The Real Athlete Blog


Category: Human Relations

  1. Making the Most of Athlete Philanthropy

    by Allison Collinger 08-01-2011 11:55 PM Philanthropy | Human Relations | Marketing

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    Sporting the same shoes as the ones featured on Sharapova or spotted on the hottest new NBA celebrity can definitely make an ordinary pair of sneakers feel a bit more glamorous. There’s no denying the ever-increasing influence of sports on culture and media—the industry is bigger, more multi-faceted, and wealthier than ever. Today’s sports superstars are a canvas for the latest endorsements and pop culture trends.
    Behind almost every Great with-a-capital-G sports team or athlete is a community that finds inspiration and hope in them. Many athletes today are discovering that the best way to become more than just “the current face of Adidas” is by becoming the face of something they are more emotionally invested in—an issue important to them and relevant to a greater community. That’s when the concept of “sports philanthropy” came into the picture.
    Sports philanthropy, a rather under-the-radar facet of the sports industry, now plays a pivotal role in connecting teams and athletes with their community to foster positive social change. Since its initiation in 1998, the “Sports Philanthropy Project” (SPP) has dedicated itself to tying the popularity and marketing power of the professional sports industry with health and social issues that face communities, such as childhood obesity, tobacco use, healthcare access, education, etc. 
    The concept is quite ingenious: who wouldn’t want to look like the Mother Theresa of baseball? Leading an effective and successful philanthropic program is a great spotlight on any sports celebrity, and SPP works in essentially connecting professional sports foundations with a network, a vision, and the specific framework to get the most out of their philanthropic endeavors.
    Let’s face it, something about a star athlete personally reaching out to a cause is heart-warming enough to spark respect and faith, especially from the community involved, forming the basis for the kind of fan support that will withstand the good and the bad seasons. The personal nature of the program and the way it encourages the community to participate is a recipe for success, proving that the old saying definitely holds true: good deeds don’t go unnoticed.
    “Professional sports is big business, yes, but experience has shown that it can also be a big player in driving social change,” said Joe Marx, the senior marketing director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)—a leading public health group focused on major health issues—in an interview featured in their anthology. RWJF, the figurative “father” organization from which the Sports Philanthropy Project was generated, shaped the initial idea for the project after the success of one of the first notable sports philanthropy partnerships with the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation. Leveraging sports and marketing to promote health, they utilized the team and its athletes to spread anti-tobacco messages and extensive community programs.


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  2. The Missing Playbook: Former NFL Player and Alabama Star Keith McCants

    by Michael Cooper 07-11-2011 12:16 AM Life After Sports | Human Relations | Sports Psychology

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    It’s unfortunate to see another former athlete experiencing chaos, suffering, and pain in their life. Keith McCants, former NFL player, is currently living through depression and is suffering and being held hostage by his limiting and false beliefs. He went from having it all to feeling the pain of being at the bottom of the barrel. 
    "I wish I had never had any money," he said during an interview with The Tampa Tribune at the Pinellas County jail, where he has been held since April 23 on a fugitive warrant from Mobile. "I would've been great without money. It's a sad story, but it's a true story. Money destroyed everything around me and everything I care for, my family, my so-called friends. I just want enough to live on. I never want to be rich again."
    You see McCants has negative thoughts, ideas, and images of money that are blocking him from truly experiencing the peace of mind he seeks. He must tap into new information that will create new thoughts, ideas, and images of money. Money is good! Not evil. Money is ENERGY. McCants, along with 99% of all athletes out there, must learn how to direct the energy.
    "I'm trying, really I am," he said. Obviously McCants is operating from false and limiting beliefs. There is no trying. You either do or you do not. It’s all a matter of DOING THE RIGHT THINGS. McCants must get clear on what he wants. Make it definite. Then back it with definite plans. Then he can DO THE RIGHT THINGS and transform his life into what he truly desires. However, in his current state of THINKING, he will continue to experience chaos, suffering, and pain.



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  3. Rookie Symposium: You Don't Miss It Until It's Gone

    by Dr. Timothy Thompson 06-15-2011 12:29 AM Athlete Career Development | Education | Human Relations

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    I hope New York Giants rookie offensive tackle James Brewer's opinion about the cancelled NFL Rookie Symposium isn't shared by many other new NFL draftees. In a May 26, 2011 New York Post Online article, author Paul Schwartz reported that Brewer told him, "That's probably one thing I'm not going to say I'll miss, going to [Ohio] for three days or so of pretty much a freshman orientation. Kind of letting you know what not to do. I feel I have pretty good common sense, so I think I'll be OK. I don't think I need someone to tell me not to hit women and stuff like that.  I think I kind of know that already."

    But two days earlier on May 24, 2011, an ESPN NFL website article entitled "NFL rookie symposium called off" had explained that the symposium is much more multifaceted than how Brewer has chosen to perceive it. The ESPN.com article quoted a league spokesperson who explained that "the symposium is a large, complex event involving many professionals and others. In fairness, we could not continue to keep their commitment on hold."
    The article went on to say that "the symposium, which was to begin in Canton, Ohio, on June 26, is designed to teach rookies life lessons on dealing with football, finances and their new lifestyle. Many players who have been through the symposium have said it has been a positive first step in their transition to the NFL."


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  4. Introducing The KR Group Monthly Broadcast for Professional Athletes with Access Athletes

    by Matthew Allinson 06-01-2011 01:04 AM Finance | Monthly Podcast | Athlete Career Development | Coaching | Education | Human Relations | Sports Psychology

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    One of our goals for 2011 was to begin creating educational products for athletes. We set out to build on top of the strong foundation that we already have in place here at AccessAthletes.com by delving into other mediums, in an effort to give our athlete readers more options when it comes to being informed and maximizing their potential.

    I'm very happy to announce the launch The KR Group Monthly Podcast for Professional Athletes with Access Athletes. Each month, both Dr. Tim Thompson, our VP of Educational Programs and human relations expert, and yours truly, will be recording a podcast in Philadelphia together with Scott Kaminsky and Matt Ramer of the KR Group at Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS). It is produced by Digilog Sound & Image of Philadelphia.

    Before I get to the podcast's format and what's in store for you for you all this month, I wanted to give a little background about Scott and Matt and what led to us to collaborate with them on this project.

    Scott Kaminsky and Matt Ramer are Vice Presidents of the KR Group in Morgan Stanley's Philadelphia office. Scott is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who received his B.S. in Accounting from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1989, where he also played on the baseball team. His partner Matt, an Estate and Retirement Planning Specialist, received his Bachelor's Degree in Economics and American Studies from Brandeis University. Matt is an Auxiliary Captain in the U.S. Air Force, as well as an Angel Flight Pilot. They were both named to Philadelphia Magazine’s 2010 FIVE STAR: Best in Client Satisfaction Wealth Manager listing in 2009 and 2010.

    What impressed me the most about Scott and Matt is their commitment to educating athletes and helping them make informed financial decisions. In early November, Scott Kaminsky traveled down from Philadelphia to share a study, which both he and Matt commissioned, called the 5 Biggest Challenges Facing Professional Athletes. This well-researched study, produced by the Empire Research Group, provides a great deal of solid information and statistics in an easy-to-understand format.

    The study is broken down into 5 challenges: (1) Overindulgence, (2) Debt Control, (3) Misplaced Trust, (4) Family Issues, and (5) Wealth Preservation. Not only does it dissect the root causes behind many of the financial issues experienced by many professional athletes, it also lays out 5 action steps for success. These include (1) Build the Proper Team(2) Advisor Trust Guide, (3) Tax Planning, (4) Protect Your Assets, and (5) Create a Financial Plan. At the end, it instructs athletes that the choice is theirs - whether they want to "live large for a few years" or "live comfortably forever."  


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  5. Athlete Education on the Rise: Get into the Game

    by Dr. Timothy Thompson 05-19-2011 11:59 PM Finance | Athlete Career Development | Education | Human Relations

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    In a May 10, 2011 Yahoo! Sports website article entitled Fighter summit educates about finances, author Kevin Iole showed his readers that athlete education about a variety of subject areas that are closely related to the athlete's professional status is on the rise. Iole's article explained how the recent third annual Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Fighter Summit focused much of its attention on teaching the pro fighters how to apply their training discipline to the management of their money, as well as to other important life decisions.

    I regard this as a highly encouraging sign that there's a real growing market among some athletes for learning how to be smart about leveraging their influential social roles to achieve lasting benefits for themselves, their families, and their communities. And the more this market of life-long learners grows, the bigger the part pro athletes will be poised to play in inspiring young people to develop the kinds of multi-dimensional decision-making skills that will help our country's future leaders to respond effectively to the new and different challenges that we're all facing.

    Whenever I read stories about guys like all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez or former all-pro linebacker Lavar Arrington, among others, making the most of their life opportunities beyond pro football, I get an increasingly hopeful feeling that the stage is being set for pro athletes to show others how to get and stay in "the zone" off the field as well as on it. After all, the holistic thinking, precise mental focus, and painstakingly consistent ritualistic performance preparation behaviors that all highly tuned athletes must sustain can easily translate to any type of human activity. Therefore, all a pro athlete really needs in order to taste similar success outside of his or her sport is a strong desire to make it happen and effectively conveyed guiding information that emphasizes practical how-to tools and techniques.


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  6. The NFL’s Worst Moment is Ahead

    by Jason Krump 05-17-2011 11:56 PM Human Relations | Special Event

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    Nearly a decade ago, the NFL experienced its finest moment.

    It was when then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue halted the league for a week in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

    As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, another great moment is supposed to be ahead for the NFL.

    The 10th anniversary of 9/11 occurs this year on a Sunday. As it happens, it coincides with the first Sunday of the 2011 NFL season.

    The NFL recognizes and even embraces this by scheduling games at New York and Washington (the Giants are at the Redskins and the Jets are hosting the Cowboys). In addition, the league is promoting the tributes on its website.

    Picture it now. Unforgettable images of packed stadiums across the country, including New York and Washington, filled with fans waving the American Flag, patriotism, and tributes to the victims of Sept. 11 and our military.



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  7. Owning Your Failure: How Former Star Athlete Tony Mandarich Conquered Failure

    by Cory Dobbs, Ed.D. 05-16-2011 11:56 PM Athlete Career Development | Coaching | Human Relations | Motivation

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    We live in a time of immense institutional failure, a murky world of corporate accountability, and an era of an ever-fading sense of personal responsibility. If you want proof of how important leadership is review the excuses put forth daily by our political, business, educational, and sports leaders. Watch how they gloss over mistakes, find a scapegoat, spin the truth, or simply lie.
    Good leadership is a matter of character. Effective leadership hinges on trust and is cultivated in the words and deeds of leaders. Dishonesty and artificiality are incompatible with honorable leadership.
    In a complex world with an endless array of problems, leadership matters. 
    Thoughtful leaders, those that can transform people, communities, and organizations take ownership of their role and responsibilities. Success and failure are always part and parcel of any team endeavor. What separates the great leaders from the average is how they respond to and handle adversity and failure. 
    Exemplary leaders own their failures. Admitting ownership of one’s problems and failures brings with it the opportunity to teach others how to do better.


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  8. Insightful Player: Inspired Dad Pioneers a Worldwide Campaign

    by Chrissy Carew 05-07-2011 12:12 AM Athlete Career Development | Coaching | Education | Human Relations | Insightful Player

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    Growing up in Southern California, John Ballantine’s active, high energy childhood consisted of playing neighborhood pickup sports all day with his friends. “Sometimes you’d come in for lunch and sometimes you didn’t come home until dinner,” he says. “It was typical to play three or four different sports in one day – football, basketball, baseball, swimming. The important thing was to be outside running around having fun with your friends,” he says.

    John went on to compete in baseball, football, wrestling, and golf through high school, and the experience left him with more than a sense of physical fitness. “I really attribute much of my success, self-confidence, and tenacity to the experiences that I had related to youth sports.”
    One aspect of youth sports that he valued was the unqualified support of his parents. “They gave us a lot of flexibility to go out and try things, whether it was a new sport, swimming, going to the beach or biking.” Money didn’t play a role in playing sports, so as a parent himself now, he’s alarmed to see financial concerns preventing many children from playing sports in today’s world. “Our schools have historically provided kids from all walks of life with opportunities to stay active. But we’re seeing funding shortages and cuts to extracurricular athletic programs at an unprecedented scale, which means today’s kids are forced to pursue sports outside the public schools in a “pay to play” environment, which is cost-prohibitive for many families.”
    John stated that the research supporting kids in sports is overwhelming. “Kids involved in after-school sports programs have better social skills, better academic performance, and higher levels of physical activity later in life. Athletics also has the potential to reverse alarming trends in teenage pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, and underage drug use. The last academic year (2009-2010) saw over $2 billion eliminated from after-school sports programs in public schools around this country.”


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  9. An Open Letter to NFL Draftees by Wesley Mallette

    by Wesley Mallette 04-25-2011 05:16 PM Public Relations | Trusted Athlete Educator | Athlete Representation | Athlete Services | Coaching | Crisis Management | Human Relations | Image Branding

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    For the past two years, I have penned an Open Letter to NFL Draftees that has been well received. So, with the 2011 NFL Draft just days away, I believe it is once again time to remind our next generation of gridiron superstars what’s most important to focus on as they await that phone call from the front office of the team asking them how they feel about being a (insert name of NFL franchise here).

    Well, it’s almost here. The big weekend. To date, perhaps the biggest one in the twenty-something years you’ve been on this planet. This will be a life-changing weekend for you and your families. It’s here and it’s the NFL Draft. And you are on the big board, son.
    You are going to hear a lot of things from a lot of people over the course of the next few days. Many from people you don’t know. Then, sometime between Thursday and Saturday you may hear your name called. You may not. You may go in the early rounds. You may not go at all.


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  10. What Do I Want Beyond My Athletic Career?

    by Michael Cooper 04-19-2011 06:09 PM Athlete Career Development | Coaching | Human Relations | Motivation

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    This is the most powerful, and meaningful question you can ask yourself.  You’ve been playing and/or coaching your sport for several years now. You've been living and playing through numerous experiences that ultimately have developed you into the athlete you are today. Are you happy and satisfied with who you have become? Are you happy and satisfied with the direction you are headed? Are you experiencing your game at the exact level desired? 

    Many athletes go through life experiencing chaos, suffering, and pain. Why? Because they fail to recognize the importance of having a clear purpose, vision, and goals statement written out. This is crucial for the purpose of directing their thoughts, feelings, and actions into the desired results they wish to achieve. They fail to answer the powerful and meaningful question: ”What do I want?”

    Sure you may have some physical things in your life... Nice car, Big home, some Money. However, most of your relationships are suffering. Your finances are slowly slipping away. Your mental and emotional health is weak. This is what I mean by chaos, suffering, and pain.


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