All posts tagged: black male student athletes

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 The time for excuses is obsolete but we must be careful.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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Dr. Tommy Shavers: PPD Pioneer, Part 1

Dr. Tommy Shavers is the president of Tommy Speak LLC., a speaking and consulting company which focuses on leadership, teamwork, communication, and personal development. He is also the co-founder of the Atlas Group Advisors.  Dr. Shavers is a published author, a member of the NeuroLeadership Institute, and a contributing author to Linked2Leadership, one of the nation’s top leadership blogs.  Dr. Shavers has been involved with helping athletes for decades which is why we consider him to be one of the few pioneers in the Personal Player Development industry.  He has created and brings a unique perspective to his areas of PPD expertise.   He took the time out of his busy schedule to give PPD MAG a four part interview, this is a must read!

Dr. Mark: Tell us about Atlas Group Advisors and it’s purpose.

Dr. Shavers: Well, Atlas Group Advisors was recently founded by long time friend and high school alum Bobby McCray Jr. who played college ball at the University of Florida, was drafted in the NFL by the Jacksonville Jaguars and eventually won a Super Bowl as a key member of the New Orleans Saints Championship team. Bobby and I both attended Homestead Sr. High School where his father was the long time successful coach. His father Coach McCray Sr. was and still is a personal mentor and father figure to me. While Bobby was in the height of his professional playing career, I was being the nerd that I am and researching the behavior of influential people after my college career had ended at the University of Central Florida (Go Knights…Charge On!).

I really wanted to know why people began to behave differently when they acquired some new level of status, power, or influence. I was seeing it so vividly in the three of the main areas of my life at the time; sports, faith, and business. I was seeing people change and began to behave  poorly, treat people poorly, and make horrible business decisions once they had this newly acquired influence. After Bobby finished playing, he realized that during his time, he had missed out on taking advantage of a lot of opportunities that could have benefited him long after football. He decided that he was going to focus on helping other athletes in the game avoid some of the practical pitfalls he had seen and experienced. When I found out we had this mutual passion for helping athletes, we merged our practical, professional, and educational experiences and expertise and started AGA. It was a perfect partnership and a seamless transition.

Atlas Group is a unique high profile consulting firm for individuals who live or work in high power cultures, and live high power lifestyles such as athletes, celebrities, politicians, law enforcements, and organizational leaders. At AGA when we refer to power we are referring to a level of influence and control someone has over others and resource. So, examples of power could be wealth, fame and notoriety, status, and authority. The name Atlas represents individuals who live their lives under the weight and expectations of the world while being expected to produce positive outcomes.

Our strategic, philosophical, and practical approach to consulting, life coaching, and behavior management are built on our understanding of the significant influence that power can have on power holders in the areas we refer to as their culture, character, and conduct. Many individuals are acquiring power and are unaware of its effect on their mindset and actions. And because they are unaware, they are also ill-equipped and unprepared to prevent some of the unwanted behaviors that can come from being what we refer to as HPI’s (High Profile/High Power) individuals. So our goal is to help our clients help themselves by equipping them with the resources and advisement to better manage and leverage being individuals of power and influence.

Dr. Mark: What is the problem with this generation of athletes?

Dr. Shavers: I know what I’m about to say may seem a bit long winded to some, but it is the best way to fully articulate what we see going on today with this sudden fame phenomenon. In the same way that the game has evolved; the culture around the game has evolved as well. From a societal perspective we are living in a time that is unlike any time before, where the average person can acquire the fame, wealth, and power of the kings of old; without the lineage, pedigree or preparation that came with it.

In the past, there were few ways individuals could acquire such power and influence. This kept high levels of power in the hands of a small few. This is not the case today. Today someone can go from the outhouse to the penthouse instantly with a tweet or an uploaded video (or lottery). While they may receive quick fame and notoriety; it rarely ever ends well when it comes to their actions and behavior.

The reality is, most people are not prepared mentally, emotionally, and most importantly socially, to handle being powerful people living in a power culture. This is what often happens with today’s athlete.

Many of the athletes today (who are minorities by the way) are often unaware and unprepared to become individuals of such high status, power, and influence. What makes the situation more challenging is that these young athletes often come from very power deficient cultures, where they have little to no power in the form of wealth, fame, and status. They are often depraved of opportunities in pursue of achieve their wants and goals. So when they become big time athletes (as early as youth ball), they begin to experience the newly found intoxication of having status and power. At this point the world that was once closed to them in every way now is catering to their every need; providing them with pretty much whatever their hearts can imagine. So these kids leave one un-normal culture and are placed within another un-normal culture, and are expected to do what…act normal.

This is a difficult reality and unfortunately many athletes have fallen victims to their own culture while creating victims as a result of their actions. You see what’s normal behavior in a power culture, isn’t normal behavior in traditional culture. It’s when those two worlds collide we see what normal society calls poor and unacceptable behavior of athletes. If left unaddressed, it’s almost as if, the culture is setting the athlete up for eventual behavioral failure due to the unrealistic treatment they receive from individuals such as fans, women, coaches, money people, friends, teachers, and others who are enamored with them and their status.

What many fail to understand is that the behaviors we are finding appalling and unacceptable; this has been normal behavior in their culture for years. As one athlete said to me during a research study, “we didn’t create the culture, it was already here when we got here.

Dr. Mark: Who are the gatekeepers, in athletics? 

Dr. Shavers: Ok, so I see the gatekeepers as the individuals who have a direct influence over the athlete and have a responsibility for seeing them have positive outcomes personally and professionally. So who are the gatekeepers; they are the sports agent, the money managers, financial advisors, coaches, and management. My thoughts about these gatekeepers are not real favorable in general. Now I know there are some good people in the list I just mentioned, however, for the most part, I haven’t seen these individuals take responsibility for the outcomes of these athletes. I know some will say that they are their own people and should be responsible for themselves. Here’s my thought to that…

First most of these athletes are kids when they enter into the hands of these gatekeepers. They are not experienced, mature, or knowledgeable on how to live the life of a high profile athlete. We keep hearing about athletes ending up broke right; my question to you is at what point did they ever become financially savvy? At one point did they ever learn to manage millions? Never! Just a few months prior, they could barely afford a dollar menu meal.

But yet society keeps saying, these guys are stupid, reckless, deserving of their misfortunes. I disagree, I am wondering how does someone who doesn’t know about managing money, lose it all while having professional money managers.

This isn’t an issue of guys going broke, this is an issue of unprepared athletes being exploited by people who get away clean with little or no accountability for their actions. So I think that the individuals that have such high investments in these athletes should be obligated to better manage all aspects of the athletes’ life and face some of sort of repercussions for not doing so responsibly. There has to be more of an accountability incentive on these gatekeepers to make them care more about the outcome and wellbeing of the athlete.

Read part 2 next week.

 

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Counseling The Black Student Athlete

[av_dropcap2 color=”default” custom_bg=”#444444″]Dr.[/av_dropcap2]Paul Harris is an assistant professor in the Counselor Education program at the University of Virginia, in the Curry School of Education. His research focuses on the intersection of education and sports, with emphasis on the college readiness of black male student athletes.

Dr. Mark Why the emphasis on the black male athlete in your research?

Dr. Paul Harris: When we look at sports participation from high school through college, the literature is replete with examples of how beneficial it can be, such as connecting individuals to significant others, building work ethic, networking, etc., all of which is true. What I find particularly interesting with the black athlete is that those benefits do not always occur. The educational experience, which is what I focus on in my work, often suffers in the case of Black males. It doesn’t mean we should discourage black males from pursuing sports: in fact, I think quite the opposite. But we need to figure out how to structure, organize, and deliver sports in a way that sports are a mobilizing mechanism for black athletes instead of an exploitive one.

This is not to say that we are to disregard the needs of all other student athletes, however, because I think the experience of all student athletes is unique enough for all to receive some type of targeted intervention and service. But I do think that there is a bit more of a nuance and history to the black male student athlete experience that deserves particular attention.

Dr. Mark: Do athletes need counseling other than academic counseling?

Dr. Paul Harris: That’s a good question. When we look at just the developmental needs and tasks of any student compared to student athletes, they are pretty much the same; for example, identity development, developing a sense of purpose, and developing integrity, are concerns that every student needs to address.. But when you think of student athletes, they such This creates stress that is very unique to the student athlete experience, and warrants targeted support; support, that I would say, could be delivered in the form of counseling.

I think there can be a lot more counseling done outside of the academic realm. I think we first need to demystify the notion of counseling. – Dr. Paul Harris

I think we first need to demystify the notion of counseling. Oftentimes with many populations (but definitely with student athletes), there is a hesitance to access counseling services. It is often deemed as a weakness or a threat to one’s ego, which contributes to many student athletes not even reporting their personal and emotional concerns.

The personal concerns, transition issues, and other areas that the average student deals with need to be addressed by student athletes as well, and in some cases more so because of the unique stressors student athletes face. They deal with all of the developmental tasks I mentioned on center stage, particularly at the college level. Every misstep or challenge they face is occurring in the public light, whereas other students not so much, they can exist privately.

Dr. Mark: How often do you work with student athletes in the area of counseling?

Dr. Paul Harris: Prior to coming to UVA, I was a high school counselor, and I coached a city high school basketball and a college women’s club team. My current role involves training future school counselors. My focus is on training students who are going into the field so they understand how to meet the needs of all students and, in this case, the needs of student athletes.

Last year, I designed a course called Counseling Student Athletes, where I was able to interact more directly with student athletes at the university level, and also with students who are going into the fields of sports counseling, higher education administration, and other capacities that work with athletes.

Dr. Mark: Have you worked with the N4A Student Athlete Division in training student athlete development personnel?

Dr. Paul Harris: I have not, but I look forward to opportunities to do so.

Dr. Mark: What type of counseling do student athletes need when making the transition from competitive athlete to noncompetitive athlete?

Dr. Paul Harris: That’s a good question. I came across your book because I was looking for some information on athletic identity. That’s something I have run across in my own experience, and I have been studying it recently. It is something that I believe we need to really pay attention to, and in reading some of your work, I definitely agree that counseling toward a healthy athletic identity early on—the proactive, preventive type of counseling—is really what’s needed.

Certainly there are other aspects, but I am focusing more on that now because of what I have seen in my personal experience, experience as a counselor, and a scholar. We know a strong athletic identity can be very useful to being successful athletically. However, identifying solely with one’s athletic identity often detracts from establishing other strong identities. As such, there may not be as high a sense of self-efficacy in the academic and career domains, for example. As a result, we can see difficulties arise when it is time to transition out of sports

I think a lot of the counseling could be in creating space for student athletes to strive in these other areas where they have strengths, and then reinforcing such successes. Such opportunities for success in a variety of domains could be facilitated by educators as early as elementary school. Personally, I make a concerted effort in the classroom now to provide a safe space for student athletes to express their intellectual curiosity and then be reinforced for being very intelligent young men and women who happen to be reinforced mostly for their physical and athletic attributes.

Counseling on that front, both individually and in groups, is just unearthing the strengths that already exist in student athletes so that they can see them, and leverage them for future success. Student athletes should be able to see multiple avenues to success. When they get outside of sports, there is going to be a sense of loss, no doubt, but the goal is for that sense of loss to not be devastating.

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