Author Archives: McKenzie Whiteman

About McKenzie Whiteman

McKenzie is currently a Sport Management major at Bowling Green State University, who is in addition minoring in journalism. She particularly enjoys partaking in sporting events (whether helping to coordinate or to participate), and takes a special interest in writing pieces about issues in athletics or sporting events. Her goal is to work for a professional sport organization either in operations or to write pieces for the organization themselves.

NHL’s Team’s Tweet Gives Insight Into Growing Social Media Interaction

By McKenzie Whiteman

The world is commonly shaped by the words and opinions that social media platforms post for millions of viewers to comprehend. Whether it’s celebrity drama, natural disasters, or political updates, you can find information on literally anything without having to turn a page of a newspaper or type into a search engine. Because of the influence these sites have, some posts produce certain emotions. The quick response…a combative post. Twitter proved to be a platform for this kind of interaction when ESPN’s post rubbed the Columbus Blue Jackets’ media team the wrong way.

After the Blue Jackets’ 4-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, ESPN’s Twitter account read “Hey Columbus. Think you’re the best fans in the world? Prove it.” Below it read, “Apply now to the #FanHallofFame” and listed a link. It seems as if ESPN’s simply trying to promote some type of fan promotion. The Blue Jackets, however, didn’t see it as so. They responded by tweeting to ESPN with, “@espn Who is this?”. Some believe this is in reference to the television series, Seinfeld, and it’s popular bit in which its main character, Jerry, replies to phone calls with “Who is this?” in response to ridiculous comments stated by the caller. Whether or not this is true, the Jackets were obviously upset enough to tweet in attempt to show they care very little about what ESPN had to say.

While this may not be the biggest Twitter battle society has seen between major sport organizations, it’s certainly one of the most recent. Media is beginning to mean more than television broadcasts and radio reports. The public is beginning to gain insight on news on a more personal level through the use of social media. Because of the growing popularity of these sites, any post that is related to your particular organization is handled thoroughly or defended aggressively…thus these growing Twitter battles.

No matter if it’s on a large or small scale, teams are beginning to take a particular interest in what their social media accounts say about their organization. If an account posts something negative in regards to your organization and your account doesn’t counteract, your organization is deemed passive. If your respond with an overly aggressive post, your organization is seen as ruthless. How you post gives followers insight on how you conduct business.

This particular example between ESPN and the Blue Jackets gives off the assumption that the Jackets don’t particularly care about what the media has to say about their fans, (whether it was in regards to a promotion or not). It may not be the most aggressive social media battle the world has been exposed to, however it does provide an example of how organizations are interacting through social media. As social media is beginning to become the public’s main source of news and information, it’ll be interesting to see how sport organizations define themselves through their accounts.

Adrian Peterson’s Nike Contract Termination and Media Involvement

By McKenzie Whiteman

Even people who aren’t avid football followers know of the controversy regarding its supposedly “criminal” players. Many of the NFL’s athletes have found themselves in the middle of legal battles, fighting to keep their contracts and reputations. Few, however, are viewed as receiving fair punishment in the eyes of the general public. NFL players, much like any professional athlete, seem to find themselves receiving a slap on the wrist instead of any harsh punishment. Adrian Peterson, however, found yet another blow to his career.

Peterson served as the running back for the Minnesota Vikings since 2007. However, this past year has caused his career to come to a halt. Peterson faced felony charges for child abuse after witnesses say he struck his 4 year-old son with a tree branch. He rejected accusations to a felony charge, but pleaded no contest to reckless assault, a misdemeanor charge, on Tuesday. While the fate of his career is still in debate, Peterson has already lost a major part of his image, and this can partially be attributed to the close eye the media currently has on him.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Nike has recently resigned its contract it held with Peterson. Peterson had rejoined its contract with Nike in 2013, only to be suspended in September. While there are no final comments as to why, one can assume that the legal battle and limited positive exposure he’s recently had may be to blame. While his actions are completely at fault, the media can cause a story to go viral. I’m sure this is what Nike fears the most, and why they ultimately decided to end their partnership with Peterson.

Because Adrian Peterson is the high-profile athlete that he is, any detail of this story is immediately spread. Any result of a legal battle, any opinion that is stated, and any rumor that stirs, is quickly picked up by the media and made available to the public. Because Nike is so reliant on high-profile athletes to market its brand, any threat to the company’s reputation is quickly and aggressively handled. This is exactly what happened in regards to Peterson’s future with the company. Speculation of child abuse already threatened his future with the organization. But after pleading no contest to reckless assault on Tuesday, I’m sure Nike felt as its high-profile reputation didn’t include his persona any longer.

While it’s becoming more and more often that professional athletes are finding themselves in legal troubles, it’s the media that will hurt them in the end. Whether what they report is true or false it affects how the general public views them as ambassadors to their team and sponsors. Companies involved don’t want to be dragged through the self-inflicted troubles that their athletes are going through. The fate of Peterson’s career will be based on how much the NFL and other involved parties are willing to endure the media hits and persona that come along with his charges. Hopefully other athletes take these incidences into consideration before they find themselves in the same predicament.

World Series Goes Unnoticed

By McKenzie Whiteman

You don’t have to be an avid baseball or even sports fan to know about the highs and lows of the World Series. However, this year it seems as if there’s literally no interest in the battle between the San Francisco and Kansas City.

Low ratings prove that the 2014 World Series may be the worst ratings in World Series history since it’s been made a regular television feature. Some attribute this to the competition the Series faces with the always increasingly popular NFL games. Others seem to think the lack of big name teams (such as the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox) limit the audience of the MLB. Some simply think that because the long baseball season is ending during the high point of the NFL and sometimes opening nights for the NBA, that the timing is becoming the cause of the ratings.

Whatever the reason may be, the World Series is gaining less viewers than some NFL match-ups receive in one night. FOX executives and MLB commissioners need to find some way to increase the popularity of the historical Series and preserve the loyal fans that it does have during the regular season.

Possibly the best solution is the Game 7 that ultimately did result from Kansas City’s 10-0 win. The Royals, who haven’t seen the World Series playoffs in 29 years, have earned the advantage of playing the deciding game on their home turf. This could be the answer FOX executives have dreamed for. A Game 7, on the underdog’s home turf, on a night that hosts no football…there couldn’t be a better setting.

This season’s series needs to be an example for the future. FOX needs to be prepared for future series where the two competitors don’t include big name teams. Marketing and public relations strategies need to be reexamined so that regular season baseball fans see the importance of watching the post season, even when their favorite team may have not clinched. In addition, MLB executives need to constantly be evaluating the fluctuating audience. Baseball’s beginning to take a backseat to the hype of the NFL’s increase in criminal interests and even NCAA rivalries.

Ratings have the potential to completely change with Game 7 tomorrow night. However, involved parties with the World Series, no matter how big or small, need to examine their strengths and weaknesses in the series’ previous games. Whether it be a marketing or promotion effort, alterations in broadcasting, or simply the way the Series is advertised, the World Series has to find some way to compete with conflicting pro-sport schedules. If adjustments are not made, ratings will continue to struggle even with the luxury of big name teams competing.

Miami Marlins Fan Causes Controversy at Game 1 of World Series

By McKenzie Whiteman

Being the big Cleveland Browns fan that I am, I know firsthand what happens to fans that are brave enough to show up to a game wearing a an opposing team’s jersey. While I do respect their bravery and dedication to their team, you can’t help but wonder if they know the consequences they undoubtedly have coming. It’s always been this way. Show up to game wearing the enemy’s apparel, get ready for drinks to be thrown, violent words to be exchanged, and you better think twice about standing up and clapping with a sea of glaring eyes around you. Wearing a controversial jersey typically just goes to the extent of offending the home team fans, however I never thought this type of attire would ever cause front office personnel to take action. After all, it is supposed to be for the love of the game…right?

This World Series took on this concept, but with a twist. If you watched Game 1 of the World Series you HAD to have seen the bright orange shirt in the sea of royal blue behind the backstop. Now the orange was not that of the San Francisco Giants, but of a jersey baring the Miami Marlins logo. After doing more digging I found that Miami lawyer, Laurence Leavy, is an avid baseball fan and had spent over $8,000 in post-season tickets, totally disregarding the fact that the Marlins were nowhere near making it to the playoffs. However, this did bring about an interesting controversy.

Kansas City staff was so adornment about trying to set a certain scene for the country. They obviously didn’t want him sticking out like a sore thumb where the media captures the majority of its broadcast. They offered Leavy everything from a private suite to World Series apparel, but were declined on every offer. Instead of letting a true fan enjoy the year’s two best teams in baseball, they were distracted by trying to give off a persona that Leavy’s apparel obviously wasn’t fitting into. It wasn’t the person himself…it was simply his clothing, something that visually affected how the Royals organization wanted the nation to view their environment. It seems as if they wanted to depict an atmosphere where dedicated Royals fans flocked to in order to support the once lowly regarded team in their nearly undefeated quest for the World Series title. But at what point do organizations worry too much about “setting the scene” and not nearly enough about the love of the game?

While I agree it’s important for organizations to create a certain atmosphere, front offices are now going to extreme lengths in order for society to view them a certain way. As depicted by this recent event, they’re trying to persuade fans to take different action in order to achieve the atmosphere that they want to portray. I’m conflicted as to whether this action by the front office was ethical or not. It’s something, however, that should be in the back of an organization’s mind…when is it less about public relations and atmosphere and more about the pure love of the game? I realize that the atmosphere they create is what encourages profits, but it’s something to be evaluated.

Broadcasters just now showing interest in Kansas City Royals

By McKenzie Whiteman

While I must say that I was impressed by the showing that the Kansas City Royals gave in the American League Championship Series this past week, I was somewhat disappointed in the broadcasts that were given during the series, in which Kansas City swept the Baltimore Orioles. As in every professional sport, there are teams that are known to be stronger than others. Until this season, Kansas City tended to be on the weaker end of the spectrum. While other teams spend big bucks to attain high quality players, the Royals seemed to be a team that tries to acquire young athletes in order to build skills and technique. In other words, they’re often viewed as the underdogs in the regular season, much less the playoffs. While I feel it’s important that broadcasters mention the underdog element, I feel like it’s not something to be the main emphasis, especially during the hunt for a World Series title.

These types of comments were commonly heard during the Royal’s first series against the Los Angeles Angels…until they swept them. As the Royals quickly acquired W’s against the Orioles, it was evident that broadcasters had changed their opinions of the once lowly regarded team. I realize that the Royals haven’t seen the playoffs since 1985 and that an undefeated playoff run is an amazing feat, but broadcasters tended to show little interest in the team until they made this run. While it’s hard to not favor the team after the adversity they have overcome, I feel as if reporters should strictly report their view of the game to help fans further understand, rather than show what seems like a secret fascination towards the Royals organization.

I realize that this opinion may seem strict, but I’m afraid this same type of reporting will carry  on to the World Series, where it will not be appreciated by National League fans. I respect the Royals for performing so well in the post-season, but I feel like broadcasters should have shown interest even before their extra-inning fight for the wild card with the Oakland Athletics, instead of giving the spotlight to big name organizations. It almost seems as if broadcasters are becoming bandwagon fans of the Royals.

The moral of this is that broadcasters should show the same interest in teams whether they are undefeated or have a losing record. This way it doesn’t seem as if broadcasters are only taking notice to teams that pull off the unexpected, whether it be an unexpected win or loss.

Jon Gruden Broadcasts Fair Game Involving His Brother

Last Monday’s Monday Night Football game was more than just a platform for Russell Wilson’s athleticism. While the Seattle Seahawks racked up 27 points against the Washington Redskins 17, another element other than football was presented during a broadcast that included announcer, Jon Gruden. You’d imagine that because his brother, Jay Gruden, coaches for the Redskins organization that the interview would become a one-sided story of the glories of Washington and amplify the blunders of Seattle. However, the broadcast was nothing of the sort.

Even during pregame, it was obvious that Jon had no intention of showing favoritism towards his brother’s organization. He presented the strengths and weaknesses of both teams as if he had no association. He didn’t dazzle me more than any other broadcaster, but impressed me with his professionalism. However, I didn’t know what to expect when the game clock started.
The game soon turned into the Russell Wilson show. By the end of the night he had rushed for over 120 yards and threw for 201 passing yards. As each second ticked down on the clock, Jon held true to a good broadcaster and was completely unbiased. In fact, his broadcast criticized the decisions of the Redskins with comments that included, “I don’t know if they watched the wrong game film or what”.

I truly respected this type of broadcasting. It makes the game more enjoyable knowing that the broadcasters are bringing nothing to the game except good, unbiased analysis. It’s becoming more and more common that sports broadcasters lean towards one side or another while announcing. Whether it be the underdog versus the undefeated team or having some kind of association with one of the teams participating, broadcasters are leaking comments that show they have some kind of mindset about one of the teams or its players. It’s becoming frustrating to know that some broadcasts turn into matters of opinion rather than using their talents to help their viewers further understand the game.

However, Jon Gruden acted against this ongoing trend and broadcasted a fair game. Broadcasts are not places for tons of opinions. It’s an ongoing trend that needs to be addressed and I was proud to see that not all analysts are feeding into this.