Athletic Identity: Transition to Transformation Book

Most athletes enjoy an exciting athletic career with little preparation for the road that lies beyond sports. Research indicates it takes college athletes between 18 months and five years to become fully adjusted to life without sports participation. During this transition to transformation (T2T) process, athletes can suffer depression, loneliness, alcohol and drug addiction, lack of confidence, and unrealistic expectations for life without sports.

Over the years through research, I have read countless numbers of articles on athletes and transition.  I have also worked with athletes through this time consuming and delicate process.  The majority of research is specifically geared towards transition as a career ending process.  However, when working with athletes, my approach has been to prepare them for the multilevel platform of transition, which consists of much more than exiting out of a career in sport.

The essence of transition for athletes is centered in the personal, social and professional development of the athlete.   Transitions include but are not limited to: being drafted to play on a team, not making the team, being released from the team, having to play a lesser role on a team, the unexpected injury (short, long and career ending), playing on the junior team to playing on the senior team, management changes, coaching changes, etc.  These are some of but not limited to the transitions that affect athletes competing in sport.

Athletic Identity Transitional Management (AITM) is a component of personal player development.  It has been designed to provide an industry name as well as an explanation of how this process affects athletes and helping professionals.  For athletes to make a smooth transformation (of any kind), they must understand how the athletic environment shapes their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Understanding these environmental elements directs athletes to one of or multiple, athletic identity T2T perspectives, get your copy and learn more about the transition process of athletes.

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Community College Student Athlete Success Conference Report


On October 28th 2016, the IPPD conducted a student athlete conference on the campus of West Los Angeles College. West Los Angeles College is one of 114 colleges of the California Community Colleges System. The IPPD requested that student athletes attending the conference complete a brief survey focused on exploring student athlete success. The following report highlights the key findings related to California Community College student athlete priorities and definitions of success.

Download the full report here:

Community College Student Athlete Success Conference Report

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Mike Lewis on IMG, Mental Conditioning and the Black Athlete

Mike Lewis is a former Mental Conditioning, Athletic & Personal Development Coach at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL.  He recently transitioned into his private practice at Breakthrough Performance Consulting in the Atlanta GA metro area.  He is provisionally certified as a Sports Psychology Consultant through the Association of Applied Sports Psychology.

IMG Academy is the world-leading provider of academic, athletic and personal development programs. With expert instruction, a proven training methodology, professional-grade facilities and a challenging and motivating learning environment that brings together individuals of all ages and backgrounds, IMG Academy provides the ultimate foundation for future success.  We were fortunate to catch up with Mr. Lewis to learn about his experience working for IMG, issues concerning the Black athlete, personal player development and much more.


Dr. Mark: How was your experience at IMG working in an elite level environment?

Mr. Lewis: My experience at IMG Academy was nothing short of phenomenal!  I went to IMG as a summer staff employee in 2014.  At the time I was at the tail-end of my graduate degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology from Argosy University.  My primary purpose in going to IMG was to gain applied experience and network with individuals who are leading the field in sports psychology.  Toward the end of my summer there I was asked to interview for a full-time position, which I was successful in earning.  As a Mental Conditioning Coach, my role was to support the mental performance of the Academy athletes in Football, Track & Field, and our Post Graduate programs in Baseball and Men’s Basketball.  In addition to the Academy athletes, I also worked extensively with the NFL Combine, NBA Pre-Draft, MLB Pre-Draft, and Elite/Olympic Track & Field Athletes in supporting them through the anticipated mental and psychological challenges they were soon to face in their journey to becoming a pro.  As well as provide the particular mindset training needed to be successful.

There are very few places in the country or even the world where someone in the sports psychology field can work with numerous athletes in various sports, from different backgrounds, and a variety of athletic ability.  The facilities at IMG are world-class, and the staff at IMG are truly experts in their chosen field.  They perform at a professional level consistently day in and day out.  Be it the grounds people maintaining the fields or one of the former Olympic medalists in the track & field program working with an athlete who is attending camp.  Everyone at IMG strives to become more, perform better, grow, and lead.  This was clearly evident to me when I arrived two years ago and for those reasons I choose to become part of the IMG family.

Today’s black athlete is from varying socio-economic and cultural backgrounds that have shaped their identities.  It takes a skilled individual or team of people to appeal to such diversity.

Mike Lewis from Breakthrough Performance Consulting


Dr. Mark: Is it important to establish a personal development framework with athletes before delivering mental conditioning services?

Mr. Lewis: It Depends.  Certain factors such as the size of the group or team, the athlete’s experience level, and what is the mission or ultimate goal of the program may determine whether or not a personal development framework is needed before delivering mental conditioning services.  For instance, at a U10 recreational youth level soccer program, instituting mental conditioning sessions right away may be very beneficial for the kids.  Many times the focus in youth athletics is on skill development and learning the game.  Although at the professional level or perhaps within the military performance world, the Mental Conditioning Coach’s approach may be to subtlety create an awareness of who they are, and how they can help, under the umbrella of “personal development”.

As a mental conditioning coach, much of my education and training is founded on counseling theory and the use of cognitive behavioral therapy.  Also, much of my life experiences are rooted in being an athlete.  That being said, I typically do not stick to a standardized personal development framework.  Each athlete I work with is uniquely different from his or her peer.  I enjoy teaching mental skills to athletes who have never been taught mental skills or spent time with a sports psychology professional.  I have found that to deliver mental conditioning services successfully it is essential to remember, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care!”




Dr. Mark: Is personal player development necessary for the Black athlete?

Mr. Lewis: Personal development is needed for all athletes. Participating in sports opens the door for development both athletically and personally.  Although, when referring specifically to black athletes, I think the larger question is:  “Who is the best person that can personally develop ‘this’ black athlete?”  In today’s world, the black athlete comes from Italy, Compton, Bermuda, Panama, Canada, the Netherlands, Ghana, France, South West Atlanta, and countless other areas around the globe.  Today’s black athlete is from varying socio-economic and cultural backgrounds that have shaped their identities.  It takes a skilled individual or team of people to appeal to such diversity.  During an athlete’s career, there are numerous challenges they will be faced with, and there are certainly a unique set of challenges a black athlete will be faced with.

In America right now, specifically young African-American male black athletes, despite his socio-economic status, sport, level of achievement, or accolades earned is likely to encounter or hear of an interaction in which he asks himself “Did that just happen because I’m or he is black or an athlete or both?”  It may come in the form of a sports reporter’s question, a traffic stop by police, an awkward interaction in an elevator, or simply a freebie at the local market.   The athlete who has developed personally and has a strong sense of self-identity and has had the opportunity to rehearse and or role-play such interactions can be better prepared.  A program that focuses on such development can be the difference between, graduation or non-graduation, arrest or non-arrest, a $250K contract or a  $2.5 Million Contract with a $2Million Signing Bonus.


Dr. Mark: Why aren’t we witnessing diversity training and programming with an emphasis on the personal player development of the Black athlete?


Mr. Lewis: I believe there are some programs and organizations, namely the NCAA, that have teams or departments that are focused on diversity and inclusion, leadership, character, and personal development. I’m interested to know of more programs that specifically emphasize the development of black athletes.  Perhaps a reason why we don’t see a prevalence of this type of programming is that conversations centered around ethnicity are uncomfortable for many people. Also, sport in most cases is the ultimate “level playing field”.  Within a game or competition, the better athlete at that moment wins, regardless of race, gender, or background.  Creating diversity in the development of an athlete via socially, intellectually, spiritually, and physically is an enormous commitment.  A university or high school that is willing to focus development of its staff and athletes on the challenges faced by one group of athletes must be ready to roll up their sleeves and get dirty.  As I mentioned earlier the larger question is “Who is best qualified to deliver the programming?”

I think fans of sport enjoy top-level human performance.  When the lights go dim, and the confetti cannons stop, there is another reality that exists. This reality occupies the majority of an athlete or organization’s time. This reality comes with a host of obstacles and opportunities.  The athletes and organizations that create environments to mentally and socially prepare their athletes stand a greater chance of developing awesome people.

You can reach Mike Lewis through the following;

Twitter @thementalmike



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Ronnie Stokes, Former Ohio State Buckeye Standout

Ron Stokes has been the expert analyst on the radio broadcasts of Ohio State basketball. Stokes also is the CEO and president of Three Leaf Productions, a Columbus-based printing, marketing, and advertising business. Mr. Stokes played basketball for Ohio State from 1981-85, served as a captain for two seasons, and was the team MVP and all-Big Ten as a senior. He ranks among the top six all-time for the Buckeyes in assists and steals, and in the top 25 in scoring.  PPD Mag caught up with Mr. Stokes to talk about athletes and personal development.

PPD Mag: Why are athletes getting into so much trouble outside of sports?

Mr. Stokes: I quantify that things today were not around when I played.  Social media and cell phones are a big issue.  This generation of opposing fans has much more access to student athletes as well as professional athletes.  The athletes personal business is more exposed and socially, the general public  are now noticing a lot of the negative behavior athletes are exhibiting away from the sport.

Dr. Mark:  How important is the male influence for the athlete?

Mr. Stokes: Having a positive influence during the developmental stages at home especially having the male influence or lack of influence plays a major role.  I would add, not having a male in the household is an issue.  Mom and grandma are great but having a male involved in the developmental process is in some ways a separator.  Unfortunately we are seeing a lot of athletes getting into trouble and they happen to be African American athletes.

PPD Mag: What core element is missing from college and professional athletics?

Mr. Stokes: A person who is dedicated and focusing on working with athletes in an area of personal growth.  At the moment we could see this person as a mentor.  I think a mentor is someone that can give the kids something that they need, if someone who has had similar life experience that they can share with athletes, it can be useful to a kid.  However, it is important to understand that, mentorship has a lot of responsibility and people attempting to fill that role need to understand all the components involved.  More importantly, the mentee has to be able to accept the information and help which the mentor is providing.  Its a two way street.

PPD Mag: Do you see a need for transitional support services for athletes? 

Mr. Stokes: Yes, transitional support services are vitally important, unfortunately kids leave college ill-equipped in certain areas, they are thrown out and expected to survive in a number of areas and the transition is an ongoing process.  I know some coaches help athletes but I also know some coaches that just don’t.  I had mentors who taught me and prepared me for life.  These were things that I couldn’t learn on the basketball court.

During a four or five year process it would be an extra bonus for the school to provide pre-transitional services.  Once they leave the university, student athletes do not engage with the institution.  Services should be in place allowing athletes to engage with the university.  By that I mean, the institutions should have programs in place to support former athletes once they have completed or exhausted their eligibility, due to the amount of issues former athletes encounter.


PPD Mag: What are your three suggestions for student athletes?

  1. Write down your goals, short, medium and long term.
  2. Find 2 or 3 people in your goal areas and identify someone to include in your circle.
  3. Find mentors you can trust and believe in, stay close to them and act on what they tell you.


You can find Mr. Stokes on twitter 

This interview was arranged by Jay Keys

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The Joe Asberry Project 

Joe Asberry left the USA in 1991 to play international basketball and has not been back since.  He has played in Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Finland and Luxembourg and to this day lives in Berlin.  He is currently a social worker, who is an international guest speaker on drug prevention and sports motivation.

Dr. Mark: Why are your youtube videos so Hard Core?

Mr. Asberry: I try and just keep it real and its a rage.  I really felt I was not treated fairly in the college system.  I also think it stems from my experience at Pepperdine University where I was redshirted and then the next year they shipped me out!  Now, I made mistakes, but I think they could have had someone on campus working with me on the issues I had.  It was clear that I had a substance abuse problem back then as well as a lot of other guys on the team. I won’t name names, lol.  The reason I am speaking after years is to show them they did not stop me from achieving my goal. I also want to help educate and inspire the next generation of ballers.

Dr. Mark: Playing basketball in Europe, what are the key issues athletes need to understand?

Mr. Asberry: One, off the court issues

Financial Issues:  are you going to get your money on time or at all and most often players money is late.

Health Issues:  Most teams have health coverage but I have heard too many stories of guys getting hurt and soon after, they are released from the club.

Social Issues: The club life will kill you and the women really, really are interested in you and I have seen guys get caught up in that and I was one of them but the social seen didn’t dictate my success.  Some guys can handle it but some guys can’t.

Cultural Issues: Athletes coming abroad have to be willing to embrace the culture.  The American culture is something they should leave in the USA, if not players never last on the international level.

Mr. Asberry: Two, on the court issues

Coaching and communication: some coaches don’t speak english and so it makes it tough to communicate in games.

Knowledge of the game of basketball:  Many of the coaches don’t understand the game in the same manner that US coaches do.

Teammates: Most of the teammates will be envious of your journey through basketball development and the major factor is your American and most Americans playing abroad get all the attention.

Knowledge of the game of basketball: the international rules are different and the style of play is a bit more technical from a fundamental stand point.  The USA has athletes on the court but many cant think the game.  The international game involves a lot more thinking while playing as oppose to just playing.

Dr. Mark: Can we expect more, of Joe’s Basketball Diary in 2016?

Bet on it, LoL…..

Click here to listen to Joe’s Basketball Diary 

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Gregg Simmons of Hire Ethics

Hire Ethics was created to support underrepresented college students. The majority of these students were completing their education but lacked the skills to obtain employment.  Hire Ethics became that bridge between education and employment.  After a few years in business, they realized that other populations were also lacking these same career management skills, particularly athletes.  In 2016, a new division of Hire Ethics will be launched, “Hire Ethics Pro” dedicated to career, education & employment services for elite & professional athletes. Gregg Simmons is the Executive Director of Hire Ethics and agreed to talk to PPD Mag.

Dr. Mark: Is it difficult to prepare athletes for a career outside of athletics?

Mr. Simmons: I don’t believe it is difficult.  I believe it becomes difficult when information is not available, when the discussion happens toward the end of their athletic career, and when there is a lack of support from their immediate circle.

Dr. Mark: Why is the transition to the career world difficult for athletes?

Mr. Simmons: Transition / change is difficult for most people, it becomes increasingly difficult for athletes because no one wants to talk about or plan for the inevitable, retiring or leaving their sport.

Dr. Mark: Can you tell us your thoughts on campus speakers who are former athletes?

Mr. Simmons: Athletes, like most people, like hearing from their own, so athletes are most receptive to listen to what former athletes have to say.  The benefits occur when the message or the story is so unique or special that the athlete gain empathy or not a sense of “I can do that too.”  The bigger issue is when a former athlete provides a good message but fails to provide or articulate a way for current athletes to be successful too (If that is the message from a former athlete).  There should be next steps or “how to” incorporated within any presentation to benefit or help the athlete.

Dr. Mark: Why is personal development important to the athlete?

Mr. Simmons: The main reason is in the title of the question “Personal.”  It has to be personal and athletes have to own it and be actively involved with their growth & development.  The same effort and time they put into being the best athletes has to go into their personal development.  Transition is inevitable, so preparing, training and getting ready for life after sports is important.

Dr. Mark: Do you believe people currently working with athletes have been properly trained to help athletes in the area of personal growth?

Mr. Simmons: I believe the majority of these people have not been trained properly.  It’s widely believed that being a former athlete is the main criteria to work with or speak to other athletes, this should not be the case.  A perfect example is when sport teams hire an All-World athlete as a head coach mainly due to their athletic success and they turn out to be an awful coach.  Being a former athlete or an athletic administrator is a great hire if they have been properly trained.

Dr. Mark: How does the family effect the personal development of the athlete?

Mr. Simmons: Family and individuals in their immediate circle influence, shapes and effects the athlete’s decisions, reality, direction and growth.  When an elite athlete transitions from sport so does everyone else in their family and immediate circle.

Click here to learn more about Hire Ethics 

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Anthony Eggleton: Stay in Balance

In my early youth I had to be a warrior just to survive in the concrete jungle. Then came Martial Arts where I learned to develop and harness my warrior spirit. Later I joined Uncle Sam’s Army where I trained and then trained others to divide and conquer. All that I cared about was winning at any cost. Now in my life I am trying hard to channel my warrior spirit into something constructive and peaceful.

Technology and Science are changing at breakneck speeds. Are you keeping up with the rise, or falling behind? All around you is information that can change your health, finances and social standing. It is in easy and accessible formats. So, there is really no excuse for not staying abreast. The time for excuses is obsolete but we must be careful.

We hold in our mist, in the guise of Social Media a tool for changing the collective consciousness and the world or for keeping us in limitation and towards self-destruction. We must all make an individual choice. Whatever you write, share or post on this powerful tool causes a change, ripple effect somewhere in the world. Therefore care should be taken at all times. Everything is connected. Seeds of negativity will only grow more of the same.

The personal pain I have grown through helped mold and shape me into the person that I am today. I’m not asking for more, but if more was to come my way I am more than ready for the lesson. Like everyone at sometime or another I have been tried in the fire. But I’m still here and growing.

One great understanding is that balance in all things is needed and that examples of that is around me waiting for my attention and comprehension. The greatest life lesson I have learned, I must take as much care of my physical body as I do my spiritual. I built up the temple not made of hands but allowed my body temple to slowly slip into stiffness and weakness. The Divine Creator gave me the insight to regain my balance. I am so thankful. Stay in balance.

Until next time


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Dr. Tommy Shavers: Part Three, Culture, Sex and Power

In the third part of a four part interview, Dr. Tommy Shavers gives us a better understanding of the athlete in the areas of Culture, Power and Sex based off his research.  If you are working with athletes you should read this and share it.

How do we address the domestic violence and sexual assault problem in the culture of sports?


I will continue to come back to my hallmark statement; if you are unaware, then you are unprepared. The first part that is essential to addressing the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault in sports is accurate awareness on the issue. Being a college football player myself and being coached by one of the great defensive minds in football, our coach would always ask the question, “what do you see?” If we couldn’t accurately articulate what we were seeing on the field from our opponent, there was no way we could accurately prepare or respond to what we were up against. So it all starts with accurate awareness, does the sports industry really know what they are seeing when it comes to these areas. Currently they are not fully aware (which means to be accurately aware) of what they are up against with this issue.


In a research study I conducted with college football players, in which they talked about status, power, and sex; these athletes were unanimously clear that their status and social power as college football players was influencing their overall behavior as well as their sexual perspective, actions and behaviors with women. The things these young men stated during these interviews would bring chills to someone who is not aware that such a culture (which the kids didn’t create) exists. Listen, I lived the culture and I was a bit taken back by what I was hearing in these interviews. Most of them talked about entering into a world or culture they didn’t even know existed, where people (men and women) were willing and able to give them anything, just because of their status and influence as athletes. So in other words the way society began to treat these athletes changed (culture); which quickly in turn began to change them. Many of them admitted to being the focus of attention in high school, and they stated that it was at a whole different level in college. A unique issue that most may not understand about this culture is when it comes to sex. In this culture, most male athletes are pursued just as much for sex as they pursue sex. One player asked me a question, “what are you suppose to do when a beautiful, attractive girl wants to sleep with you; turn it down? That’s a hard thing to do; for one you look bad if you turn her down, and two who would want to turn that down?”


So for those who have lived in and experienced that culture, they know these things to be real and valid. Another thing that was emerging out of the study was that athletes are really polarized in the eyes of people socially (especially women). Some love them and want to be in their circle and others really don’t care for them and avoid them socially and relationally as much as possible. So what this creates is a generalized view of women by athletes because all the women that they engage with on a regular basis are women who are heavily influenced by their status and thus carry themselves or allow themselves to be treated in ways that other women who are not so enamored by athletes would carry themselves. As a result many athletes develop a dangerously false perception of women because of the culture of women they regularly engage with.


Now someone may want to jump on those statements as sexist or degrading of women, well before we can talk about how inappropriate such statements are, we must first ask are they true, and as unfortunate as it is, this is true. But it is not just about women. Everyone in their circles who are enamored with their status as athletes, treat them in such a way that this becomes the only world they know. I call it “living in a world of all green lights”. If this is the case, then what happens when such a person comes to a yellow or red light in their life? Well, yellow and red lights don’t exist in their life so they are unaware and thus unprepared to deal with yellow and red light realities of life. And the reality is yellow and red lights do exist for the rest of the world, which means that it is almost inevitable that the green light world will one day encounter a red light, catching up to the athlete and causing disastrous wreckage in their own lives and in the lives of those they’ve encountered. This is why this work is so important. We are trying to tell these kids to slow down and stop, when those things don’t practically exist in their world which makes them unaware that they really exist (for them) anywhere else in the world.


The last thing I say on that is this; the thing that surprised me the most about this study, was the reaction of the athletes after the interviews were concluded. I would ask each of the participants if they had any questions or anything additional they would like to add to the study. Unexpected to me was that the majority (I can’t recall one who wasn’t) were as surprised as I, about the realities that they were sharing about their own lives and the lives of others in this status power culture of sports. Many of them mentioned that they have never stopped and thought about their lives and actions in this way, they were use to just living in it, and it was normal for them, until they actually sat down and talked about it. Many of them seemed to be sobered and alarmed at their actions and the actions of others; now knowing how dangerously risky and abnormal their lives were. Many of them thanked me for opening their eyes to their own world. Think about that, they told me about their lives, all I did was ask if having status and power as an athlete affected them in anyway. But in the end, to them it was as if I had just made them (accurately) aware of their own lives in ways they had no idea. For example guys talk about sexual activity that in the eyes of most, would be viewed as gang rape. This didn’t hit them until they actually were made to look at their lives from an objective and not power influenced point of view. They are so accustomed to living on impulsive and desire that they rarely are taught to process things rationally and with awareness of the circumstances. But this is what all of the research on power tells us could happen to individuals like athletes. Their words were merely practical confirmation of what the research field has already learned and continues to discover when it comes to individuals with high levels of status and social power. This was why I realized that for most of these athletes, we expected them to rationally function in a world that’s not their norm and carry themselves in ways they rarely have to, in their normal daily lives as power individuals. Let me just add, this does not just go on in sports, but in all high profile, high power cultures. We see it with politicians, corporate executives, and sports leaders. We’ve seen it recently with law enforcement and the inability of some police officers to effectively handle having power. We see it in faith circles with the moral failures, behavioral abuses, and exploitation of people by ministers, pastors, and other church leaders. Some are aware and choose to use their status and power in appalling ways for their own corrupt desires. However, many are not this way; many have unfortunately inherited a culture that their character and conduct has adapted to.




See Part 1

See Part 2

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Stephen Bardo: Social Media, Basketball and PPD

Stephen Bardo, former collegiate and professional athlete is currently a rising sports broadcaster. He talked to PPD Mag and gave his thoughts on the current state of college basketball, the sports broadcasting business and of course Personal Player Development.


Dr. Mark: Its been many years since you competed in college basketball at Illinois, how much has the game changed?

Mr. Bardo: The college basketball game that I played over 25 years ago is much different than the game now.  First, the top players leave after their freshman year for the NBA.  This causes a tremendous talent drain on college basketball.  During my last two years at the University of Illinois, the Big Ten Conference had 17 first and second round NBA draft picks.  Most of the top players stayed at least until their junior year.  The skill level and knowledge of the game was much higher then, because you had guys with 90-100 career games under their belt entering their senior years.  That’s not the case today.

Second, the game is officiated much closer now than when I played.  Some of my colleagues (Jay Bilas, Mike DeCourcy) would argue, but I know the game is called much tighter now than ever.  One of the reasons the officiating has changed is the lack of skill development among the players overall.  Scoring is at historic lows right now and the NCAA is trying to legislate the lack of passing and shooting.  Players are more athletic now than when I played but far less skilled in the areas of passing and shooting which leads to more scoring and a more appealing game.

Dr. Mark: What made you decide to become a Basketball Analyst?

Mr. Bardo: Basketball is my family’s business.  My father played at Southern Illinois University in the late 50’s and early 60’s.  My older brother started at Indiana University and transferred to the Citadel to finish his career.  My sister played junior college basketball.  I’m the youngest and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in sports and basketball in particular.  I wanted to be an electrical engineer until I took Chemistry in high school, it was a foreign language to me.  My Dad told me I like to run my mouth and I love basketball, why not look into broadcast journalism as a major.  Some of the best advice I’ve ever received.

Dr. Mark: In our current society, do you believe the sport media are held to the same stand regarding social media?

Mr. Bardo: Social media is the game-changer!  We follow athlete sites to gain inside information about them.  It’s rare that athletes even hold press conferences any longer, they just make announcements on social media.  The immediate nature of social media challenges the older established media companies and the way they conduct business now.

Dr. Mark:  What mistakes if any have you made as a basketball analyst (on or off air) and what could you have done differently?

Mr. Bardo: I’ve had my issues with social media.  I’m outspoken and say what’s on my mind.  The immediacy of social media allows people to give their opinion.  I’ve made my opinion known, even before thinking of the consequences.  For example, I was very disappointed in the way my alma mater, the University of Illinois, was running their athletic program.  I went on Twitter and shared my disappointment and specifically spoke about the leadership of the program.  I work with the Big Ten Network, so I was essentially biting the hand that feeds me.  I didn’t see it that way since this is my alma mater yet, the University of Illinois and the Big Ten Network are business partners.  This incident affected the amount of work I will receive this season and it’s a great reminder of how NOT to use social media.

Dr. Mark: How important is Personal Player Development for the athlete?

Mr. Bardo: Personal development is key for everyone, yet it’s crucial for student-athletes (SA).  There is so much pressure to win at the elite level.  So a student athlete’s primary job is to help their team be successful.  Getting a degree comes second to winning.  I know this is contrary to popular belief, but this is the way it is at the elite level.  SA’s are viewed more as a commodity, rather than a student.  If a team (like mine did) reaches the Final Four you have legendary status among classmates, alumni, and fans.  So the work that you do is crucial for SA’s to have a productive life after sports instead of being used by sports.

If done properly, SA’s have some of the most sought after intangibles of any potential graduates in the workplace.

The ability to work in teams, produce under pressure, handle time constraints, sacrifice for the team, and many more, make former athletes very attractive to companies.  Yet Personal Player development is needed to connect the dots for athletes.

Dr. Mark: What can colleges do better to help personally develop their athletes?

Mr. Bardo: Universities can bring in former athletes that have made successful transitions into the workplace.  Success leaves footprints and former athletes can cut the learning time for current athletes by years with their advice and specific examples.  I know programs like yours are much needed and are long overdue.  It’s not enough to give a full scholarship without proper support.  Athletes from challenged backgrounds have to play catch-up for the skills that were either under-developed or not addressed at all before stepping foot on a university campus.  These Personal Player Development programs are crucial to the total success of the student-athlete.

Dr. Mark:  What advice can you give to people who are pursuing a career as a sports analyst?

Mr. Bardo: With technology as accessible and most times free there are a number of outlets people can use to attract opportunities.  If I were starting out right now, I would start a podcast.  Podcasting is on-demand content.  They are easy to start, easy to post online, and gives podcasters a forum to get their reps in!  Just like when we started playing basketball, we had to get a certain amount of shots up if we wanted to improve.  Getting into sports commentating is no different.  You must get your reps up and Podcasting is the most efficient and cost effective way to get started.  If your Podcast is good networks will find you.

Dr. Mark:  What are your career and professional goals moving forward?

Mr. Bardo: I love being a basketball analyst and I will continue to improve and become one of the best in the nation. However, my passion is seeing young people develop and reach their potential.  I love being a professional speaker and I’ve really started to build this area of my business.  I’m the “Point Guard that assists student-athletes and their parents maximize the sports experience”.  I speak to the youth, college, and association/corporate markets.  I specialize in leadership and improving culture (teamwork).  Check me out at


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Dr. Tommy Shavers: Part 2

Dr. Tommy Shavers is the president of Tommy Speak LLC., a speaking and consulting company which focuses on leadership, teamwork, communication, and personal development. He is also the co-founder of the Atlas Group Advisors.  Dr. Shavers has been involved with helping athletes for decades which is why we consider him to be one of the few pioneers in the Personal Player Development industry.  This is the second of a four part interview, it only gets better.

Do you believe very few people are out to help the athlete in the area of personal development?

I think there are very few people currently who are actually qualified to able to help athletes in this area. I believe there are very few truly qualified in this area because it’s never been a primary focus area of development for the athlete over the years. We have progressed over the years with the focus on athlete development. We started with athletic development, and then we moved to physical development, academic/educational and then mental/emotional/clinical. Today we are moving into the social/behavioral era of athlete development. It often takes some major issue to see that an area is lacking and in need of addressing. Today more than ever, behavioral risk management is becoming a primary factor in talent acquisition across industries. With the growth of a global and instantly connected society, organizations have to really invest in figuring out if a prospect can not only be an asset performance wise, but will they not be a liability socially– how do they handle life, how do they interact within the greater society, how are they developing as an overall person?

They also have to discover what is the social/personal/behavioral atmosphere of their organizational culture, and how can they best create culture of positive social, personal, and behavioral outcomes. Issues like domestic violence and sexual assault are examples of the social and behavioral era of athlete development now being the focal point of the sports world. So I believe this is the next evolution in the total development of today’s athlete for today’s sports organizations. In this fast and growing field; I can see social/personal/behavioral development becoming the foundational development criteria and focus of all major sports.

Coaches often say, the number one ability they look for in a player is availability. This couldn’t be truer in today’s sports world where a player’s behavior off the field has in some ways eclipsed their importance or value on the field. I believe most in the sports world want a solution, however just like with any new paradigm shift; someone has to pioneer this solution into reality. Individuals like yourself with the PPD Magazine and the work you do, myself, and a handful of other extremely qualified individuals are in the process of making that happen.

Who benefits from the college athletes participation in sports?

I think there are too many to name in this interview. For starters, we can refer to those gatekeepers I mentioned earlier. These individuals have monetary incentives tied to athlete participation. However, there are numerous other individuals and industries who indirectly benefit from athletes participating in sport.

Does society see athletes as products or people?

This one is kind of tricky because many in society treat athletes as products; making money and opportunities from their success. However, at the same time, they are expecting them to act like normal people. However, if you understand power cultures, this wouldn’t be surprising as individuals with power often dehumanize people and see them more as objects to use and leverage as oppose to individual to help and empower.

Can the domestic violence and sexual assault problems in sports be address the same way society is addressing domestic violence and sexual assault?

Great question. The answer is no and here’s why. The issue or question isn’t is this a sports issue or a societal issue as most have tried to make it out be. While we can admit that there is a general societal problem in these areas, the real question is are the causes for these issues the same in all walks of society? We know the answer to that is no. For example, there is crime in every city in our country, while this is a general societal problem, there is no such thing as a general societal solution. Each state, city, town has its own set of unique variables and factors that are necessary to understand if their goal is to address the crime in their particular community. What would work for one community would not work for another. This is the same when it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault in sports. Rather than focusing on it being a bigger societal issue, we have to discover what the unique factors are attributing to it in the context and culture of the sports community.

See Part One

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