Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Research Help Needed

This e-mail came from Lynn Cockett at Juniata College regarding one of her students. If you could help her out in any way the contact information is below.
Dear Colleagues,

I am writing on behalf of an undergraduate in my department who is writing an honors thesis in communication. Her topic, nonverbal behavior during competition, is really quite interesting, but she's a bit stuck. In addition to racking my brains, I thought I'd ask you all for help.

Below I'm copying her abstract (this project began in my nonverbal comm class last year). When she did the project for a course, it was relatively atheoretical...just something she needed to do in order to systematically observe the nonverbal situation of her choice. Her problem now is turning it into a theoretically robust thesis...rather than a one-semester paper. If you read it and immediately think of something that Michelle should read, could you please respond to me: Thanks!

Here's the abstract:

As an athlete, I have always enjoyed the sweet taste of victory and unfortunately discovered the agony of defeat. These emotions often show through the nonverbal behaviors of athletes during competition. In conducting this research, I seek to answer the following question: What are the similarties and differences in touch and body movement among competing athletic teams? I chose to observe the nonverbal behaviors (touch and body movements) between two field hockey teams - the one which scored a goal and the other which was scored against - as recorded on video camera during a variety of games. The chosen clips focus on the first six seconds immediately following a goal. The six second clips were then broken down into two time stamps - score to two seconds and three to six seconds. With this information, I created a spreadsheet to record the nonverbal behaviors. Various nonverbal similaries and difference are found between teams who scored and teams who were scored against. These findings show how both haptics and kinesics communicate different messages in various situations.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Numbers are in ...

... and they aren't pretty. The television ratings for the World Series between Boston and Colorado were the 2nd worst in history.

See yesterday's post for further analysis.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Out-FOXed in the World Series

While the Red Sox are jumping for joy over another World Series title, I would bet that the same cannot be said for FOX television executives. The Red Sox pounded the Colorado Rockies in four straight games. That means fewer overall viewers and less ad space than if the series had run its full seven games.
No final ratings for the series have come out yet, but expect them to be in line with recent years, which means very low. To pull big numbers these days sports events need compelling stories, building drama or star power, all of which this series sorely lacked. Was Colorado ever ahead at any point in any game? The Rockies were a faceless group that got hot down the stretch, but then folded after getting hammered in the first game. I'm guessing that's probably when viewers started to tune out in droves.
FOX jiggled the schedule this year, having the series open on a weekday instead of a weekend, when the games have to compete with football. But if FOX is really serious about improving ratings how about scheduling the games so they finish at a reasonable hour? Every game ended after midnight in the east, where outside of Boston most people probably turned off the set early. Baseball is losing an entire generation of young fans who simply can't stay up that late to watch the games. Start at least a few games in the afternoon, even if you do have to compete with football.
That brings up another point--when you can see the breaths of the players and fans in the stadium it's not baseball weather. Baseball should either shorten the playoffs (which will never happen; the extra playoffs are a financial gold mine for owners) or shorten the season to 154 games and start the playoffs earlier (a much more reasonable alternative; 154 games was the standard season length before expansion). If the series had gone the full seven games it would have ended in November, which is ridiculous.
NBC lost money with baseball in the 1980s, and CBS lost millions in the 1990s. If FOX is serious about recouping its investment it's time to restore some common sense, and possibly higher ratings, to the World Series.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Jerry the Cable Guy

The NFL will hold its first ever regular season game outside of North America this Sunday, as the Giants and Dolphins play in London. It's all part of the NFL's strategy to grow international audiences and possibly even put franchises in Canada, Mexico and Europe.

But there are other audiences the NFL has to worry about, like those here in America. The league has invested millions in its NFL Network, which for the second straight season will broadcast live games starting Thanksgiving weekend. The problem is that the network still reaches relatively few people compared to the NFL games on the networks. Satellite customers get the channel as part of a basic package, but the main cable distributor (Comcast) makes customers pay for the NFL Network as a premium channel. In just one year that dropped the Comcast cable audience for the network from 7 million to about a million. The overall NFL Network audience has plateaued at 35 million.

Neither Comcast nor the NFL seems willing to budge, so the league has sent in one of its big guns--Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The NFL named Jones as head of the league's network committee with hopes of resolving the problem and potentially doubling the league's cable audience.

The NFL is in a very strong position on this one. It has the most attractive sports programming currently available on television, and in Jones it has in charge a guy with a history of making tough, profitable deals. Comcast should cut bait and take what it can get before the entire company ends up washing windows at the Cowboys new stadium. (For more on the story go to Rick Gosselin's column in the Dallas Morning News).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Denver, We Have a Problem

We spend quite a bit of time on this site talking about the effect of new sports media technologies. Well, going online to buy baseball tickets is hardly new, but it is news when it happens during the World Series and hackers all but cripple one team's ability to sell tickets.

The story out of Denver this week was how sophisticated hackers got into the Colorado Rockies' ticket system and tied up ticket orders for almost two days. The Rockies finally got things straightened out and sold out their World Series home games, but the snafu forcibly illustrates the dependence sports teams and schools now have on these new technologies. Ticket sales, merchandising, marketing, public relations and sports information are just some of the areas that have now totally transitioned to online, digital platforms.

Certainly, there will be problems associated with such transitions, but as the article notes the Rubicon has been crossed and there's no turning back. And by the way, are hackers any more annoying than having to stand in line for hours (or even days) to buy tickets?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Your Tube is My Tube ...

I've spent a little bit of time poking around YouTube recently and it's amazing what you can find. One of things that makes this site so popular is the availability of so many different kinds of video programming. But one of the things that makes the site so controversial is that a lot of that programming is copyrighted, especially in the area of sports media.

For example, it didn't take me long to find entire NFL games available for viewing, along with selected network highlights from the NBA, NHL and major league baseball. These were games originally broadcast by the networks, who would supposedly still hold the transmission rights (doesn't anyone pay attention to those warnings at the beginning of games?--"any rebroadcast or retransmission of this game without the express written consent of ___ is strictly prohibited.")

YouTube supposedly has a new filtering system in place to detect piracy, but it's apparently not working very well. Parent company Google is facing several lawsuits for copyright infringement, most notably from Viacom, which owns CBS. YouTube's filtering system has not yet conviced Viacom to drop its $1 billion lawsuit.

This looming confrontation is somewhat reminiscent of Napster, the music-sharing company that eventually had to shut down because of copyright concerns. Legally speaking, it would seem YouTube is headed down the same road, but Google is big enough and powerful enough to give anyone, even Viacom, a good fight. In the meantime, enjoy those sports videos on YouTube ... while you still can.

P.S. It should be noted that I am using the YouTube logo here without the company's permission. What's good for the goose ...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fire him ... now!

Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News writes in his column that he can't remember a time when he's seen so many coaches "on the hot seat" and in danger of losing their jobs. In an excerpt from the article:

"Commenting on how quickly the job heats up these days, [Texas A&M coach Dennis] Franchione said Tuesday that 'we live in a little bit of a microwave society,' as good a description as any for the phenomenon."

That 'phenomenon' certainly has a lot to do with the growth of sports media technology. Sports billboards, chat rooms and blogs are now a 24-hour a day obsession for many fans, including influential fans who can get coaches hired or fired. As Sherrington notes, it's no idle threat for any of them to e-mail the university president. Any university president who gets enough of those e-mails is tempted to pull the trigger on a coach or athletic director (case in point: the recent sacking of Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson. NU chancellor Harvey Perlman received roughly 300 to 400 e-mails a day in the past few weeks).

Add on top of that the omnipresent "" websites. Ole Miss was so worried about the growing heat for football coach Ed Orgeron that it apparently bought the doman rights to; when you visit that site now you're redirected to the university's main athletic page. Still, that can't prevent sites like from putting Orgeron and others on its list of endangered coaches. (Houston Nutt of Arkansas currently has the hottest of hot seats according to the site; Orgeron ranks 8th. Believe it or not there is a site to fire Urban Meyer, despite his winning a national championship at Florida last year).

All of these guys are big boys and are getting handsomely paid for their work. But just as new technology has shortened the news cycle in journalism, it appears it is also helping shorten the shelf life of coaches.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fact or opinion?

Michael Hiestand and Michael McCarthy of USA Today recently engaged in an interesting debate over the role of opinion in sports journalism. McCarthy's position is that there's way too much opinion today, especially at ESPN, at sports reporters need to get back to covering the facts. Hiestand counters that with all this new technology opinion is inevitable. Everyone knows the facts two seconds after they happen and what's really interesting is the opinion and analysis.

For the record I would throw my support to McCarthy, who points to all the opinion-driven shows on ESPN that have recently tanked (one could counter that shows like PTI and Around the Horn are still going strong). ESPN has done its best to emphasize the E of its name with more opinion and entertainment-oriented programming, but its real strength was built through fact-based programming such as SportsCenter and ESPN News. Journalism, for the most part, is supposed to be about finding facts and reporting them. Save the opinions for the editorials and the blog world.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gundy, Part III

Who says you can't have fun in the sports media? Check out this commercial run by Fowler Toyota of Norman, Oklahoma. In case you hadn't guessed, the University of Oklahoma in Norman has a bit of a rivarly with Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. The commercial is a parody of a post-game rant by OSU football coach Mike Gundy. In case you missed that, here it is again.

The commercial has gotten a lot of good attention for Fowler Toyota across the web. Whether it actually helps sell more cars remains to be seen.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

CFP: "The Marketing of Motorsports"

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing (IJSMM) Call For Papers

Special Issue on: "The Management and Marketing of Motorsports"
Guest Editors/: Larry DeGaris and Mark Dodds

Despite its multibillion-dollar annual revenues and global popularity, motorsports management and marketing have received comparatively little rigorous analysis. In particular, motorsports has captivated corporate sponsors so that, for example, sponsorship revenues of NASCAR exceed
that of the NFL in the U.S. Yet, published research in the area tends to be sparse and fragmented.

The aim of this special issue is to provide an overview of the global motorsports marketplace. The objective is to focus a small but growing body of literature about motorsports, with the hope of stimulating future research. The goal is to publish a group of articles that will provide management and marketing tools for practitioners. Consequently, the issue seeks submissions, which include both theoretical and applied
research, and both empirical results and non-empirical perspectives. Practitioner perspectives are strongly encouraged.

Topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
* Marketing and managing motorsports in an international environment
* Why does motorsports require knowledge and research specific to its own context?
* The growth and development of motorsports sanctioning bodies
* Marketing and managing motorsports sanctioning bodies (e.g.,
Formula 1, NASCAR, IRL, CART, NHRA, Rally, V8 Supercars, etc.)
* The history and development of female auto racing drivers
* Motorsports television audiences and broadcast rights negotiations
* Diversity in motorsports
* Business-to-business marketing in motorsports, including corporate hospitality and client entertainment
* Ticket sales and event management
* Marketing promotions and sponsorship activation
* The occupational subculture of motorsports and driver migration
* Tobacco sponsorship and/or ethical issues in motorsports sponsorship
* Fan and/or sponsor loyalty among motorsports fans
* Brand awareness of motorsports sponsors
* Evaluating motorsports sponsorships
* Motorsports sponsorship sales and servicing

Notes for Intending Authors: Submitted papers should not have been previously published nor be
currently under consideration for publication elsewhere. All papers are refereed through a peer review process. A guide for authors, sample copies and other relevant information for submitting
papers are available at For more information on the call go to:

Deadline for submission: /15 January, 2008. You may send one copy in the form of an MS Word file attached to the following:

Larry DeGaris
Associate Professor of Marketing
School of Business
University of Indianapolis
1400 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46227
Tel/: 317.634.7640
E-mail/: < <


Mark Dodds
Assistant Professor
Sport Management Department
156-G Studio West
SUNY Cortland
Cortland, NY 13045
Office: (607) 753-4779
E-Mail: <>
with a copy to:
IEL Editorial Office
E-mail/: <>

Monday, October 08, 2007

JSM Update

I'm pleased to announce the research papers we've selected for the 3rd issue of the Journal of Sports Media, which will be published in the spring of 2008. It was a difficult selection process in that we had a record 28 submissions and accepted only four papers, an acceptance rate of 14%. Part of the problem is that we publish annually, which means several good research papers get left out. We're working with our publisher, University of Nebraska Press, to address this situation and increase the frequency of publication.

Thanks to our reviewers who did another good job this time around. If you are interested in submitting for the 4th edition the call technically doesn't open until March, but feel free to send me your papers at any time ( You can also contact me if you are interested in becoming a reviewer.

The accepted papers include--
"The Birth of National Sports Coverage: An Examination of the New York Herald’s Use of the Telegraph
To Report America’s First 'Championship' Boxing Match in 1849--Mike Sowell, Oklahoma State University

"The Impact of Interactive Media on Sports Journalists"--Shelley Wigley, Texas Tech University, and Patrick C. Meirick, University of Oklahoma

"The NFL Programming Schedule: A Study of Agenda-setting"--John A. Fortunato, Fordham University

"Through the Hoop: How Sports Participation Displaces Media Use and Influences Positive Body Self-Esteem in Competitive Female Athletes"--Kimberly L. Bissell and Katharine Birchall, University of Alabama

Thursday, October 04, 2007

If you're teaching sports media courses ...

... T.C. Corrigan at the Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State is trying to establish a contact list. His request and contact information are below:

We're trying to establish a contact list of journalism instructors that teach sports media courses (e.g., Sports Journalism; Sports Broadcasting; Sports, Media & Society). Our hope is to foster communication between educators within the field, as well as track the growth of such courses and programs. If your department offers a program or courses similar to those described above, your response would be greatly appreciated. Please include the course(s) offered, instructors and e-mail addresses if available. If no such courses are available, a simple negative reply would be helpful as well.

Thank you for your time,
T.C. Corrigan
Doctoral Student, College of Communications
Research Asst., Ctr. for Sports Journalism
Penn State

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ode to Deadspin

I is a must-read for me every day. Despite its sometimes sophomoric (and worse) clips and takes, and totally discounting the commenters, Will Leitch and Co. do a great job of scouring what sports media are doing and holding them accountable or at least bringing their actions to the light of day for discussion. The slogan "Deadspin, sports news without access, favor, or discretion" offers a much-needed perspective on sports media these days. The posts are meticulous in their accuracy and crediting of sources--I've even seen apologies for incorrect grammar.

Many research possibilities lie in the posts. One of those I saw today is from this link from Shakedown Sports about the ESPN ombudsman, Lee Anne Schreiber, and her claim that sports blogs running rampant with rumors is ruining ESPN reporting. Someone could do a study of how many legitimate rumors (is that an oxymoron?) are posted on a sample of blogs and how they were handled then by ESPN. Might be illuminating.


Sport Communication Job Opening

Here's a sport communication position opening at Ashland University in Ohio--

Tenure-Track Assistant Professor in Sport Communication, Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio. Candidate should have a Ph.D. in Communication or related field with a background in sport communication,
along with strength in public relations, journalism, media or speech communication. Duties include a 21-hour teaching load consisting of introductory and capstone courses, sport reporting, sport public
relations and special topics classes, along with other courses in the candidate's area of study. Demonstrated excellence in and strong commitment to undergraduate teaching desired.

Send cover letter, curriculum vita, evidence of teaching effectiveness and list of three references to Sport Communication Search Committee, Dept. of Communication Arts, 401 College Avenue, Ashland, OH 44805. Direct questions to Dr. Deleasa Randall-Griffiths, Chair, at Search begins immediately and continues until position is filled. Ashland University is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity in the workplace.