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Sports and Social Justice: Chuck Ealey's Influences

On his interview on Smashing the Plateau, Chuck Ealey discussed his trajectory from a professional football career to business, and the people who influenced him along the way. Here, an excerpt from his discussion of the people who influenced him as a young man:

“Larry Hisle and Al Oliver who were professional baseball players that I grew up with in Portsmouth, Ohio. They were only three years older than me—and at that time when you were growing up, it wasn’t that you were looking at pros; you were looking at the guys in front of you, that were inspirational in the way that they played sports. They would spend time with me, and other kids within the community, to teach us, because we lived in this one little community that we had to protect each other, and sort of guide each other through this period of time in the Civil Rights Movement. They were very inspirational in showing me to be dedicated to the sport, of how to play, and how to practice—and you would practice more than anybody else.” Ealey described learning to time throws when he had no one to practice with by throwing small stones at passing freight train cars and trying to hit markers on the cars. “You have to do more than others to excel, and these guys taught me that.” Ealey also said that his high school coach Ed Miller was an important influence as well.

“In the social world, Martin Luther King, and his dedication regardless of what took place — to sacrifice the things that he sacrificed to make a change in the world — was something that as a youngster I could watch and observe, and see and be inspired by the commitment to do what is right, regardless of the consequences.”

Ealey also listed several books that he found useful or important:

1. The Bible

“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.”

2. Jack Welch, Jack: Straight From the Gut

3. Keith Ferrazzi, Who’s Got Your Back

4. Sarah L. Orem, Jacqueline Binkert, Ann L. Clancy, Appreciative Coaching: A Positive Process for Change

5. Jael Ealey Richardson, The Stone Thrower


About the author, David Shriner-Cahn

David is the podcast host and community builder behind Smashing the Plateau, an online platform offering resources, accountability, and camaraderie to high-performing professionals who are making the leap from the corporate career track to entrepreneurial business ownership.

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