A Small Town Gave Up Tackle Football. It Came Storming Back.

A community’s struggle with when children should play tackle football reflects a broader debate over the sport and who is left playing it.

New York Times: By Ken Belson Photographs by Brandon Thibodeaux

MARSHALL, Texas — One evening last spring, a retired doctor named James Harris carried a pickle jar filled with bright red Jell-O to Marshall’s school board meeting.

He shook it up so the Jell-O sloshed against the glass, a representation, he told the school board members, of what happens to the brain during a hard hit in football and what can happen to those who are allowed to play the sport at a young age.

“The brain is like this Jell-O in the bottle,” he told them. “When the head hits the ground, it hits front and back, and swishes, twists, sloshes and stretches inside the skull.”

It was a dramatic presentation. It was also futile.

The board listened and then voted unanimously on the matter at hand, to bring back tackle football for seventh graders, which it had banned only five years ago.

Football is a powerful, cultural force in Marshall, a city of about 24,000 people in East Texas, where high school games can draw half of the city’s residents and church ends early on Sundays when the Dallas Cowboys are playing.

Still, even Marshall has not been immune to the nationwide debate over whether and how young children should play tackle football — and the shifting demographics of who is left playing it.

The most urgent battle lines are forming along the first years of tackle football, including middle school in many parts of the country, even as football remains by far the most popular sport in the United States. But high school participation has dropped more than 10 percent in the past decade, even in football hotbeds like Texas, Ohio and Florida, as young athletes and their families seek alternatives they perceive as safer.ON DEFENSE Articles in this series are exploring the debate about the future of football.Inside Football’s Campaign to Save the GameNov. 8, 2019

Despite all the warnings about the risks of tackle football in Marshall, two youth leagues popped up to replace the programs that had been disbanded in recent years. And this year, the school district’s new athletic director, Jake Griedl, who is also the high school football coach, persuaded the school board to restart seventh-grade football, too. He reassured trustees that the game was safer now because of new rules, more medical attendants at games and expanded training for coaches in modern tackling methods and concussion protocols.

“Anything you can do to ease the minds of parents is good,” Griedl said this fall. “People don’t realize it’s safe.”

Read the complete article at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/16/sports/youth-tackle-football-marshall-texas.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 18

18 — Hiccups are no big deal

It’s important for managers to learn which mistakes are important and which are mere hiccups.

A hiccup is here and gone. It is not permanent. A single hiccup does no lasting damage and few people will remember it.

A business hiccup is (for example):

  • An e-mail sent without its intended attachment.
  • A typographical error in a report.
  • The wrong date on a document.
  • Missing a minor deadline.

There are major chasms between hiccups and certified disasters. It is a frightful

part of human nature that some people cannot differentiate between the two extremes. A temporarily misplaced report arouses the same reactions in some people as does an account lost to a competitor that shouldn’t have been lost.

For active, multi-tasking managers, hiccups are like mosquitoes in swampy areas. They are going to pop up no matter what you do. Business hiccups, while aggravating, don’t make or break careers. Those who do the hiccupping or evaluate their effect on the business may think so, however.

Swallow the hiccup by acknowledging it as a mistake, apologize if necessary, and get on to more important issues.

There will be bumps in your career path. A bump is a bump. Don’t make it bigger than it is and don’t allow it to ruin the journey.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 14

14. ‘Tis better to shovel than bail

It is an old axiom, but a business truism just the same, that shit flows, rolls, or bounces downhill, depending on the individual consistency and age of said waste. 

It’s a fact of business life: You will have unimaginable and unimaginative chores to do in a corporate environment. There often are tough assignments that nobody wants to do, but almost everybody has to do.

The avalanches of shit you will face in business will be awe-inspiring – or downright scary. Learn to master and manage them, not to be buried by them, and to shovel shit with efficiency and aplomb. Learn to look over and past them to the emergent light on the horizon.

Lesson 1: Accept shoveling shit as a rite of passage. Know that the company CEO was a Supreme Shit Shoveler in his day. Follow his or her example: Do your duty, shovel to the best of your ability, and move on.

Lesson 2: It’s impossible to pick up a turd from the clean end. Grab it with both hands and dispose of it as quickly as possible.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 13

13. Where’s my ladder?

Ambition is like a ladder. Without two strong sides and rungs arranged at regular intervals, chances of a safe climb are very slim indeed.

Young managers want to scamper up the ambition ladder. The faster the pace, the better they like it. Seasoned managers, either patient and not in an unrealistic hurry to be put in a position that might expose their weaknesses, or who have decided later in their careers to tackle the climb, use each rung as a learning experience to assist them on their vertical climbs in their chosen professions.

Is there one route that is best? To each his own.

But on principle, each rung of a career ascension should be used as an opportunity to learn about your company and yourself.

A career should not be judged by how fast a person gets to a certain position, but what the person brings to the corporate table when placed in a decision-making role.

 Whatever your pace, make it your ultimate goal to learn how to manage in a way that realizes the most efficiency and effective benefits for your company.

Find the company that you know is a good fit. Secure the ladder that fits your personality, abilities, and goals.

There’s no elevator to the top of the ladder. It takes hard work and you need to be in shape to climb it.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 11

11 Tunnel vision with eyes wide open

Just like the whaler who is so proud of his vigilance for his prey, all the time unaware that he has been plying his trade from atop a humpback, too many managers firmly believe tunnel vision is an admirable trait, useful for every project.

It never has been, is not today, and never will be. Tunnel vision — an accepted way to see projects that must be viewed and worked on with blinders in shower-curtain position — is a specialized tool for a specific job and only should be put into action on special occasions of the short-term variety.

A seldom-recognized trait of great managers is the ability to focus on tasks at hand while at the same time developing the peripheral vision necessary to watch out for unexpected opportunities.

That’s the hard part about being a see-all, do-everything manager: keeping focused on critical, short-term tasks while maintaining the secondary focus required to look around corners, over hillocks, behind obstacles, and past the horizon.

Focus, yet see beyond the obvious.

See unseen opportunities while keeping your focus.

Be able to shift visual and cerebral focus on command, yet never lose sight of the task at hand. It’s a trick that the world’s best have mastered.

It can be a difference maker between being successful today or being successful today and tomorrow.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 9

9. Company goals drive ambitions

Great managers constantly search for ways for their efforts and the efforts of people in their department to help other departments and managers succeed for the good of the business.

Good managers become great managers by building coalitions through mutual respect, and offering assistance on common projects. Building a strong partnership on a single project can help you climb innumerable rungs on your career ladder.

Seeking a successive string of promotions and title enhancements is a sign of a focused manager. Managers only interested in bigger titles may get them, but they might be the only goals they attain, at the cost of greater and more valuable goals, like gaining deserved responsibility and respect through your ability to address challenges responsibly. Do that, and your titles will come.

A title is only as good as the character of the person who holds it.

Great managers never let their egos, turfs or quests for titles interfere with the primary goal of corporate wellness.

A mixture of a strong grasp of reality and a helpful spirit pours the foundations of strong corporate careers.

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Travel Log: Greece 2019

By Ron Munden

30 May 2019: On June 11 my wife Deloris and I will be in Greece. This will be her first trip to Greece. I will be returning after 40 years. I know it was 40 years because:

The Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor, near Middletown, Pa., partially melted down on March 28, 1979. This was the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history, although its small radioactive releases had no detectable health effects on plant workers or the public.

While this was happening in the United States, I was on a cruise ship that took me from the Canary Islands, into the Mediterranean and finally to Greece.

During that trip we visited many places but the place that still stands out in my mind is Mykonos. I have always felt I needed more time in the Greek Islands. That is what motivated me to book a return trip to Greece and the Aegean Islands. They say, “you can never go back – it is never as good the second time.” We are about to find out.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 8

8. The legends of warlords

Another major failing among mid-level managers is an inability to see beyond their own boundary lines. Thinking, “I am in charge of this project, and I will control it,”is simply wrong-headed. Each department is a part that exists to assist other parts so the corporate engine can runsmoothly and efficiently.

Turf protectionism was common among ancient warlords and still is practiced by nations or regions run by tribal chiefs. There are no successful companies among which turf warfare is tolerated. There is nothing worse in a business than a “virus” – a  virulent strain of egotism – created by the ministrations and manipulations of quarreling corporate warlords.

Managers who adhere to the archaic practice of turf protection, to the detriment of the company, will not be around to see necessary changes unfold.

While “turf” is strictly a boundary issue and a sincere bugaboo in the constant search for corporate success, a manager’s “territory” should be constantly scrutinized for expansion possibilities – not in the sense of “securing more territory” to feel important, but to improve the internal processes that benefit the company. In other words, how can one department help other departments in ways individual managers may not have even contemplated? And how do you accomplish that without offending the boundary issues of other managers?

Overtures must be presented in terms of mutual consideration and benefit.

“I was thinking about that interesting project you mentioned last week and how it could help the company. What if my department assisted you by . . . ?”

There is an example of the absolute best that communication and camaraderie have to offer: A word of praise, followed by an offer of assistance.

Real life. Real, positive results.

If you want to expand your territory, do it for the right reasons. If you just want to be in charge of “more”simply to expand your turf, buy grass seed.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 6

6. Obtain, use No. 1 management tool

It’s time to do an itemized check of your professional tool belt.

Education (regular classroom or Street Smart U.)? Check.

Experience? Check (Or soon will have, or working on it).

Strong work ethic? Check.

Ability to work well with others? Check.

Ready acceptance of any task, and ability to deliver satisfactory results on time and under budget? Check (When circumstances allow).

So, what’s the problem? Why does your personal corporate vehicle seem stalled,or your fast-track career slowed down, like a tractor-trailer rig straining up a mountain highway? Are your beliefs realistic about where you are and where you should be? If you are young, eager, and impatient, probably not. If you are older, and have started questioning your abilities and blaming others for your status, another glance at the mirror will show you the problem.

Have you done everything you can do to get where you want to go in the time you wanted it to take to get there?

What do you think is the No. 1 tool that every great manager has at the ready at all times?

A great education and a high GPA? Can’t hurt, but in some cases your supervisor may have made it on a high school diploma.

Superb work ethic? Good, but that’s a given for up-and-comers.

Willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done? Okay, but see “Superb work ethic.”

Profit-oriented? A good tool to have in the belt, but it’s a Catch-22. You can’t get what you don’t have without having the wherewithal to get it.  How do you get the experience you need to be profit-oriented without getting the experience?

Good communication skills? Absolutely essential, but not the main driver.

Brown-nosing without getting your proboscis dirty? Oh, shut up! 

Well, what about time management?

One of the hardest things for managers to learn, and to learn to use to maximize efficiency and productivity is time management.

Let’s accept that there’s not enough time to do all the tasks assigned to you. On top of that, you get seventy to eighty e-mails a day, each requiring time and many demanding even more time. If you don’t take the time to read and answer them, then you’re a jerk, a slacker, a goldbrick, a drone waiting around for retirement, or have a colossal don’t-give-a-damn attitude. If you are a high-level manager and don’t make the time to answer e-mail queries, you are a snobbish jerque. So you lose time to e-mails.

But think: Your e-mail volume is just a percentage of what your boss gets, and his or hers is just a percentage of what the next level of management gets, and so on. If you are swamped with e-mails, that does not bode well for those higher up the corporate ladder.

Still, some great managers make it a conscientious practice to answer every single e-mail from every single employee, every dealer, and every customer or potential customer.

Aspiring managers – those who want to lead rather than perpetually follow – must quickly learn what those great managers know, whether dealing with piles of tasks or e-mails: the not-so-subtle art of time management.

Learn the two “izes”: Itemize and prioritize. Make a list of projects and tasks, prioritize them according to relative importance, and cross-index them to take into account deadlines and available resources.  The items you can do quickly, or for which you can do your assigned part and pass on down the line, should be at the top of the list.

And be sure to answer those e-mails.

Here’s why: A president and CEO of a large technology company admits that answering e-mails takes a huge bite out of his workday. But he knows if he wants to be a leader, he has to make time – in a word, prioritize his acknowledgment of the concerns of others – to show people how important he thinks they are.

What could be more important to a leader?

Learn and adhere to the principles of time management in your life and work, and you will control your destiny.

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The Great Locomotive Chase – The Andrews Raid

The Historic Jefferson Railway captures the spirit of the Civil War during Jefferson Historical Pilgrimage & Civil War Weekend May 3, 4 and 5, 2019 by recreating the battle of the Great Locomotive Chaseaboard a live steam train with soldiers from the North and South.  The living history camps along the Big Cypress Bayou come alive as the cannons fire and the battle rages to gain possession of the train. 

The Great Locomotive Chase and Train Battle of Port Jefferson will be held on Saturday, May 4, with live steam train rides departing from the Historic Jefferson Railway in downtown Jefferson at 11:00, 12:30, 2:30, 4:00 and 5:30 and Sunday, May 5 at 12:30.

On Friday May 3, there will be a Day of Learning for school groups, home school children and parents to draw attention to the history and romance of the Civil War way of life.  This event is also open to the general public.  The Living History Camps will demonstrate Camp Life and Military Activities and includes an optional train ride aboard an antique gas-powered locomotive.  The Historic Jefferson Railway narrator tells the story of The Andrews Raid as the train travels alongside the Big Cypress Bayou.  See a gunboat with real live cannons.  Visit Diamond Don Gator Pit with seven live gators and see ruins on the property from the 1800’s. 

On Saturday and Sunday, the Train Battle of Port Jefferson joins the skirmish as a replica ironclad gunboat, the Virginia, fires her cannons on the banks of the Big Cypress Bayou River.  The live steam train will be pushing a flatcar full of Confederate soldiers firing their cannons on the soldiers from the north.  More than 10 large cannons, artillery and horse-drawn wagons will participate in the Train Battle.

The gripping tale of The Andrews Raid is the Civil War’s most fascinating railroad story.  Famous campaigns were planned and conducted for the primary purpose of capturing or destroying railroad lines of value to the enemy. On the morning of April 12, 1862, the most famous locomotive of the Civil War, the General, was hijacked by the Union civilian spy, James J. Andrews, and his men. After a nail-biting eight hours and 87 miles, the Southerners captured the General, James Andrews and several of his men.

The Merrimack was a Union cruiser, captured by the South in Norfolk Virginia, and renamed the Virginia.  The Jefferson Battle that Never Was will feature the Virginia, fighting from the banks of the river, while the soldiers fight to capture the train.

On Saturday and Sunday, experience a true civil war train battle aboard the Historic Jefferson Railway’s live steam train, the only venue available to see this re-enactment.  Reminiscent of the landing parties that aided the regular land forces, from both above and below the Mason-Dixon Line, it will be a unique experience.  Keep your seat on the train as the battle fights around you near the railroad track and from the gunboat in the river.

Re-enactors are welcome at Diamond Don RV Park with lots of space, trees and plenty of amenities, including free camping, WIFI, water, hay, split wood, restrooms and showers.  Re-enactor’s registration will take place at Diamond Don RV Park and the $10 fee also includes noon-day meals and Saturday evening social and dinner.  RV sites with water and electric are available to re-enactors and to the public.

Take a step back in time as the Historic Jefferson Railway takes you on an excursion that circles the Piney Woods along the scenic Big Cypress Bayou.  You’ll view a Confederate Powder Magazine from the Civil War era and remains of many sites from the 1800’s still visible along the track.  The train will stop about half-way for the Train Battle of Port Jefferson.  The live steam train is a restored antique Crown Metals built in 1964.  The open-canopied observation cars provide an excellent view of this exciting event along the river. 

Historic Jefferson Railway

400 E. Austin

Jefferson, TX 75657

General Information, info@jeffersonrailway.com or 866-398-2038


Media Contact: Melissa Moit, Manager, 903-742-2041

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