Rarely, if ever, has a sportswriter run columns on consecutive days covering PCA National Advisory Board Members. Clearly, no columnist had ever written so eloquently on back-to-back days about the traits and behaviors that earn spots on our Board until the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh did so on January 19 and 20 with columns on Curtis Granderson and Chris Collins, respectively.
You can see the Power of Positive in the following excerpt from Haugh’s column on Granderson:
In a letter to his future self as part of a New Balance ad campaign, baseball philanthropist Curtis Granderson issued a personal challenge.
"Be the change you want to see in the world — paving the way for others much like others paved the way for you,'' the Mets outfielder posted on his Twitter account. "Stay humble. Stay true. Never forget where you came from or the sacrifices made by those before you.''
In other words, don't change at all.
Few professional athletes commit themselves to their communities like Granderson, the pride of Thornton Fractional South and UIC who never forgot what former Tigers manager Jim Leyland told him about responsibility early in his career.
"Jim said, 'You have to remember that for some of these people, the few hours they get to watch you play will be the most excitement or most positive thing they'll experience all week so keep that in mind when you're representing yourself,'' said Granderson, Wednesday's speaker at the Positive Coaching Alliance scholarship dinner.
"I got a chance to witness that firsthand,'' Granderson said. "The economy was struggling in factories, homeowners losing jobs, offices closing, Detroit failing. But the Pistons and Red Wings were playing well, the Tigers had gone to the World Series in 2006. … And with all the negative publicity, people still came to games and wore their jerseys. The stadiums were packed. The bars were full.''
No, Granderson isn't suggesting bringing people together through sports stops thugs from killing each other. Nobody is that naive. But the 35-year-old Blue Island native believes sports can break down many racial, ethnic and socioeconomic barriers that divide cities so evil can conquer.
"Sports do so much for not only young people that want to play it but people who watch it and want to shut off from the reality of the world and enjoy it,'' Granderson said. "In stadiums, you see old people sitting with young people, white people sitting with black people, men sitting with women, everyone just having a good time.''
For his own offseason enjoyment, Granderson uses his foundation — Grand Kids — to improve the quality of life in the Chicago area. Whether donating $5 million to his alma mater, leading food drives with grocers or helping knit hats for kids with cancer, Granderson sprays to all fields when it comes to philanthropy. To the man who won the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes the player with baseball's biggest social conscience, every dollar makes a difference and every motive matters — especially in Chicago.
This Haugh column on Collins gives a glimpse into how tough it is to be a positive coach.
Inconsistency threatened to define Scottie Lindsey's Northwestern career, but coach Chris Collins desperately sought a different meaning.
So one day last spring, Collins summoned Lindsey to his office. He invited the truth, too, which the former Fenwick star had been avoiding on campus.
"Coach just called me out, right there," Lindsey recalled inside Welsh-Ryan Arena. "He said he needed me to work harder, be a better teammate and leader, do the stuff they recruited me for, stop wasting time and making excuses. It was the turning point for me."
Collins remembered raising the standards for Lindsey without having to raise his voice.
"It wasn't yelling, just a tough meeting," Collins said. "The thing about it I loved was, because who Scottie is, I felt like I could say those things. It was time to have that conversation. There was too much up and down his first two years. … He needed to buy in."
With a columnist like David Haugh catching people doing things right, even while considering critically the deeper meanings and impacts of their behaviors, it is just a matter of time before positive is the new normal.