Sexual harassment toward female sports reporters is far too common – SI.com
The Noise Report
SI.com examines some of the biggest sports media stories of the week
1. ESPN named college football analyst Danny Kanell to be the new co-host with Ryen Russillo for the ESPN Radio slot from 1–4 p.m. ET. The new three-hour show, Russillo & Kanell,debuts Aug. 31 and will be televised on ESPNews starting at 1 p.m. When Kanell isn’t doing his anti-SEC, wrestling-heel-trolling shtick on Twitter, he can be a good college football thinker and radio host. Of course the shtick helped him get paid and get a plum assignment. Now we’ll see where he goes with a position of prominence at his company. Bro or pro? Choice will be his.
1a. In January 2011 I wrote a media column for SI.com that focused on the curious departure of ace analyst Mary Carillo from ESPN’s tennis coverage. The subtext of the piece was conflicts of interest in tennis and the soft coverage (which Carillo objected to) given to most U.S. players. As I wrote then, “No sport does conflicts quite like tennis, dating to former agent Donald Dell, who provided commentary of matches involving players he represented and tournaments his firm owned and managed. That’s morphed today into ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez interviewing a player (Roger Federer) represented by her IMG agent husband. The affable Fernandez also draws a salary from being Fed Cup captain, where the Williams sisters’ commitment is often the key to winning or losing. Patrick McEnroe, who this column enjoys as a broadcaster, makes a six-figure salary from the USTA, which puts him in a tricky situation when questions come up yearly about the U.S. Open scheduling and the stadium’s need for a roof.”
More than four years later, little has changed in tennis broadcasting. This bothers intelligent tennis fans and critics—see this Jon Wertheim piece from 2012—but most of us have come to accept that nothing will change with the current broadcasting executives in charge. But even within this incestuous world, last week saw a spectacularly poor choice by the Tennis Channel when it comes to optics. John Isner is now coached by Tennis Channel analyst Justin Gimelstob (who is also an ATP Board Member, another massive conflict for a broadcaster given, for example, he’d be part of meting out the penalty for Nick Kyrgios while commentating on Kyrgios) and for some insane reason, TC opted to film Gimelstob screaming about Isner winning a match at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Thus, TC viewers were treated to Gimselstob channeling his inner Bobby Heenan without Heenan’s flair for comedy. I think Gimselstob is a bright guy who no doubt cares about the sport, but he’s being put in a position where as a viewer (and I’m just speaking for me), I can’t take much of what he says seriously right now given his connections.
1b. Great work by (Canada’s) Sportsnet’s Arash Madani asking Kygrios (on the court) about comments he made about Stan Wawrinka’s girlfriend during their Rogers Cup match last week. Madani treated tennis fans like adults.
1c. Fox announced last week that it had hired former ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd. The plans for Cowherd include hosting a three-hour sports talk program called The Herd beginning Sept. 8, a show that will air simultaneously on Fox Sports 1 and the Fox Sports Radio Network, weekdays from 12–3 p.m. ET. Cowherd moving to Fox has a significant impact on the New York City-based The Mike Francesa Show, which currently airs on Fox Sports 1 weekday afternoons when not preempted by world soccer coverage. With Cowherd’s radio show being simulcast daily on Fox Sports 1 in the afternoon, Fox said Francesa’s show will now morph to Fox Sports 2 and Fox Sports Go. The move reunites Cowherd with Fox Sports National Networks’s Jamie Horowitz and Scott Shapiro, the vice president of programming for Fox Sports Radio and Premiere Sports. Cowherd worked closely with both at ESPN.
• DEITSCH: How Fox plans to use new hire Colin Cowherd
1d. In a move with cynical overtones for Olympic viewers, NBC Olympics announced last week that Ryan Seacrest will serve as host for NBC’s late-night coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The network will hype Seacrest’s work as a correspondent for NBC’s coverage of the 2012 London Games as pretext for the move, and no one doubts Seacrest’s ability to serve in a hosting role on television and his talent in a live setting. But the assignment is an insult to sports viewers who expect Olympic hosts to have year-round sporting gravitas. It’s not even about performance: NBC will set it up Seacrest not to fail and he will no doubt exceed the lowest expectations. He’s also known in the business as a hard worker, so it’s not about his effort. What is it about? The Olympic host is supposed to be an intellectual bulwark for coverage of the Games. As CBS Sports producer James Ward tweeted, “That announcement patronizes anyone with serious interest in the event.” It also will make NBC Sports look like a horse’s ass if serious news breaks out during Seacrest’s shift.
2. The NBA season will tip off on Oct. 27 with a doubleheader on TNT featuring the Cavaliers at Bulls (8 p.m. ET) and the Pelicans at Warriors (10:30 p.m. ET). ESPN will begin its coverage the next night with the Spurs-Thunder (8 p.m. ET) and Timberwolves at Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET), which will presumably feature Kobe Bryant in his 20th NBA season. TNT will televise 18 Thursday night doubleheaders as well as the NBA All-Star 2016 festivities in Toronto from Feb. 12–14. ESPN’s schedule has 38 games on Wednesdays and 31 on Fridays.
2a. Christmas Day will feature five games including a rematch of the 2015 Finals between the Cavaliers and Warriors at 5 p.m. ET on ABC. Other games include Pelicans-Heat (12 p.m. ET, ESPN), Bulls-Thunder (2:30 p.m. ET, ABC), Spurs-Rockets (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) and Clippers-Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
2b. The ABC national television schedule consists of 16 exclusive regular-season broadcasts, with eight of those games airing on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
2c. The Warriors, Bulls and Clippers will appear 10 times on TNT. The Cavs, Lakers, Thunder and Spurs will appear nine times, with the Rockets making seven appearances.
2d. The Cavs will appear a league-high six times on ABC. The Warriors, Thunder and Bulls will appear five times.
2e. The Bucks will appear on TNT for the first time since the 2002–03 season, with a game at the Cavaliers on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. ET.
2f. The Warriors, Cavs and Spurs will appear on NBA TV nine times during the season, the most among the teams in the league.
3. The guest for the 15th episode of the SI Media Podcast, which features members of the sports media talking about their work and interesting people talking about the sports media, is Grantland writer David Shoemaker (aka The Masked Man), who writes about professional wrestling for the site and is the author of the book The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Pro Wrestling.
In the podcast, Shoemaker discusses how he started writing about wrestling, how he goes about choosing his subjects, why Roddy Piper struck a chord with so many fans, the future of Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker as characters, whether wrestling fans should feel guilty about supporting the enterprise, his “Cheap Heat” podcast and why wrestling is such valuable digital and audio content, our shared love for Paul Heyman and much more.
4. Sports pieces of the week:
• The Indianapolis Star columnist Greg Doyel on a police officer working Colts camp.
• Elena Delle Donne, on her sister, Lizzie. Beautifully done.
• NYT sports columnist Michael Powell destroys the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks and Wisconsin’s politicians for a sweetheart arena deal.
• The Sporting News‘s Jason Foster looks back at the Braves-Padres brawl from 1984.
• The Economist obit on Natalia Molchanova, the world’s greatest free diver.
• Excellent piece by CBS Chicago’s Tim Baffoe on the Patrick Kane allegations.
• Kansas basketball coach Bill Self called Nancy Dorsey the day before she died.
• SB Nation’s Spencer Hall traveled to Myanmar to examine Chinlone, the traditional sport of the country.
• The New York Times reporter Ben Shpigel dove into Ikemefuna Enemkpali’s past to get some answers about his punching Geno Smith.
• From Tom Haudricourt of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Brewers minor-leaguer makes baseball history by coming out publicly as gay.
4a. Non-sports pieces:
• Via The New York Times Magazine: Every year, thousands of innocent people are sent to jail because they can’t pull together $500.
• The Cauldron’s Jim Cavan on the loss of his son.
• An Iowa barber gives free haircuts to kids who read to him while he cuts.
• How the Brat Pack got its name—and spoiled celebrity journalism forever.
• Georgetown merchants are being accused of racial profiling, according to The Georgetowner.
• Former NWA manager Jerry Helle, on Straight Outta Compton, by Grantland’s Amos Barshad.
• The Los Angeles Times revisits the Watts Riots.
• Via The New York Times‘s Rukmini Callimachi: ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape.
• How an upstate New York journalism legend approached the hardest choice.
• A devastating look at Amazon’s work culture from The New York Times staffers Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld.
5. NBC said 4.2 million people tuned in to six telecasts on NBC, NBCSN and USA on Aug. 7 and 8, the most ever for an opening Premier League weekend in the U.S., and up 25% from the 3.3 million total for five games on NBC and NBCSN last year.
5a. Showtime announced last week that it will follow Notre Dame football for the 2015 season as part of a reality series entitled A Season with Notre Dame Football. The series is set to premiere Sept. 8 at 10 p.m. ET, three days after the team’s season-opener against Texas. The show will run in 30-minute episodes throughout the season over 11 weeks.
5b. The first episode of Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Houston Texans drew 826,000 viewers, up 34% from last year’s first episode.
5c. Congrats to former SI.com staffer Pete McEntegart on the launch of Charactour.com, a new website based on a character-based algorithm intended to match consumers with entertainment content.
5d. NBC’s telecast of last Sunday’s NFL Hall of Fame Game averaged 11 million viewers, the most-watched preseason NFL game on any network in five years, since NBC’s telecast of the 2010 Hall of Fame Game (11.4 million for the Bengals-Cowboys). Last week’s game (Vikings-Steelers) topped last year’s Hall of Fame Game telecast by 29% (8.5 million viewers for Giants-Bills) and NBC said it was the most-watched sporting event since the Women’s World Cup Final on July 5.
5e. We’re starting to see more and more women in the sports media host or co-host their own podcasts. That’s an excellent trend, given the rarity of women actually employed in sports as opinion-makers. One of the newest is The Lana Berry Show, hosted by the popular Twitter follow and baseball-centric writer, Lana Berry.
5f. Andy Roddick announced last week that he has left Fox Sports 1 as a studio analyst. The former tennis player was brought in as part of the initial group of on-air talent for Fox Sports Live. Roddick and Fox said the parting was amicable.
“Andy was a key figure in helping us launch Fox Sports Live,” said Michael Hughes, the executive producer of the show. “We appreciate all of his contributions and wish him and his whole family our very best wishes.”
5g. Universal Sports Network and NBC will air more than 48 hours, including 42 hours live, of the 2015 track and field world championships from Beijing. The meet will run from Aug. 21 through Aug. 30 and sprint double king Usain Bolt is expected to compete.
5h. Former Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke will co-host SiriusXM College Sports Today twice a week (4-7 p.m. ET) throughout the college football season alongside Mark Packer. Hoke will make his debut on the channel on Tuesday. SiriusXM College Sports Today airs on SiriusXM College Sports Nation, SiriusXM’s 24/7 college sports channel.