The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games came to a close last Sunday night and the torch was passed to Sochi, Russia, where they will be held in 2014. For 17 days, the world watched as Olympians competed on a global stage and once again, sport did not disappoint and we were left with many memorable moments, including a Gold medal hockey thriller for the ages between the United States and Canada!
It’s amazing how sport (especially Olympic competition) has the ability to capture every possible human emotion, find victory even in defeat, and showcase triumph over adversity of all kinds. It’s the reason why sports films still work today, people still find inspiration through an athlete’s or team’s triumph, and companies pay big bucks for athletes to speak to their employees and pitch their products.
The story of athletes overcoming the improbable to achieve the seemingly impossible is one that never gets old. These are the stories that inspire and you can’t script this. They provide fuel for the metaphorical references we use throughout our personal and professional lives. They have the ability to lift us up when we’re down, put things into perspective in times of tragedy, remind us of what we can accomplish in the face of adversity, and most importantly, allow us to put our differences aside for a moment to appreciate the significance of human beings rising to the occasion to accomplish superhuman feats. You don’t have to be an athlete or a fan of sport to appreciate that. For anyone who has ever had to surpass expectations, battle injury, fight through tragedy, overcome the loss of loved one, or do the unimaginable in the face of great challenge; sport underscores the strength of the human spirit and the will to persevere.
There are many reasons why I decided to work in this field. Yes, I have an immense passion for sport. I have spent my life in and around it. And yes, it can be a lot of fun. But at the end of the day, it is because along with my team at Comment Communications, we can make a difference in helping athletes tell their stories. We help build their images and safeguard their reputations. We teach them how to properly work with media. We help them transition into the broadcast booth when they retire. Why? Because we understand athletes in our society are role models and can have a tremendous impact on the lives of others – if they do it right. Whether you agree with the statement or not, our kids look up to them, companies pay them to endorse and pitch their products, and fans pay to see them and tune in to watch them. Their influence is huge and it must not be taken lightly.
Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working and playing on the world’s biggest stages. And since starting our sports and entertainment PR practice, Comment Communications, we have had the honor of working with Olympians past and present. Having the up close and personal perspective to see who these individuals are as human beings and being entrusted to help strategically build their profiles and safeguard their reputations, is not something we take lightly. We have an immense amount of pride and respect in what we do and whom we do it for, and believe wholeheartedly that the results we produce for our clients illustrates that completely.
Whether we’re telling the world about the incredible efforts of athletes like Cullen Jones and the team at USA Swimming and what they are doing to prevent drowning in our nation’s African American and Hispanic communities through the “Make a Splash” initiative; the work Brendan Hansen has done with the Leukemia Research Foundation; or the great things Jackie Joyner-Kersee is doing in her community; there is nothing better than building successful PR campaigns for our athletes. They can make a difference. They can inspire and change lives.
So the next time you find yourself quick to criticize the public mistakes of athletes celebrating victory in ways that may not be appropriate or saying the wrong thing when they are fresh off the field of play and engrossed in emotion after a loss, stop for just a moment. And when you read about or see the next story detailing the exploits of “Athletes Gone Wild,” take a moment and remember for every one that screws up and the media choose to focus on, there are HUNDREDS of athletes who have chosen to use their celebrated position in society to bring attention to causes that benefit others.