Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Redefining or reinforcing tired stereotypes?

Marketing materials touting "SportsBabes," an online sports show that launches tomorrow, promise a "groundbreaking" program. Why? Apparently because the "super attractive women" who will host the show -- including a former beauty queen, a "Latina-lovely," and a "super-cute Texas native" -- are also intelligent and "super sports savvy." The women will host daily shows that last about 5 minutes, and the creator Smashtube hopes to snag (surprise!) sports fans in the coveted 20- and 30-something demographic through online channels such as YouTube.
Never mind the assumption behind this ad -- that most women are not intelligent or savvy. What's groundbreaking about positioning women in sports-related programming as "eye candy?"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The sports pages meet the First Amendment

Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander, who has been a vocal activist in relationship to the situation facing "Game of Shadows" authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, told Penn State sports journalism students tonight to speak out about threats to the freedom of all journalists. Telander, who helped organize a demonstration in San Francisco by sports journalists last year, said he hadn't paid much attention to issues involving the First Amendment until this one -- perhaps the first involving investigative sports journalism. Telander also told students that he is in favor of a certification or licensure system for journalists.

Friday, January 19, 2007

ESPN praised for gay-friendly coverage

Clyde Zeigler, Jr., a founder of Outsports, has written an article for the Web site praising ESPN for what he says is the network's "history of gay-friendly actions that have separated it from much of the rest of the sports world." He cites ESPN's record of stories addressing homophobia in sports, its hiring of gay journalists (such as LZ Granderson at The Magazine) and the network's role as a sponsor of the Gay Games in 2006. He says there is "still work to be done" at the network, but Zeigler presents plenty of evidence that ESPN is resisting the homophobia that often accompanies the locker-room mentality in sports.

The (virtual) reality: Our changing definitions of sports

Early in the spring semester, I talk to my Sports, Media and Society class about the definition of sports. Yesterday, after my class wrestled with whether poker, hunting and fishing, and competitive ballroom dancing are sports, I caught a piece on NPR's Marketplace about another potential "sport" with its own superstar athletes: video gaming, which, as an industry, has more revenues than the NFL, NBA and MLB combined.