Staying at home has brought a new way of looking at the world around us. We watch the news and read articles on the internet. Then we check in with social media to see what people are saying about the news. Our computers and phones have become our window to the outside world. With a lot less face-to-face interaction in the last few months, communication has become much more frequent and much more detached. Strong words are written with no consideration of the impact on the readers. Anyone who has seen or written a play knows the approach to a monologue is very different from a dialogue. Speaking (or writing) TO people is not the same as conversing WITH people. Written rants and framed video clips are not necessarily representative of the entire picture of what is going on in the world and how people feel. Old issues and new issues alike, we are all working through them together. Try to keep the whole picture in mind.
When Sabakiball was being developed, the fact that all teams had to be co-ed turned some people off from playing. They felt that it would not be competitive enough if just anyone could play on a team. What our early critics did not realize is that Sabakiball purposefully made the rules of play so that having weaker players on the team could be an advantage. (By the way, our experience has been that the “weaker” players came in all types). This is a different concept, and many long-time sports players could not see how this would work. To play Sabakiball like a traditional sport makes the game play less effective! So when our early critics found they could not dominate the play with their usual sports skills and strategies, they were discouraged and therefore critical of this new sport. They couldn’t see the whole picture.
From the very beginning, Sabakiball stayed the course of non-tradition. We defied our critics and found a player base that understood how to rethink the way sports can be played. And now today we have over a million players playing world wide … and growing fast! It was difficult at times to stay true to our vision and our mission in the face of critics and adversity. But, as Shakespeare wrote: “To thine own self be true”. You will not go wrong thinking, feeling and acting with authenticity, even if others tell you that you are wrong! BE YOURSELF. SEE THE WHOLE PICTURE.
Michael Cerpok invented Sabakiball over ten years ago after he was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. After a long career of working with youths, ranging from at-risk to exceptional, he was told by doctors that he could no longer continue his career and passion. Instead of ending his pursuit of happiness, he reinvented himself and thus emerged Sabakiball.
To become aware that your lifetime is limited, and that you may not be able to do the things you know and love with the limited time you have, can have a devastating effect on a person to say the least. This, unfortunately, is not a unique experience. Almost 2 million people are expected to be diagnosed with Cancer in 2020. Cancer touches so many people every year and everywhere, it is hard to find someone that has not experienced cancer directly or indirectly.
We need not wait until a traumatic experience, or the revelation that our lives will someday transition, to live life well. Live in EACH moment. Life is too short to waste on destructive and negative endeavors. That is not to say that life should always be easy and happy. Growth and exploration is a struggle at times. Just watch a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly. As long as we are moving forward instead of backwards, life is worth the pain and struggle.
Create, Contemplate, Renovate
Stop Complaining, Delegating and Relegating
Enjoy Being, Seeing, Feeling
Listen, Consider, Learn
Be Caring, Sharing, Daring
Having spoken with many cancer patients and survivors, they are the most inspirational people I know. Not because they necessarily did anything extraordinary, but because they LIVE LIFE TO ITS FULLEST. What I have learned from them is that we do not need to wait until a diagnosis to have this epiphany and make a change. Start today… RIGHT NOW! Life’s too short.
Why do we have rules in our households, laws in the country, and referees in sports? Because sometimes people need to be told to do the right thing and held responsible for doing the wrong thing. But where do these rules leave us when the actions are just expression of thoughts and beliefs? Let me elaborate…
In our households, we may have rules like clean up after yourself or don’t look at someone else’s phone. These rules help keep the peace. Cleaning up after yourself means that someone else does not have to take care of your mess. Not looking at someone else’s cell phone means the other person does not have to worry about his/her privacy being violated. But why do these need to be rules? Because when we act upon our own interests regardless of how it affects others, this creates problems. Billy doesn’t put his dishes in the dishwasher after dinner because he would rather go do something else – someone else will clean it up anyway. Billy does not consider that someone else does not get to do what she wants because she is busy cleaning up after Billy. Suzy looks at Billy’s phone because she is curious who he is texting, not considering that Billy is texting to keep his conversation private. To Suzy, her curiosity is more important than Billy’s right to privacy. When we do not consider how our actions affect others, rules need to be put in place to keep the peace.
In our country, laws are put in place to protect the public from reckless or menacing individuals. Grace is driving through a school zone where children are crossing the street. She does not slow down because she is late for an appointment. Grace is more concerned about her tardiness than she is for the safety of the children walking home from school. So, signs are put in the middle of the road posting a lower speed limit and a police officer monitors the corner for people speeding through. Leonard goes into a convenience store to buy a few things. He realizes he is short on cash. Leonard decides to put a candy bar in his pocket and take it without paying. He figures that he is paying for everything except this one candy bar which should be okay (everything is overpriced anyway). So, the store clerk has a camera to catch people from stealing – Leonard is not the only one who figures it is fine to take things without paying. When we do not consider how our actions affect others, laws need to be put in place to protect the public.
In sports, referees are hired to ensure a fair game. When Jordan trips another player racing to the ball during a Sabakiball game, the referee calls a penalty. Jordan was more interested in getting the ball than the safety of the other player. Or when Morgan knocks down a player from the other team in a basketball game, the referee calls a foul. Morgan needed that player to go down so the other team couldn’t score again. When we do not consider how our actions affect others, referees need to be put in place to ensure a fair game.
The actions of people that need to be managed by laws and rules stems from an underlying lack of awareness. Reacquainting ourselves with kindness, understanding and respect will allow for us to live among, and even compete with (like in sports), each other respectfully. If Billy respected Suzy’s time as much as he valued his own, he would happily clean up after himself out of respect for Suzy. If Suzy was aware that her curiosity was violating Billy’s privacy, should would not have looked at his texts. If Grace thought for one second that a child’s life was in danger because of her speeding, she would cautiously slow down. If Leonard understood that the shopkeeper had to pay for the candy bar Leonard was stealing, he would get the bar later when he had enough money. If Jordan or Morgan honed their own skills at their sports, they would not need to resort to breaking the rules to stop the other players.
Awareness is a change in mind set. It is not something that can be forced or demanded. When laws and rules are put in place, it is an attempt to change behavior. But they do not change mentality. Actions are expressions, or symptoms if you will, of our thoughts and beliefs. We can encourage people’s positive mind set through acts of kindness, a show of respect and examples of understanding. When our thoughts turn to respect for one another then our actions come out respectfully. Think about it, the people in your life you look up to probably exhibited these traits because most of us respect Respect. If we started within and became more aware of our thoughts and beliefs, we would need less rules and less laws because people would choose to do the right thing on their own.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE is the only way to change one's mind set toward mutual respect, kindness and understanding. Join SABAKIBALL in raising the bar higher and leading by example!
In today’s age of immediate information from the press, the public’s ability to video and post everything, and social media’s platform giving everyone a voice, we are witnessing people from all walks of life express what they stand for. There is a saying: “With great freedom comes great responsibility.” Let’s think about this for a moment… We all have the freedom to say what we want and, to a certain extent, do what we want. But anything you do and anything you say is very likely being stored on the ever-present internet. The hard part about technology these days is that it is a running record; we see this when FaceBook reminds us of a post we posted ten years ago. This happened to me just the other day. A picture from ten years ago showed up in my FaceBook newsfeed. Luckily it was something I fondly looked back upon, so it was nice that FaceBook sent the picture. But what if FaceBook brought back a ten-year-old memory that I did NOT enjoy?
I have worked with children my whole adult life starting out in the days of my Jujutsu training. Our training hall was very traditional. We learned awareness, self-defense, how to be a well-rounded and caring person, and how to contribute to society to make our community a better place. I remember teaching the youth students lessons like how to handle bullies on the playground, what if someone calls you a name, and going out of your way to do a good deed daily. When I look at reports in the news and see comments on social media, I always wonder to myself: If I were still teaching these students, how would I explain to them what is going on? The big issues I could explain – both sides I might add – but the way people are behaving… I would have trouble. The things adults are doing and saying lately are the opposite of what we would teach these students.
Taking a stand for what you believe in does not need to come with hate, hostility, tearing down of others, exaggerating truths, or destruction. If we all look at ourselves and the way we are behaving to express our beliefs, we should consider: (1) If my children saw me behave in this way or say these things would they be proud? (2) If FaceBook re-posted my messages and pictures from now, ten years later, would I want to remember and share the memory? (3) Do I know what I stand for, do I actively take a stand for my beliefs even when they are not enthralled in controversy, and am I treating others the way I would want to be treated? Again, “With great freedom comes great responsibility.” Responsibility to ourselves, responsibility to the next generation, and responsibility to our community whether it be our home, our town, our state, or our country. Our actions contribute to creating our world.
On the Sabakiball field, we instill in our players through example the concepts of fair play, safety, equality, teamwork and healthy competition to name a few. Why do we take such care to do this? Because these are values that youth Sabakiball players will see cultivates a supportive environment even when they are “against” the other team. WOW! What a lesson to learn: That you can be trying to beat the other side yet you come away from a game with a mutual respect and understanding for the opposing team! This is how the sport is played. This is what keeps players wanting to come back even if they were defeated the week before. If we can take these lessons from the Sabakiball field and practice them at home, at school or work, and in our society, the way we take a stand for our beliefs would be much more effective… we would want to come back and play again.
What is the foundation of EQUALITY? It is the ability to see the similarity in things rather than the differences between them. Whether we like it or not, we all carry biases. And which is worse: to carry these knowingly or unknowingly? With recent events, our country’s biases and prejudices have reared its ugly head again. People from all walks of life are speaking and acting out passionately. Regardless of the way this passion is expressed, the majority consensus is WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!
ESPN recently tweeted a quote from Richard Sherman in an article via Sports Illustrated: “…in sports, you really have a love and appreciation for your fellow man, regardless of race… You really get to know one another, not judge based off nonsense.” This is a great quote and a great point! Sports breaks down so many racial biases and prejudices because it sheds the irrelevant criteria of skin color when talent has the opportunity to shine through. What would sports be today if baseball did not sign Jackie Robinson or if football did not award a contract to Kenny Washington or if boxing promoters did not sponsor Jack Johnson to fight the reigning champion?
It took special people, people with vision, influence and perseverance, to take a chance and break the barriers doing something that no one else had done before – develop athletes whose talent was already burgeoning, look past the “nonsense” as Richard Sherman so poignantly states, and provide the opportunity for equality to sports.
We are only overlooking one thing: our biases, and our conditioned inability to see that we have prejudices. In Richard Sherman’s quote he states: “…in sports, you really have a love and appreciation for your fellow man…” Did you notice that? Probably not. Why? Because ALL of us have been conditioned generation after generation to separate genders in sports. We have been convinced for so many years that this is just the way it is – men cannot compete with/against women – we take it for granted. Richard Sherman was not biased in using “man” – he was right! What NFL player trained alongside female athletes? NONE!
ALL of the professional major sports – baseball, basketball, football and hockey – have men’s leagues and women’s leagues. Does this not occur to anyone? Is the prejudice that deep? Or is it our conditioning that cannot allow us (the sports establishments, the athletes themselves, or the spectators) to look past this judgement based on nonsense? I guess if we still cannot see this nonsense with race, how are we ever going to see it with gender? Or maybe the “reason” is actual ability based on physical stature. Hmmm… I know many women athletes that if given the same opportunity for training and development alongside their male counterparts from a young age, they would hold their own. Even if you are not convinced that this “stature” point is viable, then perhaps we can agree that if the established sports do not provide the opportunity or platform to defy its long-standing biases, then a new exciting, non-stop, non-contact sport is what we need in order to find gender equality in sports. Enter SABAKIBALL stage right. IT’S A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME!
There are so many choices out there! Have you ever walked down the cereal aisle at the grocery store and been overwhelmed by the sheer variety of cereal? There must be over forty choices – and that is just cereal! Life is full of choices: where to go to school, what career path to take, which sports to play, how to eat the healthiest, who to listen to for advice. In a country with so many choices, so much opportunity, making a decision can almost become crippling sometimes. I have heard people call this paralysis by analysis.
Luckily, we all have that little voice inside that guides us in the right direction. It is our conscience or intuition. When collecting more and more information is just adding to our confusion rather than helping us make a choice, GO WITH YOUR GUT. Do what is right for you. It is wonderful to listen to those who have experienced more than ourselves, but at the same time we should realize that what is right for them may not be right for us.
When Michael Cerpok was formalizing the sport we now know as SABAKIBALL, all the experts (lawyers and advisers) told him it is nearly impossible to patent a sport these days. Everything that could be done is done. Despite their advice, Michael pursued patenting his unique idea. He was sure there was nothing else like SABAKIBALL out there. AND HE WAS RIGHT! He accomplished the nearly impossible regardless of what the experts said. He went with his gut.
There is a philosophical concept that your first choice, your initial inclination, will end up being your final decision. I have experienced this myself. As a planner and analyzer, I tend to gather information and weigh all the options before deciding how to move forward. So many times I end up going with my first decision even after taking time to analyze and evaluate all the information. I call this going there and back again. It is a process I find works for me, but it is not always necessary because ultimately my intuition is usually right.
So, move boldly forward with your own decisions, your own choices, without regret. Do this by listening to your little voice inside... GO WITH YOUR GUT.