John Saunders: A Legacy of Love and Respect

If we had more people like John Saunders, we wouldn’t have this violence and the hate. John was about one word. Love.

~Dick Vitale

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The news hit sports media, particularly those at ESPN, like a ton of bricks.

One of the most respected and beloved anchors in the business had suddenly died. The cause of death was’t given. There was no need. John Saunders was gone. 

When someone famous dies, people naturally take to social media to share their reactions. Or, in the case of me, I read others’ reactions. Not in some kind of morbid way. But, rather, to understand the person. 

How people react to someone’s death says a lot about the person. What kind of person were they? What did they do for others? Positive stories. Negative stories. Funny stories. Special moments. Are people feeling the loss? Or, is it simply “RIP”. 

I always want to know what makes people tick. Who are they? 

Be present. Love them first and last and through whatever comes in the middle.

~Scott Van Pelt (on Saunders’ parental advice to him)

As I began to read through various tweets, I began to get an understanding of a man I’d never met. Oh sure, I’d see Saunders every week on my tv or streaming device during college football season, but I had no idea who he was. Most of us never will know who the people are on the inside when the lights are off. 

ESPN’ers and non-ESPN’ers spoke of a kind, genuine, helpful soul. Yet, he was a professional. Saunders wasn’t one for big-timing people or pushing his own personal agenda to the masses. He was skillful, according to many. But, there was one word that kept echoing through my mind as I read all of the messages. 

Respect. 

John Saunders was respected by his peers. John Saunders was also respectful of his peers.

And, by all accounts, he was respectful of people in general. 

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Respect is a lost characteristic today. Far too often in today’s social media world, it’s become about being right and setting people straight when their opinion differs from ours. If they’re wrong, or they tell us we (God forbid) are wrong, it’s our duty, no OUR RIGHT to tell them as much. 

Yes, that is sarcasm. Hard to tell in written word, isn’t it? 

That mindset, however justified in some cases, hinders dialogue. It hinders our ability to not only listen, but evaluate what someone is actually trying to say. Why are they saying what they are saying? What has shaped their thinking? Why do they believe what they believe? Who are they? 

I try to ask myself those questions when I read some of the so-called discourse and conversations that take place on social media. I used to get involved, but it seems (my perspective) that most people don’t want to hear an opposing viewpoint. They don’t want to listen. They simply want to speak. 

And that’s what social media has done. It’s given people a voice. But, somewhere along the way, the voice has become paramount. When that happens, respect is lost. 

 

See, if we don’t have respect for one another, it makes it hard to listen. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are different levels of respect. The kind of respect that I am talking about is respecting the fact that we are all human beings. I may not agree with you, but I am (trying to get to this place consistently where I am) willing to listen to you with respect because you are a human being. 

I (try to) value what you have to say because I value you as a human being. A human life who is just as worthy as me of being heard. No person is too big or small. We all start out the same as a human life, so why should we disrespect each other? 

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That’s my take away from what was said about John Saunders. He had respect for people. It didn’t matter if they were a new intern or a seasoned broadcast veteran, a waitress at a restaurant or a national politician, a college student or a tenured professor – he respected you as a human being.

Saunders made time for you as often as he could. He knew who he was and strived to help you find out who you were too – a key element in this sports media industry we work in. 

All I can say is that there are a lot of people on tv who have their own agenda. They’re in it for themselves. But, his main message last Friday at NABJ, was he wanted and accepted the role of being a mentor.  

~Jemele Hill

Our country, our world is changing at a rapid pace. Some good, some not. Many fret over where we are at and want change now. If we truly want change, it begins and ends with respect. 

Want to help out this generation and the next? Be someone that respects self and others. Be one that respects opposing viewpoints. Be one that respectfully dialogues. Be one that respects human life no matter what. Be one that teaches our children to do the same. 

John Saunders seemed to epitomize one who respected himself and others. His aim was to help build others up and, in turn, help build a better society.When we learn to respect ourselves and others, we are helping to build a better society and world for

Like it or not, we’re all in this together. Let’s work together, despite our differences, to build a better world for us and the next generations. Respect should be the cornerstone of our foundation. 

And when our days are gone from this earth, may the words spoken about us be like those said about John Saunders this past week. 

That we exemplified love and above all else, respect. 

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CadChica Sports

MLB Unveils 2017 All-Star Logo for Miami

2017 All-Star Logo Revealed for Game in Miami

   MIAMI – Major League Baseball, the Miami Marlins and local officials from Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami today unveiled the official logo of the 2017 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, which will be played at Marlins Park on Tuesday, July 11th.

Description: 2017 ASG Logo     Those in attendance for this morning’s unveiling before Miami’s afternoon game against the Philadelphia Phillies included Marlins owner Jeffrey H. Loria and President David Samson; Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr.; two-time National League All-Star and the event’s 1995 Most Valuable Player, Jeff Conine; Mayor Carlos A. Giménez of Miami-Dade County; and Mayor Tomás P. Regalado of the City of Miami.

     The official logo of the 2017 All-Star Game is sleek and modern, echoing the stunning, contemporary feeling of the façade and interior of Marlins Park.  A metallic star incorporates the Club’s Marlin and their vibrant team colors, including red-orange, symbolic of Miami’s sunsets and the citrus industry; yellow, highlighting the region’s sunshine; and blue, representing the sky and the sea surrounding Miami.

     Commissioner Manfred said: “Major League Baseball is very pleased to bring the All-Star Game to Miami for the first time in 2017.  We look forward to celebrating our global sport in a true gateway to Latin America and at one of our game’s most unique ballparks.”

     “It’s a tremendous honor to host the 2017 All-Star Game and welcome the game’s most exciting talent to Miami,” said Marlins team owner, Jeffrey H. Loria.  “This city represents the new mainstream of America which mirrors the future of our sport: young, diverse and dynamic.”

     “The 2017 All Star Game in Miami will be a special experience for fans and guests,” said Javier Alberto Soto, President and CEO of the Miami Foundation, representing the host communities of South Florida.  “We are proud of the partnership with Miami Dade County, the City of Miami, Miami Beach, and the State of Florida.  Alongside Major League Baseball, our entire community stands ready to showcase the best of Miami.”

     Fans can register for the opportunity to purchase full ticket strips for 2017 MLB All-Star events beginning today by visiting AllStarGame.com or Marlins.com.  Winners will be randomly selected as available tickets will be limited.  Date, time and instructions for purchase will be communicated via email to each selected applicant in late April.  A full strip includes a ticket to all three days of ballpark events at Marlins Park, tickets to MLB All-Star FanFest and a commemorative All-Star program.

     Miami Marlins season ticket holders will be among the first fans to receive the opportunity to secure tickets for the 2017 MLB All-Star events.  For information on Marlins season ticket memberships that include All-Star ticket options, fans should visit marlins.com/seasontickets or call (305) 480-2521.

     The City of Miami will become a first-time host of the All-Star Game when the 88th Midsummer Classic will be held next July 11th at Marlins Park, which opened in 2012.  The 2017 season will mark the Marlins franchise’s 25thseason of play.

2017 All-Star Game Logo

MIAMI FACT SHEET

 

  • Major League Baseball and the Miami Marlins will hold the 2017 All-Star Game at Marlins Park on July 11, 2017. The 2017 All-Star Game will be the 88th Midsummer Classic.
  • It will mark the 1st time that the Marlins have hosted the All-Star Game. Miami will become the 28th different city to host the Midsummer Classic, and the first to do so for the first time since Phoenix, Arizona in 2011.
  • The Marlins have had 48 All-Star selections in franchise history and have had two managers lead an NL squad [Jim Leyland – 1998; and Jack McKeon – 2004].
  • The Marlins have produced one All-Star Game Most Valuable Player. Jeff Conine won the award at the 1995 Midsummer Classic in Texas after connecting for a pinch-hit solo home run in the top of the eighth inning that gave the National League a 3-2 victory.
  • The Marlins have never had a pitcher start the Midsummer Classic.
  • The Marlins have had three rookies named to the NL All-Star Team: pitcher Dontrelle Willis in 2003; infielder Dan Uggla in 2006; and pitcher Jose Fernandez in 2013.
  • Miguel Cabrera owns the most All-Star selections in Marlins history with four selections (2004-07)

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CadChica Sports

Daniel Suárez: Habilidad. Fortaleza. Pasión

Skill. Fortitude. Passion.

To describe driver Daniel Suárez, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said those very words on Satruday. The reason France said them was because of the history Suárez made at the Menards 250 at Michigan International Speedway. Suárez became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR XFINITY Series race.

“Daniel Suarez has competed in NASCAR for a relatively brief time, yet his impact on the sport has been immeasurable,” said France. “Combining impressive talent and an incredible personality, Daniel has attracted fans throughout North America.”

The 24 year-old from Monterrey, Mexico had shown flashes of that talent with six second-place finishes previously in NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck racing. It wasn’t a question of if for Suárez, but when would the breakthrough happen. He also became the second foreign-born driver to win on an oval track (via MRN.com). The first was Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya.

The victory was also a win for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. Begun in 2004, Drive for Diversity was created to help draw in more minorities and women to the sport, not just as drivers but in crew, sponsor and owner positions as well. The program was built similar to a 2003 program created by Joe Gibbs and NFL legend Reggie White. Each program’s focus was to increase diversity in the predominantly white sport of stock car racing.

Suárez joined the program in 2013. It provided the opportunity not just to race, but to race on many levels and circuits. He’s raced in NASCAR’s series in Mexico, as well as trucks and other lower-level series here in America. The program, said Suárez in 2013, exposed him to other drivers and gave him the “needed experience” and media training necessary to compete at the highest level.

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A fitting moment for NASCAR too with the announcement of their partnership with RISE, a program initiative created by Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross to help promote diversity. I heard directly about the RISE program last month at the Sports PR Summit. 

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The partnership was announced, coincidentally, the day before Suárez’ historical win.

Progressive steps for a sport that hasn’t always been known for its diversity.

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Three years after joining the Drive for Diversity program, Suárez is now an XFINITY Series race winner. The victory also helped Suárez increase his series lead over Elliott Sadler (434) and Ty Dillon (416) with 452 points.    

It was an emotional moment for Suárez. “I don’t think I can speak English or Spanish right now,” he said in a post-race interview. No need to. His driving today said it all.

Habilidad. Fortaleza. Pasión.

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CadChica Sports

Seismic Shift in the Sports-Social Media World

WRITER’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo! Voices network on May 23, 2012. The article is no longer available on Yahoo’s network. Reprinted here as the author of original work.

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Seismic Shift in the Sports-Social Media World

A tremor in the sports-social media world took place this week.

Did you feel it?

Most didn’t realize it when it happened. But, the early rumblings of a seismic shift in the Twitter/Sports relationship occurred, unsurprisingly, in the world of NASCAR.

On Friday, Twitter and NASCAR representatives announced a “business” partnership that is the first of its kind between Twitter and a sports league. The early details of this partnership, scheduled to begin next month at the Pocono race on June 10, entails a promoted NASCAR hashtag (#NASCAR) as well as a NASCAR specific page to take the fan-sport interaction to another level.

Currently, Twitter has promoted tweets that occur on users timelines. According to Twitter: “Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers. To what extent the “promoted tweets” have been successful or not depends on who you ask. But according to this May 2011 article, Twitter expected ad spending to triple from 2010 to 2011.

So how does this affect Twitter’s new relationship with NASCAR? Can you say: #WINNING?

NASCAR has long been known for being a “fan’s” sport. History shows large attendance numbers at races as well as the driver interaction with fans proved to be beneficial to NASCAR’s growth. Despite the economy cutting into those numbers, NASCAR has been able to evolve and adapt, using social media to do it.

Because their drivers were already accessible to the public, the use of Twitter by NASCAR and their drivers was a natural extension. Highlighting this was Brad Keselowski, earlier this year. During the Daytona 500, there was a fiery crash that Keselowski had opportunity to snap a picture of as it happened in front of him. Using his phone, he tweeted the picture to the world.

Not knowing how this simple act would take off (he gained over 100,000 followers in just a matter of hours), it proved the connection of Twitter and sports beyond just the sport of NASCAR. It was a trending topic online but work offices around the country. The power of NASCAR. The power of Twitter.

Twitter social media shift

Fast forward to Friday. Twitter and NASCAR joining forces. Hashtag promotion. A NASCAR-specific page on Twitter. A page where tweets will be curated (gathered), from media, the fans, drivers, their families and crew centrally located in one place. What are other fans saying about the race? The media? Anything happen before the race fans should know about? Fans will no longer have to search for the hottest topics during the event. Twitter will do it for you.

That is a good thing. Less work for the fan to do, the more likely they’ll be to stay on that page. A captive audience if you will. And in the world of advertising, that’s the best type of audience to have.

If it succeeds, that tremor, that seismic shift…is only the beginning for Twitter and sports. 

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CadChica Sports

Learning Sports Lessons Through Life

WRITER’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo! Voices network on June 5, 2012. The article is no longer available on Yahoo’s network. Reprinted here as the author of original work.

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Life Lessons

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The decision, for me, was never hard.

Was it surprising to me? As a life-long sports participant or fan, it seemed inevitable that my children would be involved in sports. So it was surprising.

That was, until I met, Gage.

Gage is the youngest of my three children. An inquisitive, sensitive, strong-minded ten year old. His older sister and brother were big-time into sports. His sister was a premier-level soccer player until knee injuries did in her career. His brother was a club-level goalie and non-stop “full 90 minutes” player on his high school soccer team. Both kids enjoy watching sports too but my older son is by far, the bigger sports fan of the two.

From a young age, I knew there was something different about Gage. He just had a way about him that you knew instantly that he was created a bit different from the other two. We tried sports; soccer, track, cross-country. Playing sports just wasn’t his thing. Other than just trying to keep him active, I made the decision ‘not’ to push sports on him.

Gage liked to play. But Gage also liked Legos. He liked music. He liked video games. He liked reading. He liked his scooter. He liked cartoons. He liked just about everything else…but “playing or watching” sports.

Now before anyone gets the wrong impression, Gage is a normal, healthy young boy that I am completelyIMG_0052 2in love with. For him, sports is something Mommy likes. It’s part of Mom’s job. That’s the extent of his sports-affection. His mom. Me. 

And that’s okay. 

I was reminded of that this week with stories from two dads “in sports”. One, a new father, and the other, facing a life-challenge through the body of his son.

Both stories in their own way reminded me of how thankful I am for my youngest. He is teaching me lessons beyond the field, court, pitch or diamond. There is a life beyond sports. That “life” can be hard to see sometimes when your work revolves around the 24/7 world of sports & social media.

Life is building a Death Star out of Legos. Life is zooming down the street on a scooter. Life is having a sword fight with the enemy in the backyard…because you can. And yes, life can be sports too.

But it does not need to have a place in my life as the ‘be-all, end-all’.

Gage has taught me that. Sports isn’t everything. Life is. Sports certainly is a part of that. Gage understands it. He may not always get it when I say the Rangers, in June, I’m probably talking about the Texas Rangers and not the New York Rangers (sorry Rangers fans). If I say Seattle is playing, I have to make sure I explain it’s the Sounders, not the Mariners or Seahawks.

And when he says ship, he has to make sure to explain to me “it’s a Naboo Fighter, Mom” and not a boat for the water. These can fly in the air and “get the bad guys, Mom”.

Getting the bad guys. Living life.

Ain’t that the truth.

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CadChica Sports

Disposable Athletes

WRITER’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo! Voices network on April 27, 2012. The article is no longer available on Yahoo’s network. Reprinted here as the author of original work.

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Disposable Athletes


Discarded tires.

Tires that have been worn, stripped, shredded, ripped, torn in half and dumped in an empty field.

There usefulness has expired. No longer wanted. Sitting in emptiness.

Discarded tire

What becomes of athletes whose usefulness is no longer needed?

When they are battered and bruised. Broken and stripped of talents and gifts that they were created with. Worn out beyond their life span.

Are they discarded like these worn tires? Or are they given the tools needed to succeed beyond their “sports-life span”?

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I often wonder if high school and college athletes are getting the education they need. Education as in life skills. Life skills for “after” sports.

Invariably, there will always be a post-sports life. What happens then? True, there are those athletes who have the skills to succeed but many don’t. Would we see athletes leave school early for the NBA or NFL, only to find they are no longer wanted or needed like before? Who fills their head with dreams of fame and fortune, yet reality screams ‘THERE IS MORE TO LEARN’?

We call them student-athletes. Athletes on the field or court. Students in traditional classrooms. What do they learn in high school and college? Reading, writing and arithmetic? If one has a learning disability, is he simply passed along so he graduates (high school) to get that scholarship or maintains his eligibility (college), all in the name of bringing glory to the school? The greater the glory….the greater the money that comes in right?

What if the “student-athlete” does not know how to track his money? Open a bank account? Use a debit card? Recognize the psychology (motives) of those around him? Does he know how to use social media effectively? Can he recognize a potentially “bad” situation? Has he surrounded himself with people who will give him truth not just a “yes”? Will he believe the agent that promises him first round draft status, despite his undraftable skills? What about making decisions for the future?

When the lights and cameras fade away, all the athlete has left is his life. Does he know how to make it without the sports, the fame, the fortune, the “yes” people, the lights, the adulation from fans? What then?

Discarded athletes. Discarded tires. 

NFL Drafts Alone Don’t Win Championships

WRITER’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo! Voices network on May 9, 2012. The article is no longer available on Yahoo’s network. Reprinted here as the author of original work…for posterity’s sake. 🙂 

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Team ______. Your selections in this year’s NFL Draft did not meet my standards of mock-draftness. You get a grade of “D”.

NFL experts are paid to study. Study the players. Study the teams. Study the games. For some, it’s almost as if they are paid per word to speak, write and tweet.

Fair? Unfair? It depends on how much stock one puts in the “experts” opinions. 

In this year’s draft, take for example the case that is the Seattle Seahawks. The prevailing opinion among a variety of “draft grade” stories is that the Seahawks rate no better than a “C”.

When the Seahawks selected West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin with the 15th overall pick in the first round, “reach” was the word. He is a raw athletic talent with great potential; excellent pass-rushing abilities. How many teams, however, draft “potentials” in the first round on defense? Not many.

But does that type of a move justify grades? Sure, “experts” grade an entire team’s draft. But much of the grading stems from how well a team does with their first pick.NFL Drafts

In 2011, the Seattle Seahawks received unfavorable draft grades. One network (FOX Sports) gave the Seattle Seahawks a grade of “D”. Their first pick in 2011, offensive lineman James Carpenter, was a surprise even to his Alabama coach Nick Saban. That set the tone for the Seahawks draft grades. As the FOX Sports article states: “While they selected a few good players early on, Seattle picked them before many personnel evaluators felt they should have gone off the board.” 

Who else was drafted last year? John Moffitt (3rd), K.J. Wright (4th) and Richard Sherman (5th). All players, including Carpenter, received significant playing time last season, aside from injury.

And yet the grade was a “D”.

For contrast, look at the last two drafts for the Arizona Cardinals (the Seahawks NFC West division rival) and this past season’s Super Bowl champion, the New York Giants.

In that same FOX Sports 2011 article, the Arizona Cardinals were given a B+. 2010 was similar according to this AOL (Huffington Post) story with a “B”. What do two straight years of a “B” draft grade equate too?

Two straight years with no playoff appearances.

The New York Giants, on the other hand received similar grades to the Cardinals. In both the 2011 FOX Sports story and the 2010 AOL/Huffington Post story, the Giants received an average grade of “B”.

What did the two years of a “B” draft grade earn the Giants? A Super Bowl championship this past February. 

NFL draft grades don’t win championships. There are too many variables, including the draft, that go into a championship team. Team health plays a huge part. Coaching. Team chemistry. Free agent signings. Front office competency. Any number of factors can contribute to the making of a Super Bowl champ.

Solid drafts help but are not the end all-be all for teams.

Or fans.

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