Roy Kessel Vision * Leadership * Solutions Tue, 14 May 2019 23:36:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Power Brain Launches Tue, 14 May 2019 23:24:49 +0000

Starting a new business venture is always a lot of work. People who have never launched a business underestimate the amount of time, money and stress that is involved (not to mention the lost sleep). So then you would ask yourself why I would go down this direction again. Well, the reality is that the challenge is energizing. There is an enormous feeling of accomplishment when you are able to get something off of the ground and make it successful.

So when I was presented with the opportunity to get involved with John Kennedy who has been teaching neuroplasticity for the last 10 years and developed a system called “Combat Brain Training” I was intrigued. I looked into the system, went thru a few demonstrations of the system, and did the research to see whether I felt it was a viable business model. Having been involved in the brain and concussion space since I founded Sports Brain in 2011, I have been looking for a way to continue that involvement within an environment that focuses of training and elevating the performance for so many distinct types of people and organizations.

We are preparing to run our first certification sessions in June and that will allow us to have people out in the community training a whole array of individuals who could benefit from improved neuroplasticity training.

While our Power Brain system can work for anyone, we intend to focus our efforts on five primary markets:

  • Sports
  • Education
  • Business
  • Military
  • Medical

I will definitely keep you updated as we fine tune the concept and role out the services in different markets. I hope that you will contact us if you have interest in learning more about our certification process or if you have a desire to receive Power Brain Training for yourself, your children, business partners, clients or organization’s board.

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Roy’s Ramble, May 12, 2019 Sun, 12 May 2019 22:03:24 +0000
  • Julia birthday—My daughter Julia is turning 18 next Friday.  Due to her busy schedule, we decided to celebrate this past Saturday night at Tsukasa in Vernon Hills.  It is one of our favorite birthday places because it is fun to have everyone in one place and getting a bit of a show while they cook the meals at the table.  I have been to other Japanese steakhouses but this one seems cleaner and has better food than most. I am always happy to have time with my kids and feel fortunate to be able to celebrate their happy occasions together.  We also had my parents, Sharon and my Uncle Dudley from Israel and his wife Sarah.  Special opportunity to have everyone together.
  • Howard Moore—Working in the Sports Philanthropy Network I have the pleasure of meeting and working with many passionate people who really want to make a difference in their communities.  Howard Moore and his energy are right near the top of the list.  His track record as a basketball coach is impressive and his recruiting abilities are some of the best.  But what I love the most is the “Legends taking back the Streets” program that he has put together in Chicago.  His ability to garner support from such a wide-array of legendary basketball players showcases his recruiting abilities and his passion for reducing gun violence is driven by his tragedy suffered when his uncle was killed in a drive-by shooting.  Howard is expanding his programs to Madison now and hosted a terrific event at Blackhawk Country Club.  Among the supporters at the event were former Badger stars Roy Boone and Alando Tucker.  Great to meet all of these players giving back to the community.
  • Mother’s Day—I feel very fortunate that my mom is still alive.  So many of my friends have lost their parents in recent years.  My mom has always been there for me and especially over the last 10 years she has been an incredible support.  Though we squabble at times, the love is never in question and we each do so many things to help the other thru their respective struggles.  She has always taken on a large burden of helping others thru their struggles and especially in raising Sharon.  I wish her a healthy year and wish that there was more that I could do to help improve her quality of life.
  • O’Hare parking—It has been a few years since I have used the remote parking at O’Hare.  Wow.  What a mess.  ORD has been way behind the times of getting a Car Rental Center like most other major airports have had for a decade or more.  Now, some of the parking lot areas are closed.  The shuttle bus system means you really need to arrive over 2 hours before a domestic flight.
  • Miami airport—While I thought ORD was bad, the Miami airport internal transit system was really not much better.  The long walk just to get to the train is a huge burden for elderly people and those with kids or a lot of bags.  I do want to thank the nice lady at Advantage Rent-A-Car who gave me a bottle of cold water!! That was very helpful.
  • Airline meetings—a friend from law school works for an aviation company and had me come down to Miami to consult on some difficulties they are having. Quite an experience seeing jet engines ripped apart and observing the painstaking process that they go thru to rebuild the engines.  The FAA regulations are oppressive but the overriding safety concerns justify the burden that they place on the industry.  Very interesting seeing the number of tools and parts that are needed to perform these services.
  • Bi-polar—had a chance to have dinner with a friend from National Young Leadership Cacbinet who suffers from bi-polar disorder.  It has been a few years since I have seen him and especially see that he is more balanced than he has been in many years.  The challenge with i-polar is how difficult it can be to regulate.  I hope he continues to maintain his status and continue to build up his business.
  • Steve—Many people are struggling in their businesses so it is a pleasure to see someone who is doing well and still makes so much time to do things in the community and help others.  My friend Steve from National Young Leadership Cabinet treated me to an afternoon of golf at Turnberry.  It was nice to catch up and spend some time together on a beautiful afternoon, one which was marred only by the errant golf shots we each sprayed into the water and bushes.  I feel fortunate to have so many good friends like Steve.
  • Aleph Institute—While I was at Oxford, the Aleph Institute was a great support for me.  They focus on serving those Jewish inmates who are incarcerated as well as Jewish members of the military.  I had not had the opportunity to get together with Rabbi Katz in person to thank him for his help and support so while I was in Miami for meetings I wanted to sit down with him and express my appreciation.  So much more work needs to be done to help those being released from jails and prisons and restore their confidence and their earning capacities.  I am going to work with Rabbi Katz to look at their program and see what I can do to help them put together a job placement type of re-entry program.
  • Irwin Goldman—One of my clients is Anthem which has developed a fantastic system for agriculture applications.  This light allows you to customize light cards so that each crop gets its the specific light that it needs instead of a standard light bulb or sunlight.  The benefit of the Anthem system is that allows a greater yield and produces a stronger, healthier plant.  Meeting with the Chair of the Horticulture Department at the University of Wisconsin, Irwin Goldman, it became apparent that there is a great need for this system.  It can benefit so many different crops, climates and growing environments.  It will be interesting to watch this process develop because it will ultimately change how agriculture is conducted and it will expedite the opportunities for indoor farming.
  • United Airlines—I have to say that I am generally not a fan of United Airlines.  Service was not terrific and the check-in process seemed much worse than American Airlines.  Once on the plane, the flight was okay and the service was pretty good.
  • Dudley/Sarah—It was great to see my Uncle and Aunt from Israel. It has been at least 5 years since I have had the chance to see them and it was special to have that opportunity to reconnect and to spend some time together. It was also nice to show them some of the sites around Chicago as we did a great drive down Sheridan Road starting from Lake Forest all the way down thru the Museum Campus.  They also got to see the Art Institute and parts of Millenium Park.
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Soloff Celebration a fitting tribute for decades of service Mon, 06 May 2019 22:48:21 +0000

After decades of serving as the leader of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, and in many fashions, the whole Ramah movement, Rabbi David Soloff was celebrated by over 500 people at Beth El at North Suburban in Highland Park, Illinois.

It was great to see so many familiar faces, including those much older and younger. Remember, when you are in Nivonim, the little pishers in Solelim hardly warrant a second glance. But once we all hit our 40’s and 50’s, that five year age gap is barely relevant.

Sadly, my aidah of Nivo 1981 didn’t even have 10 people in attendance but we still had fun reminiscing about some of the activities from the years at Camp.

But hearing the accolades for Rabbi Soloff from far and wide, it became apparent what a powerful force he was in raising the next generation of Jews, not only in Chicago, but really across the entire United States and also in Israel. His vision led the way to create programs that would grow with the times and would adapt to the changing requirements of the summer camp movements.

When I was at Ramah from 1979 to 1981, you were required to be there for the entire eight weeks. There were no other options. I went back to staff for three summers for Camp CHUSY, but those one week experiences, as great as they were, did not have the depth of a full Ramah summer experience.

One of the stories that resonated with me the most was my former Rosh Aidah Jeff Kopin telling the story of how Rabbi Soloff was stranded in Champaign, Illinois by a storm. He spent the evening at the college apartment of Kopin and a few of his chevre and told them that he had already identified them as the leaders of the next generation of young Jews.

One consistent theme throughout the evening was how energetic Rabbi Soloff was and how little he slept. If you have ever spent a week at summer camp, you know how much energy goes into it. So to be able to keep that pace up for 8 or 9 weeks and being the leader of everything going on throughout the compound, that energy is even more impressive.

Congratulations to Rabbi Soloff on his retirement, but for those of us that know him, that means he will probably just be cutting back to about 30 hours per week.

Rabbi, thank you for everything you have done for the Ramah community, the Chicago community and the Jewish community. We were lucky to have your leadership for such a long period of time.

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Roy’s Ramble, May 5, 2019 Mon, 06 May 2019 04:13:12 +0000

Here are some of my favorite images, humor and motivation from this past week, ending May 5, 2019

  • BBYO Dinner—It was so nice to see both kids enjoy themselves at the year-end BBYO dinner.  The energy in the room was tremendous and seeing the leadership from these high school kids was impressive.  They put together so many speeches and presentations and really learned a lot about themselves, their leadership abilities and their passions.  For those that were leaving the board it was an emotional moment.  For those that are coming on to the Regional Board for the first time, it was a tremendously proud moment, one which will lead to a lot of work, responsibility and excitement over the next year.
  • Joliet Slammers—It struck me somewhat incongruous to see a minor league baseball team naming itself after a prison.  Well, not exactly.  But the mascot J.L. Bird is pronounced as “Jailbird” and is depicted wearing prison stripes in the logo and images.  But the image itself notwithstanding, the Joliet Slammers are doing some terrific work in the community, engaging kids in schools and bringing other organizations out to the park to raise money.   You can listen to the podcast that we recorded with Lauren Rhodes and all of the details that she shared. Unfortunately, the weather was horrendous so we couldn’t get any great shots of the stadium, but we still found some interesting places.
  • Dare2Tri—I had the opportunity to sit down with Michelle Stroud, the Director of Development for Dare2Tri.  Fantastic to hear about the work that they do helping physically disabled athletes (many of them war veterans), learn to compete in a triathlon.  What struck me a lot from the conversations with Michelle was how many people they help and that the importance of selecting the triathlon model was to give each of these athletes the ability to exercise alongside their family members and friends.  This is a huge benefit to these athletes and their families.  Look for our upcoming feature on www.SportsPhlanthropyNetwork/blog.
  • Northwestern development.  Sitting down with Collin Sexton was an interesting experience.  As we discussed the progression of the Northwestern Athletic Department, it was apparent that Jim Phillips’ leadership as Athletic Director has been an enormous benefit for the whole university.  It will be interesting to follow whether Jim gets serious consideration for replacing Jim Delaney as the Big Ten Commissioner.  Jim Phillips has everything you could want in that role: class, vision, energy, passion and foresight.  The main question will be whether his lack of experience negotiating broadcast rights agreements will be a hindrance to his candidacy.
  • University of Wisconsin School of Business School—A foggy evening in the Sears Tower couldn’t stop the crowd of alums from the UW Business School from gathering to hear terrific speakers.   It is always interesting to see what direction people take after they complete their degrees and the breadth of the business school really gives people a lot of opportunity.
  • Sports Philanthropy World Congress—The excitement for the Sports Philanthropy World Congress on August 9, 2019 continues to build.  Each week we confirm more speakers and we are now about 60% complete with our speaker lineup.  We will continue to keep you updated as we finalize the speaker list and get more sponsors on-board with our vision and educational mission.
  • Podcast recordings—One of the things that I love working with the Sports Philanthropy Network is the ability to have in-depth conversations with people that are doing so much good in the world through non-profits, most of them sports related.  This week I had the opportunity to record podcasts with Amy Schiffman, Co-founder and Principal of Giving Tree Associates and Deon Thomas, Community Relations Coordinator for the University of Illinois System.  Amy shared so much insight into setting up and running a non-profit organization that I cannot wait for you to hear her podcast when it drops on May 15, 2019.  Deon provided tremendous insight into the work that he does as well as sharing with the audience the progress of his career from highly rated recruit, to all-time leading scorer for the University of Illinois to two European Championships with Maccabi Tel Aviv.  His podcast drops on May 8, 2019.  I think you will really enjoy both of them.
  • Calabash Gifts website—We are proud to finally announce the launch of the Calabash Gifts website at   It was too long in the making but will now be able to let people outside of Madison see the beautiful array of items that are displayed in the store.  You can also follow our social media accounts at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Dream On—Seeing a former student succeed is always terrific.  Seeing one like Kelli Haywood create a meaningful and impactful education focused non-profit from scratch is awe inducing.  Her energy is phenomenal and what she has been able to accomplish over her first five years has been remarkable.  It was an exciting week for Kelli as she celebrated her birthday, received a big award for her Foundation and hosted her Dream On Soiree which was a fantastic event.  You can see the full write up on the event here.
  • Soloff Tribute—Rabbi David Soloff was the leader of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin for  many years. He probably doesn’t want us to count how many!! . His energy and passion for the Ramah movement were unparalleled.  So it was fitting to see over 500 people show up to pay tribute  to him at a special event on May 5, 2019 at Beth El in Highland Park. The speeches were absolutely amazing and the energy and tributes to him illustrated the enormous impact he made on generations of young Jews around the country.
  • Kentucky Derby—There was lots of screaming and crying over the decision to disqualify Maximum Impact after he had won the Kentucky Derby.  What impressed me the most about the commentary and the reaction was that it was VERY different from what you see in the five major U.S. team sports.  Virtually everyone interviewed agreed that it was a foul and that in any other race, the horse would have been disqualified.  The only question was whether the stewards would have the guts to disqualify the winner.   For purposes of horse racing’s integrity, it is good that they did.  I have never understood or subscribed to the belief that the rules should be applied differently in the last few minutes or a competition, in overtime or in big games.  It is worse for every sport if the officials refused to make the calls that need to be made because then they are truly “deciding” the game. 
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Roy’s Ramble, April 28, 2019 Sun, 28 Apr 2019 21:45:51 +0000

Here are a few of my favorite images of humor, motivation and life from the week ending April 28, 2019.

  • Special Olympics event—Special Olympics Chicago held a fantastic event at Carnivale.  It was a huge turnout and a ton of energy and amidst the usual speeches from the board and others supporting the organization, it was terrific to see some of the Special Olympics athletes taking part in the celebration and posing for photos as celebrities.
  • Crain’s Chicago Business Chicago Cubs event—We all know the Cubs have made a huge amount of progress in the redevelopment of the area around Wrigley. It has been a tremendous undertaking which was spearheaded by Crane Kenney.  Nice to see him again after we had golfed together in law school and hear his perspectives about the challenges of making changes to the ballpark while trying to retain the characters (and the urinal troughs).
  • Tony Robbins event—I met Kayla at Tony Robbins last July, so it seemed appropriate that we went together to this most recent event in Chicago.  In addition to Tony Robbins, it was fantastic to hear from Kevin O’Leary (Shark Tank).  His harsh brashness has a sort of endearing quality to it, something that seems impossible, but he pulls it off.  Gary Vaynerchuk also got on the stage and in between the f-bombs, Gary gave some frank advice.  He has tremendous energy and passion and he has no qualms about calling people out for their BS.  Tony Robbins came on to bat cleanup for the event and despite a depleted look and his recent illness, he managed to really put a ton of energy on display. It was “only” 4 hours for him, instead of the usual 4 days, but his passion and ability to push people the right direction continues to amaze me. So much has changed in my life since I went to the first event last July it is almost amazing. Great new energy and people in my life and I definitely learned a lot about myself. I would encourage you to attend one of his events if you have the opportunity (or I should really say you need to “make” the opportunity).
  • Simon’s Heart—It was a pleasure having time to talk with long-time friend Darren Sudman, the Founder of Simon’s Heart.  Darren started the organization after his son had passed away and he has spent many years building up the organization to make sure that his tragedy will help other families. Both Darren and his wife Phyllis have been remarkable at their ability to grow the organization and I hope you will listen to his Sports Philanthropy Podcast which is coming up on June 19, 2019.
  • Prom—Julia had a fantastic time at prom. It seems like it has become a much bigger event than I remember, but maybe that is just because I didn’t go.  I joke that I was waiting for one of the girls to invite me and since that never happened, I stayed at home.  Sadly, they had brutal weather including a horrific, late April snow storm that made photographs challenging.  In addition to the actual prom, they had a group of 30+ kids rent a house down in the city and spent Saturday night and Sunday night there since Monday was Senior ditch day.  Sounds like they had a great time even with some of the mom’s that were chaperones.
  • Evans Scholars—I love hearing about how different organizations use sports for social good and/or social change.  I am impressed by the creative ways different organizations help harness the power that sports has.  Evans Scholars has really built a long track record of providing support which allows former caddies to get support for their college careers.  Sitting down for lunch with Ryan Jones, the Director of Development really opened my eyes into the scale of the operation and the complexity of managing so many different board structures, country club environments and other groups that are aligned with Evans Scholars.  I hope you will tune in to learn more their work when Ryan joins the Sports Philanthropy Podcast on June 19, 2019.  I know it will be very interesting. 
  • NFL Draft—The NFL Draft is culmination of a long football career for many athletes.  The emotions are amazing to watch. Some interesting facts that many casual (and even hard-core) football fans don’t know, include: 
  • These are the players that are identified as the best in college football. 
  • Approximately 1500 players sign with agents each year. 
  • Approximately 330 of them are invited to the NFL Combine. 
  • Only 250 players get drafted (meaning only just over 2/3 of the players at the Combine get drafted). 
  • About another 350 get signed as undrafted free agents. 
  • Doing the math, that means that only about 40% of the players who signed with an agent even get INTO a NFL Training Camp. 
    Very difficult business for the players and very difficult business model for the agents. 
  • Power Brain—Excited to start working on a new client called Power Brain.  This is a neuroplasticity brain training system which has been used in a variety of settings including military, business and sports.  The founder of the system has engaged us to work with him to expand the operations and scale the business.  Some terrific applications that exist for this program to be able to benefit so many people.  Keep your eyes open here and I will share more details over the coming weeks and coming months. 
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Crain’s Breakfast takes look behind the scenes of the renovations at Wrigley Wed, 24 Apr 2019 23:08:42 +0000

Though the game itself was not starting until after 7 p.m., Wrigley Field was still hopping at 7:30 a.m. when the Crain’s breakfast crowd poured into the venue to listen to the insight from Ryne Sandburg and Cubs executive Crane Kenney.

It was great to see Crane again as we used to play golf together during our law school days. I was very interested to hear his insight into the renovation process and his remarks did not disappoint.

While most in the audience were interested to hear Ryne’s words, I always like hearing the business perspectives behind the sports success. Ryne spoke about how much more space and how many more staff people the Cubs have now since the Ricketts family took over the operations. The numbers are staggering.

Crane talked about how he evaluated other iconic sports and entertainment venues around the country and even overseas as he started the process of determining how to best make the renovations for Wrigley. Of particular interest was how the focus groups responded to alterations to various design elements. There was never any question that the marquee would not go away, the bleachers would remain and the scoreboard would stay in place. But Crane did not expect the big uproar over the the bathroom renovations, especially when there was a discussion about possibly removing the troughs from the men’s room.

The Ricketts family has taken over a lot of real estate in the area and has transformed the neighborhood into an entertainment complex that provides many opportunities for the fans. One of the biggest changes was the array of private clubs housed within Wrigley that can provide a variety of upscale options for those entertaining at the game.

Some beautiful, if pricy, options, give terrific sight lines into Wrigley while still allowing a lot of comfort, food and drink.

As I say every time I leave a sports venue, I am amazed at the enormous operational infrastructure that it takes to pull off a sporting event. Fans take so much for granted and gripe up a storm if something does not go smoothly, but there are SO MANY moving parts and the coordination that it takes to create the comfortable environment is impressive.

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Roy’s Ramble, April 21, 2019 Mon, 22 Apr 2019 04:28:03 +0000

Here are a few of my favorite images, cartoons and humor from the week:

  • Passover—It was fantastic to be able to celebrate the Seders with my parents and Sharon this year.  It has been far too long since we were able to do that.  The second seder at my friends in Chicago was terrific.  Lots of young people and lots of energy.  I think the highlight of the Seder was the fact that they handed out little rubber frogs, plastic grasshoppers and small cotton balls for people to throw around the table as we read off the 10 plagues.
  • Game Changers at Chicago White Sox—On a cool evening, with a small crowd, the Chicago White Sox hosted a Game Changers event with an impressive panel discussion in recognition of Jackie Robinson Day.  You can read a full overview of the event here, but the fact that we still struggle so much with racism in this country is disturbing.  It would be great to have a day when people who judge and treat each person as an individual.  Sadly, we are a long way from that.
  • Ament Celebration of Life—My close friend Neil Ament passed away in December, at far too young of an age.  His daughter arranged a beautiful Celebration of Life at one of his favorite places in Highland Park/Highwood.  It was nice to share stories and meet more people whose lives he had touched.  Neil was a huge Wisconsin Badger fan and was an on-field photographer for many Wisconsin Football games.  For anyone interested, we are holding a golf event and BBQ in his honor on Sunday, June 30, 2019.  If you would like to join us, please let me know. 
  • Kids dinner—One thing that strikes me each time I have the privilege of having dinner with my kids, is how rapidly they grow up.  I used to be able to plan so many things for us to do together and loved every second of it (well, virtually every second).  Now, it is tough to get on their calendar with all of their activities, school, friends, BBYO and the hectic teenage life.  I am so fortunate to have them in my life and share so many experiences together.  I feel horrible for many of the divorced parents out there who are denied access to their children or the ability to share in all of their happiness, struggles and day-to-day activities.  Don’t take it for granted.
  • Easter—I always love seeing people being able to celebrate special occasions with their families and loved ones.  It is something that I never take for granted and my empathy goes out to those that are not able to do so due to illness, death, finances or incarceration.  If you were privileged enough to be able to do that, be thankful.  Too often I see people complain about the “family stress” and they never really enjoy what they had until someone has passed away.
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Can we grant others the second chance given to Tiger? Mon, 15 Apr 2019 04:21:02 +0000
Why do we struggle to give others the benefit of the second chance that Tiger Woods was given? Imagine how many people this could help.


That is truly the only word that came to mind watching Tiger’s win at Augusta.  It was an impressive performance, even if it didn’t require him to shoot a lights-out round as he watched his nearest competitors dump ball after ball into Rae’s Creek on #12.   We will leave out the editorial comments on their shot selections aimed at the far right of the bunker, instead of playing for the middle of that green with the tournament on the lineshocking mistakes for players that have been around long enough to know better.

As the accolades for Tiger poured in over the last few days (all well-deserved), it got me thinking about how unlikely it was.  Not Tiger’s performance, but the fact that so many people wanted to see him do well.  As a society, we often hear about the desire to see someone comeback from a past mistake. 

But the sidelines are littered with athletes, entertainers, coaches, media members and others whose mistake was one simple act or misstatement.  Most of them do not receive the same type of support.

We see millions of Americans who have been through the criminal justice system. Virtually none of them are given much support in their second chance efforts.

Why is that?  What distinguishes the cases in which a person is crucified for life for one small mistake, and another is seemingly easily forgiven for his transgressions? 

Addiction cannot be the answer because many of the individuals who are ex-communicated from college and pro sports teams were arguably facing the same types of addiction issues.

I do not claim to have the answers to this question, but I do find it fascinating.  I wonder how much more we could accomplish as a society if employers, schools, spouses, sports leagues and media companies would grant this same level of forgiveness and support to those in their midst who needed it.

So each time you hear someone cheering on Tiger, take a minute to think through your own life and see who could use that support from you!!

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Roy’s Ramble, April 14, 2019 Sun, 14 Apr 2019 20:24:31 +0000

Each week I take a quick look at some of the stories and news that I found most interesting.  This space will include some sports, but not all of the sports stories that I normally follow in the areas of sports philanthropy, sports law, sports business, Jewish sports, concussions and otherwise.  If you want to see more of what I am following in those areas, let me know and I can point you to the best spots on my blogs and websites.  You will see that I love to find some of life’s little absurdities and point those out as well as other interesting stories that I follow.



  • Concussion research advance.   One big story this week was the study released by Boston University which seems to bring us closer to being able to diagnose CTE in living people. While the diagnosis alone will not get us where we need to be, it will allow a much more rapid progression in the identification of the disease and give us some ability to work on treatments.
  • Daylight Time vs. Standard Time.             So if you are in Chicago, in April, does an invitation for 7 p.m. CST mean 7 p.m. CDT? Or is the person sending a stealth invitation for 7 p.m. MDT?  I am not sure why this concept is so difficult.  But there are a large number of people (and media) that incorrectly publish times for an event in Standard Time when we are in Daylight Time.  Part of me always wants to email back to them to ask whether 7 p.m. CST really meant that, or whether they meant 7 p.m. Central Daylight Time.  I am sure they are only confused because we spend many more months on Daylight Time than we do on Standard Time
  • Night for Victory.                             The Northwestern Gridiron Network held a beautiful event at the Godfrey Hotel on Saturday night.  Fantastic venue on the rooftop lounge.  Impressive turnout to raise money that they were targeting for customized helmets, allegedly to reduce concussions.  While better equipment can help, I am always wary of players feeling unduly” safe in particular equipment.  The rooftop setting itself was beautiful and the Purple Arch Venture hosts did an impressive job with the decorations.  Take a look at these photos.
  • Alley-Oop to Alliyah. My friend David Goldstein from Toronto was in Chicago for a couple of Lunch and Learns” where he spoke about his book Alley-Oop to Alliyah. It is an impressive piece of work about the trail of African-American basketball players that have moved on to play professional basketball in Israel, and how their presence in Israel has made an impact on their lives as well as on the lives of the Israeli’s around them. Many of them have chosen to remain in Israel after their playing careers because they felt that they were treated better in Israel than in most other places that they have lived. If you would like to have David visit your community, let me know and I can put you in contact with him. I think you will enjoy the presentation and I know that I am looking forward to reading the book.
  • Diverticulitis.    Typically spending a whole day in the urgent care clinic and the ER are not fun.  And this past Tuesday was spent in that fashion.  But instead of being aggravated with the slow” service, I was thankful for how quickly things were handled, how fortunate I was to be able to receive that type of medical care and how ultimately they only found something that was a short term issue.   Diverticulitis is much better than a burst appendix or dozens of other options that it could have been.  The biggest problem was not the pain, but the effect of two heavy anti-biotics that knocked me out for much of the week.  I rarely take any type of meds for pain so I was surprised to feel so sluggish and lethargic.  I dragged myself out to a few meetings, but really didn’t start feeling better until Sunday.
  • NCAA Men’s Championship Game.         I was happy to see Virginia win the National Championship because I am a fan of Tony Bennett.  A tremendous turnaround from last season when Virginia became the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed.   I like Bennett’s leadership style and have followed him since his playing days at UWGB.  Virginia had two of the most improbable wins that I have ever seen in their Elite 8 win against Purdue and semifinal win against Auburn.   When Purdue poked that ball into the backcourt and less than 5 seconds remained, the odds of Virginia pulling that out had to be under 5%.  With 10 seconds left in the Auburn game, the odds might have been even lower.
  • Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame.       I have never been to this dinner event before, but with my friend Al Bernstein being inducted, it was fantastic to see over 600 people in the crowd to honor him.   The energy in the room was impressive and this was one of the best limos that I have ever seen.
  • JNF Lawyers Breakfast. Held the day after the Israeli election, this breakfast took a bit of a detour to examine the results of the election and challenges that will be faced in putting together a new government.  Israel always has political challenges but this particular election may hold the fate of some of the biggest decision’s in the country’s history.
  • Traction.              I was invited to an interesting lunch presentation by a company called Insperity.  The presentation focused on a book called Traction and the system for helping a business analyze how to prepare themselves for growth.   The presentation took us through a process called EOS (Entrepreneur Operating System) but the presentation itself was probably better suited to a small group for a working session than for a lunch presentation.  But the substance of the presentation had some terrific content and if you are interested in hearing more about it I can connect you to my host.
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Alley Oop to Aliyah Sat, 13 Apr 2019 19:49:45 +0000
Alley Oop to Aliyah

For any of you that have spent time in Israel, you know that sports are a big part of the culture.  One of the enduring themes has been Maccabi Tel Aviv competing in European Championship games using African-American players who were not able to get (or stay) in the NBA.

My friend David Goldstein from Toronto, wrote a book entitled Alley Oop to Aliyah: African American Hoopsters in the Holy Land.”  David is a long-time colleague from the Sports Lawyers Association and he spent many years researching and writing the book.

Listening to his presentation was extremely interesting, because he came at it not from the basketball perspective but from the cultural phenomenon that it represents.  David explained how his early interest in the story was driven by the passion his grandmother’s friends exhibited when talking about a Toronto Raptors player who had spent some time in Israel.  Their excitement when they heard David was from Toronto went beyond any reasonable relationship or rooting interesting in the local team.

According to David, over 800 players have made their way to Israel since the first known player Alcie Perry, who was a stalwart in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 1977 European Championship, perhaps one of the most important sporting events in Israeli sports history.  As a side note, I was in 7th grade and happened to be living in Israel at the time, and I can confirm the enormity of the event and the feverish passion that was exhibited around the country.

David shared stories about some of the favorite characters he interviewed for the book.  These stories included players that:

  • Joined the Israeli army voluntarily. 
  • Married Israeli women.
  • Converted to Judaism.
  • Raised children in Israel.
  • Became Israeli citizens.
  • Found less racism in Israel.
  • Became spokespeople for Israel.
  • Experienced anti-semitism by playing for an Israeli team.
  • Celebrated Championships with an Israeli flag (instead of the team logo or flag).

The two events in Chicago were well attended and there was a lot of interest in his presentation.  I encourage you to bring David to your community for an event.  I think you will find him very engaging, empathetic and well-spoken, creating a lot of warmth and a positive experience for your organization.

For more information about David or Alley-Oop to Aliyah”, please email me at and I am happy to make the introduction.

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