballot for the Coming Presidential Election

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

When it comes to political discussions, it seems as though every time people say which candidate they’re backing, there’s somebody in the room who will question their sanity. Are you serious?” is the question they hear. “How can you be for him/her?” is the follow up.

Since I’m much more interested in people than politics, I enjoy listening to the answers much more than I do discussing my choice. Invariably, the answer and its justification – independent of which candidate they name – begins the exact same way. The first thing out of the person’s mouth, make it the first three things (after that, it’s obvious how they truly feel), is something negative about the opponent of whomever they mention as their choice.

If people say they’re for Donald Trump, there’s always someone in the room (assuming there are a minimum of four people in the room) who is incredulous anyone could vote for a guy who seems to only opens his mouth to change feet. Should those asked say Hillary Clinton is their choice (once again, assuming there are a minimum of four people in the room), there always is a person within earshot who will launch into how she has been less than truthful with the American public (putting it mildly). The reason for this is most likely because there are at least 25% of the people in the country who a) are fearful of what a Trump presidency would do or b) whose lives have gotten worse over the past eight years or, simply, who see the general mood in the country as less positive than is healthy – and attribute it to the Democrats.

Consider this statistic: The Libertarian candidate received 8% of the vote when people were polled – and almost no one knows who he is!

Here’s my proposal: have two ballots for every voter but only one is allowed to be submitted, depending on how strongly he or she feels about why that choice was selected. One ballot has the names Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (and whoever else is running, as well as a place to write in a candidate). The person voting is to choose which candidate is their choice to be our next president.

The other ballot has only two names on it: Hillary & Donald. Except on this one, the voter chooses which candidate they do NOT want to see elected. From what I hear – and I’ve make it a point to listen carefully and not express an opinion (mainly because I don’t really have one), there are infinitely more people who fear a Trump presidency or loathe another four (probably eight) more years of what’s been going on (no matter how good the president is telling everybody things currently are).

I’ve never seen staunch party members at such odds with their candidate. Obviously, from the absence of so many influential party members at the Republican National Convention, it’s a natural assumption that there is unrest in that party. Similarly, not counting people who are prone to have an upbeat view of life (the number of whom are rapidly dwindling), the people who usually count themselves as Democrats aren’t as vocal for the former Secretary of State as they are appalled by Trump. Their comments are less and less about the virtues of Hillary Clinton than they are vitriolic toward the Republican nominee – possibly because there’s more of the latter than the former.

Donald Trump is seen as someone who will not only be at odds with someone who disagrees with him, but will attack that person. He says things that people wish they had the nerve to say – and gets away with it! But, in sensitive negotiations with foreign dignitaries, is that the guy you want? A guy who will call someone – who might have a finger on the red button – a derogatory, maybe even vulgar name? Or mock them for their beliefs?

Hillary Clinton is a far more polished politician than Trump. But isn’t that what the public is sick of and frustrated with? Too many politicians have been branded – and rightfully so – as lazy and entitled when it comes to performing their jobs, as well as having a propensity to lie and be immoral or unscrupulous.

While nobody can be certain of how an election like this would turn out, I’m confident that the greatest number of ballots would be the “against” version. Overwhelmingly so. I’ve lived 68 years, in nine different states and based on my observations of talking and listening to people, watching television (all outlets included), reading newspapers, magazines and, even, Facebook posts of friends (which can’t be anonymous) from all over the country, the one factor that rules is, unfortunately, hatred of a candidate.

While I truly believe many, many more people would vote against someone than for him or her, my biggest problem with this idea is . . . what do we do with the results? Maybe elect whichever candidate receives the most votes “for” or maybe elect whichever one receives the fewest “againsts.” One thing for certain, though, and that is that there is little doubt that this election has come down to one overriding question:

“Which candidate would you rather not have as your president?”

Good Intentions, Poor Results

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Every year, at the two sessions of Michael Jordan Flight School, there are stories that become camp classics. This past year, the second session of which ended last Tuesday, proved to be no different. The next few posts will deal with this year’s happenings.

The camp is made up of nine leagues, divided by age and ability. Each league has a commissioner. Basically, there are nine “camps” and each commissioner runs his camp. My league (the Big 12) was the third oldest, made up of 14-year-olds. The camp is sold out year after year but, what’s changed throughout the years, is that more and more foreign youngsters attend – especially Chinese. Of the 95 campers in our league, 29 were from China – and every one of them spoke only Mandarin.

The camp is incredibly organized but, from a communication standpoint, the previous two years left much to be desired. The Chinese group that attended (around 200) brought “interpreters” with them. However, many of them barely spoke English (apparently, their buddies told them they could get a free trip to the United States so they just wanted to know where to sign up) and none of them understood basketball, meaning if a coach told them to “hedge” on a screen, they’d translate it as a hedge – like a bush – and nobody had any idea what was going on.

I called Pete Vaz, a coaching friend I met about 15 years ago at MJFS when he coached at camp. Pete worked at Mission San Jose High School in the Bay Area, a school that is rated the sixth best academic high school in California and the 76th in the nation – outstanding numbers considering it’s a public school. It has a high concentration of Chinese Americans. I begged Pete for help and he came through, finding one of his former point guards, Shou Chang (see blog from 8/14/15), who speaks fluent English and Mandarin. He saved us – and this year Shou brought four of his friends to interpret. In addition to a few summer school students from UCSB (where the camp is based) who spoke both languages, there was an interpreter for each league.

This year, not only did the Big 12 have 38 of our 91 campers who spoke Chinese as their first language, we had a group of 15 kids from Mexico – who spoke Spanish as their first language. After I would give instructions to the league, Shou would relay what I said in Mandarin, followed by one of our coaches who would speak Spanish to those ESL kids. Not surprisingly, with the attention span of 14-year-olds being what it is, a few of our youngsters didn’t end up at the location where I directed them to be.

Not to be discouraged, I went into motivational speaker mode. For several years at the end of last century and the beginning of this one, I was a member of the National Speakers Association. Companies and groups would pay me to deliver a positive, inspiring message to their employees and members. I appealed to the English-speaking kids’ empathy, asking them how they would feel if they were in a foreign country where only a smattering of people spoke English. If they were lost – and had no idea where they were – wouldn’t it be nice if someone from the host country “adopted” them, making sure they got to the proper place? “You don’t have to eat with them, hang around with them, text or “friend” them on Facebook – just latch onto them and make sure they get from where we are to where we’re going. Then, go back to your friends and they’ll go back to theirs.” I gave as rousing a speech as I could muster, certain they would take my message to heart. As a group, the American kids promised me they’d follow my instructions.

Then – at the very next roll call – we lost a Chinese kid.

During the second session, with 99% of the league composed of new campers, we made some tactical changes – and didn’t lose a single camper – which shows we learned from our mistakes. Everyone knows:

“It’s not how you start but how you finish.”