Connect with us

BSM Writers

Nothing Else Matters: In 2020, Sports Crushed Racism

“What was thought to be a lost year in American sports has transformed into a sweeping revolution — the shakedown of racial inequality — that trivializes the now-tenuous resumption of games.”

Published

on

This will sound strangely counterintuitive without games to watch, trophies to award and over-unders to wager, but sports already has won the year. The ref can stop the fight, in fact, because racism is getting its ass kicked. If the apocalyptic haze of 2020 couldn’t have been foreseen even with 20-20 vision, sports still has conquered all with its extraordinary embrace of a movement — Black Lives Matter — that never has mattered much beyond lip service and business necessity in an industry lorded by white billionaires.

Suddenly, shockingly, nothing else matters. Nor should it when this country, suffering from a collective guilty conscience, is awash in soul searching that should have happened centuries ago.

“Ask the questions, ask the uncomfortable questions, and you will come to the conclusion, I hope, that I have,’’ said Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, one such white billionaire. “You don’t feel it enough and you don’t live it enough if you’re not willing to say it: Black lives matter.’’

The raw significance: Bisciotti considered signing Colin Kaepernick in 2017 and declined, concerned that segments of his team’s fan base would rebel. Now, he says he’d be “the worst kind of hypocrite’’ if he didn’t speak out about race. Did you just feel the earth move? We’re still waiting for Jerry Jones and other prominent NFL owners to stand up and say something, anything, but if they don’t, they’ll now be perceived as bigots who ignored the social justice crusade. That’s how three weeks have changed America, hopefully forever.

Progress? No, this is a cultural avalanche — a reckoning, I reckon, that reduces everything else in sports to gravel dust.

2020 MLB SEASON IS CANCELLED?? - YouTube

Let Major League Baseball implode in greed and delusion, its shrunken manhood naked to a mocking world. The owners and players continue to insult the national intellect, if not commit institutional suicide, by flailing like two punchdrunk bums and failing to reach common ground to resume the season. At this point, we’d be happy if they fade away like floppy disks, Hummers, David Lee Roth and other ‘90s bygones. Shame on the owners for crying poor after generating $10 billion in revenues last season, then refusing comment after cutting a $3.3 billion TV deal with Turner Sports, which either likes wasting money or had Charles Barkley brokering the talks in a bar. And shame on the players for not immediately going on strike, having heard St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. say, “The industry isn’t very profitable, to be honest.’’

Tweeted pitching smart-ass Trevor Bauer: “Oh good so … we can play now, right? Seems there is plenty to go around here. Seems there is plenty of money being made by the league and the teams. Given tha(t) players are the product, I’m sure some of this can be distributed to them, right? Yay for baseball.”

A commissioner-mandated, 48-game season would be a bastardized farce amid racial unrest and a pandemic, typical of a sham sport where the Yankees have joined the Astros and Red Sox in the electronic sign-stealing sinbin. Is anyone to be trusted in this godforsaken racket? Why would any established, wealthy-for-life star agree to play and take health risks — MLB has yet to establish an official COVID-19 testing protocol — when a better idea is to stay home until next year. And If Mike Trout and other superstars don’t suit up, what is the point of playing an illegitimate season? Just declare a work stoppage and leave us alone. If you miss baseball, you must be 85, playing John Fogerty’s “Centerfield’’ on cassette and still calling it the national pastime. Which makes you Bud Selig, who somehow wrecked the game AND made the Hall of Fame while still believing Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were heroes.

Why Kyrie Irving is Overrated - Last Word on Pro Basketball

Let a coronavirus bubble chase off some NBA players and confound others, such as Kyrie Irving, who think resuming a season would diminish Black Lives Matter momentum and overshadow protests when, of course, it also would draw attention to the league’s social conscience. As Austin Rivers said, echoing LeBron James and those who do want to play in the Disney World biodome: “Us coming back would put money in all of our pockets. With this money, you could help out even more people and continue to give, more importantly, your time and energy toward the BLM movement.’’ The league boss, Adam Silver, should have known some would balk at virus risks in Florida, where infections are surging in the Orlando area, and lockdown rules that won’t let players leave the bubble for restaurants, golf courses or strip clubs. But when Irving, who isn’t healthy enough to play, suggests the league is racist for trying to resume a season, that’s an outgrowth of the bigger cause.

“I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit,’’ Irving said on a conference call with fellow players, per The Athletic. “Smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.’’

Let the football season never start because a line of scrimmage is a petri dish for the coronavirus. Let the inevitable positive tests thwart preposterous attempts to resume seasons and recoup lost fortunes. Let the concept of spectator-free events turn freaky in golf, where a hole-in-one happened without applause and a CBS boom mike picked up Jon Rahm’s F-bomb. Let there be no titles, no MVPs, no parades.

Who really cares when we’ve seen sports finally examine itself in the looking glass, see a self-image it has grown to despise and realize it too has failed massively — even after Jackie Robinson, even after John Carlos and Tommie Smith, even after Muhammad Ali — in a twisted culture that allows a white Minneapolis policeman to knee-choke-murder an unarmed black man two decades into the 21st century. It took those eight minutes and 46 seconds, the killing of George Floyd, for the athletic world to at last acknowledge what so many resident activists have said for eons about racial injustice and police brutality in America.

The hatred must end.

The world must change.

UEFA confident Euro 2020 will be free of racism

And so it has, with sports figures of all races and ages joining America in a swirl of protests, statements and pro-inclusion advocacy, to the point sports might play a prominent role in a substitution a bit larger than Tom Brady for Drew Bledsoe and Lou Gehrig for Wally Pipp — say, Joe Biden for Donald Trump. The country’s abrupt revolution, inspired by the pulsating protests after Floyd’s death, has jolted sports leaders who have no choice but to speak out and change policies … or risk being linked to complicity in racism. For the first time, the politically connected magnates of sports — why does Jones’ grin always pop up first? — appear helpless in stopping the Kaepernick-led peaceful kneeling protests that surfaced in 2016 but faded two years later. That’s because seemingly everyone in sports — commissioners, executives, coaches, athletes — is committed to Black Lives Matter. If only sports would have acted so responsibly when health experts, in early March, were advising shutdowns of arenas and ballparks because of a novel virus.

COVID-19 kills people. But racism, in a progressive America, might kill entire leagues. That’s what grabs the establishment’s attention. We’ve seen the NFL, which normally genuflects to no one, dramatically change course and urge players to protest. We’ve seen NASCAR, reluctant through time to break from racist roots, ban the confederate flag — lower-case c, please — after its only full-time black driver, Bubba Wallace, said, “It starts with confederate flags. Get them out of here.’’ The Boston Red Sox decried cases, including seven last year, in which racist fans poisoned the Fenway Park experience. During MLB’s amateur draft, the predominantly white heads of franchise front offices displayed placards: “Black Lives Matter. United for Change.’’ The U.S. Olympic Committee, known to punish athletes for protests during medals ceremonies, is forming an athletes-led panel to “challenge the rules and systems in our own organization that create barriers to progress, including your right to protest.’’ Collegiate sports factories such as Clemson, Iowa and Texas have been reminded we’re in a new millennium. So has the U.S. Soccer Federation, which will let players protest after requiring Megan Rapinoe to stand when she was kneeling in solidarity.

Tweeted Trump: “I’d rather the US not have a soccer team than have a soccer team that won’t stand for the National Anthem. I won’t be watching much anymore.’’

And Drew Brees? Anyone heard from him lately? His dated views about anthem protests have been modernized by a younger white quarterback, Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill, who said, “When the kneeling first started to happen, it was a bit of a shock, I guess, because it hadn’t been done before. I think I had to get past the fact that it wasn’t about the flag. It wasn’t about the anthem. It wasn’t about our country. It was about the injustice and raising awareness and getting people’s attention. I think once I got past that fact, I could really support it.”

Baker Mayfield Says He Will 'Absolutely' Kneel During National ...

Another white quarterback, Baker Mayfield, scolded a fan who wrote on Instagram, “Please tell Browns fans you’re not going to be kneeling this season.’’ Replied Mayfield, not always the most savvy bro-dude: “(P)ull your head out. I absolutely am.’’

Racists always will lurk. But in sports, they’ve climbed into the closet and turned out the light, drowned out by legitimate hope in numbers. We expect James, a tenured veteran of social activism, to be front and center. “Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,’’ he said. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. We do feel like we’re getting some ears and attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.” But why does 2020 feel like a landmark and not another half-hearted charade of opportunism? Through technology, billions of eyeballs have seen Floyd, unable to breathe, a visual that makes us tremble and cry while shining a light on police brutality that cannot be minimized by the coldest of hearts.

“In the time since I’ve been alive, I don’t remember it being this strong of an impact and reaching this many people and this many people being upset and emotional about it,’’ said the vocal NFL social observer, Richard Sherman. “The way the world has been, when those guys (Kaepernick and other kneelers) were making it about police brutality, (skeptics) found a way to dull down that message and divert it and make it about something else, as a way to avoid the conversation. I think this time, it’s too full-fledged. Most people are actually getting the messaging and seeing it first-hand. Any human with any true empathy in them for their fellow human being would feel that strong. Nobody can turn their eyes away.’’

From George Floyd. From Ahmaud Arbery. From Breonna Taylor. And, this past weekend, from Rayshard Brooks, who was fatally shot by police in a struggle over a Taser outside an Atlanta fast-food restaurant.

Is Patrick Mahomes Married? The QB Met His Sweetheart In High School

Also consider that Black Lives Matter has an unexpected wild card: Patrick Mahomes, face of the most prominent league in American sports, who has emerged from the Gen Z shadows to condemn systemic racism and stir the waters of social change. Best known for his otherworldly quarterbacking skills and beach photos with his girlfriend, Mahomes was the biggest star in the epic players’ video that forced NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to admit the league was “wrong’’ and immediately change policy on activism, now encouraging players to “speak out and peacefully protest.’’ Mahomes represents young people in their mid-20s — a voting demographic that potentially could reshape the White House.

“Enough is enough,” Mahomes said. “ We’ve got to do something about this. I’m blessed to have this platform. Why not use it? We (need) to come together as players and show that we believe black lives matter. We need to be the role models to go out there and take that step.’’

It’s working. In 2016, when anthem displays were most demonstrative, polls showed that only 25-30 percent of Americans appoved of kneeling. Today, a Yahoo News/YouGuv poll of 1,564 Americans has 52 percent indicating approval for “NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police killings of African-Americans.’’ This time, Goodell and Jones cannot curtail the sideline protests if TV ratings are adversely impacted and advertisers are concerned. Kneeling will proceed en masse, likely involving every team and every game until further notice, despite indications by some franchises that protest decisions will be made as organizations. Once Goodell said in his video, “I personally protest with you,’’ it will be hard to walk back from his declaration without creating chaos. Among those suspicious of Goodell’s motives is the noted anti-Trumper, Gregg Popovich, who told the New York Times: “He got intimidated when Trump jumped on the kneeling (and) he folded.’’ This time, Goodell will stay true.

It’s Jones who might be foolish enough to resist as the bad cop. Three years ago, remember, he said any Dallas Cowboys player who “disrespects the flag’’ wouldn’t play. Sherman is among those asking why Jones has been silent recently. “Jerry Jones, especially, has no problem speaking up any other time about anything else,” he said. “But when it’s such a serious issue, and he could really make a huge impact on it with a few words, his silence speaks volumes.”

Carolina Panthers removing Jerry Richardson statue

They may be white, male and privileged, but most of the owners aren’t stupid. They saw the protests, filled with young people who will decide if the NFL and other sports leagues are relevant in the future. They saw how the statue of Jerry Richardson, once revered in Charlotte for bringing the Panthers to town, was carted away from the stadium to an undisclosed storage facility, two years after racial and sexual misconduct allegations forced him to sell the team. No doubt they’ve been weakened, as well, by an ongoing health catastrophe that has left them vulnerable.

So they are opening the doors they’ve kept shut. And more are speaking out, regardless of harsh consequences during cocktail hour at the owners’ meetings. The more they speak out, the more confident Black America becomes that this is not the usual lip service. “Back when Kaepernick took a knee, it was almost kind of scary,” Los Angeles Rams receiver Robert Woods said. “You could lose your job, you could be on the bench. I think now being able to have a voice, knowing that your political views shouldn’t (be punishable) … I think you’ll see players speak up on what they believe in and have confidence that their team is able to back them.”

Said Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks: “Finally having Goodell say those things and having our back, I feel like we can all move forward now.”

Texans' Bill O'Brien: "I'll Kneel With Players" | News Radio 1200 WOAI

Hell, at least one white NFL coach says he’ll kneel with his players. “Yeah, I’ll take a knee — I’m all for it,’’ said Bill O’Brien, who represents the Texans in Houston, George Floyd’s hometown. “The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are. They’re not taking a knee because they’re against our flag. They’re taking a knee because they haven’t been treated equally in this country for over 400 years.’’

Face it. Sports needed a comprehensive deep cleanse, a massive reboot, a push of the reset button. I’ve been saying and writing since March 11, the night Rudy Gobert’s positive test halted the NBA, that the industry should shut down until 2021 to reassess its place in a new world. Now, I believe it even more.

It might be too much to rid the industry of cheating and avarice, but sports must try. We’ve seen the unshakeable monster, racial inequality, sacked and smothered into the earth. Finally, anything seems possible.

BSM Writers

Meet The Market Managers: Ryan Hatch, Bonneville International Phoenix

“Our pitch is that these brands have a connection to the market. That works for us, and that works because it’s emotional. It works because it’s local. It works because of the creative messaging behind it.”

Published

on

For as long as I have known Ryan Hatch, he has been a good friend, encouraging me to take advantage of each opportunity put in front of me. When someone treats you that way, you cannot be anything but thrilled when you see them do the same thing.

Late last year, Ryan was elevated from a programming executive role with Bonneville to become Market Manager of the company’s Phoenix cluster. He is now overseeing every aspect of a building that he has worked in for a long time.

I thought it would be fun to visit with him to see what has changed. The last time I profiled him, he was serving as PD of Arizona Sports 98.7. The last time we profiled Bonneville Phoenix for this series, it was Scott Sutherland in the Market Manager’s chair. So, what has changed?

In this conversation, presented by Point to Point Marketing, Ryan and I discuss the changing nature of our business, retaining great talent, and supporting the person who’s tasked with filling your former position and leading the programming team forward. When a company is ahead of the curve with its digital strategy and generating strong ratings and revenue, what’s next?


Demetri Ravanos: So how has the transition gone moving from programming into the market manager’s seat? We’re a little over six months into the change. How steep has the learning curve been?

Ryan Hatch: You know what? It’s been fantastic. And I have to give so much credit to Scott Sutherland, who was in the chair before me, and others within the company for really preparing me for this moment. But it’s not just a transition from programming. I would think even if I came up through the sales, marketing or finance side there would be a curve.              

I’m learning new things every single day and loving it. So whether it’s six months or six years in this chair or more, I hope that I can always say that.                    

I love the job. I love the market. Obviously, you know, I’ve been here for such a long time and it’s the best chair to be in. I’m thrilled. 

DR: You mentioned Scott and I started thinking about this after you and I set a time to talk. There’s this advantageous environment of education there, right? Because Scott is still in the area. He held your job before. You’re obviously in the building and that’s got to be advantageous for Sean Thompson. How much do those conversations take place day-to-day? There seems to be an opportunity for everybody to learn and build on the person that came before them because they can just walk down the hall and ask. 

RH: Absolutely it can be advantageous because you’ve got institutional knowledge. Every person that’s been in your chair before can certainly provide important information to help expedite the onboarding process.              

The other side of it is making sure that there are clear boundaries. I can speak with Sean Thompson coming in on the programming side. My goal is to empower him and embolden Sean to take this brand to a different level with new ideas and thoughts.           

I’d been in that chair for so long, we were certainly ready for somebody new to come in with a new perspective and new experiences, and Sean’s done a wonderful job doing that. I think if you talk to Scott, he would probably say something similar. So when you ask the question, “is it advantageous?”, the answer is unquestionable. Yes, it is. At the same time, you have to really be clear on where those boundaries are, how much you want to give and share, and how much you want to let that person learn and experience it on their own as they’re creating their new environment, if that makes sense. 

DR: So with those boundaries, are there things you see Sean putting into place that make you think, “Oh man, that’s really cool. I kind of miss programing at this moment”? 

RH: Well, the irony is in asking that question, I think today is actually his 90th day on the job. So we’re still in the basic stages of him taking that chair.                   

He’s full of ideas, full of energy. I can’t wait to see so much of it come to fruition. But again, when you’re only three months in, you’re doing a lot of listening and a lot of learning before you dig in to start making change. I expect that to come, but he walked into a position with a great on-air staff, fantastic talent, an unbelievable digital team, with a great marketing and promotional support team behind him as well.                       

I’ll tell you what I’m most excited about is what’s going to happen this fall. After the listening and the learning is done, we’ll be starting to really build some exciting plans into the NFL season around the Cardinals and the NFL. We’re also hosting the Super Bowl in February of ’23 as well. So we’ve got a great big build coming here in Arizona. 

DR: So let’s talk a little bit about the future and where things can go, not just for Phoenix, but for Bonneville overall. I told you this a million times. What has always impressed me about the company, even before you and I got to know each other, was that you guys were so ahead of the curve on recognizing the value of digital content. Arizona Sports is not a radio station, it is a brand.             

I wonder now that you are in the market manager’s chair, how you look at all of the money from these different companies being put into podcasts. I mean, the deals being made to turn podcasts into TV shows or movies, do you ever think about what is possible or maybe what the next evolution for the digital side of Bonneville could or should be? 

RH: Well, I think as a company, and not to speak for Tanya Vea, who’s in a new EVP position helping oversee a lot of our content initiatives, we’re opening up a mechanism for local ideas to be funneled up to a team led by our VP of Podcasting, Sheryl Worsley. The idea is to be able to support a local that might scale on a national level and help it achieve that potential. I think that we’re very aggressive. I think that we’re also very strategic in the podcasting world.              

There’s a blessing and a curse there. The blessing is that that audience is expanding rapidly and the revenue’s been following, you know, slowly, but still following in that direction. The downside is how much time and energy and creativity a lot of our best talent have.                 

Do we want to put our talk show hosts, who are spending 4 hours a day creating live broadcast content, at the forefront of that effort? How many more hours a day of creative juice do they have left for a podcast or a passion project? It could be something that might not be entirely complimentary to the brand.                          

I think you have to be smart and strategic and understand how big of a bed it is you want to make. I think we’re being strategic about it and making the best decision for each individual circumstance. 

DR: So what about from a broadcast angle? As podcasting continues to grow and becomes the kind of thing that sellers see as easier to get clients involved with, what are the things that terrestrial radio is going to have to do to secure its own future? 

RH: Well, speaking on behalf of our properties here, where we’re all local news and all local sports. Really, that’s our business. I don’t think that there’s anything that can replicate the power of live, in the moment, information-based content. And that is the value proposition that broadcast has.                

Now, will that traditional radio audience continue to decline and find other venues? Potentially. I mean, that’s just natural, and I think that we’ve seen that accelerate through the pandemic. That doesn’t take away from the importance though.                         

If you look at Bonneville Phoenix, whether it’s Arizona Sports or KTAR, our streaming numbers are way, way up. Our monthly app users are way, way up. Our smart speaker usage is way, way up. And I think too many times we categorize one as digital and one as radio. I look at it more through the lens of what is a live broadcast and what is driven by more destination-based, story-based, topic-based choices. That’s a different experience and you can serve both. 

DR: What is your view of having that live content accessed by both radios and streaming devices? When you’re a programmer, I think it is it is easier to say, “Look, people are coming to this content. This is good content. That is what matters.” But now that you’re the market manager, I know you are a real advocate for total line reporting, but now the ratings take on this whole different meaning to you than they did before. What is your view of the right path forward to paint that picture easily and accurately for advertisers about just how powerful these brands are, whether it’s Arizona Sports or KTAR? 

RH: Thank goodness we have fantastic sales management and account executives on the streets telling that story and big brands to back them up with that unique content that our stations are delivering. And as I’ve told you in different settings over the years Demetri, Nielsen is one of many tools that tell that story. When we’re on the streets talking to a potential advertiser, and understand that our game is not as national or our market is not as regional, we are hyper-locally focused. In Phoenix, Arizona, that’s a lot of small to medium-sized businesses. So when we can walk in and share a total audience report that gives a glimpse of Nielsen, which we know is antiquated and really, really needs to be reformed and updated. You’ve got to bring your Google Analytics and your Triton numbers. You have so many other tools to use to evaluate how our content is being delivered and consumed. You’ve got to paint that entire total audience story, and I will tell you that it’s a story that is very well received in Phoenix with our products. 

DR: Maybe this is more of a question for your sales staff, but is it a matter of walking potential advertisers and current advertisers through each individual number, or do you find a way to synthesize it down into a simple illustration of how many people are listening to your content every day? 

RH: It’s not a numbers game. It’s not getting into detail about how many tens of thousands of listeners we have on one platform and how many on another and how many views or clicks on websites. Our pitch is that these brands have a connection to the market. That works for us, and that works because it’s emotional. It works because it’s local. It works because of the creative messaging behind it. When you have something that works for your advertisers, they’re not going to be coming in and scrutinizing the numbers left and right.                      

Now, you have to deliver to the audience, and we have significant audiences. In fact, I’ll tell you right now, combining everything together. And it’s not apples to apples, because these are all different channels. But our audience is here in Phoenix between our websites, our apps, and our radio distribution. Our audiences have never been better. I mean, that’s a wonderful and easy story to tell. 

DR: Play-by-play is obviously a big part of what you do on Arizona Sports. You and I have talked before about the landscape of Phoenix sports, and I think you’ve described it as, because Phoenix is a transplant market, you find yourself talking about everyone’s second favorite team.            

So how does that play with advertisers? Do they buy into the idea that this is a unifying thing or is there some concern that it is too much of a transplant market for the value returned by play-by-play doesn’t match the cost to advertise in that space? 

RH: Our original franchise, the Phoenix Suns, while, they had a disappointing end of the season, it couldn’t have been more galvanizing. That is the one team that has been here for 50-plus years. That orange blood does run deep. The Cardinals have had their moments. The Diamondbacks have the only championship in the major sports here, but that was back in 2001.             

I’ll answer that question in a couple of ways. Number one, we are catering to the fans and to the super fans, but we try to create content that is going to be accessible and interesting for those that would claim that any of the franchises are their second favorite team in a given league. When you move into a market and you head to the office or nowadays maybe it’s a Zoom call, you still want to be able to have a conversation about something that’s relevant. You want a shared experience with your coworker or a neighbor, somebody at school when you’re hanging out waiting to up the kids. So often that conversation is sports.                        

We have a fantastic sports market. Now, where’s the passion level? Is it as high as a Boston or Philadelphia? Of course not and we’re not going to act like it is. But at the end of the day, what does an advertiser look for? They’re looking for an audience and they’re looking for something exclusive to put their message on. That’s what we’re able to offer with our play-by-play. On top of that, what’s become more and more important to us in our model, especially on the digital side over the years, is the access to those decision-makers, to the coaches, the exclusive access to the general managers with weekly calls, and things like player shows.                 

There’s so much more that you can offer beyond just the game itself that makes these partnerships great for our business and the advertising community. 

DR: So coming out of what is being called The Great Resignation, what are you experiencing as a market manager and what are your other hiring managers experiencing? What are the new challenges of recruiting, whether it is sales or programing, any kind of talent in an environment like this? 

RH: Well, let’s add to that and talk about inflationary pressures as well. I mean, there are so many factors at play right now, and I think it’s as tough as I can ever remember it.                 

What we’re doing here at Bonneville Phoenix is really leaning into our culture and making sure that we’re an employer of choice because we have a culture that people want to be a part of. It’s a good team environment full of hungry people that want to succeed not just for themselves. So the more hungry, humble, and smart people we find, the better off we’re going to be.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t lost. There’s been a dramatic shuffle. Right now, I can say that we’re close to a full boat, but that wasn’t the case a month ago. There are so many different forces at play right now. It is a difficult environment. Our news side alone faces unique challenges. News itself has been under attack for multiple years. Don’t you think that burns people out?           

Absolutely I have concerns, but what can we control? Well, we can focus on executing the vision that Bonneville has provided. It’s built on passionate people and innovation. It is about creating a culture people want to be a part of. 

DR: We’ve heard a lot about burnout when people talk about why they leave a job in any industry. We hear about work-life balance. You’re responsible for the entire building, so what are you telling your managers on the sales and programming side about creating an environment for employees that respects that those are real and valid concerns while still maintaining the level of expectation of quality for Arizona Sports and KTAR. 

RH:  We’re still committed to the highest standards, and we always will be. And we found that certain parts of the business can work pretty effectively from home, while other parts of the business really can’t. I will tell you, on the content side working from home, we did it when we had to. We did it, I would say fairly effectively for a few extended periods. But overall, in a local news and local sports environment that really is driven by the breaking news, the need to work together in a space is real. You just can’t do things as quickly or as effectively or as creatively if you’re separated. You just can’t.                  

Now, on the sales side, we want them on the streets. We want them out of the office, but there is a balance. So what are we asking our great sales managers to do? We’re asking them just to make sure that they are up to speed on where the activity is and that we’re doing all the jobs that need to be done. Do I ever see us going back to five days a week in the office? I don’t. I think that ship has sailed and I think that’s just fine. I think there’s some real benefit to that.  

The way to make this all work is to empower our department heads to come up with a plan that’s going to work best for them, for their people, and deliver on what our expectations are for the business. And then as leaders, we have to understand that the plan is going to be evolving. It really is. This is not going to be decided on a new policy set. I think that we’re in a new world, probably for the rest of our lives. 

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Broadcasting Fills The Baseball Void For Keith Moreland

“When I got through… I wanted to do something with my life and I get that same feeling with broadcasting.”

Published

on

Austin American-Statesman

Sports color analysts are more often than not former players. This has been a consistent norm across sports broadcasting at all levels. The analyst is there to add “color” to the play-by-play broadcaster’s metaphorical and verbal “drawing” of the game. For former MLB slugger and catcher, Keith Moreland, this was the surprise post-playing retirement career that has boosted him to a key figure in Austin media and national media alike.

Moreland played football and baseball at the University of Texas before making his way to the MLB for 12 years with key contributions to the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs in the 1980s.

Moreland reminisced on his decision to play baseball full time: “I thought I was going to be in the NFL, but Earl Campbell changed that. I had just played summer ball. We had won a championship and I missed the first few days of two-a-days. I hadn’t even had a physical yet and I’m in a scrimmage. I stepped up to this freshman running back and as he ducked his shoulder, one of his feet hit my chest and the other hit my face mask and he kept on truckin’. I got up and I thought ‘I could be a pretty good baseball player.’

So I told Coach Royal after practice I was going to focus on baseball and he asked ‘what took you so long? We were surprised you came back because we think you have a really good shot at playing professional baseball.'”

It was a good choice for Moreland. He was part of the 1973 College World Series winning Texas Longhorns baseball team. While at Texas Moreland hit .388 and became the all-time leader in hits for the College World Series. After being drafted by the Phillies in the 7th round of the 1975 draft, Moreland would go-on to play in the majors from 1978 to 1989.

“You go your whole life trying to get to play professionally. When I got through my opportunity to play in the big leagues, I wanted to do something with my life and I get that same feeling with broadcasting.”

Broadcasting was not the original retirement plan for Moreland. He first tried his luck at coaching with his first stop being his alma mater as an assistant for the Longhorns. At the time, Bill Schoening (a Philadelphia native and Phillies fan), was the radio play-by-play broadcaster. Schoening made Moreland a go-to for a pre-game interview and convinced him to come on talk shows. Schoening even convinced Moreland to practice live broadcasting skills by taking a recorder to games and listening back to them to learn.

“Bill was the guy who brought me onboard and I still have those tapes and I really learned from them, but I don’t want anyone else to ever hear them!” Moreland adds with a chuckle on how far he has come in over 25 years of broadcasting.

Moreland has been a key part of University of Texas radio broadcasts for baseball since the 1990s and has catapulted that broadcast experience to Texas high school football, Longhorn football radio and television broadcasts, ESPN, the Little League World Series, the Chicago Cubs and more since hanging up his cleats and picking up a microphone.

While his playing days are well behind him, Moreland still takes the spirit of his professional athlete background to his broadcasting:

“If you don’t bring energy to your broadcast, somebody’s gonna turn the game on and wonder ‘what’s wrong? Are they losing the game?’”, Moreland remarks, “So you have to come prepared and with energy for the broadcasts.”

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Radio Partnerships With Offshore Sportsbooks Are Tempting

The rush to get sports betting advertising revenue offers an interesting risk to stations in states where the activity is illegal.

Published

on

Maryland Matters

As the wave of sports gambling continues to wash over the United States, marketing budgets soar and advertisements flood radio and television airwaves. Offers of huge sign-on bonuses, “risk-free” wagers, and enhanced parlay odds seem to come from every direction as books like DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM fight over market share and battle one another for every new user they can possibly attract.

For those in states where sports betting is not yet legalized–or may never be–it is frustrating to see these advertisements and know that you cannot get in the action. However, as with any vice, anybody determined to partake will find ways to do so. Offshore sports books are one of the biggest ways. Companies such as Bovada and BetOnline continue to thrive even as more state-based online wagering options become available to Americans.

While five states–Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York–have passed laws making it illegal for offshore books to take action from their residents, using an offshore book is perfectly legal for the rest of the country. While there are hurdles involved with funding for some institutions, there is no law that prevents someone in one of those other 45 states from opening an account with Bovada and wagering on whatever sporting events they offer. The United States government has tried multiple times to go after them, citing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, and have failed at every step, with the World Trade Organization citing that doing so would violate international trade agreements. 

While gambling is becoming more and more accepted every day, and more states look to reap the financial windfall that comes with it, the ethical decisions made take on even more importance. One of the tougher questions involved with the gambling arms race is how to handle offers from offshore books to advertise with radio stations in a state where sports betting is not legalized. 

Multiple stations in states without legalized gambling, such as Texas and Florida, have partnerships with BetOnline to advertise their services. Radio stations can take advantage of these relationships in three main ways: commercials, on-air reads, and the station’s websites. For example, Bovada’s affiliate program allows for revenue sharing based on people clicking advertisements on a partner’s website and signing up with a new deposit. This is also the case for podcasts, such as one in Kansas that advertises with Bovada despite sports gambling not being legal there until later in 2022.

People are going to gamble, and it’s legal to do so. In full disclosure, I myself have utilized Bovada’s services for a number of years, even after online sports wagering became legal in my state of Indiana. As such, advertising a service that is legal within the state seems perfectly fine in the business sense, and I totally understand why a media entity would choose to accept an offer from an offshore book. However, there are two major factors that make it an ethical dilemma, neither of which can be ignored.

First, Americans may find it easy to deposit money with a book such as Bovada or BetOnline, but much more difficult to get their money back. While the UIGEA hasn’t been successful in stopping these books from accepting money, it has made it difficult–near impossible, in fact–for American financial institutions to accept funds directly from these companies. Therefore, most payouts have to take place either via a courier service, with a check that can take weeks to arrive, or via a cryptocurrency payout. For those who are either unwilling or not tech-savvy enough to go this route, it means waiting sometimes up to a month to receive that money versus a couple days with a state-licensed service.

The other major concern is the lack of protections involved with gambling in a state where legislation has been passed. For example, the state of Indiana drew up laws and regulations for companies licensed to operate within its borders that included protections for how bets are graded, what changes can be made to lines and when they can take place, and how a “bad line” is handled. They also require a portion of the revenues be put towards resources for those dealing with gambling addiction or compulsion issues. 

None of those safeguards exist with an offshore book. While the books have to adhere to certain regulations, it’s much more loosely enforced. I’ve lost track of the number of times a book like Bovada has made somewhat shady decisions on what bets to honor as “wins”, and how they handle wagers on what they deem to be “bad lines” where they posted a mistake and users capitalized on it. Furthermore, not a single dime of the monies received go towards helping those dealing with addiction, and there are few steps taken by the offshore books to look for compulsive or addictive behaviors.  

As states look to move sports betting out of the shadows, the decision whether to take advertising dollars from offshore books seems to be an even larger gray area than ever before. Although it is perfectly legal to accept these funds when offered, it feels unethical to do so. There are moral obligations tied to accepting the money involved, especially given the lack of regulations and safeguards for players in addition to the limited resources for those who find themselves stuck in a situation they may struggle to escape. While it’s possible to take steps to educate listeners on these pitfalls, it simply feels irresponsible to encourage people to utilize these services given the risks involved, and the lack of protections in place.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.