It was one of those weekends where you might have been better off parked in front of your big screen TV watching the action – because there was a lot of it.
Between the trucker convoys in Canada, mounting tension at the Ukraine border, or other frustrating news stories, the world of sports did what it does best all weekend – provide a great escape for Americans braving the cold and the disheartening news.
If you stayed with a regimen of sports, you saw demonstrations of greatness, as well as heart and soul. And for the “game of radio,” some valuable lessons in how we can learn from amazing performances whether they’re on or off the gridiron, the slopes, the rink, or even the winner’s box.
We didn’t have to look very hard to find amazing stories to share with our staffs, our teams, our airstaffs, and our sales departments. Indeed, sports echoes life, and it was often the game within the game that was so meaningful.
What’s it like to be in the shoes of those athletes? What can we learn from their trials, their tribulations, the thrill of their victories, and the agony of their defeats?
So, let’s go to the videotape:
1. Selflessness – History was made on the ice at the Winter Olympics over the weekend. Erin Jackson became the first Black woman to win (individual) gold at the games.
But the real story was that Jackson had stumbled during the Olympic trials, and to make the cut, teammate Brittany Bowe gave up her spot so Jackson could compete in the games.
This isn’t just about sportsmanship – it was a demonstration of selflessness, a rare commodity in the world of sports, pro or amateur. But it was on display at these games, a quality we can all embrace to support those on our own teams – our radio stations.
Here is Bowe’s quote – why she did it:
“Our trials was just crazy. And although I won that, I felt everything other than being victorious. The only thing on my mind was getting Erin to the start line here. I’m a part of the puzzle, but I want this moment to be all about her. She’s done this. She went to the start line on her own and she skated the best 500 of her life to be Olympic champion.”
For gold medalist Jackson, she was at a loss for words – not just because of her winning performance, but how she got there in the first place:
Olympic Champion 🥇 It’s going to take me a while to process those words pic.twitter.com/prdDdYBOiA
— Erin Jackson (@ErinJackson480) February 13, 2022
2. Gratitude – These games were 35 year-old Shaun White‘s last shot at a medal in the Winter Olympics. And it didn’t work out, following a fourth place finish.
But for the guy who had been competing in these games since he was a teenager, and virtually invented the sport, it was all about being thankful for being able to compete, and recognizing his legacy.
In every interview, after his last ride, White was upbeat, enthusiastic, and thankful for what he had accomplished over the past two decades on the slopes:
“I’m proud of this life I’ve led, and what I’ve done in this sport, and what I’ve left behind. “You’re watching it — these younger riders…they’ve been on my heels every step of the way, and to see them finally surpass me is, I think deep down, what I always wanted.”
Sometimes, it is more than just being on that podium or holding up the trophy. It is about the recognition of bigger contributions to “the game,” and knowing you’ve affected others in indelible ways.
Thank you, snowboarding. pic.twitter.com/AcqZ1fbW0p
— Shaun White (@shaunwhite) February 13, 2022
3. Humor – And onto the Super Bowl. The NFL took a moment to pay tribute to one of its own – legendary coach, broadcaster, and video game pioneer John Madden who passed away late last year.
Madden’s family was on hand to honor the coach who taught us that no matter your position, enthusiasm for the game is an important attribute. That joy came through whether he was on the sidelines or in the broadcast booth.
Madden also brought a sense of humor to the game, reminding us that while it’s a highly competitive, cutthroat business, you’ve got to find the humor in every situation. One of my favorite moments with the coach was up in the booth – that time he drew a beard on quarterback Troy Aikman with the telestrator. You just can’t take what you do and who you are too seriously.
4. Empathy – Not every lesson from the Olympics was a pleasant one. Mikaela Shiffrin had a rough experience at the games, failing to medal in spite of being favored to do so.
And the NBC broadcast team let her have it with critical comments that angered viewers all over the world. That was evident all over social media where fans called it “sports porn.”
After Simone Biles revealed her mental anguish at the Tokyo games last year, the ways in which the media covers fallen sports heroes have come under scrutiny.
— Mikaela Shiffrin (@MikaelaShiffrin) February 9, 2022
There’s a fine line between covering failure, and mocking it. And whether it is the journalists who cover the games or the morning shows who use it as big fodder, a little bit of empathy goes a long way in storytelling, but also connecting with audiences.
5. Redemption – Yes, it was Matthew Stafford‘s moment last night as the favored Los Angeles Rams gutted out a victory over the upstart Cincinnati Bengals. I talked about Stafford’s road to redemption a couple weeks back, following his long suffering career with the hapless Detroit Lions.
Despite leading the Rams to the victory in the team’s final drive, and playing a great game, Stafford was not the MVP. That honor went to Cooper Kupp, the Rams’ amazing receiver.
And Stafford didn’t care. In postgame interviews where Stafford was asked about his journey and his feelings, it was all about the team – an organization he’s been with for just one year.
THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT. 🥺 pic.twitter.com/OMwOThvOzb
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) February 14, 2022
We all want to come back and show the team – the station, the company – that fired us that they made a mistake. But as Matt Stafford showed us last night (and throughout the playoffs), his ultimate victory wasn’t about the team that let him go – it was about the team that believed in his talents.
6. Living up to the hype – There is nothing more spectacular than Super Sunday. And the “Big Game” is the only event left that draws a massive audience in real time. You don’t DVR the Super Bowl.
And to celebrate its Hollywood location this year, the NFL pulled out all the stops to promote its Halftime Show, which more often than not, fails to deliver. It’s a heavy lift – entertaining the millions of us at home waiting for the second half, while also making it work in the stadium in front of the thousands who paid for the privilege of being there.
As we covered in this blog last week, Super Bowl LVI featured hip-hop superstars for the first time ever – Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar.
And the show actually delivered. The performances were strong, combining the best of the genre with typical Super Bowl bombast.
It worked, and it’s a reminder you can and should sell your events loudly and proudly.
As long as you deliver.
What lessons did you take away from this amazing weekend in the world of sports?
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