Reserving judgment, respecting althletes’ legal rights

 

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is a current Heisman Trophy candidate and currently stands accused of rape of a female student on campus.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is a current Heisman Trophy candidate and currently stands accused of rape of a female student on campus.

By Charles Glover Jr.

Athletes often generate as much attention as musicians and actors. They also attract more publicity than most politicians. The constant spotlight on athletes makes it unlikely that the public will patiently wait for information to come out when a legal matter presents itself. But, as athletes such as Michael Vick, Roger Clements, Aaron Hernandez and now, Jameis Winston, have come to recognize, it is important to obtain and adhere to legal counsel instead of satisfying the public’s desire for information when confronting accusations that have legal implications.

Roger Clemens faced federal charges of lying to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in 2008. Though many believed he was guilty, Clemens was acquitted of those charges in 2012.

Roger Clemens faced federal charges of lying to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in 2008. Though many believed he was guilty, Clemens was acquitted of those charges in 2012.

The willingness of the public to allow for an athlete’s personal life to remain private drastically changes when the legal system is involved. It is often viewed as a betrayal of the public’s trust when an athlete is accused of being involved with something that might be illegal. However, the scrutiny a troubled athlete experiences is not consistent. In fact, it typically seems that what a person is accused of matters even more than who is accused.

Aaron Hernandez was arrested in 2013 and charged with the multiple felonies including the murder of Odin Lloyd. He remains in custody until he has his day in court.

Aaron Hernandez was arrested in 2013 and charged with the multiple felonies including the murder of Odin Lloyd. He remains in custody until he has his day in court.

The adage innocent until proven guilty does not apply in the court of public opinion and the worse the alleged crime, the harder it is for the athlete to maintain a positive public image until the resolution of their legal conflict. This disparity stems from the lack of information an accused athlete will provide about legal issues which they face. Legally, it is prudent for the athlete to say as little as possible. The burden of proof is on the state (or government) to find enough evidence to charge and eventually convict the person they accuse of committing a crime. Although some information is available to the public, fans would like answers sooner than later. However, the criminal justice system does not move swiftly so accused athletes can find themselves at the center of questions they are legally required to answer publicly for months or even years before there is a resolution to the case.

Michael Vick has worked extremely hard to repair his image after being convicted for various crimes related to dog fighting in 2007. Vick has been a model citizen since returning to the NFL in 2009.

Michael Vick has worked extremely hard to repair his image after being convicted for various crimes related to dog fighting in 2007. Vick has been a model citizen since returning to the NFL in 2009.

The athletes involved in legal issues get far more attention than the victims in the same case because the athlete is already a public persona before the legal matters were introduced. The public’s fascination with the athlete’s legal outcome seems to do a disservice to the loved ones of the victims (alleged or confirmed). If an athlete is guilty of a crime, they have far greater issues than the public’s opinion of them. Yet, if that athlete wants to continue a career in sports, winning back the favor of the public is important. However, if an athlete is not guilty or falsely accused of a crime, that athlete does not receive a public apology from all who assumed that athlete’s guilt. When it comes to legal matters, the court of public opinion can gather the facts, speculate or even pontificate, without leaving  the judgment to the actual court system.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant.

Guyana to host Caribbean Science Foundation’s annual STEM conference

Student works in the biochemistry lab.

Student works in the biochemistry lab.

Georgetown, Guyana, November 25, 2013 – The third annual workshop of the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) will be held in Georgetown, Guyana between December 2-3, 2013, at the Grand Coastal Hotel. The theme for the workshop is “Stimulating Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Science and Engineering.” Students, teachers, lecturers, scientists, entrepreneurs and government officials from Guyana, the Caribbean region and the Caribbean Diaspora will be in attendance. The CSF, in collaboration with the Guyana Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation (CADSTI), are the conference organizers.

The CSF was established in 2010 as an independent non-profit non-governmental organization with the mission of assisting with the diversification of the economies of Caribbean countries by promoting education reform in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM), and stimulating more technology-based entrepreneurship. Ms. Petal Jetoo of the Guyana Ministry of Education has been instrumental in the planning and the hosting of this Workshop.  Ms. Jetoo also serves as the CSF representative for Guyana.

Participants in the Caribbean Research Foundation's Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering summer event.

Participants in the Caribbean Research Foundation’s Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering summer event.

At the opening of the workshop, Interim Executive Director of the CSF and Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cardinal Warde, will provide an update on the CSF’s programs and activities in the Region.  The first day’s agenda will focus on topics of particular relevance to students and teachers.  These include CSF’s youth and educational programs: the Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) and the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge.  Presentations by Guyanese students who participated in these programs are expected to be a highlight.

Also on the first day, a session will feature career opportunities in the STEM disciplines, comprising panel members from the Diaspora and the Region.  Dr. Didacus Jules, the registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), will chair the session on “STEM teacher training.” The importance of “Entrepreneurship in the Region” will be chaired by Mr. Bowen Wells, former UK Minister of Parliament and a member of the CADSTI-CSF Honorary Governing Council.  A poster session will provide a forum for research presentations from the region.

Professor Cardinal Warde

Professor Cardinal Warde

On the second day, Guyanese students will receive practical training during specially designed micro- science workshops, courtesy of UNESCO.  The students will also have a chance to interact closely with both local and visiting academics during the “Stump the Professor” session. Reports from the CADSTI branches within the Diaspora (UK, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the U.S.) will be provided, as well as reports from the Regional network of CSF representatives.

The session, “Guyana on the Move” will highlight science and technology in Guyana, and will be chaired jointly by Professor Maya Trotz of the University of South Florida (a native of Guyana) and Dr. Jeanese Badenock of the University of the West Indies, Barbados. The workshop of the CSF is anticipated to be an interactive forum highlighting exchange of information, ideas and experiences related to science and technology for students, teachers, the scientific and business communities, and government representatives.  Sponsors include UNESCO, OAS, CXC, Government of Canada, and the Ministry of Education of Guyana.  More information is available at http://caribbeanscience.org.–OnPointPress.net.

The NBA could achieve talent, economic parity, if it embraces the NFL’s draft model

 

 

Andrew Wiggins (l) and Jabari Parker (r) are the two highest ranked prospects for the 2013-14 NBA draft if they declare themselves eligible for the next NBA season.

Andrew Wiggins (l) and Jabari Parker (r) are the two highest -ranked prospects for the 2013-14 NBA draft if they declare themselves eligible for the next NBA season.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The popularity of the National Football League (NFL) has grown over the past twenty years, while the National Basketball Association (NBA) has seen peaks and valleys in its television interest, fan loyalty and attendance. The NFL has been able to generate greater parity and excitement for its teams in more small market cities compared to the NBA equivalent because star players from college football teams are guaranteed to go to the NFL teams that performed the worst in the previous season but the opposite is true in the NBA.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was drafted #1 overall in the 2012 draft.

Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck was drafted #1 overall in the 2012 draft.

The NFL draft model ensures that the team with the worst record in the league will receive the first pick. There is also a provision that precludes a team from receiving that coveted first pick in consecutive years. On the other hand, the NBA has a draft lottery that gives a weighted chance at the first pick in the draft according to the records of the teams that did not make the playoffs. The team with the worst record has, at best, a twenty-five percent chance at procuring the top choice in the draft. The small market teams in the NBA would greatly benefit from the NFL draft model as it would give them a better chance to land big name players from college. This would then grow their fan bases.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was drafted #1 overall in the 2011 NFL draft.

Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton was drafted #1 overall in the 2011 NFL draft.

The NFL has seen small-market teams with terrible seasons rebound quickly with the selection of the right players in the draft. In conjunction with other moves in free agency, this results in quick improvements. The Carolina Panthers drafted Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton with the first pick in the 2011 draft and the team is having its best success in several seasons this year. The Indianapolis Colts drafted second generation NFL quarterback Andrew Luck first overall in 2012 and made the playoffs the very next season. These players were big names in college and helped create excitement for the fans of their respective teams while improving the performance of those teams as well.

The New Orleans franchise drafted Anthony Davis with the #1 overall pick in the 2011-12 NBA draft.

The New Orleans franchise drafted Anthony Davis with the #1 overall pick in the 2011-12 NBA draft.

Conversely, in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the draft lottery for the third time in ten seasons and picked Anthony Bennett first overall last season. The New Orleans Pelicans (Hornets at the time) selected Anthony Davis with the first pick in the 2011-12 draft. Those teams have yet to see their teams improve to playoff material, yet but many believe that those teams have bright futures. The challenge for the NBA is to have small market teams land stars that can help generate widespread interest which would eventually translate to more money for those franchises.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to draft Kevin Durant (l) and Russell Westbrook (r) in consecutive seasons; moves that helped turn their franchise into perennial title contenders.

The Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Kevin Durant (l) and Russell Westbrook (r) in consecutive seasons, moves that helped turn their franchise into perennial title contenders.

The Oklahoma City Thunder organization is the most referenced small market team, loaded with young stars through the draft in the NBA. The challenge for other NBA teams is to land young exciting players that become top-tier talent that can eventually transform a team to a title contender. Small market teams in the NBA have an additional challenge of retaining young stars they initially draft. Some of the biggest stars in the NBA change teams in pursuit of a championship. Parity in the NBA is difficult because many small market teams struggle in putting together consistent winning teams while retaining their drafted stars.

Troy Polumalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of many stars from small market teams, on and off the field, for the NFL.

Troy Polumalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of many stars from small market teams, on and off the field, for the NFL.

The other challenge is few small market teams draft big name stars. The Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats, and Toronto Raptors stand out as teams that are in small markets, have struggled on the court, and have had a difficult time landing stars that can help their teams become playoff contenders. The NFL has big name stars in many small markets, which helps keep interest for those teams, even if they struggle with those stars on their team. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers’ quarterback), Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings’ running back), Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers’ quarterback), and Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety) are just a handful of NFL stars from small market cities that are regularly featured in commercials. All of these players were also drafted by their current team.

The NBA would have a better chance of achieving the parity it desires if the rules in the NBA draft are changed to decide the order of the draft, based on records. A provision that would help guard against teams intentionally losing games to get the best draft pick is to prevent teams from having the top three picks in consecutive seasons. The potential for landing top-tier talent will always be alluring through the draft because of the potential to have a young star transform a franchise to a winner. The potential draft class for the NBA includes two of the most hyped freshmen in college basketball in years: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) and Jabari Parker (Duke). It would be phenomenal for the NBA if the best player in the draft had a chance to transform the worst team in the NBA into an exciting championship winner.–OnPointPress.net.

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant.

Can imperiled HBCUs survive by suing the Obama Administration?

Thurgood Marshall Fund CEO Johnny C. Taylor Jr,

Thurgood Marshall Fund CEO Johnny C. Taylor Jr, is mulling a lawsuit to restore equitable loan guidelines and funding for HBCUs.

By Carmen Glover

Proud graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are quick to extol  the virtues of attending their specific alma mater: the comfort of being around people who look like them, camaraderie on campus, the ability to learn more about their history, and most importantly, the cache that comes professionally when their alma mater is mentioned in industry settings. And, indeed, statistics support the root cause of such enormous pride. According to available data, the nation’s 106 HBCUs have made an indelible mark on educational gains, awarding African-Americans 1.5% of associate’s degrees, 16.9% of bachelor’s degrees, 7.6% of master’s degrees, 8.1% of doctoral degrees and 17 % of professional degrees, through 2010. Most significantly, HBCUs make up 3% of the total number of colleges and universities in the country yet account for 22% of all bachelor’s degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concentrations.

Economist and former Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux.

Economist and former Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux.

However, endowments to HBCUs have declined precipitously over the years, which, combined with new restrictive qualifying policies for student loans, have led to disastrous results for students and families who are eager to embrace the traditions which abound at HBCUs. Educators have expressed outrage at the Obama Administration for revising the loan guidelines so exhaustively that many African-American parents who previously qualified for Parent Plus Loans no longer do so, resulting in hundreds of discouraged students being forced to abort their educational pursuits mid-stream due to their inability to finance their education at the institutions of their choice.

Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Speaking recently on TVOne, former Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux was blunt: “Many students who drop out of HBCUs focus on getting jobs and saving their money so that they can return to finish their education,” she said. But she further explained that because the students have to suspend their educational goals temporarily, that decision hurts the HBCUs in another important way as well. “Colleges and universities are given four to six years to graduate students with undergraduate degrees,” she explained. When that doesn’t happen, the HBCUs face the added danger of losing accreditation and funding, leading to them losing staff and course offerings.

The cycle seems to be vicious and various groups who have raised attention to the issue. In fact, some groups have entertained the possibility of pursuing legal actions against the Obama Administration in order to apply pressure in having the policies regarding the Parent Plus Loan qualifying requirements reversed. Johnny C. Taylor Jr., CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund which raises money for HBCUs, has vowed to sue the Obama Administration in an effort to roll back the restrictive loan qualification policies. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has described the furor about the new policies as “communication” errors, while declining to address the substance of the policies in general.

“HBCUs are struggling, laying off faculty, sending students home,” Taylor said on the show, describing the likelihood of the lawsuit as “upwards of 75% chance,” unless the Obama Administration comes to the table to talk and resolve differences on the matter in a way that all stakeholders view as satisfactory. Regardless of what transpires with his plans to sue, one thing is clear: HBCUs are in serious danger of being adversely affected by new policies. In the meantime, students and families suffer, forced to suspend their educational dreams, with some abandoning their educational goals entirely. It is important for families to explore alternatives, such as enrolling in state colleges and community colleges, where tuition is cheaper than at a private college.

While it is admirable for families to strive for private colleges and universities, some of which include HBCUs, the larger goal of ensuring that students graduate from colleges and universities should take precedence over insistence that they attend HBCUs. For their part, HBCUs have no choice but to revise their financial models and revamp their operational structures so that they are able to function and remain viable and competitive in an ever-changing economic and educational environment. To do otherwise will further imperil their survival even more. OnPointPress.net

 

Jamaican track stars named 2013 Athletes of the Year in historic nod

Jamaican track stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Usain Bolt named 2013 Athletes of the Year.

Jamaican track stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Usain Bolt named 2013 Athletes of the Year.

By Carmen Glover

Jamaica is known internationally for its verdant beauty, miles of white sand, pulsating reggae music, educational excellence and indomitable prowess in track and field. On Saturday, November 16, both Usain Bolt, 27, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 26, created history and elevated the tiny Caribbean nation to a realm previously experienced by two other nations, the United States and Great Britain, when they were named 2013 Athletes of the Year.

The dual honor was bestowed on the Jamaican track stars in Monaco at the 2013 World Athletics Gala. U.S. athletes Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith-Joyner won similar recognition in 1988 while Colin Jackson and Sally Gunnell won in 1993 for Great Britain. According to the Jamaica Observer, Bolt’s honor is his fifth since he won World Athlete of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, while Fraser-Pryce’s recognition represents the second Jamaican woman to be so honored, after track star Merlene Ottey received the award in 1990.

Jamaican track stars Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Jamaican track stars Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Jamaica’s dominance in track and field has typically caused fierce competition from its U.S. counterpart, and in many cases top-rated track stars who represent the U.S. in athletic events are Jamaicans by birth or boast Jamaican heritage, including Sanya Richards-Ross, for instance.

To say Jamaicans across the globe are bursting with pride about the historic recognition received by Bolt and Fraser-Pryce would be a gross understatement, especially at a time when the country is bitterly disappointed that its soccer team, the Reggae Boyz, failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup which is scheduled to be held in Brazil. However, the honor received by the track stars is not merely symbolic, but it is monetary as well, with them receiving US $100,000, each in prize money to accompany their award, as indicated by the IAAF website. –OnPointPress.net

“The Best Man Holiday” arrives in theaters amid profound anticipation and excitement

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

By Carmen Glover
A legion of fans have waited with bated breath for the sequel to the romantic comedy, “The Best Man” to hit the big screen. The wait is officially over as “The Best Man Holiday” opened nationwide this weekend to long lines as eager movie patrons reunite with their favorite characters. Fourteen years after the original movie debuted in theaters, all of the characters are back, delivering solid acting and tackling material that runs the gamut of emotions.

When the film’s director, Malcolm D. Lee, addressed the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Florida this past summer, he disclosed that he “did not want to rush” and create a sequel that lacked meaning. He explained at the time that he felt it was important to tell a story that reflected growth and substance in the characters. “I wanted to wait until the characters had grown before I did a sequel,” he said. He also shared what drove him to the sequel. “The desire to see marriage on the screen was my inspiration for this movie,” he explained.

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

The movie is well worth the wait. The main characters have enjoyed success in the intervening years and they bring the full scope of their acting skills to “The Best Man Holiday,” which deals with more serious subjects than the original film. The sequel reunites the characters at the home of Lance (Morris Chestnut), who is now playing in the NFL for the Giants, and his wife Mia (Monica Calhoun). Naturally, when old friends get together, it’s a mixed bag of emotions, some overt, others covert.

It is refreshing to see an ensemble cast of characters who are able to reprise their roles easily and deliver an entertaining and thought-provoking medley of scenes that reinforces the long-held belief that if African-American actors are given the opportunity and script to bring an important story to life, they are more than capable of delivering with panache. Do yourselves a favor and go see this movie so that you can reconnect with the nostalgia of the past while you embrace the realities and new adventures that abound in “The Best Man Holiday.”–OnPointPress.net