Monthly Archives: February 2014

LeBron James Post-Practice Dunk Show

BY KEVIN JENKINS

After the Miami Heat practice on Monday, the media was in for a surprise from LeBron James. No one expected LeBron to put on a post-practice dunk show.

LeBron has teased the media every year regarding his participation in the slam dunk contest. His electrifying dunks throughout the season have always brought up questions related to his absence in the slam dunk contest every year.

The show he put on after practice Monday raised questions from the media regarding why he doesn’t want to be in the slam dunk contest.

The dunks he performed after practice were simply athletic. Dwayne Wade even recorded the dunks and said he feels like LeBron has wings sometimes.

On ESPN First Take Tuesday (Feb.11), Skip Bayless voiced his opinion on LeBron’s post-practice dunk show. Skip despises the way LeBron handles the dunk contest controversies every year and he even called LeBron a child because he feels he is avoiding the slam dunk contest.

Calling him a child was something Skip didn’t have to say. I say this because Skip is judging LeBron off his post-practice dunks where he is just having fun. There is so much pressure on great athletes entering the slam dunk contest. I’m curious to know why the media puts so much pressure on these athletes in participating in the slam dunk contest.

Even though LeBron is taunting us with his post-practice show, he has said plenty of times that he is not a slam dunk contest guy.

The media should put this to rest and no longer call out LeBron for refusing to participate in the slam dunk contest.

Expression from reporters and analysts on the Cowboy shoving a Raider

By Anthony Cornwell Jr.

On February 8, 2014 near the end of a game, Oklahoma State, Marcus Smart, shoved Texas Tech fan, Jeff Orr, after reported hearing a racial slur.

Kelly Hines, beat writer for Oklahoma State University’s basketball team, was the first reporter on ESPN to address the issue of Marcus Smart’s incident.

Hines was in shock to the incident reporting that “Smart is a very nice guy, answers any question you asks him, and answers with yes ma’am no ma’am.

Seth Greenberg, ESPN College Basketball analyst, said that officials did a terrible job. “Marcus Smart should have been ejected . . . the fan [Orr] should be held accountable as well” he said. “The image that he created in the past month has hurt his draft stock and has even put his coach’s job in jeopardy.”

In the past month, Smart has been accused of flopping during games and also kicking a chair on the sideline in a game against West Virginia.

ESPN brought up ideas about having more security on the baselines or to move the fans back a few rows. This way when a player goes into the stands, it prevents these kinds of incidents.

Jay Bilas, another ESPN College Basketball analyst, was the first to report that Marcus Smart had been called the N word. Bilas also disagrees with ESPN and fellow colleague Greenberg.
“He was in the stands because he was trying to make a play . . . kicking a chair against West Virginia has no ties to this incident” Bilas said.

Each analyst/reporter that commented on this incident this week did a great job being unbiased. As more information was revealed during the week the analysts seemed to agree that Orr should be dealt with and Smart should be suspended.

It’s instances like these that show how the media is getting better with situations like this.

Golden Opportunity Missed

BY BRANDON SHRIDER

I’m disappointed. Shaun White lost to a kid…

Sure, this could be my opinion on the Sochi Olympic half pipe results, but instead, it is how ESPN chose to reveal the story.

The news of the day wasn’t Iouri Podladtchikov winning his first Olympic gold medal, at least not in the eyes of ESPN.

However, it is this notion that gives cause for concern.

Shaun White, while having an illustrious and victory-filled career, didn’t do anything on the day of the half pipe event to warrant any media coverage. In fact, he failed to place in the top three, and did not seize the opportunity to set a record for three consecutive Olympics with a gold medal.

Instead, he lost, but this is what the viewers were presented with as it scrolled across the bottom of the screen on ESPN. Mention of Podladtchikov was scarce, and the coverage of the well-anticipated event became nonexistent.

The well-hyped event virtually dissipated into the sports media as a proclamation by LeBron James stole the headlines.

So, LeBron James refers to himself as great and Shaun White loses at the Olympics, but these two stories garner more coverage than the victory by the Heat, or the gold medal for Iouri Podladtchikov.

Quite simply, ESPN plays the name game.

If you have the notorious name, you will receive the repeated attention as opposed to those deserving. A story will then be constructed out of information not worthy of such a story and losing might very well become the new winner.

Certainly, Shaun White failed to capitalize on a great opportunity, but ESPN failed to do the same.

Time Difference Ruining Olympic Viewing Experience

BY STEVEN KUBITZA

The excitement of watching live sports in real-time is the suspense. Anything can happen at any moment and those watching in real-time will all take in the events simultaneously as they happen.

Things are a little different for Americans viewing the Winter Olympics.

Sochi is nine hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so the events of the Olympics are long over before the NBC primetime broadcast airs.

This gap of time creates a situation in which the events are already over and reported on before they air. Sure, the events can be viewed as they happen online, but they occur at odd hours of the day so it is often far more convenient to view them in primetime.

This results in events ending and the results being known before they can air on television.

A simple solution to the problem? Don’t go online or watch television until the primetime broadcast airs. However, that is simply not how people function in today’s world. They do not have a strong argument to complain about seeing the results early if they do in fact go online or watch television, but it is still frustrating for viewers.

Shaun White failed to win his third straight gold medal in men’s half pipe as he came in fourth, and this was known early in the afternoon on Tuesday. The event did not air on NBC until late Tuesday night, so instead of watching to see if he would win a medal, viewers tuned in to watch why he did not win. Not exactly a viewing filled with excitement.

There is nothing that can be done about the time difference in Sochi. It is just something that has to be dealt with when watching events that are in different parts of the world.

However, it seems that there is little need for American news outlets to publicize the results of events before they air on American television. (Yes, the events are all available live online, but the majority of people watching the Olympics will do so with televisions).

It is an issue with the age of instant information and the need to know what is happening the second it is happening.

So until people completely shut themselves out from all media during the day, which takes a special kind of self-discipline, spoilers will continue to exist and be discovered for any event that is airing on a tape delay.

Sam I am … Gay

BY BRANDON SHRIDER

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

This quote became famous when professional basketball player, Jason Collins announced his homosexuality to the world and became the first openly gay professional team athlete.

Coincidentally, a very similar utterance was made by former University of Missouri defensive end, Michael Sam in an ESPN interview in which Sam states:

“I’m a college graduate. I’m African American. And I’m gay.”

The parallel between these two statements go beyond the text itself. These two athletes have unquestionably become pioneers for further acceptance of those who associate with the LGBT community.

However, this relation between the statements of Collins and Sam are not brought to attention by the media, instead, the media has focused their attention to the “shock” that this courageous stance by Sam has provoked.

Sure, listening to the co-defensive player of the best Division I collegiate football conference announce to the world that he is openly gay may come as a surprise, but that should not warrant the startling and overwhelming response by the media.

If we, as the media, continue to act in such a manner to a subject that we’ve tried to integrate, then the question arises: How much progress has really been made?

Thus, the indictment to the media is the overreaction to the lone action by Michael Sam as opposed to analyzing his action, its relation to history, and its impact on the future.

Certainly, ESPN was able to compile the opinions of a plethora of reporters and former players including Mel Kiper Jr., Jeff Saturday, Antonio Pierce, Herman Edwards, among many others. These “special guests” were able to provide input on his elevation or lack thereof for Sam’s NFL draft stock, how his identity will be accepted in an NFL locker room, and the media coverage that will accompany him and his team as he reaches the next level.

While these make for popular entertainment and leisure conversation, they fail to address the vital story that is, Michael Sam has a chance to innovate the way professional team sports handle and accept media attention, and how gay athletes are entirely accepted by the community of team contact sports.

Sam has a chance to innovate professional football much the same way that Jackie Robinson innovated professional baseball by metaphorically “breaking” the color barrier.
Certainly the play of Sam in between the lines will ultimately dictate the future impact that Sam will have on NFL history, but it’s the opportunity now presented to Sam that should be embraced.

And its this notion that should become the real story, and propel a coming out party for the entire LGBT community, and the acceptance of this lifestyle into professional sports.

National Signing Day: Worth the Hype?

BY KATIE ROTH

Forget Christmas in July, how about Christmas in February? At least that’s what it feels like to many college football fans as they patiently wait every year for the first Wednesday in February to see the big bold print, “National Signing Day”, line on the top of ESPN.

Over the past few years the popularity of National Signing Day has grown immensely with the help of the national sports media. It almost seems as though this day has become one of the most important days in college football, gaining more attention than many of the bowl games played at the end of the season.

Media from every sports network all over the country gather around the 5 star recruits and their families to see what school they have decided to attend to continue their football careers.
This is a huge day in these young athletes’ lives, not only for them, but for their families, coaches, and teammates as well. Gradually though, we see this becoming an even bigger day for the media and fans.

You cannot tune into any type of sports media on this day without seeing coverage of high school athletes signing papers. In fact this year ESPNU strictly showed coverage of National Signing Day the entire day.

The real question that needs to be answered here is if this coverage is actually worth it.
Fans spend the entire day glued to sports media websites and broadcasts to celebrate the signing of players who have yet to prove themselves at the collegiate level.

The analysts on ESPN put together rankings for the top recruiting classes every year based on the amount of top recruits the teams sign throughout the day. This all seems like a good way to analyze the up and coming players and their teams; until you take a look back at some of the top recruiting classes in the past few years and see that many of them really amounted to nothing.

A perfect example of this would be the Tennessee Volunteer football program. Year in and year out the program signs top recruits from all over the nation and land their recruiting class in the top 20 and many times the top 10, yet they still come up with negative results ending each season as an unranked team. You can imagine the heartbreak that the Volunteer faithful go through at the end of each season after listening to all the hype that circulates around National Signing Day and their great recruiting classes.

Fans get all caught up in the hype of National Signing Day and start to believe whatever the sports reporters are telling them. In the end, sometimes it all works out and the player may turn out to be one of the greats of the game for instance Cam Newton, a 5 star QB recruit who led his team to a National Championship in 2011 also winning the Heisman Trophy in the same year and now has begun what is looking like a promising career in the NFL.

Unfortunately though, more times than not the case is more similar to players like Dayne Crist and Garrett Gilbert. Both prospects were 5 star QB’s at the top of their recruiting classes who were hyped up by the media to be the next big star of college football and did not make it. In fact, both of these players lost their job as the starting QB before their season even ended.

Don’t get me wrong, I, like many college football fans, love to see the new recruits who are signing to play with my favorite teams. The media on National Signing Day just takes it to the next level, telling fans to watch out for so and so players to take over the game and become the best in the nation without ever really seeing them play.

The media could make this day just as special just by showing the players who they are signing to play with, then waiting until the season comes to let the players’ performance talk for themselves.

Immediate Overreaction to Marcus Smart Incident

BY LOREN BRANCH

Towards the end of the February 8, 2014 match up between Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, star point guard Marcus Smart had a very unexpected and unfortunate altercation with Tech’s “super fan” Jeff Orr.

After committing a hard foul on Tech’s Jaye Crockett, Smart fell into the stands where Orr clearly said something that provoked him. He quickly got on his feet, stepped closer to the fan, they briefly exchanged words and Smart ended the conversation by shoving Orr.

Smart surprisingly was only given a technical foul and was allowed to sit on the bench for what little time was left in the game. Despite the severity of this incident, some of the media’s initial comments and coverage were definitely overreactions.

Immediately following the incident, SportsCenter flashed to a live look in of the game, which was introduced with this line; “apparently Marcus Smart just hit a fan.”

There was no reason to jump to the statement that Smart “hit” the fan because the video clearly showed that it was a push. This may have been caused by miscommunication, but regardless; there is no need to blow a negative incident out of proportion right after it occurs. Reports on such sensitive issues should be 100% accurate from start to finish based on what is known; assumptions and miscommunications should not come into play.

The biggest and most unnecessary overreactions were all the comparisons to Ron Artest. During the aftermath of the altercation, one of the announcers covering the game along with countless other members of the media, compared Smart’s actions to those of Ron Artest during the Pacers-Pistons brawl.

The ONLY reason these two incidents can be compared is because they involved a men’s basketball player in the stands getting involved with fans in a negative way. Marcus Smart did not hop up three rows and start a riot. He shoved one guy who allegedly called him a racial slur; there is a huge difference between these players and these events.

At the end of the day, I’ve noticed that the media always seems to overreact in these types of situations because they have to report and react so quickly. However, I feel like the saying “think before you act” comes into play here. Reports should be accurate based on knowledge and unnecessary comparisons that blow things out of proportion should not be made, period.

Half Time At the Super Bowl

By Kia Tyus

Quarterbacks were the main topic of conversation during this year’s Super Bowl half-time commentary. The broadcast team also analyzed each team’s performance and how they should adjust play in the second half.

When talking about the Baltimore Ravens, the broadcasters’ main focus was on quarterback Joe Flacco. He had an exceptional first-half and threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The commentators paid special attention to Flacco’s ability to move around and get himself open for a throw.

The Ravens’ defense was another topic. Commentators painted the defense as bullies toward the 49ers.

On the 49ers, commentators focused on quarterback Colin Kaepernick and how he looked inexperienced and uncomfortable in the first half.

The Ravens’ special teams received sharp criticism from the commentators for their kick-off coverage.

To close the half, the commentators used a statistic to describe how improbable a 49ers comeback would be. Only two teams in NFL history have come back to win after trailing by more than 10 points, they said.

Super Bowl Halftime Show

BY KIA TYUS

The announcers for the Super Bowl Half Time Report sounded like they weren’t impressed with the first half of the game, while they were discussing different plays. The announcers voices had emphasizes when they were making key points about the different topics that they were discussing.

Michael Strahan, Howie Long, and Jimmie Johnson did a great job putting the focus on both teams instead of just one.

When discussing the play of Seattle, they started off talking about the incredible Seahawks defense. They keyed out Marshawn Lynch’s sub par performance and talked about what he could do to improve in the second half. They also made a point to acknowledge the play of Russell Wilson. They talked about how he is great at making plays out of broken ones.

When discussing the Broncos, the announcers were not so kind. They first discussed how they thought the game would be closer. Then, they discussed how terrible the offensive line was and how they needed to protect Peyton Manning if they wanted to have a chance to come back. Finally, they talked about how the Broncos as a whole could come back in the game. The announcers almost sounded like a bunch of coaches but that’s probably because they all have been former coaches and players in the NFL.

The announcers also knew the history of the Super Bowl pointing out that the only other time a team had been shut out in the first half of the Super Bowl was the Indiana Colts and The Baltimore Ravens. The Colts were shut out 10-0 at the end of the first half.

During the half time show they also took a point to promote a movie and praise Bruno Mars halftime performance. This was interesting to me because they didn’t just focus on football the entire time. They also acknowledged the other activities and upcoming events that were happening.