Thursday, June 28, 2007

How fast can you backpedal?

Rarely does the NCAA admit to a mistake, but it's pretty much waved the white flag in the recent flap over ejecting a blogger from a recent college baseball game in Louisville. The NCAA has issued a "clarifying statement" on its actions, saying that the blogger was not ejected for blogging, but for violating an NCAA rule on live play by play. The statement doesn't really clear up anything and somehow manages to make the NCAA seem even more archaic and paranoid than usual. Back in the days when I was covering NCAA tournament basketball for local television, officials wouldn't even let us shoot a standup on the court during warmups (and we were a CBS affiliate). The reaction from the blogworld against the NCAA was predictably harsh.

The bigger issue is blogging and the rules are still being written on the relationship between blogging and journalism. Dr. Mary Lou Sheffer and I just completed a survey study of sports journalist-bloggers at TV, radio and newspaper outlets across the country, and there's still a lot of confusion out there regarding how to blog, why to blog and what benefit the blogging has for the media outlet.

Another interesting issue is how old institutions react to new media. By dropping all its advertisements a few years ago the Masters tournament showed us that an old dog can learn new tricks. Hopefully the NCAA is willing to learn a few as well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Very few minorities run sports departments

There's a reason strong racial sterotypes remain in sports media -- especially at the most senior levels. There are few minorities in charge of daily newspapers.

Studies by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports have indicated this. A study for the Associated Press Sports Editors proved this. The numbers in the 2006 Racial and Gender Report Card are jolting.

For example, only five African-Americans run a sports department for a daily newspaper in the United States. That's 1.56 percentage. Only nine Latinos are sports editors, compared to 303 whites, according to the report, which covered more than 300 Associated Press newspapers.

Women are also under-represented. Sixteen females run sports departments (five percent), while 65 women work as assistant sports editors, compared to 446 whites and more than 500 overall for a 12.67 percentage. Numbers like this prompted the Associated Press Sports Editors to investigate ways to increase diversity in sports departments, something that led to an interesting discussion at the APSE spring convention in St. Louis last week.

"I don't see a big change in the numbers," said Garry Howard (above), sports editor and assistant managing editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I do see changes in the hearts of the sports editors in this room."

"We've made progress in terms of talk," said Gregory Lee, senior assistant sports editor of the Boston Globe. Only 5.27 percent of all assistants are African-American like Lee. "Today is a good step forward."

Hiring freezes at newspapers have slowed any progess. Many sports editors lamented they have lost positions; many others at the meeting said they have not been able to hire for a year or more.

"There's not a whole lot of openings, so when they do occur you need to have a good pool of candidates that include minorities," said Karen Magnuson, president of Associated Press Managing Editors as well as the editor and vice president of news at the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle.

Patricia Mayes, sports editor of The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., said senior editors have a key role in nurturing young minority journalists. "At every paper I've worked, there was always someone there to put their arm around me." Now, she is the only African-American female sports editor in the country.

Mayes said minority sports journalists can move into leadership positions, if they get involved and work hard. For example, young journalists should compile good contacts at other newspapers. "You need to know the players in the game," she said. Second, minority journalists need to work twice as hard, she said, and be twice as good. Third, she asked all editors to have an open mind. "We're not asking people to dilute the talent paper," Mayes said. "We just want you to make the effort."

APSE is going to focus more on grass roots efforts that include working with local high schools, and connecting more with university journalism departments and state journalism organizations.

"Diversity is hard work," said Jorge Rojas, the Miami Herald's sports editor and the APSE's diversity chair. "You need to identify, interview, hire and retain. It's not easily solved. It's a long-term battle."

-30-

Research of the Week--Race and Media

A couple of recent research articles in the Journal of Sport & Social Issues (one from JSM contributor Dave Leonard) demonstrate how strong racial stereotypes still remain in the sports media. We hear arguments that there needs to be more minority representation in sports management positions such as coaching and ownership. I wonder if these articles would suggest that there also needs to be more minority presence in sports reporting and media?
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Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Vol. 31, No. 1, 25-44 (2007)
Innocent Until Proven Innocent
In Defense of Duke Lacrosse and White Power (and Against Menacing Black Student-Athletes, a Black Stripper, Activists, and the Jewish Media)
David J. Leonard, Washington State University

As the national media descended on Durham, North Carolina, in wake of public accusations of rape against three Duke Lacrosse student athletes, much of the discourse remained mired in its own shock and awe. Ignoring, if not erasing, histories of sexual violence involving White men and Black women while focusing on the problems plaguing college athletics, the media, and the numerous online defenders of the players used this instance to rearticulate tropes of White power, imagining the case as yet another assault on White masculinity. Beyond examining these deployed fictions and the denials of the possibility of guilt, given the player’s Whiteness, sport of choice, educational institution, and class status, this article explores the ways in which their student athlete identities were seen as either meaningless or evidence of innocence, especially in juxtaposition to the discursive articulation of the criminalized Black male student athlete.

Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Vol. 31, No. 2, 103-127 (2007)
"So You Can See How the Other Half Lives" MTV "Cribs"' Use of "the Other" in Framing Successful Athletic Masculinities Maureen
Margaret Smith, Sacramento State University
Becky Beal, University of the Pacific

MTV's popular television series "Cribs" displays the homes of famous athletes and entertainers. "Cribs" presents these male athletes and their households as exemplars of "making it." This article examines the representation of male athletes and how various types of "successful" masculinity are conflated with race and class. We found two dominant models of successful masculinity, James Bond and Cool Pose. "Cribs" clearly demarcates between Black and White athletes, which essentializes race. Simultaneously, "Cribs" presents race as performative styles providing the audience with opportunities to consume "the other." We argue that this paradoxical dynamic is utilized to sell the cool lifestyle and has multiple implications, including depoliticizing race, class, and gender.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

CRSI Update

The following comes from Richard Southall at the University of Memphis regarding the College Sports Research Institute. Any questions or comments should be directed to Richard at southall@memphis.edu.

We are moving ahead with developing CSRI's infrastructure and I want to ask you and others to offer suggestions for individuals you feel we should contact to see if they are willing to serve in one or more of the following areas: a) CSRI Advisory Committee, b) CSRI Faculty Affiliate,and c) Issues in College Sport Conference Planning Committee. After we have concluded this process, we will be sending out invitationletters by August 1, 2007 to identified individuals soliciting their willingness to participate in CSRI. We recognize this will be an ongoing process and that the configuration of these areas will continue to evolve.

Our website is undergoing development now and should be up within thenext few weeks. The website address is: http://coe.memphis.edu/hss/csri.htm

We have finalized the 2008 conference dates: April 16-19 with thefollowing tentative schedule of events:

Wed. April 16, 2008: 2nd annual "Tee off for Tigers" Golf Tournament, Executive Board Meeting

Thurs. April 17-19, 2008: 3rd Annual Issues in College Sport Conference; Keynote Speaker (TBA), three invited panels discussing pertinent issues in college sport, welcome evening reception

Friday - Keynote Speaker (TBA), refereed academic presentations/panels re: issues in college sport (all-day),Lunch, and CSRI Banquet

Saturday - JIIA Editorial Review Board meeting, Refereed academic presentations re: issues in college sport(half-day), CSRI Advisory Committee meeting
In addition to the refereed academic presentations, we plan to have undergraduate and graduate student poster presentation competitions to encourage student participation and attendance at the conference.

We are also developing the center's focused research agenda for 2007-2008 and would appreciate researchers submitting proposed research projects for consideration and possible funding.

I appreciate everyone's willingness to be involved in CSRI a great deal and look forward to getting this venture off the ground.

Friday, June 15, 2007

"You can't be *&#$*&@ serious!"

Wimbledon announced Thursday that starting with this summer's tournament it will begin using instant replay to verify controversial line calls. Some might argue that the move will take some of the fun out of bad-boy tennis behavior (see John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase, et. al.), but it's yet another sign of the impact of media technology on sports. The NFL, NHL and NCAA college basketball all have used video replay to help determine the outcome of games, and among the major sports only baseball seems unwilling to even consider the possibility. Although a couple of years ago MLB experimented with the QuesTec strike zone system, it was used only to monitor umpires and not to affect the outcome of games. It was universally panned by players and umpires and benched after a short time. Could replay improve major league umpiring and influence the outcome of games? Ask Tony Tarasco or Whitey Herzog.

No one is suggesting robot umpires call balls and strikes, but what about giving managers so many challenges a game as in the NFL? Media technology has been successfully used in other sports and there's no reason it couldn't work in baseball. A major drawback would be the possible lengthening of games, which already seem to stretch on for an eternity.

On a completely unrelated subject, thank goodness the almost unwatchable NBA Finals have ended. San Antonio put the Cavs (and most of the nation) out of our misery by winning Game Four and sweeping the series. Ugly would be a polite way to describe the play in the series, with both teams barely able to reach 75 points in each game.

Here's an unusual take--my theory is that superior athletes and television are actually making for inferior basketball. There's no doubt the NBA athletes of today are better than athletes of even a generation ago. Guys like Dwayne Wade and LeBron James can literally jump through the gym. To sell its product to TV audiences (it always comes back to sports media, doesn't it?) the NBA has become a star-oriented league. So what we get now is not basketball, but a dunk-and-jump shot league where four guys stand around while the one superstar plays one-on-one. (Consider the phenomenal success of Streetball, which is nothing but dunks and 3s.)

Sometimes this style works, like Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals in which James scored his team's final 25 points. More often, it doesn't; in Game 3 of the NBA Finals the Cavs went 3-of-19 from the three-point line and scored only 72 points. Congratulations to the Spurs, but don't tell me winning four titles in today's NBA qualifies them as an all-time dynasty. The Celtics of the 60s and the Knicks of the 70s would have handled them with ease.

Blame television for this mess. For some terrible NBA basketball and even our international/Olympic failures of the past few years. Why is it that Argentina and Brazil don't have near the athletic talent of the U.S., but seem to win the gold medal every time? Look no further than your television set.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Input needed

I am passing this along from Art Raney at Florida State. If you can help out, his contact information is at the bottom of the note--

I am interested in how you and your colleagues are teaching undergraduate courses in sports media. At the moment, I am not seeking information on skills-based classes (like sports journalism or sports PR) and special- or single-topic offerings but rather courses that attempt to provide a broad overview of the sports media area. Anyone doing that sort of thing? If so, I would greatly appreciate it if you could send me a syllabus or the URL of a course website. Many thanks for your consideration.

Arthur A. Raney, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Studies
Department of Communication
Florida State University
University Center, Building C, Suite 3100
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2664
Voice: 850.644.9485
Fax: 850.644.8642
Art.Raney@comm.fsu.edu

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Always room for more


I never have gotten in to the competition thing between journals (unless, of course, someone starts a new Journal of Sports Media). So when more research opportunities open up in sports-related topics I say "keep 'em coming."
With that in mind you might want to check out the new Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education. I don't know much about it beyond the title, but again, it's another opportunity to publish and increase the profile, credibility and value of sports research.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Call for Papers, Sociology of Sport

We're always glad to pass along a call for papers, especially from a friend of JSM. David Leonard of Washington State is editing a special issue of the Sociology of Sport Journal; details are below.

Call for PapersVirtual Sport as New MediaSpecial Issue of Sociology of Sport Journal
Guest Editor: David J. Leonard
Daily, sports fans throughout the globe visit various sports websites, participate in fantasy sports, celebrate and criticize teams, players, and sporting cultures on blogs, in discussion groups, and list serves, and enjoy immense pleasure in playing sports video games. Each of these media, to varying degrees, embodies what has come to be known as new media, a catch-all phrases that includes everything from the Internet to the Blogosphere to video games, virtual reality, and other examples in which media technologies are defined by increased accessibility, fluidity, and interactivity. In 1998, David Rowe found that Yahoo UK and Irish Search engines offered 4,271 categories and 14,591 sites devoted to sport. As of 2007, a U.S. Google search landed 822,000,000 sports websites, yet yielded few scholarly inquiries of sports and new media, especially in regards to race, gender, sexuality, and nation. Moreover, when much of the video game industry faced losses in sales in 2005, sports games remained strong within the industry, accounting for more than thirty percent of all video games sales. In total, sports video games represent a $1 billion industry, a fact that demonstrates the economic power and cultural significance of sports video games. Yet, to date, the literature within sports sociology, amongst commentators and scholars of global sports culture, has with few exceptions remained relatively silent to the cultural, political, sociological, economic, and overall significance of new media within a globalized sports culture. While there are countless examples and evidence of the increasing significance of new media within global sporting cultures, the academic community continues to lag behind in terms of analysis and critical interrogation. This special issue attempts to bridge the gap between old media, and new, reflecting on the ways in which new media cultures infect and affect fans, teams, sporting cultures. Possible topics include but are not limited to: sports video games; sporting blogs; the Internet and global sports culture; white masculinity and virtual sports culture; fantasy sports; sports discussion groups; ESPN.com and virtual sports media; virtual sport as minstrelsy; the intersections of race, nation, sexuality, gender, and class with sports and new media; race, gender and fantasy sports leagues; analysis of the cultural affects of Youtube, Myspace, or Google video on sporting cultures; sports talk radio and podcasting/the Internet (particularly as they relate to race and gender); virtual sports culture and Diaspora: Sports as imagined community; links between racism, sexism and other institutions of domination and virtual sporting cultures, and, virtual sports culture as racial/ gendered performance. This issue will consider textual, empirical (data-based), case study, and/or theory-based papers grounded in sociological theory and related to virtual sports culture, but is especially interested in papers that are empirically-based and those that critically engage the links between virtual sport and race, gender, sexuality, nation or globalization, as well as papers that push analysis into realms of comparison (beyond the U.S.). Authors should follow the ‘Instructions to contributors’ found in every issue of the Sociology of Sport Journal. Essays should be roughly 6,000 words, excluding endnotes and reference list. Questions should be sent to Dr. David J. Leonard, djl@wsu.edu. All submissions are due by March 1, 2008 and should be submitted on line to http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/hk_ssjDr. David LeonardAssistant ProfessorComparative Ethnic StudiesWashington State University509 335-6854http://libarts.wsu.edu/ces/david_leonard.php

Friday, June 08, 2007

Oh, Big Brother!

I know networks and content providers have a vested interest in pushing the games and athletes they carry, but it seems like ABC/ESPN went overboard in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night ... overboard as in "Titanic."

ABC/ESPN owns the rights to the NBA Finals and has spent the better part of a week hyping the appearance of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers against the San Antonio Spurs. The previews were on every ABC/ESPN platform, including ESPN News, which carried a ticker that counted down the hours until the opening tip.

Considering the financial investment involved, such over promotion is understandable. But then ABC/ESPN decided to go "all in" as they say on the networks' countless hours of poker programming (a subject for another day--how networks can make money by showing people playing cards). The opening tip and first 20 minutes of Game 1 were shown simultaneously on all ABC/ESPN platforms! That's ABC, ESPN, ESPN News, ESPN 2 and ESPN Classic (that's all the ESPN I get on DirecTV. I wonder if the game was also shown on Deportes?).

ESPN commonly roadblocks commercials across its networks to give advertisers maximum efficiency, but this is something entirely different. For a few moments I felt like Winston Smith from George Orwell's 1984. Big Brother ABC/ESPN was everywhere, just like critics of media concentration have warned for years. For the most part I have believed that new technologies would open up more channels and give viewers more options. But for a short time Thursday night ABC/ESPN showed all of us what it's like when content and distribution are concentrated in the hands of a sprawling media empire. I don't read anything especially sinister in what happened; but it does seem like we've crossed some Rubicon and there's no turning back.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I lied

Yes, I lied. Sorry about that.

When I last left you before our vacation to South Padre Island, Texas (which was fabulous, by the way) I said I was not going to consume any sports media while I was gone. In fact, I didn't even make it one day.

On the two-day drive down there I listened to both Fox Sports Radio and ESPN Radio to catch some baseball scores. Relaxing in our condo after a day at the beach I watched some NBA playoffs (and I'm not really even a basketball fan) and some baseball. I scoured the sports section of the complimentary USA Today newspaper delivered to my door. In short, I consumed sports media almost every day.

It's amazing how pervasive the sports media are and how easy it is to access them. It's also amazing how important they are to the patterns of our everyday lives. I wasn't consciously trying to access the sports media; they were simply there and I consumed (sounds a little like Eve in the Garden of Eden).

Thank goodness for new technology and accessible sports content. And I'll try not to lie next time.