Mon. Apr 19th, 2021

BSM Presents ‘The Sports Media MVP Tournament’

The BSM MVP Tournament begins with a play-in game on March 16th. Tournament play gets underway on March 18th.

A year ago at this time, Barrett Sports Media rolled out its ‘Greatest SportsCenter Anchor‘ tournament. It was a fun event that generated over 4 million social media impressions, hundreds of thousands of votes thru our numerous poll questions, big traffic on the BSM website, content on sports radio shows that were working without live events, and recognition for Scott Van Pelt who edged out Stuart Scott in the finals to be selected as SC’s best of all-time.

Given where things stood in the world at that time, the SportsCenter bracket was a fun needed distraction. Most were worried about the coronavirus and how it might hurt them or their families. Would it have an affect on their job? School? Church? The American way of life? How soon would it be until we could enjoy some sense of normalcy again?

Fortunately, here we are one year later, and though we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, things are heading in the right direction. Games are back on our television screens and radio airwaves. Teams have started welcoming fans back into buildings. Vaccine shots are being distributed to millions of Americans, and god willing, we’ll soon be past the nightmare that we lived thru in 2020, and on our way to greater prosperity.

So with sports back, and optimism higher, a bracket contest isn’t necessarily needed to add light during a dark time, but as we learned last year, fun is contagious, and there’s never a bad time to use a creative event to bring people together.

Right after we wrapped up the BSM Top 20 in February, Demetri Ravanos and I started talking about ideas for this year’s bracket contest. A conversation about difference makers in the industry and who was critical to their brands success got my wheels spinning, and as we dove in further, we quickly realized there were hundreds with a case to be made. That laid the groundwork for creating BSM’s Sports Media MVP Tournament.

Choosing 65 people to complete a 64 person tournament bracket like this is not easy. The mixture of accomplished studio hosts, debate specialists, analysts, reporters, play by play voices, radio hosts, podcasting personalities, etc. made for some exhausting email exchanges and phone conversations, but time, thought, and effort is necessary if you want to create cool things. What was especially important to us with this year’s tournament was trying to capture some of the same spirit and fun from last year, without focusing on a particular brand, show or company. Too many people in this industry make a difference for various groups and we want to highlight as many of them as possible.

But when you put 64 of the industry’s biggest difference makers against each other in a tournament style bracket, who’s truly capable of going through five tough rounds to emerge as the most valuable performer in sports media? Better yet, who has strong enough staying power to keep fans on social media invested in their advancement?

Well, we’re about to find out.

We’ll kick things off with a play in game for the final spot in the tournament on Tuesday March 16th. That play-in game will feature ESPN’s Jeff Passan vs. FOX Sports/The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Voting will be done for the play-in game and ALL tournament matchups on Twitter for a period of 24 hours. The results of the play-in game will be revealed on Wednesday morning March 17th. Whoever has more votes between Passan and Rosenthal when time expires, will gain the final spot in this year’s BSM Sports Media MVP Tournament.

The release of the full bracket will take place right after the results of the play-in game are known on Wednesday March 17th. I will though let you know which four individuals earned #1 seeds in this year’s tournament, along with the naming of each of their regions. They are Stephen A. Smith (Stay Off The Weed Region), Colin Cowherd (Backwards Hat Region), Dave Portnoy (To The Moon Region), and Tony Romo (That’s My Quarterback Region).

The official start to the tournament will begin on Thursday March 18th. Matchups will then continue each week until Monday April 5th when the final contest takes place. The results of that last battle will be announced on Tuesday morning April 6th. At that time, we will officially put a bow on this year’s tournament and crown the champion. To see the breakdown of the upcoming schedule, click here.

Before the floodgates open and complaints are made about some people getting in, others being left out, and certain folks having harder matchups than others, remember that this is supposed to be fun, everything in the sports media industry is subjective, and regardless of one’s matchup, if they’re seen as the best at what they do, they’ll move on regardless. There are very few layups in this tournament. We knew it’d be impossible to create a field of 64 without leaving some super talented people out, so if you work in the industry and didn’t make the cut, don’t take it personally. It doesn’t make your accomplishments or value to your brand any less important. It simply speaks volumes of how stacked this tournament is with successful people.

I will point out that we involved eight people in the voting process to help us determine this year’s field of 64. There were 225 sports media professionals on our initial list. That got trimmed down to 85, and eventually to 65. The play-in game will be how we get down to 64. As is the case with the NCAA Tournament, the NFL Hall of Fame, the NBA All-Star Game or MLB MVP or Cy Young award voting, there’s always a case to be made for someone who didn’t get in. But when you’re reviewing game changers from multiple areas of the industry and a number of different brands and companies, it’s impossible to please everybody.

What I hope you’ll take away from this year’s tournament as it picks up steam is that there are a lot of really talented people in the sports media industry, many with different styles and approaches to success. Earning the top spot in this bracket will take consistent voting support, respect from fans and friends both in and out of the sports media business, and a whole lot of luck.

We extend our thanks in advance to everyone who will participate in this year’s voting process, as well as to the 64 men and women who will be part of this year’s tournament. We can’t wait to share the full bracket with you next week. It’s going to be a fun few weeks, so let the madness begin!

2 thoughts on “BSM Presents ‘The Sports Media MVP Tournament’

  1. Got mad respect for Jason Barrett, who is an EXTREME talent as a program director who, as an example, literally broke through the sad monopoly occupied by KNBR (with Lee Hammer relying on a legacy brand, local sports teams partnership, and snoozing through for 10+ years) by being the first PD at now the mighty KGMZ (“The Game”) in the Bay Area with innovative counterprogramming and fresh on-air talents. That being said, not sure what the obsession is with all of these rankings and tournament bracket. Guys like Cowherd and Greenberg shouldn’t even be top-seeded when you consider how much of their work is NOT independently developed or fresh, but rather tied to their stations’ partnerships with the NFL and other sports leagues (which is why the commissioners show up to their shows mostly to spin the narrative). Guys like Jim Rome (whose clones literally buy up all the stuff he personally sells: Old Trapper Jerky, Brute Aftershave, 5-Hour Energy, Lumber Liquidator, Stamp.com, etc. the list goes on and on for decades plus) are the true gem who can spit their own content (SOLO and without much sports-league or local teams’ propaganda or tie-ins). That’s why the man is still getting PAID more than Stephen A., Cowherd, and Greenberg (the latter two are nothing if they start broadcasting in the Mighty 1090). Truly one of a kind: Rome is GOAT!

    1. Thanks for the kind words about my programming days Ken. I was fortunate to work with a lot of talented people who made my job easier. As far as the personalities involved in the tournament and why some folks generate different attention than others, much of it comes down to a mixture of where people broadcast currently, how long they’ve been successful, and how much buzz they generate across the industry. Jim as you point out is one of the best of all time to do it. Debates will always take place when bracket contests are created, which is why we try to include a number of people in the process to determine who belongs. Is it perfect? No. But it’ll be fun and if someone is a true difference maker they’ll have to go thru 5 rounds to win the thing anyway. Appreciate the feedback. – JB

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