It’s pretty clear to me.
Bill Simmons and ESPN are headed to divorce court soon. Simmons this week was suspended for three weeks for remarks he made on his podcast, the B.S. Report. Simmons called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a liar, several times. Simmons also said it was f*****g bull****, the way the league was trying to gloss over the Ray Rice disaster.
HIs remarks were a welcome commentary to many who think Goodell and his folks have been less than forthcoming in their handling of a number of things, at the forefront, the Rice suspension.
Simmons is an ESPN superstar. But, this is a corporate structure that doesn’t allow even its superstars (Examples: Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, in an earlier incarnation) to get out of line.
Sure, what Simmons said was unacceptable language in most circles. The f****g bull*** line, that is. Calling the NFL commissioner a liar is what was most unacceptable to the folks at the NFL offices in New York and the ESPN corporate executive offices in Bristol.
Simmons dared his bosses to suspend him. And they did. For calling the commissioner a liar, just days after ESPN reported that the commissioner may not have been telling the truth.
Simmons is suspended with pay, but no media work and no Twitter for three weeks. That Twitter thing is a pretty stiff penalty for a guy who has a lot to say.
Sometimes – according to his corporate overseers – a bit too much to say.
It’s difficult to wrap my head around the idea of college athletes forming a labor union. At least one man – a local director of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago – believes they are employees, and has approved the formation of a union for Northwestern University football players. Northwestern appealed to the national board. It is far from certain the athletes in Evanston will have their union.
What we have here are the early stages of the fight. And it could be a long and nasty fight. The case in Chicago comes just days after it was reported that Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith received an $18,000 bonus when a Buckeyes wrestler won the national championship. Apparently, these kinds of clauses are not unusual these days. The court case comes weeks before Ed O’Bannon’s case against the NCAA for the athletes’ rights to their own image goes to court.
The case comes at a time when we’re learning just how much money college coaches make. John Calipari reportedly got a $350,000 bonus when his Kentucky Wildcats won the NCAA men’s basketball tournament two years ago. This on top of the millions of dollars he already earns in salary. I’m all for people making money. I’m all for people using their market leverage. But these kinds of financial windfalls are coming because student-athletes win games. The same student-athletes would be in trouble if they sold autographs, or if they took a free meal, or the use of a car.
This system is broken. And the people who run the NCAA and its big-time and big-name members are just a tad bit concerned. (NCAA president Mark Emmert makes about $1.7 million dollars a year and says drastic changes would not be good to the system.)
But, they’re happy to take the $7.3 billion in the new college football playoff TV deal; they’re delighted with the $10.8 billion dollar deal for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. They’re happy to say that Johnny Manziel is reasonably compensated with his scholarship, while the school almost certainly has made hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, selling the Texas A&M Number 2 jersey, for which Manziel gets nothing.
According to Forbes magazine the University of Texas football program’s profit in 2013 – that’s profit – was $82 million. For Notre Dame, it was $78 million. The rest of the top ten most valuable football programs in the country: Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State and Nebraska.
Maybe the players aren’t “employees” and maybe they shouldn’t be paid. Or, maybe they should be paid, and be protected by at the very least an association.
Nick Saban makes $7.5 million dollars a year to coach 12 to 14 football games at the University of Alabama. The people he “oversees” get a scholarship and some meal money, and that’s it. Saban reportedly got a $525,000 bonus when his Crimson Tide won the national championship in 2012. And even if he wanted to, the NCAA would prohibit him from sharing any of that money with the players.
[To put this into perspective, Craig Bohl was making less than $300,000 a year when he led North Dakota State to three consecutive FCS championships.]
The players are starting to get fed up. Those of us who watch this are starting to get fed up. The arms race is almost out of control to get bigger programs; to get better facilities; to get better coaches; to make more money to pay for all of those better things.
Northwestern’s football team got it started. I guarantee you no matter what happens with the school’s appeal to the National Labor Relations Board, this movement is just getting started.
I can’t wait to watch it unfold.
Just getting around to watching the Sunday morning shows that follow and report on media, CNN’s Reliable Sources and Fox News Channel’s Media Buzz. Howard Kurtz hosted the CNN show for many years, and now is the host of the Fox Show. Brian Stelter is the young host of the CNN show.
The few times I’ve seen the Fox show I get the feeling it’s geared much more toward the politics of the media coverage. And I think the Fox show quotes its own people entirely too much. The CNN show this week had the advantage of a guest get that Fox was not interested in, author Gabriel Sherman, who wrote the book about Fox News boss Roger Ailes.
Howard Kurtz is not a great TV talent, but he’s been at it for a long time, and he has history and a Rolodex full of names. I think he should use the Rolodex a bit more often and spend less time talking to his own staff mates. Brian Stelter, who hosts the CNN show, is not much of a TV talent yet. He’s young, still seems a bit uncomfortable on the air, but has worked hard to get good guests, to be independent and the do real analysis of the media coverage – “inside baseball” stuff – and I applaud him for that.
I’ll keep watching and do my best to keep you posted.
Damon Bruce is a talk show host at KNBR 1050 in San Francisco. He’s been there for about a decade and he has tried diligently to get some traction in the market. This frankly is a nine-minute rant that he might wish he had not done, or he might have reorganized.
This is the segment, as recorded an posted by Awful Announcing:
So, I turn on the 6 o’clock news here in LA on Monday night. We regularly watch the ABC station, Channel 7. The news anchors are doing play-by-play of a police pursuit through Santa Monica. I switch to the CBS station, Channel 2. Same story. And it’s the same story on Channel 4, the NBC station.
It was a police chase at about 50 miles an hour; the CHP was after a guy who apparently was speeding! And they call this news in Los Angeles. It is shameful and embarrassing. But it’s not unusual.
America’s second largest TV market spends more time covering crime than any market I’ve seen. It’s lazy, it’s cheap, it’s sleazy and it’s standard practice here.
At 11 p.m. they called it “relatively uneventful,” in a story that got about a 20-second voice-over on the late news.
These TV stations – and the audience that tolerates this dreck – deserve every one of the shots they take from Saturday Night Live.