Archive for November, 2008

BCS is an illogical end to a season

November 30, 2008

Once again, college football’s top level, Division I, will have a pseudo champion, one determined as much off the field as on it. So why should anybody care? They shouldn’t. Athletic directors, college presidents, NCAA officials and any sports writers who support the current system should be ashamed.

cartoon by NICK ANDERSON/Houston Chronicle

cartoon by NICK ANDERSON/Houston Chronicle

A playoff would offer a true football champion, something that is done at NCAA Division I-AA, II, III (and at IV, V and VI, if they had them). Playoffs determine titlists in baseball, basketball, field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse, among others.

Yet, NCAA Division I football would rather be lumped together with figure skating, synchronized swimming, and competitive cheerleading, sports that rely on judges to determine winners. (Oklahoma, Oklahoma, that’s our team, if they can’t go to the BCS then nobody can! Woo.)

Let’s face it: The BCS is not working.

The latest evidence? At least two Big 12 teams are going to get sacked because they happened to have lost later in the season. Texas lost to Texas Tech about a month ago, while Texas Tech lost to Oklahoma a few weeks ago. That Oklahoma lost to Texas is okay, though, since that defeat came early in the season. These three teams are tied atop the Big 12’s South division, but only one team will go to the conference championship. That will be determined when the new BCS standings come out later today. (more…)

Prep football’s still a game

November 28, 2008

Jere Longman writes that high school football games are more compelling than college ones, perhaps because of the immense support and loyalty shown by the schools’ respective communities. In Thursday’s New York Times, Longman acknowledges that high school sports are not pure. But they are still games to those who play them, he writes.

It’s not that high school football is pure. Far from it. The excesses of recruiting and steroids have trickled down from above along with eye black and end-zone dances. But at the prep level, football exists in an encouraging twilight. It is still a game, not yet a business. It is life lived in the present, players smashing through a banner held by cheerleaders, bursting with the possibility of the moment, not yet circumscribed by the limits and betrayals of the future.

Check it out.

Thanks for Title IX, coaches, sports journalists, and (yup) umpires

November 27, 2008

turkey_joe-blakeAt times, I cannot believe I get paid to teach and write about sports. I’m no longer the kid impressed by big events and star athletes. (That ended after I interviewed Earl Anthony so many years ago.) Now, I’m more impressed by smaller events, athletes fighting hard against all odds, and about private acts of kindness.

I’m thankful …

that I could spend time with the wild, passionate fans who attended the NCAA Cross Country Championships last weekend in Terre Haute, Ind. In high school, I ran cross country but I was never talented enough to reach a major event like this, where fans were so excited that they ran across the course to catch a fleeting glimpse of athletes straining and pushing themselves just a little beyond what they should, even the runners at the back of the packs. This is a must-see event for any true sports fan.

that I was able to coach a travel softball team filled with hard-working and fun-loving kids. We did not spend 500 bucks a month on pitching or hitting coaches like some of the bigger teams in Chicago and Indianapolis, nor did we have an indoor facility like the big-time teams, but our girls fought hard every game – fouling off high fastballs, running full bore around the bases, diving for balls – and laughing at their coach’s stupid puns and jokes. I look forward to another season with an equally goofy, determined group of middle schoolers. (more…)

Fans go crazy over ‘second tier’ sports

November 25, 2008
Fans raced to see their favorite runners up close while others watched the race on the large-screen TV set up near the awards podium.

Fans sprinted to see their favorite runners up close Monday at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., while others watched the race on the large-screen TV set up near the awards podium.

Oregon’s Galen Rupp, who trailed for the first 5 kilometers, outkicked Liberty’s Sam Chelanga in the final 200 meters to win his first NCAA Cross Country Championship on Monday in Terre Haute, Ind., finishing the 10K race in 29 minutes, 3.2 seconds.

And Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego held off two challengers to win an unprecedented third straight women’s title, clocking in at 19:28.1 for the 6K race on a cold and blustery afternoon.

Meanwhile, in Louisville on Sunday, Maryland defeated Wake Forest 4-2 to capture its third NCAA field hockey title in four years.

Neither championship received much attention from the mainstream press. (more…)

No new media skills? Perhaps, no job.

November 19, 2008

NBA teams rely on new media to inform, and attract, fans. So do franchises in the NFL, MLB and NHL.

ESPN, CBS, the New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune are also creating websites for everything from prep to professional sports to inform, and attract, readers. Some newspapers offer niche publications connected to their main news sites, like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s website just for Packers Fans. And Florida Today has a popular site that covers Little League baseball in Brevard County.

So why are you not presenting sports news from your campus in more than one (print) platform. Because it makes you feel uncomfortable? Because you do not know how to do it? Because you always wanted to write for a print publication? Because you do not want to get a job when you graduate? (more…)

Spiraling economy hurting pro, college and prep sports

November 15, 2008

The economy (try not to say ‘recession’ too loudly) is starting to have an impact on professional, college and prep sports. You may want to see how tumbling stocks, reduced advertising budgets, and cut state appropriations are going to affect your own university or county sports programs.

Here are three stories on this growing problem.

High school sports are getting hammered just like the auto, insurance, banking – and, seemingly, every other industry, says Orlando Sentinel sports columnist David Whitley.

The poor economy has hit NASCAR and a major cycling event, according to the New York Times.

College administrators are worried that boosters, hurt by a spiraling economy, may abandon university sports programs.


Intramurals is a great beat

November 13, 2008

The Daily Iowan proves that you can fire off interesting stories away from the so-called major beats. Yes, readers clearly want to know whether the Hawkeyes can focus on Purdue a week after upsetting No. 1 Penn State. But readers may be more impressed by another story – on injuries during intramurals, a beat that is usually ignored or covered superficially. Kudos to the Iowan staff for digging into sports activities that can sometimes attract more fans than some NCAA games. I’ve heard the deafening cheers in our rec center at key volleyball and basketball intramural games during which hundreds of students are packed tightly around the courts. The Daily Iowan realized this, covering the story just like any other beat (and they included a video package on a player who tore his ACL playing flag football). Excellent.


What happened in Edmonton?

November 13, 2008

7036_nhl_logoApparently, a blogger was kicked out of the Edmonton Oilers’ press box after commenting from a game a few weeks ago. David Berry, a blogger for the site called ‘Covered in Oil,’ says he was approached by an Oilers media relations person midway through a game in which he had been blogging live and told to leave.


Southern Cal doesn’t offer cross-country scholarships? That’s hardly a shocker

November 9, 2008

Southern Cal spent $76 million on its athletic programs last season, a total that includes expenses related to travel, scholarships and equipment, among other things. The university spent more than $20 million on its football team, the only sport at USC that generated a net profit last year. Few teams generate a net profit – even at a larger, successful program like Southern Cal’s, despite what most people will have you believe. But that’s okay. Neither academic nor athletic programs are developed to generate income. Education is a university’s mission. Yet, sometimes a disparity, or inequity, is worth noting. Last week, the Daily Trojan revealed that the women’s cross country team does not have any scholarships. Instead, the team relies on walk-ons and track runners. The story does not dive into this inequity, nor does it offer specific reasons behind the team’s relative success against Pac-10 rivals, but the story does offer enough information to make you wonder how a varsity team at a major athletic university can get slighted like this.


Boston Globe creates weekly sports tab

November 6, 2008

300h2The Boston Globe recently started a weekly sports tabloid, which may reveal how daily newspapers are going to adjust to the new media market – by creating niche publications. The sports publication, called the OT for “Our Town/Our Teams,” will include 24 pages of features, columns, and blogger commentaries.

Despite all the elegies, newspapers remain significant, something that was especially clear when newspapers like the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune printed hundreds of thousands of extra copies for readers. Combined, that’s more than a million extra copies for one day. The NY Times printed 225,000 extra copies, the Tribune distributed more than 200,000. The Post printed an extra 350,000 copies, selling the special editions for $1.50 (three times the normal daily rate.) The USA Today printed about 500,000 additional copies.