By Alex O’Connor
With the monster year that Rory McIlroy had in 2014, the golf world is starting to wonder if a new trend setter has emerged in the industry. McIlroy has won four major championships, including two in the past year and is only twenty-five years old. The phrase “future of golf” has been connected to his name as he has won two majors in the past year and had numerous other top-10 finishes in 2014. Recently, golf legend Colin Montgomerie exalted McIlroy while putting a struggling Tiger Woods down even further. In regards to McIlroy’s current playing, Montogmerie reported to Kicca.com that “Is he going to be able to get back, not just to the levels he was, but better than that? Because that’s where Rory McIlroy’s taken the standard of golf: to one level beyond where Tiger was.” In regards to the potential of McIlroy wining all four majors in a year, “That’s another question on people’s lips within our game. Can he win all four in a year, never mind two.” The level of dominance McIlroy has shown in the last year has been impressive, but a question needs to be risen if the high praise from Montgomerie is warranted in the right ways.
The UK Daily Mail took numerous excerpts from Montgomerie’s interview to shape their article about how McIlroy is on the rise, though editor Chris Cutmore did emphasize Woods’ impressive resume. Cutmore noted the fourteen majors that Woods has won as well as his longest-standing number one record for a large majority of his McIlroy’s career. Once Cutmore acknowledged Woods’ accomplishments, he emphasized Montgomerie’s comments while incorporating McIlroy’s impressive performance over the past few years. While Woods has recently had a change in swing coach and has been hampered by injuries for the past year, media presence has been relatively negative surrounding him. Woods has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, and played competitively in a limited capacity in 2014. The new reports by The UK Daily Mail as well as on Kicca.com have supplemented the negative media attention around Woods.
In the current state of golf, there may be a changing of power in golf. Tiger Woods has been the face of the gold world for almost fifteen years, but his injuries may be limiting him. Currently, Rory McIlroy has been given the rank of Number one in the world and has no signs of slowing up. Colin Montogmerie’s comments are yet another knock to Tiger Woods and he will need to overcome his troubles in the media as well as on the golf course.
By Alex O’Connor
On Monday in an interview with Lance McAlister of 700 WLW in Cincinnati, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel a “midget” when referring to the uncertainty of who will be at quarterback for the Browns and the potential game plans that the defense will try to plan for. When Lewis first apologized on Tuesday, he cited that he was sorry to the Browns fans, employees as well as Johnny Manziel. However, he neglected to mention the fact that the word “midget” has a universal effect on society that expands much further than Manziel and the Browns organization. Today, Lewis apologized for the second time, citing “I’m aware that my comment on local radio last night was offensive to people of short stature and to their families and friends.” The second apology was submitted via the Bengals Twitter account, showing an additional insincere gesture on behalf of both parties. Lewis essentially had to “right is wrong” twice, and had to do it both times in the public eye.
Several media and outside organizations have heavily criticized Lewis’ comments as well the manner in which he apologized. The Little People of America is just one example of a group that finds the word offensive and alienating. The Little People of America is an organization that provides support to individuals of short stature and commented that the word has several negative connotations and is often used as an insult. In addition, NBCSports.com has received numerous Bengals fans’ messages regarding the comments made by Lewis. They take aim at the coach, noting that “It’s straight wrong, unmoral, and ignorant” as well as, “I’m a fan of the Bengals, but Marvin just left the most disgusting taste in my mouth.” The general consensus at NBC Sports is that the “m-word is a word that all of us should remove from our vocabularies.”
I understand that coaches can sometimes over-exaggerate their point in the heat of the moment. However, the way Lewis and the Bengals used social media to convey their second apology was not right. First off, only one apology was necessary, and they simply messed it up the first time. National media had the right to critique the statement and ultimately put pressure on Lewis and the organization to make another one. The Little People of America also had the right to emphasize that the Browns and Manziel are not the only ones being effected by Lewis’ comments. The second time should have been conveyed through a communication medium other than social media. The entire situation that has unfolded has also indirectly heightened the intensity of the game on Sunday. Lewis and the Bengals handled the situation poorly, and now have to deal with the media and organizational scrutiny that they are receiving.
By Alex O’Connor
This Monday, umpire Dale Scott became the first MLB umpire to come out as gay. He is not only the first in his sport to come out while active, but within all four major sports (MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL). Scott has been an umpire at the Major League level for 29 seasons. He has also been with his partner for 28 years. The news was released through a photo of Scott with partner Michael Rausch in Reference magazine. The photo submitted was of the two on a plane attending the opening MLB series in Japan this past year. In addition, this magazine only has roughly 45,000 subscribers and might be a hint that he was letting the outside world know in a very reserved manner that he was gay.
The news was first reported by Outsports, which is a California-based media company that focuses on sport figures who decide to come out as gay. Outsports also tracks the influence of gay sport figures in all sports across the world. With an interview with Outsports regarding his reasons for coming out, Scott noted that “I didn’t want to be making some coming out story, some banner headline, because that’s not how I operate.” What I am taking from this quote is that Scott knew the recent process of athletes coming out as pioneers for the sport (Michael Sam, Jason Collins) and the flurry of media attention that has been focused on them. Most notably with Michael Sam, he had not even played a regular season snap and was getting as much focus within the media as someone like Johnny Manziel. Even though Scott is not a player, the argument can be made that he would receiving as much media attention as the players above due to him being the first of his profession. Scott is the first umpire in all four major sports, Sam was the first NFL player and Collins was the first NBA player.
The significance of Scott coming out is that his actions may be the motivation that other non-athletes in the sport industry need to come out. Though this may not be the case, it is something that the media needs to adjust to. However, Scott gave very little room for sport media exploitation in his circumstance. Due to Scott’s limited media involvement, he has respectfully kept his story from expanding into a larger role in the sport media spectrum.
By Alex O’Connor
On Saturday, the Syracuse Crunch played the Utica Comets in the Carrier Dome on the campus of Syracuse University. The game was known as the “Frozen Dome Classic” and was the first of its kind in the American Hockey League. The Carrier Dome is not a hockey facility and was an event that could expand the horizons for the AHL. With the recent successes of outdoor games in the NHL, the AHL tried something just slightly different. The Syracuse Crunch currently play at the Oncenter War Memorial Arena in downtown Syracuse, where the game was originally supposed to be held. This new event created positive media buzz for local and national reporters, and was generally raved as a solid and successful debut event.
As the event reached national attention, NHL.com has taken notice. Reporter Kinsey Janke noted that there have been several games outdoors in non-hockey facilities, but none that would be played indoors at a non-hockey facility. Crunch owner Howard Dolgon noted that “The chance to be the first hockey game in the Dome and strive to break not only the AHL record but the U.S. professional indoor record, that really drove us to move ahead with this.” The Carrier Dome has the capacity to exceed 49,000 occupants and would easily break the previous record of outdoor and non traditional games at a mark of 45,653 set by a game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. The final attendance mark for this game was 30,715. The implications of this number is that the Crunch-Comets game broke the indoor record for most fans at a professional hockey game. This mark broke the record set by the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 1996. However, this did not break the attendance mark for most fans at the Carrier Dome, which occurred last February when Duke played Syracuse in Men’s Basketball.
The main benefit from the event was to enhance the name of the Syracuse Crunch. Due to the increased media reflection with NHL.com and NBCSports.com, Dolgon has accomplished his mission of pioneering a new venue for an indoor hockey event. In addition, the local community benefited tremendously for having the opportunity to partake in an event that has never once been done before. There has always been a desire to implement new strategies to enhance an already desired commodity, and I believe that Howard Dolgon, the Crunch organization and the University of Syracuse made this possible and ran with that idea.
By Alex O’Connor
Jozy Altidore is currently dealing with a Twitter dilemma following several rumors of Altidore potentially leaving his current team. Altidore currently plays for Sunderland A.F.C., which is an English professional soccer team that plays in the English Premier League. Altidore’s career path has taken him on several pit stops in his young twenty-five year-old life. He has played for the New York Red Bulls, Villareal CF, Hull City, Bursaspor, AZ Alkmaar and Sunderland. This boils down to six teams in his young eight year career. On Saturday, rumors of Altidore leaving Sunderland for the MLS and The Los Angeles Galaxy were clarified on Twitter. However, the manner in which it was clarified was not in the best light. Altidore tweeted: “@LAGalaxy really? Stop blowing up my agents phone then. No means no.” There has been some consideration among media that Altidore was not the person behind the tweet, and would be the absolute wrong way to conduct a formal transaction of this nature.
Twitter is never the way to convey a message that is usually secret and professional. Though TheGuardian.com has acknowledged that Altidore may be leaving Sunderland this past January, this tweet harshly quieted those rumors. In an already hectic career for Altidore, it seems strange that he would personally latch out publically to the entire Galaxy organization and in such a manner as Twitter. The Galaxy organization also may have simply tried too hard to lure Altidore away from Sunderland. Altidore is known for being a generous and kind athlete, as he has aided citizens of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. In addition, in honor of the twenty-six Sandy Hook victims, he wrote their initials on his cleats in a game against FC Twente on December 21, 2012.
However, this tweet comes only days after Team U.S.A. lost to Columbia by a score of 2-1. There could be an underlying factor of bitterness that carried over to his message. In another opinion, NBCSports.com’s Kyle Bonn questions whether or not Altidore sent out the tweet himself. Athletes simply do not negotiate with other organizations over social media. Bonn connected the “no means no” excerpt of the tweet to the recent incident of Colt McCoy’s post-game interview on Monday Night Football after his win against the Cowboys. A PR employee with the Redskins refused an interview request by yelling “no means no” to ESPN reporter John Sutcliffe. Though the two instances are not related it is interesting to see two distinct media connections using the exact same phrasing.
By Alex O’Connor
Last Sunday, the World Golf Championship concluded with a spectacular ending. Bubba Watson, winner of this year’s Masters, was down by two strokes going into the last hole. The hole was a Par 5 and Watson went for the green in two shots. He missed the green, went into the bunker and was forced to make his next shot. Watson did just that, and chipped in to force a sudden death playoff. On the first hole of the playoff versus Tim Clark, Watson sunk a 20-foot birdie putt to win the tournament. This tournament being a non-major, it had many golf analysts wondering how big of an impact a finish like this would have on the sport as well as where it rates among other great finishes from the year. Historically, the non-major tournaments receive significantly less media attention on the National and International stage. In addition, the Ryder and President’s Cups have the intense rivalry built up by American media between the U.S. and Europe. Now that we have seen a finish of this magnitude from a high-caliber player, this may be the turning point for large-scale media to give more attention to the non-major tournaments.
Ryan Lavner, writer for GolfChannel.com made the case that this tournament had the best finish to any tournament this year. Lavner created a off-hand check sheet of great viewing qualities of a gold tournament. He listed: jitters, clutch shooting and a sigh of relief at the end. All were answered with a yes. In addition, GolfChannel.com writer Will Gray pointed out the statistical nature that gave him the conclusion as the best finish of 2014. Five players had a shot to win the tournament on the last hole, and Watson was the most unlikely. Though the tournament was held in China, it was brought to national attention minutes after Watson sunk the last putt.
Due to Watson’s remarkable win, there may have been a turning point in the golf industry. The average sports fan who now turns on SportsCenter will see Watson’s victory and may remember the tournament he played in. If that person does, this will enhance the popularity of the game solely based on a players’ performance over the course of two holes. In addition, that fan may become a Watson fan after the performance and follow the sport to a larger degree. This past performance was not only good for Watson, but for the sport itself.
By Alex O’Connor
Marshall has had a historic football season, where they currently sit at 9-0 and are the clear frontrunners in Conference USA. Marshall is also one of three undefeated teams left. As conferences have been realigning rapidly not only in football, but basketball, there has been an increasing concern that the “power” conferences are getting more powerful each time there is a new alignment. NBCSports has noted that Marshall’s streak is special, but there is a large amount of hesitancy on whether or not it will matter if they finish undefeated.
Currently, Marshall is ranked twenty-first in the country, according to the latest AP Top 25, and they are notably unranked in the College Football Playoff Rankings. With the addition of the new playoff system, the twelve committee members are using new statistics to measure the quality of the eligible schools. The most notable new statistic is “FPI”, which stands for the Football Power Index. Per ESPN.com, FPI is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of performance going forward for the rest of the season. Given the opponents Marshall has faced in and out of conference, there is no indication that they are anywhere near the top four teams in the country. The establishment of FPI has only furthered the gap between power and non power conferences.
In regards to the media, there is always a desire to find an underdog, or a team that can come out of nowhere to shock the bigger teams. This is especially prevalent in college football. fbschedules.com noted that Marshall going undefeated in this new playoff format will be a true determination if the non-power conferences are actually playing for that grand prize.
A recent example of a small school having major success in the previous format was Boise State. In 2006, Boise State won all twelve of their scheduled games. Though they were and still are in a non power conference, (WAC) they were still slotted into a major BCS Bowl Game which was the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. They ended up winning that game by one point over Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma. For the time being, Boise State gave smaller schools at the glory of a big college football bowl game. Now that only four teams compete for the National Championship and the former big BCS bowl games will have considerably less attention than the final four teams. The new playoff system has only made it harder for non-power conference teams to break into the national spotlight and the balance of authority is shifting heavily towards the power conferences.
By Alex O’Connor
Manchester City midfielder, Yaya Toure has been the target of recent racist remarks on Twitter. On Monday, Toure received several racist messages in a matter of a few hours. Toure rejoined Twitter yesterday and was greeted with several racist remarks. Toure describes the messages as a “disgrace” and has noted that he wants “Those people to understand what they’re doing is wrong.” Per BBC Sport, the Greater Manchester Police have received the complaint and are thoroughly investigating the issue. Toure was off of Twitter for over five months due to un-warranted distractions. Unfortunately, there have been additional distractions only a day into reestablishing his Twitter.
Though Toure is facing adversity on the social media spectrum, an anti-discriminatory organization known as Kick it Out has come to his aid. Kick it Out is an international organization that vies for equality and inclusion in all aspects of sport, having their primary focus in soccer. Kick it Out’s official statement read: “We are disturbed by the fact that someone can be treated this way. It makes footballers start to question why they should use these platforms. We are offering Yaya Toure our full support.” This response shows immediate defense to Toure while hammering home the message that racism has no place in soccer.
One specific tweet was caught by authorities and was proved to be written by an avid Chelsea fan. The tweet read: “shut up n*****.” The UK’s DailyStar reported that the fan had apologized, but directly to Toure. His apology was given through Twitter, and was sent to the DailyStar. They are connecting the insincerity of the apology, claiming that his apology was not administered the right way. This is another way in which social media has hurt not only Toure, but the original messenger.
Toure took a five month break from Twitter, because of distractions to his playing. However, just over a year ago, Toure was the subject of racist messages from fans during a Champions League group stage game in Moscow, Russia. There were even suggestions that black players should boycott the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia. As a result, the Etihad Stadium in Moscow will be forced to not have any fans present when Toure and Manchester City travel to Moscow. This is a significant revenue loss not only for the stadium and surrounding city, but the entire sport as a whole. Governing bodies are going so far as to prohibit fans from even watching a soccer game in person. In the midst of this situation and Toure’s most recent entanglement, City manager Manuel Pellegrini is confident the latest issue will not effect his performance on the field. Toure has had several poor experiences with social media, and now this incident has proven to be detrimental to the entire sport.
By Alex O’Connor
On last Friday afternoon, Dave Brandon formally resigned his position as Athletic Director for the University of Michigan. University President Mark Schlissel noted in a news conference that “It would be in the best interest of our student-athletes, athletic department and the university community if he moved onto other challenges.” Brandon strived to make a profit and was highly criticized for making college athletics into a business and having a strict bottom line approach. In addition, there were numerous other factors leading to Brandon’s resignation, however one of the biggest factors in the media came from the blog, MGOBlog.com. This blog site obtained emails sent between Brandon and UM Boosters and season ticket holders. These emails contained damaging information about Brandon. One email sent to this group by Brandon told recipients to “quit drinking” and another excerpt saying “I suggest you find another team support.” These emails being released only further confirmed the reason in which Brandon resigned.
An additional “knock” on Brandon’s tenure at Michigan was his handling of the concussion protocol regarding sophomore quarterback Shane Morris during a September football game against Minnesota. Immediately after Morris’ injury, Brandon sent out a release at 1:00 a.m. stating that Morris had a “probable, mild concussion.” However, head football coach Brady Hoke said he did not. Morris proceeded to play the rest of the game. This put Hoke in hot water as he immediately said after the game that “We would never, ever put a guy on the field when there’s possibility of head trauma.” USA Today noted that Hoke was defending himself and his staff, while Brandon neglected their judgment and put out his own statement. There was a large lack of communication between the two entities and put UM’s athletics in a negative light.
In regards to the blog posts on MGOBlog.com, many have noted that this could have been the catalyst for his resignation. Erik Bernstein, the co-owner of Bernstein Crisis-Management, labeled the UM Athletics Department as a state of “crisis”. This was after the emails were released to the public. Bernstein guaranteed that “The emails (Brandon) sent absolutely are going to cost him the job.” Bernstein also noted the personal and intentional attack on their supporters was immature, and did not reflect the program in any sort of positive manner. The comments came at a time of adversity for the program and only added fuel to their fire. Ultimately, Brandon had lots of adversity as Michigan’s athletic director, however the way in which he handled it prompted his resignation.
By Alex O’Connor
Last Saturday, New York Daily News writer Bill Madden explained in a column that Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg had discussions with “wealthy Wall Street associates” about the possible moving to Montreal. This would seem like a sensible move for an owner, given the lack of attendance and a slightly older system in Tampa Bay. In addition to manager Joe Maddon’s recent departure, this could have an effect on the teams current stance. However, Commissioner Bud Selig noted that Sternberg had not informed him about any plans to move the team.
Amidst the reports regarding Tampa Bay’s shaky future, Sternberg came out with a statement to calm the rumors. “We are committed to making baseball work in the Tampa Bay region. We will do everything we can to make that happen.” For now, this calms the reports from Madden. However, the most important part of Sternberg’s statement is “We have not spoken to Montreal – or any other city, including Tampa – about relocation at any point.” Sternberg’s situation is similar to that of Florida Panthers co-owners Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu. Like the Rays, the Panthers are struggling to attract fans with the lowest attendance mark in the NHL. There have also been financial issues, and a move out of Florida may not be out of question in the future.
Last year, the Rays finished the season at 77-85 and their average game attendance was 17,857, which was the lowest mark in all of MLB. These are all factors working against them in regards to moving. In addition to these factors, General Manager Andrew Friedman left Tampa Bay to take the same job with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Friedman has made several successful player acquisitions and led the team to the teams most successful seasons in team history. The Rays have now lost two key pieces that had a large hand in their team’s success. These factors may have influenced Madden’s column post, as poor play, poor attendance and changes in the front office are breeding grounds for losing teams out of their current location.
It makes sense that Bill Madden published a column about potential rumors of moving the team to Montreal. The aforementioned factors above and the financial constraints of the organization complements his claims. However, Sternberg’s quick response and confidence in the Rays may seem to convey that they will be staying put in the near future. In addition, the Rays are locked into their lease with Tropicana Field until 2027. These factors plus the vote of confidence with Sternberg signals that the Rays will indeed be staying in Tampa Bay.