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The Symptoms Of Coronavirus In Sports Media

“Before getting too much more into how this will factor into coverage of these teams, let me say, I don’t blame these leagues at all. I understand that protecting your players and staff is of the utmost importance, and it should be.”

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With the Coronavirus spreading, coverage of your local NHL, MLB, NBA and MLS teams will be curtailed. The aforementioned leagues issued a joint statement invoking a policy, believed to be temporary, limiting access to players and coaches before and after games. The policy deems that only those considered essential personnel will be allowed in the clubhouse and facilities operated by these teams. It went into effect Tuesday. 

Image result for nba coronavirus statement

Before getting too much more into how this will factor into coverage of these teams, let me say, I don’t blame these leagues at all. I understand that protecting your players and staff is of the utmost importance, and it should be. With the uncertainty of the virus itself this became necessary. In some ways it’s protecting media members as well, staying out of a place that sometimes becomes an incubator for the flu, colds and other maladies. You’ve undoubtedly heard countless times from a manager or head coach, “Something’s going around the clubhouse…”. Again, I get it. I will admit though, that it’s strange not to be going into a clubhouse today. It’s something I’ve been doing on a nearly daily basis for 20 plus years. 

Media Relations staffs across the country are working with front offices to figure out how best to adapt to the policy and still serve the media covering the various teams. I don’t envy this position. You can guarantee that not every media outlet will be happy with this turn of events. I’m a broadcaster for a team involved in this and the policy extends to me as well. Yes, this will make it more difficult to do my job, but I, along with many others, will have to figure out ways to continue to keep an audience informed.

What else can you do? Work harder and more creatively for one thing. Test your abilities to think outside the box and come up with alternative ways of keeping things informative. I’m still going to show up and continue to do my job to the best of my ability. How can I be angry when the goal is to keep people healthy? 

The result will certainly be damaging to the coverage coming out of these facilities. Original reporting will be nearly impossible to achieve. Players and coaches will be made available outside of the team complexes to continue a flow of information. It will however be mostly the same information presented by each media outlet. We will be talking to the same people at the same time. It will be tough for media organizations to “break news” during these unusual circumstances.

Image result for media scrum tom brady

Again, it’s nobody’s fault. I do admire the extra effort being put in by many of the team’s media relations people. They are affected by this as well. They are trying to accommodate one on one interviews to the best of their abilities. 

I’ve seen many things on social media leading up to this decision by the four leagues. Some contend we don’t belong in the locker room to begin with. I completely disagree with the notion. “It’s the players domain”, says one person. “Why do you need to be in there when you can talk to players in other places?” asks another. 

Well the truth is, we as media members need to be in the various clubhouses and locker rooms to do our jobs and bring our listeners, viewers and readers information. Do you as an audience member want to read, see, or hear the same information almost word for word on TV, radio, on the web or in your newspaper?

There is a lot of standing around at times, but there are equal times where stories are being developed. They are not always are the negative stories. Personal triumphs, human interest and internal battles are learned about by being around these human beings. 

I’ve read elsewhere from fans responding to articles and tweets, they don’t believe the sports media serves a purpose anymore. Those fans feel like the personal social media sites for the player is a better way to “get to know a player”.  Some say it’s self-serving to even be talking about the issue of being shut out of the clubhouse because of a spreading pandemic. I couldn’t disagree more with all of those theories and thoughts. I respect your opinion, but I’m not of the same mindset as you. 

Journalists, yes there still are quite a few out there, pride themselves in building relationships with players and coaches. Developing a trust, asking good questions and producing original quality stories is what we do for a living. To be asked to do the same while not having access to players or coaches in that setting is not a fair ask. However, your audience is still craving the information. We are going to have to figure out how to get this done under less than ideal circumstances. 

For those out there still feeling like “what’s the difference if you’re in there or not?”, the game will go on in either case. Yeah, you’re right but consider what might be next. If this virus keeps spreading, the games may go on, but without you. Meaning, games could be played with no fans in the stands. It’s already happening in other countries. It’s happening for some college basketball tourneys. Why wouldn’t major pro sports be next?

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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