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Dome Pondering - 2018 Year in Review


Another year, another opportunity to reflect on it all.

As the days, hours, and seconds continue to tick away on a rather heavy and at times, exhausting, 2018, let us take a moment to reflect on it all, and of course, digest what the heck just happened.

For me, it was all about change. Personally, professionally, and mentally.

And of course, fitting all of that into a world that is laregely unforgiving continues to be the caveat in this race called life.

Regardless, 2018 is coming to an end. Of course, here we are with the traditional Dome Pondering Year in Review post, the 13th of its kind, to take one last peek before slamming the book closed on this one.

Dome Pondering Year in Review History

As always, I want to thank all of you for continuing to journey life with me through this tiny little slice of the internet called Dome Pondering. It's been a really, really, really rough year in getting in front of a keyboard to hammer out thoughts, but if you've been keeping up, that was expected. More on that later.

With all of that said, let's do this - and as always, start by giving away the traditional Pondys!

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THE PONDY AWARDS


*Crucial Moment of the Year: Student Confront Marco Rubio on NRA Affiliation

There was just something VERY raw and real about this moment. On national television, in the crux of a very sensitive situation, and from a victim of a senseless mass shooting, Marco Rubio found himself in a position that politicians attempt to avoid at all costs - authenticity and transparency.

Honorable Mention: Elevator Confrontation of Jeff Blake

*World Affairs Issue of the Year: Murder of Jamal Khoshoaggi

Khoshoaggi's death not only placed the work and importance of journalists in a higher realm of credibility around the world (See: Time 2018 Person of the Year), but it shed light on the practices of Saudi Arabia, as well as the connections and tumultuous/controversial relationship we have with the nation.

Honorable Mention: Kin Jong Un/Donald Trump Meeting

*Inspirational Story of the Year: Stoneman Douglas Students Political Charge

It's hard not to be in awe of the students - mere high schoolers - who lead the charge in demanding change in America. This is especially so when it comes to mass shootings in our schools. As always, there are opposers, but I find what they did not only courageous (especially at such a young age), but very inspiring as well.

Honorable Mention: Thailand Soccer Boys and Coach Trapped in Thailand Cave

*Random Story of the Year: Serial Fake Bomber to Trump Opposers

Everything about this story was random, scary, and well, random. From the research done and the targets, to the victim's van, and intended purpose. Again, scary, but so random. And really, so 2018. Our new world. SMH.

*Most Controversial Story of the Year: Immigration Separation Policy

Not only controversial, but immensely heartbreaking and in some ways, stunning. There just has to be a better way. A more efficient, humane way other than completely breaking up families and tearing children away from parents.

Honorable Mention: Gun Control Debate

*Most Overrated Story of the Year: The Royal Wedding

I think royalty is cool, and a small part of me still believes in a good fairy tale. Other than that, why do we care so much about monarchy families with no true power? And why do we still obsess over this family?

*Tune of the Year: "Nice For What" by Drake

Look, there were so many options this year as the music scene had such good things going for it in 2018. "This is America" by Childish Gambino was just as dope - though the video made it that much better. What it came down to was this - this Drake track played a lot - A LOT - throughout my Spotify account. Such a dope track.

Honorable Mention: "This is America" by Childish Gambino; "Apesh*t" by The Carters; and, "Make Me Feel by Janelle Monae

*Invention of the Year: Fortnite

Fortnite has taken over the world. 150 Million players and growing. Just crazy.

*Comeback of the Year: Meek Mill

It was quite the year for Meek Mill. From having his case made aware for the injustice that it was, to being released from prison, to releasing a new album, to now working with the wrongfully convicted - Meek Mill has come quite a long way in 2018.

*"Wishing Well" Award of the Year: Empathy

It would be so nice if we can all show some, right? Maybe just a bit. Just a little.

*"Just Go Away" Award of the Year: Kanye West

I miss old Kanye. College Dropout Kanye. Stand for black pride and against racism Kanye. This Kanye, whatever this is, can go away. Far away.

Honorable Mention: Fergie's National Anthem, Voter Suppression and Purging Efforts, and Laura Ingraham


*"Largest Fortitude" Award of the Year: USA Gymnasts

You have to hand it to all the young women of USA Gymnastics who not only stood up against the crazy evil regime that is USA Gymnastics, but came together to convict that creep Larry Nassar.

Honorable Mention: Nike's Colin Kaepernick's Commercial

*"We'll Miss You" Award of the Year: Lesandro Guzman-Feliz (Junior) Death

Junior's death rocked NYC, and eventually the nation. The senseless death is scary, and a reminder of how precious life is. Hug your loved ones often.

*"What Were You Thinking" Award of the Year: JR Smith's NBA Finals Game 1 Mental Error

Bruh. How do you NOT know the score? Especially, in the NBA Finals?! He figuratively packed LeBron's bags.

*"What a Shame" Award of the Year: Mass Shootings

No need to explain.

Honorable Mention: Indonesia Tsunami

*"Welcome to the Scene" Award of the Year: Diversity in Politics

The mid-term elections gave us the first openly gay man elected governor, the first Native-American congresswoman, first Muslim congresswoman, first Latina congresswoman from Texas, first lesbian mom in congress, Massachusetts first black congresswoman, Tennessee's first female senator, Arizona's first female senator, Connecticut's first black woman sent to congress, South Dakota's first female senator, and Maine's first female governor. Yay diversity! Yay Inclusion!

*"This Should Have Been Done Before" Award of the Year: Mobilized and Motivated Voters

See above. True representation is important. Vote.


*"The Incredibles" Award of the Year: #16 UMBC Defeats #1 Virgninia in NCAA Tournament

Not only did they beat them, but UMBC dominated the contest. Also, major kudos to the UMBC Twitter which was epic going into the game, during the game, and the many days following the game.

*"We Need to Fix This" Award of the Year: Clean Water for Flint Michigan

Seriously.

*Biggest Letdown of the Year: Gun Control Debate

I touched base on this a bit yesterday in the Pondering 10 - Most Fascinating Things in 2018. We've gone from a motivated society that at least brought the different perspectives to the table to get something done, to now pivoting to ridiculous measures like forcing bulletproof backpacks onto our children.

*Idiot of the Year: Kanye West

That visit to the White House solidified it.


*Dome Pondering Person of the Year: Separated Families

It's obviously been a topic of discussion all year long. While the issue of immigration has taken many twists, turns, varied angles and perspectives, one that is very much not discussed is that of the immigrants themselves.

As the year has gone on, and many families have been separated, with many yet to have been reunited, I focus on empathizing with these families. Where they have been. Why they are coming. What they dream of. And most importantly, what drives them to risk it all - including the possibility of either separation from their children, or the possibility of sending their kid along without them for a better life.

Especially so, is the (troubling) thought of a young child who has already said goodbye forever to his/her parent(s), and is now alone starting anew in a random section of these United States.

The level of dedication and sacrifice involved in these stories, all for a better life, is incredible.

*Pay Per View Event of the Year: Slammiversary (Impact Wrestling)

Easily the best card and wrestling event of the year for me. From top-to-bottom, Slammiversary not only helped gain the company some much needed momentum, but also brought this fan back into the fold.

Honorable Mention: Wrestle Kingdom 12 (NJPW)

*Pro Wrestling Match of the Year: Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada - Dominion (NJPW)

Some have called it the greatest pro wrestling match ever. Wellllllll, I'm not ready to go that far. However, this was pretty damn awesome. Strap yourself in for an hour and give this instant classic a watch.

Honorable Mention: Pentagon Jr. vs. Sami Callahan - Slammiversary; Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair - Survivor Series; Johnny Gargano vs. Tommasso Ciampa - Last Man Standing - NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4; Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano - NXT TakeOver War Games II; and, Ronda Rousey/Kurt Angle vs. Triple H/Stephanie McMahon - Wrestlemania 34

*Pro Wrestling Tag Team of the Year: Young Bucks (NJPW and ROH)

Another year of being The Elite. 2019 should be VERY interesting for the Jacksons.

Honorable Mention: LAX (Impact Wrestling); Lucha Bros (Impact Wrestling and MLW), and The Usos (WWE)


*Female Pro Wrestler of the Year: Tessa Blanchard (Impact Wrestling)

Tessa Blanchard is as can't-miss in professional wrestling as there is right now. And that includes both men and women.

Honorable Mention: Becky Lynch (WWE), Su Yung (Impact); Charlotte Flair (WWE); and Asuka (WWE)


*Male Pro Wrestler of the Year: AJ Styles (WWE)

For the third year in a row, Styles takes home this award. And really, that is evident of how reliable the guy is not only for fans but to the WWE product. Styles continues to entertain in a big-time way, especially during a time when the WWE is seeing some slide backs in various areas.

Honorable Mention: Sami Callahan (Impact); Pentagon Jr. (Impact and MLW); Kenny Omega (NJPW); Seth Rollins (WWE); Braun Strowman (WWE); Cody Rhodes (ROH and NJPW); and, Roman Reigns (WWE)

* Sports Event of the Year: 2018 FIFA World Cup

Did anything come close?



*The Derek Jeter Flip Play Award of the Year: Arike Ogunbowale's Game-Winning Shot to Win 2018 National Title

There were a lot of awesome plays in 2018. But none meant as much as this one - especially considering Ogunbowale did it in the semi-finals to beat UCONN.

*Coach of the Year: Steve Kerr - Golden State Warriors

Dynasties are easy to coach, manage, or even to keep together. Steve Kerr, has managed to play the role of a modern-day Phil Jackson in leading a talent-filled team to yet another championship in dominating fashion.

[Edited 2020 following Houston Astros Scandal] Alex Cora - Boston Red Sox: Cora kept his team focused and capped a dominant season with a ring. And oh yeah, he did so with some creative bull-penning of using starters. Bravo.

*Team of the Year: Boston Red Sox

For the second time, they take this award. It very much hurts to say it, but they deserve it.

Honorable Mention: Golden State Warriors


*Dome Pondering Athlete of the Year: Simone Biles

First, she helps take down Larry Nassar and rallies against USA Gymnastics for every shortcoming it provided its gymnasts and athletes.

But then Biles went out and did what she has been doing her entire career - dominate. And in a big way. At the World Championships, Biles brought home medals in every event (a first for an American). And - AND! - she walked away with her fourth all-around title.

By the way, this is all after taking a year away from the gym to rest.

Easily, athlete of the year.

Honorable Mention: LeBron James, Sue Bird, James Harden, Serena Williams, and JD Martinez.

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FINAL COUNTDOWN

Unlike 2017, 2018 was a thrill ride for me. Really, I still can't believe I'm punching the keys right now on this Year in Review, and of course, trying to wrap up everything that was 2018. At the end of every year, it always feels like the year went by pretty fast, but 2018 felt not only fast, but filled with movement, and adaptation, and most of all, change. So. Much. Change.

Obviously, there is a big one for me - I became a father in June.

Regardless of how many months you have to prepare, or even to mentally set yourself for the drastic shift towards fatherhood, you don't quite understand it all until you're on the other end. And even then, your understanding continues to evolve.

It's why I write the Dear Son letters that I do. Because through fatherhood, not only have I changed, but my interaction with the world has as well. My priorities have changed. What is important in life has changed. The things I stress about has changed. And of course, my values as well.

And all of this has compounded upon my 2017, which was learning to deal with taking care of my parents. Because that doesn't stop. In 2018, my responsibility grew that much more to those around me.

But why stop there? In 2018, change was abounding, and it seeped into my professional life. As I discussed in "Earned", I left NYU after almost seven years and accepted a new role at another Institution as an Associate Athletic Director.

But even in that change, I quickly learned and realized just how much of an impact I had on my students and colleagues during my time at NYU. And yes, I realized my own value and strengths in what I am capable of professionally, and most importantly, on a human level.

After all, besides change, 2018 in all of its glory, and through all of its change, placed an enormous amount of significance on the people around me. Their lives. Their comfort. Their progression. And really, doing whatever I could to make their lives that much better.

As one of my favorite movies, Friday Night Lights states:
Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down, because you told them the truth. And that truth is that you did everything that you could. There wasn't one more thing that you could've done. Can you live in that moment, as best you can, with clear eyes and love in your heart? With joy in your heart? If you can do that gentlemen, then you're perfect.
For my students, I want to be perfect. For my parents, I always want to be perfect. For my wife, I have to be perfect. For my son...there is no other choice but to be perfect. 

I embrace that challenge. I embrace it all. 

But in the midst of shouldering and being responsible for the challenge of perfection, I am also learning to take care of myself. For the first time in a very, very, very long time, I am undergoing a change and redefining what it means to take care of myself - mentally, physically, and yes, spiritually. I'll be working on that in 2019. Because I'm very bad at it right now. Very bad. 

Regardless, 2018 has been pivotal in my life, and for many reasons beyond the obvious, I will look back on as a benchmark and as a very big turning point for me. In the last couple of years, God has been taken me through many life lessons and moments in preparation for this, and despite the change seen here in 2018, I still truly feel like he's still working on me. 

But, isn't he always? And isn't that the core of change? 

In 2019, How will you change? 

Happy New Year!  

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