Category Archives: Sports

Fighting Demons

Pittsburgh Steelers v. New England Patriots (2005) (CC BY-SA 3.0 Gen)

Pittsburgh Steelers v. New England Patriots at Heinz Field (2005), Author Bernard Gagnon (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Fighting the demons of anxiety, depression, and PTSD is a little like playing football [1][2].  We make headway then lose ground.  But the fight never really ends, not the way a game of football does.  There is no score.

We win by surviving another day.

Across Decades

It can be enormously discouraging to wrestle with the scars of abuse, decade in and decade out.  Surely, we must after all this time have made progress.

But progress is not linear.  Despite the passage of time, and an extensive list of medications – not to mention therapy – familiar demons can resurface.

Factors Impacting Our Success

So, are anxiety, depression, and PTSD ever really “conquered”?  Can they, at least, be fought to a standstill?  The answer depends.

The factors include the length and severity of the trauma we sustained; our particular genetics; the quality and extent of our medical treatment; our psychological and spiritual resources; the emotional support we have available; and the other stressors to which we are subjected.

None of these can be quantified.  Most can and do vary over the course of a lifetime.

The Struggle

Why not just throw in the towel (to mix sports metaphors)?  After all, the struggle is exhausting.  The struggle, however, is life. Continue reading

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Gymnastics

US Women's Gymnastic Team, 2016 Secret US Classic, Author Scott and Emer Hults Photography, Source OTRS submission (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Gymnasts at 2012 Secret US Classic, Author Scott and Emer Hults Photography, Source OTRS submission (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The sport of gymnastics requires balance, strength, courage, and control.  Children may be enrolled in “kindergym” at 20 months of age; in recreational gymnastics at 3 y.o.  But serious gymnasts, those aiming for the Olympics, begin training around 6 y.o.  For that last group, the selection of a coach is crucial.

Dr. Larry Nassar was among the most respected and sought after.  Which makes it all the more shocking that Dr. Nassar, employed for 29 years by USA Gymnastics (the governing body for the sport), is being investigated by the FBI for child molestation [1].

Complaints – some dating as far back as the 1990s – have been made by over two dozen athletes.  Nassar, who has not yet been charged, denies any wrongdoing.

“Olympians represent our country.  They’re the best America has to offer.  These girls give up their childhood and their adolescence to try and fulfill their dream and win medals for their country — and what we have here is somebody who took advantage of that trust [2].”

–        John Manly, attorney for some of the athletes who allege they were violated by Dr. Larry Nassar

At least fifteen women claim Dr. Nassar penetrated them digitally, under the guise of medical treatment [3].  Victims ranged in age from 13 y.o. to 20 y.o. when their abuse started.  A 16 y.o. victim did report Dr. Nassar’s conduct to police in 2004.  No help was, however, forthcoming.

Initially, Nassar denied ever having employed penetration on a patient.  He now claims to have used a legitimate medical procedure for back pain. Continue reading

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20 Minutes

Brock Turner, a Stanford University athlete with Olympic aspirations, was convicted in March of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at a fraternity party.  Turner was caught in the act, and chased down by two witnesses.

Though facing up to 14 years in prison, Turner received a six-month sentence [1].  Even this slap on the wrist was viewed as excessive by his father.  Dan Turner had opined, in a letter to the court, that jail time would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action” [2].

While it is difficult to overstate the sheer stupidity of this remark, the remark itself is extremely revealing.  Clearly, here is a father who taught his son nothing about ethics or morality, since he himself cannot grasp the violation that occurred.  Evidently, women are merely to be viewed as sexual conquests…a convenience – like party favors – particularly if they are unconscious during the assault.

Why should a Stanford man, the cream of the crop (at least in his own eyes), be deprived of sex on demand by a little thing like consent?  A technicality, really.  The girl should have been grateful for 20 minutes of his attention.

What are 20 minutes out of a woman’s life anyway?  All she has to do is open her legs.  How much can that matter?  It’s not as if she has value, let alone rights.

“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” the elder Turner concluded.  One cannot help but wonder whether the rape victim will ever be her happy go lucky self again either.

And whether the Turner women view things quite the same way.

[1]  A petition bearing 1 million signatures has been submitted to the California state legislature, seeking to impeach Judge Aaron Persky.

[2]  Washington Post, “‘A steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action’:  Dad defends Stanford sex offender” by Michael E. Miller, 6/6/16, http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/%E2%80%98a-steep-price-to-pay-for-20-minutes-of-action-dad-defends-stanford-sex-offender/ar-BBtUZpE?ocid=ansmsnnews11.

 

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Spoons

Soup spoon, Author Donovan Govan (CC BY-SA-3.0 Unportedl GFDL).

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13: 1).

Whether as abuse victims made the object of unfair comparisons or as men and women raised in a materialistic culture, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. The comparison nearly always overlooks our real gifts.

Not many of us are fashion models or world class chefs. Few are sports icons, movie stars, or billionaires. None at all can stay eighteen forever. We play different parts, in the course of a lifetime – some more humble than others, but no less important.

Spoons may be less glamorous than swords or scepters. But they fill an essential role. You cannot scoop pudding for a child with a saber, or feed the hungry of the world with a magic wand. Ask any farmer.

Love, above all else, is what the world needs. Not “love” as portrayed by Hollywood. Real love – the kind that takes sweat and sacrifice. The kind that involves wiping noses and kissing boo-boos; standing on an assembly line, day in and day out, to make sure the bills get paid.

If we can manage that without having known it ourselves, we have achieved something close to miraculous.

A SPOON IS NOT A HAMMER

A spoon is not a hammer
A knife is not a glove
To warm a heart near frozen
From simple lack of love

So strike a blow for freedom
Cut through red tape and lies
Or lift the spoon to a child’s lips
A tender look in your eyes

We each have different talents
And different roles to play
A candle will light the darkness
A match can start a blaze

So raise a cry for justice
And hold that banner high
Or wrap your arms round a baby
And sing a lullaby

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Abuse Victims and Failure, Part 3 – A Fresh Perspective

“ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all…

– Emily Dickinson

Abuse skews the perspective we have on our lives. But our viewpoint (and the labels we choose to apply to our experiences) can make a surprising difference.

What others may call “failures” can be seen as new avenues of exploration or stepping stones to the next success.

  • Thomas Edison made thousands of unsuccessful attempts at creating the light bulb. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail so often, Edison responded that he had not failed. He had merely ruled out ways that would not work.
  • Babe Ruth was famous for his home run record. But for decades Ruth, also, held the record for strikeouts. He hit 714 home runs, but struck out 1330 times in his career. Ruth said about this, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

“I’ve failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan

The Chance to Start Again

We can view failure as a chance to start again, with more knowledge than we had before [1].

  • The industrialist Henry Ford, the department store magnate RH Macy, and the animator/studio head Walt Disney all filed for bankruptcy, at some point. Yet they are considered exemplars of innovation whose vision changed the world.

Not Counted Out Yet

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”

– Audrey Hepburn

True, we face enormous challenges as abuse victims. True, we may be exhausted from a decades-long battle with the after-effects of abuse. But we should not count ourselves out too soon. Continue reading

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Private Matters

The after effects of the Ray Rice situation continue to be felt. For those who do not follow sports, Rice was discharged by the Ravens after the video of his assault on now wife, Janay Palmer, became public.

To show their support for Rice, many female fans have made it a point to continue wearing Rice jerseys to the game. A group of NFL wives expressed their view that the assault was an isolated incident (highly unlikely) and a private matter, between Rice and Palmer.

Earlier this summer, Greg Hardy of the Panthers was convicted of beating his girlfriend and threatening her life. Ray McDonald of the 49ers has been charged with domestic violence for injuring his pregnant fiancée. After being discharged from two different teams for domestic abuse (slapping one girlfriend, and stalking another), Chris Rainey has been signed by the Cardinals.

Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson of the Vikings has been indicted on child abuse for using a switch to discipline his 4 y.o. son.

Are all these private matters?

Do fame and high salaries – or perhaps the revenue generated for the owners – make sports figures immune from the standards which apply to the rest of us? Should we simply turn away?

Or is there a point at which society should intervene to protect the weak?

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Respect

“I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night…I love Ray, and I know that he will continue to prove himself not only to you all but the community, and I know he will gain your respect back in due time [1].”
– Janay Palmer Rice

This was the statement Janay Palmer made at the first press conference she and her then fiancé Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, held after Rice knocked her unconscious in an elevator at the Revel Casino & Hotel in Atlantic City.

The couple were married one day after a grand jury indicted Rice for 3rd degree aggravated assault.

The Ravens released Rice from his contract in response to the public outcry after video of this incident was circulated. Rice is seen delivering a left hook to the smaller and weaker Palmer while the two bickered, then dragging her body carelessly into the hall.

Much has been said about the penalties the team and NFL should have imposed from the outset. Formal standards have now been put in place, regarding domestic violence.

Two questions, however, remain. Why would a successful football player feel the need to coldcock the mother of his child, a woman he claims to love? And why would the victim of his assault feel she should apologize for it? Continue reading

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