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Monday April 29, 2013 was just another ordinary day in sports. Yet, at the same time, it wasn’t.

Jason Collins, NBA Washington Wizards center, is the first active male athlete to reveal that he is gay. The reveal is something that has not been done by an athlete from any of the four major American professional sports. The sports world has known gay athletes, but quickly after retirement from their respective sports and never while on an active roster.

His statement on the cover of Sports Illustrated sums up his attitude: “I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”

Well, the conversation has been started.

Everyone has been weighing in with their own opinions and statements. His current team, Washington Wizards, issued the following statement on Monday:

“”We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly.  He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career.  Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation.”

Even former President Bill Clinton released a statement emphasizing the importance of this action.  

“…Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community… It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities…”

Active NBA players around the league were also asked about it. Responses were positive. Most saying this does not affect Collins’ game or skills.

I intended to not be another blogger writing about Jason Collins. I thought there was nothing that I could write that would add anything new or different to the topic that has already been turned into a media sensation.

But, then, I drove into work this morning. During my morning commute, I was listening to a radio talk show program. The same (lighthearted and tame) station I listen to every morning. The radio hosts were talking about this very issue.

Not more than 20 seconds into the discussion, I was floored. I just couldn’t believe the main DJ’s comments about “not wanting to be naked in a locker room with him.” Without repeating more of his negative comments, it was at this moment I realized the magnitude of yesterday. It changed the world of sports. 

For as many supporters offering encouragement, there are others vocalizing hurtful and derogatory comments. Not everyone will be kind with their words.

My morning radio station seems tainted now. I don’t think I could listen without remembering the heartless comments of that host.

Jason Collins is brave. Former President Clinton also said, “I hope that everyone, particularly Jason’s colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned.”

I hope more people will do just that.

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“That’s my quarterback…”   Terrell Owens sniffled, I giggled.

Was this really happening? Was this some kind of joke? I was monitoring the feed of a press conference and those were the two thoughts going through my head.

Turns out, it was really happening.  And what was more unbelievable, it was not a joke.

In sync with Owen’s outrageous antics on the field and scandalous ones out of the arena, it seemed the tears were mere props in a cleverly contrived act.  Crying in protection of his quarterback had to be another one of his pranks.  I was laughing because I was not going to fall for his latest joke.

Turns out, it was not a joke.

“You guys can point the finger at him. You can talk about the vacation. And if you do that it’s really unfair. It’s really unfair. That’s my teammate. That’s my quarterback. If you guys do that man it’s unfair. We lost as a team. We lost as a team.”

At that point we knew we had our sound bite. Not just any sound bite. Our golden sound bite. 

All the other post game audio I had already assembled prior to T.O’s emotional outburst did not matter anymore. The rundown was turned-upside.  The focus shifted over to the famous wide receiver crying at the podium.

Before the last sob was finished, I had the video and audio clip ready to go.  On the cue from the director, I played out my editing for all of America to see.  Moments after I witnessed the tearful confession, America did as well.

The sound bite went on to air during all of our night shows and continued to dominate the airways the next day.  It never lost steam during the following weeks; and currently, the infamous quote lives on through YouTube. 

Football fans remember this epic moment from T.O.

America saw his weepy words secondhand through their television sets.  I witnessed it exactly as it was happening. Like sound bites that have come before and ones that have yet to be spoken, I—along with a production team—determine what will and will not be heard by viewers. A press conference can last a few minutes or close to an hour. Much is said during that time that will never make airways. It’s just tiny snippets from the entire duration that is shown to the public. 

Choosing these snippets does not make me an expert, but it does allow for a fresh perspective. Because of my job, I watch all press conferences and sporting events with a clean slate. Everything I see is unedited. Untainted. Untouched.

Seeing clips end up on the cutting room floor, I think of all the great material that is never shared with the audience.  The same goes when I see interesting things in the background of game feeds.  Besides the game action, there is plenty of other background noise that catches my eye. Unedited. Untainted. Untouched.

These would also make great stories.

A big headline in sports this week is the firing of Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice for physically and verbally abusing his players. Video footage has been broadcasted showcasing his violent behavior during practices from seasons dating back to 2010. The video has gone viral this week; and Rice can be see aggressively shoving players, yelling homophobic slurs, and hurling basketballs at players. Anyone who watched the video can see how extreme the actions really were. Ex-coach Mike Rice had crossed the line.

But where is that line?

In sports, tempers often flare in the heat of the moment. Coaches raise their voice to get their point across. “In-your-face” tactics are very common during practices and games. But is that even acceptable?

It is hard for me to watch coaches get red in the face while a player stands there and takes it. A player performing poorly is no excuse for harsh repercussions. I think this is especially true for young players. Children in high school or middle school should not be subjected to that kind of treatment. I have seen high school coaches get very heated and treat players without respect. This needs to stop and I am glad people are speaking out. Maybe with enough press attention, coaches will tone down their aggressive behaviors towards their players. Or at least start to.

{Searching the internet to find the results of this yearly challenge is difficult. Unless you know the actual wager that took place, Google results don’t yield too much information about this challenge. There is a great need for this list on Wikipedia. There is no reference to the betting & public stunts that the show does every year in Wikipedia. Nor is there any information on the actual Mike & Mike in the Morning Wiki page. There is a section that describes what “Sheets of Integrity” means but it doesn’t have the Challenge. The Challenge is a huge event for the show every year, so I am surprised this Wiki page doesn’t include it. So I chose to expand on an existing Wiki page to make it better as well as make a chart of the results. I think my contribution is substantial and very important to the show’s identity. }

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As part of the annual March Madness “Sheets of Integrity” {see entry above}  bracket debate, the two morning talk show hosts compete against each other to see who fills out the better bracket at the completion of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament.  The Mike & Mike in the Morning duo place a bet on the outcome of their bracket rivalry.   The host with the losing bracket has to “pay-off” the debt with a predetermined public stunt.

The March Madness challenge is a yearly event that started in 2004.  “This contest has been our signature, annual event for a long time*,” Greenberg has said.   By the year 2013, the hosts of the same name are fairly equal in regards to wins and losses.

 Results as a JPG

 

 

 

*Source: http://espnmediazone.com/us/press-releases/2012/03/sheets-of-integrity-wager-runner-up-will-dance-with-the-stars/