Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Get Around...

I have ignored this URL long enough, busy focusing on my "Juice This" blog at, the latest edition of which is coming later today (check it out). That's fun, but can't leave this one alone. My students are all over it, for God's sake, and it's getting linked, along with their blogs, to Beyond the Game, their self-produced, online magazine.

Besides, gotta' dis on the Bulls (yeah, I know they beat Miami, so?). Gotta' see who's gonna' be wrong again about MLB predictions. And one last shout out to an athlete who coulda' been a star but wound up outshining the rest of us anyway...


What is up with the all the love for the Chicago Bulls? Beat the Miami Heat. Ended the Heat's 27-game winning streak. Fan tried to steal LeBron's headband. Beat the crap out of the Heat physically and got away with a Flagrant Foul or two. Did it all without Joakim Noah, without Derrick Rose, without Marco Belinelli, without Rip Hamilton.

Let's see, lost to Sacramento earlier this month, 121-79. Got the crap beat out of them. With Joakim Noah. With Marco Belinelli. And the Kings without DeMarcus Cousins. Lost to Sacramento by 42. Same team that beat Miami.

The Bulls, despite all their injuries, are pretty good. When they feel like it.


They call March the rites of spring for Major League Baseball teams. Everyone has an opinion too on what team will finish where. Perform all the metrics and analytics you like, but mostly it's based on last year's finish and a key acquisition or two to patch a weak spot or shore up a pitching rotation.

So I'm reading predictions everywhere that the Detroit Tigers already have the AL Central wrapped up. That the St. Louis Cardinals will find a way in the NL Central. That the Los Angeles Dodgers have spent too much money to not make the playoffs. That the New York Yankees will spend their way through their hospital ward and make the postseason.

And the Boston Red Sox are back, the Washington Nationals will repeat and the Cincinnati Reds are the class of the NL Central.

Somewhere in all of that is the surprise team, the one that comes out of nowhere and wins everywhere, makes the playoffs despite itself and every pundit says, oh yeah, we knew all along they could do it.

Yeah, right.

Everyone who picked the Oakland A's last year, please stand up. They're the same people who had the Texas Rangers in the World Series a third straight year.

And still misses the days of smoking crack with the manager.

But Terry Francona is back and in Cleveland. Watch out.


Rob Komosa passed away. He wasn't the best football player, but he was the bravest. Paralyzed after a practice accident at Rolling Meadows High School, where he played, he carried on like no other, with enough spirit for us all.

No one deserves this. And I especially feel for the kids who hit him on the practice play on which he lost everything.

But his heart.

It beat strong for another 13 years.

So long, Rob. But not good-bye.


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. @hschlossberg

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

I thought of it - again - while reading a column in Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal - why is there a disconnect between those in academia and those in practice?

Those who do groundbreaking research in sports journalism are not likely connecting with those who practice sports journalism. Sports journalists are not going out into the field to cover major events with the lingering thoughts of challenges and questions raised in research papers they sat and dragged themselves through.

And why not? Well, most journalists don't write their game wraps, features and sidebars with "Abstracts," "Literature Reviews," "Introductions," "Discussions," and "Conclusions," let alone "Bibliographies." Most beat reporters cut to the chase, get right to the winning goal, game-winning kick, clinching basket or game-breaking home run.

OK, with a little bit about PED users and abusers, athletes who are cheating spouses, labor-negotiation updates and "Sausage Race Highlights" thrown in. But nowhere in a sports story or broadcast are there any of the aforementioned sections cited in the previous paragraph.

And, dare I cliche it, therein lies the rub. Academics don't write the way reporters and editors do, let alone the way reporters and editors absorb information, usually on the fly, off an app, Facebook, a team web site or more likely Twitter.

So, when I read and review submissions to the Journal of Sports Media, which I edit, I know that the quality of the work will be offset by the fact that a whole 14 people will read it, including the authors, their parents and their tenure-review committee members. The sports editor of the New York Post and the on-duty producer at ESPN SportsCenter are not waiting for this with baited breath, regardless of its groundbreaking value, and many of the papers we publish have just that quality.

Authors Rick Burton and Norm O'Reilly of Syracuse University and the University of Ottawa, respectively, who both specialize in sports business management, made just that point in their joint article in Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal's Jan. 21-27, 2013 edition. In discussing the divide between academia and practitioners, they noted, "Is it because the academics who write papers for these journals have made their work so hard to understand (or so nuanced in what was researched) that the average practitioner can't see any value? Is the writing so dense that the key points are obscured?"

Truer words never spoken. OK, written. Having worked both sides of the fence now, and still working both sides actively, in fact, I can relate. I cover games and events for the Chicago suburban   Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.) and write stories on deadline with no "Abstract," no "Introduction," no "Discussion," no "Methodology," no "Conclusion" and no "Bibliography."

I love both of my roles as sports correspondent, now in my 37th year, and educator, now in my 18th, all concurrent. Yes, I'm tenured faculty. But the next time I write a story in the Daily Herald about a game I covered that includes an "abstract," an "introduction" and a "conclusion," will be the first time.

It just ain't gonna' happen.

Keep plugging academia. But get real. It's time to get real. As in relevant. Not in your topics. But how you tell those stories.


I have a new motto, at least for now: "If you're not doing something crazy, you're doing the wrong things." That's courtesy Google CEO Larry Page, in the February 2013 WIRED Magazine, discussing how thinking big can produce big ideas.

Too many people play it safe, including me. Way too many with whom I work, who think that minimal change is "good enough." Except "good enough" isn't. They need to grow a pair and buckle down or die with the very industry they're trying to save.

Thanks, Larry Page. And thanks to all the people who waited patiently and worked tirelessly to cover for me while I recovered. That won't be forgotten. Xoxoxo...


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.