Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Final Four

The blue and white Villanova sign sat quietly on the rear window of car stopped at a red light. As the rains are sure to visit us in April, so to will the final four and the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game on Monday night. The spectacle of the championship game is marred each year by allegations against either a coach or player for some rule violation. Academic ineligibility, bribery and players illegally accepting gifts from agents seems to top the list each year.

This year its Jim Calhoun, coach of the University of Connecticut Men's Basketball team. Players who receive full basketball scholarships are not supposed to accept cash, gifts or other forms of monetary compensation while playing for their respective teams. For some strange reason, poor kids who create unimaginable revenue streams for their schools should not be compensated, except for their athletic scholarships.

If the NCAA is concerned about the moral sanctity of collegiate sports, they can simply increase the value of the scholarships awarded to their players. The difference between the cost of actually attending school and what's left over should be evenly distributed in equal monthly payments during the school year. This would allow poor kids on campus to meet basic necessities like clothes, food and miscellaneous expenses. Those of us who have attended college understands the cost of a good education.

This system is fair and just. People who create revenue should not be denied fair compensation simply because of an institution's moral perception. It's time to pay these kids a living wage. After all, they are only filling stadiums seating thousands of rowdy fans, plus millions in merchandising and television revenue.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cold Turkey

What does quitting cold turkey have to do with the current job market? Everything. The New York Times ran a great story in Thursday's business column about employment-preparedness. The usual suspects were made bare. Updated catchy resumes, proper formatting and free links to professional resume sites.

I could not help but wonder that there was no mention of the all important self. When an employer hires someone, they are not simply hiring a resume, curriculum vitae, credentials and techno-savvy websites. While these attributes might serve as one's ultra academic ego, in the end, employers are hiring the "self." The media is abuzz these days with news about the unemployed and the blow-by-blow statistics that tallies the jobless.

For some of us who have jobs, the daily tidings to work is equivalent to traversing a daily obstacle course fraught with unimaginable hazards. Confidants are quietly discussing issues that they've never dealt with in the past. Undue stress, panic attacks, anxiety, feelings of helplessness, longer hours at work and an inability to cope, just to mention a few. What's even worse is the deepening fear and anxiety of speaking out and reasserting basic rights in the workplace. Activities like lunch breaks and bathroom breaks are frowned upon in some work settings. Time off is sometimes equated with a dirty four letter word.

This might sound a bit insane, but as the economy slowly recovers, some employees will have to quit their daily nightmares cold turkey! A stressed-out perspective employee is a liability, not an asset to potential employers. Saving at least three months of expenses before quitting your nightmare cold turkey is the way to go.

Depending on the circumstances, one may not have that option. While individuals must survive, it makes no sense to lose thy soul, spirit and self, simply because the economy is in shambles. Remember that you are the one being hired, not a summary of your work experience technical expertise, accomplishments, affiliations and the like. if you're stressed-out these attributes are irrelevant.