Favre, Peyton bring Midwest Sports into National Focus Part 1

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By Paul M. Banks

Brett Favre’s incessant media circus and Peyton Manning’s undefeated Colts have put national spotlight on the Midwest, I discuss this and the future of sports media with Midwest Sports Fans.com’s Jerod Morris.

(PMB) Last weekend, I was at a party and referred to ESPN as Eastern Seaboard Programming Network, as I always do. Someone said to me non-jokingly, “Is that what it really stands for?” And with the non-stop emphasis on New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox, Duke-North Carolina and the unhealthy man-crush that they (along with seemingly every other journalist in this country) seems to have on Florida QB Tim Tebow, I do wonder if it’s literally true.

Of course, they also unjustifiably blanket teams like USC and Notre Dame which appeal to large numbers of frat boy front-runner types who don’t really like sports, but pretend to. Your thoughts on bias, East Coast or otherwise?duke_vitale

(JM) By now I think it is pretty clear to everyone that a strong bias exists not just at ESPN but at all major television networks; and the bias can be boiled down into one nice, neat, tidy word: ratings.

ESPN is no longer just the upstart underdog from Bristol. They are now a Disney-owned, worldwide conglomerate with serious stakeholders to answer to. No longer can they be “every sports persons’ network”; rather, they must be “every sports plurality’s network”, and by this I mean that they must, in the majority of cases, broadcast whatever they can get their hands on in each time slot that will drive the highest ratings.

We can bitch about it all we want (and we do!) but Yankees-Red Sox will always drive more viewers than White Sox-Twins, no matter how good the teams are. Duke-North Carolina will always drive more visitors than a game for first place in the Big Ten between Michigan State and Purdue. It is what it is. And it just so happens that most of the ratings drivers are East Coast-based teams and the majority of the country is on Central or Eastern time.

I would think that by now sports fans would be conditioned to the reality that sports is a business. We hear the athletes say it all the time, and I think that despite our frustrations we have to understand that the same is true for those who broadcast them.

And if we don’t like it, there’s always the Big Ten Network!erinandrewswis

(PMB) As polarizing a figure as Brett Favre is, and he’s certainly done a few things to warrant that hatred people have of him, he made the 1600lb. gorilla in the sports media room ESPN focus on the upper midwest, Wisconsin and Minnesota particularly, and that never happens. Was this a good thing for Midwestern sports fans? Not just for your site, but also actual people who can legitimately be described with this designation?

(JM) I guess it depends on whether you were in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

It has been great for Minnesota. Not only has Brett Favre’s arrival created more excitement in the city, but the team has a serious shot to be playing playoff games at home and possibly even go to a Super Bowl. And think about how much revenue was generated just from the reporters being dispatched to the Twin Cities to cover the Favre saga. I may stereotyping here, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most sports reporters can eat; the restaurants were no doubt pleased.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, lost one of their favorite sports idols to a rival. So they couldn’t be too happy and it’s doubtful they see it as a “good thing”.

In all seriousness, I’m not sure what the Favre story really does for the Midwest per se because anything involving Favre is such a national story now. I’m sure that Vikings and Packers blogs, plus the papers that cover the two teams, enjoyed a nice spike in eyeballs but the real winner was the NFL. Favre = ratings, jersey sales, and ticket sales. Cha-ching.

(PMB) You became somewhat of a sports media star this past summer, even appearing on ESPN Outside the Lines. I know you’ve likely told the story a million times, so I apologize, but please tell us what you learned from the experience and how you use those lessons today…

(JM) I learned more than anything that I’m not just writing in my own little personal sports diary at MSF. Every word I write is open to be consumed by anyone on the web, and that includes the possibility that my meaning could be misunderstood as well as the chance that real lives can be affected by what I write.

Bloggers may not be journalists, nor ever aspire to be, but the platform – especially if you are actively promoting yourself to drive traffic – should compel us all to be accountable for what we say. I don’t believe that means that bloggers should necessarily be held to the same standards and “rules” as the mainstream media, but I do believe that there is a minimum level of accountability that any person publishing work for public consumption should adhere to.favre02_600

Fortunately, I felt no need to back down from or apologize for the spirit of my post, and that is one thing I always make sure of now before I hit “publish”: am I prepared to defend these words if necessary? If I believe in what I am saying and am writing without malice, I am confident in the final result.

The whole Ibanez situation helped me to realize this.

(PMB) One thing that was sort of lost in the experience was your personal story, as well as that of your site, Midwest Sports Fans

(JM) It’s pretty simple really. I grew up in Indiana, lived in the Midwest my entire life save for a few years down in Miami after graduating college, and am a devoted fan of the Hoosiers, White Sox, and Browns…an eclectic mix to be sure.

Once I moved to Dallas in April in 2008, I wanted a way to stay connected to my Midwestern roots. I started working for a social media and online reputation management firm and starting MSF ended up being a great way to get hands-on experience with what we were doing.

It’s been a labor of love that I’ve truly enjoyed ever since.


(PMB) So you must truly know a lot about SEO then. Everyone has been beaten over the head with the story of newspapers dying out. But what do you see as the future of sports media? What might the next apparatus to die out after print? And also, no a brighter note, what do you envision as the future of the industry to be? Beyond “blogging” of course.

(JM) The future is that we are going to continue to see the lines blurred…between everything.

National writers put things into national perspectives. Local writers obviously localize the perspective. The local papers are already on thin ice as it is; if the ESPNs continue stealing their readers, how will they survive?

And, of course, blogs are a part of that. But I don’t see it as a zero sum game. If the MSM sees blogs as a threat, rather than an opportunity, they will get killed. The same is true for blogs with the MSM and other blogs. More synergy will lead to better, more intertwined, richer content. If the user experience is enhanced, the time spent will increase.benetton

I think this is a formula still to be unlocked.

In general, I think we are going to continue to see fragmentation of coverage with more and more specialization, which I think will ultimately lead to a better product for consumers. Those who are forward-thinking and strategic enough to build strong revenue models around the content will prosper. Others will fall by the wayside, and it should be clear by now to everyone that clinging to the status quo is a recipe for doom.

(PMB) Very true, less than 100% of sportswriters today have the luxury of making a living with the old “just write your story and send it in” approach that I was trained with in the newspaper industry. Those days are dinosaur.

Readers, be sure to check out Midwest Sports Fans.com early and often!

Should Packer Fans Boo Brett Favre?

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By the TSB Staff

PAUL M. BANKS

I think anyone who’s neither a.) A die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan or b.) possessor of a serious Favre man-crush, should (no, it is their patriotic duty as an American) boo the hell out of Brett Favre. As much respect as I had for his ability and resume prior to 2008, it is impossible for me to separate that from the pathetic attention-whore he is today. As a Chicagoan, I have to say Michael Jordan the basketball player- loved him, best ever to watch play. Michael Jordan the brand/person- awful disgusting corporation with psychopathic tendencies disguised as a person.Brett-Favre-signs-with-the-Jets

I made the distinction here, but after being beaten over the head with Favre coverage for two years straight, I’m to lazy to make a similar segmentation again, or I don’t care enough to do so.

If you consume any sports at all, you should be rooting against Favre. He recently said (which ESPN repeated AD NAUSEUAM) “There will always be Favre haters, nothing will change that.” Yes and why is that? Because you’re an attention whore with a solipsism eclipsing that of anyone in history- except maybe the Holy Roman Emperor Constantine.

JAKE MCCORMICK

Would you be happy with an ex-player that strung you along with retirement talk for years, can’t handle ever being told he’s been wrong before, goes to an archrival partially out of spite, and then seven games into his “career” with that team says it’s the best team he’s ever been on? Those are only a few reasons why Packer fans rightfully should boo Brett Favre, the biggest of which being that he is on their most hated rival. Chris Rock once said NOBODY is above an ass whoopin’. Likewise, no one is above getting booed for things fans deem to be unjust and douchebaggy and Favre’s douchebag resume spans pretty much his entire career (cheating, partying, illegitimate kids, primadonna teammate, etc.).

Another reason not to cheer him is for Aaron Rodger’s sake. If Favre is booed, it further cements Rodgers as our quarterback and shows that Packer fans understand that he is the correct choice at the position. Booing is the only way fans can really show their disapproval of anything in sports, and clearly Packer fans collectively are not in the Favre camp anymore. Packer fans, boo until you’re hoarse, and even start some “asshole” chants, but please keep it civil so people don’t lump you together with the Cub bleachers, Browns, and Raider fans. Like LeRoy Butler said, cheer for him when his number is retired, but not when he’s on another team, especially the Vikings.

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H. JOSE BOSCH

Packer fans should get over themselves. So what if Brett Favre jumped ship? This isn’t the 1950s anymore. Sports is a business and athletes should be allowed to navigate their way through that business just like regular people do in the non sports world. Having said that, they have every right to boo him. Why? Because he plays for a team that isn’t the Green Bay Packers.

Would they respectfully cheer for Jay Cutler? Matthew Stafford? Tom Brady? Nope. Did they have a long past with the Packers? Doesn’t matter. Favre is now a player on an opposing team and should be treated as such.

When he finally retires (or, more accurately when his family straps him to a chair to prevent him from unretiring), then Packer fans can reminisce, retire his number and build a giant cheese stature in his honor outside Lambeau’s main entrance. Hell, they can make a statue for every entrance if they want to. Because Green Bay fans are weird and they like cheese.

But this Sunday isn’t the day for that. Green Bay needs that win to have any chance at winning the division. Put aside anything from his past and treat him like the opposing quarterback he is. Then you can deal with your Favre-related issues later.

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SOXMAN

When Brett Favre is announced for the first time, he should receive a standing ovation and endless applause for the years of dedication, excitement, and memories he supplied Packer fans.  He has earned it.

The Packer’s organization should run a video montage of his many accomplishments when he arrives on the field and then end it quietly with a fade to black and white, simply  displaying the words: “Thanks Brett.”

Then, after he makes his first spectacular play, Packers fans should show an even greater sign of respect in unison by chanting: “Boo.”

After all, is a “boo” not the greatest show of respect to an opponent who did something to hurt your team?

When Frank Thomas returned to the Cell in 2006 as a member of the Oakland A’s, he received a five minute plus standing ovation when he was introduced at the plate the first time.  He homered in that at bat and was cheered loudly by the majority of the fans in attendance.  In two more trips to the plate, he smashed two more dingers.  Respectfully, Sox fans honored him with shower of deafening “Boos.”

Does Brett Favre not deserve the same?

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Possible NFC North Reality Shows

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By the TSB Staff

Since the NFC North in 2009 seems to be the ultimate reality series in professional sports right now. I asked my staff to  analogize the players and coaches in the division with some of the tv show “characters” currently dotting the reality show landscape.

JAKE MCCORMICK

This is an easy one. Despite my vocal criticisms of VH1 and their mind-numbing switch from “Behind the Music” type programming to mindless trapclap like “Brooke Knows Best” marathons, I must admit I watch a lot of their reality dating shows. I love the creatures that come out of their holes in the ground to proclaim their love for aging rock/rap stars. But the best analogy I can give involves the Vikings, Brett Favre, and Daisy of Love.

Daisy is (obviously) looking for love, but was shunned from her “true love” Bret Michaels in “Rock of Love 2,” and finished second to a mature girl with less baggage and much more potential. She didn’t get along with everyone on the show, and was very shady when talking about her living situations (she lived with her “ex” boyfriend). She was the Brett Favre to Bret Michaels (or Ted Thompson’s) Aaron Rodgers (Winner Ambre Lake).

Fast forward to the fourth episode of “Daisy of Love.” She has really taken a liking to a guy named London, who is a flashy rock star-type, but is also a big flake and whines for no apparent reason other than he isn’t getting his way. As a result, he leaves before elimination, leaving Daisy bawling in her room and unable to give out her Rock Star chains. This obviously upsets the house, since none of the other guys liked London because he was a cocky but waffling douche to her. As the show goes on, we get hints that Daisy is still hurt by London’s premature departure, and her chemistry isn’t as strong with the other guys. So, with four guys remaining in the competition, Daisy’s sidekick Riki reaches out to London and persuades him to come back and resolve the issues between him and Daisy.

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Obviously the rest of the guys hate his guts, and he knows it all too well. But he gradually makes it to the finale episode, and when faced with a decision between Flex, a guy that is much better for her and different than her usual drama-loving boyfriends, and London, who is like every other immature guy she has dated, Daisy says the following: “I need Flex, but I want London.” Thus, she chooses the guy everyone loved to hate, and they all learn to live with it even though everyone involved with the show (including Riki) thinks she made a mistake. I’ll leave you to fill in who is who between the Vikings organization, Favre, and the players. This analogy makes too much sense to me.
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SOXMAN

Cheaters staring Brett Favre.

When Green Packer Packer fans suspect their long-time boyfriend is cheating on them with another team, our cameras are there when the confrontation takes place.  Will Brett score with another team?  Don’t miss another great season on the NFC.

Flavor of Lovie.

Lovie Smith is in search of a wide receiver for his bachelor quarterback.  Will Lovie’s idea of ball romance agree with Jay’s desire to command an offense?  The balls will fly and players will run all season long in the most offensive show to come out of Chicago in years.

Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.

Starring Aaron Rogers who teaches people it’s ok to be second despite the speedy deliveries of passes to Greg Jennings.  In the end, you will go to the land of make believe to see what life would have been like if Brett Favre was never born.

The Girls Next Door.

Starring the Detroit Lions offensive line.  Only Mathew Stafford will not be pillow fighting cuties.  He’ll be participating in the “Amazing Race,” trying to escape linemen out for his head.cedricbensonjersye

PAUL M. BANKS

“Elimidate” starring Brian Urlacher

He’s a man known to reap the “strange” out there in the Chicago nightlife; on a level even more intense than Kyle Farnsworth or Mark Grace. Everyone has an Urlacher story. Some even have a paternity suit.

“The Shark Tank” starring Matthew Stafford

ABC’s Sunday night series is probably the only reality series I actually like these days, but this show isn’t about aspiring entrepreneurs pitching panels of venture capitalists, it’s Stafford being put into open water surrounded by blood and chum (his 0-16 Lions teammates) as the sharks, opposing defenses circle around.

“Blind Date” starring Brett Favre

I always loved the little drawings, graphics and thought bubbles that comprise each episode of this series. My dream job is to be the person who gets to write the funny observations and insults of those who participate on this game show. Actually my dream job is any job where I get to rip on people. But what if John Madden who has the biggest man-crush in the history on man-crushes on Favre, also came out of retirement just to cover a few games featuring the man who complete him? He’d no doubt manipulate the telecast to draw hearts and write amorous sayings all over the screen, and somehow the show ends with Madden and Favre in a hot tub…ugh….