Good move: Writers invited to join sports editors association

This is long overdue. The Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) is going to invite writers to join their group.

Since launching this blog in 2012, I have been following the APSE site and even attended their convention when it was in Chicago. It struck me that the sports editors were discussing topics and exchanging ideas that would be of high interest to writers like myself.

Why not include us?

Apparently, Kent Babb of the Washington Post and Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune agreed.  APSE president Tim Stephens, deputy managing editor for, writes in his newsletter:

As a multiple-time APSE award winner, Washington Post reporter Kent Babb  had reason to take an interest in the organization that was recognizing his best work. Babb began attending APSE events on his own, taking the opportunity to introduce himself and get to know editors across the nation.


Being a good reporter, he also saw an opportunity to question the status quo.


“At the Boston convention (in 2011), I invited a writer friend of mine to drop by a session or two; if there was any heat, I’d take it, because I’ve just been showing up for the previous few years,” Babb said. “He didn’t feel like he should, though, it being an editors meeting and all, and he said he just wouldn’t feel comfortable. I thought this was a problem for the organization and for any writers interested in taking part — for learning or networking reasons — because we in journalism can’t afford to be hesitant. Sometimes I feel like writers and editors don’t always speak the same language, but in my experience, APSE events have helped me break down that communication wall.”


Babb began thinking he should do more than break down that communication wall. He and reporter Dan Wiederer, also a multiple-time APSE winner now with the Chicago Tribune, launched a campaign to allow writers to join APSE. They made their pitch to the membership in 2012, and it was passed by APSE’s executive committee at last June’s summer conference in Detroit.

Writers now can join APSE for $50 annually if their organization is already a member of APSE.   (Writers from non-APSE news organizations can join for $75 but  should contact me at or Executive Director Jack Berninger at before applying. Here is a link with li and you can sign up and pay here:

Later Stephens writes:

It seems only natural that APSE open its doors to writers, especially considering how many editors began their careers as writers before moving into management and the evolution of the newsroom also creates opportunities for writers to lead both in the field and from the sports editors’ office.


“Having the door to APSE opened just a little more, and formally so, I believe will help ambitious and driven writers to further their growth as sports journalists,” Wiederer said. “That growth, above all else, is what I think the priority of an APSE writers wing would be.”

It’s a good move. Highly recommended. I’m looking forward to becoming a member.



College perspective: DePaul journalism students weigh in on changing landscape of sports media

I had the pleasure to teach a graduate level sports journalism class at DePaul University during the winter quarter. I know, the students should ask for a refund.

The course focused on all the different platforms for sports media and how stories get covered. It was a very lively class. If an outlet is looking to hire some good young journalists, please get in touch.

For the final, I had the students write on this topic: What do you see as the biggest change in sports media and how do you think it will impact the industry in the future?

One of my students contacted Deadspin editor Tommy Craggs for her report. Even though Craggs isn’t exactly a big fan of Sherman Report, I appreciate him talking to her.

They came up with some interesting observations and quotes. I thought I would share. Here are some excerpt from the students in alphabetical order. (Sorry, Courtney):


Montezz Allen:

Back in the day, people got their news from the paper.

You’d pour a hot cup of coffee in your favorite mug, sit back and read the newspaper. The feeling of having a physical paper in your hands was heavenly. Flipping through each page and digesting each story gave you instant gratification. It was a habit. You’d zip straight to the sports section for stories and stats.  And if you had kids, the comic section performed miracles. You just couldn’t wait to digest your day-old news.

The news cycle stopped after 24 hours back then. The papers were put to bed by midnight. Sports reporters had a deadline. They filed their stories before that deadline, everything was sent to the factory, it was printed, and then poof – it’s your newspaper. Hot off the press and ready for delivery.

Those days are done. They’re over. Finished. Cherish the memories. They’re never coming back.

“You now break stories on social media,” said “The Shadow League” Sports Columnist and on-air talent, Rob Parker.  “In the old days, you wanted to say it for your newspaper. It was a way to get people to buy your product. Those days are over. You can’t wait. You have to put news out immediately or risk getting scooped on social media.”


Sal Barry:

For some, Twitter became a vital tool in the journalist’s toolbox. Bill Hoppe, the Buffalo Sabres beat writer for the Olean Times Herald, used Twitter to help grow a readership.

“It helped me a lot because my paper didn’t have a big web presence back then,” says Hoppe, who joined Twitter in 2009. Making things more difficult was that his newspaper’s website eventually went behind a pay wall.

“So Twitter helped me make a name for myself,” he explains. “I was able to establish myself because I was able to connect with people in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t have; give them updates and become — I hope — a decently-known beat writer because of it.”

Many sports media professionals were loathe to join Twitter initially.

“I hated it at first,” says Jeff Nuich, Senior Director of Communications at Comcast SportsNet. “I didn’t want any part of it, but one of my colleagues said ‘you got to do it.’ The reach of social media is incredible.”

Nuich explained how Twitter is now a key part of sports teams’ communication strategy. When the Bears decided to not re-sign Julius Peppers, this tweet was sent out by @ChicagoBears at the same time as their press release:

 #Bears have informed DE Julius Peppers they are terminating his contract.

That tweet, in turn was referenced by several websites, including, when reporting the story. In a sense, Twitter has become the “newspaper of record” for online media.


Jacob Berent:

Believe it or not, high school broadcast rights are even a tug-of-war battle, and I’m not just talking about your “game of the week” broadcasts either. The struggle between the two competing forces in high school broadcasting in Chicago land are a microcosm of emerging trends in the industry as a whole. The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Network is run by the high school sports governing body of the same name, and assisted by PlayOn! Sports, while their competitor, High School Cube, is backed by the Chicago Sun-Times.

“They’re our biggest competitor,” says Mike Piff, a play-by-play and producer at High School Cube. “We broadcast all the games for free, whereas they’re different. You can pay a subscription fee, or it’s free with a certain cable package thru Comcast. They have more games in more states and sometimes beat us out for rights, but I like our free model.”

Emerging technology has made possible broadcasting an entire state’s Friday night football schedule over the Internet a reality. Breakthroughs in video and live-streaming technology have turned a great number of people into broadcasters.  Oh the power of the Internet.


Nicole Capone:

Social media sites like Twitter, are one of the major forms of media where sports news is broadcasted and obtained by fans. Laurence W. Holmes, a 1997 DePaul University Graduate and current on air personality for WSCR, agrees that Twitter has changed the sports media world.

“Twitter has kind of revolutionized what we can do as far as being a well-rounded media member,” says Holmes. “I see my biggest jump in followers on Twitter during Bears games. And that’s because at the games that I’m at, I’m tweeting stuff that people can’t see, stuff that you’re not necessarily seeing on TV. I love the reaction during games. It’s like watching a game at a bar, but the bar is Twitter or Facebook.”

Twitter and Facebook are sites that everyone can involve themselves in at any point in time during any game.

“Everyone’s involved in it, but you can still lead a discussion like a radio show, but on social media,” says Holmes. It revolutionized the way information gets to fans. It is a huge valuable tool if you understand how to connect with your followers.”


Eric Domingo:

Social media has become a great outlet for teams and leagues, but a huge problem for journalists. What happens when a team owner no longer wants his players to get distracted by journalists? What happens when a team owner wants their organizations to do the publicizing and not news outlets?

In 2011, Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizard and Mystics, spoke about the impact of social media and how well versed his organization has become on the web.

“I’m an extrovert, and I get my energy and my input from fans,” Leonsis said. “I think this new media is like oxygen. Get used to it. I think that there is no more steering wheel in the hand of The Washington Post. I used to live in mortal fear about what they would write. Now, I don’t.”

Leonsis is looking to internalize social media and wants his teams to be their own media company. The Washington team owner gets 40 to 90,000 people coming to his blog a day and he likes how unfiltered social media is and how it’s an outlet to reach his target audience.

“When someone goes to find out something about me or a team or a player, and they go to Google and they type that in, I want to learn how to get the highest on the list, and I’ve done that. I don’t want The Washington Post to get the most clicks. I want the most clicks,” Leonsis said.


Jaclyn Driscoll:

Due to particular characteristics of the site, some credited journalists believe it is diminishing the quality of news. Criticisms stem from the sarcastic tone, negativity, and some even say, a lack of basic journalism skills.

Craggs vehemently disagreed with these arguments stating, what people “don’t realize is how much crap was in the sports section of newspapers. There was stuff that was just there to promote the interest of the leagues being covered.” When looking particularly at Deadspin, Craggs said, “Despite what some idiots think, this isn’t some radical shift. We are a tabloid as they always were.”

Credited sites such as Sports Illustrated, New York Post, and CBS, have been targeted for “bringing it down” by Deadspin. But their favorite is ESPN.

“ESPN is our death star,” stated Craggs. “ESPN dominates conversation. The closest equivalent would be if New York Times and CNN band together and somehow bought exclusive rights to the State of the Union Address. It’s ridiculous.”

Ed Sherman, a free lance reporter for many well-established sports organizations, author, and creator of The Sherman Report, disagrees with certain aspects of Deadspin. One particular story that Sherman criticized was their coverage of the Manti Te’o scandal. He “praised the reporting, especially how they used social media to uncover the sordid tale,” but was one of many to knock the use of an “80-percent sure” quote from a source giving the possibility that Manti Te’o knew about the hoax. However, this is just one example. Made possible by Internet and social media, it is no secret that Sherman and Deadspin employees hold much different ideas of good journalism.

Craggs said, “People like Ed Sherman, don’t understand why we are doing this. He thinks we are doing it to be punks, but there is a reason why someone needs to be doing this. It’s bigger than that.”


Christian Jones:

While online sports blogs are very prevalent, and some do a great job, others have a big issue with credibility. Adam Rittenberg, a blogger for ESPN, said:

“There’s a lot out there, and you need to sift through what is legitimate and what is not. It’s wrong to paint all blogs as not credible because many do credible work, whether it’s through reporting, advance statistics, event coverage and more. So it really depends on the blog and the people contributing to the blogs. Obviously, blogs with the backing of major news organizations (ESPN, New York Times, and Sports Illustrated) will have an easier time gaining credibility, but there are plenty of independent blogs that produce legitimate work.”

The negatives of online blogging are many. The blogs that do not have to think about the image of a multi-million dollar company. Blogs can be uncensored and stew hatred towards a player or a team. Just as ESPN can influence the audience into an opinion towards a player, blogs can do the same.

The difference comes in the presentation, ESPN will not use foul or abusive language to address an athlete, but blogs will say whatever they want. Blogs report on news and gossip, truth and rumors. As long as the story interest the public.


Kelsey Miller:

Students know that the job of a journalist will continue to evolve. It is not just writing and reporting now, but gathering information, shooting, editing, writing, social media updating and a number of other duties. Seasoned journalists may feel threatened by the new generation of journalists who may be more technologically literate. Experienced journalist Beth Mechum of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland does not feel threatened by the changes.

“I haven’t really seen any instances that I can think of where technology has hindered seasoned reporters because the basics of good reporting stay the same across mediums,” said Mechum. “The only thing I can think of where this would happen is if the only way you could reach a subject is through Twitter or Facebook and the reporter doesn’t know who to use Twitter. Part of being a good reporter is being intelligent, a keen observer and adaptable – these are all qualities that would make a reporter “tech savvy” enough to do his or her job well.”

Many online news outlets are not famous for breaking major news stories. Derek Poore, visiting professor at the University Of Missouri School for Journalism, told me how he would go about breaking major stories if he were CEO of a major online news organization.

“Don’t take first-hand social media postings as gospel, for one,” said Poore. “Verify, verify, verify. Emerging tools and startups are breaking new ground on how to verify the authenticity of early reports that emerge on social media during a breaking news event. All journalists should take advantage of those tools and develop new skepticism about what they read online. But it’s not too different from a reporter being skeptical of a first-hand news source and using other sources to verify.”


Courtney Terlecki:

With the decrease in newsroom sizes and the ability for anyone to be a journalist, one person now does the job of what would have consisted of several people previously.

“I was a one-man band throughout my whole career,” said Comcast Sports Net reporter Aiyana Cristal. “This day in age you’re going to have to be able to do it all. You just learn other jobs and that makes you more versatile.”

The rise of social media and the ability of journalists to take on multiple media platforms haschanged the way fans view journalists in terms of this idea of branding.

“The key development is clearly the opportunity for writers to self-brand, not beholden to whomever publishes them,” wrote Huffington Post sportswriter Alex Stewart. “This is impossible these days without social [media], as a blogger points out: ‘It was very obvious that to build a reader base I would need Twitter.’”

Established sports journalists can now leave the news organization in which they were employed and potentially further their career because of branding.

“I said, you know, if I didn’t work here I could probably quadruple my freelance income,” said Tim Cronin, who is now a freelance writer. “And as it turns out, I did a little better than that the first year from the paper, so I was right.”

Basketball writers president: ‘We need SIDs to stand up and fight for us’ during NCAA tournament

Last year, I wrote about how the NCAA has pushed college basketball writers into the rafters for press seating during the tournament. U.S. Basketball Writers Association  president Kirk Wessler of the Peoria Journal Star notes this picture was the media view at one site last year.

Up close to the back of someone’s head.

In a column on the USBWA site, Wessler calls upon college SIDs to push the NCAA to provide better arena accommodations to the media. He writes:

So this is a challenge to our members who are SIDs. The basketball writers of the USBWA need you to stand up and fight for us. The primary goal of the USBWA has been simply stated since its founding in 1956: “To serve the interests of journalists who cover college basketball.” The flat truth is these ridiculous seating arrangements don’t do that.

Look, we get it. Your first obligation is to the university that pays your salary. We understand (even if we lament) the pressures to create more “premium” seating for fans who can maximize revenues. And the best atmosphere is one with a large and lively student section.

But SIDs also are liaisons between the media and the teams. That means advocating for reasonable working conditions, which include unobstructed views of the live action on the court.

All of you know this. Some of you might feel powerless to stand up to your bosses, but you’re not. You don’t have to wage that battle alone. As a member of this organization, you have our support. Ask for it. Please.

Seems to be a reasonable request. However, not sure that much will be done here by the SIDs. As Wessler noted, they ultimately answer to the schools, not the media.


Rick Reilly: An appreciation for Hall of Fame writing career

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana is on Rick Reilly, one helluva writer.


Last week, Rick Reilly announced that he is giving up his column at the end of June. He is going to be exclusively a TV guy now, filing reports for the network’s coverage of Monday Night Football and SportsCenter.

It truly is the end of an era if he is indeed closing out his writing career. Let’s just look at what is on the back of his so-called baseball card.

–11-time National Sportswriter of the Year.

–2009 Damon Runyon Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism. Previous winners have included Jimmy Breslin, Tim Russert, Bob Costas, Mike Royko, George Will, Ted Turner and Tom Brokaw, among others. Not bad company there.

–23-year career at Sports Illustrated, including 10 years as the back-page columnist.

–Author of 10 books, several of which were bestsellers.

–And coming this June, Reilly will be inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame. That begs the question: What took so long?

Reilly easily is the most read sportswriter of his generation, given his platforms at Sports Illustrated and ESPN. Is he best? He definitely is in the team picture.

Often, Reilly’s is so good, it almost is painful for sportswriters like me to read him. Even on my best day, I’ll never get within 10 shots of Reilly on the leaderboard.

Reilly plays to another level with his one-liners. He has the rare ability to turn phrases that only could come from his imagination.

On golf, he once wrote: “Golf is the cruelest game, because eventually it will drag you out in front of the school take your lunch money and slap you around.”

Reilly describing Tom Brady: “Six-four with a chin you can crack coconuts on. Eyes greener than the 13th at Augusta. And one of those oh-darn-I-forgot-to-shave-and-now-I-look-like-a-cologne-ad beards. But it’s not his heroic arm or his lifeguard body or his Crest smile that makes women smooth their skirts and men curse their parents. It’s that he seems to see himself as a tall Milhouse.”

I mean, I won’t even try to come up with a one-liner for those. I’d just look silly.

Yet Reilly’s columns always have been about more than just one-liners. He also tells stories about the human condition in sports, pieces that invoke deep emotion. He did it again a couple weeks ago with a column on Jim Kelly, who is battling cancer.

Reilly writes: “Next time you’re running about two quarts low on hope, or feel like you’re on the wrong end of God’s Whac-A-Mole game, think of Jim Kelly and be glad you’re not him.

“Jim Kelly is sport’s Job. If it’s raining anywhere, it’s raining on Jim Kelly. He’s as unlucky as a one-legged dog.”

Reilly, though, goes on to write that Kelly somehow is trying to maintain a positive attitude despite all the obstacles he has endured in his life. It is a moving piece. These are the kind of columns that you have come to expect, and will miss, from Reilly.

I know there are people who will disagree with my assessment here. If anything, Reilly became a victim of his own success. His big name made him a target for bloggers. They quickly learned that tearing him down equated to major page views. Suddenly, it became open season on Reilly.

It has felt like death by a thousand paper cuts to Reilly. Surely, it has been painful for him. If his critics contributed to him giving up his column, well, that’s just sad.

I have been careful to write in the present tense here. It’s not as if Reilly died or is retiring. He’s still going to be writing for TV. Now instead of reading his words, you will be listening to them.

Yet it won’t be the same. People in the sportswriting fraternity, either long-time colleagues or those who grew up reading him, know his impact. It is profound.

When Reilly made his announcement, award-winning Yahoo! Sports columnist Pat Forde said in a tweet: “My first sports writing role model. Still have the handwritten note he sent me in college critiquing my stuff.”

Reilly’s hero, Jim Murray, once said, “Writing a column is like riding a tiger. You don’t want to stay on, but you don’t want to get off either.”

Reilly has decided to get off the tiger now. On his behalf of all his readers, thanks for taking us on one helluva ride.



Who will play jerk Dave Kingman? Movie to be made about early struggles for woman sportswriter

According to Variety, Susan Fornoff’s book, Lady in the Locker Room, is going to be made into a movie.

I knew Fornoff way back when she was covering the Oakland A’s for the Sacramento Bee. Unfortunately, she found herself in the news when Dave Kingman, one of the all-time idiots, sent her a rat for reasons only he can explain.

I’m sure that episode will find the way into the film. Hopefully, the filmmakers will find a good actor who knows how to play a boorish oaf.

Also, they will make a good movie in keeping with last year’s Let Them Wear Towels documentary about women sportswriters on ESPN.

Tatiana Siegel reports in Variety:

CBS Films and Last Vegas helmer Jon Turteltaub are reteaming for a period film about one of the first female sports reporters to break the gender barrier. 

The company has acquired a pitch by Joel Silverman based on Susan Fornoff‘s book Lady in the Locker Room. The deal also includes Fornoff’s life rights.

Turteltaub is attached to direct and produce with Karim Zreik (Common Law). Silverman will write the screenplay.

In the 1980s, Fornoff fought to secure equal rights for female sports journalists, insisting they deserved the same access to athletes as their male colleagues. At the time, most sports leagues barred women from entering the locker room, which made it difficult for writers like Fornoff to do their jobs. Fornoff, who worked for papers including USA Today and the Sacramento Bee, finally smashed that barrier, becoming one of the first women to enter the locker room. The movie will chronicle her hilarious and harrowing journey to thrive in this ultimate man’s world.

Red Smith Award finalists include Wendell Smith, Ryan, Montville, Vecsey; APSE contest winners

It is award season for APSE. Judging for this year’s contest is taking place at the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana in Indianapolis.

The finalists for APSE’s biggest honor, the Red Smith Award, have been announced. They include some big writing names and some editors who have contributed to APSE, including my former boss at the Chicago Tribune, Dan McGrath.

It is interesting to note Wendell Smith is on this list. Given the history he made in pushing for the first African-American player in the baseball; covering Jackie Robinson’s historical first year; and becoming the first African-American to join the Baseball Writer’s Association of America, it seems like a special award should be named in his honor.

In fact, I’m sure Red Smith wouldn’t mind if the APSE renamed it the Red Smith-Wendell Smith Award. Just a thought.

Here are the bios of the nominees. Balloting for APSE members runs through the end of March.


Nominees Bios

Richard Kyle Fox
He was the first great sports editor in the United States. Under his aegis, his magazine, The Police Gazette, virtually created championship boxing in the late 19th century. Fox’ magazine also featured crime and sex, but because his sports coverage was so successful, he encouraged newspapers to devote space to sports, to have whole sports pages. Every sports editor in America is, essentially, descended from Fox.

Henry Freeman
Freeman spent 47 years in newspapers as a top newsroom editor and publisher, and is renowned for his strong imprint on sports journalism as a pioneering Managing Editor/Sports at USA TODAY. He was a master innovator and motivator, passionate about journalism and sports. He drove the development of sports staples that were revolutionary. Freeman became APSE president in 1987, with the treasury almost empty after the organization had twice teetered toward insolvency. Through his leadership, APSE bylaws were changed to require presidents to live within a budget – putting APSE on solid ground.

Dan McGrath
McGrath made his mark as reporter, columnist and sports editor (along with some news posts) through the country, from the Sacramento Bee to the Chicago Tribune and myriad posts in between. He was an industry leader and mentor to countless journalists.

Leigh Montville
Montville spent almost 20 years as an award-winning sports columnist at The Boston Globe, was in a group of three that became the first back-of-the-book columnists for Sports Illustrated and has gone on to write best-sellers on Ted Williams, Dale Earnhardt, and Babe Ruth, among others. In 2013, he was inducted into the National Sportswriters and Sports Broadcasters Assn. Hall of Fame. In a brief stint with the now-departed CNN/SI sports network, he won a Cable ACE award for commentary. He’s figured out how to translate a unique voice over a variety of different platforms.

Sandy Rosenbush
Sandy is currently the college football news editor for remote production crews at ESPN but she’s been in newspapers and magazines most of her career at the New York Times, Washington Post and Sports Illustrated. She’s a former president of APSE and was honored by AWSM with the Mary Garber Pioneer Award. She is a founder and year-in, year-out supporter of the Sports Journalism Institute, which has been adding diversity to our industry for 20 years.

Bob Ryan
Ryan wrote for The Boston Globe for 44 years, 23 of those years as a columnist, before his retirement in 2012. He still is an occasional contributor. As a general columnist he has a style that connects with the Boston audience in a way that few have. His exposure on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters has raised his profile nationally. Because his Boston experience goes back so far, he brings a perspective to Boston stories that is rare. Yet, his style has never gotten tired, and he maintains an enthusiasm for the games that is unusual for someone who is doing what he has been doing for so long.

Glenn Schwarz
Schwarz began his career as an outstanding and longtime baseball reporter, then made seamless mid-career transition to sports editor where he led San Francisco Examiner, and later the San Francisco Chronicle, to a number of APSE Top 10 section and writing awards.

Wendell Smith
Smith was instrumental in pushing Major League Baseball to integrate and pushing the Brooklyn Dodgers to sign Jackie Robinson in 1946. He did this while experiencing horrible slights, including not being allowed in many press boxes in spring training in Florida while covering Robinson. With Sam Lacy, a previous Red Smith Award winner, he would cover Major League Baseball meetings, working hotel lobbies trying to convinced MLB owners to consider allowing African-Americans to participate and be included in the majors. He was a columnist and baseball writer for the Pittsburgh Courier and later the Chicago American. Smith was portrayed in the recent movie “42” He died in 1972.

Terry Taylor
The recently retired Sports Editor of the Associated Press was a smart aggressive editor who did a first-rate job supervising the coverage of sports for AP for more than 25 years. She was a true pioneer for women in sports journalism and a star in any league.

Fred Turner
Turner began at the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass., as a co-op student from Northeastern University in Boston, worked the city desk and then sports, eventually becoming sports editor. He left the paper in 1980 to become the sports editor of the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. In his 25 years as the boss, he turned the small-town newspaper into one of the country’s best, winning numerous APSE awards, sending many editors across the country to become sports editors, molding writers who also went on to bigger markets. Fred passed away in 2011.

George Vecsey
Vecsey, a long-time New York Times sports columnist, has written about the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics and a wide variety of sports including tennis, football, basketball, hockey, soccer and boxing. But he considers baseball, the sport he’s covered since 1960, his favorite sport and has written more books about baseball than any other sport. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Stan Musial: An American Life, Baseball: A History of America’s Favorite Game and Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter, which was made into an Academy Award-winning film.


Here is the link to APSE for all the contest winners.

Congratulations to my current sports editors Mike Kellams and Tim Bannon at the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune was a Triple Crown winner in the large newspaper category (175,000 circulation and above) for placing in the top 10 in daily, Sunday and special sections. The other papers to sweep the three major categories were the LA Times, NY Times, NY Daily News, and Kansas City Star.

Mariotti writes about first-hand experience with Darren Sharper lawyer; Calls him ‘A liar’

Jay Mariotti says he has moved on with his life. He writes that he is happy doing a daily web radio show at Naturally, he also pumps out columns for the site.

Yet Mariotti confronted his past today in a column about Darren Sharper. It turns out he has first-hand experience with Sharper’s attorney.

Mariotti writes:

I will not pretend to know if Darren Sharper raped as many as nine women in five states, as charged. But I do know that his Los Angeles-based attorney says the former NFL star is innocent.

And I do know, from personal experience, that his attorney is a ruthless liar.

Keep my narrative in mind as a jurisprudence-weary sports world examines the latest legal entanglement involving a high-profile football name. Sharper, a five-time All-Pro who is accused of drugging women in most of the alleged rapes, is represented by Leonard Levine. He is best known as a criminal defense attorney, recalling his successful 2006 defense of Mark Sanchez when the current New York Jets quarterback was accused of sexual assault as a USC student-athlete. But curiously enough, in August 2010, Levine chose to reverse roles and represent a troubled plantiff who’d lost her full-time job, had little money to her name and chose to tell lies and press charges against an innocent man who’d simply tried to help her.


Mariotti details what happened to him in the domestic abuse case that derailed his career. Then he writes:

Lawyers lie — it’s a redundancy — but Levine recklessly disregarded the truth and severely damaged my reputation in a retaliatory Los Angeles Times story. Because I didn’t want my family exposed to further one-sided media coverage and rampant lies being told by the plaintiff, I chose not to pursue this winnable case in a very expensive trial. By pleading no contest to a low-level misdemeanor, I would proceed with my life and remove an assortment of money-grubbers and headline-seekers from my daily existence. With the drama over, my attorney issued a statement to the media. Levine, who did not like my Orange County-based attorney and squabbled with him during the process, was incensed by the statement.

So, to retaliate, he invented a sick lie. He told the Times that I’d punched his client in the face. I haven’t punched anyone in my life, much less a woman in the face. He didn’t tell the Times that she was a heavy drinker, didn’t tell the Times that she was the one abusing me, didn’t tell the Times she had fallen twice on a drunken boat excursion off Marina del Rey — with several witnesses around — and sustained bruises that Levine conveniently blamed on me. No, Levine wanted to get back at my attorney. So he fabricated a horrible image of me for public consumption.

Mariotti writes about further problems he had with Levine’s client. Things, though, have been quiet for a while, and as he said, he is on to the next phrase of his life.

He concludes:

In the coming weeks and months, you’re going to read quotes from Levine defending Sharper. This is what he told a judge last week:

“All of these were consensual contact between Mr. Sharper and women who wanted to be in his company, who voluntarily ingested alcohol and drugs in many cases.”

All nine cases were consensual. That’s what Levine is saying.

And this is what he said when agreeing to a judge’s edict that Sharper not go to bars or clubs: “If he goes to a bar and meets women, he’s putting himself in a position of being accused of misconduct whether it’s true or not.”

Levine would know. He used that strategy against me.

May the better lying lawyer win. Such is the American legal system, 2014.

AWSM: Numbers need to improve for women in sports media

It hardly comes as a shock that the numbers are bleak for women representation in sports media.

However, when you see the actual numbers, it is a stark wake-up call that more needs to be done.

The Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) responded to the third Annual Status of Women in U.S. Media report.

The depressing numbers in the Women’s Media Center report are further supported by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports’ most recent report card, which surveyed more than 150 newspapers and websites for gender and ethic diversity and ultimately issued an “F” grade for gender diversity.

Sports departments and their management teams around the country remain more than 90 percent male, and this lack of gender diversity at the top of sports departments means key decisions – from hiring to coverage, are being made on a daily basis by a very non-diverse group.

This must change.

The Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) is here to stand witness and also act as an agent of change, to push back against these barriers until they come down.

“These numbers reveal why the Association for Women in Sports Media is extremely vital and important in leading the discussion about why sports media must work harder to become more inclusive,” said AWSM president Stefanie Loh. “We constantly stress the important of gender diversity in sports media and we are committed to helping women get into this business and stay in the business in any way possible.”

AWSM believes this diversity is important because the industry needs to not only continue growing its share of consumers, it must also accurately reflect the communities we serve – a rich mix of different genders, ethnicities, races, sexual preferences/identifications and beliefs.

AWSM has been the sports media industry’s lead voice in promoting diversity for more than 25 years, through our internships and scholarships for students, professional opportunities for members, annual conventions and other vital programs.

We want to see sports media change, and AWSM is always proactive in working and leading the drive toward progress. Our membership, currently over 500, consists of men and women, students and professionals, from around the world.

We strongly urge the sports media industry to strive for greater inclusivity, and AWSM wants to foster conversation – and action – to convert these woeful statistics into higher numbers of women in the business.

The time to change is now, and AWSM welcomes the support of all who are interested in making sports media a better and stronger place of diversity.


William Nack reflects on career: Yes, I did cheer in the press box–for Secretariat

William Nack is the subject of Chapter 2 of the Still No Cheering in the Press Box series by the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at Maryland.

Alex Silverman and Drew Rauso did a long interview with Nack, a terrific writer who reflected back on his career at Newsday and Sports Illustrated. Proud to say that Nack is a fellow Daily Illini alum at the University of Illinois. He is working on a book another DI alum, his good friend Roger Ebert.

The interview is well worth your time. However, what struck me was this terrific passage at the end when Nack talks about cheering in the press box.

Frankly, I have to confess that in 1973, when Secretariat started pulling away from the field in the Belmont around the far turn, I cheered in the press box. It would be impossible not to cheer in the press box. There are some instances where the feat is so grand, the spectacle so memorable, that it is impossible not to root for an outcome. Granted, I was going to write a book about this horse, I had something going more than just a newspaper story the next day. I had invested days and days of time into this horse, and so I was rooting.

I say to the ghost of Jerome Holtzman, I’m sorry. There is still rooting in the press box occasionally. As a matter of fact, Dave Kindred, a former columnist for the Washington Post, was standing next to Joe Falls, a columnist out of Detroit, and as Secretariat was racing down the stretch, because people had been talking how great a horse Citation was, Red Smith always said you’ll never see another Citation. He was like a god to some people. As Secretariat was pulling away and the clock was going crazy, and he’d already broken the Derby record, and the Preakness record was about to break the Belmont record, it was obvious, Joe Falls said, “Citation my ass!” What a great line in the press box! That wasn’t exactly cheering, but it was a form of acknowledging a feat of strength, which is what cheering is really.


Montville: BBWAA needs to rescind Bill Conlin’s Hall of Fame baseball writer honor

In light of the accusations that he molested young children, Leigh Montville writes at Sports on Earth that the Baseball Writers Association of America should rescind Bill Conlin’s 2011 J.G. Spink Award.

Not a bad idea.

Montville writes:

The picture of the late Bill Conlin that is used most often in stories about him these days (including this one) is a shot from the ceremonies in Cooperstown. He is wearing a pair of those old man glasses with yellow lenses and he has the white hair and the little white beard and he is at a podium that reads “National Baseball Hall of Fame” on the front. His right hand is in the air and he is reading from a prepared script and no doubt he is being loud and strong and opinionated, the way he was during his 45 years as a Philadelphia sportswriter.
This was his day of days. July 23, 2011. He was the recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which moved him into a small corner of sportswriter immortality near the best of the baseball players he covered. His name was now on a list with Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner, Red Smith, Jim Murray and assorted other famous baseball wordsmiths.

Montville writes later, “It’s enough to make you sick.”

Montville implores the BBWAA to take action.

The J.G. Taylor Spink Award is chosen by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the same BBWAA that chooses the baseball players for the Hall of Fame. Conlin received 188 votes from 434 ballots cast by BBWAA members to win the 2011 award. These are the same people who have wrung their hands in the past few years, held their noses and refused to allow the all-time leading home run hitter, the all-time hits leader, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner and other assorted famous players into the building for assorted transgressions. If they had known about Conlin’s transgressions, there is little doubt that they also would not have allowed him to enter.

All they need now is a second chance. Change some bylaws. Bend some rules. Take a vote to rescind the 2011 vote. This is an arbitrary election, an arbitrary process. Miss America, for example, would have been dethroned in a heartbeat for much less serious charges. There does not have to be any due process. There does not have to be any statute of limitations.

Just get the guy out of the picture.