I didn’t think Mark Cuban broke much new ground with his latest anti-media blog post. If you’ve been reading this blog for the last 5+ years, you know that we’ve been headed this way for awhile – teams are becoming increasingly agitated with coverage they deem negative, and have begun to wonder, “do we really need the media?” As teams beef up their presence on the web and put more of an effort into social media, they can get the word out to fans about their franchise/program without the media as a middle man.
By competing with them as an information source, can we preempt their negativity with information that does a better job of selling the Mavs?
By leaving them out of the locker room and organization, do we reduce their ability to have a negative impact on players?
Sure he could. But here’s the problem – the Mavs are boring (exception: JJ Barea). Among the top four teams in each conference, the Mavs are by far the least interesting. The East is stacked – the Celtics need no introduction, the Bulls have an MVP candidate Derrick Rose, the Magic are filled with drama in the quest to keep Dwight Howard, and the Heat are the Heat. Out West, same deal – the Lakers are the 2-time defending champs, the Spurs are the surprise of the league, and the Thunder have 2 superstars. The Mavs? Snooze. They’re aging. They’re devoid of drama. Since Caron Butler went down, nobody’s taken them super seriously. The only national stories they’ve created this year are generated by their attention-loving owner (or Jason Terry on a slow night).
Cuban’s point is accurate – just not in regards to the Mavericks. If the Heat’s Big 3 hadn’t talked to the media since the All-Star break, there would still be stories about them everywhere on a daily basis. If the Mavs’ did the same thing, would anyone notice?
Some teams and players – the pitiful franchises, the stars on the make, coaches on the rise, etc – in sports will always need the media. The elite stars? I don’t think so. It’s a small class that includes the likes of Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, LeBron James, Tom Brady and athletes of that ilk. They’ve established a reputation among fans that can only be tarnished by a massive scandal (see Tiger in 2009 and Kobe in 2003), and even then, they can rebound due to skill in their respective sport. And some of those guys are such established stars they they don’t care what the media writes.
What do they need the media for? Could LeBron use the media to help repair his image after last summer’s debacle? That’s unlikely. No GQ interview or Sportscenter sit-down is going to change that. If he wants to look good for fans, he’ll have his handlers set up something charity-related, take some photos and video, and promote it on his site/facebook/twitter. Why would he need the media around? You know they’ll steer the discussion from the charity to Chris Bosh’s ineptitude, or beef with his coach, because that’s more interesting.
I thought perhaps the most interesting aspect of all of this was when Cuban went on 99.3 and said, “if I wanted to hire Adrian Wojnarowski or Mark Stein to do their thing, I could easily do it and have just as much impact …” [The audio's here.] We’ve already seen some teams hire former journalists to work for their website and put up relentlessly upbeat stories. Most of them avoid scandal until it is absolutely necessary that something be written. And even then, they handle it cautiously and the news will inevitably be buried.
But will we see a franchise try to poach an established, big-name journalist from a media outlet and offer a significant increase in pay and long-term security? It won’t happen, but what if the Bulls hired Mike Wilbon from ESPN? Or the Yankees hired Joel Sherman? Or the Dodgers hired TJ Simers? Or the Jets hired me? (Joking). The journalist wouldn’t have to worry about pageviews, breaking news, the competition, or job security.
Whats the role of media for sports teams? [Blog Maverick]