Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sports and HD

We all know (or should know) how popular sports programming is on television. That fact is always brought up around Super Bowl time because five of the top 11 rated shows in U.S. history are sports programs, led by the 1982 Super Bowl (#3 all-time). Now it appears HD is helping make sports even more popular. According to Nielsen Media, ratings for sporting events in homes with HDTV are 30% higher than in homes with standard definition television. Is it possible we'll now see even more sports than ever before?

Probably not. For one thing, sports ratings is a zero-sum game. If a lot of people are watching the football game on FOX they can't be watching the golf match on NBC. Even with time-shifting and picture-in-picture technology, most people focus on only one thing at a time.

More importantly, the televised event needs some kind of storyline or compelling reason to watch. Sports Media Watch keeps tabs on how particular sports and athletes are doing in the ratings, and while the NBA and NFL are up, the NHL and golf are down. Why? The NBA has star power in LeBron and Kobe, but except for Tiger Woods there's almost no reason to watch golf (even Tiger has his limits; his runaway win last weekend had very low ratings).

Competition is great, but you need the big names and compelling stories to draw viewers. It will be interesting to see how next week's Super Bowl fares in these areas. The media have hyped the 'perfect season' angle for New England and the Manning ties for New York. But if the Patriots start blowing out the Giants early none of that will keep viewers interested.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Does the WSJ now have a toy department?

Another blow for sports media credibility ...

It seems that the estimable Wall Street Journal is now moving into sports content. It's all part of a plan by the Journal's new owner Rupert Murdoch to make the paper more appealing. You can read more in this article from the New York Times. Our thanks to former JSM board member Angela Renkoski at Drake for pointing out this story.

It only took 119 years, but hey, better late than never.

Friday, January 25, 2008

CFP: Sport and Social Change

Upcoming deadlines for a spring conference in Toronto; deadline for submission is January 31.

“To remember is to resist:”* 40 Years of Sport and Social Change, 1968-2008
University of Toronto, May 20-22, 2008

40 years after Mexico City, Paris, and Prague, and 80 days before the Beijing Games, the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, the Centre for Sport Policy Studies, and New College at the University of Toronto are pleased to host a three-day conference on sport and social change to be held in Toronto, Canada, on May 20-22, 2008.

These anniversaries offer a unique opportunity to revisit the ways in which the struggle for human rights has shaped sport and physical activity. This conference will commemorate and critique the aims and achievements of past and current human rights movements in sport. Keynote addresses and individual presentations will explore the past and reflect on current efforts at social change; participants will also be encouraged to suggest future directions and debate the merits of including sport in campaigns for human rights.

This conference will bring together academics and activists, practitioners and academics, including scholars from a variety of disciplines and perspectives whose research interests touch upon issues of sport and physical activity, human rights and social change. Potential topics of discussion include, but are not limited to:

· International development and sport
· Reform and protest (e.g., Olympic Movement for Human Rights, 1968)
· The Beijing Olympics and international protest
· Collective bargaining in professional and Olympic sport
· Access to sport and physical activity
· Gender struggles in sport
· Indigenous peoples, sport and physical activity
· Sport and (dis)ability
· Whose knowledge counts? Struggles over curriculum in physical education and sports
· Sport and the environment
· The current state of international and national sport governance
· Activism at the local level
· Campaigns for children’s rights in sport
· Media reform, media justice
· The campaign for open access to research

The conference will feature keynote addresses by leaders in the field, plenary panel discussions, as well as open paper sessions. Conference organizers are encouraging submissions for both individual presentations and session topics. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words (and include the paper/session title, and presenter’s name and affiliation). Deadline for the submission of abstracts is January 31, 2008.

Submit abstracts and any questions to the Conference Organizer, Russell Field, at: or 1-416-978-5548.

Dr. Bruce Kidd
Dean, Faculty of Physical Education and Health
University of Toronto

Dr. Peter Donnelly
Director, Centre for Sport Policy Studies
University of Toronto

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

CFP: Sport and Ability

FYI; paper deadline is February 17.


We would like to extend a warm invitation for you to submit abstracts for the 3rd Annual International Shafallah Forum in Doha, Qatar from April 20th – April 22nd, 2008. For the past two years we have been delighted to welcome more than 250 experts in the field and First Ladies from all over the world to our Forum and we anticipate that this year’s Forum will be no exception.

The 3rd Annual International Forum, hosted by the Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs, will bring together advocates, family members, scholars, and practitioners from a variety of perspectives to explore the theme of Sport and Ability. Shafallah Center's 3rd Annual International Forum will explore how sport, recreation and cultural activities promote social inclusion, acceptance, skill acquisition and friendships. The Forum will explore the current efforts of these programs and future directions for how sport and the promotion of ability can be expanded to reach all members of our globally aware society. The sky is the limit in terms of creativity so please submit ideas.

The Forum will feature keynote addresses by global leaders, roundtable discussions, symposia, paper presentations, and exhibits. We welcome the submission of afore mentioned presentations and have included more information in the following pages.

Participation in the Forum is complimentary and by invitation only (including airfare, meals, and accommodation). We hope that you will join us this April in Doha and participate in international dialogue among your peers. Please visit our website at Abstracts are due by February 17, 2008.

Hassan Ali Bin Ali

Friday, January 18, 2008

NCA Panel Proposal: Sport Performance

The following is from Tracy Walker, who is trying to organize a panel for the NCA convention. If you are interested, her contact information is at the end.


I am organizing a panel proposal for this year's NCA that looks at sports and performance. I am particularly interested in sports as performance, the performance of sport/sports culture, and sports rituals and performance.

Following NCA's "unCONVENTIONal" theme and push for interdisciplinarity, we hope to encourage scholars for whom performance studies is not a typical stomping ground to contact us. If you are interested in participating please send me your information and affiliation and we
will go from there!

Tracy Walker
Visiting Lecturer
Department of Communication Studies
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

CFP: Virtual Sport

FYI--Information related to a call for a special issue of the Sociology of Sport Journal. All questions should be addressed to Dave Leonard, a contributor and friend of JSM.

Call for Papers--Virtual Sport as New Media
Special 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; 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, All submissions are due by
March 1, 2008 and should be submitted on line to

Monday, January 14, 2008

Research interest?: Athletes with Disabilities

Wanted to pass along this message from Elaine Jenks at West Chester in Pennsylvania. Anyone interested can contact her directly.

I'm interested in organizing a panel for NCA on communication and sport for athletes with disabilities. Obviously, this is a huge area of study but because the IAAF just disqualified a runner who is a double amputee from the Beijing Olympics because his prosthetic limbs have been ruled to give him an advantage over runners without disabilities, I think this is a good year to have a panel on this topic. My personal interest is in the sport of goalball, a Paralympic team sport played only by athletes who are blind or visually impaired. If you are conducting research in the area of communication and sport for athletes with disabilities, please email me at by the end of January so we have time to organize a panel before the February 13th NCA deadline.

Lainey Jenks

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

CSRI deadlines and information

Richard Southall at the University of Memphis wants to remind everyone about upcoming deadlines for the College Sports Research Institute conference this spring. If you have any questions you can contact him

On behalf of the CSRI Executive Board, I wanted to drop you a gentle reminder about the approaching deadline for submission of abstracts for the College Sport Research Institute’s inaugural 2008 Scholarly Conference on College Sport. You can click on this link for more information on abstract guidelines

We hope you are planning to submit an abstract and attend this year’s conference. This conference provides a great opportunity for college-sport scholars to meet and discuss college sport for three days! We look forward to having you join us in Memphis April 16-19, 2008.

Confirmed conference speakers and panelists include:

Dr. Jon Ericson – Former Provost, Drake University
Prof. Linda Greene - Evjue-Bascom Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School
Dr. Leonard N. Moore - University of Texas – Austin
Dr. G. David Pollick - President, Birmingham-Southern College
Mr. Sonny Vaccaro, Former Vice President – Nike, adidas, Reebok
Dr. Rufus Barfield – University of Central Florida
Mr. Lee Evans – 1968 Mexico City Olympic gold medalist (400M & 4X400M), Head track coach, University of South Alabama
Ms. Christine Grant - Former Director, Women’s Athletics - University of Iowa
Dr. Othello Harris - Miami University of Ohio
Mr. Ramogi Huma – Executive Director, National College Players’ Association
Mr. David Meggyesy – Author, “Out of Their League” – Former NFL Player
Mr. Mack Rhoades – Athletic Director, Akron University
Dr. Kenneth Shropshire – University of Pennsylvania

The complete conference schedule (Wed. April 16 – Sat. April 19, 2008) will be posted on the CSRI website shortly. We hope you will be part of this conference and help to make it a great event.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Better late than never ... Happy New Year to everyone from the Journal of Sports Media.

One of my research projects for the new year involves communication on sports message boards and blog sites. I've been looking at some of the conversations going on between fans related to the upcoming BCS championship game between LSU and Ohio State, and a couple of things jumped out immediately:

The sheer level of communication is staggering. Thousands upon thousands of messages at all hours of the day and night. It makes you wonder how the people have any time to work or even sleep.

More disturbing, the level of anger and hostility really surprised me. I expected a high level of passion, but the level of discourse is amazingly vulgar, especially considering all the profanity. If you look at the comments in terms of positive or negative, there are far more negative posts. Some could be considered the technological equivilent of burning down someone's house.

I'm not sure if this indicates a high level of involvement and indentification or simply the continuing deevolution of public discourse. I would be interested in any comments or feedback, especially from those who take part in these boards.