I have never been a fan of Christian rap.

Until I heard Lecrae. Admittedly, I am way late when it comes to his work. I have heard a few of his songs over the years. I have had friends who have told me how great his work is. I have even met fans of his who are not your “stereotypical” Christian. For years, I have struggled with this new wave of music. Everything sounds the same. The beats, the lyrics, the delivery. Everything. Gone are the days of boy bands, rock bands and girl groups. Everyone seems to be all about self. Gone are the days of originality, substance and groundbreaking. Everyone is doing what everyone else is doing.

These facts are precisely why I have stuck with my old school music. I love music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and a few songs from the early 2000s. I miss the days where I can turn on the radio and hear good quality music. I miss the days of BET & MTV showing videos. I miss the days of waiting with great anticipation for someone’s album to be released. So for me, sifting through all the rift raft to get to music from Lecrae was almost an impossible task for me. Newer artists have let me down so much that I did not even want to take the time to possibly give Lecrae a chance. Then, September happened.

There was a lot of buzz throughout social media about Lecrae’s “Anomaly” album during the ninth month. My attention was immediately grabbed. Buzz? About a Christian rapper? Really? Wow Lord. My research began. I found out that Lecrae does not like to be labeled a Christian rapper. He prefers to be labeled as a Christian who raps. Got it. I found out that teens are heavily into to Lecrae. Love it. I found out that a movement sent by God in the form of Lecrae has been gaining steam for years. On it. I knew enough and immediately downloaded “Anomaly.” And with that, everything I assumed about Christians who rap went out the window.

I was not sure what to expect but I would soon find out. The album opens with a song that literally left me with my mouth open. “Outsiders” is an ode to the people in the world who do not fit in. The people who were created to stand apart. The people who refuse to conform to the world. This was me! Ever sense I discovered my purpose, I knew my journey would differ from most. To say I have been on the outside looking in many times would be an understatement. This song confirmed that “I’m not alone cause there’s plenty people like me.” As the tracks continued to play, I was awe struck by the delivery of the messages. Lecrae was not saying God and Jesus in every other sentence and still the messages resonated loudly. It was in those moments that I realized that Christians who rap can effectively get across the message that God has sent through them without saying his name 50 times in a song. As long as He is the foundation, the words still have power.

I have listened to “Anomaly” over and over from two and a half months straight. I have been a witness to Lecrae seizing the number one spot on the Billboard 200. Number one ya’ll. I have celebrated on Twitter with my brothers and sisters in Christ when #LecraeOnFallon became a reality. And last night, I worshipped and praised the Lord with thousands of my fellow brethern at The Anomaly Tour.

What I witnessed last night was amazing. The Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center could have easily been called The Melting Pot last night. There were people in attendance from all walks of life. There were representatives from numerous age groups, ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, countries and races. And everyone was on one accord as we all partied, screamed, sang, rapped and gave God praise.

The show opened with DJ Promote setting the atmosphere for the show. It was great to hear a DJ set that was free of profanity and mixed so well that it was easy to forget at times what songs we were listening to. After the completion of his set, I unlike most in attendance, was sort of  introduced to Andy Mineo. He is featured on the “Anomaly” album but that was relatively all I knew about him. Just as before, I had not taken the time to really do my research on him. By the time his set was finished I was hanging my head. Andy Mineo is so dope! Just as before, I was awe struck by the delivery of the messages. I was left wondering, how could I have let him stay under my radar for so long? Now, that is a moot point. Now I am on a mission to hear all of his previous work as well because I can see God working in and through him. Andy, if you are reading this, you gained a new fan last night. I cannot wait to see what else God has in store for you!

Crowd rocking with Andy Mineo

Crowd rocking with Andy Mineo

Then it was Lecrae’s turn. The electricity that had radiated through the building during Andy Mineo’s set continued throughout Lecrae’s set and rightfully so. From start to finish, Lecrae set the stage on fire with his personal testimonies, songs of encouragement and humor. I had been giddy all day from the thought of hearing the “Anomaly” album live and disappointed I was not. The best moment of the set was easily when Lecrae snuck into the audience and performed. I was sitting two rows in front of the audio engineers when Lecrae surprisingly appeared on top of equipment behind us. Lecrae. In the crowd. Crowd goes wild. Oh and he spoke to me while he was up there. Take that, take that, take that.

Lecrae performing 'Welcome to America"

Lecrae performing ‘Welcome to America”

Look who just showed up behind me :-)

Look who just showed up behind me :-)

 

Usie!

The show was everything I hoped it would be and more. To the encore of  “Say I Won’t” to the teens jumping up and down to salsa dancing, it was a party. One that pleased God. Much like sports, music can unite us across cultures. Music can remove whatever boundaries we have when it comes to how to we interact with our fellow brethren. Much like sports, music can draw us together to root for one common goal. Last night the goal was simple: to glorify God. The music last night allowed us to wallow in the love that God desires us to have for each other. To be able to co-exist and appreciate the differences He created in all of us. He created us to stand out. He created us to give Him glory and spread love.

He created us to be…anomalies.

 

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

P.S. Follow me on Twitter @KassieNette

(Originally posted on 11.11.12. It has been updated, slightly)

This post has absolutely nothing to do with sports.

On today, November 11, people all across the country will celebrate the great men and women of our Armed Forces. They will be honored with parades, free meals, handshakes, standing ovations and endless thank yous. They are worthy of each and every act of gratitude that is bestowed upon them on that day. The members of our armed forces are known for their strength, determination, resilience, heart, work ethic, faith, courage, dependability, endurance, integrity, loyalty, the list goes on. I admire them for all these things but what impresses me the most is their humility.

All of my life I have been surrounded by men and women who were in the military. My grandfather was a Marine who served in World War II. He also served as a Post Commander in our hometown at one of the American Legion posts. My grandfather was a very humble man. Over the years, I had numerous conversations with my grandfather about his time in the Pacific and I can not recall him ever initiating those conversations. He was not one to brag. He would just simply say, “I was serving my country.” For all the times we talked, I had no idea I was talking to a man who made history. Not long before my grandfather passed, my mother found out that when he entered into the Marines he was among the first wave of African-American men to ever be admitted into the Corps. Come again? My grandfather? My daddy? The man who I call “The Epitome of a Man” was living history? Imagine our surprise. We knew he was stationed at Camp LeJeune but we had no idea about Montford Point which is where the African-American Marines were trained. The more my mother researched the story, the more we grew to understand just how huge this discovery was. When asked about the recent information that was discovered about him, my grandfather simply replied, “Yes, I was at Montford Point.” That was it. No tooting his horn. No sticking out his chest. No bragging about what he had done.

My grandfather’s response to what he accomplished is what I have always encountered with our soldiers. No boasting. No reminding you of what they did. No expectations of handouts. I am always humbled when I meet soldiers and I tell them thank you. A lot of times, I am given a “thank you for your support” as a response. I typically have that “you do not need to thank me” look on my face. It is not necessary but I get it. They fight for us. They serve for us. Many have given their lives for us. They do it selflessly. They do it knowing the risks. They do it because they love their country. Often times, I feel like our military heroes are forgotten. We see praise all over the place for reality stars, athletes(I managed to tie sports in), musicians, YouTube sensations, etc. Being a soldier is not just about November 11. It is about a commitment they made to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” As humble as our soldiers are, I know that acknowledging them solidifies that what they have sacrificed was worth it. So do me a favor, the next time you encounter a veteran or a current member of our armed forces, tell them THANK YOU. Then allow yourself to experience the feeling that truly makes them who they are…humility.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, I would like to publicly acknowledge some very special men and women who have served and are currently serving in our armed forces…my grandfather, the late LM Lockhart, the late Mr. Dewey Hill, Owen Mitchell, Brandon “Peanut” Parker, Danyell Horton, Tommy Parker, Johnny McKeithan, Adam Horne, Carlos Spruill, Leonard “Boogie” Williams, Cedric Payne, James Roberts, Jr., Lena Godfrey, Keith Hargrave, Tim Jones, Bernard Carter, Sheri McDowell, Jimmel Anderson, Quenya Borders Glenn, Tom Wiegand, Danielle Moses, Leon Marsh, Tracy Marsh, Marlaina Beaty and the late Josh Harris(I did not know Josh but he was a Navy SEAL Team Six member from my hometown who sacrificed his life during a combat mission in 2008). THANK YOU all for your sacrifice and service!! You allow me to proudly say, land of the free because of the BRAVE!

 

History. Montford Point Marines. My grandDaddy is on the last row, second from the left.

History. Montford Point Marines. My grandDaddy is on the last row, second from the left.

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Devon Still's IG}

{Source: Devon Still’s IG}

 

Sports have divided us for years. The dynasties vs. the non dynasties. The haves vs. the have nots. The winners vs. the losers. Every once in a while, the tide shifts and rivalries are set aside as fans unite to lend support, encouragement and prayers to those who give so much to the game. There was the late Lou Gehrig, the late Jim Valvano, the late Kay Yow and the late Tony Gwynn. Recently, there has been Chuck Pagano, Pat Summitt, Stuart Scott, Jim Kelly and Lauren Hill. Then there is Leah Still…

Like most of you, I first heard of Leah this summer right after her father, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle, Devon Still was released from the team. What we would all soon find out is that their reason for releasing him was due to the fact that Leah is battling a rare form of pediatric cancer called neuroblastoma. Still came to the conclusion that in order to provide Leah with the care she needed, he would walk away from football. In one of the classiest moves ever by a professional sports organization, the Bengals informed Still that after being cut they would resign him to their practice squad. This move allowed Still to continue to receive health insurance thus ensuring Leah would receive the treatment she needs. Her medical expenses are expected to exceed $1 million and the NFL will cover 100 percent of the costs. A standing ovation is allowed at this moment.

The story spread rapidly. During a summer that was plagued with stories of domestic violence and child abuse, this gesture by the Bengals was a breath of fresh air. In an industry where the phrase, “It’s just business,” sours relationships and throws lives onto an emotional rollercoaster, it brought a smile to my face to see the powers that be put aside any thoughts of what can you do for me to view Still as what he is: human.

As news of the Bengals decision took over the news mediums, the organization took it a step further. Days after being signed to the practice squad, Still was upgraded to the active roster. After signing him to the 53 man team, the Bengals announced that they would donate all proceeds from the sale of Still’s number 75 jersey to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and pediatric cancer research. Within 24 hours, Still’s jersey set a record for the most sales during that time span in Bengals history. Another standing ovation is allowed at this moment.

Not only have fans stepped up to the plate but different NFL organizations, players and sports figures have as well. The Philadelphia Eagles sent Leah toys and a basket full of goodies. New Orleans Saints Head Coach, Sean Payton, purchased 100 Still jerseys(in sizes small and medium) and donated them to the Pediatric Care Hospital in Cincinnati. Hall of Famer, Jim Kelly, who was recently went into remission, sent Leah and Devon a personal note along with an autographed football and jersey. Commentators have been photographed holding up signs with the moniker Still wears under his eyes and across the bridge of his nose every game, “Leah Strong.” And perhaps one of the biggest tearjerkers took place on October 5 during the Sunday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and the Bengals. During the third quarter, as a video tribute to Leah and other children battling cancer played on the big screen, the Patriots cheerleaders unzipped their jackets to reveal the fact that they were wearing Still’s number jersey underneath. The cheerleaders had taken a page out of the owner, Robert Kraft’s, book who announced he would make a $25,000 donation to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Leah’s name. Yep. Worthy of another standing ovation.

This is what I love about sports. The camaraderie. The selflessness. The unity. As I watched the Bengals take on the Cleveland Browns last night, I smiled. I smiled because I knew that Leah was attending her first NFL game. I smiled because I had seen pictures of her in her Still jersey, adorned with rhinestones as she posed for pictures with the Bengals cheerleaders. I smiled through the tears as cameras caught the touching moment between daughter and father as Leah waved emphatically, from her suite, at her father on the field. And remember those jerseys fans and supporters eagerly purchased? The Bengals, with Leah on the field, presented a check for $1.3 millions dollars to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital last nigh in her name. You know what to do. Standing o.

Whenever you have a moment, say a prayer for Leah, her father, all the little ones battling this disease and their families. Often times, for as much as their little bodies are having to bear, they tend to light up the room. Their “I can beat this” and “One day at a time” attitudes serve as a reminder to us to never give up. We have a lot of fight in us if we are willing to tap into it. In the midst of this ordeal, both Leah and her father have been very inspiring. His Instagram(man_of_still75) posts are filled with positivity, gratitude and love. Still offers up a glimpse of his relationship with his daughter. He gives her pep talks, she beat boxes and dances and they both enjoy life in the now. I admire the strength of this little four year old warrior and I pray that her strength will carry her into a life of remission. Continue to live “Leah Strong” babygirl! We are all rooting for you!

 

Every two years around this time, I get extremely annoyed.

Annoyed by all the political ads. Annoyed by all the bickering. Extremely annoyed by all the people with the “my vote doesn’t count” attitudes.

It never fails. I see people all over social media complaining about how they are not going to vote because their voices are not heard or that all politicians lie or that there is no one running that they believe in. Hey! I get it. Wait, no I do not. Ok, to some extent. Yes, lots of politicians lie. However, I do believe there is a large number of them that keep their word. You know grouping them all together is a stereotype, right? Like an all young black males want to be football or basketball players stereotype. Like an all young white males who like to dress in goth attire are likely crazy. Like an all youth of today only want to play on their phones all day stereotype. This is along to same lines.

Years ago I was asked, “Why do you vote?” My response was simple, “Why would I not vote?” Besides the fact that I have the right to vote, I refuse to let the thousands of people who sacrificed their life so I can have this right die in vain. I allow myself to be reminded of all the people from all walks of life from all shades of color from all corners of the US who fought so that we can all have a voice in the booth.

Today, there will be millions of people who sit home and decide not to exercise their right for whatever reason. These are the people I roll my eyes at because this tells me that they do not value their voice. Sure, your voice may be one among a million and while we may not be able to put a face with the voice, we can see that you have spoken.I tend to find that the people who do not vote are the loudest critics and “find” the most problems but they rarely have solutions. They tend to not volunteer or give back in their communities. They tend to not attend meetings where decisions are being made. They tend to not voice their opinions in a manner where they can be effective. In my opinion, people like this just want to stir the pot and hope whatever is inside burns. To those people I say, keep your mouth shut.

If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. As this election season comes to an end, I challenge everyone to stand up for something. Stop hiding behind social media. It is great that you see all these problems but what are you doing to rectify them? If nothing, then today is the best day to start. Start by going to the polls and electing officials that you think are the best candidates for the job. Leave the all politicians lie stereotype outside of your voting booth. The truth is, we can all talk a good game, politician or not. Vote and hold them accountable. Show up at the meetings. Email them. Call their offices. Make your voice heard beyond the ballot.

Today, exercise your right or keep your mouth shut. Actions speak louder than words. What do yours say about you?

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

 

I was minding my own business, drinking a nice hot cup of hot chocolate last night when I hear my mother say, “Ut oh. They were fighting at the race, again.” I reply, “Again?! Who was it this time?” Immediately we both began to search social media for answers.

A few weeks ago, after watching the finish of the Bank of America 500 in Charlotte, cameras were fixated on Brad Keslowski and Matt Kenseth. According to Kenseth, Keslowski immediately drove him into a wall during a restart. The damage to the car caused Kenseth to drop out of the top five and settle for a 19th place finish. With two laps to go, Kenseth retaliated by swerving into Keslowski. Following the finish, as the cars rolled down Pit Road, a still bitter Keslowski hit Kenseth, again, with his car. When both players exited their vehicles, words were exchanged while members of their respective crews tried to separate the two. A few minutes later, cameras are once again on Keslowski as he is walking alone between two trailers. Suddenly, like a thief in the night, Kenseth storms down the alley and proceeds to put Keslowski in a headlock.

As a reward, Keslowski was fined $50,000. Kenseth received no fine.

I do not even feel like sorting out yesterday’s fight that involved Jeff Gordon and yep, Keslowski. Young man stays brawling.

NASCAR is a very popular sport. It is a sport that I happen to love but I have noticed something. For all the brawls that have taken place over the years, there is a never a major uproar about them. Sure, I hear people talking about Tony Stewart and the Busch brothers all the time. One would think with the amount of swinging and intentional crashing that has been taking place on the speedway, we would hear more about the “violent” NASCAR drivers. Oh wait, we are talking NASCAR which means it is ok for drivers to have melees on occasion because it is part of the sport.

One has to wonder though? What makes their fights any different from the ones I have seen in the NFL? Or the NBA? Baseball is known for its bench clearing brawls but these are seemingly welcomed just as much as the seventh inning stretch its.

So I am left to ponder. Is there a double standard when it comes to fighting in certain professional sports? Oh wait. I do not need to ponder. I know the answer.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

Here we go…

Alarm goes off at 4:45a. I jam a little to Bobby Brown’s “On Our Own”(my alarm tone), cuts alarm off then looks at temperature on phone. SIXTY-SIX DAGREES. Huh? *cuts eyes at cute new leggings I bought for the occasion, shorts it is*

1. Miles 1-2. Feeling good, feeling great. How are you?

2. Mile 3. In 2012, I had to dodge some roadkill that was the size of a baby kangaroo. Sunday, I dodged some roadkill that was the same size. Did that joka not decompose?

3. Mile 3. I hear “Black or White” by MJ and start shimmying. Wait, is that MJ performing? I need a pic but homeboy is on the opposite side. I yell “MICHAAAELLLLLL” and keep going.

4. We’re almost near the Key Bridge. I’m still feeling good. Then I realize that I should because I am only 4 miles in.

5. Hey the Key Bridge! So happy to see you after being herding like cattle up that steep, narrow bridge to get here. I always wonder who’s idea was that?

6. My hair is twisted and it was in a cute little style until I got to the Key Bridge. Thank God I had enough sense to bring a rubberband with me.

7. Mile 5. Good ole G’towne. Happy to see you! Love the energy on M Street. Favorite costume out there…Ketchup, Mustard & Relish.

8. Miles 6-9. Rock Creek Park. This is new. We didn’t run this in 2010 or 12. Wait, is there a banana up ahead, running? Wait, is that the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man on the other side, running? Wait, I know this dude ain’t dribbling a basketball and juggling? You are doing the absolute most, sir.

10. Heading to mile 10. I hear someone behind me chanting what I thought was a cadence. Then he passes me. Dude is singing and is so far in his zone that he doesn’t notice how loud he is. Well, do you boo boo. Now, the orange slices are coming! Let me start walking because I have seen plenty of people almost get taken out by those things.

11. Mile 12. The Blue Mile. Hains Point always leaves me choked up. So many soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Forever grateful.

12. Mile 13. Halfway! Yeah baby! Making good time too. I’m hongree though. This bagel in my pouch is not appealing.

13. Mile 14. The first of many angels appears. The first one was a lady with a fruit bar. I don’t like mango lady but today I do! That fruit bar concoction was on point.

14. Mile 16. Fatigue kicked in. Ugh. Legs felt great but I was drained. Called my mom for a pep talk. She could’ve easily been a Marine.

15. Mile 17. The Gauntlet. I have never wanted to kick someone as badly as I wanted to kick the man who almost clipped my wings trying to cross with a darn running stroller during the marathon. A two seater at that. If you don’t get out my way sir….

16. Saw the 2 Legit sign. Had to get a pic. I love MC Hammer.

17. Mile 19. The second angel appeared. The little boy with the Tootsie Rolls. I know he came straight from Heaven.

18. Bridge time! Crushed it and I have the pic to prove it. They didn’t have a fun Marine there this time though. Wonk wonk.

19. For some reason, the choppiness of the Potomac(I could see it out the corner of my eye, along with all the people on the bridge made me nauseous. Had to walk most of it.

20. Crystal City. Another angel. First, my girl Ta’She was there and she had pretzels! I needed salt badly. Secondly, whyyyyyy are the miles in Crystal City soooooo freaking long?? The energy is always great there and we need it because it takes forever to get through that mug. The spectators also have the best snacks there.

21. Mile 24. I am usually excited about those donut holes but I had taken in too much sugar. Then I heard someone say “Ooooo, a chocolate one.” I immediately stopped and a fellow runner said here take this one. I savored every morsel.

22. Before Mile 25. I broke down. As I stated before, I run for the Leukemia 7 Lymphoma Society and I ran in memory of my friend Quincy who passed away three weeks ago. The emotion of that overwhelmed me but I could hear him saying, “Keep pushing buddy. You’re almost at the end.” Once I got myself together, I noticed the baby tropical storm like winds I was encountering. That’s always what you want at the end of a race.

23. Right before Mile 26. Please tell me ya’ll saw the little boy, who is destined to be a future Marine, was out there. Before I even got to him, I could hear a little voice screaming, “Yeah! You got it! Gimme some, gimme some! Keep going! Fist bump! You got it! You got it!” Lil man was no more than 2 ft tall and was the hypest spectator I saw all day. Oorah lil man.

24. Mile 26. Customary pic with the mile marker then I hear someone shouting my name. My friend Steve, is right near the hill, videoing. I run over as well as almost run over people(ala dude with the running stroller) to get to him so we can celebrate.

25. Time to take the hill. Hi-fives. Low-fives. And smiles all around. I round the curve to see my dear friends, Jeneen and VJ, who have been at the finish line since the start of the race waiting for me. They are waving frantically and cheering louder than anyone else in the stands. Couldn’t ask for better support.

26. FINISH LINE. Quincy and I made it. Again. Thank you Lord! I PR’d too at 5:32. I’m 99% sure that is the last 26.2 for me. Always have to leave room for the one percent because I am the same person who said I’d never run a marathon.

P.S. Shoutout to my grandDaddy who passed in 2008. He was a Montford Point Marine(part of the first wave of black Marines to enter the Corps in the 1940s) Please research them if you aren’t familiar with their story. He’s the reason I have only run MCM. Can’t see myself 26.2’ing anywhere else. Oorah to my favorite piece of American History.

 

#RunningForQ #26point2ForQ

#RunningForQ #26point2ForQ

 

MISSION. ACCOMPLISHED.

MISSION. ACCOMPLISHED.

 

Two of my dearest friends who waited for me at the finish line. Love these two!

Two of my dearest friends who waited for me at the finish line. Love these two!

 

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My Get Hype Crew. OORAH!

My Get Hype Crew. OORAH!

Hi everyone! Thank you for all the love shown the past couple of months. I am truly grateful and thankful for your support. I know I have been missing in action on here. Sorry! I have two drafts to posts I started writing but could never get the words to flow right. I hope to get those finished soon. Derek Jeter & Peyton Manning deserve it.

 

In the mean time, please check out my column today in The Dispatch. This column means a lot to me!

 

http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20141023/COLUMNISTS/310239991

Aaaaaaah! I want my sports back!!!

Posted: September 25, 2014 in Controversy, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL, Sports
Tags:

I just want one day where I can turn on ESPN and they are talking about sports. Period. Actually I want more than one day but at this point in time, I will take what I can get.

 

OVER IT.

 

 

 

Being a teenager and young adult these days can be tough. Just ask Jameis Winston. Or Johnny Manziel. Or Justin Beiber.

Every day it seems like my Twitter timeline is filled with people talking about the latest slip up from this young celebrity or that young celebrity. Sometimes all I can do it just roll my eyes as I log off to avoid social media for a few hours or days. Some people love nothing more than to chastise those that are not living up to their moral code.

Yes, what Winston did the other day was down right foolish. Not because of what he has been accused of in the past. Simply because it is a stupid thing to say no matter how popular the phrase is on social media. It was even more foolish to stand up on a table at the Florida State Student Union and yell it out.

I hear all the time that some of these celebrities and athletes need to make better decisions which is true. At the same time, we need to realize that a lot of these celebrities and athletes we are raking over the coals are young. Not to mention they are human. Oh and they are growing up right in front of our eyes. The other day I tweeted that while what Winston did was foolish, we all need to remember that he is TWENTY years old. If we went back and looked down your personal timeline at the age of TWENTY, I am sure we would find quite a few things that you would never want blasted all over social media.

While celebrity status is guaranteed to some based on their success, these young celebrities and athletes are facing a world that their predecessors did not. The world of social media and instant news. Back in the day, it may take two to three hours, longer than that if it happens overnight, for breaking news to spread. Now it more instant than grits.

I am not going to sit here and pretend like I do not shake my head over and over because of some of these celebrities choices. At the same time, I am reminded that none of us are perfect. I cannot imagine the pressure that some of these youngins are under as they try to navigate the waters of doing nothing to rock the media boat to living, growing and making mistakes like any other young adult.

I am sure some will roll their eyes at my mini rant and that is ok. It is my Korner and I can say what I want :-).

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

I am sure you came here today thinking I would have a post about the latest happenings in the NFL since my post last week. While I do have solid thoughts about those situations and some of the commentary I heard over the weekend, I have no desire to write about it. I am all tapped out with the controversies. Right now.  Instead, you will get my thoughts about a topic that I have never lended my words to on The Korner: MUSIC.

Those that know me well know that I am all about old school music. Music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s with a few newer songs sprinkled in. I grew up on old school music. I have vivid memories of riding in the car with my mother listening to ConFunkShun, The Jackson 5, The Commodores, Sly & The Family Stone, The Temptations, KC & The Sunshine Band, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, and the list goes on and on. I have vivid memories of my grandma sitting in her living room with “We Are the World” playing on the record player as she tapped her foot to the beat of the music. I have vivid memories of gathering with the family around the television to watch MJ debut his newest video on primetime television. I am talking about 8:30pm on a Thursday. That kind of primetime.

I love music! On my iPod you can find Chris Tomlin, Bon Jovi, The Notorious B.I.G., Backstreet Boys, Usher, TLC, Metallica, Kirk Franklin, Justin Timberlake, Jodeci, Tye Tribbett, MC Hammer, The Mississippi Mass Choir, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and the list goes on and on and on. However, what you will not find is music from artists who came out let’s say ummmm 2007 or later except for Rapsody, Bruno Mars & Justin Bieber. Hey! I love “Baby”, “One Time” and “As Long As You Love Me” plus The Biebs is talented.  And if you are not up on Rapsody then you need to make that a priority to do so. I do not know what happened but today’s selection of newer artists is less than stellar. Now there are some newer artists, in addition to the Biebs, that are very talented: Adele, Imagine Dragons, Kings of Leon, Lupe, to name a few. However, the quality of music as a whole, in my opinion, lands somewhere between wonk, eh and booooo.

Due to my love of old school, you can imagine how excited I was to be attending Funk Fest in Charlotte this weekend. The lineup was one of the craziest I had ever seen put together: Salt n Pepa, Fantasia, Doug E. Fresh, B.O.B., OutKast, Olivia, 95 South/69 Boyz, 112, War, The Roots, Ice Cube & LL Cool J. Yes people. This all took place in ONE location. On ONE stage. You cannot get much better than this.

{Source: oldschool1053.com}

{Source: oldschool1053.com}

Friday evening started with a road trip to Charlotte with my girls that soon turned into a night that we would never forget. The one thing about shows like this is that theyare long, typically outside and will go on rain or shine. Oh and September in North Carolina, you know that humidity was on scorch. So we arrived at the venue, having missed Salt n Pepa(bummer but I was glad I got to see them a  few years ago) to find thousands of people mingling around the fairgrounds where Funk Fest was being held. We quickly all settled into our seats to get ready for the night to remember. I was excited to see Fantasia whom I had never seen perform. I follow her on Instagram and I have been thrilled to see the progress she has seemingly been making in her personal life. She looks amazing! Fantasia is high energy and despite the heat and humidity she gave us her all as she took us through her catalog of hits. She danced, jigged  and took off her shoes, ala Ms. Patti. I truly enjoyed her showmanship and definitely want to see her again.

After her, the man I cannot get enough of was up next: the legendary Doug E. Fresh. If you have NEVER seen him perform, then you need to put that on your bucket list. “The Entertainer/The Human Beatbox” gets the party started like no one else in the biz. I have seen Doug E. at least six times and I am never disappointed. He had the crowd up on its feet from beginning to end. We all rapped along to “The Show,” “La Di Da Di,” and “Freaks” which featured surprise guest Lil’ Vicious. That song took me all the way back to my middle school days. I am always amazed by the skill that is beat boxing. It is so intricate and of course, I cannot do it so I am fascinated with people who can. Just when I thought I could not respect the art more than I already do, Doug E. Fresh pulled a trick out of his hat so dope that I have been YouTubing to see if I can find a clip of him doing it. As he was closing out his set, he went into a beat box that lasted literally four minutes or more. He beat boxed the same beat taking very minimal breaths. I was mesmerized. What I was witnessing was mindblowing. I have never seen anything like that in my life. The man exerted so much energy that he beatboxed himself into a sweat as he got down on one knee just to finish. One of the craziest things I have ever seen! And then he “Dougied.”

{Source: oldschool1053.com}

{Source: oldschool1053.com}

 

Of course, everyone was hyped after witnessing greatness but it would not last long. We were soon told that we had to seek shelter due to an approaching thunderstorm. Everyone quickly hurried into the exhibit halls to wait out the storm that took almost an hour and a half to pass. Soon we were able to return and anxiously await the arrival of Big Boi and the man known as 3Stacks, to grace the stage. Are you wondering why I did not mention B.O.B.? Well he is one of those new artists whom I do not listen to. I tried to give him a chance but his music sounded like everything else I have heard from the majority of these new artists. A bunch of fluff.

After waiting in the heat and the rain, it was finally time to see the group that put Atlanta on the map: OutKast. I had the pleasure of seeing Outkast in 1998, shortly after their release of their third album, “Aquemini.” However, to get a chance to see them again, after 20 years in the biz and after all the ups and downs the group had been through was enough to make me do a cartwheel. From the time they stepped on the stage and their PHENOMENAL band lead us into the outerspace intro beat to “Bombs Over Baghdad,”, the energy level was through the sky. They set the tone for their performance from the beginning as they took us on a trip down memory lane to the house of nostalgia with an array of hits such as  “Ms. Jackson,” “Skew It On The Bar-B,” “Southernplayalistic,” “Hey Ya,” “Roses,” “The Way You Move,” and one of my all time faves, “Aquemini.” And when they paid respects to their dear friend, the late Pimp C, by performing the classic banger, “International Players Anthem” they sent the crowd into an unexpected frenzy. The layout of hits was delivered just right as both Big Boi and Andre each did short solo sets that highlighted their creative geniuses that were evidenced on the Grammy award-winning “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” There had been talk, even recently from Andre himself, about how he gets nothing out of performing. Even if that was the case, on this particular night it was anything but noticeable as he smiled and laughed continuously throughout their set. The interactions between him and Big Boi was like watching old friends/family pick up right where they left off. As we all stood in the rain, singing and rapping loudly, I smiled. I was reminded that this is what life was all about. Priceless moments.

{Source: clclt.com}

{Source: clclt.com}

The next day proved to be just as exciting as the day before. However, with all the hype that has surrounded OutKast’s return to the stage, their performance was hard to top. I enjoyed seeing War. They are one of those groups that I grew up listening to with my mom. At almost 70 years old, those men still put on a show that will put a lot of young acts to shame. Following them was a group that was sure to receive some respect from them: The Roots. As a huge fan of Jimmy Fallon, I have fallen more and more in love with the talent of The Roots. I have loosely followed them for years but seeing them perform night after night first on Late Night and now on The Tonight Show, my level of respect for their craft is heightened. They are crazy talented! I could not get enough of their musical intricacies. They are definitely in the upper echelon when it comes to bands.

[Source: WCCB}

[Source: WCCB}

Last year, I saw both Ice Cube and LL Cool J perform during the Kings of the Mic tour so I knew to expect performances that were energized and full of hits. Neither disappointed. Well, LL did but it was not his fault. Wait, Cube did too because he did not do any NWA stuff like he did last year. I was ready to rap “Straight Out of Compton” like I was straight out of Compton. Unfortunately, right before LL’s set started it started to rain again. Just like the night before, most people did not care. A little rain never hurt anyone. Plus this is LL we are talking about. He has hits for days. Well as much as LL wanted to perform his whole set, the powers that be made him cut it short(he only performed 30 minutes of his hour and a half set) because of how much rain was on the stage and they were concerned for his safety. I get it. I really do. However, between Friday and Saturday night the powers that be should have been able to rectify that situation in the event that it rained, again. We stood out in a baby monsoon at times to watch OutKast perform and you mean to tell me that you could not figure out a way to let LL continue performing even though it was no longer raining? Shaking my head.

[Source: oldschool1053.com}

[Source: oldschool1053.com}

{Source: V101.9}

{Source: V101.9}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, despite the heat, humidity, rain, lightning and thunder, I had an absolute ball! One of the best concerts I have been to. A collection of artists that have stood the test of time and can still deliver performances that are worthy of witnessing again. I thoroughly enjoyed every performance. However, I have to say seeing OutKast after so many years of wishing they would get back together was everything I had hoped it would be. Although their set was an hour and a half, it was too short. I wanted more! It has been a loooooong eight years between their last album and this performance. Add this OutKast high to my New Edition high that I am still on and you have a Kassie that will be floating in the clouds for a loooong time.

I feel sorry for the kids that are growing up these days thinking what these new artists are putting out is music. Many will scream that I am getting old because I say that. My rebuttal is that it has nothing to do with my age and everything to do with the quality or lack thereof of talent, diversity and creativity. There is not one artist, other than maybe Adele, that this generation can honestly say will be able to sell out shows 20 years from now. Not one! Sad state of affairs.

Well, at least they have the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s if they want to learn to appreciate REAL music. Enjoy youngins!

Yesterday afternoon as the aftermath of Ray Rice’s release and suspension continue to send shockwaves throughout the sporting community and beyond, two trends took off that begin to put everything in to perspective: #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. Initially, I chose not to read the tweets. I had already spent time writing about the situation, was engulfed in discussions about the situation and my Twitter mentions were too much to keep up with. I needed a break from it.

However, before I went to bed last night I decided to take a look. My mom had told me how powerful the hashtags were and that I should read them. I laid down thinking I owe it to these victims, these victims who are courageous enough to take 140 characters and explain their story. As I lay in my bed, my eyes filled with tears as I read tweet after tweet of women AND men who shared their whys. From not understanding what love was suppose to look like to being told over and over it would never happen again to believing things would change to believing the abuser wanted to change to being afraid of children getting hurt in the process to being afraid that leaving would literally mean a choice between life and death…the stories were gripping. They were REAL.

The tweets tell a story…a story of manipulation, fear, paranoia, lies, pain, anguish, hurt, sadness, depression, unworthiness, deceit, deception, persuasion, coercion, threats, humiliation, rape, assault. The tweets tell stories from those who have lived it. The tweets tell stories from those who have suffered through it. The tweets tell stories from those who made excuses. The tweets combat the assumptions I have seen spewed all over social media…those who blame the victim, those who make ASSUMPTIONS about why a person stayed or their actions, those who think it is easy to walk away from situations of this magnitude.

If you have not been in that type of situation then it will be hard for you to understand. I cannot fathom being in an abusive relationship. So instead of trying to understand it from my “I would never allow that to happen” point of view, I try to understand it from a why does this happen point of view? I am reading to see if I can understand where the disconnect happened in the victim’s life to justify the first blow they ever received. I am reading to understand what signs I should be looking for. I am reading to understand how I can help. I am reading to understand what more needs to be done. I am reading to understand why this topic is just now getting this type of attention. I am reading to understand how some got the courage to leave.

We rarely hear the stories of victory.  We rarely hear the stories of the victims who left in the middle of the night and drove for hours just to start a new life, free from their abuser. We rarely hear the stories of the victims who secretly planned their escape for months. We rarely hear the stories of the victims who were one step from suicide but found the strength to decide that they were worth more than that. More than anything, #WhyILeft is a rallying cry. It is a rallying cry for those that are still living in the nightmare of abuse. It is a rallying cry to let them know that  life outside of their situation, that they can be victorious and that love does not come with fists. It is a rallying cry for those that took matters into their own hands. It is a rallying cry for those who finally know their worth. It is a rallying cry that sends a signal to those who cannot understand…check your assumptions at the door because they have a story to tell.

P.S. There are so many causes out here that need our attention. We all cannot be fully dedicated to raising awareness for every cause that plagues our country/world but we can make a difference in certain areas. I challenge you all, if you are not already involved with a cause, to get involved. It should not take a national news story for you to want to help. Actions speak louder than words. What do yours say about you??

My spidey senses did not perk up this morning when I turned on ESPN2 and saw that Adam Schefter was sitting at the First Take desk with Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless and Cari Champion. Yesterday marked the first NFL Sunday of the season so I simply thought he was there to discuss that.

WRONG.

Disgusted. Sickened. Sad. The first three emotions I experienced this morning as I stood, stunned watching the newly released footage of Ray Rice TKO’ing his then fiance, Janay Palmer, in an elevator. To say I was disturbed to see what I saw would be an understatement. For weeks now, the talk has been about NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell and his light penalty(a two game suspension) concerning Ray Rice. The suspension is a topic I have not written about NOT because it does not concern me but because I simply chose not to write about it. About a month ago, I addressed the Rice situation when Smith found himself in hot water for what many called was him implying that it was ok for men to hit women. Everything I said on July 30, I stand by.

However, what I do not stand by is the way the this situation has been handled. Not by the NFL, not by the Baltimore Ravens, not by Rice, not by his wife, not by the prosecutors. When Rice and his wife held their press conference, together sitting far apart, I knew something was off. The fact that two people who had been involved in a physical altercation were presenting a united front was disturbing.  If the NFL thinks I believe that TODAY is the first day they have seen the video of Rice landing his best ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson left hook on his now wife then then I must also believe that the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot are real. One of the powers that be saw that video. Maybe not Goddell but somebody. The NFL expects me to believe that they asked for all video footage but were not given the video inside the elevator but TMZ was?? We are talking about the same NFL that is one of the most powerful organizations in the world, not the country, the WORLD. Excuse me while I go watch Pinocchio’s nose grow.

What I saw take place in that elevator was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I saw a woman, who in the elevator, made contact first. I then saw a man levy a hit so hard that it knocked her out of the picture, literally. I then saw a man who, according to his non verbal language, was not overly concerned with the fact that the unconscious woman laying at his feet was the woman he had pledged all his love to the day he put a ring on her left hand. I then saw a man, not pick up but drag his soon to be wife out of the elevator and leave here laying there on a cold, hotel lobby floor as he seemed to contemplate what to do next.

None of us knows for sure what happened before they got into that elevator. We know what they said and we know what others have said. To me, it looks like a relationship that was plagued with domestic violence before hand that either no one seemed to know about or one where the issues were hidden very well. His actions upset me. A LOT. Even if she was the one that delivered the first blow, which is wrong and puts you in a position to get what you dished out, the amount of force in which he used should be enough to make anyone sick to their stomach. Assault is never ok. Domestic violence is never ok. What I saw is never ok. Oh and two wrongs do not make a right.

I have heard plenty of people say over and over that I should not be upset with the NFL because this is a social issue not an NFL issue. I often wonder out loud if they have been paying attention to the same NFL I watch. If it has nothing to do with the NFL then why does the league have policies concerning conduct, drugs and steroids. Domestic violence is a social issue that effects many affiliated with various companies and organizations including the NFL. In July, Goddell had an opportunity to set a standard when it comes to an issue that has been swept up under the rug for too long. He had a chance to issue a suspension that spoke volumes about how the governor of the NFL feels in regards to domestic violence. He had a chance to stand up for domestic violence victims, both women and men, and say this will not be tolerated in our league. Instead, he handed out a punishment that was the equivalent of what our parents used to dish out to us for missing curfew, lying or letting our friends wreck our new bike.  Shoot, in a lot of cases parents levied a stricter punishment.

If I heard right this morning, then there is a certain policy in the Collective Barganining Agreement in which Goddell could retroactively issue a stiffer punishment on Rice. Should he? I am on the fence about that one. Part of me says he should have handled it right the first time. Part of me says he should go back and hand out a longer suspension. Another part of me wants him to have to face the inferno that is headed towards him in light of the new evidence. Now that I think about it, hand out a longer suspension and face the inferno at the same time. Stand up and admit you dropped the ball. Stand up and admit you thought this would go away. Stand up and admit that the NFL is an organization that has the power to bring awareness to certain topics. Stand up and admit that you should have done more.  Stand up for victims who cannot stand up for theirselves.

Stand up for your daughters. You owe it to them.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

P.S. As I was finishing this post, I got word that the Ravens have released Rice. Does not change anything I said above.

P.P.S. Let us all take a stand and fight this issue head on. We can speak up for all victims. GIVE THEM A VOICE!!

OH HAPPY DAY!!!!!

I can hardly contain my excitement. The day I have waited for since February has finally arrived.

Since I am a writer and I love sports, I know you all are expecting me to issue some predictions. I have said over and over that I hate doing predictions. They hinge on so many things: who stays healthy, who performs the way that they should, which coach best utilizes its players, yada, yada, yada. However, without predictions, it would not give journalists much to talk about, huh?

So you are expecting a Super Bowl prediction. Oh boy. Can I pick two teams? Sure I can. It is my blog. I fully expect Denver to be in the Super Bowl again. Aaaaaaaand I expect their opponent to be an NFC team. Haha. Ok, for real because I do not think Seattle will repeat, I am going to go with New Orleans. Denver will win and Peyton can ride off into the sunset like Ray Ray.

I would have loved to have picked my beloved 49ers. Sadly, I think I window of opportunity may have closed. I do not even want to get into it. Even with the departures, suspensions and distractions, I still think we have tremendous talent and players in place to win it all. The question is, can they gel together to get it done? Only time will tell. I hope my prediction is wrong!

I think my beloved Panthers will be solid again this year but I do not expect them to have the same success as last year. I honestly cannot even tell you why. Just a gut feeling. I hope my prediction is wrong!

 

 

So here we go, my predictions for the week…

Seattle over GB
NO over ATL
STL over Minnesota
Cleveland over Pittsburgh
Philly over Jax
Jets over Oakland
Cincy over Baltimore
Buffalo over Chicago
Wash over Houston
KC over Tenn
NE over Miami
Panthers over Bucs
9ers over Dallas
Denver over Indy
Detroit over NYG
SD over AZ

We shall see what happens.

Enjoy the first weekend of the NFL!!!

 

Hello.

Within the past two and a half weeks, I have seen a steady increase in my number of followers. To all of my new followers, THANK YOU! Welcome to the World of Kassie. Since I do have so many new followers, I feel the need to address what you will experience as a follower of mine.

I initially started this blog in August 2012 as my own little space where I could talk about something I love: sports. My intent was to address stories making headlines, shed light on topics that were under the radar and have general discussions concerning a wide range of sports topics. In my initial post, I stated that from time to time I would blog about things other than sports. It is my site so I can do whatever I want to and I have done just that.

Since The Korner was started, I have become a guest columnist for my hometown newspaper as well as writer for a local magazine in my hometown. The more I write, the more I find myself writing about topics that challenge us all to think beyond what we see. The more I write, the more I find myself writing about topics that require us to address our differences. The more I write, the more I find myself writing about topics that make us uncomfortable. The more I write, the more I find myself writing about topics that affect us daily. The more I write, the more I find myself immersing myself in stories about local and world heroes. The more I write, the more I find myself being assured that sports is not the only thing I want to write about.

I still love writing about sports. However, I also enjoy challenging my own self to address topics that are constantly forcing us to examine ourselves and our beliefs. My core followers are still in tact but I owe it to my new followers to continue to address topics that are thought provoking such as the Michael Brown tragedy.

The Korner is not changing. It is improving. What you will get is more of a mixture. I will still write about sports but you will also see more posts that provoke us to take a deep look inside.  

Enjoy!

Until next time…TOODELLS!

Four words: COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS BACK!!!

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

It’s a Celebration!!!

Posted: August 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

Two years ago today, I set out on a journey. One that had only GOD had laid out for me. I had no idea what lied ahead but I was determined to use this platform to express myself and my views. Two years later, it is one of the best decisions I ever made. Surprisingly to most, I didn’t know GOD had blessed me with the gift of writing. It wasn’t something I did very often, other than in my journal and occasionally on FB(back when notes were a big thing). I am so thankful, grateful and extremely humbled by the fact that I have been able to use this gift to bring awareness to certain situations, challenge your thinking, share my knowledge, have open discussions about topics a lot of people don’t want to talk about and inspire others to go after their dreams and strive for more. I pray to GOD every day that HE will always show me how to walk in humility as HE continues to expand my territory. Since this day two years ago, I am now a published columnist and writer but it doesn’t stop there. I have even BIGGER DREAMS and GOALS when it comes to my writing and I am confident that as I walk in HIS will these dreams and goals will come to fruition. I am determined to get all HE has for me! Claimed it. I pray that in sharing this short testimony, you will be inspired to go after you heart’s desires. If you are following HIS lead, you ca’t go wrong! GO GET IT YA’LL!!!

 

Happy, Happy 2nd Birfdaaaaaaay to my own little chunk of the World Wide Web, the place where it all started, The Korner…www.kassienetteskorner.com. Year #3…ya’ll ain’t seen nothing yet!

 

{Source: Google Images}

{Source: Google Images}

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}