The menu for Fox Sports 1: Nightly SportsCenter-type show; UFC on Wednesday nights; and Regis!

The big press conference is taking place this afternoon in New York. Here’s what Fox Sports told the rest of the world about its new sports channel on

Today, FOX Sports Media Group (FSMG) makes television history, officially unveiling plans to launch a new, national, multi-sport network called FOX Sports 1. The announcement was made by FSMG Co-Presidents and COOs Randy Freer and Eric Shanks. Set to debut on Saturday, Aug. 17, just as FOX Sports kicks-off its 20th anniversary year, FS1 is available in over 90 million homes, making this the biggest sports cable network launch in history, and one of the largest network launches ever. At the outset, FS1 boasts nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually.

“Our ‘secret,’ admittedly a very poorly kept one, is now revealed,” said Shanks. “Fans are ready for an alternative to the establishment, and our goal for FS1 is to provide the best in-game experience possible, complemented by informative news, entertaining studio shows and provocative original programming.”

A robust schedule of live events forms the backbone of FOX Sports 1’s programming from Day 1, with college basketball, college football, NASCAR, soccer and UFC all on tap between launch and year’s end. In fact, the schedule on Aug. 17 features live events morning, noon and night including a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Michigan and “UFC on FS1 1” in prime time. In 2014, FSMG’s new rights agreement with MLB takes effect, bringing regular and postseason games to FS1.

Here are the programming highlights:

Fox Sports 1 version of SportsCenter: Hey, somebody should tell Fox Keith Olbermann is available. Yeah, probably not.

FS1 introduces FOX SPORTS LIVE, a 24/7 news franchise providing around-the-clock coverage through regularly scheduled programs, hourly updates and an information-rich ticker that provides a network agnostic sports event television schedule. Thousands of hours of news programming are expected annually from newly minted sets including a nightly program at 11:00 PM ET or immediately following events. A morning newscast is expected to launch in January 2014 in conjunction with FSMG’s expansive coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII.

“Building credibility and trust with our audience is paramount, so naturally we’ll provide the staples, like news, scores and highlights, but we’ll do it in a FOX Sports way,” offered Shanks. “Just as FOX NFL SUNDAY reinvented the pregame show, FOX SPORTS LIVE breaks new ground in the way sports news is presented. We already have the home-team advantage of significant audiences watching local games on our 22 regional sports networks as a platform to launch our new national news.”

Baseball: As expected, Fox Sports 1 will carry a healthy dose of live games.

 Beginning in 2014, select League Championship Series and Division Series games; regular-season games over 26 Saturdays; live game-in-progress look-in show.

UFC: The growing sport figures to be a big part of the new endeavor.

Featured on Wednesday nights; live FIGHT NIGHTS through 2014, the first is scheduled for launch night, Saturday, Aug. 17; FOX event preliminary cards; UFC Tonight, the weekly authority for UFC news and information; 14 Saturday pay-per-view preliminary cards; hundreds of hours of library programs and events.

Regis and other studio shows: Novel approach using an 81-year-old to anchor a key show.

Complementing FS1’s live events and news coverage at launch are several original programs, highlighted by RUSH HOUR, hosted by Regis Philbin, airing live weekdays (5:00-6:00 PM ET). Originating in New York City, Regis leads the charge along with a panel of sports professionals, celebrity guests and die-hard fans in this brand new, unpredictable, talk show. Following RUSH HOUR live every day is FOX FOOTBALL DAILY (6:00-7:00 PM ET), an extension of FOX NFL SUNDAY, the most-watched NFL pregame show for 19 straight years. FOX FOOTBALL DAILY, hosted by NFL on FOX personalities, including Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jay Glazer, Gus Johnson, Erin Andrews and Mike Pereira, provides a daily dose of news, interviews and commentary from pro and collegiate football worlds. Both shows are expected to premiere at launch in August.

Mike Tyson: Do we want to see him in anything besides those Hangover movies?

Earlier this year, FSMG unveiled a unique and groundbreaking documentary franchise titled BEING:, a deep look into today’s greatest athletes, teams and sports icons via unprecedented access. The first subject to appear this fall on FS1 is BEING: MIKE TYSON, the most feared man ever to step in a boxing ring. The multi-episode series is now in production.

And there’s more. Stay tuned.


Network trashtalking: ESPN does post to remind Fox Sports, everyone else who is No. 1

Fox Sports is set to announce the launch of its new sports network, Fox Sports 1, today in New York.

So what does ESPN put up on its PR-driven Front Row site late Monday afternoon? A post titled: “ESPN By The Numbers: March, 2013.”

Written by ESPN’s David Scott, the post contains this opening paragraph: “When you’ve been delivering sports fans their news, entertainment and game coverage for 33 years, you tend to accumulate a lot of impressive statistics and factoids.”

The post then basically documents the awesomeness of ESPN.

Wow, talk about timing. I mean, did ESPN know Fox Sports was making its big announcement today?

“Yes, quite a coincidence,” said an ESPN staffer, with tongue firmly in cheek even in an email.

This post was as subtle as Chris Berman narrating football highlights. It is network trashtalking at its finest. It’s Michael Jordan in his prime taunting some new NBA wannabe.

Indeed, it is saying to Fox, “We’ve got a 33-year head start; we own rights to virtually every sports property worth owning; and we have SportsCenter, (an iconic brand even with all its faults).”

So welcome to the game, Fox Sports. Good luck with your new network.


Here’s the entire Front Row post.

ESPN By the Numbers, March 2013

Make up. . .
• 8 US cable networks with more than 18,000 hours of live event programming and more than 11,900 of live studio hours
• ESPN is in 98,516,000 homes nationwide and ESPN2 is in 98,477,000
• ESPN Audio presents 9,000 hours of talk/news/events to 24 million listeners a week via 450 affiliates (360 of which are full-time) including owned and operated stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas
• ESPN Digital Media accounted for 29 percent of all sports category usage in January 2013, more than the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 sports properties combined
ESPN the Magazine delivers more than 14 million readers with the average issue.

Our people. . .
• 7,000 worldwide employees (more than 4,000 based at headquarters in Bristol, Conn.)
• More than 1000 public facing commentators, analysts, hosts and writers

Our Connecticut campus. . .
• 1.35 Million square feet
• 123 Acres (87 in Bristol, Conn. and 36 in Southington, Conn.)
• 16 Buildings
• 27 Satellite dishes
• Additional facilities in Los Angeles, Charlotte and Austin

Digital Center 1

  • 136,000 square feet
  • 3 studios
  • 8 production control rooms
  • 22 edit suites
  • 10 master control rooms

Digital Center 2 (Opening in 2014)

  • 193,000 square feet
  • 4 studios (including new home of SportsCenter)
  • 6 production control rooms

Programming and ratings in 2012. . .

• In the fourth quarter, ESPN averaged more than 980,000 households on a 24-hour basis, and more than 2.3 M homes in prime time.
• ESPN Networks averaged 1.34M HH overall and 2.84M HH in prime.
• In prime, ESPN was the top-rated cable net overall, and among M18-34, M18-49 and M25-54.
• ESPN had the top 10 most-watched programs on cable, 14 of top 15 and 22 of top 25
SportsCenter aired its 50,000th program in September
• 113 million different people use ESPN media each week
• The average person spends 6 hours, 57 minutes with ESPN media each week

ESPN Digital and Social Media. . .
In January 2013:
• In total ESPN digital properties attracted 62.6 million unique visitors, logging 4.97 billion minutes of usage
• Users watched 292 million ESPN digital video clips in January
• ESPN television content generated 13 million social comments, making it the “most social” cable network and the second most social network overall in January
• ESPN video content on YouTube generated 30 million views

In 2012:

• continued to lead the Sports Category with an average minute audience of 77,000, 52 percent higher than its closest competitor
• The five ESPN Local sites (New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Dallas) averaged 8.8 million unique visitors per month
• averaged 2.2 million unique visitors and 26.8 million total minutes per month
• WatchESPN distribution (which includes live access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and ESPN Goal Line/Buzzer Beater) is now available to more than 50 million households nationwide
• ESPN Mobile ranked No. 1 across the mobile Web and apps for total minutes (642 million), unique visitors (13.3 million), and an average minute audience of 14,600

ESPN’s value. . .
• Almost all Americans have heard of the ESPN Brand (98 percent); while a vast majority (93 percent) are familiar with it
• ESPN is the favorite network (broadcast or cable) among men
• In Beta Research Corp’s annual Cable Operator Evaluation Study, operators named ESPN the network with the most average perceived value among all networks measured for the 13th straight year
• ESPN also ranked the most important network in their cable system for the ninth straight year with 95 percent of operators describing ESPN as “very important” for subscriber retention and acquisition
• ESPN2 ranked second in average perceived value among cable operators for the eighth straight year. The network also ranked No. 5 as the most important network to operators among the 46 measured networks, up from No. 9 in 2011

Note: Digital traffic numbers are from comScore.


Which 8-8 team delivered highest NFL rating for CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN?

I overdosed on the Dallas Cowboys this year. It seemed like Jerry Jones’ mediocre bunch were featured more in Chicago than the Bears.

Yet there is no denying Cowboys can generate the ratings. Even after all these years, they still are America’s Team.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News reports a game involving the Cowboys pulled the highest rating of the year for CBS, NBC, ESPN and Fox Sports.

Last Sunday’s Cowboys-Washington game on NBC had 30.3 million viewers, the most for a prime-time game since 1996.

Here’s the rundown of the top-ranked games for the network:

CBS -Steelers-Cowboys (Dec. 16): 26.9 million

Fox – Redskins-Cowboys (Nov. 22): 28.7 million

ESPN – Bears-Cowboys (Oct. 1): 16.6 million

NBC – Cowboys-Redskins (Dec. 30): 30.3 million

The Cowboys did not appear on NFL Network this year. Surely if they did, they would have had the top rating there too.

Imagine if Dallas actually was good and made the playoffs.



Your thoughts: Why people aren’t watching World Series

Yesterday, I gave my views on what contributed to the record low ratings for this year’s World Series. And the declining popularity isn’t just limited to this year.

I asked for your thoughts and got some interesting responses. You have the floor:

Too many games

They need to end the baseball season sooner. Baseball is a spring/summer sport; don’t allow it to run over into fall. The baseball season is way too long. How to fix baseball? Have a 120-game season and end it in late July or early August. This will allow people not to be complacent and keep baseball from competing with the big boys (NFL and college football).–Ronnie

Ugh, I hate to admit it, because I love baseball as both a former player and a fan. But they need to reduce the amount of games played. This is an always-on world we live in and the huge amounts of content available online has had significant implications for the modern day consumers attention span.–Mark

There’s so many baseball games on during the reg. season that postseason baseball just seems like another game to the average fan. I’ll watch, but I’m guessing many fans tune out once their team is out.–Twins91

My response: Yes, the reason season could use a trim, but it isn’t going to happen.  Too much revenue from those meaningless games.


Less regular season, more postseason

Baseball needs to take a page from NBA: Lengthen your postseason. The NBA soars in April, May, June.  For two months, they are front and center with playoffs. In baseball, it’s (three weeks) and postseason is over.

I’m 36, and I could care less about the baseball regular season. I honestly didn’t watch three innings of baseball all year. Absolutely dreadful; no urgency whatsoever. They need urgency in baseball!!!  Almost every year I do tune into baseball postseason.

Forget 162 games; that is baseball’s biggest problem. Take month or more off the regular season; add a month or more to post season.  That would get me to tune in. I am not for watching meaninless baseball games. Can’t do it.–Brad

My response: I also have kicked around this notion. The purists will say the worst thing that could happen to baseball would be for it to become like the NBA and NHL with too many teams getting in. But wouldn’t an extended playoff format increase the number of meaningful games?

Just a thought. I’m not wed to the idea. Also, like I just said; baseball isn’t going to reduce the 162-game regular season.


Too many Latin players

I have talked about this with my friends for several years. A lot of what people watch has to do with the ability to relate and identify with the athletes. In my opinion, the Latin demographic is becoming more and more dominant in baseball. The best players in our supposed “American pasttime” seem to be from Latin America. Therefore, it is hard for American youth, and Americans in general, to idolize, follow and care about athletes they perceive to have nothing in common with. I think this is a major factor in the declining interest from American viewers.–Mark

My response: Latin players have been around for a long time. The Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series in 1960 with a guy named Roberto Clemente. People definitely identified with the Latin players on the Red Sox: Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz. I think the bigger issue is that there isn’t a large enough pool of players that people identify with these days, American or otherwise.


Yankee-Red Sox factor

When you shove only RedSox/Yankees down national throat. Giants and Tigers not national teams. Only Boston-New York are.–Dave via Twitter

An inordinate % of MLB regular season national TV coverage (Fox, ESPN, and TBS) on a small # of teams–Classic Sports Media via Twitter

I still think the main reason is intrigue of teams. People will watch the games with Yankees, Red sox, Dodgers. Yankees-Phillies in 2009 had great ratings.–Jake via Twitter

My response: Indeed, I overdose on seeing Yankees-Red Sox all the time. At least it feels that way. Baseball needs to do a better job of enhancing the identity of other teams, especially a team that has won two titles in the last three years.


Late start times

I was 15 in 1991, and I missed the ending of Game 7 of probably one of the best World Series ever because I had to go to school the next day. Start the games at 7:00pm! (ET)–Lou

I will say the late starts kill it for all sports. My son is 10. He rarely gets to see the end of a sporting event because they don’t start until after 7:30 central. He ends up watching it on SportsCenter or Youtube the next morning. Maybe I should raise my kids on the West Coast or Hawaii–Ralph

My 12-year-old son would rather watch a FC Barcelona or Manchester United Soccer game with me.  Plus they actually play when he is awake!  He can name the starting line-ups for Man U and FC Barcelona, just like I could name the baseball starting line-ups when I was a kid.  With the high cost of tickets and the pace of the game (slow and boring) MLB is totally missing the young demographic–Benjamin

I think the low baseball ratings have to do with length of games; 3+ hrs & late endings of game. Games need 2 end by 10p EST–Andy via Twitter

My Response: I’ve made my points on this issue. MLB might have lost a generation of World Series fans because of the late start times. At least start the weekend games earlier.


Enough with the ratings

Don’t get stories about ratings – should I stop watching because ratings down? Same issue w move box office numbers.–Greg via Twitter

My Response: I hear ya, Greg. But this is what I do here. Enjoy your games and your movies.




Does Ozzie Guillen still have a future in TV? Stock is down after Castro flap, dismal year

Ozzie Guillen always seemed to have a future in TV. The Venezuelan version of Charles Barkley, Guillen landed a role with Fox Sports as a studio analyst for the 2010 World Series. He did well enough to earn a nod to sit at ESPN’s table for the 2011 Series.

But Guillen is nowhere to be found during this year’s World Series. And that might be the case for the 2013 season in regards to TV.

Guillen’s TV stock definitely has fallen in the wake of his regretful comments on Fidel Castro and then the disaster he oversaw with the Miami Marlins. There’s definitely not a positive vibe.

In the words of one TV insider: “My hunch is that Ozzie has to go to the penalty box for awhile.”

Guillen may not even be interested in a TV gig. Obviously, he is hoping somebody will offer him another managing job for 2013.

However, if the call never comes, TV might be Guillen’s best option to help rebuild some of the damage done during 2012. It would keep him visible and current with the game. The strategy seemed to work well with Terry Francona.

Will somebody give Guillen a chance? He’s outspoken, fun and knows baseball.

But Guillen is carrying some baggage now. The networks don’t like baggage.





What’s new for NFL 2012: Fox makes point with new graphic; Riggle, Andrews join pregame show

Fox Sports loves graphics and other gizmos to illustrate the game. With the exception of the glowing puck, most of them work.

Fox has a new gizmo this year. It is a simple graphic to identify players on the field. Here’s an example:

 I’ll let Fox explain:

Football uniform numbers are not always easy to see from the side so FOX Sports is developing a graphics system that tells the viewer who’s who.  “It’s a new way to identity players and we’ve used similar technology during our NASCAR coverage, using pointers to follow the cars.  We’re really excited by this technology that tracks players on the field and follows them in real time where you can ID them in wide shots,” said FOX Sports Media Group President and Executive Producer Eric Shanks

Two banks of eight unmanned cameras are set up high in-stadium at adjacent 35 yard lines.  The cameras track all moving objects and technicians identify and tag players by number.  Once tagged, the system can generate the player’s name and place in a graphic, or “pointer,” that can be made to appear on-screen.  Once on-screen, the pointer remains until removed. 

This new tracking system debuted during FOX Sports’ coverage of Hawai’i at USC last Saturday night and was developed in conjunction with Hego US and Sportsvision.  Additional information, such as statistics, can also be inserted into the pointer.  Hego US is responsible for the tracking system and interface, while Sportvision, the supplier of the yellow first down line, creates the graphics. 

 “Rather than the old fashioned way of analysts drawing a circle on the guy beforehand, this is a better way to do it and more technically efficient way to do it,” added Shanks.

Makes sense to me.


The core of Fox’s NFL coverage remains unchanged. Richard Deitsch of points out that the combined ages of Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson are 172. Translated: They’ve been around forever.

The guys, though, will get a new set for Fox NFL Sunday and a new comedian. Rob Riggle replaces Frank Caliendo as the resident funny man on the show. Farewell, John Madden character.

Erin Andrews also makes her presence felt on the NFL side. She will have an interview with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers to kick off the season.

Andrews, who hosts Fox’s primetime college show, will contribute to Fox NFL Sunday and then will play a role as a sideline reporter for the Thanksgiving Day game and the playoffs.

Is it possible to get too much of this NFL? Are you kidding? Finally, real games

Remember that scene in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas where the people of Whoville stand around the tree and sing that song that I now can’t get out of my head?

That’s how I feel about the start of the NFL season.

Fah who for-aze! Fah who for-aze!

Welcome NFL, Welcome football,

Come this way! Come this way!

Ah yes, our fest begins tonight and doesn’t end until Super Sunday in February. Dallas at New York Giants on NBC and away we go.

Now more than ever before, we can’t get enough of this NFL. The networks keep feeding us more and more, as if that 48-ounce steak they once served now is a mere appetitzer.

Endless pregame shows, endless during-the-week shows on various networks, and a new slate of Thursday night games. Picture Homer Simpson sucking up a dump truck worth of doughnuts. That’s us.

“If the Cowboys play the Giants in a parking lot in March, it’s still going to be tremendous,” said NBC’s Al Michaels. “Football is king right now. The NFL is hotter than any sport than any time in the history of this country. I can’t wait to get started.”

Michaels’ partner, Cris Collinsworth, agreed.

“You can’t give people too much of it,” Collinsworth said. “Look at all the shows, look at all the websites. Look at all the radio shows. How much more people can take? As much as we want to give them they want more and more and more. I just think the interest is not waning at all no matter what happens.”

The NFL felt bullish enough to expand the Thursday night schedule on NFL Network from 8 to 13 games this year, beginning next week with Bears-Green Bay on Sept. 13.

Obviously, an extra primetime game means one less game for CBS and Fox Sports on Sunday afternoon. When you factor in bye weeks, I asked Fox Sports president Eric Shanks if he had any concerns about the inventory of good games being diminished.

Publically, the answer is no, although I’m sure Fox would have liked that Bears-Packers game.

“You can sit around and poke holes at what (NFL scheduling guru) Howard Katz and his guys do,” Shanks said. “But every year they put together a schedule that blows everyone away. It’s magic what they do. They’ve got it down to a science. It’s really hard to throw stones at the NFL right now.”

Nope, all you can do is sing its praises and ask the NFL to keep on feeding us more. And you know they will.

Fah who for-aze! Fah who for-aze!…


Fox Sports crashes college football party with Erin Andrews, Gus Johnson

Did you expect Fox Sports to quietly enter the room with its first full-blown season of college football? Hardly.

The network has two highly creative ads touting the “Gus Effect” of watching the high-voltage Gus Johnson call its games.

And here’s a second promo featuring Erin Andrews.

Fox Sports knows how to get everyone’s attention. But maintaining it at this crowded college football party is another story.

Fox will have a full season of Saturday night games, debuting tomorrow night with USC-Hawaii. The schedule includes the Pac 12 and Big Ten title games.

Fox hopes Johnson, who will be paired with Charles Davis, becomes the life of the party. Working on the big stage, I would expect Johnson’s over-the-top calls could elevate him to cult status on campuses throughout the country.

The telecasts will be preceded by Fox College Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. Fox’s new studio show will be hosted by Andrews with Eddie George and Joey Harrington working as analysts.

Andrews already has a big following, which is why Fox paid big money to bring her over from ESPN. She gives the new show a presence it needed.

Here’s Andrews from a teleconference this week:

Andrews on her transition from sidelines to studio: “I’ll miss being on campus. I did it for 10 years. I’m a sports fan and who doesn’t love having the best seats in the house right down there on the sidelines? This is another way to become more versatile and I’ll have my opportunities to get out on the field for NFL.”

Andrews on working with Eddie George and Joey Harrington: “The No.1 thing that sold me on this college football show was Eddie and Joey. The second I sat down with those two and started talking college football I was so excited. They live and breathe it. They don’t agree on a lot of things and that will separate our show from a lot of other shows. You don’t want guys that think the same way about teams, players and coaching styles.”

The focus, though, will be on Andrews to see if she is worthy of being in primetime. It’s a big jump from hosting the early GameDay show on ESPNU.

Fox College Saturday also won’t be your typical Saturday morning pregame fest. It will be airing at a time when there are more live games going on than you can count. Fox will have to make its program compelling enough to make viewers switch to a studio show.

One thing is for sure: You know Fox will try to make it interesting. Let the party begin.




Bad blood: Whitlock rips former teammate Posnanski, Paterno book; questions ‘authenticity’

Let’s just say Jason Whitlock isn’t a member of the Joe Posnanski fan club.

There have been plenty of harsh reviews about Posnanski’s book, Paterno. But few were more vicious than the one written by  Whitlock.

Writing on, Whitlock writes:

Posnanski’s fluffy, 400-plus-page opus provides sparse guidance. What it inadvertently does, for the highly careful reader, is expose how a coach and a writer can sacrifice their integrity over time, one compromised decision at a time.

It’s difficult to discern what is most shallow in Posnanski’s book — the reporting, the access or the insight.

Later, he says:

Seriously, most puddles are deeper than “Paterno.”

It’s the antithesis of John Feinstein’s “A Season on the Brink” and Buzz Bissinger’s “Friday Night Lights.”

“Paterno” is “A Tuesday with JoePa (and Guido).”

Yet this review goes deeper than the book. Whitlock and Posnanski were long-time columnists at the same time for the Kansas City Star. An impressive 1-2 punch, to say the least.

Apparently, Whitlock has some bad blood towards his former teammate. Here is a highly personal shot in the review:

Posnanski, the storyteller without ego according to his passionate band of sycophants, is center stage throughout “Paterno,” most often without good reason.

Wow, guess that makes me a sycophant. I am a fan of Posnanski’s work, even though I had problems with the book.

Whitlock doesn’t acknowledge his relationship with Posnanski in the review. However, in a tweet, he mentioned his Real Talk podcast in which he discusses “history w/ Posnanski.”

Much of the podcast is an interview with Stefan Fatsis, who also wrote a scathing review of Paterno for Finally, at the 42-minute mark, he addresses the Posnanski relationship.

He begins:

I hope people hear me in context and don’t think there is something horribly negative driving me in this opinion.

No, just negative. He continues:

I don’t dislike Joe Posnanski…I recommended that he get hired in Kansas City. Once I got an up-close and personal view of what Posnanski did in Kansas City, I had some doubts about the authenticity (of his work).

Whitlock then launches into a long story about a Kansas City boxer who died in the ring. He felt Posnanski and the Star sports editor undercut him about a sensitive issue with the boxer.

Whitlock then accuses Posnanski being a mouthpiece for Chiefs running back Priest Holmes during a contract dispute.

Whitlock then delivers his biggest punch at the end:

If you read Posnanski’s work close up–if you’re not some contest judge who only reads the work once a year–(he) reads differently….I see (the book) as loyalty to a paycheck. I see it as par for the course. Standard operating procedure. The promise of information, insight, access that just isn’t there under closer examination.

Whitlock, though, says he isn’t “bitter” about Posnanski. Just listen to the 15-minute diatribe and tell me if you agree.

Sure sounded like some nasty feelings to me.











New York Times’ Longman in center of storm after Jones’ article

Jere Longman is an accomplished writer and a veteran of many Olympics. Yet I’m fairly certain he will have a different set of memories from this year’s Games.

The New York Times reporter has been a target after writing a fairly scathing piece about LoLo Jones. He said she was more hype than substance.

He wrote:

 Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses.

The piece ran last Saturday. However, it exploded on Wednesday when a tearful Jones called the column unfair in a Today Show interview.

I sent Longman an email asking for his reaction to Jones’ reaction. He sent the following reply: “Thanks for writing. I’m going to let the column speak for itself.”

Several of Longman’s colleagues in the sportswriting fraternity stood behind Longman. I received this email from Christine Brennan of USA Today:

“There is no male journalist I know who has done more thoughtful, introspective and respectful work on women in sports than Jere Longman. He brought up some very valid points in his piece on Lolo Jones. It’s because of his time spent covering women and women’s sports issues that he writes with such authority on the subject.”

On Twitter, Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock called the story, “Good stuff.”

Runblogrun said: “A tough but honest piece by Jere Longman not hatchet job, LoLo Jones is everywhere.”

Yet predictably, most people sided with Jones and aimed their Twitter arrows at Longman.

CNN’s Roland Martin tweeted: “I just read Jere Longman’s piece on LoLo Jones in the nytimes. She’s right, it was a nasty, spiteful piece. The Times should be ashamed.”

Darren Rovell, in his first week at ESPN, defended Jones in a piece on

He writes:

If you think her name is cheapened by some strategy to be relevant, to constantly be in the news — most prominently the open talk about her virginity  — then shouldn’t she get some credit for the fact that it worked?

Credit for the fact that in this world of clutter, she got into the heads of marketers who, for whatever reason, wanted to attach their brands to her?

Credit to her creating her own relevancy. Is that cheap? Is that undeserving?

Rovell writes that Jones made you look at her when she appeared on TV. He is right there, but that also plays into Longman’s point.

As a casual fan of this kind of stuff, I was more than a bit surprised to learn Jones wasn’t the favorite in the hurdles. In fact, she received a ton of attention for someone who wasn’t even the top American contender in the event.

Longman makes valid arguments. However, people were turned off by the mean-spirited nature of the piece. He writes:

She has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.

In 2009, Jones posed nude for ESPN the Magazine. This year, she appeared on the cover of Outside magazine seeming to wear a bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon. At the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian. And oh, by the way, a big fan of Tim Tebow.

If there is a box to check off, Jones has checked it. Except for the small part about actually achieving Olympic success as a hurdler.

Harsh, yes. But this is big leagues. If you put yourself out there, you better be prepared to take some shots, especially if you don’t deliver.

Luckily for Longman, Jones finished fourth Tuesday. It served to validate his story.