Top Of Mind For Mid-August.

Another Labor Movement? Let Us Never Forget. Real Music. Transparency with VAR. Departing The City. A Day In The Park.

I am a huge fan of college football. Saturday afternoon and night games, especially involving the SEC, ACC, and Big 10 schools, have for a long time been an important part of weekends between September and December. The following take on the college football season was written by a subject matter expert, a friend who was the CEO of a major college alumni association and has held executive positions in the sports and entertainment spaces. His take sheds a bright (or dim) light on reality:

Is the issue with playing College Football the Virus? Liability? Labor?
As we have all seen over the last few weeks, college football has continued to march towards a spring season or no season. Some say this is political, others believe it is due to the lack of adequate testing for players and coaches but really this is a classic labor issue. Management (college presidents, conferences & athletic directors) and Labor (players) have an issue. 
Like all good labor issues in our countr
y’s history, there comes a point in time where Labor feels like they have the leverage and that time is now. Covid and the desire to feel normalcy through college football are the leverage. Management continues to say  “Not so fast….let’s slow down and figure this out” while Labor is #wewanttoplay pushing for a season and a platform to unionize. 
This is an uncomfortable truth in business of college athletics where athletic departments make tens of millions of dollars on a football program, head coaches make millions, offensive coordinators make millions and strength coaches make millions all while student athletes earn a degree. Higher educations warped capitalism is prime for a labor movement. 
Let’s hope I am wrong….because if I am right there will not be any college football in 2020.

In light of Beirut’s massive ‘man-made’ explosion discussed in last week’s post, I bring you back to the reality of 1954 in post-war Japan. The director of the first Godzilla movie tells the world: “As long as nuclear weapons or nuclear power exists, Godzilla will never not be relevant. Godzilla reminds us that we have the terrible power to create our own monsters and contribute to our own destruction.” In previous posts I have written about my admiration for Godzilla – and will never broach the subject of politics with this massive creature. Godzilla, as I have now learned, was created by the Japanese after the devastation incurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the hands of atomic bombs dropped by the United States in August of 1945. Godzilla’s first movie shows a scarred monster, angry to the core from the effects of radiation, wreaking havoc and genuinely not happy. Godzilla remains my favorite, even more than the beloved King Kong, due to His (or Her) passion to do the right thing. Don’t even go with the King Kong comparison; there is no comparison. My point: whether it is radiation or the combination of fire and ammonia nitrate, the pure devastation due to negligence at the hands of fellow humans must not be forgotten. Could negligence similar to the Beirut explosion happen in other parts of the word? Absolutely. Note: the United States made the decision to attack Japan with atomic bombs in response to the devastating attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. Let’s never forget the dates of December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001, along with August 4, 2020.

A general view shows the damage at the site of Tuesday’s blast in Beirut’s port area, Lebanon, Aug. 5, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Devastation in Beirut, Lebanon from the ignition of 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate that exploded on August 4, 2020.

On the lighter side, a video I watched last week reminded me of an Uber ride with a young driver who thought his music playlist was in his words “ratchet”, which in rap or hip-hop slang refers to off-the-hook or crazy (yes, I had to Google ratchet). This young man was polished, polite, and very smart. I asked him about old R&B, funk, and soul music, which I was a huge follower of in my earlier years unless I was in my room with my brother, who played the Woodstock album as loud as possible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The kid said his dad played some of that music but he never bothered to listen. Knowing we had plenty of time to my destination, and noticing he was using Spotify in his car, I asked him to play the Brothers Johnson song “Stomp”. His reaction was classic and to my horror he began dancing while driving. He proceeded to ask me many questions about The Brothers Johnson and their music. A funny experience and at the same time satisfying that I had introduced this great kid to music that I am not sure will ever be replicated.

The song ‘Stomp’ by the Brothers Johnson

Below is the video that reminded me of that infamous Uber ride. These young men host a YouTube channel where they listen, for the first time, to various artists and their top songs. Watch the reaction from these very talented and successful young men, who obviously had no idea of Phil Collins and his ability to sing while playing drums.

Kudos to Major League Soccer and their broadcast partners for pulling off a successful restart tournament at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex outside of Orlando, Florida. One of my takeaways was the bold step the league took with providing viewers with live video and sound when the referee was consulting with the video assistant referee (VAR) on a crucial call. Will this innovation spill over to other sports? It should.

We find ourselves in the middle of August. There remains the disparities of information coming from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and government authorities. Grade schools, colleges and universities continue to struggle with opening their campuses and keeping their students, faculty and staff safe. Some businesses remain closed, and many have closed their doors for good. Both businesses and families have left large metropolitan areas (for example New York City and Los Angeles) and are relocating to small towns across the United States. The areas of the Hudson Valley, north of New York City and Ojai, California have seen unprecedented growth – people getting away from large metropolitan areas. The reality and good news is obvious: real estate investors will jump on the opportunity to lease or buy office buildings in these large cities as values decrease. There will eventually be a swift migration back into cities once a vaccine is available to control Covid-19 and other pathogens. Testing will become less problematic, especially considering the Food & Drug Administration just approved a quick saliva test that will yield a positive or negative result in a matter of minutes (the National Basketball Association who is using these types of tests daily with their players and staff in their restart of the season). Yes, we have developed ‘virus fatigue’ but after way too many months there is some good news coming. Hang in there, live your life, but be cautious and safe.

As I posted a few weeks ago, I remain amazed with people thinking that wild animals will not be wild. Another person was attacked last week by a bison when they figured it was okay to get right next to a calf to take pictures. The outcome for this woman – she remains in critical condition in a South Dakota hospital. Why people figure that it is normal to get into a wild animal’s space is beyond my wildest thoughts. Then again, I can be proven wrong. Just another day at the park with a fun picnic and a large black bear. Really?

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

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