Media Sportswatch: January 2018

December is often a slow news month with few major sports or news stories breaking around the holidays. Not so in 2017.

Some examples since our December issue:

Disney acquires 21st Century Fox for its TV properties in­cluding 22 regional sports nets like Fox Sports Carolinas and the film division. The deal provides vast content for Disney’s new streaming service. Fox Broadcasting News & Sports are not part of deal which needs government approval.

Sexual misconduct by Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Rich­ardson was revealed by SI and Richardson says he’ll sell the team after the NFL season. Bidders are lining up.

The 2018 World Cup draw was held and schedule announced.  Games start June 14.and most early round games are played mornings. Games will be on Fox Sports, FS1, FS2.

Dallas businessman Tom Dundon agrees to buy the Caro­lina Hurricanes. He later bought 61 percent of the team, wants winning hockey and plans to upgrade the fan experience at PNC Arena.

FCC eliminates net neutrality rule and backlash starts to overturn decision.

John Skipper resigns as ESPN President due to a substance addiction at a pivotal time for the network as it prepares for distribution changes.

Two Jordan Lake bombshells dropped on by reporter and former Indy editor Lisa Sorg raising water quality questions and concerns related to GenX chemicals across the Triangle and NC. See two CSN stories in this issue.

These topics likely will dominate the news cycle in 2018 and beyond. And they certainly will impact CSN readers and writers..

Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll says football. Despite recent black eye moments, remains the favorite (spectator) sport of Americans (37 percent), followed by basketball (11), baseball (9), soccer (7).

Football did comparatively well in all age groups, with 30 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34, 40 percent of respondents ages 33 to 54 and 39 percent ages 55 and older saying it was their favorite spectator sport, according to the Wash­ing­ton Post. The 30 percent football garnered in the youngest age group was more than basketball (11 percent), baseball (6 percent) and soccer (11 percent) combined.

One number might cause worry for everyone involved in sports. “The number of Americans who say they do not have a favorite sport has grown from 8% in 2000 to 15% now—an increase larger than for any sport during that time,” Gallup re­ported.

College and pro football TV ratings go in different directions. NFL TV rating dropped this season by ten percent though it remains the biggest fish in pond of TV programming. Col­lege bowl and playoff ratings were up over last year—28.4M watched Alabama rally to beat Georgia. Viewership was aided by the semis on New Year’s Day rather than New Year’s Eve (2016) and an exciting finish to the championship game in both years.

A Gym Chain Is Banning Cable News. It’s for Your Health. Life Time, a Minnesota-based chain with gyms in this area, has removed cable news stations from the large-screen TVs in its gyms, citing member requests and “our overall healthy way of life philosophy.”

The decision “was based on many member requests re­ceived over time across the country, and in keeping with our overall healthy way of life philosophy and commitment to provide family-oriented environments free of polarizing or politically charged content,” Natalie Bushaw, a Life Time spokeswoman, said in an email to the N.Y. Times. She added that local news stations would still be shown.

Another story that caught my eye was an AP report on Power 5 schools spending millions on food for athletes.

The hundreds of millions of dollars that have poured into the Power Five conferences, much of it from TV rights fees, have enriched dozens of schools and allowed them to give their athletes the best of everything, right down to what they eat every day. Schools outside the Power Five draw far less revenue and many provide the same dining options available to non-athletes on campus.

Nebraska was mentioned at the top end, spending $3.3M this year on athlete nutrition, East Carolina at the other end.

Houston, of the American Athletic Conference, is spending just over $1 million, which ranks at the top of the Group of Five schools that responded to the AP survey. On the other hand, East Carolina, which plays in the same conference as Houston, spent $118,000 to provide four extra meals a week to athletes but had no training table, no fueling stations and no nutrition staff.

Credit to outdoor retailers, conservationists, tribes for chal­lenging Trump decision to shrink Utah monuments. Credit to the tributes on the passing of outstanding sportscasters Dick Enberg and Keith Jackson

Odds and Ends: The student newspaper at Chapel Hill High, The Proconian, will be digital-only starting this year due to rising costs. No more print editions after 86 years. Saw Marcus Paige and Cat Barber playing together for Greensboro in G League game on ESPNU. They got beaten badly by Houston. No N&O Thursday (Jan. 11) outdoor page, and while the website has multiple yoga/fitness stories and it had nothing on proposed hunting/fishing rule changes.