No, this is not an NBA photo, but a photo of about 35,000 crazy Brazilian soccer (“futebol”) fans going nuts when the owner (lady in photo) of the very popular Flamengo team acquired Ronaldinho (in black hat turned backward) in the off-season. Ronaldinho is a “rock star” and has been voted best soccer player in the world on a couple occasions. He was playing in Milan, Italy but came “home” to Brazil. I was in Brazil when Flamengo acquired him. The place was going nuts for weeks. Front page, headlines in all publications and top story on television. Why are the Mengo fans so excited? Because he is good! He exudes charisma also. He is Herschel Walker and Cam Newton combined, suped up to the tenth power! You see? Even I got whipped up in the excitement! Did Flamengo acquire Ronaldinho with a huge sum of money because he kisses ass or because he can play futebol? You know why. Mengo wants to win — and win big! Just Google “Oh Meu Mengo” [Translated: Oh My Mengo] and search for videos. Observe the atmosphere at a Brazilian futebol game. These games make a Georgia-Florida game look like “Ned in the First Reader“! Meritocracy. This is important. By the way, “Ronaldinho” means “Little Ronald.” Ha! Just click on to this link for a taste of Mengo (or any Brazilian team) fever! >>>
In opinion, these are the most passionate fans in the world…watching futebol in the largest futebol stadium in the world, The Maracana, home of the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Do these fans want kiss-ups on their Flamengo team or do they want players who can play? Ha! These fans are chanting, “Tu es time tradicao, raca, amor, e paixao…Oh Meu Mengo!” Sorry but my keyboard won’t make the Portuguese symbols. Translated: “You are the team of tradition, power, love, and passion…Oh My Mengo!” They love their Mengo! I do too!
The fans never sit down the entire game but are engaged in constant cheers, chants, and songs of familiar lore. Bandeiras (“flags”) are waved throughout the game and fireworks (non-lethal, I think) are set off in the stands. I have been to a lot of Southeastern Conference football games but have never seen anything like this! Note that I even purchased the obligatory hat and shirt from the “Fla” shop a block or two off the Copacabana Beach before I went to the game. It’s meritocracy, baby! The is the same way school systems ought to operate but do not. Too many superintendents are simply about who will kiss his or her ass. This is sad, but I simply tell you the truth. Can you handle the truth? Ha! Now go ahead and read what I began writing before the NBA game finished tonight. It ties into how schools operate. I try to explain this in terms that cannot be misunderstood. If I offend you, then good. Ha! What offends me is their actions. By the way, why is this character behind me in the photo looking at this watch? He must be a nerdy administrator putting a stop-watch to the fans’ enthusiasm. Ha!
By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD
Fifty-six seconds left. The Dallas Mavs are winning. My son Robert is happy, but I have been pulling for the Miami Heat. Even when the Heat had a 9 to 0 run late in the fourth and took the lead, I texted Rob and said that the Mavs would win. Well, the old timers like Jason Terry (formerly of the Hawks) and Jason Kidd put away some threes to ice the Heat. King James couldn’t hit the threes, although his has a triple double (points, assists, and rebounds). This is one of the great championship games, and I have been closely following NBA Championship games since 1969 when Bill Russell of the University of San Francisco, John Havlicek of Ohio State, and Sad Sam Jones of North Carolina Central, and others of the Boston Celtics finished fourth in their division, barely making the playoffs, but won it all that year.
Basketball and other sports tend to be meritocracies, especially at this level. In middle school and even in high school, there is a lot of “Daddy Ball” played — where it is important if your father is influential in the booster club. But, at this level, the owners want to win, and they put their best players on the court. Dwayne Wade came out of the dressing room and almost helped the Miami Heat accomplish a great comeback, even with a severely hurt hip. Dirk, Chandler, and the hot guards for the Mavs were just too good tonight. But, at least we know that the best players on each team were on the court.
In public education, meritocracies do not prevail, especially in the larger school systems. I told my son at lunch today that I joined Adulthood thinking that the best person in any particular job would be rewarded and promoted. Boy, was I wrong! I told Robert (trying to school him to the ways of the world) that often the things that matter in school systems or in the corporate world were “sex, power, and money.” I told him that many times new superintendents come to town come apparently thinking that they are “playas for life” — as if landing their big new jobs entitle them to more women (or more men, depending on the gender or orientation), more financial and ridiculous perks that they assume, and the inalienable right to promote only kiss-ups and sycophants. If a person maintains integrity and honor, this seems to be a liability to them. I have told many educators that one of the reasons that their particular assistant principal or principal or superintendent doesn’t like them is because either (1) they pose a threat to them because they are popular with the students (and the students’ parents) or because (2) they have integrity, and this just scares the crap out of the dishonest administrators. Dishonest administrators have a difficult time controling and molding honest teachers into going along with their crooked schemes, and there are, as we have seen lately, many crooked schemes out there. The darkness does not like the light and wants to avoid it. I have observed both of these scenarios many, many times in public education.
Often times, parents, students, and teachers just cannot understand why a superintendent transfers a popular and very effective principal. The answer is simple: This popular and effective principal is a threat to the superintendent. Therefore, the superintendent transfers the principal to uproot him or her from the base of his or her popularity. I have seen superintendents even demote them to assistant principals or have his or his central office educrats harass the daylights out of the popular and effective principal, trying to run him or her off. This is sickening. It is unconscionable. But, this is how public schooling operates today. It is not about merit. It is not about who is effective and who is not. It is about control. It is much easier for a superintendent to control an administrative weasel, a boogrer-eatin’ sycophant who will jump even whenever the superintendents grunts or groans or grimaces. My father always called this type of administrator a “head-nodder.” I just call them weasels and booger-eaters. (c) GTSO, June 9, 2011.