Sports media notes 06.20.18: A Fox World Cup boycott? Boy, that’s saying something

If the tweet had not come from George Dohrman, the former Los Angeles Times’ Pulitzer Prize award-winning sports reporter, current writer and editor for The Athletic, and author of the new book, “Superfans: Into the Heart and Obsessive Sports Fandom,” we doubt we’d even give it a second thought:

The “boycott Fox” movement could just as easy be a social media news cycle flash mob, or it could cool off based on the president’s actions taken Wednesday. Hollywood producer Judd Apatow was advocating a boycott of all that is Fox. “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah chimed in as well.
But the key sentence from where we sit and watch and listen and debate was the last almost throw-away line by the original tweet: “Coverage is better on @telemundo anyway,” says the guy up in Portland with fewer than 2,000 followers.
We can buy into that more than any sort of boycott, even with a rebellious streak that we show now and then.
So, yeah, we see no fake news in that opinion.

Count us among those underwhelmed by the Fox broadcast talent on almost every game, in addition to the pre- and post-game group that gives us plenty of Alexi Lalas (despite what others may opine) but appears to still be introducing themselves to each other.
And even that not-so-merry-go-round of talent continues to come and go.
Even though she admits she has not “watched more than a few minutes of any of the 2018 World Cup games so far — I’m both bewildered by and in awe of those who find time to watch every second of every game,” USA Today’s Christine Brennan makes the observation that we endorse:
“We find ourselves in this bizarre month-long period in which otherwise normal sounding U.S. announcers on networks such as Fox mysteriously pretend they’re British. Instead of saying, ‘Mexico is …’ they say ‘Mexico are…’  Instead of ‘France wins …’ they say, ‘France win …’ Instead of ‘zero,’ they say ‘nil.’
“Why do they do this? They must think that by imitating the British they sound like cool soccer people. But we know they’re not British so instead they just sound ridiculous.
“The good news is this will stop in mid-July. It would drive us all nuts if it didn’t, if they just kept it up, mangling our grammar throughout the football — our football — season: ‘Alabama are favored ….’ ‘Philadelphia win …’.”
She are on to something there.
But at least Gus Johnson isn’t the main voice as was once projected years ago.
Then there’s this issue of Fox not having its broadcasters on site — most do it from a studio in West L.A. off monitors — while Telemundo does.
San Diego Union Trib sports editor and one-time media columnist Jay Posner pointed out this from Wednesday’s coverage:

This was in reference to a goal by Iran disallowed because of offsides against Spain. We were watching Telemundo in one room, and happened to have the Fox broadcast with the sound down in another room, so we were confused by what happened until Posner followed up with another tweet.
We’re all for picking Telemundo over Fox in almost every instance. The numbers also bear out that the Spanish-language feed is outdrawing the English-language feed – the first five days of the tournament had Telemundo setting records with 19.4 million viewers through last Monday.
Mexico’s win over Germany last Saturday had a record 7.4 million viewers over all Telemundo platforms, peaking at 8.0 million – the most-watched World Cup group stage game ever on Spanish-language TV since 1994.
FS1 had the game and drew 4.25 million across all its platforms.

So bottom line: If you’re smelling a boycott over any sort of one media company over another, there’s also this to consider: Telemundo is owned by NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast, which has been actively trying to outbid Disney to buy a bunch of stuff now at 21st Century Fox.
Follow the money. And keep true to your goals.

* Catching up on other World Cup issues and moments:

= This became another “really, again” story:

= During this event, some of the most interesting tweets will often come from Fox Sports exec Mike Mulvihill. Such as:

* This tweet also explained some interesting data:

= As did this tweet:

* Zlatan Ibrahimovic, perhaps to the surprise of many, is not part of Team Sweden in this current World Cup. Why?

IMG_3077
The Zlatan book … almost actual size.

Without an official explanation, here are a few logical theories. But perhaps the bottom line is that the 36-year-old said he was retiring from international soccer after the Euro 2016 tournament.
It’s with some humor – as it is intended – that a tiny parody (4×5 inches, 144 pages) called “The Little Book of Zlatan.” (by Malcom Olivers, $9.99), includes a fake-quote of his: “One thing is for sure. A World Cup without Zlatan is nothing to watch.”
If that’s not enough exposure, Ibrahimovic will take up the full frame of ESPN’s “E:60” show on Sunday (6 a.m., repeated several times). No surprise, he tells reporter Sam Borden that he is a “gift” to Los Angeles and adds: “I make haters become my fan.”
Also, ESPN says its annual Body Issue, now in its 10th printing, comes out June 29 with various covers that should include participants Ibrahimovic as well as the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig.

**************

* ESPN has double downed on covering the NBA Draft from Brooklyn on Thursday – one feed with the usual staged event on the main channel starting at 4 p.m. (hosted by Rece Davis, with Chauncey Billups, Jay Bilas and, for the first time, Adrian Wojnarowski with updates, which should make up for most of the content provided. Also included is “front office insider” Bobby Marks, “scouting analyst” Mike Schmitz and post-pick reporter Maria Taylor. Not coming back after all these years: Tom Penn, the current president of the LAFC who had been ESPN’s go-to NBA front-office man based on his previous time in the league.
Over on ESPN2 at the same time is a version of “The Jump” with host Rachel Nichols will be entertaining talking heads Brian Windhorst, Amin Elhassan, Zach Lowe, Dave McMenamin, Tim Legler, Fran Fraschilla and Chris Haynes in what looks more like one of those college football championship game party booths. That show comes from New York.
Feeding America Food Bank VisitIn a conference call with reporters earlier this week, Bilas, the former Rolling Hills High standout and Duke player, was asked how covering the NBA draft now for 16 years he manages to keep it fresh or if it’s become a bit routine now.
“I have certain habits that I follow in the way that I prepare, but every draft has been different. I didn’t know it was 16. I knew my first one was ’03, but I haven’t counted them up. The first draft I did was the LeBron James draft, and so that’s obviously very memorable, probably the best one that there’s been in that time frame. But each one has its own unique feel to it, and this one’s unique itself in that there are so many big guys at the top of the draft.
” You don’t often see that, especially in an age when all we’re talking about is position-less players and the value of guards that can shoot it and handle it. You know, we got a bunch of big guys at the top of this draft that are going to be the first names called.”
As a follow up: One gambling site has an over-under on Bilas saying the words “potential” and “stretches the floor” during the draft coverage. Did he see it?
“I did see that,” he replied, “and I would take the over on each one of those, especially ‘wingspan’.”

*Congrats to AwfulAnnouncing.com for getting the attention of The Washington Post in reference to no “Woj bombs” — releasing the pick news before it’s announced.

IMG_3001* Voting is officially closed for the campaign to get syndicated host and former San Diego-market up-and-comer Jim Rome into the National Radio Hall of Fame in the “Spoken Word Format On-Air Personality” category. We purposely didn’t mention this until now, knowing Rome did enough campaigning on his own so that, if you watched or listened, you knew. If he’s in, it will be announced Monday. The induction happens Nov. 15 in New York.
Some more background on social media about the vote, linking to a few stories about Rome. Here’s another recently by David J. Halberstam from his site SportsBroadcastJournal.com posted early last May, where Rome responded to this:
Q: Any thoughts of relaunching Rome’s tour-stops or are they simply a thing of the past? In the day, fans elbowed their way into arenas where you were showered with truly rock-star like love.
A: No thoughts, no. The World Tour era of The Jungle was a great time. We made nearly 40 visits, filling stadiums and arenas. My listeners have grown along with the program. They’ve got families now, and jobs and there are so many new ways for us to stay connected.   We’ve moved on to new experiences, but those World Tour moments were epic and forever appreciated.

* Via the sources of Michael McCarthy, the former USA Today media columnist who have found quite a nice platform at the Sporting News, Marcellus Wiley is about to jump from ESPN to join Fox Sports – which would presumably mean he’d have to end his run at the KSPN-AM (710) afternoon co-host spot. McCarthy reports that Wiley would team with Jason Whitlock on the FSI “Speak For Yourself” because Colin Cowherd is leaving, and the show will somehow expand to two hours and lead into a new Krstine Leahy eSports show in the 2-to-3 p.m. window.

*A very timely read as LeBron James considers a possible move to L.A.:

* In light of Claire Smith last summer becoming the first woman to receive the Baseball Hall of Fame J.G. Taylor Spink Award for her written journalism resume, and ESPN’s Doris Burke about to be the first female broadcaster for the Curt Gowdy Award by the Basketball Hall of Fame this September for her TV work, we note the NFL will have awards for both Andrea Kremer and Charean Williams during the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies this August.

Kremer, the chief correspondent for the NFL Network as well as reporting on the league for ESPN and HBO “Real Sports,” will be given the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award (she’s not the first female – it’s also been given to CBS’ Lesley Visser in 2006) as voted by the Pro Football Writers of America. Williams, writing for Pro Football Weekly after a long stint with the Fort Worth Star Telegram, is the first woman to accept the Dick McCann Award for a reporter “who has made a long and distringuished contribution to pro football through coverage.) They started handing this award out in 1969. The L.A. Times’ Bob Oates (1974) once received it, as did ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (2016) and Ed Werder (2017).
No female has won the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for broadcasting (given out since ’84). The Hockey Hall’s Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for members of the hockey-writing profession, as picked by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, has just one winner – the L.A. Times’ Helene Elliott (2005) – since the award started in 1984.

*More favorite tweets of the week:

* Fox Sports reports that last weekend’s U.S. Open from Shinnecock had more than 32 million viewers on Fox and FS1 and six billion minutes consumed, the best set of numbers since … wait for it … way back in 2015.

* ESPN has included the Anaheim Ducks as a finalist for the team category of the 2018 Sports Humanitarian Awards, the fourth year in a row now, coming from LA Live’s The Novo on July 17.  The next day, ESPN sponsors the Laureus Summit at the Conga Room at LA Live.

* The FS1 coverage of the next season of Big3 will have someone named Brian Custer as the new lead play-by-play man – and someone not named Gus Johnson – with analyst Jim Jackson and “sideline reporter”/actor Michael Rapaport returning. There’s also a studio show with Charissa Thompson, Mike Hill and Clippers’ sideline person Kristina Pink. The 10-week season launches Friday at 4:30 p.m. from Houston but has no plans for an L.A. stop this season.  Fox will live stream a game each week on Facebook.

* The second NBA Awards on TNT slated for Monday at 6 p.m. from the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica has Anthony Anderson as the host,  with the TNT team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal along for the ride. The show is a product of dick clark productions.

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