In just three short weeks we will be ringing in another new year. Is it hard for anyone else to believe that 2013 is coming to an end?
With the hustle and bustle of the holidays comes another added stress: creating a New Year’s resolution.
Lose weight. Find love. Get a better job. Travel more.
Resolutions can be any number of things. In all honesty, though, I often feel like New Year’s resolutions only scratch the surface of issues each of us needs to address and improve in our own lives.
My question, though, is why wait until New Year’s Day to get started on improving in these areas?
What would starting now do when it comes to your chance of actually upholding your New Year’s resolution?
Starting to work on your New Year’s resolution now, in my eyes, does one major thing: It improves the chance that you will actually incorporate your resolution into your daily life and achieve whatever goal that resolution is aimed at addressing. 21 extra days is an eternity. They say that habits can be formed or kicked in 28 days. By starting to work on your New Year’s resolution today–three weeks before New Years Day–by the end of the first week of 2014, your resolution will no longer require resolve, but will be a habit.
What are your resolutions for 2014? I’ll let you in on one of mine: Balance.
I need to slow down. I need to learn to say, “no.” I need to let some opportunities pass by. I need to be my own caretaker.
From a professional standpoint, 2013 has been amazing for me. I was credentialed for events I never dreamed I’d be invited to. I landed a dream job at the University of Miami. Earlier this month, a surprise hit, when I was asked to become the Director of Media Relations for Sportsdigita.
I traveled 9 out of the first 13 weekends of 2013. I’ve flown close to 100,000 miles this year. It’s been awesome, but it’s taken a toll on another side of my life that is dear to me: My relationships.
So, my New Year’s resolution that I started working on today is to begin balancing out my life. I want work to account for 1/3 of it. Sleep to count for another 1/3 (I firmly believe in getting 8 hours of sleep a night, and generally do a good job of it). And the other 1/3, will be devoted to me–whether that is exercising, pursuing hobbies or catching up with old friends and making new ones. It seems simple, but over the last year, work encroached upon this third area, and it’s time for me to push it back.
When it comes to succeeding in New Year’s resolutions, a lot of it depends upon retraining your mind. By retraining your mind, you can form new habits and find success in endeavors. One thing that I need to work on mentally is erasing the belief that not taking an opportunity might mean failure for me later down the road. I need to do a better job of recognizing that what is on my plate is enough and to focus my energy on making what’s on my plate the best it can be. The rest of my energy should be focused on improving myself–whether that be my health, intellect or social life.
In all honesty, starting now on my New Year’s resolution is daunting. It’s daunting because I am in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year. Final examinations and the storylines associated with the college football bowl season make for a hectic time for someone who is a professor and covers sports. At the same time, though, this is the perfect time for me to get into my new groove. It’s a perfect time for me to look at the time I have to spend on work and decide where exactly I’m going to spend my energy.
It’s also a good time to reevaluate certain things I am currently engaged in. That being said, after the New Year I will have a couple big announcements. They involve taking some risks, but overall, the risks are necessary to maintain my happiness and that resolution of balance I’m working towards.
So, what about you? What is it that you could be starting now to make your 2014 better? What is it that your life needs to find a little more happiness?
I’ve always been a sensitive person.
When I was in first grade, I came home in tears. When my parents prodded me to find out what was wrong, I told them that one of my classmates forgot his lunch money. Rather than just spotting him a lunch, the lunch lady just shoved some juice and crackers at him and refused to give him a warm, filling lunch.
For some reason, seeing that really bit at my 6-year-old self. It hurt my feelings to see this classmate of mine being treated differently. My young head spun wondering why he didn’t have his lunch money. Did he really forget it? Or, perhaps, could his mama not afford it like mine could? I wondered if he was hungry. These thoughts hurt me so much, that by the time the bell rang, I had no choice but to cry.
As my parents wiped away my tears, they could’ve done two things: Nothing or something.
My parents probably don’t know I remember this, but one of my earliest memories is of them going to speak with my elementary school’s principal after this event took place. Two things resulted from that conversation.
First, my parents provided my elementary school with some money, so that if another kid forgot–or didn’t have–lunch money, he or she would receive a hot lunch.
More importantly, though, by doing something, my parents taught my six-year-old self one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned: When you have the choice of doing nothing or doing something, you always do something.
As the holidays approached this year, my dad began asking me, “So, Leesh, what are you going to do?” “What do you mean, what am I going to do?” I’d retort with. He’d say, “Well, you had quite the year in 2013. Maybe it’s time to give some of what you got back to others.”
He was right. I wasn’t a “newbie” in the sports world anymore. It was time to take my name and use it to do something.
With the thought in my head, I began brainstorming ways I could use my platform to give back to others. In mid-November it clicked: I wanted to publicize sports nonprofits that many people don’t know about and also fundraise for them.
What happened after my idea was born, is perhaps one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed: People began supporting the idea. And I began watching the sports media life I’ve lived over the last 2.5 years come full-circle.
It started with a simple tweet seeking out a graphic designer. From there, I met Quinn Carr–who literally, was the greatest person to work with. Chances are, I wouldn’t have found Quinn if I hadn’t covered a fantasy basketball camp at the University of Miami two months ago and written a story about it. It turns out, that Quinn’s brother played in the camp and followed me on Twitter, and as such, Quinn saw my request for help.
With a graphic designer in tow and a design in progress, I knew that the ball was rolling. It was time to find sports nonprofits to support. Again, I turned to Twitter. What resulted, was finding six sports nonprofits that I think the world of. I learned these organizations’ stories–which ranged from spreading joy to wounded warriors and encouraging children’s cancer patients to eradicating Atlanta’s enormous dropout rate and giving underprivileged children positive memories to hold onto.
In these organizations’ stories, I found hope.
I found a hope that, sports could in fact, change the world.
On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up at 4 a.m. more nervous than I’ve been in a long, long time.
Thanksgiving meant that it was time for the campaign to begin. That morning, I put the finishing touches on the campaign page and hit the “launch” button for the t-shirt sales page. The jitters in me that morning were palpable. What if nobody bought a shirt? What if nobody clicked on the link and read about these great organizations? What if nobody cared?
In the midst of my nerves, things got good. Really, really good.
You all did something.
Yes, you bought t-shirts (which I am incredibly thankful for). More importantly, though, you shared.
You talked about how sports changed your world. You talked about your hopes for this world. You mentioned what you can do to better this world.
And people listened.
Because of you, six outstanding organizations have new supporters. They not only have new donors, but those willing to roll up their sleeves and volunteer.
Because of you, the internet knows that sports can change the world. Thousands of eyes have seen your tweets, Facebook statuses and Instagram pictures. These eyes, in turn, have researched the campaign. That research has led more people to think about how sports can change the world.
Because of you, these “12 Days of Giving” (as I initially called the campaign) have turned into the #Sports4Good Movement.
You did something.
People often gripe about the media. They say, “Why is the media so negative?”
Before I joined the media world, I wondered the same thing. I often thought of the athletes I knew and the good things they were doing and wondered why more people didn’t hear these stories. However, now that I’m on the other side–as a member of the media–I know why you don’t hear those stories.
You don’t hear these stories, because the media gatekeepers think that nobody is interested. I’ve been told by editors when pitching stories about athletes giving back that nobody cares. Or that it doesn’t matter. Or to find something worthwhile.
Over the last twelve days, though, you’ve done something to prove those media decision makers wrong.
People care. It does matter. And it is the most worthwhile story there is to tell.
I’m a sensitive person. And as such, there are tears flowing from my eyes right now. I’m so grateful for the support all of you have shown others throughout this campaign. I’m so grateful to know that what I thought before is true:
Sports can change the world.
Don’t forget to vote for your favorite organization until 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, December 9 by clicking here.
And if you haven’t yet, $25 gets you a #Sports4Good t-shirt! Click here. The shirts will only be sold until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, December 9, so get them while they’re HOT!
People often ask me, “Alicia, why do you like sports so much?”
If I were to be completely honest, my love for sports comes from my realization that sports can change the world.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a sports fan. I’ve never been big on following stats or looking at the intricacies of plays. Rather, I’ve always watched sports to see the stories of human perseverance that unfold on a court or field. These stories speak to me in a way that nothing else in my life has.
I’m blessed in the sense that I’ve been able to make my passion my job. I’ve made it an emphasis of my sports writing career to highlight stories of athletes, teams and leagues giving back to their communities. Why have I made this an emphasis? Simple: Because nobody else is really doing it. These stories need to be told.
Since I launched RulingSports.com on July 1, 2011, I’ve had the great opportunity to interview hundreds of people to find out how sports changed their world. More interesting to me, though, is finding out how these people are using sports to change the worlds they live in.
The first athlete I interviewed in my career was Rafer Johnson, the 1960 Olympic decathlon gold medalist. Rafer, who is African-American, grew up in a segregated Texas. It wasn’t until his family moved to California that he was given the opportunities in sports that would build him into one of the greatest athletes in history.
On a summer day in 2011 when I sat down to interview Rafer in Manhattan Beach, CA, we not only talked about his impressive athletic feats, but how he had used sports to give back to others. A close friend of the Kennedy family, Rafer was one of the founding members of the California chapter of Special Olympics. At 78-years-old, he is still heavily involved in the organization.
When asked why he’s still involved in Special Olympics, Rafer said to me, “I’ll always be involved with the program, because I came up as a youngster in a very small town in California and that’s what I think provided the basis for the rest of my career: that somebody helped me be the best that I could be.” Sports changed Rafer’s world. And now, through sports, he’s changing the worlds of others.
What if we all could use sports to help others become the best they could be? How different might our world look?
This holiday season, I want to introduce you to six amazing sports nonprofit organizations who through sports, are changing the worlds of others. To learn more about each organization, click on the link below:
In getting to know these organizations, I was blown away by how much they are able to accomplish on very limited budgets. Learning this fact got me thinking: How many more peoples’ worlds could these organizations change if they had more money?
Whenever I write a story about athletes, teams or leagues giving back, there is one question I always ask: ”In your role in sports, do you have an obligation to use your platform to help others?”
The answer I receive to this question, while worded differently, always reaches the same point: YES.
And this holiday season, it is my obligation to see to it that these organizations have the resources they need to keep changing the world.
To help the six organizations above, I have organized the Sports Can Change The World campaign. The campaign has several components. It is my hope that each of you will find at lease one way to become involved in the campaign.
1. T-Shirt sales: To raise funds, I have created a t-shirt campaign. The t-shirts cost $20 with a $5 shipping cost and will arrive by Christmas. They come in adult and youth sizes and are printed on very, very soft t-shirts. All profits from sales of the Sports Can Change The World t-shirt will benefit one of the organizations listed above. You can purchase your shirts between now and 11;59 p.m. ET on December 9 by clicking here.
2. Social media: In order for the Sports Can Change The World campaign to make the biggest impact, word needs to get out about it. Will you share this link with your friends so they can learn about these great organizations? Will you post the link to the t-shirt campaign on Facebook? Can you tweet about how sports have changed your life or upload a picture on Instagram depicting how they have? Be sure to use the hashtag #Sports4Good, so we can show just how many worlds sports have changed!
3. Voting: As mentioned above, one organization will receive the profits from sales of the Sports Can Change The World t-shirt. That organization is the one that receives the most votes between now and 11:59 p.m. on December 9. After clicking on the links above to learn what each organization does, cast your vote on the poll at the bottom of this post. Voting runs between now and 11:59 p.m. ET on December 9.
Sports can change the world. Will you support the Sports Can Change The World campaign this holiday season to change the worlds of those in our communities?
A couple of months ago I went on a first date. In terms of first dates, it went relatively well. At the end of the night, the guy walked me to my car. As we were standing there, he literally said, ‘Wow. I thought someone who does everything you do would have a nicer car.”
A few weeks later I stopped at CVS to pick up some odds and ends. When I walked out, my car looked like this:
I’m no car expert. I’m a lawyer. Turned writer. Turned professor. So when I saw this, I promptly texted my friend Nick and said, “Um, what do I do?” He promptly responded with what everyone else has responded with, “What did you hit?” To which I said, “I swear, nothing.”
Realizing that I was on my own when it came to fixing this debacle, I marched my irritated self back into the CVS. The young guys working there said, “Did ya forget something, ma’am?” ”Yea, duct tape.”
In the Florida humidity, I spent the next 10 minutes of my life utilizing all of the engineering skills I garnered in my four years at the Colorado School of Mines to do this:
As I stood up to admire my feat, a fireman drove by in his firetruck. I’m a woman, so when he quickly backed up, I thought, “YES!” However, he just shouted down from the window, “Duct tape fixes everything!” and drove on. Traumatic.
Today I drove to work at the University of Miami in my duct taped Honda Civic.
When I was in college, I was a nanny for two girls. They lived in a wealthy suburb in the Denver foothills. One of my responsibilities was to pick them up everyday from school. At the time, I was driving a 1998 Saturn that was on its last leg. At one point, the stereo was broken (and/or possessed), as it would randomly turn up in volume. When I say, “randomly turn up in volume,” I mean, “randomly turn up in ear-deafening-uncomfortable volume.” Somehow, it would also always find a way to change stations to Christmas music or Spanish music.
What was notable about the possessing of my Saturn, was that it would only happen right before I would pick up the girls. The school bell would ring and kids would scatter out to hop in their mom’s Cayenne or their dad’s Mercedes. I would see my girls with their heads down, kind of chuckling as they approached my jalopy. Deep down, they were certain of what awaited them. They’d put their little hand on the door, and they’d be greeted with, “I WANT TO WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS!….FELIZ NAVIDAD!!!”
I told them this was a character building experience.
And everyday for the last month, I’ve held onto the hope that it is a character building experience for the professor to hop out of her duct taped car when her students roll up in Land Rovers.
When I got to work today, one of the first things I did was take my personal laptop to our IT guy. Last night when I was trying to catch up on old episodes of Homeland, the blue screen of death erupted across my screen. I figured it must’ve been terrorists. Our IT guy, though, said it was my hard drive. He suggested I call Dell to see if my computer was still under warranty.
When I got back to my office this afternoon, I called Dell. I was nicely surprised when I wasn’t put on hold for eternity and when the guy who answered my call spoke perfect English. He and I had fun together for nearly two hours as he ran an insane number of tests on my computer system and I continuously kindly reminded him that someone had already done this for me. Not only had someone already done this for me, but someone had already told me what the problem was. I was just calling to ensure my computer was under warranty and to have them send me the parts necessary to fix the hard drive. ”But Miss Jessop, we just need to run one more test to see what’s wrong with the computer.” ”You’re the expert, man. Do your thing.” Two hours later my new friend said, “Well, Miss Jessop, thank you for your patience. The problem is with the hard drive. We’ll be sending you a new one.” Luckily for this guy, I value new friendships, so I appreciated the chance to build a new one with him as we painstakingly re-identified the problem.
I have a lot of work to get done that involves using a computer, and generally, the blue screen of death would cramp that plan. However, the University of Miami bought me a nice iBook earlier this semester. So, when I left work, I packed that baby up and planned to go home and work my little heart out.
In August, I moved into a new condo in Miami. The cable guy came a couple days after I got here. He was really flirtatious and as he spewed cords across my condo in the name of bringing TV to it, he said, “Miss Alicia, I am really going to hook you up!” I said, “Ok, that would be appreciated.” He said, “Miss Alicia, I am going to give you wireless for free!” I said, “I thought I was already paying for that?” He said, “No Miss Alicia, I take care of you. Just don’t tell them I am doing this.” As I was mostly confused as to what in God’s name was going on since I ordered a wireless router, I just nodded in agreement. He said, “Ok, I’m going to set your password for you, so you can enjoy wireless for free!” I thought nothing of it, like for instance, that I cannot call my cable provider to find out what my wireless password is should I do what I always do with my wireless password: forget it.
When I got home tonight, I plopped down on my couch looking forward to watching some college hoops and finishing my work. I turned on my cute little iBook and quickly realized I do not know my wireless password. So much for being “hooked up.”
So now, I sit here with this finagled set-up: In case you can’t tell, that’s a short USB cord stretched from my cable box to a haphazardly placed kitchen chair.
On my drive home tonight, it started raining. When I got home, I realized that the rain had washed away my car’s duct tape job. The fender is once again hanging on by a string.
I’d die to know what that guy I went out with thinks that says about “someone who does everything I do.”
I am a firm believer that the universe sends situations into your life to see how you respond to them.
When frustrating things happen in life, the quick response is often, “woe is me.” I like to look at frustrating situations as opportunities for character growth.
What kind of patience am I exhibiting towards others when I am undergoing these types of situations? What value do I place on material objects and how big of a role do they play in my life? How kind am I to others when I am in a stressful or annoying situation? The frustration that today could’ve turned into, in all honesty, brought me a lot of laughs.
They say that when it rains, it pours. We all have days that start out perfect and end up hilariously disastrous. Life is about perspective, though. The best perspective, I’ve found, is to laugh when life sends you a rainy day.
And if laughter isn’t enough, you can do what I did tonight:
Yup. That’s Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough for dinner, baby.
Let it rain!
As I inch towards age 30, I continue to look for ways to improve my health. Recently, I thought a lot about my diet. Overall, it’s not terrible. I don’t drink much. I don’t eat out too much. I eat a lot of vegetables. I probably drink too many drinks from Starbucks. However–and this has been true my entire life–I don’t eat much fruit.
I don’t know where my distaste for fruit comes from. I spent my childhood wandering through my grandparents’ garden, which had a field of raspberry bushes, rhubarb plants and grape vines. I’d pluck fruit from each and pop it in my mouth and go on my way. Perhaps I OD’d on fruit as a kid and now, I just don’t like it.
On Sunday, I was at an event for my sorority called Founder’s Day. It’s the day in which we recognize Sigma Kappa’s founding on November 9, 1874. There, I met a woman who although she was 83-years-old, she looked like she was 60. Her body stood upright, her hair was beautiful, her skin fragile and she just epitomized health. I want to be like that.
Adding fruit and other non-processed foods into my diet along with more strength training are two things I thought I could do to improve my health. One way I am going to add fruit into my diet is by drinking a smoothie every morning, Monday through Friday.
Today, I share with you my first smoothie recipe.
1 Green Tea Bag
1/2 Cup Boiling water
2 TSP Honey
1 Cup Blueberries
3/4 Cup Vanilla Soy Milk
1 Cup Ice
Place tea bag in boiling water. Let steep for three minutes. Mix in honey until it dissolves.
In a blender, add blueberries, banana, soy milk and ice. Pour tea mixture over top. Blend until smooth. ENJOY!
In 1874, a group of five women got together and made a decision that would change the world: They founded Sigma Kappa. I am grateful for the role that Sigma Kappa has played in my life as a young woman and believe it is largely responsible for teaching me the leadership skills I’ve learned. Today, it’s an honor to be the keynote speaker at the Southern California Sigma Kappa Founder’s Day Celebration. The following is the text of my speech.
Since the dawn of mankind, the most-asked question whispered around the world, has been, “Why?”
“Why was I born?”
The question of why we were born and what we were put on this Earth to do is at the bane of mankind’s existence. Each of us at some point has questioned the reason for our existence. We find answers in religion. We find answers in spiritual gurus. We find answers in yoga retreats and meditation vacations to India.
Ultimately, though, the answer to, “Why was I born?” lies in the answer to another question. That question is, “What is my legacy?”
We are here today, because on November 9, 1874, a group of five women–Elizabeth, Mary, Ida, Francis and Louise–sought to answer that question and define their legacy.
The legacy of these five women was built upon their doing two things: Surveying the landscape of their community and surveying the landscape of their hearts.
We sit in this room today, as women who all received or are receiving the gift of a college education. Today, the number of females pursuing a college degree exceeds the number of males doing so. For Mary Caffrey Low, however, the gender make-up of her college campus could not be more distinct.
Mary entered ColbyCollege in 1871. It wasn’t until 1873, when another female joined her as a student on campus. In fact, the female population of ColbyCollege boomed in 1873, as four new women–Elizabeth, Ida, Francis and Louise–all began their college education that year.
As the five women oftentimes found themselves together, they began surveying the landscape of their community. They quickly realized, that although they had been given the opportunity to attend college, their opportunity differed from that of their male classmates. The women faced insults from male classmates and teachers. They were not given the same opportunity to perform in the classroom as their male counterparts. They were held back from participating in the bulk of the collegiate experience, as they were often precluded from engaging in student organizations.
The survey of ColbyCollege’s landscape was the spark that ignited the idea of creating an organization on campus aimed at addressing the negative issues the women faced. However, that idea did not birth Sigma Kappa until the five young women examined the landscape of their hearts.
Those five young hearts were joyful hearts. They were filled with love and friendship and a belief in serving others. They were hearts captivated with the idea that a woman could grow up to become anything she wished to be and that in doing so, she could serve others.
The landscape of these women’s hearts, is what would become not only their legacy, but our beloved Sigma Kappa. From the hearts of Mary, Elizabeth, Francis, Ida and Louise, was born an organization that to date, has captivated the hearts of more than 152,000 women worldwide. From the hearts of five young women, a legacy woven into the fabric of all our lives was born. That legacy is Sigma Kappa.
Because we all seek to answer the question of, “Why am I on this planet?” we all seek to identify what our legacy is. How do you do that, though? The process of defining what your legacy is, is the same in 2013 as it was in 1874: You must examine the landscape of your community and the landscape of your heart.
What does it mean to examine the landscape of your community? Examining the landscape of your community involves taking off the blinders that normally bind you, to look at the community in which your life unfolds. When the blinders come off, you must look at the needs of the community you love.
What is your community? Is your community your school? Is it your chapter? Is it your new member class? Is your community your job? Is it your child’s school? Is it the people who live under your roof?
When you define who makes up your community, you can begin identifying the needs of those people. Those needs can span any number of issues. Some issues may be small and some may be monumental. The size of the issue, however, is not important. If issues worth addressing exist in your community, your legacy is made by setting out to address them.
After identifying the needs that make up the landscape of your community, it is critical to analyze the landscape of your heart. This step is critical, because it is what is in our hearts that allows us to address particular needs in our communities.
The reason why there are over 6 billion people on this planet, is that each of us brings unique abilities and beliefs to the table. The combination of these unique abilities and beliefs are written on our hearts. Sometimes they’re called passions. Other times they’re called dreams. I like to think of these unique abilities and beliefs as the things that keep me up at night wondering what I will do next with my life.
Because each of us has unique abilities and beliefs, and hence, a unique story written on our heart, we are not made to address every issue that faces our community. If you were capable of addressing every issue your community needs, you would be the only person who lived on this planet. Instead, each of us was created to address the particular issues that match the abilities and beliefs that are melted into the landscape of our hearts.
The last two years of my life have been a whirlwind. I’ve traveled enough this year that I’ve racked up three free airline tickets from the frequent flier miles I’ve accumulated. I’ve been to the Super Bowl and the NBA All-Star Game. I’ve stood on the sidelines at Cowboys Stadium and the NBA Finals. I’ve interviewed the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Jim Brown, John Cena, Stephen Curry and Barry Sanders. I’ve been on national radio broadcasts and made appearances on national television. And the only reason I’ve been able to do any of this, is because in 2011, I looked at the landscape of my community and got in touch with the landscape of my heart.
In early 2011, I was working a job that although I was grateful for, I was not made for. My unhappiness at work led me to seek something that would provide an outlet for channeling happiness throughout the day. For me, that outlet was sports.
Since I was a young child, sports have fascinated with me. As the only child of a sports enthused father, I spent a large amount of time as a child watching games and learning the intricacies that made them interesting. As I grew up, I could recite statistics, the names of whole rosters and analyze sports in a way that not many other young women were doing.
In 2011, when I needed a reprieve from my law firm job, I would poke around on various sports news websites. As I did, I quickly realized that there were few journalists who wrote about sports in a positive manner. Lost in the stories of athletes who went broke, used banned drugs, got pulled over for DUIs and cheated on their wives, were the stories of athletes doing good things in their communities that I knew existed.
As I examined the landscape of a community I loved–the sports community–I was forced to analyze the landscape of my heart. That landscape is one that believes in the innate goodness of mankind. It is a landscape filled with belief that, although we all make mistakes, our good outweighs the bad. It’s a landscape that holds firmly to the belief that positivity will get you further than negativity every time.
When I began looking at the landscape of my heart, a dream that had been pushed down for too long because of a feeling that it was impractical, began coming to the surface. What if I could become a sports journalist? What if I could tell the world about sports in a way that was positive? What if that could become my legacy?
With an idea of what I wanted my legacy to become, I had to take an honest look at the unique abilities and beliefs I held. From an ability perspective, I had recently graduated from law school and also held a B.S. in economics. This educational background, I believed, would allow me to analyze sports from a perspective few others could. I also had a passion for writing and have been told by numerous people that I can tell a good story.
In turn, the unique beliefs I held in the goodness of man and that positivity outweighs negativity meant that I would use my analytical and writing abilities to tell the story of sports in a way that celebrated it.
On July 1, 2011, I woke up and told my roommate that I was creating a website. After hours of mulling over names in my head and tinkering around trying to figure out how to build a website, RulingSports.com was born. Creating RulingSports.com changed my life. Yes, it gave me later opportunities to write for Forbes.com and The Huffington Post and become a professor at the University of Miami. However, it changed my life, because it became my legacy.
Each of us has a community. Each of us has a heart. Each of us has a legacy.
The world needs to stop asking, “Why?” We know why we are here.
The question for some of us now, though, is “What?” “What is my legacy?” What are the needs of your community that you can address like nobody else? What do those desires on your heart motivate you to do like nobody else?
Some of us have answered the question of what our legacy is. The question for us then become, “When?” and “How?” When will you begin creating your legacy? If you haven’t begun creating it, will you realize today that the time to start is now? If you believe your legacy is complete, why are you still on this planet? Is it because there is more to the story of your legacy?
After answering those questions, how are you going to bring your legacy to life? How are the abilities and beliefs written on the landscape of your heart perfectly suited to address the needs faced in the landscape of your community?
Each of us was put on this planet for a reason. And that reason was to build a legacy. The time is now. And I cannot wait to see how you all do it.
At least once a week I get an email from someone looking to break into the sports industry. If my schedule allows it, I set up a phone call with the person seeking my advice. More often than not, at the end of the phone call, I wonder if I’ve given them anything practical they can use. So often people ask me, “So, how did you do it? What’s your story?” I’ll tell them. And then I realize that in all honesty, my story will probably not help anyone land their dream job in sports.
Why is that? It’s the same reason that your personal story won’t help me land my dream job in sports. The reason why my story won’t serve as a perfect road map for you, and yours most likely won’t for me, is that each of our journeys is personal. We all experience different things. We all come from different places. We all have different motives. What worked for me may not work for you. What failed me may be your key to success.
Realizing this, I’ve thought long and hard to find one way to sum up how I got here that may be beneficial to others. And after thinking about this for over a year, I’ve decided that it can only be summed up in two words: Be bold.
To explain why boldness is critical to finding the job you want, I need to take you back to two years ago this weekend. I was about to board a flight to San Francisco. And as I made my way through the airport, I knew that my destiny laid in the crosshairs of the outcome of that weekend.
In October 2011, the law firm I was working for at the time wanted me to relocate to their San Francisco office from Orange County. At the time, I was blessed to have a well-paying job that offered full benefits and a retirement plan. There were a handful of young associate attorneys who I became incredibly close with. I lived three blocks away from the beach in Corona del Mar, CA. From the outside looking in, my life was nearly perfect.
As grateful as I was, I was dying on the inside. And it was beginning to show on the outside. My job didn’t inspire me. My job didn’t motivate me. It got so bad, that my job didn’t even make me want to get out of bed. My friends didn’t recognize me. I didn’t recognize myself. I was drowning. It was painful.
Up until July 1, 2011, I thought that this was just the way life had to be. I racked up over $100,000 worth of student loans putting myself through law school. It was now time to pay those loans. And the legal market was dim. Many of my friends didn’t have jobs. Those of them who did, either worked part-time or as a paralegal. I knew I shouldn’t be complaining. But deep down, I knew that mortgage banking litigation wasn’t what I was put on this planet to do. I knew that even though I should be happy, I could expect better for myself.
And so I sought out to make a bold change.
Last Thursday I sat at the after-party for the Miami premiere of Machete Kills, with my friend Jenny, who is the publicist for an actress in the movie. We were sitting next to a former publicist of Clive Davis. Unannounced, Jenny began recounting the story of my 2011 to this woman. She told her how I went from being the happiest person in the room to someone whose emptiness impacted her friends. She told her how one day, I woke up and had enough. And she told her how I came to my friends, told them that I had started a website and that my life was going to change.
I remember those days. They were so invigorating. In short, I’m sitting here telling you this today, because I was so bold in those days. I refused to take “no” for an answer. Sports is my greatest passion. And I was going to make sure that it became my career.
As I boarded that flight to San Francisco in the second weekend of October, I felt that “fight-or-flight” sting. The partners of my law firm had no idea that I had started a sports law website. The firm didn’t have a sports law practice, and I had been previously pulled aside for not showing enough of an interest in banking law. I knew I was on thin ice.
Thus, I had to keep Ruling Sports a secret from largely everyone in my firm. This became a challenge, as I spent most of my lunch breaks working on the website at a local Starbucks in these days. Often, I’d run into from someone from the firm. They’d pop around my computer and say, “What are you working on?” And I’d be forced to come up with some haphazard lie about “Oh, just poking around some sports articles.”
My personal favorite memory during this time in my life was the distance I went to tape a radio show. Most radio shows that I tape fall during my workday, especially when I was living on the west coast. Given that my firm didn’t know I was living a double-life, I couldn’t have the radio show hosts call into my office phone, which was answered by our receptionist. Our firm also had a policy against being on your cell phone during work hours. So, I faced a dilemma: Do I follow the rules and not tape radio shows at the risk of not furthering my passion? Or, do I bend the rules a bit in a bold way and further my passion?
I chose option two. For radio shows that I was unable to tape during my lunch break, I would sneak out of my office, tell a co-worker that if I was paged on the intercom to text me and headed into the parking garage. There, I would crouch down in the front seat of my car and tape a radio show as if there was nothing strange about this entire process. It was frightening in the sense that a partner of my law firm could walk by at any moment and I’d be caught. It was invigorating in the sense that I knew I was taking a step toward the future in which I wanted to live.
One question I get often, is how do I have time to write and tweet so much? When I launched Ruling Sports, I knew I wouldn’t build a following without having fresh content up every three days. So, I spent every free moment I had to get that content prepared so that I would meet that goal. And it worked.
As for tweets, when I was at the office, I would allow myself to read one sports article an hour. I would then send out a series of tweets with my legal opinion on the article I read. Yes, I wasn’t supposed to be tweeting at work. And no, I didn’t care. Remember, this was fight or flight. My life wasn’t in the place I wanted it to be. And I was the only person who could change that.
As I got off of the plane in San Francisco that fall afternoon, my heart was in a frenzy. I knew that moving there would in a sense be the end of Ruling Sports. I knew this, because this job not only came with a 25 percent salary raise, but more billable hours. This increase in billable hours would take away the time that I was spending building Ruling Sports.
However, I knew that I needed a job to pay my bills. And blogging at the time wasn’t doing that. The legal market at the time wasn’t a place that was just handing out jobs like candy. It was relatively desolate. So, I knew I had to put on a good face and show interest in the job. And I also knew I needed a backup plan.
I’m a very religious person. My relationship with Christ is one thing that has gotten me through my life, which has faced its share of trials and tribulations that are too big to share with a blog read by strangers. In this instance, though, I prayed. I prayed that God would give me an opportunity to keep building Ruling Sports, if that’s what He wanted me to do. I needed time. I needed a job that would allow me to keep up with my radio appearances and building my social media following.
He answered. The father of one of my best friends is a deputy prosecutor in Colorado. The week after I returned from San Francisco, he called me and said he had a job opening. He said, “Alicia, I know what you are trying to do with your sports career. And I appreciate that and I will foster it. I want to give you a chance to build that. All I care about, is that you get your work done for me. If you finish it at 10 a.m., you have the rest of the day to work on sports stuff. Just do a good job for me.”
God answered my bold prayer.
In December 2011, I moved back to Colorado. One thing that few people know, is that I lived in my parents’ basement for 18 months. That, perhaps, was the boldest move of them all, given that I hadn’t lived there since I was 18, and well, I like living like an adult.
Living with them, though, was necessary for what I was trying to do. For one, it allowed me to spend freely. If I wanted to pick up and travel to a sporting event, I could. If I needed a brand new wardrobe for an appearance, I could purchase it. Additionally, it provided me with an extra layer of support as I waded through this world. For all of the support I’ve received from many of you, I get my share of criticism. When someone tells you they want you to die, judges your looks or sends you a hateful message, it’s nice to be amongst family.
Living at home was also necessary, because I knew that Colorado was a temporary stop for me. It was a launching pad. It was a place for me to go, clear my mind, catch my breath and figure out what it was that I really was working for.
And that has taken me to Miami. I’m a professor at a top-50 university. I write for Forbes and the Huffington Post. I have a broadcasting agent who is probably sick of my emails (Hi, Matt!). Some days, I still don’t believe that all of this has happened. I don’t think the depths of my gratitude for everything that has happened to me in the last two years can be explained on a blog. I know that my prayers were answered. And I thank God every, single day. Without fail.
So, you want to work in sports. Who wouldn’t?
If you want to work in sports, there is only one real piece of advice I can give you: Be bold.
Boldness is not brazenly breaking the rules. Boldness is fighting with everything you have to get where you need to go. Boldness is knowing the feelings of your heart and taking yourself where those feelings are guiding you. Boldness is refusing to give up, not taking “no” for an answer and being your own biggest supporter. Boldness, at the end of the day, is getting what you want.
Be bold. It just may change your life. It certainly changed mine.