Sunday, October 19, 2014

If I Ran For Office

First, it's not going to happen. I have absolutely no plans to ever run for office because I think I would really, really hate it. I just want to make that clear. But if I were going to run for office, this is how I would want to do it:

I would make only one promise, which would be to decide issues based on what I genuinely believed to be the right thing to do established by the values I hold. I would do my best to outline those values from the start, beginning with (but not limited to) tolerance, equality and the protection of the American people. And I would acknowledge that there are situations in which those values may be at odds and I will not find a perfect outcome.

I would admit from the beginning that I am not an infinite source of knowledge and therefore am not well informed on every issue that comes across the desk of a government official, nor do I have experience in dealing with all of them. But I would commit to learning as much as I could about each issue in order to make informed decisions and surrounding myself with people who can counter my weaknesses.

If people wanted to give me money to help me campaign I would gladly accept it with the disclaimer that your donation does not buy my allegiance. If you would like to support me because you believe that I am the best candidate available and our values align then that’s wonderful. Whether or not I lean the way you want on any given issue would have everything to do with those values and nothing to do with your money.

My decisions would also have nothing to do with toeing the line in a two-party system that's frankly become a complete circus.

I would come up with plans for how to tackle the major issues facing whatever political world I was entering. And I would admit that it was quite possible that I would change my mind.  Not because of pressure from any group but because sometimes situations change and because I refuse to ever stop learning. I might change my mind but I will not change my values.

I would not lie.

And you know what? I’d never get elected. Because this isn’t the way that American politics works but MAN…I WISH IT WERE.

(elections are coming up, don't forget to vote!)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Anything is Possible

I first wrote this as an article for in 2011 after the end of my senior season at Stanford. It was the first time I really publicly addressed my history with chronic pain and for sure the most honest I'd ever been about it. It made me pretty anxious when I first wrote it...and it still does now. But I think it's a story that should be told. If you ever read anything I've written, I'd want it to be this-- a little look into my struggle, how it's made me the athlete and person that I am, and why I firmly believe that anything is possible.

Anything is Possible

Remember when you were little and people told you anything was possible and you believed them?  When someone asked what you wanted to be when you grew up and you said an astronaut or the president or a lion tamer?  I had a friend who wanted to be a fire truck.  Then at some point when you’re growing up, other people or your own experiences start to chip away at that belief.  People start pointing out all the things that you can’t do, all the ways you aren’t good enough, and all the reasons why some dreams will never come true.  So your dreams get a little bit smaller, perhaps a little bit more realistic, certainly more achievable.  In that way you can still be somewhat successful, depending on how you measure success.  But if you give in to all the nay-sayers and limit your dreams you may never realize the great things of which you are actually capable.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm White

I don’t know what happened between Michael Brown and the man who shot him.  I wasn’t there and I believe in the concept of innocent until proven guilty.  But there are a few things that I do know.

I know that I was taught to find the police if I feel unsafe.  I know that I don’t worry about my brother getting shot in the street.  I know that what’s happening in Ferguson would never—could never—happen in my neighborhood.  And I know all of that related to the fact that I’m white.

Having white privilege doesn’t make you racist but not acknowledging that privilege kind of does.  It’s not enough that you personally treat all people equally or that you voted for Obama or that a bunch of your friends are not white.  The system is broken.  Not acknowledging that—not seeing the benefits that you reap that others do not—just perpetuates that system, in all its brokenness. 

That brokenness is what leads us to discussing whether Brown was a good kid bound for college or a robber.  As if either determines the worth of his life or the tragedy of his death.  It’s why sentences for black offenders are 10% longer than white offenders who have committed the same crime.  It’s why white people commit heinous crimes and we immediately ask about their mental state but non-whites commit crimes and it’s a result of their culture or character.     

White privilege doesn’t mean I’ve never struggled in my life.  It doesn’t mean I haven’t worked hard to get where I am.  It means that “colorblindness” isn’t enough—that I have to look closely enough at the world around me to see the colored lens that’s already there.  It means that I have to examine what prejudices are engrained within me just through living in this world.  It means that whatever pride I have in my accomplishments should be met with even greater gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had that others have not.  And it means that I owe it to the world to help it become a place where others get them too.  Just because I didn’t break it, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t help fix it.  And it needs a lot of fixing…

Monday, July 28, 2014

Badass Women

 This past weekend I visited Nerd HQ, an awesome event outside of Comic Con held by Zachary Levi’s company, The Nerd Machine.  They hold a bunch of fantastic panels with casts from different shows and movies and raise a crazy amount of money for Operation Smile.  One of the panels I got to see was Badass Women featuring Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck/Dexter), Retta (Parks and Rec), Missy Peregrym (Rookie Blue), Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon A Time), Ming-Na Wen (Agents of Shield/Mulan) and Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones).

Look, I don’t know these people personally, but in listening to them talk I’m going to say that it’s a group of really strong women on and off the screen.  And what struck me as they answered questions was how familiar their answers were.  The things they talked about—knowing who you are and what you believe in, having conviction in that, the courage to be vulnerable or to go outside of your comfort zone—are things that we talk about so much in the USA program as we try to learn and grow and become better athletes and people.  It honestly felt like a session from one of our mindset meetings.

That isn’t all that surprising because I’m really lucky that I get to be surrounded by a lot of strong women every day.  But it was cool to see how important it is to find that clarity and acceptance of oneself no matter who you are—woman or man, athlete or actor.  Because that is the foundation of strength.   And, in my opinion, the key to being a successful person.  Success here, by the way, having nothing to do with money, fame or winning, but rather being the best human being you can be.  The people I admire and respect the most never seem to have to impose themselves on others to feel strong; it just flows from them as they live their truth.  Because doing that—living honestly and openly, with conviction and love—that’s the strongest thing there is.  That’s the strength I want to strive for every day and clearly these women are doing the same.

Also, they’re hilarious.  Really, go watch it right now.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Real Team USA

You might think that playing on the National Team would be a pretty awesome job.  And you would be correct.  We get to put on the red, white and blue and play in front of thousands of fans, to take pictures and sign things for the very people that we’re working to represent and to do what we love with people that we love.  How cool is that?

But the coolest parts of our job are often the ones that you don’t even think about going in.  While we were in Hawaii they took us to the USS Paul Hamilton, an active Navy ship docked in Pearl Harbor awaiting deployment in a few weeks. 

We got to go to the bridge with the captain and hang out with some of the crew.  And the more I listened to them talk the more I realized that the core of what they do and what we do is fairly similar.  Don’t get me wrong, what they do is way more important and impressive and dangerous and everything else.  But the crew of a ship is really a team that is operating in a high pressure situation.  Every member has a role and needs to perform in order for it to work.  They have to rely on each other, to learn quickly and to work efficiently as a unit  They train hard so that when they get to the real thing all they have to do is what they do every day.  And they do that really well, which makes them the best in the world.  It’s a pretty great example for us in what we’re trying to accomplish.
They were pretty excited to see us but I’m going to say we were the ones who got the most out of the visit.  As we walked up to the ship I saw a group of crewmembers on the deck.  I assumed they were working until they saw us coming and started chanting


I’ve heard that chant quite a few times in my life by now.  And it really never gets old.  But hearing it come from military men and women on the deck of a Naval ship is probably going down as the greatest…getting cheered on by the real Team USA.