And you thought flunking a test at school was a big deal?!

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We know that cheating has been around forever, but somehow when it comes to sports, it seems so shocking (not to mention, so unsportsmanlike), especially when you stop to consider the ripple effect.

It all began on a beautiful Saturday at Churchill Downs, with roses and a victory for Medina Spirit, and the seventh Kentucky Derby win for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. And as is usually the case, while still celebrating the win, the focus quickly turns to the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown. Until … the breaking news that the thoroughbred had failed its post-race drug test, which, if not shocking enough, was the fifth horse trained by Baffert to have failed a drug test in just over a year.

Initially, Red had little more than a passing interest in the story, although it sounded like a movie script, complete with denials, a potential "conspiracy theory" raised by the trainer, and hopes riding (pun intended) on the results of the second drug test. But when Black mentioned the post-race drama, it caused an unexpected reaction in Red,

As the mother of a very competitive volleyball player, I totally understand the desire to win. But what I don't understand is feeling compelled to go to any length to win. Sawyer works extra hard – both on and off the court – to be the best she can be. I'm not being naïve but isn't sports about competing to be the best, and I don't mean best cheater? And I'd think the greater you are, the more you're risking.

Black pointed out that cheating at sports isn't new. And, doping goes back almost a hundred years, and although it's been banned for decades, that hasn't stopped athletes from trying to get away with it. Probably the most notorious being cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was not only stripped of his seven Tour de France titles but also banned for life from competitive cycling.

However, Black couldn't help but have a different perspective, one focused on winners and losers,

I fully understand your perspective, especially as you were a straight-A student who worked hard for your grades. (Ok, I used negotiating skills. Which, technically, was not cheating.) But this is about more than who won the Kentucky Derby. If Medina Spirit is stripped of the title, the $1.86 million winning purse will go to the horse that currently finished second (Mandaloun, who is not running at the Preakness, so no chance at the Triple Crown), but there will no change to the millions of dollars of bets placed. Once the race is declared official, all bets are final.

Ok, let’s be clear (pun intended) … Communication is critical. Whether in your personal life or in business, not to mention communication skills are transferable between the two (Black even suggested Red hold family “business” meetings). And what better time to work on how we communicate, and maybe even have a new attitude toward vocabulary and “50-cent words” (Red loves those, but terminology scares her!?), than during Effective Communications Month.

Talking isn't the same as communicating. And hearing isn't the same as listening. Think about it.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Being an effective communicator, whether in our personal lives or at work, is a critical skill but one-size-doesn't-fit-all as we each use very different methods and styles … ranging from lots of words and talking stuffed animals (Red) to bullet points and racing flags (Black).

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Most workaholics can rationalize working all the time. At least to themselves.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: “Gizmos” already blurred the lines between the workweek and the weekend, but the WFH (working from home) “revolution” caused by the pandemic has destroyed the line; except for people like Black, who have always treated every day as a workday.

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We all “celebrate” Memorial Day differently, but we all should remember it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives serving this country.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, and Red remembers celebrating over the years with family get-togethers, barbeques, and pool parties; whereas Black “celebrates” most holidays by having a quiet day to work uninterrupted, but it’s important never to forget the significance of the holiday.

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