All posts tagged: Dr. Mark Robinson

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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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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PPD MagEngland Academy Football and the Pressure
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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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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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Someone Has to Sit on the Bench

By Dr. Mark Robinson PhD

[av_dropcap2]F[/av_dropcap2]or many athletes, sitting on the bench as a reserve can be a painful and lonely reality check. I often work with athletes who develop personal and social developmental issues from sitting on the bench waiting to play the sport that they love. It may surprise you that allowing athletes a safe place to discuss playing time issues can bring them comfort while they adjust to the difficultly of sitting on the bench.

The biggest problem for student athletes, especially high school and college freshman, who receive limited playing time are their parents. Yup, the parents of these athletes. These parents have invested time and money during their child’s pre-high school experience in youth leagues and travel ball. They felt untold excitement when the high school coach expressed interest or when their child was offered a scholarship; a free education.  These parents now fully expect their child to walk onto a high school or college campus and play, be an instant starter, regardless of the number of returning players on a team.

Parents usually have no idea what a child is experiencing through social media, peer relationships and skill development regarding sitting the bench. Instead parents blame the coach’s inability to see true talent and immediately think about the possibility of selecting another AAU program, high school or transferring colleges.

Athletes sit on the bench for a variety of reasons. Some think that they are sitting on the bench because they are not good enough, and need to work harder to get better. For some, a place on the bench is due to the level of talent of the upper or senior class athletes. For others the claim is that the coach doesn’t like them, or that politics and favoritism are at play. All of these things can, and will, race through a young athlete’s head over the duration of their high school or college career, until they get the opportunity to play.

How each athlete copes with sitting on the bench is uniquely different, but they all try their best to deal with their own situation. The feelings an athlete has about sitting on the bench is not something many want to discuss, nor is it something helping professionals or parents are ready to embrace. As an example; ask any kid who sat on the bench on a High School or College team if anyone other than their mom or dad ever discussed how sitting and watching others play made them feel?

A parent once told me;“My son was never recruited to sit on the bench, and the coaches never told me or my child that he would be sitting on the bench. In fact, we were told during the recruiting phase that he would be a big part of the program.” Actually, being on the team and sitting on the bench is a big part of the program; it’s just not the part she nor her son had intended on playing.

Often, mom and dad are the only people athletes in this situation can turn to. However, unless the family has a plan moving forward away from sport, they can sometimes make the situation worse. The conversation should be concerned with the positives associated with playing on the team and a focus on getting better, or the honest truth regarding talent and ability. Possibly a better avenue to take would be focusing on developing a passion outside of sport and accepting the role of a bench player.

Have you ever overheard this conversation?

Q: Do you play on the basketball/football team?

A: Yes. I am on the team. My role is to work hard in practice, pushing the starters and our star player to perfect their craft for game day. I make sure the other players on the bench are involved in the pre-game dance during the announcements, and I am responsible for getting the starters and the home crowd hyped up. I am a big part of the walk through process and I am a star on the scout team during the week. The experience I am having just being on the team is wonderful. I have a great group of guys I get to travel, work and laugh with on a daily basis. But on game day you would never know this because I sit on the bench.  We never hear this conversation because we are failing to teach the true value of the athletic experience.

There is value in sitting on the bench, but often players, parents and athletes never see that value until a playing career is exhausted. A player sitting on the bench can take advantage of this opportunity to learn the game, and see the inter coaching dynamics that take place during, while getting better and gaining the much needed confidence through practice.

The next time you attend or watch a sporting event on any level, look at the bench and appreciate the unseen efforts these players give. The bench player on the high school and collegiate level will never be inducted into the respected athletic departments’ hall of fame for their efforts. The bench player will most likely never be drafted, which means he/she won’t receive a multi-million dollar contract playing sports. However, the bench player can improve their skills, have time to focus on a new passion and truly admit that they were a part of something bigger than themselves.

 

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The NBA’s Gary Harris: First Year NBA Experience, Advice for Athletes and Parents

Dr. Mark: Tell us about your first year in the NBA.

Mr. Harris: It was tough. When you enter the NBA, and you have always been the best high school, college, and AAU player on a team, you expect to have similar results. For me, that was not the case. I was inactive for the first 7 games and had to sit on the bench in a suit. That was something I had never experienced in my basketball career. Then, when I finally did get the chance to play, it was not a lot of minutes. We had several veterans on the team who played my position, so my minutes were very small. Around the All Star break, some veteran players were traded, so I saw more minutes but not a dramatic increase. I finally did get a chance to start the last two games of the season, and I played well.

Dr. Mark: Can you tell us about the emotional side of your experience?

Mr. Harris: You go through many emotions. There was some uncertainty surrounding my game. Not from management or coaches, but personally. I knew I could play, and I put in the work and continued to put in the work. But when you’re worried or unsure if you’re going to play in a game, then worried about making a mistake or messing things up as well as trying to play perfect for the small amount of time you’re on the court, that brings up all types of personal questions.

But I believe in putting God and family first and then basketball. Also, people around me kept telling me to be patient and that I was a rookie, but I wanted to play because I knew I could play. I started to just focus on playing as hard and smart as I could, and that emotional uncertainty faded.

Dr. Mark: Complete this sentence: Parents and Athletes…

Mr. Harris: Have to put everything in perspective. They have to have that balance, and the earlier the better. For me, it was football. Early on I played basketball and football, and it wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I focused full-time on basketball. I knew basketball was the sport I wanted to excel in. I wanted to get better; plus, I had one of the best trainers in a guy named Christopher Thomas (CT) who really worked with me.

Dr. Mark: You worked with a basketball skills trainer. Do basketball players need a skills trainer?

Mr. Harris: I think so, because you have so much to learn about the game and what is needed to become a good player. Apart from basketball skills training, I enjoyed my relationship with CT. He pushed me to become better. If players are serious about improving, they have to be pushed to their limits and keep building. Having a trainer builds confidence, which is a huge part of becoming a good player. I understand everyone can’t have a CT as a trainer, but finding a really good trainer that actually knows what they are doing is really important.

Dr. Mark: My son, Nathan, is 15, plays HS and AAU basketball. What message can you give to him and his peers?

Mr. Harris: School, first and foremost—you have to get the grades if you want to have an opportunity to play college basketball. The short amount of time you are in high school should be enjoyable, and if you desire to move on to the next level, the foundation you set regarding academics will pay off in college. If you get recruited, take your time. Don’t take the first offer that comes your way unless that is an offer you really want. Selecting a college has to be the right fit for everyone. Finally, don’t grow up too fast. A lot of kids—especially athletes—want success now, and need to realize success takes hard work and patience. Above all else, have fun, and never take it for granted.

Dr. Mark: What is the Gary Harris Brand?

Mr. Harris: I am in the process of defining that now, and at the moment it is centered around God and family first, and then basketball. I have an AAU team that I am involved with. This gives me an opportunity to give something back to young athletes who are trying to go down the same road as I have. I want to share my experiences with them, so they can hopefully have the same or similar opportunities. In time, I plan to expand my brand to other specific areas, but for now, my focus is on assisting young athletes in their overall development and continuing to work hard toward establishing myself in the NBA.

 

This interview was made possible by Jay Keys

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