Is it Too Late for the NFL to Change Its Image?

NFL Needs Some Good News

by Anne Montgomery

The NFL has a perception problem. Domestic abuse, child abuse, cheating. Understandably, our most popular and lucrative team spectator sport is trying to rid itself of a host of bad press, much of which has threatened to alienate close to half the league’s fans.

It may come as a shock to some football buffs, but about 45% of the NFL’s fan base is female. Women spend roughly 1.5 billion dollars annually on team memorabilia, half the league’s total sales. The NFL’s market value is listed at 45 billion dollars, equal almost to Starbucks. Now imagine if the company that provides your morning latte disregarded half its clientele.

Those at the helm of the NFL understand they have a PR problem and have scrambled in an effort to eradicate the idea that they regard women as second-class citizens. Last September, the league hired four women, who, according to Commissioner Roger Goodell, will work “on the development and implementation of the league’s policies, resources and outreach on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault.” Admittedly, a good start, assuming the group actually has any real power.

Then the NFL hired a female official. Sarah Thomas will take the field this season, the first woman to don stripes and toss a yellow flag for the league. Also a positive step, though it’s easy to question the timing of this hire. Clearly, the NFL could have put a woman in the officiating ranks earlier, but why quibble.

Now, the Arizona Cardinals have announced that they have “hired” a woman to coach the team’s linebackers. Media outlets blared the information with almost giddy abandon. One had to go fairly deep into most news articles to discover that Dr. Jen Welter, who holds a master’s degree in sports psychology and a Ph.D. in psychology, is, in fact, an intern with the team, which by definition means “a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, at a trade or occupation in order to gain work experience.” (Imagine, holding a Ph.D. and being asked to intern.) Welter has played and coached in women’s leagues, still, at this time, she is not projected to be working with the Cardinals come kickoff on opening day of the regular season.

While the Cardinals appear to have independently come up with the idea of bringing Welter on board, one can’t help but wonder if NFL executives – read the Commissioner’s office – didn’t send down some double top-secret directive to all teams: Find a place for women now!

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been an NFL fan for most of my life. Despite the league’s foibles, there’s probably little they can do to drive me away from my TV come Sunday. Still the NFL would be wise to consider the concerns of all of its fans, lest it drop that golden egg and no longer find itself listed as the highest-grossing sport league in the world.

Now, if we could just get them to do something about those cheerleaders.

Anne Montgomery was interviewed by Fox News. Click here to read or watch what Anne had to say.

Not only is Anne Montgomery a sports aficionado, she is also a passionate author. Here is a little from her latest mystery.

A Light in the Desert traces the story of a pregnant teenager who bears an odd facial deformity, a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper who, as he descends into the throes of mental illness, latches onto the girl, and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

The Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst’s, a deadly act of sabotage. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters make camp by the twisted wreckage of the Sunset Limited. As the search for the saboteurs continues, the authorities find more questions than answers. The girl mysteriously vanishes, the assassin struggles to maintain his sanity, and a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

To read more from A Light in the Desert please click a vendor’s name:
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Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

When Will it Stop Being About the Money?

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For a long time our healthcare in this country (US) has operated more like health(s)care. This is not a reflection of the doctors or nurses who invest so much of themselves into helping sick people get better. I have had the great fortune of having wonderful doctors with tremendous bedside manners watch over my health, as well as caring and devoted nurses who have made my time spent in hospitals as comfortable as one could hope for.

The problem with America’s healthcare is the system. It’s all about the money, and when the bottom-line is always priority, sick people lose. This is a sad and dangerous sentiment when we’re talking about people’s lives. Those who need their medical treatment and medications to keep their hearts beating, or their lungs filled with air, never really have a decent night’s sleep because they know if God forbid they, or their spouse, loses their job, and subsequently, their insurance coverage, they will never be able to afford the outrageous price of insurance on their own.

No one can be assured the next job they apply for will have good insurance. Strong health benefits, as well as pensions and 401(k)’s, are slowly disappearing from employers’ packages to workers. There are many claims that companies like Walmart are deliberately cutting weekly employee hours so their workers won’t qualify for health insurance. Why? Because Health insurance is expensive and, like everything in business, it’s all about the money.

Up until a few short years ago a person could be denied insurance coverage just for being sick. Pre-existing conditions is what they called it. Insurance companies didn’t want to offer insurance to people who might actually have to use it. So the unlucky millions of Americans who had the audacity to get sick while not having insurance, (didn’t matter if they lost their jobs through no fault of their own like a company closure, or mandatory lay-offs) those individuals were deemed “uninsurable.”  At the same time, a stigma was placed on people without insurance as being “irresponsible freeloaders.”

During the 2012 presidential campaign, health insurance was a hot topic (still is) because President Barack Obama passed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (Yes! Obama Cares! Thank you Republicans for a great nickname). I remember vividly Republican Presidential candidates Gov. Rick Perry and Gov. Mitt Romney expressing their opinion that people needed to keep continuous insurance coverage to assure coverage when they suddenly got sick. The issue of hard-working people losing their jobs, and not being able to afford programs like Cobra, never came up. If one couldn’t afford high premiums it seemed to be their own fault for being poor.

Obamacare gave us some well-needed regulations in the practices of insurance companies. One practice Obama put an end to is the pre-exisiting conditions clause. Insurance companies can no longer deny a person for being sick. Alleluia. My only wonder is why the hell did the American people put up with this kind of a system anyway? Obama cited watching his mother fighting with insurance companies when she was diagnosed with cancer as his motivation for taking on the healthcare in this county, and thank God he did.

How many sons, daughter, wives, husband, mothers, and fathers watched their loved ones die because either insurance companies denied them, or the companies had found ways not to cover the treatment needed to save their loved-one’s life (yes, insurance companies were (are) very good at finding reasons to deny certain procedures).

Why did it take so long for something to be done? Easy. Insurance companies are powerful. According to ThinkProgress.org, United Health Group made a profit of 2.1 billion dollars in 2013. Two billion dollars buys a lot fancy lobbyists with plenty of incentives to offer members of congress to vote for policies that favor insurance companies.

Insurance companies are powerful, and, when standing alone, people are weak, but standing together…?

I don’t know why we, the people, never stood together as a country to put an end to the greed that lines CEO’s pockets off the backs of sick and dying people. It’s quite repulsive when one imagines a wealthy CEO making hundreds of millions of dollars a year (base and stock options), flying in private jets with all the luxuries, while a family huddles around the bedside of a dying loved one who possibly could have been saved if not for the unscrupulous practices of some insurance companies.

When sick people are deemed “undesirable”, a lack of human compassion is expressed when decisions and policies are made that affect sick people’s lives.

Take the profit out of healthcare. A single payer system is what we need.

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Spiritual Journey

At the beginning of the new year I made a commitment to daily yoga practice and meditation. Like an excited new student eager to learn, I dove in the uncharted waters of Buddhism with the hope that this spiritual journey would help answer all of life’s mysteries.

It went well for a while, but soon my devotion drifted as the snowy weather transformed to sunny skies, and distraction got the best of me. Daily practice turned into three times a week. I let myself get lost, but if I have not yet found my compass, I may at least know which direction to look for it.

I’m meditating again. I’m training my mind to be still. This isn’t easy, but it wasn’t meant to be. To help me from losing my way, I recite my favorite verses taught by the Buddha.

“Don’t try to build your happiness on the unhappiness of others. You will be enmeshed in a net of hatred.”

“Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Joy follows a pure thought like a shadow that never leaves.”

“As an archer aims an arrow, the wise ail their restless thoughts, hard to aim, hard to restrain.”

“A trained mind brings health and happiness. The wise can direct their thoughts…wherever they choose.”

“Do not give attention to what others do or fail to do; give it to what you do or fail to do.”

“One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand men on the battlefield.”

“Be victorious over yourself and not over others. When you attain victory over yourself, not even the gods can turn it into defeat.”

“Wake up! Don’t be lazy. Follow the right path, avoid the wrong. You will be happy here as well as hereafter.”

“Give up anger, give up pride, and free yourself from worldly bondage. No sorrow can befall those who never try to possess people and things as their own.”

“Refrain from evil deeds, which cause suffering later. Perform good deeds, which can cause no suffering.”

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Gardening Tips and a New Release by Emma Lane

by Emma Lane

Gardens grow of their own volition. You labor with the lay out and lovingly place the plants. By the third year, your garden has selected what it will and will not accept. But it’s gorgeous, healthy and you wouldn’t change a single thing. (Okay, maybe you’ll move that fragrant dianthus in front of that balloon flower which is taller.) Some of it is your fault because you couldn’t resist that church sale and your neighbor shared several perennials. Status normal. Allow your garden nostalgia. You show it off by saying, “I got that one for next to nothing on sale, Susan Smith gave me that one when she moved to Florida, I miss her so! My mother-in-law finally broke down and shared that rose. Would you believe how she can make cuttings and root them?” This iris came from … and that one came from…

SEASONAL: Do plan spring shrubs/bulbs which are so welcome. Fall red/yellow leaves.

INVASIVE: When someone mentions the plant is invasive, believe it! I love the golden blooms of Rudbeckia Goldstrum, but it will take over if given the chance. Plant it way over there where you can mow it if need be; same with any sort of mint.

PARTNERSHIPS: Delphenium back up to fences almost poetically, a partnership. Peonies are almost small bushes. I love to make a back ground hedge row from them. Yellow coreopsis and red yarrow are made in heaven for hot colors.

FRIENDSHIP: The deer, rabbits, groundhog, the neighbor’s pets, etc have destroyed some of your hard work? This is your opportunity to share and discover new friends. What better way to become acquainted? You’ll learn to laugh and maybe learn new gardening secrets while you commiserate.

Now that your garden is all you want it to be, take a good book and relax in all that beauty. May I suggest my new release?

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?

EXCERPT
Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.

As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.

Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.
“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.

As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.

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Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Shifting Hearts by Dominique Eastwick

Multi published author Dominique Eastwick has a new paranormal romance you will want to read over again. Shifting Hearts is Book 1 in the captivating Wiccan Haus series. Be sure to get your copy and snuggle in with a sexy shape-shifter.

The last of his kind…

Rekkus is the last of the great Black Tiger weres, and he’s happy to stay that way. Working as head of security for the Wiccan Haus, a magical spa for inner healing, he has enough danger to keep him busy. Unfortunately, the Fates are not content with him being comfortable.

Alone and discouraged…

Dana has walked away from everything—her fiancé, family, job, and apartment. A stay at the Wiccan Haus may be the only way she can move on. But what she finds isn’t what she expects, nor is it what she thought she’d been seeking.

If they can open themselves up they might discover that being together can be better than being alone and learn that passion can burn in those who least expect it.

Meet the unusual residents of the Wiccan Haus.

The staff can get a little hairy, and not all of the guests eat what’s served in the dining hall. But the Rowan siblings do what they can to make the resort a place of healing and peace, using all of their years of practice. At the Haus, where humans and paranormals reside side by side, everyone in need of the services are welcome. If some happens to fall in love then all the better.

Welcome to the Wiccan Haus.

EXCERPT
“It’s not safe for you here with me. I left you alone last night, but, if you stay, I’m not sure I can honor a request to stop a second time.”

“I felt it, too,” she blurted, unable to keep it to herself any longer.

Rekkus moved so fast, she never saw him actually take a step. Strong, wet arms wrapped around her, and her breasts pressed against his chest. His eyes searched hers. He must have seen what he searched for because his lips were on hers with feverous desire before she formed another thought, demanding she open for him. And no part of her considered denying him anything. Butterflies churned in her stomach until she shook. In all the years with Frank, and it had been a great many, she’d never felt this, like fire threatened to engulf her.

Dana wound her arms around his neck, running her fingers through his damp hair and deepening the kiss. His moan allowed her to gather the nerve and strength to urge him forward. He forced her past her comfort zone into accepting the sexy seductress screaming to be let out. She knew what he most desired because she wanted it too. Wanted him, all of him, every naked inch, right there, next to the lake, not even a ten-minute walk from the Haus. Anyone might stumble across them, and she didn’t care. It almost added to the allure of having him. What she needed it to be.

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Award-Winning author Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat. Because of that, traveling is one of her favorite pasttimes. When not writing you can find Dominique with her second love…her camera.

Learn more about Dominique Eastwick on her website, blog, and Amazon author page. Be sure to join her Newsletter for up to the minute info on new releases, contests, and more.

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Who Defines What a Hero Is?

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This emotional picture recently popped up on my Facebook Newsfeed with the caption, “If Bruce Jenner wants to be a woman, so be it. His body – he can do what he wants to it. But please – stop calling it heroic, courageous & brave because it isn’t. This is heroic, courageous & brave………”

The above statement screams ignorance. Yes, the picture above is very heroic, courageous, and brave, but who gets to decide what’s heroic, courageous, and brave, and what isn’t? To people not dealing with gender issues or feeling they were born in the wrong body, Caitlyn Jenner may seem to only be playing “dress-up.” But for those struggling with this issue, and hating the bodies they live in, and fearing they will spend their ENTIRE lives never able to express on the outside, the person they know they are on the inside, Caitlyn Jenner is a hero because she’s shown them they no longer have to hide in shame, or kill themselves because they don’t know what else to do.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Sun-times, 41% of transgender individuals have tried to kill themselves at one point in their life. 41 percent! To put that number in perspective, according to a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, 4.6% of the general public have attempted suicide in their life. One doesn’t need to be a mathematician to notice the significant difference in those numbers.

The two transgender individuals who were interviewed in the Sun-Times article had both attempted to end their life, and did so because they were constantly “harassed, bullied, victimized, discriminated against, or rejected by family and friends….” A suicide attempt came at the age of 13 for one of the individuals, and as a freshman in high school for the other.

They were kids. Children. Minors. At an age when most young people are excited about their future, dreaming of being a famous baseball player, or imagining themselves as the next Taylor Swift, there are kids who have already bore so much pain that they give up on life. Feeling hopeless enough by the time they hit their teen years that ending their life seems like the better option.

According to doctors and mental health experts,suicide prevention for anyone begins with acceptance and kindness, especially by one’s parents.

Love One Another. Be Tolerant. Show Compassion.

If the solution to saving lives seems so simple, then why are so many people still suffering? Simple answer? Because not everyone loves one another. Even some of the most holier than thou people don’t truly “Love Thy Neighbor.” Nor does everyone practice tolerance or show compassion. It’s much easier to ridicule the lives we don’t understand.

The caption above is a perfect example of how we judge others and put each other down.

Caitlyn Jenner may not be YOUR kind of a hero, but she’s the perfect hero to someone out there.

*The quotes came from an article in the Chicago Sun-Times. The article was used as a reference for this blog.

The picture came from Facebook. I do not own it. If it violates and copyright law I will remove it.

Note: After their failed suicide attempts, the individuals in the article received good care, despite some discrimination in healthcare. Not all medical professional are properly trained in dealing with transgender health issues. This is just another obstacle transgender people have to endure.