Connect with us
BSM Summit
blank

BSM Writers

Sports Helped Biden, But Covid Reckoning Awaits

Unlike Trump, the President-elect vows to attack the coronavirus with a national mask order, which could jeopardize reckless leagues in 2021 until — or, if — a promising vaccine is ready.

Jay Mariotti

Published

on

blank

We interrupt the celebrations inside the sports world — activism over Trumpism — for an urgent message from the President-elect. He vows to impose a nationwide “mandate’’ attacking COVID-19, which continues to ransack America but is viewed as just another nagging injury by pro and college football while being pooh-poohed, rather stunningly, by a baseball boss who didn’t punish Justin Turner as a potential superspreader.     

Pfizer says it has developed a promising COVID vaccine. The President-elect is hopeful, as we all are. He also is cautious, as we all should be.     

“Masks matter,’’ said Joe Biden, who wears one and wants everyone else to do the same. “It saves lives. It prevents the spread of the disease. All of the tough guys say: `I’m not wearing a mask. I’m not afraid.’ Well, be afraid for your husband, your wife, your son, your daughter, your neighbor or your co-worker. That’s who you’re protecting having this mask on. And it should be viewed as a patriotic duty to protect those around you. Anybody who contracts the virus by saying masks don’t matter, or social distancing doesn’t matter, I think is responsible for what happens to them.’’

Biden reiterates call for nationwide mask mandates at second event with  Harris

Meaning, nothing has changed. “Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing and other measures to keep themselves safe into the next year,’’ Biden said Monday.

Got it, sports?

Probably not.

It was President Trump, remember, who encouraged and enabled the resumption of sports this year. He did so while mocking and dismissing the coronavirus, allowing leagues and conferences to take life-and-death risks in bulldozing and landmine-jumping through seasons. Schedules played inside Bubbles worked; schedules played outside Bubbles haven’t worked. The primary reason for the failures and outbreaks: Athletes and coaches haven’t obeyed protocols such as, oh, wearing masks. And if positive tests wreaked havoc, as they have in football, c’est la vie — even if means COVID chaos and major fines for NFL teams and scheduling chaos in the college game, such as the infection that sidelined the presumptive No. 1 draft pick, Trevor Lawrence, for the season’s best collision to date.

Without Lawrence, Clemson lost to Notre Dame in double-overtime, a thriller that shook the echoes hours after Biden and Kamala Harris spoke to the nation, this as people rejoiced on city streets coast to coast. America felt alive … until thousands of students and players’ family members — yes, thousands — rushed the field in South Bend, all packed together, some wearing masks and some not. How could this happen? I forgot. The Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, is a Trump supporter who tested positive at a Trump event and evidently doesn’t care much about a campus outbreak. Even when the public-address announcer repeatedly asked the throng to leave, everyone remained long enough … for a spread. Coach Brian Kelly, whose program has been rocked by the virus, had warned his players, “When we win this thing, the fans are going to storm the field. With COVID being as it is, we’ve got to get off the field and to the tunnel.”

Hypocritical Tweets Surface About Notre Dame's Field Storm

The players were slow to get through the green mob anyway. “I beat `em all to the tunnel,” Kelly said, “so that didn’t go over so good.”

Not that the players cared. “That was a cool experience for me, everybody rushing down,” said the star running back, Kyren Williams.

Oh, but there’s more irresponsible COVID news from the weekend. Only hours after MLB pardoned Turner for his self-indulging escape from COVID isolation following Game 6 — so he could celebrate a World Series title with teammates — nine members of the Dodgers organization have subsequently tested positive. If we can believe the Dodgers, five weren’t part of the MLB Bubble in Texas. The other four? The team and league haven’t commented, which smacks of a cover-up attempt.

The flouting, the recklessness, the megalomaniacal delusion that sports is bigger than the virus and can plow through it to recoup TV billions — this madness likely won’t be happening when Biden takes over as the 46th U.S. President. That assumes it isn’t an empty promise, which wouldn’t be a good way to start, and that he won’t back down to those who say a mask “mandate” isn’t legal. Biden already has formed a 12-person coronavirus task force, saying during his Saturday night speech, “We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality or relish life’s most previous moments … until we get it under control. That plan will be built on bedrock science and constructed out of compassion and concern. I will spare no effort — none — or any commitment to turn around this pandemic.”

If he’s this determined, tell me: How will sports carry on in 2021, when leagues are hellbent to play outside protective lockdowns that allowed the NBA, NHL, WNBA and, eventually, MLB to survive in 2020? How will Biden win this war when too many human beings associated with sports aren’t responsible enough to wear facial coverings and maintain distancing? And when joyful Democrats, honking car horns and waving index fingers, weren’t wearing masks themselves?

In a pro-mask, no-vaccine, cases-surging, bleak-winter reality, sports could be reduced to intermittence or completely shut down. Did the anti-Trumpers in the industry ponder that when lobbying hard for Biden? Unlike Trump, who wanted games as weekend entertainment while doing favors for his owner pals, Biden will be judged early on how his virus directives impact states and municipalities. If he’s strict about banning fans from ballparks, there won’t be an MLB season. If he doesn’t want games played outside Bubbles in local arenas, there probably won’t be NBA and NHL seasons. If he objects to the rampant infections ravaging the NFL and college landscapes, how will football proceed? Trump cared about the multi-billion-dollar sports machine and its impact on the economy.

Biden prioritizes health over wealth, as he should.

Certainly, in retrospect, sports played a role in this transfer of power. If the vigorous efforts of LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick and their partners in activism didn’t exactly lead to a repudiation of Trumpism — see the President’s 71 million votes and absence of a Democratic “blue wave” — their tireless campaign against Trump did achieve a purpose.

They helped run him out of office.

Without them, he might be headed to a second term.

It didn’t take long for James to toast his second historic victory in four weeks. In a social media blitz, he retweeted a GIF of Trump’s “You’re Fired!” catchphrase and posted a photo of his famous 2016 Finals block with superimposed images: Biden’s face onto his, Trump’s face onto Andre Iguodala’s. When James and fellow NBA players agreed to complete the season in isolation, they demanded the league raise voting awareness and open up arenas as election sites — including State Farm Arena in Atlanta, where 40,000 cast ballots in a key swing state for Biden. Truly, no one can say sports activism efforts weren’t influential.

“More Than A Vote!” James kept imploring on social media, on t-shirts and inside the Bubble. As 2020 morphed into an extraordinary year, he targeted an unprecedented double whammy: Win an NBA title and take down Trump in one swoop. To do so, he emphasized the lost concept of getting out and voting, particularly in inner cities, recruiting athletes to promote the cause. James grew weak at one point, almost quitting on the league and the Lakers in the restrictive environment of Florida before the intervention of a Biden guy — you’ve heard of Barack Obama — persuaded him to stick around. He realized the larger mission required his presence. On Election Eve, knowing Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 because she lacked urban support in major cities, James messaged his 74 million followers to vote for Biden, writing, “One more day. Please!! We need EVERYTHING to change and it all starts tomorrow.”

As Biden finally pulled away, in a race somehow more mind-numbing and bananas than the last one, James was responding with clapping emojis to a tweet detailing Biden’s success with Black voters in cities within decisive battleground states: Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. Was the increased turnout and the more monumental development — the highest voter rate for a U.S. presidential election since 1900 — all about the urgings of sports figures? No. But they certainly impacted the stir. People noticed when athletes and coaches embraced “Black Lives Matter” as a historic power mission after the police-brutality death of George Floyd … when NBA teams boycotted games after the police shooting of Jacob Blake … when Patrick Mahomes and other Black NFL stars taped a video that prompted a philosophical 180 from commissioner Roger Goodell, who admitted the league was wrong to ignore longstanding racial injustice concerns.

In an election that needed a bump to make a difference, sports may have been the impetus to dethrone Trump, if not white supremacy, which is still alive and not well. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, America must re-start somewhere, even with a new president who might let the economy slip into chaos and, at 78, can’t get the names of his grandchildren straight. If Biden doesn’t finish his term, Harris will. She is a woman of color who lives in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, where James owns two homes. Connect the dots.

Generally, I don’t endorse sports figures as political hell-raisers. The Kaepernick kneeling campaign was proud and powerful, but his supporters conveniently ignored that his once-estimable quarterbacking skills had waned — and the protests began to drag. There were times during the Trump presidency when relentless, top-this activism interfered with the fun and escapism of the games, such as when the esteemed NBA coach, Gregg Popovich, endlessly unloaded on Trump as a “soulless coward” and “a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it.” His disciple, Steve Kerr, would chime in, and the messages grew stale and orchestrated. Another title team rejects the White House invitation? Yawn. But as America moved toward Election Day, the Kaepernick influence took effect. It was difficult to ignore what Trump had said in 2017 as NFL players continued to kneel: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, `Get that son of a (expletive) off the field right now. Out. He’s fired!’ “

He also engaged in a needless Twitter rift with U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who said she wouldn’t visit the White House if her team won the World Cup. Trump should have wished her luck. Instead, he wrote, “WIN first before she TALKS!” She won, and Trump was a perceptive loser again. This came after Trump, with more dumb timing, mocked James’ intelligence after he opened his “I Promise” school, which came after James refused to stay with his team at the Trump SoHo in New York. But unlike other loose cannons, James went months without another firebomb. He waited to pick his spots … and the summer and fall of 2020 were his windows, especially amid Trump’s limp response to COVID-19.

A change in the White House, of course, doesn’t mean the end of Trump. His supporters will grow even louder, and their influence continues to be an ominous enemy for a sports world damaged by his lax approach to COVID. Significantly fewer people are watching events this year. If the pandemic is the big reason, a recent MKTG-SRI survey showed 33 percent are tuning out because “sports have become too political.” The NBA ratings collapse can be attributed, in part, to predominant “BLACK LIVES MATTER” messages on the Disney World courts. And it’s telling that commissioner Adam Silver is finished with the signage, telling ESPN, “(T)hose messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor. And I understand those people who are saying `I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.’ “

The athletes, emboldened by their Trump purge, will want their voices to be louder in the future. But the future of sports is too uncertain, with COVID blazing uncontrollably, to let activism carry the same weight. The entire industry, athletes included, should focus on helping Biden confront the virus and lifting sports from its current niche space. Just because there’s a new president doesn’t mean people will flock back to sports, with 20 million Americans still unemployed as a nation pivots. Responsible as Silver and other commissioners have been in handling the virus, Goodell and MLB’s Rob Manfred continue to be negligent. It’s appalling how Manfred, after initially condemning Turner, flipped when no one was watching him and issued no penalty.

“In retrospect,” Manfred said in a statement, “a security person should have been assigned to monitor Mr. Turner when he was asked to isolate, and Mr. Turner should have been transported from the stadium to the hotel more promptly.”

Why did MLB suddenly take the p.r. hit, allowing Turner to conveniently apologize in the same statement? Because Manfred and the owners, who’ve pocketed $1 billion for getting through October, don’t really care anymore what happened that night. Never mind that the L.A. County Department of Public Health said nine people associated with the Dodgers — and at least one family member — had tested positive. Never mind that the Dodgers, thrilled to finally have won the big trophy, have vanished.

Such is the sham of sports and the coronavirus. “You know,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of Lawrence, “if he was going back to his desk job, he’d be right back to work on Thursday.” Remind Dabo that Trump lost.

LeBron and the rabble-rousers refused to shut up and dribble. They won the biggest championship of their lives, in fact. “There are so many bigger things and so many greater things that’s going on,” James said. “If you can make an impact, if you can make a change, if you can have a vision, it just helps out so much, not only in the community but all over the world. Where do we go from here? We don’t stop, obviously.”

How LeBron James Evolved Into a Social Activist and Became Donald Trump's  Most Influential Adversary | Complex

Next, the activists must help sports confront the virus. If they can sway a presidential election, they surely can support Biden by making sure their brethren in all leagues are masking up and growing up.

If not, they might not have jobs themselves in 2021.

BSM Writers

Mike Silver Has An NFL Backstage Pass

“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships.”

Derek Futterman

Published

on

blank

It was the 2010 NFL Draft and standout wide receiver Dez Bryant was eligible to be selected by a professional football team. As a journalist, Mike Silver has always looked to enterprise stories and wanted to be with Bryant when the moment he had been waiting for finally arrived.

Through a preexisting relationship with Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, he got in touch with Bryant and received permission to attend his draft celebration. Before being selected in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant revealed to him that then-Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland had asked him during the pre-draft process if his mother was a prostitute.

Once that information was published in Silver’s column, Ireland had to publicly apologize and was subsequently put under investigation by the team’s majority owner Stephen Ross.

“People were like, ‘How did you get that?,’ but I was very proud because really the way I got it was because Deion Sanders respected me enough based on things that had happened decades earlier and the way that I conducted myself that I was able to ultimately get to Dez,” Silver expressed. “That to me is a validation. I’ve nurtured relationships for years and years that have led to zero reporting and thought, ‘It’s okay; it’s just part of the process. It is what it is.’”

From the start, Silver was a believer in journalism and the power the profession had in divulging stories in pursuit of the truth. Born in San Francisco, Calif. and raised in Los Angeles, he would read The Los Angeles Times sports section for a half hour per day, observing the proclivities and vernacular of other writers. As a high school student, he co-authored a sports column in the Palisades Charter High School Tideline with current Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, gaining practical experience in journalism and cultivating professional relationships.

“I was the only Warriors fan in our school because I was born in San Francisco so he used to clown me for being a Warriors and 49ers fan like everyone else in our school – so I ended up having the last laugh,” Silver said. “By old standards, you’d say, ‘You can’t cover Steve Kerr. That’s your friend.’ I think in 2022 if I have to cover Steve Kerr, I’ll just be like, ‘You know what? Everyone knows we’re friends. I’m just going to be up front about it.’”

Silver attended the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communication and media studies. The school was not known for profound levels of success within its football and basketball programs, according to Silver; however, the student newspaper was a place to gain repetitions in covering sports and having finished work published, printed and distributed.

Towards the end of his time in college, Silver wrote stories that were published in The Los Angeles Times, the newspaper he grew up reading and from which he drew inspiration to become a journalist.

“We would tell the players we covered, ‘Hey, we’re trying to go to the pros too, and we’re not going to get jobs in this industry if we don’t write the truth,’” Silver said. “We were trying to break in as legitimate journalists and we definitely ruffled some feathers along the way.”

Once he graduated from school, Silver began his professional career writing for The Sacramento Union where he covered the San Francisco 49ers. Silver grew up as a football fan and was familiar with the team but always tried to find original, untold angles to differentiate his stories from others. Shortly thereafter, he transitioned to join The Santa Clara Press Democrat as a beat writer and used the time to further develop his writing and reporting skills. Five years later, he was in talks to land his dream job as a writer in Sports Illustrated, a prolific sports magazine focused on producing original content.

Sports Illustrated was released on Wednesdays and operated under the belief of trying to omit any stories that may have been reported in the days prior. The goal was to tell stories that were under the radar and would be impactful and memorable for its readers.

During a typical week, Silver would visit both the home and road teams in their own cities with the hopes of connecting with players and team personnel. After a game, he would go to the locker room, yet he would try to avoid doing one-on-one interviews since the content would likely be published elsewhere before the magazine was released.

Then, his writing process commenced and often went through the night, as Sports Illustrated had a 9 a.m. EST deadline the following morning. By taking the approach of enterprising stories, Silver quickly became one of the most venerated and trusted sportswriters in the country, composing over 70 cover stories for the publication.

With the advent of the internet though, journalism and communication was forever changed allowing for the free flow of information and ideas in a timely manner.

“Now I can arrogantly write to whatever length I want and every precious word of mine could be broadcast to the masses, but [back then] you better have it the exact length because it’s going on a page,” Silver said. “You’re maybe reading over a story 15 times or more to get it just right before the seven layers of editing kick in. You’re also leaving theoretically half of your great stuff on the cutting room table never to surface again or seldom.”

Nurturing a relationship built on trust and professionalism is hardly facile in nature, and it required enduring persistence and resolute determination to achieve for Silver. Through these relationships, he has been able to create both distinctive and original types of content. As innovations in technology engendered shifts in consumption patterns though, he decided to do what he originally perceived as being unthinkable and left Sports Illustrated after nearly 13 years.

“When I went there, I felt like we had 30 of the 35 best sportswriters in America and it was murderer’s row,” Silver said of Sports Illustrated. “I had a great, great experience there the whole time so I never thought I’d leave.”

After meeting with Yahoo Sports Executive Editor Dave Morgan and being given an offer with flexibility in the job and a promise of a lucrative salary, Silver knew it was simply too good to pass up. He opted to still write a column on Sundays to counterprogram Peter King at Sports Illustrated, who authored his own weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column.

Additionally, Silver agreed to write two additional branded columns per week in a quest to adapt to the digital age of media.

“I was trying to stay current and connect to an internet generation and keep up with the way that people were consuming their content at that time,” Silver said. “….We just had a spirit at Yahoo that we weren’t owned by anyone, we didn’t have a deal with the league and we were going to report the news in a very unfiltered way.”

An advent of the digital age in media has been the practice of writers appearing on television to present their information en masse, requiring changes in their delivery. Unlike in a written piece, reporting on television requires efficiently making key points and speaking in shorter phrases to allow the viewer to easily follow the discussion. Moreover, writers are sometimes presented with questions that may provoke deeper thought or analysis, and occasionally challenge their lines of reporting.

Silver never thought he would work in television, but as a part of his contract with NFL Media, he was writing columns and serving as an analyst on select NFL Network programming. In working on television on a league-owned entity, it forced him to step out of his comfort zone and pursue mastery of a new skill set.

“I never wanted to do TV voice and be cheesy and look like someone who was trained for the medium so my strategy was more to try to be myself on camera and see how that translated,” Silver articulated. “It seemed to work to some degree – and then obviously I picked up a lot of tricks of the trade and techniques and got better reps. Essentially, I think reporting is reporting [and] information is information.”

Moving into television, a medium with sports coverage that is, at its core, nonlinear due to the potential for breaking news and unexpected occurrences, changed the manner in which the information was presented and/or prioritized on the air. In a column, Silver’s goal was to find original angles and obtain anecdotes and quotes to implement into the storytelling. Now on television, sources were still used largely on the condition of deep background, meaning no individual or group could be attributed to the information in any way.

“With TV, there was an element of, ‘Hey man, I’m just trying to sound smart when I talk about you guys,’ which is code for, ‘I don’t have to use your name when I say this stuff, but when I’m weighing on why you just traded for Trent Richardson, help me understand what’s really going on with the Indianapolis Colts at this moment,’” Silver explained. “That’s just a random example. I liked [television] more than I thought I would.”

Silver’s contract was not renewed at NFL Network in 2021, providing a stark change in his lifestyle and leaving him looking for a job in the midst of trying economic times. Through a relationship he had with sports radio host Colin Cowherd, he was given the opportunity to join his upstart podcast platform The Volume as a host. Cowherd eagerly recruited Silver to the platform following a lunch in which the topic came up naturally in conversation about future endeavors.

“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships and I have a lot of them from players, coaches, owners and GMs to media people and friends in other industries, etc.,” he explained. “Colin Cowherd is someone I’ll never, ever, ever forget or stop being grateful to…. We were kind of talking some stuff out and he was like, ‘Why don’t we do a show on my network?,’ and we started talking about what that would be. We left lunch… and about 10 minutes later he called me and said, ‘Okay, here’s what I think,’ and kind of continued it.”

Today, Silver is hosting an interview-based program called Open Mike featuring guests from the world of professional football. Recent guests on the program have included Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones. Prior to joining The Volume, Silver had hosted a podcast with his daughter called Pass It Down, which ultimately ran for over 50 episodes and gave him experience working within the medium.

“I’m sitting there spending an hour with [Las Vegas] Raiders GM Dave Ziegler or [Buffalo Bills] linebacker Von Miller or whoever we have on,” Silver said. “You’re not only getting to know that person; you’re watching the way I connect with that person and usually have a body of work with that person, and there’s a comfort level there too.”

John Marvel was Silver’s direct boss at NFL Media and a friend he kept in touch with for many years. Through various correspondences and the dynamic media landscape, they decided to start their own media venture called Backstage Media. The company has a first-look deal with Meadowlark Media – a company co-founded by John Skipper, who also serves as its chief executive officer. Skipper was formerly the president of ESPN and someone Silver wished he had worked for earlier in his career.

“I did not know John Skipper before I left NFL Network,” he said. “I didn’t particularly have a dream to [ever] work at ESPN. We’ve had conversations over the years – ESPN and I – and it never seemed like the perfect fit for me. Now that I know John Skipper, it’s like ‘I would have worked for that guy any time.’ He’s fantastic, [and] I’m just so pumped to be in business with him.”

The company, which focuses on producing documentaries and other unscripted programming through the intersection of sports, music and entertainment, has various projects in development. The idea was derived out of both of their penchants for storytelling and an attempt to utilize new platforms built for engagement within the modern-day media marketplace.

“We’re hoping that documentaries, docuseries [and] episodic podcasts – mostly unscripted – …will be kind of our wheelhouse,” Silver said. “….There’s about four big things that are [hopefully] close to being announced. One’s football; one’s boxing; one is basketball; and one is kind of a blend of some things. I feel like we have a pretty diverse set of interests.”

Joining The San Francisco Chronicle as a football reporter has been indicative of a full-circle moment for Silver, as he is once again around the San Francisco 49ers and writing columns about the team and other sports around the Bay Area at large. Today, he is working with Scott Ostler and Ann Kllion, and directly with Eric Branch on the outlet’s 49ers coverage. Through it all, he seeks to continue gaining access to places that the ordinary person would only be able to dream about in order to tell compelling and informative stories, no matter how they may be delivered or on what platform(s) to which it may be distributed.

“I’m old school in a lot of my mentality in terms of journalism and storytelling and all of that,” Silver said. “I think those things don’t go away. I think it’s journalism first; relationship first; access first; storytelling first; and you figure out the rest.”

As for the future of the profession which has ostensibly become less defined because of the evolution of social media and communication, relationships and storytelling have truly become the differentiators. Silver aims to continue practicing what has allowed him to gain exclusive scoops in the industry and tell stories that would otherwise, perhaps, fly under the radar, but do so in a way that does not jeopardize his sources.

“I’m going to try to develop relationships and cultivate relationships where people trust me and give me a sense of what’s going on,” he said. “I’m going to try to get into places that you, as the consumer, couldn’t otherwise go and take you there, and I’m going to err on the side of the relationship as opposed to finding out one thing that could cause a splash that day on Twitter.”

Some athletes are hosting podcasts or writing columns to directly communicate with their fans, including Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green on The Volume, intensifying the quest for engagement and attraction. Yet Silver advises journalists looking to break into the industry not to get distracted in meeting certain metrics, instead adhering to best practices and reporting truthful information without ambiguity.

“Just don’t get undone by the noise,” Silver said. “Put your head down; hyperfocus; grind; tell good stories; do journalism and hopefully over the course of time, that will stand out. I’d still like to believe that.”

Covering professional sports, specifically football, generates a large amount of potential storylines on which journalists can report – and today, digital platforms give them the ability to cover them in different ways. While some scoops may requit a large article, others may be able to be told in 280 characters or less, such as a trade rumor or injury. The amount of information Silver and his colleagues uncovered working for a print publication and then had to omit because of space limitations underscores a key journalistic principle of efficient and truthful storytelling. In today’s media landscape, he hopes to be able to do that regardless of its means of dissemination.

“If you went back and just looked at our normal… feature or story off a game [and] the level we reported on a Wednesday and translated that to a Twitter generation, people would lose their minds about how much we found out and how much we reported with on-the-record quotes usually, and they’d be like, ‘He said what!?,” Silver said. “That’s all we knew and that’s [how] we did it…. I don’t think people understand how much the threshold has changed. It’s all good. The most important things hopefully haven’t changed.”

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Video Simulcasts Are Now A Must Have For Sports Radio

All of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way. 

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

Video simulcasts of sports talk radio and podcasts have gone up extraordinarily in quality as of late. The craft started as a novelty that very few participated in. ESPN and YES Network dominated the genre with their simulcasts of Mike and Mike in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog respectively. Slowly but surely other sports networks and RSN’s picked up the genre over time and it has now become a major component within sports coverage in the streaming world.

The most popular and prominent shows in the medium right now include The Dan Patrick Show, The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, The Pat McAfee Show, and The Rich Eisen Show. These four shows in particular have done an excellent job of independently producing and building out their video content to look visually appealing while also engage with the audience through graphics, pictures, stats on screen. In McAfee’s case, his company even entered into a rights agreement with the NFL for highlights.

Finding their shows can be difficult at times. Eisen’s show has moved from television to Peacock and to Roku Channel all within the span of a couple years. When LeBatard’s shipping container first began their live video voyage they didn’t have a consistent schedule. Patrick’s show has also leapt between RSNs, national networks, YouTube and its current home on Peacock. But all of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way. 

The video simulcasts have become so lucrative for these shows that they’ve found sponsors to advertise against what they’re offering and they ensure that they pay attention to the look of the show. Commercials that feel like television play during Patrick and Eisen’s shows. Logos are displayed during LeBatard’s broadcast and NFL Films vignettes that you would find on NFL Network air in the middle of McAfee’s broadcast.

McAfee’s show recently moved into a new studio in Indianapolis specifically built for them by FanDuel and just yesterday LeBatard announced they would be moving into their own state of the art studio in Miami that will help expand their creativity. Patrick’s show doesn’t even have guests call into their show anymore – most join via Zoom. Eisen’s guests are more often than not in studio. All of these shows also upload highlights relatively quickly to YouTube. They’re still audio-first but video is no longer secondary. It is 1A in terms of importance.

As much as these simulcasts feel close to real TV, there are still some hijinks that fans have to get used to that aren’t the same as a regular TV broadcast. During LeBatard’s broadcast, a rolling loop of their own self produced album plays during breaks. While the songs are hilarious in nature, if you’re a weekly viewer of their simulcast it might get tiresome to hear every time there is a break.

A loop of some of the show’s greatest moments and some of the side projects Meadowlark Media produces might be more engaging and help reduce drop off rate. McAfee’s show also struggles with white balancing their cameras almost every telecast. At times in the middle of a conversation during the show, discoloration occurs before changing back to normal skin tones.

Patrick’s show has used the same set of graphics since it began simulcasting on NBC’s linear sports network years ago which could be a turnoff for younger viewers of the internet era who always want change in order to grab their attention. Eisen’s show has awkward interruptions happen in the middle of conversations because commercial breaks are different in length on terrestrial radio vs. streaming.

At the end of the day though, these shows are the epitome of what it means to have grit and guts to achieve your American dream. Although their productions are subsidized and/or licensed by big media platforms and sports books, their social media presence and the actual production of these shows was built on their own. During the first couple of weeks after LeBatard’s show left ESPN, the former columnist could often be heard teasing listeners that they were working on building a video enterprise and how difficult it was.

It’s hard to stand on your own in sports talk media without the backing of superpowers like ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and Turner who have been producing live broadcasts for decades. But these shows have found a way to do so in a new world that is tailored towards doing everything on your own. 

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

5 Ideas For December Sales Success

How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea?

Jeff Caves

Published

on

blank

Now is the time to put your foot on the gas for a great start to 2023-not waiting til January. With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day all falling on weekends, you can’t count on who will be at work the Friday or Monday around those holidays in December.

So, looking forward from here, you only have 15 or so days that you can count on your clients and prospects to be at work before the end of 2022. And, if they are at work, consider their motivation or lack of it before approaching them. But here are five ways to attack December.

Cutting a year-end deal

Make sure you go back from the potential start date of the schedule and allow for production, proposal, and acceptance. That usually means you need a week from when you present a year-end idea to when the schedule starts. So, aim to have all appointments booked by 12/9, so you can sell 2-week packages that begin Monday, 12/19. That will give you a sense of urgency and gives you five solid business days to sell your ass off starting Monday.

5-day sale

Make all your pricing and payment terms expire by Friday, 12/9. You can always extend if need be once they give a partial commitment. You want anybody involved in the decision to sign off and let you cut this deal! The idea here is to create urgency and work ahead.

Beat the bushes

Do you want to wake up on 1/2/23 with an empty pipeline? How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea? Don’t try to qualify these prospects over the phone. Do it in January when both of you are fresh but get that commitment NOW. Look for your new client avatar.

Be gracious

From now til the end of the year is also an excellent time to meet with your sales assistant, traffic manager, production person, or anybody who helps you at the station. Sit down with them face to face and see what you can do better to make their job easier. Give them some ideas on how they can help you as well. Mend some fences or make new friends; the reason tis the season. Surprise them with a Cheetos popcorn tin for less than $10. Please do it. You will be surprised by what you hear because this is a popular time of year for layoffs, transfers, and people taking new jobs.

Practice a new pitch

December is also a great time to record yourself doing a webinar and start planning to let your content do the talking. Wouldn’t it be nice if your 10-minute talk on how to make live reads work, how to buy radio, or why your audience buys the most widgets produced some warm leads? Practice and get going!

Continue Reading
Advertisement blank
Advertisement blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2022 Barrett Media.