4 lessons from sports stars that stuck with me as a kid

For all the meaningful sources of life lessons I received as a kid, from my parents to religion, and the many shades of the Golden Rule, I was still a sports-crazed boy growing up in the 1990s.

That means I internalized a lot of advice from athletes, whether or not they actually ever said them (sports quotes are full of apocryphal and fictitious claims). I was amused recently to think of a handful of very-90s-era memories I have about lessons from North American sports legends. In addition to being stuck in time, this collection is funny because I am so far from a knowledgeable sports fan today.

So these are corny for all sorts of reasons. Yet I do find myself thinking of these even today.

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Balancing legacy and money in professional sports has lessons for the rest of us

The legacy of your work has a value harder to compare with pure money, so we should try our best to incorporate that in our professional decision making.

I’m not a professional athlete. That may surprise many of you.

Still, without any real awareness of the experience, I find myself scratching my head whenever a big name, well-paid professional athlete chooses more money over legacy. In most cases, it seems ill-advised.

I understand that with injuries threatening livelihood, athletes are smartly coached to get what upfront money they can as soon as they can. And I understand that there is often a mind-boggling amount of money on the table, but they seem to be facing on only one axis of success.

When Albert Pujols signed a quarter of a billion dollar, 10-year contract with the major market Los Angeles Angels, leaving the devoted St. Louis Cardinals after 11 seasons, I wasn’t surprised. (In fact, the Pujols’s wife seems more surprised, saying they had never wanted to leave St. Louis but the club wouldn’t offer a long enough, guaranteed deal.)

But if the celebrated and beloved Pujols becomes a target for boos and taunts, he’ll have to assess how much money an attack to his legacy is worth.

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Phillies theme songs: music for Philadelphia baseball

When my reporting career starts intersecting with World Series baseballtwice — why wouldn’t I keep coming across Phillies theme songs?

Ill State of Mind by NeeKo ft. Deanie Marie, as I previously shared.

Goin’ Back to Philadelphia, PA- A Tribute to the Phillies by Bobby Burnett

This is played in the ballpark after a Phillies home win

Fightin’ Phils by Richie Rosati 2008

Fightin Phils Anthem – Tone Love

Parading Down Broad Street

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Phillies Go Hard” by Jakk Frost

Others listed here.

Metro: A Yankees fan roaming Center City

yankees-in-philly-metro

I was paid by Metro to parade around a rainy Center City Philadelphia last Wednesday wearing a Yankees hat, ahead of their World Series matchup with the Phillies, who won that first battle.

Diane Allman took a second glance at the only piece of Yankees memorabilia for sale at the Moell’s at 16th and Chestnut streets, turning up her nose at the Derek Jeter shirt. [Source]

See how the clip appeared in print here, and check that Thursday New York edition, which ran the experience of a reporter who dressed as a Phillies fan in Manhattan.

It’s one of those experiences that remind you why freelance writing can be a sweet gig. Below some background and extras from the story.

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Metro Phillies World Series package: Fans in the wrong city and best bars

Second page of Philadelphia and New York editions of Metro on Oct. 28, 2009.
Second page of Philadelphia and New York editions of Metro on Oct. 28, 2009.

As I normally do for a story, last Monday I publicized on Twitter and Facebook and my instant-message status and through e-mail that I needed sources for a story for Metro, the free daily newspaper with editions in Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

Looking for Yankee fans living in Philly and Phillies fans living in NYC for a story. Who can help me out? [Source]

Just a few hours later, after wading through the responses, I had more than a dozen examples and more trickling in.

Last Wednesday, the day that the Phillies would win the first game of the World Series against the New York Yankees, I had a small package on the rivalry’s fandom, highlighted by small profiles of three fans in each city that cheered for the opposing team.

Like pictured above, see how the print version looked in Philadelphia and in New York. As always, below some background and extras that weren’t fit to print.

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SI.com: Smokin' Joe Frazier's feud with Muhammad Ali cools

sportsillustrated-joe-frazier

Boxing legend Joe Frazier is again the focus of a story of mine, though this time I’ve filed a Frazier piece for SportsIllustrated.com, likely the most recognizable brand in sports reporting for a half-century.

“Smokin'” Joe Frazier is still fighting.

The former heavyweight champion of the world is 65 now, and his mind isn’t nearly as quick as his fists once were. His days are often spent traveling for appearances, doing interviews and signing autographs. He maintains the same workout routine he had in his prime, and he still rises at 4 a.m., restless and beholden to a schedule he no longer has to keep. [Source]

Go read the full story, comment and then come back here for some of the backstory.

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Newspapers need to dominate local sports coverage

New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles in November 1960. (Photo by George Silk)

Everyone in this country, I figure, ought to be watching the again flourishing NFL rivalry between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants in today’s NFC divisional playoff contest.

So who would be scrolling the Internet? Still, this game made me think about how newspapers are losing ground for which they need to fight harder – local sports.

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Broad Street Run 2009: I'm joining, are you?

Runners near the Naval Yard finish of the 2007 Broad Street Run.
Runners near the Naval Yard finish of the 2007 Broad Street Run.

I never was a runner.

I played basketball in high school, something with which I’ve kept up a bit. I wasn’t a runner.

Still, I am – fairly early on – throwing my hat in on this year’s Broad Street Run, the busiest 10-mile run in the country, to be held this year on May 3, 2009. Who is with me?

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Why Can't Us?: I'm on the Phillies bandwagon

Why Cant Us?
Why Can't Us?

Tonight is game three of the American baseball World Series. The Philadelphia Phillies are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays one game to one in the best of seven game series.

But out of these playoffs, a rallying cry has been born. Too bad some are embarrassed by it.

It began as a caller’s remark just last Thursday.

In short order, a local sports blog and one of the nation’s leading sports blogs began singing its praises as a Phillies rally cry.

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Best sports cities in the country

Looking for the best city to cheer for the blue team over the red team?

Forbes magazine begged for attention as it often does with a new list. This gets personal, ranking 29 sports metro areas in the country by winning percentages and ticket prices compared to cost of living.

What do sports fans spend the most time grousing about? Above all else, it’s lousy teams or high ticket prices.

Woe is the fan forced to put up with both at once. Who wants to pay premium prices to sit in the stands and watch the losses mount? Fans in Miami know about that. Over the past year, the city’s four major sports teams–the Dolphins, Marlins, Heat and Panthers–have combined to win just 40% of their games while fans have forked over money for tickets and accouterments at the seventh-highest rate among 29 major sports metros.

As the Inquirer points out today, Philadelphia was neither among the 10 worst nor the three best – no others were ranked.

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