Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not a Rose-y picture

Lots of apologies from former NBAer and current ESPN basketball analyst Jalen Rose for his recent DUI. A blood test revealed that Rose was over the legal limit when his car skidded off the road on March 11.

Rose has been a fairly high-profile NBA analyst for ESPN, and the documentary he helped produce on Michigan's former "Fab Five" basketball team (of which Rose was a member) is also currently running on the network. The documentary became controversial for Rose's comments that he didn't get recruited by Duke because the school was only interested in "Uncle Tom" black players.

From our perspective, the question now is what ESPN will do with Rose. The network has history of acting quickly and severely when on-air talent gets into legal trouble. So far, ESPN has made no announcement about Rose's status or future, but you've got to figure some kind of suspension or similar punishment is in line. It would be both uncharacteristic and self-serving for the network let this pass without some sort of punitive action.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hump Day News

The Sports Video Group was formed in 2006 to support the professional community that relies on video, audio, and broadband technologies to produce and distribute sports content. SVG sponsors a college student competition, and this year the deadline for the SVG College Sports Media Awards is April 20. This link has more information about how to enter and other regulations.

We're also drawing close to BEA (April 9-14) and I did hear confirmation that the sports division will get an inside tour of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Tuesday, April 12. If you're interested in visiting the Speedway with the sports division group, please contact
Don Moore of Ohio U. Southern at There is also information posted on the BEA Sports Division blog about the trip and other sports events at BEA.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I didn't know this, but March is (or soon, was) Women's History Month, and the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) will hold a webinar to close out the month. The panel will discuss the state of women's sports today, and look at the most pertinent issues women in sports currently face in 2011.

The panelists include:

• Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
• Christine Brennan, USA Today columnist
• Julie Foudy, former member of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team
• Jackie Joyner Kersee, Olympic gold medalist, U.S. Track and Field
• Nancy Lieberman, former WNBA player & coach, current coach of the Texas Legends
• Mariel Zagunis, Olympic gold medalist, U.S. Fencing

The title is officially called AWSMNow: Commemorating Women in Sports and it takes place this Wednesday, March 30 from 2:00 to 3:30 Eastern time. You can register for the webinar by clicking here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

BEA Sports Sessions

The annual convention for the Broadcast Education Association is coming up soon in Las Vegas, and although I will not be able to go this year I did want to pass along some information related to the sports sessions.

Ken Fisher at Oklahoma is the chair of the Sports Division and he is doing a great job. Ken has put together another nice lineup of sports sessions and panels, including one with JSM authors. I also believe the Sports Division is sponsoring a behind-the-scenes trip to either the minor league baseball Las Vegas 51s (like Area 51, get it?) or the Las Vegas rodeo.

In any event, here's a complete look at the sports sessions scheduled for BEA. Hope you can make it, April 9-13.

Monday, March 21, 2011

NCAA Graduation Rates

About the same time that March Madness hits every year the NCAA comes under increased scrutiny for its graduation rates. A couple of reports came out last week suggesting that while overall athlete graduation rates are improving, the gender gap--the difference between the graduation rates of Black and White athletes--keeps getting bigger.

During our spring break I had the chance to go to the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis and talk about it with NCAA researcher Todd Petr. It's part of a larger project I'm working on, but here is what Petr had to say about graduation rates:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You Knew it Had to Happen

Sooner or later, the growing use of Twitter by sports journalists was going to get someone in trouble. The someone in this case is John Krawczynski, a Associated Press beat reporter covering the Minnesota Timberwolves. Krawczynski tweeted during the game that referee Bill Spooner told Wolves coach Kurt Rambis he would provide him with a makeup call after Rambis complained about one of Spooner's calls. Krawczynski tweeted that Spooner then "made an even worse call on the Rockets. That's NBA officiating for you." Spooner denies saying that to Rambis and has filed suit; the suit contends that publication on Twitter constitutes defamation and seeks $75,000.

Libel suits are incredibly difficult for public figures to win, and it would seem an NBA referee would qualify as a public figure. Spooner must prove actual malice, which means Krawczynski knew it was false, published it anyway, and do so in an attempt to harm Spooner. Spooner's suit attempts to make that argument, saying, "Defendant Krawczynski published this statement on his AP Twitter account knowing at the time, or with reckless disregard of the truth at the time, or without due care of the truth at the time, that Plaintiff Spooner did not tell Coach Rambis that 'he'd get it back' nor utter any words to that effect, and therefore that the quoted attribution was, in fact, false." Spooner apparently filed suit after Krawczynski and the Associated Press refused to publish a retraction.

Again, it's unlikely that Spooner will will this case (and more likely that some sort of out of court settlement will be reached), but the other issue here relates more to Twitter. Increasingly, Twitter is becoming the battlefield upon which media competition is taking place. The push is to get information out faster, and a "shoot from the hip" attitude, now pervades sports journalism. The new mantra is often "worry about the consequences later; get the information out now."

Well, now someone has to worry about the consequences. I wonder if Krawczynski would have written the same thing if he wasn't using Twitter and had more time to think about it (for a column the next morning, for instance). There is a complaint that the pressures to get information into the public immediately are eliminating the traditional debate and consider policies that go on in newsrooms. Here's guessing that such policies will now be discussed more seriously.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bias, et. al.

What does NPR have to do with sports media?

By now, I'm sure you've seen the stories of how National Public Radio executives were caught on tape denouncing Tea Party members as racists; two top NPR leaders were forced to resign in the fallout. Critics have long argued that NPR is left-leaning in its reporting, and these revelations seem to support that argument. So, what's the connection?

Just a reminder that everyone, including sports reporters and journalists, brings bias and personal feelings into a story. As much as we want to be fair and impartial, we're simply wired differently. Our feelings, perspectives and beliefs color how we look at the world, and that includes sports.

Consider the ongoing NFL labor negotiations. Your perspective influences whether you favor the owners or the players; it's almost impossible not to pick sides. Good reporting recognizes that perspective and tries to work around it. That doesn't mean such biases have to end up in print or on air, but recognizing them helps much more than simply ignoring them or pretending they don't exist.

This is our last day before spring break starts, so you might not hear from me for a few days. But before I go I did want to mention another online chat sponsored by the Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State. On March 21, the Center will host "Ethical Issues in the Coverage of Youth Sports." You can participate in the session by visiting this site at 1pm (Eastern) on March 21.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Cost of Research

I'm in the process of writing a book on the NFL and having been doing some research for the past year, mostly online. It's interesting to me to see how many research sites, especially those belonging to the media, are now charging money to access their files.

Larger papers, like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune have charged for this stuff for some time. The price per article isn't too bad--most sites usually charged around $3-$4--but that can add up quickly. Last fall, I was able to find online versions of almost every issue of The Sporting News for free through an engine called Paper of Record. It was a treasure trove of sports information, but this winter POR has now gone to a pay model and requires a fee for access.

It's certainly understandable why these outlets are now charging money; such is the nature of the business in an uncertain economic environment. But there are at least two pretty good free sites still out there. One, of course, is the Sports Illustrated vault. The SI vault not only offers free access, but also reproduces the entire magazine with advertisements and page numbers.
The other site is the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, which also reproduces its papers from 1884-2007, and it has become an invaluable tool.

I would be interested to know if anyone knows of other free sites out there. Such a list would be helpful to other sports researchers.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Another BEA Panel Opportunity

This comes from Wayne Hepler, Vice Chair of the BEA Sports Division:

"If you, or someone you know, has an interest or research focus on sports and culture, a BEA panel is short one person due to his lack of funding for an overseas trip from UK.
This is the "Gooaal" panel at BEA in April and the focus is on media and sports culture, as you can read online at the BEA conference website. Two panelists are addressing hockey and baseball, leaving a lot of room for something else (soccer is the absent topic now, but football, basketball, poker, horse racing, etc., would certainly work).
This could be fun, perhaps without too much preparation to do it well, if it could serve your purposes."

I know Wayne's name is spelled and pronounced "Hepler", but it still makes me think of the classic scene with Sam Kinson and Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School (the part I'm thinking of is at the 1:55 mark).

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

BEA Panel: Panelist Needed

The Broadcast Education Association convention is coming up April 9-13 in Las Vegas, and one of the Sports Division panels needs help. Denise Belafonte is seeking panelists for her BEA2011 panel BEA-HD, 2D, 3D "Heightened Dimension" the rise of Sports in 3 Dimensions, Where Do the Colleges Go From Here? If you'd like to be a panelist, or would like more information about the panel, please contact Denise at

On the subject of panels, the JSM panel, which features some recently published authors discussing their research, is at 1:15, Monday, April 11. This session will feature Ray Gamache of St. Scholastica talking about "Genealogy of the Sportscast Highlight Form;" Steve Hill and Chang Wan Woo of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will present "New Media, New Audiences and New Questions: Exploring a Communication Research Agenda for Fantasy Sports;" and Tang Tang of Akron and Roger Cooper of Ohio State will offer "The First Online Olympics: The Interactions between Internet Use and Sports Viewing."

There are several sports related panels, papers and research presentations on the program calendar, so I hope you can make it to Vegas in April.