ESPN this morning issued an apology for a report that aired on "SportsCenter" yesterday regarding the showering habits of openly gay Rams DE Michael Sam, saying it "regrets the manner in which we presented our report." The net said in a statement, "Clearly yesterday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports" (ESPN). ESPN's Josina Anderson included the notes about Sam's showering habits in a piece detailing how he "was adjusting to his life with his new teammates." ESPN initially defended the report, saying, "In response to recent questions about Sam fitting in with the team, multiple Rams brought up the shower topic and we relayed that information as part of our reporting" (NYPOST.com, 8/26). SNY's Sal Licata said of the report, "Do we need to hear what the guy is doing in the shower? Who cares when he's showering?" SNY's Eamon McAnaney: "The whole angle covering his trying to make the Rams has been crazy" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 8/26). In St. Louis, Lindsay Toler writes as the "preeminent sports-news source, ESPN knows it has a responsibility to uncover unfair treatment aimed at Sam solely based on his sexuality." In fact, ESPN "knows this so well that ESPN the Magazine published an in-depth report on the homosociality of NFL showers nearly two months ago." But a "thoughtful examination into sports showers as an emblem of hegemony is not the same thing as speculation about when Sam strips down to wash off" (RIVERFRONTTIMES.com, 8/27).
HEADING DOWN THE WRONG AVENUE: Radio host Dan Patrick said he understands Sam is a "hot-button issue" and ESPN is covering him "because of his sexuality." However, for the net to "quote somebody anonymously to talk about this, I just thought, ‘Where are we going with this?’" Patrick: "We're getting into dangerous territory here. Salacious, just to be salacious. … There are a lot of things that people have told me over the years, it doesn't mean I can report it or should report it. What if that player is in competition with Michael Sam? What if he doesn't like gays? What if he says, ‘I can say whatever I want here. My name is not attached to it.’ This story could have blown up. It could have been huge" ("TheDan Patrick Show,” 8/27).
CBS Sports yesterday revealed "We Need To Talk" as the name of its new all-female weekly sports talk show. The hour-long show, set to debut Sept. 30 on CBS Sports Network, will feature a core group of CBS personalities in addition to a group of rotating panelists from across the sports and media spectrum (CBS).
CORE "WE NEED TO TALK" CREW
GIRL POWER: USA TODAY's Nina Mandell notes the CBS personalities "will continue in their roles for the network's NFL coverage." CBS Sports President David Berson said, "This show is intended for all sports fans, men, women, everyone. This gist of this show, it's really a sports talk show that features women. It's not intended to be a women's sports TV show." Visser said that she "personally envisioned it being a place where the women could discuss an issue such as Mo'ne Davis ... and whether she was being exploited or celebrated." Berson added that the show is something CBS Sports is "very committed to making work, and he brushed off negative reaction on social media to the name." Berson: "We focused a lot more on it over the last few months, and we just feel that it's long overdue and the time is right" (USA TODAY, 8/27). The show will air on Tuesday nights at 10:00pm ET, and Berson said it "underscores our commitment to this that we’re putting it in such a marquee time slot" (AP, 8/26).
IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME: In Seattle, Jayda Evans wrote the show title "is unsettling," as those four words are the "most dreaded to hear in any relationship." But it is "about time the women who've been tucked on the sideline or squeezed in between two men debating about sports finally get their say." Evans: "Perhaps that’s the meaning behind the show title? We do need to talk and do have a valid opinion on everything sports" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 8/26).
CBS Sports Network has rolled out a marketing campaign around its college football schedule with the tag line "Our House. Your Home" that has TV, online and social media elements. CBS Sports produced the spots in-house, in conjunction with Lussier Productions. The spots use talent from the channel's studio show, "Inside College Football," as they hang out together in a house. In one 10-second spot, analyst Randy Cross is standing at a party with Aaron Taylor and Houston Nutt when he says, "Do you know that Chris Petersen -- he designed his famous Statue of Liberty play using cheese puffs and a napkin." In another 20-second spot, Taylor and Cross are at a party with Brian Jones, Adam Zucker and Brent Stover. In the spot, Jones unsuccessfully tries to play a sousaphone as they hype the Ohio State-Navy game that will be on the network Saturday.
Chargers radio color commentator Hank Bauer will not be part of the broadcast for the team's final preseason game Thursday night after he "offended some listeners Sunday telling an anti-Semitic joke," according to Matthew Hall of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The move stems from a conversation near the end of Sunday's Chargers-49ers game about the "high price of football tickets." While talking to play-by-play announcer Josh Lewin, Bauer "interjected a quip about how copper wire was invented." He asked, "You know how copper wire was invented? Somebody dropped a penny between Josh and his family member." Lewin responded, "OK, alright. We've got, let's see, 30 seconds mercifully remaining in this game." Bauer: "I say that respectfully and endearingly, my partner." Bauer yesterday "apologized on Twitter for his 'poor choice of words' and was suspended for a game by the Chargers." The team in a statement said, "Although we know Hank had no ill-will behind his remarks, we agree the comments were inappropriate" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/27). ESPN.com's Eric Williams noted Bauer and Lewin "work for Clear Channel Communications, which runs the flagship radio station for the Chargers." Bauer has served as the team's color commentator for radio broadcasts since '98 (ESPN.com, 8/26).
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is "asking federal regulators to examine the stalemate between Time Warner Cable and other pay-TV operators that's prevented much of the region from watching Dodgers baseball this season," according to Meg James of the L.A. TIMES. Garcetti's request came late Monday in a letter to the FCC, which is reviewing Comcast's proposed $45B takeover of TWC. Monday was the deadline for people to "voice their opposition or support on the proposed merger to the FCC, which was deluged with thousands of comments." Garcetti "stopped short of asking the FCC to demand resolution of the Dodgers channel impasse as a condition for the government's approval of the deal." However, he did ask the FCC to "delve into programming disputes and 'determine why the problem has not been resolved already, and then ask Comcast to show that the merger would alleviate, and not exacerbate, problems of this sort.'" TWC remains the "only pay-TV operator in Southern California offering SportsNet LA, and it has been unable to get other pay-TV providers to carry the channel." There are only five weeks remaining in the MLB regular season, and "chances of a resolution are increasingly slim" (L.A. TIMES, 8/26).
In Atlanta, Kempner, Leslie & Trubey cite sources as saying that Turner Broadcasting's "job reductions could grow to as many 1,500 workers." Word of "broader job cuts" comes as Turner execs "confirmed plans this week to offer buyouts to 600 older workers as part of a corporate restructuring." However, it is "unclear whether the 1,500 potential cuts are in addition to the buyout offers, or how many would be among Atlanta workers." That "number amounts to more" than 10% of Turner’s "global workforce" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/27). In N.Y., Jonathan Mahler reports in addition to "cutting costs, Turner intends to reallocate resources to focus on areas of growth, including live sports broadcasts and some original content" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/27).
BAD TO THE BONE? In Chicago, Phillip Thompson wrote everyone is "going after the football fan's funny bone to get them to watch their network or buy their product," but some promos "prompt as many questions as they do laughs." Fox' Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in an ad promoting the upcoming NFL season "play a couple of Latin lotharios vying for the attention of a senorita in the parody of a telenovela." The "weirdness is sure to inspire a few chuckles, but we have a few questions." Why, if it is a Spanish soap opera, does Aikman have a "Texas twang while Buck breaks out his best eighth-grade Spanish?" Thompson: "Let's hope that when the pair return to their real personas on Fox this fall, Buck will at least remember Aikman's name" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/26).
SHIFT CHANGE: ESPN yesterday announced that "Olbermann" will be move from its current 11:00pm ET time slot on ESPN2 to 5:00pm beginning Monday, Sept. 8. The show will continue to be produced live from ABC's Times Square studios. The program will be cut from one hour to 30 minutes (THE DAILY). Olbermann in announcing the move on his Twitter feed wrote, "oh yeah, I will be doing a few SportsCenters now and then ;-)" (TWITTER.com, 8/26).