Naomi Osaka held her first press conference since May on Monday. All went well until Cincinnati Enquirer Paul Daugherty asked a question.
While the exact wording is unknown, New York Times tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg characterized it as “a fairly aggressively toned question about how (Osaka) benefits from a high-media profile but doesn’t like talking to media.”
In May, Naomi Osaka chose to bow out of the French Open over mental health issues she said were related to answering questions in press conferences after matches. It caused a stir in the sports media, with writers and broadcasters taking hardline stances on one side or the other. Even here at Barrett Sports Media, our writers Jay Mariotti and Demetri Ravanos saw things very differently.
Clearly Osaka’s decision was something that Paul Daugherty thought she needed to answer for. Rothenberg says that what made it frustrating for those that were part of the press conference was that the question itself was not a bad one. The problem stemmed from Dougherty, a reporter that doesn’t cover tennis, looking for a confrontation.
Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid told Rothenberg “The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player / media relations are so fraught right now. Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong and his sole purpose was to intimidate. Really appalling behavior. And this insinuation that Naomi owes her off court success to the media is a myth – don’t be so self-indulgent.”
Study Finds ESPN Leading Sports Media’s Gender & Racial Diversification
“Sports media at large made little progress towards a more diverse workplace as white-male influences are still dominant.”
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released a report card detailing race and gender among sports media recently for the first time since 2018. Dr. Richard Lapchick and his team at the University of Central Florida put together the report. Lapchick is the endowed chair at UCF’s Devos Sport Business Management Program.
Sports media at large made little progress towards a more diverse workplace as white, male influences are still dominant.
The 2021 Sports Media Racial and Gender Report Card: Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) Racial and Gender Report Card showed minor improvements for the organization compared to 2018. APSE improved on its racial grade with a B-plus but still received an F in gender grade.
“We need more women in this industry,” former APSE president Lisa Wilson said in an ESPN article. “We need those voices. We need that perspective. We need them making coverage and hiring decisions.”
Racial demographics showed a much larger improvement across the board in a few key areas. Something the Rainbow PUSH Coalition has been hard at work to change.
“The stories that are being told should reflect those on the field as well as the audiences that they reach,” The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said to ESPN. “Dr. Lapchick’s report indicates there has been some progress, but the sports media world is still overwhelmingly white and male.”
Lapchick noted that ESPN is a big driver in sports media’s racial and gender equity growth, so much so that removing ESPN from the equation massively impacts diversity across the industry.
Removing ESPN from the study brings the total female percentage of sports editors from 16.7% to 13.5% and columnists from 17.8% to 13.8%. The same is true on the racial side of the equation.
Taking ESPN out of the data completely, means sports editors of color would decrease from 20.8% to 18.9%, assistant sports editors from 27.7% to 22.7%, columnists from 22.9% to 18.1%, reporters from 22.9% to 22.5%, and total staffs from 23.5% to 22.0%.
ESPN takes plenty of heat in sports media circles, but they deserve a lot of respect and acknowledgment for how they have tried to level the playing field with their gender and racial hiring practices.
Check out the full report here.
Ariel Helwani To Produce Content For BetMGM
“Helwani noted how much he enjoys MGM properties every time he goes out to the Nevada desert for a big fight.”
MMA reporter Ariel Helwani announced on his Substack that he is joining BetMGM as a content producer. Helwani is cooking up content for the service leading up to UFC fight cards while having access to the sports book’s treasure trove of data for his analysis.
“I’m working with great people each and every day. This is the dream. But there was one more partnership I was looking to secure,” Ariel Helwani wrote in his announcement post. “As you all know, sports gaming has exploded in America, and, of course, it’s a massive part of the way people talk about and consume combat sports.”
Helwani has put on a bunch of different hats since leaving ESPN, including new roles with SB Nation, BT Sport, and The Ringer.
“So, I wanted to partner with a gaming company, too,” Helwani continued. “To provide content for and to share content leading up to events. This was big for me. And, truth be told, there was only one entity I wanted to team up with and only one that I actually spoke to: BetMGM.”
Ariel Helwani noted how much he enjoys MGM properties every time he goes out to the Nevada desert for a big fight. He also mentioned one key relationship that threaded his time at ESPN with this new role, his connection to BetMGM COO Ryan Spoon.
“Spoon was the digital content chief at ESPN during my time there,” Helwani wrote. “He’s a great guy. Very non-corporate, which is my style. I enjoyed working with him very much.
“Well, late last year, he announced that he would be leaving ESPN to become the new COO of BetMGM. I found this move to be fascinating on many levels, but it also told me that if Ryan was willing to leave a great gig at ESPN for BetMGM, BetMGM was a special place to be.”
Like so many ESPN ex-pats before him, Ariel Helwani is leveraging his brand just fine during a fresh stage of his career.
All-22 Camera Returning To NFL Game Pass
“As of Sept. 23, the service hasn’t returned. Many buyers purchased Game Pass under the guise that All-22 would be included.”
Media members in and around the NFL can soon rejoice.
Pro Football Talk is reporting that All-22 film capabilities are returning to NFL Game Pass today. All-22 is exactly what it sounds like; the viewer can see all 22 players on the field during any given play. The camera view from each end zone is one of the many angles NFL coaches use to break down film of their teams and opponents.
The service has not been accessible on Game Pass for months now, and it has hampered the media at large from diving into their NFL analysis.
“We are targeting the end of Week 1/early Week 2 for coaches film to be available,” an NFL spokesperson told PFT earlier this month via email. “The team has a demo scheduled for mid-week next week and will deploy accordingly.”
As of Sept. 23, the service hasn’t returned. Many buyers purchased Game Pass under the guise that All-22 would be included. So far, those promises aren’t being kept. Users were also upset about search functions being removed from the website.
They’ve been through this song and dance before with the new version of Game Pass. PFT also reported on an All-22 re-launch date in early August.
“According to the league,” Mike Florio wrote last month. “The goal is to return the all-22 film to Game Pass service by the start of the regular season. The technical interface to Game Pass has changed, and it could be a technical issue associated with the transition. Whatever the reason, the all-22 film will be back in time to watch the film from the 272 regular-season games to be played in 2021.”
Nearly a month into the 2021 NFL regular season and Game Pass is still having issues with its interface. With most media members still barred from locker rooms, reviewing film is one of the ways some reporters supplement their coverage.
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