Life lessons from playing sports

It is commonly agreed upon by many that a young person needs to take a wide variety of classes in school in order to become a brighter, more well-rounded person later on in life. Courses in mathematics, writing and reading are essential for anyone to have a meaningful career. I might add another thing that can be very essential for helping someone achieve greater success in their careers; that would be the lessons learned from participating in sports.

During a job interview many years ago, the interviewer asked me about some of the classes that I took in high school and college and how I thought they would prepare me for the future. Without any hesitation, I listed some classes and why I took them. Some of the classes had little to do with the current job opening, but by taking and having success in them, it showed that I had the flexibility to learn different things. He also took from my resume that I had participated in several team and individuals sports during my youth and that really seemed to caught his attention. He asked me a question that I was not really prepared to answer, but I did anyways. So tell me Mark, how has playing sports helped you as a person? I thought about the question for a minute then talked about how my background in sports could really help me in this and any company. I received extra training on how to work for a team, how to set goals and make sacrifices, how to deal with failures and successes and so forth. The interviewer was a former athlete himself and seemed very impressed with my answers. I had never really tied in my background with playing sports with business until at that moment.

I don’t want to knock the importance of taking a good dose of challenging course during your academic years, but the lessons one learns on the ball field or basketball court tend to stick with you the longest. My basketball coaches used to harp on the importance of teamwork and making sacrifices for the good of the team. Today, those words still ring loud and clear in my mind while I am at work. I work in a very team driven environment and those lessons of teamwork from the basketball court have really paid off in my current job. I can also work more effectively with other people and put aside my selfish tendencies to make them better. The same holds true of dealing with successes and failures at work. Being mentally tough at work can often be the difference between an average and a good employee. My background in sports have taught me how to handle the failures and disappoints that so often come up in a workplace environment. My level of competitiveness from playing sports has helped me strive to succeed and reach for higher and higher goals. I always want to get better and learn new things and set new goals for myself.

I fully realize that everyone is not gifted enough to play sports in high school or college. There are many clubs available to those non-jocks that reap some of the same benefits as participating in sports. Any participation in some form of extra-circular activity looks very good on a resume. It is almost like taking a bunch of extra classes to go along with the normal course load. Any potential employer has to be very impressed with someone who makes those kinds of additional sacrifices with their time and energy. Those activities may make the difference in who gets chosen to fill an existing position.

The lessons that I learned in the classroom have pretty much faded away. Isn’t that the case with most people? Those complicated Calculus word problems are a distant memory. However, the lessons of life that I learned from playing sports are still very fresh in my mind today. The time that I spent on the basketball court might have been the best internship that I ever had in preparing me for the future. Funny how such a meaningless game can have such a huge impact on a person’s life. The lessons I have learned from playing sports have greatly helped me in so many ways. Those lessons will never be forgotten.


Jobs for ISIS terrorists?

In an interview on a cable news network show, a state department spokesperson spoke about the growing threat of radical terrorists and what must be done to help solve this problem. One of her comments might go down as the leading candidate for preposterous statement of the year. She stated that we cannot just continue to kill these terrorists; we must also look at their economic and jobs situations. Perhaps there is a way that we can help rebuild the economies of the regions where these terrorists come from. Okay, I see. So that is part of the solution. Get a terrorist a job and he or she will stop killing innocent people and turn from their evil ways. To make a statement like that shows a total level of ignorance regarding the problem. Unfortunately, many in the current administration seem to have the same ignorant views on how to deal with the expansion of ISIS in other countries. Our president even wants us to hear the grievances of those groups. He seems to believe that hearing those grievances will go a long ways into making peace with the terrorists. Who is he trying to kid?!!

The White House even decided to hold a summit this week on how to deal with the terrorist problem. Interesting enough, one of the participants was a gentlemen who strongly believes that Israel is part of the problem. That shows you a lot about how legitimate and productive this conference probably was. The fact is, this problem of growing extremism is pretty cut and dry. Groups like ISIS want to establish a caliphate not only in the Middle East, but around the world including yes, here in the United States. They will not stop until that goal is met. Unlike the president who refuses to call it a radical form of Islam, I will. I do not understand why the president has such a tough time saying this. These terrorists have essentially hijacked the Islam religion, pure and simple. We do not need to hear their grievances, they should be well-known. They believe people who do not share their beliefs, Muslim or non-Muslim are the enemies and most be destroyed. They view the United States as being the great Satan of the world. For someone to say that giving these people better economic opportunities and jobs will change their way of thinking is utterly ridiculous!!

It is time that we quit playing softball with these cock roaches and simply do everything in our power to destroy them RIGHT NOW!!! Sending a clear and stern message that their actions will not be tolerated is the only way to go. Enough of this trying to be politically correct by not naming it radical Islam. Or deflecting the problem by bringing up the silly comparisons to the Christian religion and their past violence. The lack of leadership in dealing with the issue of radical Islam by the White House is very troubling. ISIS is expanding into other countries and their methods are becoming more and more barbaric. More and more innocent people are becoming victims of these thugs including many women and children. 21 men were beheaded last week in Libya just because they happened to be of the Christian faith. I did not hear much outrage from the White House over this incident. We are a Christian nation and this terrorist act was an act against many of us. If I were the president. I would have strongly condemned it. Instead, I hear a lecture from the same spokesperson talking about how Christian groups have committed similar acts of murder. Really? So you are saying that the number of Christian radical groups in the world poses the same danger to the world as radical Islamic groups?

I challenge that state department spokesperson to lead a job fair in Syria and let’s see how far that goes. An evil terrorist’s mind will never change no matter what their economic conditions are. The only job that matters to an ISIS terrorist is killing people including innocent men, women and children who do not agree with their doctrine. Perhaps we should use our tax money instead to help improve our economic situation. Just a thought!

Those everlasting marriages and relationships

A local news channel did a very interesting Valentine’s Day story about a couple who just celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary. In case anyone is wondering, both of them are 99 years young. They spoke of their true love and admiration for each other, even mentioning how they love each other’s great sense of humor. They also have a very large family of sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It was a very touching story that nearly left tears in my eyes. In the near future, chances are good that one of them will die and the other person will be greatly heartbroken.

Imagine being married to the same person for that long. I often wonder how people stay married that long; what is the key to that kind of longevity? Surely in the case of this couple, there had to be some bumps in the road that threatened their relationship. Perhaps there was another person involved that posed a threat to ending that relationship. Or maybe they had, at one time, a huge dispute about finances or some other problems that normally splits couples apart. If I were the reporter covering this story, I would have dug deeper into what really was the key for keeping them together for that long. It would be interesting to hear what they have to say about how they handled some of their disputes.

Sadly in this day and age, it is totally uncommon for people to stay married that long. Heck, if a couple even stays married for 10 years, that is looked upon as some sort of great achievement. Nobody values longevity in a relationship or marriage anymore; we are a society of rushing into marriage and if it works great, but if it doesn’t, well there is always someone else who I can find to replace my mistake. These type of attitudes are a terrible threat to our society. Broken homes and marriages lead to so many problems in our society, especially when children are involved. More times than not, these marriages can probably be saved if one of the couples involved just learns to quit being so self-centered and stubborn. But it is just far too easy to opt out and get a divorce. After all, why continue when you can go on the internet and find many choices to replace your spouse?

People who stay in long-lasting marriages are to be commended for their loyalty to each other. Ask anyone who has been married for a long time and they will tell you that it takes a lot of work and sacrifice to be in a successful marriage. People in their early 20’s think that marriage is some great thing that will make them happy for the rest of their lives. They are deeply blinded by the love that they have for each other. Before long, one of them might have a temper or some sort of emotional problem that was not known during the courtship. Or maybe one suddenly discover that their spouse is a free spender and financial arguments start to develop. People also tend to change a lot from their early 20’s. Every decade of living poses new changes to a couple. A couple who wants a successful and long-lasting marriage will understand these issues and learn to communicate with each other about them, even before they tie the knot.

The elderly couple that I mentioned is strong example of what marriage should be about in our society. Imagine if more marriages lasted that long? We would be much better off as a society. More children would come from homes where there is a dad and mom to come home to and be a part of their lives. Unfortunately, our society is not like that anymore. We don’t stress the need for families to stick together anymore. Marriage is something that should last a lifetime, not some long-term relationship that only lasts 5-10 years. If a couple does not see themselves being married together for the rest of their lives, then why even get married? When you look up the word marriage online or in a dictionary, a picture or short story of that elderly couple should be included. They define what marriage should be about, everlasting.

The lies of Brian Williams

There has certainly been a lot of buzz recently in social media about a very popular news anchor person, Brian Williams, and his made up story about how he came under attack while doing a story during the early days of the 2nd Iraqi war. I have to admit that I was once a fan of Williams. He seemed like a very likeable guy, someone who you wouldn’t mind having a beer or dinner with. He just had something about him that I really liked in an anchor person; maybe his positive demeanor while reporting the news and his great stories about some of our older war veterans. Williams had this special talent that got my attention and millions of other people. Unfortunately, that special talent of his goes beyond reporting the news. He also seems to have a special talent for lying and fabricating stories.

I find it extremely sad that public figures seem to think that lying is okay and nobody will ever notice. Do these people think that we are that na├»ve and will never notice? Politicians are famous for being liars. We have many well known politicians whose noses are growing longer every day. Does “If you like your plan, you can keep it” ring a bell to anyone? Any public figure whether it be a famous anchor person, athlete, politician, actor or musician who lies to further his or her career or agenda deserves the ridicule and harsh treatment that they experience after being caught in a lie. They are basically insulting everyone’s intelligence with their made up fabrications of the truth. In the process, their credibility is taking a terrible hit. In the case with Williams, how can anyone trust the guy anymore for what he says? One of the critical factors of any news anchor person is their likability among viewers. Lying to viewers is an unimaginable sin of any anchor person.

Whether Williams comes back after his 6 month suspension is really up in the air at this point. Personally, I could really care less if he came back or not. Watching the nightly news on NBC is not a high priority for me. I don’t rush home from work just so I can watch some 1/2 hour news cast. I have many other choices for getting the news. I don’t have to spend a 1/2 hour of my time watching some guy make 10 million a year for just for reading a teleprompter. While William is a very talented guy at what he does, he is very replaceable. New anchor people are a dime a dozen in my opinion. There are many other talented people out there who deserve a shot and who have far more creditability than Williams. Perhaps NBC news might be better off just firing Williams for good and sending a message to future anchors that lying to us is not acceptable and never will be.

The agony of defeat for a sports fan

Anyone who is a passionate sports fan has probably felt the emotional trauma that goes with following a particular team. Sometimes the trauma is less dramatic because your team stinks and that recent loss is less painful to deal with. You are used to having your team lose and a loss is easily accepted. The expectations are very low as well as the emotional attachment to the team. That all changes when your team starts winning some games and there is hope to win that particular championship; suddenly the emotions of following your favorite team becomes stronger and stronger. Your life centers around following the team. You find yourself scheduling your daily activities around the team’s games. You spend many wakeless nights thinking about the big game and how your team’s quarterback is going to fare against the opponents tough defense and so forth. The day of the big game arrives and your blood pressure reaches unhealthy numbers, the game is tight and your team is about to win the championship; suddenly they collapse, and in heartbreaking fashion, they lose; how do you handle that?

Recently, fans of the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks had to go through this type of agony. The Seahawks were one yard from winning the Super Bowl, one lousy yard!! Their brilliant coaching staff decides to bypass giving the ball to the best running back in the league and instead throw a risky slant pass in the middle which was picked off. The hopes and dreams of thousands of Seahawk fans suddenly went up in a puff of smoke. If that happened to my favorite NFL team, I might have promptly made an appointment the following morning to see my counselor. I have never seen a team lose a game in more of a heartbreaking fashion. The Super Bowl is the arguably the one of the biggest games in the world and the Seahawks just blew it!! How do you cope with the pain if you are a fan of the team.? The same can be said for the Green Bay Packers. Knowing Packer fans like I do, they treat their football and following of the Packers very seriously. A trip to the Super Bowl was well within reach for the Packers. Then the unthinkable happened, a dramatic rally by the opponents, who just happened to be the Seahawks, dashed any hopes of a Super Bowl appearance for the Packers. The loss was so stinging that even some of us Minnesota Viking fans felt sorry for Packer nation.

So how does a fan of a sports team handle a crushing defeat? My experiences have taught me to simply not get too emotionally wrapped up into following any sports team. I have absolutely no power in deciding the outcome of a game. It is totally out of my control, so why should I worry and get so upset if my team losses? I absolutely refuse to get totally emotionally involved in any sport’s team. Say for example that my favorite NFL team, the Minnesota Vikings just so happened to win the Super Bowl. How would that benefit me as a person? Would I win any money or some sort of prize because my team just won the championship? The last I checked, the fans do not receive any of the winning share. Would I get a better job or status in life? Absolutely not? Would it heal any sickness that I might have? Once again, no. Outside of the fact that it would help my emotional state for a few hours, having your team win a championship or a big game is a very fleeting moment in your life. My point is this, Aren’t there more important things in your life that you can actually control?

For those sports fans who refuse to let go of their emotional attachment, there is always hope for the future. Both the Seahawks and the Packers will be contenders next year. Many teams go through heartbreaking defeats before they win the big title or championship. Just because your team does not win it this year does not mean they will never ever win the title again. Furthermore, a championship is always sweeter after your favorite team faces some type of adversity and bounces back the next year. I know how difficult those dramatic defeats can be for any sports fan, but the world does not end after the game is over. The sun still rises the next day and your favorite team will be back at it next year, even hungrier to win the championship.

Religion gone wrong

During a speech at a prayer breakfast this week, President Obama made some rather controversial, yet interesting statements about hijacking one’s religion. While I feel his statements about Christianity were very misleading, he did make a good point about the dangers of certain radical groups such as ISIS who hijack their religion in order to further their cause. The fact that this group justifies their actions because it is in the name of God is extremely disturbing and should cause outrage among not only Muslims, but people of all faiths. In my view, a religious faith or belief that justifies killing of innocent people such as women and children, does not tolerate other people’s faith and beliefs and oppresses people is far from a religion that would have God’s blessing. It sounds more like a faith of somebody who worships Satan.

What type of religion one follows is a highly individual choice. I happen to be a follower of the Christian faith. The way I live my life and my values are based on the teachings of Jesus Christ who is the son of God. I certainly respect and tolerate other people’s faiths and beliefs. Just because my neighbor happens to be a Muslim doesn’t mean that feel the need to go over to his house and chop his head off. That is not what the religion that I follow preaches. Unfortunately, there are some radical Muslim groups who do not feel the same way that I do. Because I am not a Muslim, I am the enemy and must convert or be killed. I am a perfectly harmless human being who strongly believes in world peace, helping the poor and needy and loving one another, yet I am considered a threat to this world? Really? I would like some member of this radical group please explain to me how my practicing of the Christian faith is a threat to this world. How is some innocent journalist who is just covering a story a threat to this world? Why is there a need to cut his head off? Or the young aid worker who is just trying to help out some poor people, why are they a threat to society?

I consider any religion that preaches hate and violence towards fellow-man to be totally inconsistent to God’s word. Any form of religion should be based on his word and help make this world a better place to live. The form of religion that I practice, Christianity, stresses love and forgiveness towards others. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if all people practiced these concepts of the Christian faith? That is what true religion should be a about, making this world a better place for every human being. The religion that these radicals practice is far from accomplishing that. Unfortunately, their way of thinking is becoming a cancer that keeps on growing. More and more young people, not only in the Middle East, but from around the world are being brain washed by their sick views of religion. That is called religion gone wrong and these radicals such as those members of ISIS pose the biggest threat to world peace today. They must not be taken lightly and stopped before it is too late.