The New Professional Athlete
The New York Times has a fascinating series going on right now. It’s an examination of sports and fame in today’s world. One of the stories really stuck out to me: Jamad Fiin. She’s a fascinating example of a trend in sports. As Andrew Keh describes it, Fiin is one of the growing number of influencers who are “professional athletes without competing in professional sports.”
Fiin is a Somali American and Muslim who lives in the Boston area. She wears a hijab, and she balls. Something that combination connected with the masses, and a clip of her finishing with a buttery smooth left amongst a bunch of boys on a playground court went viral.
The followers grew— including Drake — and so did the opportunities.
Today, she has more Instagram followers than all but two Celtics players.
“Kids now, their top career choice is not rock star, athlete or actor,” said Dan Levitt, the founder of Long Haul Management, which represents Fiin and other sports influencers. “It’s digital creator on one of these platforms.”
Levitt is one of many people waiting to see what Fiin does next. Fiin said her managers had gently prodded her to make more content. They have other clients making seven figures a year, monetizing their personal brands with advertisements, sponsorships and merchandise.
So what is Fiin doing with this? She’s almost finished up grad school (M.B.A). She’s playing on the Somali national team, and she’s also putting on basketball camps for Somali and Muslim girls. Reading that made me happy. Not that I begrudge anyone for making the most out of an opportunity and earning off of your name, but it’s cool that she wants to give back, too.
Before this — before the fame, before the camps, before Drake — Fiin had to fight to play the game. Other parents in the Boston Somali community used to call her mother and ask why her daughter was playing sports and running with boys. It was not until the eighth grade that her mother let her play on a team.
That old tension is what propels everything today. Fiin is shy by nature, but she wants to be more famous, wants even more eyeballs on her, because she wants to embody something she never saw as a child.
She wants people to keep being surprised by her — until the sight of a girl in a hijab swishing a step-back 3 isn’t surprising anymore.
That’s the good stuff. – PAL
Source: “What Will Jamad Fiin Do With Her Influence?” Andrew Keh, The New York Times (08/17/22)
Loved this article from the legend Peter Gammons on the importance of base running and the nutjobs in baseball who obsess over it (Moises Alou, the Alomar family, Mookie Betts, Ron Washington, Terry Francona. Think baserunning isn’t’ a big deal? Consider this gem from Gammons:
In the 2022 season, through August 20, 22.2 percent of nine-inning major league games were decided by one run, and another 8.5 percent were decided in extra innings, which means around 30 percent were essentially one-run games. “How many of those games can be decided by running down the line on a groundball at sprint speed?” asks Sandy Alomar Jr., who Francona has in charge of the Guardians’ baserunning.
I am shocked by that number. 30 percent! Are you shocked? That’s about 48 games in a 162-game season. Maybe I’m crazy, but I can’t get over that stat.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts describes baserunning as “the measure of a great teammate.” Of course he would, considering his 2004 moment.
Or, Giants fans, consider this from Gammons:
There are Royals people who believe that when Alex Gordon hit that fateful line drive off Madison Bumgarner with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series — the single that went past Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco and rolled to the fence, allowing Gordon to reach third — that Gordon might have tried for an inside-the-parker if it hadn’t been for the presence of shortstop Brandon Crawford. Crawford is one of the best infielders at relays because he worked so hard at the craft and once said “I love practicing relays” — a reason he was so good at the art. All that practice might have kept the Royals from tying that Game 7 and secured the championship for the Giants.
This was a refreshing story about a part of the game that gets overlooked. Hopefully we are moving out of the darkness that is the three true outcomes in baseball (homers, strikeouts, walks). – PAL
Source: “Mookie Betts’ baserunning helped win a World Series; why don’t more teams stress it?” Peter Gammons, The Athletic (08/25/22)
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Nobody was laughing out loud that day in Grenada! But many people were saying OMG. Me, I was saying TTYL to my innocence.Tony