Dear Maya

Dear Maya,

Thank you. Thank you for being an inspiration. It goes deeper than basketball. I could talk all day about your career accolades. The rings, the stats, the awards. I could go on for days about it. But you already know that. As one of my favorite athletes, you have always captivated me with your abilities on the court. You represent something much more than basketball to me.

You’re hope. I think one of the most impactful things I’ve ever experienced was a sport and gender class last year. I learned so much more about the plight of the woman athlete. It was truly eye-opening, but it also made me more conscious than ever about what people say. I see the nasty things people say on message boards and comments. The Internet provides people the space to do so anonymously and without consequence. Yet you press on. It’s bigger than that.

I see the impact of representation. Your Jordan commercial was something to behold. The wave of kids you inspired from using your platform in such a way is uniquely special. Count myself in as well. I see visions of a world being shaped by our current-day athletes that will allow me to tell my children they can do anything. That nothing can hold them back. As athletes, whether you think it’s fair, you all have an enormous reach. I want to thank you for being a great role model.

I wrote an article a while back [See: “Why can’t I buy a WNBA jersey?” on this site]. I was griping about not being able to purchase your jersey that day. I should have been a bit more patient as the next day it was available on the team store. However, I am a man of my word. Today, I’ll be rocking one of my favorite player’s threads seeing her play for the first time in person. Please try not to give out too many buckets today against the Sky. They are still my hometown team.

You’re a walking legend. On and off the court. And for that, I thank you.

Sincerely,

Don Collins

Why Can’t I Buy A WNBA Jersey?

By Don Collins

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) season tipped off Friday night, May 18 at 10 pm ET. The match-up featured the Dallas Wings vs. the Phoenix Mercury, with the Mercury winning, 86-78. This year marks the 22nd year of existence for the WNBA. Let me be the first to say that last year’s Final was compelling and awesome. Here’s to another successful season.

If I have any gripes about the 2018 season, it is that I sought to purchase the jersey of one of my favorite basketball players of all time: Minnesota Lynx forward, Maya Moore.

maya-moore-lynx

Minnesota Lynx Forward Maya Moore

Let me clarify. I could not purchase an officially licensed jersey from the WNBA team store. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to order some poorly made jersey from eBay and hope that the stitching stays together. It wasn’t just Moore’s jersey that was unavailable. Almost every player in the league was missing their threads online, save for a few.

My problem became something I wanted to write about because I was curious and decided to make my way to the NBA G League page just to compare. Granted, there was an absence of replica jerseys there as well, but I could purchase a customizable jersey for the team I searched.

I’m not naïve, I know that the revenue for the G League and the WNBA isn’t the same as the NBA, but to be fair, I DON’T CARE. These are the premiere women athletes and yeah, I want the option to purchase a Maya Moore jersey. And Elena Delle Donne’s. And Skylar Diggins-Smith’s. And Candace Parker’s. I think you get it.

At the time of this writing, there very well could be a plan of action in place to create the apparel. If so, then alright, I’m ecstatic. But if not, I think Nike needs to get on it and expand the line. I’m talking jerseys, hats, t-shirts, etc. I’m going to one of the two games the Lynx play in Chicago this year against the Chicago Sky and even though my hometown team  is hosting (and I want them to be successful), I would much appreciate rocking my #23 jersey.

Did The Toronto Raptors Fix Their Problem?

By Don Collins

The Toronto Raptors have relieved Dwane Casey of his duties as head coach. The team made the move after the sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Another year of not advancing past James and company apparently was enough to hand the coach his pink slip. After winning 320 games in seven seasons, I wonder what Toronto is going to do to upgrade from Casey.

Look, I get it, you probably should not get swept by this current iteration of the Cavs, but this feels like a knee-jerk reaction. After posting 59 wins and being the number one seed in the Eastern conference, to fire your coach because his team succumbed to the greatest player of all time is not the course of action I would take. Is it not better to allow the team to learn from this most recent loss? Or is three years of falling to James enough? I don’t cut the checks, but some factors must be examined.

My concern for the Raptors is that they won’t find the greener pastures they are seeking. Recently, several franchises have experienced various degrees of success in replacing a successful coach with a new one to try to reach the pinnacle of the NBA. In this case, I see more of what the Chicago Bulls did with Tom Thibodeau than what the Golden State Warriors did with Steve Kerr.

This is a team that, for better or for worse, must try to figure it out when it comes to LeBron James. They are not swimming in cap space so unless a trade comes, they will have to rely on the duo of Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan to figure it out. I’m not too sure a leadership change from the most successful coach in team history was necessary. Allowing continuity to improve a team with a deep roster without clear on-the-court upgrades surely was an option and I wonder why it was not chosen. For the time being, LeBron is still the mental hurdle the group must overcome regardless of who is in charge.

In the past few days, the Raptors surely discussed how they could reclaim Toronto from the vice grip LeBron has on their prospects for a championship. Firing the coach is one way to try and fix the problem and it is common with a lot of teams. A new voice may be able to get better out of the same ingredients, but it’s a calculated risk that could be deemed unnecessary if the new coach experiences a decrease in success.

Casey did a wonderful job during his time in Toronto. His tenure is not defined by failed expectations but rather by exceeded ones. Championship or bust is a reality in the NBA, but that mentality can be the untimely demise of an entire era of a team.

The 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp from My View

By Bre Moorer

Bre Moorer is a senior at Bowling Green State University where she pursues a major in Sport Management with a specialization in General Business.  She is originally from Akron, Ohio, about forty miles south of Lake Erie.  Her primary sport interest is basketball – at the amateur and professional level.

Since my first day on campus at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), I have been inspired to “put myself out there.”  From interviewing for a manager position with the women’s basketball team, to earning a spot on the Sport Management Alliance’s professional development committee.  Whenever someone asks me why I call BGSU home, the answer is clear.  The students come first and have endless opportunities.

This spring I received an e-mail telling me I was selected, along with 7 of my peers, as a student ambassador for the 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp.  It feels good to know that faculty members thought of me when presented with this once-in-a-lifetime experience.   This year was the NFL’s 12th annual Boot Camp, which is just one of the Player Engagement’s many educational programs offered to active and retired players (also known as legends).  There were 36 players in all, but some high-profile faculty also came to educate them.  On the first day, I was paired with a fellow student ambassador, Mitchell Bailey, to supply players and faculty members with credentials and the week’s itinerary as they checked into the hotel.  Later on, the players were divided into 4 groups in order to make the sessions more personal and engaging.  My group of 8 consisted of Rahim Abdullah, Bobby Brown, Donald Willis, Tori Gurley, Joselio Hanson, Fred Jackson, Jerry Porter, and Carlos Rosado.  I guided the most fun group, in my biased opinion, to breakout sessions around campus in a timely and low-profile manner.  I found shortcuts to keep the players “safe” from the infamous Bowling Green wind.  Most of them live down south and reminisced on the days they had to battle a cold campus.  The first day of rounding the legends and active players up was not easy.  I had a hard time telling men who are over 6 feet and 230 pounds what to do, where to go, and when to stop eating for a walk across campus, until Rahim Abdullah said, “You have to speak up”, he continued, “and know that we trust you to look out for us”.

I have to admit, as a sport management student, I am not the most passionate about journalism.  Therefore, I sat out some sessions and updated the group on the time they had left with the faculty members from the hallway.  However, I found myself extremely interested in the “Ethics in Broadcast Journalism” and “Sports Media Coverage of Social Issues” sessions.  To show just how sweet the guys are, I will share a story.  During the “Ethics in Broadcast Journalism” session, the players had discussions about protesting the anthem and domestic violence in the NFL.  After they all shared their views and learned how to communicate them properly on camera, a couple players checked to make sure I was comfortable during the domestic violence conversation since I was the only woman in the room.  I knew then that they had my back.

The highlight of my time as a student ambassador was watching sportscaster James Brown (J.B.) in action.  His first interaction with us was when he interviewed past participants of the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp.  We all marveled at his smooth transition from topic to topic and knowledge of the panelists.  J.B. stopped to talk to everyone who wanted a word and was just as kind as he seems on television.  He was open to giving out advice and sat in on some sessions to give his expert input.

In conclusion, the 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp was an exceptional experience that I will remember forever.  I grew professionally and personally.  It was a chance to network and I learned to take charge as the leader of my group.  Future student ambassadors for this program will definitely enjoy it and I hope they happen to be BGSU Falcons!

The King’s Court?

By Don Collins

(Collins – below left, with Bre Moorer and Randy Norman)

IMG_0935

Sheesh. I was wrong. Not about LeBron James. He’s been his usual brand of excellence. You could argue this is the best he’s ever played. No, I was wrong for another reason: the state of the Cavaliers. I want to issue a public apology to the Indiana Pacers. On my podcast, Can’t Be Stopped, I was making predictions and I chose the Cavaliers (like any normal human being outside of the Hoosier state would) and I said they would dispatch them in the minimum four games. I never would have imagined what would happen next.

IMG_0904

Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

I was able to get a first-hand look at the Cavaliers’ first attempt to eliminate the Pacers. I was fortunate enough to be in Indiana for Game 6 and from the beginning it was clear that Indiana would not be going quietly. The mere fact that it was even in a Game 6 was unfathomable going into the series.

Indiana did not get swept. In fact, they were the better team the entire series. How is it possible, you ask? It was a continuation of what they had done all year. Indiana was 3-1 against the Cavs going in and I was blind to the fact that they had handled them up until LeBron used his powers to somehow will his team to victory.

I was able to see just how poorly this Cavaliers team can perform. Game 6 ended with a final score of 121-87. LeBron finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. The benefit of going to the game live was that I was able to see plain as day that no one else contributed statistically. On television, you often just get to focus on the bottom line. LeBron is producing, and they will show a graphic totaling the rest of the team’s stats. Being in person, I was able to see the whole scope of how Indiana attacked them and vice versa. Reading the program for the evening showed the disparity of the series: LeBron was averaging 34.8 points per game and the next highest was Kevin Love with 11.8. That is insanity.

The other thing that makes going to an NBA playoff game in person so special is just the atmosphere. Most 34-point blowout wins on television are causing me to change the channel. Being present changes so much due to the energy level of seeing the home team destroying the other team. I had never been to a Pacers’ home game and I can say that while I still love Bulls’ home games the most, Indy was an excellent venue.

LeBron did his job, however, in the long run and they sent the Pacers home for the summer, but I will not underestimate them in the future. I learned that just because a team isn’t in the regular rotation of TNT games doesn’t mean they can be taken lightly.

Indy coming to play for 7 games has repercussions going forward. I normally do not doubt LeBron but seeing how much energy he spent while getting hounded by Indy makes me worry about the chances he keeps his Finals appearances streak.

IMG_0999

Is LeBron getting beat up too much?

Lebron is functioning at the height of his powers and I don’t know if he can keep this pace up. Or if it would even matter as the teams get better. Especially with the Raptors looking legit this year. Time will tell.

2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp

By Randy Norman

The NFL Broadcast Boot Camp is an annual professional development program put on by the league’s Player Engagement division. The boot camp is three days long and it provides the opportunity for current as well as former NFL athletes to gain broadcasting experience as they attend a number of educational sessions that are taught by experts in the industry. This year marked the 10th annual NFL Broadcast Boot Camp, and for the first time ever, it was held at our very own Bowling Green State University. In previous years, the Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project has collaborated with the NFL Player Engagement department to host a Journalism Boot Camp. However, the Broadcast Boot Camp differs from those in years past at BGSU as it exposes the players to a wider variety of on-air job functions in television and media.

I was honored to have been selected, along with seven other students, to serve as an Ambassador for the 2018 NFL Broadcast Bootcamp. As student ambassadors, we were responsible for guiding the players and visiting representatives to each of their designated sessions and assisting them as needed. There were roughly 36 players who attended this year’s boot camp, and they were split into four groups in order to make the breakout sessions more personal and engaging. Two student ambassadors were assigned to each of the four groups, which allowed us to get to know the players very well.

I was pleasantly surprised at how approachable and down to earth all of the players were. It was very easy to strike up conversation and I found that I had a lot in common with many of them. From having a conversation about Madden and 2K with Green Bay Packer legend Ahman Green, to joking with Jerry Porter about how big his earrings were, I enjoyed every interaction;  engaging with each of the players was definitely a memorable experience.

Not only were the players very approachable, but the NFL staff and other representatives at the boot camp were also extremely friendly and personable. I had the pleasure of speaking with Lya Vallat, who is the Senior Coordinating Producer at NFL Films; and Marcus Smith, who is the Senior Director of Talent Relations at FOX Sports. Both Vallat and Smith were congenial, and they each provided me with valuable insight into the sports industry. I also had multiple encounters with Gerry Matalon and J.B (James Brown), and I had the opportunity to hear them speak in several of the sessions at the boot camp. Though my encounters with Matalon and J.B were brief, I could sense that they were sincere and their knowledge and expertise was evident as they spoke in the sessions and gave impactful messages to the players.

The most significant experience throughout the course of the boot camp was without a doubt being able to sit in on the sessions with the players. One session that stood out to me in particular was the mock press conference with longtime football official, Gene Steratore. In this session, Steratore sat in the front of the room and talked about his experiences as an NFL official. Once he was finished speaking, the players had the opportunity to stand up and ask questions as if they were reporters in a press conference. This session was intriguing to me for two reasons. For one, I was able to hear about football from a completely different perspective than what I am accustomed to hearing. I am used to hearing takes from players, coaches, and sports analysts. However, it is very rare, if ever, that we hear the official’s point of view. The second reason why I enjoyed the mock press conference is because it was cool to see the players switch roles, and have to be the ones asking questions rather than answering them. A memorable moment from the mock press conference session is when Bobby Brown stood up to ask a question and referred to himself as “Bobby Brown from New Edition News.”

At one point during the mock press conference session, Cameron Lynch of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reflected upon a time when he was in training camp and his performance on the field that day was so outstanding and he was so excited, that he felt compelled to milly rock (for those who don’t know, the milly rock is a dance that emerged into popular culture in 2015). Lynch referred to that particular moment of jubilation as his “Milly Rock Moment”, and he asked Gene Steratore what his Milly Rock Moment was in his experience as an official. As I was reflecting back upon my experience with the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp, I thought about what my Milly Rock Moment would have been.

I decided that my Milly Rock Moment was watching the players apply what they had learned in an on-air setting. One of the sessions required the players to actually go into the studio and debate a given sports topic as they would if they were on a sports television show. This moment was noteworthy for two reasons: not only was I witnessing NFL players’ debate who was going to be the top pick in this year’s NFL Draft, but also they were all extremely talented. In my opinion, each of the players in my group would make great on-air personalities and I am excited to see what the future holds for their broadcasting careers.

Overall, the 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp was an amazing experience, and I have memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful program, and I hope that they continue to host the boot camp at BGSU so that future students will also have the opportunity to be a part of something special.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2018 NFL Broadcasting Boot Camp Through My Eyes

By Don Collins

Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is like my second home. Ever since I first set foot on campus, I have loved my time here. One of the deciding factors for my enrollment at BGSU was how much like home it seemed and this spring I had an experience that felt like Christmas to me.

Bowling Green was the host of the 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp that was put together by the NFL’s Player Engagement department. I was absolutely honored to be chosen as an ambassador for the four-day event. The event was an opportunity for current and former players to practice and develop their skills in the world of sport media.

As an ambassador, I was tasked with assisting a group of players with getting to and from sessions in a timely manner (which I found out was wishful thinking!). I was assigned a group by way of randomly drawing from sheets of paper. Usually I have bad luck picking things randomly. Not this time.

My group was awesome, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I must start at the beginning. The first day, I had to round up the troops prior to their first session. I can’t lie, I was a little nervous meeting 8 former players who all had on suits that made me feel like I needed a major wardrobe upgrade.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Over the course of the day, I was able to sit in on all the sessions but also get to know more about them. This part of the Boot Camp for me was one of the best in my opinion. So much of what we see as consumers of the media is filtered through somebody else’s viewpoint. Without getting too detailed, I feel like everyone has an expectation of what professional athletes are like due to what we’ve been told, not what we’ve experienced.

My number one goal prior to the Boot Camp was something I tend to always do: Treat people as people. Granted, the people I was with for four days were giants compared to my stature, but at the end of the day, pro athletes are people as well.

One highlight of the camp was getting to know the individual personalities that each player possessed. Particularly in my group, each guy had something that I thought would serve them well in their future careers. The camp offered them a chance to see what medium best delivered that side of themselves to the consumers of sport media

The actual Boot Camp sessions were cool too. I attended almost every session and took detailed notes since this is going to be my profession as well! If the NFL Player Engagement office ever reads this, I want them to know that every session was very informative, and I learned a lot. Hopefully that means that if I took a lot away from the camp, then so did the players.

Two memories stick out to me from the Boot Camp. First was sitting down with Jerry Porter, Fred Jackson and Joselio Hanson on the set and discussing the upcoming NFL Draft and other football tidbits. For me, I am very conscious of the fact that nothing is guaranteed and that may have been my only time to share a set with these gentlemen, so I cherished the opportunity.

My second favorite memory took place on the last day of the camp. Talking to the players throughout the entire process of their culminating color commentary of this year’s Super Bowl was awesome. Seeing how they applied what they had been learning was great, but also the fun time taking pictures and sitting in on some of the sessions was a treat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On a personal note, this semester has been a blessing because everything seems to be happening right on time and perfectly. Ignoring the bumps along the road that come and go during a semester of college, I have never felt more comfortable with my career path and outlook. The Boot Camp literally brought tears to my eyes when it was over. Not because I was overcome with sadness that it was over, but because for four days, I felt like I was right where I needed to be. I am forever grateful to the people who gave me this opportunity, but also to the players for being the good people they are. Finally, I must shout out to my mom and dad. They have taught me the lessons necessary to be ready when the opportunity arises. It won’t be the last time that I’ll be ready.