Kareem Calls the Shots on Sports This Week
Two stories of bad behavior and one of exceptional inspiration.
For the past few weeks I’ve been doing new video features: “Kareem Calls the Shots on Sports This Week,” “Kareem Calls the Shots on Politics This Week,” and “Kareem Calls the Shots on Entertainment This Week.” As I promised when I started this Substack site, I would focus on the intersection of pop culture, politics, and sports—and how they combine to define our society’s values.
This week I had emergency root canal and am not able to do this segment as a video. Instead, I’m sharing it with you in its original written form, just the way I typed it.
This is a reader-supported newsletter. Both free and paid subscriptions are available. The best way to join the community and support my work is by taking out a paid subscription.
Parents and coaches have a lot of influence in how our youth will respond to sports. Too many of them do not take this power seriously—nor act responsibly. On the other hand, we have someone whose remarkable achievement will spur others to rise to greatness.
State Representative Tries to Pants High School Referee
When will parents learn how to support rather than embarrass their children at their athletic games?
A high-ranking Tennessee lawmaker was ejected from a high school basketball game after he tried to pull down the referee’s pants in what he later admitted was an attempt to start a fight.
State Representative Jeremy Faison was watching his son’s team from Lakeway Christian Academy play against Providence Academy when he disagreed with the ref’s call over a loose ball scuffle. Faison later apologized profusely—admitting his actions were neither Christian nor mature—which I think was sincere.
If you asked what this politician’s party affiliation is, you missed the point. Rather, this should be another cautionary tale for parents to cheer their children on, but otherwise stay out of their games. If you want to argue with refs, go join your own league.
High School Football Coaches Haze Their Own Player
Polls show that one of the top reasons children quit athletics is pressure from parents, as we saw in the previous story. The other main reason is the behavior of their coaches.
Case in point: a 17-year-old football player filed a lawsuit against his coaches at the Canton McKinley High School in Ohio after they forced him to sit in the middle of a gymnasium and eat a whole pepperoni pizza because he missed a weight-training session due to a shoulder injury.
This would be bullying no matter what the circumstances, but the coaches knew the student was Jewish and Kosher and therefore couldn’t eat pepperoni because it contained pork.
They did it anyway.
As a result, seven coaches were fired and the student transferred to another school and football program.
This can’t be the first time these coaches behaved questionably. Schools must do a much better job of vetting their coaches in order to protect students and to encourage them to enjoy athletics—not fear them.
First Woman of Color Completes Solo Crossing of Antarctica
For me, the highest achievement of any athlete is to inspire others to try something they might not otherwise try.
Preet Chandi, a British Army physiotherapist, just became the first woman of color to complete a solo crossing on Antarctica to the south pole. She skied 700 miles in 40 days, 7 hours and 3 minutes. Temperatures hovered around minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit and wind speeds up to 60 mph. She did this while pulling a 200-pound sled and suffering from persistent coughing and sickness.
Chandi hoped to inspire young people of color and women to not be defined by what others expect them to be. “I am an Asian woman; I’m not the image that people expect to see out there.”
Well, Preet, thanks to you, they will now.