OK, so I have been MIA… :)

But it’s all good. Been taking a break from some things, like blogging, in order to be more present in life. And honestly, I have not felt like writing here.

So I didn’t. When in doubt, don’t.

It’s been a complicated year, trying to unpack the ongoing turmoil and tragedy at my workplace of Michigan State University. I know students and others who have been directly affected by sexual assault and Larry Nassar’s abuse. I have been at a loss on how to best support them, other than to let them know of my care and respect for their courage. The anger and sadness is real. And deserved for the university’s continued failings to make things right.

I have had several friends die, way too young, and feeling their losses and seeing their families suffer with crushing grief has been hard. Another friend is fighting for her life, and is giving every bit of her soul to defeat AML. I hate her suffering.

And in the late spring, the wonderful Oreo kitty crossed the bridge, at 17 years old, after bringing so much joy to so many.

Yeah, that’s a lot.

I have chosen to be more present, less on my phone/social media, and forcing myself to see the quiet moments. I sat on a rooftop terrace in Paris, 10 times in 2 weeks, to watch the sun set over the city and have the Eiffel Tower come alive with twinkling lights.

I looked at the flowers in Rome, and tried to remember the smell of each.

I enjoyed my coffee. (Because yeah, it was better than the stuff in the US).

I thought about the things I want to write in the future, and what I want to leave behind.

It’s been a good time to realign and refocus. Which is a gift to get to do.

So yeah, I am alive 🙂 I hope you are too. Be present. Be grateful.

The circus has how many tents?

Cue the circus music…and cat GIFs…

A lot of random thoughts, not necessarily in any order, other than they are flying around my head.

  1. Tune out: I am thoughtfully choosing to do less with social media, which I know, for a media person, seems impossible. But it is not. I am only interacting with Twitter and Facebook when I need to for my job, and not for me. Why? It seems like Twitter is a slow drip of caustic fluid, hardening hearts and making people angry. The people who live to start shit, or be jerky, have their own special clubhouse and love to kick the furniture around. I block, unfollow fast. If you are mean, buh-bye. I will still keep listening, as always, even if I disagree. I do not need my SM to be an echo chamber. Just a space of normal people. And a lot of cat GIFs.
  2. Drop out: This I cannot explain intelligently: I have one friend who refuses to leave Detroit, unless absolutely unavoidable, to shop/do business in the suburbs. I have another friend who doesn’t leave the house, and has everything delivered by Amazon or the supermarket’s online shopping feature. In third, another friend who refuses to go to Detroit, and will only do her business in the suburbs. And me? I shop anywhere where I need to go, and I like leaving the house. But I find this to be an interesting case study watching all three, as they have pretty well-thought out fundamental reasons why they are so against the other. One wants to only support local business, other wants no hassle and no shopping, and the third doesn’t want the hassle of the big city and its inconveniences. It’s just weird to observe all three amazing people in total. There is something going on here, just cannot figure out the big picture.
  3. Not true, unless I believe it: Working with journalism students is a wonderful way to codify your own belief systems about the business. I am old school – I want sources on the record, less opinion and more fact, and try to get all sides into a story. I am definitely not on team Hot Take. I was asked the other day, by a student, how I report on “facts or people I don’t like”. As in, if I don’t want to be part of a story on something I don’t agree with personally…do I still have to be involved? And the answer is…you do your job. I have many times spoken to people I do not agree with, but I still strove to treat them fairly and with respect. Just because something is true, you don’t have to like it. And reflexively, just because you like something, does not mean that it is true. Good journalists find the truth and present it.

Accountability and evolution

I don’t think anybody has been under the illusion, at least in my 20 years as a sports journalist, that being a female in sports media was easy. All of us have horror stories, about the men who belittled, harassed, overlooked, and clearly meant us harm.

I have made a point of trying to be a role model in sports media, taking every chance to speak to kids, students, groups, etc. about being female sports journalist and what life is like. Nearly every time, I get asked about the locker room – why I can’t go in (wrong, I do), why men are not allowed into female locker rooms (wrong, they are at the pro level), why we are not further ahead in the business, or why I wanted to go into this as a woman.

I feel all questions are good, giving a chance to start discussions.

I had an appearance as a panelist Monday evening, at Michigan Radio’s Issues and Ale public forum. Author John U. Bacon, Fab Fiver/former pro player Jimmy King and I discussed protest in sports, issues like concussions, and just the overall landscape. It was a lot of fun, and the audience questions were fantastic.

Afterwards, a woman came up to me, and floored me with a question: Given the current crazy atmosphere of women and men revealing the sexual abuse they have endured in the workplace, why aren’t women in sports media coming forward with their stories?

That is a great question to ask, and I didn’t have the thoughtful answer right at hand. I still lack the killer answer, but some of my thoughts have come together a little more.

I don’t feel that we are owed, by anyone, their “story”. If they want to say something, please do it – we are here to believe you and support you. I think that is the biggest glacier that’s moved – we are hearing victims and wanting to have their back. Some parts of our society are not entirely on board with that, still looking to victim shame or throw darts.

I think I am pretty average for a woman in sports media. We’ve all been through some shit, from our work places, the sports/athletes/coaches we cover, and the worst offender- the public. There is no polite way to say it.

We all know the bosses who have made demeaning comments and held us back. The assignments denied because it was cheaper to send two men and put them in one hotel room and not get two rooms for a male and a female. The work function where somebody gets trashed and goes over to the “sports chicks” because he heard we were sluts as the only women in the sports department. The sports editor having a file in an internal editing system, rating all the physical attributes – and grading them – of all the women in the department. The other media members on a work trip all going out to dinner to the strip club, leaving you with the choice of staying by yourself or eating at a place that makes you feel awful. Being at a professional reception, where a sports editor is recruiting over a drinks, and then delivers a nasty proposition and a butt grab.  Co-workers looking at porn and openly sexualizing athletes (oh look, the tennis player is air kissing another athlete at the net…oooh!). The public sending rape threats, commenting on how you look – or don’t look – or dress – or don’t dress. Too fat, too stupid, too blonde,  too whatever, who are you screwing to get the sports job job, token hire, n-word lover…

It’s poison. Drip. Drip. Drip. Some of this stuff I told my editors and HR. Some I didn’t. Some I forgot because I had to – until I remembered.

I’ve never been badly assaulted because of my job. Thank God. But we all have damage on our armor. Most of the time we get out of the way of the wrecking ball, using sarcasm, avoiding that person in the future, lamenting the job opportunity we will never have because so-and-so is there, and telling other women we know who to avoid at their workplaces.

The HR response for many has been, oh, that’s too bad, but you are the women in the sports department. What did you expect? (sotto voce)

After a while, you don’t want to fight all of this to do your job. You develop a plan for what your limits will be. Ignore the comments after stories. Don’t feed the trolls on Twitter and try to block them. Forward threatening voice mails to your boss. Game plan for the creeps. The witty comeback.

I am grateful for all the wonderful men – gentlemen, big brothers, editors and bosses – have my back and helped me. They were saddened to see this crap, and angry. They listened and believed, which is great. Nearly every job I have had meant a man hired me, and some took a risk by hiring a woman. Having female mentors also made all the difference. They knew, and my older sisters in the business had been through it all – many had it much worse.

So where is our swell of horror stories?

I can’t tell others what to do. You can only have your personal truth, and express it in the way that is best for you.

I do not judge those who stay silent.

I do not judge those who only tell family members and close friends.

I do not judge those who go to HR.

I do not judge those who left the business.

I do not judge those who stayed.

I do not judge those who are angry and want more.

I do not judge those who come out and tell the world and scream their truth.

I do not judge. I support all.

I demand change for all women in business. I want change. I have tried to be part of the change in my industry through AWSM and making things better where I can.

So that’s long answer to a great question, but it’s not the final answer.

Let the good people prevail. And the strong survive.

That’s what I think.




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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