Hidden Layers to Bullygate: Mental Health in the NFL

Folks, Bullygate is worst than I expected. It’s not about bullying, being black, and the hazing culture anymore. The alarming issue that I took away is the teams’ and the league’s ability to handle mental health maladies among players.

Feel free to read the full Wells report and make your own judgments afterwards. From what I read, however, I don’t think teammates were prepared to handle Jonathan Martin’s mental health issues, especially since some of the players constantly taunt J-Mart. The front office and coaching staff seemed to turn the other way as well. Even an assistant coach joined in on taunting the assistant trainer, and who knows, he might have picked on J-Mart behind his back too.

Today, when we have have issues, we are recommended to go seek professional help. We talk to somebody about our problems. We do yoga or exercises or meditation sessions to clear our minds. We pray to high powers.

At least that’s what the workplace is teaching us to do for the most part. We may live in the 21st century, but the way NFL players deal with mental health issues is as archaic as how we used to travel 150 years ago. I never played a down in the NFL and college, but I played organized sports before. In some locker rooms, crying to people about your problems is a “bitch ass move.” It’s socially unacceptable to break down and cry. Either you toughen up and keep your problems to yourself or quit. To the Miami Dolphins, Martin is a punk because he chose to leave instead of confronting the situation head-on. Also, if you’re picked on, the unwritten locker room rule is: defend yourself, or else, quit.

I don’t know if that’s an healthy environment for players who prefer seeking help and alternative means of handling mental issues. No wonder why some players are beginning to dislike the NFL. You can feel alone, even in a team setting, if you’re different from the “typical, social” player and don’t respond as well to certain situations as other players.

I would love to dig in the matter further, because it’s intertwined with other societal topics, such as racism and classism. But even as write this brief blog, I think the report itself convinced me to speak out.

And this have even more scary possibilities. If NFL teams are inadequate in dealing with mental health issues, then how they will handle players with developmental disabilities, such as autism and Down’s Syndrome? I would like like to write about Bullygate’s potential impact on autistic people seeking to play college or professional sports.

Let’s hope the Wells report will open professional sports teams’ eyes to mental health topics more seriously.

Artists, Get Paid for Your Work

Silvered Orange

Silvered Orange (Photo credit: cobalt123)

 

Good afternoon everyone!!

Today, I read through comments from the SCAD-Atlanta Facebook group, and I came across a video/blog post that a fellow student posted. It contains a video where character designer and teacher Stephen Silver speaks out against companies who don’t pay artists to come up with art or concepts for their products.

As a freelance writer, event photographer, and a lover of the arts & entertainment world, his message hits home to me because I’m also a starving artist trying to make a name for myself. I’ve seen plenty of opportunities where companies would allow you produce work for them, but only as an “internship” or no compensation. However, they promise you that the job can help you get exposure.

That is called cheap labor, a.k.a. slavery. Sorry, I don’t like cheap labor. I do free work because of causes and topics that I support, up and coming artists that I want to help succeed, and personal favors. But even then, I’ll get something in return, like a gig or reference. I also write for free because I want to promote MY artwork under MY rules, preparing myself for bigger and paid opportunities.

If you do want to work for free, do it for a right cause or at least find free work that can benefit you. But don’t fall under the trap of making content for companies who refuse to compensate you for your work and don’t care about what you create.

The video also taught me another thing: the importance of entrepreneurship. Sure, I can try to land jobs where I write and take pictures for a living. But is that all I want? What if I don’t get that dream job, and how else can I spread my love for media while getting paid? I starting to understand friends’ advice on offering event photography services for certain rates. Besides, in this world, you’ll gain more recognition once you do more paid work (especially if it’s freelance work).

I leave you with Silver’s spiel on providing paid services v.s. working for cheap labor. Otherwise, enjoy your day and let’s break the starving artist myth.

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Happy (Belated) International Day of Acceptance to Derrick Coleman

Monday was not only the American observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, it was also the day for disability acceptance, called International Day of Acceptance (IDOA). On that day, and any other day, we appreciate the talents of those with disabilities. Some have even influenced multitudes of peoples.

What grander example of a person overcoming obstacles to showcase talents than Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks. Not only he’s their fullback, but he’s also the first legally deaf offensive player to be on an NFL team. And he’s going to the Super Bowl with the Seahawks in about one week from Sunday! Now that’s an amazing accomplishment from someone who became deaf at 3 years old, went on to star at UCLA, and made an NFL regular roster after going undrafted. If you don’t consider him an example of MLK’s dream and Anne Hopkins’ vision of IDOA, then I don’t know what else to tell you.

Check out his Duracell commercial and many of his interviews below, then share this post to all who believes in going above and beyond expectations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. King and His (Indirect) Influence on Aspies

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Good evening everyone!! Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday, the man responsible for dreaming of a more united, peaceful society (similar to what The Lord envisions). He was not only calling for unity and peace, like he did in his famous “I have a dream” speech. Dr. King wished for us to fight against our respective oppressors and yearn for freedom, acceptance, respect, and human rights.

It’s fitting that Dr. King’s mission mesh with my mission and the mission of those for autism acceptance, even if we have different topics to cover. Like King, I dream of an autistic community that’s accepted and embraced by neurotypicals. I don’t want to see a fellow Aspie continued to be silenced by those who think autism is a curse. I hate our high unemployment rate and certain organizations’ depiction of autism is only a child’s disease, instead of a gift that the individual may utilize in the future. I want to see more professional athletes, artists, politicians, techies, ministers, priests, artists, rappers, and other professionals on the spectrum make a difference in people’s lives while redefining the mainstream view of the autistic person.

What are your dreams for autistic acceptance? Matter of fact…what are your dreams and plans for a more just society in general, regardless of background? Feel free to comment on those questions as we continue to keep MLK’s dream alive.

SN: Don’t use MLK to promote free parties that has nothing to do with him and his work. What would King say if you were using his image to bring girls to the party and encourage them to twerk? I think Dr. King would rebuke you.

Supplemental Links

Autism Acceptance and MLK

Autism Acceptance

Letter to White Castle, Sevenly, and Spring Free on Supporting Autism Speaks

December 20, 2013

Dear White Castle, Sevenly, and Spring Free Executives,

I applaud you all for taking the time and money to give back to communities in need. The media give you crap, along with other major companies, about only focusing on the bottom line: profit. However, supporting organizations like Autism Speaks show that you all have kind hearts and want to be good ambassadors to the public.

While the support of Autism Speaks may seem to be only that of good nature, I will have to disagree with the partnership because it doesn’t fully support the majority of autistic (namely adults on the autistic spectrum). Autism Speaks may help bring autism awareness to the masses, but from my understanding, it only helps children on the spectrum. The voices for Autism Speaks are usually parents, educators, doctors, and politicians. We don’t hear about autistic people talking about their experiences, triumphs, and struggles. To make matters worse, they support plenty of treatments and possible cures for autism, but focus less on providing the adequate resources for autistic people excel in mainstream high school classes, college, and the workforce (the area that we’re struggling in the most). I don’t even recall them recognizing accomplishments of Temple Grandin, Jason McElwain, Donna Williams, Stephen Wiltshire, or any of the people with autism who made immense, positive contributions to society through their respective works.

As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome and a part-time worker, this support of Autism Speaks is not got good for business. Think of the diverse groups of people who work for White Castle, Sevenly, and Spring Free. How would your workers feel if you supported the Ku Klux Klan, knowing that a chunk of your employees are of color? Or how about the reactions of workers in the LGBT community when they find out, for instance, that at least one of the companies donated to anti-gay groups? In both cases, workers may quit their jobs and possibly even sue you for supporting “hate groups”, while customers boycott the products each company produces. Same scenario applies to workers in the autistic spectrum. If you all support groups that doesn’t favor them, then those workers would leave because that can send the message that autistic people don’t belong in the workforce. I don’t wish to see that happen to solid companies like those I mentioned.

So instead of wasting money on Autism Speaks, try researching and supporting groups that are for the autistic community and allow autistic people to speak up. Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and Autism Women’s Network are great organizations to give to and support. Talk to autistic workers about any work-related things that needs to be changed, accommodations that can aid them in working successfully, and anything that can be addressed (work conditions, treatment from co-workers and bosses, daily life as person on the spectrum, etc.).  Read up on more material on why supporting Autism Speaks, and other groups like that one, may be a controversial and bad idea.

Sincerely,

Timotheus “Pharaoh” Gordon, Jr. (a.k.a. T.J. Gordon)
Proud Writer, Event Photographer, and Aspie