Editorial: FloSports CEO Martin Floreani on J Robinson

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By Martin Floreani
CEO, FloSports


I’ve been sheltered from the pill epidemic attacking the United States.

For the last 10 years, I’ve had my head down, working on FloSports. Even if I were in a different career, I think I’d still be at arm's length from that scene. 

But when the accusations against J Robinson first broke, I started doing research into the drug epidemic. I learned a lot. 

If I were in J’s position, and a story came out about a drug problem with my team, I would look to the school for support and guidance. I would make sure I did everything in my power to help these 18-20 year-olds get back on the right track. I would keep my administration informed and even lean on them to use their processes to deal with situations like this one.

Back in 2006, I had this crazy idea to create a sports media company. I wanted to challenge the notion that TV was the only medium for sports.

I loved wrestling, so I started calling wrestling coaches around the country. I’d leave a voicemail, but they wouldn’t call back. J Robinson was one of those numbers I dialed.

One day, I was leaving downtown Chicago. I was about to merge on the Stevenson Expressway when my phone rang. I looked at my phone. It was a Minnesota number, so I answered.

It was J Robinson. He was returning my phone call. 

We talked for a bit, and he invited me down to shoot an interview and visit his program. I scheduled a visit to Minneapolis, and J was more than generous with his time. I was just a kid, and this incredible wrestling coach gave me great interviews. Legendary interviews.

It’s funny, because I think about those old days and those old interviews a lot. They were the start of a learning process that led me, and FloSports, to where we are today. J had big opinions on everything, but he had a lot of wisdom in his words. At the time, most of that wisdom didn’t register. But even today, a decade later, I’ll remember his words and they’ll suddenly make sense to me.

Since that first interview, J has been supportive of what we’re doing at FloSports. But he can also be critical, which is good. 

To me, J is the very portrait of an honorable person. He does not look for the easy way out. He looks to do the right thing. And he doesn’t just look to do the right thing when it’s easy. In fact, J tries even harder to do the right thing if it isn’t easy. When he finds himself in difficult situations, and when the stakes are at their highest, he becomes even more focused and stubborn.

J is currently experiencing a trial by media with very shallow reporting that all started with a single source. If you’ve seen the 30 for 30 Duke Lacrosse documentary, you know how bad this can get. For multiple reasons, J can't speak for himself. If he did, he could violate University of Minnesota policy and be terminated. 

In addition, there could be an ongoing criminal investigation. Any lawyer will advise their client to avoid speaking with reporters until the investigation is complete.

As a coach, I would put my kids into a program to get them help. J genuinely cares for his athletes. My guess is his first response was to help the kids, just like any parent would do if their children found themselves in trouble.

J deserves the kind of fair reporting that journalism with integrity provides. All of us should be afforded the respect of having both sides of our story investigated, confirmed and vetted. 

Instead, this story began when a report was published based on the word of a single anonymous source, which goes against one of the basic tenets of journalism ethics. The media and wrestling world have been whipped into a frenzy, and all of it stems from the stories told by a single person. 

That is not ethical, and it is not fair. 

I’ve visited J’s wrestling camps. They are legendary for their intensity. Anyone who has gone through one will remember it forever, because you endure a level of pain you’ve never encountered in your life up until that time. 

At the end of these sessions, these kids are just exhausted. And J will stand in the middle of them and tell them they have it easy. He’ll tell them there are kids in the world who are paralyzed, kids who have cancer. Sure, they are mentally and physically broken after a grueling wrestling day at “camp”. But compared to others who suffer, they’re lucky. And he’ll encourage those kids to find causes to give to, charities to donate to. Throughout the camp, he’ll raise money to help those causes. He’s teaching these kids to buck up and to give back.

Most coaches in high-level sports care only about winning. J cares about winning, but he also cares about instilling values in the boys who enter his wrestling room and exit as men. 

Since that day in 2006 when J was the first coach to return my phone call, I’ve developed countless relationships in wrestling. FloSports has expanded, and will continue to do so, which means I’ll develop even more relationships with athletes and coaches. 

But I will honestly tell you that of all the people I’ve met, and of all the people I will know, J Robinson is the standard-bearer. He is a man of high integrity, of intense moral values, and has the kind of character every father hopes for when their child grows up.

And so here at FloWrestling, we are going to seek the truth. It will not be instantaneous. But we will work to uncover every facet of this story, to speak to every person involved, and to do the kind of diligent reporting that J has not been afforded thus far.

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