84-year-old Grandma’s lay up on 10-year-old Great Grandson

Pay to play: Cost of kids’ extracurricular sports

Everyone wins in the $15 billion youth sports economy.

Two-sport “star,” my grandson, Kingston, shooting a basketball during a recent game.
Nine-year-old Kingston on first base during recent game.

Parents are shelling out billions of dollars annually for their kids to play sports. In this “pay to play” society, the U.S. government and private organizations find that the youth sports industry is estimated to be a $15 billion industry.

During a recent @walbtv show, The Breakdown, I provided financial insight on costs associated with children’s sports and also briefly discussed the economic benefits of that community’s homecoming celebrations.

AVERAGE ANNUAL SPENDING PER SPORT, PER CHILD

SPORT ANNUAL AVERAGE COST
Baseball $659.96
Basketball $426.78
Bicycling $1,011.61
Cross country $420.86
Field hockey $2,124.62
Flag football $268.46
Tackle football $484.57
Golf $925.38
Gymnastics $1,580.28
Ice hockey $2,582.74
Lacrosse $1,289.22
Martial arts $776.51
Skateboarding $380.02
Skiing/Snowboarding $2,248.84
Soccer $536.90
Softball $612.83
Swimming $786.03
Tennis $1,170.09
Track & field $191.34
Volleyball $595.49
Wrestling $476.45
Other sports $1,233.30
Source: Aspen Institute

As a former “Soccer Mom” — aka basketball, baseball, track, golf, skiing, goalball and band Mom — of three children and now as a grandmother of young athletes and scholars, I know well that many businesses that benefit from children’s sports such as:

Sporting goods stores (gear, etc.)

Grocery stores (snacks and drinks per game)

Restaurants (teams’ celebrations)

Trophy stores (ribbons, plaques)

Private coaches

Clinics and camps

Specialized training centers

Gaming centers

Colleges and universities

My granddaughter, Kaidence, a soccer player and extracurricular math and science participant, poses with her favorite Florida State University goalie Brooke Bollinger, during a recent mini-camp.

It’s the big things that carry us through life

This image is lasting. There is a direct connectivity between cheering young folk onto their next level and sustained success. Great job, Dads, and the folk who had this idea.

twitter.com/priscillashirer/status/1163494811258806272

Why revisiting grief in the public spotlight is tragic

I know what it’s like when the ‘weight of the world’ seems put upon your shoulders yet few people around you want to help carry the load.

My friend, Gwen Carr, knows well this heavy feeling. She is the mother of Eric Garner, the New York man who received an acknowledged, illegal chokehold by a police officer for selling single cigarettes. Selling cigarettes in this increment is against the law and the husband, son, father and community retailer, died after crying out,”I can’t breathe.”

It’s hard for Carr and other family members to breathe after learning the Justice Department will not charge the police officer who allegedly placed the chokehold on Garner that was found to stimulate death for the cigarette vendor. Five years nearly to the day that Garner died, Carr had to hold another impromptu press conference and lead the charge to ask that the police officer be fired by the city of New York.

I know it hurts. Carr has spent each anniversary of her son’s July death with fellow Moms who were pushed in the public commentary because of the deaths of their sons by persons assigned to “serve and protect them.” In their collective anger, the women have channeled their energy to help one another. The annual gathering was Carr’s idea and each year, she has shouldered the burden of travel and hotel costs and logistical planning.

Carr and her sisters in this sad bond, seek to rise above the injustices as they form a I applaud the women whose names have become household words because of the tragedies. In nearly all of the public cases resulting in deaths for their loved ones, questions loudly arise on whether justice was served for the families and communities.proverbial circle to laugh, share, cry, forgive and live for brighter days. The New York Times agrees that justice still hangs in the balance for Garner. See www.nytimes.com/2019/07/16/opinion/eric-garner-pantaleo.html.

I applaud the women whose names have become household words because of the tragedies. In nearly all of the public cases resulting in deaths for their loved ones, questions loudly arise on whether justice was served for the families and communities.

Want to help their healing?

$quared, $CashApp, $garnerwayfoundation

or

Garner Foundation c/o Gwen Carr

“Weekend to Breathe”

P.O. Box 20502

Staten Island, NY 10302

Show up: Follow your life’s passions

20180108_231210There are three basic rules for success offered by the artistic director of  Chicago-based The Second City Training Center, the companion amateur comedic prep center for the world’s largest improvisational and sketch comedy.

They are:

  1. Show up.
  2. Take care of one another.
  3. Do stuff.

The administrators and faculty are united around this trio of success “musts.” There is signage everywhere that invites students and visitors to report any feeling of being uncomfortable due to a staff member or classmate’s comments or actions involving the person reporting infractions. There are also other cautions such as joking and performing satire about subjects such as race or sex, yet not being a racist or sexist. There is a lot of emphasis on looking out for one another and being supportive. The most important point made in my first class by my instructor, Erin, was to come to class – whether your homework was completed or not. Sound advice.

Customer service is treated differently here: They actually practice it through the team of volunteers and paid staffers who are engaging with students throughout the building located in Chicago’s Old Town. In other words, customer service reps at The Second City Training Center do not remain in an office and only answer queries and concerns online via emails and chat rooms.

Diversity is not a ‘talk the talk’ as it is a ‘walk the walk’ where physically disabled, transgendered, racial, ethnic and other so-called differences are represented in the teaching and administrative teams. During the January orientation for the 8-week courses, Anthony LeBlanc Associate Artistic Director, summarized the school’s intent this way:

“Meeting people who are different … is a gift.”

It is a give-yourself-a-break place. The Second City Training Center is described as a second home by many of its hundreds of students. It’s the kind of home we all long for and that is one where being different is ok and laughter fills the walls.

https://www.secondcity.com/courses/chicago/adult/

 

 

Embracing your comfort blanket

“Sometimes we think we’ve outgrown these things but the need for them resurfaces during times of stress …” Brian Mayne, Self Mapping: How to Awaken to your True Self (2012). Watkins Media Ltd.

As a child, I never wanted or needed a comfort blanket or stuffed animal to keep me safe from any perceived harm. Not judging: At least one of my siblings needed the warm touch of an outside object to migrate through infancy to childhood. I also know there are hundreds of children who benefit from comfy blankets or stuffed animals to ease tough transitions.

linus_van_pelt_7471
Linus van Pelt of Peanuts

Yet, in my adulthood, I acquired items that morphed into my comfort blankets. In 1982, received two crocheted and knitted blankets that marked the birth of my oldest son. A friend carefully crafted the yellow and white blanket for my newborn; the multi-colored blanket was designed for my covering during naps from taking care of my baby son.

As life progressed, I would increasingly seek out the yellow blanket and used it to cover each of my three children and my grandchildren during their nap times. While covering the young ones with the blanket, I transferred my prayers for them from me. It gave me comfort and I believe my utterings and the heavier than normal blanket was like a big hug to the napper.

Today, the yellow blanket is my visual reminder of the beautiful passage of time. I keep it in my home office as inspiration for my writing projects and an occasional warm wrap on my shoulders.

The larger, orange, brown and yellow blanket was made for me by my grandmother, “Mama Helen” Douthy. My family, household guests and I have snuggled under the multi-colored blanket.  The blanket seems to have a secret power to immediately place the user into a snug sleep. When Mama Helen died in November 2008, I placed her blanket over my comforter for at least a year to help with my grief for a lady who taught me many things in life, including how to knit and crochet.

Whatever object one finds comfort in —  pacifiers as babies and a single memory item for one nearing the end of life, it brings the user some reconciliation with uneasy points of life. It was Researcher D.W. Winnicott who coined the phrase “transitional object” (1951) to what I call comfort items. I remember that on a police ride-along in DeKalb County,Georgia a decade ago, my “partner” sergeant had a few teddy bears in his vehicle in case we encountered domestic situations that involved children whose trauma could be eased with the hug of a warm, stuffed animal.

I am proud of my comfort blankets. They are symbols like those used during spiritual ceremonies and even by professional athletes.  I worked with the host committee for the 1995 Olympic Games and became familiar with several comfort or good luck items and rituals prior to events. For instance, the 2016  Olympic Games in Rio included three-time parathelete, Army 1Lt., Purple Star and Bronze Medalist Melissa Stockwell always places a small picture of her son and husband on her bike and eats special candy the night before a race.

Author Brian Mayne, “Self Mapping: How to Awaken to your True Self,” suggests that adults should embrace their transitional objects … What’s your comfort blanket?”