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Volume 20 No. 41
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Plugged In: Jaymee Messler, The Players' Tribune

Jaymee Messler serves as president of The Players’ Tribune, which she co-founded and launched with Derek Jeter in 2014. Since then, it’s become the place for athletes throughout sports to break news, both personal and professional, as well as to speak out on sensitive issues. The platform continues to evolve as athletes increasingly speak out on social issues and embrace new technology to tell their stories.

Athletes, themselves, I don’t know if they are necessarily different. I just think the current political climate has played a major role in the need for athletes to have a voice and the rise of athlete activism and athletes vocalizing their opinions on certain issues.
Jaymee Messler
The Players' Tribune

 From personal to social: We had done a lot of in-depth stories on personal issues and sports-related issues. From the beginning we had athletes talking about concussions and steroids. Daniel Carcillo did a piece early on, talking about losing his friend Steve Monitor, whose suicide was kind of a repercussion of concussion. Today, though, I think it’s more of the social kind of issue. Recently we had Karl-Anthony Towns talking about Charlottesville [Va.]. Steph Curry did a story on Veterans Day, talking about veterans and being disinvited to the White House. And then Breanna Stewart, she wrote a piece, “MeToo,” [about] surviving through sexual abuse as a child.

 

Athlete-generated content: The biggest tech trend that we are seeing that’s affecting the media business right now is the emergence and dominance of user-generated content, and in our space, it’s athlete-generated content.

 

Photo: The Players’ Tribune

On Richard Sherman: The example is what we did with Richard Sherman and “Out of Context” and giving him tools to be able to create content himself and still be able to maintain that high quality. Samsung was our brand partner in that and we outfitted his house with the Samsung Galaxy. It was an authentic way for a brand to connect with an athlete.

 

Expanding “Out of Context”: The series has been a huge success, garnering more than 25 million video views and over 240 million earned media impressions. And because of the success, we just did an “Out of Context” series with (New York Knicks center Kristaps) Porzingis. We did a special “Out of Context” during the holidays. We are working with Samsung because we want to continue this “Out of Context” series. And we are working with them to try to identify other athletes in other sports to continue the series. We are still evolving, but it will be multiple athletes in multiple sports. It will be both. We will also be doing it around different events.

 

Stories she’s watching: A lot of the stories around female athletes right now are really interesting — what is happening in the world of gymnastics. But also just the push for equality for female athletes is really interesting. I personally am following Ryan Shazier from the Pittsburgh Steelers just because he is someone we all know a lot about and you root for him and you care for him. I think the ongoing dialog about race and social justice is, obviously, something we continue to look out and figure out how we can be a place for athletes to talk about that stuff.

— Liz Mullen