TESTING ...THE RULES

Category: 2012
Published: Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Here is a story about a young man being recruited to play college football. He was scheduled to take a test in his regularly scheduled class when a college recruiter showed up at his school. He wanted the student to ask his proctor if he could take the test later. The proctor said no. The Varsity football coach then came down to the room and started negotiating with the proctor on behalf of the college recruiter and of course the student athlete. The proctor agreed to let the young man leave for twenty minutes, but he had to come back to the class and take the test. There was some grumbling when the young man left by others in the class. However when he came back to take the test, and had to stay after class to finish in the same amount of time allotted the other students, the grumbling stopped.
What went on there? First, the college coach was sending the wrong message to the boy and his ego. He told him he was above the rules. Did he not realize that boy would expect the same treatment when he got to college.
The varsity coach, influenced by the college coach sent a message to his players that he believed in entitlement. It was acceptable, and actually kind of cool to wield this special power. However in my twenty one years at the U of R I never went to a high school and got a student athlete out of class to talk to him about our college. As A High School coach I never allowed this.If you wanted to talk to my players you could do so after practice, after a game, or after school. Please understand this goes on all over the country. It is an accepted practice. Not to me though. I stopped the Tsunami.
This was all explained to the young man.It was wrong for the college coach to show up unannounced. It was wrong for the player to ask the proctor to let him take the test later in the day. It was wrong for the proctor to let the student leave class for twenty minutes to go talk to a coach. It was wrong for the coach to come to the classroom and negotiate. The student was being  sent a message through modeling that he did not have to follow the rules.
 He did not attend college at that school, or any four year college, that fall.

SECOND STRING: FIRST CLASS

Category: 2012
Published: Tuesday, 10 April 2012
SECOND STRING FIRST CLASS
            I was doing television broadcasting for a local high school basketball game at the varsity level. I enjoy doing play by play and adding a different perspective to the broadcast that includes recognizing on the air academic excellence and sportsmanship.What should have turned into a fascinating game between two rivals eventually eroded into a blowout in front of  a sold out gymnasium.
         Two cross town rivals going at it in front of a packed house. The atmosphere was electric even before the Junior Varsity game was over. High school games in our area consist of four eight minute quarters. The varsity game started out being competitive. Both teams played hard and the score was reflected in the players willingness to play at a high level of skill, unselfishly and with purpose.       However during the second quarter and the start of the second half one steam started to pull away on the scoreboard. The score  became lopsided  before the third quarter was finished.
           This is a broadcaster’s worst nightmare before the third quarter was over. However both these coaches started substituting early in the fourth quarter and with six minutes to go in the game they emptied their benches and put in all their players.
         What happened next was outstanding. Fans from both teams had favorite players, probably classmates and underdogs to cheer for, playing now. The cheering got louder and the play got better. Players from both teams spurred on by the cheers of the crowd, and of course playing time, real playing time, started to shoot and pass with a skill set and desire that was most impressive.It was on par with what had transpired earlier in the game.  They were all very unselfish. No one player on either team tried to pad their stats by shooting too much or hogging the ball. Players hustled and dove for balls, one even throwing his body on the floor to save a ball from going out of bounds. The crowd went wild. Cheering for all the kids and all the plays  filled the gym with a feeling of community, teamwork, and appreciation. Their teammates on the bench would stand and cheer for good plays.The last six minutes of the game became the most entertaining part of the contest. The hustle, desire, teamwork and sportsmanship were on par with other excellent games I had broadcast.

       You see it's not always the most talented players who should be playing. On all teams there should be inter team competition. I wonder how much more spirited the next practice was when those two teams hit the gym the next day. What could have been a boring end to a high school basketball game turned into a life lesson for all those who chose to see it. A game that could have gotten out of control, as many blowouts do getting chippy, selfish, and frustrating, did not happen this time in this game. It was a joy to watch.   The coaches and players stopped the Tsunami.

THE DECK IS STACKED THE GAME IS RIGGED

Category: 2012
Published: Tuesday, 03 April 2012
Here is an example of how “elite” youth sports teams actually mislead parents, coaches, and players into believing that they are being competitive at a high level at an early age. What is in fact happening is that the outcome (players leaving a sport) is predetermined to eliminate potentially good athletes. The deck is stacked to allow higher developed children more playing time at the expense of other children who start out more slowly, or whose families cannot afford to pay the high price of youth sports participation.
Competition can be enhanced for those who need more game experience and time to reach their potential. They can be given equal playing time pre-puberty to give them time to grow and develop without the pressure of having to win, win, win. Rigged competition becomes prevalent for the players whose families can afford to pay, instead of players playing against the best players in a completely free and open competition.
            Development of a player to perform to the best of his or her ability is stunted because the competition is lessened through the narrowing of the pool of possibly better opponents when the pay for play teams eliminate those children whose families cannot afford to pay for “elite” travel teams.
            You only get better playing against better competition. Winning has become a tainted goal filled with false results. As a way of keeping the inner circle intact, those who are more skilled early on in life are assured to have a better chance at success because they pay for their play. But it does not work that way in reality. It’s a journey, and athletes develop at different times in their lives and at different levels of mental and physical development.
            In this case there is a track record proving that there is no correlation between performance in youth sports pre-puberty and future results as to the excellence an athlete can attain later in life. Yes, there are very good players at an early age, but the reality is that they are very few and far between, and they do not necessarily continue to grow physically and develop.
            Let’s look at competition. If we are truly competitive, don’t we want to see who the best is? Do we want to find who is best from a very small sample of players?  Can we find that out at such an early age? All the data from scientists, researchers, doctors, and most college coaches says, most emphatically, no. By definition, the fewer kids we have playing, the less competitive it is to find out who is the best for that age group. Since many youth sports teams are trying to win at an early age, they weed out the lesser player early on and give a false advantage to a player that may have more skills early on in life.
            What is important here is that the children get a chance to play. The journey of youth sports before puberty should be strictly about fun and participation. Kids need to learn if they want to play. They need to see other kids play, and learn both good and bad about competition. Players need to know that if they do well or struggle that, at an early age (pre-puberty), they will be given repeated chances to succeed. Perseverance works both ways, for the coach as well as the players.
            This short-sighted approach leads to the more skilled player getting more playing time, and it puts the late-developing player at a disadvantage because they cannot develop while sitting on the bench watching others play.
            A local high school rivalry is the impetus for my next hypothesis. The opposing varsity team won their game by a substantial score. The modified team from that school got clobbered by the same school that they thrashed at the varsity level. This is another example of how puberty changes everything. It is very doubtful that the winning modified team’s success will carry over to the varsity level, because many of the players won’t still be playing that sport. It hasn’t, not for the last three years in this rivalry.
 Let’s compare these two games to taking a test in school. We will say that our baseline for academic performance is at ninety percent correct, meaning that this is the norm we want for execution. If we take a test of one hundred questions and we get five of the first ten wrong, can’t we still get a ninety percent on the test by answering eighty five of the last ninety questions correctly? Can a student get a ninety percent on the test after only answering the first ten questions? Absolutely not. He has to take the whole test.
Does the student/player get a pass on this test because he aced the last test? NO. Can another student raise his grade point average up by working harder and taking another test? YES! Does the teacher teach to ninety percent of the students, or to the whole class?
Here is one other coach’s thoughts about this event and how it relates to the children playing youth sports; “Last night, I had yet another opportunity to coach young men at a sporting event. The age group was middle school (seventh and eighth grade), the sport was football, and our opponent was our rival. What did I care about? I cared about our young men doing their best and representing their school for forty eight minutes. The result was that all forty seven members of our team played for their school against their rival in a game that hopefully resulted in a lifelong memory.
"What about the game? It is indeed only a game. Unfortunately for our opponent, they were not very strong this year, so we were able to get some quality playing time for all of our players. I feel my job as a modified football coach is to generate enthusiasm for the sport and game I coach until puberty takes their physical development to its natural conclusion.
 
We could have scored more than fifty points in the game, but to what end? I strongly believe that you need to love the game you coach, respect your opponent, and then beat them in the contest. Winning by fifty points does nothing but disrespect your opponent. The real question is, does this same philosophy exist within your own organization or among your own peer coaches across the nation? Our rival at the varsity level could have beat our varsity team by over fifty points but elected to forego the painful, punishing result in lieu of maximizing his teams' experience on the field by playing all of his players. The big picture result? Year after year their program produces state champion caliber competitive teams.” J.F.

my daughter Molly Part 3

Category: 2012
Published: Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Molly Stanley
 
I've always considered myself to be more of a country girl at heart.
The city, with it's loud noises and constant disquiet, has never compelled me to stay.

People say we each have two homes.
One is your actual home, the one where you were born and raised.
The other is your spiritual home, the birthplace of your soul.
My actual home is here in the city of Rochester, barely a mile from where we are now.
I have lived in that house my whole life, and I can't imagine living anywhere else.
But my spiritual home? The Adirondacks.

My mother was raised there, and that is where most of her family currently lives.
It was here that I learned how to find my inner quiet.
This is the place that inspired me to become an observer, and learn about my surroundings.
This is the place that taught me how to listen, really listen, and learn the language of nature and her inhabitants.
It was here that I found my inner peace, and when I leave, I bring it with me.

People often wonder why I am so quiet, why I don't prefer to talk.
If you wanted to know what nature was saying, wouldn't you?
If you wanted to know what goes on with the people most important to you, your classmates and sisters, wouldn't you?

My family and I go to the Adirondacks usually twice a year, and every year, the sight of those majestic mountains takes my breath away.
The gentle flowing and bubbling of the Cedar River behind my grandmother's house is my lullaby.
The sigh of the wind as it whispers through the trees is my blanket, wrapping me up in its embrace, holding me gently.
The peace the mountains bring me is cherished, incalculable, incomparable, priceless.

Home is where the heart is.
If you are looking for my heart, I left it in the Adirondacks.

My daughter Molly Part 2

Category: 2012
Published: Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Molly Stanley
 
Inventory of Being
 
I am full of contradictions
I am made up of wishes and truths, sadness and joy
Anger and calm, kindness and cynicism
Fire and ice, dark and light
Hopes and despairs
 
I know what I like and don’t like
I love my family and friends, animals and imagination
I dislike the cold and carbonated drinks
I love music and dancing, warmth and laughter
I dislike math homework and early mornings
 
I know what I believe in, and I stand strong behind those beliefs
I believe being different doesn’t make you a lesser human being
I believe all things are entitled to life
I believe corruption and injustice are unacceptable
 
I know who I am
I am a beloved daughter, sister, and friend
Granddaughter, Goddaughter, and fairy Godmother
I am a classmate, teammate, and trusted leader
I am an advisor, a joker, and the quiet one
 
I love watching people with a passion for life.
 
I hope to be the best wife, mother, and grandmother I can be
I want to make my family proud to call me one of theirs
I wish common sense would make a comeback.
 
I want the best in life for my friends, family, and classmates.
I hope all their dreams come true
I wish them never to be lonely.
 
I want them to know in all things they are loved
I hope they look in the mirror and see what I see
I wish them a lifetime of laughter, love, family, and health.
 
 
 
I want them to know as much joy as their lives will hold
I hope they find someone who loves them exactly as they are
I wish them contentment through all their days
 
What do I want?
I want to be in the wings, watching it all unfold.
Seeing the light of joy and love shining in their eyes
Smiling, the moment they see what I’ve always seen:
They are beautiful, unique, role models the world is privileged to have
 
Who I am is not just me
I am part of a whole, a piece of a puzzle
 
You asked me who I am.
I am the product of years of love and joy and great family.
I am blessed to be surrounded by over 140 sisters
I am gifted with a passion for animals.
I am stubborn, loyal, and gentle
 
I am music
Inside of me flows the rhythms of life
Each beat of my heart, each breath I pull into my lungs
Creates the melody that is me.
 
I am independent
Asking for help is the same as admitting I can’t
But “I” shouldn’t ever be better than “we”
 
I am curious
Nature is filled with thousands of unanswered questions
My head is filled with just as many
Asking why is the key that opens the door.
 
I am living in a world of shadows.
I surround myself in darkness, allowing the shadows to swallow me.
I watch and observe, listen and learn
Unraveling the mystery of humanity.
I am Molly Evelyn Stanley.
And I am proud to be me.

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