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"Sports Journalism" Archive


NY Post Panics Cause the Nets are Getting too black, I mean, Urban

Since I’m always late…by now you already know what the NY Post printed about Jay-z and the Brooklyn Nets but here it is for my fellow late brethren. Phil Mushnick wrote:

Nets on Jay-Z track

As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots — what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new “urban” home — why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?

Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!

Couple things come to mind.

When the NBA implemented its dress code years ago it was in response to the fact that the relative “urban-ness” of the NBA was off putting for the average avid fan. The average avid sports fan is a white dude from 30-55 years old and a lot of what sports leagues choose to do is in an effort to attract or, at least, not raise their hackles too much. And because of that we get uber “safe” choices for everything from performances to apparel.  The NFL’s ability to dig up every has been to perform during chip games and Super Bowl is proof.

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ESPN-Sarah Phillips-Deadspin Story Reveals Dark Underbelly of Social Media Business

Deadspin is just not letting anyone live this week. I mean they never cut anyone any slack ever, but this week they’ve been particularly sharp taking down Sun Times Joe Cowley for his creepy condescending sexism and now exposing ESPN Playbook and writer Sarah Phillips for being a complete fraud.

You can read the whole story here and here. It’s a long read, but I think it’s pretty worth it.

At first glance this is a story about two things: ESPN not properly vetting some freelance writer and the fact that a woman used her looks to get ahead. But it’s not that simple. This is really a story about how the ability to make money via social media (including getting hired by or getting more clicks for a popular site) creates a perfect environment for frauds to prosper.

First of all, I’m not all that bothered by ESPN’s decision to take Sarah Phillips on as a freelancer. [Update: Okay, I WASN'T bothered, but now I kinda am cause I went to her page on ESPN Playbook and she wrote nothing but terribly executed drivel about athlete twitter accounts. What a lucky b***h!!!] The fact is that precious 18-35 white male demographic is hard to reach and everyone from Tide to EA sports is trying desperately to do it. If you’re on twitter for 5 seconds you know that men love beautiful (or at least not ugly) women who talk about stupid guy shit like watching sports and scratching and whatever else men do in their free time. I’m a girl so I’m only guessing.

I’m going to guess that ESPN saw her twitter followers (upwards of 60K when I checked) and the fact that she writes on a popular betting site and figured she could bring those clicks to them. This is the reality of marketing right now. Doesn’t matter if you want to star in a movie, get hired as a writer, or get a book published-almost every employer/company wants you to already have a following that you can bring to them.

The problem with that is that followings can be purchased. You can purchase twitter followers (as Phillips apparently did), you can purchase twitter accounts with real followers (which is apparently what Phillips and her fellow con team did with the @Ohwonka account) and you can fabricate other social media things too like you tube views and all that.

Companies have caught up with the “bring your following” concept but haven’t yet caught up to vetting whether such a following actually exists. ESPN is not alone in that although I realize that their position as a leader in sports makes it fun to laugh at them when they get caught. Still, they’re definitely not alone. This is where the business of writing stands generally speaking.

The second part: a woman using her looks to get ahead is also inconsequential from my perspective. Obviously, Phillips isn’t acting alone she’s just a front person for an operation of some sort. This has nothing to do with women writers, women bloggers, or women period. This has to do with the ways and means in which a group of people can execute a scam. And this is done by playing on people’s sensibilities including the penchant men have for fetishizing women who are both attractive and knowledgeable about sports.

Parody accounts on twitter are another example of appealing to folks’ sensibilities as are the many accounts with “facts” as part of their handle or ‘models’ who post photoshopped photos and are probably often not women at all and certainly not who they pretend to be.

This is the underside of social media business that many people-as they trot along the web reading this site and that one and corresponding with online buddies-aren’t aware of because they don’t have to be.

I think this is a good information about how our presence and data on social media is used by people who see multiple ways to make money off our clicks. It also raises questions about how to conduct business with people you haven’t met or have no 3rd party connection to. Which, at this point, MOST of us have done at some time or another with the web being as vast as it is. Unfortunately in this case it resulted in Phillips and her crew stealing a sports site and facebook page and complete idea from its original owner.


Profile: Bethlehem Shoals of The Classical

*Ahem* Time for a new profile!

Hardcore basketball fans will know the name Bethlehem Shoals from the highly successful blog Well FreeDarko is no longer up and running (well technically it’s still up but not running anything new), but Shoals hasn’t stopped writing good basketball stuff. You can find his work on, Bleacher Report and on the new start up blog The Classical which you may remember me writing about here.

See what Shoals has to say about writing and editing as well as what he thinks about those big sports stories that have dominated multiple news cycles.


1. You’ve recently started a new blog, congratulations! I know from experience that the business side of blogging can sometimes be more time-consuming than producing/editing content. How are you balancing the two?

Well, in our case, we have someone who understands business way better than I do handling a lot of that stuff. The real tensions for me has been between my own writing and the editorial role I’ve taken on. I didn’t realize that editing and writing wear out the same part of the brain. And since we’re so intent on putting everything through a fairly intensive editorial process, I’m finding myself with less and less time, and energy, to get my own stuff up on the site.


2. In addition to writing for your own blogs, you also contribute to other sites. Do you see the trend toward more freelancing as being good or bad for writers who are just starting out? (take this question in any direction you wish)

Well, freelancing is how I make my income. The Classical is a dream project that, hopefully, will turn into a real revenue stream down the road. But I couldn’t really give up freelancing and work on my site full-time. At the same time, I do make a little money from it, drawn from the funds we raised via Kickstarter. The time I spend writing or editing for The Classical is time I’m not spending on my freelance career, so I have to make at least a little bit of that back. If someone starting out can freelance right off the bat, more power to them. Generally, though, folks need to start blogging and establish themselves before other outlets come knocking.


3. In the past year, we’ve seen how one sports story can dominate media coverage whether it’s Tim Tebow or Jeremy Lin. Does this bother you? Do you see it as a good or bad thing?

I don’t think it’s a real trend. Both of those cases were pretty singular; you had figures who were already of interest to the public going on magical runs of success that defied all logic. Any time that happens to this degree, you’re going to get total media overkill. What bothers me is that stories like this can effectively blot out everything else. It seems like, even if there’s something truly miraculous going on in the world of sports, the rest of it doesn’t just cease to exist. Again, though, I don’t know if we really need to be worried about this phenomenon, since the odds of having Tebow and Lin within a few months of each other are astronomically slim.


4. What, if anything, do see yourself contributing to sports journalism? Is there some style or approach you’d like to be associated with or known for?

It’s impossible for me to answer that question without sounding either falsely modest, self-deprecating, or hopelessly arrogant.


What’s better? Direct insults or throwing shade - Grantland - Adrian Wojnarowski Edition

Gay lingo is becoming mainstream and one of my favorite phrases is “throwing shade.”  When you throw shade at someone you treat them casually when you insult them…often you may not even mention their name even though we all know who you’re talking about.

Grantland threw shade on Adrian Wojnarowski.

We all remember the horrible agony of constant Dwight Howard updates. Remember when Dwight, for months, was definitely going to leave the Orlando Magic? And Orlando wanted him to stay so bad they drunk dialed him and later hired a new CEO who was gonna convince him to stay?  But no one believed it cause, you know, Dwight really really really wanted to leave. And then wanted to stay. And then he wanted to leave. And then he wanted to stay. And then…and then..and then…

Grantland broke all the madness down bit by bit and mostly name by name…except at least one key name whose tweets they posted as though they arose from thin air:

One insider’s full website story had quoted “a league source with knowledge of Howard’s intention” saying “Dwight’s gone.” But the next day, in a series of tweets, that same insider wrote:

“After broader team meeting today, Dwight Howard had lunch with 3 teammates and told them he planned to opt-in for ’12-13 season.”

A minute later, this:

“Howard called Magic CEO while sitting at table and informed him of intentions, source says. Still, Magic waiting for him to sign papers now.”

And a minute after that, this:

“Several sources already believe he’s second-guessing that incredible change of heart, and Magic still on phones talking trades with teams.”

So the insider reported Howard was gone and he reported Howard was staying and he reported that Howard might change his mind again. All this became “The Indecision,” with Howard as Hamlet, only taller. As for the insider, a cynic could easily argue that the insider had cast his net of speculation widely enough that, whatever happened, he could say he knew it all along.

The tweets in question belonged to one of Yahoo’s NBA writers Adrian Wojnarowski. Wojnarowski is well known enough that to omit his name here just feels wrong. Especially when using his work to make some broader point about what’s “wrong” with reporting on social media.

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Sun Times: Matt Forte Is More “Gimmick Than Go-To”

Obviously Chicago Bears’ running back Matt Forte is still dangling under the infamous franchise tag with no long term deal worked out yet. In the meantime, the team has signed RB Michael Bush from the Raiders leaving Forte justifiably feeling disrespected. Well, justifiably to some…not Joe Cowley from the Sun Times who may have written one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read this off season.

He argues that Forte should basically chill out since he isn’t all that anyway:

But here’s a little reminder to Forte. He wants to be treated like an elite back, but he’s more gimmick than go-to. In two of his four seasons, he wasn’t even a 1,000-yard back. He has averaged just over seven touchdowns a season, and that includes all the dump passes and screens he has gotten over the years.

When you think grind it out at the end of a game, you don’t exactly think Forte.

He’s no Adrian Peterson; he’s not even Chris Johnson.

He’s a versatile back who has taken advantage of an offense lacking a real receiver that has had to turn to him out of the backfield.

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