Archive for the ‘ESPN’ Category

Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman appeared on ESPN’s Under The Bridge Thursday morning to speak with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless. It’s all a little bit too reminiscent of Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog clocking in and out of work, but despite the staging of what’s becoming an increasingly fictionalized program, it’s still amusing to see the most enraging heel get body slammed from time to time.

Most of the attention has been focused on this quote from Sherman:

Whenever you refer to me, whenever you speak to me, whenever you address me, address me as All-Pro Stanford graduate beacuse those are some accomplishments you will aspire to but never accomplish. You have never accomplished anything. In my 24 years of life, I’m better at life than you.

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2013 Fox Sports Media Group Upfront After PartyOn Tuesday afternoon, it was announced to the surprise of no one that FOX Sports Media Group will launch a new national sports network in the United States called Fox Sports 1. As the embedded quote in the news release from FSMG Co-President Eric Shanks indicates, the network has been introduced with the purpose of eventually competing with ESPN.

Fans are ready for an alternative to the establishment, and our goal for FS1 is to provide the best in-game  experience possible, complemented by informative news, entertaining studio shows and provocative original programming.

The order in which Shanks lists the network’s content is not an accident. Live sports has increasingly become the only reliable source of appointment viewing for television networks scrambling to compete in a shifting environment where technology, seen most notably through online and DVR viewing, has left executives to scrap their tired business models from the past.

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tabler-buck-july-16Last weekend, Rogers Sportsnet executed its plan to broadcast the first Toronto Blue Jays game of their Spring Training schedule. The response from viewers was as overwhelming as the network’s coverage, which included the full fleet of presenters, announcers and on-field reporters. More than 2-million Canadians tuned into the team’s exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers at some point during the broadcast, with an average viewership of more than 450,000.

To put that number in context, more people in Canada watched a Spring Training game involving the Blue Jays than they did Game Two of the NLCS between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, averaging 450,000 viewers would be an impressive number for a regular season game between Toronto and Detroit.

Despite a drop off at the end of last season, television ratings for Blue Jays games have been on a consistent rise over the last two seasons. Following this off-season’s roster bolstering, excitement among Canadians for the country’s only Major League product is higher than its been in some time. The addition of marketable players like R.A. Dickey and Jose Reyes has only served to add momentum to the following that Jose Bautista and Canadian Brett Lawrie garnered last season.

Shortly after the impressive Spring Training debut, Rogers Sportsnet announced that it would be broadcasting five additional Spring Training games on FX Canada. While the cynics among us immediately wondered if Rogers wasn’t once again using the lure of its baseball content to encourage increased subscriptions to additional cable tiers, doubts were quelled by the fact that Rogers cable subscribers would be enjoying a free preview of the network that represents a partnership between majority owner and managing partner, Rogers Media, and minority partner, FX Networks.

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Darren Rovell At The NBA Store

The flock gets sight of a spot of blood on some chicken and they all go to peckin’ at it, see, till they rip the chicken to shreds, blood and bones and feathers. But usually a couple of the flock gets spotted in the fracas, then it’s their turn. And a few more gets spots and gets pecked to death, and more and more. Oh, a peckin’ party can wipe out the whole flock in a matter of a few hours, buddy, I seen it. A mighty awesome sight.

- One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

An increased hostility toward ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell has erupted during the fortnight following Will Leitch’s column for Sports On Earth, in which the former Deadspin editor likened the self-branded social media expert to sleet, a foul smell on the subway and pop-up spam (and that’s just the first paragraph). Its begun the human equivalent to a modern day hen pecking.

Leitch pointed out something that several among us felt to be true – Rovell’s commodification of the human experience in sports through corporate shilling – but perhaps couldn’t quite express in the same terms as the writer’s recent piece. This spotting of blood produced a reaction with more pecking from the public.

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The Super Bowl is the Super Bowl of sports broadcasts. Everything about the spectacle is enormous, and spectators have come to expect that enormity along with everything that goes with it. Less than three per cent of Americans claim to be fans of the Baltimore Ravens or the San Francisco 49ers, and yet more than ten times that percentage of the United States watched last night’s game. It’s a sporting event that goes beyond the classification of a mere distraction and enters into the realm of cultural significance.

A successful broadcast of such a happening is a fake wizard that doesn’t get noticed. An unsuccessful exhibition of the spectacle will keep Toto barking for hours. Unfortunately for CBS, it didn’t take a yappy dog for tens of millions of viewers  to be made painfully aware of the machinations of the television broadcast throughout the network’s six hours of coverage.

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ESPN’s Streak For The Cash is a next-level sports gaming contest that allows users to pick the winners of as many games as they can in a row. This month, Traci L. from Lewis Center, Ohio, won $100,000 for picking 27 straight games. However, a far more shocking development than accurately selecting so many consecutive outcomes seems to be the fact that Traci L. is a woman.

Judging from the text of ESPN’s announcement, a female winner is a rarity, which might lead some to safely assume that fewer females than males have enough time on their hands to enter such frivolous contests. Unfortunately, blasting a “Female Takes January Stash Again!” headline might also infer an unfair measure of astonishment that a woman would be capable of competing with men at predicting the results of sports match ups. Sacre bleu!

While this might not be as condescending as writing A Girl’s Guide To Watching Sports, stating the gender of the winner as though it’s a surprising development without reference to what makes it surprising leaves room for the announcement to come across as patronizing.

Thanks to Darren Kritzer for the tip.

Update: ESPN has changed the headline.

The writer who likens a ballplayer to Hercules or Grendel’s mother is displaying the ultimate contempt — the ballplayer no longer exists as a person or a performer, but as an object, a piece of matter to be used, in this case, for the furtherance of the sportswriter’s career by pandering to the emotional titillation of the reader/fan.

— Robert Lipsyte

Last week, when sports journalism seemed to be entering its most sobering hour with the revelation that the much-celebrated Manti Te’o story – which involved the glorious overcoming of great obstacles – was at least in part falsely manufactured, it was expected that the rehabilitation period for sports writers drunk with myth-making capabilities might last a full 28 days.

While imagining that lasting principles are to be quickly gleaned from a single event is likely naive, there seemed to be an upswelling of understanding that feature stories milking aspects of an athlete’s personal life and packaging it to nurse the most childish of intellects might not be in the best interest of sports journalists seeking a reputation for professionalism.

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