Enterprise Journalism Weekly Features Across ESPN Platforms
June 18, 2009
Six-Segment OTL Series: ‘Coping with the Economy’ Outside the Lines will examine the recession’s impact on sports with six different segments June 22-28.
Coverage includes: A five-part Outside the Lines series focusing on the economy’s impact on professional and college sports will debut Monday, June 22. The series, reported by Jeremy Schaap, will air on Outside the Lines (3 p.m. ET Monday, Tuesday, Friday – soccer coverage replaces OTL Wednesday-Thursday) and each SportsCenter throughout the week.
A special Sunday OTL (9 a.m. ESPN, noon ESPNEWS) will examine the recession’s impact on local sports in Beloit and Janesville, Wis. Beloit is home to baseball’s Class A Snappers as well as many youth leagues. Nearby Janesville is the site of a shuttered General Motors plant, the closure of which resulted in the loss of at least 4,000 union jobs throughout the region. Mark Fainaru-Wada reports.
Series Schedule (Details on Sunday’s piece above)
‘Filling the Seats’ (Monday, June 22 SC, OTL) – economy’s effect on ticket prices and attendance
Through May, MLB attendance was down more than 5 percent compared to the same period last season. To avert a similar decline, 27 NBA teams will maintain ticket prices the same or lower than next season, while three quarters of the NFL and two thirds of the NHL teams will not raise prices next season. The 2009 Kentucky Derby saw wagering ($104 million) $10 million less than last year.
‘Player Salaries’ (Tuesday SC, OTL) – economy’s impact on player contracts
“The NFL is bucking the trend (of the other major pro sports leagues), increasing its salary cap more than 10 percent for 2009, to $128 million per team. The league benefits from its enormous television contracts, all of which were signed long before the Dow dipped below the economic Mendoza line.” – Jeremy Schaap
‘Downsizing’ (Tuesday OTL, Wednesday SC) — economy’s effect on leagues and teams
The NFL (more than 10 percent) and NBA (roughly 9 percent) have seen layoffs in the league and team offices, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cut his own salary by a fifth. Half of the 30 NBA teams are losing money, and 12 have accepted loans from the league.
‘Campus Cutbacks’ (Thursday SC, Friday, OTL) — economy’s impact on college sports
One way schools are trying to save is with less flying and more driving. Michigan State’s basketball and football teams have saved the school more than $200,000 recently, traveling by bus rather than chartering flights. The Miami Hurricanes will do the same for two 2009 intrastate games, saving $140,000. Also, about 130 college teams, or 1 percent, have been eliminated nationwide.
Several NASCAR tracks are making it possible to buy tickets on no-interest layaway plans, while the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies based some ticket prices on where they finished in the draft lottery. Meanwhile, several NFL teams are partnering with state lotteries, and in Pittsburgh, the Bucs (as the MLB Pirates are known) have introduced “Buck Night” when fans can purchase hot dogs, popcorn, soda and even tickets for $1.
OTL Father’s Day Special ‘Aaron Stewart: Following a Father’s Path’ Outside the Lines piece on SportsCenter (Sunday 10 a.m., 6 p.m., 11 p.m.) Outside the Lines piece on ESPN.com by Elizabeth Merrill
OTL: Aaron Stewart was just 10 years old when his father, Payne Stewart, died in a plane crash. Ten years later, Aaron is a college golfer, embracing the sport his father so dearly loved. This Father’s Day, Aaron and his mother, Tracey Stewart, share the story of their loss and their memories with reporter Tom Rinaldi.
ESPN.com Excerpt: “The game of golf was changing, giving way to the young and powerful. Jon Brendle, Payne Stewart’s neighbor and confidant, wondered if people would remember. Would the boy remember? ‘I hate that Aaron didn’t get to live that life,’ Brendle says. ‘Aaron never got to see how great his dad was because he was too young.’ Aaron was 10 years old, towheaded with a Dennis the Menace streak, when his daddy died. He played with snakes, not golf clubs. But that’s the thing about memories: They come in flickers, bouncing through time until someone, inevitably, fills in the gaps.”
Thad Matta, Ohio State men’s basketball coach
OTL: Men’s College Basketball Coaches and the NBA’s ‘One-and-Done’ Rule Outside the Lines (Sunday 9 a.m. ET ESPN; noon ESPNEWS)
Between them, Ohio State’s Thad Matta and UCLA’s Ben Howland have seen seven players since 2006 declare for the NBA Draft after just one year on campus. Now, as NBA teams prepare for the June 25 Draft, Matta and Howland discuss the league’s so-called “one-and-done” rule, telling reporter Steve Delsohn it forces them to focus on the present instead of too far into the future. The rule, which requires players to be at least 19 years of age and one year removed from high school before entering the NBA Draft, has resulted in more college players leaving after their freshman seasons. Matta’s Buckeyes have not only lost the most freshmen (five) to the NBA since the rule was created, they’ve also lost two scholarships, in part because of players not completing their freshman year, hurting the team’s Academic Progress Rate, a formula devised by the NCAA. Still, Matta says his staff will continue to sign one-and-done caliber players because they can help his team win.
“For the last three years here at Ohio State, we’ve had to start completely over with a whole new basketball team… What it means is, you’ve got to keep recruiting every day.” — Thad Matta, Ohio State men’s basketball coach
“I would think most coaches don’t like it. I think they’d like it to change — the ones that have dealt with it anyway.” — Ben Howland, UCLA men’s basketball coach, on the “one-and-done” rule
Secretive Trainer Prepping Blake Griffin for NBA Draft SportsCenter (Sunday 10 a.m.) NBA Draft coverage (Thursday, June 25)
Blake Griffin, the anticipated No. 1 NBA Draft pick, has intensified his workouts with the help of a highly secretive trainer named Frank Matriciano who is so protective of his identity and the bond of trust with the athletes he trains that he refuses to show his face in public. His training regimen is done exclusively using nature’s elements, like sand and water, forcing the muscles and tendons to grow stronger by adjusting to unstable surfaces. Andy Katz reveals the secrets of Griffin’s success.
Rocco Mediate: Rick Reilly Essay on Impact of Fan Letter U.S. Open coverage today SportsCenter (Sunday 8 a.m.)
Rocco Mediate became an unlikely hero at last year’s U.S. Open when he took Tiger Woods to the 91st hole before losing in a much-watched playoff. His efforts endeared him to many, and one fan letter he received was from John Ray, a Texas father who had lost his youngest daughter in a tragic car accident the day before her high school graduation. During that dark time, Ray found himself drawn to Mediate’s unrelenting battle against the world’s best. “I have lost and lost big,” wrote Ray, “but I am not licked.” Rick Reilly reports on the positive effect these two men have had on each other’s lives.
Reporter Eric Neel takes readers inside Phil Jackson’s quest for a record 10th title, showing him to be a grinder at heart as the Lakers marched toward their 2009 NBA Championship series win over Orlando.
Excerpt: “Phil Jackson is not thinking about 10 rings. He’s thinking about two.
The two that got away — the first to Detroit in 2004 and the second to Boston in 2008. He’s thinking about how no one took the Pistons seriously and how dangerous that made them. He’s thinking about how he couldn’t get his players to truly understand, prepare for and match the intensity of the Celtics’ defense. He’s thinking about losing, about the sting it left, about the way it lingers even now. He’s thinking about surviving it, replacing it, pushing past it.”
Boxing Prospect Victor Ortiz Fights Back ESPN Deportes SportsCenter (Part 1, Sunday 11 p.m.; Part 2, Monday, 11 p.m.)
Proclaimed by Oscar de la Hoya as boxing’s next superstar, Victor Ortiz is a seasoned fighter who has learned to deal with hard blows in and out of the ring. By the age of 12 he had been abandoned by both parents, leaving him with a life of odd jobs and years in foster homes with his brother. Ortiz would use boxing to escape his tough life in Garden City, Kan., and start a pro career in California. On June 27, the 22-year-old Ortiz will get his first try at a world title when he faces Marcos Maidana for the interim WBA light-welterweight title.