Saturday, June 30, 2007

Daring to call it what it is

The lawsuit filed by a woman who says she was fired after complaining about being groped and fondled by ESPN on-air personalities is a necessary step in addressing misogyny and sexual harassment in the media workplace. Unfortunately, research shows that many women tolerate harassment and don't want to call it out for fear of losing their jobs or opportunities for advancement -- especially in the locker-room environment associated with big-time sports.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Title IX at 35: Attitudes can skew coverage

A new survey of sports reporters by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism shows that about half of journalists who have written about the law think it hurts men's sports, and about one-third think the law should be changed. This could impact the way stories about Title IX are framed, and, ultimately, how the public sees the law. For the full report, click here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

And you thought this struggle was over

A female reporter who covers major league soccer posted about her experience in a team locker room where a player tried to chase her out. She stood her ground and got an interview but was understandably shaken. Her experience also points to the growing need for reporters who cover sports with Latino players to be able to speak Spanish.

Can't chew gum and walk at the same time?

Frank Deford's latest contribution to suggests changing Title IX in ways that would reward universities for continuing to allow football programs to devour their athletic budgets at the expense of low-profile sports.
Bad idea.
But what is worse about this column is the assumptions Deford makes about boys and girls. Apparently, boys can't pursue sports and academics at the same time, and the only reason girls "do better academically" than boys is that more boys are concentrating on sports. Studies show that when young people participate in organized sports -- boys or girls -- they generally do better academically than when they don't.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Even so, it is more about "info-tainment"

Denver Post sports reporter Adrian Dater goes on a long rant in his blog today about ESPN sports "reporters," whom he also calls leaches "or something much worse." Dater was apparentely infuriated by the comment from a friend about entertainment trumping journalism in sports. He accuses ESPN of ripping off stories and repackaging them.
No argument with his frustration about ESPN's less-than-stellar newsgathering practices (although the network has finally implemented a corrections column and has hired an ombudsman, to its credit). But Dater's frustration doesn't make it any less true: When it comes to sports, "info-tainment" is the name of the game.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Leave the press box?

In a follow up to the ejection of a Courier-Journal reporter from an NCAA baseball game for blogging in the press box, Poynter's Steve Klein suggests in an E-tidbits entry today that sports writers try blogging somewhere else: from the stands, for instance. That's the problem with the NCAA's policy: Wireless connectivity for anyone makes it possible for anyone, not only reporters , to provide Web-accessible play-by-play.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Zirin on the "athletic-industrial complex"

Dave Zirin, author of "What's My Name, Fool?" and who has been called the best young sportswriter in the U.S., was interviewed on Democracy Now today about his new book, "Welcome to the Terrordome." Zirin was especially critical of NBA Commissioner David Stern for turning the league and its players into "a spittoon for every racial anxiety." As always, the interview is worth a listen, and Zirin's book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand sports in U.S. culture.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Stifling coverage

A reporter from the Louisville Courier Journal was ejected from an NCAA baseball game earlier this week when he was caught blogging for the newspaper's Web site from the game. His editor said the paper is considering an official response because of violation of its First Amendment right to cover the game. It's too bad that economic interests in college sports have come to this -- I hope the NCAA's heavy-handed policy is challenged and eventually changed.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A boost for speedwalking?

A Patrick Healy column in today's New York Times discusses a decided disadvantage for Hillary Clinton in light of previous presidential elections: her lack of a strong connection to sports. As Healy points out, the images of presidential candidates in recent years has been crafted -- at least in part -- around their athletic resume. (Remember where the Bush and Kerry were seen on election eve in 2004? ESPN.) Healy points out the interesting predicament of Clinton -- "speed walking" listed on her MySpace page as her favorite fitness activity and a lack of a strong sports portfolio. Her opponents, on the other hand (including Obama)are already positioning themselves with footballs and hunting rifles. It will be fascinating to see how images of traditional athleticism play into the campaigns in 2008.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The making of another pseudo-event

ESPN2 televised the MLB First-Year Player draft today. In presenting the MLB draft (and others, such as the super-hyped coverage of the NFL draft), ESPN is able to secure cheap programming and use it to promote itself. Pretty slick. Of course, it also benefits MLB, which could use the help of some positive PR (the most recent comments by Gary Sheffield, for instance, expose growing racial fractures in the sport).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sex and Sports

Two recent news stories point to the ways sexualized images influence coverage of men's and women's sports. The first: coverage of a female high school pole vaulter who has been the object of unwanted attention since a picture of her has made the rounds on the Internet. In a Sunday column, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell discusses the Post's decision to identify the girl after several readers complained.
AJC ombudsman Angela Tuck's Saturday column addressed a column the paper ran in which it asked a woman who had run a prostitution ring out of her home to rate the "Top Five Sexiest Athletes." Readers had (rightly)complained to the newspaper about its editorial choices.
Images of sex and sports have always been closely aligned -- often in ways that denigrate women. As athletes in the spotlight get younger and younger, the issues involved in the sexualization of sports will increasingly become more complex.