Mar 01 2006

Not a Man, Not a Story

No coming out party for Swoopes

When women’s basketball star Sheryl Swoopes publicly came out of the closet on October 26, she became one of the first openly gay athletes in professional team sports, and by far the most famous. It was a groundbreaking step made all the more remarkable by Swoopes’ star power: The WNBA’s only three-time MVP and a three-time Olympic gold medalist, Swoopes even has a Nike shoe in her name. She’s also the first prominent African-American athlete ever to come out. But while Swoopes’ act may reflect—and produce—a slight lessening of the homophobia that has long afflicted professional sports, the media reaction […]

Oct 21 2005

Arianna Huffington on Judith Miller, Dave Zirin on politics & sports

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The New York Times finally published it report on Judith Miller and her grand jury testimony about the CIA leak story. But for many, the Times report–far shorter and less probing than its Jayson Blair reporting some years back– raises more questions than it answers. We’ll talk to Arianna Huffington, editor of the Huffington Post, about Judith Miller. Also this week: Do sports and radical politics mix? And when they do, does the mainstream press scrub the messy politics out of their reporting on today’s top athletes? We’ll talk about that with Dave Zirin, […]

Sep 01 2005

Media to City: Play Ball

Making New York safe from democracy

On June 6, a years-long civic battle over plans to build a combined NFL/Olympic stadium atop publicly owned rail yards on Manhattan’s West Side ended with a thud. After a hard-fought lobbying campaign that saw more than $42 million spent on both sides (Newsday, 6/16/05), New York state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver used his power as a member of the state’s little-known Public Authorities Control Board to veto bonding for the plan, effectively killing it for good. By all accounts, Silver’s decision was a popular one. Numerous polls over the years (New York Times, 2/20/05; Newsday, 1/20/05; AP, 7/21/04) had […]

Nov 01 2001

The World Series In A Time Of Crisis

The World Series provided a heck of a photo-op for George W. Bush when he threw out the first pitch one night, aiming at a large TV audience. For the most part, the game that followed was a pleasure to watch — midway through a week that combined what’s best and worst about major league baseball in an era of compulsive media spin. Baseball may not quite be America’s favorite sport anymore, but it still has plenty of emotional resonance. For that reason, politicians and corporations alike are eager to graft themselves onto the climactic games of the post-season. The […]

Nov 01 1999

Throwing the Game

Conflicts of interest prevent tough coverage of sports issues

In the 1930s, legendary hockey owner Conn Smythe was displeased by newspaper coverage of his Toronto Maple Leafs. Smythe’s solution: He approached Toronto Star publisher Joe Atkinson with a promise to take out $20,000 in advertising annually. In exchange, Atkinson would raise his hockey writers’ salaries by $20,000 — as a reward for more “honest” reporting. If owners of pro sports teams no longer engage in outright bribery, it’s only because they no longer need to. No single topic — not even presidential campaigns or wars — receives the kind of day-in, day-out coverage that is devoted to sports by […]

Apr 23 1999

Title IX and Women in Sports

What's Wrong with This Picture? Plenty...

(Posted here with the NWLC’s kind permission) The National Desk program “Title IX and Women in Sports: What’s Wrong with This Picture?” was filled with misinformation, myth, and fabrications. In short, it was an irresponsible broadcast masquerading as serious journalism. Virtually every aspect of the program, from the title, host Larry Elder’s repeated untruths about Title IX, and statements of so-called “experts” interviewed, presented viewers with an inaccurate and unbalanced portrait of Title IX and athletics. Among this program’s many errors are following: On a very basic level, the program misidentified Title IX as part of the Civil Rights Act. […]

Jul 01 1998

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

Local Media Push Public Subsidies for Private Stadiums

The day after voters in King County, Washington, had apparently approved a plan to hike the local sales tax by a tenth of a percent to fund a new ballpark for the Seattle Mariners baseball team (9/20/95), the Seattle Times got right to the point with its banner headline: “Stadium Leads by 4,000 Votes.” A photo showed exultant baseball fans raising their fists in glee at the early returns. As it turned out, the stadium-tax referendum was de­feated by a slim margin. But sta­dium backers needn’t have wor­ried: As has been the case in cities across the country, the Washing­ton […]

Oct 01 1996

Journalists as Gamblers

Tumbling dice (cc photo: Josh Kenzer)

Long Island (N.Y.) Newsday (8/2/96) ran an article about press coverage of Richard Jewell, whom news outlets widely named as a suspect in the Atlanta Olympic bombing despite the absence of any charges or publicly disclosed evidence. The piece included a quote from Jim Naughton, former managing editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who said: “If it turns out that this guy is totally innocent, then it will be another chink in the armor of the press, whose credibility will suffer.” But why should the credibility of the press depend on whether Jewell is innocent or not? Journalists are not psychics, […]