Over the last several years, our very own Sportsmanship Guy, Solomon Alexander has shared his thoughts about local, national and even international topics. Read below for a curated list of Solomon’s top ten posts. We hope you find it informative and entertaining.

The King & I

I had drawn this straw before. In past Musial Awards shows, my role often involved making sure a celebrity presenter or honoree got from Point A to Point B without issue.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Aeneas Williams, Lou Brock and Joe Torre have all been assigned to me at one point or another. I’m not security nor a bodyguard. Referring to me as either is disrespectful to licensed security personnel like my friend Dave Gilbert at Peabody, or the men and women who literally put themselves in harm’s way for heads of state and other VIPs.

The most I can say is that nothing will happen to you on my watch.

This year was different, though. This year Arnold Palmer, golf immortal and 2015 Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, presented a new challenge. I would be responsible for every move he made in the Peabody Opera House last Saturday night.

We had meetings, plans and warnings about what to do and what not to do regarding the 86-year-old luminary. I was worried about how he might react to me – a big guy he doesn’t know telling him where to go and how to get there.

My anxiety disappeared about five minutes into the evening when Palmer leaned over to me and asked, “You’re on my team tonight, right? Because if there’s a fight or something, I want you in front.” I told him if anybody wanted to fight him, they’d have to fight me first. We laughed and things settled in from there.

The Musial Awards are full of emotion. Seriously, we really should get a tissue sponsor at some point. But the most emotional moment of this year’s Musials didn’t occur on-stage. It happened in the Green Room before the show started.

Honorees and presenters got a chance to meet Mr. Palmer and take a few pictures. When that was over, he asked for a few minutes to address the group.

In front of Stan Musial’s daughter and grandchildren, Ozzie Smith, Mike Matheny, Brett Hull, Lori Chalupny, Ernie Johnson, Dave Peacock, Scott Schnuck and every other Musials honoree, he talked about Stan.

Mr. Palmer talked about Stan, not as the greatest Cardinal of them all or even as the namesake of the event. Arnold Palmer talked about how much he loved Stan and about how much he misses his friend. He said, “If you try to live your life as Stan lived his, then you can really say you’ve done something. Stan was my friend…and I miss him.”

Although I helped Mr. Palmer get to and fro on Saturday, he helped reinforce something I know to be true: It’s not about the trophies or championships. It’s not about the parades or paychecks. It’s about people and how you treat them.

Be good to others and they’ll treasure that forever.

Prince of the Court

Prince died yesterday at the age of 57. News stories have referred to him as a pop icon, a music legend, a rock legend, an R&B legend and so on. He was all of those things and none of those things. 

Whatever you think of him, Prince was his own person. He was an individual in every sense of the word and didn’t care what anyone thought about him, his music or his style.

 I came to appreciate Prince through the movie Purple Rain. Like most people, it was the music that pulled me in. I later came to appreciate the genius.

The genius of the Purple Rain story is that the viewer takes sides between Prince aka ‘The Kid’ and Morris Day as they compete for the affections of Apollonia. Prince is the conflicted, somewhat selfish rocker looking to get out of the musical and abusive shadow of his father.

Morris is the smooth, slick-talking leader of the baddest funk band Minneapolis has ever seen – The Time.

Both are using the First Avenue club as a stepping stone to achieve higher heights. Conflict obviously works for movies, but there is no conflict in the music. Every note by every band in Purple Rain was written and composed by Prince. He played most of the instruments as well. 

What I saw in Purple Rain was two sides of the same coin. For the sake of marketing and ranking charts, we compartmentalize artists. Bruce Springsteen is rock, Jay-Z is rap and Anita Baker is R&B. Prince could not be defined by a particular genre. No one can really be defined by a singular thing when you think about it. We all have multiple talents and gifts. Regarding Prince, this little gem popped up on several social media timelines yesterday.

That’s right. Point guard for Bryant Junior High in Minneapolis, No. 3, Prince Rogers Nelson. Prince was maybe 13 or 14 when this pic was taken. He had hoop dreams like millions of kids do. He thought he was cool like millions of kids do.

This is proof yet again that none of us know what our children will grow up to be. No one knew Bryant Junior High’s point guard would end up being a worldwide musical icon. What if Prince had worked on his jumper more than his guitar?

What if a coach had browbeat Prince’s parents into making him play on some traveling team on the road to nowhere rather than writing music? Prince was 5-2 and not much more than that in heels. (That’s not a shot. Us Prince fans know he frequently wore high-heeled boots/shoes). 

Prince’s story is one of genius achieved. By all accounts, he was a fantastic basketball player, but he was destined to be great at something else. The same may be true of your young point guard. It’s OK if they can’t make it rain three-pointers. Sometimes, it’s better if the rain is purple.

RIP. Prince Rogers Nelson (1958-2016).

The Revolution Will Not Be Twitterized

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, log on and veg out.
You will not be able to lose yourself in cat videos and
Skip ads during spots for Netflix shows,
Because the revolution will not be twitterized.

The revolution will not be twitterized.
The revolution will not be brought to you by 1-800-FLOWERS.COM
In a feed of celebrities who only respond when you tell them how great they are.
The revolution will not show you video of Obama
Singing “Let’s Stay Together” and leading a charge by Loretta Lynch,
James Comey and Joe Biden to eat
Toasted ravioli purchased at a Ferguson pizzeria.

The revolution will not be twitterized.
The revolution will not be simulcast on YouTube
And will not star Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum
Or Peter Griffin and his son, Stewie.
The revolution will not give your son an athletic scholarship.
The revolution will not get rid of trolls.
The revolution will not make you slay,
Because the revolution will not be twitterized.

There will be no video of you and Ralph Angel
Dabbing to a mashup of “Sorry” and “Panda,”
Or playing practical jokes on strangers hoping they don’t fight you before you can explain.
Nate Silver will not be able to predict the winner on 538,
Nor by using the Real Clear Politics average.
The revolution will not be twitterized.

There will be no video of mass shootings on autoplay.
There will be no video of mass shootings on autoplay.
There will be no posts explaining where Aleppo is and what’s going on there.
There will be no GIFs of Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem
Wearing San Fran’s jersey sporting an afro bigger than
Jim Kelly’s in Three the Hard Way.

Trend lists about celebrity arrests, movies and which team lost last night
Will no longer be so relevant, and
No one will care about expanding beyond 140 characters
Because Americans will be marching in the streets looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be twitterized.

There will be no highlights on The Gram
And no pics of 4G activists
Using their data plans on unshared tweetstorms.
The theme song will not be written by Tom Petty or Francis Scott Key
Nor sung by Sam Smith, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood or Fifth Harmony
The revolution will not be twitterized.

The revolution will not be pinned to the top of your page
Above a message about tornadoes, thunderstorms and hurricanes.
You will not have to worry about a lizard selling you insurance,
A gnome taking you on a vacation or the PSI of a football.

The revolution will not go better with bacon.
The revolution will not cure plaque psoriasis.
The revolution will make YOU matter.

The revolution will not be twitterized, will not be twitterized,
Will not be twitterized, will not be twitterized.
The revolution will not be on-demand, brothers.
The revolution will be live.

Written by Solomon Alexander with some lyrics and complete inspiration from the legendary Gil-Scott Heron. Dedicated to the memory of Pierre Troupe.

What is a good citizen?

A good citizen cares for his family, his neighbors and complete strangers. He knows his own destiny, to channel Dr. King, is bound to the destiny of those around him. A good citizen believes in the basic ideals of American society – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He then works with others to shape policy and develop programs to help those ideals become a reality for all Americans.

When I think about citizenship, I think about sportsmanship. The game, whether on the field of play or in real-life, is more productive and more enjoyable when everyone has the opportunity to play, grow and succeed. A good sport, along with a good citizen, knows the main objective has nothing to do with the day’s score, but the willingness of people to continue playing no matter the outcome of a single contest.

Sports leagues have folded after crowning a single season’s champion. Nations have fallen after the reign of a single, destructive ruler. Good citizens and good sports know that to make society and the game better, they must endure. They also know you are only as good as your bench.

In sports, the star player gets the headlines, but Steve Kerr hit the shot, David Tyree made the catch and Mike Jones made the tackle. In life, presidents and senators make news, but teachers, doctors, attorneys, laborers, and other everyday Americans teach, nurture and encourage the Barack Obamas, John McCains, and Elizabeth Warrens of the world.

A good sport knows there is no “I” in team.

A good citizen knows we are strongest when we are bound so close together, that one of us cannot fall without the rest.


I was in my kitchen with my wife early Sunday afternoon when she looked up from her phone and said, “TMZ is saying Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash.” I heard her clearly, but the news still hit me hard. “Wait! What? Kobe?! No!” 

My combination of shock and disbelief was probably not much different than that of many people across America and the world. Some of us held out a glimmer of hope because TMZ reported the crash first, but we knew better. 

Say what you want about them, but TMZ is rarely wrong when it comes to news about celebrity deaths. They were right about Michael Jackson. They were right about Prince. Sadly, they were right about Kobe Bryant. 

I went into my bedroom and flipped feverishly among the sports channels looking for news on Kobe. Sunday afternoon, however, is not the best time to find news of any kind. There was golf, basketball and the NFL Pro Bowl. Each broadcast seemed to hold out as long as it could before announcing the news we already knew to be true. 

The reports soon settled on a confirmed set of facts. Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, had perished in the crash along with seven others including the pilot. My entire body went numb and I started to shake. The blow from the news was swift and severe. 

Kobe was a sports legend and worldwide icon, but this loss was more devastating than some of the others we’ve experienced over the years. Our heroes sometimes die young and often under tragic circumstances, but Gianna, my God, Gianna.

Gianna Bryant and the other kids on that helicopter hadn’t begun their lives yet. The thought of the kids passing away so suddenly melted me inside. My mind turned away from Kobe the basketball legend, but to Kobe the father. Did he know what was happening? Did he try with all his might to shield his baby? Did he even have a chance to? 

Just then, my wife walked into our room and said, “That’s enough. No more news. No more sports today.” I was working on some stuff, but she knows me. I wasn’t yelling or crying, but she’s seen pain on my face before. She knows when I’ve had enough. 

I scrolled through my social media feed and the expressions of loss were varied and profound. Kobe Bryant was a hero to many around the world and they made it known. There were also those who lashed out. They were mad at media outlets, mad at each other for being mad at media outlets, just mad at the world. 

Then the people I call the grief police showed up. You know, the people who tell us how we don’t know celebrities personally and therefore shouldn’t care about what happens to them. Then they tell us about events and people we should care about instead. 

I am no expert on loss, but I have had my share. I’ve learned that no one has a monopoly on suffering and none of us have the right to tell anyone else how they should grieve. People loved Kobe Bryant and will genuinely miss him. He inspired people to be a better version of themselves. Any person who does this is worthy of respect. 

Going forward, my prayers are with Kobe’s wife, Vanessa and their three remaining daughters, who must cope with unimaginable loss. I hope their comfort lies in knowing Kobe and Gianna belonged to them above us all. 

My prayers are with Joe and Pam Bryant, who must now say goodbye to their only son. I hope they find solace in the knowledge of their son being a man millions of others hoped to emulate.

My prayers are with his fans, who are now aggrieved, but forever blessed by the memory of one of the best to ever lace up a pair of Nikes. 

In our own way and likely in every way, we will miss you, Kobe. 

Rest In Peace. 

It’s better to be loved than hated…

“It’s better to be loved than hated.” Warrick Dunn first said this to me when a fan asked for his autograph outside Stifel Theatre in St. Louis this past November. It would not be the last. Warrick was due inside for a final rehearsal before accepting the Stan Musial Award for Extraordinary Character later that night. The temperature had dipped into the mid-30s, the wind picked up, plus Warrick had family and friends with him.

A person’s natural instinct might be to get in out of the cold. Not Warrick Dunn. His natural instinct was to not only give the fan his autograph, but his time as well. The fan told Warrick how he’d admired him since his college days at Florida State and throughout his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons. Warrick told the fan how much he appreciated his support and to keep warm out there.

Warrick Dunn is a 2022 Musial Awards honoree and the award he received for Extraordinary Character is among the highest bestowed on anyone. Warrick amassed 10,967 rushing yards in his NFL career. Only 22 players in league history have run for more. However, when it comes to carrying the ball for families, he is in a class by himself.

Since 1997, Warrick Dunn Charities (WDC) has helped single-parent families realize the dream of home ownership through its flagship program, Homes for the Holidays. WDC does not supply the home, but the organization helps provide down-payment assistance, home furnishings, even a fully-stocked pantry to qualifying families. To date, WDC has aided more than 200 families in making a house their home. Check out Warrick’s Musial Awards acceptance and interview here.

Warrick Dunn is a hero. No human being has done more to harness the transformative power of sport and then use it to help others. It’s hard to focus on anything else when you’re constantly worrying about where you’re going to live and for how long. For someone like Warrick Dunn to come along and help remove that burden for families, is a blessing.

Legacy is a term often thrown around in sport. It usually refers to what someone did on the field, but Warrick Dunn’s legacy stretches much farther than the football field. Because of him, families have the safety and security of a home and are able to make the priceless memories we all hold dear.

When the Musial Awards live show concluded, there was an after-party where guests and honorees could meet one another, talk more about the show and revel in the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season. The party lasted about two hours. Warrick Dunn stayed and talked to anyone and everyone who wanted his time.

He fulfilled every autograph and picture request. He listened to kids and adults alike. People who recalled his every football play to those who hadn’t heard his name before that night were welcome. If you had time for Warrick Dunn, he had time for you. I approached him once more and said, “Warrick, you’ve been more than gracious tonight. You know you don’t have to do this. You can take a break. If you’re tired…”

Warrick once again repeated the words he said to me earlier in the evening. “Solomon, my brother, it is better to be loved than hated.” Indeed, my friend. Indeed.

Joy & Pain

Look at my face. I mean really look at it. No, I was not auditioning for a reboot of The Nutty Professor. Much to my daughter’s chagrin, I did not have a mouth full of cotton balls either. 

The lumps on my face were swollen lymph nodes from an infected wisdom tooth. I was on antibiotics and painkillers. I was hypersalivating too (Google it, it’s gross). It hurt to swallow and smile.  An infected tooth is still an infection inside the body. I had no energy and felt an overall malaise.

It was St. Louis’ Olympic Day celebration in June. My hero and friend, Jackie Joyner-Kersee was coming along with 500 area kids. It was my job to introduce Jackie and give the kids a brief lesson on Olympic Day and why it is important to St. Louis.

The staff saw how much pain I was in and asked if I could still speak. I said I would make it happen and I did. Just the presence of kids alone inspires and motivates me. There was pain on my face, but joy in my heart. My body was beating me down. The kids, however, lifted me up.

Please don’t misunderstand. There was no miraculous healing that day. Smoothie King and bottled water were my best friends throughout the week. The antibiotics kicked in over the next 48 hours or so and my face returned to form.

The kids gave me strength to fight through the pain and live in the moment. Serving others is not a magic elixir, but it does provide relief. And sometimes, a little relief is all we need to get through.

Brutal honesty doesn’t help anyone

Brutal honesty is just an excuse to be mean to someone else.

There’s no reason for honesty to be brutal.

Brutality is always met with some form of resistance.

Tell others the truth and deal with the consequences.

Truth is meant to be accepted.

Choose your delivery wisely.

This is what leaders do

Leaders stand up when everyone around them sits down.

Leaders speak up when everyone around them stays quiet.

Leaders fight injustice in the streets and in the boardroom.

Leaders defend those who cannot defend themselves.

Leaders feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and care for the sick.

Leaders use their strength to lift others up.

Leaders make the impossible possible, the possible probable and the probable so.

Leaders look for ways to serve rather than be served.

Leaders always look for the best shot, whether they take it or not.

Leaders can do anything because they are willing to do anything.

Leaders get the difference between opponents and enemies.

Leaders understand the game is played between the lines, but won between the ears.

Leaders do what others say they would have done.

Leaders admit their mistakes and apologize to those they’ve hurt.

Leaders read the book.

Leaders take L’s, but they bounce back.

Leaders never stop learning.

Leaders correct the behavior without condemning the person.

Leaders may wear their hero’s number. but eventually chart their own path.

Leaders show up.

Leaders say ‘thank you.’

Leaders love the people.

Leaders respect the game.

Leaders tell the truth.

Don’t be a tyrant or a lunatic!

A wise man once told me you never want to work for a tyrant or a lunatic. As an athlete, you don’t want to play for a tyrant or lunatic. As a coach, you should never be a tyrant or a lunatic.

Tyrants manage through fear. Everyone around them is afraid to say or do the wrong thing. Tyrants make their subordinates feel like a mistake is the end of the world. The basketball player is afraid to miss a shot, the quarterback is afraid to throw an interception and the baseball player is afraid to strikeout.

Unfortunately, fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fearful athletes miss more shots, throw more picks, and strikeout more than confident ones. Tyranny also strips away humanity – from you and your kids. It’s necessary and productive to show them the same patience and love you show your family.

Rapper Kevin Gates once broached the subject in an interview where he was asked about fellow artists who seem to always be in a gangster persona. I think his words also apply to the tyrannical coach. Gates said, “You’re a gorilla all the time? I mean all the time? When you’re out with your kids or on a date with the [person] you love, you’re a Grrr…gorilla. There’s no reason to be that way.”

It’s hard to maintain fear. People usually look to get away from what makes them afraid or they start to resist it. To put it bluntly, you’ll lose your team and/or your job as a coach if you keep being mean to people. Stop it!

Lunatics are people whose directions and direction make no sense. They literally don’t know what they’re doing and keep everyone around them guessing about what’s expected and what success looks like. Lunatics make basketball players run long, slow laps because they didn’t get back on defense fast enough.

Long, slow distance running is the opposite of anything fast. When the kid is done running his laps, he’s going to get back on defense even slower and he’ll be made to run more laps and yada, yada, yada.

Lunatics make their running backs carry the football around school so they’ll stop fumbling. Again, that makes no sense.  Fumbles occur at game speed when the athlete is being chased or tackled. No one is chasing your athlete to third period French.

Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber had a huge fumbling problem during his career. Instead of making Barber carry the football through a grocery store, his coach, Tom Coughlin, fixed his technique. He had Barber carry the ball almost underneath his armpit and tight to his body.

Barber’s fumbles dropped and the Giants picked up a Super Bowl win out of the deal. Steve Nicollerat, St. Louis University High hall of fame baseball coach often says, “Have a reason for everything you do as a coach. Don’t just do stuff because you saw it on TV or because your dad or former coach did it. If you don’t know why your kids are running a certain drill or play, then stop doing those things.”

Bottom line: Don’t be a tyrant or a lunatic. Even-tempered, smart, detail-oriented people win championships too.