Media and Social Media

 

Social Media has become the newest advancement in the sharing of information. Transforming the way people have shared information is nothing new. The telegraph was one of the first things that allowed people to share information over long distances quickly. Then it was the telephone, followed by television, and finally the Internet. Each one of these increased the pace and scope of the information available to people across the country and then around the world. Social Media is just the latest thing that people use to connect with one another.

Twitter has become one of people’s favorite Social Medium. It allows people to instantly connect to thousands and even millions of people in an instant. While at times Twitter has become a mouthpiece for unneeded and unwanted emotional vomits, there are those people who use Twitter as an effective platform.

When assigned to follow a member of the media, I found my way to Anderson Cooper’s Twitter page. I can’t say I know much about Anderson other than what I’ve read in a couple of excerpts from books he’s written. As I began to monitor Anderson’s Twitter, I found that I appreciated the way that he uses Social Media.

Mr. Cooper, (instert your favorite Hanging With Mr. Cooper reference here) unlike many other people, uses Twitter as a platform for reaching his audience. The thing that I appreciate about his use is that he does it in a professional matter. Other then a few veiled jabs at Alec Baldwin’s use of language offensive to the gay community, Anderson’s Tweets plug stories, appearances, and solicits information from his viewers. His page isn’t filled with random personal thoughts or poor attempts at humor. Instead, Anderson promotes things in a positive way, allowing his followers to interact on their own time, instead of his.

In my own opinion, much of Social Media has degraded the way we communicate as a society. People have become more comfortable with sending an email, Tweet, or Facebook post in favor of actually speaking to or meeting with someone. Personal relationships are forged over the Internet in favor of a handshake. Monitoring Anderson Cooper’s Twitter page has allowed me to believe that Social Media does have a positive place in the Media. When used appropriately, Social Media can be a gateway to relevant information able to affect society in a positive way.

Ricketts With The Bluff

 

Cub’s owner Tom Ricketts made news Wednesday when he threatened to move the team from Wrigley field if renovations to the stadium stalled. The idea was floated around by Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens in March, but the Cubs never publicly commented about moving, until now.

“The fact is that if we don’t have the ability to generate revenue in our own outfield, we’ll have to take a look at moving — no question,” Ricketts told reporters on Wednesday.

Those words are clearly directed towards those pesky rooftop owners. The ones who have been stealing product for the last 30 years. Part of the proposal for renovations calls for a 6,000 square foot Jumbotron that would block some views from the rooftops. While the rooftop owners may have a contract with the Cubs, they should have no say in Ricketts improving the quality of a glorified run-down shack. 

Wrigley is in desperate need of renovations. It has been for years. Remember when concrete was falling on top of fans during games? The renovations will not only improve the experience for fans, but also for the players. In today’s day and age, being able to attract players during free agency has as much to do with winning and money as it does with facilities. If Cubs fans really want to see an improvement in the on-field talent, no one should even be whispering about standing in the way of these renovations.

The threat by Ricketts may seem hollow, but it should be taken seriously. The majority of people will believe that there is no way the Cubs will play anywhere other than Wrigley. They may be right. But Ricketts is going to do what’s best for the franchise, not the fans. If that means moving the Cubs to somewhere other than Wrigley, you better believe that Ricketts is considering it.

There are plenty of arguments as to why the Cubs will never leave Wrigley. There are also plenty of counter-arguments to those.

Argument: The Cubs will never move to the suburbs because no one will go to the games.

Counter-Argument: Plenty of people make the trip from the suburbs to attend games at Wrigley daily. And if the Cubs are the franchise that they think they are, won’t fans pay to see them play anywhere?

Argument: Wrigley field is the best park in America.

Counter-Argument: Have you seen a modern baseball stadium lately? Just go take a look a New Yankee Stadium and tell me that Wrigley is still better. If the Yankees were willing to tear down ‘The House That Ruth Built,’ why shouldn’t the Cubs consider leaving?

There are plenty more arguments out there. Ask a Cub fan and I’m sure you’ll get plenty of different reasons why the Cubs shouldn’t renovate or leave Wrigley. The only reality that matters is that Ricketts is the owner and if he says he’s thinking about moving, people should pay attention.

 

The End of Tim Tebow’s NFL Career?

 

 

Tim Tebow’s NFL career has been a roller coaster since the day his name was called on draft night in 2010.  Tebow’s college career was successful and decorated, but the question of where Tim Tebow would be selected baffled experts and NFL scouts alike. He was a left-handed quarterback with a long, slow release. He had average arm strength and lacked accuracy. Most of Tebow’s college success came in the form of rushing touchdowns. A rare combination of size, strength and speed for a quarterback, Tebow ran over college competition year after year in the SEC. The question of where Tim Tebow would be drafted was answered late in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. New Denver Broncos Head Coach  Josh McDaniels convinced Denver management that it was worth trading back into the first round to select the quarterback from Florida.

 

Tebow sat behind Kyle Orton in his first season, playing sparingly. In his second season, Tebow took over for Orton after a 1-4 start. He would lead the Broncos to the playoffs and defeat the Steelers in his first postseason start. Things were certainly looking up for the young quarterback, but in the 2012 off season, Peyton Manning decided to sign with the Broncos, ultimately ending Tebow’s time in Denver. The first-round pick was traded to the Jets to be Mark Sanchez’s back-up for just a seventh-round pick. Even though Sanchez would struggle, Tebow spent most of the season on the bench or as a personal protector on the punt team. After another up-and-down season and a Geno Smith draft pick later, Tebow was released by the Jets.

Many wonder if this is the end of Tebow’s NFL career. A quarterback who lacks quarterback ability to lead a franchise.

The good news for Tebow is that someone in the NFL will give him a job. Tebow may not be a good quarterback, but he is a good football player. Not that Tebow needs a second chance, but the NFL is a league of second chances. Adam “Pacman” Jones is still in the NFL. Brandon Marshall is still in the NFL. Everyone on the Detroit Lions is still in the NFL. Yes, these players are also talented, but Tim is a good football player too. Notice the emphasis on football player, not quarterback.

I don’t like Tim Tebow. I want to, but I don’t. I like what he stands for and the man he professes to be. The one thing that I can’t get over, odd as it may seem, is the way he talks. Every time he steps to the podium to speak it’s like he’s reading out of a quote book.  Tebow is a polarizing figure, but he has a quality that many players lack; leadership. Leadership, true leadership, is a rare commodity in today’s NFL. There are plenty of guys who fans believe are leaders, but are clubhouse cancers. Finding good locker room guys is just as important as finding an All-Pro. Finding someone who is willing to put in maximum effort to prepare for a week’s game knowing that they won’t play is difficult. This is why Tebow will be on an NFL roster next fall. General Managers believe in these sort of things. Just ask Mark Brunell.

All of this depends on whether or not Tebow will finally except his fate; he’s not an NFL quarterback. He could be a tight end, fullback or H-back. Tebow is too good of a football player to be relegated to speaking engagements at this point in time. His willingness to change positions will ultimately decide the final chapter in his NFL story. If he is finally willing to make the change, don’t be surprised if he’s the starting fullback for some team on opening day this season.

The Musburger Effect

Katherine Webb posing with fans at University of Alabama Spring football game

Remember when Brent Musburger had to apologize for the comments he made about Kathrine Webb during this year’s BCS National Championship game? The comments were innocent enough, but Musburger was forced to give a national apology to all those people he supposedly offended. Kathrine Webb was seemingly not among them and now, 3 months later, she should be writing a thank you letter to Musburger and all those guys in the production van who kept showing her. Webb has turned Musburger’s comments into a career. She made a TV appearance on Good Morning America that week, appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, a photo shoot for Vanity Fair and a spot in the reality TV diving show.

While Webb handled the increase in fame admirably, it is not as if her life has been crippled by the fact that she became famous. Sure, not being able to enjoy watching your boyfriend take part in a Spring football game may be annoying, but can you tell me that she wouldn’t trade three hours of posing for photos for knowing she can find work modeling or in television?

Admittedly, I can’t remember the last time someone became so famous for simply dating a college quarterback. (I guess it’s kind of like some talentless family becoming famous for their father being O.J. Simpson’s lawyer…). Is that a comment on the way we view sports or the way we view sex appeal? I would tend to lean towards the latter. You can find examples of the way sex appeal has vaulted seemingly everyday people into the spotlight by just turning on the TV for 5 minutes.

It will be interesting to see just how long Webb’s fame will last. Our society has the attention span of a toddler; just waiting for the next shiny object to come in to view to divert our attention. So while it may seem like I am bashing Webb for seizing the two minutes of TV time during the game and turning it into a career, its quite the opposite. Congratulations to Webb for accepting Musburger’s comments instead of pretending to be offended. Looking back, it proved to be quite the heady business decision for Ms. Webb. Credit to the former Miss Alabama for striking while the iron is hot and taking all the money she can get her hands on right now, even if it means she has to pose for pictures with a bunch of strangers for an afternoon.

The Woods Drop

Very rarely do major sporting events live up to the hype. So many times as fans, one feels left empty after watching the Super Bowl, the World Series or the BCS National Championship game. Luckily, major sporting events have been living up to the hype lately. This year’s Super Bowl was an enjoyable game between the 49ers and the Ravens, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game between Michigan and Louisville was entertaining and golf’s first major, The Masters, ended in a two-hole playoff. Unfortunately, much of what will be remembered about The Masters is not that Adam Scott became the first Australian to win a green jacket, but that Tiger Woods took an illegal drop.

With the outright lead in his sights on Friday, Tiger Woods played a beautiful shot on the 15th hole. The shot hit the pin on the fly and bounced into the water. After recovering from the disappointment of his last shot, Woods took two steps back for his drop. Tiger peppered another shot right near the pin and ended up with a bogey.

Thanks to the “HD Rule,” a fan was able to call in and point out that Woods had taken an illegal drop. The review committee reviewed his drop and found nothing wrong with it. Woods then signed his card and went to do his interview. Woods said that he intentionally dropped his ball two feet behind his original shot. This little statement prompted the review committee to once again review the footage of Woods’ drop. After the deemed that he had indeed taken an illegal drop, the committee assessed Tiger a two-stroke penalty.

Many of those who follow the game were furious that Woods had violated one of the ridiculous number of the rules of golf. Not only did he interpret a rule incorrectly, but he signed the wrong scorecard. Signing the wrong scorecard is an automatic DQ under the rules of golf. Thanks to a rarely used rule, rule 33-7, the committee chose not to disqualify Woods. The rules committee believed it had erred in not telling Woods before he signed his scorecard that it was aware of a possible violation.

Still, announcers and golf enthusiasts from all over called for Woods to withdraw. People were furious that he was allowed to continue to play. But those who know Tiger knew that he would never withdraw from the tournament that means the most to him. The story clouded the tournament’s story lines last weekend and is still being talked about.

“From what I can gather, he took an illegal drop, signed a scorecard and left the course,” Steve Williams his former caddy-turned-critic, told a New Zealand  television station this week.  “Under most circumstances, that would result in disqualification. … If the rules of golf are upheld, I believe he should have been disqualified.”

Williams  was on the bag of the Adam Scott, the actual winner. While Williams acknowledges that Woods was not trying to gain any advantage, he still believes that he should have been disqualified.

As time passes, one can only hope that people let the Tiger drop fade away and remember what the final round of The Masters provided to viewers. A fantastic round which included Adam Scott sinking a birdie putt on 18 to take the lead after missing putts all day. Then, just minutes later,  Angel Cabrera going for the pin and sinking his own birdie putt to send the tournament to a playoff. And finally, Scott making a long birdie putt for the first Masters win by an Australian.

Boston Strong

The Boston Marathon bombing was the first act of terrorism on United States soil since Sept. 11, 2001. The men and women of the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security have done a wonderful job of protecting our civilians from threats just like this, but it would have been naive to have thought that we would be immune from another attack. Those agencies do more and thwart more threats than we will ever know, but the reality is that there is no way we would be able to stop every plot to take American lives. The bombing though, once again changes our perceptions on safety. While the casualty number was nowhere near what happened on Sept. 11, the psychological damage is similar.  After Sept. 11, it was the fear to fly; now is it the fear to attend sporting events.

The harsh reality is that sporting events have always carried a high risk for potential acts of terrorism. It’s where the largest crowds gather in America. ESPN’s Mike Tirico said in a radio interview that the idea that our sporting events being potential targets is always on his mind when he attends one. This idea is something we often forget when we moan about the amount of time it takes to get into a stadium as men are wanded and women’s bags are checked. We often take for granted the amount of time and effort it takes to make sporting events safe. So the next time you’re about to complain about getting a pat down in line for a game, think about the moment you saw the bomb go off in Boston.

One thing that makes sports special is that it has become our baseline for normalcy. After Sept. 11, people all around the country tuned in to see the Yankees take the field for the first time. It was a moment that showed our country that it was OK to start  returning to daily life. It also showed the world that our country’s resilience. The Boston Red Sox returning to Fenway Park was no different. A city rallied around the words of David Ortiz and 9 innings of baseball on a Saturday afternoon. It was their first step towards returning to normal and it happened at a sporting event. So while one sporting event brought terror and hurt in Boston, it was another sporting event that helped begin the healing.

America is a resilient country, always has been. The bombing in Boston is something that we will remember for a long time. It has opened our eyes to the reality of what challenges a sporting event presents in terms of safety. It showed us that there are those who still wish to hurt us. But it has also showed us that sports are a fabric of our way of life. Despite what happened, thousands of people will attend a Red Sox game this week, next week and next year. More importantly, people will return to run the Boston Marathon next year.

Coming Out And The NFL

Brendon Ayanbedejo made headlines last week for announcing that four current NFL players are considering coming out as gay. He said that the players are trying to coordinate a day to do it together so that the attention of being the first active player to come out as gay does not solely rest on one individual. While my esteemed Professor Howard Schlossberg seems to doubt the validity of Ayanbedjo’s claim, I believe that  the time is right if indeed a current player chose to come out as gay.

Twenty years ago, more likely even 5 years ago, the idea of an NFL player coming out would have been unthinkable. But in the world we live in today, I believe that an act like this would be generally praised by the public. Most of the public consensus in America seems to be in support of gay rights. This is evident by the large number of states working towards recognizing and allowing gay marriages. America likes to believe that it is the leader in the forefront of equality for all. It is the quest that the founders of America sought when they all signed the Constitution. (I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention most of the men who signed the Constitution owned slaves and that we still had separate bathrooms for whites and African Americans into the 1960′s) Public sentiment seems to be in favor of a professional athlete coming out as gay. I can imagine that the large part of liberal America would be doing everything they could to support them.

The situation reminds me, right or wrong, of Jackie Robinson. At the time of Robinson’s Major League debut, many thought that an African-American player playing baseball with his white counter parts was wrong. Robinson dealt with difficulties on and off the field and even in his own clubhouse. While we would like to believe that our society has evolved, would this situation be dissimilar? I’m sure that any player who would chose to come out would face similar adversity, but in this day and age, one would have to believe that the opposition would be in the minority. Thirty years from now, will we look back on a moment such as a current NFL player coming out the way that we now view Robinson breaking the color barrier? It’s hard to tell, but a player still needs to make that announcement.

Another argument to support Ayanbadejo’s claim is the financial one. While it may seem crass to suggest that financial motivation would figure into a very personal matter, the truth is that it may. Any NFL player willing to announce they are gay would be in line for large sponsorship deals. Companies would be lining up to support anyone who would be willing to become the face of the gay athlete in America. Subway passes out sponsorships to athletes like it’s free money. They still have Apallo Anton Ohno in commercials. It seems that the only thing people remember him for these days is his multiple stints on ‘Dancing With The Stars.’ Can you imagine what they could do with the first major four-sports openly gay athlete? The suggestion of financial motivation is probably insensitive and maybe even offensive to those in the gay community, but money talks; especially in a sport with non-guaranteed contracts. It may even provide some job security. The backlash for cutting a player who was openly gay would likely be stiff. A front office could quote any company line they wanted if they decided to cut a gay player. The reasons could even be true, it could be contract or performance related, but people would believe it was related to his sexual orientation. Would you like to be the general manager of a team that cut the first openly gay player. Can you say PR nightmare?

My intention here is not to offend anyone, but instead to offer up an argument as to why an NFL player coming out as gay may be closer than we realize. Brendon Ayanbadejo’s claim may pass as quickly as it came. We may never see an openly gay athlete in a sport considered to be the manliest American sport. The truth is that until that moment, no one truly knows how close we are .