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The Stare-Down

Last year, I broke my 40 year football coaching streak because of the new energy crisis – the crisis of low energy, Post-Modern students and athletes.

The Energy Crisis didn’t just happen. It developed progressively. The Energy Crisis started in 2005. It was the first time I arrived at football practice and saw about 10% of my football teams staring down at their hands. By last year, the number of stare-downs reached 90%.

I started coaching football in 1975 as an assistant high school coach. If you publicly stared down at your hands in 1975 and never looked up, you would have been labeled a freak – the 1975 stigma attached to those who were not engaged in real-life. Freak was not just an adolescent term used by teenagers, freak was an adult word as well. Freak united teenagers and adults. All ages found common ground about who was a freak and who wasn’t.

One of your main objectives in 1975 was avoiding the freak label. Once you were labeled a freak, it stuck for good. And bad. The best way to prevent the freak label in 1975 was to be active. Go outside. Dual meaning. Go outdoors more than you were indoors and go outside yourself by gradually expanding how much of the universe you experienced.

No one talked on the phone in 1975. Parents were consistent. “GET OFF THE PHONE” united immigrants from all parts of the world. “GET OFF THE PHONE” was universally understood in broken English, proper English, and in every dialect of whatever foreign language was your first language. Being on the phone in 1975 was a sign of trying to escape from real-life. When I got hired as a police officer in 1975, cops who talked on the phone were labeled by other cops with a stigma worse than freak. My first staff sergeant was not a post-modern leader. He was high-volume. “GET BACK ON THE ROAD” ended phone calls. If you were caught on the phone too often, you ran the risk of the C-word labels – coward and chickenshit. Those who could, got on the road. Those who couldn’t, talked on the phone.

I never saw any of my football players staring down at their palms in the 20th century. The modern 20th century student-athlete was wired up but not wireless in the 20th century. It’s never been easy building a championship team in any decade or century but it was easier getting the point across to modern 20th century student-athletes because things looked up – dual meaning. There was always hope of winning championship rings because football players looked up. No one stared-down at their palms. The only stare-down was with the guy lined up across from you.

Things are no longer looking up because over 90% of post-modern, 21st century student-athletes are not looking up. They are staring down at their hands. They are on the phone because their phone is on them – always. 365-24-7 connection to their phone. In just a few decades, being on the phone has changed from being socially and professionally unacceptable to acceptable. In just a few decades, being on the phone has replaced live, in-person interaction as the primary means of communication. It’s unnatural.

Communicating by phone more than in-person is not natural. It defies the Laws of Nature. It’s the reason why 90% of student-athletes I’ve coached this decade are unresponsive. Stare-downs have dulled their senses. Staring down has inhibited their ability to receive and process live communication. Over 90% of the football players I’ve coached during the past decade have become wired to wireless screens. Coaching football became futile because of the wiring problem. You can’t re-wire football players in one football season. It takes more than one football season to re-wire unnatural adolescent communication. I broke my football coaching streak because coaching football became more dangerous than ever. Adolescent unresponsiveness is now the number one threat to player safety. Football has always been naturally high-risk. Now it’s unnaturally high-risk, meaning the unnatural adolescent unresponsiveness prevents student-athletes from processing the level of academic and athletic training needed to lower the risk of physical contact. The reason is blocking.

In 1975, blocking was one of the top two skills that guaranteed winning football championship rings. The Post-Modern definition of blocking has changed. Blocking is the new outcome of staring down. Coaching gets blocked out because staring down has inhibited adolescent ability to process live communication. Staring down has blocked out adolescent responsiveness to natural communication. The outcome is the inability to process the process. Winning a football championship requires a process of teaching and learning, of sets and reps, on the field and off the field.  Player-safety requires more than the exterior equipment of helmets and shoulder pads. Player-safety starts with building the most important equipment – the Inner Equipment. Equipment in mind, body, and soul. Muscle. Mind, body, and soul muscle.

My main coaching objective has always been and always will be to change the 10-90 Ratio. Every season starts the same way – 10% of players have high-energy. 90% have low-energy. The energy needed to survive high-risk activities is different than the energy needed for ordinary routine life. The drive is different. The drive to last in high-risk sports is different than ordinary drive that leads to last place – driving to fast food restaurants, driving to the airport to lay on a beach, driving to the bar, driving to the phone store to buy an upgrade.

Here’s Real-Life Lesson #7,117 that I’ve football players for four decades – flip a run-down team or get run-down. To coach a championship team, you have to flip the 10-90 Ratio to 90-10 – 90% of your team has to change from low-energy too high-energy. At least 90%. 100% is preferable. You do it by building strength, a multi-dimensional concept that includes skill, speed, and stamina in mind, body, and soul. The process of flipping 10-90 to 90-10 is slow, deliberate, and painful because natural growth in mind, body, and soul strength is gradual.

The solution to staring down is Real-life Lesson #2,825 that I’ve taught football players for 40 years and college law enforcement students for two decades – if you don’t lift, you end up last. Triple meaning.

First meaning. If you don’t lift weights, you get weak. The weak get cut, dual meaning. They get ripped apart and cut from the selection process.

Second meaning. If you don’t lift your team, you depress them. Nothing is more important than soul-lifting. There is no greater reward than soul-lifting. There are only two types of teammates – those who lift your soul and those who depress you.

Third meaning – lift your head. Stop staring down. Experience real-life because real-life experience teaches you the most. Staring down robs you of real-life experience. Lift your head so you can see who is crossing paths with you. You cross paths with people for a reason. You miss path-crossing by staring down. Wireless communication will not wire up naturally.

Here’s a test to see how much you can lift:

  1. Go to the gym. Squat and bench press. How much you can lift is directly related to your degree of player safety and your won-loss record.
  2. Go to practice and lift your teammates. Encourage others instead of discouraging them.
  3. Lose your phone. Here’s Real-Life Lesson #9,992 that I’ve taught football players and college law enforcement students in the Post-Modern Era – the more you lose your phone, the less games you lose. The more you lose your phone, the less you lose to your competitors who are fighting for the same thing you’re fighting for.

Lift and last are both 4-letter words. They are two letters apart. The share the same first letter and last letter. Lifting, all three kinds, is the difference between first place and dead-last. Find a coach who will teach you how to lift, all three kinds. Learning and earning are connected. What you earn is directly connected to what you learn. Here’s Real-life Lesson # 6,019 that I’ve taught students and athletes – stop learning, stop earning. Be a lifelong learner. Be coachable. Be more or be less – it’s your biggest decision today.

Our new website is a multi-media business. The mission is to lift. Our new website is centered on the concept of Blunt Talk Motivation that includes Blunt Talk Podcast, Blunt Talk Blog, and Blunt Talk videos. The links to the new website are the same as before, and

Blunt Talk Podcast recently reached its 73rd country. Our blog had two record-setting days in May. We have had 165 podcast guests, all who have a soul of a lifter. Each Blunt Talk Podcast is a free, permanently archived download at:  Each episode is guaranteed to lift. We are humbled and blessed to have connected globally with tens of thousands of listeners, viewers, and readers.  The most recent podcast includes ongoing chapters of my free audiobook called The Mystery of Murder: Working with the Dead. Thank you for your patience during our website renovations.

Blessings & all good things.


Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., Level 3 NCCP (Nat’l Coaching Certification Program)

Football Head coach – Niagara X-Men Football

Gym Owner – X Fitness Welland Inc.


Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. Currently, he is finishing another book in his non-fiction series: Mystery of Murder. All published books are available on and www.Chapters/, in both soft cover and eBook format. Additionally, his website, features his books including:

Football coaching and non-fiction books: SWAT System: Offense and Defense, SWAT Tackling Video (with accompanying eBook), and 4th & Hell: Season One and Season Two

Business Books: Selling H.E.L.L. in Hell, True Confessions, and eBooks: Soul of Selling, and, Real Business Relationships = Sales

Fat Loss Book: Fat Losing

Workout System: eXplode: The X Fitness System

Motivational Books: Soul of a Lifter, and eBooks: The Pledge, and, The Focus

Children’s Books: Be Fit Don’t Quit, and, The Beauty of a Dream

Policing Textbooks: Arcaro’s Interrogation Case Law

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