Monthly Archives: February 2020

My Super Bowl LIV Experience

By Pershelle Rohrer

February 23, 2020

Pershelle Rohrer is a first-year BGSU student from Logan, Utah. She is a Sport Management major with a minor in Journalism. Her primary sports interests are football, basketball, and baseball, both at the professional and collegiate levels.

At this time three weeks ago, I was in a car coming home from a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For eight days I had been in Miami, Florida with seven other Bowling Green State University students volunteering at the Super Bowl. This is an opportunity that I applied for through the university’s Sport Management Alliance. I spent much of the semester following the NFL and waiting to see which teams would make the trip to Miami to play in the big game in February. After an exciting playoff race, the battle for the Lombardi Trophy came down to the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. While in Miami, I interacted with both fan bases in the week leading up to the game as well as NFL fans from all over the world. 

 Just hours after our arrival in Florida the Monday before the Super Bowl, we attended Super Bowl Opening Night at Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins. The event was covered heavily by the media, as it was televised on NFL Network. Both teams were introduced on the floor, and interviews with stars like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Richard Sherman followed. We were each given a radio earpiece upon our arrival that allowed us to listen to different players while we walked around the concourse participating in different activities. We took individual and group pictures and met Miami Dolphins players Christian Wilkins and Charles Harris. Harris liked the Dirk Nowitzki shirt I was wearing, saying, “He’s my guy.” 

Throughout the week I didn’t go a day without seeing a Kobe Bryant jersey somewhere. Bryant was involved in a helicopter accident the day before our arrival, and moments of silence were held on the plane as we landed in Miami and at Super Bowl Opening Night at Marlins Park. Many players in the interviews were asked what Bryant meant to them or about his legacy. The media was able to unite the sports world by crossing football with basketball and covering two major events at the same time, and it was fascinating to watch up close. American Airlines Arena and a couple other buildings in Miami were lit up in purple and orange that night as sports fans mourned the loss of an NBA legend.

On Tuesday, we went to Bayfront Park to work at Super Bowl LIVE, an outdoor fan experience in the heart of Miami. This event was covered on the Super Bowl Host Committee’s Instagram account in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, and it featured various places for photo opportunities, food tents, live music, a large football field, and carnival games for kids. While this event was the main thing covered by the host committee on social media, I did not see as many individuals from the media making their way around the park. The majority of coverage I saw was at the Super Bowl Experience in the Miami Beach Convention Center.

We were at the convention center Wednesday through Saturday, working multiple volunteer shifts on three of those days. The Super Bowl Experience was an indoor fan fest that featured football activities like field goal kicking, Hail Mary, and NFL combine events. It also included photo opportunities with the Lombardi Trophy, a Super Bowl ring display, autograph signings from NFL players, and other displays showcasing the NFL’s history that spans one hundred years. 

The Super Bowl Experience is where I truly saw the media at work. One of my classmates ran the obstacle course with a Los Angeles television reporter, who recommended a Cuban restaurant that ended up being a highlight of our week. Media covering the Chiefs took footage of their cheerleaders and mascot trying out the course. I spent most of my time working at the Hail Mary station where fans threw footballs into nets at various distances, and we had several reporters participate for television coverage. The media ensured that the event received exposure nationwide, creating the potential for more fans to attend in future years. Fans were enthusiastic and enjoyed participating in the games and meeting current and former players like Lamar Jackson, Dan Marino, and Rob Gronkowski. While not everyone was able to attend the Super Bowl, the Super Bowl Experience permitted anyone in the Miami area to get involved in the celebrations leading up to the big game.

Super Bowl Sunday was a hectic, exciting experience. We worked On the Fifty VIP party for some of the highest paying guests in the stadium. Six BGSU students worked inside the party and two of us participated in wayfinding and ushering in fans. From my post outside of the party, I saw Bruce Matthews and several other members of the NFL 100 All-Time team, Venus Williams, and Urban Meyer. Joe Theismann and Dan Marino were a couple of familiar names inside the party. As game time approached, we switched into our new role of finding fans in the suites who purchased post-game field access. We directed them where to go and what credential they would need. After having a break for halftime and part of the third quarter, we made our way back to the concourse outside the suites to try to catch any straggling fans with post-game field credentials. While I was there, I saw Larry Fitzgerald, without any security personnel in sight, meeting with fans, and a World War II veteran celebrating his one hundredth birthday. Photographers were taking his picture and thanking him for his service, celebrating his milestone. Other media personnel followed celebrities that I couldn’t pick out as they made their way in and out of the suites. 

Participating in the Super Bowl LIV experience is something I will never forget, and the interactions with enthusiastic toddlers to 100-year-old war veterans, fans, and celebrities helped me truly understand the influence that sports have on people from all walks of life. I would like to thank Bowling Green State University and SMA for granting me the opportunity to participate in the Super Bowl festivities. I am thankful for the chance I was given to represent BGSU, and I look forward to doing so as I continue to further my career in sports.

With five minutes left in the game, I made my way into the stairwell to take my post for directing fans to the field. While there, I listened to the Chiefs’ comeback on the radio. Knowing what was coming, I prepared myself for the hundreds of excited members of “Chiefs Kingdom” as they sprinted down the stairs toward the field, screaming and cheering as they went. After our job was over, we took in the postgame scene from the stands. The sight of confetti on the ground, some of which I took home with me, and the Kansas City Chiefs colors lighting up the stadium was incredible to see, especially since I have watched the Super Bowl from my living room every year since I can remember. 

Conspiracy Theories, Scandals and Public Trials: The Houston Astros Investigation on Twitter

By Griffin Olah

Griffin is a second-year undergraduate BGSU student from North Ridgeville, Ohio. He is a Sport Management major and a Journalism minor. His primary sports interests are baseball and football, both collegiate and professional, but he is also interested in basketball, MMA, boxing and hockey

The Houston Astros are a topic that has been discussed ad nauseam within the sports world. Everyone is focusing on the punishment, the crimes, and the reactions. The investigation, however, is no longer the focus. If you remember back to the middle of January, however, you may remember the craziest day in recent baseball history. This is the day that social media handed down the confirmation of the Astros cheating scandal that the MLB was looking for. Instead of a private investigation, the Houston Astros were tried by the public eye for the world to see, spawning some of the greatest stories in recent memory.

Once allegations came down, a relatively unknown podcast host and Yankees fan by the name of Jimmy “Jomboy” O’Brien saw his following grow faster than he could ever imagine. O’Brien, the proprietor of Jomboy Media, was best known for posting the video of Aaron Boone’s now-infamous “Savages in that Box” rant on Twitter (Young, 2019). When he saw the Astros allegations, however, he transformed into internet sleuth. When the world was in disbelief of the claims of the Astros cheating, O’Brien delivered a bombshell packed into a simple 2:20 video on Twitter. O’Brien cracked the code and found video proof the Astros cheated.

O’Brien’s initial tweet was retweeted over 37,000 times and liked more than 100,000 times. A lesser-known media man was now an internet sensation and the leading authority on everything Astros related. Then, the talk about buzzers leaked and Jomboy Media again went to work to expose the latest scandal. O’Brien found a new image containing what may have been an electronic buzzer on Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos’s batting glove. 

At the same time as O’Brien’s image came to light, a new account vied for interest. After the Astros fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, the Red Sox firing manager Alex Cora and the Mets firing their manager Carlos Beltran, it seemed like the scandal was done. Then, the buzzers came to light. 

A private account on Twitter, @S0_blessed1, began a tweetstorm that changed the landscape of MLB. The anonymous account accused Astros superstars Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman of wearing buzzers under their jerseys to relay signs to them. Curiously, the account apologized to their “tio,” which means uncle in Spanish. Speculation immediately ran as to who the uncle was and why this person was exposing more possible methods used by the Astros on their way to a now tainted World Series victory. 

As the identity of @S0_blessed1 was being searched for, many reputable sources agreed with the account’s claims. Cincinnati Reds pitcher and noted critic of the Astros Trevor Bauer confirmed that he had heard talk within MLB about the Astros wearing buzzers. O’Brien also confirmed he was hearing similar things from sources in MLB. 

Amid this media storm, many people were looking for the identity of the anonymous account. Based on the “tio” comment, many pointed to Carlos Beltran, the disgraced former Mets manager. Since the account broke the news of Beltran’s firing days before the Mets formally announced it or any other major media outlets carried it, many believed the owner of the account was close to the former player and manager. 

Twitter then took the bait from Beltran’s “niece” and ran with it. Kenny Ducey found the home run in the ALCS that was mentioned in the “niece’s” tweets and slowed down the end of Altuve’s trot. The slow-mo video seems to show Altuve holding his jersey tight against his body and telling the mob of teammates at home plate to not rip off his jersey. Then, there is the disputed audio of Altuve possibly saying “I’m wearing a wire.” 

That last part, as already stated, had been disputed. Some have said that it is Altuve speaking Spanish, which many people would not be able to lip read and equate to a wire. Altuve himself did not dispute the fact that he didn’t want his jersey torn off, telling dugout reporter Ken Rosenthal that he, “got in trouble with [his] wife” for taking his shirt off on television in the past (Garro, 2019, para. 9). In the past few days, Carlos Correa came out and confirmed that Altuve’s wife was not happy with him for taking his shirt off and also mentioned an “unfinished tattoo that looked kinda bad” on his collarbone that he didn’t want to show on television (Anderson, 2020, para. 7). 

Obviously, possible proof that Altuve was wearing a wire in the 2019 postseason, which was not part of the Commissioner’s Report, would make the scandal grow even more with possibly worse repercussions. While immunity was granted to the players in relation to the investigation into the 2017 iteration of the sign-stealing scheme, a new investigation may not be so kind. The potential ramifications are mind-numbing to think of, and the accusations themselves destroy any possible respect or goodwill for the team. 

Without Twitter and the dedication of the public to get to the truth, none of this would come to light. While the Commissioner conducted his own report, the findings are limited when compared to the scope of the Twitter investigation. Clearly, all Twitter sources are not to be trusted, and some here are untrustworthy. As the days wore on and the tweets from @S0_blessed1 became more and more ludicrous and eventually disappearing, the account’s credibility was called into question. Eventually, it was determined that the account was run by a noted Twitter troll, or someone who dispenses false information for comedic or personal value, and almost none of the information was considered true. But if the account made up all its claims, why is there so much evidence supporting it? 

Twitter is often seen as a cesspool of false and fake information, which is true in part. Some believe that it has no value in modern society, which can also be true. Nobody, though, can diminish the role that social media, and Twitter, in particular, played in the investigation into the Astros’ nefarious ways. One of the main principles of journalism is to be the watchdog for larger government entities, corporations, and organizations. On January 16. 2020, Twitter took on that role and conducted its own investigation. Without internet sleuths like Jomboy, Kenny Dacey and so many others, the full extent of this scheme may never have been realized. Maybe in the future, Twitter and the public as a whole can solve more of these mysteries and bring to light the wrongdoings of teams, organizations, corporations and other massive entities like the Houston Astros.

References

Anderson, R.J. (2020, February 16). Astros’ Carlos Correa fires back at Cody Bellinger, reveals new reason why Altuve didn’t want jersey removed. CBS Sports. Retrieved from: https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/astros-carlos-correa-fires-back-at-cody-bellinger-reveals-new-reason-why-altuve-didnt-want-jersey-removed/

Bauer, Trevor [@BauerOutage]. (2020, January 16). I’ve heard this from multiple parties too, for what it’s worth…[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/BauerOutage/status/1217888647468310528?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1217888647468310528&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fsports.yahoo.com%2Fa-new-astros-cheating-conspiracy-theory-has-set-twitter-ablaze-205503577.html

Ducey, Kenny [@KennyDucey]. (2020, January 16). Altuve making sure he keeps that jersey on (via r/nyyankees)[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/KennyDucey/status/1217888139072745474

Garro, A. (2019, October 19). Congrats to the Astros for clinching a trip to the World Series in the most adorable way possible. Cut4. Retrieved from: https://www.mlb.com/cut4/jose-altuve-keeps-jersey-on-after-winning-alcs-with-homer

Jomboy [@Jomboy_]. (2019, November 19). Astros using cameras to steal signs, a breakdown[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/jomboy_/status/1194348775965437952?lang=en.

Jomboy [@Jomboy_]. (2019, November 18). I have no idea what an electronic buzzer looks like but someone just sent me this as a ‘maybe that’s[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/jomboy_/status/1196525061659906050?lang=en

Oz, M. (2020, January 16). A new Astros cheating conspiracy theory has sent Twitter into a frenzy. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved from: https://sports.yahoo.com/a-new-astros-cheating-conspiracy-theory-has-set-twitter-ablaze-205503577.html

Young, D. (2019, August 17). Jomboy is obviously good for baseball, and the Yankees should lighten up. New York Daily News. Retrieved from: https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/ny-jomboy-savages-mlb-bill-simmons-20190817-hho4pn2mlvcghjdmlozroxh4se-story.html

A Moment the Media Missed

February 2, 2020

By Kelsey Kohlman

Kelsey Kohlman graduated from BGSU’s Sport Management program in December 2013 and has been working at ESPN in the Stats and Information Group (SIG).

It was December of 2013 in my final week of being an intern for the Charlotte Bobcats (Hornets). The Lakers had just beaten Charlotte in a close game, and I was doing my normal postgame intern duties of going back and forth from the court, to the locker room tunnels, to the printer, to the media room, etc. However, soon that night was going to be unforgettable.

There was a young boy decked out in Kobe gear from head to toe in the tunnel leading to the locker rooms. Literally, I didn’t know that many Laker accessories existed lol. He was a quadriplegic in a motorized wheelchair with a trachea coming out of his throat. I couldn’t help but notice he was beaming with excitement everytime I walked past him.

A few minutes later, I just so happened to walk by the boy again (with a cart full of monitors) just as Kobe was coming out of the locker room. This was the boy’s “Make a Wish.” Since the hallway was too narrow to squeeze past, I got the pleasure of witnessing such a heart-warming interaction that I will never forget.

This wasn’t a 1 minute hello and good bye. Kobe squatted and put his arm around the boy’s shoulder and they started talking like they had known each other for ages. No awkward silence, no forced interaction, no sad puppy eyes, and no negative annoyance body language that some celebs may show when doing a “checkbox” quota meet and greet. It felt more genuine than I would have ever imagined.

The parents were standing near me, behind their son, probably because they didn’t want their son to see them bawling uncontrollably. Their happiness and being overcome by emotion was so evident, it made me tear up.

Kobe, the boy, and both parents then began walking toward my office, to an empty room where they could all chat in a more private setting. As I followed not far behind to continue on with my work, I just couldn’t get over how genuine Kobe looked/felt/sounded, how overly-happy this child was, and how something so simple can mean so much to a struggling situation..if done right. And Kobe did it all right that night.

Kobe was never a favorite for me, but seeing that interaction has always “hit” and stuck with me. I’ve told this story many times before because those few minutes were so shockingly heartfelt.

Millions of these “moments” happen each year. Am I saying Kobe was the best person to walk the planet? No. But I am saying people have so many sides to them. A superstar athlete can have a tender touch and a warm heart. A person that has had rough acts in the past can rebound and evolve into something greater.

Thank you Kobe for that memory. It will never fade, and in my eyes, it was better than anything you had ever done with a basketball.