Go Lean Commentary
Welcome to Black History Month 2019.
The commemorations of this month are not just an American concept as this is not the only country in the New World with a large Black population. In fact, most of the homelands that comprise the political Caribbean – 29 of 30 – present a majority Black population. There is also the African continent, with majority of its 1.2 Billion population being Black (or some related ethnic blend).
Here, we present a full series of commentaries related to Black History Month; the series is cataloged as follows:
- Black History Month 2019: Dr. Bennet Omalu – Definer of Gladiator Sports
- Black History Month 2019: Marcus Garvey’s World View
- Black History Month 2019: Starting 75 years of Bob Marley’s legacy
- Black History Month 2019: Angela Davis – Hero or Villian?
- Black History Month 2019: WEB DuBois – Moved to Africa for Later Life
In this series, reference is made to the last 100 years of Black History in the New World. There are many Role Models in Pan-Africana and many lessons to learn from their history that can impact our daily lives now. Most important, there is a Caribbean consideration for all of these submissions. While the Caribbean region is in dire straits – we must reform and transform away from our bad history – the rest of Pan-Africana also remains in danger.
This commentary opens a 5-part series for Black History Month 2019. This entry is 1 of 5 in this series from the movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean in consideration of the impact that Black people have had on the recent history of modern society. This first submission looks at the “Dark Side of the American Sports World”, and the open acknowledgement that there is a undisputed danger with concussions and the dreaded disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
Due to the advocacy of one initial role model, Nigerian-born Dr. Bennet Omalu, the world can no longer deny the medical consequences of these Gladiator Sports – the Football World did try; again and again, in classic Crony-Capitalistic denial mode – think Big Tobacco. In the midst of SuperBowl season – SuperBowl LIII was played yesterday (Sunday February 3, 2019) in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia – it is now the clear analysis that the US has entered in a new age of Gladiator Sports. See this related news article here:
Are Football Players Really Modern-Day Gladiators?
Sub-title: Comparisons between American football and Roman gladiator games are common. Do historians think they’re apt?
If you’ve read anything at all about football’s brain injury crisis in recent years, you know one thing for certain: players are “modern-day gladiators.” It’s a comparison soubiquitous that a series of hyperlinked words can hardly do it justice.
The analogy is nothing new. In 1881, a New York Times editorial lamented the brutality of this “modern gladiatorial contest.” Since then, every time football’s violence has caused concern, observers and critics have heard the clashing weapons of ancient Rome. The similarities seem obvious. Brutal conflict. Cheering fans. Competitors who end up broken or dead.
But is it that simple? While journalists, fans, and even many players are convinced that football is a rebirth of gladiatorial combat, what about people who actually know stuff about gladiators?
Read the full article here: https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/d7mz3y/are-football-players-really-modern-day-gladiators; posted December 4, 2015; retrieved February 4, 2019.
In fact, in the traditional Pre-Game Presidential Interview, Donald Trump intimated that while he loves football, he will not allow his teenage son to participate in the sport due to the concussion risk. See that reference here:
Donald Trump Calls Football “Dangerous Sport” But “Great Product” On Super Bowl Sunday
President Donald Trump says he would steer youngest son Barron away from playing football, calling it a “dangerous sport” but a “great product.”
“I just don’t like the reports I see coming out having to do with football. It’s a dangerous sport,” Trump said in the traditional POTUS Super Bowl Sunday sit-down with the broadcasting network.
See the full article here: https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/donald-trump-calls-football-dangerous-173332866.html; posted February 3, 2019; retrieved February 4, 2019
So who then will be the participants … and who will be the spectators?
This harkens back to the days of Gladiators.
So many of the participants in the American football space reflect the Black-and-Brown (Pan-Africana) populations in America. See this related VIDEO here, previewing the story on HBO’s Real Sports:
VIDEO – HBO Real Sports – Middle Class avoiding football due to CTE – https://youtu.be/jwyWIcvHRi4
Published on Jan 25, 2019 – A Real Sports investigation reveals that in towns across America, concussion concerns are leading wealthier families to flee the game, while the number of players on government assistance is significantly rising.
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This Go Lean commentary has frequently focused on American Football. We have highlighted the “art and science” of the sport, the business and the pride. But the caution that was bravely warned by Dr. Bennet Omalu is even more apropos now for the American Black-and-Brown populations. His impact is thusly summarized:
Concussions? “They” do not care about you; as long as their families are spared.
Listen up people, the White Middle-class world is leaving the sport to you to entertain them. We must do better.
For the purpose of Black History Month, on the heals of SuperBowl LIII, it is only appropriate to Encore the 2015 landmark blog-commentary on Concussions.featuring Dr. Bennet Omalu. See that Encore here-now:
Go Lean Commentary – ‘Concussions’ – The Movie; The Cause
“Are you ready for some football?” – Promotional song by Hank Williams, Jr. for Monday Night Football on ABC & ESPN networks for 22 years (1989 – 2011).
This iconic song (see Appendix) and catch-phrase is reflective of exactly how popular the National Football League (NFL) is in the US:
“They own an entire day of the week”.
So says the new movie ‘Concussions’, starring Will Smith, referring to the media domination of NFL Football on Sundays during the Autumn season. The movie’s script is along a line that resonates well in Hollywood’s Academy Award balloting: “David versus Goliath”; “a small man speaking truth to power”.
In the case of the NFL, it is not just about power, it is about money, prestige and protecting the status quo; the NFL is responsible for the livelihood of so many people. The book Go Lean … Caribbean recognized the importance of the NFL in the American lexicon of “live, work and play”; it featured a case study (Page 32) of the NFL and it’s collective bargaining successes (and failures) in 2011. An excerpt from the book is quoted as follows:
Football is big business in the US, $9 billion in revenue, and more than a business; emotions – civic pride, rivalries, and fanaticism – run high on both sides.
Previous Go Lean commentaries presents the socio-economic realities of much of the American football eco-system. Consider a sample here:
While football plays a big role in American life, so do movies. Their role is more unique; they are able to change society. In a previous blog / commentary regarding Caribbean Diaspora member and Hollywood great, Sidney Poitier, it was declared that …
“Movies are an amazing business model. People give money to spend a couple of hours watching someone else’s creation and then leave the theater with nothing to show for the investment; except perhaps a different perspective”.
Yes, movies help us to glean a better view of ourselves … and our failings; and many times, show us a way-forward.
These descriptors actually describe the latest production from Hollywood icon Will Smith (the former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). This movie, the film “Concussion”, in the following news article, relates the real life drama of one man, Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-born medical doctor – a pathologist – who prepared autopsies of former players that suffered from football-related concussions. He did not buckle under the acute pressure to maintain the status quo, and now, he is celebrated for forging change in his adopted homeland. This one man made a difference. (The NFL is now credited for a Concussion awareness and prevention protocol so advanced that other levels of the sport – college, high schools and Youth – are being urged to emulate).
See news article here on the release of the movie:
Title: ‘Concussion’: 5 Take-a-ways From Will Smith’s New Film
Will Smith, 46, is definitely going to get a ton of Oscar buzz portraying Dr. Bennet Omalu in the new film “Concussion.” NFL columnist Peter King of Sports Illustrated got an exclusive first peek at the trailer and it has been widely shared on social media since. And it’s very chilling.
Here are five take-aways and background you need to know before checking out the clip:
1 – It’s Based on a True Story
Omalu is the forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players who got hit in the head over and over again, according to the Washington Post.
In the clip, he says repetitive “head trauma chokes the brain.”
Omalu was one of the founding members of the Brain Injury Research Institute in 2002. He conducted the autopsy of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, played by David Morse in the film, which led to this discovery.
2 – Smith’s Version of Omalu’s Accent Is Spot On
For comparison, here’s Omalu’s PBS interview from 2013.
3 – Smith Is a Reluctant Hero
“If you don’t speak for them, who will,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Prema Mutiso in the film, tells Smith’s character.
He admits he idolized America growing up and “was the wrong person to have discovered this.”
“Concussion” brought in some heavyweights for this movie. Baldwin plays Dr. Julian Bailes, who advises Omalu, and Wilson, who will reportedly play NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to IMDB. There’s no official word on this. He’s seen at a podium in the trailer, but doesn’t speak.
5 – “Tell the Truth”
Smith captures Omalu’s passion to have the truth told about this injury and disease.
“I was afraid of letting Mike [Webster] down. I was afraid. I don’t know. I was afraid I was going to fail,” Omalu told PBS a couple years back.
Will Smith stars in the incredible true David vs. Goliath story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma, in a pro player.
The subject of concussions is serious – life and death. Just a few weeks ago (August 8), an NFL Hall-of-Fame inductee was honored for his play on the field during his 20-year professional career, but his family, his daughter in particular, is the one that made his acceptance / induction speech. He had died, in 2012; he committed suicide after apparently suffering from a brain disorder – chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of chronic brain damage that has also been found in other deceased former NFL players – sustained from his years of brutal head contacts in organized football in high school, college and in his NFL career. This player was Junior Seau.
Why would there be a need for “David versus Goliath”; “a small man speaking truth to power”? Is not the actuality of an acclaimed football player committing suicide in this manner – he shot himself in the chest so as to preserve his brain for research – telling enough to drive home the message for reform?
No. Hardly. As previously discussed, there is too much money at stake.
These stakes bring out the Crony-capitalism in American society.
The book Go Lean…Caribbean (and subsequent blog/commentaries) relates many examples of cronyism in the American eco-system. There is a lot of money at stake. Those who want to preserve the status quo or not invest in the required mitigations to remediate concussions will fight back against any Advocate promoting the Greater Good. The profit motive is powerful. There are doubters and those who want to spurn doubt. “Concussions in Football” is not the first issue these “actors” have promoted doubt on. The efforts to downplay concussion alarmists are from a familiar playbook, used previously by Climate Change deniers, Big Tobacco, Toxic Waste, Acid Rain, and other dangerous chemicals.
This Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). Sports are integral to the Go Lean/CU roadmap. While sports can be good and promote positives in society, even economically, the safety issues must be addressed upfront. This is a matter of community security. Thusly, the prime directives of the CU are described as:
- Optimize the economic engines of the Caribbean to elevate the regional economy to grow to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs, including sports-related industries with a projection of 21,000 direct jobs at Fairgrounds and sports enterprises.
- Establish a security apparatus to protect the people and economic engines.
- Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these economic and security engines.
The CU/Go Lean sports mission is to harness the individual abilities of athletes to not just elevate their performance, but also to harness the economic impact for their communities. So modern sports endeavors cannot be analyzed without considering the impact on “dollars and cents” for stakeholders. This is a fact and should never be ignored. There is therefore the need to carefully assess and be on guard for crony-capitalistic influences entering the decision-making of sports stakeholders. The Go Lean book posits that with the emergence of new economic engines, “bad actors” will also emerge thereafter to exploit the opportunities, with good, bad and evil intent”. These points were pronounced early in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 12 &14):
x. Whereas we are surrounded and allied to nations of larger proportions in land mass, populations, and treasuries, elements in their societies may have ill-intent in their pursuits, at the expense of the safety and security of our citizens. We must therefore appoint “new guards” to ensure our public safety and threats against our society, both domestic and foreign. The Federation must employ the latest advances and best practices of criminology and penology to assuage continuous threats against public safety. …
xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.
xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interests of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.
xxxi. Whereas sports have been a source of great pride for the Caribbean region, the economic returns from these ventures have not been evenly distributed as in other societies. The Federation must therefore facilitate the eco-systems and vertical industries of sports as a business, recreation, national pastime and even sports tourism …
The Go Lean book envisions the CU – a confederation of the 30 member-states of the Caribbean chartered to do the heavy-lifting of empowering and elevating the Caribbean economy – as the landlord of many sports facilities (within the Self-Governing Entities design), and the regulator for inter-state sport federations. The book details the economic principles and community ethos to adopt, plus the executions of strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to optimize sports enterprises in the Caribbean:
|Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification||Page 21|
|Economic Principles – People Respond to Incentives in Predictable Ways||Page 21|
|Economic Principles – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices / Incentives||Page 21|
|Economic Principles – The Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future||Page 21|
|Economic Principles – Job Multiplier||Page 22|
|Community Ethos – Security Principles – Whistleblower Protection||Page 23|
|Community Ethos – Security Principles – Light-Up the Dark Places||Page 23|
|Community Ethos – Security Principles – “Crap” Happens||Page 23|
|Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Lean Operations||Page 24|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future||Page 26|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness – Mitigate Suicide Threats||Page 36|
|Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good||Page 37|
|Strategy – Vision – Confederating 30 Member-States into a Single Market||Page 45|
|Strategy – Vision – Foster Local Economic Engines for Basic Needs||Page 45|
|Strategy – Mission – Prepare for Natural Disasters||Page 45|
|Strategic – Staffing – Sporting Events at Fairgrounds||Page 55|
|Strategy – Agents of Change – Climate Change||Page 57|
|Strategy – Agents of Change – Globalization||Page 57|
|Tactical – Confederating a Permanent Union||Page 63|
|Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy||Page 64|
|Tactical – Separation of Powers – Sports & Culture Administration||Page 81|
|Tactical – Separation of Powers – Fairgrounds Administration||Page 83|
|Tactical – Separation of Powers – Health Department – Disease Management||Page 86|
|Implementation – Assemble Regional Organs into a Single Market Economy||Page 96|
|Implementation – Steps to Implement Self-Governing Entities – Sports Stadia||Page 105|
|Implementation – Security Initiatives at Start-up – Unified Command & Control||Page 103|
|Implementation – Industrial Policy for CU Self Governing Entities||Page 103|
|Implementation – Ways to Deliver – Project Management/Accountabilities||Page 109|
|Anatomy of Advocacies – Examples of Individuals Who Made Impact||Page 122|
|Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better||Page 131|
|Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy||Page 151|
|Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs||Page 152|
|Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance||Page 168|
|Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract||Page 170|
|Advocacy – Ways to Promote Fairgrounds||Page 192|
|Advocacy – Ways to Improve Emergency Management – Trauma Arts & Sciences||Page 196|
|Advocacy – Ways to Improve Sports||Page 229|
|Advocacy – Ways to Impact Urban Living – Sports Leagues||Page 234|
The Go Lean book and accompanying blogs declare that the Caribbean needs to learn lessons from other communities, especially when big money is involved in pursuits like sports. These activities should be beneficial to health, not detrimental. So the admonition is to be “on guard” against the “cronies”; they will always try to sacrifice public policy – the Greater Good – for private gain: profit.
Let’s do better. Yes, the Caribbean can be better than the American experiences.
The design of Self-Governing Entities allow for greater protections from Crony-Capitalistic abuses. While this roadmap is committed to availing the economic opportunities of sports and accompanying infrastructure, as demonstrated in the foregoing movie trailer, sport teams and owners can be plutocratic “animals” in their greed. We must learn to mitigate plutocratic abuses. While an optimized eco-system is good, there is always the need for an Advocate, one person to step up, blow the whistle and transform society. The Go Lean roadmap encourages these role models.
Bravo Dr. Bennet Omalu. Thank you for this example … and for being a role model for all of the Caribbean.
RIP Junior Seau.
Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people and governing institutions, to lean-in for the empowerments described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean. This roadmap will result in more positive socio-economic changes throughout the region; it will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play. 🙂
Appendix VIDEO: Hank Williams Jr. – Are You Ready for Some Football – https://youtu.be/K8LLKO0-PAE
Uploaded on May 28, 2011 – Official Music Video