I had the privilege this week of taking part in a Sports Night panel discussion at Boca West Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla. We had about 350 people attending and this was a very engaged, informed, and inquisitive crowd. Many thanks to them and Bert Wellman, the organizer, for creating such a hospitable environment. A hearty thanks is also due Steve Dresner, who served as emcee. Steve is a producer for NFL Network, among the many hats he wears.
Panelists were Sandy Alderson, the New York Mets general manager; Marilee Dean Baker, a groundbreaker in athletics who served as director of athletics at Michigan State University (and hired Tom Izzo as basketball coach) and elsewhere; former professional tennis player Tom Gullikson, and yours truly.
We covered many topics – the impact of TV money on college sports and the agitation by some players for compensation or union protection; baseball’s playoffs and the outlook for the Mets; the state of tennis and its outreach to younger players; sports and media.
Sandy Alderson had just driven down from Port St. Lucie, where the Mets train (and had won on the strength of two home runs by Curtis Granderson). Many in the crowd were/are New Yorkers, and they were asking about the team’s prospects considering its limited player payroll (about $87 million).
Baker has a fabulous background as an advocate for not only women in sports but college athletics as a whole. She won 12 varsity letters as a college athlete and also ran athletics programs (women’s or men’s) at Princeton and the University of Minnesota.
Gullikson was a renowned doubles player with his late brother Tim (his twin, younger by five minutes) and Tom continues to coach and teach the sport he loves.
I am still writing, blogging, making appearances and always stand ready to help new clients with their writing, editing, and public relations needs. You can contact me here. Please follow me on Twitter at MrLarryWeisman as well.
The Miami Dolphins didn't have the season they wanted, but WAXY, also known as The Ticket Miami, certainly did. With me on board to do analysis,
The Ticket (104.3 FM/790 AM) launched a postgame show and also asked me to write a Dolphins-themed blog for its website and Facebook page. The blog continues, even though the Dolphins season has ended. There is still plenty going on with the team and I'm also making playoff picks throughout the NFL tournament and Super Bowl. So please avail yourself of my work at www.theticketmiami.com. I also announce the blog's presence on Twitter, so you can follow me at twitter.com/MrLarryWeisman. The blog appears on my Facebook page as well. I love engaging with fans and readers, so please check out the blog, post comments, and we'll have some fun talking football.
Busy, busy, busy. Last time I posted, we were helping SOTSAK with a very successful opening in Delray Beach. You should follow SOTSAK on Facebook. The Scandinavian retailer has great holiday merchandise and outstanding coffee. Very convenient location, too. Right on Jog Road, across from Morikami Park. Near Way Beyond Bagels. You will enjoy meeting proprietor Nils Larsson.
I've also been working with WAXY (790 AM, 104.3 FM) on radio programming, helping out with coverage of the Miami Dolphins. I've got another radio project in the pipeline as well. And big things are coming with First Down Laser Systems, so keep your eyes and ears out for this great technological innovation that will change the way people in football stadiums view the game.
Business is good. Life is good. We remain open to all ventures and ideas and can help get your idea developed, publicized, and talked about. Don't wait around and expect your own Facebook page to do the work. You need to drive traffic to your site and to your ideas and I will help you become a success. Look at my track record. Look at my client list. Contact me soon. And follow me on Twitter, @MrLarryWeisman.
Last week's grand opening of SÖTSAK in Delray Beach was a huge success. We had about 100 people attend, including a very strong delegation from the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. Thanks to all, especially those who trusted me with coordinating this event. Here I am at the ribbon cutting, with several members of the chamber. The tall guy? That's Nils Larsson, owner of SOTSAK, which is a retail establishment dealing in Scandinavian good and candies.
The NFL already has a problem with its fans, and that problem is known as competition with the couch. Why sit in traffic, pay $85 for a ticket, $30 to park, $8 for a beer, and wait in line at the restroom when you can stay home and see the game in all its glory on a 60-inch TV? You get announcers, commercials during the TV timeouts, a short walk to the can, and your own cheap (or cheaper) beer and eats. And if there is traffic in your house between the bathroom and the TV, you've got a problem I cannot solve from here.
The NFL's response? It will now not allow women to bring their purses into the stadium. They must use clear plastic bags (which the NFL, unbelievably, will sell to you), just as if they were getting on an airplane.
Obviously there is a safety component here. After the Boston Marathon, backpacks were banned a lot of places. With the Super Bowl in New Jersey in 2014 (the NFL likes to say New York/New Jersey, as if New York were in New Jersey, and I'm from Jersey, pick an exit, and New York and New Jersey just are not the same). You can only imagine that security will be incredibly tight, so the entire season becomes a dry run.
Women, of course, are outraged by Purse-gate. At the Redskins game the other night, some actually threw their purses away after off-loading critical items into the plastic bags. They had come to the game on the Metro train and had no car to return their purses to.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, who covers the Cardinals, put this piece out on Twitter earlier and I thought you would enjoy it as you watch preseason games (yeah, full-priced tickets to see starters play a half) on your big TV in your own home with your own beer.
Check out the press release for my client's store, SÖTSAK, and maybe we'll see you at the store for the Grand Opening on August 28!
NFL training camps draw thousands of fans, and I can never quite understand why. Sure, they’re free and a chance to see the team up close and maybe get a few autographs. Beyond that, I never understood the appeal. The climate? Hot, sticky. The general atmosphere? Boring. As a reporter for USA TODAY, I covered hundreds of these workouts that lasted nearly three hours under unrelenting sun in places I’d rather forget than remember.
Some teams make a point of setting up a table and assigning a couple of players and coaches to about 30 minutes of autograph duty every day. It’s a nice, orderly way of making sure people get what they came for. Many teams don’t, and fans simply line the walkway from the practice field to the locker rooms and beg for autographs. Players often stop and sign, but once they stop signing? Oh, that’s when the complaining starts. One player told me his team received a complaint about him not signing for a fan. He told me, ‘I signed at least 200 times after practice, and the 201st person is the only one who seems to matter.’ He signed and signed after practice, shortening the time he had to shower, change, have lunch, catch a nap, and get to meetings before the afternoon workout. His reward? People thought of him as stuck-up guy who stiffed a fan.
When I worked for the Washington Redskins as editorial director, I appeared on the coach’s TV show, a daily cable show, and a Sunday preview show. I also got to say a few words on radio programming. So when fans asked ME to sign their items at training camp (usually when players wouldn’t, couldn’t, or didn’t), I happily complied. I usually had to sign 10 or 15 times, certainly not 200. And I hadn’t just had my head ripped off in practice, either.
So let this link and the video be a warning to you as you consider whether or not to go to a training camp practice. Me? Well, I like the beach now.
Having spent a little time the other day reviewing my archives for some clips, I thought more about the work that went into the pieces than reminiscing about the people in them. Pardon my self-absorption for the moment.
I loved the work. The research, the calls, the interviews, and then the creative process. Whether it was magazine-length stuff, or the short pieces for which USA TODAY was known, each required a certain focus and a love of words and phrase-making. Short pieces valued the snappy beginning and a quick assembly of pertinent facts. Long-form pieces, such as those I did for the last two Super Bowl programs, tend to wind around and in and out of themselves and if you do the job right (and I think I did), they come back to their starting place.
See some of the work I've done over the years.
I’ve written about many people over many years. Some are gone now, and I miss them. I don’t think I ever had a more emotional day on the job than when I wrote Gene Upshaw’s obituary for USA TODAY in 2008. I knew the man for more than 20 years, respected him, liked him. I had seen him play for the Oakland Raiders but knew him best as the executive director of the NFL Players Association. His death was reported early on an August morning and a phone call from my editor got me out of bed around 6 a.m. to begin a long and painful day trying to write objectively without eulogizing. Here’s a link, since I know (hint, hint) that I’ve whetted your curiosity.
I always loved writing. As a kid, in high school, in college, as a professional. I still do. I love reading as well.
Value the word. Trust the word. Learn to use lots of them properly.
Some years ago at the Super Bowl, one of my colleagues was being pressured by his office to produce a number of stories in rat-a-tat fashion. Bang them out. Go, go, go. His response: “It’s writing, not typing.”
When you sit at your keyboard and send an email, a note, a letter, remember that little lesson: It’s writing, not typing.
No one ever kidded me and I never kidded myself or anyone. I always knew that professional sports, at their heart, were businesses. Owners charged for television rights and tickets, players sought signing bonuses and long-term contracts, and fans happily coughed it up. Winning and losing factored into all of this as well, but the bottom line was, well, the bottom line. And so it is in business as well. We compete for clients. We want to corral them, keep them, bill them, and get paid by them (trust me, the last part gets really competitive and nasty on occasion). We want our clients to do well and we want to do well by them, so that we do well. As a media consultant and supplier of editorial services, I would say the sport I’m closest to now is fishing. Not that I do much real fishing. But baiting the hook, trolling the waters, waiting for a bite, and then landing the big tuna (not Bill Parcells) is the best analogy I can offer. It takes patience, it takes persistence, and there can be long and boring stretches in the hot sun on a lake that’s way too quiet. The right lure and a steady hand, however, can help you land the one that someone else will say got away.