When I set out to talk about the coverage of the NDHSAA state basketball tournament, it was to shed light on the inequality of our female athletes. It was to show that our girls deserve equal footing on whatever venture that they choose to pursue. It was to honor The Huskies, The Patriots, The Eagles, The Demons, The Rough Riders, The Mustangs, The Majettes, and The Sabers.
The reality is that these athletes are the leaders of their community. These athletes have little girls who will one day pick up a basketball because of them, which is a beautiful thing that helps grow the sport. Why would anyone want to stand in the way of that?
But I feel as though the focus has shifted a little, and I don’t want to lose focus of the seminal point here.
Whatever happens for the boys’ tournament, happens to the girls’ tournament. Equality.
– If the boys are televised, then girls should be as well.
– If the boys have a chance at the main court one year, then the girls should have a chance at the main court the following year.
– It is about equality, pure and simple.
I’ve had so many awesome conversations this past weekend. I’ve spoken to Dom Izzo, I’ve spoken to the NDHSAA Board of Directors, I’ve spoken to countless members of the basketball community and media. The crazy thing there are things we can all agree on:
– When the media rights contract was signed 4-5 years ago, streaming was not a consideration, it was a relatively new technology.
– The contract is for coverage of the girls’ and boys’ semifinal and final rounds of the tournament (both to be covered equally). WDAY has exclusive rights to the entire tournament, so any additional coverage by WDAY goes above and beyond the contract.
I’m order for WDAY to pay for the above and beyond service, someone has to pay for it.
– Since the new technologies are tried and tested, it is imperative that the contract is renegotiated to ensure equal coverage. I believe that happens next year.
So there’s a start, we can agree on those things, but, realistically, it is simply not good enough. We need change.
There is enough fault to go around. We can play the blame game all we want, but here are the facts:
– Shame on the parents (myself included) for accepting the status quo and not challenging companies and entities who play into these inequalities; this has been going on for a while and we know better!
– Shame on advertisers for throwing money at entities and organizations and not educating themselves on the workings of equality in production. They know better.
– Shame on the media for not asking the hard questions and uncovering the truth about what was happening. You know better.
– Shame on the NDHSAA for not protecting our female athletes, which is one of the sole purposes of your organization. You know better.
Sexist and Discriminatory. That is the only way to describe what is going on regarding forum communications and the North Dakota High School Activities Association’s State Basketball tournament. Let me provide context as I understand it: The boys’ quarterfinals are televised for free, and the girls’ quarterfinals will be streamed for a price. Do you mean to tell me that in 2022, we are still under the guise that male sports sell tickets and women sports do not? Do we still have entities looking to optimize the mighty dollar instead of furthering the sport for both males and females? We still believe that males deserve visibility and females don’t? That is a crying shame. It is bad enough that you barely report on local prep sports anymore, but it is even worse to realize that you have formulated your coverage based upon gender. It is shameful, It is disgusting, And it needs to change. Now! I am calling on every female, every parent of daughters, every true sports fan, and every human, and advertising companies. being to demand that this be changed immediately, and a statement of apology issued to all North Dakota female athletes. Shame on the Forum Communications company for perpetuating female athletes’ stereotypes and shame on the NDHSAA for not demanding better for our female athletes. Thirty-two teams qualified for the state basketball tournament; twenty-eight of the thirty-two will appear on Television and get the recognition they deserve for making it. Let’s flip the calendar to 2022.
There was a time in history when it was illegal for black people to be educated.
There was a time in history when black people could not vote or hold a political office.
Both actions were punishable by death.
But, history tells us that if you tell black people that they cannot do something, they will show you how it is done.
And that is why 2020 is such an important year for my family and me — I did both.
I have been asked why I would want to run for political office or why I would want to hold a doctoral degree. I have always been hesitant to answer the question; I didn’t think people would understand.
The reason is: I know exactly what my purpose is in life. Many people have no idea why they are on this earth, but I do. My purpose in life is to lead. How did I know this?
My ancestors told me.
I was recently shown that I am a vital part of American history. My people were from Africa; brought here for slavery in Auburn, Alabama; persevered and sought opportunity through the great migration; marched through Jim Crow; and fought for this country in the United States military. I am a product of their perseverance, diligence, sacrifice, and hard work. My ancestors told me that I am needed and that I should prepare. I was told that I would have to sacrifice personal pursuits for the greater good.
So that is what I did.
While some were on vacation, I was locked in a room typing away. While some were watching their child’s events, I was seated next to them, feverishly typing on my laptop. While some spent their weekend at their lake cabin, napping and tubing, I sat in a classroom from 10 am to 6pm, learning, debating, and sharing. I am not saying I am better than, I am saying I had my orders — this was the sacrifice I was told about; this was part of the grand plan. All the while, my wife was tirelessly and selflessly holding the fort down in my absence.
Now, I am not trying to be “the next great” anything. I only needed to lead by example. The objective is simple, beat the odds and achieve at the highest levels without excuse.
So the doctoral degree? Not for me.
The City Council Seat? Also, not for me.
These achievements are for those who look like me; those who have the same backgrounds as me; those who came before me; and hopefully, those who come by way of me. I am a vehicle for others to achieve success. If 3 to 4 people of color see me and feel that they can achieve anything, I have done my job.
So what is next? Unfortunately, my mission is not completed — no, it has just begun. And I am not sure it will ever be until I am in the ground. I still have responsibilities. It is part of being young, gifted, and black.
We have lost our way in terms of communication and social media etiquette. Far too often, I see a person post a not-so-popular opinion on social media, and a different person comes along and adds a comment to the opinion. What ensues is what I will call a cluster f—. Something like this:
“You should not think the way you do!”
“I don’t mean to offend you, but…” (Note: the person meant to offend).
“I hope that never happens to anyone in your family!” (Note: they, in fact, mean to wish shitty fortune on the person and family).
“Well, a simple Google search will show you…” (Note: Insert shitty articles passed off as research from a highly suspect author/group/firm).
“Well, it is my opinion — and if you did not want it, you shouldn’t have posted what you did!”
Here is the thing, purposeful or not, people who post on social media want some sort of reaction or dialogue from their audience. A person would be correct by saying that the author should not have posted something without expecting a negative response. But the audience member also has a responsibility — one that requires some maturity on their part. What is not appreciated is when a person comes along, reads the post, then adds their opinion with the intent of only being right and not to have a dialogue.
If this is you, guess what? Approaching information with that sort of intent does not make you right; it makes you an ass, and here is why:
You don’t have to answer. You could go on about your business and have an awesome day.
The person who created a post is most likely not going to change their mind.
You, I am assuming, are not an authority, nor are trained on researching the subject.
That means that you are entitled.
Sorry, it does.
Not only that, but you also gave up your power. A person that you may not even know got a rise out of you and caused you to react. The person got you.
“But, what if they say something offensive?”
Simple answer, keep scrolling. Physically show someone close to you the post and laugh at the dumbass comment. But keep scrolling and have a nice day.
If it is a company that says something offensive, even better — boycott the business and get others to do the same. But you don’t need to comment on their post.
I have watched long time friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, daughters, disown each other on a public platform because of a need to be right. The sad thing is, both sides were right. Dead right.
When a person is willing to give up everything, even if it comes as a detriment to their well-being to be right, they most likely will be dead right. Why? Because being right is just a subjective construct. Being right does not mean that you are fair or honest; it only means that your set of values justify your stance. It also means that each person is not willing to change their view, which is not necessarily wrong – unless you cannot coexist with someone who does not believe the same as you.
If you see something that you don’t agree with: Keep scrolling.
If you see something that offends you: Keep scrolling.
If you see something that you believe is not true: Keep scrolling.
If you have some information that you would like to share, but it does not come from a peer-reviewed article: Keep scrolling.
If you want to add some emoji, fine, but after that: Keep scrolling.
The highest form of discipline is self-restraint. It is wise to practice that.
Arguing with a fool only proves there are two.
*I know there will be some who will not agree with this post, and that is okay. But guess what? I don’t give a shit, so do yourself a favor and keep scrolling.
I was reading the book, Every Moment Matters by John O’ Sullivan when I came across this passage:
Far too many coaches think skill is the aggregation of various techniques that are then applied in a linear fashion back into the competition. That fundamentally misunderstands the fact that skill is something that requires context to develop. You cannot separate it from context. You need problems to be solved in order to develop skill. In a practice with no game-like activities, with no defenders or direction to force decision-making, there may be technical development, but there is very little skill development. And without skill development, there is no transfer.
As I read this passage, I thought about the implications it had on my parenting (which is weird, because I chose this book so that it could inform my coaching).
I am a father. I am not so much a helicopter father, but I am an asshole parent. I am that guy who will not let his kids do “whatever the other kids are doing.” I am that guy who creates hard-line expectations for his children that have consequences if not met. I am the guy whose children are the last in the class to have the latest technology/social media platform. I am their father; it is my duty to protect them. To say that I do not enjoy wearing that badge would be an outright lie; I wear it as a badge of honor.
Until I realize that there is a fine line between protection and shielding.
The book continues,
Transfer is the ability of a learner to successfully apply the behaviors, knowledge, and skills acquired in a practice environment to the competition. If training environment does not mimic those game conditions or if it poses decisions and scenarios that are no encountered in a game, then transfer does not occur.
In the parenting realm, this means that if I am applying discipline to my children for them to be able to transfer lessons into real-life situations, that is a pat on the back for me. But, if I am applying discipline that shields them from transferring lessons into real-life situations, then shame on me. I would be blocking the side of the discipline that promotes learning.
The hope is for my children to find themselves in a situation and mentally go through this checklist before making a decision:
Perceive the situation.
Conceive of possible solutions.
Decide on the best solution.
Deceive their opponent, if necessary.
Technically execute their best solution.
Asses their choice and prepare for the next day.
Is there a right or wrong answer when it comes to handling situations, no. There are only positive and negative consequences based on their decisions and actions. Hopefully, when they are conflicted, my likeness can pop on their shoulder and point them in the right direction.
For the past 12 years, I have brought you the ins and outs of my entire family, Mostly the times when I stick my foot in my mouth. I am sure you all enjoy typing “Heather is a Saint” in the comments.
My household has come to a milestone. A benchmark.
My first-born is a teenager…ish.
I am not ready for this bullshit.
For the past 12 years, I would see something funny, dumb, or light-hearted, and quickly publish it for the world to share.
And, whether you want to admit it or not, that shit is funny.
After a while, she would become perturbed.
“Dad! Really! Do you really have to take pictures of everything?”
“Does it have to go to social media?”
*Marches out of the room without swinging arms in a pre-teenagerly way.
(Just to dig one in) “I legally own your likeness until 16!”
I have come to the conclusion that when she becomes a teenager, she is to own her likeness. Yes, really I own it, but she should have a say in how she is represented. I have to accept the fact that she is no longer a little girl and she should be able to choose the way that people interpret her actions. She has a personality, and (God help us) it is damn similar to mine.
Next, will come the lesson on digital citizenship and etiquette.
Before I could even get this first part posted comes the other question:
Why can I not get a (insert social media here)?
I am usually the “because you are too young now shut up and go away” parent. But this time I decided to be the “transformational leader”.
I should have stuck with what I knew.
Do you know how hard it is to explain digital marketing and business ownership to a pre-teen? It is full of, “So, what,” and, “I know that,” and, “All of my friends have it.” Seriously, let’s just forget the chapter about owning your own likeness, digital theft, and copyright.
“Do I really need to know all of this if all I want to do is have fun?”
Fuck. Yes. Little girl.
First of all, the world is a cruel place with shitty people looking to make a buck anywhere they can get it. And second, what is the first thing a potential employer or recruiter does before contacting you about a position?
They Google your name. That’s right, you may not get a call back at 20 because of the shit you did at 13 and thought it was funny. So please forgive the long-winded, passionate overprotective speech that your dear, caring father is giving you.
…and spare me the eye roll please.
Am I going to give you your own social media, yes — prohibition in the digital age will work just as well as prohibition in the 1940’s. But you are going to learn the rules, you are going to give me the password to your accounts, and you are going to get used to constantly looking over your back to spot me on my helicopter.
Previously, I had written about my pet-peeve of complaining about a situation without having a call to action. I discussed how the mentality that “somebody should really do something about that” is far too commonplace in our society. Individuals should get off of their butts and do something, rather than talking about what others should do.
It seems that I have arrived at one of those instances where I need to put my money where my mouth is. It is time for me to take the next step in being involved in my growing community. It is time for me to take the reigns and become a leader that envokes change and accepts constructive criticism.
It is time for me to run for public office.
No, I am not running for Mayor.
But I am going to run for a position on the City Council.
Never in a million years did I think I was going to run for office. However, as the years have gone by (and my house became more crowded), I realized that a person has to get involved in the community to improve it. So, I have worked to build our community and make an impact. But I want to make a more significant difference. A seat on the City Council can do that.
Running for office is not about me. This is about having the ability to make a powerful difference for the good of the community.
I want to improve the overall economic health of the community.
I want to be a person who actively listens to the community and votes with their considerations.
I want to create opportunities for our children to grow up in a community that gave them every opportunity to become successful citizens.
We live in a wonderful city. I want to help make it even better.
So, there I am. Sitting alone in the living room when an argument breaks out between my two daughters. My dear, bold, wife has informed them that their room is a pigsty, and she would like it clean. NOW.
“These are all her clothes!”
“These are all of her books!”
“That is her side of the room!”
All of this culminates in:
“If I had my own room, it would be spotless!”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that bullshit for a minute. Instead of worrying about one room, I will now have to worry about two separate bedrooms, two separate attitudes, and two separate sets of excuses. Ultimately, this will result in too many glasses of wine at night.
But, being that both of my daughters are as tall as I am, and have appetites the size of two high school middle linebackers; they should probably get the chance to prove the inevitable, right?
Here is my point:
Nothing is my own.
My child is taking over my beloved office, and she has requested that I clear the walls of all pictures, relics, and memories (probably so that she can put up posters of the latest boy band — heaven forbid).
I sit down after a hard days’ work with a plate of food. All of a sudden, I am the most famous person in the house. “What’s that?” “Can I have some?” “I am hungry.”
(Or, if you are my youngest, you just grab whatever you want to any person’s plate).
I want to go to the gym, but my child needs me to take them sledding/to the park/ to an event/ to get something for school/ to get something from school/etc. Me time? What me time? What the hell is that?
Just when you think that you are ready to call it a day, you hear a cough, a gag, and…puke. Now it is a quick change of bed and bath time at 2 in the morning. Work is going to go so well tomorrow morning.
Imagine. You finally get enough money squared away to replace all of the cabinetry in your kitchen. You get the work done, and when completed, you love what you see — custom cabinetry that is exactly like you envisioned it. Now imagine one of your little cherubs finding a permanent marker and playing Pablo Picasso using the cabinets as a canvas.
Back in junior high, I decided to try my hand at organized basketball. It was the sport that I grew up around. The Dream Team was big at the time, and everyone in my neighborhood of us would go to the local park for a pick-up game where we would pretend to be one of the members. In my eighth-grade year, I was excited to try out for the junior high varsity squad.
This was going to be my year!
During tryouts, I would hustle for every loose ball, grab every rebound with authority, and make every type of impossible layup that I could to impress the coach. When tryouts were over. The coach said that he would deliberate and paste a list on the locker room floor. I left out of there feeling like I conquered the world — of course I made it!
Until hours later, when I, along with another friend and teammate were summoned into the head coaches’ office:
“Well, I am going to come right out and say it, you two are at the bottom of the varsity list, so I will give you a choice. You either can choose to be on varsity squad were you may not play very much — if at all, or you can play junior varsity as an 8th grader, where you will most likely start. I will give you a day to think about it.”
Both of us looked at each other and said in unison,
“Nope. We don’t need a day, We’ll play junior varsity.”
Truthfully, we did not give a shit which team we played on, we just wanted to play basketball.
Towards the middle of the season, I started noticing a guy sitting awkwardly in the bleachers after halftime of each home game. He would sit with his back on the above bleachers with his elbows pulled up, chest level rested on them — like he was sitting in a Laz-E-Boy. He was lightly swinging a bottle of Diet Coke in one hand, his legs were crossed, and he was wearing a red and light blue jumpsuit. The expression on his face was as if he did not have a care in the world.
Who in the Hell is this joker?!
Whose dad is this?
Each home game, I would often make jokes about the awkward, guy white-haired guy who sat mid-bleacher.
Until one day, one of the varsity players overheard me.
“Dude, that is Chuck White. That is the head coach of the East Anchorage Thunderbirds!”
I will take this time to add context —
The East Anchorage Thunderbirds are a storied team coached by a legend. They literally were the “New York Yankees of Alaska” — everyone loved to hate us. We are talking about a team that not only won the basketball boys state championship almost every year but also had players going to play college ball somewhere in the country. As far as anyone in our school was concerned, making a Thunderbird roster was making it out of any kind of negative environment that you were in.
And so, I found my mission: play junior varsity this year, impress the coach with my play while I had him in the audience during the second half, and make a Thunderbird roster when I got to high school.
And, wouldn’t you know it, my sophomore year, I, along with four others made the team.
Let me be clear, there were significant benefits to making the varsity team. You received:
A practice jersey with shorts,
Travel sweats with your jersey number,
A travel jacket and pants embroidered with your name and number (the same red and blue ones that I would see him wear when in junior high), and,
Team shoes. Yup. As a sophomore, I had arrived.
What I did not realize was, making the team would be the easiest part of this journey. In the three years that I was on the squad, Coach White would continue to teach me lessons that I would carry with me for the rest of my life.
Although you are small, you can still be mighty: I have no idea what Coach saw in me when he decided to put me on varsity sophomore year. I couldn’t shoot well, my free throw percentage was garbage, and at 5’11”, I played post — where everyone else was 6’2″ and up. Years later when I asked coached why he chose me, he said, “Just because you aren’t six-foot-five does not mean you can’t play like you are six-foot-five.”
Coach them hard, love them harder: A majority of the tactics employed by coach would not be accepted by parents today. He expected a lot from you both on, and off, of the court. If you were not able to perform, keep promises, or take care of responsibilities, he did not have time for you. Being part of his team meant playing your part a system that required maximum time and effort; not everybody was cut out for that system. But if you stayed around long enough, you knew that you were part of a brotherhood – something that was bigger than you.
A measure of a man is not by how much he uses profanity: Although this is true, I do use a lot of profanity still (Sorry, Chuck). Many would watch this man become splittingly mad (seriously, splittingly). But he would never curse. He would stomp his foot or hit his chair, exclaiming, “GOD BLESS IT!” But cursing was beneath him.
Although people are not perfect. It does not mean that you cannot expect it from your athletes. He would always say. “I know we can’t be perfect all of the time, but we can darn sure work towards it.” Coach paid attention to every detail, which is why his teams would execute every offensive and defensive play with precision.
If your athletes make mistakes, it is the coach’s lack of preparation: Coach did not take too kindly to losing; we barely ever did. But he knew that when we did lose, we were not prepared physically, or mentally. So he did everything he could to help us get another victory.
The “Our Father” prayer: He was careful to never participate with us. But he knew how important prayer was. So, every game, he would give us our pre-game talk, then quickly leave so that we had our moment of prayer.
Not to give a damn what other people thought: I have never seen a person who was hated, but loved; respected, yet revered; accepted, but feared. I thought those things could not go together. But they can. And truth be told, I don’t think he gave one damn who was on what side. I watched him chew a ref out, get kicked out of a game, then joke around with the same referee 15 minutes after the game had ended. He never took it personally.
Fake Hustle. This is something that he would yell constantly. (the other thing he would do – call you by your mother’s name while your mother sat behind you, laughing).
Every tough guy has a soft spot: East High teams were known for their defensive schemes. You had to be able to interpret a crazy numbering system he had and be able to carry out any directives to perfection. This system, when done correctly, made our team one of the most feared in the state. This meant that players had to be in their top physical condition in order to keep up with these demands.We ran.A lot.And after we ran, we ran some more.
But there was a way out of running — his daughter showing up to practice. We had finally found his kryptonite. She was the same age as I and would often go to the practices waiting for her father. When she did, he got a big smile on his face and eased up on the crushers. During classes, we would often beg her to show up at the end — before conditioning, of course.
It doesn’t matter if the other team knows your plays, winning is about execution: Anyone who has played for or against a Coach White team knows the plays 2 High (or 4 High), 4 Low, Kentucky, Open and Basic (there were a few others, but it really didn’t deviate from there). So why did they work? How was he so successful? Because there was a lot of autonomy in those plays. There was always an option B, C, and D if A did not work. He played chess while the opposing coach played checkers.
I could go on and on with the lessons both big and small that I learned from Coach White. But, I was not the only athlete that had the privilege to be under his care. Upon his passing, hundreds of men gave testimony to his caring, nurturing, and tough-as-nails discipline. His 914 wins, 18 state titles, and 81 percent winning average pails in comparison to the impact that he left on so many young men. He gave 45 years of coaching and mentorship to a community that so desperately needed it; his wife gave a piece of her husband and gained many sons; his daughter and son gave a piece of their father and gained many brothers. Learning of his death was a sad day for many. A pivotal figure in our lives went to heaven. What a gift he gave us all. Rest in paradise, Coach. We love you.
Junior high sucks so far. First of all, why do the hallways of the school smell like teen spirit, angst, armpit, elbows and toes, and Axe? Every time I walk into a junior high school, I wonder how the custodians are going to clear the building of that smell. Do they open all of the doors and windows to the school for an hour before school starts and for an hour after school ends?
Nope. That odor is in the paint. Yup, definitely in the paint.
Like seriously, what is going on here?! First of all, my loving, innocent child is now doing everything to not noticeably be my child.
She rolls her eyes at me;
she sucks her teeth at me;
she is constantly mumbling under her breath after I tell her to do the smallest task;
and, she has become a parenting guru — often stating how other parents “do not treat their children this way.”
This child is literally walking around my house as if I don’t pay for shit – like I am not her lifeline – like I am only her landlord, and she is my tenant. She barely looks up at her phone when discussing anything with us.
Yes, the phone: The social connection with the virtual outside world that is ironically keeping her from physically connecting with the actual outside world. It is like pulling teeth to get her to part with that thing.
When an actual person talks to her, like, I don’t know, her mother and me; she stays fixated on the phone, smiling. The only time I get a response is when she looks up at me — usually with a scowl.
Screw it, she should move out. That will show her.
Shit. That is illegal.
Wait. Is it?
The chores are always half-assed completed. For example:
“Hey, can you put this in the garbage in the kitchen for me?”
(looks up from her phone, the one I pay for, sucks teeth) “Fine. Whatever.”
Where do I find that item that was supposed to be in the garbage? Oh look, it is on the damn counter!
Next to the garbage can.
She’s trying to kill me.
Yup, that’s it. She is trying to kill me. She wants my blood pressure to go through the roof. She is trying to make me have a cardiac arrest. That has to be it – because there is no viable reason why she would be doing this to me, right?
There is a positive. My child is sweet to me when she wants money. Yup, money is definitely a motivator. I can get her to do a lot of chores for a dollar.
But she wants a $10 bill? Oh, hell, no!
Ope, there we go. I am the biggest asshole in the world again. I can hear her saying it under her breath.
And really? The entire world? All the people in this world, and I am the biggest asshole?
On second thought, maybe she is right, but that is not the point.
Holy shit, we are not even halfway through the year!