A Renovated Australian Open

31 01 2012

I realize that tennis’ Australian Open ended this past weekend, but I want to address the renovated complex at which the world’s best players participated. Kansas City-based Populous, a renowned sports architecture firm, helped lead the charge – in concert with COX Architects – on the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Redevelopment.

The AUD$363M project added several new features – a 16,000-seat center court, a 6,000-seat court with a  retractable roof, and a facilities building for Tennis Australia, among other structures. New landscaping features and public squares were created to promote outdoor circulation. I have a slew of renderings of the redesign that I would like to share. I’m not writing a story on this project, so I don’t have very many notable details. But this project sure does look outstanding.



No Tuesday Quotes of the Week

1 11 2011

I had family in town last week and was all over the place during the weekend. Therefore, I didn’t give myself the time to search for quotes. It’ll be back next week.

BMW Helps Olympic Athletes Train

24 10 2011

I dare you to remember a time when an automotive company helped athletes get better at their jobs. There may actually be several examples of this; the one I found connects BMW and USA Track & Field. I was approached by a PR firm about a BMW-developed technology that they were testing with USATF.

It took me awhile to understand how the tech worked and why it could benefit athletes. Very simply, anything that gives athletes a quicker method of evaluating their performance will help. So long as it is sensible tech. This BMW dual camera system I detailed for Wired.com’s Playbook seems as though it would be right up the alley of an athlete, specifically one training for the Olympics.

Click the link below to read the story.

US Track and Field and BMW Join for Olympic Push

Landscape design meets sports

31 08 2011

As I enter Hour 5 of watching this Tuesday night Yankees-Red Sox game…

I’ve finally found a way to make use of my undergraduate degree in Landscape Design. It took a career switch from that field to sports journalism to do it, but I’ve been writing for Landscape Architecture Magazine since January.

I had been an avid reader of the magazine while I attended Montana State University. Once I moved here and began writing about sports, I thought I could – should – leverage my interest in sports to write about sports-related news for LAM. There are plenty of ways in which the landscaping industry relates to the sports world. LAM agreed to have me write for its NOW section, which is comprised of 400-600 word news stories on the industry.

My first story for LAM documented a cold-tolerant form of Bermuda grass that’s used in football and baseball stadiums in the upper Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions. A second story traced how a heated Auburn-Alabama football rivalry led to the poisoning of Auburn’s sacred Toomer’s Oaks, and what Auburn University was doing to try to save them. A third piece showed how New York City’s Parks and Recreation Department built a cricket field at a park in Queens. The sport is growing in the city, so Parks & Rec has added new fields throughout most of the boroughs.

I have two more stories coming up – one in the September issue and another in October. Each is unrelated to sports, which is fine. Writing is writing, no matter the topic. I am comfortable covering subjects which reach beyond the sports world. I’m happy to do it. There are plenty of non-sports topics which interest me, and LAM is giving me an outlet to cover them. Feel free to check out my articles for the magazine by clicking on the ‘LAM’ tab above and to the right.

Twitterers have to be more efficient

4 04 2011

I love Twitter for three reasons: 1) I can customize my news by following sports writers, news agencies and experts in various industries, 2) I can market the hell out of myself and my published stories and 3) it’s the ultimate networking tool.

There’s one glaring reason why I can’t stand Twitter at times: people who provide annoying, useless and, at times, vain tweets. In general, I don’t care if someone got four hours sleep and now has to chug extra coffee to wake up. There’s little value in my knowing that someone is on a great vacation at an exotic beach (unless they tell me something historical or real interesting about the place they’re visiting). And I really couldn’t care less about how many bad jokes someone has for the weather or an NBA player’s hairdo or any other subject on which they feel like they can riff.

Now, it’s not as if every tweet I write is applicable to all my followers. I’m sure I’ve written plenty of notes that many people following me felt like they didn’t need to know. But I’ve taken a conscientious effort to make my Twitter feed valuable. People want good information; I can deliver that through information I learn for the various stories I write. Too many people on Twitter write wasteful messages. It’s like they want to see their name on the Twitter feed, rather than understanding what their followers might want from them. It’s like a bad color commentator who talks too much without teaching anything to the viewer.

There’s not much to be done about dealing with annoying Twitterers, other than un-following them. The problem with that is if you follow through on that, sometimes that person will un-follow you in turn; many times it’s important to keep that Twitter relationship alive in case you might need something from that person down the road. So, you have to put up with the useless stuff they tweet about, hoping you miss their worst messages when you’re not scanning Twitter. That’s part of the give-and-pull on Twitter. It’s a great tool for news, marketing and networking, but it’s easy for people to use it inappropriately.

How Not To Write

7 02 2011

It’s not every day that I am so bothered about someone else’s written work that I feel the need to complain about it on here. I hope this doesn’t come off as arrogant, as if I know everything about journalism. It should go without saying that isn’t the case — there is more for me to learn about journalism than I realize. Yet there are a couple things which I feel writers lack, and that goes for many people in our society, in general. Dignity, responsibility and pride are qualities I admire in others. Those characteristics flow through in some written work. It’s also quite easy to spot when it’s not there, when those qualities are set aside just to gain attention.

You may or may not have read Esquire’s Chris Jones comment recently on Jason Whitlock. He took Whitlock to task for his style of writing and “reporting” as well as the yearning from up-and-coming writers to make noise just for the sake of doing so. If you haven’t seen it, the link to it is here. Then there’s the post which inspired this late-night jabbing session.

A sportswriter friend of mine, Susan Shan, invited a guest blogger to her website. D’Brickataw Purgaton, who runs the blog Fire John Clayton (the website touts its title is inspired from the sports world’s need for a scapegoat) wrote an introductory post about why Clayton, an ESPN writer who’s inducted into the writer’s wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, should be fired. Purgaton’s initial post stems from his annoyance at Clayton writing about why a couple NFL head coaches were wrong this past season for deferring their kickoffs after winning the pregame coin toss.

I don’t endorse people writing about why others should be fired, unless that intended target has done something illegal or morally reprehensible. Clayton isn’t guilty of anything like that; Purgaton just seems to not like his writing or information he puts on his blog. I’m not going to get on my high-horse and state writers are exempt from criticism. They’re certainly aren’t, and they deserve to be called out when they make mistakes. Yet the feeling I had from Purgaton’s post was someone in need for attention.

If somebody wants to write that another person should be fired, then that’s obviously that person’s own prerogative. And just because I disagree with what someone writes, that obviously doesn’t mean the writer’s post is wrong or unjust. As a writer, I’ve learned very quickly that it’s impossible to please everyone. There will always be someone who disagrees with something I have to say. But there’s a certain way to go about an inflammatory post.

What I read from Purgaton was someone who didn’t feel the need to thoughtfully support his points. There wasn’t a hell of a lot of supportive evidence to anything he wrote. He cut corners and cheated the readers out of information that could have further supported his point, or possibly countered what he had to say. From the looks of it, he was writing something to be mean-spirited and sarcastic, without much regard for giving the reader honest information. And the reason it’s pissed me off as much as it has is because Shan has a pretty good following. I don’t know the number of hits her website receives per day, but the Purgaton was allowed to post what he did bothers me.

I wrote an e-mail to him explaining most of what I’ve written here. I tried to be reasonable in my argument, although I didn’t hold back in the basic criticism I had for him and his post. I won’t go in detail into what I wrote, or what he wrote back to me. That’s between us. But if he was going to write that Clayton needs to be fired, as much as I disagree with it, I just wish he would’ve taken more care to support his argument. His readers deserve that.

The Post I Forgot To Post

2 02 2011

The entrance to the Greatest Place in the World.

Oh yeah, late blog post herrrree! I wrote a post last week complaining about the weather, which is fantastic given my propensity to bitch and moan about other people who do the same thing. Anyway, here it is, from last Wednesday…

I’ve tried to keep myself from writing about my travel experiences. Sometimes people get so wrapped up in thinking their life is  so wacky and unpredictable that they forget in many ways they’re just like everybody else. But I’ve noticed I can’t get enough of reading about others’ travels and adventures. Even my cynical ass has to admit each traveling experience is quite unique.

I had to travel to Mount Laurel, NJ earlier today to visit NFL Films. It’s for an upcoming story, and I was elated to be going there. What football fan wouldn’t want to see the facility that contains virtually every NFL game ever played? The problem with going to Mount Laurel is it’s in the middle of nowhere — in Jersey.

The route to get there from Manhattan was multi-layered (I like to use big words in my travel experiences): Take NJ Transit from New York Penn Station to Trenton, SEPTA from Trenton to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, then take NJ Transit again from Philly to Cherry Hill, NJ. Then I’d hop in a cab from Cherry Hill for the supposed short ride to Mount Laurel, and Films’ headquarters. The roundtrip cost of the trains — six rides in all — was $56. Not bad. Add maybe $10 per cab back and forth between Cherry Hill to Mount Laurel and it’s a reasonable yet slightly annoying cost.

So, I was taken aback to discover a cab ride — really a car service — was $40 (!!) between towns. It was ridiculous. Cherry Hill looked close to Mount Laurel on a map, and I was told it would be a 10-minute ride. Not so, as a few cab companies delivered the depressing news that I’d be paying the same fare for going from JFK or La Guardia airport into Manhattan. I paid the damn fee and got to Films, where I had a great experience. I had a half hour interview with Films president Steve Sabol, the son of Films founder Ed Sabol, in his office, and I left a happy writer — until I realized I’d be paying another $40 for the honor of getting back to Cherry Hill.

I get to the station, and by this time the wind is bustling and the wind chill is, well, chilly. Really chilly, and the train to Philly wasn’t anywhere in sight. (The Cherry Hill stop has only an outdoor platform with a few covered waiting areas.) Yet once the train arrived, I was so damn eager to board that I didn’t bother realizing the one I hopped on was going to Atlantic City. Only when it took off did it sink in. No worries, I thought; just get off at the next stop and reverse it.

Which I did, in a way. When I got off at the next stop, I asked a conductor if a Philly-bound train was arriving at that platform soon. She told me it wasn’t, but that I could catch the awaiting Philly-destined train on the top level of the station. Like an idiot, I ran up the stairs and got inside the train, without checking that it wasn’t an Amtrak, meaning it was traveling a different route to Philly. Rather than hit 30th Street Station, this train culminated at 16th St.

Already in Philly at least 30-40 minutes later than I should have been, I decided to walk to 30th St., just to take in that heralded Philly experience. Another problem. A second snowstorm was making its way, which meant it was just as windy as it is in New York City when walking near the Hudson or East River. Plus, the wind chill was definitely in the 10-15 degree range, and there was a headwind on the path to 30th St. — the entire f’ing way.

I had to walk four blocks north to reach Market St., which runs along Philly’s city center and feeds into the station. That resulted in a 20- to 25-minute walk in a cold, rainy headwind. My loafers — I wore LOAFERS — were soaked. My beanie was soaked. So was my jacket, my gloves and my pants from my shins down.

This is a really long-winded way of saying I paid $100, tips included, for two cab rides, took a train one stop the wrong way, hit Philadelphia on the wrong train line, then walked nearly a half-hour through Philly in cold, rainy, windy weather. Not the worst day, though. I’m gonna make sure I have a tequila on the rocks when I get home. T-SHIRT TIME!