New York’s Longest Running Sports Talkshow Hits 40…

Monday night in New York there will be a celebration of 40 consecutive years of sportstalk radio on one station; a 50,000 watt college station poised in, below and at one point atop Keating Hall on the campus of Fordham University, a place as a student, alumnus and staff member for several years I know very well. The station is WFUV, and the show being celebrated is “One on One,” which continues to be New York’s longest running sports talkshow, heard now both online and on-air. While it might not seem like much to have a show on-air today in a time when anyone can do a podcast or be a part of blogtalk radio, the fact that the show, and the hundreds if not thousands of careers that have been launched and listeners that were developed, is something to behold. More importantly there has been a level of professionalism and consistency that “One on One” has had since it launched that the students today, and all of the alumni and its longtime programming head Bob Ahrens take great pride in.

The greatest part of “One on One” over the years has not been the content, but the people; students, callers and alumni who have engaged in discussion and debate with guests big and small the old fashioned way, through the spoken voice, a form of communication that sometimes gets overlooked in the type at breakneck speed we deal with today. The show and the station have also been about accountability. Sure there have been an occasional rant but for the most part the discussions on topics big and small are intelligent, fun and worthwhile, with more than a share of guests filtered in. The show is on public radio, so there are grants but not commercial breaks, and its original times, Saturday and Sunday nights starting at 11 is a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean that the Gehrig-like weekly streak over 40 years has ever ceased, or that the memories of those who have been behind that mic are any less robust.

So yes the sports airwaves of WFUV have produced Michael Kay and Jack Curry and John Giannone and  Chris Carrino and Mike Breen and Bob Papa and Paul Dottino, who paint the scenery for sports fans on TV and radio in NY. But the school and the station have also given rise to a host of professionals young and old, who used the opportunity as a way to get started in the media capital of the world, and have passed that legacy on to those now on air. From MLB Marketing head Tim Brosnan, to over a dozen voices on Sirius/XM (like Ed Randall and Andrew Bogush), to the man who keeps the Mets on the air every night, producer Chris Majkowski, to the guy who helped build the X Games at ESPN, Rick Allesandri, to the voice of the Washington Nationals Charlie Slowes and Good Morning America’s Tony Reali, as well as others like Elias Sports Bureau head Steve Hirdt, and Malcolm Moran, currently the Director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University, and so many others in public relations, sports marketing, sales, production and broadcasting, WFUV Sports and “One on One,” was where it all began.

Why Fordham? It has a 50,000 watt radio station sitting in the New York area, a great journalism tradition that includes Pulitzer Prize winner Arthur Daley, Basketball Hall of Fame broadcaster John Andariese, and the legendary Vin Scully, and the ability to create entry level spots for hardworking young people through its alumni base, a group that cares and engages with others coming through the program. WFUV is also unique in that it is the ONLY voice for Fordham sports; there is no commercial entity to push the public station broadcast to the back burner. While that is probably not good from a marketing standpoint for the school, it is invaluable in the level of professionalism that the students bring to the job, and that is reflected in the careers of so many. Saying that Fordham is really dominant in the business of sports is no slight to the Newhouse School at Syracuse or the Medill School at the Northwestern. What it is is a positive point toward a small Jesuit school which has a niche and has cultivated it over time. While a sports talkshow may not seem like a big deal today, 40 years of sports talk without a break is quite a deal in a world where five minutes is sometimes too long.

Hail Men (and women) of Fordham hail for such a great job for those who work and follow sports. WFUV and “One on One,” is a great symbol of the collective success of so many for so long, and here’s to making sure it gets its due.

We Are The World; Global Sports Convergence Grows

Sunday morning thousands of soccer fans in the US will turn on Barclays Premier matches on NBC while others will watch the Ryder Cup live from Scotland. Then later it will be the Dolphins and the Raiders playing…in Wembley Stadium. Across the pond a growing number of fans will be watching NFL games as their day turns into night, and others will be engaging on NBA.com as training camp updates come flooding in. In Latin America baseball fans will be tuning in this afternoon watching Derek Jeter’s last game at Fenway Park.  Not too long ago each of these events would have been news, covered by media as a special happening, an unusual event. Now they are happenstance met with no fanfare at all. The digital world, and the growth of global sponsorship has changed live viewing habits in sport around the world, and has made sport more global than ever before, with Sunday being a great example.

There are many factors that play into why we see sports on a global scale as less unusual than ever before. The growth of soccer in the US, not just MLS but the fact that the new immigrant has taken his club loyalties and brought them here, as well as the marketing efforts of the elite clubs of the world to gain recognition amongst a grassroots following of young people that follow Chelsea or Manchester City on TV and engage on EA’s FIFA2014 as much as other generations would have put their loyalties in the Texas Rangers or Philadelphia Phillies, is a big reason for our global comfort these days. The consistent outward-bound marketing of the professional sports leagues to a more global audience, not just with merchandise but with games that are not just exhibitions (like the NFL in London) but count in the standings (MLB in Australia last spring was another big step forward) is another massive factor. Traditional broadcast media, especially the efforts of ESPN, NBC Sports and FOX to take global sporting events and find windows to broadcast and promote (not just soccer but Formula 1 and soon rugby as well) have changed viewing habits and grown the footprint of casual fans who now follow and watch at off-hours where sports was not normally seen on the east coast and Midwest. Then there is a digital engagement for sport that never existed, where fans anywhere can engage and interact with their clubs or athletes without having to be in stadium or even in country. That timeless involvement has helped bring the world together for sport 24/7, and has grown sports brands and athletes that were once regional into international powerhouses.

Then there are the brands themselves doing promotions. Years ago Emirates Airways or TATA (title sponsor of the NYC Marathon) would have been an outlier partnering with American sport. Same with American brands like Subway or even Chevrolet spending big dollars on European soccer. Now they are happenstance and growing, as non-American companies figure out how to activate with US fans, and American brands use sports and its global reach to engage more and more with fans around the world. Brands understand now more than ever how to think globally but activate locally and fit into the way local fans engage. The missteps of American brands doing a cookie cutter approach to working with fans in Tallahassee the same way as they would in Monaco are gone. It is now a stylized approach that brings ROI to all, using a combination of traditional media (since there are American fans now watching global sport, TV is still king), as well as digital and grassroots activation to make it all work.

So what does it all mean? Does it mean that suddenly somewhere we well have New York playing Moscow in some regular league in basketball or hockey or even rugby or soccer or cricket? Will The Jacksonville Jaguars work in London lead to an NFL team there? Still very hard to say if that will ever work, as time, tax laws, workman’s compensation and other factors still are big challenges. However the days of soccer friendlies in the States being a spectacle are more and more in the rear view mirror, and the same with US football in the UK or even baseball or hoops in the Far reaches of the globe. They are still special events locally, but are more happenstance on a global sports scale. That doesn’t mean they are less important, and there are still parts of the world for sport to still engage as a “first” (who gets India first from an American sport perspective; will Africa play host to baseball down the line are still areas to be explored).

However because of new media, aggressive marketing, and the ways we now engage sport is coming together nicely as a 24/7 live occurrence. We are becoming more one as a business, and that’s good news for all.

We are them, and they are us.

Diamondbacks Science Promo Is A Big Winner…

It hasn’t been the greatest of baseball years in the Valley of Sun, but that doesn’t mean the Arizona Diamondbacks haven’t continued to make an impact on the lives of young people through programs on and off the field. One that will bring classroom work together with a baseball club will take place this weekend, when the DBacks become one of the first professional sports teams to tie baseball together with the key core teaching curriculum of  STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

The team will host 14,000  students and their families, and give  3,000 students and teachers a chance to take part in a pregame STEM parade on the field and receive a D-backs Science of Baseball t-shirt. Combined with their naming rights partner, Chase and the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, 10 different STEM clubs with a $2,500 grant for their work, especially in the growing field of competitive robotics, and a host of other teams from schools will be able to present their projects throughout the stadium during the night for the other fans in attendance.

While a great way to fill distressed seats and celebrate community, the DBacks work goes far beyond just one special night for kids and teachers who may rarely get recognized in an athletic setting. It is part of a growing trend to tie analytics and science to give kids an added boost and create more fun in academics, much like “Schoolhouse Rock” did with music for a previous generation. The program in Arizona was started in 2013 by Science of Baseball Founder, and University of Arizona Professor, Ricardo Valerdi, and his engineering students to keep the kids engaged by using curriculums that include classroom activities, athletic activities, and take-home activities. It has grown vastly since then, and should be replicated not just by baseball, but by every sport going forward as a way to link onfield and offfield activities. An event, and a program like this, is also highly sponsorable and can open new areas for brands who were not originally involved in sports but can use science and technology as a key area of ROI on their own businesses. For financial services firms like Chase, a tie to a sports-related STEM program further enhances their brand affiliation with sports, and also gets them connected to a younger demo which they crave but have probably not been able to hit with during a traditional signage and advertising campaign.

There is no doubt that the growing field of analytics in all areas of sport has become a hot button. On the field, teams are looking to get the extra edge through analysis like never before, while in recreation sports wearable tech and geolocation have created a new and fast growing industry. Lop on to all that the fast-expanding field of pay fantasy and e-gaming and you have a whole slew of new business opportunities tied to science and technology through sport that did not exist even a few years ago. In order to enhance and grow that field, and its future workforce who can be loyal followers and consumers of professional sport, or even college sport, teams big and small should look to the DBacks program as a way to tie in and get younger people interested and engaged through science, while at the same time taking “sports” kids and showing cool and interesting ways that science can engage with sports.

The program, and programs like it, have a very long tail for growth going forward, and should be embraced as a best practice. They tie to community, sponsorship, education, and on field performance like few others.

A big win for Arizona with this one on all fronts, and a best practice that should be copied across the board and around the world.

(Hat tip to our friends at sporttechie for pointing this out)

Devils Go All In…

They lost their most marketable, albeit aging star; the cornerstone of their franchise to free agency. They are in an ultracompetitive marketplace which now includes the defending conference championships, a young rising team with new owners about to move into a building whose penchant is to tell stories very loudly, and to the south, a stalwart franchise that has owned a good part of the state for years and shows little signs of letting up. So if you are the New Jersey Devils what do you do? Everything you can, and that starts with finding every way to tie the community of both hockey fans and citizens of their state to the team, and find very way to tie the team to the community. Build the narrative, and there comes the loyalty.

Under their new ownership team and led by CEO Scott O’Neil, New Jersey made some of those strides last year. They went to great lengths to bring communities, whole towns and their leaders, to the Prudential center for themed nights which looked at everything from civic and academic involvement to athletic success, little of which had to do with hockey. Make the towns part of the fabric of the team, and loyalty will grow. This year, as training camp starts, the team is taking the other approach to compete the circle.

Their new campaign  “We’re All Devils Inside,” will showcase a season of Devils’ narratives on and off the ice that shine a light on the many faces that comprise the Devils family. Featuring players, season ticket holders, fans, Devils and Prudential Center employees, as well as those communities throughout New Jersey, the campaign reveals how the Devils inhabit everyday situations. The campaign will live throughout Devils and Prudential Center assets, including Devils in-game presentation, arena branding, web and mobile, and will be featured on game tickets and promotional materials, as well as television, print and out-of-home creative.

The campaign is smart as it links the personal stories of everyone around the club to a particular town or neighborhood, and makes that connection more hyper-local than ever before. All of this is in addition to the massive digital affinity programs the club has built throughout the years, and will hopefully strengthen the ties and the reach of the Devils brand as really the only professional team that now calls the State home and uses just “New Jersey” in its name. As the team builds new and marketable stars off the ice, making communities feel a part of that growth is key, and the clear communication that we are all in this together should give fans with some disposable income an opportunity to venture to Newark and enjoy their hometown team.

Of course winning helps, but the use of this inward and outward affinity to the Devils brand is a smart way to manage the controllable assets and keep the interest alive and growing regardless of the results on the ice.

Mind Sports Continue To Grow…

As the fall sports now get into full swing we see analytics, gaming and pay fantasy becoming more and more a factor in the decisions of American sport. Into that mix later this fall will be another combination of all of those efforts, the latest, most robust installment of the World Mind Sports Championships, which will be held in Beijing .  The bi-annual event grows in stature and acceptance every year, and now comes with a growing list of brands looking to activate in and around the space much like they do in traditional sports.

 Are all these events some sort of rise of “nerds” into competitive events to try and steal the thunder from the die-hard sports fans and jocks for media and social attention? No. What these events signify is actually a melding of entertainment and gaming worlds to hopefully form a partnership of healthy mind, healthy body which can appeal to millions and even attract some amazing brands to a more diverse audience.

Mind Sports have been around for thousands of years, and many, especially chess, have been used by world leaders to teach strategy for ages, that is certainly no secret. Most have always operated in a vacuum and away from the casual public eye. The advent of competitive poker on television, as well as an elite champion like a Bobby Fischer, have helped to gradually raise the image of some Mind Sports over time. However in more recent times, as science comes to understand more about the stimulation of the brain to combat issues such as ADHD and Alzheimer’s Disease, the value of all mind sports has grown. Factor in the ever-growing popularity of gaming, both casual and competitive, and the case for unifying the millions who play mind sports together for a country by country competition and celebration makes great sense, and has endless possibilities. The strength will be in the numbers.

Similar to the mind sports opportunity, robotics is growing in popularity amongst young people. A culture that has grown up with gaming tied to advances in technology gives robotics on a competitive level a wide audience that can connect across any boundary via the digital world, as well as in person to person traditional competitions. The competitions teach the same skills…teamwork, strategy, attention to detail…as traditional sports do and help to also stimulate the mind.

So what does this all mean to traditional sports?

First, the simple connection is to analytics and strategy. Coaches of any level, as well as elite athletes are constantly looking for a competitive edge, and the lessons taught by mind sports or even robotics, can satisfy another dimension for both strategy that applies to athletics and for an alternative way of thinking and expanding the ability to think quickly and effectively while competing. The world of traditional sports is also becoming more and more digitized, whether that is in scouting, analyzing skills, communicating or even watching events. Robotics and mind sports can also help provide a bridge of understanding into a high tech world by applying tools and technical elements to athletes and coaches. Then there is gaming. Perhaps the fastest growing segment of competition globally is competitive and casual gaming, whether you are considered a jock or a techie. Everyone enjoys games from Angry Birds to Madden ’14, and gaming provides another key common ground between mind sports and competitive traditional athletics. There is also the jobs marketplace. More and more we are seeing professional and collegiate athletics look outside traditional circles for leadership, and those with an understanding of the tech, strategic and business world are getting more and more opportunities. The competition in mind sports could help bring another employment dimension for those versed in both convention athletics and the expanded use of competitive mind sports and gaming.

There is also the projection of the complete individual, one that marries healthy mind and healthy body. First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative has inspired thousands to get up and get active physically, and balancing that physical aspect with a healthy and active strategic mind fits very well, so a mix of competitive athletics with mind sports is a great balance.

If you are a brand what does all of this mean? Lots. Those brands of all sizes involved in traditional sport are always looking to get more bang and get access to a larger, wider demo. Activities like mind sports and robotics provide that wider audience. Tech brands are always looking to access a more mainstream audience that is becoming more savvy, and traditional sports provide that mix. Does it mean we may see Nike or Under Armour sponsoring robotics or the U.S. chess team somewhere down the line? It is actually a possibility. Does it mean that you may see more athletes paying attention to bridge or more poker players throwing a baseball, or watching rugby? That’s already happening. For 2014 brands like Rado, Renault Nissan and Samsung are already on board to activate around the games and against the thousands who will follow online or watch in person.

Mind Sports continue to grow as an intriguing alternative to the traditional engagement,  one without many of the controversies and issues of traditional sport with lots of the gamification and strategies built in for a global audience of all ages. While it will always be a niche, it is a niche that is growing, as evidenced by media partners and brands in engaging in an organized fashion, which makes the property an intriguing one to watch this fall.

Patterson Award Hits 10 Years Of Goodwill…

It certainly has been a topsy-turvy week for sports; from the Derek Jeter swan song and Rutgers starting their Big 10 life to the off-field mess that continues to plague the NFL, both good and bad have taken over the headlines in various degrees.

So into that mix in the Garden State this past week on the good side was the official 10 year announcement of the winners of the Steve Patterson Award by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Patterson Award was established in 2005 by the RWJF in honor of the late Steve Patterson, the former UCLA basketball star, NBA player and Arizona State basketball coach. Patterson’s belief in the practice of using the power of sports philanthropy to make a difference in various communities inspired the creation of this award.

This year’s winners were the Tiger Woods Foundation, Jays Care Foundation and Harlem RBI and were honored at a September 18 ceremony at RWJF in Princeton, N.J. With the two baseball-related winners in Jays Care Foundation and Harlem RBI, no other sport has received more Patterson Awards than baseball.

Some facts on the three winners:

The Jays Care Foundation is the charitable arm of Canada’s only MLB team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Established in 1992, the foundation has grown exponentially from a regional focus in Toronto to investing in children and communities from coast-to-coast. Their mission is to create equal opportunities for kids in need across Canada by removing barriers to sport and education. Foundation programs such as Field of Dreams and Grand Slam Grant provide funds to children and their communities to learn and play in a safe environment as well lead happy and healthy lives. Other foundation programs include Rookie League, Home Run Scholars and Jays Care Community Clubhouse.

Harlem RBI: Harlem RBI’s goal is to provide inner-city youth with opportunities to play, learn and grow. They use the influence of teams to impact and inspire children to recognize their potential and realize their dreams. Harlem RBI has grown to aid more than 1,500 boys and girls annually since its founding in 1991. The program provides youth with year-round sports, educational and enrichment activities. Youth are first exposed to Harlem RBI through its summer baseball program. Program components include Rookie League, REAL Kids, TeamBuilders, TeamWorks, Legends and Social Work. When they graduate from the program, Harlem RBI youth are expected to be resilient young adults and embody DreamList attributes, which include being physically healthy, high school graduates, college graduates, work-ready, teammates and more. Since 2005, 97 percent of Harlem RBI seniors have graduated high school and 94 percent have matriculated at college.

The Tiger Woods Foundation : Founded by Tiger Woods and his father, Earl, the Tiger Woods Foundation has affected millions of students by providing advanced educational opportunities with a focus on STEM education. Of the foundation’s numerous initiatives, one of its flagship programs, the Tiger Woods Learning Center, provides scholars in grades 5-12 with college-access programs focused on science, technology, engineering and math. Interactive classes allow these students to identify the importance of attending college and exploring potential careers. Through the Earl Woods Scholarship Program, students receive a $5,000 scholarship, which is renewable for up to four years, as well as a dedicated mentor. Specialized internships are available to students in the program, which help prepare them for life after college. Since 2005, the foundation has distributed more than $80 million and an astounding 100 percent of Earl Woods scholars have graduated with a bachelor’s degree.

While other years have shown maybe a little more diversity in winners, pairing groups like Tony Hawk and the San Francisco 49ers, the results do not diminish with baseball leading the way for the 10th year of the awards. All have the same focus; use sport as a tool to better society, no matter what the price tag. That message is amplified even more by the dollars that RWJF puts behind the program annually, a key part of giving back not just to sport but to the positive messages it sends across the state in calls home. After all that is probably the best way philanthropy can be used tied to sport, an overlay of international, national and local partnerships, marrying legacy programs to those that youth can relate to today. All those efforts were summed up on a nice September day in the heart of Big Pharma country, with the results resonating far beyond Princeton. Beautiful program, beautiful effort, beautiful rewards, and a beautiful legacy for all involved to show how winning in sport goes way beyond the playing field. Role models like these are the ones we need.

Bobbleheads For Broadway…

It’s no secret that the most successful promotion in sport, the one with literally the most shelf life, is the bobblehead. So it was great to learn that the bobblehead promo has migrated to theater, and no less to the alleged home of the bobblehead, the Bay Area.

This late winter and spring  the San Francisco engagement of NEWSIES, February 17 – March 15, 2015 will offer up bobbleheads at each of the 32 NEWSIES performances.  It is a promo that has been long in coming but has been challenging to pull off due to licensing, timing and distribution on Broadway, but doing the bobbles as a test away from New York makes great sense.  Disney Theatrical Productions is the first to come on board with the road show of NEWSIE’s which recently ended its long and successful run on New York.

Ironically it is the city of innovation, San Francisco to take the plunge and see what the ROI will be, and it makes great sense. San Fran was the first city to introduce sports fans to the Bobblehead Giveaway concept back in 1999, when the San Francisco Giants Baseball Club handed out 35,000 Willie Mays dolls to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Candlestick Park.  Fifteen years later, bobbleheads (and now Garden Gnomes) are more popular than ever and Bay Area theater fans will be the first to receive a Broadway bobblehead of their own.

The cost of producing bobbles has dropped significantly in recent years, and the limited run with the bobble built into the ticket price, can bring some great value for a kid-oriented play. If it works, copycats beware. Can the Aladdin bobble be far behind?

Great work and perseverance by SHN the preeminent theatrical entertainment company in the Bay Area, and their CMO, Scott Kane, for seeing the value and finding the partner for a crossover promo worth tracking.

What works for one entertainment genre should work for another.

Making Tailgating History…

One of the more documented stories going onto the college football season was the dilemma many colleges were having in engaging their students throughout the mega-experience of Saturday Game days. Millennials don’t take well to five hour long rituals for the most part, they would rather games, and all around it, be fast and easy. Still for its issues, the college game day experience remains a tradition that now alumni of a certain age are engaging their kids with; a little less drinking, a little more throwing the ball around and mixing with friends who also may have kids. A good way to spend a Saturday. Looking to build on that tradition, and engage those families, are a whole host of brands who may seem unconventional to the experience but nonetheless want to hit families who may be less die hard and more casual supporters of alma mater.

One of those new partnerships is with the HISTORY, not exactly your dyed in the wool college football Saturday brand partner. HISTORY this week announced a partnership with IMG to bring the All-American Tailgate Tour to six university campuses. The cross-country tour is big on big, so don’t expect them this year at Colgate or Oberlin. The Tour will stop at Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan and Texas, bringing the “Ultimate Smoker and Grill,” an 80-foot long grill serving up special HISTORY BBQ delicacies. Fans will also get the chance to screen HISTORY TV content from hit series such as Top Gear, American Pickers® and Swamp People and take home HISTORY merchandise. They will also look to partner with brands who engage across their shows and who may also desire that affinity with families on the college map, doing on-campus sampling events with KEURIG and other partners who are a natural fit. Less Jack Daniels, more Jack Daniels barbeque sauce. Less Girls Gone Wild, and more of Moms Feeding The Kids.

The cross promotion makes good sense to build brand loyalty for programs that young families may want to follow when they leave the parking lot, and it ties those programs not just to the families, but even to alma mater as well. It is a great way to engage in and around the game day experience and have a little leave-behind afterwards as well. What else could be added in down the road? Celebrity drop-ins, live activation programs around the shows for families who had engaged during the tailgates, and of course lots and lots of video and good clean fun. It makes great sense for HISTORY, and helps build another tradition around college football for those with disposable income and some time to slide along on a Saturday, especially when some millenials may be heading back to the dorm at halftime.

Nice brand extension for the channel, and a smart use of new resources for the schools.

Galaxy Go Authentic…

The L.A. Galaxy have long been kings of Southern California soccer, at least in the branding and marketing world for MLS. From David Beckham to Landon Donovan, the Galaxy, with all due respect to the mega-franchises like the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers, are probably the casual sports fan team of choice when people think MLS.

So as the team heads towards the playoffs again, solidly in second place, and with Donovan’s retirement on the horizon, they are taking steps to further entrench themselves not just as an elite soccer club but as an elite LA-based sports and entertainment brand as the late fall and winter comes along. Hence this past week the club assembled a very unique kit, labeled “Handcrafted in Los Angeles,” that went out to select business and community leaders and national media. It was much less about promoting the Galaxy on its own, although there was the very cool Galaxy lunch box thrown in; it was much more about promoting brand soccer and the club’s place as a solid and authentic LA business than everything else. There were lots of mentions of supporting local soccer and all things about LA, and much less about just the players on the field.

Why do this now? Several reasons come to mind. First, with the demise of Chivas USA, the Galaxy have a very unique opportunity to expand their presence as the soccer club of choice to all fans in Southern California. Positioning the club as THE soccer destination now gives little choice going forward as to who a fan may support. Second, the club has made great strides with their academy program and with their developmental team in a highly competitive marketplace, so branding the Galaxy as all things soccer, not just MLS, can help draw in supporters who may be on the fringe and may consider going elsewhere to drop their kids in a program. Third, it is an investment in future business at a time when the Galaxy season is winding down. Instead of waiting til the offseason to go after businesses and garner new interest, the club is taking an aggressive and very proactive stance now to capture excitement and attention as the playoffs come and before discretionary dollars may get spent elsewhere. LA is a large market with lots of distractions. So getting out in front for 2015 is very smart, and no better time to do it than now.

Is there a cost or risk to becoming more hometown as soccer gets more global from a US perspective? Not really. The items in the kit were very subtle in messaging but still include sponsors like Herbalife and American Apparel so the cost was probably minimal, and the upside in engagement is very high. While some may say the Galaxy own the soccer market from an MLS perspective, there is always room to grow, and growing as a brand and evolving into a larger partner with new brands is key regardless of the success on the pitch or not. Nice move by the franchise, spending a little money in an old school way to grow with the times as the season winds down.

As The NFL Reels From Dark Days, Five Who Do It Right…

It has been a tough few weeks for the NFL, with the devastating video in the saga of former Rutgers standout Ray Rice leading the way. We felt it appropriate to take a look at five local current or former players doing it right, something which doesn’t always get top billing but which is noteworthy nonetheless: Here is a looka t some solid brand and community work by those who call the area home.

Steve Weatherford, Giants: In 2013, Weatherford was named Health and Fitness Ambassador of the Boys and Girls Club in New Jersey, serving as a role model, mentor, and fitness and nutrition coach to more than 80,000 kids throughout NJ. He was named “head coach” for Wellness in the Schools, leading the charge and acting as spokesperson for that organization’s recess fitness program for more than 77,000 students throughout the NY metro area. In 2013, Steve was recognized for his outstanding community service by the NY Giants organization with the coveted Wellington Mara Award.

The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation: Created in 1996 in honor of Jay McGillis. Jay was a special young man who developed leukemia while a member of Coach Coughlin’s team at Boston College. In the eight months between Jay’s diagnosis and the day he lost his battle with cancer, the Coughlin family saw first-hand the physical, emotional and financial strains the illness caused the McGillis family. After going through the tragic events with Jay’s family, Coach Coughlin vowed that if he ever had the chance, he would create a way to help families with children battling cancer. Coach Coughlin kept his vow and started a foundation to BE THERE in Jay’s honor. Since then the TC Jay Fund has evolved in size and scope, helping thousands of families in Northeast Florida and the New York/ New Jersey Metropolitan Area who are fighting childhood cancer.

David Nelson, Jets: The wide out for Gang Green has spent countless hours in the offseason raising money and planning visits to help the children of Haiti. After seeing the devastation of the earthquake, Nelson has made it his offseason life to help the children of the Island nation, even renting a home there with his brother Patrick, who lives there full time and takes care of five children. The two are helping to build a school for 250 children, and they are also partnering with former Jets kicker Jay Feely in constructing a $2.1-million sports complex on the Island.

The Marty Lyons Foundation: The popular former Jet now announcer started his foundation in 1982 to fulfill the special wishes of children chronologically aged three (3) and seventeen (17) years old, who have been diagnosed as having a terminal or life threatening illness by providing and arranging special wish requests. The Foundation has 10 Chapters granting wishes in 13 states – Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. The Second Wish Program is to grant wishes to children who have received a first wish 24 months prior and have exhausted all medical options and are essentially at end-of-life stage or receiving palliative care. With over 6,500 wishes granted in over 30 years, The Marty Lyons Foundation is dedicated in making more dreams come true.

George Martin and The Journey For 9/11: The NY Giants legend and his work to raise awareness for those in and around Ground Zero is no less poignant today, as his book was released recently as well. From Sept. 16, 2007, to June 21, 2008, retired Super Bowl champion put his life on hold to walk from the George Washington Bridge in NYC to the Pacific Ocean in San Diego. His Journey brought him through 13 states and Washington, DC, 3,003 miles and 5 million steps, to raise money for and awareness of the plight of thousands of seriously ill Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers. In his view, they were underserved by the U.S. government, insurance companies, and healthcare plans… so the NFL legend walked.

Martin, former president of both the NFL Players Association and the NFL Alumni Association, is likely the first pro athlete to conduct a solo charity walk across the U.S. and probably the first African-American to do so. He finished his Journey 41 lbs. lighter — but with millions of dollars raised! The book is filled with magical moments: stunning vistas; moving visits to schools, firehouses, hospitals, memorials and historic sites; babies kissed and elderly hugged; the tears of ailing first responders; the food, culture and music of America. With captivating words and dramatic pictures, readers will experience America from coast-to-coast, through the eyes of this mountain of a man.