Should Opening Day Become A National Holiday?

infograph

Last week an idea was proposed that would make major league baseball’s (MLB) opening day a national holiday. For it to be considered the MLB would need 100,000 signatures. People could tweet their signatures or use a survey on the website to cast their vote. Ozzie Smith, hall of fame shortstop, and Budweiser franchise, the official beer of the MLB, initiated this idea. In an article on opening day, Smith went on to discuss his excitement for opening day and how it presents hope and endearment for teams because on this day everyone is on a level playing field and that anyone can come out on top.

Baseball offers a time for fans, families and friends to come together to participate in something that is bigger than themselves and offers a chance for unity. The main reason backing this request is that a recent survey shoed that 22.2 million Americans (21 and over), admit to playing hooky on opening day. Time Brosnan, MLB executive and vice president, is happy that the Ozzie and Budweiser are directing efforts to make this happen. Brosnan believes that opening day is already an unofficial national holiday and hopes that they are able to create a strong enough presence within the nation to make this happen.

There is currently a petition on the Whitehouse.gov petition website. Budweiser has also launched a campaign that extends throughout ESPN.com and MLB.com with featured videos of Smith. The franchise has also released a series of advertisements including a piktochart that is rather eye catching.

I personally would be ecstatic if this became a national holiday. I think it would be great for generating revenue at home game franchises as well as drum up business for vendors within the stadiums. From a public relations stand point I think that Budweiser is doing a great job reaching the public. I was first made aware of this idea through twitter and then was able to follow up and read several different stories on other social media outlets and sports related websites. I believe that it will take a great deal of effort to make this an attainable goal but it is very reachable. Budweiser should continue to push the idea to the public even if they reach the 100,000 votes. I think it would also be beneficial to use more retired hall of famers to generate more hype around the topic. Expanding the use of multiple hall of famers could reach a broader audience and get the attention the ad needs.

(Click on info graph for original website)

Advertisements

New Mexico State Player’s Outbreak

After the New Mexico State’s and Utah Valley college basketball game a brawl let loose between the players and the fans. A noteworthy win for Utah Valley as this victory put the team ahead of New Mexico State in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) standings. This overtime win triggered the fans to rush the court in excitement. As the floor filled with fans and players a New Mexico State player threw the basketball at a Utah Valley player. This led to an overwhelming outbreak on the floor where players began to fight and even lead to fans joining in. The players were held back by coaches and quickly escorted into their appropriate locker rooms. Thankfully, the brawl was put to an end as soon as possible with no serious injuries.

Marvin Menzies, New Mexico State coach, was later quoted saying that this “was a national embarrassment.” Unfortunately, occurrences like this aren’t unheard of and disputes similar to this event happen more often than not. So what happens next for athletes that participate in these situations? The N.C.A.A allows the conference to punish a particular team and or athlete. By leaving game policies up to conferences allows for more credible punishment because they deal with the teams firsthand.

This issue should be regularly addresses and stricter standards need to be set to ensure that athletes follow the rules and behave accordingly.  I understand that things happen “in the heat of the moment,” but teams need to reinforce the idea that they are in the public eye and their actions should represent positive actions. From a public relations standpoint this is a messy situation in all aspects, for the individual, the team and the WAC. The player needs to issue a public apology for his actions and make sure the public knows he regrets his actions. The team needs to take their own actions in the media as well. The coaches statements show that he is disappointed in the players actions and informed fans that is not how he runs his team. The public will want to see repercussions taken out on the athlete. Lastly, the WAC needs to set precedence for other athletes to follow. By allowing athletes to partake in such actions the conference is only assuring the public that it will happen again. The WAC needs to layout new rules regarding punishments for any athlete that chooses to misrepresent his team in a violent manner.

I think that anytime an athlete acts out it should be dealt with in a respective manner. I don’t believe that issuing fines is always the most affective because for those who have no issue paying the fees will not have to take responsibility for their actions, whereas game suspension or penalties against the athlete could be more effective in preventing outbreaks like this from occurring in the future.

Winter Olympics Infograph

Infograph finished

Inforgraphs are a great way to share information and visually entice an audience. Our class was assigned to create an infograph that relates to our blog theme. For my infograph I chose to make it about the cost of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. I felt that this topic related to my sports theme and gave me the opportunity to show how a public relations professional could use these statistics.

The 2014 Winter Olympics are the most expensive in Olympic history and I think the public should know how the funds were allocated. I decided to show a breakdown of the costs it took to make Sochi a suitable location for the Olympics. I feel that this is important for future public relations professionals to take into consideration when they begin to plan the next Olympics.

I chose to use Piktochart for my main layout and include my own designs and charts that I made in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. This is a time consuming process that requires you pay great attention to detail. One of the first things I learned was that you need to pick interesting facts that can be presented as numbers and or with a chart rather than in text.

Tips:

  • When getting an image by itself in Photoshop, I found it most helpful to use the magic wand to select the figure. I think used the eraser to clean up any other spots on the background I might have missed.
  • Use a consistent scheme and fonts throughout infograph for visual ease.
  • Use facts that people can relate to. For instance, I chose to show the cost per stadium seat. I think that this is important because it makes the face more drastic.
  • Keep the target audience in mind. The Olympics presented a lot of noteworthy facts but you should only include ones that align with your message.

Miami Dolphins Scandal Revealed

Scandals are a reoccurring theme in sports and while most seem to blow over some have deeper consequences. The Miami Dolphins football team found itself dealing with a great deal of public and league backlash after bullying accusations was directed at the team in the 2013 NFL season. The bullying and harassment came from guard Richie Incognito and two teammates. The bullying revolved around harassing the rookies and using racial slurs. The victims were the tackle, Jonathan Martin, one of the team’s offensive lineman and the assistant trainer. Martin decided to leave halfway through the season while others stayed and continued to endure the bullying.

Usually when things of this nature occur you would think one of the coaches would step in to solve the dispute. In this case quite the opposite happened. Although Richie Incognito, the team’s guard, was suspended for the final eight games the bullying seemed to be persistent. The offensive line coach, Jim Turner was said to be very angry about the situation and even took part in harassing some of the offensive lineman.

Miami Dolphin’s owner, Stephen Ross, fired both Jim Turner and the athletic trainer Kevin O’Neill due to their role or lack there of in the bullying scandal. Ross made statements expressing how these actions go against the core values of the organization. This was a hard decision for Ross to come to because he knew how passionate both coaches were about their career but felt that they failed to act in a responsible manner when dealing with the situation.

I think that this was a smart move for the Dolphins and from a public relations standpoint it shows the public and team members that they have a zero tolerance for harassment. I think that will set precedence for other organizations to follow. The “no comment” or “I didn’t see that” responses from Turner made him look ignorant. He should have been advised to admit his wrong doings and be held accountable. By releasing a public statement and apology to the players his situation may have turned out differently. When you have such a large-scale team it creates for many eye witnesses most of which determined that Turner was in the wrong.

When this scandal first arose I didn’t think much of it because heckling seems to be such a common theme throughout all sports. However, I believe that team unity and respect should be the first and foremost important aspect within a team. I was surprised to see that these well-established coaches would choose to partake in such juvenile acts that had the potential to jeopardize their careers.

(click photo for original link)

NBA All Star Break

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 1.01.08 PM

Should the NBA take the advice LeBron James, Miami Heat basketball star, is giving out?  James has taken a stance on the issue of a the NBA giving the athletes a longer break between regular season play and the All-Star game. Players have joined together and named James as the spokesperson to discuss this issue with the NBA and press.

The new NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, discussed this idea with multiple players but mainly with LeBron James. The two discussed how all-star weekend was by no means a break for him or any other participating athletes. Silver is understanding to the request as he knows the many stresses NBA professionals have going such as personal commitments, their league and the upcoming all-star games. In order for this plan to work the players association would have to discuss it with the union and see what type of schedule changes could be made feasible.

I believe Silver is in a difficult place to make this change. Since he is a new commissioner he is struggling with maintaining a balance between pleasing the players as well as holding an authoritative role. I believe that this request makes for a great argument because I think it would benefit the player by giving a solid time to recover, which would make for a better all-star game. I can see from the athlete’s perspective and understand that they want to perform at their highest performance level. However, I also need to take into consideration the feasibility of changing around a predetermined schedule.

Public relations professionals can present a valid argument for their players and show the benefits this break will have on the NBA. It won’t be difficult to get athletes to back this idea. From the other perspective the NBA media and public relations team will have to tread lightly and do some solid research of why this is a good or bad idea for the league. They will want to show they are considering all possibilities while still holding a strong hand so they present themselves as understanding but not susceptible to every players requests.

Although this seems like a minimal schedule change it could act as a catalyst for future requests so the decision must be determined in a factual manner. It would be worthwhile to get a poll from the NBA athletes to see who believes this is a favorable idea. It would also be interesting to take the feedback from the fans. If this rule does change and they are allotted this break it will be interesting to see if this changes for other sport all-star games such as baseball and football. If the union succumbs to this will other sports follow in suit?

 

(click on picture for link to photo)

The Legend Nears His End

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 1.02.47 PM

The New York Yankees have been blessed to have Derek Jeter as a long esteemed athlete. Since the 1995 season Jeter has been an important member to the Yankee family helping them win seven pennants and five World Series. His outstanding career is finally coming to an end. Last week Jeter announced that this 2014 season would be his last. The captain has decided to step down gracefully as he feels his age is finally getting the best of him. This past year he struggled with a few injuries he sustained during the season and after being released to participate in spring training feels he will be able to give one last good season at his typical level of performance.

Jeter’s casual and confident demeanor shined through as he stated, “I told you guys. One more year,” with a smile on his face. Similar to most of his press conferences he kept it simple and sweet. Explaining he made this decision at the beginning of the season so he could have time to plan his next steps as well allow the Yankees a chance to replace him. He has been a positive attribute to the team maintaining little to no press good or bad. He has maintained a low-key private profile with the media and managed to keep it to what he knows best, baseball.

I am sad to see Jeter go but I think that it is a wise career move to go out while he is on top. Many players have made the mistake to push themselves to continue to compete with the new talent and either end up injured or with disappointing results come seasons end. Jeter has been an influential athlete in my life as I have watched him deal with many scandals around him and the Yankee franchise. I am always impressed to see how well he deals with situations and how well he handles his post game interviews.

In regards to the public relations efforts, I feel that he and his PR team handled this in a great manner. It was wise to release this statement before season that way he established that no matter how the season ended he would be down. This took away the ability for media to speculate and create drama throughout the season. I think that he will continue to face the question of retirement and that it will likely be a common post-game question. Jeter will benefit by taking the one game at a time approach and reiterating that the he will not be any less of a player because of this decision. He can emphasize that again he is doing what he feels is best for himself and for the franchise. This decision shows Jeter’s ability to continue to put his team before his own interests. By recognizing that his age is starting to get the best of him is a difficult decision for anyone to make especially when someone has established himself or herself as a world-renowned athlete.

I am excited to watch Jeter this season and hope that he is able to end on a good note. It will be interesting to see the media hype around this topic throughout the season.

 

(click on picture for link to photo)

Michael Sam’s Courage Off The Field

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 1.04.54 PM

Male athletes are generally associated as strong, powerful, dominant and straight beings. Overtime only very few professional athletes have “come out” and defined themselves as openly gay. The athletes face such scrutiny by the public that they hide their true selves from their family, friends and teammates. This issue stems from mainstream media judgments and previous anti-gay perceptions. Although times have vastly changed there is still a long way to go in order to homosexuals, bisexuals and heterosexuals to be on a so-called level playing field.

Over the weekend Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman at the University of Missouri, announced to the public that he is gay. This was a groundbreaking moment for athletes around the world not to mention for college athletes. Sam will be the first openly gay player drafted in the National Football League.

Standing at 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, Sam breaks the typical stereotypes of what attributes a gay male has. He is a well-decorated athlete and accomplished outstanding any achievements any football player would hope to aspire. He spoke with great confidence and poise as he explained he wanted the world to know the real him and as nerve-racking as it might be he wanted to tell his own truth. Prior to releasing this information to the media he came out to his teammates and received full support.

Sam isn’t the only openly gay athlete but he is currently of a much higher profile. Most recently, NBA star Jason Collins came out and caused quite the uproar in the media and became a front-runner for athletes to follow.  Sam will be in the NFL draft this May and consequently the timing of his announcement has stirred up a great deal of controversy of whether or not this information will affect his draft placement.

Sam has received encouragement from fellow teammates, coaches and media outlets. I believe that he has opened up the door for more athletes to feel comfortable in their own skin, which is phenomenal. I believe he will receive some back lack from those who aren’t openly perceptive to new ideas but as long as he remains transparent and level headed he will be a great example for fellow athletes to follow. NFL even offered its support by stating that he will be judged as a football player and for his talents not for his personal choices although admired him for his courage and honesty.

I think that is important for the NFL to stay transparent so the league can remain about sports not lifestyle choices. NFL has responded well through twitter and media outlets releasing positive statements reinforcing Sam’s announcement. It also released a statement defending an accusation NFL received in regards to asking a player if he liked girls or if he had a girlfriend. I feel that NFL coaches will have to watch how they phrase things so media doesn’t get the wrong idea. Sam’s public relations team should work with the NFL communication team to establish a media where being gay is acceptable and offer support for athletes that are struggling to come out.

I personally think that this will be a great step for professional athletes. I believe that all athletes should strive to create a welcoming atmosphere for all individuals. As an athlete you are held to a higher standard and should have the upmost respect for your teammates and fans. Whether an individual is homosexual, bisexual, transgender, or heterosexual it shouldn’t change who they are as a person or as an athlete. I think that it would be beneficial for straight athletes to show support and instill that gay or not their achievements are credible and noteworthy. I also have to wonder when announcements of this nature will become second hand nature for athletes.

 

(click on picture for link to photo)

Taking Slopestyle To New Heights

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 6.35.56 PM

The much-awaited Olympics have finally gone underway and captivated most of the world. New to the Olympics this year a long with many other events is the men’s snowboarding slopestyle. Slopestyle is similar to the half pipe except it is a mix of rails, and large-scale jumps in which the athlete attempts different types of aerial tricks. The event already generated a great deal of hype because of the difficulty the course presented. Shaun White, two time Olympic goal medalist and well decorated snowboarder, ended up backing out of the slopestyle to put more time into the halfpipe. His choice to do so produced a lot of talk around the event as to the effect it would have on his teammates as well as if this choice was to challenging for him.

With all gossip aside 20-year old Utah native, Sage Kotsenburg, buckled down and let the world know he was ready to step up. Kotsenburg’s determination and creative technique put him above his competitors. On his third run he decided to give it his all and attempt a move he had never done before. He looked relaxed and confident and he pushed off at the top of the run with a smooth style and his hair flowing from his helmet. The crowd was in for a real treat as they had no idea the history journey Kotesenburg was about to embark on. The aerobatic move will be called the 1620 Japan Air Mute Grab, in this he rotates four and a half times while grabbing the back of his board. Kotsenburg landed smiling from ear to ear in disbelief for what he just made happen.

Kotsenburg has competed in numerous competitions as well as participated in the Winter Games. This medal broke his so-called “drought” where he has remained a runner-up since he was 11 years old. This was a monumental achievement for his career and for future competitions. Not only is he the first Olympic Gold winner for this particular event but he also changed the way events are judged. Sometimes events are judged by the danger of the trick and athletic ability whereas this run included the athlete’s creativity and individuality.

I think that Kotesnburg had genuine responses in his post ride interviews and that his surfer-style laidback persona really won the heart of his audience. He explained his style and techniques in a simple manner that was easy to understand. He also used Twitter to respond to his fans that showed how appreciative he was for this opportunity. I think that he and his PR team handled each aspect well and that there will be many opportunities to further enhance his public image.

Now that he has won a gold medal he can take this as an opportunity to promote himself. Considering this is the first time he has really been in the public eye he will now have to make sure his actions follow in suit so he doesn’t receive in scrutiny. I think that because he is young and innovative he will be a role model for the youth to look to. After the Olympics are over I believe he will be granted many opportunities as well as sponsors that will make him be accountable to further push the limits of snowboarding as well act as a responsible model for peers.

 

(click on picture for link to photo)

Sochi Proving Unfavorable For PR Strategies

winterolympics2014sochi-lrg1

Athletes are gearing up and putting their game faces on to represent their country for the 2014 Winter Olympics. This is a very exciting time of year as it gives consumers the chance to enthrall themselves in the thrilling sports and offer support and unity for their nation. This year the Olympics are being held in Sochi, Russia. Seven years ago the International Olympic Committee decided Sochi would be an ideal setting for the Olympics to take place. This is long process and involves a great deal of work to properly prepare a town for such a large-scale event.

Public Relations professionals have struggled to maintain a positive image in representing the Olympics this year. The Olympics has had to deal with many issues. The subtropical location has stirred up concern and difficultly while trying to create a winter atmosphere. New stadiums have been built and constructed up to the very last minute. The most apparent issue has been with the Russian government as it has provided a vast magnitude of issues for the public. Weber Shandwick and Jon Tibbs Associates are the PR executives for the Sochi Olympics and have been in charge of the campaign for the last 18 months.  As a whole the Sochi Olympics have seemed to draw in negative connotations from the public. However, PR professionals stress that they have faith in the power of the individual story and believe once the Olympics begin that the initial drama will be forgotten and attention will draw in on the athletes.

Some of the main issues circulating headlines are in reference to Russia’s anti-gay laws, security fears, and national security. These issues have stirred up many issues for the public relations team and public diplomacy efforts. These prominent issues have negatively affected the Winter Olympics image and risen questions of how do PR professionals turn this worldly event into something positive.

The PR team plans to push stories of the opening ceremony and the start of the Games fairly heavily. I think that it is important that they know they can’t prevent the Russian governments actions, but they can be ready with a constant stream of communication and messages to positively reinforce the importance of the Winter Games.

In my opinion I think that media outlets haven’t been doing an adequate job in displaying content to hype up the winter Olympics. Most stories that have surfaced are in regards to the Russians government’s negativity, over-priced stadiums and hotels, and inadequate courses for the athletes. Very few stories have been produced on positive aspects revolving around the Games and the athlete’s backgrounds. The Olympics use its Twitter well by releasing stories of athletes practice runs and interviews. I believe that it is important for PR executives to work on press releases and stories that share the athletes journey to success.

 

(click on picture for link to photo)

Beckham’s Back

04beckham-superJumbo

The world-renowned soccer star David Beckham is back in action. After retiring from a successful career playing for England Beckham is taking his turn as a coach. Beckham has been given the opportunity to start a new team in Miami. Major League Soccer currently consists of 19 teams from the U.S. and three from Canada.

Beckham and Don Garber, MLS commissioner, will announce on February 5, 2014 that they plan to instate a team into the league. Beckham’s last contract with the MLS granted him the opportunity to purchase his own team post retirement. In order for this club to be initiated into the MLS a stadium will have to be built in South Florida. Beckham will have to work to overcome this challenge and find a location and money within the community to build this new stadium. With that being said, the team will not begin to play in the league until 2016. In the event he is unable to construct a stadium within the next two years they may be eligible to play in the Miami Gardens or at Florida International University. One major issue Beckham will have to resolve is funding. The current mayor won’t allow the stadium to be built through taxation on locals so Beckham will have to gain the publics support and find donors.

Beckham has a great opportunity to involve the public in a sport that has a very fast fan base. Now that this team is a possibility he can now emphasize to the public why a soccer program will benefit the state. Beckham can show the benefits a new stadium can have on a community, from providing more jobs, local unity, business opportunities, and attraction for tourism. These can all help stimulate and stabilize a community. He will need to devise a strategic plan with his communication team delivering a clear and concise message that will instill that this stadium is a good idea for the state of Floria.

Beckham’s public relations team can begin to address the positive attributes associated with establishing a new team can have on a community. A variety of social media outlets can be put to use to get support for this stadium. By creating a feed on twitter Beckham can generate conversation around the topic of appropriate location and how funds should be allocated. Another beneficial idea would be to create surveys and focus groups of the locals discussing preferred location and their interest in having a soccer team.

Beckham and his wife Posh have a positive imagine in the public. They have worked on establishing a well-rounded brand for themselves. Their personal brand touches both on family life and presents them as strong independent people. These traits should be emphasized in order to gain the publics trust. Beckham needs to continue to be perceived in  positive light and present that not only does he knows the game but will prove to be a savvy business owner and successful coach.

It will be interesting to see how the next few years play out and what steps he takes to promote his image and plans to the public. I think that soccer is popular enough sport and as long as he presents his plans in a manner that supports the community he will be successful.

 

(click on picture for link to photo)