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The I Promise School

The I Promise School, a public elementary school with free tuition, based in Akron, Ohio  opened last July. Akron native and the most famous basketball player alive, LeBron James, is the man behind the innovative new school. The school was originally open to only third and fourth graders. However, it is set to add a grade each year with the goal of serving each grade up to eight by the year 2022.

The partnership between Akron and the LeBron James Family Foundation led to the formation of The I Promise School, whose name stems from the promise held by each student.

Students promise to go to school. They promise to have their homework done. They promise to be obedient to teachers. Moreover, students promise to ask questions and find answers. Also, they promise to be respectful of others and live a healthy life. Here are some of the rare significances attached to the I Promise School.

Born Out of a Passionate Desire

The idea for the school was birthed in 2011. LeBron, who experienced a rough education, missing 83 days of school as a 4th grader due to family issues, researched and found out about the high rate of high school dropouts in the Akron area. His findings inspired his commitment to the creation of the “I Promise Initiative”, a concept of which the “I Promise School” is a subset.

Unconventional School Hours

The I Promise School has goals that are different from any other school. Thus it’s schedule is completely different. The school runs from 8 am till 5 pm. Apart from the difference in time during regular school hours, the long summer vacation is also shortened and complemented with short breaks across the whole year. This unique schedule is one of the unique features that make The I Promise School stand out from many other schools within and outside Akron.

Job Assistance and Placement for Parents

The LeBron James family foundation laid down a plan to offer General Education Development (GED) tests assistance to families, parents and guardians who lack enough education to seek a well-paying jobs.

Parents of at-risk students who are less privileged and unable to earn a high income due to deficiencies in their educational background, now stand a chance of progressing or resurrecting initially curtailed careers due to lack of adequate education. This scheme has dramatically helped both parents and students to focus on playing their respective roles.

Adequate Nutrition

The I Promise School acknowledges that both physical health and mental health both have a strong relationship with the growth of an individual. With the lengthy school hours at the I Promise School, it is not only necessary to have a well-planned meals program, but equally crucial to ensure adequate nutrition. This is especially important because many students arrive to school on an empty stomach.

However, meals at the I Promise School are not only limited to lunch, it also includes breakfast. This helps students become more focused as the distraction that can be caused by hunger has been taken care.

Free Bicycle and Helmet

In keeping with the value placed on physical health and nutrition, Lebron made it a point of duty to provide free bicycles and helmets for all students. This doesn’t only eradicate the issue of lateness, but it also strengthens the students physically. With this, students can now be punctual as the delay that could emanate from transportation problems has been taken care of. This also helps them mentally as the sense of ownership also inspires a sense of responsibility.

Access to Fitness Trainers

The I Promise School opened in July 2018 with forty-three staff. The staff recruitment was not only limited to the traditional teaching staff, but a mix of both teachers and other staff members to address the non-academic needs of students.

The staff consist of a principal, assistant principal, and four intervention specialist tutors. There is also an English as a second language teacher, music instructor, and surprisingly, a fitness trainer. Again, the care in staff selection shows LeBron’s commitment to fostering the growth of each student. I’ve worked in schools before and can attest to how the lack of investment when it comes to hiring non-academic staff can hinder the growth of each student. It can also wrongfully promote a culture where letter grades and test scores are the end game, rather than the mental, physical and emotional development of the student.

University Sponsorship

As the end of high school approaches, the fear of college application fees and the process of applying for financial aid can be overwhelming. For this reason, the I Promise School offers every single student that completes the school program and graduates from high school a full tuition scholarship at the University of Akron. Yes, you heard that right, tuition is covered by LeBron James.

Hopefully, students who make it to the university level and graduate would keep LeBron’s generosity and the commitment of the I Promise School staff in mind and pay their generosity forward to future generations.

Social Integration

Apart from the significant school commitments mentioned above, social intervention is another excellent focus of the school. The job of the I Promise School doesn’t end within its walls. The school also goes beyond classroom learning to provide students with a seven-week summer session. The summer session is aimed at helping them improve their social-emotional development. Students participate in a “supportive circle.” Thus, balancing the lifestyle of the students on and off the school grounds.

Conclusion

The I Promise School’s setting is exceptional and goes beyond the usual school experience. The difference is not only the free tuition, meals and bikes. In fact, it’s not even about the extremely generous university sponsorship.

The core significance of the I Promise School lies in its “We Are Family” philosophy. Not only the students, but their parents or caregivers also receive the academic, career and emotional support that they need to ensure a better life for their family.

As someone who has spent time in the education field, I’m genuinely excited about the innovation LeBron brings with the I Promise School. It’s not a gimmick or publicity stunt. In every detail we see LeBron’s commitment to fix the flaws in education that he experienced as a child or witnessed growing up in Akron.

We can debate all day about whether LeBron is the GOAT or better than MJ, but there’s no debating that LeBron is doing his part to fix the education inequalities in America. We can all learn a lesson from the King turned school founder.

Not only is Lebron changing lives for students but he’s also impacting the Lakers in a monumental way! Read more here!

Has Tiger Woods Officially Made His Comeback?

It was August of 1997 when I sat in my living room and watched Tiger Woods put on that coveted green jacket. Tiger had just won his first major by a whopping 12 strokes. I would forever equate the Masters and Augusta, Georgia with that iconic moment.

Back then, Woods was a 21-year-old superstar with a wholesome image and a trove of fans. I was one of those early fans. To me, what stood out most about Tiger Woods was his aggressive style and intense focus. Off the golf course, Woods seemed different from the other golfers. He was charismatic, multicultural and young. Most of all, Woods had star power. When Woods played, people watched.


For this reason, a Tiger Woods comeback would be great for golf. Yes, Woods has shown some promising performances since his return to competition in the Hero World Challenge last November in Albany, Bahamas. However, I think a true comeback would be no less than Tiger breaking Sam Snead’s long standing record of 82 PGA Tour wins. This would bring Tiger full circle, breaking records as he did when he first put on that green jacket.

By those standards, Tiger hasn’t officially made his comeback. However, based on his performance over the last year and a half Tiger has the momentum going in his favor. Here’s a look back at Tiger’s journey so far.

Career Threatening Injuries

A comeback journey always starts with a fall. For Tiger, the fall included a handful of major injuries. In fact, Tiger is no stranger to spending a significant amount of time on the sidelines due to these injuries. Tiger’s back issues are as infamous as Kobe Bryant’s leg injuries. However, Tiger has also had a series of other health-related issues that have prevented him from participating in the sport. Here is a list of some of Tiger’s major medical hurdles.

  • December 2002 – Tiger has surgery to remove fluid from his anterior cruciate ligament on his left knee. This surgery sidelined Tiger from the sport for weeks.
  • April 2008 – Tiger has another major surgery, arthroscopic surgery, to repair cartilage damage on his left knee.  During this time, Tiger also revealed that he had some stress fractures on his left tibia.
  • May 2010 – Tiger is diagnosed with an inflamed facet joint in the neck. Tiger himself admits to having played with a bad neck for some time.
  • August 2014 – Tiger withdraws from a major tournament, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational citing he had lower back pain. This is where Tiger’s back problems begin.
  • February 2015 – Tiger walks off the tournament citing a lower back injury. His medical prognosis reveals that Tiger’s glutes keep shutting off and won’t activate. This impacts his lower back.
  • September 2015 – Tiger has a microdiscectomy surgery to remove a disk fragment that had been pinching his nerve.

Tiger had a series of other surgeries that took a toll on his body and, thus, overall performance. Tiger’s poor medical history was enough to make him fear even sitting in a golf cart and watching his colleagues play during the President’s Cup. He claimed that the bumps from the golf carts gave him unbearable pain.

Tiger’s Personal Demons

Tiger’s fall also included scandals outside the golf course. By now we are all well aware of Tiger’s marital discord and sexual addiction. However, Tiger’s more recent scandal reveals the destructiveness of his back injury.

In 2017, Tiger was arrested after falling asleep at the wheel. Tiger was hit with a DUI charge, after being found with five different drugs in his system, including Xanax.

Later, Tiger revealed that no alcohol was involved in the incident. He was remorseful and admitted that he recklessly tried to treat his back injuries and insomnia with his own concoction of drugs. The incident revealed the depths of Tiger’s injury and its impact both on and off the golf course.

Rusty Return

Just a few months later, Tiger made his return to competitive golf at The Hero World Challenge. As most expected, his return to competition was rusty. He finished in 17th place out of 18 spots.

Tiger’s next step would be the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in late January of 2018. He hit a major milestone by completing all four rounds of the tournament,  a feat he hasn’t accomplished in nearly three years. Tiger ended with a T-23 finish. Although he never posed a real threat to the leaders or even managed to break 70, Tiger showed steady progress by simply completing each round.

Flourishing in Florida

Tiger has seen some historically remarkable moments in Florida. And 2018 was no different as he got his feet wet and battled to a 12th-place finish in the Sunshine State at the Honda Classic. It is here that Tiger also became the solo leader during a portion of round two. Essentially, this was the Tiger the golf world was accustomed to. Especially in round two, when according to CBS Sports, Tiger logged one 184 MPH shot.

Continuing his steady progress, Tiger earned a runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship and a T5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Finally, at the Tour Championship last September, Tiger broke his drought and earned his first major win in five years. Overall, the 2017-2018 season was a story of steady progress for Tiger. According to Fox News, Tiger played in 18 events and finished in the top 10 seven times.

2019 Predictions

Tiger should be proud of last season’s showing. But as noted earlier, an athlete of Tiger’s caliber needs a grand slam in order to make his journey a true comeback. Earning three more PGA Tour wins in order to break Sam Snead’s PGA Tour record would fit the bill.

I predict that Tiger will accomplish this feat in 2019. Yes, the momentum he’s built from ending last season with a win at the Tour Championship is great. But the one difference maker that’ll push Tiger over Sam Snead’s record and toward a true comeback is more personal.

Tiger’s kids are now old enough to understand his profession and the intense competition it brings. Like any father, Tiger wants his children to see him breaking records and standing as a champion. Now that his children are old enough, Tiger needs to share a championship, record-breaking moment with them. Not through old ESPN clips, but in real-time. Tiger has already made huge strides in his progress, but it’s this motivation that’ll push him towards greatness again in 2019.

There’s nothing like a good comeback story, no matter what sport you are in! Read how Lebron James risked it all and  is now impacting the Lakers like never before!

 

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Why Floyd Mayweather Is Still the Greatest

Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr. is a household name in the boxing world. He remains one of the greatest of all time in the combat sport. The boxing world is not complete without mentioning the brand “Mayweather.”He has won several world heavyweight titles across different divisions. Besides his versatility, Mayweather is also known to be the best defensive boxer of his time.

Most of all, Mayweather combines his smarts inside the ring, with a charm and savviness outside the ring.    

There are a lot of new faces entering the boxing world, but Mayweather’s successes both inside and outside the ring prove that he is still the GOAT. Like Tom Brady, you can’t sleep on Mayweather. Here’s a reminder of why Mayweather is still the greatest.

10 Reasons Mayweather Is Still the Greatest

•    Dedication & Strong Work Ethic:

Mayweather went pro in 1996, but he has been working on his craft since he was 7 years old. According to Liberty Voice, Mayweather was introduced to the sport by his father Floyd Mayweather Sr. His father, a former boxer, became his earliest trainer and manager. The young Mayweather was a familiar face in his neighborhood gym. This work ethic carried on to his adult life. Boxing News analyzed Mayweather’s infamous training routine. It includes 40 rounds of training, complete with weighted shadow boxing drills, a horrendous amount of ab work and weighted jump roping. I break a sweat just reading through Mayweather’s workout routine. Think what you want about Mayweather’s arrogant style and outside the ring antics, but don’t hate on Mayweather’s work ethic.  

  •   Smart Career Choices

Mayweather has been repeatedly called a lackluster boxer because of his hesitancy to accept open fight invitations. Unlike other boxers, Mayweather is a discrete fighter who sticks to his principles. He doesn’t follow the bandwagon approach to boxing, nor does he follow every wish of his fans. In some circles, Mayweather is infamously known as the fighter who “cherry picks” his opponents. He only gets in the ring with opponents he knows he can beat or those that’ll offer a big payout. Whether money or victory is the priority, so far, this attitude has served  Mayweather well. Mayweather has an undefeated record of 50-0. This beats the legendary Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record. However, what some might describe as being smart about ones career and money, others criticize as being boring.

  •    Swift Positioning:

Mayweather has equipped himself with a sound positioning skill in the ring; whether he has his back lying on the ring ropes or is throwing jabs at his opponent, he always has his game under  control. He has expertly mastered the art of “hit and not getting hit” over time. He accomplishes this through his trademark pattern of weaving and ducking. This skill allows Mayweather to overcome his opponent in any bout. We saw Mayweather’s infamous duck and weave approach during his blockbuster fight with Manny Pacquiao.  

  •    Tactical Shoulder Defense:

All boxing enthusiasts truly know this fact – Mayweather’s major upper hand above others lies in his tactical shoulder defense. His tactical shoulder-roll is among the primary reasons why he has been so successful. Mayweather’s footwork, experience and speed, have also been very helpful in counteracting the power of conventional boxers.

•    Fast hands:

Mayweather applies head movement and shoulder defense to avoid his opponent’s hard punches. He possesses a distinctive cross-arm style of defense that differs from the conventional hands-up technique. However, opponents can’t sleep on Mayweather fast hands. Bleacher Report awarded Mayweather among the 15 fastest boxers of all time.

•    Foot speed:

The undefeated boxer is blessed with both fast hands and elusive foot speed. At some point in Mayweather’s fights, he always deliberately finds a way to frustrates his opponents. He often tricks his opponent into rushing him and being the aggressor. When his opponents do go for the kill, Mayweather swiftly moves away from his initial point to knock the opponent down.

•    Calculative Punching:

Simply put, it does not count if it doesn’t land. Floyd Mayweather, unlike the majority of traditional pressure boxers, seldom throws lots of punches; instead he ensures he records more punches accurately than his opponents in all fights.

During a fight with Marcos Maidana, the straight right jab from Mayweather was a direct contrast to Maidana’s wild power punches. Want a primer on Mayweather’s trademark tactical style? Watch this match in its entirety. You’ll notice Mayweather patiently studying Maidana’s style through several of the opening rounds. Only in the end, does Mayweather come alive with calculated counter-attacks and punches. Ultimately, the judges awarded Mayweather’s calculated style with a win.

•    Smart strategy:

Mayweather’s brilliance isn’t contained to one weight division. He has climbed 5 weight divisions as a world boxing champion. Having battled with different types of opponents, he has earned the enviable title of slayer to many Hall of Famers like Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao, De La Hoya, Mosley and Marquez.

•    Great Self-esteem

Mayweather reeks of confidence. Nowhere is this more evident than when you witness him carrying out his usual onslaught against hapless opponents in the boxing ring. However, his confidence is just as present outside the ring. According to ESPN, Mayweather attempted to bet $400,000 on his own 2017 fight vs. crossover UFC star Conor McGregor. Mayweather was so confident the fight would end under 9.5 rounds, that he was willing to put his own money on it. Ultimately, the casino wouldn’t allow the fighter to bet on himself. However, the attempt illustrates just how confident Mayweather is.

Bottom Line

Mayweather is an excellent fighter who has recorded great feats worth studying and emulating in professional boxing. Unlike hall of famer boxers before him, Mayweather has made a name for himself as a smart, tactical and defensive minded fighter. While he’s not the aggressor in the ring, outside the ring, Mayweather is always on the offense. He established Mayweather Promotions in 2007. By choosing to promote himself and a lineup of other fighters, Mayweather has increased his earnings from the ring. But unlike boxing, where the body will wear out and age will limit ones earnings, Mayweather Promotions can earn Mayweather wealth and prestige for decades to come. Future proofing his career, is yet another reason why Mayweather is still the greatest.

Interested in more teams that are on the rise? Find out the 2019 NFL Teams that you must watch for! 

Serena Williams Named GQ Woman of the Year

Tennis superstar Serena Williams was named 2018’s GQ Woman of the Year. Learn how she inspired both on and off the court and why after all these years she’s still dominating the conversation.

2018 was a year of thrilling performances for tennis superstar Serena Williams. A glimpse back into the year suggests that Williams couldn’t have asked for a better season. Blazing the trail all through 2018, the 23 time grand slam winner seized the memorable moments of the year to remind her critics that she is still very much around and as dominant as ever

Ultimately, the tennis queen was awarded the GQ Woman of the Year Award. Highlighted below are just a few of Williams’ most memorable moments. Even if you’re not the biggest tennis fan, by the end of this article you’ll have mad respect for Williams as an athlete and a powerful female.

The Comeback

In 2017, the energetic tennis queen went through a harrowing postpartum experience after giving birth to her first daughter. Later, she disclosed in an interview that she almost died from the experience.

The strong and bold Williams overcame the traumatic postpartum experience and came back to the court stronger than anyone could imagine. She didn’t just come back, the Michigan born Williams showed vulnerability in sharing her postpartum experience with the world. Throughout her career, we see this willingness to speak openly about both the ups and downs as a trademark. Williams’ willingness to inspire and relate to other mothers going through postpartum challenges is just one reason why she deserves the GQ Woman of the Year Award.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 04: Serena Williams of the USA celebrates victory after winning her finals match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during day seven of the 2014 Brisbane International at Queensland Tennis Centre on January 4, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Achievements on the Court

Motherhood might have been a new arena for Williams, but once she got back on the court we were reminded why the tennis court is her territory. Back on familiar grounds, it didn’t take Serena long to broadcast her comeback to her rivals, fans, and foes.

Her enviable sporting successes in 2018 include:

  • Back to back Wimbledon and US Open Final appearances
  • Competing in seven tournaments, beating much younger players
  • An impressive win over the extremely tactical Anastasija Sevastova in the US Open Semifinal

Williams’ successes on the court proved to the world that it is possible to be a new mom and a high performing athlete.

The Controversy

Just like almost every other successful person, Williams has never been very lucky enough to escape the public eye and scrutiny. That is why everything about her is usually blown out of proportions, especially by her critics.

This is what happened at the final of the 2018 US Open, where Serena faced Naomi Osaka, the Japanese player who revered Williams as her idol. Osaka carried the day defeating Williams 6-2, 6-4.

Ordinarily, the win was supposed to be the major talking point especially as the 21-year-old Naomi got the better of her longtime idol. Unfortunately, the controversial moment that brought a faceoff between the Umpire Carlos Ramos and Serena overshadowed every other highlight of the game.

Ramos charged Serena with three code violations, which was not only contested by Serena but degenerated to her losing her calm and breaking her racket even before the end of the game. Just when people thought it was all over, Williams went further to challenge the charges in her post-match conference. She insisted that Ramos stole a point from her and accused the umpire of being a liar. The unusual experience brought out an entirely different Serena.

However, it brought about a critical discussion about how male and female emotions are treated differently in sports. It got the world asking, would a male athlete get the same pushback for an in-game display of emotion? John McEnroe, I’m looking your way!  

Boldness On and Off the Court

Until 2018, Williams barely discussed her private life let alone get emotional about her past. However, the year was completely different as Williams, like never before, let the world know that she is after all, as vulnerable as every other person.

For the very first time in her career, the new mother related her fears, worries and pains to the world. She raised her voice against the many struggles and societal judgments she had to endure, especially in her 20s.

Indeed, the Olympic Gold Medalist had been unjustly accused of several things including being referred to as a player who doesn’t belong in the women’s sport. Williams’ most notable 2018 speech was her open letter to her mother on Reddit, a platform co-founded by her husband.

This letter and other vulnerable moments were memorable to her fans and even won her a host of new admirers. To many, Williams was just being her honest self, a virtue appreciated especially by women around the world. After all, people don’t need a flawless queen, they need an honest one who is not too proud to let them know that she has worries and issues just like them.      

Finally, Her GQ Woman of the Year Award:

After being an inspiration both on and off the court, Serena topped it off by winning the coveted GQ Woman of the Year Award. It is not surprising to see her being named as the women of the year by the New York-based international monthly men’s magazine, GQ Magazine. This is in recognition of her achievements for the year both on and off the court.   

Forget Controversy, Serena is the G.O.A.T

Despite the controversies, Williams earned her Woman of the Year honors. According to GQ, “No matter how you cut it, Serena Williams had a remarkable year.

With that said, Serena has nothing to prove to anyone anymore. She has made herself an icon in the sport she passionate loves. She has made her mark on and off the court, and her records are there to speak for themselves. Most of all, in 2018, Williams evolved our definition of what a strong woman is. Yes, it’s an athlete who dominates. However, it’s also a superstar who is able to inspire mothers, a demographic often ignored by sports, through weakness and victory. Lastly, Williams showed the world that a strong woman can wear her heart on her sleeves and perhaps it is those that would criticize a female’s display of emotion that should be questioned.  

Ready for more sports legends? Learn how Lebron James is impacting the Lakers like never before! 

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Is the NFL Fanning the Flames of Divisive Politics?

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Those were the words of ex-San Francisco 49ers star quarterback, Colin Kaepernick used to explain his reason for kneeling during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the start of NFL games in 2016. He said it was in protest of the social injustice and inequality many have experienced as African-Americans in this country. Later other NFL athletes joined the protest by either kneeling, raising their fist, or sitting in the locker room during the pre-game rendition of the national anthem. These actions were broadcast directly into living rooms right across the country every Sunday afternoon.  These athletes were using their public platform to focus America’s attention on police brutality, and particularly police violence in African-American communities.

 

Kaepernick’s Kneeling; an act that he himself has called an extension of the Black Lives Matter Movement, brought politics, sports and media together in a way that is believed by many to be unprecedented. However, despite the strong reaction from many critics, pro football has a long history of directing the nation’s attention on social issues. The beloved sport has been a perfect lens to look deep into the values that we as a country hold so dear.

What made the protest so controversial was how it spurred an emotional conflict of ideals that seemed to break along the lines of what the national anthem represented to various citizens. Some took deep offense to the fact that many of our brave men and women in uniform (our armed forces) had died for the nation that the flag represents. Where Kaepernick’s protest began as a statement about police and unequal treatment in communities, had been received as a sign of disrespect and disloyalty to the country. Many people, whose family members fought in our country’s wars, reacted to the protest in a very personal way. In addition, there were many people who had no family members in the military, but their political leanings are such that they feel a natural kinship and pride when it comes to our country, our flag and our service members. As part of this respect, all NFL games begin with an observance of the national anthem and ask all in attendance to stand up during the performance. Over the years, this observance has grown to elaborate displays of precision such as, military jet flyovers, smoke-can paratroopers descending directly onto the gridiron, military regiment presentations, and the unfurling of a massive flag that across the entire field. The simple act of not standing, and then kneeling during the anthem, pushed open a rift between two ideals that until then had sat just beneath the quiet peace of the game; where people who understand extreme social inequity and those who understand personal sacrifice for the national good, were put at odds.

DECLINING TELEVISION RATINGS

Television viewership has dropped by 20% over the course of the 2016 season, attributed by some to the protest and the backlash. Many had felt that the NFL franchise owners and the League President, Roger Goodell, acted too slowly and had no true opinion of their own (other than making money) which disappointed people on both sides of the issue. Weeks went by while the protests continued, and the voices of support or anger grew stronger in the media. In fact, President Donald Trump weighted in on the issue with his own brand of rhetoric saying, If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” He would continue the call for players to be fired for kneeling well into the 2017 season. During that time, the conservative and progressive media outlets entrenched themselves to serve the echo chambers of their constituents.

The sprawling narratives began to wander. What started off with the issue of racial injustice and police brutality, and the disrespect of military and our national pride, seemed to change as time went on. Some media hubs began to highlight the rights of the players to exercise their rights as citizens to free speech, while other media groups presented the outrage some felt over football player pay as a reason for them to “shut up and play” (being that the country had been so good to them). Neither of these later narratives allowed the nation a chance to have a frank honest discussion about the root of the initial issues. Media on both sides of the issue did the country a disservice, by seeking to build a wider audience narrative to the American public. Police brutality of Black people does not sell ads as much as big corporations and politicians trampling on the first amendment, and likewise, military families are not as big of an audience as malcontents and cynics who scoff at high pay and social conciseness (believing that the two cannot coexist at the same time).

DWINDLING FAN BASE & ATTENTIONS DIVERTED

While it may not have been evident on television with the stadiums packed week in and week out, the political overtones began to overshadow play on the field. To be honest with you, prior to this protest, I don’t think the national anthem was even broadcast on tv regularly. Every now and then, and during the playoffs the networks would fill time with the national anthem … to see it on tv with the players standing shoulder to shoulder was a special thing. Now, during the controversy every game had the national anthem broadcast, not for the meaning of “The Star-Spangled Banner” but to see who would kneel, who would defy American values and who would the President say should be fired in his next press conference … never mind the hurricanes and mass shooting in Las Vegas. Media was happy to focus on the NFL protest as “issue entertainment”, and not to burden viewers with real-world problems.

OPPOSING PLAYERS DENIED PLAYING OPPORTUNITY

As the NFL faced growing backlash for its missteps, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid paid a high price for standing up, or rather kneeling, for their beliefs. Neither player has found employment in the league since the 2017 season. It has been alleged that the NFL has conspired amongst its ownership to keep athletes who protest off of active rosters for speaking their minds (essentially blacklisting players). Mr. Kaepernick has taken the NFL to court over the conspiracy to keep him out of the NFL and in February 2019, he was awarded an undisclosed settlement to end the collusion suit. 

THE BOTTOM LINE

The NFL is doing all it can to reduce politics in the locker room and in 2019 there will most likely not be a media frenzy and shots of football players kneeling during the anthem. The NFL has made it clear with new guidelines stipulating that players must stand during the anthem or abstain by not leaving the locker room until it is over (a move that will not have juicy clips for broadcasters to replay over and over again, nor will it get the message of racial injustice into those Sunday morning living rooms across America, like the original protest was meant to do. No, the NFL money printing machine will keep on churning, players will keep on playing, owners will keep owning, and we Americans, have won and lost something very meaningful, all at the same time.

 

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Are Female Players in The WNBA Paid Fairly?

It is one of the most debated questions in sports; are women paid fairly in comparison to their male counterparts? Most sports fans and analysts would argue that the huge difference in the salary gap in basketball arises from the entire revenue that the WNBA takes in, when put beside what the NBA juggernaut makes every season. However, if we had to use that as a measuring stick, then there wouldn’t be any equality in the salary cap in any sports industry, not just basketball. It’s true that the entire WNBA doesn’t make anything near what NBA brings in, they are practically minting money. The question is, for the long-term, for ethical sports and for the dreams of young players everywhere, can the guys at the top of the money heap at least try and to make an effort to close the gap?

When Lebron James made his move to the L.A. Lakers and signed a new contract worth $154 million, an insane amount of money, no one wondered was it fair. Take it from the comment that WNBA rookie sensation A’ja Wilson wrote in a 2018 tweet, “154M ……….. must. be. nice. We over here looking for a M 🙃 [million] but Lord, let me get back in my lane”. She got a tremendous amount of flack for that, with many basketball fans (I repeat, b-a-s-k-e-t-b-a-l-l fans) telling this professional athlete to ostensibly get back in the kitchen where she belonged. What the foul!?!

 

It seems like this is the new double standard status quo. Nothing rocks the money lined boat, in so much as those people trying to raise the question of player gender pay, rarely make ripples in the situation much less waves. Wilson, on the Las Vegas Aces, is set to earn $52,564 for her first rookie season. Now compare that to her NBA counterpart, Deandre Ayton, who signed to the Phoenix Suns for $6.8 million. Both were top first round picks in their respective drafts. The difference is immense, and it doesn’t make any sense really. They both entertain and the leagues make money, but you can’t seriously say that the economics of the WNBA should have all players capped at $110,000 per year. I mean, say what you will, but they drain threes like the Splash Brothers on the west coast, but don’t get paid half of the average of what a Silicon Valley programmer makes?  This does not compute. It’s these types of pay gaps that keep fueling the inequality debate.

To make matters worse, some people are trying to keep the story on the hush, by claiming that the WNBA athletes are overpaid. Some critics would also argue that the WNBA isn’t that popular with American and international fans alike. Thus, the difference in the salary cap is justified. They say:

  • NBA raises way more revenue compared to WNBA. Therefore, it only makes sense that they will have more money to pay their players.
  • There isn’t much need to invest in a league that does not draw big crowds and is still also young and unstable.
  • The WNBA is losing money. At least that’s what the team owners keep saying.
  • The WNBA hasn’t been around long enough.

These are just some of the same tired excuses that serve to quiet those that raise the salary gap issue. What these detractors fail to recognize is that there is something more at work than economics here. The NBA and WNBA are part of the same family, they are brother and sister in the game that many Americans love. The leagues are a lesson in teamwork and leadership; a crucible of dedication and strength of will. Most of all the leagues (both NBA and WNBA) are the North Stars for which little girls and boys sail the ships of their aspirations toward. Plainly put, the game builds character, and character counts.

Fact is, the gender wage gap in professional sports is real. It exists both in pro basketball, and our society at large. Therefore, this fact shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, that women are standing up and taking notice. On International Women’s Day back in March 2019, women in Iceland left their jobs at 2:38 pm as a symbol of the amount of work they are paid in comparison to men, if set against a 5 pm end of day … an ingenious protest. Even so, it’s still really shocking how many people can balk at the idea of professional athletes having a gender pay reckoning.

It is true that since the 1980s the wage gap has narrowed slightly, but then again, pay it has remained relatively stagnant for the last 15 years. Take the study made by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017 which found that women aged between 25 to 34 earned only 0.89 cents for every dollar that a man in the same age bracket earned. Moreover, check out the difference in gender wage gap when factored in with race … it is eye watering.

According to all the data collected and studies made by the various data collection agencies, and organizations dedicated to the subject, it is predicted that the gender wage gap will be around until 2119. A hundred years from the time the time of writing this article. Imagine that. Now, how much time do you think it can take for the gender wage gap to close in basketball specifically? There are many things that the future holds, but one thing seems fairly obvious. Fair wage pay is a definitely “not any time soon” type of proposition.

Consider the fact that the WNBA pays about 20% to its players and compare this to the 50% that the NBA pays to its players, you see where the problem starts. They’re the players that make the league run (no pun intended … run it back). With the $110,000 salary cap that the WNBA paid its players as of 2018 and compare this to the $582,183 that the NBA pays per capita. From this data, it is evident that WNBA players earn about $450,000 less than rookie NBA players.

When it comes to the issue of bonuses that NBA players receive for performance, WNBA players gets an equivalent of a grocery store petty cash zipper bag.

From all the data collected about WNBA and NBA markets, it doesn’t make any sense why the wage difference between them is so high. Remember, the NBA wasn’t that well off in its early years and it took years of smart marketing to make it what it is today. Some could even argue that the WNBA started off a lot better than the NBA.

It would be a wise decision for the WNBA to take the cue from what’s happening in the World Surfing League. Starting in 2019, we should expect equal prize money awarded to male and female surfers for each WSL controlled event. This marks as the first ever US-based sports league that applies parity of pay. It’s a start, and other sports should hopefully follow suit, basketball included. Maybe one day the WNBA will realize that it was simply the right thing to do.

Final Thoughts

It is high time that the people in the stands started advocating for pay equity for the female athletes, and then maybe those in the boardrooms will start listening as well. Maybe.

In the meantime, and to the WNBA players … keep blocking shots, laying up duces and breaking fast, but most of all, keep your eyes on score. Thank you.

If you’re looking for a woman that has significantly changed her industry and all the rules in it then we’ve got a read for you!

Fantasy Sports for Dummies

Sports have been around for generations. They’re a proven source of drama and entertainment. Unlike in the past, we now have two types of sports; professional sports and fantasy sports. Professional sports are left to the physically exceptional athletes. However, fantasy sports are open to fanatics everywhere.

Fantasy sports, also known as roto or rotisserie, is a game where the participants assemble an imaginary lineup of real players. These teams then compete based on the team player’s statistical performance in the actual games. To get the winner of the competition, the performance of these virtual teams is then converted into points which are compiled and totaled by each fantasy team’s manager. The league commissioner who manages and coordinates the whole league can also manually calculate the points and announce the winner.

It’s important to note that simulation games are not fantasy sports. This is because the simulation games and wins are not scored using the real results of the actual sporting events.

Size of the Industry

As of May 2015, a study done in Australia revealed that fantasy sports are a whopping $2 billion industry. Plus, it’s expected to experience a 10.7% annual growth. Currently, the fantasy sports industry has about 4,386 people employed in 292 businesses. This number is also expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.

In 2016, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association reported that the industry was a $7.22 billion industry in the United States and Canada alone with about 50.3 million fantasy sports players.

How to Play Fantasy Sports

Want to join the millions of fantasy sports players? Let me walk you through how to get started:

  • As the game is only played online, you need to get a good computer that has access to a stable internet connection.
  • You also need to have at least some interest in the sport you plan to participate in.
  • Afterward, find a hosting site that offers the fantasy sports services. Yahoo and ESPN are some of the great hosting sites you may want to try out.
  • Get some friends to join you. Ten is usually a great number to start off your league. If you’re not able to find enough friends or people to participate in your league, you can always adjust the size of the league to include fewer people.
  • Name your virtual team. You can name your team anything, don’t be afraid to get creative. However, you want to avoid anything offensive.
  • Select a commissioner for the league. The league commissioner is the guy who will oversee the proceedings of the league. He will determine when to hold the draft, the draft order, the scoring system, and even how the trades will occur.
  • Once you have completed all the above steps, you can now start the league and see who wins.

This would be the perfect time to try and join one of the fantasy sports genres and see how it works out for you. Chances are you’ll have a blast.

 

Popular Fantasy Sports

Like professional sports, fantasy sports are also divided into different categories. The most common ones include:

  • Fantasy football
  • Fantasy basketball
  • Fantasy baseball
  • Fantasy cricket daily fantasy sport
  • Fantasy cricket

Here’s a rundown of each category:

  • Fantasy Football

Fantasy football may be the most played fantasy game overall. It has many participants who also serve as general managers for some awesome virtual football teams. First, participants must select their team roasters in a draft that is overseen by the commissioner as mentioned earlier. Here, real football stars are available for you to choose from. Fantasy football also consists of three different categories. They include:

  • Fantasy football (American)
  • Fantasy football (Association)
  • Fantasy football (Australian football)

 

  • Daily Fantasy Football

This fantasy sport is played across shorter periods of time. For example, it can go for only a week of a season instead of the whole season. Daily fantasy games are usually played as contests and are subject to the entry fee. There is also the administrative fee which is partially collected as revenue as well for the service. Daily fantasy sports emerged in 2007 when Fantasy Football Live was launched. Since then, it has experienced explosive growth as a fantasy sports option.

 

  • Fantasy Basketball

If you’re a hoops fan, this is the fantasy sport for you. It was popularized in the 1990s with the advent of the internet. Here, the player takes the role of the general manager of the fantasy team. The player does virtually everything from drafting his players who are actual National Basketball Association players. The drafted player’s overall stats in the game correspond to their actual real-life stats. The stats are computed by the gaming software to level the playing field. You can find and play this fantasy sport in host sites like ESPN fantasy sports, Yahoo, and NBA.com. For a standard virtual team, you’ll have 12 team players. Most managers will sometimes draft 13 players while others include up to 14 players. Extra players are included as reserves in case of injury.

 

  • Fantasy Baseball

In this fantasy sport, previously called “tabletop baseball,” new formats have appeared. This new format can combine the sport to be a traditional points-based competition. And this has also helped facilitate real-time player trading. In fantasy baseball, as with the other fantasy sports, you also find that the player stats in the virtual game match those of the real players in the real games. The participants then compete to score points. The more points you collect, the higher your chances of winning the competition.

 

  • Fantasy Cricket

This is another fantasy sport that has tons of fans all around the world. Like the other fantasy games, the starts of the virtual players are similar to the actual real-life players who play professional sports. Participants must work their way to the top by attaining the most points in the league or tournament.

Bottom Line

As you can see from above, fantasy sports offers a number of options. It’s an intriguing sport you can easily pick up as a hobby. Plus, you can enjoy fantasy sports from anywhere with your friends and family members. Try your hand at fantasy sport today. I would recommend starting with the sport you love in real life. Who knows, you may even win some extra cash!

By Christopher Kay