Thursday, May 21, 2020

Boxing and A World-Wide Health Issue



The Chicago Park District has been closed since late March. The latest news is that the place will be closed until the end of this month. The spring session was canceled entirely. There are plans to have a shortened summer session, including the summer camp. I don't see how that's going to happen in light of social distancing rules. Regardless of what happens, it's unlikely that I will be allowed to continue there.

Steve, my supervisor, and everybody else noticed me using a cane for a little over three years and seemingly had no problem.  All of a sudden, me being on a cane became an issue. Way back in February of this year, I was ordered to see the company doctor. The doctor released me to go back to work on light duty. Human Resources refused to listen to the doctor's advice nor make an effort to place me elsewhere in the organization.  I've been in limbo ever since the last of my PTO (paid time off) ran out in March.

Not long afterward, COVID-19 rolled through and put everyone's plans on ice.

The boxing world is shut down. Oh, there's a lot of talk about staging pro fights without audiences to cut down on the spread of COVID-19, but in general, the sport is down for the count. The Chicago Golden Gloves were canceled. There's talk of rescheduling that for later this summer, but I have my doubts that will happen this year. However, the way things were going at LaFollette Park during the winter session, I probably would have come up empty-handed again when it came to having participants in the Gloves.

During my self-quarantine, I've been watching a lot of boxing videos online. One of my favorites is The Fight with Teddy Atlas, where the boxing analyst gives his thoughts on the sport. Just today, I saw a video by Shane Fazen where he offers a video sparring session to keep boxers on their game. It appears that the Chicago Park District has given up on me; however, my love of boxing remains. I need to figure out what to do with that love now.


Sunday, March 01, 2020

Gym Shut Down Due To Concern


On February 11th, I walked into work as usual. I had barely signed in on my timesheet when Steve had me come into a meeting with him and Colleen, who works in risk management.  Less than 15 minutes later, I was sent home. I was told that the park district has a concern about my health. I've been using a cane for about three years. "Why is there a concern now?" I asked. Colleen claimed not to know, while Steve remained silent. Before being allowed to return to work, I had to see a company doctor.

I saw the doctor, a kindly sort, who upon learning the Chicago Park District does not offer health insurance to most of its part-time employees, gave me information about a sliding-scale clinic near my home. I also finally learned that I have nerve damage in my left leg. It's treatable but the doctor I saw can't take me on as a patient due to conflict of interest. The doctor released me to return to work on light duty.

Upon returning to work the following day, Steve told me that HR had to clear me to return to work. HR claimed there is no light duty for the boxing program. Until I am cleared for full-duty with no restrictions, I'm not allowed to work.

I sent emails back and forth to HR and cc'd both Steve and Colleen about the situation.  I even got the union involved. But still, I have no clarification about the rules and regulations involving me being forced off of work. It appears that no one at CPD, nor the union, is willing to give answers. I've been using my limited sick time and personal days to cover my absence, because, well, I still have to pay bills. Yet the way I was blindsided by this makes me wonder if I'm still considered to be an employee of the park district.

A visit to the doctor at the sliding-scale clinic did not result in a recommendation that I can return to work. On my limited salary, I can't afford to keep paying to see them. This incident has put me into yet another set of shaky financial situations.

Meanwhile, the gym remains closed.  Next week is the end of the winter session. It's too late to gather anyone to get up to speed to participate in the Chicago Golden Glover nor the Chicago City-Wide Boxing Tournament.

I'm angry.


Friday, February 07, 2020

Funny, But Not Funny


Jules, the teen who constantly asks questions yet has no listening skills, finally showed up at the boxing gym. "I know how to box," he told me. At that moment, I decided I was not doing any coaching. I leaned against the equipment table and let Jules show me what he knew.

The first clue that Jules' knowledge wasn't extensive was the fact the teen did not know how to wrap his hands. He had his own pair of boxing gloves, however. I also learned that Jules did not know what the bell timer was, nor the difference between the heavy and speed bags. Jules' punches were sloppy and unfocused. No head movement was done, and Jules' footwork was dismal. Every question he asked that most boxers would know I responded dryly to with, "I thought you knew how to box, Jules."

It was very hard to keep from laughing sarcastically, even though in reality, the situation wasn't funny. I didn't hold back on making sarcastic comments, however.  Jules is slow on the draw but manages to catch when I'm not in the mood for bull. He asked, "Is everything okay?" "Just fine, I'm just fine," I answered, barely hiding my smirk. I feel sometimes that Jules is trying to make me feel guilty for not acting friendly, but I got news for him - it won't work.

Finally, Jules said he never took one boxing lesson before. It was more like goofing around with friends after halfway paying attention to a boxing match on TV. "I know that this is going to be hard," Jules said, but I doubt that there is a clear understanding of what work has to go into learning the sport.

I was asked, "How late can I be to class?" followed by "I can't be here every day," because Jules is playing basketball. Jules begged me for weeks to be in the class. After finally getting that I was not going to let anyone in the class who had not registered, he brought his mom in to fill out the form. After all of that, it took three weeks for Jules to bring himself to the gym. Then Jules had the nerve to tell me what he can and can't do? Coach James told me Jules is a good kid. I don't know good kids who are manipulative, selfish, trying to run games on adults, hard-headed, and giving the impression of being uncoachable.