[Weekly Rundown] Muhammad Ali tributes; Uncle Verne and Joe Buck; a Christian rocker comes out; what is tronc?

Today, we’re sports-heavy – honoring The Greatest, more Baylor fallout (now featuring Mississippi State), and sports broadcasters accused of bias. That, plus a Christian rocker comes out, social media faces censorship, and something called tronc.

Advertisements

Want to be the first to read the Weekly Rundown? Subscribe to email updates by clicking the “Follow” tab at the bottom of your screen (or here if that’s not working for you). You can also add to your RSS reader.

Sports

Muhammad Ali died Saturday night. If you only knew him as a boxer, I hope you’ll take all the tributes as an opportunity to learn more.

The news broke as I was finalizing this week’s rundown, but people more attuned to great sports writing have been curating your must-reads. I recommend this list from Don Van Natta and Jacob Feldman’s Sunday Long Read newsletter.

From a sports media perspective, ESPN did something I can’t recall seeing before. They went live in the wee hours Saturday with their top journalistic talent. Bob Ley and Jeremy Schaap anchored a SportsCenter that was relaxed in pace, letting both men and their guests share longform stories about Ali. Deadspin, who loves to hate on the Worldwide Leader, offered praise, and captured a 12-minute segment for you to watch. SI’s Richard Deitsch has the behind-the-scenes look at how the late-night broadcast came together.

This probably isn’t your first time to see the photo at the top of today’s post. It was taken by Neil Leifer for Sports Illustrated in 1965, and remains one of history’s most iconic sports photographs. Many stories have been written about it since. Here’s a longread by Dave Mondy published about a year ago that explores the photographer and the fighters he captured. Continue reading “[Weekly Rundown] Muhammad Ali tributes; Uncle Verne and Joe Buck; a Christian rocker comes out; what is tronc?”

[Weekly Rundown] Hulk v Gawk gets a Bond villain; New NFL media policies; Bad headlines

Hulk Hogan’s legdrop on Gawker is tainted by outside interference, Baylor gets busted, the Buffalo Bills block beat reporters, and SEC fandom exposes problems for a local newspaper following a media conglomerate’s process. That, plus paying to sit at a park, that guy with the water bottle, and more.

Summer means my return to semi-regular blogging! Join me as I experiment with a weekly rundown of stories I found interesting.

Media

Was Hulk Hogan a pawn in a billionaire’s vendetta against a media company? It’s not a wrestling storyline. This week, we learned that Hogan’s lawsuit against online tabloid Gawker was anonymously financed by Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist who was a co-founder and CEO of PayPal and sits on the Facebook board of directors. Why? Because Gawker outed Thiel as gay in 2007. Continue reading “[Weekly Rundown] Hulk v Gawk gets a Bond villain; New NFL media policies; Bad headlines”

Do World Cup TV ratings mean Americans are embracing soccer?

Is soccer ready to hit mainstream American culture? Or even mainstream American sports culture? After the U.S. Women’s National Team claimed their third World Cup – and after it was watched by more Americans than any soccer match in history – it’s a question worth asking, even if it has been asked before. But now, for the first time, soccer has something new in America – ratings.

Is soccer ready to hit mainstream American culture? Or even mainstream American sports culture? After the U.S. Women’s National Team claimed their third World Cup – and after it was watched by more Americans than any soccer match in history – it’s a question worth asking, even if it has been asked before. Many times.

Soccer was supposed to arrive in 1994, when the Men’s World Cup was hosted in the U.S. for the first time; in 1996, when Major League Soccer opened play; in 1999, when the U.S. Women won their second World Cup, Mia Hamm drank Gatorade with Michael Jordan, and Brandi Chastain became synonymous with one the most iconic images in sports; in 2004, when 14-year-old Freddy Adu was hailed was the next Pelé and vaulted into professional competition before he could drive a car; in 2007, when David Beckham eschewed European power Real Madrid to play for the LA Galaxy of MLS.

Brandi Chastain celebrates winning the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Robert Beck / SI

We’ve been here plenty just in the past two decades. But now, for the first time, soccer has something new in America – ratings.

Continue reading “Do World Cup TV ratings mean Americans are embracing soccer?”

An awful game can’t stop the Super Bowl – Notes on ratings, ads, Bruno Mars and the dominance of the NFL

The Seattle Seahawks took 12 seconds to score against the Denver Broncos Sunday night. Perhaps more accurately, it took the Broncos 12 seconds to score on themselves. Both of those trends would maintain throughout the night as Super Bowl XLVIII (that’s 48 for the Roman-numerically challenged) turned into a showcase for the best defense in the league and a nightmare for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, who now has lost more games in the postseason than anyone else.

The third-largest blowout in Super Bowl history may have been responsible for some of the early exits from the party I attended. And surely it was trouble for FOX and its legion of advertisers, who paid $4 million for the most expensive 30 seconds on television.

Only it wasn’t, because the NFL is the biggest draw in entertainment today, and its dominance has never been more evident.

Continue reading “An awful game can’t stop the Super Bowl – Notes on ratings, ads, Bruno Mars and the dominance of the NFL”

What was Clickworthy in 2013

Back when I had time to blog, I’d occasionally write quick comments about popular topics circulating around the Internet, usually highlighting one article, essay, or video in particular that had an especially interesting or useful take on said issue. I labeled the posts “Clickworthy,” and if you search for that tag, you’ll find them.

If you follow me on Twitter (which you should!), you know that the Clickworthy principle captures most of what I do there. But alas, 140 characters doesn’t leave much space for introspection (or even a summary).

So, in the spirit of the overused year-end list, I have combed through a year of Tweets to present to you a lists of links that promise to be entertaining, informative, sometimes both, and occasionally neither. Without further ado, What was Clickworthy in 2013.

Clickworthy 2013 Features:
Boston Marathon Bombing  |  Surveillance, Snowden, and the Press

Continue reading “What was Clickworthy in 2013”

Fantasy baseball geek celebrates back-to-back meaningless victories

For the second straight year, my fantasy baseball team sprays fake champagne and lights up faux cigars in celebration of a fictitious trophy. It was a dominating year, until injuries threatened our championship hopes. But thanks to deft roster management, forsaking real friends and real responsibilities, we are again victorious.

Tim Sharp // Reuters
Tim Sharp // Reuters

I’d like to thank Adrian Beltre – your real team may be fighting for its Postseason life, but take comfort in knowing you’re already a champion (and that you can hit home runs on one knee). Robinson Cano, I’d pay you and Jay-Z 300 million Monopoly dollars to stay with my imaginary team. Matt Harvey, nobody thought you’d be a Cy Young contender (or even knew who you were)… but I knew I was drafting greatness.

And let us not forget Craig Gentry. You’ll likely never be relevant again, but in fantasy land, you were the perfect pickup for the final day of the season. Thanks for the stolen bases.

A special thank you to the real-life Twins and the Astros. Your horrendous lineups made stars of even my worst pitchers (when’s the last time Scott Kazmir won anybody anything?).

I’d like to thank my loving girlfriend, who has stood reluctantly beside me since before my first fantasy nerd blog post two years ago today (the blog post, I like to think, spurred my current winning streak). Without the use of her iPhone, my team might have never escaped the semifinal round. I still hope to enter my waiver claim one day, and have her join me in rotisserie bliss. She, meanwhile, tries to get me to play some Harry Potter game on the Internet. I tell her that I don’t have time for that fake stuff, at least not while I’m proposing trades to my nearest rivals, “The Flying Pancakes” and “Mr. Balls.”

Niklas Jansson // Wikimedia Commons

Finally, as athletes are inclined to thanking the true God of the universe for their actual sporting victories, I express my deepest appreciation for the blessing of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – a fake deity fit for a pretend game.

The offseason begins tomorrow. Five-plus months to build meaningful relationships*, advance professionally**, and improve upon my draft strategy to ensure a 3-peat in 2014.

 

* – Thus gaining access to more smartphones for emergency roster updates (as I still reside in the dark ages with no data plan)
** – Earning more time away from work during the baseball months

[Video] Did ESPN commentators call Mississippians poor?

Mississippians are passionate about our state. We know more about our famous alumni than most colleges. We celebrate our successes in spite (or because) of our status as the perennial underdog. And that means that when someone on the national stage disparages Mississippi, we attack… like Bulldogs, perhaps.

Midway through the first game of the College World Series finals, social media simmered with reports that the ESPN broadcast had taken at shot at the poorest state in the nation:

Even the university got in on the action:

 

I’ve reviewed the tape; here’s what was said:

Continue reading “[Video] Did ESPN commentators call Mississippians poor?”