Don McPherson Presents on Domestic Violence and Violence in Sports

28 Oct

By Aaron DeLoria, Cazenovia College Freshman

McPherson at Theatre

Don McPherson may have been a professional quarterback at one time, but now he focuses on a group he believes causes many of the problems in our society: men.

McPherson, a former professional football player and Syracuse University star, addressed the topic of bullying and men’s violence against women at Cazenovia’s Catherine Cummings Theatre on Oct. 16. This presentation was courtesy of the Cazenovia Forum lecture series.

He also spoke at Cazenovia High School earlier in the day.

McPherson gained national recognition after leading the Syracuse Orangemen to an undefeated season in 1987, followed by winning the Maxwell Award and finishing second in the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top college football player. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988, and retired from professional football in 1994.

Since his retirement, McPherson has become director of Sport in Society’s Mentors in Violence Prevention Program and a national advocate for prevention of sexual abuse and violence. He has lectured for hundreds of college campuses across the country, as well to both community and national sports and violence prevention programs.

He began his talk by emphasizing how he wanted the night to turn into a conversation. He encouraged the audience to try to find common ground on the issues discussed.

“I think that we’ve sometimes lost our ability to have a critical, honest conversation about difficult issues,” he said.

According to McPherson, a “toxic masculinity” is the cause of most bullying and violence against women. He discussed the classic “you throw like a girl” and “you act like a girl” remarks and said that this mentality leads to men mistreating women and looking at women in a negative way.

“We don’t raise boys to be men, we raise them not to be women,” McPherson said.

He also talked about identifying himself as a feminist and how people have often questioned why he would call himself that. He related the ist suffix to words like environmentalist and economist — words meaning that one cares about the environment or cares about the economy. “If I’m a feminist, I care about women, and I think we should do a lot to protect women,” McPherson said.

A large part of his talk related sports to masculinity and masculinity to violence against women. He called out fellow athletes, such as Ray Rice, Kobe Bryant, and Jameis Winston, who had all been accused, but not convicted, of either rape or violence against women. According to McPherson, these players haven’t been held accountable. He said there is a culture of silence among men who don’t want to hold other men accountable for their actions.

This led him to talk about why he “loves sports” but is not “a sports fan.” McPherson said he enjoys watching young people compete and put in hard work to get better. However, he believes that professional sports organizations put “criminals” on the field in their quest to make money. He said that this action “flies in the face of what sports are all about.”

McPherson’s lecture was crowd-pleasing as he cracked many jokes and told some entertaining stories in parallel to his serious topics. When he finished speaking he opened up the floor for comments and questions, and remained long after most of the crowd left, talking with a group talk with sports management students Cazenovia College.

The Cazenovia Forum’s next speaker will be Adrian Karatnycky, a specialist on the Ukraine-Russia conflict. This lecture will take place next year and will kick off the 2015 lecture series.


Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick on Committing to Community Involvement

20 Sep

By Eli Anderson, Caz. College Senior

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick says three qualities are needed to spark positive action in a community: energetic enthusiasm, creativity, and moral authority.

His lecture Friday, September 12, titled, “Committing to Community Involvement,” was delivered at Cazenovia’s Catherine Cummings Theater, on Lincklaen Street. It was open to all, courtesy of The Cazenovia Forum, a public affairs lecture series with regularly scheduled nationally and internationally known speakers.

In 2012, Myrick, a Democrat, gained national recognition when he was sworn in as Ithaca’s youngest mayor and the first person of color to hold that office. He was 24, making him one of the youngest elected mayors in United States history. Now 27 and in his third year as mayor, Myrick admits he still has trouble convincing other politicians who he is. “Everybody in the city was used to the idea, especially the staff, because I’d been on the city council for four years,” Myrick said before his speech. “But when I travel to Albany or D.C., it’s very funny. I’ll say, ‘Oh I’m the mayor,’ and they reply, ‘Hah! Yeah that’s pretty funny.’ It doesn’t bother me.”

Myrick is used to being one of the youngest politicians in a room. He was elected to Ithaca’s Common Council at age 20, while still a junior at Cornell University.

Yet, Myrick’s childhood was drastically different from his time in college. His father struggled with a crack cocaine addiction and ultimately left his mother to raise four children on her own.

“I spent my first nine years in what you call housing instability,” Myrick told the audience. “Bouncing between shelters, living with friends, family – sometimes living in apartments of our own, and sometimes out of our car.” Now he is in charge of a $63 million budget.

Since his election as mayor, Myrick has led a successful effort to overhaul city government, effectively closing a $3 million budget deficit. Ithaca is now a state leader in job creation and it has the lowest unemployment rate in New York State. He also turned his reserved parking space at city hall into a public park and brought Fourth of July fireworks back to Ithaca after a half-century hiatus, two accomplishments he shared with Friday’s audience to illustrate creative, enthusiastic leadership.

“We didn’t fix our budget deficit that night,” Myrick said of the fireworks show. “But what we did was show people that even though these are hard times, they aren’t the end of times. And that kind of energy and enthusiasm is essential.”

However, Myrick is the first to give credit for his accomplishments where it is due. He claims that it takes a community to look after its people, and vice versa – something he calls moral authority. “All of my success is a community success,” Myrick said near the end of his speech. “It was the power of the collective. If you can tie that sense of moral authority – that duty – to your creativity, if you can tie it to a youthful, energetic enthusiasm, if you can do that, you’ll change your community, your community will change your state, your state will change your country, and together – we’ll change the world.”

Myrick’s lecture was well received by the audience, which consisted of listeners both young and old. Cazenovia’s mayor, Kurt Wheeler, was also in attendance and provided Myrick’s introduction. The 45-minute speech was followed by questions from the audience and an open recession with refreshments.

One questioner asked Myrick how long it would be before his energy and success took him elsewhere. The mayor said he plans to stay local, despite receiving offers from high levels of government in Washington.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Myrick answered. “I’ve had some pretty attractive offers. But there’s no pay raise in the world that can replace being near my family.”

The Cazenovia Forum’s next speaker will be former NFL quarterback and Syracuse alumni Don McPherson, who will address the topic of bullying. The lecture will take place Thursday, October 16.

Ithaca’s Svante Myrick, One of the Nation’s Youngest Mayors, to Discuss Community Engagement at Cazenovia Forum

18 Aug


Svante Myrick

CAZENOVIA, NY – Ithaca’s young, dynamic mayor, Svante Myrick, will discuss public policy and community engagement when he delivers the next Cazenovia Forum lecture on Friday, September 12, 2014, at 7:00 pm at the Catherine Cummings Theatre on Lincklaen Street.

 The event is free of charge and no reservations are required. An open reception will follow.

In his presentation, titled “Committing to Community Engagement,” Myrick will relate his experiences in city government and politics, which began with his election to the Ithaca Common Council when he was 20 years old and still an undergraduate student at Cornell University.  Four years later, in 2012, he drew national attention when he was sworn in as Ithaca’s youngest mayor and the first person of color to hold that office.

Click here to view an NBC News profile on Myrick.

Myrick grew up in a family that struggled through poverty and homelessness. He graduated from Sherburne-Earlville Public Schools in 2005 and Cornell University in 2009.

Upon his election as mayor in 2012, he led a successful effort to overhaul city government and close a $3 million budget deficit.  He also championed and passed a series of economic development reforms in the city, which has led the state in job creation in 22 of the 24 months he has been in office.  Ithaca today has the lowest unemployment rate in New York State.

Myrick has also undertaken efforts to move city government into the Internet age by overhauling its web presence and by embracing the use of social media as a tool to improve public engagement.

“While Svante Myrick’s personal story is one of enormous triumph against all odds, he would be the first to tell you that he is not a self-made man – that it was support from the community that got him where he is today,” said Cindy Sutton, the Cazenovia Forum’s President.  “We look forward to hearing how his life experiences are driving his efforts to expand community engagement in Ithaca while meeting the challenges of delivering good government.”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.