retail news in context, analysis with attitude

As Tony Kornheiser said on his radio show the other day, this certainly goes into the “stuff I never thought I’d have to think about” file.

There was a fascinating piece in the Washington Post the other day about Kye Allums, who plays for the George Washington University women’s basketball team. What makes Allums interesting is that Allums, biologically a woman, has begun to self-identify as a man, and “is believed to be the first Division I college basketball player to go public about being a transgender person.”

Allums has said that he told his team about his decision last season, and his coach just this season, and that all have been very supportive. There is no question, apparently, about the propriety of his playing for the women’s team since Allums has not undergone any hormone therapy or surgery.

“This means a lot,” he said. “I didn't choose to be born in this body and feel the way I do. I decided to transition, that is change my name and pronouns because it bothered me to hide who I am, and I am trying to help myself and others to be who they are. I told my teammates first, and they, including my coaches, have supported me. My teammates have embraced me as the big brother of the team. They have been my family, and I love them all.”

I find this story fascinating, precisely because it makes me consider things that I never thought I’d have to ponder.

This has happened before. I know someone who was born a woman, has gone through hormonal therapy, and now is a man. This takes a little getting used to; it is hard just to remember to use “he” as a pronoun instead of “she.” And there are repercussions of such decisions. For example, before undergoing gender transformation, this person was a lesbian, and lived in a long relationship with another lesbian. After the change took place, they remained together...but does this mean his partner is no longer a lesbian?

These are not insignificant issues in terms of how people think about themselves. And I wonder to what extent corporations and business institutions are prepared to be as accepting and supportive as the folks at George Washington University.

It’s probably something that they need to think about. It could happen when a checkout person goes through such a transition. Or, when a senior vice president or even C-level executive finds themselves at a personal crossroads.

As Mr. Tony said, this is stuff that many of us never thought we’d have to think about. But probably have to.

At some level, it is a little depressing that the television ratings for the recent World Series were among the lowest in years, despite the fact that the series - won by the San Francisco Giants - featured a terrific bunch of games.

Some are arguing that baseball needs to make major changes, perhaps elongating its playoff structure. This strikes me as a stupid move, and not just because I even hate the wild card format (almost as much as I hate the designated hitter rule). The last thing they need to do is send the baseball season deeper into November and against the NFL; they really ought to cut the season back to 154 games from the current 162, and end the playoffs by mid-October.

Others are arguing the baseball, unlike pro football, has largely become a local game as opposed to a national pastime. This, in fact, may be true and difficult to change. Perhaps baseball ought to embrace this facet of its nature ... and in doing so, recapture its essential American nature. I’m not sure how to do that, but it seems clear that baseball cannot fight the NFL and win. And so, it needs to go in a different direction.

We had an Eye-Opener a few weeks ago about how Southwest Airlines, highly praised for much of its approach to business, actually has begun to decline in terms of on-time performance.

Well, the Chicago Sun Times reports today that the problem is getting worse, as “the low-fare behemoth is struggling to cope with record load factors and more connecting passengers transiting from one flight to another at key hubs, including Midway Airport and Baltimore/Washington International Airport.

“The on-time performance also is getting worse as Southwest is set to introduce a significant number of new flights in March from Midway to new markets, including Charleston and Greenville, S.C., and to Newark Liberty International, one of the nation's most congested airports.”

So too much business is creating an airline that people may not want to fly?

Sounds like the old Yogi Berra line about the restaurant that “was so crowded that nobody goes there anymore.” Or something like that.

My wine of the week: the 2008 Conundrum white wine, a blend that is absolutely gorgeous - and in my case, spectacular with salmon and the best mashed yams (served with a touch of maple syrup) that I’ve ever had in my life, courtesy of a friend who really knows how to cook.

And once again, thanks to the dozens of MNB users who sent me happy birthday notes this week. I am moved, almost beyond words.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend.

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