Basketball writers president on battle to maintain media seating in NCAAs: ‘We’ll never get back what we had’

An excerpt from my latest column for Poynter:

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When Tyler Hansbrough led North Carolina to the national title in 2009, Dana O’Neil left her seat on the floor and climbed a few rows into the stands to talk to his family. The access allowed the ESPN.com reporter to get a quote from Hansbrough’s father, Gene, on how it was the culmination of a dream for his son.

O’Neil cited that anecdote when she told NCAA officials why it is important for reporters to have courtside seating during the men’s basketball tournament.

“It allowed me to tell a much more compelling story,” O’Neil said. “If you put me in [a far-away press box], I’m not going to have that kind of access. I won’t be able to write that story.”

O’Neil, now the president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Continue Reading

Onions! Raftery gets big spotlight for NCAA tournament; Joins Nantz, Hill on No. 1 team

An excerpt from my Tribune column on one of my favorite guys.

You also can access the entire column at my Twitter feed: @Sherman_Report.

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If the NCAA tournament follows its usual script, it will deliver several feel-good stories on the court in the upcoming three weeks. However, a heart-warmer also will occur at the broadcast table.

After more than three decades as one of college basketball’s most popular analysts, Bill Raftery finally will get his chance on the game’s biggest stage. He will join Jim Nantz and Grant Hill on CBS and TBS’ No. 1 team for the tournament and will be spotlighted in their coverage of the Final Four in Indianapolis.

Admittedly, the circumstances of how Raftery landed the role aren’t the best. CBS and Turner needed to find a replacement for its lead analyst Greg Anthony, … Continue Reading

Q/A with J.R. Moehringer: Why he didn’t use a quote from ARod in 12,000-word ESPN Magazine story

An excerpt from my latest for Poynter.

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J. R. Moehringer spent more than 100 hours with Alex Rodriguez. He saw him in a Batman costume during a New Year’s Eve celebration with his children. He was with him on a day in New York when he met with the new Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred. And then he accompanied him on a visit to the surgeon who worked on his hip.

They had numerous intimate conversations that carried on into the night. At times, it got to be too much—for Moehringer.

“I told him, ‘Alex, I’m tired. I’ve got to go home,’” Moehringer said.

Yet despite almost unlimited access, Moehringer decided not to use one quote from Rodriguez in his riveting 12,000+-word piece on the disgraced star in the March 2 edition of ESPN The Magazine.

Ironically, it all … Continue Reading

Jeff Van Gundy may ‘tone it down’ a bit on Bulls management in regards to Thibodeau

My latest column for the Chicago Tribune is on Jeff Van Gundy and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

You also can access the column on Twitter at @Sherman_Report.

From the column:

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Jeff Van Gundy usually operates without a filter. Whatever thought pops into his brain often does a beeline straight to his mouth.

But the outspoken NBA analyst says he might have to switch on his rarely used internal censor when it comes to discussing Tom Thibodeau‘s shaky relationship with the Bulls.

“I’ve been asked by (Leon Rose of CAA, the firm that represents Thibodeau) to tone it down a bit,” Van Gundy said this week.

In the wake of Derrick Rose’s latest injury, the coach’s future likely will be brought up during ABC‘s telecast of the Clippers-Bulls game Sunday. Mike Breen, Van Gundy, Mark Johnson … Continue Reading

Stopwatch patrol: MLB takes first swing at speeding up games; more to come

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana is on MLB’s initial efforts to deal with the pace of play issue. It’s a start.

From the column:

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Of all the suggestions being made to speed up baseball, this one might be the best.

Inspired by watching the Oscars, Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports fired off this tweet last night:

“Instead of a pitch clock for baseball they should just bring an orchestra that plays with more fortissimo when the pitcher is lagging.”

Now that would be awesome. When the pitcher circles the mound for the fourth time because he’s deathly afraid of throwing that next pitch, fire up the orchestra to let him know he’s about to be pulled. Neil Patrick Harris, or specifically his writers, could have used a relief pitcher at the Oscars.

The … Continue Reading

Pam Oliver: Sideline reporters should be journalists, not celebrities

My latest column for Poynter.org focuses on some important comments from Pam Oliver to aspiring young women journalists.

From the column:

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Pam Oliver knew she had a captive audience to deliver her message.

“The journalism has to matter,” Oliver said repeatedly at Northwestern Tuesday as part of the Medill School of Journalism’s “Beyond The Box Score” series.

She joined USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, Rachel Nichols of CNN and Turner Sports, and ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth on a panel titled, “The Female Voice in Sports Media.”

Oliver, who was Fox Sports’ top sideline reporter for the NFL for years, made headlines last year for her honest reaction to Fox moving her off that assignment and replacing her with the younger Erin Andrews.

When Brennan, who moderated the session, asked the panelists to open by giving their assessments of the media … Continue Reading

How is Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue still a thing?

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana has me revisiting an old rant.

The video mocking the swimsuit edition on “Last Week with John Oliver” and excerpts of my column:

I had thought about taking a pass on dumping on Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition this year. Let someone else do it. There are plenty of people out there who object to the magazine’s annual lowering of its standards.

Then I saw a video from “Last Week with John Oliver.” The HBO show does a regular feature titled, “How is this still a thing?”

Last night, the target was SI’s swimsuit edition. As you would expect, the three-minute critique was funny and mocking of SI.

At one point, the narrator notes in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the prospect of seeing scantily-clad women in a sports magazine … Continue Reading

Dave Kindred: Storied sports columnist finds joy in covering girls high school basketball team

My latest column for Poynter.org is one of my favorite stories in a long time.

From the column:

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In another life, Dave Kindred would have been winding down after covering the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. February for Mr. Big-Time sports columnist usually meant getting prepped for the NCAA tournament with a column on the Duke-North Carolina game. Or perhaps depending on the year, he would be off to a far-away frozen location to report on the Winter Olympics.

However, in his current life, Kindred spent last Friday sitting on wooden bleachers at a girls high school basketball game in Central Illinois. With notebook in hand, he closely monitored and dutifully filed his report on the Morton Potters taking a 47-40 victory over Limestone.

“Canton and Washington are coming up,” said Kindred, full of anticipation on Morton’s next opponents.… Continue Reading

Karl Ravech: Jackie Robinson West news felt like ‘slap in the face’

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on Karl Ravech’s view of the Little League World Series in the wake of Jackie Robinson West being stripped of the U.S. title.

You also can access the column via my Twitter feed @Sherman_Report.

From the column:

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Karl Ravech covers the Major League Baseball and College World Series for ESPN. His favorite, though, is the Little League version in Williamsport, Pa.

“We all played Little League and we can relate to these kids,” Ravech said. “There’s such a purity to it and everyone hops on.”

So that’s why Ravech felt like he had been “slapped in the face” after learning that Jackie Robinson West was stripped of its U.S. Little League World Series title. He did play-by-play of their games last August, and like everyone else, he got caught up in their compelling … Continue Reading

Sports commissioners need to be dialed in on changing media landscape

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana is on sports commissioners and new media.

From the column:

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There is much more to being a commissioner these days than just handing out the champion’s trophy. Just ask Roger Goodell.

The leader of a sports league has to be proactive on sensitive and highly volatile social issues. Again, just ask Roger Goodell.

The person has to know how to deal with players who earn in the significant millions and owners with team assets in the billions. The commissioner also has to be able to navigate through Capitol Hill and Wall Street.

Just ask any of the commissioners.

However, perhaps more important than anything else these days, the modern commissioner needs to be conversant about Slingbox. He must be up to speed about Snapchat. A commissioner can’t think … Continue Reading