Sunday, September 24, 2017

Donald Trump makes a mistake with targeting athletes

Trump and Curry

According to a headline in the Daily News, my favorite of all newspapers, "President Trump withdraws Stephen Curry's White House invitation, doubles down on NFL players protesting," with the story written by DN staffer Jessica Schladebeck.

Basically, what happened was Steph Curry balked at the rite of his championship team, the Golden State Warriors, visiting the White House. All championship professional teams (and even some NCAA teams) go to the White House to get honored by the chief executive. Well, Mr. Trump, being seen by some as basically not being a strong advocate of civil rights, has garnered a poor reputation in many minority communities. So, Mr. Curry decided not to attend the team event. In response, Mr. Trump made it a big deal that Mr. Curry was dis-invited from the event.
Goodell and Trump

Not retreating from the controversy, Mr. Trump then decided to target the NFL, specifically former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick (known for his on-field protest of the American flag). In response, current NFL chief executive Roger Goodell issues a statement wherein he stated that Mr. Kaepernick was exercising his constitutional rights (in colorful terms criticizing the president).

I have been in both political parties. I was involved in both Republican and Democratic party elections and causes in my home-state of New Jersey. Today, I have no horse in any race. But, I can tell you this: For a president with questionable popularity going after the two biggest sports in the United States amounts to questionable logic. To put it flatly, from what I have seen every day, ordinary Americans are far more supportive of the NBA and NFL than they have ever been of any political party or any president (even the most populat chief executives).

It feels like the president shot himself in the foot with the largest shotgun he could find. I now reside in the Carolinas. Whether it was the Greater New York City Area or anywhere in the Carolinas, the NBA and NFL amount to religions in some places and targeting those critically is a mistake of the "mucho grande" nature.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump did perform the minor miracle of once again making NFL commish Goodell actually look like a 'good guy' again, following his running battle with Patriots future-Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady last year.

Do sports figures amount to political icons? Well, I daresay that if LeBron James made it a point to run for governor of Ohio, I would not want to be the one running against him. It is also a bygone conclusion that, if Tom Brady ever wanted to govern Massachusetts, I don't think there is anyone who would get in his way.

Governing the United States is no picnic. It is hard work. But, I am forced to recall the political wisdom I once learned from the late and great U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), when he told a room full of people: "You're always going to have to fight in politics, by its nature politics is bloodless war. But, the people who stick around for a long time are those who fight the battles they have to, not the battles they want to."

I think Mr. Trump has made a mistake and should worry about the things U.S. presidents are supposed to, which is everything but professional or college sports.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Less Counseling, More Coaching

The Coaching Approach for Helping People with 
Addiction Encourages Self-Respect Without a Label

by David H. Kerr                        

The subject of “coaching” is so important to me that I have focused this additional blog on it.  My experience in the field since 1965, especially with hard-core criminal addicts, suggests that the "coaching" approach as opposed to the more traditional “counseling” approach, may be more effective and for good reason.  I have found that the traditional "we-they” counseling model of help does not work so well for people with addiction who already have low self-esteem.  Just the grueling "assessment" process is often inadvertently felt by many as a "put-down."  On the other hand, the "coaching" model is designed for people with addiction and low self-esteem since its' focus is on encouragement and finding positive attributes in people who will then learn to value their own abilities.  This is critical for them to be able to help themselves and turn their lives around.  

The people with addiction whom I have met include a range of folks from the suburbs to the urban areas, all suffering severely from the problem.  Some have had to turn to crime for their drug money and others have drained their savings.

Hard core prison or jail inmates often benefit from coaching even including video face-to-face contacts beginning long before they leave prison and up to five years after release.  The coaching initiated in prison must continue on the outside through drug treatment, and for 5 years thereafter.  

“Lifestyle criminal addicts,” urban or suburban, benefit from this simple one to one relationship with someone caring and knowledgeable.  This is true especially if the coach is a long-term clean and sober recovering person.   

The coach can be a former user but long-term clean and sober, or a person with academic credentials and face-to-face experience.  Here’s a piece from the coaching federation that may be helpful describing the role of the coach:
See article by Kristine Kelly below and at

‘“We changed on an individual level that [allowed us] to change rules they said couldn’t be broken.” Talib Mustafa Shakir is one of many inmates who are experiencing the power of coaching behind prison walls. Talib continued, “We are brothers working for the greater good of ourselves and others. Coaching is the catalyst for [this] change…how else could you explain eight seasoned convicts shedding tears together? That doesn’t happen normally.” With coaching as their catalyst, a group of men at Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) McKean in Pennsylvania have broken free of stereotypical divisions to form a community that offers hope and support to inmates. The goal? To instill intentional living and reduce recidivism.’

“Coaching wasn’t always a part of FCI McKean culture. Talib stumbled upon it while taking correspondence courses in psychology. While studying positive psychology, he experienced what he refers to as his “Aha moment” when he realized that coaching was based around “the idea of not looking at what is wrong with a person but what is right and moving from there forward.” See complete article by Kristine Kelly below and at

I have found that the traditional "we-they” counseling model of help of does not work so well for people with addiction who already have low self-esteem.  Just the grueling "assessment" process is often inadvertently felt as a "put-down."  On the other hand, the "coaching" model is designed for people with addiction since its' focus is on encouragement and finding positive attributes in people who will then learn to value their abilities so they can help themselves.  Teaching and practicing independence and self-responsibility are critical goals of the coaching process.

The counseling model often looks for the problem(s) in people and in their lives and then labels them - "socially maladjusted," or “emotionally disturbed, or “co-occurring,” etc.  This is the exact wrong approach for people with addiction who desperately need encouragement as well as guidance and coaching in order to gain life-sustaining self-respect.  They need help; they need guidance towards that help, but they don’t need the “client” or other labels.  Most people with addiction whom I have met are not “sick!”  I suggest giving them the label called “people;” people who have taken the wrong path in life but with coaching, support and mentoring, can get back on track.

Let’s encourage the State Certification Board to recognize the experience and expertise of those who coach people as well as those who counsel them.  I was a founding member of the NJ Certification Board in 1980.  I encourage us all to continue to modify and update systems of staff recognition and certification to include “coaching” as a viable and valuable approach to helping people.  I’ve used it for over 40 decades and it’s an approach that I have found to be more effective than the more traditional “counseling model” where we are encouraged to label people with addiction, calling them “clients” rather than people.


Here is the Integrity House site: