Friday, February 27, 2009

To get your weekend started

Another research opportunity to consider as we close out the month of February ...

Special Issue of the Journal of Language and Social Psychology -- Sport, Language and Culture. Scholarly manuscripts that empirically examine the centrality of language to processes, dynamics and outcomes of sports in culture will be considered. All methodological approaches are welcome. It is hoped that the special issue will provide a pluralistic representation of the diversity of research (e.g. language, discourse, communication, sport) that contribute to intellectual intersections among the burgeoning domain of scholarship.

Manuscripts should be sent electronically by May 1, 2009 to both editors: Kelby K. Halone ( and Lindsey J. Mean ( Submission should include two separate attachments: a) cover sheet with title, author(s) affiliation(s), full contact info, brief bio and acknowledgments and b) the ms. proper (APA style). An abstract of no more than 200 words and a maximum of eight keywords should accompany the ms.

Contact the editors with any questions.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ayude, por favor ...

This request comes from Pierre Rodgers at George Mason University. He's trying to help a young student find literature related to the scouting of Latino talent in major league baseball. If you can help contact the student (Adam) directly.

Always good to see high school students developing an interest in sports scholarship!

Good afternoon, scholars! I'm forwarding this request from a New Jersey high school student who wants to do research on the relationship between Latin America and MLB (e.g., players' efforts, franchises, agents in scouting Latino talent). Please respond to Adam at

R. Pierre Rodgers, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Sport Management
George Mason University
703.993.8317 (office)

Monday, February 23, 2009

College Sports Report Card

The following items are necessarily related, but they sure seem to fit together--

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports the the University of Central Florida has released a report showing that when compared to the major professional sports college athletics was at the bottom in terms of hiring minorities and females. Even though the NCAA has a department of Diversity and Inclusion, the organization received Fs in race for hiring of football coaches and sports information directors, and Fs in race and gender for athletic directors, conference commissioners and university presidents. Sounds like a research paper to me, which leads to ...

Call for Papers/Special Issue of the Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics (JIAA). The special issue of the JIAA "Images of Intercollegiate Athletics and Intellectual Inquiry" seeks to extend the literature on education, athletics, policy and cultural issues in 21st century higher education. Manuscripts should be submitted no later than May 15 via email to:

Co-Guest Editor
C. Keith Harrison
University of Central Florida

Contact Keith for more information regarding the call.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Athletes a-Twitter

Interesting conversation last night on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption. The topic centered on an article in the Toronto Star about the latest fad among NBA athletes--Twitter. Apparently, athletes like Chris Bosh and Shaquille O'Neal have gotten hooked on the abbreviated form of one-line texting. Bosh communicates with about 1,300 fans ... the locquacious Shaq with more than 92,000! (As the New York Times reported, Shaq apparently started "tweeting" because an imposter was doing so using his name).

On PTI, Dan LeBatard of the Miami Herald said, "We're fast approaching the day when they (athletes) don't need the media at all. They can just create their own connection to the fan without our help. It's publicity on their own terms." It's an interesting argument, considering that in addition to Twitter most athletes already have their own websites to help with fan communication and image management.

Given the tremendous growth in these types of media, have the mass media outlived their usefulness to athletes? Probably not ... yet. Rodriguez used ESPN to clear the air after Sports Illustrated blew the whistle on his steroid use. And A-Rod didn't even bother to update his own personal website to give more explanation to his side of things.

But a corner has certainly been turned and it might not be too long before LeBatard's prediction comes true. The one thing the mass media have going for them these days is that they are still the main distributors of sports programming, especially live events. If, and when, that goes away things will change drastically.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Reviewing Sports Research

An invitation to the International Symposium on Peer Reviewing (ISPR) found its way into my inbox over the weekend. I probably won't make it (thanks to my kids I've had my fill of Orlando), but it is a topic well worth discussing.

According to the mini-lit review that came with the invitation, only 8% of the Scientific Research Society believes that peer review works well, while one paper called it "a non-validated charade whose processes generate results little better than does chance."

Those statements may seem a little strong, but I do believe that the peer-review system, including sports scholarship, has some serious issues. It doesn't make sense that two qualified reviewers could look at the same paper, with Reviewer A hating it and Reviewer B loving it. There also seems to be a lot of anger and petty jealously involved in the process. I have received reviews of my work that were unnecessarily scathing and quite personal. Finally, I believe that something of an 'old boy' clique has developed in research, with the same people and agendas continually promoted.

It's important for researchers who contribute to JSM to know that we are doing everything possible to correct these issues. To be sure, there will always be a certain amount of subjectivity in the process because we are dealing with human beings. But if you submit a paper to JSM you can be assured that--

1. The paper will be reviewed by at least 3 scholars knowledgable with the topic and approach. If the comments of the reviewers are wildly divergent I will go over the paper again myself and if necessary send it out to yet another reviewer for a clean look. That means up to 5 people are reviewing your work. The more people who review the more of a consistent result we get.

2. The paper will be blind reviewed. The reviewers don't know the name of the person who submitted the paper, which is standard for social scientific research. Rest assured, JSM will not compromise this most basic rule for reviewing.

3. Our reviews are highly qualified in their fields of sports media. Some of the reviewers are seminal figures in sports scholarship; all of them have made sports research the focus of their scholarly work.

4. The reviews of your work will be professional and offer constructive criticism. I not only go through each review to make sure that the comments are helpful in terms of making the research better, but I also look to make sure the review is not personally demeaning. I can honestly say that our reviews have been completely professional and I have not had to edit them in any substantial way.

5. JSM encourages new authors and scholars. Since we essentially created this journal out of nothing there was no agenda to protect; no network of colleagues to promote. We have had a couple of our editorial board members publish papers, but each time the author went through the process described above. In some instances, board members have submitted papers that failed to qualify for publication. The last few issues of JSM have included work from relatively new scholars in the field, and we pride ourselves on being open to anyone who wants to contribute. The only thing that matters here is publishing the best possible research on sports media--period.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about the review process I encourage you to contact me directly ( We are always looking to make the process work better.

By the way, if you are interested in contributing to the conference the deadline for proposals/abstracts is March 18. More information can be found at the website. The conference is July 10-13 in Orlando.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Conference Updates (and such)

A couple of reminders about upcoming conference panels, papers and deadlines:

1. There are less than 3 weeks remaining until abstracts are due for the International Society for Comparative Physical Education and Sport Regional Summit in Vancouver. You can get more information from the ISCPES website about the call and other conference information. For more information contact Anthony Church, Laurentian University (Phone: 705-675-1151 ext. 2320;

2. Karen Hartman as Ashland (OH) University is looking to put a panel together for NCA that focuses on the rhetorical construction of relegated American sports and how that rhetoric upholds or weakens their placement in the sporting realm. She says she is open to a variety of topics and will organize a panel based on the results she gets. The deadline is approaching faster than we like, so please submit proposals as soon as possible. You can email your proposal to the following email address:

Monday, February 09, 2009

Score one for MLB TV

Give some credit to the MLB Network for its weekend coverage of the Alex Rodriguez story. Sports Illustrated broke the exclusive early Saturday that A-Rod had tested positive for steroids in 2003. Other media outlets quickly jumped in, as did MLB TV, which broke in to scheduled programming and went live the rest of the afternoon with interviews and commentary.

It would have been easy for MLB to soft-soap the story, considering that as a subsidiary of Major League Baseball its primary job is to promote the league and the sport. But MLB dived right in, with commentary from SI contributor Tom Verducci. Verducci, the same writer who ghosted Joe Torre's recent controversial book The Yankee Way, said that "journalism is journalism. We should cover this story the exact same way someone would cover a political scandal." Bob Costas followed with a lengthy interview with Selena Roberts, one of the SI writers who helped break the story.

We certainly don't want to give too much credit to MLB Network; after all, it's easy to jump in the pool when everyone else is already in, and we could ask why a network with all those resources didn't break the story in the first place. But, the fledgling network deserves some props for at least attempting real journalism as opposed to the typical sugar-coating.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Help needed: Sports PR and Corporate Panel

Two items today. The first comes from Ric Jensen, formerly at Texas A&M and now at South Dakota. He's also a former contributor to JSM, so if you can help him out please let him know. Also, check out the 2nd item below. Today is the deadline to submit an abstract for a panel on sports and corporations

1. Is there anyone who knows of some recent examples where sports organizations have been culturally or racially insensitive in how they use marketing and PR?? Academic references would be Great but I can use popular sources, too.

Ric Jensen
Asst. Professor
Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism
Al Neuharth Media Center, 205 C
The U. of South Dakota
Vermillion, SD 57069

2. Denise Oles and Katherine Lavelle are looking for panelists for a panel about the influence of sports and corporations. If you are interested, please send an abstract by February 4th to

Katherine L. Lavelle
Director of Forensics
University of Northern Iowa

Monday, February 02, 2009

What you missed ...

Pretty good game last night in SB XLIII (by the way, isn't it time to finally get away from Roman numerals? It worked fine for SB V, X, etc., but now it's time to return to the 21st century).

There's plenty of stuff out there on the game, commercials and halftime show, so no need to add anything here on those topics. For some reason I was more interested in what other channels were doing--were they seriously trying to counter-program and draw away audience or was it simply tossing in the ratings towel? What did you miss if you watched the game?

Call it throwing in the (Terrible?) towel. CBS apparently decided not to waste 60 Minutes and instead went with a bland "Road to the White House" recap of the election season. FOX pretty much went with its usual lineup of animated fare, although they could have been reruns. TBS ran an old movie ("What Women Want") that had also run on Friday and Saturday nights. Marathons of favorite shows were popular at A&E ("The Sopranos"), Hallmark ("I Love Lucy"), and WGN ("Alf"), although they weren't the kind of shows designed to pull serious audience away from the game. There were a couple of networks that tried to play off the SB theme. The worst programming along this line was something called "The Puppy Bowl" on Animal Planet, which was nothing more than cute dogs running around on a floor marked off like a football field.

Yes, the SB benefitted from a good game and an exciting ending last night. But even if it had not, there wasn't much competition from anything else. The event reaffirmed its status as a cultural icon that merits our televised attention; so much so, that an entire televised universe seemed to come to a complete standstill for an entire evening.