Coronavirus Diary: Fit Kids

Inkflow client Fit Kids released its new series of Home Workouts via the e-blast below. School closures during the Coronavirus crisis limit even further the scant fitness resources in the disadvantaged communities where Fit Kids operates.

Each workout uses bodyweight only, providing a fitness solution for underserved youth who live in crowded housing conditions. The pursuit of fitness — with its physical, mental, and social-emotional benefits — is critical to people living in the most vulnerable communities, where COVID-19 has disproportionate impact.

Next post in series: Coronavirus Diary: Streaming Consciousness Bay Path Bike Ride

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Anniversary

What a day! Probably the best one since the start of our shelter-in-place order.

8 a.m.–Led a webinar for Sports Philanthropy Network titled “Content and Communication in the Coronavirus Crisis.”

10 a.m.–Zoom workout with Lori Fhima, my dear friend from University of Minnesota days.

noon–St. Thomas Academy work resumed with an interview of Jackson Najarian, nephew of Peter Najarian, whom I used to interview when he played football for the U.

1 p.m.–Phone call with Arabella DeLucco, Founder of WeXL, followed by shooting video selfies for

1:30 p.m.–Phone call with my son, Sam.

2 p.m.–Another St. Thomas student interview.

And all day, the one-month anniversary of the Coronavirus crisis, I celebrated my 27th wedding anniversary, thanks to the spectacular Valerie Liberty!

Next post in series: Coronavirus Crisis: Fit Kids

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Week Four

When last week’s gradual closure of parking options limited access to my running stairs, I started biking there instead. But the inevitable occurred, and the stairs shut down completely. Now my go-to outdoor exercise is a 20-mile bike ride along the bay.

Other activities during the Coronavirus crisis include standing in line to get into Trader Joe’s and wondering why major TV networks don’t replay more classic sports. While I wandered the TV desert on Easter Sunday, Willie texted, asking if I planned to watch the H-O-R-S-E competition.

Hell, no!

He texted back wondering what had happened to me. What has happened is that I won’t settle for junk “sports.” If the games don’t matter, I’d rather work, read or write. When it’s TV time, a quick channel check occasionally turns up a classic, such as this one that aired on Showtime last night.

Even without the suspense of the original fight, the athleticism and courage still inspire. A meaningful story still unfolds. That’s why the next bit of appointment TV sports will be Sunday’s debut of “The Last Dance.”

Can’t wait!

Next post in this series: Coronavirus Diary: Anniversary

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Week Three

The Coronavirus crisis is both slowly and suddenly squeezing out my sustenance. Most immediately, as seen in the sign of the times shown above, government-ordered park closures limit access to my running hill.

Even before the park closed, a motorcycle cop patrolled the bike path at the bottom of the hill to check for social distancing. Then, the parking lot shut down. Then, when too many people walked in, the nearby street parking turned into a towaway zone.

Granted, this is a first-world problem. Especially now, I appreciate my privilege. But, this being a personal diary, it’s worth noting that the gradual limitation of access to this workout — which has been my saving grace during shelter-in-place — starts to feel, at least metaphorically, like a noose tightening around my neck.

The less I can use that hill run to deepen my breath and blast my lungs to gasping each morning, the shorter and shallower my breath becomes throughout the rest of the day. Short, shallow breath is a symptom of anxiety, a natural reaction to the stress of the Coronavirus crisis, given that in week three:

– Coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. surpassed 10,000 and the Trump Administration estimated that number would reach anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000.

– Today’s election in Wisconsin, where I spent much of my childhood and still have family and friends, carries the stench of dying democracy.

– Although unrelated to Coronavirus, Bill Withers died.

Next post in this series: Coronavirus Diary: Week Four

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Opening Day

Opening Day at Wrigley Field, 1977

On most Major League Baseball Opening Days, I play hooky and watch the Cubs. But on this Opening Day, there is no game to watch and nothing to play hooky from.

Opening Day’s significance lies in the sense of hope it provides. After all, it is the one day that the Cubs are guaranteed to be tied for first place.

More broadly, in terms of hope, Opening Day symbolizes springtime, rescue and renewal from the depths of winter, reward for the faith that hope engenders. Opening Day is another expression of the metaphor contained within Easter and Passover.

On most other Opening Days, we congregate at Clark and Addison, pressed body on body, inching our way toward the gates. Then we enter to the familiar, the sound of the same program hawker forever, the smells of popcorn and beer.

As we rise, walking the steps and ramps, we catch a glimpse of the field and our hearts race. Then, emerging from the tunnel that leads to our aisle, we see a sea of green.

Each shade is different, the ancient scoreboard pale and washed out compared with the rich outfield grass and the deep forest tint of the seats. All those greens mean hope. Even the missing green, the not-yet-grown-in ivy, signals hope because we know those leaves will return soon.

Even with so much hope wrapped up in Opening Day, the loss of today’s occasion to the Coronavirus crisis is no cause for despair. Coming of age and becoming a Cubs fan in the last years of Ernie Banks’ career, I was inspired by his famous, “Let’s play two.”

Enduring some of the worst seasons in baseball history, Mr. Cub still wanting to play two was a clear call to look on the bright side. Cubs fans are optimists. Although Opening Day won’t happen today, it will someday.

Next post in this series: Wolf Pack Ninjas Campaign

Series starts at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: New Live Sports

The last few days at my running hill at Seal Point Park, I have seen an amazing display of athleticism. After my regular 20-minute HIIT run on Sunday, stretching on the turf at the foot of the hill, I noticed a young woman balancing on one foot, her other leg stretched parallel to the ground, a perfect 90-degree angle. You can see that in most yoga classes, but while in that pose, she was doing resistance band work that surely should have toppled her.

I’d never seen that before, so I watched for a while and soon could not look away, because when she released the pose, she shook and shimmied like one of those undulating tube man balloons in front of an auto dealership, but with no break in the fluidity, and then she flowed into a regimen that showed unwavering strength and precise form – board-straight push-ups on one fist or both, sometimes with a leg lifted – mixed with yoga, dance, runway model struts, stretches, splits, knees-past-her-nose karate kicks, and Cirque du Soleil-caliber contortionism.

It was sheer joy of motion embodied. Her routine seemed at once both spontaneous and choreographed. That impossibility illustrates how the bending body can bend the mind.

Today, answering my request from the prescribed six-foot distance, Lucy gave me permission to shoot video. In these Coronavirus days, this experience is the closest I get to watching live sports and provides new understanding of why that activity is so valuable.

One reason is that in much of the rest of daily life, you pretty much know what you’re going to see. Although some facets of sports are predictable, our games are set up to deliver surprises. Even if the scoreboard doesn’t deliver on that count, the individual instances of improbable reactions and responses of able bodies and minds can still shock and awe.

Another reason to value watching live sports is the admiration, the aesthetic appreciation, of feats we cannot manage but can imagine performing. Even before Sunday, I had tried every single move in Lucy’s repertoire and completed exactly none of them.

You may feel the same about painting or playing guitar or auto repair or wealth accumulation. I’ve never given any of those an earnest try. But when you know how hard it is to do the thing you’re seeing someone else do, and when you think of what must have gone into getting them there, you can’t help but have hope that whatever you put your most into will happen.

Next post in this series: Coronavirus Diary: Opening Day

Series starts at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Workweek One

Monday, March 16, the Bay Area counties issued their shelter-in-place order to start the next day. Unsure of the restrictions, we ran all the errands we could think of that we might not be able to run the next day. Or for the duration of the order.

Client emails arrived, revising project priorities and timing. Most essentially said, “Stand down.” I submitted an article to Saint Thomas Academy, a revised poetry curriculum to Citizen Schools on the off chance that middle-school students would return to McKinley Institute of Technology this school year, and a draft email for Fit Kids to send as an update to its community whenever the time was right.

Our local Safeway looked Soviet. Lengthy lines wound around mostly bare shelves. I took one look and left, because by then it was clear that the shelter-in-place order set for Tuesday would exempt grocery shopping. On Tuesday, the store was empty enough to quickly shop for the few necessities in stock, but it wasn’t until Thursday morning that I found a package of toilet paper, the last one left.

Fortunately, the shelter order also exempted outdoor exercise. I did my normal HIIT run on the hill at Seal Point Park every day, followed by the stretches prescribed by my clients at Ferox Yoga. This routine seemed more critical than ever to keep depression from creeping up and over me during the Coronavirus crisis.

Fighting depression won’t be easy, knowing how many people the Coronavirus afflicts and bracing for the day that number includes people I love. It will be a challenge to balance watching enough media to stay informed but not enough to be overwhelmed.  It will help when that media consumption offers posts like this from one of my Wolf Pack Ninja clients, Travis Brewer.

Next post in this series: Coronavirus Diary: New Live Sports

Series starts at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

My Adidas arrived by FedEx on Tuesday, just as the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order took effect. Ordinarily, I would have been watching the “First Four” games of March Madness, but the tournament was canceled, supplanted by serious madness and sadness.

The new Dame 6’s — left out front without a doorbell ring, reducing risk of infection — would replace my Dame 2’s, whose four years of mileage and worn tread worsened the chronic, morbid soreness in my knees, anles and feet. Of course, this is nothing to complain about in the age of Coronavirus, but it signaled to me that, as Cardi says, “Shit is getting real!”

Every March that I can remember, the NCAA Basketball Tournament has inspired me to ball as much as possible, and that heats up even more with the start of the NBA playoffs. Whether imagining myself as Norm Van Lier, Butch Lee, Dr. J, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, or now, Damian Lillard, the fantasy fuels me.

This March, the confluence of tourney time, my friend Willie’s invitation to join his gym’s over-55 run, and Dame’s dope drop delivered cosmic reassurance that these new shoes would carry me into the next, and probably last, phase of my basketball life. But the night of March 11, it became apparent that televised basketball was ending. Two days later, Friday the 13th, Willie’s run ran its last even before the shelter-in-place order.

In troubled times, since childhood, I turn to family and friends, basketball, and writing. Without basketball, as long as friends and family stay fine, more time and energy will go toward writing. It’s the best way for me to process the Coronavirus crisis and maybe the only way I can contribute to anyone else’s comfort.

That’s what I’ll do here most days – writing about sports or even more important personal and professional topics – at least until the return of Dame Time.

Next post in this series:

Coronavirus Diary: Weekend One


For a long time, I was not much a fan of Kobe Bryant, who died yesterday at age 41 in a helicopter crash that also killed his daughter Gianna and seven others en route to a youth basketball tournament. Early in his NBA career, he was a wannabe Michael Jordan. He conducted an unseemly feud with Shaquille O’Neal for alpha status that helped unravel a Lakers dynasty.

Most importantly, at the end of a felony sexual assault case against him, he confessed to non-consensual sex with his accuser. There is no getting around that.

Later in his career, however, especially outside the media, in more intimate settings, I began to appreciate him. The first time was at the Lakers’ shoot-around the afternoon of Game 3 in the 2007 playoff series against the Phoenix Suns.

I attended by invitation of Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson, a professional acquaintance back then, to interview Assistant Coach Tex Winter and raise Tex’s profile as a Hall of Fame candidate. Kobe arrived late to that shoot-around, perhaps due to receiving treatment for injury or illness.

But when he arrived, the energy in the gym changed. He watched the walk-through like a hawk. Players became much more intentional and attentive, even though Kobe was just watching. Because Kobe was watching.

That energy reminded me of attending a press conference for the presentation of one of Michael Jordan’s MVP awards. He entered from the back of the room, and the feeling in that space changed even before I saw him. By 2007, even if Kobe was not on Jordan’s level as a legend – with two more NBA titles yet to come – he was way past a wannabe.

Near the end of the team’s practice, Kobe hoisted a few jump shots. He couldn’t help himself, his love of the game ran so deep. Then Kobe swaggered out of the gym, and his teammates followed with a swagger unseen earlier. He dropped 45 on the Suns that night.

The next time I saw Kobe outside of the media was at the October 2018 Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program’s Project Play Summit. He’d retired from the NBA as an elder statesman, one of the all-time greats, known for his five championships and as many individual accolades as anyone who ever played, known for his work ethic and his fierce competitiveness.

Now, Kobe was onto using the platform of his fame to change the world for good. He’d started coaching Gianna’s team and was concerned enough with the state of youth sports to spend an afternoon with a few hundred like-minded folks.

The Summit included Kobe leading a panel discussion with four athletes ages 11-13, titled “What if Youth Designed Youth Sports?” and another session on “The Meaning of Play” with his childhood friend, Kevin Carroll, the author and former Philadelphia 76ers athletic trainer.

Kobe’s roles in these events were not ceremonial. They were hard, earnest, honest work with much more payoff for everyone else in the room than for Kobe himself. This work required Kobe to be humble and genuine, especially with the kids.

He was as prepared as he had ever been on-court and performed with the same aplomb. If you didn’t know better, you would never have thought he was any kind of celebrity, let alone one of the world’s most famous athletes, a global icon, Oscar winner, and multi-lingual budding Renaissance man.

Ferocious, competitive, mean-mugging Mamba — in this new venue — channeled all the same intensity that fueled his basketball career into an equal measure of kindness, gentleness, and playfulness. He had become a man in full and stayed that way until yesterday.