Sports Broadcasting Greats Share Insights at the 5th Summit on Communication and Sports

April 3, 2012

Sports Communication Summit
This weekend Bradley is hosting the Fifth Summit on Communication and Sport and hearing from some broadcasting greats and alumni, like play-by-play voice for the Los Angeles Dodgers Charley Steiner and voice for Bradley University's men basketball David Snell. The three-day event gives students and others a chance to learn more about the broadcasting field as well as Bradley's new curriculum in sports communications. Students attending the event will share their insights in this blog.

 

By Bobby Nightengale '13

Saturday was the final day for the Fifth Summit on Communication and Sport hosted by Bradley and what an experience it was. All of the professors in the Department of Communication hyped the event weeks before it began and the summit exceeded my expectations.

When I was looking at colleges, Bradley stood out for me thanks to its unique sports communication program. However, I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to listen and learn from some of the best writers, broadcasters and sports reporters in the industry.

How many college students can say they met Charley Steiner, one of the most popular sportscasters at ESPN and now the Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play announcer; Taylor Branch, a civil rights historian and now one of the most vocal critics of the NCAA; Dave Kindred, an award-winning sports writer; Molly Knight, a biology graduate who worked her way into a freelance job at ESPN; and Katrina Hancock, a sports reporter for Detroit's local Channel 4 news, all in a week?

At the panel on Friday, there was no better place to listen to subjects ranging from what I should be learning in college to the importance of Twitter and social media and how to balance the need for speed and accuracy in reporting than in the room with four of those professionals I named.

It was especially great to hear from professors and researchers about how they observe changes in the communication industry and gathered the data to understand them. In the two days of research sessions, I learned that when athletes make political statements the public's reaction is almost unanimously negative. Who knew the reporting on the sports blog Deadspin is balanced between positive and negative stories when discussing off-the-field actions by people in sports?

Both are questions I've considered at some point or another, and luckily I was able to listen to people who have already done the research. Another plus was the enthusiasm researchers had when speaking with students afterward and answering any questions.

I couldn't be happier with how the summit went, and the opportunity it presented with Bradley as the host. It's nice to learn from so many people interested in the current path of journalism and where they see it heading in the future.

Although all great things must come to an end, the summit left me motivated and excited to eventually work in the sports communication industry.

 

Talks and panelists at sport summit exceed expectations

By Bobby Nightengale '13

Saturday was the final day for the Fifth Summit on Communication and Sport hosted by Bradley and what an experience it was. All of the professors in the Department of Communication hyped the event weeks before it began and the summit exceeded my expectations.

When I was looking at colleges, Bradley stood out for me thanks to its unique sports communication program. However, I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to listen and learn from some of the best writers, broadcasters and sports reporters in the industry.

How many college students can say they met Charley Steiner, one of the most popular sportscasters at ESPN and now the Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play announcer; Taylor Branch, a civil rights historian and now one of the most vocal critics of the NCAA; Dave Kindred, an award-winning sports writer; Molly Knight, a biology graduate who worked her way into a freelance job at ESPN; and Katrina Hancock, a sports reporter for Detroit's local Channel 4 news, all in a week?

At the panel on Friday, there was no better place to listen to subjects ranging from what I should be learning in college to the importance of Twitter and social media and how to balance the need for speed and accuracy in reporting than in the room with four of those professionals I named.

It was especially great to hear from professors and researchers about how they observe changes in the communication industry and gathered the data to understand them. In the two days of research sessions, I learned that when athletes make political statements the public's reaction is almost unanimously negative. Who knew the reporting on the sports blog Deadspin is balanced between positive and negative stories when discussing off-the-field actions by people in sports?

Both are questions I've considered at some point or another, and luckily I was able to listen to people who have already done the research. Another plus was the enthusiasm researchers had when speaking with students afterward and answering any questions.

I couldn't be happier with how the summit went, and the opportunity it presented with Bradley as the host. It's nice to learn from so many people interested in the current path of journalism and where they see it heading in the future.

Although all great things must come to an end, the summit left me motivated and excited to eventually work in the sports communication industry.

 

Parting messages from the sport summit
By Sean Flavin '12

The radio voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, a sportswriter for ESPN The Magazine and numerous other professionals and researchers were on hand for the Fifth Summit on Communication and Sport, demonstrating their dedication to advancing the study of sport communication. Saturday morning marked the third and final day of presentations, lectures and discussions between participants.

The sessions picked up where Friday left off with a series of presentation on important topics. One morning session highlighted how fans perceive athletes through their tattoos and advanced statistics as well as how levels of fandom affect how fans identify with athletes.

Gender roles took center stage at one of the presentations during the sixth and last research session of the conference. Moderated by Bradley's Dr. Angela Pratt, an assistant professor of communication, the session's three presenters used beer advertisements, female involvement in high school wrestling and female representation in sports-related entertainment to illustrate how femininity and masculinity are presented across a number of mediums.

The sports communication major at Bradley is relatively new and certainly unique. The summit was a forum for professionals and academics to collaborate in the interest of spurring further study in the field. Promoting responsible journalism and a need for increased research, the summit was a call-to-arms for students researching and seeking to understand sports communication.

Bradley alumnus and voice of the Dodgers Charley Steiner summed up the message I have taken from the summit when he addressed the use of Twitter as a form of public discourse.

"Maybe we're just going too fast for ourselves "_ updating stories every 90 seconds seems to me to be a little too much, a little too soon," Steiner said.

Steiner likened the medium to a bottle of fine wine that needed time to breathe before it can be fully enjoyed. It was a subtle, yet prophetic, message on striving for accuracy rather than immediacy, objectivity instead of bias and responsibility in place of controversy.

Sportswriter and fellow panelist David Kindred agreed with this notion and compared the technological growth in media to the growing field of sports communication.

"We're on the eve of a revolution and everyone knows we are going somewhere, we just don't know where," Kindred said.

The summit reassured students that the profession of sports journalism is as much a responsibility as it is a job and requires ongoing study to make sure that job is done right.

 

Sportswriters analyze the industry while sharing their advice
By Miles Himmel '14

Day two of the Fifth Summit on Communication and Sport started off running with sports journalists of all stripes sharing their thoughts on a changing industry.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch spoke about college athletics and the influence of the NCAA. Branch, whose recent cover story in The Atlantic detailed how college athletes can be exploited, compared the NCAA to a cartel whose profits grow while its athletes see none of it.

Molly Knight, a sportswriter for ESPN The Magazine, shared her story about becoming a writer and the challenges women face in the sports industry. Knight, who graduated from Stanford University with a degree in human biology, decided to move to New York City and become a bartender. She kept writing, however, and eventually landed a freelance job with ESPN.

Knight, who has spent the last three years covering the Los Angeles Dodgers, also spoke about women and the uphill battles they face in her field. For example, she's often mistaken for a player's girlfriend or sister rather than a reporter. "I'm never not aware that I'm female when I go into a locker room," Knight said.

I thought one of the most unique things about Knight was her compassion toward the athletes she covers. She talked about never wanting to hurt someone she's covering and how she tries to gain their trust. This was an unseen side of sports journalism but a very refreshing one.

As the afternoon rolled on there were other research sessions on various topics. One examined the sports blog Deadspin and how the website offers well-rounded reporting despite its rebellious reputation. Another session looked at high school athletes and how they are covered in the media.

The day concluded with a question and answer session featuring Knight, sportswriter Dave Kindred and Bradley alumni and sports broadcasters Katrina Hancock and Charley Steiner. The panel answered questions on different aspects in the sports industry and discussed how much sports media has changed. Nowadays, a journalist has to be able to write, shoot, produce and be the on-air talent for sports reporting.

I thought Steiner had to quote of the day when he talked about the new media world we live in. "Maybe we are going a little too fast for ourselves," he told the audience. At the end of the day, it's about getting the story right and not necessarily getting it first.

For the Bradley students studying sports communication the other piece of advice was simple. You have to love what you do.

 

Conference launches wide world of sports to new levels
By Elise Andert '13

While attending the Fifth Summit on Communication and Sport today, I saw a whole new world of sports communication.

I had always thought sports communication was strictly about working as a sports announcer or reporter. Boy, was I wrong.

There is an academic side to sports that I never knew existed. For example, Adam Earnheardt, a communication professor at Youngstown State University, discussed how being a fan of specific sports teams can affect a journalist's objectivity. From his research, Earnheardt concluded that journalists who have fewer than five years of experience believe being a fan has no impact on their work. On the other hand, journalists who have more than five years' experience feel that being a fan heavily influences a reporters' work. Veteran writers tend to think that you cannot be a fan if you want to remain objective in your work.

I found this study as well as the entire idea of sports research to be very fascinating. Not until today did I ever think of sports communication in terms of academic research or analysis. The Fifth Summit on Communication and Sport, however, changed that and has persuaded me to think of sports communication on a totally different level.

 

Bradley alumni tells broadcasters to "tell the truth" at communication and sport summit
By Molly Geraghty '13

Thursday evening was the night Bradley University's Department of Communication has been patiently awaiting. Just three years after introducing sports communication as a major, Bradley is now hosting the Fifth Summit on Communication and Sport.

"The jewel of the crown is hosting the summit," said Dr. Paul Gullifor, chair for the department of communication.

The keynote speaker of the evening was Charley Steiner, voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Steiner graduated from Bradley in 1971 and began his broadcasting career in Connecticut and Cleveland and later moved to New York to work for the New York Yankees. In 2005, Steiner joined the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Sports have become the new show business," said Steiner. "There has been an explosion of sports business communication."

Steiner reminded the audience to always speak the truth.

"No matter how you are delivering and reporting a message, the important thing is to tell the truth," said Steiner. "We need to remember why we tell the truth. You do not need to try to be anyone else but you."

The administration and students are looking forward to spending time at the conference this weekend and Bradley President Joanne Glasser is excited about having Steiner back at Bradley.

"Charley is a Bradley graduate who did tremendous things," said President Glasser. "He is proof a Bradley degree puts you in position. I'm also anxious for our students to hear sports communication professionals speak and ask questions while networking and learning. It is a great opportunity for Bradley."

 

Summit brings a gathering of Bradley's broadcasting greats
By Rachelle Dejean '12

Today at the Embassy Suites Convention Center, some of Bradley's greats slowly filled the room for the 2012 Fifth Summit on Communication and Sport - David Snell, the voice of Bradley Braves; our enthusiastic president, President Joanne Glasser; and the face that helped ESPN become a worldwide leader in sports broadcasting, Charley Steiner. Before the night began, few seats remained empty and the hall buzzed with anticipation.

As a senior studying advertising with minors in marketing and graphic design, I have also competed on the Division I women's volleyball team all four seasons and am competing with the track team this spring. I would have hoped that as a collegiate athlete I could have attended more sports conferences in my four years, yet it's 43 days before I graduate and the summit was my first. What an opportunity Bradley has to host an international event!

Right before the event started, Len Clark, a representative of Vericorder Technologies and friend of Dr. Paul Gullifor, chair of the Communication Department, was whispering tips to my table about getting on Gullifor's good side, when it seemed a hush fell over the room. The night began with Dr. Gullifor at the podium followed by President Glasser.

President Glasser's words about the field of communications were inspiring and motivating. She spoke about gathering all these great talents and speakers under one roof to educate the next generation of broadcasting executives - and maybe create some even greater than before. She said the events this weekend are about more than just sports. This is something many of my friends were not aware of; a lot of students I had talked to lost interest because they thought it was mostly about sports. But it's not. This event is about leadership, athletics, journalism, gender, and more.

Next came Steiner and I learned many things from him in just 15 minutes. The most important lesson was how the job of broadcasters and journalists remains unchanged: to tell the truth. Although it seems that central mission is becoming muddled. "Writers, back in the time when there was still journalistic integrity, are all dead and gone. I'm afraid it's a slippery slope," Snell said after the evening concluded. Another thing I think we can take with us into the weekend is how sports communication is the becoming the new show business. I never really considered this while I was competing on the volleyball court.

If I had more time, I would join the 110 students that have jumped at the chance to be a sports communication major at Bradley. With so many greats from Bradley University, like Jack Brickhouse and Charley Steiner, it makes me want to do something extraordinary in the field. Needless to say, I am excited about the rest of the weekend. What about you?