Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reality TV

I had two brushes with the world of "reality" television last week. One was tremendously positive, the other stunningly negative. We'll give you the good news first.

On Monday Oct. 12, I was in Columbus, Indiana for our event presented by the Columbus Parks and Rec Department. Our announcer, Alex Martin, made the customary announcement that home videotaping of Harlem Ambassadors event is not permitted. That's when Allen Smith approached and asked me for an exception.

It turns out Allen is one of the finalists competing on "The Biggest Loser." As a fireman, community leader, and local celebrity in Columbus, he was playing on the team challenging the Harlem Ambassadors in the fundraising event. His wife was shooting video of him playing basketball for use as B-roll footage on the show. Naturally, we gave her permission and put her in position to get the best views of Allen on the court.

Lade Majic did her thing ... fouling Allen on putting him on the free throw line where they had some hilarious interaction. Allen was a great sport and we are hoping the video will turn up on the NBC show.

The true "reality" for us came after the after the basketball game, when we got to meet Allen and his family at the post-game meal. First of all the meal was catered by Allen's family catering business, appropriately named "By Word of Mouth" catering. The catered soul food and the Christian fellowship shared with Allen and his wife, daughter, parents, and sisters made for a great post-game experience. The Harlem Ambassadors, like those around the country, are now big Allen Smith fans and pulling for him to win.

That was on Monday and on Thursday, here in Fort Collins we were touched by another "reality" TV family. The Heene family, apparently desiring more time in the reality TV spotlight, launched the helium balloon which launched the "balloon boy" hoax. The home city of the Harlem Ambassadors was thrust front and center of the national consciousness, and not in a very positive light.

As a resident of Larimer County, I'm glad that our sheriff is preparing to bring charges. But that action brings both hopes and fears. If it is determined that Richard Neene and his wife concocted this as a hoax, my hope is that they will be forced to pay restitution for wasting taxpayer resources. My fear is that the means that the Heene's will use to generate the funds to pay the restitution ... you guessed it .... appearing on more TV! In the words of Marvin Gaye "makes me wanna holler and throw up both my hands"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Visiting the Tours - Part 2

People on the Red, White, and Blue Tour were surprised to see me back out on tour just a week after the Iowa visit. I flew into Indianapolis and drove to Hartford, Michigan to catch up to RWB.

I was able to stay for three games and for the last two, Oct. 11 in Franklin, Indiana and Oct. 12 in Columbus, Indiana, we were joined by Isis Roberts, a field correspondent from the Nikewomen.com site. We had seen her audition video for the Nike position and she envisioned getting on the court (or on the field) with top women athletes to get an "inside" look at their worlds.

Here's a link to that video:


Her genuineness motivated me to contact her and give her an opportunity to have a real experience with the Harlem Ambassadors. She flew in from LAX to Indiana and joined the Ambassadors. Isis observed the show in Franklin, Indiana on Sunday after visiting White Castle for the first time that afternoon (shown in the video). Monday she did two assemblies sharing her own positive message with students at an elementary school and an after-school youth center program. We took her to HA-sponsor Nike Factory Store and outfitted her with new kicks for the game. And that evening she suited up and played as a Harlem Ambassador performer at our game in Columbus, Indiana. By 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning she was headed to the airport and

It's her story and we'll let her tell it. When her written blog and her video account are posted, we'll link to it here. But Isis was down-to-earth, real, positive, enthusiastic ... just great to have as a part of our team for a brief time. She's a young lady that we expect to see great things from in sports journalism. Don't be surprised if you see her on the sidelines in a few years as the next Lisa Salters or Pam Oliver.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Greyhound roundtrip

We had a prospective player ride the Greyhound from Georgia to Colorado. I wrote about it in a previous post admiring this player's hunger.

Well, unfortunately the player was not "as advertised". On his profile form he listed himself as 6 foot 5 1/2 inches. I'm 6-4 so I can measure most people ranging from about 6 foot to 6 -8 just by standing next to them. This candidate was a good 3 inches shorter than advertised.

The profile form also described this player's three show dunks. Unfortunately, he couldn't dunk. When it was clear that he couldn't make it as a player, we tried to keep him as an equipment manager, but he wasn't suited for that role either. So it was back on the bus, Gus. He returned the same way he arrived, via "the dog".

Here's a tip for any prospective performer coming to the Harlem Ambassadors. Avoid resume expansion, be honest about your size and your abilities.

Visiting the Tours - Part 1

In the past two weeks, I have made two trips out to join up with the Harlem Ambassadors on tour.

Our two touring units were re-combined for three games in Iowa September 30 and October 1-2. For the past few tours, we have been doing this exercise to permit Coach Majic to check the development of players on both units and also to make any "trades" if desired.

I joined up with both teams for games in Mason City, Iowa on October 1 and Sioux City, Iowa on October 2. I feel its really important to get out and bridge the distance between our office in Colorado and the performers on the road. It also gives me an opportunity to interact with our game organizers, in this case United Way in Mason City and Jackson Recovery Centers in Sioux City. The photo above is of the Ambassadors' Kiki Davis running the musical chair in Mason City. We joke about Kiki's height of 5 foot 2 inches. I say that she's 4 foot 14! You can measure her limited height, but there is no way to measure her big heart. This is a young lady that is focused and determined. We expect her to be a tremendous success with HA.

Our game organizers are always great to meet. These are community-minded, caring people, often underpaid or volunteer, who are working hard to make a positive impact on their communities. The organizers of both of these events I visited in Iowa were no exception and the Harlem Ambassadors were shown great hospitality. These are both locations that we should return to.

We did make a few trades. Kiki Davis, Sam Givens, and Bayete Gordon went east to Red, White, and Blue. Curtis McBride and Krys Jackson went west to Stars and Stripes.

A tour visit always reminds me that being on tour with the Ambassadors is a real grind, but has great personal satisfaction if the performer chooses to really get involved with the organizers. Seeing everyone that was out on both touring units in Iowa, I saw people that we are proud to have represent us out on the road.