Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Final Note

The past few months I have been taking this class have been interesting. With all the points that have been presented, not all which I agree with, some are nonetheless legitimate. Jour 4250 has encouraged me not to accept these ideas but to research and strengthen my ideas, which run along as conservative. Now I want to revisit some of the more interesting points of the class.

I first would like to point out the need to critically analyze the teacher. In a class where media is the target of debate, the teacher of a college class needs to be analyzed exactly like one would a news show, magazine or newspaper. Teacher, like all of us, have a collections of experiences from which they have formed their opinions. No person can completely remove themselves from their experiences and those experiences' impact.

Second, while this class presented many points to think about the media, it boils down to personal responsibility. If you want you daughter to think of herself as more than just an object of beauty, them turn of the TV and take some time to relate to your child those values. No media can force its way into your life. You have to option to choose which media one consume's.

One of the topics I will revisit again was the debate over the Native American mascot. Let it be known that I am for the use of indian mascots because the way they are using the mascot is in a past, historical context. Yes, Native Americans are still around but not in the historical context as we commonly think of.

As someone who has personally visited a Native American reservation in North Dakota, I can say that it is not filled with tepees and huts. It has many houses and businesses which are exactly the same as cities off the reservation. The Native Americans that lived on the plains like the Comanche, Apache, or Cheyenne do not go about life like the used. Just like people from Scandinavia do not act like Vikings. You might say well that's not fair because they were suppressed. The Spartans were eventually suppressed by the Romans. Does that make the Spartans an insensitive mascot? No.  If we decided that every historical mascot was insensitive, then all we would have is animal mascots.

Overall, the class was very controversial. One positive aspect is that if you happen to be in the minority that doesn't agree, you are taught to do your research and know your facts. This is a valuable life lesson for everyone and it's the biggest lesson I've taken away from this class.

When Politics and Sports Collide

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, and the scandal at Syracuse involving long time assistant coach Bernie Fine, the sports world has been left in shock. Not only are we left to wonder how these programs will recover and where do we go from here, but more importantly, how did we get to this point? How did we get to the point that the prestige of a sports program outweighs the rights of a human, especially a child? Does big money from T.V. contracts, alumni, and bowl championships drive the force under which any one opposing such institutions are crushed?

Unfortunately, this has been a long time coming in a culture such as ours. A place where professionals athletes like Albert Pujols are given millions of dollars to play a game. (He just signed today a 10-year, $250 million dollar contract.) We are a sports-obsessed, winning-obsessed culture in which we live vicariously through our athletes achievements, and scorn them when they take big money to go to another team.

Put yourself in their shoes because I know I would want to secure both my children's and grand-children's financial future with a simple contract. Further more, I do not condemn athletes for taking large contracts. This is America and we live in a capitalist economy. Business is business and in every day life, you have employers willing to cut you from employment at the drop of a dime. So why not take all the money you can get out of the system.

No, I'm not condemning the money behind the business. But I do condemn the business when it simultaneously crushes the rights and freedom of those get caught in the politics of sports. While I am horrified at the events at Penn State, I can't say that I'm entirely surprised. We as a society have emphasized winning at all costs. Winners, not losers, get the parade. They get to go on the Late Show. They get the interviews and the banner-raising ceremonies. We thirst for winning from our sports teams because we feel that in some way, we are winners too.

So it's no surprise that our culture has produced monsters such as Jerry Sandusk whose ability to carry out such crimes is hidden by the fact that he is a winner. Such was the reason that Tiger Woods was able to carry out his extra-marital affairs. The arena of sports is becoming more and more a place where child abuse occurs because of the lure of money. Parents who think that a coach can get them into a school or make them into a professional athlete have made themselves vulnerable to others taking advantage of their children.

Furthermore, like I have stated in previous blogs, we are a country unwilling to accept blame. It's not Penn State alone who should carry the blame, although they are largely responsible. Sports fans as a whole are responsible, myself included. We put so much emphasis of the need to win that we make sports authorities think twice when they are confronted with an issue that might damage their reputation. And it will only get worse.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Someone to Blame

In Miss Representation, we were presented with ideas about how the media can warp the minds of young teenage girls and boys. As a nation, we consume massive amounts of tv, magazines and movies which can change our view of the world.

Many statistics were startling, including the rise in depression and eating disorders. When or if I had a daughter, I would be sure to instill in her a sense of self confidence that does not depend upon her looks.

All that being said, I feel like the movie lacked any sort of personal responsible for individuals. It emphasized that the media presented all these messages, which I agree with. Yet last time I checked, no one is forcing you to watch a show or read a certain book. A U.S. citizen has full reign to choose whatever media the what to receive or not receive.

The fact that was probably most disregarded is how much tv we watch on average. Instead of reading a book or doing something constructive, they choose to look at images, which are stronger than the written word.  We expect to be able to watch tv and have no consequences. Yet, besides the obvious affect on health, there is an affect on our psychological health. And yet we expect nothing to come from that.

It continues a long story of how we are irresponsible and unable to take blame. It's the same reason people want to blame banks for their financial woes. No one forces you to take out a credit card and buy on credit. If you look at the majority of problems in our country, they are because people refuse to accept personal responsibility.

The women in the movie continually blamed the "media" and "the man agenda" for the reason why a large amount of women have problems with their self image. Again, no woman in the U.S. has someone holding a gun to their head telling them to watch MTV, or other sitcoms, shows, etc. They are completely empowered to take control of their lives, they are just ignorant to the fact that they  have options.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Disney Phobia

It's been long debated whether Disney, the beloved creator of characters which children have grown up with, is providing a hidden message wrapped in its stories. As Naomi Rockler-Gladen argues in Race, Hierarchy, and Hyenaphobia in The Lion King, she states that in just this animated film alone, Disney is promoting the idea of segregation and class hierarchy through how certain animals interact with each other. What Rockler-Gladen fails to realize is the context from which the story was written.

The Lion King is based on Shakespeare's play Hamlet, in which the protagonist, Hamlet, is confronted by the ghost of his father, who tells him he has been murdered by Hamlet's uncle in order to lay claim to the throne of Denmark. Like many plays written by Shakespeare, there is no recognizably surface level of good and evil in many plays. For example, in Caesar, the audience is left to debate whether the assassination of Julius Caesar was for the greater good of Rome, or whether Brutus and the other conspirators should be charged as murderers. Children as such a young age are still grasping the concept of right and wrong, so to present a story such as this would only create confusion on their part.

It was for this reason that the Lion King, in order to be adopted into a children's film, must be presented in more drastic terms. For this reason, the protagonist must be drastically portrayed as right and the antagonist is shown to be wrong. This is the reason that the Lions are the kings of the the Pride Land and the Hyenas are subjected to life in the Elephant Graveyard. Segregation and class hierarchy is not the point of the film and any perception that it is is due strictly to how it's interpreted.

The article further makes two outlandish claims. 

"In addition, "Be Prepared," the musical sequence in which Scar invites the hyenas to support his coup, alludes visually to Hitler's propaganda film Triumph of the Will."

What? Last time I checked, Hitler was in power when he put out such propaganda films, not suppressed, as Rockler-Gladen the hyenas were in the Lion King. It further discredits the article because at this point, it becomes contradicting. But the quote that really gets me is this one.

"At no time in The Lion King do we learn that segregation is not a good thing and that lions ought to learn to overcome their "hyenaphobia" and create a more multicultural society."

If the article did not already destroy its credibility, this statement just put it in the ground. It is a pompous, arrogant statement to make because it is trying to make The Lion King into something it's not, a civil rights message. It's neither a civil rights message nor a message to promote segregation. It is simply exactly what it is, a dramatic display of right and wrong, good and evil necessary for children to be able to grasp the concept. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Native American Question

The United States, founded upon the rights and liberties of all men, has a historical backdrop that leaves us in confusion and question of our moral principles. The Native American Holocaust, as few regard it in history, is the ugly side of U.S. colonialism and expansionism that many Americans are quick to sweep under the rug. However, the history is there. Broken treaties, expanding white society and blatant disregard for life are common themes in the sad untold history of the Native American.

It's not wonder, then, why much opposition has been made against sports teams that bare the Indian icon. The Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, Chicago Blackhawks, to name a few, are all professional teams that use the Indian image as mascots for their teams. Often used to show signs of bravery, strength, and honor, the Indian mascot for many professional, college and high school teams is something they hold with great pride, whether for the honor of Native Americans or just the unity in their community of fans.

Since the 1970s, moves have been made to do away with the Native American mascot. At both the high school and college level, it has actually been quite successful. However, the professional level remains untouched and unwilling to move, with too much already at stake. Many Native American activists argue that the Indian symbol is offensive simply because Native Americans are not getting the fair chance to represent themselves. Many of the "Rain Dances", Tomahawk chops, and logos with the Native American image use no historical context. Not every Native American wore feathers in their hair or rode on horses shooting bow and arrows. In fact, the horse, not native to North America, wasn't even introduced to Native American culture until much later in their existence.

Yet these arguments aren't made from Native Americans themselves. As a 2002 Sports Illustrated poll revealed, 81% of polled Native Americans had no opposition to the use of the Indian image as a mascot. The support was even stronger for professional sports team, with 83% having no opposition. The numbers clearly show a difference in opinion between Native Americans and those fighting for the rights or image of Native Americans. But why?

The disconnect is because activists are telling  Native Americans how the should feel about these images and how they should react to them. The opinions of activists do not align with the actual feelings of the Native Americans and when this does not occur, it is time for the activists to fade into the background and resume some other sort of cause. It is both insulting and dehumanizing to tell someone else how they should feel. One might argue that it's because the self-esteem of the Native American is low, as Suzan Harjo is quoted saying in the article. However, if an individual does not feel an emotional, knee-jerk reaction to a "racist" symbol, then the symbol is no longer racist and has simply become just a symbol of a sports team and nothing else.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Music Videos and Common Sense

Music videos have always created a controversy for as long as they have been in existence. From Lil Jon to Lady Gaga to Eminem, there a numerous music videos out there that have caused a stir for one reason or another. If you've never seen Call on Me, it is just another video some have said objectifies women and is semi-pornographic. It leads to the debate on what effect music videos have on people and whether it promotes violence, especially against women. It is important to distinguish between the video and the music or lyrics. If you listen to Call on Me, the only lyrics are exactly that: call on me. If you were to hear this, you would have no idea that women are dancing in tight spandex. Music videos are often used to create a shock factor that is not attained with listening alone. 

So should the music videos be allowed to show acts of violence and discrimination against minority groups? Yes because it is covered by the First Amendment. But in a practical sense, no. These videos might be described as art but are more likely just attempts to create publicity for the artist via controversy. A good amount of judgment is needed in creating a music video, which Hollywood seems to lack. Unfortunately a lack of judgment can lead to a lack of reality for the audience, mostly comprised of children and young teenagers.

What is needed more than good judgment the production of a music video is the need for parents to talk with their children regarding the topics addressed in today's music industry. For examples, rappers such as Jay-Z and Lil Wayne often portraying women as objects to be used and disposed of. If a child grows up and watches how their parents behave toward each other, nothing sends a stronger message. Not only do they see the proper way a relationship should function, but they see it in real life. Nothing is more powerful than a positive life message relayed by adults present and active in the lives of children.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Diversity or anti white?

We have learned thus far in our class how to be aware of certain stereotypes that we as the white majority media  put out there. I will be the first to admit that they are there. I'll also be the first to admit that you can find whatever message you want if you look hard enough at anything, so interpreting media messages is subjective and nowhere near an exact science.
However, I'm surprised (but not really) at the lack of leniency for white people versus the leeway given to minorities in the media. There is not a more perfect example than this story about Torii Hunter, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels. The article written in 2008 was about a panel discussion with USA Today in which Hunter was asked about his opinion on why there aren't more African-Americans in professional baseball. (The percentage of black players on opening day was 10.2%, up from 8.2% the year before.) Hunter responded saying that black Latin American players were "impostors" and not "real" black people. (In case you didn't know, Torii, black slaves were brought in to Latin America just like the British Colonies that later became the United States.) He went on insult black Latin American players even more saying, "Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?' ... I'm telling you, it's sad," he said."

 Hunter has no room whether to decide who is black and who is not. The majority of African-Americans haven't stepped foot on African soil nor will they ever. So what room does someone have to decide? Are they culturally different? Yes. But so are white people. You have Russians, English French, Irish, Spanish, and the list goes on. But are they put into different racial groups. NO. They are all labeled as white because their skin is white. Same rule applies here. We are not discussing ethnic groups or cultural differences. Black is black. And the people who do these statistics need to rework how the categorize because it's giving people more reason to whine than they should. Is the NBA representative of the U.S. populations? No. There are 18% of the players that are white versus 77% black percentage of players. Should the NBA really get an "A" in diversity? *&!% no! That's not diverse by any means. If you are looking for what diversity really means according to the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, it's how many white men can we kick out of the work place. So what if there are only 10.2% African-American players in the MLB? It's because they play football and basketball! I'll listen to the argument when people are concerned with the lack of white players in the NBA. 

Misleading women

We went over advertising today in class and how women are constantly subjected the idea of "perfection". One only has to watch TV for a short amount of time to realize how saturated we are with these images of flawless women. It's no wonder why so many young girls, and women in general, suffer from anxiety, eating disorders, and general dislike of their bodies. However, if women took more time to talk to men, rather than rely on media to tell them what is and isn't pretty, it wouldn't be nearly as severe.

I'm pretty sure that men in general are not looking for perfection. Especially with today's generation, which is increasingly sensitive, men are more likely to choose a female partner based on personality, rather than just looks. While physical appearance does have an effect on initial attraction, that is but a minor part of what attracts us to a partner.

For me personally, what I look for in a girl is a best friend, someone I can confide in.
Like any message that is put out there, it is important to analyze the source, whether that source is a magazine, TV, or even a teacher. Unfortunately, the majority of our society is unwilling to put in the time to research these sources, and thus become empowered to diffuse any message that paints an unrealistic reality.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Teaching to shoot down stereotypes?

So far in Race, Gender, and the Media, we have been taught to look at the media from a media literate standpoint. It has been eye-opening to see  the media and how it can influence us as a society to think about minorities, crime rates, etc. I also agree that the media has made tremendous strides to right the wrong, although subtle stereotypes still do occur and much more work is needed.

With this in mind, I find it interesting that in a class that teaches to be media literate, stereotypes are thrown around, often to without the knowledge of the class. Thursday night, September 15, I heard a comment that I found interesting and that if you really looked into it, you would find a clear stereotype that is both unfair and offensive, yet it was brushed aside.

The comment in question was in regards to a discussion about why women aren't allowed to be umpires in the NFL or MLB. The questions evolved into why women couldn't play in the NFL, because of obvious biological differences. Then this quote really caught my attention.

"Well women would probably have to take steroids just like all the other players anyway," said Tracy Everbach.

I find this to be just as stereotypical and unfair as any stereotype out there. And it should really bother a lot of people considering how many people are athletes, whether they are black, white or any other color. I take offense when athletes are labeled as "steroid-users", "meatheads", and "unintelligent", to name a few.

Do athletes from high school to professional levels use steroids? Yes. It is a known fact. Some of our greatest baseball players during the recent decade have tested positive for steroids, including Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, and Manny Ramirez. 2009 Defensive Player of the year, Brian Cushing, a current linebacker for the Houston Texans, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and was subsequently striped of his award and suspended for the beginning of the 2010 season. The evidence is there that steroids is used in sports. I firmly believe, however, that the MLB and NFL, among others, have taken significant strides to reduce the amount steroid use.

When you look at players, such as Josh Hamilton, you can see that weekly testing shows that he is consistently clean of both drugs and steroids. Many more players in the NFL and MLB don't use steroids. With the upcoming generation of players in the MLB living in the shadow of the Steroids Era, they realize the effects of steroids and are more educated about them than their predecessors.

In the Mitchell Report, it was reported that at least 1 player from each of the 30 MLB teams were using steroids in 2004. Yes, the use was wide spread. But when you consider that if each team has 25 players on the active roster alone, there are 750 players in a given time in the entire MLB combined. Those using steroids are are a significantly smaller percentage than those not using them.

So I find the phrase, "Well women would probably have to take steroids just like all the other players anyway," offensive, especially being a former high school and college athlete. From my personal experience, I weighed 140 lbs coming out of high school and now weigh 190 lbs. I gained 50 lbs. of muscle  in three years by solely working out one hour a day.

Now when you consider the athletic trainers, facilities, and the fact that today's athletes are paid to workout, there should be no surprise that they are able to put on 10 or 20 lbs in during the off season. This is why I feel like it is degrading to stereotype athletes and say they must be taking steroids. Steroids do NOT improve one's athletic ability. Extreme athletic skill is stilled needed to hit a 98-mph fastball. Extremely athletic concentration is needed to haul in a football while dragging your toes to stay in bounds. Steroids do not equate to athletic ability. They do not activate some athletic gene. No, they are just a cheaters way of getting a little stronger.

This is not attended to call anyone out. It is to demonstrate that people who are athletic are not meat heads, steroid users, or dumb. (Look at Sam Bradford, Ram's QB, or Andrew Luck, QB for the University of Stanford.) I simply looking for fair representation of  athletes that is also being asked by minorities, females, and the gay community. I just looking for a sense of fair.

A Hidden Past

I found it interesting after watching the video about the Black Newspapers was interesting. However, it is of no surprise that it is often left out of history classes. Maybe it is deemed "not important enough". This is not just a problem with Texas, but I think throughout the nation in history education.

For instance, people might not be aware that Texas, and Dallas specifically, used to be where the Ku Klux Klan based their operations out of.  Or that during the Texas Revolution, the Tejanos, Texas natives of Mexican descent, supported the Texas Revolution just as much as the white Americans that were moving into Texas. Or that the Mexican-American War was one of the most unjustified wars in American history and that it was completely racial.

Why is it this way? We often deem white history as the more important part of history while minorities often take a back seat. However, a more complete picture of history can be captured through studying accounts of minorities like the Tejanos. For example, the lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco in 1916 was one of the most gruesome lynchings of its time. Yet I never learned about it until taking a class about Texas history in college. It was these events that made NAACP choose Texas as the state to begin systematically attacking racial injustices.

We, in order to understand society as a whole, need to know these stories and events in history. And it is not only Texas that these stories remain hidden. The North was fighting for extinction of slavery in the Civil War but not because the cared about the welfare of blacks. They were concerned that if slavery were to extend North, that factory workers would be out of the job with an influx of unpaid labor.

It's also facts like this that need to be looked at to emphasize a point that the North was not this redeeming savior of blacks, like it is often portrayed. From Boston, Massachusetts to Dallas, Texas, blacks faced, and do currently face, prejudice and while Southern cities exhibited more physical acts of violence,  it should not go without notice that many Northern cities were just as prejudiced. Many Northern cities deal with racial tension, Cincinnati being a prime example.

All this evidence goes to show that both sides need to be looked at and ignoring facts just equates to ignorance.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Work in Progress

Racial and gender stereotypes exist in our world whether we like it or not. It is how humans, with a constant need for structure in their lives, quickly categorize and make sense of the information they are receiving about people. Stereotyping can and does often carry over into the media world, which is no surprise to anyone. The media is a human institution, so journalist have their own families, lives and experiences which they sometimes reflect into their work. The best journalist is the one that can consistently be objective in both their writing and which stories they choose to write about. 

While stereotypes do exist, no one can deny the fact that they have been significantly reduced since Civil Rights were enacted in 1965. The progress has happened and people are more aware of stereotypes that exist. However, it is our society, which often seeks instant gratification, that is loudly protesting against ideals much older than their selves or even our own country.

 With the settling of Jamestown, English immigrants brought racial ideas to the colonies that suppressed people of color, often degrading them as sub-human. When you think about how pervasive these ideas were, and consider that founding fathers also owned slaves, it is unrealistic to expect that an idea that has been ingrained in the middle and upper class to immediately disappear. More than 300 years of slavery and oppression cannot be erased in the 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement. 

So the only answer to this is to continue to encouragement minorities in America to pursue careers, maybe as journalist or maybe as business leaders, in order that they may gain hold of the socioeconomic ladder and begin to work their way up. Media, in the bottom line, is a business, and just like any business you have to cater to those who have money, as sad as that is. It would be ideal for journalist to purely report the news but our world doesn't work like that. Unfortunately, we can't all grow up to be astronauts or the president, nor can we be a child forever. We have to face the real world.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We Gone Find You: The Media's Search For Stereotypes?

Kevin Antoine Dodson, better known for as for his sensational TV interview, on the outside appears to be a comical, laughable character. But when analyzed from a journalistic, academic standpoint, the journalism conducted by WAFF-48 News is sloppy. Reckless? Yes. Intended to promote the stereotype associated with the 'projects'? No.

The story, which is often forgotten amid the humor that surrounded Dodson's antics, is about the attempted rape of his sister, Kelly Dodson. She is interviewed by the reporter for a short amount of time while Antoine is interviewed ranting and raving about the home intruder.

In this, the story is lost that a potential rapist is on the lose. Unless you count Dodson's words as a public service announcement, Channel 48 is careless in its attempts to relay important information to the public. Did it mean to portray Dodson and his sister as uneducated, casing a bad light on the poor? No, but the reporter is responsible for the amount of time she let Dodson speak.

When confronted about the story's lack of sensitivity towards the poor and casting them in a negative light, the TV station responded that it would be doing far worse NOT showing the story. I agree with this statement because it is the job the reporter to find the stories of both the rich and the poor, literate and illiterate. When the media starts to determine who can and cannot speak for themselves is when we will lose stories we need to know.

 However, the presentation of the story was all wrong. Even more, I without a doubt know that Kelly Dodson said was more than what she was quoted saying in the story. So I do find it hypocritical of the news station to limit what Kelly said yet give Antoine nearly a minute worth of air time.

What surprises me most about the story is its complete lack of an authority speaking on the matter. Not a single police officer, city official, or investigator is interviewed in the process.

So is the story meant to be racist? Or promote a stereotype? No, I disagree with that argument. Yes it does show Kelly Dodson with a lot of kids, which might promote the stereotype of black women having many children. I think otherwise and that her children are part of her visual story, bringing the human element to the story. Kelly Dodson is a mother, and we all have mothers, making the story hit closer to home when some one attempts to rape her. The story is not meant to be racist although you can see what you want with any story out there. Rather, the story is sloppy and careless with its presentation of the facts.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Brave New World

The Atlanta Braves are in a world of public relations hurt right now. Between one coach being suspended for crude behavior towards fans in San Fransisco, and a starting pitcher being arrested for DUI, the public relations department is overwhelmed. Atlanta, led by sophomore super-star Jason Heyward, is in the midst of rebuilding, something that fans recently are not used to. Since winning the NL a major league record 14 consecutive seasons during the 90s and early 2000s to., the team has struggled and failed to make the playoffs. Anyone follows sports knows the delicate position rebuilding teams are in, with either success or failure on the brink either side. When pitching coach Roger McDowell directed gay slurs towards fans, along with inappropriate sexual gestures and threatening another fan with a bat, it brought added pressure to the organization. If that wasn't enough, April 28, one day after McDowell was accused of inappropriate behavior, pitcher Derek Lowe was arrested for DUI, further compacting the Braves woes.
So what do the Braves do as an organization? Well, luckily for the Braves two examples of how to handle both. In McDowell's case, the Braves need to handle him the way the Lakers, David Stern, and the NBA handled Kobe Bryant's gay slur that was captured on live television. Reprimand quickly, and have the offender respond in a timely and sincere manner, which McDowell has done recently in a statement released by the Braves. For Lowe, a slightly different approach is needed. Miguel Caberra, the first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, was arrested February 16 for DUI during spring training. Since the season, the Tigers have let Cabrera play, and separated his athletic career from his legal problems with great success. The Braves started Lowe today, which resulted in a 6-5 win over the Cardinals. Another success for the Braves. By this standard, the Braves are well on their way to easing over their problems.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saving Major League Baseball

The question of whether Barry Bonds did steroids did steroids has long since left the park, so to speak. Major League Baseball's greatest homerun hitter will no doubt be linked with steroids along with other prolific baseball players of the era. Not only is Bonds' baseball reputation suffered a black eye, but his legal reputation is now stained with a guilty conviction of obstruction of justice. But Bond's story is just a small part of the larger picture that is the steroids era of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Tarnished eras of Major League Baseball, and all major sports for that matter, are nothing new. Between the Black Sox Scandal of 1919 and Pete Rose's banishment from the game for his role in bets made on a game he coached, America's love of the game is almost as cyclical as the economy. After the Black Sox Scandal, which involved betting, baseball ushered in it's long “Golden Era”. The time between 1920s a nd 1960s saw the likes of Babe Ruth, Ted Willaims, and Willie Mays make America fall in love with the boys of summer. Between the increasing popularity of both basketball and football, the MLB's marketshare of the professional sports world decreased. When fans saw the greatest hitter in baseball history, Pete Rose, thrown out of baseball for life, baseball suffered further loss of its image as America's pasttime. The image improved when power sluggers entered the game in 90s. In 1998, Mark Mcgwire and Sammy Sosa had the greatest home run race in history, as Mcgwire would eventually win, hitting 70. (Bonds would end up breaking that record with 73.) And Mcqwire would eventually admit to using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. So the media fire storm that erupted from the Mitchell report, which listed every player that tested positive for steroids, in 2007.

Four years later, the scrutiny surrounding baseball as somewhat resided, as commissioner Bud Selig and the MLB have taken leaps and bounds to ensure every team tests their players for steroids. In the midst of an ongoing NFL lockout, and an NBA lockout possible after this summer, baseball could be the only sport played in August and September this year. Major league baseball is in the best possible position itself as the fun sport everyone loved growing. What's one step that would make it more popular? Make it more fan friendly. For anyone ever hoping to look for a highlight real of Ian Kinsler on Youtube or a video montage of Pudge Rodriguez's cannon arm, it's near impossible. The MLB has such a strict hold over all visual material and past game's that fans can't have fun with it. One of my attractions to football is that if a player has enough material to make a highlight film, I can find the video somewhere. If I want to watch Adrian Peterson run all over the Chicago Bears, I can. Another way to increase fans is bring down the price of accessing that media. A MLB app for the iPhone can run as much as $15 while a similar app for the NHL is absolutely free. Which do you think encourages fans more? MLB has a prime opportunity to make its stand in the professional sports world.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Kobe's Reform

Kobe Bryant is without doubt the NBA's most dynamic player. Bryant has won five NBA championships is a 13 time NBA All-Star, and is hoping to add his sixth championship this post season. There is no doubt that Bryant has the credentials to go down in as one of the greatest athletes of all time. The NBA great might also have a spot among the most polarizing players of all time. You love him if you are a Lakers fan, and hate him otherwise. It doesn't help that Bryant has had several brushes with controversy throughout his storied career. In the summer of 2003, Bryant was charged with sexual assault in Eagle, Colorado by a 19-year-old hotel employee, Katelyn Faber. The charges were ultimately dropped, and a civil lawsuit was filed by Faber and settled out of court. Although Bryant avoided trouble with the law, he lost numerous sponsorships and his public perception plummeted. However, as it is true in most cases, if you win, America will forgive and love you.
Bryant then again ran into some minor controversy when Bryant starred in an ad for Activision's “Black Ops” when the game debuted this past November. And let's not forget the Kobe-Shaq feud after the two led the Lakers to a three-peat. The feud ultimately landed Shaq in Miami and Bryant happy again.
Lately, controversy has found Bryant again, who is known for his strong personality and competitive nature. Bryant was fined $100,000 by David Stern and the NBA for a gay slur used aimed at a referee during a game. Angry after receiving a technical, Bryant can be seen on the bench saying the word “faggot.” (A quick note: how dumb to you have to be to keep a camera on Bryant after receiving a tehcnical when there is a long storied history of out burst by him. Part of the responsibility lies with TNT.) GLAAD (The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) was quickly up in arms, and praised the fine that was handed down by the league. Bryant should be praised from a public relations standpoint for his timely response to his fine, and a phone call he made to the president of GLAAD that included an apology. Whether he was sincere or not (and I doubt his use of the word was actually homophobic), Bryant did the right thing to appease GLAAD. This is a significant departure from his public relations before, which was typically remain quiet, then win a championship to erase his transgressions from the mind of the public This time, he is well in front of the curve.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stars on the brink

As the Dallas Stars are currently fighting for their playoff lives against the Minnesota Wild, they are fighting another battle back in DFW. The team that has the last major sports championship for the Dallas area in 1999, the team is now playing second and third fiddle to America's Team, the Cowboys, the perennially good Mavericks, and the upstart Rangers. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, the Stars consistently drew sell out crowds game after game with big NHL stars such as Brett Hull, Mike Modano, and Ed Belfour. For a good five-year period, the Stars gave Dallas winning hockey that spurred the boom in North Texas Hockey starting in the early 2000s. The Stars had everything going for them. Between winning, and a hockey-crazed fan base, the Stars were set to be the in the position the Red Wings occupy now. Then came the end. In the 2001 post season, the Stars, who had gone to at least the Western Conference in every year since 1998, were swept by the St. Louis Blues in the second round of the playoffs. I watched as an 11-year-old fan Stars choke and lose the series to a Blues squad that was little more than average.
In the offseason the Stars chose to not resign Brett Hull, who took his patented slap shot to Detroit to win the Stanley Cup the next year. Since 2001, the Stars have suffered early playoff exits and missing the playoffs despite having talented teams. Aside from a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2008, the Stars have had relatively little playoff success compared to their first eight years in Dallas. The team now has missed the playoffs two straight seasons and on top of it, Tom Hicks, who also owned the Rangers before he sold them last summer, is looking for a new owner. The Stars are in a financially compromising position. The Stars are not in the financial position to be able to advertise, so what are their options? Public relations push.
Besides the cost of labor, PR is relatively free. And the Stars could use it. It is safe to say that most North Texans don't even realize the Stars are playing for a playoff spot right now. The team needs a big push in order to get the fans in seats. The last game I attended, I was shocked at how empty the American Airlines Center was. In fact, I was able to move from seats at the top all the way down to seats that were easily $150 each. It makes me wonder what exactly the PR people are doing for Stars. They need to make a communications plan and get fans at the game. Of course they might have adjust depending on how the team is playing, but some would be much better than the attempt I am seeing right now. The Stars are one of my favorite sports teams, ever since I was young, and I would give anything to see them win again. Maybe I'm the guy for the job.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Save the Devil

When people think of the Tasmanian Devil, they usually think of the Looney Toons character that spins around and slobbers. But when Tasmanian Devil is mentioned, public relations need to be mentioned along with Australian inhabitants because they are in dire need of it. In one of the more odd stories out there, the Devils have disease decimating their population. Scientist have been tracking the disease for the last 15 years. It produces boils on there face and tongue, which sadly continues to grow until the animal can no longer eat or drink. Originally it was thought that the disease was viral and was passed along when the Devils fought eat other or mates with their teeth. However, scientist recently discovered that the disease actually could be genetic. Prior to the emergence of the disease, the Devils were already in decline due to growing human population and environmental problems.
Another problem for the Tasmanian Devil is the lack of popularity when compared to other Australian wildlife, such as the Kangaroo or Koala. This is why the Devils are in desperate need of good public relations. And as of late, they have started to gain so public recognition as “the Aussie fighter”. So how would one in the World Wildlife Federation or other wildlife preservation groups save the Tasmanian Devil? Well first it would require a communications plan. You want to get Australians involved and it wouldn't be hard to tap into their national pride to do that. Australians, I would assume, would be more than willing to get involved in an attempt to save the animal that has been part of their national identity. The goal of the plan would be, in a nut shell, to save the Tasmanian Devil , so an objective would be to slow their population decline by 10% or raise awareness of their disease by 25%, for example. The public perception of the Devil as the “rat of Australia” needs to be addressed as well to combat negative publicity. A repositioning of the Devil in the minds of Australians would be the easiest way to change this thought. Either way, they need more help now than ever. What worries scientist the most, though, is the fact that the disease might translate to another host that is perfect for it, most disturbingly humans.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The NFL Crisis

As the Nfl and the Player's Union continue the lockout, and as the upcoming season is more and more in peril, both groups continue to shoot themselves in the foot with generally bad PR. First, look at the Player's Union. These are the guys that everybody wants to win. They are the face of the league. Drew Brees. Peyton Manning. Brian Urlacher. All players who fans both love and adore. I agree with many of the concerns the players have. First of all is the concern over the expansion of the season from a 16-game season to an 18-game season. It's a bad idea. They players know it. The owners know it too, yet they will overlook it if it means chances to pad their Titanic-sized wallets. Many notable injuries occur to star players every year, such as Tom Brady (2008), Brian Urlacher (2009), and Troy Polamalu (2010). If the league expands the number of games played in the regular season, it will exponentially increase the chances that your star players, or most marketable players, could spend a majority or at least part of the season on the bench due to injuries. This will cause an adverse effect to team revenue. If your star player goes down and your NFL team implodes because the don't have the right personnel, your revenues will reflect that the fan base has become uninterested in that season's team (2010 Dallas Cowboys anyone?). Second, the NFL brought in $9 billion dollars last year in revenue. That's right, $9 BILLION. With all that increased revenue, wouldn't one think that the NFL would offer the best healthcare to its players, coupled with the fact that football is the most physically demanding on your body? It's the opposite, actually. The NFL players receive the least amount of healthcare among the four major sports leagues in North America, (MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL.) With all these facts, fans want to root for the players. Except for the fact they can't get their act together. Between the lack of unity in the Union (ironic), and players speaking out of place for an organization that doesn't back those players feelings, the Union is in a world of hurt. Recently, Minnesota Vikings star running-back, Adrian Peterson, compared the player's woes with “...modern-day slavery, ya know?” No, Adrian, no. You just wrecked the PR the Union was attempting to put together. Peterson, who made $7 million last year, is far from a slave. That statement made fans across the nation think twice before jumping on the players bandwagon...
So for the owners now, how do the fight this uphill battle against the Player's Union? Well it doesn't help that owners are handing out ultimatums. If you have ever had relationship problems (and who hasn't?), you know that ultimatums are a surefire to either end up on the couch or packing your things. The owners and the NFL did just that when the stated that mandatory HGH screenings were going to take place in the NFL format, with or without consent of the players. The players' response? “Screw you.” Well done NFL. Maybe I'll get into watching pro fishing.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More Headaches for NHL

The NHL’s headaches continue as the league has continued taking fire for the seemingly increased amount of serious injuries happening on the ice. After the incident between Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Max Pacioretty, Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline company, threatened to pull its sponsorship.  The hit came in the second period of a game between Boston and Montreal with Montreal up 4-1. Chara checked Pacioretty into the boards and the divider between the teams’ benches, striking his head. The hit left Pacioretty with a major concussion and broken vertebrae in his neck, and Chara received a minor penalty and a major game misconduct.  No suspension. No fine. The hit upset Canadians so much that the Montreal Police launched a criminal investigation into the hit.
The ruling brought the league under more scrutiny in the wake of a series of dangerous plays that have happened along with an increased awareness of concussions. The NHL has enacted rules to decreased direct hits to the head but concussions have still risen this season.  Air Canada, one of the NHL’s longtime sponsors, threatened the NHL to remove its sponsorship unless they punish Chara for the hit. The NHL is standing by its decision to neither fine nor suspend Chara because the play was clean by rule book, and the league could find no intentional motive. It should be noted that Chara is the biggest player in the league at 6’9” and 255 pounds, making a routine check for him thunderous for smaller players.
Should the NHL have suspended him not based on the rule but for the sake of the league’s image? Yes. The NHL has risen in concussions and is facing more ridicule for the gladiator like play that takes place in rinks. The league should have suspended Chara to send a message to players, fans and sponsors that league is serious about protecting its players and has more to offer than just a bunch of “toothless goons” trying to knock each other out. Protect your skilled players so you have them to market to new potential markets.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Good PR will get your client noticed and the professional will remain nameless. Bad PR will get the client under public scrutiny and the professional almost certainly fired. THQ, the video game company behind the new game, Homefront ,is most likely handing out pink slips in the PR department. The video game is based on a fictitious plot where the United States has lost its position as a world power and is occupied by the nearly formed Great Korean Republic. In an attempt to promote the game's release and send a message of peace to North Korea, THQ released a thousand balloons over San Fransisco Bay. However, due to poor planning and inclement weather, the balloons never got off the ground...literally.
The weather made it impossible for the balloons to get farther than the bay before they dropped into the water, causing outrage among locals and environmental groups. The bay has been plagued with environmental problems, prompting criticism from the organization, Save the Bay. Initially, Gamestop, the video game retailer, was accused of the publicity stunt but denied allegations all together. THQ was then forced to step up and take responsibility with this statement:

The balloons released at the Homefront rally event today were made from a 100% organic product and are 100% biodegradable. The balloons have no history of causing any environmental pollution on land or in water. Although we're confident that there will be no harm to the environment, we've retained a clean up crew to remove any potential lingering debris. This was a THQ-sponsored promotion and GameStop had no involvement, whatsoever.

So where did THQ go wrong in an attempt to promote Homefront? Well first, THQ failed to research before it decided to pull the publicity stunt. Had it been aware of the environmental situation in San Francisco Bay, it would have first talked with groups, such as Save The Bay, to let them know that all the balloons are biodegradable. It would have saved the THQ the tarnished reputation in which they were called environmentally reckless. Second, THQ failed to check the weather. Had they checked the weather and had a reliable meteorologist, they would have been advised to reschedule the event for another day.
But THQ's promotional blunder wasn't all bad. I applaud the company for stepping up and taking responsibility for their actions. Even still, it all goes to show that research is the most important step of the communication plan. It establishes a baseline for your plan and gives it a fighting chance to get off the ground.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Public relations disaster locked and loaded for Texas State Legislature

 "It's strictly a matter of self-defense," said state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio. "I don't ever want to see repeated on a Texas college campus what happened at Virginia Tech, where some deranged, suicidal madman goes into a building and is able to pick off totally defenseless kids like sitting ducks.”
This is the main reasoning given to those who doubt the gun bill legislation being pushed through the Texas State Congress. The bill would allow students and teachers to carry guns on campus, making it the second state, behind Utah, to enact such legislature. However, would a shootout on campus be a good idea? And how will the state legislature be able to avoid being voted out of office if and when a shooting occurs on one of Texas' 38 campuses.
The Department of Public Safety's public information (pr) should at this point already be working on a contingency plan for when this bill backfires on them. First, legislators better be ready to go to every university campus, and address real fears and concerns over the new legislation. The number of students concerned with the bill are numerous, so any spokesperson or representative sent to a college campus better be ready to answer many questions. The majority of students oppose the bill, saying the wouldn't feel any safer in classes and would actually be more fearful knowing a classmate has a gun on them. Let's note that the maturity level and emotional IQ of some college students is not there. Parties and guns do not mix under any circumstance. Republicans in Austin are failing to communicate with their public, the first rule of pr, and are simply not listening to countless students say they are uncomfortable with a gun on campus.
Second, the legislators better have some kind of contingency plan when an emergency occurs. If a shooting occurs in the next fours year on a Texas college campus, the majority of representatives will be voted out of office. This might be a prime opportunity for Democrats to claim the governor's seat, which has been in Republican power since 1994. That year George W. Bush beat Ann Richards, ending the Democratic party's hold over the Texas legislature.
Finally, whether or not a shooting does occur, Rick Perry and his cohorts in Austin will have to answer to a large voting demographic, young voters, who will be outraged over the legislation he has signed off on, and rightfully so. This is where legislators need to write op-ed pieces, and the DPS needs to be releasing news release and facts sheets.
Whatever the result is, and as hard as it is to keep my opinion out of this, Republican legislators have a huge public relations debacle on their hands already and not a single shot has been fired.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Fighting Chance

When Micheal Haley scored his first NHL goal on February 11, you would figure it would be the highlight of the night. However, the goal by the enforcer who was called up from the minors was just a side note. The 9-3 beat down of the Penguins also resulted in 346 total penalty minutes between the two teams, 15 total fighting majors and 4 all-out brawls. The reason? Nine days before, Pittsburgh back-up goaltender, Brent Johnson, dropped the Islanders' franchise goalie Rick DiPietro with one punch, breaking bones in his cheek. Later in the game, Islanders' left winger Matt Martin took down the Penguins' Max Talbot in a similar retaliatory fight. The game left the Penguins even more injury-ridden while the perennial bottom-dweller Islanders gained a surge of confidence and many young players with promising careers ahead. However, the game left bigger questions on the table.
Fighting in hockey, although not the cornerstone it was before the lockout in 2004, is still a major part of hockey. Fighting is used by enforcers to protect skilled players and make opposing players think twice before laying a lick on the their star players. Fighting can either spark a fire for a team or leave it demoralized. No matter how essential fighting is to hockey, the NHL still faces a public image problem.
As far as fans go, there are two types. There are T-shirt fans who like hockey but love the fighting. They are not concerned with the defensive strategy or how effectively a team does or doesn't use the dump and chase (or Hitchcock hockey). Then there are true fans. Those that understand hockey, have played hockey, and have a respect for the game. Unfortunately, few NHL fans truly understand the game, due to the fact that the geographical distribution of NHL cities has most teams in warm weather markets, such as Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Raleigh. The result is many fans grow up playing other sports because there is no readily available ice rinks as there are in the Northeast and Midwest. Fans in these regions are not drawn to the game because of the players' ability to stick handle or defensively shut down the offense. They watch for the fights.
On the other end are people not associated with the sport calling for an end to fighting in hockey. Some call it barbaric, although I might note hockey is the only sport where players formally shake the hand of every opposing player after a playoff series. And what if the NHL answered these concerns by banning fighting? Would the NHL have an influx of fans, especially with a lockout looming over the most popular sports league, the NFL? No. Hell no. The anti-fighting activist who come to the surface after an instance such as the Penguins-Islanders brawl would simply disappear. They have no stock in the game, they don't understand it, nor have they ever played.
So should the NHL change its game? No. Should it change its image? Yes. Hockey players are some of the most skilled, coordinated athletes on the planet, many of whom learn to skate before they can walk. Sell this to prospective fans. In fact, in past seasons the NHL has done a great job of selling young stars such a Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos. Recent rule changes have been made to open up the game and increase scoring chances for an offensively friendly game, similar to how the NFL changed its rules. Of course there will always be instances where the league will be questioned for its fighting, and it doesn't help when former NHL superstar and Penguins' owner Mario Lemieux criticizes the NHL for how it handled the recent brawl. However, since 2005, the NHL has been building its image and attracting new fans. All while fighting has been legal.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Concussion Crisis

The NFL is at a crossroads. The league continues to be extremely popular (nearly 68,000 spectators attended games in 2009), extremely profitable (the league brought in nearly $7.8 billion dollars in 2010), and extremely dangerous (concussion rates have gone up nearly 30% since the 2008 season). The most dominant professional sports league teeters on the brink of uncertainty. Much like the former Soviet Union, the NFL is self imploding. A certain player lockout hovers on the horizon but is the least of the concerns for the league. It is the recent discovery of the physical impact the game is having on thousands of former players that threatens the culture of America's game, and only a massive public relations push can save the league from collapse.
The American Public has seen how tarnished a league can become when faced with both a lockout and a culture change, Major League Baseball being the best example. The leagues become damaged. Baseball, once crowned America's Pastime, now plays second fiddle to the football. It is this reality that faces the NFL. The Collective Bargaining Agreement, set to expire on March 3 at midnight is but a quarter of the problem. It is the concussions and studies showing their effects that have finally showed the dark side of the league.
The problem: many former players are coming forward with injuries not seen in the general public. Outside The Lines, ESPN's investigative show told the story of former NFL lineman Tom McHale, who played nine seasons in the league. In 2008, at the age of just 45, McHale died, leaving behind a wife and two young sons. Autopsy reports showed that McHale suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, at the time of his death, which is caused from repeated blows to the head.
William “Refrigerator” Perry, the Chicago Bears defensive tackle famous for his “Super Bowl Shuffle”, is nearly immobilized as a result of a bruising career.
So if the problem is the physical toll, how do we solve the problem of the warrior mentality that has long been a part of the game?
It starts at the lowest levels. The NFL needs to seriously consider doing a public information campaign where parents are alerted to the dangers of playing football at a young age but that football can easily be picked up once the player has matured. The NFL needs to offer and promote flag football leagues that work more on the skill of the sport than the hitting. Furthermore, if young children do decide to play football, coaches need to be held legally liable to teach correct tackling form and the NFL needs to reinforce then in order to ensure the public they are doing everything they can to reduce injuries.
But more than enforcing good tackling form, it is important to let the players know that if they are hurt, especially head injuries, they can sit out a practice or game. Growing up, the sports culture has always been to play hurt. Be a man. Warrior Mentality. But at what price are we willing to sacrifice our bodies to playing a game? It comes down to coaches and parents understanding their kids and not pushing the kids to play hurt. The league must pass this culture down to college, high school, and pee-wee players through its pr department.
Second, Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, needs to put down his foot on the idea of and 18-game season. What kind of message does that send to players and fans to subject the players to extra games while “trying” to reduce concussions? And if the league does have a lockout, even more efforts will have to be made in the pr department in order to ensure that the NFL does not suffer the same fate as the MLB.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Value of PR

So after surviving the great Snowcalypse 2011 and the cabin fever that came along with it, I have emerged this bright Sunday afternoon to write this blog. The creative juices seem to hibernate with the blizzard that occurred but have now emerged from the long winter to write, so here we go.

This past week, a shoot-out occurred in the downtown district of Amarillo. Granted, 100 years ago, this would not be as alarming, although a gun fight in any time period is not something to brag about. The altercation resulted in one man dead, one arrested, four officers on administrative leave, and more than 40 rounds exchanged between the two sides. What the city council of Amarillo must figure out is how to control the PR dilemma that they are now facing. Serious questions are being posed by citizens, asking whether the downtown district is safe. However, Amarillo is not the only city facing this crisis. Cities across the country have either faced this problem or teeter on the brink of chaos when a bank robbery or high-speed chase. And it’s not just the immediate danger citizens are put in. It’s the aftershock that city officials must learn how to deal with. Any city with half a brain has an ad hoc plan for this type of situation but that is not always the case. Dallas recently had to review its high-speed chase policy after the wreck ended with the pursed car colliding with another civilian car .

 Cities constantly have to put forward a huge PR effort to convince citizens they are safe, especially in downtown regions.  It all comes back to the saying, perceptions is reality. You can have the safest town in America, but if it is perceived to be dangerous, you won’t have visitors, investors, new businesses, etc.  So while we can’t ensure people will be 100% convinced, Amarillo City Hall would be very wise in developing a communications plan specifically designed to inform citizens about the safety of the downtown area.  It doesn’t have to be expensive brochures. It can simply be a press release, city hall meetings, or social media that can put the citizens at ease. Whatever the tactics may be, the city council members should know that every dollar spent towards an effective PR plan is worth it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Lesson in PR History

 Bears vs. Packers Ditka vs. Lombardi. Sweetness. Farve. Singletary. Starr. Fans from both sides will be inadvertently locked in debate over who has the greater franchise until the trumpet sounds. The rivalry between Chicago and Green Bay is as old as the league itself, with a combined 55 Hall of Famers, and is the marquee rivalry. With the conclusion of the NFC Championship game last Sunday, it marked yet another storied game to the bedlam that occurs annually on Soldier and Lambeau field. However, the lesser known match up that occurred during the wake of the title game is almost as interesting as the game itself. The PR battles facing the teams (or one particular player) give a perfect example of how social-media and public perception can drag a squeaky clean franchise through the mud.
First let's talk about the subject that has engulfed sports radio shows and the media for the past week. Jay Cutler. Yes, the Chicago Bears quarterback that “quit” during the championship game. The public perception of the young quarterback is terrible. Uninterested. No heart. Quitter. All words that have been used to describe Cutler. However, these claims didn't all of sudden appear out of the cold Chicago air last Sunday. No they are perceptions, which have followed him since his days with the Denver Broncos, that affect how the media handle him and what the public makes of his actions. His short interactions with the press don't help his cause. (Never mind the fact that the guy founded an organization back in Denver to help children with diabetes.) Cutler simply doesn't care what people think of him, which makes me applaud as a man and cringe as a PR professional. So let's put on the helmet of Jay Cutler for a moment. Forget that we do care what the media thinks of us, we are the media circus everyone wants us to be (Rex Ryan), and we want to improve our public image. How do we recover from the public perception that we are an uninterested, frat boy bitch?
Well first, against the Cutler way of shying away from the media, we want to get information out there about his foundation, the Jay Cutler Foundation. The guy obviously isn't doing this for publicity. (Take note that not a single thing on the home page of the website says a thing about Cutler.) But nothing will make a city fall more in love with an athlete than on-field success and off-field charity work.
Second, TALK TO THE MEDIA. Chicago fans want to love their sports heroes. They supported Sosa through the corked bat incident. They stuck with Belfour until the marriage tore it's last thread. Chicago LOVES its sports and they want to love you, Jay Cutler. You don't have to be flashy or make the reporters laugh or stir controversy. But you can handle the media in such a way that makes you look like the intelligent, team leading quarterback you are. It's all about PR, Mr. Cutler.
Now I'll move on to the Packers. This past week, with the Pack celebrating their first trip to the Super Bowl since they lost to the Denver Broncos and quarterback legend John Elway in 1998, who incidentally Cutler was supposed to be the second-coming of, the team found itself among turmoil. Tightend Jermichael Finley and linebacker Nick Barnett tweeted their unhappiness about team policy. When the team was set to have their photo taken at the Super Bowl, every player on IR, including Finley and Barnett, were going to be left off because they were considered to not be part of the team, despite their star roles prior to their injuries. The Packers, seeing the media stir and recognizing their error, quickly arranged to have all the players on IR flown down to Arlington for the team photo.
So why did I spend more time on the Bears than the Packers? Because negative publicity is always going to get more air time than positive. When a man saves a child from getting hit by a car, everyone says, “Yeah that's great.” for a day. That's it. Now if the man pushes the child in front of the car, we talk about it for weeks, months, even years. My point is, Mr. Cutler, if you ever get to the point where you care what your public perception is, take a page from the Packers. A little PR can keep you from frying under the heat lamps that is public opinion.