With all the dissension, tension and aggression running rampant in the US, it is nice to find a story that makes you smile.

Enter the Little League World Series starring the Jackie Robinson West team, the sluggers from Nevada and the Philly team led by female phenom, Mo’Ne Davis.

I first heard of Davis when her team ran over Delaware to clinch their spot to head to the Little League World Series. I heard she was the real deal, a force to be reckoned with, a star in the making. And then it happened. Davis became the first girl to pitch a shut out in the Little League World Series. Shut yo’ mouth and the front door!! Instant classic and star. And with that, the Little League World Series was thrust into a spotlight that I have never seen it glowing in. Everywhere I turn, I see Mo’ne Davis’ name. On Twitter. On Facebook. On Instagram. On ESPN. On CNN. And now on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the first little leaguer to ever get the honor. Davis is an inspiration not just for girls but for people all across the world and country who go against the grain and do not conform to what the world says about them. I am willing to bet there have been many people who have come along and told Davis she should play softball instead of baseball. You know, a girls sport. I commend her for being true to who she is and shattering myths and stereotypes. You go girl!!!

 

{Source: Google Images} #ThrowLikeAGirl

{Source: Google Images}
#ThrowLikeAGirl

 

Then we have those sluggers from Nevada. Those boys can hit!!! As I sat and watched their game against Jackie Robinson West on Sunday, I was captured by their composure. They never seemed to get caught up in the fact that the game was getting out of hand. These young men were putting the ball out the park almost every other at-bat. Four runs in the first, one in the second, three in the third and FIVE in the fourth to deny Jackie Robinson West a chance to catch up after four innings of play. Last night against Davis and her Taney Dragons, it was more of the same. A sixth inning rally which saw Nevada drive in five runs led them straight into the US championship game on Saturday where they will meet either Taney or Jackie Robinson West for the title. Oh, and these boys play some stingy defense! I am still shaking my head at the right outfielder snatching runs from the jaws of Taney after laying out to catch a line drive to the outfield(ala Willie Mays) to prevent them putting runs on the board. You go boys!!!

West

 

Then we have the Jackie Robinson West team straight out of Chicago. With all the violence in taking place in Chicago it is nice to see something positive happening there. An all black Little League team. There has not been one in the Little League World Series in over 30 years. Tonight, Jackie Robinson West will be playing tonight for a chance to play in the US Little League World Series Championship game. That is something to smile about. For many reasons and I will let you decide on your own which reason makes you smile. The joy that spreads across these boys faces and the way their city is rallying behind them is enough to make me smile. I can only hope that the unity the city is experiencing now can spill over for weeks to come. You go boys!!!

JRW

 

If you have not been watching the series, you are missing out. Seeing out youth truly enjoying the game they love while offering up numerous examples of good sportsmanship just makes my heart leap for joy. For all the bad things we hear about our youth, these young ones show us that there is still hope for this generation. May the best boys and/or girl win!!!

 

Gametime tonight: 7:30. Taney Dragons vs. Jackie Robinson West

 

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

I have NEVER been afraid of the police.

Sure, the names that made national headlines are etched into my brain like lyrics to my favorite song: Sean Bell. Oscar Grant. Ronald Madison. James Brisette. Eric Gardner. Then there are the ones who did not make headlines continuously on CNN, MSNBC or FOX: Steven Eugene Washington. Stephon Watts. Remarley Graham. Manuel Loggins, Jr. Rekia Boyd. Kimani Gray. Kendrec McDade. Timothy Russell. Malissa Williams. Orlando Barlow. Wendell Allen. Alonzo Ashley. Aaron Campbell. All black, mostly teenagers or young men in their early 20s. All killed by cops, mostly white. All unarmed.

Oh and let’s not forget Rodney King.

I have NEVER been afraid of the police.

Until NOW.

I am afraid for my 20-year-old cousin. I am afraid for his friends. I am afraid for my nephews. I am afraid for my friends. I am afraid for their children. I am afraid for all young boys and men who have to check the Black/African-American box when identifying themselves on documents.

I have NEVER been afraid of the police.

Until NOW.

In my lifetime, I have met a lot of great police officers. I have met police officers who willingly do welfare checks. I have met police officers who stop and talk to kids on the streets about grades and being good citizens in their communities. I have met police officers who help chase down animals who have escaped from their homes. I have met police officers who are more than willing to do whatever is necessary to keep the peace, without using excessive force. I have met police officers who have wept openly over a fallen comrade as well as strangers in the community. I have met police officers who epitomize what it means to be a police officer: to protect and serve the community. In 2003, I met a police officer whom I trust with my life. Over the years he has proven to be consistent, reliable, dependable, honest and loyal.

I have NEVER been afraid of the police.

Until NOW.

I believe there is more good in the world than bad. I believe there are more good cops in the world than there are bad ones. I believe most cops take the oath of honor with the intentions of protecting and serving those in their community. I know good police officers in my hometown who I see diligently working to protect our streets. Personally, I have never had a bad experience with a police officer.

I have NEVER been afraid to trust the police. I have NEVER been afraid of the police.

Until NOW.

In February 1999, the story disturbed me. Amadou Diallo, an unarmed black man, was shot 19 times by four police officers who fired off 41 rounds. My 17-year-old mind sought understanding. As a news junkie, I thought I could find it there. I was wrong. As a newspaper junkie, I thought I could find it there. I was wrong. As my mother’s only child, I thought I could turn to her and find what I was seeking. I was wrong. It then dawned on me. There was no understanding. It would never make sense. It was senseless and yet at no point in time did this act of violence change my view of  the police. I was not afraid of them.

Until NOW.

What happened to Michael Brown was disgusting. Hateful. Sickening. Barbaric. Cruel. Heinous. Yeah, we do not have all the “facts” as of now but we know enough. We know that a young UNARMED black man was gunned down like a wild animal in the woods. Only his forest was the middle of the road in an apartment complex and his hunters put their hand on a Bible and swore to protect him.

I have NEVER been afraid of the police.

Until NOW.

I see it on social media all the time. Friends of mine, who are black, sharing the warnings they have been given over the years by their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, etc. about how to handle contact with the police. They have been told to do nothing that would warrant the police having to restrain them, apprehend them or confront them. My friends, in turn, have passed these messages along to their sons. The warning flashes like emergency lights: police officers cannot be trusted. I would often chime in with my thoughts that were often filled with a defense of police officers because I believe the majority are not bad.

I have NEVER been afraid of the police.

Until NOW.

As a devout Christian, I cringe when I type those words. I have never been afraid of anything other than snakes. Oddly enough, that is what many equate police officers to be. The more I write the more I realize that I am not necessarily afraid of the police but more so afraid of the power they have. Of all the names mentioned in the beginning, police officers were only held accountable in two of the murders. This accountability included actual jail time that amounted to a little over five years. FIVE YEARS. I am afraid of the fact that there are police officers out here who without hesitation will open fire on young black men like it is duck season. I am afraid that there are police officers who willingly take this course of action because they know it is highly unlikely that they will have to pay for the crime. I am afraid that there are police departments, like the one in St. Louis County, MO, who treat peaceful, protesting citizens like public enemy number one.

I have NEVER been afraid of the power of the police.

Until NOW.

Even as my words change, the thought still upsets me. The words perpetuate a stereotype. In my hometown, we have never had an incident even remotely similar to what we have seen take place in Ferguson, MO and I am positive I have hundreds of friends that can say the same about their hometowns. Being afraid of their power is no different from a white person being afraid of all young black men because of what they see on tv. It is no different from a black person thinking all white people are racist. It is no different from Americans thinking all Latinos are in the country illegally. These are generalizations and they are ones that are proven everyday to not be true.

I have NEVER been afraid of the power of the police.

Until NOW.

As much as I want to believe a situation like this will not happen close to home, sadly there is no guarantee. As I stated before, I am a Christian. My defense against my friends in the past when they expressed their feelings about being Black in America was that I trust GOD. I refuse to worry and stress about what ifs. HE is my protector, provider and shield. If I have to worry daily about who and what is out and about then I might as well stay inside. I cannot live a life of fear. That is not how I was designed.

I have NEVER been afraid of the power of the police.

Until NOW.

The reality is that while I believe most police officers have good hearts and would not shoot an unarmed young black man, I do not know which police officers fall into this category. The officers I know do but what about the officer that passes me on Interstate 85? What about the officer I encounter at a football game? What about the officer that is passing through town? What about the officer that is off duty and is shopping at the mall? What about the plain clothes officer who is patrolling the streets blending in with civilians? What about the officer that is called to quiet a disturbance? How do I know these officers do not belong to the same trigger happy tribe that we have seen rear its ugly head from coast to coast?

The fact is, I do not know. And that is unsettling. I have NEVER had these types of thoughts running through my head. I have NEVER been this concerned about every day encounters with police officers. I have NEVER prayed so hard for the hearts of police officers all across the country.

I never needed to.

Until NOW.

 

No Justice, No Peace. #RIPMikeBrown {Source: Michael Skolnik Twitter}

No Justice, No Peace. #RIPMikeBrown
{Source: Michael Skolnik Twitter}

No need for an introduction paragraph. Let me get straight to the point.

I debated for a while if I would address this Stephen A. Smith controversy. As a communication major, the word implication urks me to my core. To use the word implication brings in to the conversation that you interpreted my words a certain way whether that is what I meant or not.

We saw it happen last week with Coach Tony Dungy. His statement regarding the drafting of Michael Sam was very clear. If he was still coaching and had the opportunity to draft him, he would have chosen not to because he would not have wanted the distractions that came along with drafting Sam. Somehow, this implied that he would not draft him because of his sexuality. Somehow, this implied that Dungy hated Sam because of his sexuality. Somehow, this implied that Dungy was a Bible thumping Christian who hated people who do not live according to his beliefs.

Seriously? Assumptions were made without research being done. Assumptions were made by people based off what they saw on social media. Assumptions were made simply based off Dungy’s religious beliefs. There were numerous discussions I shut down by pointing out this one simple fact: what Dungy said lined up with his philosophy that he used for years while coaching in the NFL-minimize distractions. Think about it. When he was coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, how many times did you hear of negative happenings in their camp? When Dungy was coach of the Indianapolis Colts, how many times did you hear of negative happenings in their camp? Exactly.

People are quick to twist your words whether you pretzeled them or not.

Back to Smith. I have been a follower of Smith’s work for years. I have always loved his passion for sports and his unique views when addressing certain topics. When I returned home Monday, I was surprised to learn that he was in “hot water” because he “alluded” to the fact that women can provoke men to be abusive while discussing the two game suspension of Ray Rice(who was charged with assault on his then fiance earlier this year). My first reaction was um ok. What did he say wrong? If that is all he said, then what is the issue. However, I knew what the issue was. I have been engulfed in this world of communication long enough to know where this was headed. Unfortunately, I knew it was towards a place that throws up another barrier when it comes to addressing issues that are plaguing our country.

This morning I watched the clip of Smith’s original diatribe on Friday. I also watched his apology that he issued on Monday and I have concluded that what is being lost in this country right now is the right to opinion. Mainly, the right to have an opinion that differs from what is “politically correct” at the moment. Everyone in this country is entitled to their opinion. Everyone in this country is technically protected by the First Amendment guaranteeing them free speech. With that being acknowledged, I acknowledge the fact that there are some things that are unacceptable when it comes to what comes out of ones mouth. However, you are still entitled to your opinion.

What Smith offered up was just that, an opinion. It was not the one that you have probably heard spewed all over the media though. Not once did Smith say that it was ok for a man to hit a woman. Not once did Smith say that a woman deserves to be hit by a man. Not once did Smith insinuate that domestic violence is ok. In fact, he REPEATEDLY reiterated that domestic violence is NEVER ok.

What Smith did was open the door to discuss what has increasingly become an issue that is rarely addressed. Now before you tangle my words, let me be clear. Domestic violence is NEVER ok. NEVER. Let’s break this down though because I understood exactly what Smith was saying. When he alluded to women provoking men, I got it. We(women) know the kind of power we have. Well, most of us do. Most of us also know that there are a lot of men out here who respect women enough to to not lay hands on us. However, there are a lot of men who were raised in environments where this was ok. In turn, they are teaching their young sons that this is an acceptable way to handle their business simply because this is all they know.

At the same time, women know how to push buttons. Been there, done that. If we have not done it ourselves, we have been witness to a woman pushing a man’s buttons so hard that it takes everything in that man to not act on instinct. I have seen women unleash verbal assaults on men that were so lethal that my defending instincts were put on alert. From what I have heard, Smith called in to question the roll Rice’s wife played in the situation. Reports have consistently stated that she was also verbally and physically abusive towards him that night. He also brought up the fact that up until this point, this was out of character for Rice.

Honestly, we can take the domestic aspect out of the conversation and just look at it from a standpoint of person to person. While growing up, there were times that I provoked my mama into reminding me who was the parent. After my lips stop stinging from the quickness of her backhand, I duly noted in my young mind that I might not want to do that again. Did I deserve it? Some will argue no. I say yes. That is the way she chose t discipline me at times. I caused that reaction from her. I provoked her. If I had just gone to my room and pitched a fit behind closed doors, like I did most times, then my lips would not still be tingling minutes later.

While the outcomes of parental discipline and domestic violence are different, the root is the same in some instances. Most people can only take so much chastising, verbal abuse and insults before they reach their boiling point. We all know that when people reach their boiling point things sometimes happen that can take the calmest person out of their character. Domestic violence is not just physical. It is mental as well as emotional. A man that abuses physically can be provoked by a woman who abuses emotionally. Is he wrong? Yes. Is she wrong? Yes.

In opening up the avenue for discussion about this topic, Smith created a firestorm. It is one that I hope will now lead to a discussion that needs to be had on a daily basis and not for just five minutes on ESPN.

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” ~Jimmy V

 

I had a full day yesterday. Jimmy V would be proud. I laugh daily. My mind is constantly bombarded with thoughts. However, I do not allow myself to be moved to tears on a daily basis. Mainly because I do not always allow myself time to really sit down and reflect on the things that would bring tears to my eyes. When you hear the word tears, most of us immediately equate them with sadness. Often, when I do cry, it is not because I am sad. Most times I cry out of thankfulness. Thankfulness for my relationship I have with GOD. Thankfulness for my family and friends. Thankfulness for the life I have been blessed to live. In a sense, every day I should be moved to tears because every day I have something to be thankful for.

As I watched my favorite awards show, the ESPYs, last night I was reminded how truly blessed I am every day I am above ground. I watched as athlete after athlete graced the stage to thank countless people who helped them achieve the success they are experiencing. However, despite all the fan voted awards that are given, the award I anticipate the most is the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.

March 4, 1993. The day Coach Jim Valvano delivered a speech that would change how many viewed life. I was nine years old and very much oblivious to the fact that one of the sports worlds most beloved personalities was fighting the battle of his life. As tumors laid rage on his body, Jimmy V issued a challenge to everyone. He only needed seven words, with three of them being repeated twice, to put many on a path to living a life of destiny: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” On that night, as Jimmy V stood giant-like and announced the formation of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, lives of people all across the country and world were being intertwined.

The late Coach Kay Yow. Kevin Everett. Don Meyer. George Karl. Anthony Robles. Eric LeGrand. Dick & Rick Hoyt. Stuart Scott. Some names are recognizable while others are not. What they all have in common is that they share the honor of being recognized with the Jimmy V Award. In 2007, I cried a river as I watched a woman whom I had the privilege to share words, hugs and gather pearls of wisdom from, Coach Yow, accept the award that beared the name of her late friend. I love hearing the stories of people who have overcome or are overcoming obstacles that stand in their way. They are no different than you and I.

Last night, as I watched Scott eloquently describe his fight against the c word, I was moved to tears. My day was complete. I watched as Scott beamed with joy over the fact that “Jack Bauer” presented him with his award. I was watched as Scott proudly talked about the support he has received from his employers and colleagues. I watched as Scott dropped the bombshell on us that he had just been released from a grueling seven day hospital stay three days earlier. Words cannot describe the amount of respect I have for this man. I watched as Scott laid out for us, firmly, his motivation for never giving up: his daughters. As he called for his daughter, Taylor, to join him on stage, I fell apart. Over 3,000 miles away I could feel the love between them as they embraced. As my eyes fell on my yellow bracelet on my arm, the same one that Scott wears regularly, I was reminded that we are all in this together.

{Source: Twitter}

{Source: Twitter}

Something was different about this year’s ESPYs. Maybe it was the fact that everyone’s Twitter handle associated with ESPN was changed to the V Foundation logo for the day. Maybe it was the fact that the ESPYs was honoring one of its most popular anchors. Or maybe its just the fact that as times goes on, I have become more in tune with what really tugs at my heart strings. From Scott’s moving speech where he told us how to beat cancer to US Veteran and hero, Jeff Sweeney, accepting the Pat Tillman Award for Service, the show was full of heroes who embody the spirit of never giving up.

As I rewound the broadcast to watch Scott’s speech again, I flashbacked to a scene that took place about seven years ago in Chapel Hill. I was invited to Late Night with Roy by a member of my extended family. In true Kassie fashion, I ventured over the enemy territory sporting North Carolina State red from almost head to toe. Scott was the host. In true Scott fashion, I was picked out of the crowd and the jokes began. After the event, I got to talk with Scott and he thanked me for participating and having fun with him. As we set to bid farewell, we posed for a picture and went our separate ways.

KSLStu

Back in the present, I once again looked down at my wrist. My yellow bracelet was shining brightly. The bracelet that links myself to Scott as well as others. My LIVESTRONG bracelet. The bracelet that has become a universal symbol for the fight against the c word. While I can not empathize with what Scott is experiencing, my life experiences unite us. My grandfather had it. My grandmother had it. Three times. My next door neighbor, who was like a grandmother to me, had it. My cousin had it. My friend Laura had it. My friend Trinita had it. My colleague Maria had it. My friend Celena just finished battling it. My friend Quincy is battling it. The names are countless. The number of people that have been effected are endless. The lives that have been changed are numerous.

Last night’s ESPYs shined a bright light on the community that surrounds those fighting the c word. As tweets scrolled across the bottom of the screen, including one from me, from people who are fighting or fight for others, I was reminded, once again, that we are all in this together. No one who battles the c word should have to battle alone. We should all fight together. We should all fight to ensure that generations to come never have to experience a life plagued by the disease. We should all fight to ensure that many more birthdays are experienced. We should all fight to ensure that each and every person who is fighting is held up by someone who is willing to fight with them and for them. We should all fight to ensure that Jimmy V’s word will forever reign…”Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Actions speak louder than words. What do yours say about you?

 

Until next time…LIVESTRONG.

 

tweet

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

Yesterday when I logged onto Twitter, I was surprised to see that Pam Oliver was trending. We were still 52 days away from kickoff(yes, I am counting down) so of course I was eager to learn why she was in the Top 10. Before I even clicked on her name, I immediately assumed her reason for trending would have something to do with her hair. I was thinking maybe she had debuted a new hairstyle that hopefully the masses were complimenting her on. Wrong. The news of the day was that Oliver, who is entering her 20th year, was being replaced on the number one FOX Broadcasting team by Erin Andrews. Not only was she being replaced but she was being demoted to the number two team for her final season on the sideline. Huh? What?

This reeks of the still prevalent sexism that plagues the sports industry. I can almost guarantee you that you will never see a man being demoted from his position during a milestone year even if it is his final year. This reeks of the need to continue to hold women to certain standards that their counterparts are not held too. You get rid of Oliver but keep Joe Buck?

Oliver has signed a deal to take a more expanded role with FOX once her work on the sideline is completed. She will work on major interviews, specials, major features and will do some work as a producer. “I can’t think of a more respected person in the entire industry and when you find out that Pam is going to be doing the interview, I don’t think you would say anyone else would do the interview better,” says FOX Sports President Eric Shanks. Interesting. She is praised for doing the best interviews but she loses her job anyway. One has to wonder. If FOX is such a staunch supporter and fan of Oliver’s work, why replace her? Oliver being the consummate professional that she is alluded to the fact that she understands that “television tends to get younger and younger where women are concerned.”

How nice of you Pam. Taking the high road. I would expect nothing less from you. However, lets address the obvious. I saw hundreds of tweets yesterday pointing out the obvious fact that Andrews is a blue eyed, blonde haired woman and Oliver is, obviously, not. Andrews is a good at what she does but at this point in her career, she is not better than Oliver. The idea in business is suppose to be that you replace an employee with someone who is just as good or better.

While there are many who want to make the replacement about race and in this case it is easy to do, I saw very few tweets yesterday where people were accepting blame for their role in Oliver being replaced. Oh, you think her replacement is just about her being a more seasoned vet and it was time for her to step aside? Riiiiight. I am willing to bet that it has very little to do with that and a lot to do with the reaction Oliver garners via social media every time she graces our television screens. Yes, FOX saw the tweets from people who tweeted about Oliver’s hair every Sunday. Yes, FOX saw the pictures you shared on social media comparing Oliver to Chewbacca. Yes, FOX realized that a lot of you were more fixated on Oliver’s hair than on her work. And yes, FOX even noticed that most of the people tearing Oliver down shared the same skin tone as her. You all should accept some blame. Stop kidding yourself if you think you are not part of the problem. You essentially made the decision for them. You made it easy. Too easy.

Pam Oliver is a trailblazer and should be celebrated as such. I will always regret my comments I made about her before publicly acknowledging how wrong I was. No one should have to be subjected to the type of belittling she has experienced over the years. Especially not someone who young women of color can use as an example of how to achieve success without compromising self. She is woman who is worthy of being celebrated for her work. 

Let this be a lesson to us all.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

My apology letter to Ms. Pam Oliver
https://kassienetteskorner.com/2013/01/11/i-am-sorry/

Well. Well. Well. I cannot remember an NBA off-season being so dramatic in a loooooong time. Every day I wake up, it is the same story. Where will LeBron end up? Will Carmelo stay in New York? Will Bosh leave the sunny beaches of Miami to head west to the humidity in Texas?? Goodness. Make it stop already. I know these are not easy decisions for these players but goodness. Make it stop already.

Due to my lack of NBA excitement, the only player I am in really interested in finding out where he lands is LeBron. I like LeBron. Always have. But if he goes back to Cleveland to play, all respect I have for him goes out the window and into the deep blue sea. The fact that Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, just had his infamous letter removed off the website last week is an indication of how little respect he has for LeBron.

Yes, I know this is a business but in this instance I need LeBron to “man up.” Playing for Gilbert should never be an option again. NEVER. It is that simple.

 

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

Well I did not really expect this. I am not a huge soccer fan. I cannot even really say I am a fan of the sport. I watch very rarely. And I understand very little. I have had being offsides explained to me but I need to be able to identify the defenders on the field to know who is offside. And it would be helpful if they put a yellow lines on the field, you know like in football, so I can identify the mystery box the person needs to pass before the defender does. And with that, I just confused myself again. Sorry CJ.

Tuesday was stressful. I cannot remember the last time a soccer match had me on the edge of my seat, with my heart pounding. The fact that I cannot remember makes me think it has never happened before Tuesday. Here I was, at a program for a client, working. Laptop open. Email open. Soccer on my phone. World Cup soccer. USA vs. Belgium. In Spanish. And no I am not fluent in Spanish. However, those that know me know that I will not let anything stop me from being tuned in live to a sporting event that is of interest to me. By any means necessary.

When I figured out last week that I would be working during USA vs. Germany match, I started on my quest to find a resource that would allow me to watch the game on my phone. The obvious solution was to view via the Watch ESPN app. Unfortunately, ESPN does not allow my cable provider access via the internet. That cancelled the option of using http://www.espn3.com as well. So where did I turn? Social media! I knew my boy Leonard would be able to provide options. Butter rum, he provided me with a link to a site that looked more like a virus than a website. I passed. Butter rum, thanks for trying L! Haha. Then in strolls Jeremy with the Univision Deportes suggestion. My question, “Will that be in Spanish?” “Strong possibility, unfortunately,” he said. Not what I am looking for. I will have no clue what is going on. I am already mostly clueless when it comes to the rules of the game. All I will be able to comprehend if I watch on Univision is the word goal. My search continued.

Soon it was game time and I had no other options, Univision Deportes it was. I downloaded the app and put my earbuds in. And then it happened, surprisingly the fact that I could not understand what the announcers were saying was exactly what drew me to into the action. Their level of excitement was contagious. I found myself looking excitedly at my computer every time their voice fluctuated, especially if I could hear the level of excitement in their voice. I also found myself chuckling on occassion as a result. It was entertaining!

So back to Tuesday. I am at the program. Tuned in, once again to Univision and loving it. I have no clue if I was listening to the same announcers but they had me hooked when I heard the names Michael and the Jackson 5 mentioned about five minutes apart. I am sure you just had the same reaction that I did. Some time later, I heard what is arguably the greatest line I have heard during a soccer game, “Ryan Seacrest is in the hoooouse!” I have not done my research to see if he was actually there nor do I care. To hear that phrase sandwiched in between a bunch of words I did not understand was priceless.

Heart pounding. That is what was happening the final 10 minutes of regulation. When it became clear that there would be extra minutes, my mother leaned over and asked, “Is this sudden death, like in football?” I confidently replied yes, knowing I was not sure but hey I am the one that knows everything sports related so I had to play it cool. We soon realized after Belgium scored that I had no clue what I was talking about :-). I then begin to operate under the assumption that at the end of the first OT if the was still 0-1 in Belgium’s favor, they would win the game. Wrong! We had another OT period. That is when my heart really began to pound. Ma and I screamed and squealed in delight as 19-year-old Julian Green found the net and gave the USA hope. We continued squealing every time goalie Tim Howard, the new US Secretary of Defense according to Wikipedia, racked up one of his record breaking saves. We cheered. We hollered. We tried to will our boys to victory but heartbreakingly it was not enough. And just like that it was over.

No more Univision. No more making sure my phone was charged so I could listen to a match if I was away from the tv. No more pictures of thousands of Americans gathered in various locations across the country wearing red, white and blue in support of our boys in red, white and blue. The national excitement surrounding the World Cup was like nothing I had ever seen.

I have heard many people, mainly true soccer fans, gripe about all the “new soccer fans.” While all of us may not be loyal followers of the game, the one thing we all are is American. During those three matches against Ghana, Germany & Belgium, it did not matter if you were black, white, young, old, woman, man, poor, rich, Democrat, Republican, etc. We were all hoping for the same outcome. A USA victory. During those couple of weeks it felt good to tap into the epitome of our country’s name…UNITED.

Let’s do it again in four years! By then, I will know the game and a little more Spanish.

 

Thank you US MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM for all the excitement and cheers you provided!!! #OneNationOneTeam

Yesterday was the kind of day I love in sports.

Well almost. It started off rough. The morning brought us the sad news that baseball legend, Tony Gwynn, had passed away at the young age of 54. I can admit. His passing left me choked up. Partly because cancer had claimed another person who made such a tremendous impact, not only in their profession, but in this world and partly because little pieces of my childhood keeps getting taken away. Michael Jackson. Heavy D. Paul Walker. Nelson Mandela. Maya Angelou. Junior Seau. Flo Jo. Walter Payton. And now Tony Gwynn.

I was always a follower of Gwynn’s career. Unfortunately, I did not get to see him play a lot because the San Diego Padres were rarely on tv but there were plenty highlights of him on SportsCenter. The swing. The stolen bases. The smile. Gwynn was the kind of player you wanted on your team. Reliable. Dominating. Loveable. Resilient. Daring. Consistent. I never heard a player, manager, reporter or fan say anything negative about him. From what I know he was always the m gentleman who excelled at the game of baseball and life. As Twitter and Facebook lit up with RIP posts, I read articles that highlighted his many achievements. Career batting average of .338. 3,141 hits. 8 NL batting titles. 15 time All-Star. Played in 1,838 games. Only 34 games where he struck out more than once. Let that sink in.

If you had the privilege to watch Gwynn play then you were privileged to watch one of the greatest to ever play the game. How can that not eventually bring a smile to your face?

As the day progressed feelings of sadness would give way to exuberance as the US Men’s National Soccer Team fought for victory. Everyone on my TL was talking about it on Twitter. Everyone in my newsfeed was talking about it on Facebook. For a few hours, we were all on the same page. Again. Reminiscent of earlier when love was being spread all around in reference to Gwynn’s passing, Americans had united to cheer our team on to victory. We watched them give their all to issue payback to Ghana for ousting them in the previous two World Cups.  In the 86th minute, revenge was executed. Set up by a perfect corner kick from Graham Zusi, substitute John Brooks put himself in position for the perfect header that would ultimately win the game for the US. I, along with countless other Americans, squealed and cheered in delight. Happy that “our boys” were victorious over their nemesis.

While the famous and not so famous posted congratulatory tweets, a mutual follower expressed his thoughts about it all. He tweeted, “Dunno which is worse, the Heat bandwagon or those who all of a sudden love soccer. I think it’s the latter. .” I responded that he should let us enjoy it because it only comes around once every four years. I would have liked to elaborate but I am not one to send out simultaneous tweets to get my point across. That is why I have a blog :-). To my follower: Yes, there are plenty of people who are all of a sudden tuned in to a sport they do not follow on a consistent basis, me included. I know more than the average person but it is not a sport I keep up with day in and day out. What I can say is that days like yesterday make me happy. In our country, where the news is constantly filled with violence, politics and crime and my TL is sometimes full of rants, gossip and sadness, days like yesterday make me smile. For a few hours, we were all on the same page. UNITED as Americans cheering for fellow Americans. It does not happen very often but when it does, we should cherish it. So yes, you will see more soccer “fans” than usual and that, in my opinion, is part of what the World Cup is all about. Countries uniting, hoping for one common goal. To bring home the ultimate victory. After a rough start to the day, it was the perfect ending.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

 

I have not watched the NBA consistently since around 2004. The year the Pistons won the chip. I remember very vividly how much I liked to watch them play, together. Plus who did not love hearing John Mason croon out “Deeeee-troit Basketball” over the PA system a few times during the course of a game.

Last night took me back to those days. The days when I would sit in front of a tv for over two hours watching men run up and down the court. The days when I would squeal with delight when a player made a play that would have me hopping out of my seat(ala Ginobli throwin it down on Bosh). The days when basketball was played as a TEAM. Watching the San Antonio Spurs dominate the NBA Finals was a thing of beauty. The passing, the shots, the unselfish play, the adjustments, the patience, the coaching…just beautiful. I have never seen the game of basketball executed so beautifully.

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

The Spurs are the type of team I grew up watching. In the 90s, I loved watching the Bulls play. I was a “fan” of them just like everyone else. I enjoyed watching them execute the triangle offense with so much precision. While they had a dominant force in Michael Jordan leading the way, everyone, including MJ, played their role and they played it well. When the NBA started shifting from the team game to having one major superstar, a few semi-stars and a bunch of bench fillers on the team, I checked out. There was nothing enjoyable about that style of play.

So back to last night. Here I was, gleefully, watching the Spurs put on a clinic, reminiscing on the old days. Happy to see old school basketball prevail. I think it is safe to say only a handful of people around the world picked the Spurs to dominate the Heat. Shoot, I did not even see many people picking the Spurs to win(I did) which was baffling considering they were 25 seconds away from a championship last year. However, the Spurs made it obvious in Game 1 that they were seeking three things: revenge, redemption and a fifth ring. Check. Check. And check.

From the rejuvenated Tim Duncan to the elusive Tony Parker to the sparkplug Manu Ginobli to the silent assassin Kawhi Leonard to the reliable Boris Diaw to the dagger Patty Mills to the trigger Danny Green to the confident Tiago Splitter to the mastermind Gregg Popovich, the Spurs executed the very finesse that is basketball. The game is team first. It is next man up. It is fun. It is resilient. It is exciting. It is selfless. That is Spurs basketball. However as good as they are, I heard so many people moaning and groaning about them playing in the Finals again that I have to wonder if we have become so accustomed to only being able to equate success with individuality that we have failed to realize that success often comes in the form of a team? Whether it is your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, church family, etc, there is often a group of individuals that pushes and holds us up as we climb the ladder of success. The joy I saw on the Spurs bench was nothing short of a complete team celebrating in an accomplishment that they all contributed too. And hopefully, Timmy will not retire and they can do this again next year. Fingers crossed.

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

I have held off as long as I could but the PR major in me will not allow me not to keep quiet any longer. My twelve cents.

Rashad McCants is talking, AGAIN. And he is not backing down. Oh boy. This is about to get REAL ugly. Wait, too late. This is about to get UGLIER.

Now look. Everyone knows about my disdain for the university of north carolina at chapel hill, when it comes to sports. A lot of smerfs like to claim it is because they have won some championships since the last time my beloved Wolfpack did. Never. Just a little friendly rivalry where I always manage to get up under their skin. I do not like hate them or anything but between their feelings of entitlement and the whine and cheesers that are prevalent throughout smerf nation they always make for great comedy.

Anyways, McCants is talking, AGAIN. Did you miss that UNC-CH? He is talking, AGAIN!!! And again, UNCH-CH is giving me the impression that they are hoping this situation will just blow over. How many accusations must come out of that department before the school is willing to address this situation head on? This situation has gotten so bad that even I, a proud alumna of The North Carolina State University, am at the point where if they would let me, I would be willing to step in and help them stop this sinking ship.

This has gotten out of hand and it has been out of hand, pocket and control since 2011 when the first allegations of academic fraud within the football program surfaced. Since those first allegations surfaced, the football program has voided some wins and instituted a post season ban in 2012. When I proposed a theory back in 2011, few wanted wanted to listen to me. I had no proof but I told quite a few people that the basketball program was next. All the UNC-CH supporters that I told accused me of being a “hater”, of course. Even with no proof, I knew what I was talking about. My spidey senses were kicking in. Just think about it. Why would an institution work so hard to cover up academic fraud within a program that is not their big moneymaker? This is not a program that has multiple national championship banners. Shoot, they do not even have any recent ACC Championship banners. So why would all the fraud be confined to this one program? It is not like the program was on the cusp of greatness, unless I missed that memo. This was a deflection. A few papers written by some tutors cost a coach his job, a tutor her job, a chancellor exited stage left to go be a PROVOST and an AD retired. Something ain’t riiiiiiiiiiight.

And now we have McCants, a member of the 2005 NCAA Championship team, coming forward with claims that his whole academic career at UNC-CH was nothing short of a sham. According to McCants, he rarely went to class, received numerous A’s in “paper classes” and was in danger of being declared ineligible when Roy Williams stepped in an saved the day. Oh boy. Now McCants is no saint in this. If the allegations are true, then he is just as liable as whomever in the department knew what was going on. He knew what was being asked of him was wrong and he went along with it anyway. Is he a snitch? Yep. He has definitely violated the code of conduct in the brotherhood that is collegiate sports. However, I will applaud him for having the guts to take on this high powered operation.

For all the talking McCants is doing, he is not even the one doing the most damage right now. Do you all realize who is really sinking this ship? Roy Williams. His responses to McCants accusations are nothing short of head scratching. Now I am going to assume that he is being advised by the same horrible PR representatives that have been butchering this situation since 2011. That is the only explanation for him making such ridiculous statements such as he strongly disagrees with what McCants is accusing him of. Or this jewel that he gave us after McCants latest interview. Williams said, “We have a very defined system here at the University of North Carolina. I have somewhat control over the basketball program. I don’t have control over the academic side. But the academic side and our athletic director and our president want me to emphasize that academic side every single day, and they want our players to understand that. They want us to be concerned and to emphasize it but they don’t want us to step over to the academic side. They don’t want that to happen.”

Are you serious right now Roy? You are the HEAD COACH. You emphasize academics but you are not involved with your players, academically? You want us to believe that you have no idea what is going on in the classroom? You were hired just to coach these ATHLETE-students? I mean STUDENT-athletes? C’mon! In the words of Jay-Z, “We don’t believe you! You need more people!”

Somebody better do something, QUICK. A great PR person is needed badly in Chapel Hill. Badly. And I know where they can find one :-).

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

P.S. Btw, I am placing blame on that wishy-washy NCAA as well. If only they were consistent…

Last night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals was one of the best NBA games I have seen in a very long time. From the tip, the game proved to be nothing short of exciting, nail biting and intense. The Spurs and Heat traded baskets, swapped leads several times and got real wide eyed almost every time a foul was called as if it was impossible for them to foul. A game that was too close to call for much of the night quickly took a turn when the game’s leading scorer, LeBron James, had to leave the floor due to severe cramps. His exit sparked a 16-3 run by the Spurs who rode that momentum to a Game 1 win.

However, the talk today is not about how two teams battled until the end. The talk is not about how dominant 38 year old Tim Duncan was. The talk is not about how bench players played significant roles in which side of the column that team finished on. The talk is about cramps. Yes, cramps. You know those things that athletes tend to get. Yeah, those. The AT&T Center was more reminiscent of a sauna last night than a basketball arena as the electrical system charged with supplying juice to the arena malfunctioned. The temperature in the area soared above 90 degrees. Players were seen wringing out their uniforms and placing ice packs on their necks to keep cool. Fans tapped into their creative side and made fans out of signs that were passed out before the game. Via Twitter, former NBA players compared last night’s experience to playing in the Boston Garden. 

Who cares about all of that though when the league’s best player is unable to finish the game due to cramps. With a little under four minutes to play, James hobbled off the court plagued by a condition he has suffered from before. When he left, I knew it was coming. I knew the tweets would start. I knew what the comparison would be. I prepped myself to hear it. “MJ played through the flu. You mean to tell me he can’t play through cramps.” For years, James has been criticized for what many have called a lack of killer instinct. So for him to exit last night just added more fuel to the fire that was already hot.

All I could do was laugh. It was obvious that everyone who was tweeting, chatting and flapping their gums had NEVER experienced severe cramps. I do not care how tough you are mentally or physically, a severe cramp especially in your leg or foot, will send you into limp noodle status quick. I saw all kinds of ridiculousness. People accusing James of not being a well conditioned athlete because he cramped. Say what now? I must assume these people have not been watching him play for the last 11 years. Those that have been watching obviously do not understand how this cramping thing works. Seeing that it is Friday and I am in a good mood, let me break it down for you.

Cramps can occur as a result of a number of factors. Muscle fatigue,  dehydration, low potassium, low sodium and electrolyte disturbance. Exposure to large changes in temperature can also cause cramping. A person with a large amount of lean muscle is more susceptible to cramping. Have you ever watched a track meet? Exactly.  The combination of the temperature in the arena, James’ profuse sweating which caused the electrolyte disturbance(your muscle cells will begin to shrink) and the fact that he received no IV’s during the game(which still baffles me since this not the first time he has had to exit a game due to cramping) is why James was unable to finish the game. HE COULD NOT PLAY. If he had received IV’s during the game, this probably would have not been an issue. The trainer, team doctor, coach, somebody needs to answer for that foolishness.

So there you have it. You can call him soft, a wuss, whatever. Let one of those cramps catch you. I bet you will be calling on Jesus. Trust me. I know.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

P.S. Even in my defense of LBJ, I have to admit that the pictures of people LeBronin last night left me in chuckles. #NoChill

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

Six years. $110 million dollars. $61 million dollars guaranteed. $12 million dollar signing bonus.

I will say it again, Kap got paid! Cha ching. Using a Quill pen yesterday, Colin Kaepernick solidified his claim as the franchise QB for my beloved San Francisco 49ers. The question is did he deserve that kind of money? My answer is no. First, I have to try and not get on my athletes make waaaay too much money soapbox. Second, he only has 29 starts under his belt. Frankly, over in Kassie’s world, the jury is still partially out on Kap. Now do not twist my words. I am glad Harbaugh pulled the infamous San Francisco Switcheroo in 2011. In two and a half years, Kap has already managed to take us to two straight NFC Championships and was a yard away from being a Super Bowl champion.

However, I just we had more time to evaluate Kap before we shelled out that kind of cash. I would like to see more consistency from him. We all know he can run. We all know he can throw. Now it is up to him to prove to us that he understands the game to the point where he knows when to run and when to throw. 29 starts is barely scratching the surface in the National Football League so he still has a lot to learn. Unfortunately for the franchise, it was a deal that needed to get done before the season so there would not be any “distractions.” Oh and it also forces ESPN to find a new 9ers story for the season.

The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” (except for when we are talking about Tony Romo) and if you put Kap up against the other top QBs in the league then it is easy to make sense of why his pockets are now fully loaded. Based simply off of that, he deserves the money he got. Again, do not twist my words. What I just said does not contradict what I said earlier. Kap got his start at just the right time. Three years before his contract ends. With his resume, my 9ers had to pay him what they did or someone else would have. That is just the nature of the biz.

With the stroke of that pen, Kap and the 9ers also managed to create a mess for other teams. The struggle that is the salary kap just got extra real for some teams. I am not sure what some of their kap space is looking like but I can assure you that other top QBs who have contract negotiations coming up were taking notes yesterday. I wonder if Russell Wilson will thank Kap when he signs his new contract. He should. He already had his Super Bowl ring as leverage and Kap just added to his stash. Can you say cha cha ching?

So there you have it. Kap got paid. I wish we could have waited. And FOOTBALL SEASON is still months away. Sigh. Oh and this Niner Faithful is accepting nothing less than a Super Bowl win this year from Kap and the Niner Gang. It is time to complete the Quest for Six.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

P.S. But for real though, how many days until FOOTBALL SEASON?? Sista over here feenin. Bad.

I’ll be back next week with a post I have been working on. Until then, enjoy the holiday week and remember why we have  MEMORIAL DAY. THANK YOU to each and every man and woman who have given the ultimate sacrifice so we can live free.

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

Wondering why I have not had anything to say about Donald Sterling’s interview? I have not watched it and I do not plan to. I have heard enough soundbites to know all I need to know. The one thing that makes me chuckle is Sterling saying that he “is not a racist.” Sir, yes you are. And it is time for you to own up to it. Nothing you say is going to make us think any different. Not you telling us what you are not. Not you claiming you were coerced into saying what you said. Not you offering up the most ridiculous assessment of Magic Johnson I have ever heard.

Until Sterling can appear on my tv and tell the TRUTH then I do not care what he has to say.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

Ya’ll know I have been itching to blog about this, right? I do not know which part of me was more anxious, my PR white hat or my sports management persona.

LIFETIME BAN. Those words echoed through my ears yesterday as I watched NBA Commissioner Adam Silver grab a hold of his early defining moment. Having only been on the job less than three months, Silver’s leadership was thrust into the international spotlight when taped conversations surfaced between Los Angeles Clippers owner and his archivist/assistant/ girlfriend/other woman/ Vanessa Stiviano, where Sterling expressed his thoughts about the black race. The conversation, in true WWE fashion, was no holds barred. If you had any questions about how Sterling felt about people with brown skin tones, he provided you with the answers you had been seeking.

The internet lit up. So did ESPN. CNN. So did barbershops. Churches. Checkout lines. How could an obvious racist own a team that has a roster loaded with black players, in a league loaded with black players? What will the players do? Should they play or not? Wait, this is not the first time Sterling has been deemed racist, is it? Lets see, he was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for housing discrimination. Lets see, he was sued by NBA Hall of Famer, Elgin Baylor, for employee discrimination. No need to be surprised. The pattern has been there.

Silver issued what he thought was a just punishment. He dropped the hammer, nails, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers and whatever else he could find in the tool box In his NBA, racism will not be tolerated, as it has been in the past. Yeah, I am looking at you David Stern. It did not stop there. Silver ordered Sterling to pay a fine of $2.5 million dollars and urged the other owners in the NBA to exercise their constitutional rights and vote Sterling out as owner of the Clippers.

The internet lit up. #Bannedforlife trended number one for hours. My social media feeds were full of opinions and discussions and the Clippers made their own statement by simply changing their website to a black screen with the phrase “We Are One” boldly situated in the middle of the screen above their logo. As the players and the league begins its healing process, the push to have Sterling removed continues. As the fans continue to attend games and purchase merchandise, Sterling’s pockets continue to get fatter. And this is a hot topic. I have encountered many whom seem to think that in the end Sterling wins because he is a billionaire and he is set to add to his fortune if he is forced to sale.

Now I am no millionaire. I am not even close but one thing I am certain of is that the one thing that most people who have his type of money crave more than anything is the power that comes along with it. Just look at the list of names of people who are rumored to interested in purchasing the Clippers: Oprah, Floyd Mayweather, Matt Damon, Dave Geffen, Larry Ellison, Rick Ross, Diddy, Oscar De La Hoya, the list goes on. None of these people are struggling. None of these people are in dire need of money. None of these people go out and pay their bills at the office like I do. The money they have has given them a power that most of us will never attain. Of course, $2.5 million dollars will be no big deal to Sterling but I am willing to bet my pennies that being him being stripped of his power will definitely have an effect on that ego of his.

This was defining moment for the NBA. The players will be criticized for years to come for playing, essentially for Sterling, one day after finding out how he truly feels about them. Although, I am willing to once again bet my pennies and say those players had some type of inkling that Sterling was not a fan of brown skinned people. Money talks.

I applaud Adam Silver for his swift and thorough action regarding this situation. He did not have to choose this route but he did and for that he should be commended. We will never erase racism but we do not have to tolerate it. Job well done, Commissioner.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS. WE ARE ONE.

 

{Source: Clippers website}

{Source: Clippers website}

 

IMG_20140421_165532_756

 

I was a woman on a mission Monday. I was determined to be in front of a computer when Dick & Rick Hoyt crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon for the last time.

I first learned of their story a few years ago. It was a story that I stumbled across as I learned more and more about the countless number of Americans whom have overcome debilitating obstacles to finish marathons. I read about runners whom had suffered torn ACL’s & achilles tendons, runners whom were told they would never walk again and Tom Panek, the CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, who was participating in his first Boston Marathon. Panek is blind.

And then there is Team Hoyt. One of the things I truly love about sports are the stories of athletes persevering through circumstances to accomplish their goals. This story comes to us in the form of a father-son team. If you are unfamiliar with their story then do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with it. Rick(the son), was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic at birth. Dick and his wife, Judy, were told by doctors that Rick should be institutionalized because he had no chance to live a normal life. Undeterred by the doctors suggestions, the Hoyts set out to provide their son with a life that included inclusion and communication.

In 1977, at the request of Rick, Team Hoyt participated in their first race. It was a five mile race that benefited a Lacrosse player who was left paralyzed following an accident. With Dick pushing and Rick leading the way, the legend of Team Hoyt was born. For Rick, the simple words but heartfelt words of ‘Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped” would set in motion a drive and determination that would span four decades.

Since 1977, Team Hoyt has completed over ONE THOUSAND races including 70 marathons, 22 biathlons and 247 triathlons(including SIX IRONMANS). Oh and they biked across the continental United States in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days. Talk about inspirational.

2013 was suppose to be their last Boston Marathon. However, they never crossed the finish lines due to last year’s tragic events. A story of this magnitude can simply not end in that manner. So here they were again. One last time. Pushing. Persevering. Enduring. Waving. Rejoicing. Smiling.

As I watched them cross the finish line on Boylston Street one last time, the tears fell. Quickly. From thousands of miles away, I could feel the love the father has for his son. I could feel the love the son has for his father. I could see the sacrifices Mr. Hoyt has made for his son. I could see the rewards of Rick having a father that is willing to make those sacrifices. I could see not one but two heroes crossing that finish line. I could even see that through my tears.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS!

 

Almost there

Almost there

 

Team Hoyt's final finish at the Boston Marathon :-}

Team Hoyt’s final finish at the Boston Marathon :-}

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

Resilience. Determination. Perseverance. Courage. Endurance. Persistence. From tragedy to triumph.

Meb Keflexzighi. Rita Jeptoo. Dick Hoyt. Rick Hoyt. The runners who did not finish last year. The runners who did. The couple who wants to finish what they started. The runners who will run the race for the first time.

April 21, 2014. Patriot’s Day in the great state of Massachusetts but more importantly, it is Marathon Monday. Boston style.

A year after the tragedy that vibrated down the Boylston Street, the City of Boston is once again on display. For hours, people have lined the streets, eyes have been glued to TVs and live streams and runners have been pounding the pavement in an effort to raise their arms in victory as they cross the finish line at the 118th Boston Marathon. We all knew this day would trigger a wide range of emotions throughout this country but I do not think I expected the barrage of tears that fell as I watched both winners cross the finish line.

As I skiddaddled over to the Boston Marathon website, I rejoiced over the fact that I had tuned in just in time to see the last two miles of the race. I was partaking of my lunch that would soon turn chilly as I silently cheered at my desk for race leader Rita Jeptoo. She was on pace to not only win but set a new course record. My mouth fell open in disbelief as I found out her split time for Mile 24 was four minutes and 50 seconds. UNREAL. It was at that moment that I knew destiny awaited her. She looked strong. She looked confidant. She looked like she had only been running a couple of hours, which was true. I am not even going to describe to you what I look like coming out of Mile 24. Actually by then I have gotten my pep back in my step but anyway. I definitely do not look like Jeptoo. As she headed down Boylston Street, the tears started. The story was perfect. A repeat winner. A new course record. Back to claim what was hers again. Twitter exploded over her triumph and as the internet celebrated, an American hero awaited his turn.

Just a few miles back, Ehiopian-born American, Meb Keflezighi, only had pavement standing in between him and the one thing no American man has done since 1983, finish first in the Boston Marathon. With Wilson Chebet of Kenya closing in on him, the race was setting up to be a sprint to the finish. However, Keflezighi, feeding off of the momentum of the crowd and no doubt the tragedy of last year, found some speed in the reserve tank and managed to create some space between himself and Chebet. As he barreled down Boylston Street admist the the cheers, screams and tears, Keflezighi pumped his fists and smiled. Could this really be happening? Could things really be set up this perfectly? A course record and an American winning all in one day? In one of the world’s most prestigious marathons? Just a year removed from tragedy. Could triumph really come back with a vengeance? The answer to all those questions: yes. “Marathon Meb” had done it. The Boston Strong way.

From tragedy to triumph. Land of the free, home of the BRAVE.

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

robinson-day

{Source: Google Images}

 

I remember this day, last year, so well.

I woke up excited to blog about the heroic contributions of Jackie Robinson. It was my first time writing about him and I could not wait to share my thoughts with the world. I was happy to see that #JackieRobinsonDay was trending on Twitter. Major League Baseball players were tweeting and Instagramming pictures of their #42 jerseys. And somewhere in the U.S, the last player to wear #42, Mariano Rivera, was gearing up for his last Jackie Robinson Day.

As I continued to enjoy the day that was known as Jackie Robinson Day, I would later find myself in tears as the Boston Marathon was rocked by an act of terror. I cried as I prayed for the runners that were injured. I cried as I prayed for the families who had not heard from their loved ones. I cried as I prayed for all those who would be tasked with saving lives. As the days rolled on, I found myself feeling proud to be a part of the running community. All across the nation, runners were banding together to stand united for Boston.

One year later, as Boston remains strong, I am reminded of why I was excited to blog on this day. One year later, on a day that is now forever linked to tragedy, we can all look to the example that Jackie Robinson set for us 67 years ago. An example that showcased determination, heroism and courage. On Monday, when runners take to the streets of Boston we will see reflections of that same legacy manifested in the form of men and women, some whom never got the chance to complete their race last year.

Jackie Robinson Day. Boston Marathon. April 15. Forever linked. Forever unbreakable.

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

So, I heard the most RIDICULOUS story that I have heard in quite a long time.

On Wednesday, talking heads in the sports industry were all up in a roar because of a baby being born. Yes, a baby was born and some folks had an issue with it. New York Mets second basemen, Daniel Murphy, missed the Opening Day game so he could be present for the birth of his son. And then he had the nerve to take another day off. And then the talking heads went crazy.

So, um what is the problem? He missed the first game of the season. So what! There are 161 games left for him to play in. He missed the second game of the season. So what! There are 160 games left for him to play in. He missed a chance to possibly tag a runner out at second base. So what! I am sure he’ll have hundreds of other opportunities to do so over the season. I am honestly shocked at all the backlash he is catching. One talking head, Mike Francesca, opened his mouth and out spewed a statement that will probably come back to bite him in the rear one day. He was quoted as saying, “You’re a Major League Baseball player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help.” That definitely ranks as the most asinine statement I have heard in quite a while. Then, Boomer Esiason, took it a step further when he popped off at the mouth and suggested that Murphy and his wife should have scheduled a C-section before opening day. Um, what??!! So, you want a woman to have a surgery that is NOT necessary, at the time, because of a game??!! This guy.

I constantly hear current and former players expressing regret over how much time they have had to spend away from their families because of their million dollar occupation. Often times, players miss out on opportunities to be present at their children’s games, recitals, spelling bees, conferences and even births. I applaud Murphy, matter of fact I give him a standing ovation, for not just using his words but his actions to prove his devotion to his family. He decided that on that day family was what was most important to him. I guarantee that act of love will be unmeasurable to his son when he gets older and finds out what his father sacrificed to be there for him. Literally.

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

P.S. Major League Baseball players are allowed to take three days off for paternity league. It is part of the collective bargaining agreement.

For most runners, spring officially marks the start of RUNNING SEASON.

Unless it is 2014. And you live on the East Coast. And you live in the South where it is 9:55am and it is a balmy THIRTY degrees.

Spring has DEFINITELY missed the memo. Oh. Yeah, spring paid us a visit Friday and Saturday. Tricked us into believing she would be here for a while. Tricked me into believing I might be able to retire my pea coats until November. Tricked me into thinking I would finally be able to put my brand new running shoes on the pavement. Oh. Yeah. Surrrre, I can go running anytime I chose to. Well except for when it is snowing, sleeting and freezing raining. Oh and the temperature is below ummmm 45. Oh. Yeah. I know. This means you can count on your hands how many times I have gone running, outside, since mid-December.

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

I am struggling ya’ll. Everyday when I hop in Louise(my car) and I catch a glimpse of my I heart Running keychain dangling like a loose strand of hair, a part of me sulks. I have tried to be a person who is thankful constantly. Even for the cold weather because it signifies that I am alive and that my senses are doing their job. However, we all have our preferences and this spring baby prefers  sunshine, blooming flowers, trees full of leaves, a few clouds in the sky and temperatures 75 and above. It is coming! I know it is. I just hope it gets here sooner rather than later.

Thankfully, I see temperatures ranging between 68-70 in the next few days. If I want to quench my craving, then it is a must that I break out the new kicks and give them a spin within the next few days. If I wait and the cycle we have been in for the past month continues, then I will be sitting here next week typing the same story again as I stare at the anything but spring like temperature staring back at me on my phone.

Until next time…TOODELLS.

Follow me on Twitter: @Kassienette

For two days straight, my phone has been blowin up.

A buzz here. A buzz there. A notification here. A notification there. A retweet here. A retweet there. Everywhere a tweet, tweet. It feels like my phone buzzes every other minute. Welcome to the frenzy that is NFL Free Agency.

Donte Whitner. His release HURT!! For real. DeMarcus Ware. Darrelle Revis. Antoine Bethea. Jared Allen. Julius Peppers. LaMarr Woodley. Aqib Talib. T.J. Ward. Karlos Dansby. This would make a nice Pro Bowl roster.

And then, the hammer dropped and everyone in North Carolina and South Carolina heard the news that they did not want to hear, the Carolina Panthers would start training camp in July without all-time leading receiver and arguably the franchise’s most famous cat, Steve Smith. The rumblings began at the NFL Combine when Panthers General Manager, Dave Gettleman, offered a noncommittal response when asked about Smith’s future with the team. Many were stunned by the response including Smith. In 2012, Smith signed a three year extension which many felt would guarantee that Smith would retire as a Panther. That was what Smith wanted and at the time it was what the Panthers wanted. Loyalty seemed to be at the root of the deal as everyone walked away from the table happy. Unfortunately, loyalty does not always rise up from its hole each year. And loyalty does not score touchdowns. And loyalty does not guarantee good seasons. And loyalty does not guarantee championships.

Buzz. 9:05am. Alert from SportsCenter. Panthers to cut WR Steve Smith Thursday, a league source told NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Once Schefter tweets it/says it, you can bank on it.

Wow. I was in Bank of America Stadium to witness Smitty’s last game as a Panther.

This part of the NFL just makes me go ugh. I have dissected this move from many angles. Smith is 34 years old. He is 5’9(not that his height has ever been an issue but short WR’s are becoming less common). He is coming off a knee injury. The Panthers would potentially have to pay him seven million in 2014. They need to get under the salary cap. Yada yada yada. Everyone will scream it is business and move on. To me, I do not believe this is JUST a business move. I think this was personal. Sure we do not know what kind of year Smith may have next year. He may have a horrible year. He may have a great year. He may have even decided to retire. That is just the nature of sports. You can make all the predictions you want but none of us know what will really happen during the year. Right? Or are you trying to tell me you picked Seattle to win the SuperBowl. Anywho, back to Smitty. Regardless of what is going to happen, the Panthers will be paying Smith three million dollars. It is part of the guaranteed money that he got for his extension. So, they essentially saved four million dollars which I hope they use to spend on another wide receiver because I am not sure that Tavarres King, Martin McNutt or R.J. Webb can step in and fill Smith’s void. Oh and did I mention that the four million saved does not really put a dent in the cap space needed.

Perhaps the most telling sign that this is a personal move is the fact that the Panthers never asked Smith to restructure his contract. Let that sink in. Business or personal? You be the judge.

The past two days have been a doozy. I am almost positive that there have never been so many big name players released at one time. For as much as I love the game, I absolutely hate this part of the “business” where feelings have to be separated from reality in order to save dollars. But I have learned to accept it. If the 9ers can trade football royalty in the form of Jerry Rice and Joe Montana then anything is possible. Here is to hoping today is not as hectic. I have work to do and I do not need any distractions!

Until next time…TOODELLS.

Follow me on Twitter @Kassienette

 

P.S. To Smitty….thank you for your dedication, loyalty and hardwork. As a Panthers fan, it has been a joy to watch you play the past 13 years for the blue and black. May GOD bless you abundantly in your next chapter.

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

Every once and a while, something happens outside of the sports world that causes me to want to write. Last night was no exception.

Lupita Nyong’o.

For years I have loosely tuned in to the Academy Awards. I have to stay in the know although I cannot remember who won Best Picture last year. I love to watch the red carpet footage. The dresses. The shoes. The purses. The hair. The tuxedos. The bowties. I love it. I saw long dresses. Short dresses. Flowing hair. Cropped do’s. Slits. Splits. Midriffs. Louboutins. And a tuxedo short set. Only Pharrell.

This year, I actually watched the whole show sans a few minutes where I had to gather snacks, tend to my kitties and fix my lunch for the next day(today). I was excited about potentially seeing some actors and actresses I truly enjoy watching win the coveted Oscar. Plus I love Ellen Degeneres. Over the years, I have gained a new appreciation and respect for those in the film industry(thanks to my friend making waves in Hollywood…Hey Ceej!) who put in long hours on and off screen to perfect their craft. The Oscars are their night to shine and I feel the least I can do is tune to in, even loosely, to see them honored for their hard work.

I will admit. I have not seen any of the movies that were nominated for Best Picture. Matter fact, I do not believe I have seen any of the movies in which any of the actresses and actors were nominated for. *shrugs* I am not a movie goer. I go to the movies typically three to five times a year and that is being modest. Last year I went three times. Two years ago, I only went once. *shrugs* I am not a movie goer. However, that does not exempt me from appreciating all the talent that graced the seats of

The selfie that "broke" Twitter. {Source: Google Images}

The selfie that “broke” Twitter.
{Source: Google Images}

The Dolby Theater in Hollywood last night. From Ellen’s having pizza delivered and taking the ultimate selfie to the stars to Pharrell shimmying with Meryl Streep to Robert Lopez winning an Oscar for the song “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen” to join the rare EGOT club(Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony) to Matthew McConaughey aka Jake Brigance acknowledging God for his success and throwing in an “Amen” in the process.

Yet, none of those were considered the highlight of the night. That honor belonged to Lupita Nyong’o’s, the starlet who stormed onto the scene and snatched every major award including Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Patsey in the Best Picture winning “12 Years A Slave.” The world’s new favorite darling sealed her domination of awards season by capturing the gold statue, that she ineptly entitled “Young Man”, and hearts of those who were not familiar with her before last night. Looking like Cinderella, ready for her ball(Oscars), Nyong’o was a walking picture of grace, poise and class as she jubilantly covered her face with her hands when her name was pronounced into history. And then came her speech. Powerful. Memorable. Emotional. It started with a quick thank you to the academy and then an ode to her character, “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own.” Her immediate gratitude to her character, before she thanked cast, crew and her families, is a testament to the class she personifies every time she graces a red carpet or sits down for an interview. As I watched her speak, with tears in my eyes, she spoke to my heart as she concluded her speech with a line that spoke to millions across the world, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that, no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

On a night where movie star royalty was front and center, a newcomer who was born in Mexico and is of Kenyan descent stole the show. Her regalness, elegance and sheer beauty are captivating. However, that is not what stands out to me. What stands out is what she represents. In a society where the gold standard of beauty has for many years not resembled Nyong’o, she is just that. A gold standard. She exemplifies everything a woman should be. She exemplifies how a woman should carry herself at all times. She exemplifies going against the grain and embracing your God given features. She represents the essence, strength and determination that women all across the world display on a daily basis. She represents you. She represents me. She represents us.

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

The joy. The exuberance. The child-like giddyness. The smiles. The hugs. The laughter. All were present last night as NASCAR’s most beloved, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., won his second Daytona 500, 10 years after winning his first.

On a day when most of us were not even sure the race would finish on its scheduled day due to a rain delay that totaled six hours  and 22 minutes, Junior emerged victorious amongst a host of drivers who showed their endurance, stamina and determination during the grueling day and night long event. The 11 time NASCAR Most Popular Driver had gone 55 races without taking a trip to Victory Lane. Sandwich that with the fact that in three of the last four Daytona 500’s Junior had placed second,

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

many skeptics begun to wonder if we had seen his best. Without uttering a word, Junior let his #88 car do all the talking and when it was all said and done, the skeptics were left pondering what new story angle they could come up with.

On a night when I had planned to go to bed early so I could go to the gym early, I could not pass up an an opportunity to watch the Daytona 500 under the lights. If you would have visited me last night, you would have found me sitting on my bed squealing and pleading, much to the dismay of my cats, with Junior to hold on to the lead. You would have found me paying that no more wrecks occured. One, because I do not want to see drivers get hurt. Two, because I was tired and ready to go to bed. You would have found me covering my eyes(with two laps to go), hoping that the mysterious black material that attached itself to the front of Junior’s car did not hinder him from keeping his lead. You would have found me dancing, fist pumping and cabbage patching, again much to the dismay of my cats, as Junior raced to the finish line to capture the checkered flag.

On a night when I had just hours earlier been ready for bed, I was now too thrilled for sleep. I have followed Junior closely over the years and while I have admittedly been a fan of his, last night pushed my fandom to another level. The joy. The exuberance. The child-like giddyness. The smiles. The hugs. The laughter. He let his owner, Rick Hendrick ride on the side of the door with him to the celebration. He hugged every one of his crew members before conducting an interview. How could you not be excited for Junior??  The son who has grown up in the spotlight. The son who tragically lost his father with the whole world watching. The son who was expected to take his father’s place as the face of NASCAR(which he has). The son who publicly battled his stepmother over the direction of Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. The son who knew all too well the pressures of being the most beloved. The son who despite the pressure has always remained classy, honest and determined.

On a day when the #3 car, the one his father, Dale Sr. made famous, returned to the track, it was Junior who proved he belonged in the place he grew up: the track. It was Junior who proved that he was still a force to be reckoned with. It was Junior who proved that perseverance pays off. It was Junior who proved that good guys still finish first. It was Junior who proved that despite the obstacles you face, only you can determine whether or not you make it to Victory Lane. It was Junior who proved he is still the best person to carry on his father’s legacy.

And on yesterday, I am sure his dad, The Intimidator, was smiling up above.

{Source Google Images}

{Source Google Images}

Selfeeeee!!! Gotta love it!! {Source: Junior's Twitter}

Selfieeeee!!! Gotta love it!!
{Source: Junior’s Twitter}

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

My favorite picture :-} Caption read: "Look who I ran into at the Dayton Experience. Dad's Happy! #2XDaytona500Champ" {Source: Junior's Twitter}

My favorite picture :-}. Another selfie.
Caption read: “Look who I ran into at the Dayton Experience. Dad’s Happy! #2XDaytona500Champ”
{Source: Junior’s Twitter}

As if anyone saw that coming.

Total domination. From start to finish. Despite what my beloved Peyton Manning says, that was indeed embarassing.

We all knew Seattle’s defense had the potential to cause some problems and disrupt the Broncos flow but what I saw last night went beyond anything I could have comprehended. If you would have told me at the beginning of the game, even after the ball was snapped over Manning’s head, even after Seattle went up 5-0, that Seattle would win 43-8, I would have laughed. Hard. If you would have told me that after Percy Harvin returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown, I would have left. I never thought I would see a Peyton Manning led team give up so easily. I give all credit to Seattle for their win. Their game plan exploited every weakness the Broncos have. From start to finish.

While the Pacific Northwest celebrates its first championship in a major sport, the rest of the sports world is left to sort out the details of “Manning’s Legacy.” I could go on all day spitting out numbers that solidify why he is still one of the greatest to ever line up behind center. However, there are only two stats people care about…11-12 in the playoffs, 1-2 in Super Bowls. Unfortunately, many will judge him on those numbers alone. They have every right to. The numbers are not astounding and you can argue that he cannot win the big game. However, I have always been a firm believer in football is a team sport. The quarterback just happens to be the face of the franchise. Therefore, he shoulders a lot of the blame. For years I have said if a QB’s greatness solely lies in how many rings he wins then Marino and Manning cannot enter into the conversation. They would be replaced by Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman. Are there really people out there who can honestly say they would choose Bradshaw to lead their team over Manning?

To me, a QB is only as strong as its weakest link. No matter how great your QB is, if you run up a team that can exploit your team weaknesses then you are doomed. All year, the Broncos defense has been their achilles heel. They finished 19th in the league. However, when you have an offense that is putting up numbers the way theirs did, your defense is often overlooked. All year, the offensive line for the Broncos had been challenged, very little. Statistically, Houston was the best defense they had faced all year and they are not even in the same room with Seattle’s defense. Recipe for disaster for the Broncos. They could not adjust. Their timing was off. The o-line collapsed on almost every play which left Manning hardly enough time to set his feet to throw the ball. It was just all around bad ball for a good football team.

Things happen. This team gave up long before the clock read 0:00. Things happen. To me, this does not diminish Manning’s legacy. Yes, he made some mistakes but he is not the reason they lost. You can say I am making excuses all you want and that still will not change my stance. I still think Manning is the best in the league and one of the greatest ever. Quote me on that.

 

CONGRATULATIONS to the WOLFPACK’S OWN Russell Wilson, J.R. Sweezy & Steven Hauschka!!!! You make us proud!!!!

You all know how much I loooooooooooove Peyton Williams Manning. You all know how much I loooooooooooove Russell Carrington Wilson. So the question becomes, which QB am I pulling for in the Super Bowl???

Now the answer you all have been waiting for……

.
.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

{Source: CBS Sports}

{Source: CBS Sports}

Yep. I am pulling for #18.  I actually made the decision BEFORE the NFC Championship Game. As a loyal Faithful, it is impossible for me to cheer for the Seattle Seahawks, as a whole, to achieve such a major accomplishment. My Gold Blood just will not allow it. That is what happens when a rivalry gets very real. Everything shifts. I fully expect #18 to carve up one of the best defenses in the league. He may not hang 30 on them but I am looking for him to pass for at least 300. It is what he does. And then when he wins all the talking heads can finally stop talking about how he cannot get it done in the postseason. Who am I kidding?? The talking heads will still find something to yap about. Now if the Seahawks happen to pull off the upset, then I will definitely be happy for Russell as well as J.R. Sweezy and Steven Hauschka(WOLFPACK!!!) Shoutout to Nate Irving(WOLFPACK!) who plays for the Broncos. Only one school, Tennessee, has more players playing in the Super Bowl than we do.
 

Looking forward to a great game!! PEYTON BOUT TO PUT IN WORK!! HEEEEEEEEY!! PEYTON BOUT TO PUT IN WORK!! HEEEEEEY!!