I’ve always thought a lot about the power of people in the spotlight. I think it’s the main reason why I’m pursuing a career working with professional athletes in sports broadcasting. When people know your name, look up to you, respect you there is endless opportunity to influence. To do good. When it comes to professional athletes we see this manifested. They’re often leaders in and out of the locker room. Most professional athletes have a charity they support or a foundation they’ve started. Some because of the tax break, sure, but others because they recognize their influence and want to make a difference for something near and dear to their heart. While this post comes at a time when politics and sports converge in a way we’ve arguably never seen before, I will hold back from diving into the big, multi-faceted mess.
Instead, I will use a feel good story we can all agree on:
While Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Texas, Houston Texans Defensive End JJ Watt quickly mobilized fundraising efforts. On August 27th he set out to raise $200,000. As the money came in he adjusted the goal, adjusted the goal, adjusted the goal until reaching a whopping $31 million. The Wisconsin native was overwhelmed with gratitude.
With his personable nature it’s no surprise people want to support Watt’s rally. He exudes authenticity, coming in with no ulterior motive and relatable values. At the Texans season opener on September 10th Watt was given a heroes welcome. He emerged from the tunnel waving the Texas flag to a roarous NRG Stadium crowd, celebrating the resilience of a city that has endured so much. If he wasn’t already a leader, in these two short but trying weeks Watt grew into a symbol of selflessness and hope. From Defensive End to a guy who could easily run for State Senate.
It begs the question, what is a professional athlete’s responsibility?
As faces of their communities, athletes are the 1 in 100 million, the chosen ones, the privileged who make more money than anyone needs and live a life most can only dream of. These things often overshadow the sacrificed personal space and personal lives. Most sports fans don’t see the trying times, the struggles, the hardships and the pressure. Afterall, professional sport is ultimately the entertainment business. With athletes like JJ Watt doing his job, acting as a role models amid the spotlight, it makes his work that much more powerful. Inspiring the rest of us to give what we can and make a difference in our communities.
I’ve lived in four cities across two countries and three provinces in the past fourteen months. Even though I’m usually a go, go, go person who loves exploring and new experiences, I’ve realized that having some sort of stability in my life is critical to my happiness. Living out of a suitcase or only coming home to sleep and change clothes can be exhausting and I’ve learned to try to schedule a few quieter days and nights every once in a while. I’ve also come to crave a feeling of being settled. To having all of my clothes unpacked and a fridge filled with food… even on the weekend. After all of the moving that I’ve done in the past two years (four apartments and two houses), I’ve come up with a list that I prioritize finding when arriving in a new place. These simple things are key to my happiness and help me to live my best and most positive life.
Running Route- it’s no secret that my first priority regardless of where I am is getting my run in. I usually love using my morning runs to explore a city and even signed up for a running tour of Tokyo last summer. Getting a little lost on a run allows you to see a part of the city you would have missed if you were walking or driving and it also helps you to learn your way around. All of this being said, one of my favourite running routes is a five mile out and back on the country road that I grew up on. It’s actually an incredibly boring route with pretty much only fields and cows as scenery but I love it. I’ve run it so many times that I have markers for every half mile (mostly fence posts and mail boxes) and because of this I’m able to really push myself rather than worrying about where I’m going to turn next or if I’m going the right way. So although running has been and is still a great way for me to explore Calgary, finding a few go-to routes close to our new apartment has been exactly what I needed to feel settled in.
Spin Studio- Not far behind my love of running are spin classes. bronze & gold is all about balance and spin is one of the ways that I balance out my running routine. I found an awesome studio just a 10 minute drive from our apartment that also offers hot yoga and barre classes. They have an unreal speaker system, provide complimentary clip-in shoes, and you get a cold lemongrass towel after class. Yup… I’ve found my version of heaven. A tip if you’re looking to try spin for the first time or if you’re living in a new city is that most studios will offer a free first class or a great deal on a trial week or month for first-time visitors. It’s a great way to shop around and find a studio you like without breaking the bank. This is typically the case for any type of studio or fitness centre from yoga to circuit training.
Grocery Store- sometimes it really is the little things in life that bring you the most happiness and as silly as it sounds, finding the right grocery store is key for me. I love knowing exactly where everything is so that I don’t waste time walking up and down aisles and back tracking. As a super health conscious eater, it also makes me happy to find a store that carries all of my must-haves such as my vegan protein powder, Ezekiel bread, and black bean pasta. I guess I was meant to live where I do now because I’ve got a one-stop shop across the street.
Brunch Spot- my life outside of work pretty much consists of working out and finding new restaurants to try… aka the best kind of balance! Breakfast is my favourite meal and we go out for brunch almost every weekend. I’m a vegetarian but also a flexegan (read my post from awhile back here) so I really restrict my dairy and egg intake. Which means that when I do eat eggs, they’ve got to be more than worth it. As a vegetarian, I love finding a great vegetarian brunch spot because they’re normally really creative with their dishes and I don’t miss out on half of my meal from ordering it with no meat. Plus just having a go-to brunch spot is key for lazy weekend mornings when you don’t want to think or decide where you should head. We found an awesome spot called The Coup and I’ve been craving their el sombrero since we left. I’ll definitely be heading back there asap.
If you’re new to a city and you want to feel more settled, try making your own list of four or five things that you can’t live without. Whether it’s going to the library or painting classes, realizing what makes you happiest and finding somewhere to do it should be a priority when you move. At the same time, maybe you’ve lived in the same place for years and are feeling a little too settled. Trying a new Friday night take-out spot or a different yoga studio may be exactly what you need to freshen things up!
Let me know what your can’t live withouts are!
I will always believe in the magic of television. I always have and as I further immerse myself in the industry, I can tell I always will.
TV is a social experience. For generations people have gathered around a scheduled program like the news or The Voice, spending time in living rooms, bar rooms, or movie theatres with an immediate commonality. TV has the power to brings a community together… be it Bachelor in Paradise and the banter it brings about or a touching news story featuring a family in need. It creates dialogue and debate, it conveys emotion. As a Canadian kid in a hockey household it was watching Sportscentre every morning before school, then the Young and the Restless when we got home followed by CTV Ottawa News. None of these were isolating, I was never watching my own Netflix show on an Ipad with earbuds in. We watched as a family (yes, even the Y&R) and discussed during commercials.
The old soul in me loves the structure of television programming, and I love the tradition. I think that’s why I have always wanted to be a part of it. I want to have an impact on my community, to the scale that mass media can propel. I love the consistency in knowing that the Y&R is on everyday at 4:30 then CTV Ottawa News at 6pm. I know the number of people who appreciate this is slowly dwindling. For example, Joey and I moved into a condo last week and our first priority was replacing the teeny tiny TV with a 55inch and having the Bell guy in to set up our satellite. We justified it as NEEDING TV… needing to feel connected to the real world, the sports world, the news world. There’s nothing we look forward to more than sitting together with a pizza (or slightly healthier option…...) and watching the game. As he was setting it up I asked the Bell guy if the number of people signing up for TV was actually declining and he gushed without taking a breath… “Oooooh yes. Even I don’t have TV.” It broke my heart!
People argue TV is dying. But I say that even when sportscasts turn into virtual reality displays, what matters is that someone’s voice will always commentate the action. That voice will become the background to your memories. Same goes for shows, movies, series as we currently consume them - ultimately the medium doesn’t matter because it is the story that continues to soak in. It’s the visual that we crave.
You’ve heard me whine and complain about putting our devices down. In a seemingly contradictory plea, I urge you to watch a show with someone you love. Maybe it’s the 12-noon news with your grandparents (my FAVOURITE thing to do when I’m home in Winchester visiting them). Or maybe it’s getting into a new series on Netflix with your chill-person. Maybe it’s tuning into Bachelor Nation to critique the love lives of perfect strangers. Hey, again balance comes into play! By the end of the summer Slate and I started doing squats through the Bachelor in Paradise commercial breaks. TV is far more social than sitting cooped up in our rooms streaming Netflix.
My passion for TV is how I know I’m finally in the right place. Taking a sports broadcasting program has me feeling less like an imposter and more like I belong than ever before. I’ve often thought I wish I would have done this sooner but then I look back at the amazing experiences I had at Queen’s, in California, and think I came into this at the perfect time. Old enough to appreciate it, young enough to chase it with all my might. And so here we go… sports, TV, all those Sportscentre mornings growing up coming full circle.