we need to be sure our libraries represent these athletes in the same way they represent any other sport.
Some days you're lucky enough to meet a sports star! This past Monday was proclaimed Becca Murray Day in the Germantown School District. Murray was a 2008 Germantown High School grad who went on to become a member of the 2016 gold medal US Paralympic Basketball Team in Rio. We were fortunate enough to have her speak at each school and show off her gold medal. I can't begin to tell you how fantastic it was seeing all the big jocks of the school crowding around Murray for a chance to meet her and see the medal! Confined to a wheelchair due to spina bifida, Murray refused to make excuses and instead forged on competing in sports. As a wheelchair basketball player at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she was an NCAA champion, and eventually won a gold medal in Rio. What an absolutely amazing girl!
Afterwards, when asked by a student if I had any books in the library on wheelchair basketball players or the Paralympics, I realized I had none. This was embarrassing. What's worse is the more I dove into researching some books to get, I was struck by the utter lack of material on paralympians. Two things need to happen here. First, we need to be sure our libraries represent these athletes in the same way they represent any other sport. Second, we need more quality books about inspiring paralympic athletes like Becca Murray who work as hard and accomplish as great of feats as the stars. Below are some titles that may provide a nice start for your collection.
Cheers to Wisconsin Badger basketball player Nigel Hayes for standing up for his beliefs about college athletes and their right to be compensated.
Connection: See articles Broke Badger(ESPN) and Good for Nigel Hayes (USA Today)
Agree or disagree with Hayes, but do many people know exactly how much money is being generated by the sports these athletes participate in? Do many understand what type of commitment Div 1 athletes make on a daily basis? Here are a few books that might help shed some light on the world of NCAA athletics.
Indentured, Billion-Dollar Ball and The System explore the money culture of the big ticket sports football and basketball, and how the NCAA treats the athletes who are the stars of the show. These titles not only look at the treatment of college athletes, but also how money has fed the beast of the sport itself- that has in many cases grown more powerful than the actual university it represents!
I know in many high school English classes, the topic of "Should college athletes get paid?" is a staple come research paper time. It would be wise for any teacher/librarian to have a few of the suggested books on hand when students start asking. These are great reads as well for any of us(has-beens/wanna -bees) who spend endless weekends on the couch or at BW3's glued to our favorite college football and basketball games!
Who would have imagined we'd ever be debating the nature of "locker room banter." In light of the events this past week, we are hearing from politicians, athletes, and coaches just exactly what is appropriate banter in locker rooms and what isn't. Donald Trump Dismisses His ‘Locker-Room Talk’ as Normal. Athletes Say It’s Not. Time Magazine Don't think our kids aren't paying attention.
As an former athlete and longtime coach, I am not perfect, nor do I profess to be the great moral arbiter of what is right. I've been around the gnarliest kind of locker rooms--that of high school boys--for 20 plus years, and I can attest to some severe shenanigans. But there's a difference between stashing a freshly captured 20 pound carp in someone's locker and talking rape.
Like anything, there is a thing called a "line", and my worry is that is that these kids, hearing from a public figure what locker room talk supposedly is, are influenced by a false reality.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to reframe the conversation and point high school kids to some books that dive into what a locker room really looks like and the benefits of a fun, yet positive environment. Below are some selections that you may want to put on the shelves this week and steer you teen athletes towards.
The Rookie Handbook humorously peeks into an NFL locker room and the rookie experience. Season of Life connects football and lessons gained behind the scenes to growth into manhood. You Win In the Locker Room First talks about the importance of building a positive attitude within the organization. Tales From the Duke Blue Devils Locker Room is a great look at the success of the Duke basketball team and legendary stories that fill a locker room. Finally, They Call Me Coach talks about the legendary John Wooden and his "Pyramid of Success" which hung proudly in UCLA locker rooms as a blueprint for living a good life and competing the right way.
Let's defeat the negativity and show our kids that locker rooms should be a place of friendship and camaraderie-in the right context. These books should help the cause.