Most Interesting Mark


Standard Cuban expression at a Mavericks game.

Does anybody else find Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, to be among the most interesting figures in sports? He attends just about every Mavericks home game, and many on the road as well, sitting in the stands amongst every other fan. He usually wears a Dallas Mavericks t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes, and is always noticeable. He seems like the kind of guy who had everything handed to him his whole life, and is now blowing money like crazy, and making a scene while doing it. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Cuban was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., moved to Dallas, TX in 1982 where he was a bartender turned software salesman. After being let go less than a year in, he started his own company, MicroSolutions which he sold in 1990 for $6 million. Cuban then joined forces with a fellow Indiana University alumnus  and started Audionet. Eventually, Audionet became, which was later acquired by Yahoo! for $5.9 billion in Yahoo! stock (I would love to provide you with links to Audionet and but they all redirect to Yahoo! so you aren’t missing anything). 

Since then, Cuban has had his hand in everything from reality tv shows and movies to satellite radio and blogging. He truly is a self-made billionaire. 

Since becoming owner of the Mavericks in 2000, Cuban has been fined over $1,665,000 for 13 different on and off court actions. His propensity to criticize officials, fans and opposing players has earned him a questionable reputation.

In 2006, Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki had this to say about Cuban:

“He’s got to learn how to control himself as well as the players do. We can’t lose our temper all the time on the court or off the court, and I think he’s got to learn that, too. He’s got to improve in that area and not yell at the officials the whole game. I don’t think that helps us…. He sits right there by our bench. I think it’s a bit much. But we all told him this before. It’s nothing new. The game starts, and he’s already yelling at them. So he needs to know how to control himself a little.”

What many people don’t see or understand about Cuban is what he does when cameras aren’t rolling. For every dollar he has been fined by the NBA, he matches it with an equal donation to a charitable cause. In a nationally publicized incident he criticized the league’s manager of officials, Ed T. Rush, saying he “wouldn’t be able to manage a Dairy Queen.” When DQ management took offense, Cuban worked for a day at a Dairy Queen in Texas. 

The most recent incident with Mark Cuban involved him approaching Kenyon Martin’s mom in the stands at a Mavericks/Nuggets playoff game and saying, “Your son is a punk.” Obviously tempers flared, Cuban was immediately regretful and issued an apology on his blog to the Martin family. 

This incident spurred my interest in Cuban. Anybody who watches the NBA knows about Cuban. Most people think he is loud and arrogant, but not many people know the nitty gritty about him and it tends to lead to a grand misunderstanding. In reality, Cuban could be perceived a great ambassador for the game, although sometimes a PR nightmare. Even when he does do things that the public greatly criticizes him for, he makes up for it in his own way, behind closed doors. He doesn’t intentionally draw attention to himself, he genuinely cares about his team, his fans, and the sport of basketball. I think it’s great that while most team owners are passive observers, Cuban is passionate about his team. He stands up for his players and coaches, shows loyal support by attending the majority of their games, and continues to build his investment portfolios off the court.

The man is truly a controversial genius.


But I Don’t Wanna Grow Up!

No, this is not me

No, this is not me

When asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” most little boys have three standard responses:

1) A police officer

2) A fireman

3) A baseball player

As they get older, most kids find other interests and realize that Major League Baseball is probably not in their future. I was not one of those kids. I was 17 years olds and still convinced that me and Kenny Lofton would be sharing the outfield at Jacob’s Field one day.

Turns out I was wrong. Apparently being a 6’2″, 150 lb senior in high school isn’t exactly what the scouts are looking for.


So, like everybody else, I graduated from high school and had to pick a “real” career.


I eventually decide to pursue a career in public relations, with every intent of working for a sports team. Like most people in the world, I couldn’t tell you what public relations did or meant, or how I could apply it to sports, but it sounded fun.

Five years later, I think I finally get it.

Before I explain my revelation, you have to understand my obsession with sports. I watch the 6 a.m., 6 p.m., and 11 p.m. episodes of Sportscenter every day. I have read every single Bill Simmons and Rick Reilly article since the summer of 2004. I love everything about competition, from the perils of training to the thrill of victory. I can rationalize and appreciate just about any form of competition there is…

…Except for horse racing.

I don’t get it. People actually watch this garbage? A little dude rides around a muddy track on an enormous horse for two minutes, and this is exciting? Excuse me? Am I the only person who is completely baffled by this? Am I the only person who was thoroughly annoyed this weekend because ESPN was dominated by the Kentucky Derby? Am I crazy? Here is what’s wrong with the Kentucky Derby:

The Horse Names

Growing up, a lot of my friends had pets, and those pets had “normal” names like “Buddy”, “Nick”, “Scooter” ,”Fluffy”, and “Captain.” You know, standard, one-word nouns that your pet could learn and respond to. My uncle had a Golden Retriever named Nick. Nick new his name, and Nick would respond when he was called.

Well, apparently, the bigger the animal, the bigger and more ridiculous its name has to be. Oh, and they can be entire sentences! This years Derby winner’s name was ” Mine That Bird”, followed by “Pioneerof the Nile” and “Musket Man” Could you image every time you wanted to call your dog inside you had to yell, “HEY! Pioneerof the Nile, get over here!?” Ridiculous. 

The Stupid Hats

Apparently this "outfit" won an award...

Apparently this "outfit" won an award...













Enough said. 

The Cost of the Horse

Some of these race horses are sold for tens of thousands of dollars. You are telling me that there are animals out there that are worth more money than my car? Some snobby millionaire is willing to pay $40,000 for a horse that he will never ride, never actually take care of himself, never develop a relationship with and probably won’t live more than a decade? You have got to be kidding me.

The Competition

So now we have a stadium full of snobby millionaires wearing goofy looking hats, cheering for the horse(s) they own, but they are so far removed from their “investment” that they probably couldn’t pick it out of a line up. Thrilling. The race begins. Everybody cheers. Two minutes pass. It’s over. 

Lets pretend that I pay my horse $40,000 per race. The race lasts two minutes. That equates to an hourly rate of $1.2 million. Well worth the money… 

Say my horse wins. Who gets the prize money? The horse? He did the actual work to win the race. The trainer? He put in the hard work and dedication get the horse into shape. The jockey I paid $11/hr to ride my horse? He guided my horse to victory. No. I get the money. I can chose to do with it as I please, but I get the money…and I did nothing but write a big ass check to some breader in Oklahoma. Fantastic “sport.” 

My Epiphany 

So now we are back to my revelation. In my opinion, the Kentucky Derby is the single greatest sporting achievement in the history of the public relations and marketing fields. You cannot tell me that these millionaires actually give a damn about some mammoth horse, or the mini person riding it. But I bet those millionaires are treated like gold. I bet they feel like they are much more important than they really are. I bet Churchill Downs puts on a quite a show for these people. 

The Kentucky Derby is marketed as an experience. By attending, you are considered among the elite, you are treated like royalty and encouraged to relax and enjoy the races. It really is amazing. The public relations work that goes into an event like this is astounding. The marketing is brilliant. The prestige is unmatched. The competition … an after thought. 

Five years ago, if you were to tell me that the Kentucky Derby is merely public relations at its finest, I would have introduced you to running water. Today I can accept the fact that I am not going to play Major League Baseball because I can appreciate the affect a public relations practitioner can have on a sporting event, and I can’t wait to have my hand in it.

Too Much Time Tinkering with Twitter

I sat down with the intention of writing a blog about Shaq tweeting during half time. I know this is old news, but now that Twitter has officially arrived as a social media power, I thought it would  be fun to debate whether athletes should or shouldn’t be tweeting during games.

If you have ever blogged before, you know that in order to make your post a little more interesting you want to post links to other sites with more information, use pictures and videos to support your ideas etc.. I typed “Shaq + Twitter” into my google search bar and started going through some of the links that came up.  Approximately 738,000 pages were found, and the very first one was a link to Shaq’s twitter page

All I wanted to do was get some “Shaq-tastic” quotes, maybe post a pic or two of Shaq, then explain to everyone why professional athletes tweeting is such a interesting idea. Then I got what I like to call, “Bill Sledzik’d.” 

Before I knew it, I was watching videos of Shaq-quote’s,

and Shaq-rap’s,  

and Shaq-dunk’s.

Next I was reading articles about Shaq-tweet’s, and checking out who Shaq is following on twitter and who those people are following. Then I found some musicians that I listen to, like Common, so I start reading his blog. Next thing I know, four hours have passed, I am following 40 celebrities on Twitter, and have not accomplished a single thing. Yet I allowed over 50 people to communicate with me, whether they wanted to or not. 

Brooke Burke “told me” what her and her family did for Easter. 

Common “told me” about his blog. 

Tony Hawk “told me” that he found a DMSR (whatever the hell that is).

The most intriguing find of the night was Paul Pierce on twitter. Pierce doesn’t only tweet about what he had for dinner, or who the Celtics are playing next, but he uses it to promote charities that he supports and organizations that need donations. He also uses it to promote ticket sales for upcoming games and let his followers know where his next appearance is going to be. 

I find it very refreshing that there are people using these social media tools to have a positive impact on the community around them, not just to inflate their ego or promote their vanity, and I am sure there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who don’t care about any of this and think Twitter is a complete waste of time.  Those same people probably think the last four hours of my life, along with the last ten minutes of their lives that were spent reading my blog was a waste of time.

Those are also the same people who are missing out on the tangents in life that can be so interesting and enlightening, even though we should stay “on task.” 

Four hours ago, I was among the group who thought Twitter was a waste of time. I thought I understood it, I thought it had no real value other than being a time waster, and I thought athletes tweeting during games was an ok idea, but they should probably be focusing on the game. 

After four hours of “wasting time” I think I can say with some confidence that Twitter might not be such a bad idea after all. Why not have Shaq tweeting during games? Maybe more people will tune in to because they feel like they have a more personal relationship with Shaq. Maybe the audience that feels like they are too far removed from the sports world to care about it will be rejuvenated by the new level of interaction with the athletes. Or maybe people think players won’t be as focused on the game as they should be and lose respect for the game. 

I think that over the years it has been proven that fans love to be involved. If Twitter helps a person feel move involved with their favorite team or athlete, then tweet away Shaq. If your tweets put only one more body in the stands, you can call it a success, and if it doesn’t, who cares? You can’t lose anything by trying. 

I am starting to love this whole social media (err.. wasting time) thing. Having athletes get in on it only makes it that much more fun.

Facebook Firing

“Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver. . .Dam Eagles R Retarted!!”

Dan Leone is a former employee of the Eagles that posted a negative view of the Eagle's not resigning Brian Dawkins on his Facebook page.

Dan Leone is a former employee of the Eagles that posted a negative view of the Eagle's not resigning Brian Dawkins on his Facebook page.

That was Dan Leone’s Facebook status after finding out his favorite team and employer, the Philadelphia Eagles, had not re-signed defensive back Brian Dawkins. 

Hours later, Dan was unemployed.

When I first heard this, I couldn’t believe it. The Eagles are really going to fire someone over their Facebook status? Give me a break. But then I thought about it from a different perspective. If I went into my boss’ office, told him I didn’t like what he was doing, then called him a retard, I’m fairly confident that would end my tenure with that company. 

So why do so many Americans think Dan Leone is being treated unfairly

I don’t have an answer for that, but I do understand why Leone is no longer employed. 

In the culture we live in today, social media networks play an enormous role in our decision making process. If I am running a business, I can’t have my employees talking about how “retarded” I am and how he doesn’t agree with what I am doing. It shows a lack of unification, instability and creates a bad PR image with the public. 

I’m sure Dan Leone meant no real harm in posting his Facebook status, and he has apologized over and over for his actions, but I think Mr. Leone needs to realize when he has made a career ending mistake and stop complaining about his unemployment status. 

For the full details on his Dan’s firing, check out this interview on

Dan, my suggestion to you is to stop bad mouthing your “favorite” team, own up to the fact that you committed career suicide (if you want to call working the gate at Lincoln Financial Field a career) and keep your Facebook status to things like, “Dan is at the grocery store,” or, “Dan is looking for a job.”

PRison Release

michael_vickIn 2001, the Atlanta Falcons made history by selecting Michael Vick as the number one overall pick in the NFL draft. The first African American quarterback to do so. He was the most electrifying player the league had ever seen. In his first five seasons, Vick set numerous records, including the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season (1,039 in 2006), highest average per carry in a single season (8.45 in 2006), 100-yard career rushing games by a quarterback (eight), best two-game rushing total (225 in 2004) and rushing yards in a single game (173 in 2002).

 To the fans in Atlanta, Vick was a savior. He was now the face of their franchise and was poised to take them to the Super Bowl for the first time in the team’s history.

Unfortunately, Vick’s legal troubles and bad PR began a tailspin that would ultimately land Atlanta’s savior bankrupt, and in prison.

After Vick’s indictment, his family, friends, teammates, sponsors, the NFL and the city of Atlanta were under fire for “supporting” a soon-to-be felon. All of these entities said exactly what the public wanted to hear (good PR). 

“We are disappointed that Michael Vick has put himself in a position where a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against him,” the NFL said in a written statement. “We will continue to closely monitor developments in this case, and to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. The activities alleged are cruel, degrading and illegal. Michael Vick’s guilt has not yet been proven, and we believe that all concerned should allow the legal process to determine the facts.”

Eventually the lies caught up to Vick and the verdict was in. The most electrifying athlete in sports will be making 12 cents an hour for the next 23 months, in a federal prison, performing manual labor tasks. 

Animal rights organizations were calling for his head, sponsors dropped him, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.

Now it is time for Vick to start cleaning up his mess. Arguably the most daunting public relations task there is; Rebuilding relationships. Once a player breaks the trust he or she has established with the public, it is nearly impossible to regain it, but if Vick ever wants to play football again, he’s going to have to try. 

Vick has now served 19 of the 23 months he was sentenced, and will be allowed to serve the last two months of his sentence under home confinement.

When Vick is released in July, will any teams be interested in signing him? here is what’s, Michael Smith, has to say.

If you were the owner of an NFL team, would you want Vick on your team? Sure, he is a premier athlete (assuming he has stayed in “football” shape while in prison), and he could probably help your team win a few games, but is it worth the PR nightmare that would surely follow? 

Many people are going to argue that Vick has paid his debt to society and that he deserves a second chance. Others think that what he did is inexcusable and he should not be allowed to play in the NFL ever again. 

So the question is, what is a better PR move for your organization? Do you let Vick prove he has changed, give him a second chance and see what happens? Or do you not want your organization linked to a convicted felon? 

These are the questions that team owners are going to have to answer if/when NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, reinstates Michael Vick into the league, and you can be assured that the decision the owners make (whether for or against Vick) will be met by an uproar from the media, niche organizations and fans.




I am Sick and Tired of Hearing About Steroids


Major League Baseball has always been thought of as America’s past-time, but throughout the 90’s, the popularity of Major League Baseball was dwindling. Attendance gradually declined from 1990 through 1997 and team memorabilia sales were dropping at an alarming rate. Then something happened. Two players put the league on their backs and baseball was saved. 

In 1999 Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa took the baseball world on a magic carpet ride from city to city, crushing home runs in every ballpark they went to. If the Cubs or Cardinals were coming to your town, “fans” came out of the woodwork to go see history in the making. Ticket sales skyrocketed and jerseys flew out of the team shops faster than Sammy Sosa could spring out to his position in right field. By the end of the season McGwire and Sosa hit 65 and 63 home runs respectively, both eclipsing Hank Aarons all-time home run record. Again, baseball was saved. 


Now, this is all old news. If you weren’t caught up in the hype of the 1999 MLB season, you didn’t have a pulse. It was exhilarating. Every night you flipped on Sportscenter to see if/how many home runs Mark and Sammy hit. The next day at work the water cooler conversation was some version of, “Did you see how far that ball went that McGwire hit?” It was magical. 

Fast forward seven years and Major League Baseball is in the middle of a steroids controversy, and guess who two of the first ‘victims’ were? That’s right, McGwire and Sosa. MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig, hired former Senate Majority Leader, federal prosecuter and ex-chairmen of The Walt Disney Company, George Mitchell, to investigate the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. 


Mark McGwire testifying before Congress

I am not going to get into the details of what has happened since then because, unless you have not had access to a single media outlet in the last 3 years, you know exactly what has transpired, and quite frankly, I am sick of hearing about it. So why I am writing about this? To shed some light on a different point of view.

Do fans really care that their favorite player is/was taking steroids? Check out this blog, and read the comments at the bottom. That is how I view the issue, and how I assume most others do as well. There is evidence to support the other side of the argument as well, that fans do care about what their favorite athletes put into their bodies, but I raise the question again, how much do they really care. As long as baseballs are flying out of ballparks, fans are buying tickets (thus supporting the product put out on the field) and jerseys are finding their way to kids closets, is there an issue with steroids? Or are we just running out of things to talk about? 

I am not going to attempt to answer the question. I want you to think about it and form your own opinion. Leave me a comment, change my opinion, get your point across, but I am going to leave you with this: 

The United States is in the middle of the biggest economic downfall since the Great Depression. Bank executives are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lavish business trips and office decorations while their employees are literally losing their life savings. Bud Selig made $14.5 million last year (but did pay his employees more than most other sports leagues) and now has Congress handling his dirty work. From a public relations/marketing perspective, sure, Bud is trying to ‘do the right thing’ by cleaning up baseball and leveling the playing field, but do we really need Congress to do that? Don’t you think our government has bigger fish to fry right now than whether or not A-Rod took steroids six or seven years ago? Shouldn’t the politicians and shady business men who have put our country into a recession be dominating the headlines? 

… maybe people really do care about steroids after all …