Sports Media

This semester, I enrolled in Nicole Kraft’s Sports Media class at The Ohio State University.

The first of its kind, I thought it would be a great way to get more experience and learn more about the field I intend to work in for the rest of my life.

I think the most important thing I learned this semester was feature writing.

I worked on a feature of one of the members of the Ohio State Softball team, Alex Bayne. Bayne is going into her senior season after leading the team in homeruns a year ago.

We spoke on the phone for about an hour as we talked about everything from her childhood to now, covering topics ranging from personal life to on-field issues.

Before this time, I had not really enjoyed feature writing. I am not the most open and outgoing person, so sometimes talking to people I do not know for a long time on a personal level can be a little stressful.

However, the interview when extremely well. Bayne was very kind and I was able to make the interview into more of a conversation rather than an interrogation. I think those kind of skills will allow me to get even better as time goes on at getting better answers from my subjects and being more comfortable doing interviews.

Another thing I throughly enjoyed about the class were the guests.

We had a lot of guests from multiple different occupations revolving around sports media and I thought it was really cool to have them discuss their experiences and their work with us. Having people like Dan Plesac, who I watch almost everyday during the summer on MLB Tonight, take the time out of his day to speak with us was a super cool experience.

I think you should definitely continue to have these kinds of guests in future semesters.

One thing I would do to change this class for the better in future semesters would be to change how the Perusall readings work.

A lot of the time I felt that the readings did not have much to do with what was going on with class, and sometimes took away from time that could be spent working on other stories or assignments going on at the time.

I liked when the Perusall readings directly impacted what we discussed in class. For example, our reading this week about the treatment of women in sports directly correlated with our in class discussion.

However, much of the time, the readings did not have much to do with the upcoming classes. Reading about the rules of football, lacrosse, hockey, etc. seemed to me to have not much to do with the class in all honesty.

I like having the readings because a lot of the time they accounted first-hand experiences and real-life happenings that provided insight into the world of sports journalism. I just feel that in the future, the readings should have direct correlation to that week’s class.

Overall, I really liked the class and I think it has definitely contributed to my knowledge of the sports media world. I think that taking the practicum (on a sports beat) side by side with this class also really helped me to better my writing.

It was a great semester!

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“Football Players Safe, Accounted For”

I had actually seen this ESPN article posted on Twitter during the time of the lockdown on campus among much uncertainty of a second “shooter” and ongoing police investigation.

At the time, I found it quite strange. To be honest, I still do.

I actually had thought it was a joke at first, trying to make light of a serious situation. To my surprise, it was an actual, real article that was deemed acceptable to post on the biggest sports news organization in the world.

The article basically outlines the fact that none of the students injured in the attack were involved with the football team. It even reassured people that the players would still be able to return to their practice facility after the lockdown was over.

This is an odd thing to write about because it makes it seem as though the football players are more important than the average student at Ohio State.

Now, I get it. The vast majority of people in America that have an interest in Ohio State is because they watch the football game. Not many people outside the state of Ohio are concerned with the daily lives of Ohio State students.

However, I do not think it was necessary to post an article specifically stating that nobody on the football team was hurt. It makes those who were actually injured in the incident seem unimportant and unworthy of being talked about and worried about.

If a football player had been injured in the incident, I understand that there probably would have been an article just about the injury to that player. Fans of the Ohio State football team would want to know the extent of the injury and what it means for the team moving forward.

I still do not believe, however, that an article specifically stating that no players were hurt in the incident was necessary.

The article does do an alright job of outlining the specifics of the incident and relaying much of the information that is known about the attack at the time. It just goes about it from an angle that I personally believe is distasteful and honestly quite insensitive to those who were actually injured during the attack.

Ethical Issues in Sports: Domestic Abuse

I think one of the biggest ethical challenges associated with the sports media landscape is the coverage of domestic abuse.

Now more than ever, cases of domestic abuse seem to be popping up in multiple different sports every few weeks. From cases that have lots of information in the public eye like in the example of Greg Hardy, to cases where little is known of the situation as is the case with Ezekiel Elliot or Jeurys Familia.

There are many difficult parts of reporting these cases.

The first issue involves how much information is available on the subject.

When it is first reported that an athlete is involved in a domestic abuse case, it will be all over Sportscenter and various social media platforms, before even any of the facts of the event have been brought forward.

I feel that a lot of the time this automatically paints the athlete is guilty in the public eye. Should we immediately put it out there that an athlete is being brought up on charges of domestic abuse, or should we wait until the case has ran its course and a verdict has been made?

In most scenarios, even in those where the athlete is found innocent, the initial report can tarnish a reputation. There are still people that firmly believe that superstars like Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger are rapists even though neither was found guilty in court; however neither was proven innocent either.

I really don’t know the best way to handle this situation, but it is your job as a reporter to report the facts and at the moment the facts are that there is an accusation against the athlete. People will make their assumptions, but it is your job to stay objectionable.

The second issue that comes with this subject is how you handle it with the athletes themselves.

When the news first breaks, there will most likely be a statement released by the athlete or their agent, but do you ask them any questions on your own about the incident, or do you wait it out?

Asking athletes questions about an ongoing trial will most likely garner few results and only anger the athlete, but it is your job as a reporter to get the facts.

I think that while the case is ongoing, unless they are holding a press conference specifically fielding questions on the issue, it is unwise to ask questions about it. The athletes’ lawyers most likely will tell them to not answer any questions about the accusation as what they say could incriminate them in court.

The fans want to know what is going on in the lives of their favorite players, but sometimes writing about the issues surrounding them is not so clear-cut.

Real Problems for Real People

Sports have long provided an escape from the problems of the real world. During the worst of times, we could always look to sports to provide us a few hours of entertainment and distract us from a harsh reality.

Now more than ever, during probably one of the worst presidential elections of all time, the public needs an escape.

Today, however, sports have become the subject of much scrutiny.

Cases of domestic violence seem to pop up weekly. National Anthem protests began to spread countrywide. Team logos are coming under fire as racist and insensitive.

No sport is safe from these scandals. It seems as though the nation’s athletes are taking on a persona that matches the current tension-filled climate plaguing the entire globe.

The question is why have sports become just another part of the real world? What has changed that gave sports the same problems occurring in the real world?

The answer is nothing. The sports themselves have not changed and neither have the athletes. It is the coverage of these athletes that have changed.

People sometimes forget that athletes are real people too, outside of their freakish talent in their specific area. But as real people, they make mistakes just like the rest of the world. However, because they are famous, these mistakes are blown up and broadcast to the entire nation.

Take the example of Greg Hardy. During the time of his domestic abuse incident, Hardy was all over the national news. Everyone had heard about the Hardy story, and for that period of time it painted the NFL in a very poor light for allowing him to continue playing.

But what if Greg Hardy was just your average guy? What if he wasn’t an athlete being put on the national stage every weekend? Would people know about what he did?

Probably not.

Hardy would have been a quick 10-15 minute story on the local news channel wherever he lived and would never have been spoken about again.

Domestic abuse, in particular, is a big issue in sports today. However, it is also a big issue in the real world. We only hear about the majority of domestic abuse from famous people, because that is who the general public cares about.

Back in the early days of sport, the media did not cover the athletes’ private lives. What they did on the field was who they were and we admired them for that and only that. It is when we started to go behind the curtain that sports began to intertwine with society and start to show that it wasn’t as perfect as it was portrayed to be.

Sports are mixed up with today’s real world problems because they have real world problems. They are real people just like you and I.

Has the way the media has evolved in their coverage of sports brought to light a lot of private life issues?

Of course, but does that mean they should go back to only covering the on-field happenings?

I don’t think so. All I know is that there is reasoning behind the saying “you should never meet your heroes.”

Broadcast Reporting Project

Myself, along with Nick McWilliams and Bill Kosileski, will create a podcast focusing on the Ohio State football team. More specifically, we will take a look at the team’s outlook for the rest of the season following the Northwestern game this Saturday.

The three of us will attend the Urban Meyer press conference on Monday following the game. We will get audio from both Meyer and the players. We will also include audio from the press conference following the Penn State game.

We will compare the problems the team faced at Penn State and see how the problems were corrected or if they were perpetuated again against Northwestern, depending on how the team looks.

Looking at the contrast of how the two games went, we will discuss what we think the rest of the season will look like moving forward. We can discuss the strengths and weaknesses we see from the team and how it will affect them in their remaining games.

Points of Emphasis: Offensive line, wide receiver development, play calling.

 

 

Lovable Losers

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Cleveland Indians home ballpark Progressive Field

This year, the World Series has the potential to be a matchup between the two teams with the longest championship droughts in baseball (excluding the six teams who have never taken home the Commissioners Trophy).

For the Indians, it has been 67 seasons since their last World Series win.

The team this year reminds me a lot of the 2015 Mets team. A team that hits the ball pretty well, but the main strength lies in its pitching.

From starters among the likes of Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, to the brilliant late acquisition of a dominant bullpen arm in Andrew Miller, the Tribe has some hurlers that strike fear into opposing lineups.

A win for the Indians would give Cleveland its second major sports championship this year, a feat rarely accomplished in any sports city. In fact, the last year such a scenario was accomplished was in 2004, when the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots each won their respective championships.

I worry that a World Series win may cause the city of Cleveland to accidentally burn itself to the ground in the midst of an outrageous celebration. I don’t know if Cleveland sports fans know what to do with a championship, let alone in two sports in the same year.

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Cleveland’s chamionship celebration for the Cavaliers

Then we have the Cubs, who have waited an astounding 107 seasons to get ahold of their third World Series title.

The Chicago Cubs are the best team in baseball. That is not an opinion.

As the only 100 win team in baseball, the Cubs have dominated the year from beginning to end.

Much of the team’s success has been due to the fact that they are one of the most complete teams every assembled.

The pitching staff was one of the best in the National League. With Cy Young candidates like Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta, along with bullpen arms like Aroldis Chapman bringing 103 mph heat on a nightly basis, opposing bats are often held quiet.

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Cubs infielder Javier Baez

 

Then there is the lineup. One of the youngest in baseball is also one of the scariest. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez. All under 27, and all absolutely mashing. Throw them in with veterans like Ben Zobrist and David Ross, and the Cubs rarely have an easy out in the lineup.

Unlike Cleveland, Chicago is not a city devoid of championships.

Michael Jordan’s Bulls and Jonathan Toew’s Blackhawks have brought the city immense happiness through multiple titles over the years.

But a win for the Cubs would bring the ultimate joy. It would finally break the curse that many have not lived long enough to see broken.

While I think both teams are equally deserving, having tremendous seasons with unparalleled talent, I think this one belongs to the Chicago Cubs.

67 seasons is a long time for the Indians, but a Cubs win would end the longest championship drought in North American sports.

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Cubs fans hope to see a championship in their lifetime

The Cubs have struggled a bit in the postseason, but just as Happy learned to putt, Chicago learned to hit again last night against the Dodgers. I think with their solid pitching staff and reestablished offense, the Cubs win the World Series 4-2. Series MVP: Anthony Rizzo.

Student Press Freedom

Freedom of student press is an issue we ran into recently regarding Ohio State women’s soccer player Jillian McVicker.

McVicker suffered a terrible injury on the field. After a collision with a Minnesota player, McVicker sustained a fractured rib, a punctured lung, and a lacerated kidney.

It was an injury so severe that it she was immediately taken to the hospital and was put in intensive care for two days before being downgraded to standard care.

Something of this nature in any professional sport would have resulted in hundreds and hundreds of articles written by every news source under the sun about the specifics of the injury, how the player is doing, and what is the impact on that player and the team moving forward.

But how many articles were written about this incident in the few days that passed after it occurred? 0.

Why was there no article written? Because student journalists were told no.

A coach told one of the journalists to give no specifics of the injury, just to say that the player was in a collision and is expected to make a full recovery.

I think this was so very very wrong.

In some cases regarding medical diagnoses, you have to worry about HIPPA violations. However, in this case, McVicker posted herself the exact specifics of what happened to her in a Facebook post.

This was not secret information that the university did not want getting out. It was now public information made public by the very person the story was about.

Even further, when the journalist asked McVicker herself if it would be okay to write an article about her and use the information she put out on her Facebook, she responded yes and seemed more than happy to have a story written about her.

I do not understand why the coaches on the team tried to specify what information the journalist could and could not use.

It makes it really hard on student journalists because we want to write the best stories with as much information as we can provide to the public, but at the same time we don’t want to write stuff that is going to make our outlets to more information turn us away and no longer provide us with the information we need.

It becomes a delicate balance that should not exist.

As students, we should not have to worry about our access to a team being cut off just because we wrote a story a coach did not want us to write as long as it is entirely based in fact and all the information is accurate.

This kind of thing really encroaches on the First Amendment right to freedom of the press.

While we are not official paid journalists, we are still journalists just the same.

The work that student journalists do is the exact same as the professionals do. We gather information, we talk to people, and we write stories to inform others.

Why should we have our freedoms as journalists limited just because we are still studying the field? If anything, limiting student journalists’ freedoms inhibits our abilities to learn and become better as we aspire to become professionals.

I wonder if a big news corporation like the Dispatch or NBC News would have come down and asked the coaches about the injury if they would have tried to curtail there information in the same way they tried to alter the information the student could use.

I guarantee the professionals would have had no issues in writing their story.