February 5, 2020
R.I.P. Kobe Bryant. For some reason it feels like we lost a family member. Some have criticized the fact that the other eight lives that were lost have not received the same adulation. The reason for this has to do with connection. Two months ago my uncle was murdered in his front yard. Not many people seemed to care, because there is no connection. With Kobe there seemed to be a strong connection, as if he were a family member.
Death is so…final. It is also inevitable.
Less than twenty-four hours after his death I found myself weeping on my way to work. The song Beautiful Morning by the Sunday Service Choir was playing and through my windshield I saw a billboard of Kobe Bryant in Dothan, Alabama.
I thought of my daughter Tayelor and how strong our relationship is. I thought of Kobe and Gianna and tears started to fall. Kobe will have no more beautiful mornings on this earth. It reminded me to live out my purpose and enjoy each day.
My purpose is to add value to people’s lives. That calling has manifest itself in me several ways. Some call what I do ministry. I believe we minister out of the overflow. In other words, we must have something in to give, we can’t add value if we don’t have anything valuable to add. What makes people grow?
Developmental Psychologist Charisse Nixon spent years trying to find the answer to this question. Her research showed her that we are hardwired to connect to people and spiritual meaning.
Emmy Werner spent 40 years studying 700 at risk children and what she learned is we all need a person in our life that we can count on. The number one factor in children becoming successful adults was connection to a non parent adult.
Most young people matriculate through some sort of school system. This environment offers several potential relationships with a non parent adult. Students may gravitate toward a teacher or coach. What happens when a young person does not have this non parent adult in their life? Werner’s research suggests a possibility of experiencing traumatic emotional stress.
Every night we connect our cell phone to the charger so it will be productive the next day. If we are not connecting to the right people we will not maximize our potential as humans.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may arise when people experience a traumatic event such as death, threatened death, serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence. This is a serious disorder and I want to share how it relates to sports.
To better understand my point of view I want to keep the same letters in the acronym, however I want to change a word.
PTSD- Post-traumatic sports disorder, by changing this one word we dive into a world many people have inhabited.
According to active.com 45 million youth play organized sports in America each year. I have played or coached a sport since the age of five. As a coach I have witnessed players suffer greatly when they are removed from this dynamic support system.
Some sports fans believe Antonio Bryant is a troublemaker. There is evidence to prove this, however I believe his situation worsened when he was no longer a football player. This happens to several athletes when their sport is over. I have seen it in high school seniors, college athletes and even professionals.
Imagine being a part of a team your entire life and the next day not being a part of a team.
Many athletes find their identity in their sport. When they are disconnected they may not know how to function. This reality can create a culture shock.
Antonio Bryant and Aaron Hernandez are extreme cases of PTSD. However, I see it every day in my former players and myself.
We all need the right connection or we will be like a cell phone without a charge. Useless.
Willie Spears is a teacher, coach, author, minister and motivational speaker. He has been awarded teacher and coach of the year. He speaks to thousands each year through his business The Willie Spears Experience. Willie may be reached at www.williespears.com.