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Hoops For Heroes – 1 Man, 1 Million Shots, Endless Gratitude

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However long it takes, at the core of all of this is a daily tribute, a daily thank you, a daily affirmation of gratitude that has been earned a million times over by the men and women who have worn the uniform.

Doesn’t sound like something a “regular Joe” would say, right? More like a crafted message from a politician’s speechwriter or some other high ranking government official. But that quote comes from Dave Cummings, a New Hampshire father of three young children, a communications director for a Realtors association and a member of his towns school board.

Now that’s a regular Joe, right?

But, Dave Cummings is no regular Joe. He’s the man behind Hoops For Heroes, a non-profit with the mission of providing financial support for those that have sacrificed for our nation. Dave’s daily tribute? He’s not just shooting, but MAKING anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 free throws everyday, and he’s been doing this since Veterans Day 2009!  Yes, I said 2009. Everyday.

To put that in perspective, Kevin Durant led the NBA in free throws made in 2009-10 and he made 756 the entire season. Dave makes more than that everyday!

As of this writing Dave has made 587,007 free throws.

The goal? 1,000,000 made free throws

The ultimate goal? To donate $1,000,000 to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

To date, Dave has raised $43,681 for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. To make this happen Dave wakes up before work and stays up late after work. He mostly shoots in his driveway, but when the weather in New Hampshire is too much (he’s set the “inside bar” at 5 degrees, yes you read that right) he goes to a local school, but he shoots every day. He’s literally a man on a mission.

I generally use this blog to comment on popular sports stories and how they could have been handled better in terms of PR, or highlight ones handled really well, but this time I want to use this blog to get more PR for a story. Dave has done well spreading his mission, he’s been in USA Today and recently shot one of his free throws during a timeout of a Celtics game at the TD Garden in Boston.

But he needs more help. Correct that, he deserves more help. So I ask you to make a donation, share this post, follow his blog, follow his daily free throw updates on Twitter, “like” his Facebook Page, check out his YouTube Channel and help spread his amazing mission to more people and hopefully raise more money for our fallen soldiers.

My goal? I want to help get Hoops For Heroes more attention. Maybe get the NBA involved, it would be a great match. NBA All-Star Weekend is coming up next month, Dave could shoot a free throw during a timeout of the game on National TV, or better yet how about the NBA Finals?

Either way, this story needs more attention, Dave deserves a big thank you himself and most importantly the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and our many service men and women and their families need more funds.

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Written by Brian Gleason

January 10, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Expanding The NCAA Tournament Without Destorying The Current Format

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Apparently expanding the greatest tournament on Earth is almost a done deal. According the Sports by Brooks, sources at ESPN say the NCAA basketball tournament expanding to 96 teams is a “done deal”. Many fans of college basketball, analysts and those in the game feel adding 30 teams to March Madness is a horrible idea. Why mess with something that clearly isn’t broken, especially when the NCAA is catching heat every year regarding the mess that is the college football bowl system.

Normally I’d be getting into the PR ramifications of this decision, but when speaking of the NCAA that could really be an entire series of posts. PR isn’t exactly their forte. So instead, as a lifelong college basketball fan, I simply want to give my idea to expand the tournament without destroying the current format, but while also increasing publicity and revenue for the NCAA.

I’ve always had the following idea about the play-in game, and through discussions with friends, other college basketball fans and on #SportsPRChat on Twitter it has evolved.  I’m not sure if anyone else has proposed this, but I’ve always felt the play-in game was a decent idea, just horribly executed. First, why should two teams that earned automatic bids have to participate in a play-in game? Second, why do I want to watch two of the worst teams in the field play for the right to get trounced by the likes of North Carolina, Kansas or Duke? There’s zero excitement.

I propose we expand the tournament from 64 to 68 teams by adding three additional play-in games. The change is that the now four play-in games would be between the last four at-large teams in the tournament and the last four out of the tournament. The winners of the four games will then be slotted into the four #12 seed positions. This results in far more exposure, publicity and revenue for the play-in games.

This season for example, instead of watching two small conference teams battle it out to get trounced by Kansas or Kentucky, we could see eight BCS or talented mid-major teams fight it out. Going by ESPN.com Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracketology, with this idea, the Tuesday before the official tournament kicks-off we’d potentially see Maryland vs. Wichita St., Old Dominion vs. Marquette, Cincinnati vs. Seton Hall and Connecticut vs. Louisville.

Who wouldn’t want to watch those teams fight it out for a chance to be an upset special in the Big Dance? Almost every year there’s a #12 seed that makes a run in the tournament.

This might not add as much revenue as the NCAA is looking for, but as mentioned it adds more excitement. The four play-in games would be far more interesting. It wouldn’t render the regular season basically irrelevant, like adding 30 more teams would do, and it wouldn’t minimize the anticipation and excitement of the current first round.

This would probably only slow the move to 96 teams, but I think this change to the play-in system would be a good one even if they don’t expand the tournament. Either way, I’d love to hear thoughts on this idea, or any other ideas on how to improve the tournament in the comments below.

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Written by Brian Gleason

February 3, 2010 at 12:25 am

5 Social Media Tips for Professional Athletes

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Social media exploded into the mainstream in 2009, nearly everyone now has a Twitter account and Facebook profile, and this trend was seen in no greater place than the world of sports. The presence of professional athletes in social media has almost been unmatched in the entertainment/celebrity world, but this hasn’t come without a price and some lessons learned the hard way.

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas had fans on Twitter begging him to stop tweeting about his bringing an unloaded gun into the Wizards locker room. Former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson (@ToonIcon) was cut by the team partly due to criticizing his coach via Twitter. And, just last week, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (@DzzJackson22) was caught talking trash to the Dallas Cowboys using Twitter. Arenas has since taken down his Twitter page and both Johnson and Jackson have made theirs private, but those are just a few of the many examples of the social media mishaps from athletes over the last year.

Some have called for athletes to stay away from Twitter and Facebook, but that’s crazy. Those same members of the media asking athletes to stay away from Twitter wouldn’t call for athletes to stop dealing with traditional media merely because they said the wrong thing during an interview or press conference, right? Social media isn’t the issue, the issue is being smarter in how social media is used.

With that said, below are five social media tips for professional athletes:

1) Behind the Scenes – In my experience in public relations and marketing with athletes and celebrities, I’ve found that the most popular features are the behind the scenes features. Fans love photos from the locker room or updates from road trips, features that traditional media don’t always have access too. For the most part, fans would rather get their hard news from beat writers or ESPN. Athletes should be posting colorful insights to their everyday lives. Thoughts on a movie, photos of boarding the team plane, but not sharing intimate team and personal details.

Example: Celtics forward Shelden Williams (@SheldenWilliams) and his wife Sparks forward Candice Parker (@Candace_Parker) posted photos of pumpkins they were carving over Halloween and asked fans to vote on whose was better. They received plenty of response from fans, while giving insight into their lives without airing the dirty laundry.

2) Fan Engagement – Athletes and celebrities can get away with not following or directly engaging with fans in social media, but why? What’s the fun in just sending out messages, but not interacting with anyone? Athletes have plenty of demands on their time, but will gain so much more by finding time to follow-back and directly communicate with fans. Find a few hours a week on the team plane, in the hotel or when at home relaxing, the payoff will be endless both professionally and personally.

Example: Check out Shaquille O’Neal’s Twitter page (@The_Real_Shaq) and you’ll see more @replies than anything else. He’s listening to his fans and replying to them on a regular basis, this is how you maximize your social media interaction. In the past he’s also given fans a location of where he is and then handed out free tickets to the first ones to find him in public. Brilliant, although with an assist to Digital Royalty!

3) Where’s the Beef? – I’m not sure where it is, but I know it shouldn’t be in your social media plan. Do not air your beef with coaches, teammates, opponents, fans or anyone else. Do not respond to slights from members of the media, post bulletin board material or address legal issues.  We’ve seen the results from Arenas, Johnson, Jackson and many many more.

Example: Too many to count!

4) Develop a Comprehensive Plan – An athletes social media plan should be far more than a Twitter account and Facebook Page. Professional athletes should all have a main website where they host most of their content, including news, events and community outreach. Links to the main website should be included in all social media activity and links to follow, friend and subscribe should be throughout the main site as well. Fans need to be able to find all their online actives throughout each interaction.

Example: Jets defensive back Kerry Rhodes has a phenomenal social media plan. Rhodes website serves as the main hub. The site includes links to all of his social media activity and hosts his most important news, including, off the field activities, plenty of video and information on his charitable foundation. A quick look at Rhodes Twitter page (@kerryrhodes) also shows that he’s driving followers back to his site (social media hub) while also including links to his Facebook Page and ustream.tv channel.

5) Get Trained – Last, but maybe most important, get trained! Most professional leagues require traditional media training at the beginning of each season. If social media training isn’t a part of that session, then athletes should ask their team PR people, agent or hire a consultant themselves, but similar to traditional media training, social media training is imperative.  When an athlete makes a mistep with traditional media they can usually find a way out or spin it, when screwing up with social media it’s much more difficult to shift blame and spin because it’s their own words or videos front and center.

Hopefully those tips help, their by no means the only tips and can really be applied to anyone delving into social media, but athletes are definitely in dire need of some social media assistance. Here’s to hoping even more athletes start participating in the conversation, but the right way!

Have any more social media tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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MLB Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer

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Once again Major League Baseball is stepping up to the plate in the fight against breast cancer. For the fifth straight year they’ve partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Louisville Slugger in a phenomenal campaign called, “Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer.”

The pink bats and ribbons have been a mainstay in Major League Baseball, as they’ve used the Mother’s Day weekend to their advantage to raise awareness and money in the fight against breast cancer. This year is no different, as they’re once again holding their honorary bat girl contest. In the contest, men and women 18 years of age and older can submit their story to the team of their choice and win the chance to be an honorary bat girl or bat boy for a Mother’s Day game.

What makes this campaign successful is that it not only brings the issue to the public’s’ conscience for the weekend, but it engages. Major League Baseball isn’t just asking for donations. By having actual survivors submit their story, they’re helping to put faces to this dreadful disease, something that can entice much more participation and awareness. Having an online vote also ensures awareness for the entire month leading up to the Mother’s Day festivities.

So kudos to Major League Baseball and each of it’s teams for a job well done!

On a personal note, one of my closest friends had his mothers story submitted by his sister to be a bat girl at Yankee Stadium. His sister submitted the story in hopes that it would be a suprise for their mother on Mother’s Day. So please vote for “FightinPattiC” a three-time cancer survivor, or any of the amazing stories that have been submitted to the contest. Whether you vote or not, I definitely recommend checking out the site and reading some of these unbelievable stories.

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Written by Brian Gleason

April 27, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Bulls Rose-Petal Promotion Too Much?

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Derrick Rose scored just 9 points and committed 7 turnovers after recieving his ROY Award.

Derrick Rose scored just 9 points and committed 7 turnovers after receiving his ROY Award.

Thursday night in Game 3 of their first round playoff series, the Boston Celtics routed the Chicago Bulls 107-86. In the win that put the Celtics up 2-1 in their best of seven series, Boston held Bulls rookie phenom Derrick Rose to just 9 points, while he dished out 2 assists and committed 7 turnovers. On the other hand, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo continued his stellar play with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals.

In a pregame ceremony Rose, who averaged 16.8 points and 6.3 assists per game in the regular season, was given his Rookie of the Year Award by NBA commissioner David Stern. The Bulls certainly didn’t have total control over the award ceremony as it’s standard for the commissioner to be on-hand to dish-out the hardware, but for their part, the Bulls decided to promote the event by littering the arena with rose petals. That’s right, rose petals were covering the aisles, seats and courtside media tables.

The question is, did the Bulls go too far in pregame promotions, considering this was a very important and emotional game? This was the first home playoff game this year for Rose and the young Bulls.

The TNT cameras showed several shots of the petals throughout the arena, and their announcers mentioned the display several times during the broadcast. It seemed like a creative nod to their new Rookie of the Year, but this type of display opened the team and Rose up to plenty criticism and sarcasm.

I’m not suggesting Rose’s poor play and the Bulls getting run off the court were because of the rose petals, but the promotion did seem to raise the emotion and pageantry of the moment. The display also provided a tailor made story line for the media, especially as they found their seats and computers covered in the petals. The media love to use cheesy promotions such as this to use a team as part of the punchline.

To prove the point, a quick Google news search of “Bulls rose petals” results in pages of stories using the rose petal ceremony as a punchline in either the title or summary. The media definitely had a field day with this one. I can understand the excitement of the Bulls staff, this is a huge accomplishment for Rose, and with he game being on TNT, a huge opportunity for the Bulls franchise, but it seems like a decent idea at the wrong time.

The promotion came off as cheesy, added that little extra pressure that wasn’t needed and opened the team up to sarcasm in the media. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Was the rose petal display a harmless attempt at honoring their player, or did it add to the pressure of an already emotional setting and provide folly for the media?

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Written by Brian Gleason

April 26, 2009 at 9:10 pm

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