Tag Archives: Sports

Kneeling For What You Believe In: Controversy on Sports TV

By now, we are all familiar with the massive debacle that was the NFL kneeling controversy.

What most people still don’t know, however, is how it started, why it was started, and the effect it had on the NFL and all of its sponsors, fans, and players. Let’s dig in, shall we?

Leading up to the 2016 NFL regular season, former Seahawks player and Green Beret Nate Boyer had a talk with San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick about honoring the national anthem. Boyer was actually the one who suggested taking a knee alongside Kaepernick’s teammates during the anthem. Boyer stated that “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect.”


Kaepernick wasted no time and took his first knee during the 49ers’ final game of the 2016 NFL preseason.

What many people didn’t recognize was the purpose behind what he was doing. Kaepernick stated in a postgame press conference that he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” For Kaepernick, he was never trying to disrespect the flag, veterans or the national anthem, as many people accused him of doing. He was merely exercising his freedom of speech, something that all veterans and servicemen have fought and died to protect.

Before long, the movement had spread like wildfire across the NFL. Robert Quinn, a defensive end for the Dolphins, raised his fist during the anthem. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcom Jenkins raised his fist while teammate Chris Long “placed his arm around Jenkins’ shoulder”, cornerback De’Vante Bausby also raised his fist in protest. Just to list a few names.

Initially, the NFL couldn’t do anything to players who protested the anthem. The rules stated that while it is encouraged that all players stand and hold their hand over their heart during the anthem, it is not required.

Many fans who detested these demonstrations began protesting the protests by not going to games, refusing to even watch the games on television and, you guessed it, burning their NFL gear and posting the videos on the Internet. (That’ll show ‘em!)

Kaepernick eventually sued the NFL for conspiring against him, accusing NFL owners of collectively making the decision to no longer allow him to play in their league even though he would be overqualified for a backup role at the least.

The NFL finally caved to President Trump’s incessant whining about players protesting. The NFL decided that it will fine any individual who chooses to do anything other than stand and show respect for the anthem and flag. Players are not required to be present on the field during the anthem, however.

New York Jet’s chairman, Christopher Johnson, said anyone on his team who chooses to protest during the anthem will do so without incurring any fines. He stated that “If somebody (on the Jets) takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players.

The NFL then changed the policy to suggest that players stand during the anthem, but wouldn’t fine them if they chose not to. Instead, “teams will be subject to a fine if a player disobeys”. Each club does have the freedom to fine its own player if it so chooses, however.

Today, Colin Kaepernick is a civil rights icon. He has donated over one million dollars of his own money to charities across the nation. And he took part in Nike’s 30th anniversary campaign of its Just Do It slogan which led to another wave of backlash against the former NFL star.

The best way we, as a nation, can move forward with this controversy is by asking ourselves how we could handle this situation differently were it to happen again. When a fellow citizen is willing to sacrifice his profession and reputation in order to point out injustice within our own borders, maybe we shouldn’t respond by sending him death threats and burning things to prove a point. Perhaps we could use it as an opportunity to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves,

“Can we, as a people and as a nation, do better?”

-Michael Oasheim

The Future of Sports Media: How Barstool Sports Is Changing the Game

What comes to mind when you think of a sports media company? You most likely think of ESPN or Fox Sports 1, but I’m not going to talk about either one of those. Can you guess what it is? The company that I am talking about is Barstool Sports. Maybe you have heard of them or maybe you have not, but I promise you one thing, you will eventually know the name.

Sports media Barstool Sports first got its start as a free newspaper that founder, Dave Portnoy, handed around in Boston. From there, Portnoy has taken Barstool to Manhattan, where they have 70 plus employees with 20 interns and are worth an estimate of $15 million. What Barstool does is take trending news stories, specifically with sports, and make articles that are funny and satire. That is their style. Portnoy is quoted saying “We mean this to be a comedy brand”. This style definitely does justice, with their website getting 6 million visits a month.

So how did Barstool go from a free newspaper to making millions of dollars? Well their big rise started when the Chernin Group, an entertainment media company, bought 51% of Barstool Sports, but Dave Portnoy still has 100% oversite. With this big deal, Barstool moved its headquarters to Manhattan. The reason for this deal was to take Barstool to the next level, and to make it more popular. After the deal was done, Portnoy said: “This was our best shot to literally take this thing to the moon. To swing for the fences. Hopefully this deal makes us bigger, faster, stronger, better at everything we do.” Here is a link to a press conference that Barstool had following this deal. (Video)

After this deal, Barstool gained many more followers. Everything they did spiked in popularity. Barstool does not just have a website, they have podcasts, shows, and an xm radio show. Their social media sites have also gained gotten huge. Their Twitter has 915.7K followers, and their Instagram has 2.8 million followers. Barstool is also known for pioneering the slogan “Saturdays are for the boys” which has made its way to even having professional athletes saying it.

Sports media

Barstool has many podcasts with some having a lot of popularity. According to an iTunes chart, Barstool has eight podcSports mediaasts in the top forty sports podcasts. Pardon My Take is sitting at number one. Pardon My Take is a podcast that does a variety of segments and does an interview with a well-known person in the sports world. They make their episodes as funny and trendy as they can by using profane humor. With more than 500,000 listeners per episodes they definitely bring a different side to sports news, making every episode interesting and enjoyable to listen to.

Barstool also does shows that are very popular also. Their newest one is made for college football, and it is called “The Barstool Tailgate Show.” For this show, Dave Portnoy and other Barstool workers go to a college before a football game and do their own show. They made this show for the purpose to compete against the ESPN tailgate show, College Gameday. For this show Barstool went to an Iowa game and it was very popular. One of the Barstool workers actually put an ear of corn in front of a fan’s face to see if he would eat it and he actually did. They did this because of the Iowa stereotype that all Iowans love corn.

Barstool Sports has definitely made their way up the sports media ladder. So, if you are a sports fan or just like funny media, go listen to a podcasts, go on their website, or even watch one of their shows. I promise you that you will not be disappointed, and always remember, Saturdays are for the boys!

-Quentin Mendlik

Team Stream: The Beauty of Being Biased

People like to hear what they want to hear.  A simple concept and the foundation for team stream broadcasts. Last year’s NCAA men’s basketball Final Four and National Championship game featured a national broadcast, as well as two different team stream broadcasts, for the first time ever. How effective was this? Well, if you look at the ratings it may appear as a failure, but there is a lot more to it than that.

Bleacher Report’s team stream broadcasts stem from their Team Stream app. The app customizes your content to give you a better user experience based on your favorite sports teams. These broadcasts are created to cater to a  specific fan base. They display custom graphics, music, show packaging, team centric replays and custom halftimes with school features.

This year’s National Championship was not only unique because of the team streams, but also because it was the first time a national champion was crowned on cable. The championship game was broadcasted on three different channels. TBS showed the national broadcast, TNT  showed the UNC team stream, and truTV showed the Villanova team stream.

team stream

Why would such a big sporting event switch from broadcast to cable? Money. In 2010, a 14-year/$10.8 billion deal was made between CBS and Turner. They are scheduled to rotate years hosting the championship through 2024. However, there is the option for adjustments to be made at their yearly meeting if they feel a need for change. After the sharp decline in rating from 2015 to 2016, there is definitely a lot to discuss.

The 2016 championship game averaged 10 million fewer viewers than the year prior. In terms of household ratings, they were down 37% which made for the lowest-rated national championship game ever. There were three outlets to view the game, and it was a great game that came down to the buzzer. There are multiple reasons for the drop off and it sure is not the team streams.

team stream basketball

CBS is available in roughly 116.4 million homes, while TBS is only in about 93.8 million homes. This just goes to show how broadcast ratings crush cable. This was the second most-viewed basketball game ever on cable (averaging 17.8 million viewers and peaking at 22.3 million) but it was a bust in terms of a national championship audience.

Outside of the broadcasting conversion, there are several other elements to look at. Both Final Four games leading up to the Championship were noncompetitive. It is known that lack of momentum will affect ratings, and it did.

Also, the year prior prior had a lot more headlines and star power. It was Duke and Wisconsin in the 2015 Championship, both filled with NBA talent and very large followings. 2016 was North Carolina and Villanova, North Carolina is a big name but Villanova has a fairly small fan base. Last but not least, there was a late tipoff. The game tipped-off at 9:19 PM Eastern Time and didn’t finish until after midnight.

There was some negative feedback about the team stream broadcasts but most of that was simply confusion. People would flip to the first channel that had the game on not realizing it was a customized broadcast and find it “biased”. However, as more and more people become familiar with this process, the more popular it will become. I believe that this is a very unique idea and great moving forward in sports broadcasting. The switch from network to cable really didn’t allow us to get a true measure of how effective it is.

Right now it seems like CBS is taking same outlook as myself. The CBS Sports Chairman had this to say in response to if CBS will be using team streams next championship game “We have some issues to work through, like our affiliates. But I think Team Stream has been innovative. It’s a good way to increase exposure and promote the final weekend.”

Ryan Herring

Fantasy Sports: More is Being Drafted than just Beer

Like many other fantasy sports fans, I too am sick of seeing advertisements for weekly fantasy leagues hosted by sites like DraftKings & FanDuel. However, I’m not annoyed by the volume of these commercials so much as my inability to participate.

Iowa, along with nine other states, have strict laws regarding sports gambling. In the eyes of state legislators, cash payouts for fantasy sport wins are considered gambling, and thus illegal. Many fantasy sport organizations, players, and myself agree that sport gambling laws should not apply to fantasy sports because fantasy sports are much more than just a double down at a blackjack table. This game requires skill to win, not chance.

fantasy sports

Fantasy sports have even caught the attention of the current election cycle, with the Clinton campaign purchasing banner ads that were displayed on the ESPN fantasy football homepage the day before the first evening of debate.

Journalist Andrew Bucholtz argues that a display ad feels more permanent than a video in an article discussing the ad . Screenshotting a video is practically useless because you wouldn’t be able to get a sense of the message the video is trying to convey. But a banner ad such as this conveys the entire message in a still image. In my opinion, ESPN should just #sticktosports.

Let us take a step back for a moment and examine fantasy sports as a whole. The first fantasy sport game took place in “…the latter part of the 1950s, in which each player selected a team of professional golfers and the person with the lowest combined total of strokes at the end of the tournament would win.” Fast forward to 2016, and there over 57 million North Americans playing fantasy football, baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey.

Fantasy sport players also tend to be “…younger, better educated, [have] higher household incomes and are more likely to have full time employment…” according to studies conducted by the Fantasy Sport Trade Association (FTSA).

If only I could make a little money off of this hobby right? DraftKings alone has paid out over one billion dollars in cash prizes to numerous winners.

fantacy sportsUnlike Iowa, California just recently passed a bill that allows daily fantasy betting to take place. In fact, several of the state’s professional sport teams such as the Clippers, Lakers, Kings and 49ers rallied in support of the bill.

“Team representatives said daily fantasy leagues have helped make professional sports more interactive and interesting to fans” according to an article written by the LA Times.

The support by professional sport organizations for bills such as these should not be misconstrued as an opportunity to rig games. Audience engagement is an absolute must for modern media companies to survive today. With ratings continually dropping for ESPN’s most popular program, Sunday Night Football, one could only imagine what ratings for less popular programs look like.

Sports executives are beginning to run out of ways to drive audience engagement and repeat consumption. Fantasy sports certainly will not be a saving grace, but could certainly keep the door open long enough for the next era of live sports consumption to be ushered in. I’ll keep a spare forty dollars in my wallet when Iowa decides to change its mind.

Cal Gruening

The Gametime App: Ticket Purchasing of the Future?

With the secondhand ticket market full of companies such as StubHub and SeatGeek, there is one standing out from the rest. Gametime.

gameapp1is a new smartphone application that allows users to purchase tickets fast and easy from their app with the outstanding ability to scan your phone at the ticket booth. With a few simple clicks you can purchase a ticket to your favorite sporting teams event without the hassle of printing the ticket out.

Gametime was started by CEO and Founder Brad Griffith who thought of this concept before attending a San Francisco Giants baseball game. Brad and his friend bought tickets through another smartphone app but did not realize they needed to print them out first. Being late to the game gave him the motivation to create this new app. Gametime gets revenue through charging a booking fee between 5%-10% which is important to note.

gameappGametime however is up against some stiff competition. Competitor SeatGeek has the ability of downloading their app on your smartphone and purchasing tickets that route. SeatGeek’s sales are increasing every month as well. The upside of Gametime compared to SeatGeek however is the ability to scan your phone at the gate. With the ability to buy tickets quickly at the last minute and scan them at the gate, Gametime sets itself apart from other ticket companies.

Gametime is currently growing into different markets as we speak. Currently in 18 different markets, Gametime is expanding across the country to reach every sporting team professionally. While they are only in the sporting event market they are hoping to expand to include musical events as well, which would be another revenue stream to the company. In my opinion, given how fast this company is growing it should not be long before that starts to happen.

Now on to the most important portion of this post, my opinion! After reading through these articles and researching this app I really like the direction this app is going. Gametime seems to have found its place in the secondary ticket market and has a great feature with the ability to scan your phone at the gate and not worry about printing your ticket off.

Gametime seems to have a good reputation in this market with StubHub founding executive Colins Evans signed on as Gametime’s chief revenue officer. This addition was really interesting to me because with another competitor’s founders joining in on the project it gives Gametime a ton of credibility. CEO Brad Griffith seems to have a great gameplan on how to tackle the problems that this company may face with other competitors.

Some questions I have for you the reader is would Gametime be an app you would use if it was available in your city? And do you think Gametime stands a chance against other competitors such as StubHub and SeatGeek?

Brice Berger