Shift with the times, or be shifted

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 12/11/19

“The only constant in life is change”—my Dad. And, probably, lots of people before him. Given the wisdom of that adage, I’ve always wondered what it takes for people to stay ahead of the …

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Shift with the times, or be shifted


“The only constant in life is change”— my Dad. And, probably, lots of people before him.

Given the wisdom of that adage, I’ve always wondered what it takes for people to stay ahead of the changing tides of life. We’ve even got a fancy little term for it these days — we call it a “paradigm shift.”

Let me give you an example of a paradigm shift. Being a sports junkie, I’ve been watching the football season with my usual level of interest this year; and, being a Bronco fan, I’ve been watching the rest of the NFL … mostly. The story of the year is the season that Lamar Jackson is having with the Baltimore Ravens, who are likely to be the top-seeded team in the AFC come the playoffs. The conventional wisdom used to be that, for a quarterback to succeed, they needed to be able to control the game from the pocket with their eyes and their arm. Jackson is different: he controls the game with his feet and his unbelievable athleticism. And, to their credit, the Ravens have completely embraced that idea, even to the point that they’ve designed their entire offense around his skill set and then went out and got a backup quarterback who is good in the same offense. And then they shipped their “old school” quarterback off to some poor, hapless team desperate for washed up former stars.

Wonder who that was.

Baltimore will thrive this year, and, arguably, well into the future, because they are the first who have embraced the new paradigm, which also involves players coming out of college woefully unprepared for the NFL game. Don’t be surprised, in two years, when Baltimore drafts another quarterback who plays a lot like Jackson, just to have his replacement for when he gets injured, eventually.

The people who recognize and embrace paradigm shifts will always find themselves on top. Let me give you another example, in the opposite direction.

There is a well-publicized kerfuffle right now between Kroenke Sports Media/Altitude Television and Comcast over broadcasting rights for the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche. The short version is that Comcast wants a larger fee from Altitude to continue to be a part of the basic cable package; Altitude doesn’t feel that increase is justified.

In effect, a billionaire (Kroenke) is arguing with a billion-dollar corporation over relatively small change to allow you to see the home team on television. And, under the old paradigm, this probably made sense to argue about from both sides.

But the paradigm has shifted: Disney Plus isn’t even bothering to make their product available to large providers like Comcast, recognizing that most of their audience will be watching Disney on devices and consoles. Altitude is missing that there are enough ways for people to get the entertainment they want that Comcast has the stronger bargaining position. There’s no way I see Altitude winning this one.

Here’s another one: “socialism.” There was a time when throwing that term around had the effect of hopelessly tarnishing a political opponent, because nobody associated socialism with good things. That’s changed: millennials now think of Sweden when they hear “socialism,” not the old Soviet Union (also ignoring Venezuela). You can gauge a politician’s lack of being in touch by their willingness to toss the accusation of “socialist” at an opponent (ahem ahem … Cory Gardner … ahem).

And, speaking of paradigm shifts, I’ve had one of my own this week. I wrote last week about the “failure” of the city of Arvada to take care of Ward Road after the storm two weeks ago. Well, as pointed out by Mary and Vicky, the stretch of Ward I was talking about wasn’t the city’s responsibility. It’s a state highway, and the failure belongs to CDOT, not Arvada. My mistake.

And, I’ll save the conversation about how stupid it is that a two-mile stretch is a state highway and the lunacy of jurisdictional peeing contests for another day.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at, on Kindle, or through” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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