Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hyper localism

One of the trends going on in sports media today is hyper-localism: sports outlets making a bigger effort to cover local teams and athletes. The argument goes something like this, "We have to be local because that's the only place our audience can get stuff on local players and teams. There's no point in doing national sports because people can get that from ESPN."

But what happens when ESPN goes "local?"

The self-proclaimed WWLS (World Wide Leader in Sports) has now created branded ESPN web content in several cities, such as Dallas and Chicago. The content is split between ESPN staffers (who voice over SportsCenter updates targeted to the specific market) and local writers and bloggers who cover the specific market on a daily basis. (In the case of ESPN Dallas, the site poached several sports staffers who were working at the Dallas Morning News).

In a somewhat related story, GrandStadium.TV has started making in-roads into televising local high school sports events. The content is completely produced by high school journalism students (under the direction of teachers), and the quality is apparently good enough that some broadcast TV outlets have signed deals with GrandStadium to show the games, an arrangement that works out for both sides.

Both of these developments show how the sports media are becoming much more hyper-local, and both are a threat to the traditional (or 'legacy') media, such as local TV and newspapers. It's interesting to see how local TV is partnering with GrandStadium, which seems to be a very smart move. If sports media consumers can go to their TVs or computers and watch these hyper-local sports on demand, or if they can turn to ESPN Yakima, what then becomes of the role of sports in the legacy media?

This would seem to be the single biggest question facing these traditional media today, and how they answer it could mean the difference between survival and extinction.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Two openings at U-Florida

The University of Florida is looking for two positions in Sport Management--one tenure track (assistant professor) and the other a lecturer (both to begin August 2010). If interested, UF requests you apply through its online jobsite.

Also wanted to pass along a CFP for a special issue of the Sociology of Sport Journal. The special issue will focus on Physical Cultural Studies. You can learn more about the call here. The deadline for submission is March 31, 2010.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And now at Texas ...

To follow up on the posting of last week about Indiana University and its Sports Journalism program, we made the comment that more and more schools are getting involved in creating these programs.

That includes the University of Texas, which now seeks a director for its Texas Program in Sports and Media. The full listing is here, but the basics are included below ...

Director, Texas Program in Sports & Media
The College seeks a leader for a newly developed Sports and Media Program, intended to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and research on sports, media and culture. The program will build on existing College strengths in entertainment studies, film, television, new media format, and journalism. One of the nation's best athletic programs at the University of Texas as well as nearby professional sports franchises provide valuable potential partnerships for the program.
The Director will teach one or two courses a year in the general area of sports and media with a concurrent appointment as senior lecturer, oversee a small administrative staff, and help build a program endowment. Oversee development of an Olympic archive, organize an annual symposium on sports and public policy, and provide long-term planning for the Program. Work with faculty members in the College and across campus, generate local and national publicity for the program, and serve as its main ambassador and fund-raiser.
Required: Bachelor's degree. Ten years of experience in the general area of sports and media. Applicants must have a broad vision of the intersection of sports and media in society, well-established relationships with media personnel, and in-depth knowledge of intercollegiate and professional sports. Equivalent combination of relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate. Preferred: Master's degree. More than 10 years of experience in the general area of sports and media. Experience with start-up operations including concept-design, budgetary oversight, and employee supervision.

Screening of applicants will begin November 16, 2009, and will continue until the position is filled.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another step forward

Much like what Penn State has done with its Knight Center for Sports Journalism, Indiana University is now trying to become a leader in sports journalism and scholarship.

IU has created a National Sports Journalism Center, which features both academic and practical approaches. If the Center's website is any indication, IU is serious about pushing sports to the forefront of its already-excellent journalism school. Although the website just debuted this week, the Center opened back in January with the goal of "aspiring to become the nation's most comprehensive institute for the study of sports media."

The website looks great--a combination of academic issues and practical sports stuff from industry practitioners. Congratulations to IU for taking this step and for all other schools recognizing the value of sports media. Just one question ... where's the JSM blog on your list of sports media links?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CFP: Nine Conference

Trey Strecker at Ball State asked to get this posted. It's a Call for Papers for NINE, a journal of baseball history and culture. The call, along with contact information, is posted below:

The 17th Annual NINE Spring Training Conference invites original, unpublished papers that study all aspects of baseball, with particular emphasis on history and social policy implications. Abstracts only, not to exceed 300 words, should be submitted by December 1, 2009, to:

NINE Spring Training Conference
c/o Trey Strecker
Department of English
Ball State University
Muncie, Indiana 47306-0460

Email abstracts are preferred. Authors will be notified as quickly as possible whether their papers have been accepted. Authors are required to register for the conference and present their work in person. The 2010 conference program and accepted abstracts will be posted on the NINE Web site in January 2010.

Keynote Speaker: Larry Dierker

Larry Dierker pitched for the Houston Colt .45's, Houston Astros, and St. Louis Cardinals from 1964 to 1977. He broadcast Astros games from 1979 to 1996 and in 2004, and managed the Astros from 1997 to 2001, finishing in first place five times and earning the National League Manager of the Year Award in 1998. He is the author of This Ain't Brain Surgery: How to Win the Pennant Without Losing Your Mind and My Team: Choosing My Dream Team from My Forty Years in Baseball.

Featured Guest: Marty Appel

Marty Appel is the president of Marty Appel Public Relations, and he was the New York Yankees Director of Public Relations from 1973 to 1977. He is the author of seventeen books, including Slide, Kelly, Slide: The Wild Life and Times of Mike "King" Kelly and Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain.

Conference registration forms are available online. The $175 conference registration fee includes the Saturday evening banquet and tickets for two spring training games, if paid prior to January 1, 2010. After January 1, the conference fee will be $195, and game tickets are not guaranteed.

Attendees can register in one of two ways. Those wishing to pay online may use Paypal through the link provided on the NINE Web site. Those wishing to pay by check can print their registration information (name, mailing address, phone number, email, and academic affiliation [if applicable]) and send it along with their conference fee to:

Dan and Jean Ardell
P. O. Box 482
Corona del Mar, CA 92625

For further information about conference registration, please contact Jean Ardell at

Monday, September 14, 2009

Get them before the become collector's ttems ...

The publisher of Journal of Sports Media, University of Nebraska Press, has decided to outsource its warehousing and distribution services this fall. What does that mean? Nothing to subscribers, but UNP is trying to get rid of some older issues of its journals because of the costs associated with moving them to a new site.

With that in mind, UNP still has 90 mint-condition copies of the very first edition of JSM from the spring of 2006. It is my understanding they will charge $1.00 plus shipping for each copy, but they need to know by October 11. If you are interested in getting a back copy you can contact Joyce Gettman, Marketing Manager at UNP, at

The first JSM edition includes:

Byline Gender and News Source Selection: Coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympics (Bryan Denham and April Cook).

Who's Got Game? Exposure to Sports and Entertainment Media and Social Physique Anxiety in Division 1 Female Athletes (Kim Bissell andn Katie Porterfield).

Multimedia Contracts in Collegiate Sports: A System Theory Perspective (John McGuire).

We Know the Name; Do They Know the Game? "Celebrity" Articles about the 1924 and 1932 World Series (John Carvalho).

Essay (Paul Hemphill).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Couple of notes about the Journal of Sport Administration & Supervision...

JSAS will publish its second issue next April, and the deadline for submission is October 15. There's more information on the submission process here.

Perhaps more interesting, JSAS now has its own Twitter site (@JSASonline). Primarily, the value of Twitter is in breaking news and quickly getting out information. It will be interesting to see how many "tweets" JSAS will have on a regular basis. As a journal editor, I can tell you things move somewhat slowly in this field and I'm not sure there's enough information out there to keep people interested. (But that certainly hasn't stopped anyone else on Twitter). So far, a lot of it looks like what you see elsewhere on Twitter--people publishing links to items on other media platforms. It appears that there are a lot of people tweeting, but at first glance it doens't look much different from the Twitter stuff that's already out there.

But, the journal editors say they have positive feedback from users and the site also is having its "intended effect of broadened exposure for our authors' research." It's a noteworthy step in the journal publishing field and it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Talking Heads Ready to Roll

With the NFL season ready to kickoff Thursday, Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated had a great article previewing the television analysts and pre-game shows. Of course, the big news is that John Madden has retired after perhaps the greatest career in NFL broadcast history (with some help from Pat Summerall).

But on the plus side, Matt Millen returns to the booth. Millen had a disasterous tenure running the Detroit Lions, but he was a great broadcaster for many years after his NFL retirement. His addition to the NFL Network games (in addition to his work on ABC's college football) is a welcome upgrade over previous NFLN teams, especially Bryant Gumbel.

Lots of changes in store for NFL announcers, and if you are so inclined you can do you own comparison of every one this weekend. DirecTV is running a free preview of its NFL Sunday Ticket package.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Those Crystal Balls

A quick observation after a Saturday of college football overload...

It took less then one half of football to render almost every pre-season prediction and prognostication virtually meaningless. That's all the time it took for Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman winner Sam Bradford to get hurt, potentially for the season (although most opinions at this point have him back in 2-4 weeks).

But aren't those the same opinions that had OU ranked 3rd in the nation and a likely contender for the national championship? And the same opinions that had Bradford ranked in the top 3 of Heisman contenders, even though not one game had yet been played? Most pre-season guesses are based on what happened the previous season (with obvious justification), but didn't anyone notice that Oklahoma lost almost its entire offensive line? Bradford got hurt because inexperienced lineman couldn't protect him. It's easy to say that OU lost because Bradford got hurt, but even before he left the Sooners were not playing like the 3rd-ranked team in the country.

This just reinforces the pointlessness of preseason predictions, bowl projections, polls and Heisman races. There are simply too many variables (especially injuries) to figure out things with any kind of precision. More unfortunate, the opinions of these 'experts' plays too great a role in determining the national champion because of the BCS formula. (To a lesser extent they also unfairly narrow the field in the Heisman race, as Trent Seltzer and Michael Mitrook recently reported in JSM).

It's one thing to be wrong; it's another to be wrong when it costs some team millions in bowl revenues. Many qualified teams have had trouble overcoming poor pre-season rankings (just ask the 2004 Auburn Tigers, which started the season ranked 17th, went 13-0, and couldn't get in the BCS title game because USC and Oklahoma also finished unbeaten and started the season ranked higher).

So what purpose do these predictions serve? They create interest among an already rabid sports audience and they fill space. For those reasons alone they will likely continue for a long, long time.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Direc-TVly speaking

Interesting doings at DirecTV, which is one of the largest distributors of sports content (including the increasingly popular NFL Sunday Ticket).

Found out Friday that DirecTV has swapped out some sports channels in its Total Choice package. Gone is ESPN Classic, which is bad for nostalgia buffs, although in recent years ESPN has really stretched the meaning of the word "classic." (The 2007 World Series of Poker a classic?) It's replaced by other channels, including ESPNU (more college football!) and even the NHL Network, which this blog once upon a time criticized for not offering its programming for free.

More interesting, but more problematic for the NHL, is DirecTV's decision to drop the Versus Network, which is the prime carrier of NHL games in the U.S. In its statement, DirecTV noted, "Comcast, which owns Versus, has forced us to take down the channel because we will not agree to their ridiculous demands that simply do not reflect current market valuations for their programming." DirecTV went on to call Comcast "piggish" for asking for a 20% hike in subscriber rates for what it called essentially "informercial" programming with a little sports thrown in. (Versus currently gets about 18 cents per subscriber; for ESPN, it's $4 per subscriber).

The move means that DirecTV subscribers will not have access to Versus's weekly college football lineup and Indy Car series races, but it could mean more television headaches for the NHL, which had its most successful season on Versus just last year. Versus, which was available in 75 million homes until the dump, now loses about 18 million homes.

Who loses? Everybody, including DirecTV, Comcast, Versus ... and especially the poor NHL.