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Globe and Mail reporter gives athletes media advice

In a recent story for The Globe and Mail, Cathal Kelly responded to pregame rant by Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel with advice on how professional athletes should handle their local media.

On Wednesday, Kessel’s frustration with the local Toronto media hit a boiling point when he stood in front of captain Dion Phaneuf’s locker before a game against the Florida Panthers saying “I think the way the media treats Dion in this city is embarrassing.” Kelly says that Kessel needs to connect with the media instead of fighting it.

Some players don’t get that basic calculus, which is fine. They’re free to behave as they’d like. They have a right to expect that things never get personal – though “personal” means different things to different people. Beyond that, they have no rights. What they have is the environment they’ve created for themselves. The question only a few take the time ask themselves is “What do I want?” If you would like to see the best part of yourself reflected in the way people report on you, then you show it. If you don’t care, then don’t bother.

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Twitter is great – until it isn’t

ESPN’s Keith Olbermann announced this week that he was ending “Twitter batting practice”, during which he would prepare for his daily show by engaging people in social media banter designed to ignite his mind before he was scheduled to hold forth on his program. Olbermann, who is known for his intelligence, caustic wit and combativeness –- among other things –- has been known to get after some people with his tweets, usually with few consequences.

That ended a couple weeks ago when he sparred with Penn State students and alumni after the school’s community completed its annual Dance Marathon, the culmination of a months-long fundraising effort to defeat pediatric cancer. Over the past few years, Olbermann has gone after the PSU community for what he considered its blind allegiance to former football coach Joe Paterno in the wake of the scandal involving former Nittany Lion assistant Jerry Sandusky. When a PSU student tweeted at Olbermann, “We are!” with a link to an article celebrating the $13 million-plus raised during the marathon, Olbermann responded, “Pitiful.”

He was referring to the community in general and its continued refusal to criticize Paterno. The subsequent backlash on Twitter made the comment appear to slam the Penn State community for its outstanding charitable work. Olbermann tried to explain that his remark was about the student body in general, not the fundraising, but he had no chance against the social media onslaught that ensued.

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ESPN will televise The Basketball Tournament

ESPN announced that it will televise The Basketball Tournament’s 2015 final rounds. Not the NCAA Tournament, but The Basketball Tournament. Jonathan Mugar’s idea for an open-entry basketball tournament came to fruition last year during the first aptly-named, The Basketball Tournament.

With free entry, there were over 100 entries from across the country, with 32 teams selected to the field. The teams were selected by recruiting votes via the tournament website, The concept forces contestants to utilize social media to promote their team in order to obtain the minimum 100 votes needed to be considered.

The prize money for last year’s winner-take-all tournament was set at $500,000,  and, after the success of the first year, 2015’s tournament will expand in size and payout. The Basketball Tournament this summer will feature 96 teams and a $1,000,000 prize for the winning team.

ESPN sees the event as a unique way to appeal to fans and sponsors, and will broadcast all four Quarterfinal games on ESPNU July 25. The semifinals and championship game will both be carried live on ESPN Aug. 1 and 2. 

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Bradley, Burwell to be inducted into USBWA Hall of Fame


The U.S. Basketball Writers Association announced that sports columnists Mark Bradley and Bryan Burwell have been selected for the USBWA Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was established in 1988 and the addition of Bradley and Burwell brings the number of members to 70. The two will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during the association’s annual awards ceremony, taking place in Indianapolis on Monday, April 6, during the 2015 NCAA Final Four.

Bradley worked for the (Lexington, Ky.) Herald-Leader for six years (1978-1984) before joining the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been writing for the Journal-Constitution for 31 years (1984-present). The Associated Press Sports Editors named Bradley the best columnist in the highest circulation category in 1985, and he has finished in the top 10 four times.

Bryan Burwell died Dec. 4.  He will be the first African-American elected to the USBWA Hall of Fame. He established himself writing for USA Today, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, among others, before joining the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2002. He also served as a radio host in St. Louis and appeared as a television personality on CNN, ESPN and HBO programs. In 2007, the Associated Press Sports Editors selected Burwell as one of the top 10 columnists in the country.



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Media pushback extends to NBAPA chair

In light of Kevin Durant and Marshawn Lynch’s pushback against sports media, it seems that Michele Roberts, head of the NBA Players Association, has taken the same tone against media members in NBA locker rooms, according to a story on ESPNw.

“Most of the time I go to the locker room, the players are there and there are like eight or nine reporters just standing there, just staring at them,” Roberts said. “And I think to myself ‘OK, so this is media availability?’ If you don’t have a f—ing question, leave, because it’s an incredible invasion of privacy …”

Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing says Roberts is missing the point of the media’s presence in post-game locker rooms. Most of the time, he says, they don’t want to be there. And they certainly aren’t standing around to stare at them.

It’s hard to imagine a world where media members would choose to waste their usually-limited time staring at athletes … The NBPA in particular shouldn’t have much to complain about, as the NBA reduced pre-game availabilities to 30 minutes from 45 before the 2013-14 season, plus cut the amount of practice time open to media …

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Tampa Bay writer details backlash from Winston story

Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times published a first person perspective last Thursday of backlash he received after he reopened an investigation into rape allegations against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. The piece reflected on his 15-month investigation into the case. Despite its lack of a conclusion, Baker wonders if it was all worth it.

For my role in reopening a dormant investigation, Florida State fans wanted me to die of brain-eating cancer and in a car crash on my way home. They told me to jump off a bridge and get hit by a truck. They suggested I get intimate with a monkey infected with AIDS …

Maybe after a federal investigation and a lawsuit run their course, we’ll find out what really happened at that off-campus apartment on Dec. 7, 2012. Maybe we never will. But the frenzy surrounding one of the biggest college football stories of the decade has finally eased, giving me time to process a question I’ve been trying to answer for 15 months:

Will any good come from all this pain?

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Ex-NHLer Dustin Penner removed from Trade Deadline show

Another victim of the Twitter controversy machine: former Stanley Cup champion Dustin Penner pulled himself from TSN’s coverage of the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday after posting a rash joke on Twitter about rape, according to Yahoo Sports.

Penner posted a series of tweets on Sunday afternoon that got him in hot water, the first in which Penner apparently intended to make a joke about consenual sex. Moments later, he was removed from a panel on TSN’s TradeCentre. Penner later offered an apology via Twitter.

This isn’t the first time Penner has gotten himself in trouble over his use of social media. Jan. 20, Penner suggested that a 19 year old girl driving a “G-wagon” was a prostitute, according to a story on Storify. Penner responded to the backlash by saying “It’s called a joke. My humor isn’t for u.”

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