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Aspire to Inspire


As many of you have witnessed from my social media updates, I am a huge football fan.  I became a fan of football, of the San Diego Chargers, when I was ten years old.  I remember my dad watching a game and whichever team was on offense kept running the ball.  This to me looked like men lining up, the QB shouting and then all the men piling on the guy with the ball.  I had to ask my dad, “What is the point of this game?”  Through several Sunday lessons, I found a sport and a team which I loved to watch and cheer for.

The following season, my family started attending the Chargers pre-season training camps. They were held at the UCSD campus, a casual atmosphere.  Once the practice was over, the players made themselves available for autographs and pictures, and friendly chats with young fans like me.  While I loved shaking hands with Dan Fouts and taking pictures with cutie pie Rolf Benirschke, it was Kellen Winslow who stole my heart.  Kellen would not stand in the line of players edging toward the exit, but would sit on the grass and wait for us kids to come and join him.  From there, he would talk to us, shake our hands, ask us our names and talk to us about football, about school, about life.  He was the coolest of the cool.  To this day, I still rave how much I love him and revere him as my all-time favorite player.  His talent on the field is unquestionable.  But it was those moments on the grass which deepened my admiration for him as a man and teacher, and cemented my love for the game of football.

My friend and client, Mimi Donaldson is a professional keynote speaker and also a football fanatic.  She recently wrote the book, Necessary Roughness: New Rules for the Contact Sport of Life.  She is brilliant at relating the game of football to business strategies and life lessons.  Amidst a busy schedule of speaking, Mimi met Chrissy Carew who is also an author of a football-themed book called The Insightful Player: Football Pros Lead a Bold Movement of Hope.  Mimi’s book has 32 chapters to honor each team. Chrissy’s book profiles 32 players (current, retired or HOF). An immediate friendship and business collaboration was formed.  Chrissy’s book recently landed in my mailbox. And apart from being excited to read the profiles of greats like Roger Staubach and current dynamo Antonio Garay of the San Diego Chargers, I noticed that the foreword was written by the CBS Sportscaster, and long-time host of CBS’s “The NFL Today” James Brown.  I jumped right in.

In my many years as a host of CBS’s “The NFL Today” and other sports shows, I’ve met thousands of professional athletes, a substantial number whom have been football players.  Many NFL players have inspired me with their insights, humility, sense of spirituality, and their altruism. Others were more focused on superficial pursuits.

I often ask the question – what’s the difference between these two kinds of players?  Why do some men in the NFL recognize their potential for not just playing a great game, or even winning a Super Bowl ring, but using their global platform to inspire their many fans, especially the youngest, on to personal greatness? Showing kids that hard work and constant practice can turn you into a fine linebacker is a good thing.  Demonstrating that a strong set of ethics and values, along with character and a healthy dose of humility, will pave the way to a meaningful life is undeniably even more important.

JB’s insightful comments, which do not end with these two paragraphs, speak to the heart of my work and the vision of Beaming Bohemian.  I am working with university athletic departments  to educate, enable and empower student athletes to build their personal brand so they may move forward in life with high aspirations, a reason to share knowledge, and a deep desire to inspire others (also graduate as loyal alumni).   Athletic departments build a stronger brand by supporting and promoting their athletes, encouraging social network use, and benefit by expanding donor base via student networks.

I have also communicated similar concepts to the San Diego Chargers, because I believe there are a host of wonderful players on the team, like Antonio Garay, who would do well by sharing their stories with our community and connecting with fans online.  All teams in the NFL could take advantage of this strategy, for that matter.  Beaming Bohemian motivates individual players and the team to recognize their full potential for social good.  I’d like players and their team to develop the attitude of the great Kellen Winslow. Imagine the amount of memorable moments just waiting to be realized and how many young hearts could capture that positive attitude and winning spirit.  Modern media allows us instant connections, public conversations and direct access to all fans. Through these mediums, opportunities online and in real life are abundant for creating those golden moments reminiscent of a great hero of the game sitting on the grass to spend time with the youngest and most impressionable fans.


The image I’ve included in this post is borrowed from bleacherreport.net. Anyone who knows football knows that this photo was taken at the end of the San Diego vs. Miami game in January 1982, otherwise known as “The Epic in Miami” where San Diego won 41 to 38 in overtime. The Epic in Miami is often referred to as one of the greatest games ever played. Winslow caught a playoff record 13 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown, while also blocking a field goal with seconds remaining to send the game to overtime in one of the greatest single player efforts in NFL history. What made Winslow’s performance all the more memorable was the fact that during the game he was treated for a pinched nerve in his shoulder, dehydration, severe cramps, and received three stitches in his lower lip. After the game, a picture of Winslow being helped off the field by his teammates became an enduring image in NFL Lore. The following week was also legendary as the Chargers were defeated by the Cincinnati Bengals in what has come to be known as the Freezer Bowl.  (Some text from Wikipedia)


Chargers FanFest 2011

“It’s kind of like when a dad takes his kid to the candy shop,” he explained. “You’re outside the candy shop, you’re looking at the candy, but you’re not allowed to go in and get the candy. And then your dad just turns around and takes you home. That’s exactly what being a Chargers fan is like.”

That’s how Oak Park/San Diego Coutny’s Lee Norman explains the psychology of being a Charger fan and Super Bowl dreams.  (ARTICLE) As a life-long Charger fan myself, I think that’s pretty sad.

I was a disappointed to see the promotions for FanFest 2011.  Only kids ages 6 -1 4 were allowed on the field, and only the first 2000 with wrist bands.  The Chargers sited safety as a reason they have strict rules in place.  Each kid was allowed only one personal item to sign.    So if you had a Philip Rivers jersey, you either got his signature only or sacrificed your jersey to get autographs from more than one player.  Since it was kids-only on the field, there were no doting parents taking pictures with the family. The Chargers tweeted that there were other open practices to attend, if adults wanted to get autographs.

It was pictures like this one from the event, which made me scratch my head. Players sitting at a table…a barrier between them and their fans.







I treasure the days when players hung out after a pre-season open practice and talked to us kids (and parents), told stories, took pictures and signed autographs.  We didn’t have scheduled FanFest’s in the early 80’s, but we didn’t need them…the players were available and able to interact freely with fans, no rules, no wristbands, no limits on personal items brought to sign. I have the memory of shaking Dan Fouts’ hand, kissing Rolf Benirschke on the cheek and taking pictures with the likes of Kellen Winslow – more valuable to me than anything I have that was signed.

Running a business focused on marketing and branding makes me look at events and programs differently.  Things have changed a lot since I was a pre-teen and along with the events, marketing efforts and PR methods have changed dramatically.  I wanted to see more updates by players individually, a flurry of posts and tweets during the event and connecting digitally with the fans.  Contests, games and prizes are an easy way to incentivize fans and help make those who couldn’t attend the event feel like they were there.

I can appreciate that Charger’s FanFest 2011 may have come together quickly due to NFL lock-outs, but believe my Chargers can be ground breakers and standard setters, even with short notice.  Fans just want a moment to linger in the candy store and a leave with good taste to savor.  FanFest is the perfect opportunity for a sugar rush.


Did you go to FanFest 2011? What are your thoughts?  What would have given the day a more personal touch?

You can catch a few photos and videos of FanFest on the Charger website: http://www.chargers.com/

Or here’s a couple articles wrapping up the day: SignOnSanDiego  NBC Photo Gallery

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