Monday, November 30, 2009

Tiger's Tale

Up until now, Tiger Woods has enjoyed an almost spotless reputation in the sports media. Beyond his obvious golf success, he has projected the image of the happy and dedicated family man ... which has no doubt helped him become the most marketable and successful endorser in sports history.

All of that may come crashing down in the wake of Tiger's problems over the Thanksgiving weekend. As you no doubt know, Woods mysteriously crashed his car early Friday morning, running over a fire hydrant in the process. According to Woods, it was simply a misfortune and he credited his wife with pulling him from the wreckage by breaking out a window with a golf club. But the tabloids told a much different story, claiming that the accident was related to an extra-marital affair that Woods' wife uncovered.

Tiger Woods has always accommodated the media, but this time he's staying very quiet. Woods has refused three opportunities to explain his role in the accident to police, and aside from this comment on his web page has also not talked to the media. Not satisfied with his explanation, or with the scanty details from a neighbor's 9-1-1 call, police may now be getting more forceful in looking for answers.

Aside from potentially ending Tiger's value as a sports endorser, the episode once again brings up the question of the private-public nature of the celebrity-sports athlete. Does Woods (or any superstar athlete) have the right to use the media for fun and profit, but then crawl into the bunker (pun intended) when things turn bad? Should the sports media respect Tiger's pleas for privacy? I would imagine almost all of us have done something dumb at 2:30 in the morning that we would rather not see on the front pages.

Today's sports media are a double-edged sword; not quite as sharp as the one in Hebrews 4:12, but still pretty dangerous. Celebrity athletes love the spotlight, love the attention, love the fame and love the money media attention brings. They also have to realize that they have the sword of Damocles hanging precipitously over their heads. It is a sword sharp enough to cut off a Tiger's head.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Before Turkey Day

I didn't mean to interrupt your Thanksgiving vacation, but I did notice this in my e-mail box. Adam is a contributor and reviewer to JSM; if you could help him out I'm sure he would save a little turkey for you ...
I'm looking for any studies that look at communication apprehension among college athletes. Is anyone aware of studies that report correlations among comm app and on-the-field/court performance (e.g., links between PPG in basketball to CA)?

Adam C. Earnheardt
Youngstown State University

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving (almost)

I'm off to spend the holidays in Indiana, so you won't hear from this blog for awhile (at least not from me). Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. But before I go ...

"A Mirror to Our Culture: Sport and Society in America" will be a distinctive, intimate, and affordable three-day event that will provide opportunities for sports academics and professionals working in sports-related fields to network and share their expertise on a wide range of topics related to American sports. It is co-sponsored by the Green Bay Packers and St. Norbert College.

The conference registration fee of $275 will include a dinner for all attendees in the Legends Club Area at Lambeau Field, three days of luncheons, several coffee breaks daily, a guided tour of Lambeau Field, admission to the Packers Hall of Fame, access to all major addresses and sessions, and admission to photography gallery and all film/video showings. There also will be single-day conference registration available when registration opens February 1, 2010.

To maintain an intimate atmosphere, total registration at the conference will be limited to 300. Preference for registration will be given to those giving papers and presentations. We encourage
you to submit your paper/presentation abstract at this website. For more information contact:

Kevin G. Quinn, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics/Conference Director
St. Norbert College
100 Grant Street
De Pere, WI 54115
(920) 403-3447 phone
(920) 403-4098 fax

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CSRI Internships

Richard Southall at North Carolina has done a terrific job with the College Sports Research Institute. In addition to outstanding research and academic conferences, CSRI has developed an internship program that allows both graduate and undergraduate students to gain practical experience in research, development and event operations.

The deadline for spring internships is fast approach (December 11). You can find more information about deadlines, program specifics and application details here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Few Observations ...

...after watching a lot of football this weekend:
  • Could someone please tell Fox Sports Net that when a team goes into a no-huddle offense not to waste time with replays? FSN missed not one, but two, touchdowns in the Texas-Baylor game Saturday because it was busy showing replays of the previous play. FSN also missed a slew of other plays and never did seem to figure out how to handle the no-huddle. In general, FSN and Versus seem to have the weakest efforts in terms of televising college football.

  • Hard to tell whether Fox was showing the Dallas-Green Bay game Sunday or a series of commercials. Consider this sequence from late in the first quarter: the Packers completed a pass and the first quarter ran out--Fox went to a commercial. Coming back from the commercial it turns out Dallas challenged the catch, which was ruled incomplete. The officials put 2o seconds back on the clock and Green Bay punted--Fox went to a commercial. Back from the commercial Dallas ran a play and the first quarter ended--Fox then went to a commercial. If they were keeping a book on such things it would read:
    play-commercial-play-commercial-play-commercial. Thank goodness it ended there or the game would still be going.

  • On the subject of games that seem to go on forever, we constantly hear that it's OK to put up with the endless delays caused by instant replay as long as the officials get it "right." Well, in the 4th quarter of the still-close Dallas-Green Bay game, replay showed that a fumble by Tony Romo was recovered by the Cowboys' Felix Jones, then knocked loose and recovered by the Packers. Dallas challenged, but according to the officials the play could not be challenged. Say what??? Isn't that at the point of replay? To get it "right?" Following up, the Fox announcers quoted NFL Supervisor of Officials Mike Pereira as saying that "recovery of the fumble on the field of play is not a reviewable play; only a fumble in the end zone." It's a dumb rule that needs to be changed immediately. The Packers scored an easy touchdown that clinched the game.
  • Maybe it's just because I can remember his heyday, but does anyone seem to have more fun working a game that Brent Musberger? Sure, sometimes he says silly or outrageous things, but that's part of his charm. Brent seemed to be having a lot of fun Saturday night doing the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game, and I think audiences can pick up on that. I hope he has a lot of years left calling college football.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

Just found out today that the JSM panel has been approved for next spring's BEA convention in Las Vegas. In all, 12 sports-related panels will be on the schedule, which means there is a great opportunity to learn about sports scholarship. Congratulations to the BEA Sports Division in general, and to Ken Fischer at Oklahoma, who was the one who put together the JSM panel.

We'll have four recent JSM authors discussing their research, so I hope you can attend. Some of the other panels will focus on the effect of Tweeting on sports media and journalism, college broadcast sports partnerships, student sports producing, convergence and training sports journalists, and creating a successful partnership between sports journalism instructors and media professionals. These are not all the topics, but I'll post the link when it gets published.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This is Convergence?

We rightly talk a lot about convergence and multi-media approaches in sports journalism these days, both in the industry and in the classroom. For a lot of instructors it's difficult how to understand and teach such concepts. In large part, that's because the professionals in the industry still haven't figured it out.

Take a recent example involving Tim Griffin, a writer whom I read often because he covers the Big XII for ESPN. Griffin writes a blog for ESPN that he updates several times a day; much of it his own writing and some of it links to other material. It's got a lot of great stuff on it, which is not surprising, because Griffin spent 24 years as a print sports reporter in San Antonio.

But in today's converged/multi-media world Griffin has to be more than a writer. (I'm guessing) ESPN asks him to also provide video material for the blog, such as this entry from Monday. But from a broadcast sports reporter's perspective the video is terrible--bad background, no video highlights, poor audio ... it looks like a YouTube video shot in someone's basement.

It seems like we're still stuck in a era where convergence means tacking on some additional stuff to the main article as an afterthought or, when the video is well produced, it's simply been shoveled over from the broadcast side.

If we're sold on the idea of convergence/multi-media we need to do a better job training print reporters how to do broadcast and vice-versa. And by we, I mean all of us in journalism schools across the country. "We" could also mean a guy like Matt Ellis, someone who spent 20+ years in broadcast television at places like Good Morning America and WBZ in Boston. Matt's got his own PR firm now and is also helping print reporters learn how to tell broadcast stories. (You can contact him at

Guys like Matt have the right idea. I love Tim Griffin's writing ... but Tim, contact him today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

JSM: Reviewers Wanted

From time to time here at JSM, we like to get new blood to work with us in reviewing papers. It's especially important now that the volume of submissions has increased so dramatically.

If you are interested in becoming a reviewer I encourage you to do so. We would prefer someone with a background in quantitative or qualitative analysis; Ph.D. preferred, but not absolutely necessary. Obviously, you should have a research interest in some area of the sports media, such as advertising, history, gender, race, etc.

Please contact me directly ( if you would like to review. We can put you to work almost immediately!

Monday, November 09, 2009

It's not surprising that there was a controversial call in Saturday's Alabama win over LSU. The Southeastern Conference has struggled all season with poor officiating, prompting many observers to call for the NCAA to institute national officiating. (LSU has real reason to complain; the Tigers have apparently been victimized with bad calls in both of their losses. The latest came Saturday).

Bad calls are a part of the game, of course, but of particular interest in the LSU-Alabama game was how the officials handled the controversial (non) interception. Right after the play the official went to the microphone and said: "The ruling on the field is ... (pause) ... the play is under review." In other words, the officials didn't immediately make a call. After the review we found out that the officials had ruled the pass incomplete. But tellingly, it seemed like the officials were waiting (or hoping) that replay would bail them out.

Media technology, primarily through instant replay and booth review, has substantially changed the way games are played and decided. But it's a mistake to simply turn over the review process to the machines and let them make the calls. There are far too many reviews at both the college and pro level these days, which is problematic. Too many coaches, players and now even officials seem willing to put the outcome of the game in the hands of the robotic eye.

Friday, November 06, 2009

CFP: Special Issue-Journal of Sport & Social Issues

Information about the call:

Call for Papers
Physical Cultural Studies
Special Issue of Sociology of Sport Journal
Guest editors: Michael Silk, David Andrews

In recent times a specific area of critical intellectual inquiry has emerged, Physical Cultural Studies (PCS), which actively seeks to reinvigorate and reconceptualize the cultural study of sport, while simultaneously compelling us to reconsider the empirical and political import of cultural physicalities. PCS advocates suggest it is mobilized as an emergent intellectual project with an interdisciplinary and multidimensional commitment toward critical and theoretically informed engagement with various expressions of the physical (including, but by no means restricted to, sport, exercise, fitness, leisure, health, dance, and movement-related active embodied practices). The aim of this call for papers is to generate a special issue that will further define the parameters of PCS.

This special issue will delineate explicit ontological, epistemological, methodological, political, and axiological assumptions that need to be dialogically engaged (and perhaps more accurately represent the distillation and generation of knowledge within the field. Authors should follow the "Instructions for Contributors," and the paper should be roughly 8,000 words including endnotes and reference list.

Please address questions to Dr. Michael Silk, or
Dr. David Andrews,
Due date for papers: March 31st, 2010

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

JSM Online Subscriptions

JSM's publisher, the University of Nebraska Press, informs me that you can now get an online subscription to the journal as an alternative to the print version. A subscription gives one year of access to all JSM content available on Project MUSE, even if MUSE isn't available through your library. Price for the online subscription is $22, which is 30% off the regular print subscription price. It's obviously a great deal, especially for our foreign readers who now don't have to pay overseas postage prices. E-subscriptions need to be set up through the UNP web site; as part of the process subscribers will need to set up an account, but access is available at any time from any Internet connection.

JSM is only the third journal that UNP has set up for e-subscriptions, and we are certainly grateful. This is just the latest step in making JSM more relevant and more accessible to those in the sports media community. Our thanks to UNP for taking this step.