Monday, September 25, 2017

Disrespect? Win the Battle, Lose the War

Okay. My tongue is bleeding because I’ve been biting so hard.

I don’t know Donald Trump. I can’t tell you how he thinks. More often t than not, though, I understand the what the result of his actions might be.

Buffalo Bills players protesting the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
As Trump continues to speak directly with his constituency through social media, his supporters get an unfiltered message. Clearly, the President doesn't care for the media filter to deliver his position. When he speaks directly to voters who turn out to hear his speeches, he knows exactly the response they hope to achieve. So, when President Trump referred to NFL athletes who kneel during the National Anthem as “sons of bitches,” there's little doubt that he understood the reaction he'd affect. For folks who aren’t familiar with American history, that’s powerful imagery for some players.

I suspect that President Trump isn’t terribly fond of some NFL owners.

A recent Experian Simmons study shows that this is true demographically. Of people who identified themselves as part of the NFL fan base 83 percent were white, 64 percent were male, 51 percent were 45 years or older, only 32 percent made less than $60,000 a year, and, to finish the point, registered Republicans were 21 percent more likely to be NFL fans than registered Democrats. Another factoid: NFL fans were 59 percent more likely than the average American to have played golf in the last year.[i]

By making this and other statements relating to the behavior of some players, Mr. Trump is effectively galvanizing those players’ solidarity. It’s more than a little bit likely that Team Trump understood how his comments would be taken. More players would kneel during the National Anthem and rhetoric would compound. Likely, some of the more, well, inexperienced players would likely make an outrageous or unreasonable statement, which would, in turn, dampen the ardor of the largest among NFL demographics. A less enthusiastic fan base spends less money on tickets, broadcast products, and gear. Considering the NFL’s total annual revenue is $13.3 billion,[ii] a decrease in NFL product sales to the largest market, well, puts a big dent in owners’ asset values.

Rams and 49ers kick-off to an empty stadium.

Players who take the hook are not only caught, but they are also biting on what is so obviously isn’t even live bait.

Saints fans burn gear after players' protest.
Like I’ve already mentioned, I don’t know how Mr. Trump thinks or the nature of his end game. Is it actually something as simple as evening the score with one or more NFL owners who Mr. Trump doesn’t care for, or is the President of the United States looking downfield for more? Does he want to use his influence to force support from NFL team owners to his own ends through unprecedented political hard ball. Is Trump fan the flame of an already burning issue to rally his base for the 2020 campaign? Is it something else entirely?

One thing is certain; many of the NLF players are, well, playing into the President’s hand. Frankly, it's not a matter of whether they can. It's a matter of whether they should. Personally, I think every NFL player should stand for the two and a half minutes while a bright-eyed young American sings the Star-Spangled Banner. For those who continue to show what a majority of Americans believe is disrespect for our country and for the women and men who have died to defend it, protesters may win a battle, but lose the war.

As football players, they should readily comprehend that.

[i] “NFL: Last sports bastion of white, male conservatives.” The Great Debate. Neil Gabler. March 24, 2014.

[ii] “Thanks To Roger Goodell, NFL Revenues Projected To Surpass $13 Billion In 2016.” Forbes Magazine. Jason Belzer. February 29, 2016.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Widower Father's Lament

Some of "my people" Including The Favorite Son, me,
"Louis," Rob Rooney, and Rob's Dad
If you’re even a casual reader of The Single Father’s Guide Blog, the next thing I'm about to write will be redundant. For some reason, though, I feel obligated to include it.

And, here it is. Slightly more than one in 20 single fathers is a widower. The number is actually just about 6%. This is the subgroup of single dads to which I belong.

My late wife, Lori, was diagnosed in 2003 with occult metastatic breast cancer when she was six months pregnant with The Favorite Son (TFS). That mother-fucker (the cancer, not TFS) took Lori ten months later, leaving her two Beautiful Daughters, seven and four years old, respectively, and seven-month old TFS without a mother and Yours Truly.

So, I don’t think I wear my emotions on my sleeve or allow one, albeit significant event in the past, define me. I don’t think I write disproportionately to widower single fathers, but I do, admittedly include a post written directly to or about widower single dads.

That said, TFS and I spent a little bit of time in Missouri “with my people,” which is the way a former neighbor, Phyllis Kaminsky, used to refer to them. The trip included a stop at Three River Stadium in Pittsburgh to watch the Cardinals and another stop in Indianapolis at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum. While TFS enjoyed some quality time with his grandparents, I met the Second Beautiful Daughter (SBD) in New Orleans and helped her move into her dorm. Prior to returning to New York, TFS and I made the trip to Columbia, Missouri and had dinner and shopped with the First Beautiful Daughter (FBD), who is a junior at the University of Missouri.
First Beautiful Daughter: KD, now RA.

As I unloaded the contents of my car on Broadway Street in New Orleans, picked up the boxes we’d shipped from the FedEx trailer, and unpacked clothes, supplies, sundries, pictures, mattress pad, sheets, pillow cases, and comforter, I was overwhelmed with the same emotion I felt when I visited her sister a few days later at MIZZOU.

After two years as a Kappa Delta and living in the sorority house during her sophomore year, FBD took a position as a resident assistant (RA). Consistent with her independent and confident personality, FBD has taken responsibility for herself and her success by taking a job that would pay room/board expenses while she finishes her undergraduate degree.

TFS started at a new school. Understandably, TFS was nervous on his first day, but maintained a stiff upper lip. He even giggled about the school uniform; an enthusiastic supporter of the Commander in Chief, TFS joked before he left for school, “I feel like Donald Trump.”

Shh. I'm Batman, but it is The Second Beautiful
Daughter who is Incredi-Girl.
What I felt on those three days with each my incredible, unique, independent young adults can be clustered into two emotions. First, I am incredibly proud of the way each of my three children have become such wonderful people. My first daughter has made a point of establishing her independence and, with Missouri Heritage Scholarship, her RA job, and a work/study job, is doing just that while maintaining a grade point average north of 3.5. The SBD set her sights on her goal of attending Tulane University and she studied, worked with a tutor, and earned nearly a 90% scholarship. My son has always had something to which a lot of people call “intangibles.” Sharp-witted and funny, he’s been a likable leader among his peers. Both figuratively and literally, TFS has always been fearless and “played bigger” than he is.

The Favorite Son: Future Politician?

For all of these reasons and more, I was something more than gratified by the way my children have grown up so far. But, there was something else I felt, as well. Frankly, I was angry and resentful that they couldn’t have also shared these moments with their mother. It just wasn’t (and isn’t) fair to them that when one would look over to the sideline during a game, out into the audience at a school play or an award ceremony, or after school to share a good grade on a quiz or test, that Lori wasn’t there to share it.

No, I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. What possible reason could there be for two little girls, seven and four years old, and a baby boy to have to grow up without a mother’s love? Yeah, I know it isn’t rational to have resentment or anger for something that happened so far out of my control. It’s like resenting the weather. (Ironically, Hurricane Irma and the ocean storm surge is pounding Florida as I write. Maybe, I can blame global warming, too.) Feelings of anger and resentment are a natural process that is clearly out of anyone’s control are irrational, but who ever said emotions have to be rational?

Well, that’s my story. That’s a widower’s lament for his children. There’s no punchline. Maybe, there isn’t even a moral other than, perhaps, life goes on until it doesn’t. Even then, life still goes on and we have to do the best with what we’ve got. With any luck, we do.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

THE FAVORITE SON SAGA: Sleepover Hangover


A beautiful Sunday morning in a small village in New York's Hudson Valley after picking up The Favorite Son from a sleepover at his friend's house. Now, in my car on the ride home.

THE FAVORITE SON: Yeah, we stayed up late playing pool and X-Box. Then, we watched a scary movie. We didn't go to sleep until about 2:30, but I'm not tired. You know, not so tired that I'm cranky or in a bad mood.

ME: Really.

THE FAVORITE SON: See? This is what I'm talking about. You provoke me all the time. That's what makes me mad. You start in on me and then . . .