Every-Thing Sports

Not all athletes are divas

lancemccullersjrfoundation.org

In today's information age, the news cycle is almost 24 hours. Sometimes, it can be a matter of minutes depending on what news drops, when it drops, who drops it, and how it's dropped. Houston was a prime example of this in early November 2017. The Astros had just clinched the World Series title in a thriller of a game seven from the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The hearts of Houston sports fans fell as the next day they learned Texans' star rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson was to miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. I could hear a collective "Damn! Damn! Damn!" across the city and surrounding areas.

Most of the time, we hear about all bad stuff. Murders. Fires. Horrible accidents. Civil unrest. Athletes and the sports world are no different. Often times, you'll hear about injuries and run-ins with the law or other ill-timed/ill-fated incidents. The Antonio Browns of the sporting world will garner the most attention with their diva-esque antics and attitudes. However, there are other athletes out there that are doing some good that should be celebrated. Let's take a look at some of the ones who should be celebrated:

Lance McCullers Jr.

I'm not a pet person. Working my full time job for 16 years in the cleaning industry, I've seen what pets can do and how much they can cost you. However, I have a serious soft spot for my wife and kids. So when they wanted to adopt a dog say no to Max. He's a Chiweenie with a great personality and a penchant for FRAP-ing (Frequent Random Activity Period). McCullers has a heart for animals, especially dogs. Through his foundation, he helps match pets and families for adoption. McCullers has kept up his fight throughout his recovery from Tommy John surgery this season. He also walks the walk by being the owner of several dogs himself. He's the headline pic for this article if you didn't know.

Steph Curry

Steph Curry vs. James Harden. Getty Images.

I know how much grief Curry has caused Houston Rocket fans over the years and I get it. But with the recent story of him sponsoring the Howard University men's and women's golf program for the next six years is worthy of some praise. To put this in perspective: the golf program has been absent from the school for about 40 years. With his support, it has the chance to be the first Division I athletic program at the school's history. Not many athletes commit such a huge financial undertaking for a school they didn't attend. It took a chance meeting with a student who chose to forgo golf to attend the school to spark Curry's interest. He may be a Rocket killer, be he's a community builder.

LeBron James

Lakers LeBron James Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

LeBron James is a polarizing figure in the world of sports. Some see the NBA great as a glory hog, others see him as a challenger to the GOAT crown in basketball. No matter which side of the argument you fall, you can't question his philanthropy. Whether it's the "I Promise" school he helped start, or the kids he's given college scholarships to, LeBron has made sure to give back to the community he grew up in Northeast Ohio. People can say what they want about him, but his philanthropy can never be questioned.

Chris Long

Getty Images

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Chris Long exemplifies that statement. For the 2017 season, Long donated his remaining game checks that season to helping kids in each of the cities he's played for in St. Luois, Boston, and Philly. He's been very outspoken on social justice issues and has won the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, as well as ESPN's Humanitarian Award earlier this year.

There's a ton of other athletes out there who should be lsited here as well. Alas, I don't have the time to name them all. If there are other athletes who you feel are anti-dumbass, anti-diva, and/or anti-foolishness who actually use their platform to help and/or support positive causes, please highlight them instead of giving some of the less-deserving thwe attention they so desperatley do not need. The Antonio Browns of thw world don't need anymore attention. Let's spotlight the positives instead of thwe tomfoolery.

Houston-based sEATz has closed a funding round and plans to reach more fans than ever this football season. Courtesy of sEATz

This article originally appeared on InnovationMap.

Fans across the country are headed to football stadiums this weekend to cheer on their teams, but only a few will have the luxury of ordering food, beer, and even merchandise from the comfort of their seats.

Houston-based sEATz has created a platform where fans can order just about anything their stadium has from an app. Much like any other ordering app, once the order is placed, a runner will pick up the food and deliver it to the customer for a small fee and a tip.

The startup is now preparing to scale up from seven venues to 10 before the year is over as well as launching a new version of the app thanks to an oversubscribed near $1.3 million Seed round led by Houston-based Valedor Partners. Houston-based Starboard Star Venture Capital also contributed to the round. SEATz has plans to launch its Series A round before the new year.

"We're building enterprise-level, scalable in-seat ordering, delivery, and pick-up software. We'll have all the data and validation we need this fall to really start to push that out," says CEO and co-founder Aaron Knape.

SEATz got its start when co-founder and COO Marshall Law missed a particularly amazing play by the Astros during a World Series gameduring a World Series game because he was waiting in line to get food for his family. In a world of Uber and Favor, it was time for stadiums to step up their convenience. Law and Knape had been friends for a while — they met through their wives — and they regularly bounced business ideas off each other.

"We would meet every couple weeks in the Heights for coffee and throw spaghetti at the wall. We knew we'd eventually find an idea together," Law says. "After I left that Astros game, I texted him from the parking lot and told him, 'I found it.'"

The duo teamed up with another friend, Craig Ceccanti —CEO and founder of Houston-based Pinot's Palette, which has locations across the United States — and created sEATz's parent company, Rivalry Technologies. The name's an homage to the fact that the men are from rivalry schools — Law went to the University of Texas, Knape went to Texas A&M University, and Ceccanti went to Louisiana State University.

Part of sEATz ability to grow so rapidly has been a series of key partnerships. A Rice University business master's grad, Knape got them a foot in the door at his alma mater, and sEATz's first game was at Rice last year. Then, the startup was connected to Jamey Rootes, president at the Houston Texans, at an event at The Cannon Houston. That partnership lead to an introduction with Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp., a global food service and staffing company. SEATz is a member of Cannon Ventures, as well as being a member company of Capital Factory, which has its Houston outpost at The Cannon.

"At this point, we know that fans want food in their seats," Knape says. "That concerns the concessionaires because they don't want an app that just helps them sell food, because they already have long lines. What we have on the back end actually helps them divert that traffic and reduce those lines."

Aramark got sEATz into the University of Houston's basketball games, but the university then switched their food service company to Delaware North. However, sEATz had proven itself to the athletic department at UH, and wrote it in Delaware North's contract that they will work with sEATz.

Continue on InnovationMap to learn about out all the stadiums sEATz has contracts with in Houston.

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