Friday, November 28, 2008

Prep sports: In 'an encouraging twilight'

In a New York Times article yesterday about the allure of high school football, sportswriter Jere Longman writes wistfully about the tradition of Thanksgiving-Day games among high schoolers. Although Longman concedes -- and a companion article about steroid use among athletes confirms -- that high school football is "not pure," Longman adds: "It is still a game, not yet a business."
The operative word may be yet.. Longman writes that prep football is in an "encouraging twilight" -- a hopeful metaphor for the way things are changing. High-profile rankings and a funding system for youth sports that is increasingly squeezing out lower-income students are two factors in the evolution of youth sports into a money-driven model. (Mark Hyman's blog, Youth Sports Parents, is a great way to follow the evolution. His latest recommends that we consider banning youth sports tournaments on national holidays.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

New book looks at growth, coverage of women's basketball

Christine Baker, a writer and avid sports fan, has compiled excerpts of her interviews with top figures in women's basketball -- including Val Ackerman, Tamika Catchings, Donna Lopiano, and Diana Taurasi -- in a new book called "Why She Plays." I talk a little in the book about the struggles of the WNBA to gain a large media audience. For more about the book, visit Baker's Web site.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sports, media, politics: An alliance

The election-eve appearances of Barack Obama and John McCain on Monday Night Football tonight mark the second presidential election in a row when the candidates made their final, national televised appearance in a sports venue (In 2004, Kerry and Bush appeared on SportsCenter.) The partnership of politics and sports has been a natural pairing in the U.S. for as long as the two have been institutionalized -- both are sites for the display of masculine power, and some might argue that sports is a microcosm of the wider political landscape.
The partnership isn't only for the TV cameras. The NFL this year became the second sports league to form its own PAC, where owners, team CEOs and league executives invest in influencing the electoral process to secure favorable outcomes on legislative proposals that could cut into profits.