Extra Innings: The MLB should take advice from the LLWS

first_imgOriginally, I wanted to write a column expressing my dissatisfaction with how Major League Baseball markets its stars, but it’s a common feeling that’s already been written about by many sports columnists. Instead, I want to focus on the organizations that are doing their player marketing right. This mismarketing phenomenon has been most evident with Mike Trout, the five-tool outfielder from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Simply put, the guy is an absolute beast, and he’s just the right player to become the face of the MLB. Aside from his skills on the diamond, Trout is a stand-up guy. The 27-year-old from Millville, N.J. interacts with fans and plays the game with class — yet the MLB has failed to adequately market him.I enjoy watching and analyzing baseball in any form and at every level — professional, semi-pro, college, you name it. But my favorite level of baseball is Little League. Even though I look forward to watching the Little League World Series every summer, I have never thought about why I enjoy watching preteens play ball until now. I think a lot of it is the novelty of seeing 12- and 13-year-old kids play at such a competitive level on an international stage. Little League could easily focus solely on the game itself, only showcasing the talents of these young players (ahem, MLB). Rather, the LL organization has done a fantastic job focusing on the personalities of the kids. For those who haven’t watched a Little League World Series game, each game is preceded by  a “get to know the players” segment. This allows the individual players and teams as a whole to showcase who they are; it humanizes the youth-athletes in a way that MLB hasn’t done with its players. The face of the LLWS this year has been Alfred Delia, better-known as “Big Al.” The 12-year-old from Middletown, N.J. let fans know what he is all about in his TV introduction. “Hi, my name is Alfred Delia,” he said. At home they call me ‘Big Al,’ and I hit dingers.”Fans and the media ate this up. Within weeks of his now-famous TV appearance, Big Al had gone viral on Twitter, caught the attention of pro athletes, been featured in numerous articles and even appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Baseball fans are clamoring for his autograph and pro players, including New York Mets third baseman Jose Bautista, are asking for photos with him.Amazingly, Big Al is signing autographs for fans who would be indifferent about receiving a signed baseball from the majority of MLB players. That is just baffling at first glance, but it actually makes a lot of sense because he isn’t just another baseball player — he is “Big Al.”Last year, I was standing with one of my friends in the crêpe line at the McCarthy Dining Hall and behind us was USC kicker Chase McGrath. In utter disbelief that he was standing next to the USC kicker, my friend turned and whispered to alert me of McGrath’s presence.As humans, we are constantly searching for social connection; we look to relate with others. Professional and even collegiate athletes seem to be so far removed from society we can’t fathom that these players exist in the same world as us — much less eat at our dining halls.  Our tendency to regard athletes as supernatural beings is really a strange phenomenon. We, the media, are a bit desensitized to this as we talk to athletes on a regular basis. The average fan is shocked by just casually running into an athlete, let alone having a conversation with one.This summer, USC Athletics has done a superb job humanizing USC football players. Several short videos have been released featuring the interests and future aspirations of the team members. I only hope that USC Athletics has the resources and time to expand this project to other sports and showcase more of the diverse, interesting athletes and coaches we have. My favorite stories at Daily Trojan have been profiles on athletes and coaches. I cherish the ability to show an audience that these gladiators are more than what we normally recognize them for on the field. Each athlete and coach has a personal story and it’s a shame that these stories go largely untold by the organizations that represent them.Perhaps this disconnect dilemma is the media’s fault for not properly covering the players. However, professional and collegiate organizations have just as much as a responsibility to market their athletes as humans and not just athletes. With social media at the forefront of immediate communication and the ability to showcase athletes as more than a player in a game, organizations have no reason to not market their players in this way. Organizations like MLB should learn from the examples set by Little League Baseball and USC Athletics. It makes the viewing experience much more engaging and fun for fans.last_img read more

AT&T Awards Dibia Dream Foundation $15,000 Aspire Grant

first_imgDibia DREAM was recently awarded $15,000 through AT&T’s  Aspire initiative, in support of the organization’s STEM Saturday program which transforms community centers across Miami-Dade County into “Incubators of Excellence,” by engaging youth in STEM activities on the weekends at no cost to participants and their families. Funds will be used to cover the creation of STEM kits being used by high school students participating in the monthly program. The STEM kits include materials, science equipment, and tools used during monthly hands-on, science-based activities tied to specific STEM curriculum as part of the nine-month program. Projects include the creation of working mechanical lungs, hearts, robots and other cool projects that are then applied to real-world lessons.  AT&T employees will also serve as volunteers for this week’s event. “We are always looking for innovative and interesting ways to retain, as well as attract, children to our STEM Saturdays program,” states Dibia DREAM Founder, Brandon Okpalobi. We thank AT&T for their generous donation, that will allow our high school participants access to hands-on science and technology activities”.Dibia DREAM’s work with AT&T Aspire allows them to maximize resources for the specific needs of their high school students.“AT&T believes it is critical for students to have access to the resources and support systems they need to graduate, succeed in college or enter the workforce as they strive to reach their full potential,” said Cristal Cole, Regional Director of External and Legislative Affairs, AT&T Florida. “We are proud to support organizations like Dibia Dream who provide year-round community programming and help foster a safe environment where children can dream big, nurture their interest in science and technology, and access the resources they need to be successful in life.”STEM Saturdays provide hands-on interactive programs and critical thinking. Even if students don’t choose a path of science, the lessons learned at STEM Saturdays can be applied to most fields of interest whether scientific or artistic.Dibia DREAMDibia DREAM fosters life skills development through STEM and recreational education for underserved youth in Miami and New Orleans. At Dibia DREAM, we help youth win at life.About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. We have a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities, promote academic and economic achievement, and address community needs. Our AT&T Aspire initiative uses innovation in education to drive student success in school and beyond. With a financial commitment of $450 million since 2008, AT&T is leveraging technology, relationships, and social innovation to help all students make their biggest dreams a reality.last_img read more