States invest in lavish sports arenas but cut education budget

The owners of the Cleveland sports teams, (l - r) Indians owner Paul Dolan, Browns owner Jimmy Haslem, and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, were successful in securing state taxpayer funds to bolster profits.

The owners of the Cleveland sports teams, (l – r) Indians owner Paul Dolan, Browns owner Jimmy Haslem, and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, were successful in securing state taxpayer funds to bolster profits.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

According to a longstanding trend, sports ranks higher on states’ priority list than education in many places throughout this country, with Georgia, Ohio and Minnesota becoming the latest additions. While owners of sports teams are making record profits, citizens continue to complain about the inferior quality and rising costs associated with education. But, oddly, the issue has not been given much attention as politicians take their dog and pony show around the country, currying favor for more donations in their  presidential bids.

The cycle of low-income students and inferior education on students' future earning potential.

The cycle of low-income students and inferior education on students’ future earning potential.

Cleveland, for instance, in deciding to fund a new stadium at huge costs to the residents, is a microcosm of the juxtaposition of the values between the highest and lowest class citizens of a city. With unemployment and wages as the backdrop this July, Cleveland officials  decided taxpayers should absorb the cost of building the new, extravagant stadium. City officials argued that the construction project would help generate more jobs.

New York Times writer Michael Powell explained the situation pointing out, “[Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan] Gilbert and his fellow sports billionaires — Larry Dolan, who owns the Indians, and Jimmy Haslam, who owns the Browns — worked together to push through a referendum that extended a countywide “sin tax” on cigarettes, beer and liquor.” The outcome of this decision means that for the next 20 years, taxpayers in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County will contribute roughly $260 million into improvements for the city’s sports arenas and stadiums.

(l-r) Dolan, Haslem, and Gilbert find nothing wrong with asking taxpayers to help them make more money.

(l-r) Dolan, Haslem, and Gilbert find nothing wrong with asking taxpayers to help them make more money.

Meanwhile, this past March, the Cleveland school district proposed a budget that would cut costs by $3.4 million, much to the dismay of the Cleveland Teachers Union and parents in the city. Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke asked some searing questions in his consternation over the budget including, “Why are all of these struggling students being denied the resources and teachers they need to become successful? and, How are their academic needs being met?”

The answers to those questions remain unclear, but Cleveland Plain Dealer’s reporter Patrick O’Donnell discerns, “District officials said the cuts are just a prudent way to manage the district’s budget while they keep losing students. Though enrollment declines are still far less than in previous years, the district predicts it will lose 375 students for next school year.”

Cleveland Teachers Union members protest budget cuts for schools with red signs at the school board meeting while staff from the district's central office counter with their own green ones. (Photo courtesy of Patrick O'Donnell/The Plain Dealer)

Cleveland Teachers Union members protest budget cuts for schools with red signs at the school board meeting while staff from the district’s central office counter with their own green ones. (Photo courtesy of Patrick O’Donnell/The Plain Dealer)

The issue of state funds being misappropriated to benefit billionaires at the expense of poor, largely minority, inner-city children has raised alarm in some quarters but so far has not become the major issue that it should in the presidential campaign.

Numerous cities are facing a similar dynamic— inadequate funding for education and other public services but obscene amounts allocated to invest in lavish arenas and stadiums. As Deadspin’s Kevin Draper reports this July, “The Wisconsin Senate voted 21-10 to approve $250 million in public financing for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.” While just a few days earlier in July, “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a state budget that includes cuts of $250 million to the University of Wisconsin system, among other cuts to public education funding.”

Other reports have stated that one of the owners of the Bucks has bought up property near to the projected site of the new stadium in anticipation of making a windfall on that prime real estate once the stadium is built. Meanwhile, classrooms are over-crowded and children in Wisconsin lack the educational investment that they need to succeed.

Madison District Public Schools will be among those affected by Gov. Walker's budget proposal of $250 million in cuts.

Madison District Public Schools will be among those affected by Gov. Walker’s budget proposal of $250 million in cuts.

These recent examples are following a pattern seen in other cities like Atlanta, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Cincinnati and countless other towns which have professional teams that see the owners receive money that would be better served supporting the local citizens. The theory behind the support for these arenas and stadiums is they will help grow the economy by providing jobs and tourist attractions.

However, economist George Zeller cites studies that show that “The theory that all of these sports teams are producing a gigantic boom is completely false.” The school year has already started in some parts of this country and will resume shortly in other areas. The NFL regular season will also start in a few weeks. Which is a priority for you?.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a senior writer and a licensed insurance professional partnered with HealthMarkets. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com. Check out www.HealthMarkets.com/cglover for your free health insurance and life insurance quotes.

Will the NBA’s post-season live up to its exciting regular season?

The Golden State Warriors (top) and Atlanta Hawks (bottom) enter the playoffs as #1 seeds in their conference this year.

The Golden State Warriors (top) and Atlanta Hawks (bottom) enter the playoffs as #1 seeds in their conference this year.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The NBA regular season came to a scintillating conclusion Wednesday night as playoff positions were finally set. The eighth seed was decided on game 82 for both conferences and the scoring title was settled as well. The end of the regular season means that struggling teams can move on to making preparations for betters seasons next year, while playoff teams prepare for the post-season marathon.

After a close MVP race this NBA season, James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) are the clear frontrunners to win the award.

After a close, nail-biting MVP race this NBA season, James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) are the clear front-runners to win the award.

The NBA post-season will have to be spectacular to equal the exciting regular season which featured an MVP race for the ages, a scoring title race decided on the final day, and several meaningful games Wednesday night.  The Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks set season records for franchise victories, while teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics rebounded from the cellar of the NBA last year to make the playoffs this year.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are 2 of several notable players making their playoff debuts this postseason.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are two of the many notable players making their playoff debuts this postseason.

The pairings for the playoffs are:

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
1. Atlanta Hawks vs. 8. Brooklyn Nets
2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 7. Boston Celtics
3. Chicago Bulls vs. 6. Milwaukee Bucks
4. Toronto Raptors vs. 5. Washington Wizards

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
1. Golden State Warriors vs. 8. New Orleans Pelicans
2. Houston Rockets vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks
3. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6. San Antonio Spurs
4. Portland Trail Blazers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies*
*Grizzlies will have home-court advantage

The playoffs will be different this season as playoff regulars like Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook will be absent this year with their teams’ failure to secure playoff berths. The NBA post-season is in good hands though, as emerging superstars like Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, and James Harden will have the opportunity to add important playoff experience to their impressive regular season resumes.

In the end, it is highly possible that either LeBron James (c) and his Cavaliers or Tim Duncan (l) and Greg Popovich (r) and the Spurs will be playing for the championship again this year.

In the end, it is highly possible that either LeBron James (c) and his Cavaliers or Tim Duncan (l) and Greg Popovich (r) and the Spurs will be playing for the championship again this year.

Other stars like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving will be able to take the next step in their careers and advance deep into the playoffs for the first time. As interesting as it will be to see some of the new faces in the post-season, in the end, LeBron James and the San Antonio Spurs will likely play a major role in determining the championship. Again.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com.

Bucks clinch playoff spot, Jason Kidd deserves ‘NBA Coach of the Year’ title

The Bucks have turned around quickly under head coach Jason Kidd.

The Bucks have turned around quickly under Head Coach Jason Kidd.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Sunday, April 12, Jason Kidd coached the Milwaukee Bucks to a playoff berth with a victory over Kidd’s former team, the Brooklyn Nets. This is the first 40-win season and playoff appearance for the Bucks since the 2009-10 season.

When Jason Kidd was hired by the Bucks in July 2014, there was less focus on how good a coach he would be for the Bucks and more emphasis on the manner in which he landed the position. At the time, Marc Lasry, Bucks owner and Kidd’s former business partner, acknowledged that Kidd’s agent reached out to the Bucks’ owners about joining the club.

Many were more bothered by Kidd's (l) pursuit of an occupied head coaching position than his close relationship with Bucks owner Marc Lasry (r).

Many were more bothered by Kidd’s (l) pursuit of an occupied head coaching position than his close relationship with Bucks owner Marc Lasry (r).

“We were asked to keep it confidential and we did and I think in retrospect that was a mistake,” Lasry said. “That was our fault. We shouldn’t have done that. In this process, we made some mistakes.” The manner in which Kidd’s hiring occurred stood out and caused public feedback. Boston Globe writer Gary Washburn stated, “[Kidd] didn’t exactly pick an organization primed for a resurgence.”

Jabari Parker (l) and  Larry Sanders (r) were supposed to play a major role in the team's turnaround.

Jabari Parker (l) and Larry Sanders (r) were supposed to play a major role in the team’s turnaround.

Fast forward to the current situation for the Bucks who have remained off the NBA radar for the majority of the NBA season, despite their remarkable turnaround. The Bucks will be the only team in the playoffs with none of its active players appearing in an NBA All-Star game. The team has overcome a number of challenges this season. The number two overall draft pick, Jabari Parker, suffered a season-ending knee injury and there was also the unexpected departure of center Larry Sanders due to mental health problems.

Khris Middleton (l) and Giannis Antetokounpo (r) are emerging as stars for a surprisingly tough Bucks team.

Khris Middleton (l) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (r) are emerging as stars for a surprisingly tough Bucks team.

The Bucks won 15 games last season and most observers expected the team to be in line for a lengthy rebuilding period. However, coach Kidd has helped his emerging stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton become reliable contributors. Kidd has also been able get good production from veterans such as Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo, Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova. Taking a team from second in the draft to sixth in their conference is a compelling, NBA Coach of the Year, type of feat.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com,

Mysterious NBA coaching criteria surfaces as free agency begins

 

Jason Kidd will join his second team in his second year as a head coach. So does this technically make him an experienced coaching hire for the Bucks?
Jason Kidd will join his second team in his second year as a head coach. So does this technically make him an experienced coaching hire for the Bucks?

 By Charles Glover, Jr.

As NBA free agency begins this July 1, 2014, there are still a couple of head coaching vacancies to be filled. The Brooklyn Nets find themselves looking for a new head coach after Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks agreed to terms on June 30 as their new head coach. Meanwhile, the storied Los Angeles Lakers franchise is still without a head coach, though they may have narrowed their search to a few candidates by now. The head coaching carousel continues in the NBA while the criteria for being hired as a head coach becomes more mysterious and cloudy than ever.

The Knicks new general manager, Phil Jackson (r), felt comfortable hiring coaching novice Derek Fisher (l) because of system familiarity. Time will tell if this strategy is successful.

The Knicks’ new general manager, Phil Jackson (r), felt comfortable hiring coaching novice Derek Fisher (l) because of system familiarity. Time will tell if this strategy is successful.

A year ago, the Brooklyn Nets were questioned about their decision to hire Jason Kidd as their head coach, directly from his last moments playing in the league. A season later, the New York Knicks followed suit by hiring Derek Fisher, fresh of his final game as a player. The trend of hiring head coaches with no coaching experience did not start with Kidd, however. Just a few seasons ago, Mark Jackson transitioned successfully from announcer to head coach. However, his success was not good enough to prevent the Golden State Warriors from firing him and replacing him with Steve Kerr, another first time head coach with no prior coaching experience.

The last time Lionel Hollins was coaching he led his team to the Western Conference Finals. He is rumored to be a possible replacement for Jason Kidd in Brooklyn.

The last time Lionel Hollins coached he led his team to the Western Conference Finals and he was rewarded by being fired promptly. His success did not earn him another coaching job. He is rumored to be a possible replacement for Jason Kidd in Brooklyn.

Head coaches in the NBA appear to have very little job security and very little indication that their job is even jeopardy. The most recent example would be former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Larry Drew, who was entering year two of a three-year contract and had no idea his job was on the line just a week ago. Other examples from this season would be Maurice Cheeks formerly of the Detroit Pistons and Mike Brown formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers, both of whom lost their jobs after a year, or less),into multi-year contracts as head coaches.

Those coaches were at the helm of teams that struggled but Lionel Hollins led the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals in 2013 for the first time in team history and was abruptly fired immediately afterwards. George Karl was let go by the Denver Nuggets in 2013 after he won NBA Coach of the Year that season.

Phoenix Suns head coach was runner-up to Gregg Popovich for NBA Coach of the Year in 2014.

Phoenix Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek was runner-up to Gregg Popovich for NBA Coach of the Year in 2014.

Ironically, the past typical trend of hiring coaches who have previous coaching experience was successful template for several teams last season. The Phoenix Suns hired Jeff Hornacek last season after he had been an assistant coach in the NBA for a few years, and saw their team win 48 games and greatly improve from the season before. The Charlotte Hornets hired Steve Clifford, who had also been an assistant head coach for years in the NBA, and were pleased with the resulting 43 wins and 7th seed in the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors had success for the first time in many years under Dwayne Casey, who had former NBA head coaching experience. The Portland Trailblazers were another team that saw a nice turnaround with a head coach, Terry Stotts, who had previous experience as an assistant coach in the NBA.

Patrick Ewing has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2002 and has made his desires to be a head coach clear.

Patrick Ewing has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2002 and has made his desires to be a head coach clear, yet he is overlooked every time that a head coaching job becomes available.

Teams have the right to make the changes they feel are necessary to improve their team, but it seems there is little merit behind this trend of unproven coaches gaining such prominent positions without prior experience. Several teams have long-time assistant coaches, like Robert Pack, Sam Cassell, and Patrick Ewing to name a few, that are worthy candidates and fit the mold of previous successful head coaches.

Gregg Popovich (l) and Eric Spoelstra (r) have been in the last two NBA Finals and have won multiple championships. Maybe their coaching background should be the standard.

Gregg Popovich (l) and Eric Spoelstra (r) have been in the last two NBA Finals and have won multiple championships. Maybe their coaching background should be the standard.

The teams that win championships do not hire coaches who do not have any coaching experience. The San Antonio Spurs’ head coach, Gregg Popovich, has been coaching since 1973. Eric Spoelstra was an assistant coach with the Miami Heat from 1997. Former coaching legend Phil Jackson was a coach for five years in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) before joining the Chicago Bulls.

It seems that NBA franchises are trying to find out the hard way that there are no shortcuts to success and that the coaches who win championships have one major requirement on their resumes: solid experience, not flash.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

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.