Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Different Look at (Sports) Education

If you haven't had the opportunity, read Mark Taylor's op-ed piece in the New York Times about the future of higher education, and specifically graduate education. Taylor argues that higher education has become like Detroit--producing a product for which there is no market and developing skills for which there is no demand.

Taylor (a religion professor at Columbia) does not specifically mention sports, but his observations and recommendations should make us reflect about our sports programs. His argument that the mass-production education model has led to "separation where there ought to be collaboration and to ever-increasing specialization" is something we are all facing in mass communications. New technologies and approaches have caused the walls between print and broadcast divisions to crumble, and the sports media have been at the forefront of incorporating these changes in delivering content to consumers. (Some would say change is coming too fast and without a regard for consequences).

I also agree with the recommendation to redesign curriculum (which is already going on here at Ole Miss and I'm guessing many other places) and to encourage collaboration between universities (which I also think we do a very good job of in teaching sports media; my experience has been that other schools and instructors are more than willing to collaborate).

Taylor also argues that "as departments fragment, research and publication become more and more about less and less. Each academic becomes the trustee not of a branch of the sciences, but of limited knowledge that all too often is irrelevant for genuinely important problems. A colleague recently boasted to me that his best student was doing his dissertation on how the medieval theologian Duns Scotus used citations." This has been a problem even in mass communication and many journals are dedicated to information that is irrelevant to anyone except those who publish it. We are trying to put more of an emphasis on practicality in sports media scholarship at JSM and several other journals are as well, but it's a difficult battle. As scholars, we have been trained in the scientific method-theoretical application-hypothesis testing model of research; maybe it's time to look at that model and see if it's actually producing any practical results. As someone who worked in the television industry I can say with certainty that no news director or general manager I ever knew looked at a scholarly journal for advice on how to do his/her job better, improve productivity or increase profits.

Taylor does get a little far afield in some of his suggestions (I'm sure eliminating tenure would not go over well), but many of his points are valid and worth consideration.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The NFL on... Twitter

It has been a long semester and a long time since I posted here, but I thought this past weekend's NFL draft was worthy of a few minutes. Specifically, the Twitterification of it. My Twitter account was overloaded with updates. But it was today's messages which got me fired up to post.

Darren Rovell of called his back-and-forth exchange this morning with the NFL's Brian McCarthy the "Sports World's First Twinterview". Essentially, the two exchanged 140 character questions and answers. You can read the full text on Rovell's blog here

What I find most useful are the salient points McCarthy addresses regarding the utility of Twitter to reach fans. McCarthy mentions the benfits for the league and its member teams to receive realtime feedback. We get that every day when we talk to someone. That's called a dialogue, which is what Twitter and other forms of new media (blogs, Facebook, etc.) enable brands to do: Have a conversation with consumers who are obviously identified with the brand's product. Why would someone follow the NFL unless that person was already a fan or considering becoming a fan? McCarthy even likens Twitter to a virtual focus group, which is a progressive and smart way for brands to consider Twitter.  

The exchange got me wondering whether this was a planned strategy or not, so I Tweeted McCarthy and asked when the NFL decided to the Twitter presence on draft day. He responded thusly, "our digital media group @nfl tested it @ Super Bowl. I got into it 2 wks ago. @nflcommish Goodell last week." 

It's hard to imagine a major sport property such as the NFL changing PR plans ahead of a major media event the week of the event. A tremendous job by the NFL's PR staff for creating such a following. As I write (13:45 CDT), @NFLprguy has 1,500 followers, @NFL has 39,000 followers and @nflcommish has 3,700 followers. 

I am presently working on a second edition of the Sport Public Relations text and one of my reservations about doing so was the rapidly changing dynamic in the PR landscape. The NFL has modeled to other sport organizations how to properly do this. And, forced me to again rethink the text. I would welcome feedback or input from anyone who has used the text. A version of this post is also on my personal weblog here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Loose Lips Sink ... USM Football

We talk a lot about technology in this blog, but it's important to remember that even the best technology is limited by how we use it.

The folks at the University of Southern Mississippi got a tough reminder of that this past weekend. Like many schools, USM broadcast its spring football game live on the radio and also streamed it live on the Internet. However, there was a mixup in the audio signals and instead of the game the Internet audience was treated to a raunchy, racially-charged conversation between two radio station employees. There's more on the story here, including the audio.

History is littered with sports media types (and non-sports media types) who have said dumb things into a microphone thinking they were not on the air. Rule #1 in any sports broadcasting class--NEVER say anything into a microphone you wouldn't want to go out over the air. It's hard to believe these guys haven't learned that lesson, but they sure know about it now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Student Broadcast Opportunities

This isn't exclusively related to sports, but it could include those recent graduates interested in sports broadcasting--

The Society of Professional Journalists has created a training program for young journalists in their first three years of the profession. The Broadcast Reporters Institute is a three-day crash course in broadcast journalism excellence at the Poynter Institute in Florida. According to the SPJ announcement, "If you're a recent grad and new to the broadcast journalism profession, consider applying. If you're a seasoned pro, please share this with a young journalist."

For more information about applying you can go to the SPJ web site or contact Heather Porter at or 317-927-8000, extension 204.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Welcome JSAS

We welcome the Journal of Sport Administration and Supervision to the growing number of sport-related academic journals. The journal is published by the sport management program at Middle Tennessee State and the inaugural issue was published in conjunction with the Southern Sport Management Conference in Troy, AL.

According to co-founder Ben Goss, the mission of JSAS is "to develop, advance, disseminate, promote and preserve knowledge withing the academic discipline of sport management by providing an outlet that is both grounded in academic theory and driven by the needs of practitioners and the environment of the sport industry" (sounds a lot like JSM!).

Also like JSM, JSAS will put an emphasis on research with practical applcations, including case studies. One of the unique features of the journal is that all the articles will be published online with free access, including the inaugural issue. JSM wishes the best of luck to JSAS in the future.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

BEA/NAB Update

We're fast approaching the Broadcast Education Association convention in Las Vegas (and the corresponding convention for the National Association of Broadcasters). The NAB show is April 18-23, while the BEA meets April 22-25.

Mike Bruce, chair of the BEA sports division, has helped put together several events for BEA. A brief rundown--

Wednesday, April 22:

Inside NASCAR (pre-conference session)
Developing a Sports Broadcasting Curriculum (pre-conference session)

Thursday, April 23:

Innovative Pedagogical Approaches for Sport Communication (session)

Friday, April 24:

Sports Division Meeting
Curriculum, Ethics and Athletics (session)

Saturday, April 25:

Sports Media and the University (session)
Sports Division Juried Paper session

Hope you can make it to BEA and many of these events. If you have any questions or need more information you can contact Mike at:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Have a Good Friday

JSM wishes its family and audience a happy Easter, but remember ... you can't have Easter without Good Friday.

Before we go for the weekend, this comes from JSM contributor Ric Jensen, formerly at Texas A&M and now at South Dakota--

"I am going to launch a research survey to examine the extent to which American sports fans might approve [or not] the recent practice of Major League Soccer to allow teams to wear prominent ads on their jerseys. I am trying to find out who on the list may have some ideas about resources I could read that deal with the history of international soccer leagues and clubs in allowing this to occur. I understand that The English Premier League began allowing large ads on jerseys back in the 1980s. Any advice you can give or any people you could share this request with would be most appreciated.

BTW, I am still hoping to study how NASCAR is cultivating a Hispanic fan base in the event you are interested. Seeing as y'all [using a Texas term] are in the Heart of NASCAR country, I thought you might be interested!"

If anyone can help Ric his email is:

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sports Journalism Law and Ethics Discussed at Fordham Law School Panel

On Friday, April 17th, Fordham University School of Law will sponsor the 13th Annual Symposium on Current Legal Issues in Sports. The second panel, beginning at 11:15 AM, will discuss legal and ethical issues involving sports journal. The panel consists of:

ABNER GREENE, ESQ. Leonard F. Manning Chair,Professor, Fordham University Law School (moderator)
ARI FLEISCHER, President, Ari Fleischer Sports Communications, Former White House Press Secretary
MIKE FLORIO, ESQ., Correspondent,
JACK MARSHALL, ESQ.President and Founder, ProEthics;Primary Writer and Editor, The Ethics Scoreboard
MARK CONRAD, ESQ., Professor of Legal and Ethical Studies, Fordham University School of Business
DAVID SUSSMAN, ESQ.Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, Former Counsel and acting COO of the New York Yankees

Other panels will discuss pharmaceuticals and sports and gambling and sports. For more information, click here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

This and That

A couple of items you may or may not find useful ...

1. Andy Billings at Clemson has a student who is doing a study on fantasy sports. The study has an online survey, which can be accessed here. Andy encourages all faculty and students to help out, if possible. The survey should take only around 5 minutes.

2. Thirdspace: A Journal of Feminist Theory and Culture is inviting submissions for a future issue on gender, sport and the Olympics. According to the call, "We are interested in exploring the central role which gender and sexuality play in shaping ideas about athleticism, sport culture and the body, and the significant ways in which athletic events such as the Olympics work to transform conceptions of public space, national boundaries and identities, and gendered self- presentations and performances."

For more information about the call and specific submission guidelines you can visit the journal's online submission site.