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Why not Cincinnati???

28 Oct 2016
Published in Blog

Traveling all over the country to various real estate investment conferences and events I often get asked the question “why Cincinnati” and my initial response has always been “because I live there.”  While that is a good answer to give, I realized that it may not be the best answer to

 


 give to someone who is considering investing in another market that they do not live in.  So, taking that into account I had to learn to adjust my reasoning a bit to the question “why Cincinnati?”

                Before I get into the specifics of Cincinnati let me give some background first on the area.  The Cincinnati Metropolitan area is roughly 4,808 square miles that includes parts of Southwestern Ohio, South Eastern Indiana and Northern Kentucky.  In 2015 the population was recorded at 2,199,914 making it the 24th largest metropolitan area in the United States, and these numbers are up from the 2010 census of 2,114,581, which is a 4% growth in the last five years of population. 

                In addition to population growth Cincinnati is home to 10 fortunate 500 companies.  These include AK Steel, American Finance, Ashland, Fifth third bank, General Cable, Kroger, Macy’s, Omni Care, proctor & gamble and Western Southern.  The list goes on with additional companies such as General Electric and Cintas being fortunate 1000 companies also sharing headquarters here locally.  It’s due to the employers such as these and the other companies in the region is why Cincinnati enjoys a 5.9% unemployment rate, which is below the national average of 6.3%.   Given the amount of stable, long term successful companies being headquartered in the region it’s safe to say Cincinnati will continue to attract and retain its population and continue to grow.

                Now what does all that mean when it comes to investing in real estate?  People can look at population and employment demographics all it wants but what does that do to impact real estate.  Cincinnati is not on the coast.  You can’t order pizza at 3am and have it delivered, the night clubs do not have after night club parties, it’s not exactly a “tourist hot spot” so why Cincinnati?

                Cincinnati continues to be a very affordable place to live.  The median housing price in the Cincinnati metropolitan area was reported to be $140,000 and the median rental rates for the area are being reported at $1,150 per month.  This means the area is affordable place to live.  So, when you consider the good employment, affordability of housing, relatively low crime statistics and future opportunities you can see why Cincinnati metropolitan area is desirable place to live.  But again, to you, the investor, why is all this important?   Well let me explain.

                Per industry experts Cincinnati is poised to have the 4th largest rent growth for apartment rentals in the nation.  What the experts don’t say is what is causing the demand for rentals?  The Cincinnati metropolitan region has a lot of new developments going on both public and private and it’s attracting people here to stay and rent.  Over the Rhine has gone through a major transformation over the last few years and have become one of the areas “hot spots” for living and playing.  The controversial street car project has finally been completed and is now open for business and we are seeing the property in and around that area just flourish already.  The Banks, which is another project downtown area, has been coined as one of the most successful development projects in the last fifteen years nation-wide.  This is all exciting stuff but to you and I, the average private, non-institutional investor what does all this mean?  Well let me explain.

                I always like to say “if the big boys are doing it then I want too to.”  If this market is attracting the bigger investors to put these big projects in, then surely there is a need and opportunity for the smaller developments and projects.  The more we build, the more people want to move here which creates demand.  The more of that demand that is created the more people are left out in the cold and want to participate and live in the area as well.  This is where we come in.  Investors like us need to look for the opportunities that the larger developers overlook because they deemed too small.  There is a market need for quality, renovated housing in these pockets of the metropolitan market area that can be offered up to would be millennial and hipster renters.  The need is real.  The demand is real and the opportunity is there.

                So, there you have it.   That is my new answer to “why Cincinnati?”  Take that and accompany it with the fact that I am a native here and have ties and resources here to make real estate investing successful it’s a no brainer.  I also have taken those same resources to the potential investors that are considering Cincinnati vs. other markets like ours to attract even more opportunities and growth.  

Buy Fix up and rent.

27 Oct 2016
Published in Blog

One of the most common statements I get from newer investors is “I don’t know where to start.”   They know they want to do real estate but not sure what.  The idea of being a “Land Barron” and owning and controlling land is appealing to all of us.  There is a reason that the game “Monopoly” is one of our all-time favorites, we all love to own real estate.


 

Then there are those who want to flip houses.  Make the “quick and easy money” that they see people on TV making.   Well first there is no easy and quick money to be made.  Secondly it’s not as glamorous as they show on TV and what TV does not show you is the headache, pit falls and aggravation of finding the house to flip then actually going through the process.

            There is a strategy that has been around for years that combines the two.  A lot of people do it, most people know what it is but not sure what to call it.  The industry never gave it a name for a long time.  Several years ago, I started calling it “Buy-Fix-Up-Rent.”  I didn’t make the strategy up, it was shown to me; however, I did give it a name so I could talk about it and I’ll explain what it is below.

Buy–Fix-Up–Rent is a good way to build long-term wealth and add quality assets to your portfolio and balance sheets. With the deals on the market today in this economy, I’m seeing some good opportunities to turn properties into 15-20% cap rates on rentals based on purchase price plus renovations in regards to what can be achieved in the rental market.

You can also add some monthly cash flow to your books as well as take advantage of some great tax write offs. (NOTE: Please consult your tax professional before making this decision. Do not base your tax decision solely on the content of this post J).

This strategy takes cash to acquire and renovate a property. You will not recoup your investments quick enough solely by renting to be able to purchase more. Another drawback might be related to the management aspect. If you do not want to be a landlord, then holding rental properties could be a nightmare full of headaches for you, unless of course you utilize a third-party property management company.

If you decide to utilize third-party property management services, I’d recommend doing some research and checking out at least three different companies in your market area. If you are looking in Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky, then I can make a pretty decent referral for you J.

It is a popular belief that rehabbing a house is easy. Just go in, throw down some carpet, paint a few walls, and you’re finished, right? WRONG! One of the most expensive endeavors a landlord faces is the turning of a vacant property for the next tenant.

There are so many variables to consider i.e. paint, flooring, trash removal, and much more. Some will be regular occurrences while others can be minimized and possibly eliminated altogether. Now, keep in mind if you get a tenant who is just outright destructive to your property, then turning your vacancy will take longer and involve much more than the norm. But if you did a proper job of screening then your tenants are more likely to act responsibly.

There are invariably hidden items that will impact the timeline to complete the renovations. This is expected up to a certain point so be sure and budget for overrunsand cost averages.

Recently I did a Facebook poll / survey and I posed the question “What would you do if you had an extra $50,000 unexpectedly” and I encouraged friends on my Facebook thread to comment.  The results I received initially surprised

 


 me given the fact of my personal believes and money rules, but the more I thought about it and the more I did some follow up research the more disappointed I became in realizing that the responses I received were spot on with the way most people view money and debt.

                The number one response I got, and trust me I got a lot of them, was “pay off debt” in some form or fashion.  If you stop and think about it our society has taught us for our entire lives to escape debt and get out of it as fast as possible.  While I agree, there is a lot of debt that is bad, such as consumer debt like credit cards, department store accounts, automobile loans and things of this nature there is also some good debt.  Good debt can be classified as debt owned on real estate and other income producing assets, such as equipment used for your business etc.   I also agree that it is important to pay off debt but I think the disconnect that I have, along with a few select others, is how to go about eliminating that debt off your books.

                It’s no secret that Americans today have a lot of various debts.  The US Census breaks down the types of debt into four categories and instead of assigning it by person they assign it by household.  Per the report each household has $7,630 in credit card debt, $11,245 in student loan debt, $8,163 in vehicle loan debt and $70,323 in mortgage debt.  Now keep in mind the growing number of population that rents instead of owns, they are still considered “household” in census terms and this is the average debt assigned to them.  This is mind blowing when you think about it how much debt is floating around out there and most people do not understand how debt works or the concept of letting money working for them is foreign.

                So back to my post and question as I opened the article.  Like I said previously I asked the question “what would you do if you had an extra $50,000 unexpectedly” and most my sample responded with “pay off debt” or “pay bills” of some sort.  What people don’t understand is there is a better way.  What is lacking in our education system is one of the most important lessons in life to learn and what I’m hoping I can help open eyes too.  Money can work for you and help pay off your debts and give you assets for the future.  There is a way, and some people do this, to allow money to work for them while helping build for their future.

                Some quick research and you can see that interest rates for loans are at an all-time low.  I did a quick google search and found that the average student loan rate is 4.6% annually, the average vehicle loan rate is 3%, mortgage rates hover around 3.5-4% and credit cards are higher and hover closer to 15%; however, with credit cards you can play the 0% balance transfer game to off-set that while you shuffle the money.  If you have debt, then having your money work for you will take some work while you shuffle debt but trust me it’s worth it.   So, if you look at the average interest rates on the debts above you can see how this is shaping up.  If you had an extra $50,000 then all you would need to do is find some investments that paid at least 7-8% annually to be ahead of the game.

                If you are still reading this, then there are probably two things you are thinking.  First one is that “earning 8 % is damn near impossible when the banks are only paying 1-2%” or “earning a couple extra percent really isn’t doing that much.”  Both statements are false.  There are several types of investments out there that not only earn you 8% but can earn you well into the double digits, real estate being one of them.  Not to mention the tax benefits that are not event factored into the rate of return that you are earning which only goes to compound the overall return and picture.  If you are on the other end thinking that a couple percent above your debt isn’t doing much and that may be true, or at least it may seem to be true but there is something very important you are missing and that is if you have an asset, say real estate, that is generating cash flow and paying your debt then after the debt is paid off guess what……you still own the asset and now it’s generating positive cash flow.  So instead of just chunking money down on that low interest debt you know have put a plan in place and once the debt is paid you still have the asset to generate cash flow.

                Bottom line is American’s today and in more financial trouble than they ever been and in my opinion even more so than the Great Depression.  The Great Depression forced a lot of people into poverty but that was due to circumstances out of most people’s control, consequently the Great Depression also produced more Millionaires than any other time in history to date but that is a different post for a different time.   American’s are in trouble because we simply do not understand how money and debt works and we are losing more and more of that concept with each generation.  I’m calling for drastic reform if not in our education system then at least in our homes.  We need to not only teach ourselves about how to manage money and how to properly use debt but we also need to teach our children for if we don’t do this and do this soon it will only get worse and our future generations are sure to be plagued and have a life of impoverished filled debt. 

 

If you do anything in the real estate market in the Cincinnati area, whether you are local or not, then you know the story about Cincinnati’s neighborhood Over-the-Rhine, or “OTR” as it’s often referred but if you are not from here let me get into a little history of OTR and who it’s changed the game, at least here in this market, forever.  


                Over-the-Rhine got its start as a neighborhood for immigrants.  In 1850 approximately sixty-three (63%) of the small 319-acre neighborhood’s population consisted of immigrants primarily from Germany (which explains why the neighborhood has a lot of German influenced architecture and heritage) but also Prussia, Bavaria and Saxony.   During the 19th century most Cincinnatians regarded OTR as the city’s premier entertainment district and that was built up the breweries and other restaurants built by the German influence in this thriving neighborhood.   OTR took a sharp and steady decline for over a hundred years before it began to be restored to what it is today.

                In 1917 when the US declared war on Germany the thriving, German filled entertainment district started its decline.  Americans were very anti – German” and a sense of segregation and other issues such as prohibition really impacted the neighborhood and not in a good way.  The 40’s industrial boom brought a large population draw of Appalachian-Americans and with that other neighborhoods were being built and in the 50’s the city constructed the “Mill Creek Expressway” which is now part of Interstate 75 and that gave way to newer and other neighborhoods which contributed more to the decline of OTR.

                Fast forward through the next several decades of racial tension, civil rights movements and other factors OTR continued to decline and became a real source of crime, drugs and other undesirable problems for the city of Cincinnati and its but that all started to change, finally in 2004 with a non-profit development group call 3CDC.

                3CDS came on the scene and had a vision that was not initially shared by many but nonetheless a vision.  Since 2004 3CDC has played the largest roll in transformation of this neighborhood by investing $84 million in 152 seriously deteriorated buildings and vacant lots.  In 2009 they reported seventy percent of the condo’s in the “Gateway District”, which is what a lot of people refer to as “Ground Zero” for the OTR transformation, had been sold and most those buyers were under the age of 35.  The transformation was working.  What 3CDC had started was being seen by others and more and more development and others started to get involved.

                Today the average median rent in OTR is over twelve hundred dollars per month, take that with a market wide average of about nine hundred, and there are some parts of the city that are even higher at eighteen hundred to two thousand (real niche high end markets) and from what I can tell the rents and demand for this neighborhood continue to be on the rise.  Now what everyone at this point is thinking is with all this revitalization and boom surely the prices have gone up with it, and you are right, the time to be at the beginning of the OTR upswing has come and gone and now investors are paying a premium to get into the thriving sub-market of Cincinnati.  The average cost to purchase two-bedroom in September 2016 was $346,600, which five years prior to that was only $157,500.  So, that means investors like me are looking around for the same metrics, the same qualities and similarities, and looking to get in the ground floor of the next “OTR” and I believe that opportunity has been identified, and that opportunity is East Covington Kentucky.

                Covington Kentucky was founded in 1814 and the only thing that separates it from Cincinnati Ohio is the Ohio river, which sits less and a half mile wide.  Given the proximity of Covington to Cincinnati the city has a lot of German influence in food, history and most importantly it’s architecture.  Covington KY is a fraction of the size of Cincinnati and often gets counted in the MSA statistics of Cincinnati Ohio and a lot of people who live and work in one will often consider the other for the same purposes and will often patronize the other for entertainment as well. 

                East Covington is one of those neighborhoods that has suffered declining home values, crime and other major components necessary before a major revitalization occurs.  It sits approximately 2 ½ to 3 miles (given what points of reference you use) from OTR and has a lot of the same attractive architecture, proximity to other attractions and the beginning makings of a major revitalization.  There are a couple key differences between OTR and East Covington though.  First East Covington is not backed by major developers and non-profits like 3CDC; however, Covington does have a smaller version called the Catalytic fund that is doing similar things.  Secondly East Covington is not as big as OTR and third, and most importantly in my opinion, the major revitalization is just starting and not many people have noticed, not yet anyways.

                Currently the median sales price for a home in Covington is $116,000; however, that encompasses the entire city and it’s other more successful and thriving neighborhoods.  No hard data could be found by this author that dialed in on East Covington itself but from what could be estimated by using tools available such as the multiple listing services and tax records it appears that East Covington has an average sales price around sixty thousand dollars or so.  Some homes sold below ten thousand and some well above one hundred, but regardless of the exact numbers there is opportunity here and it won’t be around for long.

                Developers and other interested parties are starting to take notice of the Eastern Covington neighborhood and its opportunities.  Just this year Hotel Covington, which is a high-end boutique hotel and restaurant, opened its doors for business after a multi-million-dollar renovation on the building it occupies on East 7th and Madison.  Other developers are starting to tip-toe in the market and some smaller and private developers are starting to renovate historic homes and apartments to start to push and rent to the same demographic that is attracted to places like Over-the-Rhine but may not necessarily able to afford it just yet.

                The ability for East Covington to become the next Over-the Rhine is not a far-fetched one and the beginning of the transformations are starting to happen.  How long will this opportunity be around?  Time will only tell but given how fast OTR took off leaving a lot of investors scratching their head and virtually kicking themselves in the rear end I feel that it won’t take long for them to see East Covington for what it can become and want to jump it.  Real estate is still priced well below what it is in other parts of Covington and Cincinnati so with investors eager to capitalize on opportunity and returns it is only a matter of time, short time, before East Covington starts getting more attention from more developers, renters, restaurant owners wanting to make investments into the area.  

Renting....The New American Dream

21 Oct 2016
Published in Blog

Home sales have been steadily on the decline for the last few years and it’s not for the reasons you may think.  As more and more Millennials are moving into era of their lives that are focused on their careers and post educational time-period, an era historically accompanied by purchasing a home, a new trend and new version of the American dream is taking form and it does not include home ownership.


More and more Millennials are choosing renting over home ownership and the reasons are not what you would think.  Most Millennials are not worried about the housing crash that we recently experienced in 2007 nor the economy taking another dip and them losing their job.  No these are not the reasons they are shying away from ownership.  Instead more and more Millennials are choosing lifestyle convenience, instead of building a financial future that involves the wealth that comes with equity building.

When surveyed, it was found that Millennials are putting location of where they live over owning their home.  What I mean is the younger Millennials are wanting to live in higher end more trendy parts of the city, typically “Urban” type areas that are being revitalized with boutique restaurants, shops, night life, public transportation and other attractions and entertainment hotbeds that attract younger demographics.  Most the Millennial population are not in a financial situation that would allow them to purchase homes in areas like these so they elect to rent because living in these areas is more important to them than owning somewhere else outside of areas like these.

Another big reason Millennials cited for choosing renting over ownership is their “fear of commitment.”   If you step back and look at the Millennial population you can see this fear of commitment in almost every aspect of their life.  They are spending less time at their jobs, partially because they feel no loyalty from their employers (and frankly who can blame them), they are waiting longer to get married and home ownership to most is viewed as an “anchor” or something tying them down and taking away their freedom to “pick up and move” if they so choose.  So, to a lot of Millennials renting a place to live gives them this feeling that they are free to move about if they so desired and not be anchored down with having to own a home and then having to go through the process of selling it should they have an opportunity for a new job in another city.

Lastly one of the biggest reasons that Millennials do not want to own a home is one that I least suspected.  Renting allows people to shed the responsibility of taking care of a property and learning the basics of home maintenance and repair.  It seems that the younger generations are having a less and less interest in this sort of thing and by renting they do not need to learn, instead they can pick up the phone (or get online and make a request) to have the smallest of items fixed and repaired by someone else.  It is enabling more and more people to become lazier and more dependent but that is the way it is seems to be shifting.

Only time will tell if this trend will continue as the Millennials get older and more of them move into the work force of mid and upper management but if things keep progressing as they have been owning your own home will become an ideal of the past, something your parents and grandparents used to do.  So, if you are a savvy investor, and want to capitalize on the growing opportunity, becoming an efficient and successful apartment operator and investor that caters to this new trend could yield bigger and bigger returns for the foreseeable future.  

Cash or credit

20 Oct 2016
Published in Blog

                The old saying goes “cash is king” and while that is true cash is definitely king in the market place, no matter what asset you are buying, there is a strong contender that is vying for the top spot, waiting to dethrone the cash king, and for now it’s the prince called credit. 


                Ever since people have been investing and buying anything cash has always talked and bullshit has always walked, no matter what.  Today if you have the cash then at the end of the day you have the ability to close the deal and in reality that is all what seller’s ultimately care about.  Most of the time they could care less about what you are going to do with the property once you buy it nor how qualified of a buyer you are, if you have the cash they know you are going to close it.  

                Today’s market place is taking a major shift and more and more people are becoming worthy buyers based on their ability to obtain credit.  Interest rates are at historic lows and continue to decline more and more and when you take that and add to it the scarcity of credit worthy buyers due to the fall-out of the crashing housing market and a perfect storm has been in the works for credit worthy individuals to come on to the scene.

                Now I know what I said before that “cash is king” and yes, cash is still the king; however, the credit worthy investor is starting to change the landscape.  With interest rates being lower and lower credit driven investors are able to push up the pricing they are willing to pay because they are factoring in leveraged returns and tax benefits that cash buyers are not able to take advantage of.  To take it a step further the influx of credit investors that are paying more is causing a false market compression and increasing the assets value higher than what it truly is and making it harder and harder for the cash buyer to remain “king of the ring” because in actuality they are not able to pay as much. 

                The smart investor will put their cash with their credit and utilize both.  So instead of purchasing an asset for all out cash, even if they are able, the savvy investor will leverage that cash with the cheap credit (assuming they are able, or they can team with a credit partner that is able) and not only will they see better returns they will be able to take their stock pile of cash and let it work even more across more assets.  

One of the most common questions I from investors is “How do I know how to price my rental” when I’m looking at buying one?  Well this is the “million” dollar question and I guarantee you that if you ask several different so called “experts” they will (including myself) give you their own opinion.  So here is a tip that I can share with you when it comes to this:


When first buying the property it is difficult to determine what monthly expenses to tack

on especially for the new investor who is just starting out. The goal is to get a low enough loan leverage on the property so you have the necessary cash flow to pay all of your other expenses and possibly afford a property manager.

If you plan on using a property manager add 10% of the gross amount collected and

factor it in to your expenses, just like you would your taxes, insurance and maintenance.

Trying to do this after the fact is tough because you can not necessarily up charge the

rent more than what the market will command. Otherwise you will be vacant and it will

cost you a lot more money.

When trying to figure out what to charge for the rent and re-coop all your fees it comes

down to when you first bought the property. My general rule of thumb is the monthly rents need to be at least 1.3% of the value. For example, if you are investing $100,000 into a property it needs to spit off $1,300 in monthly rents. As long as I stick to that formula, I will have success with a property.

If you are considering hiring a property manager for your investment properties then there are things that you must ask them.  They say in real estate "you make money when you buy" and while that has some truth to it you keep it and make that money grow by the way you manage!

Here are seven must ask questions of any potential property manager you may want to hire:


  1. Are you a licensed real estate agent / broker?

Most states require that property managers working in a 3rd party capacity (i.e. not a direct employee of the property owner) hold an active real estate license. 

2.Do you actively sell property as well and if you do sell is the majority of your time spent on management or sales?

It is good that your manager have experience in sales should you want them to sell the property; however, if they spend the majority of their time selling property and a little bit of their time managing property then you may want to shy away from them as you do not want your property neglected.

 3.Do you own any investment properties yourself?

You do not want a property manager that does not own property themselves.  Reason being you want them to have a sense of what it’s like to be a property owner who has to understand income coming in and income going out.  If they do not own property themselves then there is a good chance that they will spend money because they have no idea of what it is like to meet the obligations that come with owning property.

4.How many units do you manage?

This is a tricky question because you do not want to your manager to have too many units that they will be too busy to give you personal customer service but on the other hand you do not want them to have too few that they do not have enough experience or enough units to have good “economies to scale” to get pricing controls for labor and materials.

 5.Are you a full service property management company?

If you are looking for someone to handle all of your property management needs then you will want to be sure that the management company you are interviewing handles all of the services from tenant placement, evictions, rent collections, maintenance etc.  If they only handle a few of these then you will want to look for someone that will provide “full service” as opposed to “ala-carte”

 6.What do you charge?

This is a basic question you will want to ask with any business you chose to deal with.  You want to make sure that they are not charging too much that you are overpaying but on the other hand you do not want them to charge too little that they may give you subpar services or worse supplement their low pricing by stealing from you.

 7.Ask to see a sample copy of their reporting statement.

You want to make sure you can read and understand the statement.  Some companies have statements that are difficult to understand so be sure you have a grasp of what their reporting looks like before you sign on to work with them. 

As I said ther eare some good managers and there are some bad managers and you should do your own due diligence and find one that you feel is the best for your property and the style and vision you have for your investment.  

 

 

I am a new parent to this whole peewee football world as this is my 9-year-old son’s first year.   I use the term “world” but in reality it’s more of a culture.  At first I will admit I was very skeptical of allowing my son to play football.  After I got over the initial “safety” of the game because all you hear are the horror stories of kids getting hurt so young I then looked at the time aspect.  Several days per week for practice at two plus hours, games, field duties, fund raisers etc.  When you look at all that it’s a lot but after a family discussion of his mother, step dad (we are a divorced family but still very communicative and make decisions together) we decided to make the commitment and allow him to play.


                My son is one of the kids that will work 115% percent at anything he takes on.  Sometimes he will have to do things a few times to get them right.  This was especially true in academics as he often struggled to keep up with his class mates and yes at times he did get frustrated but he never quit and he always pushed through.  I give you this back story because it is important to know where we came from to know what football has done for him so far. 

                When we first started playing my son had zero experience and was going to a team where the kids have been playing together for the most part since they were five years old, and these kids are a great team.   While granted my son is what most would consider a “natural athlete” being a solid wrestler from before he had zero football knowledge and this is a game that is not only physical but very mental as well.  My son was put down on the “B team” which meant he did not get to start in the primary games, he stood on the sidelines during them.  They play a special “B team” game after the “A team” game.  They all practice together and learn the same plays and drills but for all intents and purposes he was there in support of the primary team and to learn.  He accepted that and put in the work.  Relentless about going to practice, learning the plays, putting in the physical effort and learning the game.  After a few regular season games, he was promoted up to the A team as a starting left guard.  Why is this important you ask?  Why is guy talking about his kid so much? 

Well it’s important because I can see the affects it has had on him both in and out of the class room.  Football has given my son, who has historically had confidence problems with his school work and decision making abilities, the confidence to put the work in the class room and has gone from being towards the bottom of all his class studies (just last year he had to do summer school to help get caught up) to know bringing B’s and A’s home.   This is huge for him and I can see the transformation taking place in this kid every day.  It makes me proud to just watch him sit at the table before practice putting in the work to make sure his homework is completed and done properly.   Before he would always clam up and home was a struggle but now he is learning the discipline to do it on his own, asking for help when he needs it but not before attempting to do it on his own.   Seeing this has converted my thinking and I can say without a shadow of a doubt youth football is more than just playing a game.  It’s building into young men to make them all around better people.  Giving them the tools for structure, hard-work, letting them see their hard-work pay off, self-discipline and the importance of working on a team and being part of something bigger than themselves.   Youth football, as well as all other youth sports, truly is about the kids.  It’s all about the kids and that is something we as parents need to remember.

The back story is important as I said before as I wanted to show from a new “football” parent’s perspective on what exactly youth football has done for my son. If it is having these effects on his upbringing and character molding, then I am certain that it does for a lot of the other kids that play the game.  Football, and the coaches and parents who volunteer their time, often money and other sacrifices they make really do build into our young men.  So when I see and hear parents act childish over their kids “not getting playing time” or “mad the other team ran up the score” or “the press box miss-pronounced their kids name” it makes me stop and think that these people just don’t get it. 

I was recently at a game that was being played between six and seven-year-old children.  One team was obviously better than the other team and you could tell by them on the field and off the field presence.  There was a little over a minute to go and the team that was winning called a time out and was making some shifts in the team to allow a younger, new kid, who has never scored before an opportunity to do so.  Ultimately the boy did not score a touchdown but he did make a nice run and the coach did his job by allowing all his players an opportunity to play the game, build their confidence and be a part of the team.   Unfortunately, the other team, who was not as good, may or may not have put in the same work that the other team did was on the losing end of this and that caused for a lot of hurt feelings as well.

After the game was over one of the parents on the losing team actually started a verbal altercation with the coach of the winning team.  They were upset that their team lost and the winning team was “running up the score” on them, not taking into account that in this league at this age only score Is not officially kept, nonetheless they were still upset.  Instead of that parent talking with their kid and taking the lessons that come with losing, such as work harder, not everyone gets to win and if you want something you need to earn it, this parent was shifting blame onto the opposing team thus in my opinion tearing down the valuable lessons their child could be learning through working hard with sports and showing them that it’s ok to blame others for losing.  I think all parents, family members, coaches and anyone that puts their time into any youth sports needs to stop and realize “it is for the kids” and it’s always been about the kids and whether they win or lose we need to do our extra part and make sure our children learn and grow from it because in victory and in defeat there are life lessons that will stay with us forever.   

It's not the ref's fault

26 Sep 2016
Published in Blog

Recently I was at my 13-year-old sons rec. league basketball game.  Our team played hard but we ultimately lost by 7 points.  After the game I overheard him and some of his teammates talking to some of the other parents and the kids (as well as the parents) were saying how they lost because it was the refs fault they had lost because of some missed


calls.   I did not join on the “ref bashing” as I motioned to my son it was time to leave and we left.

                On the way out the door he proceeded to tell me how the refs missed this or that call and to a point he was correct, the refs did in fact miss a couple calls that should have been against the other team.  After he finished I then asked him if he saw the two traveling calls that the point guard on his team got away with, both possessions ultimately resulted in baskets for his team.  He looked at me and said no.  I then asked if he recalled the charging call that very same game he got away with when he lowered his shoulder into a defender.  He said “well no, but the calls the refs miss were obvious.”  I stopped him in mid-sentence as I realized that this wasn’t entirely his fault for thinking this way.  No this is my fault for teaching him that this way of thinking was ok and that if I didn’t do my job as his parent that my son may grow up never accepting responsibility for his defeats and failures and it’s by accepting defeat and failure as no one else’s responsibility but our own we will never learn from that and grow and be better and stronger.

                I explained to him that bad calls are part of any sport.  Bad calls go both ways and sometimes you are on the receiving in of the bad call and sometimes you are on the benefiting end but nonetheless a few bad calls either way will not “beat you” if you are working hard consistently, putting in the effort and executing like you need to be consistently.   I told him life is one big sporting game.  It has its ups and downs, it requires work, it requires sacrifice, it requires team building, it requires determination and most of all it requires you to be consistent and if you consistently are inconsistent in working life will give you those results.

                We as parents, and as a society in general, have a duty to prepare our next generation for adulthood and life and we are failing miserably when it comes to accepting responsibility.  We do it and don’t even realize it.  Take being an NFL football fan for instance.  I’m a Bengals fan and during the current season the Bengals lost to the Steelers, which if you are a football fan you know what is one of the most heated rivalries in football.  The Steelers beat us last year in a very contentious playoff game and the Bengal fans want to blame it on the ref’s for calling a bad game.  They don’t want to say it was our sloppy play, undisciplined players allowing for unnecessary penalties and our lack of execution that beat us.  No they want to pinpoint a handful of bad calls, that only went against us and ignore the bad calls that went the other way, as the reason for the playoff loss in 2015. 

Again in 2016, second week of the season, the loss was pretty contentious and yes there were some bad calls, but bad calls are part of the game and there were bad calls both ways, but our fans, the very same adults who parent children, educate children, work in the public eye that children interact with, are the first ones to blame someone else, the ref’s for the loss and like it or not our children see this.  Our children are watching us do this and because of this they are learning those very same behaviors and habits and think it’s ok because we as adults are doing it, and yes it seems silly over a football game but that is where it starts and I bet if you sit down and think about it you will see as an adult other area you do it in.  For example, did you recently get a speeding ticket?  Was it because you were speeding or was it because you were “in a speed trap and the cop was there waiting.”  Have you not gotten a job?  Was it because you were just not the most qualified candidate or was it because “the other guy knew someone or had an in.”   I could go on as I’m sure you could too but I think we both get the point.

So as adults, parents and role models for our children we have to decide who’s really at fault?  What message do we want to give our kids?  Do we want to instill the values and habits in them that it is ok to blame others for their own short comings and defeats or do we want give them the tools to accept defeat when they experience it, learn from it, grow from it and become better than they were before?  I chose the latter of the two and I encourage you to do the same.  Next time you are at a game, professional, collegiate or for your kids and you are on the “losing side” I hope you will think twice before blaming the referees for a bad call or two, especially in front of our children but instead focus on what was done by the players themselves to lose and how they should focus and improve upon that. 

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