Author Archives: Savannah Malnar

About Savannah Malnar

Savannah Malnar is a freshman in the Sport Management program at Bowling Green State University. She is aspiring to work in the National Hockey League but enjoys watching all sports and analyzing them, especially statistically.

Slava Voynov’s Domestic Violence Case Worse Than Expected

By Savannah Malnar

When defenseman Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings was initially arrested on domestic violence charges and suspended indefinitely by the NHL in late October, the media didn’t have a lot of information on the case. Voynov and his wife both claimed it was an “accident,” but the case still went to court.

Fast forward roughly two months to Voynov’s preliminary hearing on Monday. In this hearing, what at first seemed like a possible misunderstanding became much worse. A police officer offered his testimony to the case; apparently, Voynov had pushed his wife to the ground multiple times, kicked her, choked her multiple times, and pushed her into a television which caused a gash above her eye requiring stitches.

Pretty bad, right? The people in the sport media largely agree. Big names such as Yahoo! Sports and the Bleacher Report say it like it is, calling the incident “shocking,” “bloody,” and “horrifying.” An article in the Bleacher Report praised the NHL for its initial suspension, along with its decision to fine the LA Kings $100,000 when they violated suspension protocol and allowed the defenseman to take part in a practice with the team. The NHL’s lack of toleration for both the suspected domestic violence and violation of suspension protocol shows their dedication to ensuring a high standard of how the players act off the ice. This reflects good on the league in comparison to the NFL’s mishandling of the Ray Rice case.

While the large national media outlets highlighted the moral aspect of Voynov’s case and suspension, a more local source, the LA Times, stayed completely objective on that front. In comparison to the headlines “NHL’s Hard Line with Slava Voynov Remains Justified as Horrible Details Emerge” (Bleacher Report) and “Slava Voynov kicked, choked, bloodied wife according to police” (Yahoo! Sports), the LA Times headline was simply “Domestic violence case against Slava Voynov will proceed, judge rules.” This is an extremely stark difference and reflects the habits of local sources tending to be less critical of athletes in these sorts of situations.

With domestic abuse becoming a hot topic in the sports world, both the league itself and the hockey media must be sensitive to the broad audience that the sport invites. Even with the LA Times remaining objective, the media and the NHL have done a good job so far showing this sort of behavior by a player is unacceptable and disappointing.

A Carolina Miracle: Panthers QB Newton Sustains Minimal Injuries After Severe Accident

By Savannah Malnar

December 9th could have been a tragic day for the NFL. Cam Newton, starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, was hospitalized in what looked like a deadly car wreck. Every image of the accident looked like something out of an action movie.

The initial reports of the accident included a picture of Newton smiling at the camera while being attended to by paramedics at the scene. He came out of the accident with just a few fractures in his back and was transported to Carolinas Medical Center for precautionary measures and has since been released. His fractures are extremely similar to the injury that sidelined Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo for one game early in the season. Newton had been going the posted speed limit in an intersection notorious for being dangerous; a car clipped the back of his truck and caused it to flip multiple times.

Just a few days later, Newton spoke directly to the media regarding his accident. He strayed away from talking about himself, saying “As far as when I’m coming back, who cares.” He expressed his concern that his injury was an unnecessary distraction and that the media and fans need to be instead focused on supporting the Panthers’ backup Derek Anderson in Sunday’s key game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Panthers need to win against Tampa Bay in order to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Despite not wanting his accident to become a distraction, the media certainly has pounced on it. Many articles have been published simply quoting Newton’s entire Instagram post that included a picture of his demolished truck and a lengthy yet inspiring caption all about living life to the fullest and not holding grudges.

Newton has retained an exceptional attitude throughout the days following his accident. His words to the fans and the media have been encouraging and uplifting and truly show his thankfulness that he survived a crash that many would not. Reports said that initially he seemed upset that he had let his team down, which sounds funny coming from a guy who did nothing to cause the accident. But on Thursday he said, “It’s no time to sulk. There is something that has to be done come Sunday. I’m excited about it. I’m going to be the biggest supporter.”

Recent NHL Coach of the Year Fired by Senators

By Savannah Malnar

When a sports team starts to slip in the standings, the blame can be placed on multiple people. In hockey that blame frequently is directed at the coach. With that in mind, in was announced on Monday that the Ottawa Senators had fired coach Paul MacLean who led the team to an 11-11-5 start this season.

This was a shock to a lot of Senators fans and media. The Senators are placed 7th in the Atlantic division and 10th in the entire Eastern Conference, but had just come off of a huge overtime win at home against the Vancouver Canucks. MacLean recently won the Jack Adams Trophy, which goes the NHL coach of the year, in the shortened 2012-2013 season and was awarded with a contract extension in the offseason. In roughly four seasons, the Senators are 114-90-35 under MacLean and made the playoffs in his first two seasons as coach. Despite this, reports stated that his locker room attitude had changed and he was more demanding than ever.

Just days before his firing, MacLean was quoted saying that he was “scared” of any team the Senators had to face. He did not elaborate on it anymore, but the media took it as a lack of trust in his players.

MacLean’s termination garnered a lot of attention in the hockey media as it was the first coaching change in the NHL this season. Larger media entities remained objective in their reporting, but each still drew attention to his recent Jack Adams award. One local media outlet, CBC News Ottawa, took a different approach and instead just presented multiple screenshots of the media and fan reaction to MacLean being fired.

The result? A lot more blame placing, but not on MacLean; instead, many fans showed support for the coach and instead said the problem was a cheap owner (the Senators currently have the lowest payroll in the entire league) and an underperforming team. One tweet in particular said, “Good coaches lose their jobs when their team doesn’t perform.. Which is exactly what happened with Paul MacLean in Ottawa.”

This personnel move by the Senators is questionable, especially this early in the season. But with the rumors of his change in attitude and a lot of critique of his poor defensive strategies, the Senators ownership must feel they need a new person in charge in order to get back into the postseason. That new person will be MacLean’s assistant Dave Cameron, who has now been promoted to head coach.

Cleveland’s Quarterback Dilemma

By Savannah Malnar

Johnny “Money” Manziel may have been the most hyped rookie coming to play in the NFL this season. The college star was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, and immediately there was speculation as to if he would start over last year’s starter Brian Hoyer. Despite the rumors, Manziel only saw the field once (on a trick play to catch a pass from Hoyer) until last Sunday. The Browns were down 20-3 to the Buffalo Bills, and Cleveland coach Mike Pettine had enough of Hoyer and gave Manziel the field with about 12 minutes left in the game. Manziel promptly drove the Browns down the field and ran in a 10-yard, marking the first rushing touchdown for Cleveland in four years.

The Browns still ended up falling to the Bills 26-10, but that didn’t stop the rush of people again calling for Manziel to start for the remainder of the year. Cleveland fans seemed to all be on the same side; the team should no longer be Hoyer’s.

Local and national media humanized the event a little more, highlighting Hoyer’s disappointment in being pulled. Hoyer spoke with reporters post-game, and the most common quote in each media account of the event is, “So I think you guys know from before, I’m never going to just hang my head and feel sorry for myself. We have four games left and whatever coach decides to do, I’ll be here to support this team and obviously I feel like this is my team and this is my job so we’ll see what happens moving forward.” Hoyer still believes the starting position should be his, especially after the strong start the team showcased early in the season.

One Browns beat writer, Mary Kay Cabot, focused on Manziel instead. Her article discussed his gratitude for the chance to play and also his humility and acknowledgement that he couldn’t have performed as well without the veterans on the Browns offense. Manziel felt lucky that his one fumble got overturned as an incomplete pass despite his opinion that his arm had not moved forward yet.

Cabot and most other sports writers seem to be under the same impression: Manziel is going to get his chance to start soon, if not in Week 14.

The Greatest Catch in NFL History?

By Savannah Malnar

Amazing things happen in sport games every day. Records are set and highlights are made. Perhaps one of the most impressive highlights, well, ever, was made this Sunday during an NFL team.

Odell Beckham of the New York Giants made what seemed like an impossible catch. With three fingers. Watch here:

This catch made headlines around every media and social media outlet on the internet. Not only did it litter the front pages, but it also drew many comparisons to other impressive NFL plays. Yahoo! Sports writer Frank Schwab released an article that did just that; it compared Beckham’s catch to every other catch that could have been called the greatest in the NFL.

The catch was compared to historical plays such as “The Catch” by Dwight Clark in the ’81-’82 NFC Championship game, Santonio Holmes’ Super Bowl winning catch, and Calvin Johnson’s catch in triple coverage. Despite this impressive list of highlights, the only play that beat out Beckham’s was the “Helmet Catch” by David Tyree who played for the Giants as well.

There is something about the use of comparisons that make articles interesting to read. This technique can be found in many articles pertaining to impressive plays in every sports. It’s a highly effective form to draw in fans attention and not only expose them to the more recent top-10 worthy highlights, but also plays that will go down in history.

Perhaps the reason comparisons in sport media are so effective is because it allows the fan to decide for themselves. The writer in question may take a side, but sport media writers seem to always mention that their picks are open for interpretation and frequently ask for feedback from their readers.

When it comes to Beckham’s catch, I personally think that it cannot be called the greatest catch in NFL history without it holding any sort of playoff, conference championship or Super Bowl impact. While it was certainly impressive (well, practically impossible), the greatest and most well remembered catches always spawn from those pivotal games we as fans enjoy most.

What do you think?

Athletes’ Families Steal Millions

By Savannah Malnar

Not much is worse than the feeling of being betrayed; an even worse feeling is being betrayed by family. Unfortunately two professional athletes in two different sports have been in the news the past few days for this reason.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies had finally settled the legal battle that was being waged between him and his family members. Howard had entrusted various family members, primarily his twin brother, to manage RJH Enterprises. After deciding to look more into his own finances Howard found that these family members had been taking advantage of his earnings; his mother had authorized payments of roughly $2.8 million to various family members without his knowledge. The suit was settled out of court and no details have been presented.

The day after that settlement was reached, news broke that Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets had been forced to declare bankruptcy due to his own parents’ reckless spending of his money. Back in 2011, three years after firing his agent, Johnson signed $30.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Kings and gave power attorney to his mother. Since then, she borrowed roughly $15 million in very high-interest loans in Johnson’s name in order to apparently purchase a beach house and cars and to pay for their travel expenses. Johnson was not aware of these loans, even for the large house; he was told the money for the mortgage came out of the will of a recently deceased relative.These two stories are incredibly sad. The families certainly felt a sense of entitlement to the athlete’s earnings and went to extreme measures to get what they felt they deserved. The sport media has done an excellent job of remaining focused on the primary aspect of both these stories: the players were betrayed. A source close to Johnson said that he is hurt and confused, as we all would be when faced like something like this.

Some leagues, including the NHL, have information sessions for rookie athletes that warn them of working with uncredited agents or financial advisors. But Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports said it best in his article about Johnson: “But it’s one thing for a League to say “don’t trust predatory lenders.” It’s another thing for a player not to trust his own mother with his finances.”

RG III: Holding The Entire Team Accountable

By Savannah Malnar

In the majority of NFL franchises, the quarterback can be identified as the primary leader of the team. Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins has been working hard to make his case for that position through a career riddled with injuries and bad seasons.

The current 2014-2015 NFL season has not treated the Redskins kindly; they are currently 3-7 and have been plagued with controversy regarding not only their quarterback situation but also the team name. Fans of the Redskins have put all their hope into Griffin since the team traded away a 6th, 2nd, and two 1st round draft picks to acquire the 2nd overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft from the St. Louis Rams.

All professional athletes are told how to interact with media in press conferences, but Griffin said some things after a loss to the then 1-8 (now 2-8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers that he probably wishes he could take back.

Griffin started the post game press conference by saying multiple times that the multiple sacks and offensive issues were his own fault, and that he is doing everything he can to play better. He then continued to discuss how he hopes and believes that his teammates will do the same and work to make themselves better.

The sport media pulled one specific quote from Griffin’s press conference: “It takes 11 men. It doesn’t take one guy, and that’s proven. If you want to look at the good teams in this league and the great quarterbacks, the Peytons and the Aaron Rodgers, those guys don’t play well if their guys don’t play well. They don’t.”

On Monday almost all the headlines regarding Washington read something along the lines of “RGIII Throws Teammates Under Bus.” Unfortunately for Griffin, most of these articles in both national and local news took his words out of context for the sake of a story. The authors claimed that Griffin was comparing himself to the great quarterbacks of the era and blaming his teammates for the failure of the team.

If you have the patience, listen through Griffin’s press conference. He is humble in all of his answers, and certainly does not target his teammates at all. He does what a good teammate is supposed to do; he holds his fellow teammates accountable while still admitting his own mistakes. There was no blame placing, just a quarterback admitting that the entire team including himself needs improvement.