Independent and cutting-edge analysis on global affairs
American Youth and Sports

Young people in America are supposed to be trained to think freely, engage others, compete fairly, always be a team member first and display self-confidence. Treating people around you in this manner will multiply and become part of the norm, giving strength and providing courage. This is why young people in America have a certain sense of maturity going forward that normally other countries’ education systems and cultures do not provide. If the USA is prosperous, engaged with hope, sharing its values, leading with ideas and innovation, any country or region engaged with America will find ways to mutually benefit if they use common sense governance in their respective countries. Now with a lack of transparency, no accountability, individualism, portrayal of hope, resulting in an apparent decay of the rule of law, the youth of America seems to has lost its way on many fronts and is not prepared to be the leading youth the world expects typically.  

In any country worldwide, if a country's youth do not portray hope, strength and create innovation that country will be seriously flawed. America needs to take a serious step back and reevaluate everything from its education, health care, community development and cultural expression. Most young people in America are wandering around with some combination of Facebook/Twitter/Google/YouTube, phones and selfies, video games and of course hip hop/rap music. They spend most of their time on their phones and online or chatting with someone, and when I walk around the streets of Miami, I am simply astonished at the number of selfies that one young person can take at once. Young people I see daily are anxious, pretending to be busy because it is the cool thing to do, wasting their precious time on stupid phones, and have serious lack of direction. I wonder how many selfies or videos are taken in one day? One week? One month? One year? Where does one put all this information? Why would anyone spend their extensive time on something so meaningless day after day with no stopping even late into the night, only to wake up in the morning to do the same thing the next day. I understand that the institutions that I grew up with whom helped formulate my life goals, mindset and vision going forward are predominantly either gone or have been weakened. But this is certainly not the answer to the future of American youth or anyone in the world doing the exact same thing day in and day out. But this is not sustainable, and the world will hit some kind of technological wall with severe consequences because nobody knows what kinds of burnout all this will produce in society. COVID has provided us with opportunity to at least stem the tide of the mental and physical problems heading everyone's way.  

America thought it had a problem with smoking addictions and people dying early because they smoked too much and every rule and regulation in the country was changed accordingly. Millions of people attacked and sued big tobacco companies because they lied to the American public about the addictions of nicotine and cigarettes. But not all Americans were smoking, only a portion of them did. However, there was a transformational movement to punish all the companies who were causing harm and now if you try to smoke on the street somewhere people will look at you like a cancer. Whatever methods were used for smokers and weakening Tobacco conglomerates to be accountable for killing people, the same things need to be done similarly to BigTech and try to save young people who probably feel that they were born with these phones on their hands like frogs have extended hands. This is a very different drug but extremely dangerous because illnesses are everywhere on every street on every corner and every kid is doing it. Class action suits helped bring down Big Tobacco, and I feel the exact need to be done by people addicted to these dangerous phone drugs. Perhaps covid rules and regulations will encourage schools and public authorities to begin some kind of reining in of this disease. For example, we know now to stay six feet away for COVID, why not just apply the same thing for phones and crazy people who love to walk fast and very loud. They are never looking forward and texting furiously.  

There needs to be “MeAlone/UnWired” movement that honors the demands of the generations that are being abused by this illness like me. can't be the only person on this earth who does not like his cell phone and leaves it at home every chance he gets. There must be others like me. I have never had a personal Facebook, Twitter, etc. account and I do not watch You Tube and play video games all day. I never had time to play video games in my life. Why not create zones for no phones with no wiring? No wireless means no phones and no nonsense means peace. I do not want to hear people screaming into their devices in public without any attention to public rules and regulations like peace and tranquility. Create zones everywhere accordingly where whoever joins in this movement should get tax incentives from local government officials. I really do not wish to listen to the 'N’ word hundreds of times a day on the streets when people are blaring their rap music. Don't Black people get sick and tired of hearing the N-word like this, everywhere, unfiltered, totally out of control? Rap and hip hop are destroying the values of young people or whatever values they have left. So there needs to be creation of zones where none of this is possible.    



Young people tend to trend towards things that make them relaxed, comfortable, accepted by groups and confident. I already had established a strong sense of myself and knew I could affect others. I graduated University of Richmond in 1984 and when I was touring the university to enroll, I had no idea it was Southern Baptist. I had no idea about the different sects and their similarities and differences. People at Richmond and all over Virginia were diverse, kind, and good people. I had many opportunities to go to the University Chapel and listen to the sermons of Southern Baptist priests. While growing up, I was really good with people and very good at sports, so I constantly spent my free time with other people who were all different than I was. Football was my favorite sport, and I was becoming very good at it and during college, I was fortunate to be able to play at Richmond as a walk-on. During these years Richmond was a top grade 1-A program despite being 5000 students. Most of my teammates were black and almost all of them became close friends of mine and I would spend my free time at Richmond in their presence and learned about their social and cultural lives. They even made me an honorary member of their Black Fraternity and I was the only white person there. I do not believe that there are too many people like me around the USA, who are white and honorary members of a Black Fraternity. I was always comfortable no matter the circumstances and could adapt easily to any situation. Our football coach was very religious and would not utter a curse word and he took the entire football team and its family members in town for games to the church. The team would hold hands – blacks and whites together and pray and I never felt awkward doing this. I welcomed the opportunity to watch other people being passionate about their religion.  

Team sports, especially football, are the ultimate teaching tools and give you as many life lessons as you choose to take away from these experiences. I simply saw everyone as the same at a very young age and was comfortable in my skin. Anyone who has played team sports or competitive sports as an individual will understand what I am saying. Anyone who has never had these wonderful experiences of teamwork and competition will never similarly understand anything. The vision that sports and team unity give to a family and their children is priceless, making football dads and soccer moms the backbone of the American grassroots sports communities. If you have situations in schools or especially universities where individuals are making critical decision on the future of sports, athletics, and life, to be successful that person must come from the same world of sports. If they are from this pedigree, their decisions should always be good. The USA will need plenty of these types of people going forward who will make good decisions and positively affect society.    


Sports Organizations in the American Society  

In Washington DC, they got rid of my football team Washington “Redskins” name because it was racist and harming Native American society. They compare' ‘Redskins’ to the 'N’ word for American Indians. Talk about hypocrites! Of course, this all occurred during the COVID infused year, when rioters were taking over American cities and Washington owner was under investigation by the NFL for sexual abuse in the workplace. How many millions of times a day is the 'N’ word set free in the streets and schools of D.C. with blaring hip/hop and rap? I missed something while living abroad so long but I had no idea everybody in America would lose their common sense. Sports and politics cannot be mixed and will only tear each other apart. Mixing religion and politics is even worse, but America has a foundation built over the last hundred years on sports. If America wants to continue to develop its young people properly and in a culturally balanced manner, then politics needs to stay as far away from sports as possible. Whatever happened to being humble and doing community work silently without making a fuss? Nobody is forced to do community work if they are professional athletes. They choose to do community work in the communities that they care about and most of the time nobody hears about it because the athletes do not want to garner attention on themselves and allow public opinion to form by following their projects and work. This way having others discover what you are doing and exposing these feats to the public is always much more valuable than having the athlete give a press conference about his personal accomplishments.  

If this continues, sports institutions and pioneers like ESPN will wither away which is exactly what is happening. Sports are beautiful forms of art and anyone who is fortunate to be involved in sports somehow should be extremely thankful for their position.  

You cannot be involved in sports like the NFL, the NBA, and other sports and simultaneously try to comment on American political problems and solve cultural and social issues. It simply does not work this way. If it was this simple, then there would be far fewer problems in America and there are so many problems right now that this will only add to the problems. When I see some sports analyst commenting about some sporting event like the NBA playoffs and then make some totally uncalled for comment against some action, you mix politics and sports. Combining politics and sports will only create more social strife and cultural divides. Athletes should concentrate on their craft and those who follow these people for a living should do the same and just do their own jobs. I think Bill Belichick has been consistent and wise when he always tells his players to do their own careers in front of them and not pay attention to anything else, which seems to work for him and the New England Patriots. When people start trying to do other peoples’ jobs and do not have the information or standing to do that, arrogance will arise, and hypocrisy will be the norm that allows big stars to create their own rules and regulations and push these forward into society. If the NBA allows Lebron James to hurt the NBA, because of his personal goal to become a billionaire athlete, it will be unfortunate for future generations. If the NFL will let Colin Kaepernick continue to harm the league, with his inconsistencies and hypocrisy, again it will be sad for fans like me who will lose his love for the game.  

I am part of the Michael Jordan generation, and his greatness was not just on the basketball court and when he said ‘Republicans buy shoes too’ instead of being pulled into the growing criticism from all his black fans and supporters waiting for Jordan to tear down some racial walls. He made a statement that should have been praised for its brilliance because he chose the proper neutral and common-sense business paths. Jordon's difference from many others, including James, is that he never sought adoration from his fans and shied away from trying to be the perfect athlete. Jordon had a very powerful father figure who provided him guidance and fallback whenever he needed this. But his family upbringing was so balanced that things in life came easy to him, and he could make most of decisions properly and became an international icon without seeking it.  

The reason I was able to say all this in the past with personal conviction is not because I read it somewhere on the Internet or I saw it on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter chat groups having a similar discussion about these issues. I do not have a personal Facebook or Twitter account and I do not spend my time on social media or in my Samsung. This all seems a considerable waste of my personal time and certainly I see a high-tech meltdown by young people who spend their time on video games, selfies, social media and hip-hop. This is only one of the serious threats to the future of America, but it is the biggest one. There must be an immediate shifting of this mindset to begin the challenges to try and save this sinking cesspool of vulnerable, weak, anxious, somewhat lost young people who do not portray self-confidence for their own futures. Communities, institutions, NGOs, and families need to make serious decisions at the local levels and create very precise issue-based movements. These movements must be serious, sustainable, drastic and result oriented. For example, no more cell phones in gyms with memberships, non-fast-food restaurants, elementary schools, and middle schools.  

In Türkiye when teaching the young people leadership qualities that would carry them in life going forward, we had small projects all around the country in Anatolia where I spent most of my time and energy for 15 years. Each project was small but decided by a small group of people who we empowered through small meetings that had dialogue, debates, and accountability. Each team would have one year to produce and every other team in the country would be on e-groups as would people like me following up and making sure progress occurred. If they needed to see the Governor, the Mayor, or University Rectors and Professors, I would get involved and get those meetings for these young people. They would receive support because when I was there in their area, I would get on local media channels, radios and newspapers all which were at that time independent. I would explain our vision and ask for the locals to support and we received support at local levels throughout Anatolia. I personally was able to touch, affect and influence 25,000 people and indirectly it was well over 100,000 with families and local communities. The movement became a political force over time because we empowered the young people, and it was all natural and turned into a beautiful force of belief and courage. The young people believed in themselves and worked together. Then, they dared to challenge authorities, and I taught them how no one man was too big or too strong; thus, everyone leaves office and becomes an average person on the street. So, they did not fear the authorities or anyone who had some powerful position in their local areas. This movement developed into a nightmare for the political world, especially considering the terrible political leaders we had in Türkiye. They all feared my group of young people and could not understand how, without money and religion, I could give these people courage and conviction.  

One successful project would always promote others and then compete to decide who is the best. This is what I learned in America growing up. In 2005, there was no Google, or Facebook or Twitter. During the last four years which these groups have complained about constantly all of them made multiples of money and during covid they grew tremendously. They owe their existence to people and individuals, and they should learn to respect this and not attack and destroy their consumers.   America is your home, and anyone should be proud to speak out on issues like this especially if they have an outreach and audience around the world. When I read about American History, I am fascinated at how the history has literally everything you can possibly fathom about a country being formed and its robust constitution, balance of powers, the civil war fighting for freedoms and Civil Rights movement, the women's movement, any movement to move the country forward and not backwards like most countries have around the world. And this was all done in 250 years and if people in America were fortunate to be born there and do not like or appreciate this history, they should find another place to live. There are plenty of places where people can go and enjoy being harmful and destructive.  

Kemal Köprülü
Kemal Köprülü

Kemal Köprülü is the Publisher of Transatlantic Policy Quarterly (TPQ).

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