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Tackling Social Issues in Sports



It is with gratitude and respect that I begin this article, which will allow me to segue into the new role I will be doing for  The founder, Gregg Snyder, has provided me with several opportunities since I began writing for this site, and I am truly grateful for all of them.  So far I’ve met so many amazing people as I’ve participated in covering events in the roles I’ve been asked to take on, including interviewing some pretty amazing athletes, sports journalists, coaches, and folks in general who make their living in a way that involves sports.  I’ve had the opportunity to connect with Kelsey DiClaudio, the amazing young lady who is so brilliant on the ice.  I’ve also met Billie Jean King, and seen her grace the ‘Red Carpet’ as she walked proudly at the event I covered honoring so many amazing ‘Women in Sport.’  I’ve gotten to meet Joe Torre, and his wife Ali.  I also had the opportunity to interview Dr. Oz when he stood on a similar ‘Red Carpet’ at last year’s gala event for Joe Torre’s Charity that honored Andy Pettitte.  Along the way, I’ve also met David Cohn, Bernie Williams, John Franco, and most recently got introduced to the new head coach of the New York Jets, Todd Bowles as I covered an event honoring the NYPD, at Yankee Stadium.

As I’ve written for this site, I must admit it’s been hard not to root for the Yankees, when I see how they honor so many in sports, including New York’s Finest!!  I’m even starting to think I should root for the Jets to win their division, now that I’ve met the head coach, and he seems to be such a great guy.  How can I not root for them to do well?  Fact of the matter is that covering NY sporting events has caused me to connect to a city I love in a way I never had before, and it’s just hard not to develop a desire to see the local teams do well.   That’s not to say I’m giving up on my Tigers, or that I’m not still going to be sporting Cowboy boots while in Vegas all while I’m wearing ‘Silver and Black’ but I’m not going to be rooting against the New York teams.  Well, I mean except for the Giants.  It’s not like I’ve totally converted.  Not sure what I’ll do f I get asked to cover an event in Philly.  I’m going to be completely conflicted if I end up liking it there!  What’s a girl to do?

Before I started to write for DoubleGSports, I was writing mostly on my own blog, which was called ‘Very Sexy Sports’ and run by ‘FanVsFan.’  I was not educated in journalism, and I did not consider myself a good writer.  I was simply writing about what I was passionate about, and I had developed a following of people who appreciated my opinion, probably more so than my writing.   I had purchased the domain while working to market a fantasy sports initiative that ended up not coming to fruition, and I just thought the domain name itself was pretty awesome, so I wanted to make good use of it.  It was not supposed to be a blog about social issues in sports, or about profiling role models, but it sort of morphed into that, and I believe I made good use of it, and marketed it effectively, in a manner that allowed me to stay true to myself in the process. Although the title of my former blog site included the words ‘Very Sexy’ I used that blog to allow me to write about social issues in sports and incorporated a theme of how I felt that what made someone ‘Very Sexy’ had more to do with being a role model.  I did my best to focus on core inner beauty as opposed to external superficiality.  I wrote about Brian Cuban’s passion to conquer Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and shared about my own struggles with similar issues.   The success of my ‘Very Sexy’ blog was written about in a popular men’s magazine, as were stories involving my amazing reach using social media marketing to share about issues that mattered to me.  I now have a sports blog that is featured on a national radio program.  I have also been offered my own column by a publisher of a popular men’s mag, which might end up being called, ‘Very Sexy Sports.’

So what’s all this got to do with what’s happening now?  As I said earlier when the founder of reached out to me and said he wanted me to consider writing for his site, he simply said he wanted me to write, and my role at DoubleGSports, was a bit unclear.  I had been used to covering Vegas, and had worked with a sports show in Vegas.  I was not looking to cover New York teams, and so I was asked to cover events.    When I accepted the offer, I never imagined I would be given so many awesome opportunities or meet so many amazing people.  I mean I got to meet Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and I’ve covered a NASCAR event.  A year ago, who would have ever imagined I’d be doing that?  Certainly not me, as I know very little about NASCAR, and I just never expected to be invited to cover any of these amazing events.  It’s truly been an honor, to write for this site.

As amazing as it was for me to have all of these opportunities to cover these events, something was happening that was not sitting right.  I seemed to be focusing so much of my time on writing but felt I was a bit lost, as I took on so many things.  I started to forget about the work I was doing on my own blog, which had always intended to cover social issues in sports, focus on sports law, and allow me to write my opinion on various social issues.  Social issues are very important to me.   Victimization, in particular matters to me a great deal.  Things like campus rape, brain trauma and the concussion issues in sports, rage associated with steroid usage, domestic violence and how brain trauma might be an overlooked variable, sports betting vs. fantasy sports and the issues of legalities of same, employment practices liability, and whether or not student athletes who get scholarships should be paid for their privilege of playing college ball are all so interesting, and important.  Should Caitlin Jenner be the one to receive the Arthur Ashe Award, and why or why not, are things that I view not only from a moral perspective, but also from a legal one.

When I met Dr. Oz at Joe Torre’s charity event, the last thing he said to me was, “Do something with that criminal justice degree.”  So what am I doing?  Those words would play over and over again in my head.  This past month when I spoke with Gil Harrington, the mother of a young lady who was killed, about how Chad Ricker is racing in her daughter’s honor, I was reminded again of Dr. Oz’s advice, or was I seeing it as something more than advice.  “Do something with that criminal justice degree,” he had said.  His words kept playing over and over in my mind.  I kept asking myself, how is writing about football allowing me to do something with my degree, and where how did I get so lost?  It just seemed that I was interviewing everyone else about their stories, and my desire to focus on social issues had taken a back seat.  My interviewing everyone else had caused me to take a backseat in my own life.  I was so focused on everyone else’s amazing achievements, and sharing about them, that I had forgotten to focus on my own.

Everything just became clouded, and as I did my best to make sense of the various projects I was involved in I realized people were right I truly was ‘all over the place.’  How had I let this happen?  How did I become invisible in my own life?  Why had I stopped focusing on my own site, and stop writing about the things that mattered to me, to focus on the things that mattered to others?  Of course I know why I am doing what I’m doing, and I know the logical steps that got me to be where I’m at, but I also know that along the way I’ve gotten off track.  Lately I seem to be so focused on sharing others people’s stories, that I’ve forgotten I’m the person in charge of my own.  I’ve been writing about NASCAR, horse racing, and interviewing others about their amazing sports law blogs, that I’ve let go of my own.

Besides being focused on writing about anything and everything for everyone, I’ve also been working to utilize one of the domains I purchased to market fantasy sports and develop an amazing contest in Vegas.  This contest would involve my domain, and I would use the hashtag #SNF to market it.  So as you can see, I have a lot on my plate.  The time had come for me to evaluate my life, and look at where I’m at, and question what I want to do, and which direction I should take.

After speaking with Gregg Snyder at length, and sharing that I needed to let something’s go, I thought I might have to give up my writing for this site.  I did not want to but knowing I will always be most passionate about the law, and public policy caused me to think that I should look for opportunities where I could do that, and /or go back to writing on my own blog. Issues like why the NFL is a non-profit league, and why Roger Goodell is seen as a plantation owner, interest me and I want to not only write about, but also do something about those things.

Not only was I a bit ‘all over the place’ here at DoubleGSports, but also I was [and still am] all over the place elsewhere.  Something had to be done, by me to correct this, and I decided I needed to get back to the basics.  I did not want to leave my post here at DoubleGSports, because I love doing a weekly column that focuses on what’s been trending over the weekend, and I also like covering events. However, after speaking with Gregg, he agreed that I might have spread myself too thin, only rather than see me leave, he suggested I shift my focus to writing about what I’m passionate about, and continue to write my weekly column.  The weekly column often includes topics that involve social issues, and it makes sense to focus on what’s trending in sports, and then hone in on the legal and social issues that I’m truly passionate about throughout the week.   It is a privilege to be having him looks forward to my contribution as a ‘Sports Law Analyst’ here at DoubleGSports.

So I have been offered an opportunity to write in a role that will now allow me to focus on what I know, what I went to school for, and what I’m passionate about.  I will still be doing my ‘Monday Morning Michelle’ column, and I will also continue to do interviews for the other publications I am affiliated with, but my focus will return to the issues I’m most passionate about, and those involve misuse of power, the law, and how sports is intertwined.  I will write about issues involving stories like those we now associate Greg Hardy, Dez Bryant, Hope Solo, Ray Rice, Darren Sharper, Pete Rose, Alex Rodriquez, and Javon Belcher with and I will look to incorporate my experience and education in a way that I believe will provide a very effective form of writing.  I am not only educated in the law, having completed my core curriculum for a PhD in Public Policy Administration/Law, but I have an undergraduate and graduate degree, both in criminal justice.  I graduated Summa Cum Laude and had a 4.0 GPA in my undergrad, and I managed to keep a 3.98 while at Boston University.  My PhD work also had me at a 4.0 until something devastating happened to cause me to go off course which included recovery after a devastating hurricane that hit the State of New Jersey in 2012.  Being a block from the beach during Hurricane Sandy, and living to tell about it is something I will never let go of and it has caused me to connect with my home state in a way that is what I would describe as fusion.   I suppose just like I’ve developed an affinity for the local teams, I’ve also developed an appreciation for my home state in a way that I never had before I lost access to my home for so many months.

Losing so much as a result of the residual affects of Hurricane Sandy did have positives.  Like with most tragedies or horrific catastrophic events, there are silver linings.  For me, being able to be in Vegas again, and spend time out there is another priceless memory.  Soon after leaving the shelter, after the hurricane, I stood on the balcony of one of the amazing suites at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and just cried, thanking God for my life and the view before me.  If you’ve never been to the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, I highly recommend it.  It is absolutely amazing there.

After the hurricane I had to put my PhD on hold, and now I’m not sure if getting my doctorate is an as important as it once was.  I love what I’m doing and I don’t know if I’ll find the time or the money to continue my studies.  Not that I’m telling you anything you don’t already know, but it’s actually very expensive to pursue one’s education.  I never had anyone to help me with the expenses, and it’s just not likely that I’m going to be able to afford to go back.  Struggling financially, as a result of my choice to go back to continue my education could be the reason why I’m a bit miffed at why college athletes don’t seem to value their opportunity for education more.  It’s not that I am sharing about my education for any reason other than to share about what I’m educated in, but it is also so expensive and it just seems so many people take getting a scholarship for granted.  It’s as though student athletes don’t realize how blessed and dare I say, lucky they truly are to have so many golden opportunities.  Sure they work hard for scholarship opportunities, but I’d give my left arm for a scholarship at Duke, or USC so I just don’t get it.  I suppose it all comes down to our having different priorities, and that causes us to have different opinions.

My opinions will be a big part of my future works her at Double G Sports.   I will make it very clear; I am not [nor do I wish to ever be] a lawyer.  However, I am educated in the law, and have worked very hard to understand why laws are laws.  I have achieved a level of education that I would suggest is on par with lawyers, because I have completed all of my doctorate classes en route to my Doctorate of Philosophy in Public Policy Administration with a specialization in law. I’ve also completed my master’s degree in criminal justice at one of the finest institutions in the United States, and I’ve dissected and argued about several landmark Supreme Court cases.  At the risk of touting my own horn, I’d hold myself up to anyone when it comes to knowing how to argue the law, and how to dissect issues to see if they are within our Constitutional guidelines.  I may not have all the answers, but what’s so important is that I know sometimes there is no right answer.  I think we all tend to forget that.  Do you think fantasy sports involve luck?  Do you think sports betting can involve skill?  If so then why would fantasy sports be deemed legal, and sports betting illegal?  Let’s discuss it, because quite frankly it matters quite a bit, especially to the people of New Jersey.  No disrespect to Roger Goodell, but he has enough money to pay for his education if he wants to return to school, so I’m not sure he really cares about the people of New Jersey, or the financial economy in that state and I’d like to ask him to give my questions some thought, because I do.

As I continue to write for this site, I will respect that its founder is desirous of focusing on the Greater New York area, as well as, Pennsylvania.  My articles on this site, will involve regional stories and local teams but I will also focus on stories that will involve federal laws, and there will be times that my articles will cross paths to include what’s going on ‘Around the Nation’ and even ‘Around the World.’  Social issues in sports know no boundaries, and campus rapes at Florida State or Vandy are likely to have the same variables as campus rape at Penn State.  Speaking of campus rape at Vandy, did those young men get thirty-year sentences, while Darren Sharper got a 10-year sentence?  Is that fair?

My future focus of my writing here at this site will be in alignment with its founder’s goals of becoming the best regional sports media site in the Greater New York/PA area.  As I do my very best to focus on the issues happening in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and also touch on issues in general that will be ‘Around the Nation,’ I’m going to provide the facts as I know them to be, and my thoughts, that will be based on my years experience working within the courts in New Jersey, as a volunteer, as well as my years experience working as an employee of a public school system, also in the State of New Jersey.  I have worked as a mediator, a tutor in Drug Court, and have sat on a board that oversees child abuse cases like the one Adrian Peterson was involved in.  I have also been a greeter, and been very active in domestic violence issues.  I have seen guys come in for their court date with their hands shaking, with their wives by their side.  I know very well what Ray Rice faced when he was applying for Pre-trial Intervention, and I’m a huge supporter of this program.  In fact, I would take Ray Rice on my team, as well as Michael Vick, over several other players who seem to be in denial about their inability to control their rage.

In the future, I will seek be to tap into my knowledge that I acquired while being employed as a vice president/account executive for an international brokerage firm, [sadly, it was one of the ones where 300+ people died on 9-11] wherein I handled the risk management for several Fortune 500 companies.  Truth is, I’m not just someone who values ‘Very Sexy Sports’ but I’m very skilled and experienced at risk management.  I’ve underwritten directors and officers liability programs, specialized in employment practices liability programs, and consulted several high profile companies, and quasi-governmental agencies about how to identify and manage their risk.   I probably could and do educate others about the way insurance programs can play a key role in the concussion litigation, the Richie Incognito matter, etc., In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the NFL keeps close tabs on my Twitter Timeline, as I believe I gave some pretty good free advice on how to manage their concussion lawsuit.  No sooner did I provide some elements of statutory legal issues, did the case get settled.  Of course, it could be a coincidence but who knows, as stranger things have happened.

Keeping in mind that Boston University is the university where so many former NFL players are sending their brains after they die, I will leave you with this thought . . . What would we do without football?  My son was born into this world and suffered traumatic brain trauma, I left my career to care for him, and I studied violent behavior, and how brain trauma might impact his learning and his ability to be rational.  I have completed a threat assessment academy at Gavin de Becker’s program out in California, and as I said I would put my experience and education on par with anyone who has a passion to argue social issues in sports.

I look forward to sharing my opinions, and following the leagues to see what they ultimately decide to do about so many of the social issues they face.  Racism, gambling, domestic violence, campus rape are all among those I’ll look to examine, and report write about.  I will be doing so here at this site, as well as those publications I continue to write freelance for.

Thanks again, to all those who follow me on Twitter, for allowing me to share my thoughts on issues that matter so much to me, and thanks to Gregg Snyder, who founded this site for allowing me to be part of his awesome team of writers.  He doesn’t always agree with me, or understand why I write the way I do, but he allows me to do so.  For that, I am eternally grateful. I’ll be back in my role as the ‘Sports Law Analyst’ and will look forward to covering events, doing interviews, and sharing about what’s trending in my Monday column.  Thanks so much for taking a moment to read this article ~ Respectfully,



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Michelle has been a sports writer and analyst for many years. Now, as host of Neutral Court, sponsored by In The Zone, Michelle brings a new sports topic to the debate floor with each episode.

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