One of my favorite times of the year is when the National Collegiate Athletic Association, (NCAA), play for the National Championship. Invariably, a team will come out of “nowhere” to take on the giants who have ruled the “roost” for most of the year. However, something has happened to my favorite sports event that is internal with me, and I have to fight my heritage, ‘upbringing’ and cultural mores to overcome the negative impact.

As an avid spectator and participant in the sports world, I viewed the coaching and participation as an opportunity to teach athletes, not only the fundamentals of the game but an opportunity to present themselves in a positive light. Athletes were to be well groomed, and all players were to be dressed alike. There was no individualization in how you presented yourself, i.e., all shoes were to be the same color as was the uniform and how it was worn. Tattoos were taboo as was facial hair, and hair longer than the nape of the neck was not permitted.

I am reminded of the day Kareem Abdul Shabar returned after the Christmas break with a beard. It is noteworthy Kareem was an all-American athlete and had led UCLA to three national championships. Upon arriving for practice, Coach John Wooden approached Kareem and reminded him of the rule forbidding facial hair. Kareem, in a moment of anger, told the coach, “You can’t make me shave my beard”, whereupon Coach Wooden replied, “we are going to miss you.” A similar incident happened when Sidney Wicks returned after the holiday with an “AFRO” haircut. When the coach told him he had to get a haircut, Sidney replied “you can’t make me get a haircut.” Similar to the incident with Kareem, coach Wooden said “Sidney you are right, I cannot make you cut your hair; however, I remind you I am the one who makes out the lineup for who plays in the game”. Needless to say, Sidney got his haircut.

Coaching, teaching and other activities where adults have students, athletics and other persons in ‘their charge’ is the window to reinforce principles of discipline, group behavior and presentation of self. It is a team activity, “we all dress alike”. One person doesn’t decide to wear “leggings” or a different color shoe or a chain around the neck……It is a “Team”, not an individual sport. Presentation of self is in accordance with the team not the individual.

Not only in the sports arena have I had to reset my thoughts. The same is true in a society where the platform for ‘life’ was based upon Judeo-Christian principles. It has been the foundation of the American society. Like the basketball team with five different players who are doing their individual “thing”, our society is a similar situation. America’s greatness was based upon a shared destiny. The RESET of our society is also the destruction of our society. We are being called upon to accept WOKENESS as a peaceful protest at the expense of anarchy. We are called upon to accept individualism at the expense of ‘good of the whole’. The way we dress, the way we speak, the lack of common courtesies has become a monster in the development of a positive concept, especially for our young people, the very people who we as adults are called upon to train and teach. Our grandparents passed the baton to us. We have dropped that baton and are in need of returning to the principles upon which we were taught and produce the greatness we now share.



Retired in 2008 after 40+ years in education/psychology as researcher, teacher, administrator and college professor.
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