Tag Archives: Povich Center

Povich Panel: With Less Access, Sports Journalists Face Greater Challenge

Left to right: George Solomon, Pepper Rodgers, Christy Winters Scott, Leonard Downie Jr., Liz Clarke, Greg Aiello, David Aldridge and Gene Policinski at the Newseum.

Left to right: George Solomon, Pepper Rodgers, Christy Winters Scott, Leonard Downie Jr., Liz Clarke, Greg Aiello, David Aldridge and Gene Policinski at the Newseum.

WASHINGTON (12/3/18) — It used to be that a small group of writers covered a college or professional sports team, enjoying relatively easy access to coaches, players and practices.

“There were relationships and some level of trust,” said Greg Aiello, who for nearly 40 years was an NFL communications executive.

As press corps grew, coaches struggled to keep control and clamped down on access.

Aiello said the NFL created rules to mandate journalists have some access, but the landscape across the sporting world had already been permanently changed.

Sports writers may not be seen as the enemy of the teams they cover, but journalists’ access to coaches and players has dwindled over time, according to a panel of sports media pros gathered at the Newseum on Saturday.

The discussion — “Sports Writers: Are We Also The Enemy?” — was hosted by the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and the Freedom Forum Institute. Povich Center Director George Solomon and Gene Policinski, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute, were the moderators.

The panel was convened amid President Donald Trump’s frequent assertion that journalists are “the enemy” of the American people — an attack Washington Post columnist Liz Clarke said isn’t being levied against sports journalists the way it is against others.

“Our landscape has changed,” Clarke said, but “we are not the enemy in the way very courageous journalists” — like slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — are.

That doesn’t mean sports journalists don’t face hostility, Clarke said.

David Aldridge, now editor in chief of The Athletic D.C. but once a reporter for Turner Sports, was tasked with conducting in-game televised interviews with often reticent NBA coaches. None were apparently more reluctant than the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich — famous for his often terse responses to reporters’ questions.

“‘This is 45-70 seconds of your day,’” Aldridge recalled thinking. “‘Can we get along?’”

Instead of rancorous, Aldridge’s interactions with Popovich were often humorous. He said he managed to work with the coach by learning the right way to ask certain questions — a lesson college basketball analyst Christy Winters Scott (’90) took from her playing days at the University of Maryland.

Sports writers often must ask tough questions, but “you have to temper it with the emotion of the athlete,” she said.

Former college football player and coach Pepper Rodgers, who last coached in 1995, said the change in relationship between teams and journalists has been caused by changes in technology.

“Football is a totally different game today with the Internet,” Rodgers said.

But even with the Internet and what it brings — more coverage despite less access — are sports writers the enemy?

“The answer is no,” Aiello said.

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles
aapyles@umd.edu
301-405-1321

Povich Center Asks: Are Sports Writers The Enemy?

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the Freedom Forum Institute are co-hosting a panel discussion at the Newseum.

COLLEGE PARK (11/28/18) — Journalists are frequently called the “enemy of the people” by President Donald Trump.

Would some coaches like to say the same thing about sports reporters?

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism will pose that question during a panel discussion Saturday at the Newseum in Washington.

Co-hosted with the Freedom Forum Institute, “Sports Writers: Are We Also the Enemy?” examines the increasingly tension-filled relationship between coaches and the journalists who cover their teams at the college and professional level.

The 2 p.m. discussion — which is free and open to the public, but requires registration — will be co-moderated by Povich Center Director George Solomon and Gene Policinski, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute.

They’ll be joined by a group of distinguished journalists:

  • David Aldridge, editor-in-chief of The Athletic D.C.
  • Greg Aiello, a former NFL communications executive
  • Liz Clarke, a sports columnist at The Washington Post
  • Leonard Downie Jr., the former executive editor & vice president of The Washington Post
  • Pepper Rodgers, a former football player and coach
  • Christy Winters Scott, a sports analyst for ESPN and other networks and former University of Maryland basketball player
  • Rhiannon Walker (’15), a sports writer for The Athletic

Live video will be available on the Newseum’s website.

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles
aapyles@umd.edu
301-405-1321

DeMaurice Smith Headlines Povich Symposium on Race in Sports

COLLEGE PARK (10/12/18) — NFL Players’ Association executive director DeMaurice Smith headlines the 13th annual Shirley Povich Symposium at the University of Maryland on Nov. 13.

Race in Sports: The Challenge Continues” starts at 7 p.m. in Orem Hall of the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center on the University of Maryland campus. Doors open at 6 p.m. It is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

Joining Smith are Chelsea Janes (Nationals beat writer, The Washington Post), Tom McMillen ’74 (president and chief executive officer, Lead1 Association), Kevin Merida (senior VP and editor-in-chief, ESPN’s The Undefeated, and member of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism‘s Board of Visitors) and Scott Van Pelt ’16 (Sportscaster and Sports Talk Show Host, ESPN).

Television host Maury Povich, son of the late Washington Post columnist Shirley Povich for whom the symposium is named, will moderate the panel.

“The topic of race in sports continues to be on the front burner, as it has for more than 50 years,” said George Solomon, director of The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism. “We’ve assembled a group of panelists who have the experience, knowledge and interest in the subject to provide both a worthwhile and exciting evening for all.”

About The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism:

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism is a resource for journalists, academics and the public who want to explore the complex role of sports in society. The Center is led by its director, George Solomon, who was the assistant managing editor for sports at The Washington Post from 1975-2003.

Contact:
Kaitlyn Wilson, Assistant Director, Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, kcwilson@umd.edu; 301-405-4605

‘It’s Got To Be Bigger’ Than The Game, Povich Center Panelists Say

Sports journalists on The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism's panel. Left to right: James Crabtree-Hannigan, Rick Maese, Christine Brennan, David Steele and Dave Zirin.

Sports journalists on The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism’s panel. Left to right: James Crabtree-Hannigan, Rick Maese, Christine Brennan, David Steele and Dave Zirin.

COLLEGE PARK (10/4/18) — Sports journalists have a duty to write more than game stories, a panel of five reporters said Wednesday during a program hosted by The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

The panelists — Christine Brennan (USA Today), James Crabtree-Hannigan (The Diamondback), Rick Maese (The Washington Post), David Steele (Sporting News) and Dave Zirin (The Nation) — were on campus to discuss coverage of Jordan McNair, 19, who died two weeks after suffering heatstroke during a May football practice.

Povich Center Director George Solomon and Professor Kevin Blackistone moderated the wide-ranging discussion in the packed Eaton Theater in Knight Hall.

Part of the discussion focused on the lack of public information about college athletics. Many team practices are closed to journalists and access to student-athletes is limited, making it more difficult for reporters to accurately and comprehensively inform the public.

Maese said it’s a beat reporter’s job to go beyond box scores and gather what information they can.

“A lot of times the reporter thinks his job is to write about the game … it’s got to be bigger than that,” Maese said. “Sometimes we leave the accountability part of it to the other part of the newsroom. It can’t be like that.”

Steele, a 1985 Merrill College alumnus, said sports reporters need to give the public enough information so the treatment of student-athletes matters more than their position on the team’s depth chart.

“The more we make sure we focus on that … the more we get to the heart of what we’re talking about,” Steele said. We need to“get the public acclimated to knowing these guys as people and caring about their lives.”

For more coverage of the panel discussion, “Crisis at Maryland: Covering A Tragedy & The Fallout,” visit The Povich Center’s website.

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles
aapyles@umd.edu
301-405-1321

Povich Center Coverage of Friendship Games: The ‘Miracle’ of Sports

Friendship Games in Eilat, Israel

Photo: Alex Flum (’18)

By Julia Karron, Chloe Pavlech, and Joe Malandruccolo
For The Povich Center
July 20, 2018

EILAT, ISRAEL — At the closing ceremony of the 13th annual Friendship Games, college-aged basketball players from Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Lithuania and Germany sat on the sand of the Red Sea and watched a slideshow of photos and videos taken during the tournament.

Interspersed between images of on-court action and cultural events ranging from rock climbing to banana boating were videos of players singing along to Rag’n’Bone Man’s “Human.” The players’ voices echoed the lyric, “I’m only human after all / don’t put the blame on me.”

The words symbolized the ultimate goal of the tournament, which ran from June 21-28: to create lifelong friendships across borders through the sport of basketball, despite decades-long conflicts among some of the countries.


Three University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism students covered the Friendship Games in Eilat, Israel, this summer through a partnership with the event’s organizers and The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism.


It’s a vision that has been a dream of tournament co-founder Arie Rosenzweig.

“The language of sport is so strong that after one week they are crying when they depart,” Rosenzweig said.

But the gaps aren’t just bridged during the weeklong tournament in Eilat, Israel. After the festivities end, “due to the great development of social media, in many instances, the participants became friends for life,” Rosenzweig said.

After the final night, where players danced under the stars on the Red Sea to a mix of American, Arab and Israeli pop hits and vigorously chanted “one more song!” and “we’re not leaving!” at nearly 1:30 a.m., friend requests on Facebook and follows on Instagram were popular on the bus rides back to the hotel.

By all accounts, this celebration of sport and friendship was “one of the best parties ever,” according to Ronnen Tin, the social events manager for the games.

But this tournament and ensuing party did not come without anxiety. Getting some of the players players to Israel required some creativity, Rosenzweig explained, including special permission for some competitors to attend.

But according to one player, who requested anonymity, attending the games was worth it.

“We were so scared when we came the first year,” he said. “But after we saw Israel, and we have a [lot] of fun, we made a [lot] of friends and playing basketball against teams from Europe. It was very good experience.”

In a study published by the World Leisure Journal in 2014, athletes who participated in the Friendship Games changed their previous attitudes of athletes from some other countries from negative to positive, “indicating that the Friendship Games does indeed meet its stated purpose of promoting peace and coexistence through sports.”

These particular games, said Rosensweig, are “the miracle of what sports could do for people from different religions, different countries, different languages.”

As Rag’n’Bone Man would say, these players are only human after all.

The event’s organizers sponsored student coverage of the Friendship Games. Editorial control of the coverage and content remained with The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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