A sportsmanship lesson from Caian, Akeira and Kyndal

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Caian (pronounced KI-yen), age 2, Akeira (pronounced Uh-keer-uh), age 10 and Kyndal (pronounced Ken-duhl), age 9 taught me a lesson in sportsmanship recently by just being kids. Kyndal received a scooter as a gift last year and lets her bestie, Akeira, ride from time to time.

In this instance, Caian wanted a ride when he saw Akeira glide by. The scooter isn’t age appropriate for Caian giving Akeira and Kyndal an easy out. Caian’s too little to ride the scooter safely on his own. They could have told his parents and gone back to taking turns riding or whatever they were going to do.

Instead, Akeira hopped off and let Caian on. Here’s the part where the adult made the experience more fun and safe for kids. Caian doesn’t know how to ride a scooter and trying to teach him is a waste of time. He’s two. All he wants to do is ride.

I told Akeira to let him stand on the scooter and she should just pull him along. No matter what he does, I told her to control the scooter. Even if he looks like he could control the machine, don’t allow him to. Caian held onto the handlebars and giggled as he rode for about 30 minutes – an eternity for a toddler.

Keep in mind, the scooter belongs to Kyndal. At no time did she complain about wanting her stuff back. Akeira never complained about giving up her riding time to make Caian happy. Other than my safety tip, the adults continued their conversations without a crying or hurt kid interrupting.

This situation could have gone off the rails at anytime. What if Kyndal wanted her scooter back? What if Akeira told Caian to run along after five minutes instead of letting him ride until he got tired?

All of the kids’ parents were nearby. None of them had to get involved at anytime, though. Two kids who can’t really do anything without permission took it upon themselves to make a younger kid happy. If a nine-year-old and a 10-year-old can figure this stuff out, why can’t the rest of us?

Full disclosure: I’ve known Caian, Akeira, and Kyndal their whole lives. They’re great kids from great families. I wrote this to show treating people right isn’t that hard. We just have to be willing.

P.S. Kyndal saved my life once, but that’s another story for another time.

Don’t forget to show your commitment to sportsmanship. Take the pledge and join the club at goodsportclub.org.

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How to lose with class

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Boxing legend George Foreman once said, “If you fight good fighters long enough, you will eventually lose.” His point is if you seek out the best and compete against them, they will win their fair share. That’s why long undefeated streaks, undefeated seasons and undefeated careers are anomalies in the sports world.

To channel my inner Big Sean, you will take an L. How you handle it and how you bounce back is what matters. Coaches have told me it’s not over until over. Well, sometimes, it is over before it’s over and there’s no harm in calling off the dogs.

If you’re down by four touchdowns with two minutes to go, the game is over. Stop hitting, tackling, growling and trying to prove how tough you are. Losing doesn’t make you a loser. Only your attitude can do that.

Taking a loss with class and dignity shows others they can still follow your lead. Being able to admit what your opponent did right and what you did wrong shows respect and stability. People who can’t admit defeat when everyone clearly sees the scoreboard delude themselves.

No one should ever be comfortable or happy with losing. You can show your discomfort while maintaining your composure. It’s best, however, to get up, dust yourself off and show your opponent and the game the respect they deserve.

Shake your opponent’s hand. Congratulate him on a spirited contest. Oh, and let him know you’ll be back! Don’t laugh. It worked for Schwarzenegger.

 

What does it mean to be a good sport?

Good Sport ClubI write a lot about sportsmanship, what it means to be a good sport and blah, blah, blah. Maybe it’s time you heard from some different voices. Before this year’s Musial Awards, we sent a crew out to Spoede Elementary in suburban St. Louis to ask some first and second graders a most important question: What does it mean to be a good sport?

Their responses in the video below will be the best two minutes of your day and maybe the entire holiday season. Enjoy.

Show your commitment to sportsmanship by taking the pledge and joining the Good Sport Club. Click on the link for more information.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee coming to a living room near you as Musial Awards goes national

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Worldwide Olympic icon and 2017 Stan Musial Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportsmanship recipient Jackie Joyner-Kersee is coming to a living room near you. Well, not in the flesh, but likely on your favorite HDTV screen.

In a landmark deal, Tegna, Inc., owner and operator of 40 televisions stations nationwide has cleared the Musial Awards to air on 12 of its stations this holiday season. Tegna owns KSDK Channel 5 in St. Louis, which has aired the Musial Awards one-hour television special since 2011. The Musial Awards recognizes the most extraordinary moments and stories from around the country.

The 2017 Musial Awards featured Joyner-Kersee, NASCAR great Carl Edwards, 2016 Olympian Abbey D’Agostino and a host of the most inspiring honorees to ever grace a single stage. Here is the list of Tegna stations that will air the Musial Awards along with dates and times. All times are local.

Saturday, Dec. 9

  • Dallas – WFAA Channel 8 (ABC) | 4 p.m.
  • Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto – KXTV Channel 10 (ABC) | 4 p.m.
  • Jacksonville – WJXX Channel 25 (ABC) | 5 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 10

  • Corpus Christi – KIII Channel 3 (ABC) | 12:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 16

  • Tucson – KMSB Channel 11 (FOX) | 4 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 18

  • St. Louis – KSDK Channel 5 (NBC) | 9 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 23

  • San Antonio – KENS Channel 5 (CBS) | 8 p.m.

Christmas Day

  • St. Louis – KSDK Channel 5 (NBC) | 6 a.m.
  • Little Rock-Pine Bluff – KTVH Channel 11 (CBS) | 7 a.m.
  • Cleveland-Akron – WKYC Channel 3 (NBC) | Noon
  • Seattle-Tacoma – KONG Channel 16 (IND) | 1 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 29

  • Phoenix – KPNX Channel 12 (NBC) | 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 30

  • Louisville – WHAS Channel 11 (ABC) | 5 p.m.

New Year’s Eve

  • Jacksonville – WJXX Channel 25 (ABC) | 5 p.m.

New Year’s Day

  • Columbia, SC – WLTX Channel 19 (CBS) | 5 p.m.

 

Russia banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) banned Russia from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea on Tuesday. Russia is guilty of what has been described as a “systematic” doping program throughout its Olympic sports.

Here is what the ban means in full:

  1. Russian cannot field an Olympic team in any sport.
  2. Russian government officials are barred from attending the Olympics.
  3. The Russian national anthem will not be played at any time.
  4. Russian athletes can apply for an exemption to compete, given they have adhered to drug testing protocols, but they cannot wear the Russian uniform. They must wear neutral colors and will compete without a country.

Russia has yet to respond officially to the ban, but officials contemplated a boycott if the I.O.C. penalty was severe.

Is it time to get rid of handshake lines after games?

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Mike Bush shakes hands with Mo’ne Davis at the 2014 Musial Awards. 

Indianapolis sports talk show host Kent Sterling wrote an interesting article on his website over the weekend. He argues the traditional postgame handshake line no longer has a place in sports and needs to go. I respectfully disagree, but there are a few points I need to disclose first.

Kent Sterling is a friend of mine and a friend of the St. Louis Sports Commission. When he worked in St. Louis, he was a huge supporter of our sportsmanship programs and published several of my articles on his station’s website.

He cares about sportsmanship and believes in the positive affect sports can have on everyone. Kent’s position comes from a frustration with the behavior of coaches and athletes after games. Cincinnati head basketball coach Mick Cronin almost got into a fight with a Xavier player in the handshake line on Saturday afternoon.

Kent’s right in that fights and other acts of aggression happen far too often in the handshake line. He also has a point when he argues even when fights don’t happen, people don’t really take the handshake seriously anymore. The handshakes themselves are limp noodles and players and coaches rarely look each other in the eye.

The handshake line is meant to say, “Hey, we left it all out there and I respect you for giving me your best shot. Good game!” That meaning has been lost because if you’re not growling at your opponent after the contest like some rabid animal, you’re seen as not wanting it bad enough.

To understand the importance of the postgame handshake, look no further than the combat sports. Wrestling, MMA and boxing competitors routinely go out of their way to shake hands, hug and show their opponents respect after a match. These athletes slam, choke and punch each other, yet they find a way to show humility.

One such example came on Saturday night when UFC heavyweights Francis Ngannou and Allistair Overeem fought to determine the number one contender for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. About one minute into the fight, Ngannou may have landed the hardest punch in human history on Overeem.

Overeem was out on contact and required medical attention to regain consciousness. Here is Ngannou’s post-fight interview. Skip ahead to the 1:15 mark to see what he has to say about Overeem.

Forget a bad call or a botched play, I would have a hard time shaking the hand of a man who just turned my lights out. However, Overeem humbled himself as did Ngannou when he thanked his opponent for giving him the opportunity.

Expectations need to be raised among athletes and coaches in team sports. They must respectfully shake hands with opponents in an orderly fashion. No exceptions. It doesn’t matter what happened during the game. You didn’t get fouled as hard as Overeem got punched, so what’s your deal?

People live up (or live down) to expectations. Change them and change the game.

The ties that bind…

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Today is my mother-in-law’s 68th birthday. She passed away in May of 2010. I’m a likable enough guy, but I can say honestly, my mother-in-law, Mrs. Madelyn Perry, loved me. And I loved her right back. Not many people can say that about their mother-in-law, but I can and it’s certainly a blessing.

In 2008, I joined an anti-violence movement in St. Louis named ‘A Call to Oneness.’ Our group went door-to-door in St. Louis City and County talking to anyone who would listen about ending the violence in our community. We marched on the weekends and reported our progress with weekly meetings at local churches.

We were told in advance of one meeting that U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay, Jr. would be addressing the group to give us a word of encouragement. Congressman Clay did more than rally the troops. He answered our questions about what his office was doing to end the violence.

I was so excited when he called on me I jumped to my feet and rattled off a bunch of words about support, law enforcement and community. When Clay finished his response, I quickly sat down. Bad idea. No, very bad idea for a big man in slacks.

The seam in the back of my pants couldn’t take the sudden pressure and I immediately had my own air conditioning. I was near the front of a packed room, so I couldn’t quietly excuse myself with what felt like a huge hole in the back of my pants. When the meeting was over and Congressman Clay engaged in side conversations with some of the other guys, I slipped out of a side door and headed home.

I really liked those pants. Madelyn was great at sewing, so I took them to her house to see if she could do anything. She told my wife, also named Madelyn, “This boy has blown the entire (behind) out of these pants, huh!?” She worked her magic and repaired the rip.

I wore those pants to this year’s Musial Awards. Almost 10 years later, her work still holds. The threads haven’t budged. The ties still bind. Happy birthday, Mama!