Sports and Grief

~~ Sports may be an escape, but grief is an unforgiving partner.

Sunny Cadwallader, March 18, 2017

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March Madness. The most wonderful time of the year in terms of my sports fandom. Watching college basketball games all day long is pure pleasure for me. 

Or, at least it used to be. 

For the past 10 years, my friend and I have gotten together at the same local establishment to watch the first two days of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Known as “March Madness” because you never know what can happen. 

Giants of college basketball have been slayed by the little Davids of the hoops world. Cinderellas find their slippers. Monkeys are ejected off backs or……

Anything can happen. 

This year was especially important to me. Not for the college basketball but, rather, just for the friendship. 

**

In my last post, I wrote about loss. It wasn’t an especially sports-centric post, but it did have some sports themes. 

Three men, three deaths – all within a week or so of each other. Perhaps it sounds morbid, but one was expected while the other two were out of the blue. 

You would think that I’d mourn the family member, but he had lived a long, rewarding life. He made a positive impact on his family and community. Although I feel sadness for the grief his family and friends are going through, I trust that God will comfort them through this time. 

The other two…I guess I’m still trying to process the suddenness of both, unsure why I’m still grieving at all. 

**

Sports is an escape. 

They are an escape for many away from the reality of life. The reality of stress, struggle, challenges, adversity and even death. 

My hope for this year’s March Madness event was that it would be a reconnection, as well as a recollection of our shared friend. Plus, it would be a time to just enjoy spending time together with friends. Value the moment. 

But, we did not share much about our friend. We shared meals and small conversations together over the past two days but not much in the way of stories.

Why?

Was it because we didn’t want to talk about such a morbid thing like death or loss when a bustling environment was all around us? Did we not want to deal with sadness or the rawness of our emotions? Was it just enough to be together in friendship? 

As I drove away last night, I was emotional. I had been looking forward to these two days and now they were over. I felt a different kind of mourning. 

This, however, was mourning on top of mourning. 

I mourned the sudden end of these past two days with a friend whom I probably won’t see again until next year. I was still mourning the death of two friends. They were gone and I never got a chance to say another hello. I hope I’ll see my friend again before March Madness next year, but I just don’t know.

Mourning on top of mourning.

**

Sports wasn’t an escape this time. It was simply a brief interruption of a partnership. 

Grief has become a partner. No one is promised a tomorrow. As much as science would like to try, nobody can predict what will happen on Sunday, March 19, 2017. 

Will we wake up? Will we see, taste, touch, smell, hear, feel the same way we do today? The route we walk, run, drive today – will we do similar tomorrow without hinderance? 

The things that frustrate us today – can we let those things go tomorrow? Mistakes made today, will we learn from them tomorrow? 

I don’t know the answer to those questions. Neither do you. 

Partnerships aren’t meant to last forever. Until this one ends, I’ll work through it as best as I can using sports as part of the process. 

Time to escape. 

What time does Arizona play today?

***

CadChica Sports

My 2016 Sports Year In Review: Thoughts & Thanks

2016 Sports Year In Review

Every year about this time, I write my year in review post. It’s filled with reflections, thoughts, predictions and my thanks. Usually, the predictions are doomed to fail. The reflections and thoughts are based on observation with what I hope is a discerning eye and open mind. 

2016 was a year of personal challenge. That’s a good thing. I don’t want to stay the same person I was years ago, with the same old stagnant thinking and actions. But, it was a personal challenge in that I wasn’t able to write as much as before. But, some of what I did write had a unique point of view (links below).

For some reason, this 2016 year in review is a bit longer than in years past. Maybe it’s because I didn’t write as much and I’ve saved it all up for year’s end. Whatever the case, I hope you can set aside some time to read this – what I hope is a – unique perspective on my 2016 Sports Year in Review. 

***

MOURNING THE LOSSES

Hey 2016 – Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. 

As a keen observer and curator of social conversations, I’d imagine that this is the sentiment of many as we come to the end of the year. 2016 was tumultuous in many respects and not just from the political front. 

What seemed like a somber start to the year with the deaths of David Bowie, Abe Vigoda and Glenn Frey in January only continued with the deaths of many other notables and icons that affected many in and outside of sports. 

Dave Mirra and Maurice White (February)

Bud Collins, Joe Garagiola, Johann Cruyff, actress Patty Duke and comedian Gary Shandling (March)

Prince and Dwayne “Pearl” Washington (April)

Muhammad Ali, Pat Summitt, Gordie Howe, Buddy Ryan and Kimbo Slice (June)

Director & producer Garry Marshall, NBA’er Nate Thurmond and Coach Dennis Green (July)

ESPN broadcaster John Saunders and actor Gene Wilder (August)

Jose Fernandez, Arnold Palmer (September)

Dennis Byrd (October)

Florence Henderson (November)

John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Carrie Fischer (December)

Just when you thought we’d seen enough, 2016 had to go out on full….

  • RELATED: Notable Sports Deaths 2016 – Newsday
  • RELATED: People We’ve Lost in 2016 – CNN

That’s an exhaustive list in itself but it does not do 2016 justice in terms of the talent and impact lost this past year.   

As I read through the sentiments and tweets about Craig Sager, I thought about what was being said. Sager had a zest for life. By all accounts, he treated people with respect. He dared to – no, not be different – be himself.

How many of those who tweeted about Sager put those same characteristics into practice in our own lives?   

More on 2016 in a bit. 

*

Addendum

On December 21, I cried. 

I cried because I read these words, “Grandma, call him again! Call him again!”. 

A former NFL players was found dead in his home. In a Detroit News article detailing the death of Robert Eddins, the words of his son jumped off the screen.  

“Grandma, call him again! Call him again!”. 

We saw a lot of death in 2016. Or, it felt like we did. Feelings of sadness and mourning and melancholy for those who impacted our lives somewhere along the way. And, feelings of anger and outrage at those whose lives were ended in controversy. 

But, what of those left behind? What of those left behind when it’s a killing that has taken a life?  

“Grandma, call him again! Call him again!”. 

Does our need for justice outweigh our responsibility to empathize? Do our rights and our personal opinions/beliefs come before human decency? They make for “great” tweets and story links down the road, but what about in the day-to-day aftermath? Are we moved enough to act instead of tweet/post/snap/share? 

“Grandma, call him again! Call him again!”. 

I’m looking in the mirror. 

**

Bad Advice In Journalism

When historians look back at 2016, they might see it as a critical juncture in journalism. Social media has given an platform to journalists to freely express their personal opinions and belief. Nowhere was this more evident than on Twitter.

The recent U.S. election highlighted a crossing-of-the-line, if you will, in journalism. In the sports realm alone, professors, editors, national and international writers decided they were going to use it to tweet their voting preferences AND condemn those who disagreed with their choice.

Some even preached a “DON’T stick to sports” mantra as we inched closer to the November elections.

There’s only one problem with that advice. 

It’s missing a key point. 

Anyone who knows anything about social media, Twitter especially, should know that it is a reflection of society. People from all walks of life – all races, cultures, beliefs – who have learned about life in vastly different ways. 

I’ve called Twitter the “World’s Largest Sports Bar” for years. As it has grown, it’s evolved into the “World’s Largest Sports Bar” meets the “World’s Largest Message Board”. Sports media, as a whole, who are the driving force of Twitter understand this best. 

Or, in other words, it’s a reflection of society. 

I am not advocating the “stick to sports” mantra. Nor am I saying “don’t stick to sports”. Having been on social media for the past 10 years, I know where of I speak when I say it’s a reflection of society.

I’ve seen the highs and lows. I’ve seen the bullying tactics of fans, celebrities, media and various generations. I’ve seen the rallying for a cause or people coming together to help others. I’ve seen Twitter fights and social media reunions. 

The choice – and make no mistake, Twitter, Facebook…they’re all choices YOU make – is much more complex when you realize it’s not just an American society that you interact with. It’s all of the societies of the world. 

Don’t want to stick to sports? Fine. But, be prepared. 

  • Be prepared for people who don’t think like you. 
  • Be prepared for people who don’t hold the same beliefs like you. 
  • Be prepared for people to misunderstand 140 characters. What you think you are saying in a tweet doesn’t always come across as what you mean…especially when sarcasm is used. Not everyone lives, eat & breathes Twitter (social media) like those who work in sports media.   
  • Be prepared for people who interpret a story one way while you interpret it another way.
  • Be prepared for those who don’t believe that your thinking can evolve from a one year, five or even ten years ago. 
  • Be prepared for those who see that you don’t stick to sports and judge you accordingly. 
  • Be prepared for fellow media members calling you out because you’re sticking/not sticking to sports. 
  • Be prepared for angry fans who see your opinions on non-sports topics and view that as a biased point of view on sports topics. 
  • Be prepared for angry media members who don’t stick to sports lashing out at other media members who don’t stick to sports only because they think differently. 
  • Be prepared for disagreement. It can come from anywhere in the world. 

*

Responsibility

Media is responsible for telling the story. There once was a thought that they shouldn’t become part of the story. 

Thanks to social media, that belief is history.

From “lap dances” to journalist bans to mean tweets, media themselves became more of the story in 2016. With it, media sites like Awful Announcing have joined the ranks of Sports Illustrated (Richard Deitsch’s Media Circus) and The Big Lead as go-to sources for sports media stories. 

The changing landscape of sports journalism is tough to keep up with. On the one hand, we have people (media included) only getting their news from social media (without reading the story), major sports site editorial failures or reporters getting lap-dances from athletes (prompting Twitter feuds).

On the other, there were some incredible pieces written this year. Like these (see links in tweet):

A little non-sports, but worth a read. Would apply to many Latino athletes in American sports. 

I do not foresee this type of story-telling going away soon. But, if the aforementioned professors, instructors and media members are teaching the next generation of sports journalists to “not” stick to sports, what are we left with? 

Are we left with sports media that care more about their opinions, their wants and their need to be right than they do the story? Make no mistake, this is where we are and continue to head in sports media today: 

**

Viva Latina

The older I get, the more I care about being a voice. Not just any voice. But, a voice for the voiceless. One area that I am trying to be that for is with Latinas In Sports. 

Look across the sports landscape in women’s sports in America or, better yet, look at the coverage of women’s sports and you’d be hard pressed to find much talk about the Latinas. 

No other sport is giving Latinas greater exposure to sports fans than in MMA. 

Prior to 2015, there was Ronda Rousey (who has some Latina in her) and everybody else. Today, there’s the reigning UFC Bantamweight champ, Amanda Nunes (Brazil), Americans Rousey (#1 Bantamweight), Julianna Peña (Bantamweight #3) and Marion Reneau (#12), Brazilians Cat Zingano (#6), Bethe Correia (#9) and Claudia Gadelha (Featherweight #1)…

just to name a few…

UFC 207 which takes place this Friday will feature two Latinas fighting for the championship. We will see the return of Rousey after a lengthy hiatus as she challenges the champ Nunes. The question I have is will we see anyone talking about their heritage? If Rousey wins, will sports sites call her white like some have done in the past? Or, will they give her Latina heritage a nod? 

That’s the point of the hashtag and Twitter account I created, #LatinasInSports. Bring recognition to the women in sports on the field, court, pitch or in the media. 

Thankfully, we had the Rio Olympics to help tell our stories. 

  • Maya DiRado – USA – 4 medals in Swimming
  • Diana Taurausi – USA – Gold in Basketball (again) 
  • Mariana Pajón – Brazil – Gold in BMX
  • Caterine Ibargüen – Brazil – Gold in Triple Jump 
  • Laurie Hernandez – USA – 2 medals in Artistic Gymnastics
  • Paula Pareto – Argentina – Gold in Judo 
  • Rafaela Silva – Brazil – Gold in Judo
  • Maggie Steffens – USA – Gold in Water Polo
  • Sarah Robles – USA – Bronze in Weightlifting 

Felicidades to all of these athletes. However, for my money, there were two stories that stood out above the rest for Latinas: 

When you become the first-ever to win a gold medal for your country…mucho mucho respeto! 

And…when you’re the first-ever female MLB analyst at ESPN…and you happen to be Latina…mucho respeto por ti, tambien, Jessica!

**

In Memoriam

Death is no respecter of race, religion, age or skin color. It has no regard for status or notoriety. History? Death writes it own history.

As I referenced earlier, 2016 disregarded race, religion, age, skin color, history. It thumbed its nose at everyone. Death put an exclamation point on this year with what transpired on November 28, 2016.

They were riding the wave of history, this small club out of Chapecó, Santa Catarina in western Brazil. Associação Chapecoense de Futebol had risen to the top flight of Brazilian fútbol (Serie A)

One minute they are on the verge of history, the next a new history is written. As Yahoo’s Eric Adelson put it, “The Copa Sudamericana final was to be the biggest moment in the history of the soccer club”. Instead, we were left to mourn and wonder. 

How? Why? Players, coaches, journalists, airline crew – gone. 

How? Why? A city left in sorrow. 

How? Why? The world cries out. 

Death is no respecter of anything or anyone. 2016 solidified that point a thousand times over. But, to take a team and media members like this –  a plane running out of fuel – when they are on the precipice of legend…

Soulful groaning

Chapecoense was awarded the Copa Sudamericana trophy. Football teams from around the world poured in with their condolences and assistance. Individual players like Ronaldinho stepped up to help the club both now and in the future.

For as much as we mourned briefly, the town of Chapecó will continue to mourn forever. Hope and joy were lost with the crashing of that plane. Mourning has no expiration date. 

A new season will roll around in 2017. Maybe the next squad, with assistance to play from around the globe, will reach the Copa Sudamericana again next season (what a story that would be). Or, maybe ten years down the road. Or, maybe never.

As each day, week, month and year pass, maybe a little hope and joy will be restored to Chapecó. Until then…

#ForçaChape 

**

Top Tweets from 2016

My Raider fandom: 

One of my favorite people to follow on Twitter. Amy Trask gets me: 

Ahh, the same name club strikes again

Well…he wasn’t wrong

2016 got you down? Go into 2017 with a new attitude – “I Got This”

Valid questions for all of us

Kids with their athlete parents – it’s getting dusty in here

Ay dios

*** Sigh ***

My favorite tweet comes at the end of the year. 

**

2017 Predictions

Before we predict, we must acquit… slow clap …ourselves for our 2016 predictions. Before that, however, let’s take a look at what I predicted for 2016.

Well, let’s see….

  • Virtual Reality was huge: Snapchat Spectacles, anyone? 
  • FIFA Presidency had plenty of scandal surrounding it.
  • Drone legislation? Check 
  • Olympics and technology: Miss
  • UFC – Women’s growth: Oh yeah!! 
  • Athlete involvement in the election. Two words: Donald Trump
  • Major gambling scandal: Tennis, Soccer, Japanese baseball 
  • Increased money to NCAA athletes: Meh
  • Domestic violence news in other countries: Mostly American stories making news elsewhere
  • MLB: Nope. Still not making any headway with the younger demo. 
  • Twitter Edit feature: I like dreaming

Purely luck on some of these predictions that came true. Do I dare have anything to say about 2017? Of course I do – #predictionsdoomedtofail:

  • Sports Media #1: Popularity of live, especially Facebook Live, will see a slow shift away from Twitter as the sports behemoth of social media. 
  • Sports Media #2: Without some serious evolving in 2017, Twitter will become less popular with sports media. 
  • Social Media: Twitter will be bought by…Amazon. (Cue, lol emoji.) 
  • E-Sports: Seems like it’s exploded already but we ain’t seen nothing yet like we will in 2017 with e-sports. 
  • “Reality” check: Pokemon was a big hit this past year. But, will Augmented Reality hit it big in sports? Maybe.
  • Medical Advancement: There will be a major breakthrough that will shake one or more sports to its very core. 
  • Business: Marketing by teams, leagues, athletes will become less one-to-one and more generalized like the old days. Think: LinkedIn or a similar, new LI-type platform. 
  • Minor league sports: One or more will be in financial trouble in the U.S. 
  • Sports Ratings #1: Declining ratings won’t be just in the NFL anymore. Unless…
  • Sports Ratings #2: Criteria will finally be developed to measure all ways to watch a show or event, including on social media. 
  • Politics and sports: We will see these two intersect in ways we never have before around the world. It might not be pretty. 
  • Officiating: Less human, more tech in the 2017-18 seasons of at least 3 major sports around the globe. 
  • Emojis Rule: Yes, I’m a little biased, but 2017 will be the year of the emojis. Animated emojis. 
  • Athlete scandals: 2016 will be tame compared to what we will see in 2017. 
  • Mariners, World Series Champs: I’d rather dream about this than a Twitter edit feature. 

**

Closing Thoughts

Years like these should challenge us. Challenge us to be and do better each day. Treat people with kindness and respect, even when we don’t agree with them. I can hear people now, “Respect is earned”. 

Sorry, there are different levels of respect.

You can respect someone for their business sense, work ethic, parenting, etc… But, the kind of respect I’m talking about has to do with respect of a fellow human being. Respect others as people. 

What would happen if we taught the next generation to respect themselves and others for simply being a living, breathing human being? What would happen if we taught them that they and others have value just by being alive? 

Do you think that would help facilitate an end to racism, sexism and any other -ism you might want to throw in? If we teach our kids to respectfully disagree with someone while still maintaining their personal beliefs, what kind of country and world would this be? Instead of digging in our heels to prove “we are right”, what if we invest in the future with intentional teaching? 

What does this have to do with sports? It has everything to do with it in this social media age we live in today. If we don’t prepare the next generation of sports media, athletes, marketers, business people, owners and more, the future of sports will become an afterthought. 

*

We need to put an end to sweeping generalizations about any demographic group. Not all blacks are thugs. Not all whites are racist. Not all Hispanics are immigrants. Not all Native Americans are alcoholics. Not all Asians are education-oriented. Not all women are “angry” feminists. Not all men are egotistical misogynists. 

Not all (insert demographic group here) are (insert corresponding description here)

Sweeping generalizations stifles dialogue. It doesn’t help promote it. When we do this, we show how much we value our own opinion over others. 

Not everything is a black-and-white issue. Not every story should be looked at in a this-or-that/either-or/us-or-them point of view. That’s when sweeping generalizations happen.

Three of the most important pieces I wrote this year had to do with race/culture. None were what you would call a black-and-white issue. 

**

My Thanks

This part of the post is always hard. It’s getting harder to remember all of the people who made an impact on me over the past year without writing it down somewhere. And, well, I forgot to do that. 

Yes, that means I’m getting old. But, part of it is also because I was busy this year in my regular, non-writing job. Busier than in years past. That’s no excuse, but if I forget your name…..LO SIENTO MUCHO! 

This list of people includes those who have been a part of my 2016 year whether it was through work or otherwise. Who are they?

  • I don’t surround myself with only those I agree with. I appreciate people who make me think.
  • I enjoy conversations with those who can make me laugh on a continual basis too.
  • Those who took an interest in what I did or said – they’re on here.
  • And, some on here kept me updated on sports I wanted to know about but didn’t have time beyond checking Twitter.
  • Finally, some, well, I just couldn’t imagine this list without them. 

In no particular order, I am grateful for all of you and I say thank you. May your 2017 be blessed. 

  • Vicente Fernandez
  • Aymara Del Aguila
  • Mi Sportsmanias Familia
  • Jose Romero
  • Yussuf Khan
  • Alejandro Danois
  • Cindy Hval 
  • Tariq Ahmad
  • Russell Baxter
  • Tom Buchheim
  • Derrick Docket
  • Joe Favorito
  • Pam Chvotkin
  • Dave Cook and the Eastern Washington family
  • Bob McKamey
  • Jeff Mason
  • Dayna O’Gorman
  • Travis Bell
  • Joe Scott
  • Gyasi Ross
  • Amy Trask
  • Cesar Hernandez
  • Tom Harrison
  • Jimmy Sanderson
  • Andrea Canales
  • Jessica Lopez
  • Joshua Decker
  • Kelly Mosier
  • Katie Cavender
  • Jason Clinkscales
  • Russ Cohen
  • Jonny Rico Aviles
  • Freddie Coleman
  • Lisa Bianchi
  • Marissa O’Connor
  • Mario Flores
  • Mike Freeman
  • Dave Zorn
  • Paola Boivin
  • Young Kwak
  • Myk Crawford
  • Ann Pegoraro
  • Emily Sutherland
  • Cassie Devaney
  • My Google Hangout/Chat buddies

***

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.

***

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. 

***

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.

***

Life Lessons

1350

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.

***

CadChica Sports

My 2015 Thanks

The 2016 horizon beckons. Will you go it alone_ (3)

2015 Thoughts

Over the past year, I’ve changed.

Now, before you say, “Well, duh, everyone changes over the course of a year, Chica“, let me explain.

Or, at least try to.

I began the year as the host of two shows – one on college football and the other on sports & social media. This blog was about sports & social media. Twitter was my favorite platform. And, I was focused on growing “my brand”.

Today, I am no longer hosting any shows – sad, but true. This blog has switched gears to…well, I’m not sure yet, but it’s not sports & social media. I don’t have a favorite platform. And, “my brand” is a thing of the past.

I’m not sure when or even why it happened, but something in me realized that what I thought I wanted to be in sports would never satisfy me.

I’ve wanted to work in sports for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be someone who talked about sports from a smart fan perspective. It didn’t matter if it was on tv or radio. I just wanted to talk about it. Without a college degree, writing and social media were my only means of entrance.

Writing about sports and social media was a natural for me. I loved Facebook, before family members joined. I loved Twitter, before most sports people realized its value. I loved Instagram, even though I was bad at it. I loved Snapchat while most people were dissing it.

I loved social media.

Then, more people started talking about it. Writing about it. Analyzing it. Manipulating it. And…well…in 2015, I became disillusioned with the whole concept of sports & social media.

My view of the entire process changed. Each and every day there’s someone in the media or a fan going off about something. It could be an important social issue or a trivial news event or a way-too-early story reaction. Someone just has to give their opinion.

They don’t have to. They choose to.

Social media is a choice, a fact that gets lost in any social media discussion. With social media you choose to post or tweet on any number of platforms. You choose what you say or share. You choose your reaction. You choose to engage with others.

You choose no one makes the choice for you. You do.

And yet, I see how media treat fans who ask a simple question or want to dialogue. I see how fans AND media jump to conclusions based only on a Twitter headline. Far too often I’ve witnessed hypocrisy from media and fans to stories only moments old. It’s “You should do as I say and not as I do”. 

Making fun of someone’s appearance – their hair, their clothes – has become the norm among some in sports. One influential person stirs the pot and their minions follow with a parade of jokes, memes and GIFs. Concern or empathy for one’s fellow man be damned.

Sweeping generalizations are on the rise, even in sports and social media. Pick a demographic group. One person in that group does something wrong/illegal/offensive/disagreeable. The entire group is labeled in a negative way. And it mushrooms from there until it becomes acceptable.

It’s as if 2015 became the year of ANGRY SOCIAL MEDIA

When I become disillusioned with anything, I know that there is a deeper meaning behind it. So, I stepped back. Stepped back from Twitter, remember…my favorite platform. No more shows. No more branding. Fewer tweets and social media posts. Fewer blog posts. Fewer of everything.

It’s been slightly cathartic. But, it’s also given rise to an urgency. An urgency that is hard to explain as I am not quite sure I understand it completely yet. But…

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“I am not asking for sensational revelations, but I would like to sense the meaning of that minute, t

2015 Thanks

When I find a word that is the impetus for a post, I usually look up the definition via Merriam-Webster. However, that definition isn’t quite what I’m looking for:

  • Urgency: a force or impulse that impels or constrains.

Searching deeper, I found this from Free Dictionary:

  • Urgency: 1) the quality or condition of being urgent; pressing importance. 2) A pressing necessity. 

THAT’S IT!

Pressing importance. Pressing necessity. 

It’s not about 2015. The change in me or for me, wasn’t about 2015. It was a necessary (pressing necessity) change in focus to get me ready for 2016.

Truth be told, I’ve known about this word “urgency” for the past month. I just hadn’t been able to verbalize it yet. Circumstances in my personal life these past 30+ days have emphasized this point home even more. Without getting into detail, it’s been a reminder to return to gratefulness.

Is there such a thing as an urgency to return to gratefulness? Or, rather, urgency to gratefulness? I’m grateful to be where I am. Grateful to be alive, have a family that loves me, a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, water to drink.

I am very grateful to walk, talk, hear, see, feel — all of those things that many Americans do every day — I am grateful I can do them. I don’t want to wait for a life-changing event. I don’t take those things for granted.

I’m grateful.

I am fortunate to work in sports. Not one for doing things the conventional way, it’s a blessing to be involved in this crazy, ever-changing world of sports. Working for a brilliant start-up company in Sportsmanias, I’m part of a team that is building. Building something for the sports fan.

My involvement has become a Jill-of-all-trades to a degree. They ask me to do something, I do it. If I’m not sure how or I haven’t done it before, I figure it out and I…sorry for this…just do it.

They also allow me to write. Write copy for them and write on the side. A long-awaited dream was realized when I began getting paid to write – meaningful, challenging and thought-provoking pieces for The Shadow League.

Topics I knew well (Serena Williams) to ones I didn’t (mixed martial arts) were part of my 2015 writing experience with Shadow League. It expanded my understanding of sports and race, as well as increased my appreciation for my culture. So much so that I engaged in healthy debate when our heritage was slighted by a well-known website (I documented this for The Sporting Nation).

It’s funny. Some call 2015 the Year of Women’s Sports. I suppose it was to some extent: Serena Williams, Women’s MMA and the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team winning the World Cup….again. To me, they’re part of a remarkable year in sports as a whole, regardless of gender. 

This past year I’ve traveled to Seattle (once) Miami (twice) and Kansas City (once) all sports-related reasons: baseball, basketball, football, Formula E auto racing, mixed martial arts and conferences – meeting and connecting with amazing people along the way.

That’s what it’s really about though isn’t it? Connection.

Sports has always connected us. Social media connects us now. Good or bad, we find people who are like us – think like us, act like us – and we connect with them through social media. 

New or old connections, I am grateful for them all. They encourage me, challenge me, help me and have been there for me. They’ve opened my eyes and taught me much this past year. I won’t be able to name them all, but they have left an imprint on me in 2015. Please forgive me if I did not include your name

For that…I thank you. 

  • Sportsmanias (Vicente Fernandez, Aymara del Aguila, Tim Stephens to name a few)
  • The Shadow League (Yussuf Khan, Evan Moore, Ricardo Hazell to name a few)
  • The Sporting Nation (Jose Romero)
  • Team EMAR
  • Formula E
  • Q1 Sports
  • Ask Yvi (Yvonne Heimann)
  • Sports 360
  • Pro Football Guru (Russell Baxter)
  • NFL Female (Liz Panucci, Dayna O’Gorman and crew)
  • Google+ College Football Community
  • Tariq Ahmad
  • Derrick Docket
  • Josh Decker
  • Paola Boivin 
  • Russ Cohen
  • Pam Chvotkin
  • Dr. Jimmy Sanderson
  • Cindy Hval
  • Jocelyn Stott
  • Ryan David
  • Chandrima Chatterjee
  • Andrea Canales
  • Tom Marshall
  • Kim Tate
  • Cindy Castro
  • Julianna Peña
  • Marion Reneau
  • Gillian Noll
  • Angela Hill
  • John Blanchette
  • Gyasi Ross
  • Matt Santangelo
  • Bailee Neyland
  • Lisa Horne
  • Alicia Jessop
  • Kristi Dosh
  • Tim Cary
  • Michael Schottey
  • Dylan Gannon
  • Shannon Hernandez
  • Troy Kirby
  • Jeff Sieh
  • Sheri Grossman
  • Jim Delaney
  • Bob McKamey
  • Jeff Tourial
  • Katie Cavender
  • Debi Davis
  • Heather Kraafter
  • Nazim Beltran
  • Scott Scowcroft
  • Phil & Sue Aston
  • Susie Bush
  • Dave Cook
  • Kyle Bruce
  • Bill Stevens
  • Jason Clinkscales
  • Chris Syme
  • Gail Sideman
  • Dr. Ann Pegoraro
  • Ken Fang
  • Dave Zorn
  • José Ceniceros
  • HeyKim 
  • Joe Scott
  • Mike Freeman
  • Alex Stone
  • Dave Roter
  • Jamie Lynn Morgan

Tuesday Ten Guests

  • Tom Buchheim
  • Rocky Harris
  • Brian Costello
  • Adam Ledyard
  • Lauren Teague
  • Russell Houghtaling
  • Charles Johnson

 

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Do You Remember…

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#2015Faves

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A Story You May Have Missed

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2016 Sports Stories to Watch

It’s always hard to predict what is to come for a new year. But, here are the things to watch…in my humble opinion, of course. 

  • Virtual Reality will be HUGE
  • FIFA presidency/scandal – the reach around the world
  • Drones (legislation at sporting events)
  • Technology, not athletes, taking center stage at the Olympics
  • UFC (continued growth of women’s MMA)
  • Athlete involvement in the election
  • Major gambling scandal(s) involving pro sports
  • Increased money to NCAA athletes prompts new competitive division
  • Domestic violence making news in more countries
  • MLB single team-streaming increasing interest with younger demographic?
  • Twitter EDIT feature finally coming to fruition? 

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FINAL THOUGHT

I don’t know what 2016 will hold. There is an expectancy with any new year, but there is an urgency to it for me. It all begins with gratefulness. The more grateful I am, the more I can break through the clutter that has become angry social media. Looking deeper at the root of why people act and react the way they do will bring about even more compassion and understanding from me. 

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about how we connect with each other on a daily basis. We don’t always have to agree. But, if we’re willing to at least try to understand each other, our dialogue about sports…and life…will change the world. 

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CadChica Sports

 

Public Nature of Everything: Britt McHenry

Public Nature of Everything

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Britt McHenry has been suspended for a week by her employer, ESPN. Who is Britt McHenry? I didn’t know who she was before last week. But, many know her now because of this rant. (Note: the rant appears to be related to this story on the parking garage’s towing policies).

Public nature

 

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Joining Social Media

I joined Facebook in 2008. This came after I grew weary of a women’s message board I belonged to. I wanted something different. Facebook was different. Connecting with friends and making new ones, it was my new go-to place on the internet. But, then family started joining Facebook, and, well, I knew it was time for me to slowly slink away.

In 2009, I discovered Twitter. Joining for the sole reason of online shopping deals (yeah, don’t ask), I knew it would be awhile before any family joined there. I was “safe”. Slowly, however, I discovered sports.

Sports on Twitter. Sports writers on Twitter. Oh! And that blessed RETWEET button. Then, Tweetdeck (third-party app) came into my life. AND LISTS!!! OH THE TWITTER LISTS. A God-send. All of the sports information I could fit into my life, that I could ever desire, was in one beautiful place.

Twitter.

It was a connecting and conversation tool rolled into a news feed. Not just any news feed, but a sports news feed. I could have conversations with national and international journalists about sports. And that was an okay thing to do.

Turning my love of Twitter and lists into a job was the next step. It wasn’t easy. Hours and hours of time spent reading, retweeting, writing – all in the effort to get my foot in the door of sports media. Which I did, with stops at local and national outlets. Through it all, I’ve seen the ups/downs, highs/lows of sports and Twitter. When I say I’ve seen tens of thousands…upon tens of thousands of tweets, I mean that literally.

And, it hasn’t always been pretty. Media versus media. Media versus athlete. Media versus fan. Athlete versus fan. Throw celebrities and politicians in the mix and I’ve just about seen every type of “fight” you can imagine.

All because of Twitter.

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Worldwide Audience

In the early days of Twitter, people would throw out the advice, think before you tweet. Good advice, perhaps, back then. Before the spotlight was bright like today. People weren’t always willing to share their thoughts and reactions to news or sporting events. There was still a bit of uncertainty to what exactly this Twitter-thing was or how it fit into our every day lives.

As media, sports media especially, came to embrace Twitter as an easy news-sharing outlet, the attraction for it grew. It became a place to share and even find new stories. News outlets, sports websites and blogs (including my own) began posting new content based on what they saw on Twitter. Many of which now blend sports with pop culture.

I have long called Twitter the world’s largest sports bar. It’s a place to hang out and watch sports with your friends. Just like at a sports bar, you can talk sports, the current game(s) on tv, or delve into other subjects with your friends…and foes. Everything that happens at an actual sports bar happens on Twitter. Razzing, teasing, flirting, arguing, laughing – it happens on Twitter too. It just happens with people from all around the world.

For all the world to see.

What gets seen, isn’t always pretty.

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McHenry and the Twitter Grapevine

Which brings us back to Britt McHenry. Her berating of a parking garage attendant is now news. Before social media, it would not have blown up like it did last week. Word of mouth story-telling is one thing. The Twitter grapevine is another.

McHenry joins a long list of public figures that has had to deal with the consequences of behavior. Former Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice found this out in 2013. Video of Rice throwing balls at players’ heads and verbally abusing players surfaced and a Twitter firestorm ensued. At the time, I myself was outraged. I had a son around the age of the players and there is no way I would want a coach treating my son like that. To others without college-aged sons, it was just plain and simple abuse.

The term “Twitter mob” was thrown around. People from all walks of life weighed in on Twitter with their opinion on Rice and Rutgers. There was a public outcry for something to be done about Coach Rice. Rutgers eventually did. A little late for some which only brought more criticism. It was a key moment showing the power of Twitter.

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Ray Rice

In 2015, when an employee gets in trouble, either because of their social media posts or, in this case, video, a prompt response is required. The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens learned this just last year. As details began to emerge about the Ray Rice incident, reaction was swift on Twitter. On the day the video was released by TMZ, a sampling of the reaction immediately thereafter:

  1. Much of Twitter discussing Rice video release but no mention on any ESPN networks. M-M doing pep rally show at Ford Field. #FailedJournalism (Tweeted at 5:11 am PT while much of America is either waking up or on morning commute)
  1. The amount of “but she married him so…” tweets I’m getting aren’t surprising at all. Good job you guys. Keep not getting it, at all. (Tweeted at 5:49am PT by someone working in sports media. Checked the mentions shortly after – only 2 or 3 tweets reflected this sentiment.)
  1. Ray Rice is a piece of shit. (Tweeted at 5:13 am PT by a Digital Manager)
  1. Social media out here nothing is private no more!! (Tweeted at 5:14 am PT by a former athlete)
  1. What time are the games tonight? Just trying to calculate how long you will all be mad and disappointed at the NFL for. (tweeted at 4:28am PT by a celebrity)

No “satisfactory” statements from the NFL or the Ravens came as Twitter raged. The silence was deafening. “We” wanted immediate action from the NFL. “We” wanted Rice suspended, thrown out. “We” wanted Ray Rice to suffer the consequences. “We” put him on Twitter trial and served as judge and jury. “We” demanded justice for Janay Rice.

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No Excuses

Some have faced a firestorm for their tweets or social media posts. Britt McHenry didn’t tweet anything offensive or inflammatory like others have done (see Bill Simmons, Keith Law, Keith Olbermann, Justine Sacco). McHenry was reacting to an incident that got the best of her. She was being human.

That, in no way, excuses it. I can think of times where I have been upset or frustrated at situations that were wrong. There have been many times where I’ve read something on Twitter and wanted to correct people for their erroneous thinking. I wanted to put them in their place. But, it’s too easy to react, especially when emotions are high. It’s a challenge to stop and think

Every move, every word is scrutinized today. There is no sarcasm font on social media. We don’t have billboards on our foreheads to tell others that we’re frustrated. I’m sure if there were that may have helped McHenry in her situation. Or not.

We’re all human. Mistakes happen. We learn and grow from it. Twitter has taught me that it’s not enough to think before you tweet. One person’s sarcasm is another’s offense. It’s up to us to be cognizant of that when we share on social media.

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Think Critically

But it also seems clear that everyone

We want people to think like us. We want people to react andrespond like us. That’s who we want to hang around with in real life isn’t it? People who we see eye-to-eye with, have a conversation with and who won’t challenge our thinking. Woe to those who challenge us, right?

Hell hath no fury like a Twitter mob scorned. (Tweeted in September 2014 by a media member)

Social media is a reflection of society. I suppose it’s all a part of our mobile-first society that we are slowly heading toward, if we’re not there already. Instead of person-to-person communication, society has taken to tweeting and posting news, thoughts and reactions online. On both a personal and professional level. It’s our first course of action now.

This all has happened in a matter of a few short years. I wasn’t taught how to think before tweeting. Were you? Sure, there’s the school of thought about the potential consequences of our actions, but how many of use realized this when we first started tweeting or posting on social media? I didn’t. But now, I delete more tweets and posts than I make. As DeAngelo Williams stated in his January 2015 post on The Cauldron, “it also seems clear that everyone needs to take a step back and think critically about the roles they play on the various platforms they are so engaged with.

 

 

Social media has given us a false sense of security. Sometimes we feel like it’s a private conversation with just one person or just our followers. That mindset can be expanded to when the camera is rolling.

It’s easy to forget the public nature of everything in the heat of the moment.

In the public nature of everything, perhaps it’s best to live by The Golden Rule…

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Athletes Watch, Learn On Social Media

Not all athletes get in trouble for what they say publicly or on social media. 

But, when it happens to someone else, it reinforces the lessons learned for other athletes.

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Thursday night, the men’s basketball team from West Virginia was crushed by Kentucky 78-39 in a Sweet Sixteen game of the NCAA tournament. This came on the heels of a prediction by WVU Mountaineers freshman guard, Daxter Miles, Jr. Earlier in the week Miles Jr had predicted that the undefeated Wildcats of Kentucky would be 36-1 after their game with WVU. As the Wildcats proved, talk is cheap if you can’t back it up. 

It is that premise that brought me to the Spokane Regional of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. With the WVU loss fresh in minds, I asked coaches and players about predictions, social media and more Friday during media day at the Spokane Arena. 

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We do a great job of when we do post (2)

MARYLAND

Lexie Brown: We have relationships  with a lot of these players that we play against but, we’re at that age where you know not to say too much on social media. Like you said, yesterday, the Kentucky game, that completely back fired on that  player’s  part.  But, Rose does a great job with helping with us know what to say, what not  to  say on social media. And, starting tomorrow, we’ll be off social media completely until we win both of our games or until our season is over. So, we’ve got to stay locked in. You can’t let the outside world influence how you play.

Laurin Mincy: Just piggybacking on what she said, we know what and what not to say. And from the fun aspect, we do a great job of when we do post something, it’s about the team or about Maryland, period. So, we usually stay positive on social media.

Shatori Walker Kimbrough: Just be smart. I know when I’m looking on the outside, if someone says something about our team, that would just be added motivation. I guess the other night he was using that as some confidence that he had, but, like Laurin and Mincy said, just knowing how to be smart and a time and place for everything.

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DUKE

Amber Henson:  I  wouldn’t say I have intentionally stepped all the way away from it but, I do make a point to kind of block out things that are going on about  the women’s tournament or our team. We kind of have tunnel vision right now.  But, I do keep up with the men’s team on social media.

Ka’lia Johnson:  I would have to agree. We’re just going  to  watch  the games, the games are on in our hotel, and I  just  watch  the  games  on  TV.  But, definitely when  it’s  game day we go straight  into  tunnel  vision. And, that happens with practice  today,  we’re  in tunnel  vision  now.  Maybe take a step back.

TENNESSEE

Ariel Massengale: Some of our coaches instilled in us from the beginning of the season, we have social media rules, curfew times, where you shut that stuff off and things that we just don’t talk about on social media. So, you kind of look at other players and some mistakes and whatnot that they made but, yes, it’s something we’re very conscious about and if we see a teammate tweet or put something out there, we are very quick to call them text them like, hey, you need to take that down as soon as possible.

Some of our coaches instilled in us from

 

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GONZAGA

Sunny Greinacher:  I  actually just heard about this incident that kind of got a lot of attention about social media and athletes. But, I  don’t think it’s necessarily a problem for our team.  I know that all the girls on the team are more reserved when it comes to that.

But, what we use social media for is for more of getting ourselves hyped and just maybe spreading the word of where we play,  encouraging other people to watch us and stuff.  But I don’t think it’s a problem for us to be inappropriate on social media, those kind of things, just knowing the girls on our team.

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FINAL THOUGHTS: Opportunities to learn from others mistakes is one thing. Learning from your own mistakes is…humbling. Daxter Miles Jr will (hopefully) learn that braggadocio doesn’t win games. But, his experience is a reminder for not just athletes, but all of us. We all need to be mindful of what we say publicly and yes, even privately. 

As the ability for mobile devices to take pictures, record video and share instantly on social media, so will the likelihood of people getting in trouble. It is imperative for each of us to be mindful of how we conduct ourselves publicly and on social media. Act naturally is always a safe way to go.

Unless, of course, you’re a natural jerk.

CadChica Sports

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