2015

Miami University 2010: Commitment and Paying the Price for Success Pt 2

December 7, 2010, I committed to Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) accepting a full ride academic/athletic scholarship. Upon committing I didn’t know how much of an impact on my life this would make. While a student-athlete at Miami University, I was part of a team that made history by winning the Mid-American Conference championship and finishing the 2010 season with a record of 10-4. A substantial improvement from the year before where the football team finished the season 1-11. However, what is less known or advertised was the price that had to be paid by each team member individually. At the base of success is a degree of commitment to an idea or goal. It is often that the slogan/motto “there is no ‘I’ in team” is shouted among teams and organizations. Selfishness serves as a monkey wrench in the operation of collective actions. Individual commitment to the team is a necessity to success.

As I reminisce and think back five years ago, I cannot help but come to the realization that the overarching theme for my experience at Miami University surmounts to one thing. Commitment. Not only commitment to the institution and its football program but also and more importantly, commitment to the process of success while paying the price for success.

I understood as an eighteen year old freshman what it meant to be committed to goals/aspirations, the process of success, and the price for success. However, the commitment I was previously responsible to fulfilling was something I had rooted and engrained throughout childhood. In fact, this commitment only added to the childhood dream. College was an entirely different animal. An animal that I knew had to be confronted and dealt with accordingly. For though I made the decision and commitment to Miami University, I did so naïve/ignorant to the process and price that came along with success. I committed to being a student-athlete because that was what I was good at and that was what those around me expected of me.

 I was a collegiate student-athlete at Miami University for six months. During this time, I, like any and all college freshman, evolved in many aspects of life both positively and negatively. At the time my major or field of study was undecided, however, I did find a course or two interesting. Throughout my time at Miami I struggled academically. I continually asked for tutors and or academic coaches, never was I granted one. Nonetheless, I made it through the season and did what was asked.

Athletically, I competed every morning during practice at five a.m. I was privileged enough to travel with the team for away games and sometimes having the chance to play. Additionally, I was voted by teammates to be a member of the Redhawk leadership council, which was a group of guys who met weekly to discuss team issues and come up with solutions to produce positive outcomes for the program. These weekly meetings were the highlight of my week. I had the opportunity to get to know my teammates on a different level. Without the once a week leadership sessions I would not have made it through the season and semester. The lessons I would learn from those meetings I would carry  throughout college and still carry with me today.

I mentioned previously how I evolved while at Miami University academically and athletically, but I did not touch on how I evolved personally. The purpose of the next section is to speak of this subject. And so let us begin…

Academically, I was scratching the surface of becoming a student. Athletically, I was learning the intangibles and sharpening the skills needed to lead a program. However, though both academics and athletics are key subjects in a collegiate student-athletes life, one subject that is often times forgotten is personal development. While at Miami I failed to grow as a person and think about who I was becoming. Never did I tell myself “one day your football career will end and you will have to enter into real life”. Never did I question who I was as a person and what I wanted to become. While I was living the life of a student-athlete, I failed to embrace who I was as an individual. This was the something that was swept under the rug along the process of success. This was the price that I paid for success. Yes, I went out after games, hung out with friends, and tried to “live it up”, but not without second-guessing myself thinking “how could what I am currently doing effect the team and disappoint those who trust me to represent the program? ”.

Coach always told us that we as athletes (football players) have a duty to be great ambassadors for the athletic program and football team. Every action anyone or I committed either on or off the field was a representation of the team NOT JUST YOURSELF. Coach made this very clear by demanding before practices and every game that we “look around, to our left/right/front/behind, and say to our brother I TRUST IN YOU”. As a team leader (leadership council member), quarterback, and varsity player, I had an obligation to the team, both on and off the field. I assumed this duty upon committing to the institution whether knowingly or unknowingly.

            As the semester and season came closer to ending, as did my time at Miami University. And so upon the semester ending I made the decision to leave Oxford, Ohio. I would close a chapter in my life and begin anew. Though I would depart Miami, the lessons I learned while there wouldn’t depart me. Above other lessons, I learned what it meant to be committed and the price that came with it. I would carry this lesson with me to Notre Dame College.

To be continued…

Written by Robert Partridge, follow Robert on twitter

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The Bob Knight Experience with Mr. Bill Cook

My rock star attitude took a toll on the IU assistant coaches at the time. Dan Dakich and Joby Wright both challenged me with intense verbal confrontations on separate occasions. Ron Felling simply ignored me most of the time unless I humored his jokes. Tates Locke, on the other hand, was the one coach who was able to relate to me. One day Coach Locke and I sat high in the stands in Assembly Hall, and he asked me why I was attending IU? I think he expected me to say something along the lines of “to become a professional basketball player” or “to earn a degree.” My reply was one in which I stood by: “to experience all that college has to offer.” Coach Locke laughed, and as the conversation continued, he gave me much needed insight on how college coaching is designed and how the system was affecting my playing time as well as basketball players just like me all over the country.

Coach Locke quickly began to explain his view of coaching at the division 1 level. He said that every student athlete has an advocate on staff trying to get their player minutes on the court. They do this because in most cases they recruited that player. When a player does not perform to expectations on and off the court, the head coach usually blames the assistant coach who was responsible for the recruitment process.

When that assistant coach gives up on the athlete, dealing with that player becomes the responsibility of another assistant coach. The process continues until the team runs out of assistant coaches.

Then a decision is made to either encourage the player to leave or to let the athlete ride the scholarship out. When I said I understood, he said, “I am the last assistant coach on the list to deal with Mark Robinson.” Whether this was true or he was just trying to get me to leave the rock star mode, based off the behavior of the other assistant coaches, his reasoning made complete sense. We I left Assembly Hall, I felt much better about my interactions with Coach Wright and Coach Dakich. I understood that these assistant coaches were under extreme pressure, and it is sometimes easy to forget that the players dealt with are 18-21 year old kids. I also came to understand that as a player, once practice was over I could go back to my rock star world, and they had to continue to stay in the world of Bob Knight.

While at IU, Buzz Kurpius was the team’s academic advisor, and she did a wonderful job of keeping the team eligible. I majored in General Studies, but I had no clue what I could do with a degree in General Studies and neither did anyone else. Buzz was a sincere person, and most of the time it was clear that she wanted the best for the guys on the team. Her job was to make sure players attended class and passed classes. However, her oversight did not extend beyond our class work. At the time, everyone assumed athletes were gaining the necessary personal development and becoming better people through the basketball experience. Understanding the personal needs of the athletes on the basketball team was not a high priority, and the importance of personal development was unknown. I would argue that many academic advisors today are still unaware of the needs and benefits of personal development for athletes.

Bill Cook

Bill and Gayle Cook

During the spring semester of 1988 my GPA did not meet the standard that Coach Knight believed to be acceptable. As a punishment, he assigned me to work during that summer at a company called Cook Group Incorporated. I did not know much about the company or what I would be doing, but since the work assigned was a punishment, I assumed it would not be pleasant. I reported to work and sat with Mr. Bill Cook, the CEO. I remember seeing Mr. Cook around Assembly Hall from time to time and had exchanged pleasantries with him and his wife, Gayle, on several occasions without ever realizing he was the CEO of a major company. On my first day we talked and laughed for a little over an hour while watching his marching band on tape. While I was enjoying this opportunity, Mr. Cook received a call from Coach Knight asking what job I would be doing? Mr. Cook replied to Coach that we had not yet begun that discussion. Coach Knight asked Mr. Cook to give me the dirtiest job he could find. I ended up cleaning bathrooms, maintaining a bird pool in front of the office, and sand blasting vents on the roof of the building all summer. However, every time Mr. Cook and I had an opportunity to chat, we would. After the summer job, I did not see much of Mr. Cook until I finished my degree……

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Anthony Eggleton: Stay in Balance

In my early youth I had to be a warrior just to survive in the concrete jungle. Then came Martial Arts where I learned to develop and harness my warrior spirit. Later I joined Uncle Sam’s Army where I trained and then trained others to divide and conquer. All that I cared about was winning at any cost. Now in my life I am trying hard to channel my warrior spirit into something constructive and peaceful.

Technology and Science are changing at breakneck speeds. Are you keeping up with the rise, or falling behind? All around you is information that can change your health, finances and social standing. It is in easy and accessible formats. So, there is really no excuse for not staying abreast. The time for excuses is obsolete but we must be careful.

We hold in our mist, in the guise of Social Media a tool for changing the collective consciousness and the world or for keeping us in limitation and towards self-destruction. We must all make an individual choice. Whatever you write, share or post on this powerful tool causes a change, ripple effect somewhere in the world. Therefore care should be taken at all times. Everything is connected. Seeds of negativity will only grow more of the same.

The personal pain I have grown through helped mold and shape me into the person that I am today. I’m not asking for more, but if more was to come my way I am more than ready for the lesson. Like everyone at sometime or another I have been tried in the fire. But I’m still here and growing.

One great understanding is that balance in all things is needed and that examples of that is around me waiting for my attention and comprehension. The greatest life lesson I have learned, I must take as much care of my physical body as I do my spiritual. I built up the temple not made of hands but allowed my body temple to slowly slip into stiffness and weakness. The Divine Creator gave me the insight to regain my balance. I am so thankful. Stay in balance.

Until next time

Ant

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The Bob Knight Experience

Playing for Bob Knight at Indiana elevated one’s status in the community and on campus, and no one loved the recognition more than myself. This was the first time I truly felt entitled as a result of the hard work and commitment I made at the high school and community college level. Now this might sound silly, but the fact that people recognized me and wanted my autograph, fed into my ego. The social life of an Indiana basketball player could take one of two courses. You could a: take the student athlete route and focus on academics and basketball, or b: take the rock star route while focusing on academics and basketball. Most of my teammates took route A. I, however, took route B. Yes, the rock star route. I think my decision was due to my ignorance regarding what IU basketball was all about. I did not grow up in basketball culture like most of my teammates, and I suspect they knew what signing up for IU basketball entailed. I had no clue.

The College Basketball Rock Star

Taking the rock star route had serious consequences because Coach Knight and his staff knew everything players did after practice and games. Some students would even call the basketball office and leave messages for coaches alerting them that some of the basketball players were out at a party. My social life affected my playing time. Although the consequences frustrated me at times, I still made my choice. Once I was able to accept the coach’s decision, it did not matter how much I played during games. I believed my personal time existed before or after the games, and I loved each and every minute of that lifestyle. My job was to give 100% on the basketball court in practice and in games, and I did that without question. However, I felt once basketball was over, my time was available to do as I pleased. If IU granted a degree in the area of being a socialite, I would have not only made the honor roll, but I would have been the valedictorian of my class.

The College Basketball Luxuries

As part of a nationally recognized athletic program, athletes are afforded certain luxuries, and one extravagance was having team managers around. Many on the outside do not realize the difficulty involved with being a team manager nor do they see the long-term benefits. Lawrence Frank, who would later become an NBA coach, and I established a great relationship. He was a guy who would tell you how he felt in a joking, yet sarcastic way and did not care about who you were and how many minutes you were playing. I enjoyed laughing and talking to “L,” as we called him, because he could put a tough practice or loss in a humorous perspective even when you did not want to laugh. He would also give you a certain look at times to alert you that Coach Knight was not in the mood for playing around and that locker room jokes needed to be shut down.

The Bob Knight Relationship

My relationship with Coach Knight was not like the relationship I had with my previous two coaches to say the least. Coach Knight would often ask me to just leave and go back to California. Although I gave that option some thought, I enjoyed being in the Rock Star mode way too much and going back to California was not an option. During my tenure, players like Rick Calloway, Dave Minor, Chuck White, and Lawrence Funderburke transferred for a variety of reasons. At the time, I could not understand why a player in his right mind would leave Bloomington Indiana. I developed a relationship with all of these guys and each time one of them transferred, I was hurt in the same way a person feels the loss of a family member.

Coach Knight, while misunderstood by many on the outside world, treated all players, starters, and reserves the same. His methods of motivation were nothing like I had ever seen. He placed a big emphasis on diversity and would often go into a rage if he walked into a pre-game meal and the room was segregated. No table with black-only players was allowed, and vise versa. Additionally, there were two issues that were not debatable with Coach Knight: alcohol & drugs and academics. Players would simply no longer be at IU if they had trouble in either of these two areas.

As players transferred from the team, my compassion for them and my curiosity in athletic behavior began to grow. The one thing I noticed when these athletes left IU was the amount of isolation the institution quickly, yet unknowingly placed them in. Once a player made the decision to leave IU, they were on their own and kept a distance between themselves and former teammates. None of the players’ departure hurt me more than when Jay Edwards left IU and entered the NBA draft after his sophomore season. Jay Edwards had the best jump shot and highest basketball IQ of any player I had ever worked with, but when he decided to turn professional, I questioned the rationale for his decision. He and I spent two years together regularly, and we never discussed the possibility of him playing in the NBA. I believe playing in the NBA was one of his long-term goals, but leaving after his sophomore year was the result of his family’s expectation. Once the decision was made, the IU basketball community turned on Jay and he was placed in isolation..

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An Account of a Collegiate Student-Athlete’s 5yr Experience: Part 1

Someone or something inspired me, like many young people. Sooner or later, this someone or something evolved into a burning desire or dream of sort that I could not go a day without thinking about. We all have fallen under the spell of such phenomenon that has captured the heart and consequently directed our actions with the purpose of making the dream into reality. No matter how little or large said dream may be, the pursuit of making the dream into a reality can only be justified by the dreamer.

Some of us are fortunate enough to see our dream become a reality. Others let go of the dream and are able to shift focus elsewhere either by creating a new dream or abandon the act of dreaming altogether. Through commitment, humility, and resilience the dream that made up my childhood came true. Personally, becoming the starting quarterback of the storied Massillon Tigers was my dream come true. Since I can recall, all I ever dreamed of was becoming the starting quarterback of the team my father coached and the only thing I knew growing up. However, the purpose of this writing is not to narrate the process of my childhood dream becoming a reality. Rather the purpose of this writing is to share what came after the dream, the trials and triumphs that constituted a five-year journey, and ultimately made me into the person I am today.

I, like most recent college graduates, am adjusting to this thing commonly labeled as the “real world” or simply put… Life after college. After five years of being a collegiate student – athlete at three different institutions (Miami University, Notre Dame College, and Hiram College) I have matured and come to the realization of what defines my passion. The time to utilize the lessons I have learned throughout my youth and experience as a student- athlete up to this point are now being put to the test.

I am aware that mistakes are evident and will come as I begin and go through the next chapter of life. However, the key difference is now I can’t accept points off for a late assignment submission nor can I merely run a gasser for every minute I am late for a team meeting. For in real life, a late assignment submission or tardiness to a meeting could result in termination, unemployment, and lack of an income to payback student loans.

My name is Robert Partridge; I am a recent graduate of Hiram College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a minor in public leadership. I desire to develop student-athletes through strategic leadership development and tactful team building. Since graduating this past May 2015, I have meticulously researched ways in which to best grasp, understand, and mend to my liking; the “Real world”. I have found a full time job that I am blessed to have and am learning lessons from everyday. However, not a day goes by that I don’t think about what burns inside constantly evolving into what could be labeled a dream or something along those lines. For now, it is my duty to stay committed to the job and team of co-workers.

At times, taint thoughts formulate within my mind of what other job I could be doing; but I quickly diminish these, for it would be humiliating for such thoughts to produce an attitude and ultimately, actions. When times like these occur I think back to my playing days, more specifically, a time when I had to be resilient and overcome adversity for not only myself but also more profoundly, the team collectively as a whole. Having revisited such a time along with remembering the process and what it took to overcome adversity, I then am able to relate it to myself currently in the work place and do what needed to be done to refocus and execute the job.

As previously mentioned in the previous paragraph, “I desire to develop student-athletes through strategic leadership development and tactful team building”. Accordingly, over the past several weeks I have meticulously researched and sought out people who can guide me in the direction needed to go for my desire to come into fruition.

Several weeks ago, I came across one person in particular who compelling caught my attention. Dr. Mark Robinson is a global leader, pioneer, and expert in “Personal Player Development”. The weekend of my birthday I had the privilege and honor of speaking with Dr. Robinson in a phone conversation. Dr. Robinson and his words of wisdom not only inspired me to write this discourse, but more importantly, the result of my time with Dr. Robinson was a sense of direction and spark to a much needed idea. Thus, I am morally obligated to give thanks to him and dedicate a great part of this discourse to him. Thank you, Dr. Robinson.

In a recent interview with fitacrosscultures.com, Dr. Mark Robinson profoundly stated, “The sport industry needs to stop using athletes only for their skill, but start to support them to be better people. It’s a challenge because it’s an area that is often overlooked. Athletes sacrifice a lot of their free time to get better players that they could invest in their own development”.

Being a former student-athlete at three different institutions of all three NCAA divisions, I confess that Dr. Robinson’s words are indeed true and shine light on a key issue.

Furthermore, Dr. Robinson’s statement provides a lens to another key question/issue that I consider vital to understanding the nature of a collegiate student- athlete’s personal development. As collegiate student- athletes go through the college experience and assume roles amongst their team, athletic program, and institution certain tasks are demanded of them. Such tasks include becoming the best athlete possible, hosting recruits, going to class and doing the work ask of them by the instructor, and being a good representative of their team/program both on and off the field. Ultimately, their task is to develop themselves as a student-athlete so that in turn the program is developed so that it can attract recruits in the future.  After all, collegiate sports are a multi-million dollar business and the more a program wins the more revenue the school brings in and is able to attract students. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality of the situation.

I assert that the problem a number of collegiate student-athletes are faced with is not only the “sacrifice of their free time” but more problematic and conflicting, the athlete sacrifices personal development and a loss of self-identity past his or herself as just an athlete. In other words, while collegiate student-athletes pursue and achieve objectives and goals set forth by their athletic teams, programs, and institutions; the student-athlete loses track of his or herself personally.

The price can be seen among “thousands of NCAA student-athletes who struggle with the emotional and physical transition from a life centered on athletics”. This is a topic that must be deeply considered, spoken of, and dissected rather than abandoned. Statements such as, “Unfortunately, we don’t really talk about it very much or prepare athletes for it” are disgusting, vile, and not acceptable.

In this discourse, I will share with the reader my collegiate student-athlete experience with the intent of helping solve the issue of loss of individual student-athlete identity and resolving the conflict of collegiate student-athlete transitioning into the “real world”. To do this I have structured the article into four installments.

In section one, I will begin by giving an account of the time I spent and what I learned while a student-athlete at Miami University (NCAA, division I). Next, in section two, I will discuss my student-athlete experience and what I learned at Notre Dame College (NCAA, division II). Following this, in section three, I will provide a narrative of time spent and lessons learned while a student-athlete at my alma mater Hiram College (NCAA, division III). To conclude this discourse, in the fourth installment and crux of the writing, I will take the previous three sections along with their themes, and correlate them with the above issues and conflicts intending on providing a possible solution…..

To be continued…

Written by Robert Partridge, follow Robert on twitter

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England Academy Football and the Pressure

In recent years youth football/soccer has grown tremendously in England. The game has always been popular but with the growth of sports channels and the internet the following of the Premiership League and the enthusiasm for the game has gone to another level.

Every local park has children as young as five dribbling through cones, a few years after these children are moving into playing in mini/local leagues. Football interest developed into neighborhood teams and now football academies have blossomed all over England.  These academies are looking for talented players to continue developing the game as well as making the academies attractive to the next generation of footballers.

All Professional clubs run youth academies and are also seeking the best of the best to groom for first team or the professional level. Due to the footballers salaries and fame attached to being a professional footballer, the competition is fierce. Professional club academies attract large numbers of young kids from various backgrounds with a variety of personal player developmental needs.

Through my years of coaching football and mentoring young athletes I’ve encountered  academy players missing a developmental component.  Most recently I’ve had an opportunity to get to know a young footballer who was willing to share his thoughts on what it’s like to play football at the academy level in the United Kingdom.  The name of the player has been withheld because we want to make sure he is not judged by his comments regarding the UK youth football academy sector and the area of Personal Player Development.  This young man is 13 years of age.

Mr. Gentle: When it comes to football what is your ultimate goal and what steps are you taking to reach it?

Academy Footballer: My goal is to make it as a professional footballer, in order to reach this goal I will work hard, focus and try my best to play well.

Mr. Gentle: How do players join a football academy?

Academy Footballer: Most players get spotted by a scout when they are playing for a well known local team or in borough competitions. Many local coaches also work for or have contacts in academies. If you play for a team that’s unknown I’m not sure if there’s any way of being spotted.

Mr. Gentle: What have you realized since you have been in the academy?

Academy Footballer: You realize that you’re not playing for each other you’re playing for yourself, because when you get offered a contract it’s for you not for the other person… just my name.

Mr. Gentle: How tough is the competition between players?

Academy Footballer: It’s a very big thing, if you’re not doing well you’ll be let go and around my age it’s harder to get into an academy than it was a few years ago. Academy teams already feel like they’ve seen the best players. If you started playing for an academy at a young age (8 or 9 years of age) you will have developed a lot quicker than someone who is joining at a later age.

Mr. Gentle: What support do academy Footballers receive from the club or organization?

Academy Footballer: They pay for your expenses and if you’re having issues in school they’ll visit the school to speak with the Head Teacher.  You really don’t receive any support regarding social media use or relationship development.

Mr. Gentle: Do you think players need support in other areas off the pitch?

Academy Footballer: Yes, encouragement and motivation. Particularly in my age group because one or two will make it and the rest will probably be released. I feel a great deal of pressure to get it right every game so I can make my family proud. A lot of academy players focused on nothing but football without consideration of other possible career options.

Mr. Gentle: Do you have a backup plan and how important is having one?

Academy Footballer: Yes. I think all Footballers should have a backup plan because it’s very hard to make it as a Professional Footballer. I think 10% of elite academy players make it in the whole country, the rest get released, but that number could be lower. If they have a backup plan they can go with that… but if they’re fortunate enough a lower league team may want to sign them.

 


 

It seems from this interview England football needs to start looking at a different approach to educating young footballers.  Personal Player Development is clearly an area all sport sectors in the UK need to address from three perspectives.  Personal Player Development training for helping professionals working within sport, implementation of programs and an awareness campaign of the issues and challenges athletes experience.

Interview submitted by Anthony Gentle

 

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Dr. Tommy Shavers: Part Three, Culture, Sex and Power

In the third part of a four part interview, Dr. Tommy Shavers gives us a better understanding of the athlete in the areas of Culture, Power and Sex based off his research.  If you are working with athletes you should read this and share it.

How do we address the domestic violence and sexual assault problem in the culture of sports?

 

I will continue to come back to my hallmark statement; if you are unaware, then you are unprepared. The first part that is essential to addressing the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault in sports is accurate awareness on the issue. Being a college football player myself and being coached by one of the great defensive minds in football, our coach would always ask the question, “what do you see?” If we couldn’t accurately articulate what we were seeing on the field from our opponent, there was no way we could accurately prepare or respond to what we were up against. So it all starts with accurate awareness, does the sports industry really know what they are seeing when it comes to these areas. Currently they are not fully aware (which means to be accurately aware) of what they are up against with this issue.

 

In a research study I conducted with college football players, in which they talked about status, power, and sex; these athletes were unanimously clear that their status and social power as college football players was influencing their overall behavior as well as their sexual perspective, actions and behaviors with women. The things these young men stated during these interviews would bring chills to someone who is not aware that such a culture (which the kids didn’t create) exists. Listen, I lived the culture and I was a bit taken back by what I was hearing in these interviews. Most of them talked about entering into a world or culture they didn’t even know existed, where people (men and women) were willing and able to give them anything, just because of their status and influence as athletes. So in other words the way society began to treat these athletes changed (culture); which quickly in turn began to change them. Many of them admitted to being the focus of attention in high school, and they stated that it was at a whole different level in college. A unique issue that most may not understand about this culture is when it comes to sex. In this culture, most male athletes are pursued just as much for sex as they pursue sex. One player asked me a question, “what are you suppose to do when a beautiful, attractive girl wants to sleep with you; turn it down? That’s a hard thing to do; for one you look bad if you turn her down, and two who would want to turn that down?”

 

So for those who have lived in and experienced that culture, they know these things to be real and valid. Another thing that was emerging out of the study was that athletes are really polarized in the eyes of people socially (especially women). Some love them and want to be in their circle and others really don’t care for them and avoid them socially and relationally as much as possible. So what this creates is a generalized view of women by athletes because all the women that they engage with on a regular basis are women who are heavily influenced by their status and thus carry themselves or allow themselves to be treated in ways that other women who are not so enamored by athletes would carry themselves. As a result many athletes develop a dangerously false perception of women because of the culture of women they regularly engage with.

 

Now someone may want to jump on those statements as sexist or degrading of women, well before we can talk about how inappropriate such statements are, we must first ask are they true, and as unfortunate as it is, this is true. But it is not just about women. Everyone in their circles who are enamored with their status as athletes, treat them in such a way that this becomes the only world they know. I call it “living in a world of all green lights”. If this is the case, then what happens when such a person comes to a yellow or red light in their life? Well, yellow and red lights don’t exist in their life so they are unaware and thus unprepared to deal with yellow and red light realities of life. And the reality is yellow and red lights do exist for the rest of the world, which means that it is almost inevitable that the green light world will one day encounter a red light, catching up to the athlete and causing disastrous wreckage in their own lives and in the lives of those they’ve encountered. This is why this work is so important. We are trying to tell these kids to slow down and stop, when those things don’t practically exist in their world which makes them unaware that they really exist (for them) anywhere else in the world.

 

The last thing I say on that is this; the thing that surprised me the most about this study, was the reaction of the athletes after the interviews were concluded. I would ask each of the participants if they had any questions or anything additional they would like to add to the study. Unexpected to me was that the majority (I can’t recall one who wasn’t) were as surprised as I, about the realities that they were sharing about their own lives and the lives of others in this status power culture of sports. Many of them mentioned that they have never stopped and thought about their lives and actions in this way, they were use to just living in it, and it was normal for them, until they actually sat down and talked about it. Many of them seemed to be sobered and alarmed at their actions and the actions of others; now knowing how dangerously risky and abnormal their lives were. Many of them thanked me for opening their eyes to their own world. Think about that, they told me about their lives, all I did was ask if having status and power as an athlete affected them in anyway. But in the end, to them it was as if I had just made them (accurately) aware of their own lives in ways they had no idea. For example guys talk about sexual activity that in the eyes of most, would be viewed as gang rape. This didn’t hit them until they actually were made to look at their lives from an objective and not power influenced point of view. They are so accustomed to living on impulsive and desire that they rarely are taught to process things rationally and with awareness of the circumstances. But this is what all of the research on power tells us could happen to individuals like athletes. Their words were merely practical confirmation of what the research field has already learned and continues to discover when it comes to individuals with high levels of status and social power. This was why I realized that for most of these athletes, we expected them to rationally function in a world that’s not their norm and carry themselves in ways they rarely have to, in their normal daily lives as power individuals. Let me just add, this does not just go on in sports, but in all high profile, high power cultures. We see it with politicians, corporate executives, and sports leaders. We’ve seen it recently with law enforcement and the inability of some police officers to effectively handle having power. We see it in faith circles with the moral failures, behavioral abuses, and exploitation of people by ministers, pastors, and other church leaders. Some are aware and choose to use their status and power in appalling ways for their own corrupt desires. However, many are not this way; many have unfortunately inherited a culture that their character and conduct has adapted to.

 

 

 

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Memoir of an Athlete: When the Invincible Meets the Invisible

[av_dropcap2]T[/av_dropcap2]errier Activity Board Vice President, four year letter-winner on an Offensive Line that led Hiram College to its best record in 26 years, orientation leader, 2015 Most Outstanding Senior at Hiram College, 2015 nominee for Who’s Who In Colleges and Universities Magazine. Sounds impressive right? I’ll just start by being real and saying this; no one cares. This is a world where people only want you for what you can do and not for who you are. All of the college accolades I just mentioned mean nothing to anyone other than my family and myself.  The one thing I am always criticized for is being “too real” with my friends, family, and colleagues. I’m about to drop my experience and knowledge for you to have a better understanding of where I am at this point of my life.

My name is Nick Sebastian and I am recent graduate of Hiram College in Hiram, OH where I earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Management with a focus in sports and played football.  I made it to the top of the figurative mountain when it came to my involvement outside of football. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had severe struggles from freshman to junior year that you can ask me about, however, if I put all of them in this memoir, it would be 27 pages long. I don’t believe anyone wants to read something that long. I wouldn’t want to read it, and I’m writing it.

I am also a proud alumni of Poland Seminary High School in Poland, OH where I played four sports throughout my four years and earned three letters in varsity football. Poland is a great community that I would love to start a family in one day myself. The community is phenomenal and they love their sports just as much as Odessa, TX loves Friday Night Lights.

I’m guessing many of you have never heard of either one of those places until now. I come from an extremely privileged background where basically I was given anything and everything I could ask for. I remember specific moments during my High School career when I would ask: “Hey Dad, I need some tape for my cleats, can I have $20?” or “Hey Mom, do you have my Gatorade, pads in my football pants, and jersey ready for tonight’s practice?” Basically I was spoiled. Heck, I still am spoiled. But I am very fortunate and grateful for my parent’s involvement in my athletic journey. Without their help, I would not have come close to where I am today.

Where am I today you ask? Well, I work for a third party logistics company in Pittsburgh, PA. Although I am only a couple of months removed from my collegiate experience I have managed to learn a great deal about life in the real world. How does a student- athlete from the greater Youngstown area, who attended college in the greater Cleveland area end up in Pittsburgh, PA? Easy answer; I chased the money. I was told there was a great opportunity in a new city where I could make a name for myself. How awesome does that sound?! This is where the pampering and being put on a platform my whole life turned into more of a curse than a blessing. Yes, I know and display the value of hard work, team work, commitment, discipline, and all the life skills that football taught me over the years, but nothing could prepare me for what I couldn’t see but more importantly never experienced or was exposed to.

After exhausting my eligibility and graduating, I thought my plan moving forward was solid and in hand. I soon realized it wasn’t. My transition landed me in sort of a shock mode. I don’t expect anything to be handed to me but I thought I would at least get some direction.

Something everyone wants to do is build his/her own path right? Take the world by storm. Show everyone just how tough and knowledgeable you are. For some, this concept is easier said than done, some of us are fortunate enough have a path laid out for them when it comes to career choices after athletics. Some of us go into the medical field, political field, stay in the sports field, engineering, etc. Some of us make it in the 1% and compete in professional sports. But for the majority of us, we have to feel around for what we want to do. I am a firm believer that in order to know what exactly you want or don’t want to do in life, we have to try a number of things to determine where is the best fit. The only problem with this philosophy, it involves some type of short or long-term commitment. Commitment is a word and action that we have a hard time grasping and dealing with outside of a sporting environment. Or at least it was for me.

Why would I want to commit to a career path in which I am unsure of the passion and excitement it will bring me on a daily bases? Commitment in life is much different then selecting the college of your choice on signing day. This type of commitment to the real world was one I never experienced until about two or three months ago. It was much more than signing a piece of paper and wearing a cool hat at a table with your family. This commitment involved bills, taxes, 401k’s, 403b, saving accounts, spending accounts, so on and so on. I was clueless and surprised such things existed, mainly because so much was given to me in the past and my collegiate experience did not cover the real world experience. I was overwhelmed, I felt like I did my freshman year of college all over again.

One of the main differences that I haven’t come to terms with is life not revolving around football anymore. No more ball on the one yard line, 11 seconds left to win the game, no timeouts, one more play to run, adrenaline pumping, and a game winning touchdown run in front of thousands of screaming fans going wild because we just won a game. I am sitting at my cubicle, eight hours a day, five days a week making a ton of phone calls.  All to pay bills and impress my boss so he can analyze the amount of revenue and numbers generated. Coaches, Teachers, and Professors consistently reminded me that the skills and experience I have in college would carry over to the real world. They never expressed or explained how my passion, desire, and excitement would not carry over to the real world.  Nor did they give me the tools necessary to build a path full of similar feelings I had towards football.  Maybe they themselves did not experience entering into the real world as a former  student athlete and their advice was the best they could give.

The life that I once knew is slowly changing and I am currently experiencing what I imagine is something most athletes ultimately encounter during the transitional process.  The invincible joy and passion sport provided to us is being overshadowed and interjected with the invisible difficulties (athletes are ware of) of the entering the real world.  When the invincible meets the invisible, student athletes require assistance adjusting to the real world.  Although this memoir is about me and in many ways for me, student athletes experience the meeting of invincible and invisible across the nation. Preparation, focus and time must be allocated in building a new path and student athletes from all backgrounds can benefit from guidance and direction as they move closer to exhausting their athletic and academic journey.

By Nick Sebastian

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PPD MagMemoir of an Athlete: When the Invincible Meets the Invisible
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Scam Alert: Warning ALL Basketball Players

[av_dropcap2]L[/av_dropcap2]ast year a professional basketball player was offered a contract to play for a team in the United Kingdom.  The player called me and asked if I would look over the contract to make sure he was signing a fair contract.  As I reviewed the contract I noticed one thing that stood out, the salary.  The salary was $70,000 and with bonuses, worth around $90,000, after tax.  Many teams on the international market pay this type of salary however in recent years I have not seen a contract from the UK totaling such an amount.

Although the contract had the team logo, Presidents name and address on it, (who I know very well) I was still unsure as to the validity of the contract, but I told the player  the club could have landed a big sponsor and might be able to pay such an amount.  Some might ask, why didn’t I call the President of the club?

As a PPD Specialist, my role is to provide personal development services for athletes, not act as an agent.

After signing the contract and sending it back to the club. The player was then asked to send money through Western Union to pay for half of his flight to London.  Huge red flag!

I checked around and my international contacts informed me this is the scam, which has grown into big business.  Unfortunately, a group of people (Nigerians) have blank basketball contracts and use them to trick players into thinking they have a job playing overseas.  After the player signs the contract, the Nigerians quickly request money from the player, stating “the money is for half of the amount of the flight and the player will be reimbursed once they land” soon after receiving the money these Nigerians end up disappearing.

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Since the summer, I have spoke to ten players who have been asked to send money to a team for a flight and none of them were real playing jobs.  Just the Nigerians trying to trick them into sending money.  These folks are based in London and will tell you they are officially a scout for the team.  In actuality, they have nothing to do with the team.

Every college basketball player passed over by the NBA, wants to have an opportunity to play overseas and these folks know that.  They will tell you everything you want to hear and provide a contract that looks real.  Don’t be fooled, check and recheck the people your doing business with.  Look on the internet and see if the team is looking for players and most importantly be realistic.  If you have any questions contact me @drmarkppd or drmark@ppdmag.com. You can also join our Facebook group.

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PPD MagScam Alert: Warning ALL Basketball Players
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Stephen Bardo: Social Media, Basketball and PPD

Stephen Bardo, former collegiate and professional athlete is currently a rising sports broadcaster. He talked to PPD Mag and gave his thoughts on the current state of college basketball, the sports broadcasting business and of course Personal Player Development.

 

Dr. Mark: Its been many years since you competed in college basketball at Illinois, how much has the game changed?

Mr. Bardo: The college basketball game that I played over 25 years ago is much different than the game now.  First, the top players leave after their freshman year for the NBA.  This causes a tremendous talent drain on college basketball.  During my last two years at the University of Illinois, the Big Ten Conference had 17 first and second round NBA draft picks.  Most of the top players stayed at least until their junior year.  The skill level and knowledge of the game was much higher then, because you had guys with 90-100 career games under their belt entering their senior years.  That’s not the case today.

Second, the game is officiated much closer now than when I played.  Some of my colleagues (Jay Bilas, Mike DeCourcy) would argue, but I know the game is called much tighter now than ever.  One of the reasons the officiating has changed is the lack of skill development among the players overall.  Scoring is at historic lows right now and the NCAA is trying to legislate the lack of passing and shooting.  Players are more athletic now than when I played but far less skilled in the areas of passing and shooting which leads to more scoring and a more appealing game.

Dr. Mark: What made you decide to become a Basketball Analyst?

Mr. Bardo: Basketball is my family’s business.  My father played at Southern Illinois University in the late 50’s and early 60’s.  My older brother started at Indiana University and transferred to the Citadel to finish his career.  My sister played junior college basketball.  I’m the youngest and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in sports and basketball in particular.  I wanted to be an electrical engineer until I took Chemistry in high school, it was a foreign language to me.  My Dad told me I like to run my mouth and I love basketball, why not look into broadcast journalism as a major.  Some of the best advice I’ve ever received.

Dr. Mark: In our current society, do you believe the sport media are held to the same stand regarding social media?

Mr. Bardo: Social media is the game-changer!  We follow athlete sites to gain inside information about them.  It’s rare that athletes even hold press conferences any longer, they just make announcements on social media.  The immediate nature of social media challenges the older established media companies and the way they conduct business now.

Dr. Mark:  What mistakes if any have you made as a basketball analyst (on or off air) and what could you have done differently?

Mr. Bardo: I’ve had my issues with social media.  I’m outspoken and say what’s on my mind.  The immediacy of social media allows people to give their opinion.  I’ve made my opinion known, even before thinking of the consequences.  For example, I was very disappointed in the way my alma mater, the University of Illinois, was running their athletic program.  I went on Twitter and shared my disappointment and specifically spoke about the leadership of the program.  I work with the Big Ten Network, so I was essentially biting the hand that feeds me.  I didn’t see it that way since this is my alma mater yet, the University of Illinois and the Big Ten Network are business partners.  This incident affected the amount of work I will receive this season and it’s a great reminder of how NOT to use social media.

Dr. Mark: How important is Personal Player Development for the athlete?

Mr. Bardo: Personal development is key for everyone, yet it’s crucial for student-athletes (SA).  There is so much pressure to win at the elite level.  So a student athlete’s primary job is to help their team be successful.  Getting a degree comes second to winning.  I know this is contrary to popular belief, but this is the way it is at the elite level.  SA’s are viewed more as a commodity, rather than a student.  If a team (like mine did) reaches the Final Four you have legendary status among classmates, alumni, and fans.  So the work that you do is crucial for SA’s to have a productive life after sports instead of being used by sports.

If done properly, SA’s have some of the most sought after intangibles of any potential graduates in the workplace.

The ability to work in teams, produce under pressure, handle time constraints, sacrifice for the team, and many more, make former athletes very attractive to companies.  Yet Personal Player development is needed to connect the dots for athletes.

Dr. Mark: What can colleges do better to help personally develop their athletes?

Mr. Bardo: Universities can bring in former athletes that have made successful transitions into the workplace.  Success leaves footprints and former athletes can cut the learning time for current athletes by years with their advice and specific examples.  I know programs like yours are much needed and are long overdue.  It’s not enough to give a full scholarship without proper support.  Athletes from challenged backgrounds have to play catch-up for the skills that were either under-developed or not addressed at all before stepping foot on a university campus.  These Personal Player Development programs are crucial to the total success of the student-athlete.

Dr. Mark:  What advice can you give to people who are pursuing a career as a sports analyst?

Mr. Bardo: With technology as accessible and most times free there are a number of outlets people can use to attract opportunities.  If I were starting out right now, I would start a podcast.  Podcasting is on-demand content.  They are easy to start, easy to post online, and gives podcasters a forum to get their reps in!  Just like when we started playing basketball, we had to get a certain amount of shots up if we wanted to improve.  Getting into sports commentating is no different.  You must get your reps up and Podcasting is the most efficient and cost effective way to get started.  If your Podcast is good networks will find you.

Dr. Mark:  What are your career and professional goals moving forward?

Mr. Bardo: I love being a basketball analyst and I will continue to improve and become one of the best in the nation. However, my passion is seeing young people develop and reach their potential.  I love being a professional speaker and I’ve really started to build this area of my business.  I’m the “Point Guard that assists student-athletes and their parents maximize the sports experience”.  I speak to the youth, college, and association/corporate markets.  I specialize in leadership and improving culture (teamwork).  Check me out at www.stephenbardo.com.

 

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