Why can’t fathers take more time for their family?

In 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act was passed, primarily to allow mothers to take time off from work to have children without losing their jobs.  But the wording of the act also allowed a rather revolutionary idea: fathers could take time off for the birth of their children as well.  At the time, some fathers were already allowed this opportunity but is wasn’t exactly encouraged.

Since this act’s passage, many fathers have taken advantage of provisions not only to be there for the birth of their children, but also to spend a least a couple days caring for mom as well, should they be so disposed.  All these things are positive changes for the good of families, encouraging men to take more active roles in their children’s lives from day one.

Some people don’t agree with this mindset, however.  Some men still see the man’s role to hold a job, make as much money as possible.  Basically, a material provider while mom handles all the emotional squishy stuff.

In the middle of this debate is New York Mets star, Daniel Murphy.  This man missed a the first couple games of the season, completely within Major League Baseball’s labor agreement, to be there for the birth of his child and see to his wife’s welfare.  Pro sports commentators railed against this.  Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason even went so far as to say, “Quite frankly I would’ve said ‘C-section before the season starts.”  Never mind the very misogyny of telling your spouse what to do as opposed to deciding as a family, C-sections are not something you should do for convenience. Continue reading

Why Is Tom Brady Considered Great?

To stay relevant in the offseason, nfl.com does a lot of fun things to keep fans checking things out.  Right now they are using the bracket idea of your March Madness office pool to create a tiered survey as to who the fans think the best quarterback of all time is.  This subject creates a lot of argument among fans, some bandwagoning on the newest thing, some taking a more historical perspective.  My man Russell Wilson is coming up a lot.  I love that he took my beloved Seahawks to the Super Bowl, but I am withholding judgement until he gets a few years on him.  Guess that puts me in the old school camp.

Tom Brady’s frustration mounts through the years

To make things fair, the QB Bracketology is broken into eras for the first comparisons.  Sitting at the top seed in the Right Now bracket is Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots.  I would have agreed a few years ago, before Eli and Peyton Manning figured out how to deny the Patriots championships.  Peyton Manning has even managed to stop Brady on two separate teams.  And Eli should probably put Tom on his Christmas list.  He wouldn’t have two Super Bowl Rings without Tom’s help, after all. Continue reading

Why are single moms being painted as villains?

In 2012, there were 24,725,000 single parent families in the United States.  That accounts for 35% of the families. The vast majority of those families are headed by mom, as nearly one in three children in this country live without a father.  While it is not requisite to have a male figure in children’s lives, statistics bear out that life is more difficult for these kids.

Boys without fathers are twice as likely to go to jail. 63% of youth suicides come from fatherless homes.  85% of children with behavioral disorders live without fathers.  Kids without dads have a 71% dropout rate in high school.

I was about four or five when my parents divorced.  Mom and I moved to a new state, and she began the process of trying to rebuild a life that got off on the wrong foot with my father.  Obviously, I did not know this at the time.  All I really knew was that my dad was not around any more.

Like many little boys who don’t know any better and need their father, I put a lot of unfair blame on my mother.  I didn’t know my father didn’t send a dime to help support me until I was almost seventeen.  I didn’t know my father chose to live away from where I did for personal reasons.  There was a lot I didn’t know, because kids just don’t understand some things.  I just knew that unlike some little boys, my dad was not around.  And it made life a fearful place.

Daniel Beaty summed up what it is like to grow up without a father in his performance piece, Knock Knock.  Things that a father should teach his son, but isn’t there to teach.  Things that little boys who grow up without a father or male role model must try to figure out themselves. Continue reading

My Long Relationship With Cancer

Cancer is probably the worst thing a person can experience.  Most people are lucky enough not to know someone with cancer.  I, unfortunately, am not one of them.

I was ten years old when my cousin, Michael, died of cancer, specifically a mass in his brain.  He went from being a very active teen to being bed ridden in just a few months.  After several painful and body wasting treatments, he passed at the young age of thirteen.  So began my relationship with this horrible disease.  To my cousin’s credit, he resigned himself to his fate early.  He bravely told his doctors to try anything, not for him, but to learn so they could help other children.  I have always been humbled by his willingness to go through so much to help others he would never meet.

Since my cousin’s death, there have been several others I have known that have dealt with cancer in some form.  Breast, liver, lung, and even bone marrow cancers have affected friends and family.  Some treatments have thankfully been successful, but not all.

Just for children, over 175,000 are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year.  Around 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer in the US in that time.  In total, nearly 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses happen each year in the US.  That is just slightly less than the population of Wyoming, Washington DC, and Vermont.

Throughout the world, about 14 million people learn they have cancer and 8 million people die from the disease each year.  If you took every person in the Caribbean except Haiti and the Dominican Republic, there would still be almost 4 million people receiving a cancer diagnosis.  If you take away Puerto Rico, you would have the rest of those island nations all dead every year. Continue reading

Why Have Sports Fans Become Such Idiots?

For 38 years, I have rooted for one of the most hapless and least respected franchises in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks.  In their inaugural year, they ranked last both rushing the ball and defending opponents rushing game.  They only won two games their first year.  In 1977 the team traded away a first round pick that would give the Cowboys Tony Dorsett.  In 1979, they posted the most humiliating game probably ever seen when they actually had negative net yardage in the game at the hand of the Los Angeles Rams.  In 1980, they lost their last nine games straight.

Things got better, but so many years whatever hope began at the start of the season would be dashed by the end.  I remember when I first heard that Pete Carrol was coming to coach the Seahawks, I miserably thought “Too bad, he had such a good career going at USC.”  Don’t get me wrong, I have always rooted for the ‘Hawks to do well, but I just didn’t really believe anything good would really happen.

Vince Lombardi Trophy

Obviously, this year turned out way better than I could have imagined.  And even if it was kind of boring, I was happy the Seahawks won.  I was proud to consider myself part of the fan base known as the 12th Man.

Then I read the news today.  It seems some of the “12″ got really out of hand celebrating the Super Bowl Victory.

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What Difference Can One Child Make?

When I was eight years old, my world revolved around kickball and Star Wars™ figures.  I don’t remember being exceptional brave or anything else at that age.  I was just a little boy trying to get through the world.

Tyler Doohan showed how brave an eight year old boy can be.  The trailer where he was staying with other family caught fire.  Tyler woke up six family members and helped them get out.  His uncle, described as one of his best friends, was disabled and still inside.  Tyler ran back in to help his uncle, but sadly neither of them came out.  Firefighters say they were found by a bed, and it appeared Tyler was trying to lift his uncle off the bed when he was overcome by smoke.

Tyler Doohan died trying to rescue his uncle after waking six others and getting them out. His grandfather also died in the blaze.

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Is Richard Sherman A Thug?

Michael Crabtree slaps Richard Sherman’s facemask in the 2014 NFC Championship game. Photo courtesy USA Today

Richard Sherman exploded in a post game interview with Erin Andrews of Fox Sports shortly after Michael Crabtree smacked him in the facemask following Sherman’s ball-tip in the endzone, which ended the 49ers’ bid for the Super Bowl.  The emotion of the moment combined with Crabtree’s unsportsmanlike action certainly affected Sherman’s judgement.

His comments in the interview are noted below:

– [Sherman:] “Well, I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get! Don’t you EVER talk about me!”

– [Andrews:] Who was talking about you?

– [Sherman:]“Crabtree. Don’t you open your mouth about the best. Or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick. L-O-B.”

Social media erupted with derision and scorn of Sherman.  Justin Verlander, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, left this ironic tweet.

So Russell is a class act! Sherman on the other hand…. If he played baseball would get a high and tight fastball.

— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) January 20, 2014

Interesting that Verlander thinks it is ok to throw a high hard fastball at someone who he thinks is being a bit of a loudmouth.  Verlander is really just perpetuating the behavior he is decrying in Sherman.  I guess hypocrisy is ok if someone else acts out first.

If that is the case, however, why is no one vilifying Michael Crabtree?  Sherman tried to shake his hand and say “Good Game” after tipping the pass meant for Crabtree.  Crabtree responds by slapping Sherman in the face like a spoiled child. Continue reading

Zora Neale Hurston: A Rediscovered Treasure

In my first year of college, a lot of books floated in and out of my awareness. I tried to muddle through all the junk I was supposed to absorb and spew back, then forget about at the end of the semester.  One book really stuck with me, so much so that I finished it two days after it was assigned.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was the story that captured my attention so strongly.  I had never heard of this woman or any of her works.  We learned that she was a prolific African American author, most active during a period known as the Harlem Renaissance.  Hurston was born January 7, around 1890 in Notasulga, Alabama.  She apparently was known to have a penchant for embellishing the truth, including about her age, so her exact birth date is somewhat in question.  After a young life that involved moving between several relatives’ homes, she eventually wound up in New York.  Before her career as a writer, anthropologist, and folklorist, Hurston worked many odd jobs including being a maid for an actress in the Gilbert and Sullivan troupe.  Through publishing various works, starting at the Howard University school paper, Hurston rose to fame.  Not just as a storyteller, but an authority on African American folklore. She gathered tales throughout the American South, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and published Men and Mules as a culmination of her efforts.  Continue reading

The Poor Are Still Poor After The Holidays

During the winter holidays, many people get caught up in the spirit of the season and want to help others.  Many send money to whatever charity plays the most heart-wrenching commercial, or has some personal relevance to their lives.  Others will take the next step, actually giving their own time to helping those less fortunate.  A lot of good is done, but after the trees are taken down and the menorahs are put away for the year, many seem to forget that poverty continues every day.

At the beginning of 2013, a one day survey found that there were  610,042 homeless people in the US.  While that is a near 4 percent drop from 2012, it clearly shows that many still suffer every day.  The goodwill that many find so easy to share during December seems to evaporate the rest of the year.  By July, the number of homeless had risen back to approximately 1,750,000.  Some perhaps think that the poor only need aid during the holidays, helping to brighten things up for families in what can be an emotionally trying time.  The daily reality is much grimmer.

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The Greatness of Nelson Mandela

The world lost a great man when Nelson Mandela passed.  This man was an example of courage and strength of character to many, regardless of ethnic heritage or social standing.  His resolve never faltered, carrying him from political prisoner to the architect of post-apartheid South Africa, and a source of great wisdom to us all.

Few people of his stature had such humble beginnings.  Rolihlahla “Nelson” Mandela was born July 18th, 1918 in a small village.  In 1925 he began primary school.  Unable to pronounce his African name, his teacher opted to call him Nelson after British naval hero Admiral Horatio Nelson.  Two years later, his father died and he became the ward of the Tembu regent, Paramount Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo.  Hard to believe that this boy would grow to be the man to usher in one of the greatest periods of social reform on the planet.

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