Media Sportswatch: August 2017

Joel Bulkley

Summer is often a slow time for major sports news. Not so this year. We are knee-deep in three big stories that will be with us for awhile—the likely sale of Carolina Hurricanes to Chuck Greenberg, Raleigh’s bid for a MLS franchise and plans for downtown stadium and the brain study report (“!10 NFL Brains”) in the New York Times—plus the NCAA charges against UNC.

But my favorite story of the past month was the NAB survey that found nearly a third of respondents didn’t know they could get local TV channels free at home with an antenna. Some 29 percent were unaware local TV is available for free, according to June survey by National Association of Broad­casters, an industry trade group.

Among the more unlikely headlines was “Who had the better wedding Barnes or Ariza?” The Harrison Barnes wedding in Newport apparently was the winner, according to the ringer .com.

In the meantime, the N&O canned its lead columnist Bar­ry Saunders after 24 years. The paper told him “goodbye” and “your services are no longer needed,” according to blogger R.L. Bynum (Raleigh & Co). Saunders has not publicly commented, but it looks like another cutback in the ongoing destruction forced by the paper’s owner McClatchy Co. His column was among the paper’s most popular features. The paper had a vague print and online story that he was leaving without any details.

Another disappointing result of the paper’s shrinking sports coverage is the lack of stories about local successes like the Raleigh Flyers pro ultimate team. They’ll battle for the South Div. championship Aug. 12 at 1 at WakeMed SP, Cary.

The pre-season college football coaches’ poll and espn.com power rankings had few differences. Five ACC schools were listed in both. Florida State was second on espn, third in coaches’. Clemson was fifth in both. Miami/Louisville were 16/18 on espn, 18/17 in coaches’. Va. Tech was 22 in both.

SI’s late summer ACC hoops way too early rankings had Duke 1, Louisville 2, UNC 3, Miami 4, Notre Dame 5. N.C. State was 12 and Pitt 15. 247 Sports reported for the first time in a long time Kentucky, Duke, UNC didn’t have a top five basketball recruiting class (2017).

Good stuff. Tar Heel Times (tarheeltimes.com) is one of the few places to find updates on all UNC sports. USA Today has upgraded sports coverage with longer stores, rather than short blurbs, on college and pro sports. Unfortunately it’s $2/day. Governor Cooper vetoed the anti-newspaper advertising bill (CSN, July 2017). But it likely will be considered again by the General Assembly in late August.

The Durham family is raising money for aphasia research and programs with “Go Where You Go & Do What You Do” tee shirts with a microphone and Woody’s signature on the front (chapelhillsportswear.com). Backers of “McGuire’s Mir­acle” documentary about 1957 UNC basketball champs are raising money to finish the film. Big and small tech companies, at odds on many issues, rallied together to oppose repeal of FCC rules for IPs during a “day of action” in July. The rules protect individual internet users.

MLB Commissioner named Charlotte among three possible MLB expansion cities. Mexico City and Montreal were
the others. Retired Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully received the Icon Award at the ESPYS. The honor is presented to individual whose career has left a lasting impression on the sports world.

The Athletic (theathletic.com) is a new pay for sports web operation with top-level writers focusing on pro sports teams with sites for Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Bay Area, Cleveland. They offer different pay plans starting from $3.99/month.

The Argyle Report on Patreon, telling “the good stories of Carolina athletics,” by Turner Walston is a new pay platform focusing on UNC sports.

Sportscaster Bob Wolff, who began his career as a Duke undergrad covering college baseball, died last month. He was 96 in New York and had covered sports for 75 years. He was probably the only broadcaster to cover all four sports championships.

The top Fox Sports broadcast team for the 2018 World Cup is expected to be play-by-play announcer John Strong, analysts Landon Donovan and Stuart Holden, both former U.S. players. They’ve done some summer U.S. MNT games this summer and are improving.

Ian Darke and Julie Foudy did U.S. WNT summer games. Darke is ESPN’s lead soccer announcer through 2020 and also does European games for BT Sport. He did 2010 and 2014 World Cups for ESPN, but they lost the WC rights to Fox Sports.

What happens if you use someone else’s password to watch HBO’s “Game of Thrones”?

From New York Times July 13 story:

“You are in very little danger of legal trouble by sharing your password or using a shared one. The laws remain murky, but the government is unlikely to prosecute you, and the streaming video services have shown no desire to go after customers.

(We’re not saying you should use someone else’s password. As an ethical issue, it’s probably a good idea to pay for it. The same goes for news.)

But so far, Netflix, HBO, Amazon, Hulu and other stream­ing companies have indicated that they’re either quietly ac­cepting of the practice or possibly even cheering it on as a marketing strategy.”