Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mark Slessinger: the Hero We’ve Been Looking For



Picture this: You’re the head coach of a college basketball team that hadn’t won more than 11 games in the previous 4 years and haven’t sniffed the NCAA Tournament in 21. Now, you’ve led this team to a regular season title, a conference tournament title, a 20-win season for the first time in 20 years, and most importantly the big dance. You’re winning where winning hasn’t been a thing in a long while.

Tuesday night, Mark Slessinger – a real guy living out the scenario laid out above – is coaching his ass off for New Orleans against Mount St. Mary’s in the NCAA Tournament (no matter your feelings, the First Four technically counts). Your guys are out there fighting and competing. Then with 6:36 left in the 2nd half of a 3-pt game, two of your players get in an argument on their way to the bench during a media timeout, some shoving ensues, but then it goes too far. Your starting forward Travin Thibodeaux puts his hands on the throat of his teammate, Christavious Gill.


Whether it’s pick-up games or organized hoops, there’s going to be arguments and even scuffles. A line is crossed once you grab another man’s throat and coach Slessinger recognized that. He made sure his team recognized it too.

New Orleans came out of the break with Thibodeaux on the bench. Up to that point, he’d played 12 minutes in the 2nd half. Thibodeaux had scored 10 points on 5-5 shooting and assisted on another basket. There was a 3:36 stretch where Thibodeaux scored or assisted 8 straight points – scoring 6 himself. He was dominant that half – 1 of the 2 or 3 best players on the court.

Whenever the horn sounded, I’d say to myself: “I hope Thibodeaux isn’t checking in”. In my mind, you don’t get back on the court after choking someone, let alone a teammate, over some on-court disagreement. Thibodeaux didn’t step back on the floor until the final buzzer sounded and New Orleans season came to an end. They lost by a single point.

I won’t claim to have watched ANY New Orleans basketball until watching every second of Tuesday’s game. One thing I can tell you is Thibodeaux was a difference-maker before the choke and they’re advancing if he plays the final six-and-a-half.

Mark Slessinger sent a message to a program he was rebuilding. Mark Slessinger did not fold to the pressure of winning in a world where winning is the only measuring stick. Slessinger stood for something, no matter the result. Whether amateur or professional sports, you rarely see those in charge hold their ground if success is being sacrificed. We get all the clich├ęs: “we don’t stand for that” or “that’s not what our team is about” or “we don’t tolerate that type of behavior”. In the end, it’s all just lip service.

Too often in sports, athletes are given a pass without showing any remorse for their actions because of their abilities. Feigning resolve is just as bad as having none at all. Benching a guy until the next stoppage for choking his teammate over a disagreement is just as bad as not benching him at all. Don’t just state your message. Send your message and hold true to it.

While this offense skews to the less egregious end of the spectrum, I respect the hell out of Coach Slessinger for his decision and I hope others see there’s a message to be learned: be a leader, not a pawn.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fight For Equality & The End of Ignorance



On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard cases on Same-Sex Marriage.  One topic I am extremely passionate about is gay rights.  I have a younger brother who came out to me when he was a freshman in high school.  I'm not sure that anything has changed my life more than the moment he looked me in the eyes and told me he was gay - not to make light of the situation but I had always had a feeling he was a little different. 

From that point on, it made my job of being a big brother something I took a lot of pride in and I may have even went over the top a little bit at times.  I fought with my parents, I told my friends that if they had problems with my brother being gay that they'd be immediately cut out of my life, I picked fights with strangers at bars or in public if they looked at him the wrong way or if I heard someone making comments about him.  I became very, very protective and some may even say over protective.  I know where my over-compensation came from though.  Our childhood.  Growing up I wasn't the BEST big brother one could ask for.  I played sports.  He played house.  As a straight, young, clueless adolescent, those were grounds for teasing and sometimes worse. 

But back to the last 2 days, HUGE days for gay rights.  Hearing cases on Prop 8 - a California law banning same-sex marriage - and D.O.M.A. - the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted by the federal government in 1996.  Now, California Proposition 8 aka Prop 8 is easy to understand - same-sex marriages are not allowed in California.  The Defense of Marriage Act on the other hand may not be understood quite as easily.  It is NOT a law that bans same-sex marriages, which should be obvious because same-sex couples can be married in some states.  The Defense of Marriage Act does disallow those same-sex couples who are married their federal benefits, a few being: insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors' benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns.

Now, over the last few days there have been pictures, campaigns, statuses, etc. flying around our socials networks showing support for equality.  I’m also sure there have been much of the same for the opposition, but those don’t come in on my news feed *smirk*.  I will guarantee you that on a few occasions they’ve sparked a debates amongst friends, family, or even strangers.

The aforementioned brought me to do some digging, which brought me to write out a lengthy response to a Facebook post, which brought me to creating this blog, which brought me to write this post, which brought me to posting this post. LET ME BE CLEAR, absolutely none of this is meant to be vengeful towards the person who shared the ‘article’ with me if said person happens to read this – no hard feelings whatsoever and I completely understand what you’re saying. 

The following is the ‘article’, written by Mark Gungor, that was shared with me:

“Being asked on my thoughts on gay marriage. Uuuugh, here goes...

Is homosexuality wrong from a Biblical world view? I believe the answer is "Yes". "But what if they love each other?" Still wrong, just as two people who commit adultery are wrong, even if they truly love each other. Or a pair of fornicators are wrong doing the "wild thing" in the back of the car while howling at the moon - again, even if they are intensely professing their love for each other as they howl. 

NOTE: Human love does not transcend God's righteousness - ever.

Should we "impose" our values on others who do not agree?? Of course not, but I don't believe that is what is happening here with gay marriage. This issue is brought up time and again for a vote from the people. People vote their values - its just that simple. 

When a person votes for a democrat, they are not "imposing" their values on anyone. They are simply reflecting their values. I don't know of any Christian people who have imprisoned gays, beaten gays, or hated gays in any way. And if gays are granted the right to marry tomorrow it will not affect my faith in any way, shape or form. Nor will I be depressed and think the end of the world has come. 

But if they ask me tomorrow to vote on the matter, I would vote "no" because that would reflect my values. If they asked me to vote on adultery or formication, I would also vote in the negative. 

If the Supremes say that voting our view on this matter is somehow unconstitutional - so be it. But if they don't, don't claim that people hate gays - people just vote their values. (By the way, this is not just a conservative Christian viewpoint. Most religious Muslims and Jews in the world would vote the same way. One of the few things we actually all agree on...) 

I did not vote for Barak. It doesn't mean I hate him or that I tried to "impose" Romney on anybody. Voting has always been about people reflecting their values in a democracy.

[For those opposed: It is always amazing how hateful some "tolerant" people can be. If you disagree, please endeavor to keep your hate-filled rants and name-calling replies to a minimum.]

Peace.

:-)”

Ok.  Immediate reaction: this man is very strong in his faith.  Follow-up reaction: he has so eloquently worded his reasoning’s that I come away not being as frustrated with him as I would with, say, the god-fearing redneck who just yells about hating homosexuals.  The biggest issue I come away with from this ‘article’ is that he compares gay marriage to adultery and unwed “fornicators” *stone-face* - I feel as though the problems with that argument and its issues are self-explanatory.

Onto the rebuttal that it sparked within me...

There are a lot of directions I could go with.  This one in particular assumes that people believe and follow the bible and its teachings.  Taking the teachings from the bible word for word and following it blindly is something I’ll consider ignorant.  The world is completely different today than it was back then.  People are not being stoned, whipped, and murdered for stealing or looking lustily upon thy neighbor’s wife.  

Here are some passages I particularly enjoy (from the Kings James Version):

(God speaking to Moses) - Leviticus 19:19: “Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee”
Translation: follow my statutes. Don’t let different kinds of cattle graze together. Don’t plant different kinds of seeds in the same field. Don’t wear clothes made of 2 different materials

(God speaking to Moses) - Leviticus 19:27: Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
Translation: don’t cut your hair or your beards

(God speaking to Moses) - Leviticus 20:9: For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.
Translation: curse your parents and you must die (maybe its just me but I’m pretty sure EVERY person in history has cursed their parents at least once)

As a nation, we don’t follow our constitution word for word either. As our nation has changed we've used our intellect and intelligence to interpret what may or may not been the intentions of our forefathers to decide what is or isn’t constitutional.  Shouldn’t those same ideals apply to that of the bible?  If you just use the passages I mentioned as examples, Maybe those same ideals have been used but just ignored in the case of homosexuals.

On to my next point.  Marriage.  What’s the point?  Its something that people do who really, really love each other, that’s what its always been for… right?  Wrong.  Marriage was created and meant for procreation, plain and simple.  If that’s the argument those who oppose same-sex marriage want to use, it has its holes too. 

Back in bible days, if a man layeth with another man as he layeth with a woman he was to be killed.  Lets take that next level.  Man wasn’t to be laying with anyone unless he was married to said person, right?  So, him being married means he’s supposed to procreate, right?  Procreation could only happen with a man and a woman back in those days, ok makes sense why the bible says that then.

NOW, Flash forward to 2013.  Science has allowed us to procreate even if our partner/lover/husband/wife happens to be the same gender as me.  It is called surrogacy and, technically, it allows same-sex couples to procreate.

#RedsInRed #EndIgnorance
I'm A Republican and I Support Gay Rights


Unfortunately, that’s all I’ve got for now.  I hope you find this to be a good read and recommend it to others.  This is my first blog post and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it.  This blog with consist of a wide range of topics that will vary depending on the time of year.  There will be times that it will be inundated with posts about sports but it will not be limited to just that.  I have strong opinions and beliefs that will be voiced in this blog.  My intention is not to offend but simply to voice.