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"Sports Journalism" Archive


Jason Whitlock Tackles “Baby Mama” Culture…But Why Won’t Sports Journalists Discuss Their Own Issues?

Let me first admit that I haven’t watched Whitlock’s special (I pride myself on not watching anything that involves the phrase “baby mama culture” so far I’m batting 1000), but when I read Whitlock’s column announcing “Connected,” a discussion between he and  former Cowboy Michael Irvin and sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards on “illegitimacy in the black community, I had a visceral reaction and had to write to get it off my chest.

Right now I’m working on an article about the perception of black athletes and how it’s impacted by the dearth of minority reporters, so I’ve been thinking a lot about writers like Jason Whitlock as well as Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter and ESPN’s own Michael Wilbon. As part of my research, I’ve been considering the role of prominent black sports journalists in the scheme of overall sports reporting. How are they different? Are they different? Should they be?

Whitlock in particular has expressed some views in the past that lead me to believe that he struggles mightily with race and gender. I’ve found his analysis of such subjects (which he writes about frequently) often lacking nuance and depth.  You can’t discuss the role of fathers in the black community without discussing issues like unemployment and geographical segregation that take the conversation out of the sports vacuum and into territory that is easy to mishandle. And the last thing black people need is another stereotypical conversation mishandled in mainstream media in the interest of ratings.

I’m torn on the idea of sports journalists taking on such broad race discussions by loosely tying them to sports. To me, it’s a little like walking around a dirty house and complaining that you’re bored. Whether a sports reporter is white or black, sports journalists on a whole do NOT report on black people. They report on people-many of whom, happen to be black. That’s an important distinction. Sports journalists are spending time discussing topics that are better served by other types of reporters such as those who routinely report on the plight of black men, the poor, and minorities while ignoring the smell right under their nose.

Not to mention, many of these same journalists who rush to participate in townhalls and panels or to discuss race in a “general” sense in a column, rarely, if ever, seem stop to reflect  (in real time) on what role race might play in the tone of some of their articles before they actually file a story. In other words, reporters seem to admit that race colors their writing but rarely appear to make an attempt to fix the problem.

One of the reasons I started this blog is because of the deficiencies I noted in coverage of NFL players. I felt that much of what is written about NFL players is unforgiving and lacking context or empathy. Rather than taking on issues more appropriate for the Al Sharptons of the world, sports journalists should first tackle issues under their control and influence.

A sports journalist would be better qualified and more productive if they focused on areas under their purview e.g. what role sports leagues should play once the player is available to them or under contract. That’s the kind of knowledge and perspective sports journalists should possess that other types of journalists do not.

In terms of the  NFL, I’d welcome if sports journalists would discuss how much should character matter when drafting a player? Can we drop the pretense surrounding that issue? Should the NFLPA and NFL do more to assist players since they are aware these issues? Does the NFL have a social responsibility to help players become better citizens since they profit from many of the players’ pain and desperation? If most football players were white would safety be addressed more aggressively? Should journalists use their platform to help the public understand the pressures on some of these men e.g. the fact that many have to take care of their families? Have sports journalists helped form negative perceptions of players and could be race be a factor? If so, what can be done to combat this issue?

And those questions are just the tip of the iceberg for me.

If any of you happened to watch “Connected” don’t hesitate to drop a comment about what you thought.


Had Vick Done Oprah EVERYONE Would Have Benefited Except Him

From the moment I heard that Michael Vick was slated to do the Oprah show, I hoped that he wouldn’t go through with it. When I heard that he’d changed his mind it was like sweet sweet music to my ears. When Vick was released from prison he was interviewed by James Brown for 60 minutes.

The interview was the best you could hope for. It was straightforward, professional, and wasn’t sensationalized. In fact, a lot of people don’t even remember it. That’s a good thing.

The problem with rehashing something that you’ve already apologized for is that it gives every person, party, or entity involved an opportunity to rehash it as well. Had Vick gone on the Oprah show, the media would have immediately called the Human Society as well as PETA to get their comments. Then they would have gotten comments from the owners of Vick’s old dogs (who were already reportedly bombarding The Oprah Show with calls and emails).

When celebrities make decisions, those choices become opportunities for other people. In this situation, everyone would have benefited except Vick. Oprah would have gotten ratings beyond her normal core audience for her last season, HSUS and PETA would have had an event around which to hinge further fund raising, the owners of Vick’s dogs would have been given 15 more minutes of fame, Vick’s media coach and lawyers would have been paid over time, Oprah’s audience would have received a spectacle, blogs like this one would have received hits from people looking for recaps and analysis, sports analysts would have been given mainstream opportunities to give their opinions and on and on and on and on.

But what would Vick have gotten? Nothing.

Vick doesn’t need the approval of white middle aged soccer moms across America. And he damn sure doesn’t need people discussing this issue all over again. And although Vick has shown a lot of improvement insofar as his public speaking ability is concerned, I would argue that he’s not “there” yet, and had a lot to lose by rolling the dice on a soap operatic talk show. The promotional clips alone would have been humiliating.

I’m glad Vick’s people came to their senses and had a change of heart. Vick has been one of my favorite players since I was in high school in Hampton Roads, and I hate to see people try to take a positive step only to get burned in the end.


ESPN Calls Brett Favre To Announce That Aaron Rodgers is A Better Lover

For the past 23948092343 years sports journalists and media outlets like ESPN have been working over time to tell us how big Brett Favre’s quarterback penis is. I maintain that Favre is one of, if not the most, overrated quarterback in the history of the game.

This is not to say that Favre wasn’t good-he absolutely was. But he’s also a beneficiary of golden boy deference. Over the years he’s charmed the microphones and pens right off your favorite journalists. But it’s not his fault that his aw shucks country boy routine has been effective, he isn’t in this alone.

Sports media scrambles like hell to crown to someone. Always in a hurry to have a debate about who’s the best right now, who’s the best ever. That’s the kind of conversation that dominates sports coverage. Personally, I find it tiring. I’m also not a man, so that could explain my disinterest in turning every.fucking.thing into a head to head competition and debate.

As you can see on this blog, I rarely ever write posts like that. To me, sports is bigger than that-I can appreciate one player for his individual contributions to the game and not just what he has contributed in comparison to someone else.

But I digress.

After so many years of lying in sports-writing bed with Favre, stroking his blond locks and rubbing his feet with the vigor of Rex Ryan, sports media has now decided that Rodgers is the best thing since sliced WHITE bread. And in order to make sure we all go along with the incessant cooing over Rodgers that will take place until another fair skinned rocket thrower appears on the scene, ESPN has to do just like every other man:  Tell everybody JUST HOW FUCKING MUCH BETTER HE IS THAN THE LAST GUY THEY FUCKED.

For your viewing pleasure courtesy of Sportscenter’s twitter account:

And for the record, Super Bowl 45 or none, Ben Roethlisberger still kicks ass!!


Cris Carter May Have Quite a Wait to Get Into the Hall of Fame; Also, Peter King’s Take On HOF Votes Public

When the NFL issued the list of the newest round of Hall of Fame Inductees-a list that includes former TE Shannon Sharpe and former CB Deion Sanders-the discussion immediately turned to former WR Cris Carter. People wanted to know why Chris was snubbed for the 4th time.

Carter was originally eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

Someone tweeted Gregg Rosenthal of Pro Football talk to ask whether he was surprised that Carter didn’t make it into the HOF this year. He said no, “not with this class.” He also said Reed should go before Carter.

I’m not so sure that Reed should should go before Carter, but certainly that’s a matter open to debate. What’s not open to debate is that the “class” reason/excuse is going to continue to be frustrating-not just Carter but for any player who we know will make it into the HOF but appears to be being held out for some reason unknown to the public.

My response to Rosenthal’s contention is that every class of HOFers is going to be tough and it’s only going to get more so. I made this point on twitter without having specifics, but going off of the fact that the level of commitment, fitness, longevity of great players in the NFL has steadily risen with salaries and slow elimination of offseasons.

I’m glad that Sports Illustrated gave more specific information about upcoming classes of players.

…The 2011 class is damn strong, and future classes are going to be even more competitive.

Consider: The list of first-year eligible players in 2013 includes: O-guard Larry Allen, tackle Jonathan Ogden, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, defensive end Michael Strahan and kicker Morten Anderson.

The list in 2014 includes: Linebacker Derrick Brooks, receiver Marvin Harrison, running back Shaun Alexander, safety Rodney Harrison and coaches Tony Dungy, Mike Holmgren and John Gruden.

Not only are the classes strong, but the names are prominent, and the memories of these popular players and coaches’ accomplishments are very strong. Since the NFL is more widely known now, and it’s elevated the passion about the impact of some of these “known names.”  I think the temptation to reward first year eligibles (like Sanders, Sharpe, and former RB Marshall Faulk who will also be inducted at this year’s ceremonies in August) will increase.

That means style of play, importance to respective teams, players’ contributions to the game and their position on a whole, among other intangibles, will increasingly be taken into consideration.

Carter is one of only 6 players in NFL history to have over 1000 career receptions. He also played in 8 straight Pro Bowls and was named to the 90s all-decade team. Once again, I realize competition is thick, but if Carter has to wait longer than another year I think it puts quite a disrespectful pock mark on his eventual induction. A pock mark it doesn’t deserve.

At this point, it feels a little like Butch Carter will make it into the NFL’s Hall of Fame before Cris.

A few people speculated that Carter may be experiencing an Art Monk/Peter King situation. I have no idea if that’s true, in fact, I only found out that this was an issue because Alba at Sporty Girlz mentioned that King’s bias was the reason Monk was snubbed for 8 years.

Anyway, King responded to the tweets by saying that he’d have no issue if the HOF made the votes public and if people think the votes should be public, they should write the Hall of Fame (He obviously didn’t choose to voluntarily make his vote public).

King also said that he couldn’t discuss the voting process because it’s against the rules stated in the bylaws. The Sports Illustrated article I link to in this post seemed to give quite a bit of detail though.


Women Sports Fans And The Men Who Judge Them

This week was FULL of stories and columns about woman sports fans. There was the article on which jerseys are top sellers among women, and NY Times article on the growth of women watching football, and The Atlantic began its series on the so-called “challenges that face female sports fans.” Also, over at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about teaching his wife about football, and there was a quote at the end of his post that really struck a chord with me.

“…the lesson I took was that she [his wife] probably would have been a football fan all along, if not for the haze of male exclusivity that pervaded the thing.”

I have a lot of thoughts on men’s reactions to women who watch sports. Almost all of those thoughts fall under the umbrella of the “haze of male exclusivity” that Coates mentioned. For some reason, men think they own sports. They think there is some innate thing that makes them inherently more knowledgeable and that women who watch sports are anomalies they should examine.

Not only do men challenge a woman’s knowledge of sports more than they challenge the knowledge of other men, they also find it their business to analyze a woman’s intentions and behavior.

Hampton Stevens’ piece called “Can Men and Women Watch Sports Together?” (A part of The Atlantic’s series on women and sports) included a pretty telling section:

If guys have an inherent wariness about female sports fans, much of it comes from our fear of screwing up and hurting your feelings. It has very little to do with how much you spent on playoff tickets or how good you are at Celtics trivia. Truly. It’s because we know that having a woman around—even if you promise otherwise—usually means we have to be careful about what we say. What fun is that?As for women who pretend to like sports to meet athletes, avoiding that label is easy. Don’t wear heels to a ballpark. Kidding!

Seriously, though. If you don’t want to be treated differently because of your sex, take sex out of the equation as much as possible. Men compete. If sports are involved, we compete even more. Throw a woman into the mix, we turn to idiots.

The most important thing a woman can do to gain acceptance with male sports fans is to never, ever, for any reason, mention that you find a player attractive.

It. Just. Isn’t. Done.First, that injects sex into the conversation. Never a good idea. See above, re: men are idiots. Bring up sex, you are inviting guys to think about you sexually. Secondly, nothing alienates the average heterosexual male football fan faster than reminding him of the game’s massive latent homoerotic appeal. You might as well badmouth America or take a wiz in the guacamole.

Stevens’ first point is that men are ball-scratching insult tossers that don’t want to alter their childish conversations just because women are in the room. So basically men are fearful that women will ruin game-watching with their delicate sensibilities.

That’s fine, but I would point out that men have sensibilities of their own that women also have to tip-toe around. Ever tried correcting a man on a piece of sports trivia? You can almost see their little eyes well up with tears.

Unfortunately, to be around other people, you have to take their feelings into consideration. It’s one of those little annoying things about, you know, life and shit.

Speaking of male sensitivity, cue Stevens’ second point about “gaining acceptance” with male sports fans by never mentioning that the men are attractive.

Stevens is essentially trying to argue that men can’t forget that you’re a woman (and therefore cannot take you seriously) if you keep yapping about how you love to look at men.

TOUGH SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Try reading sports blogs and being a heterosexual woman. Men are constantly using female bodies to attract viewers to their content. There’s enough porn on sports blogs to legitimately turn them into porn sites without changing a thing else.

Further, I’ve heard plenty of men make comments about Anna Kournikova or Serena Williams or any number of volleyball players, and I’ve never once seen a woman get upset about it or accuse the man of not knowing what it means to serve an ace or spike a ball.

Men’s insistence that women not comment on the players’ looks has nothing to do with their feelings about women or homo-eroticism. The truth is, complimenting athletes, who male sports fans tend to look at as Gods of some sort, feeds into every insecurity men have about their bodies, wallets, toughness, and general station in society.

In other words, not only does Adrian Peterson make more money than Tim at the bar, he also has a better chance at scoring with that woman Tim’s been eyeing all night (and holding her up in the air while doing so).

*sad face*

I know it hurts to know that there are men more desirable than you, but quite frankly, listening to heterosexual men whine about what bothers them about woman sports fans kind of kills my boner when it’s not making me laugh my ass off.

The biggest issue with the Stevens’ piece is that it treats gaining acceptance by male sports fans as something a woman should aspire to, when really, men should aspire not to be sexist assholes. Unfortunately, the former is more likely to occur than the latter.

Alyssa Rosenberg, Stevens’ partner in the series, talked about the difficulty of being a woman sports fan when male behavior at stadiums is so asinine and there are players who have been accused of all manner of sexual misdeeds.

I do see stadium behavior as an issue for women. Some of these big drunk adrenaline-driven men in the stands are scary. I don’t even like to go to the bathroom or to concessions alone when I attend games and I ain’t no shrinking violet!

But when it comes to the players, I don’t find it difficult, generally speaking, to separate the men on the field from the men off the field. That’s why I can say that Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has some serious issues he needs to work on, but in the same breath name him as my favorite QB.

On a general note, I think that the way some men treat women sports fans is a broader metaphor for how women are treated in society. If a man believes something is inherently male, then he doesn’t feel compelled to take a woman seriously unless she jumps through whatever hoops he puts up.

When it comes to watching sports, those jumps are voluntary, but what about the parts of life when it actually matters what a man thinks?

Update: also posted this article to their site. You can find it here. So far over 6000 hits and just under 300 comments. As this post makes the rounds I’ll be interested in what other bloggers think.


NFL Calls All 8 Remaining Playoff Teams To Tell the Jets to Shut the Hell Up

According to Sports Illustrated Peter King and a few others, the NFL called all 8 remaining teams and put them on notice about trash talk. This feels a little like when your teacher would say if Mike doesn’t get quiet none of you are getting ice cream. Then you’re left to wonder why the fuck should Mike’s loud mouth stand between me and two delicious scoops of pecan praline?

We all know that the Jets are the primary trashtalkers, so this move by the NFL was obviously a roundabout way of shutting them down.

The Jets are a bunch of *insert racially insensitive term that conveys shucking and jiving.* Starting with the Coach they’re just very annoying on a whole. Most of us noticed how annoying they were LONG before this week. But perhaps this week with comments from Bart Scott, Antonio Cromartie, on top of Rex Ryan’s usual diarrhea of the mouth it was all just too much.

I’m sure the NFL is sensitive to the fact that the playoffs draw in more casual fans of the game which makes them pay more attention to news coverage. I get that they don’t want people to think that this is all the game is.


Football isn’t a pretty sport. I would expect men who violently run into each other and get sewn up on the sidelines like soldiers on a warfield to talk a little trash when feeling confident. I mean we can’t all have split personalities like the soft-spoken and downright chirpy  hitman Troy Polamalu.

Besides it’s not the Jets fault that the media is feeding into their plan to have them focus on the trash talk rather than endless non flattering comparisons of Sanchez to Brady or harping on the 45-3 shut out.


Peyton Hillis: Everybody Says He’s Pretty Fly…For a White Guy

Every time someone makes mention of the fact that Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis will soon be the first white running back to hit 1K yards in 25 years, I think of that corny yet awesome song by the rock group Offspring: Everybody says I’m pretty fly for a white guy.

Obviously Hillis isn’t some poser…but the media is portraying him like one…like he’s some kind of outsider to be studied.

And when I found out that folks in the media actually asked Hillis what he thinks about this “accomplishment” I became even more intrigued by this coverage. I mean, what is he supposed say? Of course, he said what anyone would say, that he’s human and race shouldn’t be a factor.

Scott Petrak writes:

Hillis’ contact-seeking and fight-for-every-inch style has endeared him to Browns fans of all shapes, sizes and colors. His down-home, team-first, Cleveland-rocks attitude has increased his appeal even further.

But there’s no denying his race has helped his popularity among a segment of the fan base. You can call it close-minded or human nature, but it’s a fact that some people relate better to people who look like them.

When you put that person in a profession/position where he assumes an underdog role, the attraction grows. Sylvester Stallone made millions on the idea of the Great White Hope in boxing’s heavyweight division. The same theory would apply to a female jockey or race-car driver competing in a male-dominated world.

I agree with what he’s saying, still I think there is a slight undercurrent in the sports media of this being some sort of a victory for white players, a sort of taking back of the game. I don’t know that it’s a conscious thing. Sports-football especially-is built on nostalgia. And reminiscing back to the days of Merrill Hoge and John Riggins probably feels good to some sports journalists-especially Merrill Hodge and John Riggins.

On the other hand, if what Toby Gerhard says is true, white running backs are targets of offensive lines of questioning whether they are about to reach 1000K yards or not.

Why is his name Toby though? lol

Thanks to the guys over at Bleacher Report for linking this article by Jemele Hill two years ago about white tailbacks. Hill wrote in 2008 that there were ZERO white RB starters in the league at that time.


ESPNW First Impression – Lackluster

If you don’t know by now, ESPN has launched a web site geared toward female sports fans and athletes. I think most of the reactions have been split with most leaning toward opposing the site for obvious reasons-women sports fans don’t want to be marginalized. And female sports are already covered less than male sports, so any sign of decreased coverage on ESPN’s regular site would not be welcome.

Personally, I think ESPN is probably the most woman-friendly sports channel and site there is. On most sites, female presence is limited to exploitation. All the bigger sports blogs and male-oriented channels feature endless T&A. I’m not against looking at women’s bodies, but sometimes that shit is too much. ESPN has one of the only sports sites that doesn’t constantly make me uncomfortable.

The best thing you can do to make a sports site woman-friendly is to stop whoring women out for page views and, also, ensure that the woman writers you hire aren’t ding bats. does well with the first, and could use some work on the second-though there’s definitely some female writing talent there.

Anyway,  I hopped over to the ESPNW site to give it a look and my quick thoughts are:

  • The site design is amateurish
  • There are way too many colors on it
  • The stories aren’t particularly engaging
  • At one point, the phrase “you girls rock” was used which made me wince
  • Once again, it’s nice to read about sports without having someone woman’s fake titties adjacent to the post
  • I never realized how much I don’t give a shit about female sports until I scrolled down the site
  • It feels like a blog which I really like
  • The writers get a prominent author box, I think that’s a great thing
  • One of the writers described NBA player Ron Artest has “having a little crazy in him.” Thought that was pretty insensitive for a woman’s site given the fact that he’s admitted to dealing with mental illness. We’re supposed to handle those subjects better than those pesky penis havers.

We have to remember that the site is just starting out, and like any site (including this one) it does take some time to find your voice. And hopefully ESPNW will find one that works. I think it may have been helpful for them to think about what the goal of the site is…because having all female writers and lots of human interest stories doesn’t really make the site any more appealing to women. And so far, the style of the site is decidedly “young white female.” I think Jemele Hill is going to be contributing to the site at some point, but if she’s writing her usual confusing fluff pieces her contributions won’t make a difference in that regard.


Hot Link: Cheating is a Lifestyle, and Some Athletes Will Work Really Hard for Some Side Lovin’

I went over to ESPNW, ESPN’s new site for women sports fans and athletes, to check out the site so I could do a review here. The very first post on the site is one about athletes and cheating originally written for ESPN.

Anyway, the article reiterates what we already know: cheating is a lifestyle in the sportsworld (for those who want to) and some men will work entirely too hard just to get some side you-know-what. The article is about 3000 words, so I’ll share a few highlights here:

On Enablers:

There are unspoken codes in the big leagues. On football Sundays, some NFL players are known to dole out their tickets to two different mates in separate parts of the stadium — the wives’ section and the girlfriends’ section. Their paths are never supposed to cross. The lifestyle, in many locker rooms, is accepted.

Even the women who marry pro athletes often quickly learn the codes and unwritten rules of being an athlete’s wife.

Never is that more pronounced than when wives travel on the road. They know their husbands’ careers and earnings are foremost, so even if a wife sees a married teammate with another woman, she is expected to remain silent and keep that information to herself — even if she is close to that teammate’s wife.

Vikings Tackle B. Mckinnie on waiting until retirement to get married:

“A lot of coaches and players have a lot of distractions at home, and it will cause them not to play well,” says Bryant McKinnie, an unmarried left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. “At the rookie symposium, we learned that 75 percent of NFL marriages end with divorce within two to three years after retirement. And that’s just something that’s always been on my mind.”

He has a point, but given the fact that a lot of athletes are caught up in drama involving women who aren’t their wives or even girlfriends, not being married isn’t the only key to avoiding distraction.

On repeat offenders:

Toni Blackshear doesn’t date athletes anymore. She knows she’s going to come across as a groupie. She is 41 now and doesn’t really care. She has a 16-year-old daughter with former NFL player Chuck Smith whom she dated when both were single.

She’s also had relationships with a handful of NBA and NFL players who generally had one common denominator: They couldn’t stay faithful.




Reactions to the Steelers-Ravens Death Match And Considering Whether Harrison is a “Target”

When asked about the pain in his injured foot, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger said: “It hurt a lot, but the broken nose took some of the pain away.”

That quote sums up the death-match that takes place any time the Steelers play the Ravens.

Oh and so does this hit on Heath Miller that almost brought a fucking tear to my eye.

To summarize:

Baltimore lost Heap on the first play from scrimmage. The Steelers lost Sepulveda in the first half. In the second, Miller left with a concussion after he took a shot to the head from linebacker Jameel McClain. Carl Johnson, the NFL’s head of officiating, told NBC that McClain should have been penalized on the play.

For most of the game the Ravens were in the lead and by the time the Steelers went up by 3 and there was under 2:30 minutes on the clock, I knew the Ravens would lose. If two teams are scoring about once every 20 minutes, it’s hard to imagine one of them getting another score within 2 minutes.

From the beginning I said that this game would come down to Flacco, and boy did it. Flacco was strip-sacked by Polamalu with 4 minutes on the clock and with under 2 minutes on the clock threw somewhat of a bounce pass that obviously wasn’t caught by the receiver.

To be fair, Flacco had lots of completions last night-even on long passes which he typically struggles with. He passed some real beauties to Donte Stallworth and Anquan Boldin.


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