Posts by: Elise


Milwaukee TV History

Just another sportscast turned into history: https://onmilwaukee.com/movies/articles/four-female-sports-anchors-local-media.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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Price of the Pinnacle

The following is a piece I wrote four years ago while at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism about Olympians’ journey to the top: Once every four years, athletic competitors capture the world’s attention during the Olympics. Millions of viewers watch as fans become worshippers and teens become overnight sensations. The event is easily considered the pinnacle of an athletic career. In this year’s London Olympics, more than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries competed. But of those thousands of athletes, fewer than 10 percent went home with hardware. Years of sacrifice and endless hours of training created priceless memories but at a cost. The trials and tribulations of training aren’t the only struggles that accompany an athlete’s journey to the top. Each step of the way carries a price tag, and some are more capable to afford the journey than the rest. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian with 19 medals, is one of the few Olympians who reaped financial benefits just from participating in the games. As stated in Forbes, his agent, Peter Carlisle, projected in 2008 that the swimmer could earn up to $100 million in sponsors in his lifetime. “I guess it pays off for some of them like [Michael] Phelps and [Ryan] Lochte and gymnastic girls,” said Jake Herbert who wrestled in the 2012 London Olympics. “If you’re a wrestler or a speed-walker or a water polo player and you don’t get a medal, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh’… If I got a medal maybe it would have been a different story.” Herbert’s story started when he was a child. The Pittsburgh native began wrestling at an early age because his dad taught him, as he was a high school champion wrestler himself. And for 27 years, wrestling is all Herbert’s known. He graduated from...

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Taylor Swift is the real life Regina George

I used to hate Taylor Swift. I thought she tried too hard, was disingenuous.   She didn’t have the greatest voice, but she wrote her own music – and I respected that. I’m more of a teeny bopper. Play me a top 40 hit and I’ll probably like it. When Swift changed her sound, I was in. Bad Blood? I’m all over it. Sure, it’s overplayed but still kind of catchy. And that video? A must watch. A bunch of celebrities together to create an award-winning music video? Pretty cool. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s also pretty stupid. Here’s why: Since Swift has become one of the biggest, most successful artists of all time, she’s also started to abuse her fame. She’s a mean girl. Swift is the Regina George of celebrities. Never have I ever seen such a clique among the stars. The Bad Blood music video identified the “in” crowd. Victoria Secret models, actresses, more models, more entertainers. She created a video that basically said if you’re not in this group, you’re not cool. Suddenly Gigi Hadid, her off and on again friend Selena Gomez and other girls whose names I don’t even know are people you want to know. She has a different guest, sometimes multiple, at each of her concerts. If you didn’t make it on stage, or even worse, didn’t make it to her concert, go repent for your sins. Forgive me Father for I have sinned. Swift preaches to have confidence, believe in yourself and be happy, yet she’s creating a clique that shows how insecure she is and how self-doubting she is making others. She is setting a standard: You should have tons of high-status friends and exclude people who are not like you or, God...

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Player-NFL Dysfunctional Symbiotic Relationship

At the most basic level, yes, players depend on the league for their needs.  They depend on those paychecks so they can pull up to the field in their Rolls Royces and go home to their multi-million-dollar mansions.  They depend on the league for their happiness because football has been their entire life.  Football is what they love.  Football is what they do.  It defines them as a man.  That’s why you’d think it would be in their best interest to follow the rules.  But it comes as no surprise when players break them.  They feel they can.  No one has ever told them no.  Not in high school.  Not in college.  They’ve always been the stars.  They do no wrong.  Coaches, teams, the league need them on the field in peak condition, so just don’t do anything too obvious to mess up.  Draw the public’s attention, whether it be a video knocking out a woman, or tweets describing the star quarterback yelling obscenities, and now they’ve crossed the line.  Get the attention of the league, the university and now someone is forced to take action. But why now?  Why all of a sudden are players getting put on an exempt list, being suspended or deactivated?  These domestic violence or child abuse cases didn’t just start happening a few weeks ago.  The league has been turning a blind eye because as much as the players depend on the league, the league depends on the players — for sponsorship dollars, to put butts in stadium seats and to attract eyeballs to the television screen.  After all, without players, there is no league.  The bigger the player, the bigger the brand.  The way the NFL has handled the off-the-field drama has been ridiculous.  It’s more frustrating than a fourth quarter Cutler collapse (I didn’t even think that was possible).  To be smart enough to...

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Lights, Camera, Tennis

Rafael Nadal wins his ninth French Open title. He topped No. 2 in the world Novak Djokovic. And for the ladies,Maria (Sugarpova) Sharapova, female champion. Whether you’re a tennis fan or not, most likely those are names you have heard of along with Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Serena and Venus Williams. As a player, I am captivated by how easy they make the game look when in reality, physically and mentally it’s an absolute grind. No doubt about it. Watching them hit winners, make mistakes, master what seems like the impossible is fascinating. But recently, in my opinion, the sport on the women’s side, is less than interesting. Hear me out. Tennis has evolved over the years from wooden racquets to body shape. Today, women’s singles consists of smashing the ball from the baseline, rarely moving up to the net unless they have to. Impressive but boring. And adding to the lull: who are these women? I grew up watching Martina Hingis, Steffi Graf, Lindsay Davenport, and still around today Serena and Venus Williams. Replacing some of the former stars, Maria Sharapova and…… and… who else is there? Chris Evert and Billie Jean King of yesteryear. Today there are fleeting stars, names that win big and then you never hear of again. It may get boring to see Federer and Nadal or Nadal and Djokovic play each other over and over again in the major tournaments, but truly it’s not boring. They give you someone to root for. Since you always see their faces on TV and their endorsements of watches, and more often than not you have seen them play before, you feel like you know them. You’ve latched on to their narrative and their brand, and now you feel somewhat invested in their successes and failures....

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You have to lose to win

I’m a perfectionist. Plain and simple. Anyone who knows me knows that. I’m a hard worker. I have big dreams and go for the gold. Every time. Everyday of my life is lived at 110 percent. It’s not exhausting. It’s who I am. It’s the only thing I know. Thanks, mom. However, if I’ve learned anything from sports it’s that being a perfectionist doesn’t work. You will strike out. You will double fault. You will struggle. My mental game improved tremendously in college while playing softball. I was a leader and quickly learned I had to carry myself like one no matter how many ground balls I missed or how many times I popped up. I always told myself things would get better. And the only way I could be sure that was true was by having a short term memory, accepting that it was only through failure I could get better and succeed. Almost every time after I struck out looking, the next at bat I hit a home run. I went back to the bench and thought about how to improve for the next time. After all, the perfectionist in me could never let that happen again. Now that I’m training for tennis again, for the U.S. Open qualifying tournament, regaining mental strength is asimportant as physical endurance. Part of my persistence is just who I am as a person, but on the tennis court, perfection is out the window. It doesn’t exist. And it’s only when you can accept your mistakes, learn from them, and immediately move on without beating yourself up over them that you will win, no matter what the final score.

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For “Love” of the Game

In the past four years, I have lived in five places: New York, Sweden, Missouri, Chicago and now Decatur.  Like my mom always says, “You go where the job is.”  Decatur is smack dab in the middle of Illinois.  You may have heard of it because it’s the original home of the Chicago Bears, a/k/a the Decatur Staleys.  Once boasting a population of about 120,000, it has now dwindled to around 80,000 people, claiming the state’s highest unemployment rate and the smelliest factories.  Yet, I am happy to call it home.  I am away from my friends and family, but slowly the unknown has become the known.  What has always eased my transition?  Sports.  I sought out a tennis pro in the town because I wanted something to do outdoors on my days off that could keep me in shape.  I am a state high school champ in tennis, and I have always used it as cross training for softball.  As frustrating as tennis can be, it makes me happy. So how ironic when I heard that Decatur is one of 13 tournament sites for the US Open qualifier.  Immediately upon hearing this news, I contacted my tennis coach here, responsible for bringing the tournament to the city and asked him if I could enter.  He said yes.  Ever since I was a little girl, it’s been my dream to play in the U.S. Open.  Growing up, I would play tennis with my dad on our hometown courts and envision a crowd around us.  I could hear the roar when I hit a good shot and the silence when I missed.  He became my championship opponent, myself, a world-class tennis pro.  Now is my chance to make that dream come true. I haven’t played a tennis match in more than eight years, since high school, yet...

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A dying man’s wish: raising awareness about the dangers of sports gambling

Jason McGuigan was killed in June of 2003.  He was murdered after he failed to place a sports bet worth thousands.  The man charged with his killing hanged himself before the murder trial.  Since his murder, it’s been his father’s goal, Robert McGuigan, to raise awareness about the dangers of sports gambling. In October of last year, I did an interview with Robert.  He lives in Wisconsin but he wanted to visit Decatur to do an on-camera for my story on him.  Then, plans changed.  Robert was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Within a couple of weeks of hearing the news, I did a phone interview with Robert.  I wanted to ensure I talked to him before his health started to rapidly decline.  In his dying days, Robert has launched a website (http://gamblingrpm.com) and created a video addressed to the President to inform him about the dangers of sports gambling (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGjRxWSovd0). Robert has been sharing his story for years, and before his diagnosis, he had mapped out a tour of the country where he would speak to hundreds of schools and communities about sports gambling risks.  He could never do that.  Just recently I was informed that Robert’s health is rapidly deteriorating.  His days are numbered.  I have kept in touch with Robert and he has always been in high spirits, fighting each day not just for his health but to make right in his son’s wrongful death.  Please watch and share this video.  It’s all he ever wanted.  

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The Ivy League: True Student-Athletes

You want to talk about paying college athletes? Back it up, let’s start with the Ivy League, the only Division I conference that does not award athletic scholarships. In fact, starting in the summer of this year, the Patriot League made the switch to offer up to 15 football scholarships (matched under Title IX). Paying to play Ivy League athletes isn’t even on the radar. It’s implied that your payment is your education. Before even trudging up the steep slope or lacing up your winter boots, Cornell University, like the other Ivies, sets the precedent that academics come first. Cornell takes great pride in its athletics but never loses sight of its primary goal: to educate. There is a stigma around being an Ivy League athlete: You’re smart, but you’re not good at sports. How nice. The Ivy League is put at an immediate disadvantage in athletics because it cannot offer athletic scholarships. However, the athletes it does round up are some of the best and well-rounded. Former Cornell athletes have left their mark in the professional and Olympic realm in a variety of sports from basketball and football, to lacrosse and hockey. And each athlete, professional, collegiate or Olympic, understands the importance of life after the game. It is difficult for an athlete to move on from their passion and the one activity they’ve had constant in their life since childhood, but the Ivy League trains you to start thinking like a professional in the real world. Cornell prepares you for the biggest game of all: life. So I checked in with some of my fellow student-athletes to see where are they now and to find out what it was about Cornell that got them to where they are today. Each person has given me a brief summary...

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Baseball’s self-made beast

Baseball’s latest controversy surrounding performance enhancing drugs and most notably Alex Rodriguez has been discussed and debated beyond exhaustion, so here’s my two cents’ worth.   I have touched on this topic before — on how steroids are just another example of the way the game of baseball has changed and it’s a way players are keeping up with the competition and outrageous contracts.  Today, as I listen to the discussions and after my own discussion with my dad (a former professional baseball player for the Orioles), I realized that this steroid drama is something baseball has brought on itself. Turn on a baseball game and you’re not just getting two teams battling for nine innings; you’re getting entertainment as well.  Nine actors stand on the field, their stage, and they put on a show that not one audience member can predict the ending.  And now this steroid saga presents another storyline that no one knows how it will end.  The ending may not matter as much as understanding how it all began.  Today, seven or eight-figure contracts are not rare to come by.  Each day players get out on the field they an enhance those dollars or potentially jeopardize their salary depending on how they perform or if they’re injured.  Contracts, entertainment factors, notoriety, the spotlight, endorsements have all upped the ante of baseball.  Players aren’t just playing ball — they are their own brand and they represent another brand, their team.  And once a player, like A-Rod gets a taste of greatness and achieves his potential, the thought of that going away is unfathomable. Even fading away into the Hall of Fame isn’t enough.  Enter steroids.  Steroids are a reaction, a solution to a beast baseball created.  If the stakes weren’t so high, I’d have to think that steroids would never have become part of the script.  But now PED’s are one...

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