Recently I was watching ESPN's Sportcenter Live when producers of the show interrupted the program with a breaking news report. Minutes earlier, Tiger Woods, the world's most famous athlete, used his website to post a public apology to his wife and kids and combat the rumors that were rapidly spreading about his private life. With the stroke of a keyboard Tiger used his website to, at least momentarily, reframe the press coverage about his recent troubles.
ESPN was not the only news outlet that immediately reported on the statement. Several other major news media organizations ran front page stories on their websites, too. What really caught my eye was the fact that each of the stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times used one source for their initial reporting-- Tiger Woods.
After observing how Team Tiger was able to spin the news reporting I began to think about how social media is transforming the culture of sports. A few weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with Eddie Matz, senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Eddie was writing a piece on professional athletes' use of social media platforms like Twitter.
Shortly before my chat with Eddie former Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson found himself in serious trouble and, eventually (albeit briefly), out of a job after he used a gay slur in a Twitter post. The firestorm that confronted Johnson was yet another reminder of how the sportsworld, like virtually every other institution in America, has been forced to grapple with the spread of social media. As a generation of athletes accustomed to social media and the "always on" norms of digital media culture enter pro sports the executives of billion dollars sports franchises have been forced to upgrade their knowledge about social media. In many NFL training camps this summer several teams instituted a no-social media policy out of fear that team secrets, strategy, and practices could be openly shared. In September the NFL established a formal policy regarding the use social media by players.
Eddie asked me what I thought about the use of social media by pro athletes. We talked about several things but here are six ways in which social media is changing the business and culture of professional sports.
Oher isn't that difficult to spot. Not at 6-foot-4 and 309 pounds. But, apparently, the place I am least likely to see him around town is at the neighborhood Cineplex going to see "The Blind Side," the movie about his remarkable rise from the mean streets of Memphis to stardom in the National Football League. Oher doesn't seem that interested. He passed on the gala premier in New York a few weeks back, thus missing a chance to hob nob with the movie's stars Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. A few days ago, when the Baltimore Sun asked, he still hadn't seen the film.
I can appreciate Oher's ambivalence. At least, I think I can. On the one hand, his life is a testament to the power of resolve, love and, above all, serendipity. I'm amazed by it. And after three decades as a sports journalist, I thought I was just about amaze-proof.
Today's post is from Jennifer Culkin, author of A Final Arc of Sky: A Memoir of Critical Care. Culkin, winner of a 2008 Rona Jaffe Foundation Award, is a writer and longtime neonatal, pediatric, and adult critical care nurse. Her work has appeared in many literary magazines, including the Georgia Review and Utne Reader, and in the anthologies Stories with Grace and The Jack Straw Writers Anthology 2006.
I'm so confused. To judge by two current television series about nurses, TNT’s HawthoRNe and Showtime's Nurse Jackie, are we nurses angels or 'hos? Self-righteous, micromanaging do-gooders in lab coats, or adulterous, vigilante prescription-drug addicts in scrubs? Granted, Jackie comes off as intelligent and realistic. Her black humor feels right. But how does she find time for lunch at a restaurant, let alone the sort of restaurant that has wine glasses on the table? And how, during the course of her shift, does she manage a roll in the hay with a hospital pharmacist? There are days I don't have time for a drink of water. I want to work where she works!
Except I'm not into narcotics, and certainly wouldn't use (Snort! Now there's a nice touch... and it's so lovingly filmed) them at work. Thirty years ago, when I was young and clueless, I sometimes had a glass of wine with lunch at noon before a shift that began at 3 PM. Now I'd never do that, and neither would the vast majority of nurses I know. My patients, like other consumers, have a right to expect that I'll save the wine for my time off. That I'll care for them unimpaired.
And then there is Christina HawthoRNe. I suppose it's a good thing that the public sees there IS such a thing as a chief nursing officer, that nursing is an independent profession with its own management hierarchy and that the CNO is a high-level administrator with her share of clout in the organization. But despite 30 years as a critical-care nurse, I have yet to see one charging around so ostentatiously, setting everyone straight: other hospital administrators, the Emergency Department nurses, her own daughter, a patient and his MD father. The disappointing bottom line is, Christina isn't any more realistic than... a TV doctor.
Four and a half years ago, during the halftime show for the 2004 Super Bowl, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson set off a heated national debate about televised decency when Timberlake pulled off part of Jackson's bustier and revealed her right breast.
The global exposure of Jackson's breast was remarkably brief -- roughly half a second -- but more than long enough to send the nation's moral watchdogs into orbit. The following morning, Federal Communications Chairman Michael Powell (the son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell) made the rounds of the morning television talk shows and promised a swift and thorough governmental investigation. The Timberlake/Jackson "flash dance" proved to be a political boon for many in Washington: the controversy enabled Chairman Powell to divert attention from his failed and much-criticized efforts to promote media consolidation, and the FCC's new-found willingness to punish indecency was a boost for President Bush's re-election campaign. Much more detail on the political fall-out of the half-time show is available in the opening chapter of my 2006 book, The Decency Wars: The Campaign to Cleanse American Culture (Prometheus Books 2006).
Talk about teachable moments. Two days before the "topless Miley" stories broke all over television and online, my class and I were discussing the young star of the Disney show, Hannah Montana.
My endlessly digressing American Studies class, fifteen young women and one lonely fellow, saw a connection between the subject and period we were studying—the representation of women in Cold War-era popular culture—and the current phenomenon of young female stars being offered up onto the altar of a lecherous public consumption.
Knowing, as they do, how easy I am to distract, they asked me what I thought of Miley Cyrus, who plays a normal high school kid who moonlights as a rock star. (Don't we all remember that kid from our own high school days? No?)
I said, roughly, "Well, the music makes my ears bleed, BUT, considering the options, if my daughter were to be a fan of the star, I would probably decide to shut up and let her have her fun."
The snow is falling outside the home several of us have rented in Park City, Utah, to attend the Sundance Film Festival in support of our cousin Katrina Browne’s film Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. It is 19 degrees outside, which is warmer than it has been. The cold and the white stuff haven’t diminished the size of the audiences in the films I’ve seen so far.
I’ve not been to this or any other film festival outside my hometown before. I doubt that I ever would have were it not for the high honor of having Sundance select for competition the film that features our family struggling with the legacy of slavery by exposing New England’s—and our own ancestors’—complicity in the slave trade.
The film premiered here, appropriately enough, on Monday, January 21: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We were honored by the presence of Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. On Monday morning, he participated on a panel dedicated to the message and mission of Traces of the Trade, and attended the film’s premiere that night. It was particularly significant to be with the man who introduced the legislation—four days after Dr. King’s assassination—that ultimately resulted in the establishment of the national holiday fifteen years later in 1983. Conyers has introduced legislation (H.R. 40) that would establish a commission to study the legacy of slavery and possible remedieseach session since 1989. It has never had a hearing until last month. As Chair of Judiciary, he is finally in a position to move this important legislation forward that has languished for so long.