Saturday, December 16, 2017

Jimmy G: A Triple Threat

So long as the legend looms long, let's run with a lesson to be learned from the San Francisco Forty Niners' new quarterback: James Richard Garoppolo, aka "Jimmy G." Since the front office of the Niners orchestrated what Forty Niner Faithful are starting to believe might be the greatest trade in the NFL's recent troubled history, tall tales of Jimmy G, like his stock are on the rise. My favorite of the many is from a former teammate who told him "Ah c'mon man, don't even talk to her. You'll break her heart." When I heard this story, I thought to myself: he's a triple threat.
Take one look at the 6'2" quarterback and you might understand why his teammate said what he did and/or where the cliche "tall, dark and handsome" originated. Jimmy G is talented. Since joining the Forty Niners, this team has two of its threw wins of the season. In his first drive as the Niner QB, he threw 1o yards for a touchdown. He's calm, cool and collected in the pocket and a natural leader. He is kind and friendly; he smiles a lot. He looks like much more than the face of a team, he has a face that both men and women can recognize as handsome. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but with Jimmy G, all beholders can reach consensus easily. I thought about these qualities of Jimmy: talented, handsome and kind. Such attributes are earned and unearned, some given others are cultivated. My Sports and Spirituality mind immediately declared a triple threat.

In basketball, a player who can dribble, pass and shoot is known as a triple threat. In football, a triple-threat man is a player who excels at running, passing and kicking. Most sports have their own variation. This idea has caused me to consider what that means in golf  (driving, chipping and putting) and what a triple threat my look like everyone's line of work. A triple threat in teaching might include speaking, questioning and assessing. Coaching might not be all that different. Leading, inspiring and executing? Motivating, teaching and facilitating? Discuss...
But the example of the triple threat I see in Jimmy G is much more holistic. His three outstanding qualities reflect a little more than who he is as a professional athlete. I do not want to divorce that component of his identity from who he is; it is not to be undermined. I also want to recognize a quality like "good looking" isn't something he has had to work at; I call that raw material. Whereas he has developed his talent, or a basketball player works hard to become a good shooter or ball handler, some of our gifts are just that: gifts. Recognize and enjoy! 

Bottom line: the triple threat need not be sport specific. I invite you—the reader—to consider: What three talents or gifts do you have? How might these skills work together for the good? What do they offer your family...your community...your workplace...the world? Name them. Share them. Offer them to your corner of the world. I hope they are met with the same enthusiasm we have around here in San Francisco for our starting quarterback. I'd be more than happy to talk to him...

Photo Credits
TD Jimmy
Press Conference

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What's Your Favorite TED Talk? Here's One on Tenderness

I'm no statistician but my guess is a good number of people could name their favorite TED talk. Can you? In the same way that we recognize and share our favorite movie, book, song or artist, TED is that prolific and integrated into our lives that it might be more likely to discuss a favorite TED talk than book or literary journal. My favorite "Can Football Change the World" was recommended to me by a friend who is both a fellow teacher and coach. If something's good, pass it on! (in spite of my last blog posting, this act of love need not be limited to printed material).
A good TED talk can be a game changer in the classroom. I wouldn't say that TED: the media organization that post online talks under the slogan "ideas worth spreading" have revolutionized how I teach or what I teach, but a good TED speaker with a salient message can do much more than frame a lesson plan. Notable TED Talks can capture and synthesize principles, ideas and questions in a five, fifteen to twenty minute package. 

The stories, the speakers, their research, experiences, humor and  take-aways come from around the globe, and now—the Vatican. I should not have been surprised when I read that Pope Francis gave his own TED talk earlier this year at the organization's annual conference in Vancouver.

One could argue the Holy Father gives TED talks—ideas worth sharing—on a daily basis. However, his on-going effort to reach the faithful through digital mediums is more than noteworthy, it is necessary. Not all of us can go to Rome and visit St. Peter's Square—wouldn't that be nice?! Pope Francis has deepened what he calls a "culture of encounter" through social media; I read his Tweets regularly. His words offer snippets of hope and reminders of our obligations as Christians. I have been able to learn more about the people and places he visits through video diaries and news reports. And I consider his TED Talk "Why the only future worth building includes everyone" a stalwart message for Advent.
Tenderness, the Holy Father suggested, "is love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need."

Listening to his message, I am reminded that "Tenderness" is much more than an '80s hit by Big Country. Tenderness is an act of love that ought to color how we approach this season of waiting for the birth of Our Lord. If only I used my eyes, ears and hands tenderly, and not hastily, then I might be prepared to receive the true gift of Christmas—the Nativity—with true joy.

I trust Pope Francis' message and his call, because as we have seen through social media it resonates with this actions. Though this  "culture of encounter" extends across the digital sphere, it  is most profound in his person to person contact. The good news is that social media allows us to witness and learn more about the people in the places he meets. The last two blog postings have offered insight into the story of Vinico Riva, an Italian man who was touched ever so tenderly by Pope Francis. The image of this tender encounter caught the attention of the Catholic—universal—Church. I have wanted to conclude this series with HIS story since the first posting. I believe it is the ideal way to conclude this series—let the story speak for itself.
It's screams of a "Love that comes close and becomes real." It's beauty resides in its sympathy. Two men, one embrace. The struggle of one is evident and the outreach from the other is so tender. Happy Advent. Thank you Holy Father

Photo Credits
Ted Talk

Vinicio Riva

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Something to Read: A Recipe for Nourishing Friendship

A wonderful part of my job is that I spend my days, not just with students, but with men and women who are much more than just colleagues. These fellow teachers, coaches, and counselors are people I call my friends. However, the demands of our jobs and the differences in our schedules mean I can be at school (which is big) for weeks on end without talking to them. When I do see them, one party or the other is in a rush. Our conversations are brief. I hate it. However, there are moments every so often that descend upon us, like manna from the heaven, that nourish this friendship. We are able to talk for five, maybe even ten minutes, and again, we are both fed in the way that only friendship can do. 

Last week, my colleague and I found that rare gift of time and as we were about to depart, I said, "I still want to talk to you about that article you gave me this summer, written by Sherman Alexie." He said, "Oh yeah, "Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest" from The New Yorker?" "Yes," I replied.  "I have but one take away. Can I share?" Five minutes became ten and ten could have easily become twenty.

I meant it when I wrote in my last blog posting "Two Recommendations in the Four Gifts Christmas Challenge: Sports and Spirituality Style" that I think there was a fourth Mage (singular for Magi, which is plural...who knew?!). I am convinced that wise man got waylaid somewhere near Bethlehem. Perhaps he too ran into a friend. I imagine that his compadre took notice of what this wise man was bringing Jesus. A book! Ah! Something to read!" Is it for the child? For His parents? Mary and Joseph probably needed the wisdom more than their Son.

I have stopped to discuss podcasts, episodes of Fresh Air and movies with friends. Reading print media, however, is different. Holding a book, ripping an article out of a magazine, folding a journal—the material reality of ideas written and printed lends itself to giving. It should. And so, in a continued effort to promote the "Four Christmas Gift Challenge" and the book I recommended: "Raising Kids with a Healthy Body Image: A Guide for Catholic Parents. I would like to share my favorite excerpt from this wonderful resource. 

The following reflection, given with permission by the author John Acquaviva, is from the chapter, "The Truth that Heals: Wise words from scripture, saints, and scholars." His message resonated with me and my experience as an athlete. I kept reading only to discover an explanation for a picture I had seen, divorced from the who, the why and the how. This chapter introduced me to Vinicio Riva. 

Every semester, I encounter one, two or five stories that capture my mind and heart. Mr. Riva was the primary subject of my favorite one from this Fall and as much as I want to write about meeting my favorite baseball player of all time: Will Clark, my next posting will share how his story exemplifies the themes of Advent. 
So! Here I am passing on a something to read to you...albeit it through cyberspace. If I see you at school, in the hallway, on the golf course, at an airport or in Church please stop and let's take the next five, ten, heck even twenty minutes to discuss.Wise people may stop to join us...

Be who you are and be that well.
 —St Francis de Sales

I have had several male and female friends who have more-or-less lived at the gym. After some time and hard work, their bodies looked great. But their circle of friends dwindled to their workout partners, who were only sometimes genuine friends. They spent more hours working out than everything else but work or school and became so singularly obsessive about looking good that, frankly, they became boring. In conversation, they talked about their training. At dinner, they fretted over the slightest amount of salt or sugar.  At social engagements, they spent more time looking into mirrors than into the eyes and conversations of other people. I began to notice a narcissistic quality that became less and less attractive, even as they became more outwardly attractive people. In time, I found myself gravitating away from them, and growing closer to people who were more earthy, well-rounded, and real.  I mean, how often have you seen a muscle-bound, perfectly chiseled and the person working in a soup line? Well, perhaps that’s not fair, but a point is made.  When self-absorption sets in, we can forget (or simply cease to care about) the importance of serving others.

Now, this is not to say that I don’t encourage healthy exercise habits since sidestepping that would be to go against the basic tenets of my profession. It’s just that now, more than ever, everything to do with our physical nature seems to be taken to the extreme. Tattoos (the size and number), muscularity, thinness, near-shocking eye color via special contact lenses, breast size, and the dozens of ways we attempt to defy aging and improve aesthetics, are just a few that readily come to mind. Most troubling is that the inordinate amount of effort that goes into these extreme ventures often causes a shift in the way we see and serve God. Every act and each minute of anxiety tied to perfecting the body turns our attention away from and hardens our hearts to the things of God. Conversely, deeds of service and prayer for others turn our thoughts and hearts toward him. A turn toward and focus on God is always healing to the soul and leads us further down the path of self-acceptance. When we know our actions are pleasing to God we are more pleased with ourselves.

Now, way on the other side of the spectrum, are the good souls that serve God, but forget to serve themselves. In a soup line, we may see a kind gentleman who is dangerously overweight, unclean and ladling soup with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.  Is he serving God by serving others? Yes, quite literally. But even as he does so, he is abusing the body and ignoring the gift it is. It does no good in the long-run to rationalize the good deeds as a trade-off.

Our minds are an interesting place to be sometimes.

Parents who are balanced, keep things in perspective, and take care of their bodies while not obsessing over them usually pass these traits on to their children. Although we are aware that children go through phases of being influenced by their parents, we can never really know the effect we have on our kids. But as Saint Paul urges, we must always “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim 6:12) with the concentration, discipline and extreme effort necessary to win the battle for the well-being of our children. As we do this­—loving, teaching, disciplining, and modeling healthy habits for our children—we demonstrate the kind of love and acceptance that God has for his people.

Parents of children with disabilities have a particularly tough challenge. In an understatement for sure, navigating the world of disabilities obliges a parent to go well beyond what is required of other parents to instill a positive body image in their children. Although this book is about body image and not about disabilities, I would consider it negligent to not address the disabled, diseased, and disfigured in our discussion of body image.

One of the most memorable photos of the past couple of years was one of Pope Francis kissing a grotesquely disfigured man who visited him at the Vatican. That man, Vinicio Riva, has a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis Type 1 (or NF1). The pope, clearly acting spontaneously and with overwhelming compassion, probably made his encounter with Mr. Riva the signature event of his papacy.

The pope’s actions were emotional and moving as he reached out to demonstrate the love that God wants to show one another. There were no expectations, no physical requirements, and no pretenses inherent in Pope Francis’s actions. He simply embraced and showed love to a man that, like anyone else, deserves to be treated with dignity simply because he is a child of God. A moment like that puts the fixation on physical perfection firmly in its place, doesn’t it? It can also help parents give perspective to their children when they complain about minor flaws on their face and body. Occasionally pointing out that millions of people deal with lost limbs, birth defects, and major scars from accidents or war can give our children a more well-round appreciation for their body as well as a compassion for others. You may even consider showing them a picture or a video of someone like Vinicio Riva to reinforce the lesson.

Photo Credits
Embrace from the Holy Father


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Two Recommendations in the Four Christmas Gift Challenge: Sports and Spirituality Style

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be behind us, but the sales and attempts to draw our cash or credit cards online or in line at the brick and mortar have not waned one bit. The Christmas Season is code for retail's most wonderful (and important) time of the year. How can we navigate such tempting waters? How should we? 

I believe the "Four Gift Christmas Challenge" is a viable answer; it is a channel in the sea of consumerism. When I first wrote about the Challenge two years ago, the program was gaining ground. People realize that material gifts do not make us happy. Our endless pursuit to find the perfect one is short-sighted of the true meaning of Christmas. Limiting what we receive to just four gifts, may still be a sign of abundance for many people in the world, but for so many others, it's a thoughtful way to frame how, what and why we give. 

Though I appreciate the brilliance of my friend Eileen who told her son, "
Jesus received three gifts, so you will too."I would like to make a proposal to keep four. This posting will serve as a reflection and suggestion on two of them.

What to wear: Though every last part of me digs new gear—golf skirt, baseball cap, I would love a San Francisco Giants jersey (for women), the latest in all things ND, when it comes to the "Four Gift Christmas Challenge" one of the more exciting and creative ideas pertains to My Cleats, My Cause.

I want to and plan to write a posting dedicated to this very topic. For now, I will share what I learned thanks to my seniors in Sports and Spirituality. 

If you notice some colorful shoes out on the gridiron on Sunday it's all part of an awareness movement called "My cause, My cleats." 
Some 1,000 NFL players will lace up customized cleats reflecting their charitable endeavors tomorrow as part of the league's "My Cause My Cleats" campaign. 
After the game, the shoes will be auctioned off to raise money for the charities.
Green Bay Packers Defensive End Mike Daniels' shoes are for the "No Bullying Zone" and Running Back Ty Montgomery's are for "Eye Heart World." 
Even number twelve himself is getting in on the fun. Aaron Rodgers posted a pic to Instagram on Saturday saying even though he isn't playing today, he still wants to honor the inspiration he finds in the athletes of the Special Olympics. 
Week 13 is the only weekend that players don't have to worry about the league flagging them for fines over their footwear.
While it would be wonderful to purchase the very cleats that NFL players don this coming Sunday, my sense is that even Santa sets limits. However, a fun and creative gift need not be the shoes, but the supplies to enable any athlete to transform their cleats to a canvas for their own cause. Not artistic? Find a friend. This need not be a project an athlete create alone. Teams can work together to paint, decorate, and design shoes that demonstrate their passion, unique interests, and dreams for a better tomorrow. 

Now that's something to wear!

What to read: Parents, this one is for you. My friend John Acquaviva (one of the best last names ever), who holds a PhD in exercise science is a professor at Wingate University in Charlotte, the father of four children and radio host of Radio Maria's "Faith and Fitness" and the author of "Raising Kids with a Healthy Body Image: A Guide for Catholic Parents." I hope the review I wrote on Amazon offers you more insight into this wonderful resource. 
"Raising Kids with a Healthy Body Image: A Guide for Catholic Parents." is a beautiful text that handles a topic that is more important than most people probably know. As a high school teacher and a coach, I am acutely aware of how much our society is sending messages other than developing a healthy body image. Truly, this quest can feel at times, countercultural. The question that arises is how parents, family members, teachers and others can bring young people safely through these turbulent waters. 
Acquaviva's writing is a ministry of the Catholic Church. His knowledge of the faith is rich, vibrant, pastoral and realistic. He references St. John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" but not exclusively. For those who are familiar with the late Pope's teaching, Acquaviva's information enhances his messages. For those who are unfamiliar, the teaching only enriches the text. And, I appreciate the context he gives for the role of faith in addressing the issue—at its best, to support, inform and guide. 
Each chapter breaks down an important question and topic as related to Body Image. I value the author's usage of Scripture or a quote from a saint to frame the unit. I was left with an increased appreciation for the body, a gift that is indeed sacred and yet at risk, worth protecting and praiseworthy.
One section, in particular, has stayed with me. "The Truth that Heals: Wise words from scripture, saints and scholars" includes the story of Vinicio Riva. You may not recognize the name, but you will remember his face. His story to be the subject of my next posting. 

One need not give a person a material object like a book to read, but I do believe during the season when we celebrate the Incarnation—the Word made flesh, a tangible gift inclusive of the word (lower case "s") is a worthy one. Perhaps that wise man bringing something to read got caught talking to someone along the way....that's what happens when we read. We need to share the word. What a wonderful idea to pray with this Advent and Christmas.

And while you're at it. talk to other parents and people about the "Four (or Three) Gift Christmas Challenge." I have a feeling it can help keep the Christ in Christmas....

Photo Credits
4-Gift Challenge

My Cleats, My Cause


Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Spirituality of Sports Fandom: The Business of Caring

I sat back in my seat at War Memorial Gym to watch the University of San Francisco Dons' men's basketball team take on the Gauchos of UCSB and noticed something was different. My vision was uninhibited. My pulse remaining at a resting heart rate. I looked around their "fieldhouse" a throwback as far as gyms go and observed the fans and unique traditions of USF with eyes wide open. Just three days later, I turned on the Pac 12 Championship football game to see the Stanford Cardinal defeated by the men of Troy at Levi's Stadium. Missed tackles by both teams left me unaffected. Penalties given and received—no problem. Incredible catches in the end zone, converting on third and long, field goals, all of the glory of football was on display without a simple cheer, roar or high five from me. I turned to my friend and said: "it's so nice to watch a game and not care about either team." This is what I call the business of not caring. Maybe I should try it more often. Perhaps you agree...
Pac 12 Championship 2017. Who Cares...right?
Being a sports fan comes at a cost. The financial one is not insignificant. For example, traveling to South Bend to see the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame requires a pricey plane ticket, a place to stay and the game ticket is no chump change. I can appreciate that the only people for whom college football is affordable are the student body—that's how it should be. But all parties—students and alumni, parents, friends, and family, subway alums, and the fans of visiting teams offer another investment, one beyond price: time, energy and effort. When I say effort, I mean mental energy, emotion, deliberation, allegiance and more. I leave every Notre Dame football game I attend exhausted—and I'm not even playing the game! I go to a lot of high school basketball games. I'm invested in the outcome and many times that is characterized by two words: high or low, up or down, happy or sad. That's what caring about someone or something demands of us.

I'm not convinced enough has been written about the spirituality of sports fandom. Being faithful to an athlete or a team teaches us much more than knowledge about a sport, a person's story, the history of the game, or even a given school, city or institution. We learn about ourselves. Why are we drawn to certain players? What excites us about this particular team? And for what reason do we detest their rivals? What does the enemy embody? What does that coach promote that is in conflict with my values or beliefs? These are some of the many questions sports fans are asked to consider on a regular basis.
This guy obviously cares...
We know that the word "fan" is derived from fanatic: one who is filled with or expresses excessive zeal. When a sports fan attends a game where they have "no dog in the fight," the energy and effort that zeal requires can be put on reserve...that is...until it isn't.

The sports fan in me, inevitably, finds some connection, some relationship to my team or other allegiances that force me to pick a side. Slowly but surely, I make some sort of forced choice: USF or UCSB....Stanford or USC....Dodgers or Astros. I think of the people in my life who love one team or another. That friendship may be enough to draw me in. Other times, I will think of the athletes involved. USF has a player who went to my high school, an athlete I have always admired. Today he's a D-1 athlete. How could I not root for him?...and therefore his team? Or I've been at games where my own brother will cheer for a team because of how their win or loss will benefit or hurt the San Francisco Giants standings. Or I bring it back to Notre Dame. The Irish crushed USC and lost to Stanford. In this case, I want USC to win....right?!
BIG game for Wisconsin who lost to OSU in the Big 10 Championship
I suppose I shouldn't take for granted the fact that anyone, including me, does care. The baseball poet laureate and writer, Roger Angell wrote
It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift.
The spirituality of sports fandom is characterized by one primary virtue: care.  And care is not passive—it's an active verb. Care means concern, attention, extending emotion and heart, finding delight and joy the victories both big and small. Care also invites disappointment and hurt, love and loss. Care reveals our humanity...maybe the best part about it.

Photo Credits
Stanford vs USC

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving: A National Day of Service

I have been noticeably silent on the NFL this fall. The week after President Trump reignited the debate over the national anthem, I wanted to write a post entitled "The NFL is stressing me out." For one, I didn't even know how to name the issue. Second, I couldn't keep up with team responses and reactions, views of the fans, the owners, Republicans, and Democrats, so on and so forth. I have my students to thank for navigating me through those rough waters. We elected to have a class period to openly discuss the issue with some guidance from an article of their choosing. We raised questions, shared different viewpoints, considered nuances and we laughed. Our discussion felt very different than the ones we were hearing on the national stage.
Whether or not my students, their parents, my colleagues, friends, and family are football fans, what Colin Kapernick did—when he decided to sit and not stand during the national anthem—has launched a national conversation about race, patriotism, police brutality, free speech, honor and respect, tradition and much more. I hope conversations such as the one I was privy to in my Sports and Spirituality class are taking place in schools and at home. I'm not sure it has.

Our country is divided, but we have been there before. As bad as it sometimes feels, the Civil War must be the apex. With history as our teacher, I have asked myself: How did the American people respond? Fortunately, one woman, Sarah Josepha Hale found power in the pen. Known as the "Mother of Thanksgiving," Hale wrote to the 16th President of the United States, Mr. Abraham Lincoln and urged him to take action: make Thanksgiving a national holiday.
According to the History Channel's History Stories
While at “Godey’s,” Hale often wrote editorials and articles about the holiday and she lobbied state and federal officials to pass legislation creating a fixed, national day of thanks on the last Thursday of November—a unifying measure, she believed that could help ease growing tensions and divisions between the northern and southern parts of the country. Her efforts paid off: By 1854, more than 30 states and U.S. territories had a Thanksgiving celebration on the books, but Hale’s vision of a national holiday remained unfulfilled.  
The outbreak of war in April 1861 did little to stop Sarah Josepha Hale’s efforts to create such a holiday, however. She continued to write editorials on the subject, urging Americans to “put aside sectional feelings and local incidents” and rally around the unifying cause of Thanksgiving. And the holiday had continued, despite hostilities, in both the Union and the Confederacy. In 1861 and 1862, Confederate President Jefferson Davis had issued Thanksgiving Day proclamations following Southern victories. Abraham Lincoln himself called for a day of thanks in April 1862, following Union victories at Fort Donelson, Fort Henry and at Shiloh, and again in the summer of 1863 after the Battle of Gettysburg.
Shortly after Lincoln’s summer proclamation, Hale wrote to both the president and Secretary of State William Seward, once again urging them to declare a national Thanksgiving, stating that only the chief executive had the power to make the holiday, “permanently, an American custom and institution.” Whether Lincoln was already predisposed to issue such a proclamation before receiving Hale’s letter of September 28 remains unclear. What is certain is that within a week, Seward had drafted Lincoln’s official proclamation fixing the national observation of Thanksgiving on the final Thursday in November, a move the two men hoped would help “heal the wounds of the nation.”
Hale's efforts remind me that change is possible and perhaps that much more necessary in times of strife, division, and disharmony. Complaining, worrying, and brooding about the state of the union—literally‚—can only extend so far. Thoughtful action, persistence, and support for a cause or a goal can yield, the horn of plenty.

Today, many people and organizations have taken action. Glory be. I told my students that I need to do the same. Here is my plea: I believe steps should be taken by both the President and the NFL to do what Sarah Hale once did in creating Thanksgiving. Today, I believe that the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday should be a national day of service. This federal holiday, observed on the third January of the month, should not be a day off, but rather, a day on. A day for justice, for service for outreach to our local communities. I believe the President should declare this initiative and I think every NFL team across the country should model and lead efforts to serve. The timing is perfect, as all but two teams have completed their seasons. As fans await the Super Bowl, why not gather one more time, in service to one another?!
Can you imagine a singular day, or perhaps the entire 3-day weekend dedicated to service? All of America would serve as the labor force, as volunteers, for the needs of their local communities. Even those running the programs would offer their time and energy for free. People would be free to choose where and how to serve. Some might be joined by NFL players, others by their coaching staff, and still others by their cheerleaders or best of all, their fellow fans. For those folks who live in places without a home NFL team or those who do not like football, no problem. The goal is to change a national conversation from what to do? to what CAN we do.

Dr. King said "Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." This Thanksgiving, I gave thanks for our freedoms and our challenges—after all, they have shaped who we are. Let's see what more we can become.

Dear Mr. Trump....

Photo Credits
Pats on T-giving

Cowboy Service