McGuire on Media

The "Aw Nuts" school won and McGuire's Sports Media syllabus

Preparations for my Sports Media class led me to a 10- page article on the history of sports Media by Jon Enriquez in the excellent Journalism Primer, American Journalism: History, Principles, Practices.

Enriquez entertains and informs with a lot of fascinating insights, but one of my favorites was his discourse on the  two schools of sports journalism in the 20’s and 30’s.

His historical insight has a lot of relevance today when he describes the first school of which Grantland Rice was the lead practitioner as the "gee whiz" school. Enriquez says writers of that school made every player legendary and every contest immortal.

Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner and Westbrook Pegler led the "Aw Nuts" school. The characteristics  there were a cynical voice, making fun of participants, acknowledging gambling etc.

Enriquez writes that the  "Aw Nuts" school was never as popular as the "Gee Whiz" school. I think we’d all agree the tables have been turned in the last 75 years and the Aw Nuts school has clearly won.

Our society has definitely become more cynical, but the reality and immediacy of the web and TV also doomed the "Gee Whiz" school.  When I watched the Chargers beat the Colts Sunday, in living color, it becomes much harder to convince me the contest was legendary. When Grantland Rice’s account of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame appeared that wonderful imagery was the only way most people would ever learn about that team.

Progress does take its toll on romanticism.

All of which is to set up the delivery of my Sports Media syllabus which you can find by clicking More. I’d love to hear comments.

Sports and Media


Tim McGuire: Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism

Required texts and reading and recommended activities:

Read all assigned online material and be ready to take a quiz on that material.

Purchase and read as assigned a book of reprinted material which can be found at Alternative Copy Shop on Forest Ave.

Read McGuire on Media daily.

Read ESPN.Com, and the Arizona Republic sports pages regularly.

Watch a local sports newscast and ESPN SportsCenter a couple of times a week at least and try to listen to some sports talk radio. The greater your knowledge of all these sources the better you will do on quizzes and tests and that knowledge will lubricate our discussion. It will also give you a shot at some extra credit points.

Course Description:

Journalism is marked by tough choices and a complicated set of responsibilities. The basic premise of this course is that Sports Journalism must reflect the same sound journalistic principles found in news and business. This course will explore the nexus between sports and media on many fronts, but it will have a strong ethical component. As anyone who has taken my media ethics course knows, there are few right and wrong answers, but there are responsible ways to think about those answers. When making ethical decisions we must get beyond “gut instinct” and use accepted decision-making processes and formulas. We will use sound journalism and ethical principles to study the current state of sports journalism. If we succeed this will be a successful course for both aspiring journalists and aspiring media users. If you have hopes of being a sports journalism practitioner this course will prepare you to forge a more responsible road in sports journalism. If you are simply a sports consumer this course will make you a more sophisticated, engaged and critical reader and viewer.

The course will: explore why great sports journalism is essential to our society; establish the goals, dreams and expectations for sports journalism; introduce us to ethical philosophy and popular ethical models and decision-making tools and apply them to sports journalism; explore the essential and elusive nature of truth and bias; explore harm and how it affects sports teams and personalities; study how the boundaries protecting sports celebrities are being smashed; explore how anonymous sources are changing the face of sports journalism; examine rumors, innuendo and other source complications; study conflict of interest past and present; explore race and gender in sports; study the ways the “show of sport” threatens sports journalism; examine great sports journalism; and examine the future of sports media.

Course Requirements:

1) Participation: This is going to be a fluid class emphasizing discovery and recognition. It is also a relatively big class so discussion will be challenging, but still necessary. Each student must read the assigned material and watch the media closely to apply the things we learn in class and participate in class discussion to enrich that discovery process. Frequent quizzes will require that you read the assigned material.

2) Critical thinking is necessary to make the discovery process work. There will be a few absolutes, but much of the course will concentrate on sorting out the gray areas on many issues. That requires good critical thinking. Analysis, synthesis and evaluation will be required in the one written assignment.

3) There will be 12 random, unannounced quizzes of 10 questions each. Each question will be worth one point and the quizzes will account for a total of 100 points. They will not be difficult IF you have read the assigned material and if you have been staying tuned to ESPN.Com,, the Arizona Republic sports pages and ESPN SportsCenter. The top 10 scores on the quizzes will count toward your grade. This means you could miss two of quizzes. Read the following CAREFULLY. There will be NO excuses for missing class or a quiz. I am not going to try to differentiate between your creative excuse making ability or your very legitimate personal tragedies. You are allowed to drop two quizzes. That is the one and only break I allow for life’s surprises. I also have no tolerance for tardiness because it is rude to the instructor and the class. . You get ONE! The second tardiness gets recorded. At the third tardiness you will be removed from the class roll.

4) A midterm exam will be given Tuesday March 3. It will consist of multiple choice and true and false questions and will cover the reading and class presentations. It will account for 150 points. Note taking will be required in this class. To encourage attendance my PowerPoint slides will not be available after they are shown in class.

5) The final will be in two parts .On April 14 a sports journalism case will be distributed. A 1000-word analysis of that case will be due April 23. It will be worth 125 points. The analysis of that case must be delivered at the beginning of class on April 23. It should be typed in 12 point Times New Roman and it should be single-spaced with double space between paragraphs. Failure to get the paper delivered at the beginning of class that day will result in a penalty of one grade. For each 12 hours the paper is late another full grade will be deducted. The case analysis will be judged by five criteria.. A.) Issue spotting, that is successfully identifying and explaining ethical issues present in the case. B.)Concise, active, interesting and ACCURATE writing. You are college students. It should show. Copy errors, gross grammar errors and fact errors will cost you points. Originality, thoroughness and creativity will be prized. C.) Quality analysis of the case and the problems presented. D) Evidence that you have been in this sports media class. That means citing issues we have discussed and the processes, codes and considerations discussed in this class. E) The quality of your conclusion about what the participants and decision makers in the case should do in light of their quandary. A maximum of twenty-five points will be awarded in each of those five categories. N.B. I will provide an example of an ethics case and a quality analysis of that case.

6) The second part of the final will be a regularly scheduled final exam. It will consist of multiple choice and true and false questions and will cover the reading and class presentations from the entire course. It will account for 125 points.

7) Each Monday I will ask you to submit a short written nomination for the sports media turkey of the week. This will be a sportscaster, writer, or sports talk show host who does something reprehensible. On Thursday we will read the top five or so aloud and the class will vote on the sports media turkey of the week. The winning nominator will get 3 extra credit points.

8) Additional Norms:

Expect passion from me and I will expect it from you.

Expect joy and enjoyment from me and I will expect it from you.

Expect respect from me and I will expect it from you

Attend class.

Pay attention and stay awake

Respect the person speaking during class participation. That means no crossword puzzles, cell phones, Ipods, solitaire on your computer or any other distraction. Such behavior will result in removal from class. Two removals for such behavior and I will drop you from the class.

Listen attentively and don’t concentrate on what you’re going to say next. Hear first.

Stay up to date with the sports media.

Read all assignments.

Act ethically. Plagiarism, fabrication, reusing material you’ve used in another class, cheating or any other act of deception will result in automatic failure of this class and you can count on me recommending expulsion from the university to the dean.

Under separate cover I am handing out the academic integrity policy from the dean’s office.

Act professionally All of my judgments on behavior, grading, explanations etc will be based on the workplace. If I would show compassion in the newsroom you will find compassion here. If I would be skeptical in the newsroom, I will be skeptical here. If I would find a behavior or explanation to be horse hockey in the newsroom, I will deem it horse hockey here. You are here to learn and I am here to teach. If we all approach that endeavor as adults we will all learn and we will have a really good time doing it.


1. Quizzes –100

2. Midterm test—150 points

3. Case analysis part of the final –125 points

4. Exam part of the final—125 points

A= 450-500 B= 400-449 C= 350-399 D =300-349 E=less than 300

Special note: This syllabus WILL change. It is imperative that before every reading assignment you check on Blackboard to get the updated reading list. I will be subtracting some things and adding web citations. I will also be inviting a few guest speakers and so I will be sliding things round to accommodate them. I should note that guest speakers will require note-taking because you will be tested on their comments in quizzes and major exams.

Week one: Jan 14-16

Getting our feet wet

Day 1: Introduction of class and instructor Go over syllabus. Establish class practices and procedures. Learn about students and instructor.

Day 2: The Journalism thing: Why we’re here. Establish the goals, dreams and expectations of the craft and for sports specifically.

From the Sports Media Reader

Read The Elements of Journalism pages 9-33

Read Coverage of Sports by Jon Enriquez from American Journalism History, Principles, Practices pages 198-208

One man’s view of the best. What do you think?

Week Two: Jan 23 Sports, Society, Media

Day 1 The meaning of sports in our society

From the Sports Media Reader

From The Meaning of Sports by Michael Mandelbaum page Xlll- 39

Report on negative sports coverage on web

TV killed newspaper columns

Week Three: Jan 28-30—Ethics, Truth and Accuracy

Day 1: Tim will present his quick primer on ethical philosophy

From the Sports Media Reader

Elements of Journalism pages 36-49 and 70-91

Sports ethics

Day 2:Bias

From the Sports Media Reader

From The Virtuous Journalist pages 59-70

Read “The Narrow World of Sports from this column

Bring to class an example or two of what you consider sports media bias.

Also, for fun, Google the words “sports media bias,’’ and be prepared to discuss your observations of what you find.

Week Four: Feb.4-6–Do No harm

Day 1; Loyalties: who are we going to upset and how do we sort that out?

From the Sports Media Reader read pages 93-125, The Virtuous Journalist pages

Please watch the video

Big Ten referee case;_ylt=AumaEP.e7tPiy5LbCm5ndx05nYcB?slug=jo-bigtenref121807&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

Gopher academic fraud case

Day 2: Steroids, talk radio and harm

Lupica Steroids column


Talk radio—feel free to bring your own examples.

In the following excerpt read from page 2 through page 6. It’s not perfect, but it does the trick.

Week Five: Feb 11-12 Privacy

Day 1: Who’s going to be sad and is that okay?

From Sports media reader:

Read pages 132-144, 145-146 and 155-156 Media Ethics/Pattterson 5th edition Be prepared to discuss cases. Read Two privacy cases from a sports editor marked 7A and 7B – Be prepared to discuss them.

Olson family privacy

Columnist attacks

A-Rod and the “rule”

Day 2:

If you are a suspect is all lost?

Week Six: Feb. 18-20–Ethically managing sources

Day 1: Anonymous sources and why they are an ethical issue.

From Sports Media reader 167-186, Doing Ethics.

Newspaper article pages 213-216, Star Tribune March 22, 2006, “Monson not expected back”

Newspaper article, pages 217-218, Maturi: March 23, 2006 Monson will stay as coach” Newspaper article, pages 219-221, April 2, 2006, Odd Twists, unexpected turns make Monson story tough to figure out”

Jenni Carlson

Read the top item from this column

Kirk Herbstreit

Read the Les Miles portion of the following column

Day 2: Other source complications

Trade rumor reporting

Week Seven: Feb 25-27 Conflicts of Interest

Day 1: Institutional

From Sports Media reader Read pages 94-110 in Elements of Journalism: Independence of Faction.

Should reporters vote on awards case

Reread APSE code of ethics

Conflict of Interest

Stadiums and Truth

Day 2 Conflicts of Interest, personal
Does a journalist give up certain rights when he or she joins a newsroom? Where should lines be drawn between one’s professional and personal lives?

Grand Rapids Press case from 1969

From Sports Media reader Sun Country and Sid Hartman.

Read University of Bighorn fundraising case

Week Eight: March 3-5

Day 1: Mid-term exam

Day 2: Special guest or sports scandals

Week Nine: March 17-19—Race, Gender And Courage

Day 1: Exploring ethical cases of race gender and identification and the need to sometimes go against the flow.

From Sports Media reader read pages 229-254, from Doing ethics.

From Sports Media reader read pages ix-25 and pages185-207 from Souled Out by Shaun Powell

Day 2:

From Sports Media reader Racial Slur Page 9

Week Ten: March 24-26 Race and Gender diversity

Day 1: Race through the prism of the Sean Taylor case

Race in general

Jason Whitlock on Sean Taylor

Dave Zirin’s reponse

Michael Wilbon on Sean Taylor

Wayne Drehs on threats to athletes

Len Shapiro Taylor coverage controversy

Rob King

Day 2:Women’s issues

Title ix Coverage—Penn State report

Sports journalism textbooks don’t address gender inequities

in sports departments

Week Eleven: March 31-April 2 “The show of it all”

Day 1:

Day 2:

Week Twelve: April 7-9 Great Sports journalism and the next stage

Day 1: From Sports Media reader The Best of Sport edited by Bob Ryan pages 65-78 and pages 261-278

The Best of American sports Writing edited by David Maraniss pages 54-62 and pages 181-192

Day 2:

Week Thirteen: April 14-16 The skill of it all

Day 1: Guest speaker

State of sports writing and journalism

Read the Oct. 12 entry

Day 2:Guest speaker

Week Fourteen: April 21-23 Where it’s all heading

Day 1:

Sports and business

From Sports media reader pages 16-22 and pages 190-215 Welcome to the Terrordome by DaveZirin

Read entries backward from oct. 30 to Oct. 22

Day 2: New media

Sportscasters fear for future of local sportscasts

Will web mean more opinion in newspapers

Week Fifteen: April 28

Day 1: Review

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