08/24/15: Jemele Hill talks perils of producing fast and furious; ESPN: Pylon on; FIFA bows to sponsors


Good morning. It’s Monday August 24, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The swelling conflict between fast & click-friendly versus accuracy & reputation has left not only a plethora of editors scratching their heads about their approach to news, but talent as well. One-time journalism stalwarts have had reputations tarnished in the past few years, seeking to stay one step ahead of the competition in a world of a five-minute news cycle.

Joining me in last week’s SportsManias conference in Miami was ESPN’s Jemele Hill, who co-hosts His and Hers with Michael Smith on ESPN2 and is no stranger to scrutiny and outcries in the heated race for news and traffic. Cynopsis Sports spoke with Hill to talk about the challenges facing reporters in today’s opinion-driven industry.

Hill on the biggest issue facing sports media: I think that while the basics don’t change and you need to get the information to the people who don’t know, the method in which we are doing it is changing all the time. In some ways we are keeping up, but in others we aren’t. It’s like the model, just when we have established a little bit of a blueprint, it changes literally the next day and it is moving faster than we can actually keep up with it. So I worry that at some point, the market won’t be able to self-correct. It will burst out of this huge consumption of information that we won’t be able to get a hold of and, more importantly, we won’t be able to monetize.

There are a lot of things happening at once, and from the standpoint of ESPN, I’m curious to see what happens as increasingly these rights fees continue to go up and the consumer is becoming so much pickier about their viewing habits. All these issues are converging.

On balancing information, accuracy and getting hits: In television, you are put in an unfair position on a lot of days, where they want you to make sense of something that happens really quickly or that maybe requires that you take a step back to process it, even though you don’t have time to process. So you are under this constant pressure to come up with some kind of absolute opinion that you, honestly, haven’t had time to process, educate yourself about or study. Deflategate is a test gate of this. The whole Wells Report is like 400 pages. I don’t have time to read 400 pages, but I have to go on the air to say something about these 400 pages. I may have read a good third of it. That’s where we are right now. The whole need to produce an opinion has overshadowed the need to produce reporting. When I was growing up, people were watching the news and expecting unfiltered, objective news. Now, if it isn’t about clicks, it is about drawing attention to yourself and making your opinion stand out and that is difficult.

On what she is most proud of: I’m still proud of the fact that, despite all of the technology and how fast our business is, that I am still able to keep all the basic journalistic principals. I still feel like that is at the core and the essence of everything that I do. My reputation is important to me, and so I’m perfectly ok being the one person to discuss it, while everyone else is consumed with debating and having a hot take about it.


Ronda Rousey took to Good Morning America on Friday to announce her next battle for the UFC. The undefeated UFC women’s bantamweight champion will launch the New Year in the ring, and will face unbeaten Holly Holm on Jan. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in her next blockbuster for the promotion. "I prepare for a five-round war every time I get in there," Rousey said on Good Morning America. "No one’s easy until after you beat them, and with Holly Holm, she’s the type that is ready to go 12 boxing rounds.”

Speaking of Las Vegas, Sin City and Quebec City are now on to the third and final formal stage in the NHL expansion process, according to the AP. The would-be franchises now face the league examining their business plans and revenue projections. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the process to the organization, noting that while the third stage as "the last formal phase," "it does not necessarily constitute the end of the process." The third stage is slated to wrap up next month before the league and board of governors would potentially give the nod to expand.

In other NHL news, the league announced that its preseason will hit the ice on Sept. 20. The 15-day, 104-game slate will see Islanders launch the first season in Barclays Center and face the Flyers on Sept. 21, Devils on Sept. 23 and Capitals on Sept. 28. Kraft Hockeyville winners will see the Penguins/Lightening in Johnstown on Sept. 29 on NBCSN while Canada will see North Saanich play host to the Sharks/Canucks on Sept. 21. Opening the preseason will be the Bruins/Devils on Sept 20 at 7p.

The PBC locked in its next round on BounceTV, announcing that Fernando Guerrero and Caleb “Golden” Truax will anchor the10-round main evet on Premier Boxing Champions  The Next Round on Friday, Sept. 18 at 9p. The co-main event will see Jamal James/Juan Carlos “Merengue” Abreu. Fred Hickman will again serve as host of Bounce TV’s PBC – The Next Round, while Fran Charles calls the blow-by-blow action, and Austin “No Doubt” Trout offers insight and analysis.

Cris Carter’s controversial remarks are causing backlash. The former player and current ESPN talent was shown in a video of the 2014 Rookie Symposium in which Carter told the new players to have a guy take the blame if they ever got in trouble, stating “If you all got a crew, you got to have a fall guy in the crew,” Carter said. “If you all have a crew, one of those fools got to know, he’s the one going to jail. We’ll get him out.” In response, ESPN released its own statement, writing “We completely disagree with Cris’s remarks and we have made that extremely clear to him. Those views were entirely his own and do not reflect our company’s point of view in any way.”


Following the success of the Pylon Cam during the College Football Championship, ESPN is continuing to tout the technology, and utilized the technology once again last week during the preseason Bills/Browns telecast. The custom-molded goal line pylon houses multiple cameras in order to bring viewers brand new perspectives around the goal line during the game. The updated system tested at the game evolved since its first iteration in January, and now features four four-camera pylons (one on each side of the field at both goal lines) featuring higher quality cameras, custom-made in-ground wiring with easy break-away connections into the custom-molded pylon, which itself is designed to compress (like a crumple zone) on any impact. In developing the system, ESPN collaborated with leading micro-camera company BSI and leading pylon manufacturer Gilman Gear. ESPN will continue testing it tonight at the August 24 Monday Night Football preseason telecast  between the Bengals/Buccaneers and may use it during in some college football telecasts this season.


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FIFA confirmed its meeting with top sponsors of the organization to discuss how to move forward following recent scandals that have tarnished the organization. Joining the meeting were commercial affiliates AB InBev, adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and VISA. During the meeting, FIFA reaffirmed its commitment to transparency, reform, and collaboration with its valued partners, the company said in a statement but, “No further comment will be made on the internal discussions between the parties.”

Mercedes-Benz is parking in Atlanta. WSB Atlanta reports that the car brand has locked in naming rights to the city’s new downtown stadium. The new is expected to be made official at news conference that could take place as early as today. Meanwhile, SunTrust Banks announced that it has become a founding partner of the new venue, which will host the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC in 2017. The agreement extends SunTrust’s long-standing relationship with the organization covering more than 10 years.

Make-A-Wish is honoring WWE’s John Cena for granting 500 wishes through the organization. Cena will hit the benchmark when he spends time with Rocco, an 8-year-old from Queens who is battling leukemia, before WWE Monday Night Raw. The organization reports that – since the founding of Make-A-Wish in 1980 – no other celebrity has granted as many wishes as Cena. At the event, WWE announced a multi-year, million dollar commitment to Make-A-Wish  a symbol of WWE’s on-going support for wish granting.

Rockin’ Refuel from Shamrock Farms is sporting a new face, announcing a deal with All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green as the new face of the brand. “We’re excited to welcome A.J. Green to Team Rockin’ Refuel,” said Shamrock Farms Director of Brand Management, Blake Atkinson. “A.J. is a role model on and off the field; we’re looking forward to working with him to spread the message of why Rockin’ Refuel is the natural way to get the protein athletes need to stay at the top of their game.”


New player Global Sports Streaming unveiled its first program, dubbed Best in Boxing. The digital series was announced on YouTube, and represents the “first show on our new network, featuring today’s up and coming boxers. 80% of professional boxing today is not broadcast and GSS plans on changing that.” 15rounds.com reports that the series will look to feature its first broadcast on Friday at 10:30p with the IBU Middleweight title bout between Tony Hirsch/Rolando Paredes on YouTube.


Meanwhile, Fortune reports that Coca-Cola’s eSports partnership with Riot Games is proving fruitful, and after a year of the partnership, the beverage brand ranks as the top non-video game brand associated with League of Legends, the most popular eSports game in the world with over 85 million players worldwide. Internal research showed that 70% of gamers believe this brand sponsorship is positive, and 97% of gamers have either a positive or neutral response.

Yahoo Fantasy Sports is introducing private cash leagues to its roster, to assist in collecting league dues and paying out at the end of the season. Via private cash leagues, commissioners can now set the amount players owe for league dues and what the final payout will be at the end of the year and allow players to use credit card, Paypal or their Fantasy Wallet to pay their dues without Yahoo taking a transaction fee.

Check out what happens when you combine Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Julio Jones, Rob Gronkowski, Colin Kaepernick, Antonio Brown and Rex Ryan for the launch of Madden Season. The celebs formed a “movie” as part of the Electronic Arts campaign that can be found here.


Bellator MMA hired DJ Shrope to serve as the promotion’s new Digital Content Manager. Prior to Bellator, Shrope held positions at Cornerstone and FOX Sports.


Bengals/Bucs on ESPN at 8p.


SEPT 18 | 8:30-10:30 a.m. | Yale Club NY
OCT 15 | 2:00-8:30 p.m. | Dream Downtown
NOV 13 | 12:00-2:00 p.m. | Marriott Essex
DEC 2 | 9:00-3:00 p.m. | NYAC

ON THIS DAY in 2006: Jerry Rice retires.

In The Know: Jerry Rice’s final appearance in the regular season game came as a member of which NFL franchise? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: FOX Sports’ Jimmy Johnson once appeared as a contestant on what reality show in 2010? Answer: Survivor. Kudos: Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Media/NY; David Stern-BARD Entertainment/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Mike Donato-ABC/NY; Joe Schreiber-3 Penny Films/Bethesda; Joe Guarnieri-ESPN/Bristol; Mike Antolini-Tiger Woods Foundation/Boston; Adam Samrov-Digital First Media/Vermont; Steve McNair-KUBE TV/Houston; John Kukla- KDFW-KDFI/Dallas; Gretchen Brady-KTVT/Dallas; Derek Crownover-Dickinson Wright-Music Row/Nashville; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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