Some Write-In Ideas for Colin Kaepernick

So…NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has spent a good portion of 2016 kneeling during our national anthem in order to protest against inequality and injustice. And now…he doesn’t vote???

Seriously. He told a reporter he had no plans to vote this year. For anything.

His actions on NFL fields were universally scorned at first. Then, there was a groundswell of support. And he even turned around the opinions of some (like Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice) who initially opposed his kneel-downs.

But this move doesn’t make sense at all.

Okay, so both major candidates were weak and you couldn’t bring yourself to vote for either Trump or Clinton. Fill in the circle for a third-party politician like Gary Johnson, which could make a powerful statement about the failures of our two-party system.

Dude! Vote for somebody. A businessman or an educator or a friend you admire. Write in someone! Then use your celebrity status to illuminate the identity of your write-in vote and explain how his or her values would help set the country on the right course.

We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on the write-in option. Maybe he didn’t understand he could cast a write-in vote. Or worse–he couldn’t think of a single inspirational person. We have some ideas for him…

Ray Allen, the quiet, driven, dedicated and charismatic NBA star, who had an exemplary run on and off the court. He retired last week. He’s got some extra time.

ray-allen

(Credit: ESPN.com)

Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, the tough and wise King of Jordan, who stands for peace and interfaith dialogue, and who turned around the economy of his country, despite the enormous social challenges presented by Jordan’s geographical proximity to Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

jordan-king-abdullah

(Credit: inserbia.info)

Laura Casemento, the president of Utica College, who fought hard to punch a hole in the glass ceiling by once turning down a bank presidency because they didn’t offer her a coinciding spot on the board of trustees, and who is presiding over a tuition reduction to $20,000 annually!

laura-casemento

(Credit: utica.edu)

Kaepernick wouldn’t even have to choose somebody real to make his point. How about a vote for Dave Kovic, the Kevin Kline movie hero, who resembles the actual president, assumes the Oval Office briefly, and offers common-sense solutions to our problems?

dave-kovic

(Credit: thesportspost.com)

Again, the Kaepernick sympathizers will rush to defend his American right not to vote. But, come on. While he was sitting this one out, other athletes–Black, White, Hispanic–were heading to the polls and proudly Tweeting about it.

Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald voted. Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez voted. The entire Coastal Carolina football team voted. Together.

Yes, Kaepernick makes a powerful statement again by not voting. But not the right type of statement. it’s irresponsible, it’s lazy, and it devalues everything he stood for (or didn’t stand for.)

His protest for justice coupled with his decision not to vote is hypocrisy of the highest order. Choosing not to vote for anyone or anything is apathetic; and it conveys a hopelessness for our country.

Maybe he never truly believed in what he was doing during these national anthems. Maybe he was just taking a knee all this time because he was tired.

Dave Coombs votes and hosts morning drive radio on 100.7 FM WUTQ in Utica.

Why Do We Hate Everything?

So, Bill Murray grabbed the mic during Game 3 of the World Series and sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as Daffy Duck. And the haters arose.

Reading the message board comments below the post of this story in Deadspin.com shines a light on a very ugly aspect of our culture – the necessity to criticize everything.

Deadspin is a great website, because it presents sports topics with an entertaining and irreverent slant. But very often the posts and comments dwell in the gutter; Apparently we like it when we have company down there.

It reminds me of a former relative who was miserable on the golf course. And if you were having a good game, instead of allowing you to enjoy it, he went out of his way to make you miserable too.

Maybe dragging Murray and other stars down makes us feel better about ourselves. And celebrities make great targets. You know, because they’re wealthy and entitled, and thus…despicable.

So, the critics on Deadspin chastised the comedian for his performance, assailed his character, and attacked his career.

Okay, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Murray’s shtick. But I guess the idea here was to be distinctive. Do something that hundreds (thousands?) of others have done. Sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the iconic part of the party in the middle of every Cubs game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, but make your version stand out.

It’s sort of the challenge we morning radio hosts face every day in our jobs. Take the same stories and audio clips every host at every station across the country has at his or her disposal…and inject your own style and personality to make it unique. Be distinctive.

Some of that uniqueness flows from your natural and inimitable personality, and some of it requires a conscientious application or strategy. This singularity is an admirable trait to pursue in life.

If I were hiring for a radio job or any position for that matter, I might make the assignment the same for all applicants. Then, see who distinguishes themselves from the pack.

Imagine your assignment is to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at Wrigley. If you had a shot, what would you do to make it different? Could you come up with a unique take? Or would you end up just blending in with all the others who’ve ever sung it? Either way, you’d probably be criticized.

Dave Coombs hosts mornings on 100.7 FM WUTQ in Utica, New York.

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Why Super Bowl Ads Are Getting Worse

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Credit: Volkswagen


 

People are searching for reasons to explain the trend of increasingly boring Super Bowl ads. Some think it’s the lack of the surprise factor. After all, many of these commercials are available online, sometimes weeks or months ahead of the big game.

Not sure I’m buying that explanation. One of my favorite ads of all time is the one starring the little kid in the Darth Vader get-up and the dad with the key-fob car starter. I must have seen that spot 100 times and it still makes me laugh.

Want to know why the ads are getting worse? Here’s an answer: they’re ill-conceived and poorly written.

I’m not sure the correct people are creating and approving these ads. For instance, what’s the target demo for Apartments.com? (One study I read said 51% of apartment dwellers are under 30 and 74% are under 44.) And the Apartments.com ad featured 63-year-old actor Jeff Goldblum and the theme from a sitcom that was launched in 1975?

And, oh yeah, it wasn’t compelling. Not even a cameo from fading hip hopper Lil Wayne could save the poor concept from finishing 29th on USA Today’s Ad Meter rankings for Super Bowl 50 spots. And, by the way, the only factor that prevented it from ending up far lower was its top rating with 65+ viewers, who scored it WAY higher than younger demos.

Take the “PuppyMonkeyBaby” spot. Please. That was the odd ad for which Mountain Dew shelled out $5 million per play in Super Bowl 50 to push its KickStart line of energy drinks.

The spot ranked 55th out of 63 commercials that aired in the 2016 Super Bowl. It scored low on Ad Meter with all age groups, but the lowest numbers it received was from 21-34 year-olds. PuppyMonkeyBabyBust.

Want more proof that it’s the writing and concepts that are failing? How about the ad for Squarespace? It featured one of this era’s funniest and hippest comedy duos, Key and Peele, but it wasn’t funny.

What were the folks from Squarespace thinking? That Key and Peele’s mere presence would be enough? That their cachet with young hipsters would drive business their way? Not if the spot’s not funny.

All the star power in the world can’t save a bad concept and poor writing. Just ask the creators of movie bombs like Ishtar, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty slogging their way through scene after ugly scene on the way to box office disaster.

The Key and Peele spot for Squarespace, a great company which offers sharp website designs, missed by a fraction of a point the dubious distinction of landing in the Bottom 5 on the Ad Meter rankings.

Who’s in charge of these ad campaigns? The same NFL player personnel experts who decide that Johnny Manziel would be a wise draft choice?

Dave Coombs needs writers for his lousy weekday morning radio show on 100.7 FM WUTQ.

Choosing the Right Quarterback

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There are going to be a LOT of questions.

And the biggest question hanging over the head of Cameron Jerrell Newton has nothing to do with his ample physical attributes. It concerns his character.

After the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback threw hissy fits on the field and conducted a sullen post-game press conference off it following Super Bowl 50, his team’s coaches, administrators, and teammates have to be wondering if he’s the right guy for the job.

Some of them will issue words of support for Newton. After all, he led them to a 17-2 record. He won league MVP honors. The team has invested over $100 million in its star. And the positive talk is already unfolding, even as Newton defends his decision to walk out on reporters.

Cam’s our guy.

He’ll learn from this and come back stronger.

We have full faith in our quarterback.

What else are they going to say?

Of course they’re all harboring far different thoughts. They’re mulling the same things being considered of Robert Griffin III or Jay Cutler or Johnny Manziel, and how their considerable physical abilities, leadership and performance devolved into failure and weakness.

Are we looking at the right guy for the job?

The side-by-side snapshot at the top of this blog offers clues. It captures two men at two very similar moments in time.

On the right, Peyton Manning, fresh off an embarrassing quarterback rating of 24.4 and a 43-8 thrashing in Super Bowl 48. In the midst of what must be abject despair over an incredibly disappointing result, Manning looked presentable, and patiently answered questions from the media without a single hint of attitude. You cynics can go check the videotape.

On the left there’s Newton, hiding under a hoodie and wearing the league’s logo on his sleeve, after a rating of 55.4 and a 14-point loss in Super Bowl 50, moments before walking out in the middle of the post-game interview in which he delivered one-word answers. We’ve all seen that tape.

Who do you want leading your team?

The position of quarterback is so crucial. It must be agonizing as an NFL front office person, or player, or fan to come to the realization that your team doesn’t have the right guy. First, there’s the promise of Draft Day. Then, that one big pick eventually transitions into the patient process of either building toward championships…or continually falling short.

The middle of that process is just as important as the big decision on Draft Day. That’s where the Carolina Panthers are right now. In the middle. Next season will be Newton’s sixth pro year. It’s not too late for Newton to change his behavior. Or for the Panthers to change leaders.

You could argue that a more savvy customer under center this past Sunday might have secured a title for Carolina–or could do it next year if Newton doesn’t mature.

Ability is important, of course, but character is just as essential. For every Troy Aikman, John Elway or Joe Montana, there are dozens of Ryan Leafs, Jeff Georges and Matt Leinarts.

Maybe NFL personnel directors need to start paying as close attention to character as they do to raw skills. Maybe teams need to empower different people to make these big choices. Look outside the box. Hire body language experts, or FBI examiners, or really perceptive moms to ask tough questions and discern hard truths about these potential booms and busts.

Dave Coombs is still attempting to fulfill his radio potential as a morning host for 100.7 FM WUTQ.

Rating the Presidential Candidates By Athletic Ability

barack-obama-football

Photo credit: Business Insider

As the 2016 presidential race kicks into high gear, and Barack Obama gets set to pass the political football to his successor, you may be wondering “Who’s the best jock for the job?”

Okay, maybe you’re not wondering that. Still, many modern presidents have had strong sports associations, from George H.W. Bush’s playing days on Yale’s baseball team to Obama’s golf and basketball habits.

It’s a proven fact that playing sports develops good characteristics, like teamwork and discipline. And practicing how to cheat and get away with it.

For what it’s worth, here’s a breakdown of the main candidates’ athletic backgrounds or influences, and how it might translate to votes and political applications.

Jeb Bush was captain of his prep school tennis team. Those skills might come into play at some point, like volleying issues back and forth with other world leaders. Or, maybe physically clobbering Putin with a racquet. Otherwise, tennis may not be a big help. (B-)

Ben Carson, while appearing to be fit, does not seem to have any actual experience in sports, other than playing with his kids in the back yard. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, even Obama would probably poke fun at Carson’s basketball form and uniform in this picture:

Ben Carson-hoops-Vince Rodriguez

Photo credit: Victor Rodriguez

Untuck the shirt and ditch the belt. Come on, Ben! It’s game day! (C-)

John Kasich may not be much better at hoops. During a campaign stop at a gymnasium in New Hampshire, he displayed an ugly jump shot. But, at least he had the persistence to get the job done that day from behind the three-point arc, finally connecting on his ninth attempt in front of reporters and cameras. The only problem is: you don’t get nine tries to fix the economy or prevent a world war. (C)

Martin O’Malley maintains his physical fitness by following the rigorous P90X video workouts. If you’ve seen pictures of the former Maryland governor without a shirt, it’s clear that “gun control” is not an issue. (B+)

Ted Cruz has no apparent connection to sports other than through his body man. Bruce Redden was a placekicker for the Oklahoma State football team before hanging up his cleats and picking up a briefcase to trail Cruz around. Also, Cruz admits to playing some sports as a teenager, but only to avoid further ridicule he received as a young nerd. Cruz coincidentally resembles current Duke basketball star Grayson Allen, as The Washington Post pointed out in a 2015 photo comparison:

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Cruz is the one on the right. Of course. (D)

Marco Rubio played defensive back at a Miami high school and was good enough to score a football scholarship to Tarkio College in Missouri, where he spent one year before eventually securing degrees at the University of Florida and the University of Miami. If he’d played football at either of those schools, he wouldn’t be where he is today. (A-)

Rand Paul also played defensive back at his high school in Texas, and was on the swim team at Baylor University. So, he may be the field’s top pure athlete. (A-)

Chris Christie was a catcher on his high school baseball team. The position calls for brains and is considered a grind on the body, just like a political campaign. Christie’s body and popularity may be past their prime. (B)

Bernie Sanders ran track in high school and claims he once notched a 4:37 mile. The Vermont senator grew up a big Brooklyn Dodgers’ baseball fan and played slow-pitch softball for a team called the People’s Republic of Burlington. From the looks of the photo below, he wouldn’t have any problems throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day. But if he’s doing it as President, he’d better not go underhand. (B+)

bernie sanders-softball

Photo credit: Burlington Free Press

Donald Trump warns that the socialism Sanders espouses will eliminate golf, a sport that is currently struggling on its own in many areas around the country. Trump is a single-digit golf handicapper. His game will no doubt suffer if he ever really gets the chance to Make America Great Again. (B)

Hillary Clinton has listed speed-walking as a pastime she’s enjoyed. So, she might want to pick up the pace. (D)

Based on these stats, who do you like in 2016?

Dave Coombs hosts a morning radio show on 100.7 FM WUTQ. He rides a bike and will never run for president.

Higher Resolution


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Maybe you’re not a New Year’s Resolution kind of person. Or, maybe you just need to think about the word “resolution” in a different light.

Instead of approaching a resolution the same way you did last year and the year before that, and failing just like 90% of us do with our annual resolutions, try redefining the word.

We tend to think of a resolution in traditional terms–it’s a firm decision or vow to change our behavior in order to achieve a desired outcome. Usually it involves weight or money or love. And the resolution depends on following a stringent set of guidelines. No carbs. Small portions. Tight budgets. Higher standards.

Instead of making a traditional New Year’s Resolution, why not smash the matrix? Don’t just try making a resolution. Aim for HIGH RESOLUTION. You know, like the TVs and smart phones and computer screens and video games. Bring all the important details of your life into sharper focus, so they all have greater detail.

When you really SEE the details, it makes it much easier to illuminate (or eliminate) them.

OK, so how exactly do you sharpen the details in your life and focus on what’s most important? Take a cue from some successful businesses and products from the past decade or so.

Past Blue Ribbon was born in 1844 and nearly died in the 1990s. The beer company made its own high resolution comeback by sharpening its image. In part, by placing a greater emphasis on branding just the initials PBR (as opposed to its lengthy full name), the Milwaukee brewer captured the love of abbreviation in this day and age. In 2015, PBR ranked 8th in domestic beer sales, ahead of such brands as Coors!

A few years ago, clothing retailer J. Crew was getting lost in a sea of louder Abercrombies and Hollisters and American Eagles taking over malls across America. To reboot, the company reconsidered its leadership structure and hired the recently-fired CEO of The Gap. Then…HE discovered a creative designer already working at J. Crew and turned HER loose. In their first five years together, J. Crew’s new leaders increased revenues 107%.

Marvel Comics revived its brand by taking a close look at what was killing it: paper and ink. By focusing on movie-making instead of comic-book publishing, the company was resurrected and now soars. Sometimes you have to be willing to “kill off” what’s killing you. But you have to see it clearly, then take a good hard look, before you decide to get rid of it.

The folks who run Starbucks took a close look at THEIR business. In 2008, when progress had stalled, the leaders of the coffee giant closed all 7,100 of their stores for three hours one day. They used that time to re-train their employees and make their company’s image friendlier and less corporate. They still can’t come close to matching the personal touch offered by local outfits like Utica Roasting and Daylight Donuts, but they’re trying.

Converse has had ups and downs since it dominated basketball courts in the 50s and 60s with its Chuck Taylor All-Stars model sneakers. Soon after it filed for bankruptcy in 2001, the shoe company was bought by Nike, retooled with style in mind, and has since flourished. Based on a tip I saw online, I bought personalized Cons (pictured above) for our wedding day earlier this year.

My marriage itself was a fantastic result of higher resolution for me. And note whose sneaker is on top in the picture!

So, whether it’s redesigning your body, streamlining your expenses, changing the leadership structure in your house or business, or working on your image, the first step isn’t really MAKING a resolution, as much as it is bringing HIGH RESOLUTION and focus to the areas of your life you’d like to change. When you take a close look, it becomes pretty obvious what has to change.

Dave Coombs is the morning host for “The Talk of the Town” on 100.7 FM WUTQ in Utica, New York.

Halcyon Schayes

Dolph Schayes-rip

The phrase “halcyon days” is derived from a Greek tale and describes the period of calm during the winter, when storms do not occur. It also frequently conjures images of nostalgia, when times were good. It fits Dolph Schayes, who passed away this week at 87.

Dolph was as sweet a man as he was a basketball player. And that’s saying something.

I knew the gentle giant during my many years as a broadcaster in Syracuse, where Dolph starred with the NBA’s Nationals, and where his son Danny forged his own basketball identity as a collegiate star with the Orange.

I’d bump into Dolph occasionally at a charity golf tournament or at Wegmans grocery store. He always met me in a friendly way, and personalized the greeting by including my name. I’ve had co-workers whom I see every day fall short of that standard.

On the court, this guy was a superstar–a word used far too liberally these days. He was selected as an NBA All-Star 12 times. Same number as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell. Pretty good company.

And Dolph was good company on the radio. He scored big laughs from me with this segment a few years ago, as he recalled the death of one of his contemporaries:


Dolph passed along his wit and intelligence, his gentle spirit, and a few of his basketball skills to his son Danny, who played 18 seasons in the NBA. Dan’s weekly radio segments with us were just as funny and well-informed as his dad’s clip above.

Dan also inherited his father’s class. When I lost my radio job earlier this year, Dan was one of the first guys to reach out to me and extend some kind words. The Schayes brand is forever stamped in my book.

Dave Coombs is a morning radio host on 100.7 FM WUTQ in Utica and a one-time solid 10th man on his Division 3 collegiate team.

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