Selfie Project: CadChica Style

Apologies to my sports fans, but this is not a sports post. 

I hate having my picture taken.

The reasons are few, but I equate to pulling teeth, nails scraping on a chalkboard and a new violinist all rolled into one. 

I hate it. 

Family and friends know this about me. Yet, they still try to sneak a photo of me with their phone’s whenever they can. 

They usually fail. 

Then, 2017 came around.

I started thinking. 

What was I thinking? Well, the better question is what wasn’t I thinking.

I am a thinker. I am constantly thinking about something. Whether it’s about my family, my dogs, work, the future, the past, the present, faith, sports, the world, the brokenhearted, social media, journalism, creativity, race & the real definition of diversity, my city, ending slavery, the environment, crazy drivers, traveling, what do i want to be when i grow up, life, death…

As morbid as it sounds, yes, I ponder death. Death as in what kind of legacy will I leave, how will I be remembered. Invariably, this particular train of thought leads to thinking about a funeral. (See – I told you sounds morbid)

When I start thinking about a funeral, I start thinking about the photos that they always show of the loved one. And I say YIKES! There are no pictures of me.

This is what happens to thinkers. Our brains are going at 100 mph going from one tangent to the next at Speedy Gonzales speed. (Look him up, kids) It’s hard to turn off this brain of mine. But, before I get any further, let me back up a bit. 

When I was a kid, I was a ham in front of the camera. I made cheesy smiles and loved having my picture taken. I don’t know why, but I did. Most kids do, right?

Somewhere along the way, however, I stopped being that kid with the cheesy grin. I became an insecure girl & woman who never felt she was…enough. I wasn’t pretty enough or even the skinniest. No way was I ever the best athlete. For sure, I wasn’t the smartest in my class. I also felt, at times, like I wasn’t Hispanic enough. There was always a feeling where I didn’t quite measure up. 

Like so many girls and women, it was easy to find flaws in every photo I was in. It would be easy to blame culture, but culture is only part of it. Positive reinforcement and encouragement goes a long way to helping kids battle against what culture says is the norm. 

The same things kids deal with today, I dealt with back in the eighties. The only difference today – and it’s a big one – is social media. 

Social media is a reflection of society. It amplifies all the good and bad of society. It exposes the hypocrisy of both the media and public. Those who were only heard by hundreds could now be heard by millions. 

 

As someone who works in social media, I see thousands of tweets each work day. I’ve seen sports media praise a person one day and mock them the next. I’ve seen sports media (male and female) mock athletes – even high school or college athletes – for the way they look.  

This mindset isn’t limited to sports media. Media, marketers, business people, school employees, national and local governmental leaders are speaking their minds on various social media platforms. They view it as their right. Even today, it’s not uncommon for sports media to mock, berate and ridicule others for their beliefs – whether it’s about sports, race, culture and yes, politics. 

Mocking looks. Mocking beliefs. It’s like high school all over again. 

What you see above is a collection of my four high school photos with a more current one in the middle. I can identify all of the things wrong in each photo from hair, to smile, to teeth, to skin, to clothing. I can even tell you which people in sports media might mock these photos and…would get their loyal followings to do the same. 

My 15 minutes of fame would be relentless. 

Yet, here I am posting these photos for the world to see. Not only that, but I have been venturing in a little Selfie Project for the month of January. The project entails a photo of me every day for one month posted on Instagram.

As one who hates their picture being taken, the project proved challenging. There aren’t enough filters or photo apps in the world that could improve how I looked in them. But, I kept remembering why I was doing it – what kind of legacy will I leave, how will I be remembered…and…those photos.

The photos on Instagram reveal more about me, the person. They showcase my (sometimes) goofy personality, my sense of humor, my unique perspective, my outlook on life and my brutal attempt at talent. As a private person, this was a huge stretch outside of my comfort zone. 

Thankfully, we’re at the end of January and my #SelfieProject. It’s time to go back to my comfort zone of rare photos of me. As I only shared the photos on Instagram and not Twitter, I’ve received nothing but positive feedback. For that, I am grateful. 

I still deal with insecurities. As a journalist without a journalism degree, I still feel I don’t quite measure up at times. I’m not good at self-promoting through social media – a much needed requirement today. I’m more comfortable at promoting others than I am myself. I don’t want the focus on me. 

I cannot imagine what today’s youth go through with phones and social media around every corner. My hope is that a project like this along with today’s blog post will let them know they are not alone. It’s okay to laugh at yourself. It’s okay to try things outside of your comfort zone. BUT…

It’s also okay to not share everything you think, say or do on social media. Not every photo of you needs to be on display for the world to see. It’s okay to be private. It’s okay to have insecurities. Just don’t let your insecurities control you.

Do good to yourself and others. When you want to criticize yourself, step back, take a deep breath and remember that we often judge ourselves more harshly than others “judge” us.

Respect yourself enough to know when to say yes and when to say no. Respect yourself enough to say “I can, I will and I am” who I desire to be, which is a strong, confident, compassionate person. You are enough. 

Okay, okay, I’ll stop rambling. 

Here’s to the end of my project, a return to sports writing and a better 2017. 

***

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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: 

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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. 

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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. 

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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

Trending: Athletes In Their Own Words

The MMQB. Sports Illustrated. The Players Tribune. The Cauldron.

Aside from their common sports thread, what do these outlets have in common?

They are giving athletes a voice through their own words.

**

Having Their Say: Ali

This isn’t a new phenomenon – athletes having their own say. Athletes in their own words. Athletes have had their say for decades, either through newspaper, radio, or television interviews. When I think of athletes having their say, I think of Muhammad Ali. Love him or hate him, Ali was outspoken and unafraid to speak his mind.

I can remember some of the old Muhammad Ali-Howard Cosell interviews. They were classics. Sometimes, it was hard to figure out if it was just all a show by two showmen. But, in my child mind, Ali would always outshine Cosell. Ali shined like only he could. They were his words. One only needed to watch his post-fight interviews like this one:

His words.

But, it wasn’t that way for every athlete.

Much of what we as fans saw was controlled by the media. Editing an interview to only provide us with a few quotes in a news or magazine article. Taking a single quote and making it into a story. Leaving key athlete quotes on the cutting room floor.  That’s how we fans came to “hear” from athletes throughout the years.

Today, there is social media.

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Controlling the Message

The athlete-media relationship has always been a tricky one. They’ve needed each other. Media needed athlete quotes for stories. Athletes needed media to help them be “recognized” (think: sponsors). Getting quotes, especially post-game quotes after a loss, from a surly athlete wasn’t always pleasant. Having to deal with media members who didn’t like you wasn’t exactly a high point of an athlete’s day either. The dreaded “I was misquoted” became a staple in the athlete-media relationship.

But, they needed each other. 

RELATED: EPL vs NFL Media Restrictions and the Marshawn Lynch saga by Andrew Bucholtz (via Awful Announcing)

RELATED: Lessons From Sports Media’s Bad Week by Brian P Moritz (Sports Media Guy)

Then along came social media. Social media has become an outlet for athletes to use to have their voice heard. Their voice. Not filtered through the media. Their voice.

A bad play on the field? An athlete could take to Twitter post-game to share their side of the story. Or, to even apologize to fans. Retirement or off-field issues? No character limit on Facebook. Bypass the standard email press release route – go to where fans are. They control the message.

For a fan, there is something powerful in hearing from an athlete directly. Dr. Jimmy Sanderson, Assistant Professor at Clemson University, researches and teaches on the growing dynamic that is athletes on social media. “One of the biggest capabilities that social media offers athletes is that they have the ability to introduce counter-narratives if they object to the way they are being covered, or simply want to put their own spin on it,” says Dr. Sanderson. “Social media enables them to do this without any filtering from PR officials (which is why teams sometimes cringe) but it does give an authentic viewpoint right to fans.”

Authentic viewpoint. 

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Add a little bit of body text

It’s About Information

Fans crave information on their favorite teams and athletes. Any bit of information, true or potentially true, fans want to know about it. If it affects their team, it affects them. They don’t want to be left out in the dark. Fans want to know what’s happening…and they want it now. 

Twitter is the best resource for that information. Sports journalists have embraced the platform as part of their daily routine. Tweeting play-by-play, commentary, story links, quotes, press conferences and interviews, Twitter has empowered them (think: personal branding) like never before. Without them, fans might not have taken to the platform at all.

But, athletes have seen that empowerment too (again, think: personal branding). They see the instant connection Twitter and other platforms provide. Bypassing traditional media, social media lets athletes give information fans want, but in an athlete’s time. “Social media has been a tremendous asset to athletes and helped fans see that they are more diverse than just what they do on the field or court,” said Dr. Sanderson.

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It’s Nothing New

Even if athletes want to go beyond-140, social media may not be the ideal route. Using their own website to share news is in their best interests from a branding standpoint. It drives people to their website. As journalists today well know, it’s about clicks and views. The more clicks-and-views, the more attractive a site is to advertisers.

Not every athlete has the time or the people to run a site. Sports Illustrated, The Cauldron and the rest are high-traffic sites. Utilizing one of these sites can give an athlete high, instant impact to what they have to say. And, relatively unfiltered. 

Because of social media, athletes, -have

 

Fans have received filtered information on athletes for as long as sports and media have been around. But, fans have also received first-person athlete accounts too. According to John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball, some form of first-person article has been around since the 1800’s. “Both newspaper/magazine articles and books were ghosted for athletes as early as the 1870’s,” said Thorn.”

Thorn cited Cap Anson’s A Ball Player’s Career (1900) as the first “active or former player” to write his own book. As for newspapers, Thorn says when their playing days were over, some players took to writing careers in retirement. Players like Tim Murnane and Sam Crane (1870’s, 1880’s) became sportswriters. “Who was the very first baseball player to have his words appear in a newspaper? I think that must have been William H. Van Cott, in 1854 (ourgame.mlblog.com),” says Thorn. 

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Now and In The Future

The athlete-media relationship is a constantly evolving dynamic. One reason? “Media and communication technology have had a significant impact on sport,” says Dr. Sanderson. As technology advances, more opportunities arise for athletes to take control of their message.

Will it be through websites like The Players Tribune? Video? Whatever it is, long-form writing by athltes will be part of the equation. For now, expect to see more athletes writing their own stories. Recent stories like these:

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  • In October 2014, now-retired New York Yankee short stop, Derek Jeter, launched The Players Tribune, an athlete-driven content platfrom. First up? Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson.

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  • A more recent The Cauldron article from DeAngelo Williams caught my attention. Williams, in his own words, spoke to athletes about their social media habits.

You Better Check Yourselves Players — The Cauldron — Medium

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  •  The Arizona Cardinals’ Darnell Dockett recently took the NFL to task over health and contracts on The MMQB.

Darnell Dockett NFL hypocrites on concussions guaranteed contracts The MMQB with Peter King

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CadChica Sports

What Twitter Video Means for Sports Media

Two new Twitter features were rolled out today: group Direct Messaging and in-app video capture/upload. 

While many are thankful for the group messaging feature, it is the in-app video feature that I think is the win here. A win for sports journalists and their brethren. 

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WHAT IT MEANS FOR SPORTS

One of the biggest keys to Twitter’ growth has been its adoption by journalists. Sports journalists, especially. I’ve written on this before how I believe the secret to Twitter’s success has been because of sports. Live-tweeting of sporting events, press conferences or breaking news in a 140-character space has enabled Twitter to become a must-have news source in sports. 

With a 30-second native Twitter video, with ability to record and upload, the game has been changed in sports reporting. An ESPN reporter can record an in-game update with a tweet. A CBS Sports sideline reporter can do an additional report during commercial break of a college hoops game…with a simple tweet. No need to wait until the network is on air. The possibilities are endless. 

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But, just like the limit on characters in tweets, it will force said reporters to condense their words to fit within 30-seconds. 

The 140-character limit in a tweet has forced many to refine their writing skills. Make it quick, to-the-point and tweet it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to re-type a tweet because it didn’t fit within 140 – that dreaded red color pops up in the numbers

6  Twitter

That 140 limit makes you get to the point. 

Same with video. 

citizen

Is there a down-side? Yes. 

Just as has been the case with typed tweets in that errors have been made or outlandish rumors become “fact”, the same goes for video. Anybody can create a report, especially during a live-event. Non-sports live events will truly see a rise in citizen journalism. There are positives and negatives to that idea. A tragic event with citizen journalists reporting? The potential for misinformation is great. But,

The flip-side to that is reputable reporters can use the video to report breaking news with their own voice. How many times have respected media been fooled by a tweet from a fake account? A big trade in the NBA or NFL? Yeah, with video, reputable reporters can take care of that problem easily. Think no more adarnschefter tweets.

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FINAL THOUGHTS: Love this idea from Twitter. Keeping in mind the broadcasting rights during games (which is key), I love the idea of being able to provide an in-game update beyond 6 or 15 seconds. Hard to give the game details or an injury update in that short of time. 

Another benefit I see is for young sports journalists. Breaking into sports media is a challenge. Working within a sports department or interning is great, but what if a student isn’t able to or not at that level yet? This new video option allows them to do their own updates. They can practice giving updates from a live-event – which doesn’t have to be from one of the major sports. It enables them to rehearse a 30-second update like you hear on tv or radio. For young sports journalists, this update can be empowering.

I’m not so sure about the group DMs for one point only: the beauty of Twitter for fans is access to sports journalists, getting that behind-the-curtain interaction with them directly or seeing the conversations between them. In the early days of Twitter, I felt empowered to know what media were discussing with each other on a topic. Now, with this DM feature, if sports journalists want to talk with each other privately between three or more of them, they can do that. It might seem like a minute detail to some, but it’s about information and access for fans.

Would love to know your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below.

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CadChica Sports 

Review: We Need to Talk Gets Solid Start

CBS Sports Network debuted a new show tonight. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Perhaps not. If you’re a regular follower of this blog, I wrote about it back in August saying it was about time. The “it” I’m referring to is the debut of the all-female sports talk show, “We Need to Talk”. Twelve ladies with sports backgrounds on one show to talk about sports. Unprecedented. As I and many other ladies in this business have long believed, it was overdue.

In its debut, all but one of the ladies was present (Summer Sanders made a video appearance from Africa where she is working with the Right to Play organization). Veteran broadcasters, Lesley Visser and Andrea Kremer, highlighted what appears to be a stellar cast that included: Katrina Adams, Laila Ali, Swin Cash, Dana Jacobson, Allie LaForce, Lisa Leslie, Dara Torres, Amy Trask and Tracy Wolfson. In today’s age, every sports tv event is analyzed (or overanalyzed) on Twitter. Although I had high hopes for the show going in, I wanted to be free of any outside opinions of the show. As such, I did not access any social media while it was on the air.

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OPENING AND FIRST SEGMENT: Dramatic music set to a video montage of the hottest sports stories of recent times (i.e. Roger Goodell, Ray Rice, etc..). Scene opens with the ladies at three different areas of the studio. At the main table, Visser, Wolfson, Trask, Ali and Kremer were seated. Wolfson welcomes everyone to the show and immediately tosses to Visser and away we go. Really liked the opening montage. Keep that, please! 

The opening story, as one would expect, was the NFL, Goodell, Rice and domestic violence. Right away with Visser and this story, her Hall of Fame credentials (as mentioned by Wolfson, I think) shine through. She knows the game. She knows the players in this saga. She has command of the topic. Drawing the others’ into the conversation was key to get things moving from the get-go. Laila Ali spoke first – strong presence – stating the NFL should be more proactive. Kremer asking what I’ve read so often these last few weeks, What did they think domestic violence looked like?.

One great question that got my attention early on was when Amy Trask asked Ali about a violent sport like hers (boxing) transferring over to real life. Solid take from Ali in that in the end it’s about character and morals. BINGO!

Overall, this first segment flowed well. Thoughtful responses. Knowledgeable. Not always agreeable, which is going to be key.

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SECOND SEGMENT: After returning from commercial, Allie LaForce and Katrina Adams discussed Hope Solo’s recent trouble with domestic violence. Raising the question about letting the process run its course, Adams was agreeable with the innocent until proven guilty stance that U.S. Soccer has taken. Rice and Adrian Peterson’s incidents were on a different level — Adams even referenced social media being a part of their troubles in the process. And that’s where the Solo discussion ended. Abruptly. Which makes me feel as if the thinking going into the show was Oh, Hope Solo’s been a hot topic recently so we need to address it. Yeah, a bit disappointed. Why not address the outcry among mostly female media over it? That’s partly why it was a hot topic.

LaForce would go on to mention that suspensions alone won’t do anything – need to take money away. I think the NFL Players Association might have something to say about that. NBA policy was added to this discussion, but that felt like the Solo issue above…forced.

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THIRD SEGMENT: Standing ovation here from me.

Domestic violence is no respecter of persons. It can happen to any person, any age, any race, in any country and any financial status. Dana Jacobson brought us back from break sitting with Swin Cash, Lisa Leslie and Dara Torres on the couch on the set. The victim’s point of view, as Jacobson referred to it, often gets lost in the discussion. Cash, Leslie and Torres each spoke on their own instances of being victims of domestic violence. Cash gave voice to the African-American community perspective. Leslie’s was one of not wanting to be the victim any longer. Torres, who had not spoken publicly before on the subject, showed what many who have suffered from mental abuse deal with – the mental gymanstics of was it abuse, was I a victim, unworthiness. It was raw and the collection of the three made it powerful. 

The conversation made its way to colleges, Texas football coach Charlie Strong, child discipline (Leslie discuss teaching her own kids. Society only gets a brief mention in the discussion) and of course, Roger Goodell. Cash said all levels of the NFL need to be held responsible. Nothing that hasn’t already been said. 

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FOURTH SEGMENT: Good for Tracy Wolfson for saying right off the top that she was a Michigan alum. Why? Because the next topic up was the discussion about Michigan’s handling of quarterback Shawn Morris and his continuing to play over the weekend.

Both Wolfson and Allie LaForce are sideline reporters for CBS. While the position often gets ridiculed, both Wolfson and LaForce can speak to what actually happens on the sideline, particularly with a player injury in a college game. LaForce offered up plausible explanations as to why Michigan’s Coach Brady Hoke may not have known about Morris’ concussion – it’s up to the medical and training staff. Wolfson, for her part, described the different ways the NFL and NCAA sidelines handle the concussion issue in detail – PERFECT! Not so perfect was Trask chiming in about the NCAA being dismantled. Not much substance to that statement, but she’s not alone in saying that. 

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FIFTH SEGMENT: The previous two segments were highlights. Touching on the Dennis Allen firing by the Oakland Raiders…not so much. As part of the Raiders organization for over two decades, Trask knows the team well. When asked where the Raiders go from here/what do they need to do, Trask offered very little. Saying ‘he needs to be aware of the advice he gets’ was fine. But, saying that’s what happened in 2012? My curiosity is piqued…but NO ONE ASKED A FOLLOW-UP QUESTION!!! Fans don’t know the inner-workings of what happened – why no follow-up

This wasn’t a fast-moving segment, per se, but it did touch on several different subjects: Dara Torres, a swimmer herself, spoke on the Michael Phelps DUI from Tuesday (LaForce called it a “selfish decision” and expected better from a 29 year-old. But, the discussion ended quickly with just a weird (non-existent) segue into the MLB playoffs. Again, this felt forced. It’s a current topic so “let’s talk about it”. Meh. 

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SIXTH SEGMENT: De-rek Je-ter. Getting back on track with Turnback Tuesday – at least, I think that’s what this was supposed to be called – Lesley Visser and three retired athletes brought a fresh perspective on Jeter and retiring athletes. It wasn’t so much a discussion of Jeter, but rather it was their retiremet stories. I didn’t know that Adams’ last singles match was against Serena Williams – yeah, she lost. I like those kinds of tidbits. Ali describing her last bout in South Africa with Nelson Mandela watching – okay, I admit it…coolness factor with Ali is off the charts. 

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SEVENTH SEGMENT: Meaningful or Meaningless — it’s only the first show so I’ll wait until I see this a few more times to decide if I like it or not. Torres, Adams, Ali and Leslie were gathered around the table with Kremer. Different topics were discussed and a member of the panel would describe if it was meaningful or meaningless. Topics included the Buffalo Bills’ change at quarterback, status of the New England Patriots, Carmelo Anthony’s I’m underrated comment, America’s Ryder Cup loss and bulletin board material. Decent topics. But, the star for me was Laila Ali weighing in on the bulletin board material topic. The competitor in her came through as she described how she would look for every little edge. Any amount of disrespect, she’d take it and use it as motivation. Fresh perspective. 

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EIGHTH SEGMENT: Social media hottest topics. Having worked on a show that incorporated social media hot topics or latest buzz, I know how difficult it is to do these types of segments. Even when we did it on Unite, it was a challenge to stay current. And, that’s the challenge here. Overall, it felt forced. Gotta have a social media segment thinking. Most of what was shared was old news to me. Perhaps for others who don’t work in social media or sports, it was new. As a Seattle Mariners fan, I enjoyed the Tom Wilhelmsen dancing video. The Mariners broadcast of it live shared with the audience that this was normal for Wilhelmsen to do in the bullpen – he just simply brought it out for the world to see on the last game of the season. That tidbit wasn’t shared by either Allie LaForce or Swin Cash because they didn’t know. Instead, they joked about Wilhelmsen’s dancing skills and tried to do their own. Yeah…umm…no. 

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CLOSING SEGMENT: We Need to Listen. 

Pink or purple – that is the question. With the change of the calendar to October, the color pink will be plastered across our screens. Breast Cancer Awareness month. It also happens to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As Kremer eloquently pointed out, perhaps the NFL shouldn’t just trot out the pink, but instead, allow players the choice to incorporate purple into their uniforms this month too. Or, better yet, combine the two colors and make it relevant. 

Well said, Andrea. Great idea, We Need to Talk.

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FINAL THOUGHTS: In a word, yes!

Yes, this was a successful show. Yes, the show proved women can talk about sports because they know about sports. Not women’s sports – just sports! As with any show debut, yes, there were some rough spots: weird camera angles, camera shots of someone who wasn’t speaking, segments that I didn’t quite get. But, overall, I was pleased with what I saw. 

I’ve said this before in my blog, but I need to say this again. I’m a sports fan. I don’t want to be called a female sports fan. I love sports. I have all of my life. Long before many on social media were even born, I was a sports fan. Men would always be surprised at how knowledgeable I was when it came to sports. We’d argue, trash talk, ask questions – and there was mutual respect once they saw I knew my stuff. Some even said I needed to have my own show (Yeah, well, you can’t have everything). That reaffirmed my belief that women could talk sports. Not women’s sports. Just sports. 

You don’t have to be a beautiful blonde. You don’t have to be a size 2. You don’t have to be in your 20’s. You don’t have to fit the stereotype of what many in sports media still believe today about women (just look at their commercials, popular stories and website ads and you’ll know what I mean). You just need to know your stuff

There are women like me out there. Not putting myself in their category whatsoever, but Visser and Kremer prove it every single day. They know their stuff. They back it up with what they say and bring to the discussion table. THAT’s what I want to see from this show. I want sports talk. Not the blowhard kind seen or heard in many sports shows today (tv and radio). I want reasoned, well-thought-out, sports talk. Even sports talk that will make me think.

Challenge my thinking.

Give me fresh perspective.  

Don’t dumb it down for me. 

Give me substance so I can say YES!

And here’s hoping CBS Sports says YES to many, many more We Need to Talk shows. 

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WHAT OTHERS HAD TO SAY

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Congratulations to everyone involved in the show. 

Did you watch the debut episode? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below. 

CadChica Sports

Stirring Passion Beyond Social Media Activism

I’ve seen the video. 

Wish I hadn’t, but I couldn’t write anything on this topic if I didn’t. 

The “it” I’m referring to is the video (now former) Baltimore Raven, Ray Rice, hitting his then-fiancee (now wife), Janay Rice in an elevator. You’ll have to Google it – I’m not embedding it in this post. There are enough click-hunting websites around to help you out.  Rice knocked out his fiancee with a punch. 

Knocked her out! And dragged her, yes dragged, her out of the elevator he hit her in. 

No disputing the video. No excuses. Nothing to explain away. It’s there for all to see. And, all to tweet and post updates about on respective social media feeds with passion.

Opinions are a dime-a-dozen. With a situation like the Rice one, social media is an easy vehicle in which to share those opinions. It also provides a fascinating look into the human psyche. Hatred, vitriol, condemnation, judgement – all sprinkled inside “opinions”. That begs the question, 

What are we going to do about it? 

 

It’s easy to tweet, post, share…whatever. It’s not always easy to “do” something. I say this because there is always a story behind the story. What was going on in Rice’s mind to hit a woman? What led up to it? No, not Janay’s actions. But, something triggered this in him somewhere in his life. Was it when he was a child? Was it as a teenager? Was it a culmination of everything in his life up to that point? Hard to believe that on that day he thought hitting was the way to solve the issue. If that’s the case, then please prove me wrong. If so, then it’s up to us as a society to change that. But, it has to be started early. 

I’m doing my best based on what I know to teach my sons. Based on what I know. What I was taught and observed throughout my life affects what and how I teach them, just as it does with Ray Rice and others like him. Only as they grow will I know if I instilled the right values and skills or not. I am challenged every single day to teach and model the right things in front of them. Is it enough? I’m not perfect – no one is. But, I’m investing in the next generation through my sons and organizations that aim to help kids around the world be positive members of society. 

So, instead of tweeting your horror about the Baltimore Ravens and their public relations fiasco or Roger Goodell’s job as NFL Commissioner, I’ll ask you — What are you going to do about it?

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That story behind the story I mentioned….yeah, there’s also another side of the story. One that most people in sports media aren’t discussing today. There is the victim, Janay Rice, and, oh…the Rice’s daughter, Rayven. 

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Rayven and Janay will live with this the rest of their lives. We won’t. We’ll move on to the next hot sports topic. Tweet, post and share our “hot takes” or display our incomparable sarcastic wit. And move on to the next thing next week. Or, maybe even tomorrow. We’ll forget.

That’s the challenge for all of us. Me included. To not forget. To remember what stirred that passion in us in the first place. The passion that made us tweet, share, post our anger, discontent, frustration should drive us to be the change not just say, there needs to be change

If we do that, maybe then, there won’t be another Rayven or Janay. 

Be the change you wish to see in the***

CadChica Sports

Define “Fun” Again, FS1

When FOX Sports announced that it would be launching a “rival” to ESPN in the form of FOX Sports 1, many in sports and social media circles were thrilled. ESPN needs competition said some. The amount of drivel on ESPN makes it unwatchable said others. That was over a year ago. Some still believe that. 

How did I feel? Meh. 

Meh for the simple reason that sports networks just didn’t resonate with me anymore. I long ago tuned out ESPN’s non-event offerings. Only exceptions: 30-for-30 and E:60. Even their ESPN Radio offerings were a turn-off. Same goes for Fox Sports. Aside from a soccer match or an occasional NFL game, Fox’s sports offerings were putrid. So what would I need with a new sports network? Nothing. Especially since I have Twitter and my phone. 

Why watch a highlight on SportsCenter when I could see a GIF of it on Twitter? Do I really need to see the scores when it’s so easily accessible on the beat writer’s Twitter feed or on a phone app? Everything I need for sports news is easily accessible these days without turning on the television. What could Fox Sports 1 offer someone like me? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

Now that they’ve been around for a year and seeing stuff like this…I’m not missing much am I?

Didn’t think so.

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Truth be told, I couldn’t watch much of that video. I know some people who work at Fox Sports. I have no idea if they had anything to do with that ad or not. I truly hope not. FS1 has made some smart moves in recent months by hiring the likes of Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel for their college football offerings. Those two additions make up for the extreme misstep of the Crowd Goes Wild show and the still-employed Clay Travis. But, just barely.

The expectations and braggadocio of Fox last summer about FS1 were, in a word, FUN (The One for Fun).  They would challenge the mighty behemoth, ESPN. One year on, those expectations and braggadocio are gone. Disappointment might be a better description.

Long-term disappointment? Maybe not. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But, with ads like that “one” FS1, your definition of FUN might need a bit of refining, especially for your long-term prospects.

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FINAL THOUGHT: Just in case you thought I was alone, a few replies to Richard Deitsch’s second tweet:

Twitter   richarddeitsch  College football is abt. passion  ...

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CadChica Sports

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