Friday, November 30, 2007

Wall to Wall

Like many people with satellite dishes (sorry about that, cable folks) I watched the Cowboys-Packers game last night, and I was absolutely amazed at the total level of coverage across the media. The NFL Network went all out, which was expected, because it aired the game live and wanted to promote it as much as possible. But NFLN also went red-carpet with two hours (!) of pregame and reports every day leading up to the game. The coin toss was covered with the solemnity of nuclear arms talks. ESPN and other sports outlets showed only a little less restraint, blanketing the airwaves and web with endless hours of coverage and predictions, and ESPN News gave scoring updates every five minutes as the game was being played. All of the hype and overkill of a Super Bowl for a regular season game in November! The only thing missing was a jet flyover and a badly performed national anthem.

Has it come to this? That because we have the channel capacity and enough talking heads every "big" game is now a mega-event? When the Cowboys played the Patriots it was the "Duel in Dallas," and the Patriots-Colts game was much the same. Enough already. These games are in danger of becoming like the boy who cried wolf--we hear it so much that when we get to a real championship game we hardly pay attention. With so many channels and so many sports events maybe you have to shout from the rooftops to be heard anymore. But as for me, I've got my earplugs in.

On a related note, with all its vast resources couldn't the NFL get someone better than Bryant Gumbel to do the play-by-play for its games? Gumbel is a teriffic reporter and interviewer, but at calling live games he is terrible. Not only does he have a whiny voice, last night he constantly mispronounced names, misidentified teams and players and ignored important moments. When Brett Favre got hurt Gumbel made no mention of it, despite the fact that everyone watching could see Favre grabbing his arm in obvious pain. Gumbel should take lessons from his brother Greg at CBS, who does a great job with both football and basketball. By the way, I'm apparently not the only one who feels this way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Growing Field

Some new statistics compiled by Penn State show that the popularity of sports journalism programs is growing at colleges and universities across the country.

At least 40 percent of journalism and mass comm programs offer some sort of sports media instruction, with sports journalism and broadcasting being the most popular. Seven schools reported that they offered more than four courses.

This is good news for those of us in the sports media field, but it's hardly surprising. It seems like the only ones who don't recognize the growing importance of sports media are the deans, chairs and other non-sports faculty members who continue to think of sports as a "toy" department in an academic and professional sense. As more schools adopt sports media curricula and as research increases in all sports-related areas perhaps these antiquated notions will finally begin to change.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sports Finance Textbook

Thought I'd pass along the announcement for the 2nd edition of Sport Finance. According to the accompanying notes the text "shows students how to apply financial concepts and appreciate the importance of finance in sound sport management and operations. Designed for sport finance courses in a sport management curriculum, the text distinguishes the skills and principles of finance from those of economics. This second edition presents five updated case studies that are referred to throughout the text; updated examples and references; chapter objectives, easy-to-follow figures and tables, summaries, and discussion questions."

For more information you can go online.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More on the NFL Network

Good Q&A with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the current situation regarding the NFL Network. The complete transcript was in Wednesday's Dallas Morning News.

Monday, November 19, 2007

NFL Network Update

OK, so I couldn't even wait a couple of days before posting. But while reading Peter King's column I came across some more information about the NFL Network-cable TV situation. King lays out some good information, and it's timely because the NFL Network is about to start telecasting live games that much of the cable universe won't be able to see.

For his complete arguments click here and then scroll down the page a bit.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Holiday Breaks, Odds and Ends

Yes, it's a little early ... but we're off all next week at Ole Miss, so this could be the last post for awhile. Maybe not, given all the sports that are taking place in the next week or so. For now, let's dig in to some early leftovers that need mentioning--
Congratulations to Andy Billings at Clemson for his fine work on the Third Summit on Sport Communication. The summit will take place Feb. 28-March 1 at Clemson. There's more information available on the summit and the program schedule.
We should also mention the NCA conference currently going on in Chicago. For those of you interested, there are two sports panels taking place on Saturday the 16th. The convention is at the Chicago Hilton:
From Sorenstam to Sharapova: Gender, Sexuality and Fandom in Sports Media
Fri, Nov 16 - 2:00pm - 3:15pm
Silent sexuality: An examination of the role(s) fans play in hiding athlete's sexuality
*David J Airne (University of Alabama)
Maria Sharapova, NIKE, and the discursive (re)production of gender
*Joseph W Anderson (University of Utah)
Rhetorical construction and negotiation of professional women golfers
*Anne M Bialowas (University of Utah)
Staying in bounds: Sports magazines and the policing of gender roles
*Martin J Lang (Gustavus Adolphus College)
Rules of play: The lesbian athlete taboo in professional sports
*Adrienne Shaw (The Anneberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania)
Gender, Sport, and the Media: Portraying Power and Patriarchy
Fri, Nov 16 - 5:00pm - 6:15pm
Gendered Sports Dirt: Interrogating Sex and the Single Beer Commercial
*Lawrence A. Wenner (Loyola Marymount Univ)
Beauty or Brawn?: Visual Perceptions of Attractiveness and Athleticism in Athletes
*Andrea Holt Duke (University of Alabama)
Mixed Messages?: A Feminist Rhetorical Analysis of Golf for Women Magazine
*Heather L. Hundley (California State Univ, San Bernardino)
Framing Athletes as Women: Sex, Soccer and the 'Miss World Cup
*Lindsey Mean (Arizona State Univ West)
Respondent: Andrew C. Billings (Clemson University)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NFL Network Carriage Battles, Year Two

A few weeks back, Brad posted a note about Jerry Jones' appointment as head of the NFL's committee to resolve carriage issues between the league and monopoly cable providers. As we prepare for the season debut of the NFL on the NFL Network (next Thursday, Nov. 22 with an Indy-Atlanta matchup made dull by the absence of Michael Vick), we are likely to see more stories like today's from Richard Sandomir of the New York Times. Sandomir believes the NFL bargaining position is weak, the opposite of Brad's conclusion.

Sandomir covers the basics: only 35 million subscribers, none on major cable providers such as Comcast and Time Warner; the NFL's lobbying effort at; and the economics of NFL scarcity of games, 70 cents per subscriber, etc. However, he cites the requirement that games on the NFL Network be carried on local broadcast stations as weakening the NFL's argument.

I have followed the RSN-league/team debate for a while and presented a couple of case studies at NASSM conferences recently. This past summer in Florida, I presented "Does the NFL on the NFL Network make cents?"

My research indicated the financial loss for the NFL Network in 2006 was around $290 million, with expenses greater than $500 million plus an unquantifiable amount of negative public relations. The NFL will shrink that lost this year as the majority of the network's expenses in 2006 were operating costs ($400 million), some of which included investment in equipment.

Clearly, the NFL on the NFL Network does not make cents, but it might make sense. The NFL-Cable battle is one of power and control. Cable operators have always had monopoly power in a given market and the increasing trend is for operators to preference networks in which they have an equity stake (e.g. Comcast and Versus).

The NFL and the Big Ten Network are lone, but powerful, voices battling big cable monopolies. Whether they win their fights or not is still to be seen. At the very least, it should raise the level of public debate regarding the monopolistic practices of cable operators, which are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the sports industry.

Monday, November 12, 2007

CSRI announces Ad Committee Members

Thought I'd pass along this announcement from the CSRI. There are some pretty big names on this list--

The College Sport Research Institute (CSRI) has announced its initial 12 Advisory Committee members who will invest their time and energy to support CSRI efforts to educate students, scholars, athletic administrators, college athletes, coaches, and the general public regarding college-sport issues. The 12 initial members have varied backgrounds in collegiate sport and will each bring a unique perspective to CSRI activities.

The initial advisory committee includes:

Mr. Dale Brown, former LSU men’s basketball coach
Mr. Patrick Byrne, Director of Sales and Marketing, AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Dr. Jon Ericson, former Drake University Provost
Mr. Ramogi Huma, former UCLA linebacker and current Director: National College Players Association
Mr. Mark Isenberg, author; Money Players: A Pro Athlete’s Guide to Success in Sports, Business, & Life
Dr. Joe Luckey, Director: The University of Memphis Center for Athletic Academic Services
Dr. Robert Malekoff, The College Sports Project
Mr. Dave Meggyesy, former NFL football player and author: Out of Their League
Ms. Kathy Redmond, Founder: National Coalition Against Violent Athletes
Dr. Frank Splitt, former McCormick Faculty Fellow McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science Northwestern University
Mr. Sonny Vaccaro, former Vice President of NIKE, Reebok, and adidas.

CSRI Director Dr. Richard Southall noted the importance of the Advisory Committee for CSRI activities, “College-sport research retains minimal value if it does not foster a greater understanding regarding how theoretical concepts can be applied to the ‘real world’ of college sport. We are happy to have strong support from prominent professionals in the field of college athletics.”

The CSRI Advisory Committee will meet April 16-19, 2007 at the inaugural Issues in College Sport Conference at the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis. The CSRI Advisory Committee will continue to add new members as CSRI expands its engagement with those involved in college sport.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Here and There

A couple of notes to finish up the week ...

Congratulations to Max Utsler at the University of Kansas. He has worked hard with the Broadcast Education Assocation to get a sports division added, and that has now become official. BEA will be electing officers at the April 2008 meeting and then start panels and paper competitions for 2009.

Also, please consider the following request from Dr. Steve Madden at Coastal Carolina University--

I'm looking for an introductory level sport communication syllabi or any information that could contribute to building an introductory course at both the undergraduate and graduate level. If you have any information of this nature I would greatly appreciate you sending it to me.

Steven J. Madden Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Communication
Box 261954
Coastal Carolina University
Conway, SC 29528-6054

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

JSM Update

Some exciting news to pass along regarding the Journal of Sports Media ...

Starting in March of 2008 the journal will transition from annual publication to twice a year. Publishing annually made sense as the journal tried to get off the ground, but interest has grown tremendously in the past three years. We had 28 submissions for the last issue and could only accept four (a 14% acceptance rate), which means we had to turn away some good scholarship. Now the journal will publish in March and September every year. Thanks so much to University of Nebraska Press for taking this step with us.

The increase in publication means we're changing the submission process to year 'round. Send your submissions to me ( in a Word file (one for the title page and the other for the abstract/paper). Full details of submission guidelines are available here. (Don't pay attention to the submission deadlines; we're in the process of updating the web site).

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about submissions or have an interest in becoming a reviewer.

Brad Schultz
130 Farley Hall
University, MS 38655

Thursday, November 01, 2007

An ex-sportswriter on sportswriting (and it isn't pretty)

Richard Ford once worked as a sportswriter, but he is best known as the 1996 author of Indendence Day, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Best Fiction, and sequel to the 1986 novel, The Sportswriter.

Ford used his regular place in the New York Times quarterly sports magazine, Play, to share his thoughts on the present state of sportswriting (published Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007). He conceives of a three-dimension consumption of sport: the game as played, the game as described, and the game as pondered. His assessment of the second dimension - the sports media, that once paid his bills - is not pretty:
Much sportswriting (a job I used to have), much that’s on ESPN, lots that’s on Sporting News Radio and The Best Damn Sports whatever and in The New York Times — in other words, a great deal of my Dimension Two — is trying to sharpen the focus on a bunch of focusless stuff that not only doesn’t matter a toot, and could never be proven true or false and therefore isn’t really journalism, but that also doesn’t have anything to do with the game as it’s played.

Unfortunately, he is all too accurate in his assessment of the state of sportswriting today. Be certain to give it a good read as he is amazingly able to reference Janet Gretzky, Manny being Manny, and Tank Johnson in the same sentence.

He asks the question and bears repeating, "Did any of us ask for this?"