If They Don’t Feel Safe, Athletes Should Shut Down Sports
“As ominous signs and numerous positive tests threaten the resumption of seasons, candid concerns from Sean Doolittle and Mike Trout should warn desperate leagues and TV networks that players have all the power.”
My eyeballs did lock, admittedly, when MLB Network provided sweeping visuals we haven’t seen in eons: Wrigley Field swallowed by sunshine, the pause in Clayton Kershaw’s windup, Max Scherzer already in full uniform, Bryce Harper swinging in a bandana. Yep, the brainwashers had me going until I looked around those ballparks, at the start of “Summer Camp’’ in the most ass-backward year of our lives, and noticed a familiar disparity that has turned America into the globally mocked epicenter of COVID-19.
Some players wore masks.
Many players, defiantly and foolishly, did not.
I should have known this was the precursor of a debacle, a weekend that reminded us that Major League Baseball has no chance of surviving a pandemic-slammed season when it can’t even begin to repair the rampant troubles threatening its very existence. Just hours into commissioner Rob Manfred’s bumbling folly, the testing protocol already resembles a sham — filled with misinformation if not downright lies, including suspicions that MLB isn’t being transparent about a sizable number of positive coronavirus tests. All of which surprises no one accustomed to baseball as the most scandalous of sports.
Forget Harper, Kershaw and Scherzer. All attention should be paid to Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle, a vocal critic of Manfred and the owners during the embarrassing recent labor squabbles with the players’ union. On a Zoom call Sunday, Doolittle told reporters that of his four tests, two required longer than 48 hours for results to return from MLB’s ridicule-made Salt Lake City laboratory. The Oakland Athletics had to cancel a workout for position players because test results weren’t available, and other teams were awaiting testing data before resuming.
Only 17 days remain before Opening Day. At this point, Manfred has a better chance of putting people in body bags than pulling off a 60-game season. It’s about time to mercy-kill MLB, assuming Doolittle hasn’t done so with a memorable commentary.
“There’s a lot of players right now that are trying to make decisions that might be participating in camp that aren’t 100 percent comfortable with where things are at right now,’’ he said. “That’s kind of where I am. I think I’m planning on playing. But, if at any point I start to feel unsafe, if it starts to take a toll on my mental health, with all these things we have to worry about, and this cloud of uncertainty hanging over everything, then I’ll opt out.
“Those results gotta be back. That’s one of the biggest things — a lot of guys on the fence decided to try to play and see how this was going to go, because we were going to have our results within 48 hours.’’
Baseball is slow about everything. You thought a sport that can’t finish a game in three hours would have COVID-19 results in two days?
At least the NBA has a shot to resume a season, with its Disney World biobubble awaiting the arrival of players. Baseball looks dead before it starts. “I think there’s still some doubt that we’re going to have a season now. By no means is this a slam dunk,’’ said Cardinals reliever and union leader Andrew Miller.
Mike Trout, baseball’s transcendent figure and someone you don’t want to upset, wore a heavy-duty mask in the outfield after voicing considerable apprehension about playing a 60-game season in a pandemic. Emphasizing that his wife, Jessica, is due to deliver the couple’s first child next month, he said, “Honestly, I still don’t feel comfortable. We’re risking our families and our lives to go out here and play for everyone. Obviously, with the baby coming, there’s a lot of stuff going through my mind, my wife’s mind, just trying to (figure out) the safest way to get through a season. I don’t want to test positive and I don’t want to bring it back to my wife. We thought hard about all this, still thinking about all this. It’s a tough situation we’re in, everyone’s in, and everybody’s got a responsibility in this clubhouse to social distance, stay inside, wear a mask and keep everybody safe.’’
In essence, Trout was PLEADING that his Angels teammates not be COVID-iots in coronavirus-slammed California, where face coverings are mandatory in public places and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti again is warning, “You should assume everyone around you is infectious.’’ And yet not minutes later, within a few feet of Trout, maskless teammates were frolicking and talking while shagging fly balls, oblivious to his concerns about an outbreak. This on a weekend when dozens of major-leaguers — including Braves star Freddie Freeman, who isn’t well and will sit a while — tested positive for the virus, along with NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson, more soccer players amid an MLS restart collapse, a main-event fighter in UFC 251, and, naturally, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend. Several NBA teams shut down facilities because of the virus. And in the haste to rush workouts, Giancarlo Stanton almost took off Masahiro Tanaka’s skull inside an eerie Yankee Stadium, counterproductive to the title cause.
It all seems so fragile, hapless, hopeless. But at least wear a mask, right? Reports had some major-league players discarding masks when, of course, they should be covering up when possible as a symbol of their commitment to safety, an infomercial for America to stop political mask warfare and a respectful nod to Trout, who, armed with the sport’s most lucrative contract, has every reason to sit out this shotgun season. He still might go home at any moment. Can we blame him?
“We’re trying to bring baseball back during a pandemic that’s killed 130,000 people,” said Doolittle, taking aim at mask warfare in America. “We’re way worse off as a country then we were in March when we shut this thing down. And look at where other developed countries are in their response to this. We haven’t done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back. Sports are the reward of a functioning society. And we’re trying to just bring it back, even though we’ve taken none of the steps to flatten the curve.
“If there aren’t sports, it’s going to be because people are not wearing masks, because the response to this has been so politicized. We need help from the general public. If they want to watch baseball, please wear a mask, social distance, keep washing your hands.”
Amen. Sean Doolittle for commissioner.
It’s time to ask the question no one in sports wants to face: If enough marquee athletes bow out, will competitive integrity be diluted to the point it’s useless to continue what would be an illegitimate season? The thought of a total sports shutdown mortifies the broadcast networks that drive the sports engine, particularly Fox Sports and ESPN, both of which might crumble if the cash-cow NFL cancels its $15-billion-a-year, TV-dominant season as ESPN parent Disney suffers an abysmal fiscal third quarter. The pressure already is palpable as athletes begin to realize they ultimately hold the power in this restart ecosystem.
If too many players don’t want to play and scram, as David Price and Victor Oladipo have done and Buster Posey is pondering, down goes MLB, down goes the NBA and down goes the NFL. Once college football players (and their parents) realize they are assuming health risks without being paid, down go Clemson and other superpowers — and down goes the season. And down go the TV networks, doomed to financial disaster. A baseball season is not a baseball season without Trout. And as more prominent athletes fail tests and suffer injuries — bubble or no bubble — sports become less about the games and more about a coronavirus survival test that fans will not enjoy, much less the players.
“If I test positive, it’s my first child, and I have to be there,’’ Trout said. “If I’m positive, doctors have told me I can’t see the baby for 14 days. Jess won’t see the baby for 14 days if she tests positive. We’re going to be upset. I can’t put them in jeopardy. … It’s going to come down to how safe we’re going to be. You never know what can happen tomorrow or the next day, if there’s an outbreak. … A lot of guys have families, some are single and younger, need to get out of the house. One guy can mess this up. One guy can go out and not wear a mask and contract this virus and bring it into the clubhouse. I’ve talked to a lot of guys across the league. They’re all thinking the same thing, `Is this going to work? ‘ ‘’
For all his wondrous skills on the field, never has Trout been more valuable than he was in that virtual interview room. Passionately and reasonably, he spoke to a sports industry that insists on restarting play when common sense and workplace ethics demand a shutdown until 2021. As infections surge and new single-day case records are established daily in the U.S., leagues and broadcast networks that once derided President Trump are conveniently embracing his delusional belief the virus will “just disappear.’’ Driven by massive, stubborn business egos and a hunger to recoup billions of dollars, the industry’s power elite thinks it can beat down the virus and prove that humankind is bigger than a killer disease. And athletes? They’ve been conditioned most of their lives to think they’re superheroes when, in reality, nothing is heroic about resuming sports amid a still-raging crisis.
It’s stupid, actually. And exceedingly dangerous, a recipe for outbreaks in all leagues and an abrupt end to all sports seasons, which underscores the importance of the preeminent baseball superhero speaking out. He’s not alone. “I think we’ve seen with these owners, they’re not scared of anything, and they’re not scared to put anyone at risk if they get the opportunity to, especially if it makes them money,’’ Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija said. Not only is it unfair to ask athletes to resume seasons and assume all health risks — commissioners and owners, remember, will be bunkered down with their accountants — the reset ignores data that sounds alarms about the outsized impact of coronavirus in the black community. When about 75 percent of NBA players and 70 percent of NFL players identify themselves as African American, the discussion has been suspiciously non-existent about: (1) a COVID-19 mortality rate that is 2.3 times higher for black people than for whites and Hispanics, according to the Washington Post; and (2) a metric that shows African Americans are five times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than white people, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The leagues can take all the measures they want to appease black athletes in a turbulent, potentially explosive summer, from the NBA’s decision to paint “Black Lives Matter’’ on the Disney World courts and allow players to wear “social justice’’ slogans on jerseys to the NFL’s plan to play “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing’’ before “The Star-Spangled Banner’’ in pregame ceremonies. Daniel Snyder finally can find a non-racist nickname for Washington’s NFL franchise, and the Cleveland Indians can do the same. If players don’t feel safe in a pandemic, they’re not playing. Major League Baseball, mired in a disastrous diversity crisis on all levels, looks worse when Price follows Ian Desmond in opting out. It was Desmond who said baseball is “failing’’ in efforts to aid minority participation, writing on Instagram, “Think about it: right now in baseball we’ve got a labor war. We’ve got rampant individualism on the field. In clubhouses we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems. We’ve got cheating. We’ve got a minority issue from the top down. One African American GM. Two African American managers. Less than 8% Black players. No Black majority team owners. Perhaps most disheartening of all is a puzzling lack of focus on understanding how to change those numbers. A lack of focus on making baseball accessible and possible for all kids, not just those who are privileged enough to afford it. If baseball is America’s pastime, maybe it’s never been a more fitting one than now.’’
The NBA has racial peace. But to prevent the virus from spreading in the bubble, all players will have to obey the safety protocol and commit weeks, if not months, to life in isolation. Do they have it in them? I’m not the only one doubting it “My confidence ain’t great,’’ said All-Star guard Damian Lillard, “because you’re telling me you’re gonna have 22 teams full of players following all the rules? When we have 100 percent freedom, everybody don’t follow all the rules.’’
Said Spurs star DeMar DeRozan, whose publicly shared battles with mental health underline another issue with players in virtual lockdown: Will they go stir-crazy? He can’t understand why ping-pong doubles games are banned. “Guys can’t do this, but we can do this and battle over each other (on the court),’’ he said. “I got through 10 lines of the (safety) handbook and just put it down because it became so frustrating and overwhelming at times, because you just never thought you’d be in a situation of something like this. It’s hard to process.’’
On the mental health topic, Doolittle said, “I can already tell this is going to be a grind mentally, and I might go crazy before anything else. There’s this cloud of uncertainty. You’re always kind of waiting for more bad news. Every time I get a text message or something on my phone throughout the day I’m worried that it’s going to be some kind of bad news, like somebody in the league tested positive or somebody opted out or so-and-so broke protocol and there’s pictures of people going out on social media when they shouldn’t be.’’
Then there was JJ Redick. The NBA veteran delivered the defining observation of the restart, surely speaking for many athletes when he said, “To say that we have any sort of comfort level would be a lie. There is no comfort level. We’re not with our families. We’re not at our homes. We’re isolated in a bubble in the middle of a hot spot in the middle of Florida — while there’s social unrest going on in the country — and we’re three months away from potentially the most important election in our lifetimes. Now, we have to figure out a way to perform and play basketball and all that, because I do believe it is the right thing to go and play. But there is absolutely no comfort level — none.’’
All weekend, like a toxic drip, the news digest offered more reasons not to play sports in 2020. I even read a story suggesting the PGA Tour will continue to risk outbreaks as long as winners hug caddies, as Daniel Berger did after winning the Charles Schwab Challenge. Maybe that’s why ESPN.com refused to budge for hours on what it viewed as the leading story: Joey Chestnut (a record 75 consumed) and Miki Sudo continued to dominate Nathan’s Famous Dog-Eating Contest, even when separated from other slobberers by fiberglass panels.
It wasn’t proper journalistic judgment. But it did generate a grin. When was the last time we grinned about sports?
Jay Mariotti, called “the most impacting Chicago sportswriter of the past quarter-century,’’ writes a weekly media column for Barrett Sports Media and regular sports columns for Substack while appearing on some of the 1,678,498 podcasts in production today. He’s an accomplished columnist, TV panelist and radio talk host. Living in Los Angeles, he gravitated by osmosis to film projects. Compensation for this column is donated to the Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust.
Amanda Brown Has Embraced The Bright Lights of Hollywood
“My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and eight others aboard a helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, sent shockwaves around the world of sports, entertainment, and culture. People traveled to Los Angeles following the devastating news and left flowers outside the then-named STAPLES Center, the arena which Bryant called home for much of his career, demonstrating the magnitude of the loss. Just across the street from the arena, Amanda Brown and the staff at ESPN Los Angeles 710 had embarked in ongoing breaking news coverage, lamentation, and reflection.
It included coverage of a sellout celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter and teams around the NBA opting to take 8-second and 24-second violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers throughout his 20-year NBA career. They currently hang in the rafters at Crypto.com Arena, making Bryant the only player in franchise history to have two numbers retired.
During this tumultuous time, Bryant’s philosophy served as a viable guiding force, something that Brown quickly ascertained in her first month as the station’s new program director.
“I had people that were in Northern California hopping on planes to get here,” Brown said. “You didn’t even have to ask people [to] go to the station; people were like, ‘I’m on my way.’ It was the way that everybody really came together to do really great radio, and we did it that day and we did it the next day and we did it for several days.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is quickly approaching, and Brown will be attending the event for the first time since 2020. During her first experience at the BSM Summit in New York, Brown had just become a program director and was trying to assimilate into her role. Because of this, she prioritized networking, building contacts, and expressing her ideas to others in the space. This year, she looks forward to connecting with other program directors and media professionals around the country while also seeking to learn more about the nuances of the industry.
“The Summit is kind of like a meeting of the minds,” Brown said. “It’s people throughout the country and the business…. More than anything, [the first time] wasn’t so much about the panels as it was about the people.”
Growing up in Orange County, Brown had an interest in the Los Angeles Lakers from a young age, being drawn to play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn. Brown refers to Hearn as inspiration to explore a career in broadcasting. After studying communications at California State University in Fullerton, she was afforded an opportunity to work as a producer at ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM by program director Scott Masteller, who she still speaks to on a regular basis. It was through Masteller’s confidence in her, in addition to support from operations manager Dave Schorr, that helped make Brown feel more comfortable working in sports media.
“I never felt like I was a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Brown said. “I always just felt like I was a part of the industry. For me, I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I deserve to be here; I deserve a seat at the table.’”
Brown quickly rose up the ranks when she began working on ESPN Radio in Bristol, Conn., working as a producer for a national radio show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt, along with The Sports Bash with Erik Kuselias. Following five-and-a-half years in Bristol, Brown requested a move back to California and has worked at ESPN Los Angeles 710 ever since. She began her tenure at the station serving as a producer for shows such as Max and Marcellus and Mason and Ireland.
Through her persistence, work ethic and congeniality, Brown was promoted to assistant program director in July 2016. In this role, she helped oversee the station’s content while helping the entity maintain live game broadcast rights and explore new opportunities to augment its foothold, including becoming the flagship radio home of the Los Angeles Rams.
“Don’t sit back and wait for your managers or your bosses to come to you and ask what you want to do,” Brown advised. “Go after what you want, and that’s what I’ve always done. I always went to my managers and was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this. Give me a chance; let me do that.’ For the most part, my managers have been receptive and given me those opportunities.”
When executive producer Dan Zampillo left the station to join Spotify to work as a sports producer, Brown was subsequently promoted to program director where she has helped shape the future direction of the entity. From helping lead the brand amid its sale to Good Karma Brands in the first quarter of 2022; to revamping the daily lineup with compelling local programs, Brown has gained invaluable experience and remains keenly aware of the challenges the industry faces down the road. For sports media outlets in Los Angeles, some of the challenge is merely by virtue of its geography.
“We’re in sunny Southern California where there’s a lot of things happening,” Brown said. “We’re in the middle of Hollywood. People have a lot of opportunities – you can go to the mountains; you can go to the beach. I think [our market] is more about entertainment than it is about actual hard-core sports. Yes, obviously you have hard-core Lakers fans; you have hard-core Dodgers fans, but a majority of the fans are pretty average sports fans.”
Because of favorable weather conditions and an endless supply of distractions, Brown knows that the way to attract people to sports talk radio is through its entertainment value. With this principle in mind, she has advised her hosts not to worry so much about the specific topics they are discussing, but rather to ensure they are entertaining listeners throughout the process.
“People know the four letters E-S-P-N mean sports, but really our focus is more on entertainment more than anything,” Brown said. “I think the [talent] that stick out the most are the ones that are the most entertaining.”
Entertaining listeners, however, comes through determining what they are discussing and thinking about and providing relevant coverage about those topics. Even though it has not yet been legalized in the state of California, sports gambling content has been steadily on the rise since the Supreme Court made a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act established in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018). Nonetheless, Brown and ESPN Los Angeles 710 have remained proactive, launching a sports gambling show on Thursday nights to try to adjust to the growing niche of the industry.
Even though she has worked in producing and programming for most of her career, Brown is eager to learn about the effect sports gambling has on audio sales departments. At the same time, she hopes to be able to more clearly determine how the station can effectuate its coverage if and when it becomes legal in their locale.
“I know that a lot of other markets have that,” Brown said regarding the legalization of sports gambling. “For me, I’m interested to hear from people who have that in their markets and how they’ve monetized that and the opportunity.”
No matter the content, though, dedicated sports radio listeners are genuinely consuming shows largely to hear certain talent. Brown recalls receiving a compliment on Twitter earlier this quarter where a listener commented that he listens to ESPN Los Angeles 710 specifically for Sedano and Kap. Evidently, it acted as a tangible sign that her philosophy centered around keeping people engrossed in the content is working, and that providing the audience what it wants to hear is conducive to success.
At this year’s BSM Summit, Brown will be participating on The Wheel of Content panel, presented by Core Image Studio, featuring ESPN analyst Mina Kimes and FOX Sports host Joy Taylor. Through their discussion, she intends to showcase a different perspective of what goes into content creation and the interaction that takes place between involved parties.
“A lot of times in the past, all the talent were on one panel; all the programmers were on one panel,” Brown said. “To put talent and a programmer together, I think it’s an opportunity for people to hear both sides on certain issues.”
According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM (terrestrial) radio among persons 18-34 has a greater average audience than television. The statistical anomaly, which was forecast several years earlier, came to fruition most likely due to emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Simultaneously, good content is required to captivate consumers, and radio, through quantifiable and qualifiable metrics, has been able to tailor its content to the listening audience and integrate it across multiple platforms of dissemination. The panel will give Brown a chance to speak in front of her peers and other industry professionals about changes in audio consumption, effectuated by emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Yet when it comes to radio as a whole, the patterns clearly point towards the proliferation of digital content – whether those be traditional radio programs or modernized podcasts. Moreover, utilizing various elements of presentation provides consumers a greater opportunity of finding and potentially engaging with the content.
“We do YouTube streaming; obviously, we stream on our app,” Brown said. “We’ve even created, at times, stream-only shows whether it’s stream-only video or stream-only on our app. We all know that people want content on-demand when they want it. I think it’s about giving them what they want.”
As a woman in sports media, Brown is cognizant about having to combat misogyny from those inside and outside of the industry, and is grateful to have had the support of many colleagues. In holding a management position in the second-largest media market in the United States, she strives to set a positive example to aspiring broadcasters. Additionally, she aims to be a trusted and accessible voice to help empower and give other women chances to work in the industry – even if she is not universally lauded.
“I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I’m no different than anyone else – yes, I’m a female – but I’m no different than anyone else,’” Brown expressed. “My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
Through attending events such as the BSM Summit and remaining immersed in sports media and the conversation at large about the future of sports media, Brown can roughly delineate how she can perform her job at a high level.
Although the genuine future of this business is always subject to change, she and her team at ESPN Los Angeles 710 are trying to come up with new ideas to keep the content timely, accurate, informative, and entertaining. She is content in her role as program director with no aspirations to become a general manager; however, remaining in her current role requires consistent effort and a penchant for learning.
“Relationships are very important overall in this business whether you’re a programmer or not,” Brown said. “Relationships with your talent; relationships with your staff. If you invest in your people, then they’re going to be willing to work hard for you and do what you ask them to do.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is mere days away, and those from Los Angeles and numerous other marketplaces will make the trip to The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC).
Aside from Brown, Kimes and Taylor, there will be other voices from across the industry sharing their thoughts on aspects of the industry and how to best shape it going forward, including Colin Cowherd, Rachel Nichols, Al Michaels and Eric Shanks. More details about the industry’s premiere media conference can be found at bsmsummit.com.
“I’m excited to be a female program director amongst male program directors for the first time and get a seat at the table and represent that there can be diversity in this position,” Brown said. “We don’t see a lot of it, but… there is an opportunity, and I hope I can be an example for other people out there [to show] that it’s possible.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he interns in video production with the New York Islanders and formerly worked as production manager for the team’s radio broadcasts. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Pat McAfee Has Thrown Our Business Into a Tailspin
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve, McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
When you have one of the hottest talk shows in America, you’re always up to something. That’s the case for the most popular sports talk show host in America – Pat McAfee.
The former Pro Bowl punter was on top of the world on Wednesday. With over 496,000 concurrent viewers watching at one point, McAfee was able to garner an exclusive interview with frequent guest Aaron Rodgers who announced his intention to play for the Jets.
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve — a new studio, consistent high viewership, a syndication deal with SportsGrid TV, a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel — McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
At the end of the day, he is human and he’s admitted that balancing his show, his ESPN gig with “College Gameday,” and his WWE obligations has taken a toll on him.
McAfee and his wife are expecting their first child soon and he recently told The New York Post he might step away from his deal with FanDuel. Operating his own company has come with the responsibility of making sure his studio is up and running, finding people to operate the technology that puts his show on the air, negotiating with huge behemoths like the NFL for game footage rights, booking guests, booking hotels, implementing marketing plans and other tasks that most on-air personalities rarely have to worry about.
McAfee says he’s looking for a network that would be able to take control of those duties while getting more rest and space to spend time with family while focusing strictly on hosting duties. FanDuel has its own network and has the money to fund such endeavors but is just getting started in the content game. McAfee needs a well-known entity to work with who can take his show to the next level while also honoring his wishes of keeping the show free on YouTube.
The question of how he’s going to be able to do it is something everyone in sports media will be watching. As The Post pointed out in their story, McAfee hasn’t frequently stayed with networks he’s been associated with in the past for too long. He’s worked with Westwood One, DAZN, and Barstool but hasn’t stayed for more than a year or two.
There’s an argument to be made that the latter two companies weren’t as experienced as a network when McAfee signed on with them compared to where they are today which could’ve pushed the host to leave. But at the end of the day, networks want to put money into long-term investments and it’s easy to see a network passing on working with McAfee for fear that he’ll leave them astray when he’s bored.
It’ll also be difficult for McAfee to find a network that doesn’t put him behind a paywall. Amazon and Google are rumored to be potential new homes. But both are trying to increase subscribers for their respective streaming services.
It will be difficult to sell Amazon on investing money to build a channel on YouTube – a rival platform. For Google, they may have the tech infrastructure to create television-like programming but they aren’t an experienced producer, they’ve never produced its own live, daily talk show, and investing in McAfee’s show doesn’t necessarily help increase the number of subscribers watching YouTube TV.
Networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox might make sense to partner with. But McAfee faces the possibility of being censored due to corporate interests. Each of these networks also operates its networks or streaming channels that air talk programming of their own. Investing in McAfee could cannibalize the programming they already own.
And if McAfee works with a traditional network that isn’t ESPN, it could jeopardize his ability to host game casts for Omaha or analyze games on Gameday. It’s not impossible but would definitely be awkward on days that McAfee does his show remotely from locations of ESPN games with ESPN banners and signage that is visible in the background.
If SportsGrid has the money to invest in McAfee, they might be his best bet. They have all the attributes McAfee needs and they already have a relationship with him. It is probably unlikely that he’ll be censored and he would even be able to maintain a relationship with FanDuel – a company SportsGrid also works alongside.
Roku is another option — they already work with Rich Eisen — but they would move his show away from YouTube, something McAfee should resist since the majority of smart TV users use YT more than any other app.
If the NFL gave McAfee editorial independence, they would make the perfect partner but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. NFL Media has independence but it was clear during the night of the Damar Hamlin incident that they will do whatever is necessary to stay away from serious topics that make the league look bad until it’s totally unavoidable.
It’s hard to think of a partner that matches up perfectly with McAfee’s aspirations. But once again, at the moment, he’s on top of the world so anything is possible. The talk show host’s next move will be even more interesting to watch than the other fascinating moves he’s already made that have put the sports media industry in a swivel.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit
“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”
Bring your game plan if you attend the BSM Summit in LA next Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter your purpose for attending: to learn, get a job, speak, or sell an idea, you must be able to read the room. To do that, it helps to know who will be there and how you can cure their pain.
Have a plan and don’t leave home without it. If you have time, buy How to Work a Room by Susan Roane. If you don’t, just follow these five tips:
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Before you arrive at The Summit, figure out what you want, who you want to meet, and what you will say. Once you get there, scout out the room and see if anyone of those people are available. Talk to speakers after they have spoken- don’t worry if you miss what the next speaker says. You are there to meet new people! Most speakers do not stick around for the entire schedule, and you don’t know if they will attend any after-parties, so don’t risk it. Refine your elevator pitch and break the ice with something you have in common. Make sure you introduce yourself to Stephanie, Demetri and Jason from BSM. They know everybody and will help you if they can.
- GET A NAME TAG: Don’t assume that name tags will be provided. Bring your own if you and make your name clear to read. If you are looking to move to LA or want to sell a system to book better guests, put it briefly under your name. Study this to get better at remembering names.
- LOSE THE NOTEBOOK: When you meet folks, ensure your hands are free. Have a business card handy and ask for one of theirs. Remember to look people in the eye and notice what they are doing. If they are scanning the room, pause until they realize they are blowing you off. Do whatever it takes to sound upbeat and open. Don’t let their clothes, hair, or piercings distract from your message. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie but do bring your best business casual wear. A blazer isn’t a bad idea either.
- SHUT UP FIRST! The art of knowing when to end the convo is something you will have to practice. You can tell when the other person’s eye starts darting or they are not using body language that tells you the convo will continue. You end it by telling them you appreciate meeting them and want to connect via email. Ask for a business card. Email is more challenging to ignore than a LinkedIn request, and you can be more detailed in what you want via email.
- WORK THE SCHEDULE: Know who speaks when. That is when you will find the speakers hanging around. Plan your lunch outing to include a few fellow attendees. Be open and conversational with those around you. I am a huge USC fan, so I would walk to McKays– a good spot with plenty of USC football memorabilia on the walls. Sometimes you can find the next day’s speakers at the Day 1 after party. Need a bar? Hit the 901 Club for cheap beer, drinks, and food.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
Barrett Media Writers
Sports Radio News4 days ago
92.9 The Game Announces New Morning Show With Tiffany Blackmon, Mike Johnson & Beau Morgan
Barrett Blogs2 days ago
Rachel Nichols and Baron Davis Headline Final Speaker Announcements For the 2023 BSM Summit
BSM Writers4 days ago
What If ESPN, CBS, Fox, NBC Faced a Talent Walkout Like the BBC Did?