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Motez Bishara

Motez Bishara

A lifelong enthusiast of both professional sports and popular music, Motez Bishara is a London-based author and award-winning journalist featured on CNN, ESPN, Al-Jazeera and NPR.

He served as a visiting professor of news writing at the Gulf University for Science and Technology in the Spring of 2018.

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Success! Athletes Who Rock! sold 10 pre-orders by March 31, 2018, was pitched to 29 publishers, and is in discussions with publishers.

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Athletes Who Rock!

Achieving Stardom in Music and Sports Over Just One Lifetime

Most kids’ visions of becoming professional athletes or rock stars fade into adulthood. But one elite set of overachievers defied nearly impossible odds to turn both dreams into reality.

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Sports Inspirational
England, United Kingdom
50,000 words
25% complete
8 publishers interested

Synopsis

Synopsis of Athletes Who Rock! 

Most teenagers grow up wanting to become either professional athletes or rock stars. Sadly, those dreams usually fade away during the onset of adulthood. .

For one exclusive set of people, however, those weren't just dreams. 

Athletes Who Rock! celebrates the parallel careers of an elite group of overachievers, who have grasped hold of pop superstardom and athletic glory in one short lifetime.  

How these hybrid athletes-turned-musicians (and in at least one case, musician turned athlete) have succeeded at the highest level in both fields -- despite nearly impossible odds -- deserves an in-depth examination.

For example, what did it feel like for former Boston Red Sox pitching great Bronson Arroyo help his team win its first World Series in 86 years, before accompanying Pearl Jam and taking over vocals for Eddie Vedder at Fenway Park?

Or how did former Miami Heat All-Star center Roni Siekaly transform himself into globally-recognized techno music DJ 'Rony Style', releasing dozens of hit records?

Or what thrill was greater to Pat Burgener, being the first snowboarder to ever land a switch backside triple cork 1440 or playing his music in front of 30,000 people at a summer festival in Switzerland? 

What links the two skill sets? Does the passion for each world run equally? Where does the drive and discipline come from? Do the stories of their upbringings draw a link? (So far, the answer is most definitely yes.)

A conclusion can then be drawn as to what makes them uniquely gifted to succeed in both spheres. Unearthing the magic they share may well inspire future generations of athlete-musicians from unlikely backgrounds. 

With six interviews already completed, I plan profile at least a dozen of these overachievers who span multiple races, nationalities, athletic competitions and musical styles around the world.

Whenever possible, I have taken profile photos of the interviewees and high-resolution videos of the discussions which can be used for promotional purposes, or for a future follow-up documentary. 

Athletes - musicians interviewed so far:

Bronson Arroyo (Major League Baseball / singer, songwriter and guitarist) - World Series winner as Boston Red Sox starting pitcher, All-Star and Gold Glove winner with Cincinnati Reds, currently in two bands and recording second album. Performed live with Pearl Jam.

Walter McCarty (NBA basketball / R&B recording artist) - NCAA Championship winner with University of Kentucky, 10 year NBA career, recorded three R&B albums as a singer and multi-instrumentalist. Current head basketball coach at University of Evansville. 

Pat Nevin (Premier League soccer / DJ) - Former Chelsea FC two-time player of the year, 28 appearances for Scotland national team, FA Cup finalist, and major indie music DJ in the UK, popular football pundit broadcaster and writer.

Pat Burgener (Olympic snowboarding / singer-songwriter) - Placed fifth in Pyongyang 2018 Olympics representing Switzerland in snowboarding halfpipe, first snowboarder to land a switch backside triple cork 1440; recording second album as a vocalist and guitarist with Universal Music Group.

Ray Barbee (Skateboarding / guitar) - Pioneering street skateboarder sponsored by Powell Peralta and Vans, released three jazz albums as a multi-instrumentalist,  sponsored by Fender guitars, toured Japan as a jazz guitarist a dozen times, accomplished photographer working with Leica 

Lindsay Perry (Pro surfer / singer, songwriter and guitarist) - Signed to six sponsors -- including Billabong – as a pro surfer, recorded three albums, second album “The Dark Revival” debuted at No. 1 on iTunes Blues Chart, sponsored by Taylor Guitars. 

Outline

According to statistics, the odds that a young high school athlete who also happens to be plugging away in a garage band will be able to make it as a professional in either industry is low. It is, in fact, about one out of every 500 hopeful musicians, and one out of every 1,000 high school athletes who turn pro.

But the odds that she or he will make it professionally in both spheres are far lower, at about one in every 22,000 hopefuls.

In other words, very few people have the ability to sign a contract with both a professional sports league and a record company. Not to mention, the odds that any of them will actually be able to leave a mark in the worlds of either sports or music are far lower.

Yet, star athletes like Bronson Arroyo and Walter McCarty have earned championships on the playing field while delivering popular music to the masses.

Athletes Who Rock will begin with an introduction to this concept, giving away a few examples of how these exemplary performers came about their talents.

It will then be split into a further 12 chapters, each beginning with an introduction to one of the subjects written as a 500 to 1,000 word feature, followed by a lengthy Q & A interview.

Each chapter will begin with the name of the subject, the location and date where the interview took place, followed by a striking profile photo of the interviewee -- most of which I have taken personally. 

In addition, an interview with a leading sports psychologist analyzing the link between the two worlds will encompass the 14th chapter.

Lastly, the final chapter will draw a conclusion as to what bonds these gifted specimens, taking into account their upbringings, drive, practice regimens, and parental guidance, among other factors. 

Audience

Those interested in sports or music, and the link between the skills necessary to succeed in either field. 

Because of the average age of the subjects covered, the likely readership age range is between 30 and 50-years-old. They would encompass viewers of ESPN Discovery, E! or MTV, and avid readers of Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, GQ and Esquire magazine.

The average age of Sports Illustrated readers is 37, with an average income of $61,000 and is 77% male. The magazine has a weekly distribution of 3.2 million copies. 

The average age of Rolling Stone Magazine readers is 35, with an average income of $66,000 and is 62% male. Rolling Stone has a bi-monthly distribution of 1.5 million copies.

If we assume my readership demographic lies somewhere in between the most popular music and sports magazines, my average readership age is likely to be 36, with an average income of $63,500 and is likely to be 70% comprised by males.

Crucially, having a personality-driven book like Athletes Who Rock! is key for readership. Former pro-wrestler turned heavy metal singer Chris Jericho, for instance, has 2.9 million Instagram followers. Many of them will be interested to read about his story in this book. 

Author

Motez spent his formative years in New York City obsessing about the Yankees and Giants. He subsequently lived in Kuwait, Boston and New Orleans before settling in London during the heyday of Cool Britannia.

Motez was a professional stock investor before turning his focus to journalism, where he is a feature writer for CNN International and ESPN. His works have also appeared on the pages Al-Jazeera English, The Blizzard and Reuters.

Motez earned an MBA from Tulane University, and holds a BA in Mathematics and Computer Science from Boston University as well as an MA in International Journalism from City University in London.

In 2017 Motez was awarded the Drum Online Media Award for Best Freelance Writer; it was his second consecutive nomination in that category. In 2015 Motez was nominated for a Sports Media Pearl Award for his article "Wimbledon: Below the top 10, a life of budget dwellings and last-minute deals"

Motez released his first book Beating the NBA: Tales From a Frugal Fan in 2013. In the spring of 2018 he served as a visiting professor of news writing at the Gulf University for Science and Technology in Kuwait. 

Promotion

Whenever possible, I have taken profile photos of the interviewees and high-resolution videos of the discussions which can be used for promotional purposes, or for a future follow-up documentary.

Working at CNN Digital, I have experience creating video stories on their platform using Adobe Premier Pro. I plan to create 90 second videos of the same nature designed for social media shares to spread the word on Athletes Who Rock. 

They will feature alternating video clips of athletes dunking, hitting home runs and snowboarding, with them performing musically -- all to the sounds of their music. 

In addition, I plan to offer excerpts of the book to major news outlets, including ones I have written for and have relationships with, to spread the word, while making radio appearances on the topic. 

For my previous book, Beating The NBA: Tales From a Frugal Fan, I was able to appear on 30 to 40 radio shows which created a buzz around the book.  An excerpt was also published on Slam.com, the website of the NBA-dedicated magazine. 

Most importantly, I will request that each athlete on the list spread the word through their own social media accounts -- something that could have huge impact. 

My personal reach extends to 1,000 friends on Facebook -- as well as their friends -- and over 1,000 email contacts who I will reach out to for pre-orders. 

I will request that my journalist contacts also blast out my campaign on social media, where many of them have a reach in the thousands. 

Competition

The only relevant piece of research on this topic in either film or print is a book by notable baseball player and jazz guitarist Bernie Williams, who co-wrote Rhythms of The Game, The Link Between Musical and Athletic Performance (2011, Hal Leonard Books).

The book is written in conjunction with a music professor and professional writer. It is a fairly dry read, despite the contributions of many 'guest voices', consisting of musicians who are baseball fans (like Paul Simon, who writes the forward).

The drawback of this book is that it focuses nearly entirely on the connection between baseball and music, while leaving out all other sports. Furthermore, Bernie Williams is the only athlete/musician crossover examined in-depth.

The concept is there, but the execution is very limited. 

Other books in the same genre / format:

The Rolling Stone Interviews (2007, Back Bay Books / Wenner Media LLC): A collection of approximately 30 in-depth interviews taken from the pages of Rolling Stone Magazine. 

The interviews are presented in a straight Q&A format with notables like Johnny Cash, John Lennon and Tom Petty describing their first forays into music and the craft of songwriting, as well as other seminal moments in their lives. 

Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo (2003, Da Capo Press): A collection of approximately 70 engrossing interviews with songwriters on their craft. Each chapter begins with a short to medium length feature on the songwriters, who include Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Madonna among many others. 

Sample

Pat Nevin -- London, December 2017

If Pat Nevin had it his way, none of the revellers at any of his indie music DJ gigs would have a clue that he was, once upon a time, Chelsea FC’s two-time player of the year.

But everything changed back in 2010 after playing the late-night closing set at a seminal music festival on the coast of England.

With the who’s who of the British indie music scene in tow, the footballer-turned DJ and broadcaster hyped the crowd of thousands at the Bowlie 2 festival into a frenzy, then travelled 250 miles to cover the Manchester United vs. Arsenal match on the radio.

Surreptitiously working the game with a hoarse voice, Nevin was unware that the crowd had been tweeting about what a great job he had done.

“Suddenly, the secret was out,” the 54-year-old former winger tells me over a lengthy interview at Stamford Bridge, where he was scheduled to work a Champions League game for Chelsea TV.

Ironically, Nevin was equally as secretive years earlier when his football career took off.

Raised in the tough Easterhouse section of Glasgow, Nevin practiced dribbling and shooting skills every day with his father, a railwayman who studied the tactics of legendary Celtic coach Jock Stein.

When Nevin was signed by Celtic as a schoolboy, he saw no reason to tell his classmates, preferring to obsess over the vinyl records his brothers left around the house.

“I (was) more interested in people who liked music, absolutely,” he says.

One passion, it turned out, ignited a career in the other.

At age 16, Celtic dropped Nevin for being “too small,” so he turned to a local boy’s club instead. That’s where a teammate bet him on who score the more dramatic goal – with the loser buying the winner the album of his choice.

“In that exact moment my entire life changed, because I beat about five players and scored a goal,” Nevin recalls. “I won the bet and got the album.” (It was a Genesis double album, Nevin giggles.)

He also won a contract from the opposing coach of Scottish League club Clyde.

Soon after, Nevin told his girlfriend, “a big Bowie fan,” that he needed time apart to study for exams, which was true.

“What I didn’t tell her is that I was going to play for Scotland Under 18s at the European championships,” he adds. “I then made the mistake of not only playing well, but winning the tournament, getting player of the tournament and being on all these banner headlines in all these newspapers back in Scotland.

Once home, Nevin had some explaining to do.

“We win the final, and I came back to take the exams,” he recalls.  “I took her out the next night so I made up for it.”

Still, it seems incredible that young Pat would not have flaunted his footballing career to impress his classmates.

“I’ve worked in this industry a long time, (both) on the outside and within it, and I do see that once a lot of people retire, they’re divorced within a year or two,” he explains.

“They married a footballer, they didn’t marry a person. I wanted to have someone who liked me because of the person I was.  And football was what I did, not who I was.”

It was a remarkably mature way for a teenager to think, but that was Nevin, always the intellectual, and never one to be pigeonholed.

His vision proved fruitful, as he remains married to his wife of over 25 years Annabel. The two have done a remarkable job of raising their children Simon, 26, and Lucy, 22, a former Scottish badminton champion now in her fifth year at medical school.

--- “Nobody knew I was a footballer. Why should they?” ---

Like his children, many of those bopping away at the “Scared to Dance” indie nights in London’s East End were born well after Nevin scored the FA Cup semi-final winner for Everton in 1989, one of the highlights of his 20-year career.

Back then music enthusiasts stuck to what they loved, and football fans did the same, he says. The dichotomy allowed Nevin to keep his apprenticeship with legendary BBC DJ John Peel quiet from his Chelsea teammates, and his fame on the pitch away from the BBC staffers.

“Nobody knew (that I was a footballer). Why should they?” he asks. “I was doing it for the love of it.”

Nevin’s cover was blown, however, when it came time to sign his second contract with Chelsea. A preseason exhibition match interfered with his plans to watch his beloved Cocteau Twins at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

“I obviously couldn’t go see the gig if I played for Chelsea,” Nevin says.

Just before signing the contract, however, he audaciously asked for a stipulation to leave the match at halftime to watch the show.

“You could see the exasperation on their faces as if I was going to ask for an extra £200 a week or whatever,” he recalls. “The manager was furious.”

“I walked off at halftime to go and see a gig, and I thought that was perfectly reasonable,” Nevin says, a little more aware of the absurdity of it all.

“I just put my clothes on above my kit. I didn’t have a shower because I was late. I zoomed in at the start of the gig and never missed a moment.”

The feature is then followed by a 2,000 - 3,000 word edited Q&A interview. 

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Aurora Metro Books logo Aurora Metro Books

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We are a full service book publishing company that works closely with independent authors in every phase of writing/editorial, book production, book marketing, and book distribution. Our roster includes bestselling authors who have previously traditionally published, first time authors, and authors at various levels in between. What separates Mascot is our hands-on approach to publishing. We work closely with each ...

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Atmosphere Press logo Atmosphere Press

Atmosphere Press is an independent full-service publisher for books in genres ranging from non-fiction to fiction to poetry to children's picturebooks, with a special emphasis on being an author-friendly approach to getting a book into the world. We're professional, honest, and kind. Learn more about what we do at Atmosphere’s website, atmospherepress.com.

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  • Lee Constantine on Dec. 4, 2017, 11:47 p.m.

    Love this book idea. Can't wait to read it when it's ready! Good luck!

  • Diana Magnay on Dec. 5, 2017, 12:53 p.m.

    You’ll rock it; can’t wait to read it :)

  • Kamal Faour on Dec. 6, 2017, 4:07 p.m.

    Love ya man! Continued success!

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