Saturday, December 8, 2012


     It’s a period of transition for me and the Journal of Sports Media which I edit. I’m leaving as editor and will turn over the duties soon.
     I need to thank everyone who helped me get through reams of research each edition for two years. And the capable guys at UNL Press. A special thanks to Brad Schultz.
     I’m a sports writer, not a Ph.D., so I like to think I brought a different perspective to the journal. I’m a risk-taker, but with a dose of practicality. Maybe I published a paper or two others might not have. And maybe I didn’t.
     I like new frontiers. I like pioneering them. I like fellow risk-takers. Blazing new paths is fun. It’s not always fun for the guys at UNL, but it’s fun.
     I’ve learned a lot because I've read so much. So much great research. So many great discussions. So many groundbreaking survey results. So many people who we helped, I hope, earn their doctorates and tenure as well. Credentials aren’t everything in sports or academia. They’re the only thing.
     I got into a debate, on these pages and in my blog, over the value of sports reporting and teaching it (I won). Sports competes for the entertainment dollar, for the movie-theater dollar, for the recreational dollar, for the leisure-time dollar. When Disney owns and is essentially running and overseeing the largest, most-influential sports media outlet worldwide, you know that the ‘E’ in ESPN, which stands for “Entertainment,” is the most-important letter in those initials.
     Chris Berman gets that. SportsCenter anchors get that. ESPN producers, directors and writers get that.
     It’s why I subscribe to and read Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal right alongside my ESPN the Magazine and Sports Illustrated.
     It’s why my students in my Sports Reporting and Advanced Sports Reporting classes at Columbia College Chicago must display knowledge of sports as an entertainment business entity in their weekly media reviews, blogs and feature stories. And in their game-coverage assignments, when they accompany me on my professional trips into the field.
     For those of you who will edit this journal someday, don’t lose sight of that. Same goes for the many of you who will submit papers for publication consideration here. I don’t want Framing How the Weather Impacts Sports Writers Perceptions in their respective coverages of major events. I do want, Framing Perceptions of How Disney Promotes Itself When it Places its Movie Stars on ESPN Talk Shows.
     I can only imagine what the ESPN true-grit, on-air, sports-talkers think when Brandy, Kevin James, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and others of their ilk show up on set, ostensibly to talk sports but really to promote their next Disney-produced CD or movie. Then again, I’d love to see research on how real pro football and golf analysts feel when Chris "Boomer" Berman goes on one of his nickname, pop-culture rants while the real insiders wait to make their insightful contributions.
     Still waiting for research on that. Still waiting for research on how the media gave a pass to $640 million worth of “remodeled” Soldier Field in Chicago and how its exterior wound up looking like a UFO landed on Lake Shore Drive. It’s so out of place with anything else along Chicago’s beautiful lakefront.
     And ever notice how on games televised from there, you always get the camera angle of the stands that doesn’t show the side with all the glass of the suites to avoid the perception to the audience that the stadium is a super-suite money mecca. No, wait, that’s exactly what it is. Which is exactly why we never see that perspective on TV. And our media never discuss that either. Hello academicians, where are you?
     Anyway, I’m still waiting on research about the media going unscathed for its love affair with Notre Dame football. The next time someone writes anything bad or critical about coach Brian Kelly will be the first time, despite two student deaths attached to the program the last two years.
     Where are you media? And where are you in academia to call out the media?
     It’s time to transition back to what the media is supposed to do and it’s time for those of us in academia to hold them accountable.
     Thanks for reading. Keep those submissions coming to the journal too.
     As long as I'm not doing that professional editorship thing anymore, I'm gonna' go get a Snoop Dogg tattoo.

     Howard Schlossberg
     Columbia College Chicago,

Howard Schlossberg is editor of the Journal of Sports Media. He's an associate professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, where creativity and learning are embraced hand-in-hand. And he still writes sports for the award-recognized Daily Herald in Chicago's northwest suburbs.