Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fund NPR? Only if they do sports like this ...

There's been a lot of discussion lately about the funding, or more appropriately de-funding, of National Public Radio. NPR, and its cousin Public Television, are in a bunch of hot water with Republicans who don't like what is perceived as liberal bias. When the argument was at its hottest last month, some NPR executives were forced to resign.

But no matter how you feel about NPR, no one could argue to de-fund stuff like this. Station WBEZ in Chicago interviewed (or tried to interview) a Cubs fans on opening day. The interview turned into an instant classic (and remember, the game hadn't even started yet).

It's also an interesting lesson in how radio is embracing multimedia presentation. WBEZ incorporates video, blogging, podcasts and other multimedia formats. But let's not read too much into this. Simply enjoy the interview as a classic piece of sports media.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Website and CFP

If you haven't yet seen the new website for the AEJMC sports interest group, please check it out. Division chair Scott Reinardy says most of the credit goes to Marie Hardin and Melanie Formentin at Penn State for their work on creating the site. When you pay your AEJMC dues this summer (or whenever) don't forget to include an extra $10 for membership in the sports interest group.

And Younghan Cho from South Korea is soliciting papers for a special issue of Sociology of Sport Journal: Glocalization of Sports in Asia. This call for papers aims to general a special issue in which the concept of glocalization (Robertson, 1995) is used to explore the history, development and current state of Asian sports culture. The editors seek contemporary and historical examinations of sport glocalization in Asia from the late 19th century to the present, including the replacement of traditional sports, innovations of particular established traditions tied to sports and the invention of modern sports cultures.

The deadline for submission is September 30, 2011. Online submissions should be sent here; interested authors can get more information related to the call here. If you have further questions, contact Dr. Cho at c.younghan@hotmail.com or Dr. Charles Leary, charley.leary@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Contributors Needed for Sports Encyclopedia

A retired professor at Penn State, Murry Nelson is editing a four volume encyclopedia on sports in American pop culture with an audience of general readers for purchase by libraries. According to Nelson the work "is intended for a 2013 publication from Greenwood Press and will have about 450 entries of varying lengths. I still have about 65-70 that need authors and thought that a few of these might be good topics for grad students or junior faculty (or senior, if any would be interested). It's a chance for publication and fun topics to pursue."

If you're interested, take a look at the attached list (media-related topics have an asterisk to make them easier to find). If you see a topic you'd like to write about, please get in touch with Murry directly. His email: mrn2@psu.edu.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

College $ports Today

For a conference that almost died last year through realignment, the Big XII (and yes, it will keep that name with only 10 teams) now looks stronger than ever--all thanks to TV/Internet/ media money. This week, the conference signed a new deal with Fox to televise its second-tier football package (ABC and ESPN get first dibs), but it's certainly not second-tier money: $13 million for 12 years. This comes on the heels of the unveiling of the Longhorn Sports Network deal with ESPN, which gives Texas $300 million over 20 years.

It all sounds like Monopoly money, but the buzzword in college athletics these days is "monetizing," meaning that member schools "can monetize some distribution rights" like Texas has, according to Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castliglione.

So a conference that was essentially on its deathbed last summer has now solidified its position and even extended its prominence. That's great news for the Big XII, but also unsettling that the television networks have that much power. TV money has allowed Notre Dame to stay independent and made the University of Texas athletic budget bigger than some third-world countries. The fear is that schools like Texas will try to also try to become independent to maximize their profit like Notre Dame, or that the big schools will band together to create their own super-conferences (which is what caused all the realignment mess last year).

But what's to say ESPN couldn't broker a deal to create its own super-conference? As long as TV is calling the shots why not let them go all the way? We could have an ESPN North (Big 10 and some Big East), ESPN South (SEC and some ACC), ESPN Southwest (Big XII and some Mountain West) and ESPN West (Pac-10 or 12? with some other schools). Very logical, especially around Final Four time.

As long as the tail keeps wagging the dog, it's not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Men's Club

It seemed to get lost in what turned into a very dramatic final round, but once again the Masters suffered a bit of a black eye over its treatment of women.

The Masters has quickly apologized for barring a female reporter from entering the locker room Sunday to conduct a post-match interview. "It should not have happened," said Masters spokesman Steve Ethun. "We will work as hard as we can to make sure it does not happen again." Nice words, but they didn't help Tara Sullivan of The Bergen (N.J.) Record who missed her interview with Rory McIlroy.

On the one hand you tend to look at this as a minor blip on the screen; very few places handle media relations better than Augusta National. Several female reporters at the tournament confirmed they had made numerous trips to the locker room for interviews in the past without incident. On the other hand, it's hard to believe stuff like this is still going on in 2011, and of all places the Masters should know better. Augusta National still doesn't allow female members and its highly publicized fight with activist Martha Burk still simmers.

What happened Sunday with Sullivan will probably end up as just a footnote to the 2011 Masters, but it does seem to suggest that the place where tradition is a way of life may have a hard time learning its lesson.

Friday, April 08, 2011

NSSA Awards Weekend

We're always glad to help our friend Dave Goren, Executive Director of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. The NSSA hosts its annual awards this year the weekend of May 14 in Salisbury, NC. This year's Hall of Fame inductees are headlined by Bob Ryan (of ESPN and the Boston Globe), Bob Uecker (author, television personality and Milwaukee Brewers radio), Brent Musburger (do we even need to have a list here?), Mike Tirico of ESPN and Peter King of NBC and Sports Illustrated. There is also a "Women in Sports Media" issues forum which includes Lesley Visser of CBS.

There are tickets available for the different weekend events, including a golf tournament. For tickets to the entire weekend you can go here; for the Women in Sports Media forum here; and for the awards banquet here.

If all else fails, you can contact Dave directly at dgoren@nssafame.com

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Cricket, Anyone?

I knew there was a big sporting event that took place over the weekend ... wait a minute, I got it... Final Four?

Well, yes and no. Yes, the Final Four did take place this weekend, and it obviously got much of the attention in the sports media. But I was also surprised to see the amount of space (at least on ESPN) devoted to the Cricket World Cup. It was the lead story on ESPN's website late Friday and well into Saturday, with the network devoting a lot of resources to the event's culmination over the weekend.

In America, we tend to focus on events like the Final Four and Super Bowl, and certainly 15 million television viewers (the best for the Final Four since 2005) are nothing to sneeze at. But consider than the cricket final between India and Sri Lanka pulled in a record 67+ million, and nearly a billion (that's billion with a "B") Indians were following the matches. I personally don't follow cricket and couldn't tell you much about the game, but a billion is pretty strong.

We call our baseball championship the "World Series" (which gets harder to justify with the World Baseball Classic), and the winner of the Super Bowl brags about being "World Champions," but our corner of the world keeps getting smaller and smaller. This is not to say that cricket will ever supplant football or basketball in our culture (much like soccer never has), but the sports media continue to break down barriers and help improve cultural understanding.

A billion Indians must be on to something.