Fan Study: How College Sports Fans Engage

Here is a study that Hopscotch, a for profit mobile app company, conducted regarding how college sports fans engage their teams/sports.

See Hopscotch article/study

There is some interesting information found in this study, however, depending upon the sport, this information may or may not be relevant.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo


Nelson Mandela’s Life Serves as a Reminder to Athletes

With the passing of Nelson Mandela tributes of his extraordinary life are being recalled and celebrated. His life is one of hope, struggle and perseverance. I am not a political historian nor do I claim to be. However, I do think that Mandela’s story and how he dealt with being wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years serves as an example to everyone to learn from, including athletes.

Upon his release from prison, Mandela fostered no hate, no bitterness and no self pity for losing these precious years behind bars. His story and his legacy will be forever tied to his confinement. It is normal to dream of a world where Mandela had the opportunity to impact the world from the other side of the prison bars. Unfortunately, we can only imagine that world.

Considering Mandela’s unbelievable circumstances and the fact that upon his release many South Africans, on both sides, sought revenge and civil war, it was Mandela who remarkably kept both sides from doing so.

Mandela, disrespected by the white South African government, could have expressed bitterness and hate for his white oppressors but he did the exact opposite. His compassion, leadership and love for his country was truly amazing.

Although no athletic contest can compare to Mandela’s plight and South Africa’s struggle for democracy, in an age in sports where athletes feel “punked” and/or “disrespected” by opponents, coaches, contract offers, fines, etc., I would ask these athletes to reflect on Mandela’s life and his personal suffering the next time they feel wronged.

It kind of puts things in perspective.

Follow Coach DeSalvo @CoachDeSalvo

When the Absurd Becomes the Norm

“All progress requires change, but not all change is progress.” — Dr. Josiah “Mort” Briggs, URI Emeritus, Professor of History

Dr. Briggs made this statement during a lecture in his “History of Science” course that I took. I am not sure why, but this always stuck with me. I remember jotting these words of wisdom in my notebook, but it has resonated in my mind ever since, ingrained for all time.

I am confident that it rings true in life and applies to sports as well.

I’ll give you an example. Anyone who has watched a lick of baseball in the last few years has noticed one dramatic change in philosophy: “The shift”.

How many times have you seen this recently?

Even tonight in the Boston Red Sox game vs. the Baltimore Orioles, the O’s shifted the entire infield (3rd baseman was almost behind 2nd base) for Stephen Drew with 2 outs and a runner on third base. Drew was batting .247, 12 HR, 62 RBI headed into this at-bat. What were the Orioles doing? Drew coudn’t be shift worthy with those numbers, right?

Don’t let the numbers fool you. Drew had an exceptionally better average with 2-outs and runners in scoring position. Drew walked, but if managers are doing it, it must have some value. Although I do not have the stats to represent the hard facts, I am positive there is validity to this defensive strategy.

More importantly, this is a paradigm shift in baseball. It is even more for remarkable for baseball where change is not something that comes easy for fans, teams or the MLB powers that be.

Previously, only the likes of Barry Bonds or David Ortiz would be respected (or feared) enough to totally change a team’s defensive alignment. Now this is not the case. Instead, the infield shift is being used as a tool to get any and all out. Whether you are a Hall-of-Famer or bat .247 (no disrespect meant Mr. Drew).

Even NESN play-by-play commentator Don Orsillo noted that regarding the teams using the shift, “it used to be one guy, now it’s like five guys in every order.” It seems as though it may only increase.

The question is, is this change progress?

In this case, I think it is. If it gets batters out…why not? Sure pitchers have to pitch differently (slower or inside to induce players to pull the ball to the shift) and certain infielders have to get adjusted to their new spot on the field, but if it works…why not?

This could be a huge boost for the defensive aspect of the game. The result in the long run could also be that maybe hitters will adjust (i.e. go the opposite way) after seeing shifts for an extended period of time. Only time will tell.

More importantly, “the shift” has proved that baseball managers who are notoriously “old school” have made the leap to develop new ways to get batters out. Kudos to them for a little outside-the-box thinking and not letting baseball’s unwritten rules get in the way of getting hitters out.

Rhode Island College Men’s Basketball Coach, Bob Walsh, held a Leadership Academy this summer where he challenged coaches to “challenge conventional basketball strategy and theory.” It was a weekend full of ideas, sharing and radical thoughts.

I don’t think any MLB managers were at Coach Walsh’s Dynamic Leadership Academy, but I think they are starting to get the message.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

‘Haters’ Can Benefit At Draft Time

With the 2013 NBA Draft in the books, now questions will be asked if players were selected at the right spots by the right teams.

The draft was unpredictable from the start with Anthony Bennett, a highly touted freshman from UNLV, going first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bennett’s selection was surprising to most, although he was one of the players amongst a handful that were in the mix for the top spot. 

The most notable surprises were Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Kansas’ Ben McLemore, sliding to the sixth and seventh picks respectively. Both were projected as the potential number one pick of the draft and it would have been hard to imagine either falling out of the top three picks.

It happened.

No worries though, in the era of “The Hater”, Noel can put a bull’s eye on the Cavaliers, Magic, Wizards, Bobcats, and Suns throughout his career. McLemore can add the Pelicans to his list as another team that passed on him.

Maybe Noel can add New Orleans as well, since the Pelicans drafted him, then subsequently traded him to the 76ers later in the evening.

In the days of multi-million dollar contracts that are guaranteed before players have played even a minute, any motivation is welcome for organizations who draft these players. With players having more exposure on television, radio and social media, they are criticized and ‘hated on’ more than ever before because of their earnings and fame.

This sentiment is 99.9% of the time not fair and most fans do not see the hard work that these select high caliber athletes put in on a day-in and day-out basis. In the age of instant gratification, fans are quick to remember draft busts and want instant production from their newly acquired assets.

Still, if players internalize being passed on the draft as ‘hating’ or use media or fan bashing as a means to play with a chip on their shoulder, surely the players, their organizations, their agents and the hometown fans will all benefit in the long-run.

Let the ‘hating’ commence.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo




On my twitter (@CoachDeSalvo) account I started a hashtag, #WhatWinnersDo, a few days ago.

These “isms” are things that I have either heard, witnessed, read, or implemented in my basketball program. I have found that sometimes learning what NOT TO DO as a player or coach is just as important as learning what TO DO.

Here is my complied list of the 100What Winners Do“.

As always your comments are welcome and appreciated!

1. Your way is outdated; mine is not #WhatWinnersDo

2. You complain; I find solutions #WhatWinnersDo

3. You lose interest; I keep them hungry #WhatWinnersDo

4. They fall asleep in your film session; they ask questions in mine #WhatWinnersDo

5. Your team has no identity; Mine knows who they are #WhatWinnersDo

6. Your team practices to get done; my team practices to get better #WhatWinnersDo #GetBetterDaily

7. Your team prepares during warmups; my team prepares in practice days before #WhatWinnersDo

8. Your team is weak minded; my team is galvanized #WhatWinnersDo

9. Your team shies away; mine is aggressive and takes control #WhatWinnersDo

10. Your team has one captain; my team is full of leaders #WhatWinnersDo

11. You can’t make adjustments; I thrive on them #WhatWinnersDo

12. You do the same thing everyday and expect different results; I keep it exciting and interesting #WhatWinnersDo

13. You are plain; I am ultra creative #WhatWinnersDo

14. You work just enough (or too little); I work my hardest #WhatWinnersDo

15. You are afraid to work hard; I am afraid to fail #WhatWinnersDo

16. You think you love it; I live it #WhatWinnersDo

17. You define complacency; I strive for perfection #WhatWinnersDo

18. You are negative; I am captivating #WhatWinnersDo

19. Your team avoids communication; my team appreciates my charisma #WhatWinnersDo

20. They have no faith in you; They go to battle for me #WhatWinnersDo

21. They see your true colors; They see my passion #WhatWinnersDo

22. You blame them; I take responsibility #WhatWinnersDo

23. You focus on weaknesses; I focus on strengths #WhatWinnersDo

24. You are not concerned with self improvement; I crave it #WhatWinnersDo

25. You see things in absolutes; I see a variety of possibilities #WhatWinnersDo

26. You are narrow-minded; I see all perspectives #WhatWinnersDo

27. You ALWAYS need others opinions; I know I am the leader #WhatWinnersDo

28. You wonder why; I solve why and how #WhatWinnersDo

29. You teach how; I teach the how and the why #WhatWinnersDo

30. You teach basketball; I teach LIFE #WhatWinnersDo

31. You never change; I never want to stay the same #WhatWinnersDo

32. You want wins; I want development #WhatWinnersDo

33. You see limitations; I see endless opportunity #WhatWinnersDo

34. You get comfortable; I stay engrossed #WhatWinnersDo

35. You are lazy; I will never be out worked #WhatWinnersDo

36. You say you work hard; I always think I can work harder #WhatWinnersDo

37. You want great players; I want great players with work ethic #WhatWinnersDo

38. You want players that fit your system; I want players who fit my system…or I will adjust to use their talents #WhatWinnersDo

39. You bring down; I motivate #WhatWinnersDo

40. Your players play in spite of you; my players are inspired by me #WhatWinnersDo

41. Your players play in spite of you; My players play for me #WhatWinnersDo

42. You watch sitcoms; I read and write #WhatWinnersDo

43. You are an introvert; I make personal connections #WhatWinnersDo

44. You create stress; I relieve it #WhatWinnersDo

45. You get through; I get better #WhatWinnersDo #GetBetterDaily

46. You run drills in practice: I execute a system in practice #WhatWinnersDo

47. You run drills to get through practice; I run practice to develop players and to prepare for competition #WhatWinnersDo

48. You are surprised at halftime; We are satisfied #WhatWinnersDo

49. You run as punishment; I run to out score the opponent #WhatWinnersDo

50. Experience is your ally; Ambition is mine #WhatWinnersDo

51. You sleep in; I am productive #WhatWinnersDo

52. You rest on your laurels; I want to accomplish more #WhatWinnersDo

53. You get your fill; I can’t get enough #WhatWinnersDo

54. You feel sorry for yourself; I find ways around obstacles #WhatWinnersDo

55. You say “it’s hard”; I say “it’s possible” #WhatWinnersDo

56. You plateau; I climb higher #WhatWinnersDo

57. You settle; I want more #WhatWinnersDo

58. Your goal is .500; my goal is championships #WhatWinnersDo

59. You stay home: I’m in the gym #WhatWinnersDo

60. You stay home; I hit the recruiting trail #WhatWinnersDo

61. Your players are lazy; my players are hungry #WhatWinnersDo

62. Your players complain; my players encourage #WhatWinnersDo

63. Your players take the short cut; my players understand that hard work pays off #WhatWinnersDo

64. You hate change; I embrace it #WhatWinnersDo

65. You make suggestions; I make decisions #WhatWinnersDo

66. You have a team; I run a program #WhatWinnersDo

67. You think winning just happens; I ensure that it does #WhatWinnersDo

68. You isolate players; I unite players #WhatWinnersDo

69. You create questions; I provide answers #WhatWinnersDo

70. You are insecure because of your weaknesses; I use weaknesses as a way to growth #WhatWinnersDo

71. You have stopped learning; I always ask questions #WhatWinnersDo

72. You see hurdles; I jump over them #WhatWinnersDo

73. You break bonds; I build them #WhatWinnersDo

74. You won’t; I will #WhatWinnersDo

75. You can’t; I can #WhatWinnersDo

76. You try; I do #WhatWinnersDo

77. You are short-term; I am long-term #WhatWinnersDo

78. You think small; I dream big #WhatWinnersDo

79. You want to be great in October; I want to be great in March #WhatWinnersDo

80. You see players; I see people #WhatWinnersDo

81. You think players shape the coaches’ season; I know coaches shape the players’ lives #WhatWinnersDo

82. You can’t say “yes”; I can’t say “no” #WhatWinnersDo

83. You don’t allow swearing on your team; I don’t allow “can’t” in my program #WhatWinnersDo

84. You inhibit your coaching staff’s growth; I allow my coaching staff to develop #WhatWinnersDo

85. You tell your players how hard you work; I want my players to decide how hard I work for them #WhatWinnersDo

86. You plead with you players to play hard; I never have to #WhatWinnersDo

87. You think games are tough; we think practices are tougher #WhatWinnersDo

88. You are worried about the post game meal; we are hungry for our opponent #WhatWinnersDo

89. You have no control in your huddle; All eyes are on me in my huddle #WhatWinnersDo

90. You save timeouts; I use timeouts to make adjustments and give players appropriate rest #WhatWinnersDo

91. You use your clipboard for show; I use my clipboard to show #WhatWinnersDo #GetOrganized

92. You leave the gym early; I never want to leave #WhatWinnersDo

93. You think people should; I think I should #WhatWinnersDo

94. You know only one way; I want to learn many ways and decide which one is best #WhatWinnersDo

95. You think your way is the best; I am continually changing my perspective #WhatWinnersDo

96. You make players have questions; I communicate to eliminate anxiety #WhatWinnersDo

97. You have fifteen individuals on roster; I coach one team #WhatWinnersDo

98. You think it should be easy; I know winning the right way is a challenge #WhatWinnersDo

99. You leave it up to luck; I prepare so nothing is left to chance #WhatWinnersDo

100. Your priorites are skewed; My dream is always on my mind #WhatWinnersDo

I hope you enjoyed my #WhatWinnersDo series.

Have a Happy New Year!

Follow @CoachDeSalvo on twitter

“Where Else Can You Buy A Dream For A Dollar?”

As I was sitting with my family the other day during the Thanksgiving holiday, my brother reminded me to “make sure you play the Powerball. The jackpot is ridiculous.” According to a recent story in the USA Today, the Powerball will reach upwards of $425 million and it seems that there will be a winner as most of the number combinations will have been played.

With that in mind, I have yet to run out and get my winning ticket. Maybe the coach in me is a pessimist or maybe I just understand the craze. I worked at a liquor store during my college days and sold these tickets at my place of employment. Therefore, I have seen the poor decision making by some who waste a whole paycheck on several hundred tickets, which really do not increase your odds of winning the jackpot.

Still, it is fun to think of what you would do if you won the big one.

For anyone, even professional athletes and big time coaches, that kind of money is life altering. With a little financial planning and the ability to say ‘no’ (distant family and friends included) one would never have to work ever again. EVER.

Still competition is in our blood and I asked myself “what would I do?” Would I still coach? Humm…We all have our daily struggles at our specific universities/colleges. As college coaches, we have to skillfully juggle our administration, boosters, summer camps, budgets and fundraising events to keep our programs flourishing and fiscally afloat. It is because of some of these things that some coaches lose their jobs or decide that the workload/hours is too overbearing and get out of the game.

After considering not coaching for a brief moment as that thought flashed in my mind, I answered the question with a resounding “yes”.

So I thought, I would coach for sure but it would be on my terms more or less. So I could buy my way into a position, but I would get resentment from most. I could coach high school or AAU for the love of the game, but I know I would want to be a the college level. Then it hit me! What if I could buy my own school? Just imagine if you could fund or partially fund a university/college where you could set up endowments and scholarship monies to help to pay for top notch facilities, professors, infrastructure and administrators. Couple that with a large payroll, even bigger budgets, rooms stocked with athletic apparel, and a top flight weight room. Needless to say, my mind was racing.

Now I know that this $425 million jackpot (don’t forget taxes) might not cover all of these expenses but let’s think outside the box and dream, o.k.?

So of course, we would need administrators, professors, buildings and majors. These would all have to be carefully selected. Remember we can mimic the thought process of Philanthropist John Hammond in Jurassic Park, “spared no expense” so I am not too worried about luring top echelon professors from the Ivy Leagues, etc. Then we need to select the location of the university. West coast vs. East coast? Should it be a liberal arts or a research institution? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Lots of choices will have to be made, but let’s get to the fun stuff. From a basketball standpoint, just imagine designing your own athletic building! Coaches offices, state-of-the-art film room, athletic fields, training and rehabilitation facilities. New copy machines and printers (I battle daily with my 1996 HP model) and more than adequate staffing. A strength and conditioning coach too! Air-conditioning courts during the summer months, really?

Spared no expense.

Now let’s talk gear. Nike, Adidas, or Under Armour? Who cares. Use whatever distributor you want and put as many logos on it as you desire. Money is no object.

And for the founder of this new institution, a life time contract. Wow! Imagine coaching with that type of security. I can see where it could be dangerous if the founder/head coach was lazy and abused their power, which can happen, trust me. However, all things being equal though, that would be pretty amazing.

It is fun to dream. A true wish list. Some of these things may seem trivial to you and your program but to some low DI’s and many DII’s and DIII’s, they are on the tops of their lists (especially a reliable printer!).

I do have one personal request. Parquet floor reminiscent of the old Boston Garden. That would be special to work on each and everyday. The older the better. Nostalgia sometimes trumps new.

Despite all of the great things that this type of scenario entails, as the Notorious B.I.G once said “Mo’ money, Mo’ problems” and there surely would be some given this situation. One issue for coaches would be how would they continue motivate student-athletes who have the best of everything? You can’t play the underdog card when you are rocking the best gear, traveling on luxury charters and eating great meals every road trip. As a Head Coach, I would continue to reiterate that we have no history and we have won nothing yet. Games are won on the court and that old parquet floor might serve as a reminder. In addition, I would still make our student-athletes fundraise, do community service and brand our program like every program in the country does. I would treat them great, but I would also treat them normal once they committed to the program. Nevertheless, it would be a challenge at times.

And what would you call this new school of higher education? “Insert your last name” University, Powerball College? What would the mascot be? A big red ball, in the Syracuse Orangeman genre? Hardly.

Given these circumstances I think Daydream University with a cloud as the mascot would be appropriate.
Also, the university would retire the number nine at the first home game too. It would be in honor of knowing that everyday members of our campus community woke up we would all be on “Cloud Nine.”

I am running out to buy my ticket now…

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo