Tanner Magnum of BYU joins the podcast & my thoughts on the ‘Modern Athlete’

Tanner Mangum of BYU joins the podcast & my thoughts on the ‘Modern Athlete’

“It’s not a weakness to get help, it’s a sign of strength.” ~ BYU QB/Elite 11 co-MVP Tanner Magnum on The Yogi Roth Show

The ‘modern athlete’ — what is that?

I like to think that it is ever-changing and with the advents of social media, a lot of attention is now placed on what it means to be a ‘modern athlete.’ Athletes in our society, even those yet to reach the professional level, are willing participants in the forum that exists when everyone has social media channels for the general public to follow. Someone’s twitter feed can be vanilla, and hardly used, or studied. But the moment they gain attention via their performance, or by publishing a controversial image or thought, they’re open to all the scrutiny and criticism in the world. So yes, the ‘modern athlete’ is also an athlete that is evaluated moment by moment, or tweet by tweet or IG post by IG post.

The ‘modern athlete’ is also one who can represent themselves accurately and wholesomely, both with their actions on the field or the court and with their online presence. Being an adept storyteller, or an entertaining personality can have a real, and often calculable impact on an athlete’s career – take for instance Kevin Durant. After catching criticism for joining the Warriors, he launched a YouTube channel to offer fans access to his life off the court, so that it became easier to dispel the villainous view many had taken of him. A main section of his website is even titled “The Real KD.” There’s no doubt, with close to 700k YouTube subscribers, that his decision to create and publish his own YouTube channel has changed the way he’s perceived by fans, other NBA stars, and potentially even General Managers who may be next in line to offer him a contract.

This past week while moderating a panel at the Athlete X Brand conference, I had the chance to hear from Durant’s partner Sarah Flynn, who occupies the role of General Manager of the Durant Company & Thirty-Five Media. Alongside her were Molly Carter, CMO of Kobe Bryant, Inc. and Rudy Cline-Thomas, Andre Iguodala’s investment partner. They’re each on the forefront of a new wave in the sports industry; helping modern athletes take control of their brands and diversify their earnings through new ventures. What was most interesting was how the mindset of an athlete is not necessarily geared to have success as an entrepreneur and a storyteller.

Think about it for a second, athletes are used to immediate feedback on their work. In fact, we obsess over immediate feedback. When I was told to work on my speed at Pitt, I dedicated time to running, lifting & stretching, and within 6 months my 40-yard dash dropped from a 4.7 to below a 4.58. But success in business isn’t as simplistic; you often have to be more agile and resilient than simply hardworking. For instance, Kobe Bryant recently launched a children’s podcast called The Punies. While it’s enjoyed success, the podcast didn’t attract fans quite the way Bryant’s performance on the court had. Carter said that when Bryant was frustrated it wasn’t the #1 new podcast on the charts, her response was humorous, but valuable. “Kobe, it’s a children’s podcast,” she said. “There’s not a huge audience there.” My takeaway from her story was that building out a viable product takes time, patience and often even failure. The product may even change, or you might pivot and gear it towards a new demographic. Like athletic success, building success in business takes hours of hard work, but it differs in that it also requires learning where there’s a market for your talents or product, and using feedback to train your focus on the tasks that make the biggest impact.

As the ‘modern athlete’s’ visibility continues to increase, so does that of their family members. At Oregon State last weekend I had time to meet Kym Hilinksi – the mother of the late Washington State QB Tyler Hilinski who took his own life this past January. Through the attention she’s been able to generate for her new foundation Hilinki’s Hope, Kym is now leading the effort on college campuses to raise awareness for mental health. She and representatives from #DAMWorthIt – another organization doing great work in the space – set up booths together at the game to offer resources to anyone that wanted to learn more about how to address mental health issues. The whole experience made my conversation with BYU QB Tanner Mangum on The Yogi Roth Show this week much more enriching, as he discussed his decision to publicize his own struggles with stress and anxiety. During Mental Health Awareness month this topic is one that we all must continue to talk about. Tanner offers incredible advice to coaches, parents and athletes. We met when he was 17 years oldand I must say, to hear him now at 25 share his story I get the chills. Hope you enjoy it and if compelled, please share.

Speaking of sharing, what’s on your mind? Fun stories? Podcast guests you’d love to learn from? College football rants? Reach out to me at yogi@yogiroth.com to let us know your thoughts on this newsletter, the issues we’ve discussed, or if you know of any organizations we should be aware of. Be sure to listen to The Yogi Roth Show each week for insights into the humanity of college football, and all the good it can do in this world.

Much love,
Yogi Roth

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