Category Archives: Media

Sports radio is slowly becoming comfortable with gay and lesbian culture and that is good news on the weekend when many cities in the U.S. celebrate gay pride.

Last Thursday I flew to San Francisco for the weekend to celebrate gay pride. After claiming an aisle seat on the airplane, a woman and her 5 year old settled in beside me. The child was loud and squirmy but I was more disturbed by the mother who turned to her child and said: “If you don’t stop screaming, I’m leaving you home with a babysitter next time!” That, of course, made the child even more upset. There was more to come. After the child asked her to call “Daddy”, her mother said: “With what, a line straight to heaven? Yeah, like that’ll work.”

Oh my God, is that child’s father dead and her mother just said that to her?

I leaned back in my seat and thought about the sports radio show I’d listened to that morning: the DeMarco Farr Show with Kevin Kiley on the Los Angeles ESPN radio affiliate. They were interviewing Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of outsports.com, who regularly appears on the show as an “alternative lifestyle” reporter.

As Ziegler read a top ten list of the hottest professional athletes according to gay men, you could hear DeMarco Farr pretending to throw up in the background. Some of the athletes on the list were football players and Farr had been a professional football player himself. He was uncomfortable with the idea that his football heroes were being viewed as cheesecake pinups by gay men. Kiley was o.k. with it and went as far as saying that he’d pose nude for a photo shoot knowing that gay men might purchase and appreciate looking at his image.

One listener called in and accused Farr of being homophobic and another said he should just get over his objections but Farr responded by saying something very interesting. Farr said that every time Zeigler comes on the show he says something that makes him feel so uneasy he has to tune him out mentally. But every time he speaks to Zeigler, he gets a bit more comfortable talking about the gay lifestyle.

This is how change takes place. Someone like Zeigler establishes a gay website about sports and two radio hosts like DeMarco Farr and Kevin Kiley invite Zeigler onto their show. The three of them agree and disagree and Farr sometimes wants to throw up, but they’re all willing to listen to each other and keep talking.

Gay athletes will become accepted in major professional sports eventually but it will take time and effort. More former professional athletes will need to come out and professional coaches will have to educate themselves about “alternative” lifestyles. The media will have to educate themselves too, there’s no such thing as a fan who doesn’t read the sports sections or listen to sports radio or watch ESPN SportsCenter.

For their part, Farr and Kiley and Zeigler deserve a lot of credit.

As the plane approached San Francisco, I got into a conversation with the mother sitting next to me. Her husband was dead. He’d died while she was pregnant with her daughter. She’d also gone through the death of one of her children. She was returning from seeing her boyfriend and planned to move in with him after another daughter graduates from high school next year.

She’d met her boyfriend online and she wished me luck because I was planning to have a face to face in San Francisco with someone I’d met online. I still don’t like her communication skills but I have much greater respect for her after our conversation. That’s how respect and understanding grow: ongoing conversation.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 260 user reviews.

You’re a 30 y.o. tall dark and handsome tennis pro whose knees are shot but your other parts work just fine – so what now? Why reality TV, of course!

Rev up those libidos, folks, because last night – many thanks to NBC, or curses be upon them, depending – Mark Philippoussis began what the advertisers are calling “the match of his life.” Whew, and they ain’t kiddin’. The Scud, or Poo, or Flipper, as he is alternately called, began a life somewhat removed from tennis. He’s embarking on a new TV show about 30-something males romping with 40-something females. Can they make it work, is the premise. “Age of Love” is what they’re calling this heap of goodness.

Can we survive it, is what I’m wondering, perhaps uncharitably. Not that there is anything wrong with the Older/Younger ticket. Sounds pretty darn good to me, but then I’m a cradle-snatcher myself who happened to meet my partner when he was 30 and I was fourteen years older. So I would be first in line to pass my blessing upon the latest Poo Potpourri. It’s high-time this kind of hanky-panky made it onto the airways. After all, this Aussie was one of those blokes who got noticed off the courts too. He had a hunky charm that women liked, a basic shyness coupled with a certain intensity. Women eat that up, trust me, and let’s face it, his playing days are just about finished.

The last time Poo was in a tennis match of consequence was his 1999 quarterfinal with Sampras at Wimbledon. He’d already broken into the Top Ten in late March of that year for the first time and it looked like he would take Sampras out. But the big guy landed wrong on his left knee, and it all came crashing down around him. He suffered a cartilage tear and had surgery and, being a knee, he was never quite the same after that. I’ve always thought that size hindered Philippoussis, not just in terms of his movement but because he is so big, i.e. rather long-waisted and with a lot of heft to his upper body. So his lower body and the knees in particular bore the brunt of this weight. I’ve wondered if it would help him to slim down more, but it’s not like the guy is fat. He’s just big and long.

Given his physique and talent, Poo should have gone farther in his career, apart from the injuries. But he wasn’t always smart about his career. In fact the guy just didn’t seem too smart. My co-writer Nina and I discussed this one day. I rose to his defense, he is a Hunk after all, and he probably got the dumb label laid on him more than once in his career. I reminded Nina that women respond to his hunkiness and the last thing they want is brains getting in the way. I know all about this rant too, being blond myself, and having to cope with all the Driving While Blond jokes. So I can feel for Poo as a Hunk.

It’s interesting the ongoing love affair Americans have with Aussies. We’ve grown up with the notion that Aussie men are the REAL men. First we had Bryan Brown, then Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee, then Mel Gibson in just about anything he did during his Australian period, and finally Russell Crowe in anything anywhere anytime. That’s a lot of hunkiness. Is their water better than our water?

So Mark Philippoussis comes out of a good tradition. He’s made People Magazine’s list of the top sexiest men twice. One year he had to share the limelight with his associates Lleyton Hewitt and Patrick Rafter. I suppose Hewitt is cute but he’s too much of a weasel on steroids for my taste. Rafter was much more like it. He could have done a reality TV show for sure. But Rafter ran like hell from the Hunk label. He wanted nothing more than to hang out with his family and surf. He’ll probably knock back a slab of tinnies and have a good hoot over his countryman’s new career tonight. Assuming they dare to show this show Down Under.

So how did our lad fare last night? Well, surprisingly he wasn’t too shabby. Polite, natural-seeming, a perfect boy toy. Unfortunately I had to fight my way through the show, which is actually a series. God help us. I can sit through five hours of Federer-Nadal no-sweat, but five minutes of Age Of Love and I was ready to hurl myself out the nearest open window. Mark, I’m frankly sorry your knees didn’t hold up.

A curious note: Poo is 6’5” and of Greek heritage, so I guess that inspired him to get a tattoo of Alexander the Great on his arm. It’s just that Alexander was barely 5’6”, and rather fair, and from Macedonia rather than Greece.

But I don’t have the heart to tell him. Neither should you.


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Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 223 user reviews.

A blogger gets kicked out of the press box and why that’s a problem.

Ever listen to sports radio and hear an update from a game? “Red Sox lead the Yankees by two in the sixth inning, Spurs up by 10 on the Cavaliers at halftime, Maria Sharapova up one set to none over Anna Chakvetadze in the quarterfinals at the French Open.” Forget that last one, you’re unlikely to hear tennis anything on sports radio, at least in the U.S. But what if a blogger sends out the same updates?

A blogger from the Louisville Courier-Journal was kicked out of the press box at the NCAA baseball World Series for blogging live. Live blogging means blogging about an event as it happens. Speaking of which, stay tuned because Pat Davis and I will be live blogging the Wimbledon final. What is the ATP gonna do, come to my house and kick me out on the street in the middle of the match?

Anyway, the NCAA gets money from companies that send out live updates to cellphones and other media outlets so they didn’t appreciate the blogger doing it for free. Live blogging is also similar to radio broadcasting except that it’s written instead of verbal. Radio stations pay fees to broadcast games.

Last year, CDM Sports successfully sued the internet arm of Major League Baseball for the right to use players’ names and statistics on fantasy baseball sites. Names and statistics are news items and so are in the public domain. Scores of games should fall into the same category.

And what about a chat site? There’s nothing preventing a group of Red Sox fans from watching the game on television and chatting about it nonstop in an online chatroom. Talk Tennis has a separate forum for sharing real time tennis match results and discussion.

Internet technology has already made fantasy sports a hugely successfully business. Sports leagues are cutting off their noses to spite their face by limiting bloggers and fantasy sports sites. These leagues would lose licensing money but fantasy sports sites and bloggers advertise their sports for free. Limiting these sites is limiting the exposure of the sport and discouraging fan interaction.

I’m not suggesting that bloggers be allowed to sit behind home plate with a video camera and stream the game on youtube. I’m saying that written items are news items and should be treated as such. You can’t stop people from talking about the game online and why would you?

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 156 user reviews.

The sports world is moving away from hard core journalism and towards a focus on fan participation.

honk-if-you-dont-exist-02222.jpg
Last week I talked about Sports Illustrated laying off employees while simultaneously purchasing FanNation.com. The original content on FanNation consists of fan blogs which are written for free. My take was that paid employees with benefits were being exchanged for volunteer employees without benefits. Lynn Berenbaum of offthebaseline.com left a number of very good comments about the role of hardcore journalists versus bloggers and this week’s Time Magazine joins us in the discussion.

In an article titled “Getting Rich Off Those Who Work For Free”, Justin Fox points out that software writers work for free too. If you’re using Firefox (what the hell does that name mean?) to view this post or log into Wikipedia to find out what Goran Ivanisevic’s ranking was when he won Wimbledon in 2001 (answer: 125), you’re benefiting from volunteer labor. Wikipedia is written by a consortium of volunteers and Firefox is open source software meaning that it’s also written by volunteers.

According to the Time article, the world of software seems to be humming along just fine with a mixture of paid and unpaid workers. IBM may charge huge money to install the open source operating system Linux on its computers but volunteers can make money as Linux consultants.

As for the internet media world, things are not so clear. Take YouTube for instance. YouTube is the first honest-to-goodness internet television station. It’s as if major networks, cable outlets, and the satellite stations all got together and decided to stream on one site. You could get anything you wanted from the television world just by logging on to YouTube.

Now that YouTube has been bought by Google, a lot of those pirated clips are being taken down but a lot of them will stay because YouTube is making deals with television producers to share the online advertising income from those clips.

What about the volunteers who provide programming for Youtube in the form of user uploaded clips? YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley announced in January at the World Economic Forum that YouTube will start sharing revenues with these users. By the way, World Economic Forum? Jeez, that tells you how big YouTube is in case you’ve been off-planet for the past year or so.

How is the “gift economy” shaping up in the sports world? Sports Illustrated bought FanNation so it could make its site more fancentric. The sports world is moving away from hard core journalism and towards a focus on fan participation. It started with fantasy sports – CNNMoney reports that there are between 15 million and 18 million fantasy sports players in the U.S., fan blogging sites joined in, and now fan sites are being bought for big bucks.

Financially there’s not much difference between writing for a fan site and being an independent blogger. The independent blogger gets all of the ad income on their site but they also have to maintain it. The major benefit of writing for a fan site is exposure. For instance, I get press credentials to tennis tournaments because MVN has such a big readership – around 20 to 30 million hits a month. I’ve also appeared on an online radio show through a connection at my site.

If I get to enough tournaments and make enough connections and write enough engaging work, I’ll get an opportunity to write for a website or publication that actually pays freelancers. Even so, as the media employment world becomes more fractured and steady work becomes harder to find, I’ll be in the same scramble to find work as current journalists are to hold onto work.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 173 user reviews.

The sports world is moving away from hard core journalism and towards a focus on fan participation.

honk-if-you-dont-exist-02222.jpg
Last week I talked about Sports Illustrated laying off employees while simultaneously purchasing FanNation.com. The original content on FanNation consists of fan blogs which are written for free. My take was that paid employees with benefits were being exchanged for volunteer employees without benefits. Lynn Berenbaum of offthebaseline.com left a number of very good comments about the role of hardcore journalists versus bloggers and this week’s Time Magazine joins us in the discussion.

In an article titled “Getting Rich Off Those Who Work For Free”, Justin Fox points out that software writers work for free too. If you’re using Firefox (what the hell does that name mean?) to view this post or log into Wikipedia to find out what Goran Ivanisevic’s ranking was when he won Wimbledon in 2001 (answer: 125), you’re benefiting from volunteer labor. Wikipedia is written by a consortium of volunteers and Firefox is open source software meaning that it’s also written by volunteers.

According to the Time article, the world of software seems to be humming along just fine with a mixture of paid and unpaid workers. IBM may charge huge money to install the open source operating system Linux on its computers but volunteers can make money as Linux consultants.

As for the internet media world, things are not so clear. Take YouTube for instance. YouTube is the first honest-to-goodness internet television station. It’s as if major networks, cable outlets, and the satellite stations all got together and decided to stream on one site. You could get anything you wanted from the television world just by logging on to YouTube.

Now that YouTube has been bought by Google, a lot of those pirated clips are being taken down but a lot of them will stay because YouTube is making deals with television producers to share the online advertising income from those clips.

What about the volunteers who provide programming for Youtube in the form of user uploaded clips? YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley announced in January at the World Economic Forum that YouTube will start sharing revenues with these users. By the way, World Economic Forum? Jeez, that tells you how big YouTube is in case you’ve been off-planet for the past year or so.

How is the “gift economy” shaping up in the sports world? Sports Illustrated bought FanNation so it could make its site more fancentric. The sports world is moving away from hard core journalism and towards a focus on fan participation. It started with fantasy sports – CNNMoney reports that there are between 15 million and 18 million fantasy sports players in the U.S., fan blogging sites joined in, and now fan sites are being bought for big bucks.

Financially there’s not much difference between writing for a fan site and being an independent blogger. The independent blogger gets all of the ad income on their site but they also have to maintain it. The major benefit of writing for a fan site is exposure. For instance, I get press credentials to tennis tournaments because MVN has such a big readership – around 20 to 30 million hits a month. I’ve also appeared on an online radio show through a connection at my site.

If I get to enough tournaments and make enough connections and write enough engaging work, I’ll get an opportunity to write for a website or publication that actually pays freelancers. Even so, as the media employment world becomes more fractured and steady work becomes harder to find, I’ll be in the same scramble to find work as current journalists are to hold onto work.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 158 user reviews.