Talk is Cheap
Greetings from Miami, FL.
I spent a few days thinking about this blog, as I didn’t want to be too … I don’t know. Not really worried about it at this point. I’m making an attempt to not put disclaimers on things that I say publicly, and as such, to say what I mean, mean what I say, and deal with whatever comes of it. So while, I’d rather not have 2 of my first 3 blogs focused on race based issues, the truth is that it has played and continues to play a major part in (of course in my life, but more importantly in) my lacrosse life.
This week, I spent an hour or so with a handful of other rather accomplished men and women in the lacrosse community on a conference call focused on diversity. The call was hosted by a representative from US Lacrosse and Lacrosse Magazine. In and of itself, I think the call was great … a great start, rather. As I sat there listening to answers to the posed questions, I was intrigued. As the call time approached, I actually felt that I had a whole lot to say. I was ready to jump in as necessary, and to hopefully engage people enough to push the discussions deeper and deeper. To my own surprise, I kind of did the opposite. I sat back. I chimed in twice, I think. One time, I actually got so far gone with the story I was telling that I lost the point of what I was saying. Chalk that one up. The look was good, but I didn’t get my hands free, and so I sailed the pass off to the middle of nowhere. Could have been a goal, instead a turnover. It happens.
I was all set up. Had my computer open. Was planning to take notes, etc. And by the end of it, I realized that I had no real notes, and I’d kind of zoned out a bit. The discussion, while productive, wasn’t going where I thought it might. And after I hung up, I was left rather unfulfilled. Initially I was going to write this blog as soon as I got off the phone. But I figured I should reflect on it a bit, and I’m glad I did. What bothered me about the call had nothing to do with what was discussed. It was more about what was not discussed. There was a lot of discussion about what the entry barriers are to lacrosse. But there was very little discussion of solutions. I’m an action type of person. It’s not so much that I go out and put a stick in the hands of every single kid that I see. It’s not that I’m out in schools doing speeches every single day. But by nature, I like to see things get done. There’s a line from one of my favorite spoken word artists, Jive Poetic, that has always stuck with me. He says, “I’m not anti-revolution. I’m anti talk, no action.”
When it comes to diversity in lacrosse, I think there’s a lot of “talk, no action.” Much the same as it is when it comes to community service, it’s nice to talk about things. It’s great to want to support something. Everyone wants to be associated with doing good, and/or trying to help others. It’s nice to throw a couple of dollars at a particular cause. But it’s rarely appealing to actually go out and do the work. I quoted Jay Z in a blog last year upon my return from Nicaragua with Lacrosse The Nations. “We forget the unfortunate … Sure I ponied up a mill, but I didn’t give my time. So in reality, I didn’t give a dime or a damn.” Almost comical, how often I hear guys talk about how great the game will be once some of these public school pick up the sport. Or how much it will change when some of the football/basketball players (which … let’s be real … often simply means “Black athletes”) involved. But why aren’t any of these players out there helping to make it happen??? It seems (and feel free to debate this) that the most qualified players and coaches – the ones most qualified to help Grow the Game – are all trying to make a dollar on it. Camps, tournaments, travel/select teams, private lessons. None of these are bad things. But they are not realistic for many of the kids that we all supposedly want to see playing the game. So why are we not out there doing the dirty work to help get them involved?
I’m always humbled when people discuss how much I’m doing to Grow The Game. The truth is, I’m doing what I’ve been taught to do – give back. And I’m doing what I’m passionate about – helping others. And in the grand scheme of things, I’m really only helping a few people. Fortunately I realize that you have to start somewhere.
Leading up to the call, I had my opening statement all ready to go. I really wanted to point out that this conversation was a GREAT idea. There’s going to be a feature on it in Lacrosse Magazine. But if US Lacrosse really wants to impact the landscape of lacrosse with respect to diversity, these round table discussions need to happen regularly. The articles need to happen regularly. It can’t be a one shot deal. And there need to be bigger players involved in the discussion along with casts similar to the one assembled for this call. By players, I’m not referring literally to players either. I mean the folks that truly control the landscape of lacrosse – which takes me to my next blog. As I mentioned, however, you have to start somewhere. And this was a great idea, and a great first step. I applaud Clare Lochary (@clochary on twitter), and US Lacrosse for taking the initiative to do that. It was long overdue (from the community at large), and it should not be the last.
I’ll touch on my how this relates to me more personally in my next blog. Gotta go say happy birthday to my friend, right now. And by the way … WOW … Jeff Demps from Florida is LIGHTNING FAST. When Tyson Gay is tweeting about you, you’re fast. I remember when I was as fast as Tyson Gay … (no?, OK, cool.) And I always get a chuckle listening to sports analysts and broadcasters reading tweets out, verbatim!
Catch you all later.