Just you wait…

I listened to the soundtrack of Hamilton, pretty much on repeat, during a good chunk of the final writing and editing of Back in the Game. Jamming out to the hip-hop tale of a murder, the Revolutionary War, and that wacky English King probably doesn’t sound logical. But it worked, and the words went where they needed to go.

Back when I was listening to “My Shot”, I couldn’t allow myself to daydream about the wonderful moments to come, starting Sept. 1, 2016: holding the hardcover of the book in my hands – it was real; doing our first interviews, and seeing the book resonate with the public; our first book signing and meet/greet; talking to the first parent who thanked us for writing the book because it changed their child’s life….

As Lin-Manuel Miranda is fond of saying, “A bit of a day…” to describe amazing and overwhelming things.

Being an author isn’t easy. Getting your book noticed isn’t easy. Cutting above the noise of a Presidential Election like no other, a Presidency like no other, floods, terrorist attacks and the crazy swirl of the world isn’t easy.

I’ve gotten smarter all around – writing, editing, researching, being on the other side of the media and having reporters interview you, public speaking, marketing, and just learning how to be patient. You do your best, put it out in the world, and pray it works.

And I feel Back in the Game works. We’re the 2017 Clarion winner for best non-fiction, we’ve helped educate people about concussions, and most importantly, we did the very best we could with the very best intentions.

All good. So thanks. Thanks to everybody for their support. Friends, family, Oxford University Press, Craig our editor, co-workers at The Sports Neurology Clinic and Michigan State, and all the great book sellers and schools  who have hosted us!

 

 

To Berlin and back…

When you are a kid, you cannot wait for summer to start. The holy grail of vacation comes with countdowns, the easing up of school, and hopefully, the dreams of doing cool stuff with all the free time. Summer seems endless.

And then you grow up, BOO!, realizing that summer does not sadly last forever and God damn it, now you have to work. (Or a better rephrase, thank God I have a job, but oh how I wish I could be outside….)

I have been always so lucky that my “job” as a journalist has let me be outside, be traveling, be part of the world. If I was trapped in a cubicle, which has happened, I know my spirit would slowly die.  So been lucky to be able to jump on planes and see the world.

I just got back from Berlin, after speaking/presenting at the International Association for Conflict Management’s 30th anniversary conference. It was a great opportunity to mix with scholars and professionals in areas that I am not normally immersed in. And if this world needs anything…it’s people that understand conflict and how to fix it.  Discussing how the media works, fake news, social media and the acute need for news literacy was a wonderful challenge, as it pushed me to be more involved and evolved in my thinking about my field. Why do we do what we do? What are anonymous sources? Getting to explain media/journalism, and then take questions, from audience of end-users is hugely instructive. You see what they see, which may be different that what we meant. So thanks #IACM2017!

On more happy news, Back in the Game has been selected as the 2017 Clarion Award winner for best non-fiction book! We are so thrilled, excited and truly humbled by this honor from the Association for Women in Communications. Thanks so, so much!

News, lies and fake news

It’s a pretty wild time to be a journalist, heck, seems like wild times for all of us in this country these days. What I am learning – and seeing – in ways I didn’t before is the change in media literacy in our society.

I have people, in casual conversation, tell me about something outrageous they saw on TV or Facebook. “How can the media do that?” Or, “Reporters are terrible because…”

I go and find out what they are talking about and it is either A) straight up opinion or commentary (aka not journalism that is reported, fact-checked, etc.) or B) the garden variety fake news click-bait shit.

When I try to explain those nuances, to people I consider decently well-informed and capable of critical thinking…I get crickets.

Media is media is media. TMZ = New York Times = Joe the blogger = fake Twitter account = responsible journalist = responsible blogger.

Which is like saying fast food = home cooked meals from Mom = going to a 5-star restaurant.

Some of these things are truly not like the other.

But for some reason, the swamp is all the swamp. Media this and that.

As always, there are great journalists, mediocre ones, terrible ones who mean well, and straight up bustas. Like any profession.

Unfortunately, the stakes are always higher for us, because poor journalism can hurt people, start rumors, damage lives and institutions. And it can take down corruption, save lives, enlighten and be a force for good when done well by strong practitioners.

But the swamp has all of these journalistic creatures living in it these days, and I am getting tired of the poisonous snakes ruining it for all of us. I tell my students at Michigan State, who also see this and are getting concerned, that the only way we win the war of credibility is by witnessing and being the truth. No short-cuts, no trolling, no clickbait.

Hopefully they carry that with them into the real world, and the rest of the community will take a finer-tune on what they consume and judge it harder.

Life comes at you pretty fast…

Now seriously, can we take a moment to reflect on the sageness of Ferris Bueller? He was right in 1986. And he’s still right in 2017. (I am a bit relieved that Matthew Broderick, who is now 54, seems to look like he is 35, and not 16 – which he did for most of the last 30 years.) Anyways.

Still on the speaking/appearance path with Back In the Game, thanks to the continued demand. We’re thrilled about that, as it is not about us – it is about elevating the discussion about concussions and youth sports, and also helping parents and coaches be informed. We can clearly see the impact of those conversations and it is humbling. We are happy to be here as a resource. And we are also here to listen too – it is a confusing time for parents and coaches, who want to do the right thing for youth athletes. We want the same. (And if you would like to have us come to your association/school/etc. to speak, let me know.)

I’ve been shocked, and downright floored in recent weeks, first by the Association for Women in Communications – Detroit Chapter, and then by the College of Arts and Sciences at Michigan State. I am thankful to both groups for choosing to honor me for my work, and make a bigger promise: short acceptance speeches 🙂

 

 

Happy 2017!

I realize it’s a sign of me getting older, but time really does fly. Good times, bad times, boring times, all seem to fly faster and faster. Seems like it was just the start of 2016, and there was so much work ahead on various projects.

Now it’s 2017. And I can say the same thing, some for new projects, some for continuation of others.

The year 2016 was particularly a roller coaster ride, both from what was happening in the world, and life. I am choosing to focus on the good, remembering the time spent in Paris, Rome, Miami and with family and friends, the release of Back in the Game and all the amazing opportunities to learn and grow from it, and the chance to continue to have an impact with my writing. Getting to discuss concussions, youth sports, safety, science and medicine has been a joy, and I have truly appreciated every chance to be with the public. There is a thirst for responsible concussion information for youth athletes, and I am so heartened to see the global discussion swinging back to medically-grounded thoughts instead of solely emotion.

Wishing everybody the best in 2017!

There is more to come with Back in the Game, with several more appearances planned! Follow us on Twitter!

 

 

Being aware…but not educated

img_6330I can’t even summarize in 20,000 words all the things I have learned since the book launched 6 weeks ago. It’s been a powerful experience, getting to talk to so many different people about their impressions/experiences with concussions. One profound thing I have learned is how we are “concussion aware” as a society, aka we know the word…but getting into what a concussion looks, feels, and acts like is still very much lacking.

We’ve boiled things down in the media to: concussion = bad. Which is slightly true, as in you never would choose to have a brain injury. But the message that concussions heal, and you can fully recover if you get good treatment and take things seriously. Playing the “bump on the head” tack (cough, cough, looking at you Donald Trump), not wanting to reveal the injury for fear of stigma, or more simply, not knowing what to do or where to turn for good medical care, are all serious issues.

Going from “who cares?” 10-15 years ago to now people being worried enough to remove kids from sports is a radical change. I’m hopeful that Back in the Game, and the many others out there who care about their youth athletes, will swing the conversation back to a real place.

Back in the Game… is now in the game!

Yeah, I know. I little too cute and wordy for a headline. But it is true! Back in the Game is indeed alive and in the world. The book is available at all Barnes & Noble locations, as well as Amazon, Goodreads, and the independent booksellers I love so much. And if you don’t see the book, ask for it.

Thanks for the support! We appreciate it a lot!

Here’s what others are saying about the book:

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Learning and listening

IMG_6105I’ve been busy with some lovely opportunities to share knowledge, and more importantly, listen to what others think about concussion, sports and the media.

Speaking as part of a panel of journalists at the American Academy of Neurology’s Sports Concussion Conference provided an impact chance to hear from neurologists. Quick summary: many feel the media is doing so-so job in communicating medical information. They’re wondering why facts are wrong, studies misinterpreted, and news reports are too short. And their definition of media is everything: bloggers, tweeters, reporters, even athletes themselves who are interviewed. I believe very much in both sides of that free speech equation, professional media and citizen-driven media, as they have different roles to play in getting out information, thoughts and opinion. There are powerful journalists who are good at what they do, and there are bloggers/social media types who do great jobs too in serving the public. And yes, the other side is true too, there are incompetent journalists and non-professionals. It was good to hear from the neurology community about their perceptions, as it can help me think about being a better journalist and college professor.

The other side had their thoughts heard at the Association for Women in Sports Media‘s annual convention, where Dr. Kutcher presented on concussion/sports neurology for media, and we took some questions afterwards. The whole concept of privacy for famous athletes, as in…do we in the media have a right to know a player’s medical status/diagnosis?… is something the medical profession and journalists probably will not agree on. We seek information. The medical community is sworn to protect their patients. Having these debates, which are totally smart, friendly, and actually fun, helps both sides think about what the other is trying to do. They are important, because the media may need to think more about the impact on athletes as people, and the medical community may think why we are looking for that information.

 

 

The book life

Writing a book is a funny thing. While you are in process, it seems like the work will never end. Reporting, thinking, writing, ripping up what you wrote, reading it, changing it, editing it – over and over, chapter by chapter. In our case with Back in the Game, we’ve been thinking and working since early 2013 on this.

My co-author, Jeff Kutcher MD, and I were lucky, because we both knew what needed to be said, how it should be done. Concussions are a daily discussion in sports, with an array of information. Some is accurate, some is fantasy, some in the middle blurred.

So we’re looking forward to the world getting to see the book soon – as in the end of July for some…and starting the discussion about concussion and youth sports.

We hope to educate youth sports parents and coaches, and even reach teen athletes about concussion. Don’t live in fear of concussion – but also don’t be cavalier. It’s an injury to the brain, simply put. So of course we need to be careful. But telling kids not to play sports because of concussion fears is also a harmful situation.

 

🙂

 

Back in the Game is coming!

FInal_cover

Yep! That’s the book we’ve been working on for two years….and it’s almost here! Coming Sept. 1, from Oxford University Press, is “Back in the Game” by Dr. Jeff Kutcher and myself. It’s aimed at the millions of parents, coaches and athletes involved in youth sports. We want to help educate, inform and lead thinking about concussions in sports. We take a smart, informed tone, while still being super-real world about things. We want it to be like having a cup of coffee, and having a great discussion about the subject.

We take concussion seriously, and explore the many ramifications of the brain injury. We also look at how sports can shape positive identity, and why it is a great facet of childhood development.

If you’d like to pre-order, we’re up on Amazon.

We’re super excited that this is becoming so real! Thanks for the support.